Cutting the Knot

aka: Gordian Knot
Nothing keeps me from my cheese.

"Ask any fighter: A hammer is just a really heavy set of lockpicks."

The hero has only a limited amount of time to do something, be it rescue, transport, repair, or simply Outrun the Fireball, but has a problem. Namely, a very complicated problem that would need time to solve, time the hero definitely doesn't have. After trying (or not trying) in vain to solve the problem the technical way, the hero just shrugs it and Takes A Third Option, namely, by getting rid of the problem altogether, often through violence. When the smart character is trying to get a way around it and the dumb character resorts to violence, the dumb character is often Too Dumb to Fool. When the Leader tramples over objections to prevent Divided We Fall, this often comes into play.

Often parodied, most often where the hero tries to destroy the problem, only to succeed in destroying everything but the problem.

Compare: Take a Third Option; Percussive Maintenance; Dungeon Bypass; Steal the Surroundings; "Open!" Says Me; Debate and Switch, if this is done to a moral rather than physical problem; Impossible Task, what this trope is often the only solution to; and There Was a Door. Contrast We Have the Keys, where violence is the complex solution.

Heroes who make a habit of doing this may boast that We Do the Impossible.


    open/close all folders 

    Myth and Legend 
  • The Ur Example example of this trope would probably have to be Heracles (his legends date back to 600 BC, three hundred years before the trope naming legend, in which Alexander the Great figured heavily). When met with a lion whose skin could not be pierced with any blade or point, he bludgeoned it to death (or strangled it, depending on the translation). Later, when charged to wash out a massive set of stables in a very short time, he lifted up a river and washed them all out at once. Later still he was told to go into the underworld to defeat and abduct Cerberus. Instead he quite literally explains his situation to Hades and asks if he can borrow his dog for a while. Being one of the more decent gods, Hades basically said "just bring him back when you're done".
    • When Hercules offended a friend by being rowdy at his wife's funeral. He decided that the best way to make it up was to go off and bring the lady back to life by wrestling Thanatos for her. Sure enough, before the end of the night, he came marching back to the house with the man’s wife in his arms.
  • The Trope Maker and Trope Namer was the mythical, impossibly complex Gordian Knot that, the oracles predicted, could only be untied by the future king of Asia. Alexander the Great tried in vain to untie it and then, when that didn't work, simply drew his sword and sliced it in two. Other versions of the story are the exact opposite of the trope, however, with Alexander finding a clever way to untie the knot without cutting it, like where he basically removes the main object that the knot was apparently wrapped around, thus loosening its entire structure; the equivalent of leveling a building by removing its foundation. By the ancient Greek definition of Asia, he did indeed conquer all of it.

    Anime and Manga 
  • The Big O
    • In one episode, Roger is about to open a door using a high-tech device that would form the key for a lock when inserted, just before Dorothy just breaks the door open. ...with a one-handed push.
    • In the last episode Roger lampshades this trope when he was unconscious underwater and Dorothy was unable to give him the oxygen. So she simply busts the oxygen tank to fill the cockpit with oxygen. Roger asks why she couldn't have been more gentle, such as using Mouth to Mouth. (He wouldn't have asked that if he knew how small her internal tank was, apparently.) She responds that the water displacement was quicker and far more effective by bursting the tank anyway.
  • Hunter × Hunter:
    • To advance through part of the Hunter Exam, Gon is given the choice of two candles by his opponents, and they compete to keep theirs burning for the longest. After some I Know You Know I Know, Gon ends up with the much faster-burning candle, but just uses the bigger flame to freely move around without fear of his candle getting blown out by the wind and blows out the other one.
    • Later in the same arc, the group is confronted with two doors: one leads to a short path to the exit, but only allows three people from the group of five to pass, while the other has a long path (and will take too long for them to get to the exit in time, which will result in all of them failing the test) but will allow them all. Either some can make it, or no one? They take the third option.note  They entered the long and difficult path, then cut a hole in the wall, to sneak in the short and easy path. It takes a lot of effort, but it's faster than the long passage would have been.
    • Gon beats a guy who rotated super-fast to defend himself by ripping the floor out from under him.
    • Gon and Killua are locked in a room with Nobunaga, who, if they try to escape using the room's one door, will kill them instantly. They know for sure that there's no way that they can defeat Nobunaga, and he will not move from the door. How do they escape? They bash in the wall opposite the door with one hit, and then run like hell., He follows them, so they destroy half a dozen of walls, backtrack to the one before the last and simply use the door to exit the building while he is searching the last room.
  • In one chapter of Keroro Gunsou, the Keroro Platoon has been beefing up the security on their base when Oka Nishizawa, Momoka's Action Mom, comes calling for apparently sinister purposes. The first obstacle they present her with is a heavily-encrypted electronic lock on the mini-fridge that serves as the entrance to their base. Oka almost immediately rips the door off its hinges.
  • Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Striker S has Nanoha's famous Dungeon Bypass to take out Quattro. So much for a ship full of super defenses, eh?
  • In Mouse, one ancient challenge was to figure out how to untie this extremely hard knot. Alexander the Great solved it by simply cutting it. So to make the next one more challenging, they made the second knot out of metal chains.
  • In Phi Brain Puzzle Of God, Daimon Kaito is trapped in a Fool's Puzzle in the form of a burning tower. Ideally, he would use a maze of elevators to reach the top where the goal is, but the flames have risen high enough to block the route. His solution is to break off the door of one of the elevators so that he can jump off when it passes a floor that will let him take the route to the goal.
  • Durarara!! How Shizuo solves every one of his problems. Tangled and complicated schemes involving mafia and set-ups and supernatural creatures? It must be time to beat Izaya's face in again. Problem solved.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!
    • In one episode where the main characters are doing the Indy Escape. When they run out of places to... well, run, Honda turns around and punches the boulder as it's about to crush them. It pops. Turns out it was a balloon with a speaker inside.
    • Also, the episode in which Kaiba literally crashes Pegasus' mainframe—he smashes it with a satellite.
  • Fate/Zero has a few examples. Ironically, of all characters, Alexander the Great, in spite of both being the Trope Namer and going around with the chariot that has the Gordian Knot, never does it:
    • Kayneth Archibald had rented most of a hotel and, for defense, filled it with magical traps, demons, gateways that open into other dimensions, and the likes. Kiritsugu just blew up the unprotected bottom floors and brought the whole thing down, with Kayneth still inside.
    • That was part of another attempt at this: Saber's arm had been wounded by Lancer with a cursed weapon, so they could have made a few attempts at fighting a powerful curse... Or just kill Lancer, who, as Kayneth's Servant, is always with him, thus dispelling the source of the course with him. In the end the curse is dispelled during the battle with Caster, when Lancer, knowing that Saber is the only one who can stop the crazy Servant and his monster, breaks the cursed lance;
    • Rider's status as the Trope Namer IS alluded to a bit, during the hunt for Caster. While everybody else is using the standard "Look around, we'll find him eventually" method, Waver goes for what he calls a more basic approach: He collects water from the river running through the city, and tests it for excess prana. Waver says it's nothing special and a very basic technique that literally any Magus could do, but Rider tells him that often the simplest course of action is the best. And indeed, they do find Caster's lair, when nobody else managed it.
  • In the Manwha Dragon Recipe, a sword in the stone style contest is resolved when a girl checks to confirm that the rules are simply "Remove The Sword From The Stone". Her solution? She pulls out a hammer and chisel, then breaks open the stone.
  • Done inadvertently in Naruto, the first stage of the Chunin exam is a written test full of questions far too difficult for Genin to actually solve. The test's myriad rules are designed with loopholes to compel the Genin to cheat, with the real test being their ability to do so without being caught. Sakura simply answers every question, not even realizing the hidden purpose of the test. Naruto doesn't answer at all, which means he also passes since he was never caught cheating either.

    Card Games 
  • Notable Magic: The Gathering player Zvi Mowshowitz used the line "If brute force doesn't solve your problem, you're not using enough. Why not use more?" in a column on proper Magic strategy.
    • Even more so recently, because contrary to his original "famous" deck, Turbo Lands, his recent decks in the past season have all been super-aggressive aggro decks, with some of them winning on turn 3 or 4.

  • The first arc of The Losers has team tech Jensen having to copy the secure hard drives of Goliath, an oil company. When security finds out about the operation and exchange fire with his friends, he hacks the outer casing with an axe and pries the thing out whole.
  • Watchmen features the Gordian Knot Lock Company (one of many companies owned by Ozymandias, who fancies himself a new Alexander the Great). Rorschach breaks the door down. Several times. This is actually a clue as to Ozymandias' endgame: the U.S. and Soviet Union are on the verge of nuclear war, and have been at each other's throats for so long that it has become impossible to untangle them from their conflict. So he plans to cut the knot by introducing a third side for them to unite themselves against—an genetically engineered monster that he teleports to New York, killing half the city. What's frightening is that—at least initially—it works.
  • In Incredible Hercules the title character is presented with a game of dark elven chess that he must solve to pass the Test of Mind. He responds by referencing The Kobayashi Maru (Not The Kobayashi Maru, but Kirk's handling of it), saying that when faced with an impossible situation one should change the rules of the game, and knocks over the table. Princess Alfyse is delighted with his resourcefulness, and other things, while her adviser starts to point out that it's not an impossible situation, he just had to move the rook...
  • In Justice League, Batman loses in a fight to Prometheus because he downloaded the fighting abilities of several great martial artists (one of them was Batman himself). In the rematch, Batman wins because he switched that disc with another, containing the fighting skills of Professor Stephen Hawking.
    Huntress: Did I see you cheating?
    Batman: Winning.
    • In another JLA story, the league is fighting the General who is has some of the highest levels of invulnerability and regeneration in the DC Universe along with tremendous super strength and no Kryptonite Factor. Batman's solution was to hypnotize the General and lure him to a bulk matter teleporter. It would have worked if the League hadn't barged in at that moment. But they accomplish the same thing by knocking him around with brute force until he's on the teleporter pad.
  • Nodwick: Yeagar shows how he deals with Only Smart People May Pass (and that is hardly the only time he does so).
  • Whenever Batman battles The Riddler, he'll often beat his riddles using either this Trope or Take a Third Option, essentially bypassing various plans by winning in ways his enemy didn't expect. Notably, what usually drives Riddler crazy isn't that Batman is cheating, but rather that he (the Riddler) failed to anticipate the third option.
  • Speaking of the Riddler, in one issue of Impulse he challenges the titular hero to find a bomb hidden in Manchester. Impulse promptly goes over the town with his superspeed and is back with the bomb even before the Riddler's done reading his clue.
  • The section of Preacher that shows Herr Starr's background and turn to villainy includes a bit where, as part of his training in GSG 9, Starr is confronted a sadistic unarmed combat instructor known for beating new recruits viciously. In front of the class, the instructor demands to know how Starr would defeat him in hand to hand combat as an obvious prelude to inflicting such a beating on Starr. Starr responds by shooting the instructor in the leg and saying that he never intends to be unarmed. GSG decided that it showed innovation, and it was one of the things that caught The Grail's eye.
    • And continuing this trend of lateral thinking, Starr is tasked by The Grail, as an initiation trial, to identify and assassinate a political target currently recuperating in a hospital. Instead of infiltrating the hospital as a patient, staff, or even visitor, Starr simply burns down the hospital and everyone in it. This earns him admittance into The Grail, as it shows ruthless efficiency, a willingness to sacrifice innocents in service of the "Greater Good", and as an added bonus nobody's investigating a political assassination because it appears to simply be collateral damage in a terrorist attack.
  • In an issue of Jon Sable, Freelance, Sable and an archaeologist are looking for treasure in a Central American pyramid. It's one of those designed so that a beam of sunlight shining through a hole in the wall will reveal the lock - but it only works on one day of the year that's months away. Sable points out that the ancient builders hadn't anticipated modern electricity and duplicates the effect with his flashlight.
  • Deconstructed in Adventure Time Graphic Novels Volume 1: Playing With Fire, Flame Princess does this after getting fed up with the first Puzzle in the Dragon's Puzzle Dungeon and proceeds to blast her way thorugh the dungeon until she ends up in a chamber with a water fall. Jake then procedes to point out that just simply blasting your way out of a puzzle only creates a series of endless puzzle rooms till you take the time to solve them.


  • James Bond
    • In Golden Eye, the villains make their getaway in a car into a crowded Russian street. Bond commandeers a tank and drives through a wall.
    • In the 2006 Casino Royale, Bond pursues a freerunning enemy who nimbly scales obstacles and slips through narrow gaps. Bond finds simpler but equally effective means of traversing obstacles, such as running straight through a plaster wall and, eventually, hopping into the driver's seat of a bulldozer.
  • A similar thing happens in Johnny English Reborn (a parody of spy movies and takes quite a few cues from James Bond). While chasing someone, the sequence goes as follows: Opponent climbs over a fence. Johnny opens the door. Opponent uses parkour. Johnny uses a ladder. Opponent jumps across a gap and onto a building. Johnny uses a crane carrying a load of bricks to send himself across. Opponent scales scaffolding to get down. Johnny uses the lift.
  • This is practically Indiana Jones' hat (well, other than the cool fedora).
    • Raiders of the Lost Ark:
    • When Jones is confronted by a swordsman, he simply shoots him. An Enforced Trope in this case: The script called for him to outfight the swordsman, but Harrison Ford had come down with dysentery and felt horrible, so he wanted to get the scene over and done with as soon as possible so he could go back to bed.
    • When Indy sneaks into a Nazi U-boat base, he could continue sneaking around, staying out of sight. Or he could knock out a guard and steal the guard's clothes. And then, after finding that the guard's clothes are too small for him, he could bluff his way out of trouble when a larger superior officer mistakes him for the guard and begins lecturing him for his poor appearance, or he could knee the superior in the balls, knock the superior out too, then steal clothes that will actually fit.
    • In the case from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade where Indy and his father are in a zeppelin looking to make their escape from Berlin. Suddenly Indy notices an SS officer looking for them. How exactly does one evade a search by a powerful faction in a confined yet public place with lots of witnesses and no place to hide? Well, you could knock out a member of the zeppelin's staff, disguise yourself in his clothes, hit the officer with a surprise attack and throw him out the window. Then, when the witnesses stare at you incredulously, simply point to the window and say "No ticket."
  • In Big Trouble in Little China, the heroes are trying to enter an elevator but the door is jammed. Jack Burton hauls out a knife and cuts through the wall to get in, which works because the wall is made of paper.
  • In Terminator 2: Judgment Day:
    • Miles Dyson starts to explain how to open the container holding the robot arm, but is interrupted by John breaking it.
    • Also, when his keycard isn't working to open a door earlier in the scene, he is interrupted by Arnie blowing it up.
    Miles: My personal access code might still work... no good.
    Terminator: *hefts grenade launcher* Let me try mine.
    • When John Connor, in a phone box, asks Arnie if he has a quarter for a phone. Arnie smashes open the phone's money box, picks up a quarter, and hands it to John.
  • The Fifth Element gives us the Korben Dallas method of negotiating a dangerous hostage situation:
    Korben: Anyone else wanna negotiate?
    • Of course, this only works because the Mangalores give up when he shot their commanding officer, and Mangalores are absolutely useless without their leader. Really. They literally won't fight without a senior Mangalore present.
  • G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra
    Breaker: What you'll have to do is rewire the laser panel's brain by—
    Snake Eyes stabs the panel
    Breaker: —or you could just stab it.
  • MacGruber sees the eponymous hero confronted with a nuclear missile that's about to launch. He looks at the complicated wiring, panics, and declares he doesn't know how to defuse it. His allies express their disappointment and the villain basically says "I Knew It" which Mac replies that he wasn't finished. He does know how to rip out the guidance computer, the plutonium, and a couple of other critical parts. The missile will still explode, but it won't go anywhere before it does and it won't be nuclear.
  • The first Tomb Raider movie: Lara Croft finds the old clock containing the Plot Coupon (conveniently in her own basement), and her Smart Guy tries to disassemble it carefully and slowly, keeping track of which screw goes where. Lara will have none of it and smashes the clock to pieces with a hammer.
  • In Werner Herzog's The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser (a.k.a. Every Man For Himself And God Against All), the title dolt confounds a doctor who asks him a version of the Knights and Knaves problem. Kaspar's response: "I would ask him if he is a tree-frog." It Makes Sense in Context.
  • In the movie Sneakers, Robert Redford's character is faced with a locked door and keypad and asks for advice over his earpiece on how to disable it. After several moments of a one sided conversation with Redford saying "mm hmm... uh huh... yeah," he says "Okay, I'll give it a shot," and kicks in the door.
  • Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. Sky Captain tries to figure out a way to get into Dr. Jennings' lab. Polly smashes the window, reaches in and unlocks the door.
    Polly: It's open.
  • Patton. During the invasion of Sicily an entire column of troops is being held up by a couple of stubborn donkeys on a bridge. After his subordinates try to push, pull and cajole them out of the way, Patton steps up, delivers a bullet to each of their brains and has them tossed off the bridge.
    • In a non-violent method, he comes to a cross road with two caravans of vehicles trying to both get by at the same time. He pulls rank and stands in the cross road, ordering one vehicle from one group to go by, then one from the other group. All they needed was a traffic cop directing them but it took a general to do it.
  • In the Day Watch, Tamerlane spends a while examining the ways into the maze guarding the Chalk of Fate, before realizing it would be a lot easier to simply blast through the walls themselves to get to the middle.
  • In Red Frank has to break into a secret archive in the basement of CIA headquarters. He gets right to the door but it is protected by a state-of-the-art biometric system that he cannot break or subvert. However, it is not an actual vault but a converted file room so the walls around the door were built by a lowest bid government contractor. He simply smashes through the drywall around the door.
  • In seemingly every buddy cop movie, there is a scene wherein a character will attempt to open a door with lock picks or some other delicate method, whilst his street smart friend will simply kick the door in.
  • In the Robert Downey Jr./Guy Ritchie version of Sherlock Holmes, Holmes takes out a very professional looking lockpicking kit to open up a locked door. Watson just kicks the thing down.
  • Near the end of I Robot the enemy shuts a critical panel on the protagonists. Turns out that the panel isn't as tough as maverick cop Detective Spooner's mechanical arm. Said arm comes in use again soon after when they have to descend several stories to get to VIKI's core processor, because a mechanical arm isn't compromised by having its skin flayed off. Still hurts like hell though.
  • Jurassic Park III has one of the characters finding a row of vending machines, pulling out change and counting how much he needs. One of the other characters, remembering that they're on an abandoned island, simply walks up and kicks through the display window of the next vending machine and takes what he wants. Then the first guy tries it on his vending machine, and completely fails.
  • In Captain America: The First Avenger, one drill sergeant tells the recruits that if they can get a flag off the flagpole, they won't need to finish their run and can take a ride back to base. After everyone fails to climb up the flagpole, Steve Rogers takes out the screws at its base, causing it to fall over, removes the flag, and gives it to the sergeant.
    • Despite his advantageous shortcut-taking when it comes to problem solving, he believes this is not how you solve a life-or-death dilemma and that someone claiming to be a real hero knows when you have to do it the hard way (whatever the consequence). This causes some friction when he confronts Tony Stark in The Avengers, who at the time believed this was the proper solution when you're in a bind. Almost having to sacrifice himself to a nuclear explosion and/or being trapped in the void of another dimension at the movie's climax is the breakthrough he needs to see things Steve's way.
    • This trope is actually mentioned in dialogue in The Avengers aboard the Heli-carrier:
      Steve: You're not the guy to make the sacrifice play. To lay down on a wire and let the other guy crawl over you.
      Tony: I think I would just cut the wire.
      Steve: (smiles bitterly) Always a way out.
  • In Ever After, the servants are trying to get Danielle out of the cabinet her mother locked her up in. Feeling that it is useless to pick the lock, Da Vinci comes over, simply pulls the pins out of the door hinges and opens it that way. Da Vinci comically lampshades this.
    Servant: That was genius!
    Da Vinci: Yes. I will go down in history as a man who opened a door.
  • In The Last Unicorn Schmendrick tries various spells to free the unicorn. After a few unsuccessful tries he produces a set of keys he has stolen that will open the cage.
  • In the film of The Bourne Identity, both Jason and Marie get in on this. Jason makes a complicated plan to get some information on one of his other identities from a hotel, but Marie simply walks up to the hotel manager, introduces herself as the personal assistant to "John Michael Kane", and asks for a photocopy of his hotel bill. Later, Marie and Jason are trying to get into Marie's cousin's house to hide. Marie starts looking for the spare key, but Jason rams the door open with his shoulder.
  • Played with in Blue Streak. Martin Lawrence's character is a professional jewel thief, trying to steal a large diamond under heavy security. Him and his apprentice get to the safe. The pro asks the rookie (in a quiz-like fashion) how to open the safe. The rookie starts rattling off the procedure. The pro stops him and tells him that step one is to check if the door is open. Naturally, he's just kidding. The safe is locked.
  • A rare non-violent example in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. In Kirk's backstory, it is revealed that he dealt with the infamous "no-win" scenario in Starfleet training. He is given a citation for creative thinking.
    • This comes up again in the 2009 reboot movie. However, in this timeline, he programs in a glitch that shuts down the enemy defenses, technically "winning" but making it blatantly obvious that he cheated.
  • Star Trek Into Darkness:
    • On the planetoid, McCoy's hand is stuck in a torpedo counting down to detonation. Carol tries to deactivate it and, failing that, rips out the control unit. Cue torpedo power down.
    • Carol Marcus valiantly stands up to her father, Admiral Marcus, stating that if he wants to destroy the Enterprise, he'll have to kill her too. His solution? Immediately transport her off the Enterprise to his ship.
  • Superman Returns: Superman's solution to Luthor's growing island of Kryptonite is to dive deep below the island carve out a mile deep layer of rock beneath it and boost the whole thing into space. The rock provided enough distance and protection for Superman to use his powers, at least until the Kryptonite crystals burrowed through it towards the end.
  • Under Siege 2: Dark Territory: Casey is informed by mad hacker Dane that he's too late to stop the Kill Sat from firing, and even if he wasn't, there's no way he'd get through his laptop's encryption program. Casey proceeds to get through the encryption program, the laptop, and Dane's chest via the expenditure of a few rounds of ammo.


  • Fire's ability to invoke this trope is frequently mentioned as a reason for its appeal in Fahrenheit451.
    If there wasn't a solution, well then now there was no problem, either.
  • In the Artemis Fowl series, Holly had to defeat a number of projected holographic opponents as part of her entrance exam to the LEP. Rather than fight with all of the holograms, she simply shot the projector. They had to pass her because she technically defeated every single opponent.
    • She also passed a different test by shooting Root with a paintball. He did say that doing so would let her pass automatically...but she shoots him in a situation which any sane person would consider inappropriate: he was about to fail her, and he asked if she could do something to change his mind.
  • The Discworld book The Last Hero includes a reference to the Tsortean Knot, followed by a scene in which Cohen the Barbarian (disguised as a god) is asked to prove his divinity by beating the god of Fate at a game of dice. Fate rolls a six, and Cohen is reminded "Gods play to win," so he's got to roll higher ... on a six-sided die. He calls his shot: "That's a knotty one. (To the group's chronicler/bard, who had told him the Tsortean Knot story) Ye'll remember I said that, lad?". He then rolls the die ... and cuts it in half with his sword on the way down, so that it lands showing a six and a one.
    • According to Norwegian folklore, King Olaf did the same thing, thereby winning an island from the king of Sweden.
    • It should be noted that none of Cohen's barbarian horde were very impressed by the original story, feeling that cutting it was rather a cheap move.
    • In Interesting Times, the same Silver Horde barbarians take a shortcut through the Imperial Palace by cutting their way through its paper walls.
    • Another time Granny Weatherwax challenges three prospective witches to knock her hat off. Two of them decline to attempt, one concentrates and fails to do anything. She then asks Nanny Ogg to demonstrate, who then throws a stick at her head.
      Girl: Any of us could have done that!
      Granny: But you didn't.
    • This is a running theme in that particular book; the younger witches think witchcraft is about magic, while the older ones know that witchcraft is about having the capacity to think sensibly for three seconds in a row. When the younger witches still complain, Granny gets frustrated and obliges them by using magic to blow up Nanny's hat.
  • This is is employed in book the third of A Series of Unfortunate Events when a child simply bites off a piece of Count Olaf's disguise to authority figures, with the author explaining the concept by name (Gordian Knot) immediately beforehand.
  • The novelization of the first Resident Evil title has a scene analogous to the "Armor Room" puzzle from the actual game. Instead of manipulating two statues to block the poison gas vents before pressing the button to unlock the crest kept under glass (as happens in the game), Jill simply uses the butt of her pistol to smash the case and grab the crest - an option that, sadly, is not available in the game itself.
  • In How Kazir Won His Wife, Kazir wants to marry the daughter of a king. The king, with one always-truthful daughter and one always lying daughter sets him a series of Knights and Knaves puzzles, ending with an impossible one: he must determine both the name and the marital status of one of the king's daughters, whose honesty he does not know, with a single yes/no question. one of the king's daughters elopes with Kazir
  • Myst: The Book of Atrus has Atrus and his father Gehn exploring the ruins of D'ni, searching for blank books. While scavenging, Atrus happens upon a door locked by a puzzle that could have come straight from the video games, and happily settles down to think his way through it... only to be disappointed when Gehn simply smashes the door apart, nicely foreshadowing the latter's approach to problem-solving.
  • In Phule's Company, similar to the 8-bit Theater example but earlier, the Omega Squad learns soon after Phule takes over that the fastest way to get through an obstacle course leaves it needing to be rebuilt.
  • The Robert A. Heinlein short story "The Long Watch" has a nuclear weapon engineer on the moon locking himself in a bunker (with all the nuclear warheads) to stop a rebelling office from taking control of them in a coup attempt. His first thoughts are to defuse the "brain" circuits of each bomb, realizes he doesn't have enough time before those involved with the coup break into the bunker and ends up smashing the plutonium with a hammer.
  • In The Princess Bride, Inigo and Fezzik inadvertently use this trope. They are trying to get through Humperdinck's sinister and booby-trapped Zoo of Death. The first staircase has a mighty snake that Fezzik must overpower. The second staircase is pitch black with poisonous bats, requiring Inigo's superhuman sword skills to detect and skewer. The third and final staircase looks completely ordinary and harmless. However, by this point, Fezzik is so scared that he rams through the door at the bottom in a panic, not bothering to turn the knob. Then Inigo casually steps on a spider that emerges from the broken door. Neither of them realize that the spider (an incredibly poisonous and aggressive type that lived behind the doorknob) was the trap.
  • In Animorphs, Puppeteer Parasite aliens try to infiltrate a major conference attended by several heads of state with the intention of infesting the majority of the world's leaders at once. The main characters try the stealthy sabotage route, which does not work. In the end they end up turning into elephants and rhinos and doing so much damage to the hotel that they have to cancel the whole event.
  • In Humans, a safe cracker explains his favorite method of opening a small wall safe - break the safe out of the wall and take it home with you, where you'll have all the time you need to open it any way you prefer.
  • In the Dean Koontz novel The Face, Big Bad Corky Laputa is breaking into a secured area. The door is held in place with a chain latched with a massive padlock, one with an immensely thick metal clamp that bolt cutters will be useless against. Heck, Shoot Out the Lock might not even be an option! Corky ignores the lock completely and cuts the chain.
  • Tortall Universe
    • In the second Song of the Lioness book, Alanna is also confronted with a door charmed against lockpicking. She puts both hands on it and shoves her magic into the lock, forcefully exploding the spell. Her cat Faithful compliments her on the technique.
    • In The Immortals, young dragon Kit's lockpicking spell fails on a magic lock, so she just uses a different spell to yank it out of the door.
    • Averted in Provost's Dog, where Beka and Goodwin are given a briefcase charmed for protection before setting out to Port Caynn. The spell is on the whole case, "none of this spelled-the-buckle-so-cut-the-leather nonsense."
  • In The Hunger Games series, Tributes are trapped in an arena where they must survive by killing all the other competitors. 24 years before the start of the series, Haymitch Abernathy spent his Game trying to find the edge of the arena, as if his survival plan was to escape the arena rather than win the game. In the second book Catching Fire, this is how the rebels save the heroine and (some of) her allies — not by helping her win the game but by getting her to destroy the force field separating the arena from the outside world.
  • Ender’s Game: While Ender is still in his preliminary training to combat the bugger aliens, he enjoys whiling away his downtime on a computer game called "Freeplay". In one section of the game he encounters an evil giant who forces him to choose between two drinks; one of them is poison. After failing the test several times, Ender makes his character attack the giant and gouge his eyes out, allowing Ender to continue. The school's top brass takes this as a sign that Ender has what it takes to win the alien war.
    • Interesting to note is that killing the giant isn't supposed to even be an option. The game is intended as a way of psychologically profiling the students. Both glasses are poisoned, and the whole setup is intended as a way of checking for suicidal tendencies. The accepted "right" answer is to stop going back to the Giant's Drink after failing a few times. When Ender kills the giant, he pretty much goes off the rails, and the game starts inventing new areas more directly based on his mind.
  • In The Magician King Eliot explains that the keys he had to find were all guarded by a monster or a puzzle, but when they got to the beach entirely made out of keys, they couldn't figure out the answer. So instead they just spent a couple weeks testing keys 24 hours a day until they found the one that fit.
  • In Rivers of London, Nightingale and Gant discover two vampires sleeping in the cellar of a suburban family home. Rather than go through the lengthy and risky business with stakes and garlic and so forth, they toss white phosphorous grenades into the cellar and let the house burn to ashes along with all of its contents.
  • Throne of Jade begins with a Chinese embassy demanding the return of the Celestial they call Lung Tien Xiang and Captain Laurence's refusal to trick or manipulate the dragon he raised from a hatchling into leaving. When Admiral Lenton pointed out the difficulty of getting a 20 ton dragon that refuses to be parted from his handler to go anywhere to the head of the Chinese delegation.
    Prince Yongxing: "Then plainly Captain Lawrence must come also; or will you now attempt to convince us that he cannot be sent?"

    Live-Action TV 
  • It's safe to say this is somewhat of a Running Gag in the Stargate Verse.
    • In the Stargate SG-1 episode "Full Circle", Carter, Jonas Quinn and the ascended Daniel are trying to find the Eye of Ra. They decipher where it is, but can't figure out how to open the compartment...until Carter, noting that they don't have much time, tells the other two to stand back, and shoots it open with her P90.
    • In an earlier episode, as Bra'tac is telling SG-1 of the convoluted series of tasks they have to do to destroy the shield generators, O'Neill busies himself with pulling the pins on a pair of frag grenades and dropping them down the hole.
    • O'Neill does this a lot. In fact one could almost describe cutting knots as his job on the team, just like Carter handles tech and Daniel handles talking and Teal'c handles asskicking.
    • Daniel, of all people, does this. After activating Merlin's library, Mitchell has to battle the Black Knight solid hologram guard outside. After unsuccessfully trying to turn it off, Daniel writes down everything he can and shoots the control crystals.
    • Done memorably by Ronon in the Stargate Atlantis episode "The Lost Tribe." Keller, clearly not knowing much about Ronon, starts rattling off the necessity of an elaborate series of computer commands to shut down systems and then lock the Wraith out. Ronon just starts blasting away at crystal trays until the right thing shuts down.
    • Keller's mind got Freaky Friday Flipped with a thief. When the team locates the Ancient phlebotinum that caused it, McKay starts trying to figure out how it works, but Ronon shoots it and the FFF reverses.
  • In Twin Peaks, Sheriff Truman gives Agent Cooper Laura Palmer's diary, saying that they haven't found the key yet. Cooper simply breaks the lock with his hands.
    • In another episode, a character finds a metal puzzle-box which he is supposed to tortuously figure out how to open. He blasts it a few times with a handgun, which opens it right up.
  • In Firefly, the crew is very keen on this approach, especially Mal. In the pilot episode "Serenity", he defuses a hostage situation which he just walked into by shooting the captor in the head without even breaking stride.
    • And this ends up in one of the comics leaving him with a crazy with a mechanical eye (Mal failed to kill the guy, just took his eye) working with the Hands of Blue to kill Mal and capture Simon and River. Needless to say, they fail. Epicly.
    • Or the episode "The Train Job", where a Crime Lord's Dragon refuses to take back money from Mal for a job they couldn't complete, instead telling them how he'll come after them until he kills them all. Rather than create a Recurring Boss, Mal kicks the guy into the turbines of his spaceship. When they bring the next mook over to the same spot and restart the process, the mook immediately agrees to do whatever Mal says.
  • The Big Bang Theory
    • Penny has to get Sheldon's Flash drive from inside a puzzle box. Sheldon starts instructing her over the phone on the convoluted procedure to open it; Penny interrupts him and asks if he has any emotional attachment to the box, and when Sheldon says no she simply smashes it open.
    • In another episode, Howard tries using a robot hand to pleasure himself and it gets stuck. After Leonard and Rajesh run out of ideas of what to do, they take Howard to the Emergency Room. There, the Nurse suggests simply turning the hand off, and despite Howard's pleas not to do so, she turns it off, and the hand lets go.
  • On All That, this was pretty much the M.O. of Kel Mitchell's Repair Man (Man man man man man...), who would "fix" problematic objects by simply destroying them completely. No more object, no more problem.
  • On Leverage Eliot disables a security camera by throwing a rock at it. Unusually, the Magical Security Cam doesn't apply in a show that likes its Hollywood security systems, and the guards come to find out why the camera went out.
  • The 10th Kingdom sees a pair of doors near the end, when Tony and Virginia are trying to sneak into the castle. The creature guarding the doors is a talking frog, and he presents a variation of the Knights and Knaves scenario where, of course, one door leads to a horrible death. Tony, by now fed up with the bizarre rules of life in a fairy tale universe, picks up the frog and tosses the protesting amphibian through one of the doors. Moments later there's a loud explosion from beyond the door, prompting Tony's remark that that one must have been the horrible death.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • In the episode "Fear Itself", Anya asks Giles if he can make a door to rescue the trapped Scoobies in the haunted house. He says "I can", and instead of a mystical spell, whips out a chainsaw and starts cutting. In the same episode, as Giles tries to figure how to stop the demon, mentions destroying its symbol ... is not the way to do it, and will bring forth the demon. By the time he finishes telling Buffy, she has already destroyed it, but the demon turns out to be only a few inches tall, so she easily kills it.
    • Buffy does this earlier in the series when fighting a demon called the Judge which is invulnerable to any weapon forged. Cue rocket launcher.
  • A similar thing happens in the Angel spinoff series when the group fight the beast - a nigh invulnerable demon - for the first time. Angel attacks it with his fists and a wooden stake to no avail, and one might expect Wesley being the ex watcher to whip out an enchanted blade or magical spell. Nope. Out come dual pistols. Then a shotgun. Unfortunately...
  • On the first episode of Scorpion, Sylvester can only do math if all the chalk on the board is arranged by size. Paige cuts through this by sweeping all of the chalk into a garbage can and only letting him have one piece.
  • In Burn Notice, Michael spends most of an episode trying to gather enough evidence to get a war criminal extradited to his home country. When the plan falls through, he simply kidnaps him and ships him back home in a crate.
  • In the Torchwood episode "Meat," when the team tries to break into a warehouse, the following dialog ensues:
    Ianto: Did you bring the alarm deactivator?
    Owen: shoots alarm
  • One episode of Bones has an actual corpse inside a Halloween maze made out of hay-bales. After spending some time trying to make their way through the maze normally, Booth gets frustrated, asks the policeman standing next to the corpse to toss his flashlight in the air, and barrels his way through walls until he reaches it.
  • An episode of Sesame Street had Mr. Hooper present Cookie Monster with a puzzle - make both of these plates (which contained cookies, naturally) look the same. After deliberating for a bit, Cookie Monster proceeded to eat all the cookies from both plates, thereby making both plates look the same (i.e. empty).
  • In the "Countdown" episode of Castle, Castle and Beckett are faced with a just-about-to-detonate dirty bomb with no sign of the bomb squad. Castle's response to this tricky situation is to simply grab all the wires he can see and yank them under the reasoning that neither of them knows how to do it the "right" way, and if he's wrong, the bomb will just go off two seconds sooner. It works.
    • He's smart enough to do it after kissing Beckett.
  • In one episode of Titus, Titus is trying to formally propose to his girlfriend in the emergency room while both their families are there after a Thanksgiving brawl. Unfortunately, her thieving ex-con older brother has stolen it; though tied to a chair by the police officers who dragged him in for treatment, he still refuses to give up the ring. Titus asks his dad for help:
    Ken: You know, I never hit my boys. Instead, I took years to destroy their self-esteem and mold them into upstanding citizens. With you, I don't have that kind of time. Flicks his cigarette lighter, starts moving it towards Michael's face until Michael relents
  • In an episode of Supernatural, the only weapon that can kill the monster of the week is a sword trapped Excalibur-style inside a stone. Dean does at first try just pulling it out, confident that he's the brave knight the legend says can free the sword; when that doesn't work he switches to sticking explosives all over the rock. And manages to break the sword.
    • Killing an okami usually requires stabbing it seven times with a bamboo dagger blessed by a Shinto priest. Not being in possession of such a weapon, Bobby throws the okami into a wood-chipper. Ludicrous Gibs ensue.
    • Earlier, Dean killed a tiny fairy by stuffing it into a microwave.
  • In a dream sequence on Gilligan's Island, someone tells the Skipper's character "Inspector Whatney", "Use your head, Inspector!" to defeat the vampire. The inspector head butts him. This works.
  • In an episode of The A-Team, Murdock must get into a locked clothing store for a disguise to pull off a scam and save the rest of the team. But his companion and episode guest star Boy George simply kicks the thing in.
    Boy George: Who needs honesty?
  • In one episode of NCIS, Abby's computer is being hacked by a person or system so fast and skilled that she can't stop them, even with super-nerd McGee's help. Gibbs' solution? Unplug the computer. In another episode, someone has set up an evil supercomputer, and when Abby And McGee are struggling to hack into it and shut it down before a countdown ends, Gibbs ends up just shooting the computer. Many times.
  • On Untold Stories of the ER, a patient who desperately needs surgery can't be treated at the small clinic where he's diagnosed, but his insurance won't pay for the ambulance service to take him to a bigger hospital. Unable to cut through the red tape to arrange transport for their patient, the doctors hit upon a counterintuitive solution: they call 911, which the ambulance service is contractually obliged to respond to, even when the call comes from a hospital. The bill from the ambulance service went to the hospital not the person.
  • The Amazing Race:
    • In Season 11, Danny became frustrated while doing a Roadblock that involved finding and collecting old newspapers from locals in a Malaysian neighborhood, so he just went to a store and bought a bunch of papers to complete the task (though this would cause them further problems later in the race).
    • On Australia Season 1, when Nathan grew tired of digging through a mine cart full of salt, looking for a key, he just tipped the cart over and sifted through the scattered salt on the ground.
  • One Top Gear challenge had the team trying to take down housing with military vechiles. First they tried to use the crane, mine clearing spinner, and several other devices to pull the building down. Finally, they gave up and just used them as battering rams.
    • A Top Gear (US) challenge had the hosts trying to break into each other's cheap cars. Rutledge and Tanner try to pick the locks on the door. Adam takes a tire iron and smashes the window, then unlocks the door and drives off.
  • Savino of Vegas needed to ensure his candidate for mayor came out on top of a televised debate against a far more experienced politician. They prepped a brilliant opening speech and then cut power to the broadcasting antenna so his opponent couldn't tear it apart.
  • In Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "The Arsenal of Freedom", the crew comes upon an ancient advanced weapon system that appears to have been left on demo mode. After threatening the lives of both the away team and the Enterprise in orbit... Picard defeats it by telling the sales pitch hologram that he'd like to purchase it.
    • This only partial works, as the sales pitch hologram refuses to disable the drone attacking the ship in orbit. Win some, lose some, I guess...
  • In The Mentalist, Patrick pulls a prank on Lisbon by putting her keys in a puzzle box he had trouble solving. She pulls a hammer out of her desk, bashes the lid in, and removes her keys.
    Patrick: You keep a hammer in your desk?
    Lisbon: You only think you know everything about me.
  • A villainous example in the Person of Interest episode "All In." The Dirty Cop organization "HR" is trying curry favor with the Russian mob by getting one of their enforcers, arrested in an earlier episode, acquitted. At first they try framing the organized crime detective leading the investigation as a Dirty Cop. After Detective Carter uses Forensic Accounting to reveal the frame-up, HR turns to shooting the detective, and the DA prosecuting the case for good measure.
  • In one episode of House of Anubis Sibuna is trying to figure out how to get the crocodile bridge over the chasm in the tunnels. Fabian suggested a complex counterweight lever system. Immediately after, Amber suggested they merely picked the bridge up on it's side and drop it over the hole.
    • In another episode they are trying to get past a dead-end, and Alfie suggests to just smash the wall down with their shoulders. He doesn't smash the wall, but he does disarm the pendulums swinging over the chasm bridge and finds the way across.
  • Done on the Korean Game Show The Genius: In one game, 10 guests were brought in, and the players were told to find out as much as they could about them and given one hour to interact freely. They were then told to give 3 shortnote  statements and would earn a point for each statement that was true for exactly 5 out of the 10 guests according to the guests themselves. At this point, the players generally used statements like "My birthday is in an even month". Then the players were told they would be prompted for 5 more statements (still aiming for a 5/5 true/false split) after a 10-minute break, during which they could again interact freely with the guests. Cue the players frantically running around trying to get all the guests' birthdays, blood types, etc. But midway into the break, Hong Jinho stopped, went up to 5 random guests, rubbed the back of his hand against theirs, called them stupid and pretty, made a V Sign at them, and told them his brother's name, much to the guests' bemusement. Then he provided statements like "Jinho told me his brother's name" and "Jinho rubbed the back of his hand against mine". He became the only player to earn a perfect score in Round 2 and won the game.
  • In the episode "Head Case" of Seven Days Parker is running around with the president's therapist. During the episode they need to get a piece of mail out of the mailbox. The therapist starts reciting one of her calming exercises as she tries to figure out how to get into the mail box. Frank just goes over to a nearby road construction crew and asks to borrow a sledgehammer.
  • Lampshaded in an episode of Unforgettable. Faced with an anarchist hacker about to wreck the financial system from his computer who likes to reference Greek myths, Carrie asks him if he's heard of the Gordian knot. After he answers with the Trope Namer, she puts a bullet through his laptop.

  • Red vs. Blue: Church is implanted with ten megaton bomb which proceeds to destroy the present and send everyone into the future, except for himself who instead gets sent into the past (don't ask). After returning to the present, Church makes several attempts to disarm the bomb in his former self only to be constantly met with failure, including making several copies of himself. At one point, his plan is as follows:
    Church: And then I teleported back and just decided to kill everybody that I could see.
    Other Church: Why did you do that?
    Church: Well... seemed like fun... think I went a little nuts there for a while...
    • Sarge uses his contingency plan when their attempt to bluff their way past the computer failed. The contingency plan being a shotgun.

    Tabletop RPG 
  • In Tabletop RPGs, players going Off the Rails frequently do this, much to the horror of the GM.
    • A hilarious example is seen in this DM of the Rings strip, where the players come across the doors to the Mines of Moria, completely ignore the riddle and instead rattle off several increasingly ludicrous ways of Cutting the Knot (picking the hinges, bashing the lock, breaking down the door, pouring water in the cracks to crack the door when it freezes, etc), culminating in the players getting ready to build a battering ram until the DM screams the answer in frustration.
  • In Ars Magica, this is part of the theme of House Tytalus, and part of the background has an apprentice to a mage challenged, as his final exam, to open a box which his master has spent a long time enchanting. After gearing up, and throwing every spell at it that he had, the apprentice kneels in front of his master, acknowledging that he was not ready to be a full mage. His master then walks over to the box and pulls the lid open. He hadn't locked it.
  • That door magically reinforced, locked, and likely to have a trap on it? No problem. Smash through the wall next to it.

    Video Games 
  • In Portal 2, there is a point in which Wheatley must "hack" open a door. He tells you to turn around, then smashes the window, allowing Chell to portal herself into there.
    • He does the same thing when attempting a "manual override" on a wall.
  • In Tales of Eternia, the party encounters a gate that will not open unless they figure out how to open it from a riddle. As the party laments that The Smart Guy stayed behind, Max simply rams it open.
  • At the end of Brog's segment of Zork: Grand Inquisitor, he is confronted with a complicated puzzle guarding the Skull of Yoruk. After making a valiant effort to solve the puzzle, the solution presents itself in the form of smashing the cage open with a wooden plank.
    • Also, when stuck on the tech support hotline from hell (literally), you can copy down and work through the complicated set of rules to figure out which buttons to press... or just cast the "Simplify complex directions" spell left over from a previous puzzle.
  • In Second Sight at the end of the game, the Big Bad hides behind bullet/psi-proof glass. Too bad the frame wasn't psi-proof as well.
  • The fictional Book of Cataclysms from Syndicate Wars featured this passage:
    "When tact is required, use brute force. When force is required, use greater force. When the greatest force is required, use your head. Surprise is everything."
  • From Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando, we get this exchange when the duo comes across an upgraded wrench in a glass container:
    Clank: It says, "Use wrench to break glass."
    Ratchet: *Pulls back his wrench*
    Clank: Hang on. *Looking at a smaller glass case with a rock inside* This one says, "Use rock to break glass to get wrench to break glass to get rock." Oooh! I love logic puzzles! Let's see, if you break the-
    Ratchet: *Having broken open the case with his own wrench* Solved it!
    *Victory music plays*
    • In the same game, while not a real puzzle, Planet Joba contains multiple doors with switches wired to them, but the doors often have enemies behind them, and a smart player will have to prepare themselves with an appropriate weapon so that they can find a switch and react in time in order to defeat the resulting attacking enemies. An even smarter player will just hop on a nearby turret, blast open the door, and then blast the enemies inside.
  • At the climax of Guilty Gear 2: Overture, Sol has to analyze and deactivate the Key before it can unlock the Cube while his party tries to hold off Valentine. After he accomplishes this, he reveals that even though his analysis was going well, he got bored and decided to just break the Key instead (this also has the beneficial effect of making it so that the same Key can never be used again).
  • This is Adell's modus operandi in Disgaea 2. He even lampshades it at one point by solving a complex geopuzzle in no time when he explains that it's not that he can't think, it's that it's usually faster to just beat your problems into submission.
  • At one point in Evil Dead: Hail to the King, Ash comes upon a locked door guarded by what seems to the worst puzzle in the game yet. The game changes perspective to the standard, pre-rendered "puzzle screen" and the instructions tell you to find seven rare earth elements and then balance them against each other by their specific weight to open the door. Then Ash suddenly jumps in, aims his trusty shotgun at the wall-mounted puzzle and simply shoots the door open instead.
  • In Mass Effect 1, a sidequest has you trying to stop a rogue AI from self-destructing. You can use your computer skills to disable the AI before the self-destruct finishes warming up...or you can just shoot it a few times. Granted, the brute force approach is the least beneficial option, as while it's guaranteed to work, it deprives you of the large sum of credits the AI had stored in its system.
    • At one point in the sequel, a drell named Kolyat takes a turian hostage at gunpoint. You don't want to kill Kolyat because he's the son of one of your squadmates, and you certainly don't want Kolyat to kill the hostage because preventing him from becoming a murderer like his father was the whole point of the mission in the first place. Renegade Shepard just shoots the hostage him/herself. Granted, the hostage really deserved it.
    Kolyat: All of you, back off! I'll kill him!
    Shepard: No you won't. (BANG) Hostages only work when your enemy cares if they live.
    Thane: Interesting solution.
    Shepard: Now your son can't kill him.
    • In the Citadel DLC for Mass Effect 3, Shepard will be confronted by an angry Traynor who just got thrown off the Normandy by Shepard's clone. If Shepard is in a romance with her, when she kisses her to prove it's really her, the squadmembers can be seen in the background opening the door. Almost everyone uses their omni-tools to hack it open...except for Wrex who opts to just shoot the door's conduit, which works perfectly.
  • Level 18 of Chip's Challenge: You can push water-removing blocks into the moat to build a bridge, or... you can walk all the way around the level to the flippers.
  • Many doors and security terminals in Knights of the Old Republic can be simply bashed open or blown up, but this yields less experience.
    • The room before the final boss in KotOR 1 has a locked door that will unlock after you deactivate six droid generators, by using the parts from the droids they create. Alternately, you can just bash the door a couple of times and skip the whole problem. In the second game, though, this often leads to some or all of the loot behind the door getting turned to slag.
    • This also applies to open-ended questions posed by the Jedi Council, as one answer to how to get past a locked door is "Knock."
    • Kreia of the second game has been Jedi and Sith, historian, exile, master, archivist, and teacher. She has seen the constant pattern of the two major Force schools squbble endlessly, hunt down each other to near-extinction, only to have a handful of survivors come roaring back to repeat the Cycle of Revenge. Her idea the stop this nonsense? Kill the Force!
  • Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory.
    • Locks can either be slowly but quietly unlocked, or Sam can cut through them with his blade. This makes a lot of noise, and enemies are smart enough to know when doors have been tampered with.
    • In the same game, in the "Displace" level, Sam has to get codes from a laptop by accessing it wirelessly. This would require Sam to stalk the men carrying the laptop. Or he could just use his gadgets to take them down by force.
      Sam: Finesse is for the young and the cocky.
  • In Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow Sam encounters a Time Bomb that will spread small pox throughout the ventilation system when it goes off, and doesn't have the time to defuse it or get it far enough away from people to not endanger lives. He ultimately just takes it and leaves it in the main terminal building, knowing the bomb squad will show up with the proper gear and training to contain it for him (which they do).
  • This is pretty much the defining characteristic of Johnny Gat from Saints Row. Presented with any intelligent, well-worked-out plan, his own suggestion is invariably to simply kill everyone in the general vicinity until the problem goes away. This isn't for ease or effectiveness; he just loves to kill people.
  • Devil May Cry: Dante, while trying to return to town in his section of the fourth game, comes across a board game/puzzle that Nero had to stay and waste his time with previously in the Cathedral's basement. A statue of Dante and the die appear prompting him to play through with it to leave the room. Deciding not to waste his time while poison gas slips through the room, Dante slices the die in two, ending (and somehow winning) the game prematurely.
  • In the Fallout: New Vegas DLC Old World Blues, a challenge/experiment involves securing a document without being spotted by patrolling robots. One solution is to destroy the robots, then start the test. Likewise, a later part of the test involves getting past tripwires in the same test. You can disable those before (or during) the test then walk right through them. The latter two portions of the test can't be cheated, though. For extended knot cutting, if you have a high enough lockpick skill, you can bypass the test entirely, and just get in the final room through the back stairs.
    • The Honest Hearts DLC allowed you to do this, although it was not necessarily easier than the alternative, just quicker (and it is morally problematic except possibly for Legion-aligned Couriers to do it deliberately): instead of helping out Daniel and Joshua in exchange for a map of the way back to the Mojave, just kill one of them (or a friendly tribal) and steal the map. You lose out on experience and achievements, but it is always an option if you just want to get back to the Mojave quickly.
  • Take The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess - early on in the fifth dungeon, you have to deal with ice by aiming stationary cannons with hidden cannonballs at it, carefully avoiding it, and so on. Later on, you can pull out your Ball and Chain and go to town smashing it.
    • This also comprises the entire second half of the Temple of Time in the same game. The entire gimmick for the area is that you have to traverse the temple in order to find a statue, bring it back down to the first level, and position it in the correct place in order to unlock the way to the boss. Going up to retrieve said statue, you have to deal with tedious puzzles involving sliding gates that are controlled by specifically-placed switches. However, once you get the statue, it turns out that it's also equipped with a big honking hammer that you can use to just bash the gates down (along with any other monsters in your path) on the trip back down.
  • Done in the Penumbra series, which tends to use a fairly realistic approach to solving puzzles. The most notable example happens early in the game where you need to open a locked chest. You can look for the key...or you can just break it open with your pickaxe.
  • Red Faction was pretty much sold on this premise alone. It boasted a real-time environment damage-modeling system called GeoMod that actually took rocket fights to their logical conclusion, which was completely wasted buildings. It was actually necessary to blow holes in walls with grenades and mines at some points in order to progress. One of the taglines on the back of the box was "Can't find the key? Make your own door." Coming from the world of FPSes where a BFG9000 blast could lay waste to every ounce of organic tissue in a 100x100 room but a series of 10 of them couldn't even put a scratch on a door, a lot of gamers found it refreshing to be able to say "Screw the red key" and blast a hole in the adjoining wall instead.
    • ...and then found themselves feeling ripped off once the game started throwing completely indestructible buildings and doors their way at around halfway through the game.
    • This tactic works pretty well in Red Faction: Guerrilla. Pretty much all buildings are destructible so if you encounter soldiers taking pots shot from a doorway or holed up in a bunker you can eschew FPS convention by approaching the structure from the side and smashing your way in with a sledgehammer. That or drive a truck through it.
    • Relatedly, Battlefield: Bad Company and Battlefield 3 allow this by way of the Frostbite engine, especially in multiplayer; you can either force your way into the building housing an M-COM station, set it to detonate, and keep the other side away until it blows up, or you can shoot at the walls around it with a tank or RPG until the entire building collapses and takes it out.
  • In Neverwinter Nights 2: Mask of the Betrayer, there is a puzzle consisting of two rooms, each with a mixture of fire and ice mephits randomly flying around. Your task is to put all fire mephits in one room and all ice mephits in the other one. You can carefully time openings of the door between the rooms... or you can use an obelisk to kill them all, and then drag their corpses around. You get less XP the brutal way, though.
  • In Final Fantasy VI, the boss Wrexsoul can be rather complicated to defeat; you're supposed to kill your own party until he emerges from hiding, and then commence attacking him. Or, you know, you could just cast X-Zone on him, that works just as well.
    • There's also Number 024. He appears soon after you get magic, and you're apparently supposed to use your magic to defeat him, as he changes weaknesses at will. The thing is - he lacks the same insane physical defense that everything else in that dungeon possesses, so you can just beat the tar out of him with your weapons until he goes down.
    • There is also it's Palette Swap, Magic master. You're only limited in magic, and you're supposed to use your strongest magic. Or, you can utilize Umaro early on and pummel him to death. Why?He isn't affected by the limitation. You still have to cast Reraise or have High HP in order to survive the monster's final attack.
  • In Higurashi no Naku Koro ni for the first arcs people tend to take this approach because they feel the other options just aren't good enough. For example, in the third question arc,note  which is focused around Satoko, she's in a terrible situation. Numerous possibilities are gone through and discarded before a more direct approach is taken. Ultimately, though, Higurashi does not support this conclusion and it's one of the aesops you can pull out of the story that even if the other guy really has it coming and is a complete scumbag with no redeeming qualities, murder just isn't the answer.
  • In Dungeon Crawl, there are labyrinths that pose a significant threat to under-prepared adventurers. While they feature almost no enemies, the entrance disappears shortly after discovering it, leaving little to no time to prepare for the maze itself. The maze can often be long and elaborate: The autoexplore feature is disabled while you're inside, the game doesn't remember any map tiles for long after you're out of view of them, and the clues to the location of your goal are obscure at best. Worst of all, the maze regularly shifts itself, rearranging and making it that much harder to solve. Finally, while wands of digging do exist, and can be used by a canny player to help reach the goal, they will only have an effect on the weaker rock walls, and not the harder metal and stone walls that compose much of the maze. But it is still possible for a player to cut the knot, with just the right spell: Lee's Rapid Deconstruction can tear down nearly any wall with high enough spell power, allowing you to bypass parts of the maze with a bit of effort.
  • Inverted in Professor Layton and the Lost Future, naturally. Thugs are expected to use good-old violence to stop interlopers... but here, they toss a puzzle your way instead! Is it any wonder that the next game introduced Emmy to deal with thugs?
  • Custom Robo (at least the Gamecube version) has this problem as well, with every fight being solved through a Holosseum battle, even when big muscular guys who could just get things done faster by punching the opposing party in the face are involved.
  • A infamous question among the Pokémon Fandom. "Instead of surrendering why don't the criminal organizations just shoot the kid who comes in to destroy their plans?" Granted Ghetsis did attempt to kill the hero after harnessing the games' big legendary, and Lysandre tried to kill the hero only after his plans were already ruined.
    • The games also comes with a knot-cutter in the form of the Master Ball. Many an epic final battle against legendaries like Mewtwo or Lugia and their arsenal of stab and healing moves has been cut short by just flinging the instant-catch ball at them.
  • In one mission of Swat 4, you can choose to enter a building through the back door. However, the door has metal bars on it to prevent its use. Instead of removing the screws, bolts, or whatever held it together, the team simply attaches a hook and rope to a car and the metal bars and have it pulled away from the weak bricks. This is probably Truthin Television given the amount of research and realism the company put into that game.
  • In Minecraft, any block, with the exception of the rather ugly looking bedrock, can be broken given enough time. This proved troublesome for map makers, because frustrated players would often break through a wall rather than solve a puzzle, so Adventure Mode was added to defy this trope. Of course, it is still possible to change yourself out of adventure mode or use server commands to give yourself TNT, both of these can be stopped with command blocks but then players could teleport to those command blocks and break the redstone wiring (which is breakable even in adventure mode).
    • In Survival, the default game mode, there are temples just sort of lying around in the jungle, with an elaborate series of levers connected to the treasure room. You're supposed to solve a puzzle involving the order in which you pull them, but provided you know how the traps are arranged, and with some care even if you don't, it's much faster to tunnel down to the treasure room and get at the goods. And then break down the traps and steal their materials to make your own.
    • Steve? is an unlockable character in the Nintendo Hard Super Meat Boy and can make most levels extremely easy because he can literally mine through the level to the end.
  • The Secret Of Monkey Island has Guybrush thrown into the sea tied to an idol. You have ten minutes to escape before Guybrush drowns. There are several sharp objects that could free you just out of reach. The solution: Pick up the idol and walk out with it.
  • In Deus Ex, doors had both a lock strength and physical strength. You can break any door with the right firepower provided its strength was not infinite. The same goes for destroying doors in Human Revolution.
    • Speaking of Human Revolution, there's a quest requiring you to sneak into gang territory and identify an item with the side objective (bringing additional XP) of not being seen, which traditionally requires a convoluted path of stealthiness and/or silent knockouts. However, the emphasis is on "seen"; as long as they don't actually see you, nothing prevents you from sniping everything in sight (by that point you're very likely to have either a sniper rifle or a silenced handgun with a laser sight). Or blowing them up with grenades from cover. Or, if it isn't your first playthrough, walking in the building with the loudest, strongest weapon you have, wiping out everyone, and then accepting the quest - nobody to spot you if everyone who could do so is already dead.
    • In The Missing Link DLC, the player is presented the choice of saving either a credible witness to Belltower's atrocities or dozens of innocent victims from dying by diverting poison gas away from one and towards the other. Savvy players can Take a Third Option by destroying the pumping mechanism for the gas, saving everyone.
  • In Call of Duty 2, during the Battle of Stalingrad campaign, you get a bunch of Germans barricading themselves in a building. Instead of trying to talk them into surrendering or trying to beat down the door, the commander simply orders you and the others to place charges on the building supports. As the smoke clears, he screams: "That is how you negotiate with fascists, comrades!"
  • PAYDAY: The Heist has one heist where the robbers are going to steal a cache of money from a local gang dealing in drug trade. The money is locked inside a panic room, but rather than brute forcing the door open or trying to crack the code needed to open the door, the robbers decide to steal the entire panic room by blow up a hole to the roof with some C4, detaching the panic room's bolts on the floor with some saws, and then having their helicopter pilot come in with a magnet and airlift the entire thing away.
  • In Monaco, you ordinarily have two options for getting into a locked room. You can pick the lock, which takes time and is only a temporary solution, or, if the Mole is in your party, you can opt to have him smash a hole through the wall next to the door. Unless you have a Locksmith in your party, this is usually the quickest option.
  • Borderlands 2 invokes this in the "Tiny Tina" DLC. Tina (as the GM of a Dungeons & Dragons style tabletop game creates a Rubix Cube type puzzle for the players. You can either attempt to solve it (by pressing the buttons in the reverse order of when they activated when you first enter the room), or you can simply punch the puzzle.
  • The Hero of the Quest for Glory series applies this trope liberally, especially as a Fighter. Right in the very first game, a minor subquest easily completed within five minutes of leaving town the first time involves retrieving a ring from a pterosaur nest. You could climb the tree, then slowly walk out on the limb, carefully bend down to collect the ring, then retrace your steps and climb back down. Or just throw a rock or a fireball at the nest and remove the ring from its remains.
    • Locked doors and chests can often be accessed by either picking the lock or casting the Open spell, particularly by characters who take cross-class skills. Or if you're a Fighter (or playing a later game where puzzle solutions are less class-dependent), you can just smash them open.
    • Sometimes you can take this approach, but doing it turns out to be a very dumb idea: It's possible to retrieve the seed from the Spore-Spitting Spirea plants in the first game by hacking apart whichever plant has it. Unfortunately, the dryad you have to give it to in order to learn how to win the game doesn't take kindly to this, and Baleful Polymorphs you into a Non-Standard Game Over.
  • One in-game book from The Elder Scrolls talking specifically about lock-picking tells of cases where treasure chests with Dwemer metal locks were broken into by thieves who simply smashed the wood surrounding the locks.
  • Violence is usually an option in Harvester. Getting annoyed by the paperboy forcing you at gunpoint to give him your newspaper every morning? Just kill him! Don't feel like going on a lengthy Fetch Quest for an item you need? Just find the person who's carrying it and kill them! Tired of those weird "Temple of the Mystery of X" puzzles in the Lodge? Just kill everyone in the room! Granted, there are limits to this, like having a few important NPCs that are off-limits, and if you don't blackmail the sheriff into giving you a "Get out of Jail Free" Card, you'll get arrested and executed for killing anyone outside the Lodge.
  • Iji handily subverts this trope by having two kinds of doors: the kind you puzzle through, and the kind you smash through. Your ability to do either is governed by separate skill levels, as well. (Then there's the bulkhead doors, to which you can do neither.)
  • Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas features a mission where CJ must quickly gather boxes of explosives, with a time limit indicating when the man at the detonator will set them off. Alternatively, CJ can just kill the man, which makes the timer disappear.
  • The survival horror game Obscure has surprisingly realistic solutions to puzzles. Need to get in this room because you want to advance the story? Break the glass; step right on inside.
  • The Witch's House: The "_______" Ending, which involves waiting around on the first map for an hour; the house and flowers will all disappear on their own. Why? Because Ellen simply waits for Viola (in her body) to die, rather than take the direct approach.
  • An accidental example in the Star Trek Online PVE raid "Azure Nebula Rescue". The procedure presumably intended by the devs is to destroy the Tholian ships before deactivating the tractor beams they're using to hold the Romulan ships. But the way the objectives are coded and the activation points positioned means it's perfectly possible, if somewhat difficult, to just sneak up from the other side and turn off the tractor beams without even aggro'ing the Tholians.
  • One of the trial in City of Heroes was the Cavern of Transcendence. With a 90 minute time limit, a team had to travel into the tunnels under the Hollows, fighting their way through the groups of enemies there, to the door of the Cavern. Once they entered the Cavern, to complete the trial the players would have to simultaneously press 8 buttons scattered around a single, massive, room that was full of monsters between the door and the buttons. The obviously intended method of completing the mission was clearing the room of monsters first. On the other hand, if a team had at least one member with some kind of stealth capability (including superspeed) and Recall (able to teleport a teammate to your location), the preferred method of players who wanted the award the easy way was to wait at the tunnel's entrance for their stealthy teleporters to zip through the tunnels to the Cavern door, Recall the rest of the team to the door, then enter the Cavern. Then the stealth teleporters would go to each button and bring one teammate there, not aggro'ing any monsters, and then the buttons would be pressed. Depending on the number of teleporters on a team, you could complete the entire Trial in about five minutes and never enter combat once.
  • In Mercenaries there are several missions where the player character can employ stealth tactics to sneak into enemy compounds in order to accomplish objectives. Or you can run over all the defenses with a tank. Or call in an airstrike to level the place.
  • In Magicka, at the end of Chapter Four, you need to enter a barricaded building and are supposed to hold the position while a fuse slowly consumes and finally triggers explosives that blow up the door. Instead of doing that, you can just shoot a fire spell at the explosives and trigger them immediately.

    Web Comics 
  • In 8-Bit Theater, in a mystic castle, Fighter is subjected to the trial of sloth, wherein the trial monster attempts to get Fighter to overcome his reliance on stagnant sword skills, and instead use his brain in combat for once. Fighter promptly slaughters the monster, stating that his brain told him that it was faster that way.
    Black Mage: Okay. I seem to remember some dead old king guy who, when presented with a problem of unsolvable perplexity, would blaze a path to victory via stabbity means. Therefore!
    Black Mage: Okay, I have a theory. It's called: I never knew it was possible to care less about Time Travel. *cue Black Hadouken*
  • In Gunnerkrigg Court, when Reynardine is trapped by a complex magitek binding Antimony can't figure out how to free him. Jones smashes the device.
    • Earlier in the comic Antimony orders Renard to open a glass case with lockpicks that she hid inside his body. Renard, who was never actually taught how to pick locks, proceeds to smash the case with the said picks.
  • This Order of the Stick comic, providing a method around the Knights and Knaves problem by having Haley shoot one of them in the foot. They even gave a disgruntled Smart Guy, who had been about to work the thing out logically, a nice Lampshade Hanging:
    Vaarsuvius: Gordium called. They have a knot that you may want to take a look at.
    • Beautifully inverted by the encounter with the hydra, which they defeated by decapitating it until it didn't have enough blood for all the heads it regenerated. The group outwitted the test of brawn and bullied their way through the test of brains, leaving the test of heart... a medical examination.
    • Xykon may be the patron saint of this trope. "And now I see that planning doesn't matter. Strategy doesn't matter. Only two things matter: Force in as great a concentration as you can muster, and style. And in a pinch, style can slide."
    • Vaarsuvius's solution to preventing Daimyo Kubota from weaseling out of his trial is to Disintegrate him and scatter the ashes.
  • Adventurers! uses this a few times in order to subvert the usual RPG Puzzle.
  • In No Rest for the Wicked, Perrault propounds a scheme to get the owner of a castle with locked gates to let them through them. Red uses her ax on the gate.
  • Girl Genius: Violence is a workable way to stop Lars from panicking. "I'm fine! Perfectly calm!" Of course, Jaegers (and DuPree, oh god, DuPree) tend to take this approach to everything.
  • In this Looking for Group, Richard, while possessing a golem, is asked to undertake a perilous and tedious quest to free the mages caged in crystal by eventually getting three fangs from the "open mouth" of a twenty-headed dragon to smash a glowing crystal. Richard of course decides to take the easy way out and try to smash the crystal himself. And though it's not explicitly shown, he succeeded.
  • Supermegatopia: When Crushed and company are faced with navigating an evil-infested mansion (and risking a horrible death at the hands of the undead nasties sure to be lurking within) in order to destroy an ancient artifact, the intrepid heroine elects to simply torch the place and call it a day(Dead Link).
  • Goblins plays this one brilliantly. When Dies Horribly's party is forced to solve the riddle of the temple guardian, Noe, who will kill them horribly if they summon him more than three times (and homonyms such as "know" and "no", which are used frequently, will also summon him), Big Guy K'seliss solves the problem in a beautifully direct fashion: intentionally summoning him, then ripping his throat out.
    • Tempts Fate is challenged with a devilishly complicated riddle by a talking door, and the wrong answer will unleash horrible death. Tempts Fate elects not to answer at all, and just opens the door, which wasn't locked. After all, it never said he had to give a right answer either.
    • At one point, tempts is confronted with a series of armor piercing arrow launchers that will kill anything attempting to cross the room. He jumps into the air, activating his magic belt, and his metal skin deflects them. The Rant Golem picks up a bit of sand, which is the solution, and passes by completely unharmed. Oddly, he knew the solution ahead of time, and but was bored.
    • Confronted by an immensely-powerful demon whom an enemy sics on her group in the Maze of Many, Kin deals with it by asking the demon its name, with which she can banish it back to Hell. As it's not happy being subjugated by a mortal, and she convinces it to trust her with the information, Kin's plan works where combat would've failed.
  • Faevv in Juathuur thinks like a shadow-user.
  • Bob and George:
  • Hyraxx opens a door.
  • Captain SNES: A Superscope used to pick a tough lock. Alex's captor suggests that a MacGuffin Alex possessed at the time would've been the logical solution. Alex agrees (with hindsight) that he should've considered it.
  • This XKCD strip suggests a better method of dealing with heavily encrypted files
    • This one deals with the mathematical Travelling Salesman Problem.
  • Schlock Mercenary
    Pronto: Sarge, they just shut some kinda blast door into the data center. We can't get through.
    Schlock: Pronto, how about you finish that sentence for me?
    Pronto: Umm... "Just shut blast door... Data center... Can't get through..."Without blasting?
    Schlock: And that's why they call it a blast door.
    • We're also, later on, introduced to the concept of Lead Pipe Cryptanalysis. Funnily enough, the actual concept of "Rubber Hose Cryptoanalysis" does exist, and is even mentioned (and applied) a few times in the comic itself. It's just that Lt. Ebbirnoth's race is tough enough that a simple rubber hose won't do the trick.
  • Keychain of Creation had a fiendishly complicated lock.
  • Hero In Training: these strips.
  • In Commander Kitty, Fortiscue insists on hauling the hard drive carrying 45% of the galaxy's population on in a special case loaded on a hand cart. CK simply unplugs the phone book-sized hard drive and hands it off to Mr. Socks.
  • In Yamara, some young adventurers demonstrate how obsolete "kick-in-the-door" Dungeon Crawling is, by detonating explosives in a dungeon's entrance and then breaking out the shovels to recover the loot.
  • Rak from Tower of God just gambles which door is the one which opening won't get the team killed while Koon still tries to figure out fake clues. He just kicks it open.

    Web Original 
  • In a Homestar Runner flash, Strongbad's computer starts leaking viruses into reality. The technician enlisted to fix the problem is Bubs. He fixes the problem by taking a shotgun to the computer.
  • Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog: Captain Hammer, when faced with a complex electronic device controlling a van, punches it so it breaks. This just stops Dr Horrible from controlling it, leaving a fast moving, out of control van that almost kills someone before Horrible can stop it. Not that Hammer even notices.
  • When confronting the Temple of All Dooms in JourneyQuest Glorion seems intent on traversing the whole dungeon this way.
  • Whateley Universe example: in "Boston Brawl 2", the Necromancer creates a horrific rip in time-space that the mages try to magically repair. Instead, Bladedancer just slices through it with Destiny's Wave.
  • Linkara shows how he deals with Soup Cans in his Silent Hill reviews:
    • Silent Hill: Dying Inside alternate ending: His door is covered with unbreakable chains (as per Silent Hill 4)? Yeah, well, the wall they're attached to is plasterboard—he just rips them loose.
    • Silent Hill: Dead/Alive: There's a paper bag in front of his door that can't be moved without "something needlessly complex and crafted from several parts"? Screw that, he's just going to shoot it.
    • By the point of Silent Hill: The Grinning Man, the soup cans have gotten wise. Linkara finds boxes blocking his door and threatens to turn them to ashes if they don't move—and they promptly fall over, out of the way.
  • Blanka wins his Death Battle with Pikachu by biting his head off.
  • The Mario Party Tv group's approach to M.P.I.Q. in Mario Party 3 is to mash the buzzer and choose a correct-sounding answer rather than let their fellow players out-buzz them after reading the question.
  • In the Piano Guys and Lindsey Stirling spoof of Mission: Impossible, after Lindsey bends over backwards to get through the Laser Hallway, Steve merely punches in the code to turn the lasers off and walks through.
  • Ultra Fast Pony. The episode "Faith to Faith" (parodying the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "The Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000") manages to end the central conflict of the episode before it even begins. In the MLP:FIM version, the Apple family gets into a cider-making competition with the Flim Flam Brothers, a match which very nearly costs them their farm. In UFP's version, Applejack calls the proposed cider-making competition a stupid idea, and tells Flim and Flam to piss off. And they do.
  • STO Forum: Versus thread (rp):
    • Eleya and Kang encounter some Bronze Age natives who are about to sacrifice a captive to appease Eleya or something (unclear where they got the idea, since Eleya told them she just wanted to trade for water). Kang's response is to stun the priestess with Eleya's rifle (he'd borrowed it).
    • How do you get around Borg adaptation? Do you do some kind of crazy technobabble? Not if you're Eleya. She jams her rifle through the shields (they don't work against solid objects) and then fires. (Note that the drone in question was distracted by trying to assimilate Kang at the time.)
  • In the Yogscast video Cracking the Case - Invisible Inc Challenge when they are unable to unlock the case they try to do this, first using bolt cutters and various power tools and when that fails Kim flattens the case with a tank, which has the side effect of destroying everything in the case and this was just after the rest of the Yogscast had made progress with the lockpicks.
    • Sjin's 'Facing Worlds' PVP map included a number of complex obstacles and hazards which players had to avoid while crossing the map - and jetpacks, meaning all the participants simply flew from one side to the other with only their opponents to hinder them. They removed the jetpacks for the second round.

    Western Animation 
  • In an episode of South Park, when Stan and Kyle try to destroy the Wall Mart by destroying its core, they see that the core is a mirror. The Wall Mart CEO goes on about the symbolism about how it is the citizens of the town that are fueling the Wall Mart, etc. Stan shrugs and says the guy told them to destroy the core, so Kyle shatters the mirror which destroys the Wall Mart.
  • In an early episode of The Venture Bros., the boys and some fake pirates are being harassed by the ghost of a former pilot named Major Tom. The boys contact Dr. Orpheus, the team sorceror, who tries to put Tom's soul to rest. It doesn't work. Plan B? Brock arrives and defeats the ghost by decapitating it with his fist.
  • A Popeye cartoon ending where Olive Oyl is tied to a train track. After trying for a few seconds to untie her, Popeye simply decides to punch the train, which instantly stops and falls apart. It was so famous that it was repeated several times in several different episodes. In fact, most of the Popeye cartoons tend to this trope.
  • Nearly every time a locked door and keypad appears in The Secret Show, there is a request to enter a complicated and time consuming code or input, to which the heroes usually respond by blowing up the keypad, which always inexplicably opens the door.
  • In one Ludwig Von Drake cartoon, Drake explains his method of getting rid of an annoying but probably fixable experiment; he teleports it to who-knows-where with another annoying but probably fixable experiment.
  • In one episode of DuckTales, McDuck is thrown in prison with Iron Mask, and tells him "you have to Use Your Head to get out". The Mask then destroys one wall with his helmet.
    • Later, in the movie Treasure of the Lost Lamp, while breaking into the money bin (now under Dijon's control), the boys fail to navigate their way through a Laser Hallway to the alarm panel. Thus unable to deactivate the alarms, they simply destroy the panel from across the room with their marbles.
  • In an episode of The Simpsons, Homer uses an ancient map to escape the plant so he can sneak away to a tour of the Duff brewery. He encounters a giant spider and consults the map, which says, "To escape the spider's curse, simply quote a Bible verse." When Homer can't think of any Bible verses, he throws a rock at it and knocks it out.
    • One Treehouse of Horror special puts Bart and Lisa in Fairy Tale Land. When Bart comes across the Three Bears' porridge, he (of course) discovers that one is too hot and the other is too cold. He remarks "It doesn't take a genius to figure this out." and proceeds to pour the contents of one bowl into the other.
    • When Marge wanted to join the police department, she took the same obstacle course as the rest of the aspirants. She starts struggling to climb over a wall...
      Wiggum: Women always have trouble with the wall...they never seem to find the door. [Pan to the other trainees going through the door in a single file]
  • In the Street Fighter animated series, Guile disarms a bomb with a Sonic Boom.
  • In Metajets, In "Under the Ice," when Vector says it'll take a while to find the right access code to open the door to the abandoned research facility, Burner just blows the door open with a good shot from his snowmobile cannon.
  • The Powerpuff Girls
    • Used in "Him Diddle Riddle". When Him gives the girls a "Train A is travelling..." problem with real trains that'll collide if they don't stop them, Blossom first tries to solve it with an abacus, then realizes, "We're superheroes! Let's just find the trains and stop them!" (Seeing as Him didn't object to them doing it that way, and was driving one of the trains, he may have expected them to do that.)
    • Movie example: The girls play an unintentionally destructive game of tag. Blossom and Bubbles hide on the top of a building dozens of blocks away from Buttercup. Buttercup snaps and tears through all those buildings to get to them.
    • In one episode we get an overly long scene of Mojo Jojo meticulously bypassing all the security measures in a museum to steal an artifact. After remember there was another artifact he needed as well, he just smashes its glass covering, grabs it, and runs away.
  • This is featured in Toy Story 2 when Buzz and his friends are trying to rescue Woody. When asked how they're going to get past a grate to attack who they think are evil toys torturing Woody, Buzz says, "Use Your Head!" Cut to Rex being used as a battering ram, screaming, "But I don't want to use my head!" before crashing through. In a fake outtake scene, the grate was still screwed on by accident, which had predictable results.
  • In one episode of She-Ra: Princess of Power, the villain traps the heroine in a maze; after wandering around for a while, she gets frustrated, and says, "That's it, from now on, I'm moving in a straight line!" and simply knocks the walls down to do so.
  • Optimus Prime, The Transformers, in the episode "Day of the Machines":
    Human scientist: It's a safe bet those doors are locked.
    Optimus: Fortunately, I know a delicate lockpicking technique. [BOOM!]
    • In the Transformers Prime episode Legacy the decepticons find the Star Sabre embedded in a mountain, when they can't remove the sword they use their ship to move the entire mountain. Naturally Optimus arrives before they can finish this and takes the Star Sabre himself.
  • Iron Man: Armored Adventures: Tony's classmate Happy winds up in the armor and has to deal with a bomb about to go off. Tony doesn't know how to defuse the Happy just snaps it in half.
  • During Gaston's Villain Song in Disney's Beauty and the Beast, the line "No one matches wits like Gaston!" is sung while Gaston is shown playing chess with someone... and throws the board and pieces into the air.
  • Batman: The Animated Series: This is often how Riddler's complex puzzles and deathtraps are solved.
    • His debut episode involves a re-creation of a video game maze, which Batman bypasses by hacking the controls of the flying guardian; later, when faced with a robot minotaur, Bats orders the same guardian to ram it.
    • In "What is Reality?", he lures the heroes into a virtual reality simulation by trapping Commissioner Gordon's consciousness inside it. When they get to the center, they discover that their goal is inside a Baxter's box. Batman's solution? Turn his hands into hammers and break the damn thing, referencing an earlier comment by Robin:
    Robin: You're looking at the guy who solved the Baxter's box in 37 seconds. Of course this time, I don't have a hammer.
    • Another episode deals with Batman locked in a showroom while a bomb goes off in 10 seconds. Riddler is stumped as to how he survived. Simple, he hid in a nearby reinforced safe.
    • A non Riddler example in Harley and Ivy is initially subverted and then played straight. Harley expertly manages to bypass numerous security measures and begins to carefully cut open a glass case containing a massive diamond. However the alarm suddenly goes off and she sees Ivy running out of another room. At this point Harley says "Heck with it." and smashes the case with her gun.
  • Xanatos of Gargoyles attempts to do this towards the end of the City of Stone arc. In order to save the city, Xanatos and Goliath need to get a password for Demona. Demona is locked in combat with her Arch-Enemy, the Anti-Villain MacBeth. Goliath attempts to talk the two into stopping, and only succeeds in getting both of them to attack him. Out of patience, Xanatos tells Goliath "If they won't listen to reason, take them both both down. We'll sort it out after", and shoots at both with a laser. It doesn't work because Xanatos somehow manages to miss them from about three feet away.
  • In Phineas and Ferb, one of the puzzles in "We Call it Maze" is to guess how many jelly beans are in a jar. While the duo and Baljeet attempt to solve the problem mathematically, Buford's solution was to eat all the jellybeans, then type the number zero. And it worked, too.
    Baljeet: Okay, technically that was correct, but you did not show your work!
    • Also used in "Phineas and Ferb and the Temple of Juatchadooin", when Phineas tries to figure out how to get a key out from under a glass dome, and Isabella suggests "Or, we could hit it with a rock!" Near the end of the cartoon, Phineas uses the same technique (complete with the same remark) to deactivate the magic talisman that powers the rampaging Corn Colossus.
    • Both subverted and played straight in "Knot My Problem", where the kids actually reconstruct a gigantic Gordian Knot and attempt to untie it, rather than cut it. While they do successfully untie it most of the way, the knot is dismantled when Candace, hit by Doofenshmirtz's Eat-It-All-inator, eats the ropes (made of licorice) used to create the knot. Another example from the same episode: Candace has spent the entire day trying to crack open Jeremy's old mini-safe. Buford opens it by punching it.
  • In the beginning of one episode of Xiaolin Showdown, the four monks-in-training are tasked to get a stuffed toy dog at the end of an obstacle course. Clay, closer to Earth cowboy, upon noting that the course is shaped like a circle, with the start and finish right next to each other, simply turns around snatches the dog off its pedestal. This comes up several more times in the episode, where the moral is, "Simple solutions to complicated problems"
  • In the second season premiere of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, the new villain Discord sets out to corrupt the heroes while they find to powerful Elements of Harmony. When he gets to Fluttershy, he tries to convinces her how her friends think she's helpless and it should make her mad. However, she openly admits her flaws and says that they try to help improve her. Frustrated at this unwanted outcome, Discord stops with the mind games and simply brainwashes her forcefully.
    • In the Daring Do story the eponymous adventurer carefully approaches an artifact on a plinth inside an ancient tomb full of deadly traps... you know the drill. She sizes it up, apparently attempting to cleverly remove it without disturbing the plinth and triggering more traps... then just rolls her eyes, snatches the artifact and dashes out through all the newly triggered traps.
  • In Justice League Unlimited, The Question is looking at a locked glass door to a building with a key card lock. After a few seconds of inspecting the lock, he simply walks off screen for a few seconds, comes back with a potted tree and uses it to smash through the glass door and calmly walks in. Seen here. What makes it even funnier is the fact two other people snuck in by creative ways such as disguises and swiping the key card.
  • A Supervillain of the Week on one episode of The Batman had Bats and four scientists tied up in a sort of game show, whose object was to stump the supervillain or get dumped into acid. The scientists ask difficult science and math questions; the supervillain answered them all easily. When it was Batman's turn, he simply asked the supervillain "What is the true identity of the Batman?" Apparently the supervillain never thought to take Batman's costume off.
    • That part would require him to actually grab Batman, and we all know how hard that would be especially since he is massively obese.
  • Generator Rex: The Providence Agents attack the EVO's at Abyssus (large enemy castle), and the EVO's use the terrain to their advantage, beating all the agents and the elite units, and freeing their captured Allies. Black Knight (the leader of Prodivence), just has her ships air lift the castle out of the territory, gas the place, and sends in even more troops.
  • In an episode of Biker Mice from Mars Vinnie finds himself trapped in the villain's giant robot which also contains a weather control device. Finding himself in the primary control room of the robot Vinnie says "Complex city. Ha, ha, ha this requires concentration and skill." beat "Oh well." He then promptly begins smashing the entire room.
  • Fantastic Mr. Fox has a sequence where they need to choose who's going to jump over a fence with barbed wire, slide under tire spikes, etc, until one of them points out there's another path with no obstacles.
  • Superman: Doomsday: Superman's clone, when he was obedient to Luthor, would go into Luthor's red sunlit safe room and submit to beatings from Luthor with Krytonite gloves. When the clone turns on Luthor, Luthor retreats to the safe room, puts on the gloves and dares the Superclone to attack. The clone instead closes the door from the outside and then rips the entire room out of the building with Luthor in it. Luthor was last seen in critical condition in a hospital at the end.
  • On The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes Yellowjacket has to disarm a kree bomb. He waits until the last moment, then he just shrinks the bomb so that all it blows up are a few molecules.
    Agent Brand: Why didn't you do that in the first place, why'd you wait?!
    Yellowjacket: (grins) I just wanted to see the look on your face.
  • The Adventure Time episode Mystery Dungeon, Ice King, Lemongrab, Tree Trunks, Shelby and NEPTR wake up in a dungeon not knowing how they got there, each ending up solving trials related to their expertise. It turns out Ice King was behind the whole thing. He kidnapped them all to help him get through except the last trial was meant for BMO to hack into an electronic door but Ice King accidentally kidnapped the wrong robot. NEPTR being a robot programmed to throw pies, throws a pie at the door shorting it out.

    Real Life 
  • One of the best ways to disarm a nuclear bomb is to shoot it. While this is incredibly counter-intuitive, most modern nuclear weapons operate in such a way that the desired nuclear yield will only occur if the high-explosive plates around it all fire at the exact same instant with an acceptable error in the fractions of seconds. So if one plate goes off too early, the bomb won't go critical, and the explosion will be...smaller. And still radioactive, but considerably less destructive.
    • Also works for conventional explosives as well. Skilled bombmakers will include all sorts of intricate anti-tampering mechanisms to prevent the warhead being disarmed, but firing a .50-calibre bullet through the timer almost never fails; at worst you'll set the thing off prematurely, but if you know the bomb's there then you can clear the blast radius before the EOD team arrive.
  • In the military, when opening a door in or around a combat zone that has not been previously entered one must first check for booby-traps, then carefully open the door, checking it for traps along the way, unless there is any chance whatsoever of a hostile inside the room, in which case you blow the hinges to hell with 12 gauge slugs or C4 then kick the door the rest of the way down. Incidentally, there is an under-slung shotgun attachment for the M-16 and M-4, known as the "Masterkey", marketed for this express purpose.
    • Additionally, rather than clearing a building full of hostiles, it's usually recommended to simply throw in a satchel charge, or call in an artillery/air strike from a safe distance. Of course, you could look for traps, blow the door, get shot at by ambushing hostiles, evacuate your wounded and send some other guys in, look for traps some more, check every single room in the building for more hostiles... Unless the enemy has hostages or you need someone or something in there intact, blowing it up without ever placing your foot in the door is much easier and safer (at least for the would be breachers).
    • Soldiers fighting in the Battle of Falujah found that, instead of attacking an enemy building by clearing it with infantry, throwing a large enough block of C4 in the front door would kill everyone inside. Barring that, so long as the occupants don't have a clear line of fire at you through a window, simply blocking the door of an enemy bolthole can instantly turn a nigh-impregnable bunker into a prison. Come back every now and then to check if they're out of water or their toilets have overflowed. Either way, they'll most likely be ready to deal.
    • One particular Fallujah incident involved a three-story apartment block loaded with enemies and full of booby traps waiting to catch soldiers as they went inside, leaving the enemy safe to engage soldiers outside from the numerous upper-level windows and balconies. The enemy were not counting on a nearby tank simply firing its main gun through the walls... which set off all the booby-traps inside and completely destroyed the entire building.
    • If you must enter the building, but know that approaching the door is too dangerous, you can always just use explosives to invoke Dynamic Entry by blasting a man-sized hole in a wall to catch them by surprise. Extensive use of this in urban warfare is known as "Mouseholing".
    • This also applies to other walls and hedge rows as well, especially for tanks. It's common knowledge that the weakest parts of a tank's armor is the sides or rear, and the best thing for infantry to do is simply hide and wait for the tank to pass and then shoot an RPG up the tail pipe. However, any competent Tank Commander will simply use his tank as a 60 ton battering ram, and burst through any obstacles in his path, crushing any would-be ambushers in their path. Tanks fitted with dozer blades and mine plows are especially good for this as the latter can give the semi-gratifying end to anti-tank troops by turning them into human hood ornaments. This method also saves on ammo, which is also important.
  • In computer security, there are two ways to prevent a computer from being attacked and taken over via a network: hideously complex Intrusion Detection Systems, firewalls, and meticulously written firewall rules, or not plugging the thing into the network.
    • Which is exactly how Battlestar Galactica (Reimagined) began...
    • A prime example of this was related in Kevin Mitnick's The Art Of Deception: in his younger days (when he was already a notorious hacker) he visited an IT conference where some company was demonstrating a network security solution. They were so convinced it was unbeatable that they dared people to hack it (specifically access the protected server via the public terminal in the showroom and grant the latter administrator access) and promised a cash prize to whoever did (the reps even had the bills pinned to their shirts). Mitnick won by...picking the lock of the server room while no one was looking, accessing the totally unsecure server, granting the terminal admin access and walking back to the terminal. Which turned into a Humiliation Conga, since not only did the reps for some reason leave the program's source code saved in the server (which Mitnick then started printing), but the cash was most of the money the reps had, forcing them to take the bus home.
    • Also, the super hacker.
    • Most hackers who defeat malware for a living employ solutions that revolve around this trope. One of the simplest methods to defeat malware is to simply wipe the hard drive and start over. If you have stuff on the drive you need, boot from a flash drive or CD, thus circumventing the malware.
    • And of course, if you're breaking INTO a computer system, you could exploit known security holes using complex methods, attempt a Batman Gambit to try to "phish" the password out of a user... or just write a program to try every possible combination of letters and numbers that could make up the password (starting with the most common) as fast as possible and let it run for a few hours. This latter method is known as "brute-forcing".
  • During the last Hubble Space Telescope servicing mission, several bolts on the telescope were found to be vacuum-welded, meaning that support struts that had been needed when the observatory was first launched now formed a block to replacing the broken instruments. After two hours of deliberation, the following advice came from Mission Control: "Pull on them. If that doesn't work, pull harder".
  • Whoever was the first player of the Rubik's Cube that figured out how to pull it apart and rearrange the colors so it was "solved" proverbially cut the Gordian Rubik's Cube.note 
  • According to Cognitive Psychology, compared with people with high attention spans who may try to come up with increasingly complex solutions, people with short attention spans are usually able to see simple answers to problems because they're able to notice their immediate surroundings.
  • A tortoise is a rather tricky creature to eat, due to its hard shell. When it retreats into it, it becomes Nigh Invulnerable, and most animals just can't pull out the meaty bits due to a lack of dexterity or due to the protective plates that come up to cover the holes for the tortoise's head, legs and tail. The eagle and the hyena get around this problem, with the former simply picking up and dropping the tortoise from high up over rocks and the latter by biting it with its incredible bite force.
    • Large alligators solve the problem by swallowing turtles whole, then digesting them shell and all.
  • In 1417, the city of Florence held a contest to decide which architect would be contracted to build the dome of Florence Cathedral. Filippo Brunelleschi, one of the contestants, challenged his rivals to stand an egg on a flat marble surface; if they couldn't do it and he could, they agreed to withdraw from the contest. When none of the others could manage it, Filippo took his egg, smashed one end of it and stood it on the smashed end, winning the contract.
  • In the early 1990s, handwriting recognition was in its infancy, and the doomed Apple Newton showed how unreliable it could be. So Palm Inc., instead of trying to teach computers to read like humans, decided instead to make a simple, unambiguous shape for each letter, and train its users to write what the computer could understand. And so Graffiti was born.
  • Firefighters carry keys to enter the vast majority of locked buildings, rooms, and vehicles in existence: they are called "sledgehammer" and "axe".
    • And speaking of firefighters, the most efficient and safest way to remove a trapped victim after a vehicle accident? Disassemble the vehicle around them. This is essentially what the Jaws of Life does.
    • And if all else fails, it's not unheard of for the fire department to have access to the actual keys to the building, making entry as easy as opening the front door.
  • The Anarchists Cookbook states that the best lockpick is gelignite closely followed by a sledgehammer, and that actual lockpicking only really matters if you care whether people know you've been in.
    • Or you can bribe or trick someone into unlocking the door for you.
  • A tactic occasionally used to break into safes is to just steal the safe itself and open it at one's leisure.
    • Does not work so well with ATM's, simply due to the fact that they are designed so that the only way to open them is to literally blow them apart, destroying the ATM and all the money inside... unless you happened to steal or copy the key beforehand.
  • Marvelman/Miracleman stayed out of print for over twenty years due to numerous legal battles over who held the rights. During a trial concerning several intellectual property disputes between Neil Gaiman and Todd McFarlane it came out in testimony that the editor of Warrior magazine never actually held the rights to the character; he only found that they were held by the state as part of a bankruptcy deal, so it was unlikely that anyone was going to sue them for publishing a new series. Therefore the rights which everyone was fighting over didn't even exist. Marvel went and bought the real rights to Marvelman and ended the legal battle.
  • This rabbit.

Alternative Title(s):

Cutting The Gordian Knot, Gordian Knot