A Forgotten Superweapon is any device that the person or crew had with them the whole time, but they had forgotten that they had. Usually in vampire shows, it's a cross or handy bottle of holy water that was handed to the superhero(ine) early in the show and which she and the audience had long since forgotten until the flash of inspiration hits. The Forgotten Superweapon is very useful in making the audience feel like either they or the protagonists or the writers or all of the above are idiots. This trope should not be confused with Lost Superweapon, where said weapon has been ignored due to the passage of time and/or its keepers. In contrast, a Forgotten Superweapon will actually be around but forgotten, because the characters have been distracted or the writers hadn't come up with it yet. Compare Nuclear Option, where everyone remembers that they have the superweapon, they just really don't want to use it. If the object in question gets used early in the series and then isn't used at all later, it's Forgotten Phlebotinum. See also Chekhov's Boomerang and Chekhov's Gun.
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- Mazinger Z: In episode 10 Mazinger-Z shot missiles from its fingers. That weapon never showed up again. It is somewhat subverted, though, since it was not so useful and Mazinger-Z had better and more powerful weapons, so it is likelier than the animators realized it was silly placing missiles in the fingers of a Rocket Punch, and they chose to forget about it and replace them with weapons were not Awesome, but Impractical.
- Uchuu Senkan Yamato involved a ship full of idiots who seemed to forget they had the Wave Motion Gun until the end of each episode. Truly, a show built upon the Forgotten Superweapon. However, this could be handwaved away with the explanation that the ship was almost completely defenseless for several minutes after firing the Wave Motion Gun — it used so much power they had to wait until the engines came back online.
- More importantly, the ship is defenseless for several minutes before firing the gun, and completely dependent on its tiny fighter planes to defend it while it preps the gun. If they can just fire the thing without being prevented from doing so, that is usually the end of the fight. Another shortcoming of the Wave Motion Gun is that it is the mother of all BFG's, capable of vaporizing a continent when used at full power, and not every battle warrants that kind of destruction. The first time they used the gun, without entirely knowing what to expect, they accidentally caused a titanic amount of collateral damage and almost fell into the resultant explosion themselves.
- Plus not every enemy could be defeated by the application of the Wave Motion Gun (The Comet Empire citadel) and not every enemy was stupid enough to sit there waiting for the Wave Motion Gun to charge (Desslok blocking the muzzle of the gun with space mines, so the Yamato would blow up if it fired). Powerful, yes. The solution to every problem the Star Force faced? No.
- Likewise, the Super Dimension Fortress Macross had its Macross cannon, which it only ever fired on a handful of the occasions that clearly called for it. That was because the weapon was highly unreliable with technology the crew barely understood in the first place. And that when the fold engine had vanished in the third episode, it took with it the power conduits needed to make the gun work properly in its original configuration forcing a transformation that more often than not threatened to wipe out the city inside the ship!
- Of course, by the end of the series Macross 7, it was beamspammed.
- The transformation only destroyed the city the first time because the city was never intended to be there, and they had never knew the ship could do it until Dr. Lange discovered it. Afterwards, the engineers rebuilt the city with the transformation in mind and developed better shelter protocols.
- The Big O's Final Stage attack is a chest-mounted cannon that not only blows through an entire city, but required nearly the entire series worth of hints and flashbacks to lead up to its firing. Amusingly, it turns out that pilot Roger Smith's aim is a little off and Big Bad Alex Rosewater's robot is only half vaporized. Pity the series ended with that episode, else he could have worked on that aim (well if the gun hadn't completely turn to scrap after one use, but he might've been able to fix it).
- Goku's Spirit Bomb in Dragon Ball Z count during the end of the Buu saga in that Goku had forgotten about it - granted it had been about a decade since he'd used it.
- Justified since the other two times Goku tried to use the Spirit Bomb to finish an enemy, it wound up being either a partial or total failure (only just managed to hurt Vegeta enough to drive him off and Freeza survived without too much damage). The Spirit Bomb can only be used in his normal form anyway because the Super Saiyan transformations "fill his heart with hate," and it takes a long time to gather the necessary energy, requiring everyone else to hold off the villain for as long as it takes.
- The title Gundam in Alternate Universe series Gundam X packs the Satellite Cannon, a weapon powerful enough to take out large chunks of the landscape in a single blast. However, it's not forgotten so much as unusable much of the time, since it requires a full moon to power it (the microwave power station has to be in line of sight with the GX to beam the energy down to Earth). In addition, using the Satellite Cannon requires the Gundam X to stand still for several seconds, leaving it defenseless until it finishes charging up. The heroes acknowledge these problems and eventually work out an alternative to the Satellite Cannon.
- That is, until an upgraded version of the superweapon is provided later in the series, and does not have the apparently most story significant restriction of using the weapon.
- Then again, an important theme of Gundam X was that the weapon shouldn't be used, showing Garrod reluctant to fire it because of the wholesale slaughter it brings.
- In Trigun, during the final battle between Vash and Knives, Vash is almost defeated, until he remembers the literal "forgotten weapon" of the Cross Punisher, which he brought with him, but then never used until the last moment.
- Both averted and played straight in many of Go Nagai's Super Robot series. One of the best examples was Shin Getter Robo, in which the heroes really have no objection to cutting the opponent to pieces with whatever reliable weapon they have out at the time. However, when it comes time to fight Metal Beast Getter G it takes the previously-unmentioned Stoner Sunshine to win the fight.
- In YuYu Hakusho, Kuwabara, Yusuke, and the masked fighter fight with three mind-controlled humans for three episodes wrestling with the dilemma of having to kill/harm humans the entire time (they had previously only killed demons). In the end the masked fighter uses a move which removes the mind-control and leaves everyone unharmed. It turned out to be intentional. The Masked Fighter realized that Yusuke needed to "grow up" to be able to fight Toguro. Only after Yusuke finally was willing to deliver a killing blow did The Masked Fighter use that technique. Something similar happens later in the series when Yusuke fights the Doctor.
- Outlaw Star gives us the Caster Gun, a gun that literally spews magical spells with each shell fired, and is also extremely effective against most users of the common-as-crabgrass Tao Magic. However, this is handwaved away by the guns themselves being increasingly rare and ammo being just as rare in itself (to the point that some types of shells have vanished completely - and no one is making new shells until the fanservice episode, but that's another story at all).
- Justified in Science Ninja Team Gatchaman. In this series, the team's ship has the all powerful Fiery Phoenix effect to destroy seemingly any opponent. However, the effect is so taxing and potentially dangerous to the team when it is engaged that they need a good reason to use it, and it uses a lot of fuel. So, the effect is only used in comparatively few episodes.
- It fails to defeat two Galactor mecha during their first round, and the first defeat almost gets the team killed as a result.
- In one episode where they have to use it twice, it all but empties the tanks.
- Used in Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series where Yugi forgets he can summon Slifer the Executive Producer until Bakura mentions it.
- The Sword of Light from The Slayers might count as an example of this. The weapon is legendary for its ability to slay creatures otherwise impervious to harm, and it is said that the Swordsman of Light slew Demon Beast Zanaffar with a single blow while using it. It turns out to be a Dark Lord from another universe, in the anime at least. When the series begins, nobody knows where it is, until Gourry Gabriev, a wandering mercenary and apparent nobody, reveals that he can actually detach the blade from his own sword... allowing the Sword of Light to manifest its famous blade of solid light. As the Sword of Light doesn't have an actual blade unless it's willing to manifest, he can slot an ordinary blade into it and hide it in plain sight.
- The Blessed Blade straddles between this trope and Ass Pull when the Sword of Light fails to kill Demon Beast Zanaffar. Sylphiel basically says, "oh yeah, there's the Blessed Blade we can use to kill him. I forgot about it."
- El-Hazard: The Magnificent World had everyone living under the Eye of God, an ancient super weapon in atmosphere level orbit that's creation was lost to legend and its operations steeped in mysticism and tradition, the damn thing had to be unlocked by three priestesses and operated by two princess.
- It also has Ifurita, one of the cutest forgotten super weapons in this trope. Compact, devastating and wound up by key.
- The Third: The Girl with the Blue Eye has Gravestone who/which was presumed destroyed long ago but turned out to be fully operational and both ready and willing to fulfill its purpose.
- Dude, Where's My Car? plays with this trope and divides it. The superweapon, the Continuum Transfunctioner, is actually the problem and needs to be turned off, yet the buttons are too small. It's solved with the previously-acquired bendy straw.
- In The Matrix, an EMP blast wipes out sentinel robots, and doesn't even harm the humans in the blast radius. Neo is superfluous, and any machine war from Matrix 3 back to the Second Renaissance could have been easily won by humans.
- In The Phantom Menace, the evil Trade Federation had three main types of battle droids: the regulals that were completely useless; the supers that were nearly-useless; and the droideca, that could roll around fast, had powerful, fast-firing guns that could actually hit stuff, and personal force fields. They could hold their own even against Jedi without numerical superiority! Naturally, they were only used a couple times instead of all the time, and even then they disappear every time they would become an inconvenience for the heroes.
- Pacific Rim has the Jaeger mecha Gypsy Danger's sword, which was conveniently forgotten about in favor of punching the giant Kaiju monsters until one flew away with the mecha in its claws. Even more odd when you consider that the Jaeger's two pilots were mind-linked, yet somehow only one of them knew about the sword.
- It's repeatedly stated that Kaiju blood is horribly toxic (Hannibal Chau's stunt in The Stinger notwithstanding) so it's possible that the sword is locked until the Jaeger is a fair distance away from populated areas.
- Perhaps the most egregious example is the Flaz Gaz Heat Ray, as discussed in Nick Lowe's essay, The Well-Tempered Plot Device:
- "Everyone knows, I imagine, the story of the Flaz Gaz Heat Ray, perhaps the most outrageous Deus ex Machina ending in all literature. There the heroes were, stranded deep in an enemy sector of space, surrounded by an entire enemy fleet with the guns trained on them, when the maestro realized all of a sudden he had only one page left to finish the book. Quick as a flash, the captain barks out: "It's no use, men. We'll have to use the Flaz Gaz Heat Ray." "Not — not the Flaz Gaz Heat Ray!" So they open up this cupboard, and there's this weapon that just blasts the entire fleet into interstellar dust. One almighty zap and the thousand remaining loose ends are quietly incinerated."
- Harry Potter:
- In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Sirius Black gives Harry a magic mirror in case Harry needs to contact him. Many months/chapters later, Harry really needs to contact Sirius, but doesn't use the mirror. Justified on Harry's end, as he was not only initially determined to not use the mirror for personal reasons, he actually did forget about the mirror in the intervening time due to the rest of the plot grabbing his attention. Still doesn't explain why Sirius didn't suggest using it instead of the risky method of sneaking into fireplaces.
- From the Belgariad, the Orb of Aldur is a small stone with literally earth-shattering power. Main protagonist Garion gets his hands on it in the fourth book, and has absolute control over it thereafter, but only uses it directly a couple of times out of many, many dire straights. Why? Because he's too modest, apparently. It's hinted that succumbing to pride and coveting the Orb too much is what lead to the decline of the first Big Bad, and that the same might happen to Garion should he use it to solve all his problems.
- In Inheritance Cycle after his battle with Murtaugh Eragon remembers that he has Brom's ring which, had he used it, would have let him win easily.
Live Action TV
- Olaf's Troll hammer in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Triangle". The weapon was obtained much earlier in the series, and not used through any of the season's numerous crises until they pulled it out in the finale — where it was shown to be so powerful it could knock around a god (this despite it merely knocking out Xander in its previous appearance).
- The Dagon Sphere showed up even earlier in the season, but despite knowing that it was designed to repel Glory, nobody actually used it against her until the finale.
- And there was that rocket launcher from season 2 that didn't show up again until season 7.
- Just a few places that hammer could have helped are with the Ubervamps, and over on Angel, someone could have just brought them it when The Beast showed up. Give Faith or Angel that bitch and apocalypse averted.
- The first time the Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers got a new set of (supposedly much more powerful) Humongous Mecha to face their new Big Bad. Their mentor explained that he had been in possession of these mecha the entire time but was saving them for when the Rangers really needed them.
- Stargate lives on this trope. Now the superweapons, plebowhatsits, and other toys may not exactly be forgotten, but they tend to be built by the Ancients, are occasionally buried, and are usually good for at least one moment of glory. The Ancient outpost in Antarctica springs to mind as an example.
- Stargate does avoid most of these by introducing inherent flaws or one-time uses into a lot of alien technology. Specifically the Ancient weapon in Antarctica (as well as the chair on Atlantis) was brought up and discarded a few times due to the lack of ZPMs to power it and its limited ammunition, with the issue finally getting resolved by the Antartica chair's destruction in the series finale of Atlantis.
- In an interesting subversion, the imminent Wraith attack on Earth did motivate the higher-ups to recall Atlantis back home, even though for a moment it looked like as if they're going to play this trope straight by having the ship unexpectedly break down at the edge of the Milky Way. Fortunately, Zelenka Ass Pulled the wormhole drive out of nowhere.
- On Heroes, the writers seem to have finally realized that Sylar's power to "understand how things work" is good for more than just stealing peoples' brains. Apparently, it can also be used to understand the show's plot.
- The writers also forget all of Sylar's acquired secondary powers until convenient.
- One of the worst cases was where Sylar decides to go on a mission to investigate if Arthur is really his father. Now, the simple solution would be to use his super brain to realize that people in the real world have this thing called a "paternity test." Also, everyone's DNA on the show is already on the national database, because that's how Mohinder found them, making this rather straight forward. Instead, he decides to go on a mad hunt for more super powers, in the hopes that he will find one that will give him the answers he needs. By sheer coincidence, the next lady he finds reveals that she's a living polygraph. Mystery solved.
- The same goes for Peter, back when he still had more than one. Hell, the second
seasonvolume could be named this as Peter never uses any of his powers after dropping his amnesia, except as the Idiot Plot demands.
- Claire/Adam both have Jesus blood, which is so powerful can bring people back from the dead who've lost large chunks of their brains. Apparently the writers never considered the ramifications for such a device, and conveniently ignored it later on.
- Molly has the power to locate anyone on Earth. Molly sees Sylar as the boogie man, because he murdered her parents. At the end of season 1, Sylar disappears from the scene with a trail of blood leading to a sewer. Yet she never once thinks to use her powers through season two to confirm that he's really dead.
- This is especially maddening at the end of season two, when Sylar kidnaps Molly only to be rescued by Elle. Sylar narrowly escapes, and no one thinks to use Molly in order to chase after him.
- This continues even into the alternate volume three, which can be seen on the DVD. Elle is still on the trail of Sylar, who is accumulating more and more powers. Again, despite the fact that Molly has the power to track Sylar down.
- Star Trek: The Next Generation had an interesting twist on this with a Forgotten Vulcan Superweapon that amplified its user's telepathic powers until it could effortlessly destroy any foe. Picard and Riker wind up attempting to keep it from being re-assembled. Eventually it's rebuilt, but it turns out to be basically useless against enemies who have no hateful thoughts. The device was used when Vulcans were still emotional and war-like and the device used those thoughts against them. Once Vulcans embraced logic and peace, the weapon was harmless, so it wound up being forgotten because it had been rendered useless.
- One episode of The Unit had Alpha Team trying to disable a bomb which will set off nuclear material in a train. The bomb is under an overpass on which the train is traveling. However, the team forgets that they have "national security" command over the entire infrastructure of America, so the train conductor isn't told to stop the train until it's almost too late.
- Supernatural introduces a handgun, forged by Samuel Colt himself in 1835 that has the ability to kill any demon with one shot. Originally, The Colt was limited by the number of bullets it can fire, but Bobby Singer (with some help from Ruby forged new bullets, thus solving that problem. And after an altercation with Lucifer, it is never seen again.
- It was later brought back to kill a phoenix but then got lost in a time loop.
- This is also averted with Ruby's knife, which can kill (as opposed to exorcise) demons. They still have it, and regularly use it.
- In Metal Gear Solid, the small card that you've been carrying around the entire game without really knowing the purpose of is the only way to activate the Humongous Mecha without the password.
- At the end of Zork: Grand Inquisitor, Dalboz mentions that now would be a good time to use a spell that came with your spellbook and hasn't been used yet in the game. Casting the spell restores magic to the land and ends the game.
- In a way a literal inversion, as the spell was written in the book backwards and needed to be magically turned around in order for it to work properly.
- Shiki's battling against Nanaya, his manifested nightmare of becoming a murderer, in Kagetsu Tohya never goes well, since Nanaya Shiki is simply a much better fighter than Tohno Shiki. It takes a while for Shiki to remember his one advantage: Nanaya doesn't have Mystic Eyes of Death Perception. Of course, by the time Shiki remembers, Nanaya's death makes the point moot. He then proceeds to forget his eyes again until halfway through his fight with Kishima Kouma.
- In Super Robot Wars Advance, the Original Generation Super Robots' final attacks can be explained away as Axel or Lamia taking that long of a time to figure out that they could overclock their rides that way. It takes a bit of research and analyzing schematics to realize that the Ash Saviour's extra armor plates are actually Attack Drone pairs. However, there is no excuse for not figuring out early on that that big, folded-up cylinder mounted on the Laz Angriff is anything but a really big cannon.
- A silo full of these is one way to resolve the plot of the Metro 2033 series, both the book and the game. Granted, they've only been forgotten for about 20 years, but when surviving a postapocalyptic wasteland becomes your primary concern, nuclear missiles tend to fade into the background. On top of this, very few people who could actually use the missiles were left alive.
- In Baten Kaitos Origins, the Power Trio finds out that they've been walking around with a superweapon in their party; Guillo, Sagi's magical sidekick, is the puppet that the Children of the Earth used to kill Malpercio, and while it's not as powerful as it was then, it's still a formidable fighter.
- Bob and George: Bob reminds George, after rescuing him, that he could have used his superpowers to escape. George blows up the fortress
- Tweaked, here. (Answer: it broke.)
- Schlock Mercenary has "Discontiguous Particle Acceleration System". As the team's pyromaniac figured out, a weapon that "was built before teraports and too big for wormgates [...] not sharing the system with anything worth attacking or defending" should be a "Hyperspace Death Ray". It wasn't used on account of a colony of hippies settled inside its "barrel". Tagon's Toughs accidentally prevented an attempt to reclaim it by the proper owner's successors, then the new owner (who knew what it is and who he deals with) quickly moved the colony to a safer environment and the gun to "undisclosed location" as soon as possible, after which let Toughs witness the test firing as a bonus.
- Combat in Megas XLR is built around the Forgotten Superweapon, with many of the trump cards apparently winking into existence as needed, never to be seen again after their use. The pinnacle of the lot is a weapon that causes the title robot's hands to burst into flames, activated with a button marked "Five Minutes 'Til End Of Episode." The one in "Dude, Where's My Head?" even had the computer raise its eyebrow.
- Subverted by the "Voltron Sword Thing", which was first a combo move, then became a button.
- Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers had the Scarecrow, a living weapon buried and dormant for centuries, until a new farming colony is built on the old battle site. Terror ensues.
- Transformers Animated has Omega Supreme, who could have been used as soon as they had some AllSpark fragments. Granted, the series is a mild aversion of No Endor Holocaust, so they probably just didn't want to escalate a battle if they could help it, but that doesn't explain why they didn't at least bring him back online.
- The Dark Star Saber of Transformers Prime falls into this until the very end of season 3.
- The Great Gummiscope in Adventures of the Gummi Bears.
- Voltron never formed Blazing Sword until after the Ro-Beast and Voltron had stomped half the countryside flat and Voltron was getting its ass handed to it on a big Roboplatter. However, this was for a very good reason: Voltron could not defend itself while wielding the sword, so it had to fight until the robeast was incapacitated or gave them an opening. In an early episode, Voltron Force faces a new Juggernaut robeast built by King Zarcon, not Haggatha's sorcery. They come out with Blazing Sword already formed, but get roundly trounced. For three days, the Royal Army holds off the monster while Voltron trains, and in a huge battle, the individual Lions beat down the robeast until it can't fight back, then form Voltron, blast it a few more times for good measure, Form Blazing Sword, and dispatch it.
- This was parodied in an episode of Robot Chicken were it went through a dance contest against a Ro-Beast and lost, but then just used the sword while it was laughing at their defeat.
Newsreader: ...and in other news tonight, Voltron got totally served.
- This was parodied in an episode of Robot Chicken were it went through a dance contest against a Ro-Beast and lost, but then just used the sword while it was laughing at their defeat.
- A glaring example in the season three premiere of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. Since the ponies are going to a cursed kingdom that has been besieged by a pure evil embodiment of darkness, you'd think they would have taken the Elements Of Harmony along for the ride. It's justified for the Mane 6 since they didn't know about said monster until they arrived, but Princess Celestia certainly did. Why she didn't give the the elements, or even warn them, is anyone's guess.
- The most likely reason is that she knew the elements would fail to win a lasting victory since that was how she beat him last time. What they really needed is an unrelated Lost Superweapon, and whether Twilight would figure this out and organize her team to accomplish it was a Secret Test of Character.
- The Iowa Class Battleships served with the US Navy from World War 2 up through the 1990's. All four have since been converted into museum ships, but as part of the donation agreement each museum must maintain the ships to a certain standard so that they might be again returned to service in case of "national emergency". Thus the ships have become superweapons Hiding In Plain Sight as superweapon museums with most patrons completely unaware that they could, in theory, be reactivated.
- The Navy also maintains its stock of spare 16" gun barrels and thousands of rounds of ammunition in case of such an eventuality.