ExamplesNo straight examples; otherwise, we'd have every fantasy book in existence here.
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Anime & Manga
- Berserk: In Berserk's fantastic setting, where magic can reshape the landscape in a matter of moments and strong swordsmen sometimes end a fight scene on a literal mountain of bodies, the exclusion of firearms from the story is heavily Downplayed. On one hand, just about all armies and navies make extensive use of cannons, to the point where the objective of the first raid that Griffith makes Guts participate in is to set the enemy's gunpowder stores on fire, and he sets his own artillery as an ambush for the enemy. Guts and Grunbeld each have a miniaturized cannon as part of their personal weaponry and use their explosive power as a devastating trump card against hordes of enemies or powerful monsters, to which can be added Rickert's portable rocket launcher and the miniature bombs he made for Guts. The big caveat that makes the trope still present is that besides these characters, warfare is still universally waged with arrows from massed bowmen and crossbowmen, and even the countries whose large number of cannons suggest the technological capacity to mass-produce hand firearms for their troops continue to rely on old-fashioned archery without a handgun in sight. The fact that Rickert also invented an Automatic Crossbow for Guts that fires faster than any gun suggests that bows won't become obsolete any time soon.
- The anime introduced gunpowder-based weapons as the arsenal of Jillas, a humanoid fox minion of the third season's Big Bad Valgaav. He has access to guns, bombs, and even built a primitive tank. This was given a certain justification in that Jillas came from a region with less magic; without magic, people had to come up with other ways to do things — and "other ways" include building a ballistic missile as powerful as a Dragon Slave.
- In REVOLUTION, it's revealed that Seyruun has at least adopted cannons, and it's hinted they're designed by Jillas.
- Averted in One Piece. Pirate crews typically have gunmen along with swordsmen, and neither are shown to be any less effective than the other. The only exception is the Straw Hat Pirates - the ranger of their team, Usopp, uses a slingshot instead, as it lets him use Abnormal Ammo.
- InuYasha is fully aware of the time period it is set in, where firearms are growing in popularity but haven't quite reached Japan yet. So when one of the Band of Seven has guns, they're just handwaved as being imported. Before the arc is over, he gets turned into a tank with missiles.
- The Familiar of Zero:
- Guns make an appearance on occasion being essentially an equalizer between nobles who use magic and plebs who cannot though only a few well-trained musketeers are ever seen using them.
- There's a Vietnam era rocket launcher and a WWII era Zero fighter aircraft appear in the first season. Being from Earth the natives don't know how they work. Colbert learns how to make gasoline for the plane and the fact that the Zero fighter still has ammunition in the second season suggests that SOMEONE learned to make bullets. A Howitzer appears in season 3.
- Gunpowder weaponry are more prominent in the light novels, which isn't a surprise since they are based in magical 16th century Europe.
- During his time in the army Guiche was tasked with using magic to keep matchlocks dry in humid condition, and flying airships are armed with heavy cannons.
- The elves have even more advanced armaments.
- One of Pain's paths is basically a bio-mechanical weapon that can fire missiles.
- The normal Word of God prohibitions on guns is ignored in The Movies, when there are kunai turrets, artillery, muskets, and kunai machine guns. Also, the characters recognize the existence of guns.
- You have to pay attention, but during the Land of Waves arc, in one of the shops Sakura goes into, you can see the owner has a shotgun. Much later, in Part 2, Suigetsu jokingly threatens Sasuke by holding a finger-pistol to his head. Should be noted, though, most ninja possess enough Super Speed to render guns moot (at the very least, they are far too fast for most shooters, if not the bullets) and possess far greater destructive power, with the strongest capable of destroying Villages and mountains and single-handily taking on entire countries in battle. In other words, they don't really need guns all that much.
- It can also be argued that the necessity of guns dropped due to the difference in how battles are fought; in the Naruto universe, combat tends to be more focused on speed and stealth rather than firepower. Guns are notorious for being loud, and take precious seconds to reload, seconds that your enemy could take to send a kunai down your throat. While guns may make small appearances here and there, guns in the Naruto universe are woefully outclassed in large scale warfare and therefore are pretty rare to find being utilized in combat.
- Suigetsu's finger gun gesture gets explained much later; one of his clan's signature jutsus is to make the gesture in order to shoot a high-speed water bullet out of their pointer finger. Hell, it's even called the "Water Gun Technique".
- Drifters actually uses this as a plot point. The eponymous Drifters, being sucked from various ages and times in our world, range from those used to fighting with nothing but swords and arrows, to the Wild Bunch (with six-shooters and an early Gatling gun) and a Japanese Zero pilot. The world they're dumped in, however, is roughly around the same era of advancement as 1100's Europe, with no real machinery and firearms being a near-complete unknown. One of Oda Nobunaga's first tasks is to get large supplies of sulphur and charcoal and to start the creation of a saltpeter pit for gunpowder, and practically creams himself when he sees how far ahead of muskets the Wild Bunch's firearms are. The Drifters are explicitly changing the rate of technological expansion at a breakneck pace every time they're brought in, and it's even stated directly by the guy who summons them that it's one of their primary purposes — to force the world to advance well beyond the pace it normally would.
- Attack on Titan applies this unevenly, as it tends to with its technology. Firearms are confined to basic muskets and considered all but useless outside of peacekeeping operations. On the other hand, cannons and artillery rounds are fairly advanced and considered vital for the defense of the Walls. Flare guns are standard equipment for the Survey Corps, with colored gunpowder being used as a major element of their communication system. Pistols do seem to exist, though don't seem to be very common outside the criminal elements. It turns out that the lack of advancement in firearms is intentional, with the Secret Police murdering inventors of newer firearms as a threat to the government. The members of the elite Anti-Human Suppression Squad use custom-made revolvers to hunt down and slaughter rebellious elements within the military.
- Gate: The basic premise is modern army versus fantasy armies, and just how screwed the latter are in the face of rapid-firing guns. The only time the army even considers giving guns to the locals is when they work together to take out a dragon; The difference in tech is so alien to the locals they see them only in a Freudian light.
- How A Realist Hero Rebuilt The Kingdom: There aren't guns in this world, not because they don't know how to make them (cannons from the Victorian era exist), but because due to how magic works, bullets are simply not as useful as enchanted arrows or spears - the amount of enchantment you can put on an object is directly related to its size and weight, and weaponry enchantment is nigh-required to break through defensive enchantment, so bullets, despite being fast, are too light to cause damage against foes.
- The Grimjack comic includes firearms ... but since the city of Cynosure exists in multiple dimensions, the natural laws of any given neighbourhood may not let them work.
- Guns are simply impractical in Necrophim because gunpowder spontaneously explodes when brought near a furnace. In prog 1665, one of Astaroth's lieutenants recruits five real-life firearms engineers to develops guns that will function correctly in Hell.
- Artesia is set in a fantasy world that looks to be at about 15th-century European technology levels. They have bombards, although they have not been seen on-page as of yet.
- Both justified and subverted in Fables. Since the Empire coexists with modern-day Earth, the Adversary could provide his army with modern firearms. He chooses not to because he fears that introducing guns to commoners might lead to rebellion. The exiled Fables of Fabletown have no such inhibitions towards modern arms technology, which is one of the main reasons they win the war against the Empire.
- Averted in The Warlord, although in fairness Skartaris is simply a convenient fantasy-style setting that coexists with modern-day Earth. Guns brought in by outsiders work fine there as long as the bullets last, and it turns out that at least some (though definitely not all) of the "black magic" there is simply based on remnants of ancient high technology that most natives have long since forgotten how to use.
- The Big Bad Wannabe of Dungeon Twilight try to invert this by executing blacksmiths so his nitro guns become the only weapon available for his father's empire since the army still prefers blades. It doesn't help that he tries doing that before even making sure his nitro guns work.
- In Pathfinder: Worldscape, firearms like muskets, rifles and radium guns are present in the Worldscape due to people like American Civil War veterans and Martians being drawn from different timelines and worlds. With that said, they are used sparingly due to the lack of available ammo in this realm and as such, bladed weapons are the most commonly used.
- Averted in Sluagh, as Seamus is equally adept with a firearm as with a wand, and the muggle militiamen stand their own against the onslaught of magicians during the battle of Druim Cett. As Seamus noted, waving around a machine pistol in war-torn Belfast attracts far less attention than brandishing a wooden stick that shoots red thunderbolts.
Films — Animation
- Inverted in the 1977 animated film Wizards where the protagonist Avatar uses benevolent magic while his evil twin Blackwolf relies on malevolent magic and Nazi technology. Ironically enough, Avatar uses a gun to kill his brother rather than engage in a magical battle. Furthermore, Word of God has dismissed the film's stance as anti-technology and the movie being anti-propaganda.
- Averted in Princess Mononoke, where the hand cannons and arquebuses used by Lady Eboshi and her men are central to the story. It does sort of explain the need for this trope in many works, as the guns completely tip the balance of power to the point that the humans dominate the nature gods and massacre those that attack directly.
Films — Live-Action
- In Krull, the evil mooks have laser rifles.
- In The Wizard of Oz, some of the munchkins are seen wielding muskets, and the Scarecrow has a revolver when he goes with Dorothy to find the Witch. None of them are actually used, however.
- The Hunger Games: Though the Capitol law enforcement is seen carrying black automatic rifles, the Districts have no such access since it's in the best interest of the powers-that-be to not have subjects shooting back at them. No firearms are provided in the actual Hunger Games themselves, likely to keep the games more interesting.
- In WarCraft, Lothar's very first scene includes him being introduced to dwarven "boomsticks" (one-shot gunpowder pistols), and by the time of the final battle, the entirety of Stormwind's forces is equipped with them, despite maintaining a medievalesque tech level in general.
- Mythica: Averted with Borlund, who has a short musket, which fits into her steam punk tech. Her pirates also use primitive grenades, and we see ships firing cannons in the last movie.
- The Lone Wolf series averts this with the Darklords' ironclad warships armed with cannons and the "primitive" Dwarven Bor Muskets. In this series, guns are NOT worthless; Lone Wolf will either die or face a chance of dying instantly if an enemy has one of these muskets. When the muskets are first seen in Book 5, the friendly dwarves who have them manage to drive off a flock of Kraan, flying beasts that always give Lone Wolf a good fight in hand-to-hand combat. Oddly enough, they are always referred to as "primitive"; nothing else (except the aforementioned ironclads) seems to be more advanced in Magnamund. Certainly nothing from Sommerlund.
- Once Upon a Time: About half of the series takes place in a fantasy world inhabited by classic fairytale characters. On Captain Hook's ship, cannons can be seen in the background. However, that is the only time gunpowder weapons make an appearance in the Enchanted Forest world. Also, guns are never seen being used in battle. Emma tries to kill both an ogre and a dragon with a pistol, both of which fail.
- Revolution Most civilians carry low-tech weapons like swords and crossbows even though cartridge firearms were invented before electricity was harnessed. This is explained as guns being illegal for civilians to own, which was graphically demonstrated on a rebel who got caught by the militia for illegally possessing guns in Episode 2. However, that doesn't explain why militia members, who are allowed to have guns, only use muskets. Could be explained by most of the modern ammunition being used up during the intervening 15 years. Musket balls are probably easier to manufacture with primitive technology. This theory is verified by Episode 3, with Jeremy mentioning that pre-blackout ammunition was a rare commodity and that copper jackets and smokeless powder were beyond at least the Monroe Republic's manufacturing capabilities.
- Power Rangers Samurai featured a storyline where the extra-dimensional demons the Rangers were facing began arming their troops with rifles. As the Samurai Rangers were almost exclusively armed with non-long ranged weaponry (the blue ranger had a bow), they greatly outclassed until developing their own ranged ordnance: the Bullzooka. note
- Emerald City: The Wizard introduces flintlock muskets and pistols to Oz.
- Explicitly invoked in Into the Badlands. The work takes place in a distant future, after an Unspecified Apocalypse. Humanity has rebuilt itself into a feudal society with more modern technology, but the Barons all agree to ban guns entirely. This is, more than anything else, done to Hand Wave the need for kick-ass kung fu fight scenes.
- BIONICLE only had throwing disks, explosive fruit and energy projectiles for half of its run, then introduced more gun-like weapons due to Executive Meddling (they sold better than close-combat weapons), the most notable being the Cordak Gatling guns whose projectiles weren't magical energy blasts or Phlebotinum shells, but genuine explosives. The Zamor launchers, Midak Skyblasters, Nynrah Ghost blasters and Thornax launchers are more fantasy-esque but resemble personal, hand-held firearms. Kopaka's Skyblaster is even outfitted with a bayonet, Gali's Nynrah Ghost gun has crosshairs attached, and both have laser-sights.
- The main character of 6 Gun Mage is a mage who wields a revolver.
- In Endstone, one is introduced to deal with Anti-Magic.
- Averted in The Order of the Stick, of all places. The dwarven assassin who tries to kill Roy (believing that he's the King of Nowhere) wields a pistol and uses barrels of explosives to (unintentionally) destroy the inn where Roy is staying. Guns probably aren't widely utilized given the prevalence of magic in this setting and the fact that no weapon is particularly lethal due to Hit Points.
- Skullkickers has no practical guns EXCEPT for Baldy's surprisingly sophisticated revolver. eventually it is revealed that he has been displaced from another dimension with more advanced technology, in a wild west setting. Watching Baldy repeatedly shove a gun into the face of people who don't understand that they're being threatened never ceases to be hilarious.
- The Dimension of Lame from Sluggy Freelance has this in place, though not for the usual reasons. It's not that they don't have the technological capacity to build guns, it's just that every single being in that universe is a die-hard pacifist. Even tapeworms are polite and friendly and inexplicably sapient. Their most advanced weapon is a NUKE (Notification of Unified Kindness' Envelopes), the "NUKE" blankets the area with thousands of polite yet stern letters. (This is considered a weapon of absolute last resort, as it is littering!) Their greatest psychopath, after months of training, manages to bring himself to hit a demon in the toe with a mallet before having a breakdown and apologizing.
- Firearms are present in Strays which is otherwise Medieval European Fantasy or thereabouts. The exact kind/"tech level" of firearms available is undetermined as only one has been seen, and even then not clearly.
- Averted in Tales of the Questor: The Racconans figured out not just gunpowder but rifling centuries ago — it's just that "Boomslangs" capable of killing a hardened target (such as croco-centaurs or thugs with lux-reinforced armor) are too big and heavy for most of them to carry, let alone fire, because their species is about 2 feet tall. Another problem is that Racconan lands are notoriously poor in metal, which makes using a kilo or two of precious steel for a single weapon prohibitively expensive. And beyond that, the entire race has a talent for magic.
- Twice Blessed has a kobold bounty hunter that uses a very large gun (or a small cannon) with a Chinese dragon motif.
- Averted in Amya, with multiple characters wielding flintlock pistols.
- In Table Titans, there's a new class in Fallen Veil that uses rune-powered guns which the party can't play of course.
- True for the most part in At Arm's Length, as most of the magical beings prefer bladed or wooden weapons, or use magical-based spells and projectiles for attacks. Still averted in a few cases, such as Ginger, who packs a WWI-era Colt M1911, as well as an unseen minotaur who was mentioned by Sheila to have been carrying a .44 Magnum when they encountered him.
- Averted in No Need for Bushido, where the introduction of flintlock muskets is just as pivotal a development in this fantasy version of Japan as it was in the real Japan.
- Justified in No Scrying, where firearms are both illegal and blasphemous on account of being associated with "Infernium", an extremely nasty and devastatingly poisonous substance which is itself believed to have the power of Hell. The fact that firearms tend to be manufactured and used by the despised underclass of goblins to give them an edge against Knights and Paladins surely couldn't be relevant.
- Justified in Middleways where the atmosphere of Middleways is different and doesn't allow for traditional combustion. A variety of alternatives and workarounds are employed by people from Earth, like using glorified potato-guns to fire amrit-negative spheres.
- Justified AND Averted in Drowtales. While Drow do not use blackpowder based weaponry, as their natural mana based abilities are just as powerful and get more powerful as they get older, so-called "goblin" races such as duerger and humans do, occasionally using crude blunderbusses as a way of evening up the odds.
- Thouroughly averted in The Wolf at Weston Court, where Faeries at least are highly proficient in the use of (single-shot) pistols and grenades.
- Played with in Chaos Fighters, as explained by word of god
- Paul Twister apparently Doesn't Like Guns, and in his narration, he says that that's one thing he has no intention of starting one of his research projects on. And in the epilogue, we find out that the invention of gunpowder was what prompted the dragons to separate the world of magic from Earth, and they've been suppressing knowledge of it ever since. Ryell tells Paul that guns, bombs, and rockets are "abominations" that are forbidden. She claims that she wants to preserve a peaceful world; Paul theorizes that the real reason is that they would make it possible to create weapons that could easily harm a dragon.
- Pirates of Dark Water has guns that are actually some sort of acid-spraying or dart-throwing creature encased in a tube, with a grip and trigger much like a pistol. Much of their technology is based on the indigenous ecology of Planet Mer. Like using a sea star as a shuriken.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender and its sequel The Legend of Korra are an interesting case. Guns don't appear, although by the second series technology has progressed to not just cars, radios, and skyscrapers, but biplanes, plasma cutters, and even Mini-Mecha. This is explained by the fact that rudimentary early firearms wouldn't have stood a chance against powerful benders, especially the metal-benders. However, gunpowder and other explosives are quite prevalent and used in both war and terrorism. One cannon is even seen as early as the first series. In the final season of Korra, Kuvira's spirit energy Wave Motion Gun bears great resemblance to a real-life railway cannon, and is referred to as such.
- In the Justice League Unlimited episode Chaos at the Earth's Core, Skartaris is shown as a medieval or lower society with strong magic users. Since the Warlord of Shamballah and the Big Bad's mooks have no trouble using guns and other advanced weapons, the issue seems to be one of know-how and available resources. (This is in keeping with the original comics, above.)
- Averted in The Grimorium Verum, which contains a spell for protecting the caster against firearms.
- More or less averted in history. The medieval formula for gunpowder had been written two centuries before the Catholic Church officially acknowledged the existence of witches. Furthermore, the use of the arquebus, the matchlock, and flintlock did nothing to stop occultists from penning grimoires well into the 15th, 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries. In the minds of many during these periods, both magic and firearms were a part of daily life.
- "Common knowledge" about the Middle Ages would cause most people to expect guns would proliferate only in Western Europe at first, but this was untrue already in the late Middle Ages. Among ranged weapons, firearms became almost as characteristic of the era as bows and crossbows. Even a more remote country like Ireland saw firearm usage in the 15th century. The various countries of Central Europe were increasingly adopting firearms since the start of the same century. One of the biggest instigators was the time of the Hussite Wars, when handheld firearm usage exploded and spread through the region like wildfire, becoming a mainstay in many different armies for the first time (rather than an occassional curiosity). During the second half of the 15th century, the Kingdom of Hungary was one of the first European countries to outfit large parts of the infantrymen in its royal army with matchlock handgonnes and early arquebuses. As standard issue, for specifically trained gunners, which wasn't really common yet in Europe, even with handheld firearm usage on 15th century battlefields. Matthias I Corvinus learnt from the proliferation of firearms during the Hussite Wars and in their aftermath (he fought in the latter with his relatives as a young man), and wanted to make sure Hungary would get its hands on the latest toys and field them in intimidating numbers. Every fourth soldier in the Black Army had an arquebus in the infantry, an unusual ratio by the standards of the time. Hungary's late 15th century Black Army was also one of the first examples of a traditional European royal army adopting traits of the standing army model that would come to dominate in the early modern era.