Screw it, I want that cheese now.
"Obstacle course? Mo' like ka-boom course."
So the villain is feeling quite secure in their dungeon/castle/tower/fun house/generic headquarters. The path to their location is filled with a maze of twisty little passages, all alike
, each filled with death traps
and Elite Mooks
that would quickly kill the protagonists, or at least inconvenience them by a lot and let the villain escape if they need to.
... but the heroes just fly up to the top of the tower where they are. Or blast a shortcut
to their place (not coincidentally, blasting the villain in the process as well). Or enter an overlooked route. Or bypass the dungeon altogether and arrive right at the finish
. All that dungeon preparation? Wasted. If the villain hasn't been taken out yet, they might complain
about how these things were supposed to go
Makes players of RPGs
, Action Adventure
, and other such games with dungeons wish they could do something as easy. Occasionally, they can, though it usually isn't intentional. This usually results in Sequence Breaking
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- An advert for jeans saw a man and a woman running through a series of walls, and by extension, rooms. Parodied in the title sequence of early series of Ant & Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway.
Anime & Manga
- In Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS, when Quattro learns that the heroine has found out where she is, she tries to console herself on the fact she's in the core of the ship while Nanoha's in the Throne Room, two places separated by many doors, swarms of drones, and a huge maze of corridors. She then notices Nanoha pointing her staff at the floor and powering up for a Blaster 3 Divine Buster, and promptly realizes that she is screwed. Made even more impressive by the fact the ENTIRE ship is covered by an anti-magic field... So the beam had to be also powerful enough to resist the anti-magic effect.
- In the manga version of Slayers, the villainess had filled a five-story building with mages and warriors capable of matching Lina. Instead of going through them, Lina just flies straight to the top of the tower where the villainess was.
- One of the OAVs does this too, with an underground dungeon a demon generates. Lina just blasts downward through all the floors, and comments that it's kinda stupid that the monster is always at the bottom floor of these things.
- Hunter × Hunter did this at one point during the Hunter Exam arc. Gon and his companions (plus Tonpa "The Rookie Killer", a Smug Snake who was acting like The Load on purpose) are near the exit of a tower full of traps when they come across a branch. The "easy path" goes straight to the exit, but the door to the easy path will only open if they leave two members of their group behind and chained to the wall. The "hard path" will allow all of them to exit, but will take too long for them to make the deadline for escaping the tower. However, the two exits are next to each other, so after some thought and a lot of effort, they manage to break through the wall separating the easy path and the hard path.
- Gon also did this in a later story arc. He and his friend had been manipulated into a mansion by a tough enemy talented in anticipating their movements (and who knew where the doors were). The heroic duo started kicking through the walls...
- In Fullmetal Alchemist, Ed transmutes a Death Course into a perfectly inoffensive hallway.
- In Fate/Zero Kayneth el-Melloi turns the upper floors of the hotel he's renting into a fortress filled with magic traps and summoned monsters. The highly pragmatic Emiya Kiritsugu simply levels the entire building with explosives.
- Both subverted and played straight with the Maze Card in Cardcaptor Sakura; trying to fly over the walls causes them to grow (or turns the maze into an Escher masterpiece), but the Moon Bell knocks down the walls in a straight line.
- Occurs in One Piece, during the Enies Lobby arc. The crew has to reach the top of a courthouse tower and Zoro, whose sense of direction rivals Ryoga Hibiki, is having a tough time finding his way. Eventually he realizes he merely needs to go up, and launches his Tatsumaki attack (straight upwards windcutting tornado) and clears a path upwards for himself, inadvertently sending Chopper and Nami up as well. Afterwards, Sanji presumably has the same idea and crashes through the room just after Zoro climbs out. At the same time, Usopp—I mean Sogeking—gets himself thrown to the roof from outside by a giant he had recently convinced to switch sides.
- Earlier, in the Alabasta arc, Sanji invokes this trope by realizing the easiest way to get to the clock tower in this maze of a city is to kick through the walls of every building in his way. This later comes back to bite him in the ass when he overhears townsfolk complaining about the repair work they'll have to do.
- In a short story of Suzumiya Haruhi, the SOS Brigade are stuck acting out a typical Medieval RPG in simulated space. Not only do they bypass a lot of dungeons and battles (by threatening an NPC, no less), but the biggest use of this trope is found when they reach the final dungeon, still at level one and probably lacking all the key items and skills they need to beat the last boss. The solution? Mikuru accidentally casts two doomsday level spells at once, completely demolishing the entire castle and the Big Bad with it. And the hostages they were supposed to rescue.
- In The Cat Returns, the King's henchmen put up fake walls in a maze to make sure the heroes can't find their way to the end. However, the Baron realizes a wall is fake, and the kicks it down—which, since the henchmen had unknowingly set themselves up like dominoes, causes a chain reaction of falling walls until they form a pathway straight to the exit.
- In YuYu Hakusho, Hiei, Kurama and Kuwabara give Yusuke a boost to help him reach a window in Suzaku's tower on top of Maze Castle, enabling him to fight Suzaku while they work their way up to him.
- In Yu-Gi-Oh! R, Seto Kaiba does this twice. First, he lands on the roof of the building in his Blue-Eyes Jet rather than Duel his way through the lower floors. As he Duels the first card professor, Mokuba hacks into the security system and unlocks the door, making the Duel for the keycard superfluous. Kaiba announces he simply needed a warm-up before Dueling Yako.
- The only way anyone gets around in Bleach.
- In the Tower of Heaven arc of Fairy Tail, Jellal taunts the heroes on the intercom and challenges them to fight their way up to top floor of the Tower of Heaven, where he will be waiting. Natsu decides to skip that, steps outside, then he and Happy attempt to just fly to the top. Unfortunately, Fukuro intercepts them and knocks them back down, then calls them out for "cheating".
- In Medaka Box: Abnormal the Student Council must descend 13 floors of goons to reach their objective. When presented with an elevator to take them down immediately, they decline. However, later in the arc they try to use it, only to be cut off by a group of henchman saying "Only a cheater would attempt to use this route!".
- The second season of Space Battleship Yamato has a rather funny example. Chased by the Andromeda and confiding in the superiority of their navigator over the Andromeda's computer, our heroes try to lose the pursuer by flying through the Asteroid Belt... Only to find the Andromeda waiting for them on the other side, her commander being smart enough to fly around it at a faster speed the Yamato could keep in the belt.
- In Superman: Ending Battle, Superman gets trapped inside Bunny, a Living Ship, by Hank Henshaw, the Cyborg Superman. Trying to bust out is nearly impossible, because the inside is an ever-shifting dimension. Supes fires his heat vision at the wall and keeps pouring it on. Since metal conducts heat, the heat travels everywhere and the ship overheats and shuts down.
Cyborg: You're already twenty miles deeper into the ship than when you started... Make that forty. I can fold Bunny back in on herself indefinitely, a technorganic Moebius Strip. We're going to be at this for a very, very long time.
- In one early Knights of the Dinner Table story, the players break through a wall and find steps leading to the lower levels of the dungeon. B.A. tries to dissuade them, but Bob and Dave insist on charging ahead and mock Brian when he prudently stays behind. B.A. then declares that Bob and Dave's characters were squashed under a huge falling stone. The story ends with Brian getting B.A. to admit that he hadn't yet mapped out that part of the dungeon.
- One brief gag in a Yamara fantasy-gaming comic had some non-traditional "adventurers" blow up a dungeon with dynamite, then tally their experience points and break out the shovels.
- In With Strings Attached, Jeft pits the four and the Hunter against the essentially impregnable Twisted Temple and the death-touch-wielding Brothers of Doom. The Brothers have left two small windows open to lure stupid invaders into the temple. Unfortunately for them (and Jeft), this is a golden opportunity for Ringo to prove once and for all that no, he is not useless. He telekinetically removes each Brother one by one and drops them in a large box that John made out of ice.
- Being a Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha fanfic, it was probably inevitable that this would happen in Game Theory. Although surprisingly enough, it's not Nanoha but Quint Nakajima doing the bypass. When one of her opponents puts up magical barriers to try to block her path, she goes through the unmagical walls instead.
- When Naegi tries to ensure that Everybody Lives in And Again, one of the biggest roadblocks he runs into by the end is how Monobear only gives them access to the higher levels of Hope's Peak after a murder. The answer? Make their own way up with the entire arsenal of a SHSL Soldier.
- Team Inferno in A Teacher's Glory take out several underground Oto bases by shooting fire and wind techniques down the air vents to turn the bases into ovens that take weeks to cool.
- In Diaries of a Madman, Navarone has to confront a warren full of diamond dogs at one point. Instead of a prolonged campaign against them in a whole warren of tunnels, he simply takes a set of changelings and asphyxiates the lot via fireball. Despite preventing a lot of deaths in the end run, this does not have a good result on his mental health. Later on, a somewhat simpler situation involves him avoiding a trek through the sewers and a confrontation with a variety of mob bosses by simply rushing to the boss and teleporting out.
- Discussed in Worldwar: War of Equals. During the first meeting to get Switzerland to join the European Coalition, the Swiss government is confident of their military being able to hold off the aliens by using the Swiss mountains to act as a fortress. The plan is then mocked by the Swedish Prime Minister and EC representatives storm out of the meeting.
- The Legend Of Cynder Series: This is one of Cynder's favorite tactics. Pretty much the only time she doesn't fly over hordes of enemies or dangerous places is when it would be more dangerous to fly than fight.
Films — Animation
- At the end of WIZARDS, the two titular mages face off for a final battle. After centuries of fighting we're expecting a long, drawn-out climactic fight. Instead, the good guy mage says "Let me show you a little trick mother taught me when you weren't around. Oh, and I'm glad you changed your last name you *&$^%@!" At which point he pulls out an antique handgun and shoots the bad guy. Real short fight.
- Lampshaded in The Emperor's New Groove, where Pacha and Kuzko have to cross a jungle and a castle and the secret passages to reach the Secret Lab, to find Yzma and Kronk already there despite earlier falling down a canyon in the rainforest.
Kuzco: No! It can't be! How did you get back here before us?
Yzma: Ah...uh... how did we, Kronk?
Kronk: (pulls down a map of the dotted lines) Well ya got me. By all accounts it doesn't make sense.
- In Wreck-It Ralph, once Ralph discovers the golden medal at the top of the tower in Hero's Duty, Ralph bypasses all the traps and Cy-Bugs by climbing the wall to the top.
Films — Live Action
- The Xenomorphs pull this one on the heroes in Aliens. After the humans supposedly barricade all the doors and air ducts, the Aliens just climb above the dropped ceiling.
- Subverted in Labyrinth. Shortly after Sarah enters the labyrinth, she asks directions from a small sentient caterpillar. "Don't go that way. Never go that way," he tells her, at which she thanks him and heads off in the opposite direction. When she's gone: "If she'd gone that way, she'd'a gone straight to that castle."
- Which turns out to be good advice as Sarah probably wouldn't have succeeded without going through The Hero's Journey learning how to defeat the goblin king and assembling her Five-Man Band first.
- In Casino Royale, while the mook is going through a building under construction with Le Parkour, James Bond just goes through walls, shoots down an elevated platform for it to fall...
- In X-Men: The Last Stand, both Kitty Pryde and Juggernaut take the direct route to Leech's chamber. Kitty runs through the walls by phasing, while Juggernaut runs through them by running through them.
- Star Trek:
- In Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, it's not entirely clear whether Kirk is using this or the Take a Third Option tactic when he reprograms The Kobayashi Maru into a winnable scenario. One of the published books shows what happened during his test. According to it, he reprogrammed the test so it was possible to talk his way out of the fight, so it is a little of both.
- The 2009 Star Trek flick shows the events of the test (in the altered timeline): Kirk reprograms the simulator to "delete" the enemy defenses and make them easy as pie to kill, which gets him in immediate trouble as the examiners immediately know that something is wrong. Much more of a dungeon bypass. Of course, both could be correct.
- Interestingly, Starfleet Academy (which was released about 10 years before Star Trek) presents both options to the player, when they stumble upon Kirk's original hack when taking the Kobayashi Maru themselves.
- The books got some fun with cadets finding solutions the examiners hadn't thought of, the crowners being Peter Kirk (Jim's own nephew) issuing a formal duel challenge to the enemy commander (Romulan in this version. He knew the Romulan culture much better than his examiners) and having his ship rescue the crew of the Kobayashi Maru during the duel (as he puts it when it's pointed out that he'd have little chance in the duel, since the Romulan commander would be physically stronger and better-versed in the weapons involved, "It is a no-win scenario. But only for me."), and Mackenzie Calhoun blowing up the the Kobayashi Maru himself, reasoning that either the Kobayashi Maru had been really captured and their crew would have been tortured to death by their captors once they killed him or were working with the enemy and was thus another target.
- Averted in The Lord of the Rings. The Fellowship tries to go around Moria via a mountain pass, but Saruman awakens the mountain of Caradhras, causing an avalanche of rocks and snow that blocks their way, causing our heroes to have to backtrack and go through Moria anyway.
- Played for Laughs in Robin Hood: Men in Tights. Little John stands on a bridge and demands Robin fight him to pass. Achoo points out that the river beneath "ain't exactly the Mississippi". Or even a river, for that matter; "stream" would be generous.
- All while hopping from one side to the other.
- The town borders in In Time are guarded by massive road barricades that you need to pay a toll booth to get lowered. Later in the film, Will and Sylvia plow their car through the toll booth itself to get through.
- In Terminator 2: Judgment Day, at one point Sarah is trapped by a SWAT team in a clean room. John, watching on cameras, declares there's no other way out of that room. So the Terminator knocks down a wall and pulls her to safety.
- In Red, when Frank infiltrates the CIA headquarters, he comes across a secure door with an electronic lock that is impossible to hack. He gets through by kicking a hole in the wall and manually unlocking the door from the other side.
- In Kingsman: The Secret Service, Eggsy manages to escape a locked room filled with water by destroying a mirror which he recognized was a one way window.
- Lone Wolf
- This is actually the only way to beat the maze in the seventh book, Castle Death. One monster shorts out the overhead force field with its death throes, enabling you to climb up its corpse to the maintenance gantries. Trying to fight your way through the maze leads to certain death.
- Conversely, if you possess the proper skill, you can cheat in a different way — namely, when asked to pick one of two archways to pass through, you ignore them both and break through the weak spot in the wall between them, escaping the maze. Still, there is no "fair" way to beat the maze — all paths within the maze lead to those two arches, and both of those arches autokill the player if he chooses one.
- Some Choose Your Own Adventure-style books have hidden endings that are not linked to any of the storylines— the only way you'll ever find them is by flipping through the book to see all the endings without following the storylines.
- In Ankh-Morpork, which is primarily built on Ankh-Morpork, a man with a pickaxe and good sense of direction can walk from one end of the city to the other by knocking down walls - presuming he can breathe mud. In Night Watch, Vimes expects a tactic just like this ... so he boards up the basements around the barricade ahead of time.
- In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Harry takes a shortcut through a maze by blasting through the hedge in order to rescue Cedric. Yet it takes a spell and quite some fighting with the branches just to open a small hole.
- In Dies the Fire by S.M. Stirling, some outside force suddenly causes electricity to stop working all over the Earth. In Oregon, the main (human) villain begins establishing a brutal fiefdom, and orders the construction of a well-defended fort blocking an important pass. Fortunately for the heroes, hang-gliders still work just fine, and they land a strike-force on the fort's roof and breach the defenses from the rear.
- From Loophole Abuse: In one of the Dinotopia spin-off novels, the protagonists find themselves in a Lost City inhabited by Troodon samurai (just go with it). The Troodon challenge the humans to different contests to win citizenship, one of which is a race through an obstacle course. The human, Andrew, wins by bypassing the course and just running down the strip of land between his course and his opponent's, because there isn't a rule against it. This becomes very popular, and although the rules are immediately changed, "Pulling an Andrew" begins to occur in other activities around the city as well.
- In Sandy Mitchell's Ciaphas Cain novel The Caves Of Ice, Cain and the fireteam he's deployed with come across a tunnel with recognizable signs of being carved by an ancient civilization ( specifically, the Necrons). Cain immediately orders the tunnel to be sealed off with explosives. When he returns to the spot some time later, however, he finds that a hapless ambull has tunneled around the rubble.
- Earlier in the same book, an ambull came out of the tunnel wall to attack Cain who was "safely" in the middle of the party. This, of course, gave him an (unwanted) opportunity to show off what a badass he is with his chainsword.
- In The Sapphire Rose by David Eddings, the heroes attempt to use captured minions to lead them through the deathtrap maze, only to realize that the minions didn't know the way either. Finally, they realize that there was no way through the maze so try going up through the ceiling. It works as they find the maintenance pathways, and funnily enough real access ways to the maintenance pathways.
- A maze is a Leitmotif in Mary Stewart's Touch Not the Cat, and the climax is when the Villain with Good Publicity leads the Distressed Damsel heroine into the center of a complicated hedge-maze. The misunderstood hero uses hedge clippers to get to her.
- In the Beverly Cleary Young Adult novel Ralph S Mouse, the kids build a maze for Ralph to run. Ralph climbs on top of the walls to look for the cheese, to the annoyance of the kids (who were building the maze to see how smart Ralph was in the first place).
- The protagonist of The Ion War was sent, as a test, into a maze — inside a furnace, with a five-minute timer on the device protecting him from the heat. He discovered that the walls weren't anchored, and toppled them like dominoes. He still wound up having to do an Indy Hat Roll to get to safety before the protection deactivated.
- The Wheel of Time has Travelling and Skimming, which should be enough to bypass most dungeons, but Rand's secret of dealing with people who know that they're more clever than he is would have made Nanoha proud, in a horrified sort of way.
- In one of the Star Wars Expanded Universe novels, Han Solo remarks that he "never saw a maze that couldn't be greatly simplified with a good blaster".
- This was probably inspired by Leia's way of getting herself and her rescuers out of a very tight situation in A New Hope. Granted, it landed them in a garbage masher, but it still counts for something.
- As Bolos grow bigger and heavier (in their later versions rivaling the size and mass of World War One battleships), the concepts of 'obstacle' or 'barrier' become less meaningful — they blow everything in their way up, iron it flat through the sheer weight of their passage, or both.
- In When The Devil Dances and Hell's Faire, the "Screaming Meemie" units accompanying the 7000 ton "Bun Bun", tend to take full advantage of the passage of the SheVa smashing everything in its path flat. The resultant path is still impassable for wheeled vehicles, but for the tanks* traveling through the impressions that each section of SheVa tread leaves isn't a problem.
- In Codex Alera the Vord bypass an impenetrable Canim fortification by tunneling underneath it to attack them from behind. It took the Canim completely off guard because the Vord had enough reserves to continuously attack the front while tunneling behind.
- In Esther Friesner's Elf Defense, our heroes are stuck in a magical semi-sentient hedgemaze, which has just separated the college professor being pursued by a dragon from the elven prince who actually knows how to fight a dragon. No problem: the Welsh au pair calmly picks up a sword and proceeds to chop her way through the first hedge in the way. The maze, not being stupid, immediately opens a clear path for her.
- In The Mysterious Benedict Society, the final test which the main characters are put through in order to qualify for the mission is a maze of identical rooms. Reynie identifies a pattern of arrows (there are several different arrows in each room, each pointing different directions), while Sticky blunders through at random, memorizes the route instantly, and completes it perfectly when he tries again, but Kate simply opens up a heating duct and crawls straight through.
- In Robert Asprin's Phule's Company series, the Omega Mob tends towards solutions like this. The key example comes in the first book, where Phule's troops (a gang of misfits that were already considered too irregular for the Space Legion, which is already an irregular military force) are going up against one of the finest military units in the galaxy in a series of competitions. The second event is the challenge course, which is to be run "under combat conditions" with full military gear. The regular Army unit runs the course perfectly, setting a spectacular time as they do so. Phule's company literally destroys the course, blowing down walls, cutting away barbed wire, and in general using their full military gear to wreck everything that gets in their way, and get away with it through Loophole Abuse and because the rival commander was too damned impressed to push the point - and because he admitted that if he had to get his troops across a real battlefield with such obstacles in the way, he probably would have done the same thing.
- In Percy Jackson and the Battle of the Labyrinth, both the heroes and the villains are searching for Ariadne's String, which allows a Dungeon Bypass of the famous Labyrinth of Classical Mythology, which is now much larger, and beneath all of the United States of America. Luke finds it, but Percy works out another Dungeon Bypass, a "clear-sighted" mortal, who always know the way through the Labyrinth.
- Brandon Sanderson's Warbreaker Vasher uses Nightblood to demolish walls in the royal palace in order to reach his target Denth. It's not a straight example because it's not a dungeon but the effect is the same.
- In The Big One there's a nested example of a Dungeon Bypass within a Dungeon Bypass. Faced with a situation where German occupation forces occupy most of Europe and it will require a massive effort over a period of years (with horrifying American and Russian Army casualties) to drive them back, the U.S. elects to destroy Germany directly by means of a nuclear attack aimed at its war production industry. (This is Truth in Television in that the plan used in the novel was actually that formulated by the U.S.A.A.F in 1941) Within that Dungeon Bypass is a second one; the Germans had built a comprehensive air defense system that wa scapable of inflicting severe casualties on any air force that tried to fly through said defense. The U.S. used the B-36 bomber whose high-flying capabilities allowed it to simply fly over the defenses (again, Truth in Television since the B-36 could fly 5,000 feet higher than even the best-performing German fighters and well over the threat of anti-aircraft guns and the missiles that existed at that time).
- In the Ravirn books, Clotho at one point seeks to keep Ravirn and Cerice imprisoned in her maze by making it imitate a quantum computer, thus causing all the gateways to be simultaneously open and closed, and thus impassible. Ravirn, however, is a minor chaos power, and more than capable of simply forcing the superposed gates into the 'open' state where it's convenient for him.
- Subverted in Doom. Fly gets fed up with hunting for key cards and fighting monsters over them so he blasts a door open with a few rockets. This is the only locked door he ever destroys: he meets the barons of hell shortly afterward and they can withstand four to fix rockets a piece. From that point on rockets are reserved for emergencies and "boss fights" so he and Arlene run the dungeons looking for key cards. One time he suggests the option to Arlene to avoid entering a maze of unnatural darkness to find the key. Their rocket supply is dangerously low so they brave the dark maze instead of risking taking the next baron without ammo. They encounter a baron in the maze and they kill it for the key. Running the dungeon cost them all their rockets when the Dungeon Bypass would have used a few.
- In Who Moved My Cheese, after Cheese Station C has been emptied, Hem and Haw chisel holes in the wall to see if more cheese is behind the wall.
- In Ralph S. Mouse the title character takes a similar approach to the mouse in the page image, running across the top of a maze instead of finding his way through it.
Live Action TV
- Bones did this once. A real dead body was found in one of those Halloween haybale mazes, so Booth kicks the bales down and cuts a straight path to and from the parking lot. Apparently, he was the only one to even consider this, as everyone else appears rather shocked.
- The premier episode of Burn Notice has a drug dealer feeling secure behind his armoured, reinforced door. Narrator Michael Lampshades the trope when he shoots through the ordinary thin wall beside the door, wounding the dealer, then busting in through another wall where he'd previously removed the exterior sheeting so it was only the drywall he had to break to enter.
- In Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger vs. Space Sheriff Gavan: The Movie, the Gokaiger have to climb all the way to the top of the Big Bad's tower to rescue Gavan, but once he's free they simply blow a hole in each of the successive floors to get them back to the ground level. Then, adding injury to insult, they pull out their BFG and fire it upwards, taking out a large section of the castle and killing all the bad guys they bypassed.
- Done in an episode of Knightmare.
- From the Red Dwarf episode Rimmerworld comes this exchange:
Lister: Why don't we scrape away this mortar here. Slide one of these bricks out. Then using rope weaved from strands of this hessien, rig up a kind of pulley system. So then when a guard comes in, stands on a tripwire, gets laid out. Then we put Rimmer in the guards uniform. He leads us out. We steal some swords. And fight our way back to the bug.
Kryten: Or we could use the teleporter.
- Again from Duct Soup. The crew crawl through the ventilation shafts of Starbug after the ship apparently goes offline. Kryten made sure the doors were functional but didn't explain this until they got back.
- Happens in the Stargate SG-1 episode "The Serpent's Lair":
Bra'tac: The shield generators are far below, there — in the very bowels of the ship. We must climb down several decks, through the length of the ship. Then, taking our weapons, we must—
O'Neill: (shrugs and tosses grenades down the shaft; the generators explode; he looks back at Bra'tac) Grenades.
- In a later episode, Sam, Jonas Quinn and Jackson are trying to find the Eye of Ra, and have spent most of the episode puzzling out how to find the compartment it's in. When they do find the compartment, there's another set of locks... but they're running out of time, so Sam just blasts through it with her P90.
- In "The Rapture of Ridley Walker" by Clutch:
There is no safe way out of here
No passage below the dungeon
- In Greek Mythology, Theseus tied his string to the end of the maze, dropped it, and it rolled down, where he just followed it until it eventually led to the minotaur. While not technically a bypass, he did circumvent the whole dead ends thing that a maze is supposed to have.
- In some parts of Sweden, fishermen used to believe that every village was infested with little invisible gnomes, whose main desire was to get out on the sea. To do this, the gnomes would follow the villagers around. If a fisherman didn't get rid of the gnomes before going out in his boat, it would mean terrible bad luck. So how did they get rid of the gnomes? Easy: Dungeon Bypass! Every fishing village would have a labyrinth (mostly a simple spiral) built from rocks as big as a head or so. Before going out, the fisherman would walk all the way to the middle of the spiral, the gnomes presumably trailing him. When he reached the middle, he would simply run across the stones, down to his boat, and cast off. The gnomes, too small to jump over the stones, would have to take the long way out of the spiral, and would be too late to sneak on the boat. Though one wonders why no gnome ever got the idea of waiting by the boats...
- Older Than Feudalism: In The Bible, rather than attempt to get through the heavily defended and fortified walls of the city of Jericho, Joshua and the Israelites paraded around the city for days before blowing their trumpets. This caused the walls to crumble completely. With the divine help of God.
- A notorious Dungeons & Dragons tactic is the "scry and die", in which the player characters use divination spells to locate the Big Bad, then cast a teleport spell to ambush him wherever he happens to be, bypassing any and all elaborately prepared defenses he has set up. Of course, one Mind Blank spell and it takes a caster with deity-level power to scry the subject.
- Of course, by the time you can easily afford Mind Blank or cast it yourself, you're not too far below epic level either. It's a game balance problem — if defenses against magical ambushes are too easy to implement, you eventually lose the ability to spring those plot-convenient ambushes on your players... At least, that's the earlier-edition attitude. Fourth edition concerns itself more with creating adventures specifically for the party and rather less with trying to build a world that has to make sense whether or not they're actually there to notice.
- 3.5 later released Anticipate Teleport as a 3rd level spell with a 24 hour duration to alleviate this problem. They also introduced the 6th level Greater Anticipate Teleport which actually makes the "scry and fry" tactic backfire by warning the target and delaying the teleporter's arrival for three rounds to give the target time to prepare.
- In 3.5, 5th level Druids can summon Thoqquas, which can tunnel through solid stone and explicitly leave a usable tunnel. This is especially notable because at 5th level, you normally can't teleport yet, so the DM may not expect shenanigans like this.
- Many RPGs have so many ways of doing this that it may be futile to try to list them all. There appear to be two main reasons for this: first, many games include countless different spells whose implications are often poorly thought out (though some of this is intentional: there's actually a D&D spell called "passwall", which creates a temporary hole in a wall of your choice). The second reason is many games try to write rules for every conceivable situation, including tunneling through a wall with a battle axe.
- In fact, in Dungeons & Dragons Edition 3.5, all materials stronger than paper are allotted a hardness score, which dramatically reduces damage dealt to them. Weapons made out of Adamantine, however, ignore the hardness of objects unless they're built from materials equal in strength or stronger than Adamantine. This makes tunneling through a stone wall with an Adamantine Greatsword almost pathetically easy. There are also combat maneuvers which ignore hardness, in case you don't have an adamantine weapon.
- However, in fourth edition D&D, items and walls no longer have a hardness rating, which means that a weak but determined character can punch through them.
- It is quite easy for PCs to end up rewarded for this: most strong doors are made up of an expensive material, so simply using "disable device" or other methods to take it off its hinges winds up quite profitable.
- So much that the remake of Tomb of Horrors has replaced all of its Adamantine Doors with "Spell-Hardened Steel as Hard as Adamant, but loses its magic if you dismantled them."
- In Tomb of Horrors At least one group of adventurers has made it through without a single casualty by having a team of dwarves dig around the traps and obstacles with non-magical mining equipment over the course of several weeks. The writers planned for ethereal travel, melding into stone, magical defenses, teleportation, etc. but never expected an ordinary pickaxe and a group of patient, careful adventurers.
- The remake fixed this by creating infinite hordes of demons that do nothing but repair the walls and reset traps all day (and attack anyone who attempts a Dungeon Bypass)
- The Dungeoncrasher Fighter variant in 3.5 is actually designed to do this, as the name suggests. On top of its much-loved "super Bull Rush" that slams opponents into walls until their bones liquefy, it also gets, by 6th level, a +10 bonus to checks to break objects and a +4 to dodge or resist traps. Many Dungeoncrashers get through dungeons by simply breaking everything in them.
- Warhammer 40,000 has several game mechanics that allow you to put your forces behind your opponent's lines, such as infiltrating, outflanking, and deep striking. The Apocalypse and Planetstrike supplements also provide special strategic assets and stratagems that can also help your forces bypass defensive lines. Also, if you happen to have fast skimmer transports, you can literally just fly over enemy lines.
- Exalted: Solars with the correct Charm can bypass locked doors by walking through them, and more veteran ones can remove the walls by punching people through them. Meanwhile, those with dematerialization effects can just stroll through walls, and experienced Infernals can just load up Pellegrina's Fury and erode away everything in their path. Of course, the point of Exalted isn't about whether the heroes can make it through the dungeon, it's about whether they should, and how they intend to solve the long-term problems that led to the dungeon attack in the first place.
- In the Deadlands adventure Fortress o' Fear, the players are sent to locate a portal to the Hunting Grounds within Devil's Tower. If they enter near the base of Devil's Tower, it's a long and arduous journey through labyrinthine rooms and dangerous monsters. However, they have the option of hiring an Ornithopter pilot in City o' Gloom who will offer to fly them right on top of the tower, which is much closer to their destination and a lot less hazardous. Oddly enough, the adventure seems to push the players in this direction, essentially encouraging them to bypass the detailed dungeon they'd created.
- The Trojan Horse is history's most famous example. Forget trying to break down the mighty Trojan Door or Walls, we'll convince them to open the Door and let us in!
- The Israeli army has developed tactics for urban warfare that probably count as an example of this trope. Instead of going through booby-trapped streets and narrow alleys in which troops may be exposed to sniper fire, Israeli soldiers literally walk through walls, using explosives to create passageways through houses and other buildings.
- This sounds not dissimilar to an event on the Green Line in Nicosia (the divided capital of Cyprus). Reputedly, the local Turkish contingent were suspected of discreetly expanding a blockhouse so it extended into the UN secure zone. The local UN commander responded by going on patrol one morning... driving a bulldozer.
- In actuality that tactic (often called mouse-holing) predates both of the previous examples. According to The Other Wiki this was used as early as the Battle of Stalingrad. Another related ancient military tactic is undermining, digging a tunnel beneath an enemy stronghold to either knock it down or blow it up.
- Notably this happened during the Siege of Petersburg during the The American Civil War. Union troops dug a mineshaft underneath the Confederate lines and set off a sizable stash of explosives. Death From Below, pretty much. The resulting fight was dubbed the Battle of the Crater.
- The Battle of the Crater was supposed to have been a Dungeon Bypass, and it would have worked if General Burnside had been allowed to stick with his original plan: big explosion, specially-trained troops from the United States Colored Troops go around the crater (as opposed to into it), bypass the remaining defenses, and open the road to Petersburg. And then Meade stepped in, replaced the well-trained USCT regiments with others that had no idea what would happen, denied Burnside the use of an electrical detonator so that his engineers had to use an umpty-thousand-foot-long rope as fuse, and...yeah. Oh, and Meade managed to deflect all of the blame onto Burnside, too.
- Taken to an extreme in the 2009 Israel/Gaza conflict. According to the accounts of some Israeli soldiers, Hamas gunmen and suicide bombers attempted to lure them into houses most likely rigged with booby traps. Instead of taking the bait, Israeli soldiers simply just knocked down the houses with bulldozers.
- Also, American troops in Iraq often face insurgents who, when charged, run and hide inside a building they hope to defend, at which point the Americans promptly call in an airstrike. The situation's so common it's earned its own unofficial acronym. (AWR, for Allah's Waiting Room.)
- In World War I, the Germans executed the Schlieffen Plan: the indirect invasion of France via Belgium, and nearly reached Paris. Some French generals had proposed to do the same thing in case of a war with Germany, but the French never adopted it.
- World War II:
- The popular version of the Battle of France is that the Germans executed a massive Dungeon Bypass by invading through Belgium to avoid the Maginot Line. If that's your preconception, then the actual history subverts this: the French built the Maginot Line precisely because they wanted the Germans to go through Belgium. But the French expected this would be the northern Belgian plains, so they sent their best forces there, while the Germans executed the true Dungeon Bypass of the campaign by going through southern Belgium. See the Useful Notes entry on the Maginot Line. The French never believed the thick Argonne forests could be penetrated with mechanized forces.
- Maginot Line worked exactly as intended - it prevented attack from East into French heartland and was never penetrated. A Real Life example of Gone Horribly Right.
- Another WW2 example: When the Allies were pushing into Germany near the end of the war, the depleted German army were trying to drag it out into city fighting in each town along the way, and were trying to coerce the populace to fight to the last man. Upon taking fire from the town, the Allied troops backed off to a safe distance and called in artillery strikes to reduce the entire town to rubble. When they reached the next town in line, they were usually greeted by the Mayor waving a white flag and the few remaining German troops having either fled the area or been haphazardly captured by the civilians as a sort of bribe for the Allied army.
- Averted by the Market-Garden operation. It would've been a bypass if it had succeeded, as it would allow going around the Siegfried line. However, the operation failed. Out of 41000 airborne troops deployed, 17000 died. Oh, and the Nazis punished the Dutch who supported this operation, letting thousands of them starve to death the following winter.
- Happened (again) on a larger scale (much, MUCH MUCH larger scale) during WWII when the Americans dropped nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki rather than fight their way across Japan.
- The entirety of the Allied island-hopping strategy: why dig Japanese garrisons out of every little island they've taken when you can cut them off from reinforcement, bomb anything they could use to attack you directly to rubble, and simply move on to the next island. (Stranded Japanese soldiers continued to camp in their outposts for years, sometimes decades, afterward, since they received no new orders and couldn't trust radio broadcasts saying the war was over — if their radios even still worked.) Of course, when they needed to clear out an island for whatever reason (Iwo Jima, for example), the result was a dungeon adventure akin to the Tomb of Horrors.
- During the Soviet advance on Berlin, the Nazis built three enormous Flaktürme (flak towers) around the city that doubled as emergency shelters for thousands of people. These were effectively castles with 3.5 meter-thick reinforced concrete walls ringed with heavy flak turrets that could depress to sweep the streets below. They proved impenetrable even to heavy bombardment from tank squads, so the Soviets ended up just ignoring them and going after juicier targets, then negotiating a surrender from the Flaktürme later.
- In the city of Telmissus in Asia Minor, an ox-cart was said to be tied either to a post or its own shaft with a fiendishly complicated knot by the cart's owner, a man named Gordias; the knot itself became known as the Gordian Knot. It was said that whoever could untie the knot would conquer the world. Alexander the Great managed to untie it by cutting it in two with his sword. (This is the legendary version usually told; the real version is not so simple. In a sense, the story as told is something of a Dungeon Bypass for the story as it actually happened.)
- Police SWAT teams discovered that getting past a door with many locks on it was a problem, so they just use a shotgun to blast out the hinges.
- The Berlin Airlift. The Soviet Union decided to control Berlin by cutting off all supplies coming into the city from the West by road and train. Instead of trying to recapture a corridor of land between West Germany and West Berlin, allied nations decided to just fly over.
- When the Mongols decided to conquer China, they faced the Great Wall, a series of fortifications designed specificially to keep them out. Rather than fighting their way through it or riding around it, they took advantage of the Song Dynasty's unstable political climate, made a few allies within China, and bribed their way in.
- A similar tactic got the Crusaders, and later the Turks, into Constantinople. It's a heavily walled city, but if the emperor needs an army and you happen to have a horde of barbarian mercenaries for hire...
- While the Siege of Kazan in 1552 was your typical siege involving thousands of troops (with the Russians outnumbering the defending Tatars) and hundreds of cannons, the city was only taken when the attackers secretly dug a tunnel under a defensive wall and planted charges, blowing a huge hole in it. Later, Ivan the Terrible, who commanded the Russian forces, decided to safeguard Moscow from the same tactics by ordering basements to be built under each defense tower with copper plates mounted on walls. During sieges, people with good hearing would be sent into these rooms to listen for sounds of digging that would be amplified by the plates.
- One of the factors that contributed to the Fall of Constantinople (thus the Trope Namer for Istanbul Not Constantinople) was the failure of the Naval Blockade by the Christian defenders of the city. Not because Sultan Mehmed II broke through the blockade with his famed cannons, but because the Sultan transported his fleet overland: he ordered the construction of a road of greased logs across Galata on the north side of the Golden Horn, and rolled his ships across.
- The above example is also one of the reason the infamous Vikings were such feared raiders and capable traders. Their light, flat and yet sea-capable boats, could be lifted out of the water and transported over short distances on land with relative ease, essentialy allowing them to go from shoreline into rivers or from river to river, saving time or bypassing defences. One of the most famous examples was using rivers in todays Schleswig Holstein in germany. By moving short distances over land between rivers they could go from the eastern sea to the norther sea and vis versa, bypassing most the entire coasts of Schleswig Holstein and Denmark saving weeks or months of travel along dangerous coasts.
- A typical tactic of siege warfare is to dig a tunnel under the wall of the besieged fortress / city and then collapse or blow it up to destroy the wall under it, or to just dig a tunnel inside and open the main gate by surprise.
- The siege of Rochester Castle, for example, involved digging a mine under the wall, then slathering it with the fat of forty pigs and setting it on fire. The heat-induced expansion of the stone and the ignition of the wooden foundations caused a section of the wall to collapse. This was amplified and dramatized in Ironclad by burning the pigs alive.
- The "blow it up tunnel" was adapted to trench warfare twice:
- The first was in the The American Civil War, with the Battle of the Crater: Union general Burnside decided to try it and then, as the Confederates were still stunned by the explosion, have general Ferrero's black division charge at the sides of the crater to breach Petersburg's defence lines. Sadly, due to Meade protesting the use of black troops for political reasons, Ferrero's division was replaced at the last moment with Ledlie's 1st Division, with the drunkard general failing to brief his men on the battle plan. Ledlie's division failed to charge immediately after the explosion and charged into the crater, and was massacred when the Confederates regrouped and started shooting in the crater;
- In World War I the British army reused the tactic at the Battle of Messines, where they detonated nineteen such mines under the German trenches. Between the much greater quantity of more powerful explosive used, a numerical superiority of almost two-to-one, accurate artillery and tank support and the troops charging in right after the explosions, the attack was successful.
- Mining under the other side's trenches to blow them up was quite a popular move in World War I by both sides - Messines was just the biggest and most well-known example. (Incidentally, not all the mines were set off. Six were left (older accounts list fewer); one had been put out of action by German countermining and it was decided that the others were not needed after all. One of them was dug up after the war, one of them went off by itself in 1955, and the other four are still there...
- The masters of this kind of warfare during World War I were the Italian and Austro-Hungarian mountain troops, that found smarter to dig under enemy-held mountains (mainly the ones known as Italian Tooth and Austrian Tooth facing each other on the Dolomites) and blow them up rather than trying a frontal assault. Usually there wasn't enough explosive to actually blow up the mountain, just the piece the enemy was on, but the final mine to explode was fifty tonnes of TNT that did collapse part of the Italian Tooth... Just in time to force the Italian to not detonate the equally large they had just completed right under the Austrian Tooth. After that, the (locally raised) troops stopped for fear of blowing up the whole mountain range and their homes with it.