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Anime & Manga
- As pictured above, In Märchen Awakens Romance, the characters have a habit of making fairly poor matchups in general. For instance, having the plant user fight the plant user in the final round of the War Games (the others had their own grudge matches, and it worked out for revenge anyway). However, possibly the most blatant was Princess Snow fighting the 2nd and 3rd rounds in the desert and volcano fields respectively and she loses the 3rd round partially because of the heat interfering with her powers. Later, being Genre Savvy Snow wanted to participate in the 4th round Ice Field but Alan wouldn't let her, which given the boost she'd get from the Ice Field would more than compensate for any lingering fatigue from the previous matches was a huge missed opportunity for them.
- Ash has a habit of doing this, occasionally drifting into the need of a Deus ex Machina or plot powers to resolve the situation, despite the fact that, say, Pikachu is clearly not the Pokémon for a given situation. The first gym battle in Black and White even mentions this, saying that Pokémon isn't only about type matchups, but friendship and strategy and whatnot.
- The early episode "School of Hard Knocks" has Misty subvert this trope, by defeating a schoolboy's Weepinbell (a Grass-type) with her Starmie (a Water-type) simply because her Pokémon is of a higher level, nullifying the type matchup. Giselle continues this lesson by choosing Graveler (a Rock/Ground-type which should be doubly weak to Water-type attacks) to beat Starmie.
- When Ash first goes up against Brock, he's using Pikachu (Electric-type) vs. Geodude (Rock/Ground-type). This wouldn't count, since none of his other pokémon at that point could bypass Geodude's Rock-type reduction, he insists on Pikachu using Electric-type attacks (which deal no damage against Ground-types) instead of Normal-type attacks, which will at least do half damage.
- Inverted in Bastard, where the protagonist fights a fire elemental with fire spells, who comments on the stupidity of it, and how he should try ice spells... and then he turns the fire spells Up to Eleven and out-heats the elemental, forcing it to swear loyalty to him.
- Subverted in the Saint Seiya Asgard saga: The local ice user actually trained in the volcano so he could "beat" it. And he's also a fire user as a result.
Films — Live-Action
- In The Beastmaster 2, the villain Arklon fights his opponent The Beastmaster in a zoo, and even creates an earthquake that lets out all the animals. Dar fights him one-on-one so none of the animals get hurt, which doesn't make his choice of location any less stupid.
- Infamously, the live-action film of The Last Airbender has the Fire Nation capture a bunch of Earthbenders and imprison them in a quarry.
- The main character's older brother does this in A Hero Born, when the three brothers are competing in matches of their own choosing, by choosing the main character's strongest subject to challenge him in. It later turns out he was intentionally throwing the competition.
- A significant part of the Apprentice Adept series by Piers Anthony revolves around "The Game", in which players compete in many different types of events that can include everything from wrestling to Go to harmonica playing to chick sexing. The protagonist of the first trilogy, Stile, is a very short man - under five feet tall - and has had many problems because of it. (His primary occupation is racehorse jockey, one of the few sports in which a smaller size tends to be an advantage.) At one point, he has to challenge "Hulk", who, of course, is on the opposite end of the physical spectrum: he's freakishly tall and very muscular instead of short and wiry. Feeling as though he has something to prove, during the part of The Game in which the two players mutually determine the choice of event, Stile, to the astonishment of the spectators, maneuvers the event selection into the category of unassisted physical prowess, a category in which he should be at a great disadvantage. However, Hulk, whose size has given him his own set of insecurities, also puts pride over practicality, and the two of them end up with an event where neither has an obvious advantage: running a marathon.note
- In one episode of Sesame Street, Oscar the Grouch attempts to ruin everybody's day by spreading dirt around everywhere he goes. Where does he go first? A garden.
- Tales of Symphonia
- Characters in a battle will remark if you're using an element poorly suited to the situation, like if you're hitting a Water-elemental monster with the Aqua Edge spell. Of course, despite repeatedly saying a particular attack is ineffective, a computer-controlled character will still keep using it unless you manually deactivate it from the menu. Star student Genis will even get a title if he does this enough times in a single battle.
- In a non-combat variation of this, after forming the pact with Gnome, the Tethe'allan Summon Spirit of Earth, Lloyd thinks that said spirit's Sylvaranti counterpart is Efreet... the spirit of Fire. Raine has to explain that it's Sylph, the spirit of Wind.
- The first time you meet Edge in Final Fantasy IV, he's gleefully using his fire magic... on a fire demon made of fire. And he's surprised when it doesn't work well.
- In Pokémon games, you get to choose a grass, water or fire starter. In the original series, a fire type would be at a disadvantage against early gym leaders, in particular Brock and Misty. A lot of first time players would pick the cool fire starter only to learn about elemental advantages the hard way.
- On the other hand, Fire Types had an advantage early on against the Bug and Grass types that appeared in the first gym, which in turn had a decent advantage over the first leader. So, Fire tended to be a bit more of a long term investment since Fire-types as a whole were pretty rare in the game while Grass and Water were fairly common.
- In Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire, the battle between the land Pokemon Groudon and the sea Pokemon Kyogre takes place in the middle of the sea. Lampshaded by this comic.
- In Golden Sun, each Lighthouse represents an element. They empower people who use that element and those who elements are related, they also greatly weaken those whose element is the opposite. Earth and Fire compliment and Wind and Water compliment. During the fight against Saturos at the Mercury Lighthouse (water), he doesn't realize this and gets weakened enough to be barely beaten by the party.
- The most famous instance in City of Heroes had to have been the demons summoned by the higher level Circle of Thorns. They were large, somewhere between "well muscled" and "absolute brutes", had hair made of fire, and had a combination of fire abilities for both range and melee along with just straight strength attacks. What didn't they have? Any sort of RESISTANCE to fire, which was without serious Min-Maxing the highest DPS power sets in the game, and often came with fire resists buffs of their own. Meaning the easiest way to cut through the Legions of Hell (which was a very Fire and Brimstone Hell) was with torrents of flame...
- A non-elemental example: in Fire Emblem: Blazing Sword Sain initially insists on using a lance against an axe-weilding opponent, despite axes being strong against lances. This is mostly to demonstrate the weapon triangle and afterwards, you can get him a sword.
- In World of Warcraft, originally this was in effect with monsters having innate resistances and some being completely immune, this in particular hurt fire mages and destruction warlocks since the entry level raids were in the fire-based Molten Core. Eventually Blizzard wised up to the fact that making entire specializations useless was a terrible idea and chose to enforce Competitive Balance by making elemental or elemental-aligned monsters take just as much damage as they do from any other element.
- In Justice League, one of the not!Wonder Twins tries to drown Aquaman due to not thinking straight at the moment. This works about as well as you'd expect, allowing Arthur a great Deadpan Snarker line after he completely No Sells the attack.
King of the Seas, remember?
- In an episode of Captain Planet and the Planeteers, the heroes are trapped behind ice, but never think to use fire, despite elemental typing pretty much being their only means of problem-solving as it is.
- In the 90s X-Men animated series, when Storm confronts Magneto for the first time in the series, she decides to use intense lightning bolts on him. Magneto points out that being the master of magnetism, lightning was the least effective of her many weapons to use against him. Partially justified since Magneto's powers are written such that if he isn't a Superpower Lottery winner, he's definitely a runner up, to the point where no energy attacks and few physical attacks would really have been effective.
- Occurs in Girls Night Out type episodes, where someone with specific powers over one sex (usually female over male) is on the loose, and the team leader specifically sends troops of the sex which can be controlled to capture said person, as opposed to their operatives of the opposite sex.