The Flawed Prototype is just that
, the first person or machine in a series that also happens to have a flaw or deficiency in its construction or performance. The prototype usually functions, maybe even exceeds expectations
, but something just isn't quite right with it. At its most benign, it's "just OK" and is quickly eclipsed by the production models. If it's a machine, maybe it has a design flaw or weak point, it will explode
if pushed too far
, or has issues
with its Power Source
. If the prototype is a person, he may risk Heroic RROD
or even a Super Power Meltdown
every time his powers
or Super Mode
are engaged, have most of the ostensibly "safe" original functions or attacks be Dangerous Forbidden Techniques
an addictive drug
, or have a passive Power Degeneration
that will kill him in short order. Or worst, will perform above expectations
... and will have also gone insane
The Flawed Prototype may be a protagonist, antagonist, supporting character, or a macguffin. A protagonist who is a Flawed Prototype may be a Phlebotinum Rebel
with the unenviable task of taking out his better made brothers, usually he will get the job done because he's Weak, but Skilled
. An antagonistic Flawed Prototype is usually a Beta Test Baddie
who is jealous of the "perfect" hero, or is a Psycho Prototype
who just wants to kill him for the lulz.
Most commonly seen as a supporting character, the Flawed Prototype will usually act as a Big Brother Mentor
for the hero, helping bail them out while they're learning how to use their abilities but (usually) being unable to help beat
the Big Bad
. For these reasons, the supporting flawed prototype is usually an Ensemble Darkhorse
A villain may end up using a Flawed Prototype out of desperation or overeagerness to destroy the hero, despite the warnings of his scientists that it hasn't been properly tested. This usually proves to be his undoing
If the protagonist is a Science Hero
with a suit of Powered Armor
or the like, it's not uncommon for them to don an older model
if the newer one is damaged or stolen
. The hero will usually give it an Ace Custom
treatment to help it deal with the threat at hand.
By its nature, this trope also includes a Superior Successor
, if not several.
Needless to say, this is often Truth in Television
, especially compared to Super Prototype
— the entire point
of building a prototype is to iron out any bugs in the design.
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Anime and Manga
- The Lost Numbers in Guyver are failed Zoanoids, they have useful powers and abilities, but recreating them is impossible and they're biologically sterile. They had a driving force to prove themselves as valuable, having neither the dignity of being human or the pride of a normal Zoanoid.
- EVA Unit-00, identified as the prototype, supposedly has multiple flaws in its operation, from having minor synchronisation issues to going berserk in an activation test and nearly killing Rei. After these issues are worked out for Rei, it still goes berserk when Shinji attempts to operate the EVA. Unfortunately, that still doesn't save it from Rei triggering its self-destruct sequence.
- And then in episode 23 we're finally shown the failed Evangelion prototypes developed prior to Unit-00, stored in what is essentially an Evangelion graveyard. Or what's left of them, anyway; their organic parts have rotten away, leaving only deformed skeletons and orange helmets similar to Unit-00's. The depiction differs between the original version◊ and the Director's Cut◊ but the verdict is the same: at least fifty prototypes were rejected before Unit-00 finally passed.
- It's hard to decide which version is worse: the Director's Cut for the pile of giant skeletons haphazardly dumped into a series of pits like garbage or the original where the bodies are laid out to show their various deformities: one doesn't have arms, just a spine and legs; another has a tail instead of legs or pelvis, etc. In any case, we get another scene in End of Evangelion when over a dozen five-eyed Unit-00 helmets with their spines hanging out of the bottom are piled on a rack helmet-to-helmet, many having a large red FAILED stamp on them.
- Full Metal Panic!:
- Leonard Testarossa's personal Arm Slave, the Plan 1055 Belial, is considered the most powerful Arm Slave ever made; however, it has no weapons to speak of since it relies entirely on the Lambda Driver for offense and defense. This leaves Leonard high and dry when Sousuke gets the Laevatein, which possesses the Lambda Driver-nullifying Angel Feather. He does eventually get a giant bow for it.
- The Laevatein itself is an example, as it is basically a heavily stripped-down Arbalest focused entirely on direct combat, lacking standard Arm Slave features like the ECM stealth cloak. Furthermore, due to the energy requirements of its muscle packages, has an operating time just shy of 30 hours, about a third that of standard Arm Slaves, the only reason the thing is even functional is because AL is supporting the OS, telling Sousuke that if he 'tore him out' the Laevatein would be a real piece of junk, and in the penultimate novel we learn that its systems are rapidly decaying and it can only operate for a two or three battles before it breaks down completely.
- The Laevatein is not a prototype; It's an Ace Custom that was specifically tailored for Sousuke. It was also a rush job, hence it's shortcomings. That being said, it was built for the explicit purpose of bringing down Leonard and the rest of Amalgam. That was it's only purpose.
- From the Gundam franchise:
- The Zeong from Mobile Suit Gundam is only 80% complete when it's introduced (it's missing its legs). Since Char ends up piloting it in a space battle, however, the difference is merely cosmetic.
- The Hyaku-Shiki was originally called the "Delta Gundam", and was Anaheim Electronics' first attempt at building a transforming mobile suit. They could never get the transformation working properly though, so the mobile suit was left as a solid but overall pretty unremarkable design on par with the Gundam Mk II. Anaheim eventually succeeded with their next attempt, the Zeta Gundam.
- The ZZ Gundam is structurally very weak thanks to its transformation/combination system; eventually it was given a Full Armor upgrade mainly so it wouldn't just break to pieces if hit in the right spot. On top of that, its hi-mega cannon has incredible output, but completely drains the ZZ when used.
- Speaking of the Full Armor upgrade, its test unit, the FAZZ from Gundam Sentinel, is this as while it was a test unit, it was rushed out just to test the parts. It has no anti-beam defenses, its two major beam weapons are dummies and its Beam Cannons don't double as Hyper Beam Sabers. This last one is what hurts it as all three prototypes are destroyed by the Gundam Mk-V.
- The Nu Gundam, despite being awesome, is actually an incomplete prototype rushed out due to the urgency of the situation; as a result, the fin funnels are literally just slapped on the back and the psychoframe was installed but not fully integrated. The novel Beltorchika's Children shows the completed Nu (more commonly known as the Hi-Nu Gundam), which is superior in every area, including having dedicated mounting racks for the funnels that let them recharge.
- Later series gives us the Mass Produced Nu Gundam, which was meant to be used by both Newtypes and Oldtypes with the help of Mecha Expansion Pack, either Fin Funnels or INCOMs. Very few are built, most of which is because the Quasi-Psycommu still isn't perfect and naturally born Newtypes are extremely rare.
- The Tallgeese of Gundam Wing was built extremely high-spec; so high, in fact, that it killed anyone who tried piloting it thanks to its murderous acceleration. When Zechs Merquise pulls it out of the mothballs fifteen years later, it gives him a heart attacknote on his first sortie.
- Likewise the Wing Gundam Zero, arguably the most powerful machine in the series. And all thanks to its mental interface program known as the ZERO System, which gives the pilot a neuropathic link to the Gundam and allows for speed-of-thought reactions. It does come at a hefty price: if the pilot has anything less than absolutely perfect focus, it overloads his brain and drives him mad. It also suffers from Crippling Overspecialisation - its primary weapon, is massively overpowered whilst its secondaries (its shoulder-mounted Gatling guns and a pair of beam sabers) are a bit underpowered, which can be a bit of a problem if one is not trying to destroy everything in sight.
- The Zudah from MS Igloo competed with the Zaku I to be Zeon's mainline mecha. While all-around a superior machine, its engine tends to produce vibrations that shake the machine to pieces when overexerted, meaning it was passed over.
- Many Mobile Suit Variants tend to be this. Among those, the Gundam GP 00 "Blossom" (precursor to the Gundams from Stardust Memory) tried to do everything well all at once and as a result had extremely poor balance. Likewise the Prototype Gundam Mk-II, which was utterly overpowered, had poor aiming skills and cost as much to make as a battleship.
- The Gyan from Mobile Suit Gundam was eventually rejected because, while it was a powerful design at close range, it had no ranged attacks whatsoever. The Gyan's supporters had expected that it would be supported by Doms in combat, but the Principality of Zeon instead chose to go with the Gelgoog, a reliable Jack of All Stats design that was even more powerful than the Gundam itself.
- Also from Mobile Suit Gundam, the Guntank can't aim its cannons horizontally, because its can't turn the torso. The mass production model fixed this.
- The 0 Gundam has extremely limited weapons (just a beam rifle and beam saber) as well as a faulty GN drive socket, resulting in massive particle leakage that resembles phoenix wings. Its in-show successor, the 00 Gundam, initially has trouble when using Trans-Am, but this is later fixed.
- Graham Akre's Custom Flag from the same series is effectively an Expy of the Tallgeese (see above); insanely over-spec, but at Graham's request it completely lacks any safety features. The first time he uses it, he does manage to square off with the Gundam Exia on equal footing, but ends up coughing up blood from the G-forces its acceleration puts on his body.
- The mass produced GN Drive [T]note are also faulty: they lack the filter found in the true GN Drives, meaning they emit toxic radiation; one person who survives an attack by a Tau-drive mobile suit is told that medical science can't regrow her lost hand because of this. The final mass-produced version in the second season corrects this flaw. The Tau drives also lack the true GN Drives' ability to perpetually recharge GN Particles, and will run out and shut down; while a mobile suit equipped with a true GN Drive has effectively unlimited operating time.
- Very briefly, the G-Series Mobile Suits of Mobile Suit Gundam SEED and the Astray series of Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Astray were this: The Earth Alliance had absolutely no idea how to make an OS for Naturals and neither did ORB. Kira and the Le Creuset Team rewrote their OS on the flynote and Lowe Guele used his new AI computer, 8, to get them to work. Ultimately, both the EA and ORB used Kira's handiwork to make all of their suits work, with Lowe also providing ORB with assistance behind the scenes.
- Suigintou of Rozen Maiden, the first doll and main antagonist of the first season, is short her torso. Her father never finished her, moving on to the next doll early, leading to certain personality problems.
- The girls in Gunslinger Girl may be this, as they are the first generation of cyborgs. Angelica gets special mention since she was the very first, and is especially flawed. Her memory doesn't work well.
- Angelica's memory loss eventually gets so bad that she forgets all her memories of her cyborg life...and starts remembering her life before coming to the Agency. It also eventually kills her because the conditioning drugs are literally killing her mind.
- Surprisingly the Super Prototype 3rd generation Byakkushiki from Infinite Stratos counts as this since as stated by Chifuyu it has a very powerful weapon, but it doesn't have enough energy to sustain it. Not to mention so far that all of Ichika's battles consists of Guns vs. Swords.
- Likewise, the prototype Me-262 Jet Striker from the second season of Strike Witches. Powerful, but too dangerous for most Witches to use safely.
- In Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha, we have the first viable product of Project F, Fate Testarossa. Although a viable clone, in that she had a healthy body and retained the memories of her original, she developed her own personality rather than the personality of her original, and so was considered a failure. In terms of magical ability, she was actually superior to the original, though. Later clones of the same technology do not have this issue, and appear to be perfect copies of the originals.
- HMX-12 Multi, the Robot Girl in To Heart, is an experimental maid robot who is not very good with any chores given to her. Her successor HMX-13 Serio is superior in every way. (Mostly. Multi is able to express and understand a range of emotions while Serio cannot, which makes her popular with the few students she interacted with.)
- The Grand Cross (full designation Mobile Battleship Grand Cross) from Bodacious Space Pirates may be an example of this. It is a fearsome foe, utilising advanced technology beyond what is normally seen in the series, in particular a gravity control device that allows it to zig-zag and move as fast as a fighter. It also has large protective shields, powerful lasers, can unleash a deadly close-range Beam Spam and has an edge in electronic warfare. However after significant displays of power, the ship completely powers down for a short period of time. Also, its shields are not nearly as effective against physical bombardment as they are against beams.
- The Gawain from Code Geass, owing to its being filled with experimental, untested technologies. In specific, it's one of the first mecha in the series to possess Energy Weapons, but their output is extremely finicky and the first couple of times it's used the blast is more like a completely random unfocused shotgun effect. After getting Grand Theft Prototype-ed, Lelouch has it fixed up, turning the cannons into sweeping beams of death.
- The X-Aestivalis from Martian Successor Nadesico was this. An Aestivalis armed with just the ship's Gravity Wave Cannon, Urubitake deemed it a failure because of various flaws on it that would destroy it. It's later stolen and implodes on itself when a drug-crazed admiral takes it and attempts to fire it on another ship.
- Valentine Romanov in Nikolai Dante was the first to get a weapons crest, and is horribly scarred and mentally disturbed as a result. The rest got off pretty easy.
- A while back Marvel established that Steve Rogers was actually the second Captain America. The original was Isaiah Bradley, the sole survivor of a battalion of black soldiers who were administered a early version of the serum. He only served in one major mission and was promptly imprisoned in Fort Leavenworth for decades for "desertion." It's unclear whether his current disabilities, similar to the symptoms of Alzheimers and steroid abuse, are a result of an unstable super-soldier formula or his treatment at Leavenworth.
- Another retcon established that another more aggressive soldier was treated with the Super Serum the night before Steve received it. The general in charge did it because he didn't think the scrawny Steve Rogers was Super Soldier material. The soldier went insane since he wasn't treated with Vita-Rays like Steve. He was put in cold sleep until A.I.M. woke him up and cured him of his insanity decades later. As Protocide, he initially tried to kill Cap because he was brainwashed into believing that Steve "stole" the Captain America identity from him and was responsible for his near death. Protocide eventually realizes that Cap is too good a person to have done that, and in his last appearance saves Steve's life before leaving for parts unknown.
- The Clone Saga infamously revealed that Ben Reilly was not the first clone of Spider-Man. Instead, it was Kaine, a psychotic, deformed clone with the powers of Spidey cranked Up to Eleven.
- In the Post-Crisis DC Universe, the first two Bizarros were clones of Superman who were slowly crumbling due to their inexperience with Kryptonian DNA. When Cadmus attempted to clone Superman following his death, they ended up mixing it with human DNA to get the person who'd be Superboy.
- It's probably easy to say that a lot of Tony Stark's armors fit into this category. His original armor was too bulky, nearly killing him when he was possessed by a voodoo practitioner, and another armor proved to be susceptible to control by Ultron.
- In Sonic the Hedgehog series, the first Metal Sonic, Pseudo Sonic, wasn't as fast as his later counterparts and was actually prone to being disabled by static electricity.
- Empath in Empath: The Luckiest Smurf is seen as this in the eyes of other Psyches, since they are forbidden to see him as the "savage" Species 0002 (Smurfs) that he belongs to, but rather as a "prototype Psyche". The only "flaw" that he has are emotions.
Live Action Television
- Knight Rider has KARR, the prototype for KITT. The design flaw being that KARR was programmed to place self-survival over everything else.
- In the new series, however, KARR can transform from a robot into a car, while KITT can only transform into various cars. Also, it is revealed that the military always intended to go with KARR, once KITT's AI was "mature" enough. KITT was a temporary necessity.
- Star Trek: The Next Generation has Lore, the prototype for Data, possessing the same strength, speed, endurance and physical design. But unlike Data, who only gained emotions later in life, Lore was created with them from the start, which led to him being amoral and mentally unstable. Lore initially claimed, and believed, that he was "too perfect" and that Data was created as an inferior model, though their creator later explained that they're perfectly equal and that the colonists weren't jealous of Lore's abilities, but terrified of his outbursts. It's later revealed that Data and Lore were the last and most successful of a string of prototype androids, with one of them, the childlike B-4, showing up in Star Trek: Nemesis.
- The Defiant from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine could practically be a trope namer, having been famously described as "A set of guns strapped to an engine." Stuffing the equivalent abilities of a Galaxy-class ship into something barely a quarter of that size made it extremely overpowered, engine-wise, to the point where it nearly tore itself to pieces on its shakedown cruise. It was also, due to the combat-exclusive focus of its design, poorly suited for everything else (in stark contrast to every other Federation starship), with the worst of these shortcomings being the criminally under-equipped medical facilities.note It took the better part of a season and O'Brien replacing just about everything to make the blasted machine work as it was expected to.
- Comes up again when Nog and Jake run into the elite cadet group Red Squad, who are piloting another Defiant-class vessel. It has the same problems, only they can't fix them. Luckily, Nog has spent enough time paying attention to O'Brien that he does know, and thus he makes the ship work in a few minutes.
- This also happens with the Mirror Universe Defiant, built by Smiley (nickname given by Mirror!Sisko to Mirror!O'Brien as a play on his first name and perpetually sour mood) based on the specs he stole from the prime universe's databanks. However, once built, they hit on the same technical difficulties as the original, forcing them to kidnap Sisko (who, having helped design the original, had a lot more in-depth knowledge of its workings and flaws than anyone in the Mirror Universe) and have him fix the problems. Surprisingly, Sisko is sympathetic and not only helps them fix the ship but also commands the battle against the Alliance's flagship (the Mirror version of the Negh'Var) and handily beats the massive warship, forcing Mirror!Worf to retreat.
- Sarah Corvus in the 2007 Bionic Woman. Her bionics are malfunctioning and she wants to steal Jaime's. Yes, they decided to start with the Evil Counterpart plot...
- This appears to be the case in The Invisible Man series in a episode where Darien keeps seeing another invisible man in his UV sight and assumes it's the previous test subject who has gone permanently invisible. Subverted when his boss wakes up and reveals that he personally shot the previous test subject, who tried to kill him, and had the same gland put into Darien. Darien was simply seeing RNA-induced hallucinations. Of course, if you consider the bigfoot gland to be the prototype, then that could still qualify.
- In Stargate SG-1, America decides to reveal the existence of the Stargate program to the rest of the world's superpowers, since the latest Big Bad is enough of a threat that they might not be able to handle it on their own. The Chinese ambassador is understandably upset at the Americans having access to spaceships and the like. The Russian ambassador, already a long-standing partner, explains that the American starships are flawed in numerous ways and ludicrously expensive. Once they work out the bugs, at great expense to themselves, they'll turn over the designs and the Russians can build effective copies at half the expense.
- Bakuryuu Sentai Abaranger: Abarekiller's Dino Minder is one of these; Too many transformations causes it to overload and explode.
- An earlier example is Denji Sentai Megaranger, where the prototype Megaranger suit would automatically shut down after two minutes and thirty seconds.
- An even earlier example was Red Puncher of Chouriki Sentai Ohranger, which went berserk and killed its first pilot.
- Warehouse 13 has many such items on display. In this case, "flawed" means "Gone Horribly Wrong"—case in point, a self-replicating dodgeball used for military target practice.
- Some items are not "flawed", in that they are exactly what their creators wanted them to be. They're just too dangerous to be allowed into the world. Timothy Leary's Reading Glasses simulate the visual effects of LSD by anyone wearing them, resulting in the person never wanting to take them off or do anything, including eat, drink, or sleep. The end result is obvious. Copies made by McPherson only cause the world to appear trippy but don't result in addiction, and can also be used to send secret messages.
- Warhammer 40,000: Supplementary rules in Games Workshop's White Dwarf magazine added a Rail Rifle option for Tau Pathfinder squads. An optional Target Lock upgrade allowed such armed soldiers to fire at a different unit than their squadmates, albeit with a one-in-six chance of taking damage from Explosive Instrumentation. Since the Tau are the one faction whose technology is regularly improving, by their next codex update that upgrade was available without any drawbacks.
- The Daboku assault mech in BattleTech was among the first new battlemechs built with the lost knowledge gleamed from the Helm Memory Core, and it shows, becoming the laughing stock of the battlefield. While it was advanced, the mech was riddled with massive faults. The mech would sometimes spontaneous eject the pilot upon taking damage, which caused the frustrated pilots to disable the auto-eject. The autocannon ammo feeds were poorly designed causing them to jam up, and the mech lacked enough heatsinks to prevent the mech from overheating when firing its lasers. The mech was so infamous that the much more common successor dropped the name entirely, instead being called the Mauler.
- Truth in Television: This trope is the very reason why beta testing a new unreleased game is an absolute necessity! And why when a company releases an Obvious Beta it's very easy to tell.
- Proto Man/Blues DRN-00, Mega Man's "older brother," is certainly a Bad Ass in his own right, but all what prevents him from him to be a proper Super Prototype, is his limited atomic power reactor given by Dr. Alber W. Wily and a defect his energy system later aquirred according to Blues' Solo Ending from Mega Man 2: The Power Fighters. He was originally equipped with a flawed Solar Power Reactor, which Dr. Thomas Light developed and tried to fix. However because Blues was developed as a truly independed robot with a Strong Sense Of Independence, he did ran away from Light Labs. The reason why Blues did this, was because he feared that fixing his solar power reactor would erase his individuality. Eventually, the flawed Solar Power reactor stopped to work and Blues in turn ceased to function. It was then that Dr. Albert W. Wily found him and tried to fix him, by switching his Solar Power Reactor with a early, but limited version of the atomic power reactors, which all Wilybots would later use. Besides giving Blues a new power Reactor, he was outfitted with combat capabilities and his trademark visor along with his shield. However to battle brings Blues' atomic power reactor at its limits and going above by overuse will make him to a living time bomb, as one well placed shoot can cause him to blow up and annihilates the entire environment around him. The defect his energy system later aquirred causes him pain and if the defect is left unchecked, there is always the chance, that his body will break down with the result of his death. Since he has Strong Sense Of Independence, he is uncooperative to let himself to be repaired by Dr. Light, even if it means his death. In games where Proto Man's playable he's typically a Glass Cannon due the defect mentioned above.
- Bizarrely, Dr. Light rebuilds Protoman during the ending of Rockman and Forte, where he should have been able to give him a more advanced power reactor and fix the defect his energy system acquirred, but Mega Man 9 and Mega Man 10 are explicitly after that game and have the double damage thing.
- In Ariga's Mega Man Megamix manga it is Double Subverted. Proto Man doesn't have a flawed or limited power core, but his energy systems are messed up, because Dr. Light tried to install a buggy version of the three laws in order to control him. No wonder he's paranoid about Dr. Light taking his free will away, if given the opportunity and won't let Dr. Light 'fix' him: Proto Man is dying because Dr. Light already tried to do that. On top of the fact he can't trust Dr. Light, it's possible that the power system programming flaw can't be fixed without fixing the three laws programming, in which case he really would lose his individuality, if he was fixed. Of course, this universe's robot masters aren't very Three-Laws Compliant. Roll and Rock would be happy to show him how it's done.
- The misshapen and vicious Troggs of World of Warcraft were the Titans' first attempt at creating creatures of living stone, but were presumably warped by Yogg-Saron's Curse of Flesh. The Earthen were more stable, and though the same curse eventually turned them into Dwarves, they skipped the whole "degenerate subterranean savages" phase.
- Both the Alt Eisen and Weiss Ritter of Super Robot Wars Original Generation were exceptionally expensive to mass-produce as the next-generation line of mecha for The Federation, the former practically being unpilotable, due to it being too heavy and deemed clumsy because of its weaponry. Both are rejected; fortunately, the mechanical designer found two pilots able to use the Alt and Weiss to capable, if not, extraordinary levels that it ultimately subverts this trope by turning the mecha into Ace Customs.
- There's also the Huckebein 008 L from Super Robot Wars Alpha, one of two units armed with the Black Hole Engine. The "Vanishing Trooper" Incident, in which its companion unit Huckebein 008 R exploded when its engine went up, resulted in the L being locked away. All succeeding Huckebeins after that use normal nuclear engines or, in the case of the Huckebein MK III, the Tromium Engine. Of course, there was a reason before the incident: Shu Shirakawa, the man who helped build the Black Hole Engine, realized this was a test from aliens and that, if they completed it successfully, those aliens would invade Earth. All Shu did was buy enough time for Earth to really get down the art of making robots.
- In the Masou Kishin games, the Jaohm is one of the first Masouki ever developed in the Masouki Project. Unfortunately, engineers hit a construction roadblock regarding how to effectively mold Orichalconium alloy. As result, the Jaohm's armor is mixed with ceramic, making it heavier and not as tough as they had wanted. In fact, despite the Jaohm supposedly designated as a Fragile Speedster like all other wind-based Masouki, the weight of the ceramic armor forces it be slow.
- In Final Fantasy IX, the antagonist, Kuja, and protagonist, Zidane, are both constructs. Kuja is revealed to be a flawed prototype, causing his Freak Out on disk 3.
- Also Vivi. Much more powerful than normal black mages and a longer life span, but he was never zombie-like and easily controllable like the others.
- Subject Delta and the Alpha Series, from BioShock 2. The prototypes for the standard Big Daddy, the Alpha Series are Glass Cannons that can also use Plasmids. However the psychological bond between the Alpha Series and their Little Sisters was so intense that separating them would send the Alpha into either a coma or a state of psychosis.
- The Kingdom Hearts series has Xion, the very first living puppet created by the Organization. Who's unfortunately very prone to breakdowns of both the mental and physical sort.
- E-101 Beta from Sonic Adventure is, as the name indicates, a beta test of Eggman's E-series robots. He's beaten easily, causing Eggman to rebuild him into a Super Prototype. Also from that game is the Tornado 2, mostly because Tails forgot to install landing gear on the secondary mode.
- The Biolizard from Sonic Adventure 2 is a prototype of the ultimate life form. Shadow is the perfected ultimate life form. The former is a giant lizard covered with gills that has to hyperventilate through its (equally huge) life-support system frequently in order to survive. The latter is an anthropomorphic hedgehog who doesn't seem to have any form of machine hooked up to him, save for the rocket skates and Power Limiters on his wrists, and he can lose those without any shown ill effect. Oh, and Shadow takes on his prototype and wins.
- Bio-Sonic and Silver Sonic from the Game Gear and Sega Genesis versions of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is this for Metal Sonic - Bio-Sonic only had a mechanical arm and curled up into an iron ball. Silver Sonic got the Sonic Spin down right, but could only race around in small areas.
- In Street Fighter, Cammy, Necro, Seth and maybe Abel are all flawed prototypes.
- Genesis, the Big Bad of Crisis Core suffers from degeneration from his indirect prenatal exposure to Jenova cells as one of the subjects of Project G. His desperate attempts to fix this problem bring tragedy to the setting.
- The first power-armor model from the Fallout series allowed soldiers to become one-man tanks, but issues with power supply made mobility difficult, meaning that soldiers were stationed somewhere, hooked up to a generator, and left to kill as many Chinese as possible.
- Fallout Tactics has a prototype Pulse Rifle that deals less damage and has a lower ammo capacity than the mass-produced version.
- This is a possibility with the prototype feature in Sword of the Stars II: The Lords of Winter. The first ship of any new design takes longer to build and requires more resources. It also has a random chance of being either better or worse at certain things than the following ships of the same design, as evidenced by the prototype's nickname.
- Valkyria Chronicles II: The V0 Power Armor. While it's extremely powerful, it destroyed Leon Hardins, reducing him into a shadow of his former self, who people then know as Dirk Gassenarl. Attempts to create Artifical Valkyria power generally result in this trope.
- Very tragic example in Professor Layton and the Unwound Future. Two aspiring scientists actually managed to construct a prototype time machine. One of them noticed a flaw in its design and tried to postpone the first test. This was in vain, as the other made a deal with a wealthy company for the power source, and wanted to demonstrate its viability as soon as possible. The result? BOOM. The greedy scientist miraculously survived, and used the money from the deal to cover up the explosion and become Prime Minister of Britain. The explosion took out a neighboring block of flats, and killed the test subject... but the time machine temporarily sent her ten years forward in time, then dragged her back to the time of the explosion.
- Drone technology: introduced in the first game, the drone frigate is devastating against fighters but carries no weapons aside the drones, can barely scratch enemy capital ships, and the drones are stationary around the frigate (making them easy targets for frigates and bigger ships). The Advanced Drone Frigate of Homeworld: Cataclysm is a superior design, carrying its own weapons to attack enemy ships and defend itself and having a smaller number of superior Swarmer-class drones who can move on their own even at medium distance from the frigate. The technology disappears in the third game.
- Ion cannons (apart the Bentusi ones, at least): they are big and cumbersome, and frigates can only mount one of them (and nothing else) in a spinal mount, making them capable ship killers at the price of being harmless against fighters and corvettes. Already in the first game we are treated to two solutions: Bentusi aside (their ion cannons don't need recharge time and can track small crafts. And they can mount them on fighters), the Kadeshi ion frigate (that you can't build but can capture) mounts four of them, increasing their firepower and giving them limited anti-fighter capabilities, and destroyers and heavy cruisers, being much bigger than frigates, can mount them in turrets and add other weapons. The real solution, however, comes in Homeworld: Cataclysm, with the multi-beam frigate, which has five ion cannon turrets (each individual turret is less powerful than the single gun of a standard frigate, but when all fired at a single target they are devastating, and enemy strike crafts are in for a nightmare). This time the technology remainsn but with modifications: the ion platform has four small ion cannons on twin turrets and can hit both fighters and capital ships, the ion frigate returns to the single weapon in spinal mount, even if it outguns the ion platform by a decent margin, and the battlecruiser has four ion cannons in twin turrets, each cannon outgunning the frigate.
- Strike craft engines: in the first game they needed periodical refueling (the one weakness of the Kadeshi swarmers; they outperforms scouts and have corvette-level firepower, with the advanced swarmers being faster, better armoured and twice the firepower, but need refueling every minute or so), but in Cataclysm and Homeworld 2 they don't need refueling anymore.
- Shield technology: in the original game the shield technology could only block projectiles and missiles, mines and energy weapons passes it at will, but in Cataclysm they are upgraded to protect from everything, and in Homeworld 2 they are upgraded to protect even from radiation clouds. Also, the original Tiifal defense field frigate was unarmed, but the Sentinels (ships smaller than fighters) of Cataclysm and the Hiigaran defense field frigate of Homeworld 2 both carry limited weapons.
- Capital ships point defense: in the original game capital ships tend to be Point Defenseless due their weapons being designed with taking down capital ships in mind (only the drone frigate, the carriers and the motherships can truly deal with fighters, and are awfully vulnerable to capital ships). Cataclysm gives us the already mentioned multi-beam frigate and three types of super capital ships capable of defending themselves by fighters (the Beast heavy cruiser has a beam weapon to subvert them, the Somtaaw destroyer is equipped with a missile battery, and the Somtaaw dreadnought comes with missile battery and fast-tracking ion cannons and is later upgraded with a repulsing weapon to disperse enemy fighters), and Homeworld 2 has various frigates made to deal with enemy strike crafts and actual point defense weapons on destroyers and battlecruisers.
- The mothership itself: in the first game the mothership (both the Kushan and the Taiidan variants, no matter what you play as) is lightly armed and armoured and can't move in real space due incomplete engines (quite a problem in many missions, especially the one where the mothership is endangered by asteroids and the one where the enemy tries a Colony Drop on it), and, to rub salt in the wound, we see the Kadeshi motherships having ion cannons and very fast engines in addition to building capabilities and point defense. In Cataclysm your mothership comes with working engines and capable weapons, and through the game you upgrade it with superior armour, energy cannons and a Wave Motion Gun, while the Beast mothership has comparable normal weapons, slightly slower engines and inferior construction capabilities, superior armour and swaps the Wave Motion Gun with a beam to spread The Corruption, while in Homeworld 2 both the Pride of Hiigara (itself an improved version of the Kushan mothership) have working engines, decent weapons, and can be upgraded with various systems, including cloak generators and sensors to defeat it.
- L2 Biotics are this in the Mass Effect universe. It was a biotic amp implant design that was made when Humanity still didn't fully understand what it was doing when it came to biotics. Many L2 biotics are plagued by migranes, and they're the lucky ones. L3 designs and later are more refined and don't have those problems, but L2 implants are also difficult to upgrade, leaving many L2s unwilling to take the risk. Furthermore, few L3s were as powerful as the L2s with Commander Shepard being an explicit exception, so some opted not to take the upgrades because they'd lose out.
- Warlord Okeer created Grunt to be the perfect Krogan. The other tank grown Krogans you fight to reach Okeer are his failed attempts, discarded because they failed to meet his expectations.
- Labrys in Persona 4 Arena was part of a line of prototypes that eventually led to Aigis. Unlike the later models, she and the others were largely lacking in actual individuality and when she did finally develop she was unstable. She was technically a success, but viewed as too dangerous to use and sealed away.
- So far in the sci-fantasy 4x strategy Endless Legends, you can discover prototype weapon and armor designs during early quests. These prototypes are early ancient weapon designs from before that planet's cataclysm and when you find them you only the appropriate materials to manufacture them rather than needing an entire research branch. The problem is that these prototypes are extremely weak compared to the weapons you can manufacture through researching. Many times the prototypes lack the extra bonuses and have far weaker stats than their researched counterparts and often use more material. For example one titanium bow prototype is a Tier 2 weapon that uses 6 titanium to manufacture and only does +4 damage. The lesser Tier 1 titanium weapon that you researched only takes 4 titanium, does +6 damage and has a +5 chance of doing a critical hit.
- In BlazBlue, Lambda-11, the predecessor Murakumo unit to Mu-12 (Noel Vermillion) and Nu-13, was created by Relius Clover and originally used as a test subject by Sector Seven scientists, in which she ultimately perished. Kokonoe eventually recovered what was left of her body and managed to restore her to a functional state. However, she is both inferior to her "sisters" in terms of combat capability and even lacks a Nox Nyctores. This is especially apparent in gameplay as she fights with a weaker version of Nu-13's fighting style, and those in the know often mock Kokonoe for bringing such a "flawed" creation to the fight.
- Bob and George: Dr. Light explains the previous robots as this: they ran off to fight evil instead of helping him about the lab.
- The Specialists: Hartmann. From the Nazi POV looking less Aryan was the sticking point. The Berserk Button, even though it's actual combat, didn't exactly help.
- Cult of Personality: The robot Soldier speaks more than he shoots and loves to remind his enemies that he is a robot. He would normally be so busy talking that he gets shut down forcefully before he could finish his sentence.
- On Phineas and Ferb, one of Dr. Doofenshmirtz's plans involves making several clones of Perry to frame him. The very first one out is Jerry the Platypus, a dumb, imperfect version that Doofenshmirtz can't bear to throw out.
- In "Run, Candace, Run", Candace uses a pair of super-speed boots her brothers invented to be in two places at once. Unfortunately, she puts on a pair of unstable prototype boots and ends up running at breakneck speed when she tries to go anywhere.
- Batman the Brave and the Bold: In the episode "The Plague of the Prototypes!" Batman must use his bumbling beta-test robot "Proto" to combat his Bat-Robots that have been taken over by Black Mask.
- Like the Video Game example above, Protoman in the Mega Man cartoon, when first activated, suffers from just a slight flaw.
- From Danny Phantom, any of Vlad's flawed clones of Danny would qualify - most blatant being Danielle.
- Mr. Sheepman from Clone High. His name says it all.
- In Young Justice, Superboy's predecessor Match was Cadmus' first attempt to clone Superman. They had trouble cloning Kryptonian genetic material, and the missing sequences in the DNA created a clone that had all of Superman's powers but is feral and mindlessly destructive. Superboy was created with human DNA specifically Lex Luthor's filling in the missing sequences. He doesn't have all of Superman's powers (no flight or heat vision), but he's sane.
- In Big Guy and Rusty the Boy Robot, Rusty's prototype is the mothballed EP-327, aka "Earl". While Earl has every single power held by Rusty, and a superior targeting ability, Early has a failed, stunted A.I. As such, while not fully evil, Earl is little more than a little, stereotypical toy soldier, programming to follow unflinchingly orders issued by an authority figure. Failing that, Earl is surly, unwilling to compromise by giving in teamwork and inclined to snarl and lash against his own allies.
- When doing or making anything for the first time, it generally takes a few tries or some time to work out the kinks and bugs and what-not.
- So usually that — the first phonograph record worked right the first time. Edison's reaction? "I was always afraid of things that worked the first time."