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Guns Are Worthless
Yeah, a freakin' hairclip is more
powerful than the Gatling gun.

"The gun won't help you."
Raizo, Ninja Assassin

When it comes to offense and personal defense, it's been long established in real life that firearms are usually the best way to go. They pack considerable destructive power in portable packages and can strike long-distance.

However, such ruthless efficiency doesn't usually serve fictional plots very well. Just one gun can swing the balance of power severely, especially in a "man vs. mob" situation. Thus, for the sake of drama, if a hero's access to guns is unavoidable in a fictional milieu, writers will tend to use the plot to defang their effectiveness. Perhaps the enemy is supernatural or has an alien physiology, and thus resistant to projectile weapons. Perhaps your shots always miss because the enemy is just too fast or nimble. Perhaps they have superior technology, either in shielding, wielding even better projectile weapons than the protagonists, or both. Perhaps there's an ammo shortage, making every firing precious. Perhaps the heroes simply aren't trained in effective gun use. Whatever the method, there will be some reason why the problem can't be solved with a few judicious headshots. For these reasons, this trope is especially ubiquitous in the sci-fi, fantasy, and horror genres.

In games, especially in settings where firearms would be Game Breakers but the "neato" factor is too great to ignore, this trope is often reflected in a reduction of firearm effectiveness and power compared to "standard" melee weapons, sometimes to the point where bludgeoning an enemy with a gun will do significantly more damage than actually shooting them with it. Again, ammunition also tends to be used as a limiting factor; swords don't need to be reloaded, after all. Or, the designers can make a preference for melee weapons a matter of practicality, as in "hack and slash" games, where being able to attack many foes around you in one quick motion would often be better than being able to only fire at a single enemy in front, not helped by neglecting the possibility of One-Hit Polykill on the guns' end.

Compare Arbitrary Gun Power, Never Bring A Knife To A Fistfight, and contrast The Lethal Connotation of Guns and Others, Muggles Do It Better. See also Elegant Weapon for a More Civilized Age and Fantasy Gun Control.


Examples:

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    Anime and Manga 
  • Elie, the main female in Rave Master, wields two guns with exploding ammo. They win her all of one fight and are only of notable aid once. They hammer this home by having the Big Bad catch one of her bullets in his teeth when fired from too short a range to dodge.
  • Tower of God - Despite Levin being very successful with his rifle on the first few floors, almost nobody uses them and much rather prefers throwing spears as ranged weapons. The reasoning goes as follows: Air surrogate and Applied Phlebotinum Shinsoo has weird physical properties… such as getting denser and more viscose the higher you climb the Tower. Living beings can adapt to these change, build a natural resistance against Shinsoo and get stronger, so that their spears are more powerful. It needs to be mentioned that people get REALLY powerful while climbing the Tower. The power of guns, however, is limited, also they are quite expensive. And then there is that idiot that showed up for a death match with a literal marble shooter.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion occasionally has the Evangelions fight the angels with firearms, ranging from pistols to multi-shot bazookas and really huge sniper rifles. The shell casings from the Evangelions' weapons can crush cars, but the actual rounds do nearly nothing against the Angels. The Evas' Progressive Knives have killed more Angels than the skyscraper-sized rifles.
    • Granted, Shinji uses a rifle to great effect against Matariel, and the positron cannon works extremely well...but requires all the electricity in Japan to fire.
    • This makes some sense as close range is required to dissolve an angel's AT Field.
      Asuka: "Why am I armed with a spear?"
      Shinji: "Believe me. Any pointy object is more effective than a gun. Especially a Gatling gun."
  • One Piece is an odd case where guns aren't worthless, in and of themselves. The times we see bullets actually connect they do cause damage. The problem is that everyone in the series that gets guns used against them can either power through the injury, Dodge the Bullet, or are just flat out Immune to Bullets by virtue of a Devil Fruit power or other factor.
    • Or more frequently, the bullets just whiz by them, even when they appear to be going right through them.
    • Played with in regards with Fisher Tiger, who died after getting shot repeatedly. The character was able to withstand the bullet wounds themselves just fine but eventually succumbed to blood loss.
    • There are some characters that manage to make more or less regular bullet-firing guns work as very effective weapons, for instance Van Auger and several members of the Red-Hair Pirates. So it's not that guns specifically are poor weapons, just that personal strength is more important than weapon strength and guns aren't an especially common Weapon of Choice.
  • Very much played straight in Dragon Ball. In fact, this trope was used as early as the first chapter, where Goku cries out in annoyance from all the bullets Bulma shot at him, who stood there in horror.
  • Guns are useless in Fist of the North Star for the simple reason that there's no ammo left. Jagi carries a shotgun for the intimidation value, but he prefers Pistol-Whipping with it rather than shooting - he may not actually have shells.
    • He manages to pull the trigger once. It misfires.
    • Played COMPLETELY straight in an earlier arc, where Jackal takes a headshot (while running full tilt on a motorcycle, no less) which does little more than infuriate him.
  • Hellsing: Guns are used by many characters in the series, but seem to have little effect unless large amounts of firepower are deployed. Somewhat justified, as mostly, they're being used against vampires, who are all but immune to normal bullets (weapons loaded with silver or blessed ammunition have somewhat more effect).
    • Averted by Alucard's pair of absolutely massive handguns, which are devastatingly effective against more or less everything. Justified, as one is loaded with .454 Casull rounds made from melted-down silver crosses, and the other weighs sixteen kilograms and fires explosive rounds that can demolish walls.
      • And then played straight again with anyone unfortunate enough to be fighting Alucard. Hundreds of automatic weapons being fired at once have literally zero effect, whereas thrown bayonets are shown to slow him down significantly. Hand Waved by the bayonets being blessed, and being thrown by the amazingly powerful regenerator Alexander Anderson (weapon effectiveness in the setting seems to be largely determined by the power of the wielder, rather than by the weapon itself).
      • Generally subverted otherwise as, except for Anderson, Walter and Alhambra (all of which were defeated by the gun-welding Alucard), any character who does NOT use guns is absolutely abysmal in actual combat.
  • The Black★Rock Shooter TV anime. Characters routinely shrug off getting hit by dozens of bullets. Sure, everyone is Made of Iron, but melee attacks are shown to hurt, and even kill.
  • This could explain why many Nations in Axis Powers Hetalia seem to prefer melee over firearms (with the likes of Switzerland more of the exception). Especially since they could apparently withstand headshots with little to no permanent side-effects.
  • In the first chapter of his titular series, Toriko tells his sidekick Komatsu that the beast they're hunting, or anything else in the hunting ground, can't be harmed by a gun.
  • Averted in Puella Magi Madoka Magica. Homura fights exclusively with non-magical guns and explosives, and is easily the most effective witch-killer. Though it still isn't enough to single-handedly beat Walpurgisnacht. Mami's magical guns are also very powerful. Sayaka does pretty well with just swords, but she mentions how dangerous it is to be so close to her opponent, especially when Homura is setting off bombs in its face.
    • Fridge Brilliance suggests that Walpurgisnacht is just flat-out immune to non-magical attacks, which is why she doesn't have to hide inside a barrier like other witches. The idea that Homura simply had absolutely no chance of winning no matter what she did is rather in-theme for the series.
  • Played with in Attack on Titan. While huge cannons rip through Titans easily due to Titans being Made of Plasticine, the Titan's Healing Factor doesn't let it keep them down for more than a few minutes, and while the have more than enough power to blow away the back of the Titans' necks, they're too heavy and inaccurate to do so outside of a lucky hit. However it is somewhat averted that cannons are used effectively to slow down Titans and give civilians time to evacuate. Also, high-explosive shells are used to wipe out Titans in during the end of the Battle of Trost. And when Titans are sighted within Wall Rose, the Garrison used cannons to bring down Titans and let elite soldiers like Rico finish them off. Rifles, on the other hand, while light and accurate enough to hit the weak point, do not have enough power behind them to deal the fatal blow needed. As with cannons, however, they have shown to be useful in supporting those with 3DMG, and dealing damage to Titan's weaker parts, such as the eyes.
    • Played straight with the Armored Titan whose armor plating is so strong that cannon shots do nothing to slow it down.

    Comic Books 
  • This trope is a given in the vast majority of Superhero comics, where many super-powered characters can often use their abilities to avoid being hit, can fight back with much more effective weapons and powers or are just plain Immune to Bullets. Shooting Superman is the frequent result, and nine out of every attempts by ordinary criminals to attack superheroes and ordinary police officers and security guards to attack supervillains end up with the Muggles getting their asses kicked.

    Fan Fiction 

    Films 
  • Ranged weapons in Star Wars vary depending on the target. Against most of the universe, the commonality of blasters makes guns very useful to have at your side, since the only defense against them is some good armor or solid cover. Against Jedi, blasters are useless unless present in large amounts, since enough shots can overwhelm Jedi by the sheer number of blasters to block or deflect. Averted with the much rarer real guns, called slugthrowers in-universe, that are nearly impossible to block by Jedi - they can sense them, but the lightsaber can't deflect it as it can a blaster bolt. Lightsabers cut through stuff by melting it apart. A bullet would also be melted by a lightsaber, but that doesn't make it any less aimed at your face. Instead of a blocked bullet, you get a superheated blob of liquid metal, retaining the same amount of kinetic energy, that probably still hits hard enough to get into your flesh. Where it's still liquid metal. Really, it's just a bad idea.
    • Lightsabers have a very short list of things they can't instantly cut through, the most famous being Mandalorian iron used in Boba Fett's armor. Even so it only resists lightsabers: if you keep hitting it, it will eventually give out. However almost all the substances that can block, short out, or defend against a lightsaber are rare or expensive to make, which explains the lack of them in every story.
    • Note that the same thing would happen with a melee weapon/lightsaber fight, although this is almost always glossed over. Realistically, unless you have a sword that resists lightsabers (or the Jedi is explicitly avoiding the severed top half of your weapon) you are both going to kill each other in a single stroke, as both weapons will pass through each other effortlessly and into your squishy flesh.
    • The "attenuated plasma arc" concept retconned into their workings implies that lightsabers would impart some degree of kinetic force to material objects either towards or away from the lightsaber's tip (you're basically sticking the object into a focused fountain), though how much is hard to guess at. Slugthrowers are supposedly rare due to improved materials science rendering a lot of things (such as stormtrooper armor) effectively bulletproof, making a blaster a generally better weapon to carry (and if you're a civilian, recharge).
  • The "dishonorable" guns prove inadequate against the "honorable" samurai during the first in The Last Samurai. The first battle was justified since the soldiers at that point were barely-trained rookies fighting with slow, muzzle-loading guns in a forest with poor lighting. The climactic battle in the movie, however, has better trained and equipped soldiers (with bolt-action rifles) up against the Samurai, and Algren and Katsumoto have to lure the soldiers into a close-quarters confrontation to stand a chance, and even though the initial skirmish ends in the Samurai's favor, their numbers are severely depleted. Then their final charge is only completely wiped out by Gatling guns.
  • In both the comics and the movie, Spawn uses guns against some his adversaries (Overtkill in the comic, Violator in the movie). While Overtkill is easily defeated, Violator just shrugs off bullets. Cogliostro points this out later on, even saying "guns are useless", and shows Spawn how to use his own powers properly.
  • Mostly true in Ninja Assassin, at least until the Final Battle, when the now-Genre Savvy Europol commandos arrive en masse with spotlights, body armor (mostly useless), and heavy artillery. Apparently, shooting a ninja lord in the back several times does absolutely nothing. The armor being useless is justified in that non-ballistic weapons like knives (and by extension, swords, shuriken, arrows, etc.) tend to go right through Kevlar weave.
  • Toyed with in the Blade Trilogy; normal guns will hurt a vampire, maybe even knock it off its feet, but then it'll be back up, complaining about the pain and biting your throat out. Now, if your gun happens to fire silver bullets or launch stakes, you'll have a pile of ashes that used to be a vampire.
  • Partly played straight in The One, as Yulaw's Super Speed abilities mean he can easily dodge bullets or block them with an object. When Jason Statham's character Funch shows his futuristic gun (actually, from a more advanced alternate reality) which he plans to use against Yulaw, Yulaw's good double Gabe tells him that guns haven't really worked on Yulaw before. Funch explains that his ordered up until now were to take Yulaw alive. Now he doesn't care about orders. Naturally, in the end, Funch's gun proves nearly useless, and only Gabe is able to stop Yulaw with hand-to-hand combat.
  • In Yoyimbo, the unnamed hero defends himself from a gun using his sword.
  • Big Trouble in Little China: Jack Burton's stolen TEC-9 proves fairly effective against the bad guy's Mooks early on in the film, but when he confronts one of Lo Pan's Co-Dragons in the grand melee near the end, Thunder simply grabs his gun and smashes it.

    Literature 
  • Dune goes out of its way to make ranged weapons useless through personal shields, which make the wearer immune to all damage (except lasers, but that ends with both laser and shield going nuclear)—except, in order to allow air through, the shields have to be set to allow anything moving below a certain speed threshold to pass through. This means that soldiers and assassins are trained to slow their strike at the precise moment just enough to get through the shield.
    • Unfortunately, if you calculate the average speed of an oxygen molecule at room temperature, you'll find it's in the vicinity of 1000 MPH, which is well over the muzzle velocity of most firearms (the reason we're not in a constant supersonic wind is that they run into each other and change direction frequently). The novel does mention that carbon dioxide tends to build up in the shields if the wearer is exerting themselves, but the effect should be a lot more pronounced than it's described as being (and occur even when they're just sitting around).
    • Averted in the open desert on the planet Arrakis (Dune) itself, however: shields are one of the surest ways to call a sandworm. Consequently, the Fremen do not wear shields, and battles in the desert use traditional artillery and firearms.
  • In the A Lord from Planet Earth trilogy, guns, as well as all forms of explosive, nuclear, and energy weapons, are generally disabled through the use of neutralizing fields. Somehow, the field generators are able to prevent the chemical reactions that cause a gun to go off from occurring. This leaves only one form of combat (apparently, nobody in that Verse believes in unarmed combat) - sword-fighting. The swords almost exclusively used in combat are Absurdly Sharp Blades, which requires a different style of sword-fighting than with normal bladed weapons.
    • In the second novel, the protagonist creates a gun that works despite the use of neutralizing fields. It uses compressed air to launch a small disc whose edges are also Absurdly Sharp Blades. These projectiles also act as hollow-point bullets and bounce around in the target's body, shredding his organs.
    • Since air guns work fine, one wonders why nobody is using bows and crossbows, with ammo tipped with an Absurdly Sharp Blade.
  • In Men at Arms, this trope is subverted by the gonne, a Discworld rifle. It's so deadly and terrifying that upon its invention the Assassins take it and lock it away because it makes killing way too easy and Vetinari orders it destroyed because it's so damn scary. The only person to survive a direct hit from it is Detritus, and that's because he's basically a living rock. It helps that due to Leonard of Quirm's particular genius the first gun came out not inaccurate and slow, but deadly from long distances and with an efficient loading mechanism. The gonne itself had other plans, though.
  • The Trigger invokes an accidental invention of a device that sets off all explosives within its radius, allowing for creating zones where it is impossible to bring in guns and where incoming explosives would blow up before reaching the target at the center. Criminals quickly find ways to exploit this behavior, so further scientific developments create a field where the explosive reactions cannot happen at all. Criminals proceed to use conventional missile weapons. Then, the scientists realize that they've been misunderstanding how the device works the entire time, and it can be used to prevent any specific chemical reaction including the metabolism of a target with specific DNA. The book closes on their horror at realizing they've created the ultimate murder weapon.
  • In The Dresden Files novel Proven Guilty, Harry advises against bringing guns on their expedition into Faerie because there are parts of Faerie where gunpowder is inert. Murphy and Thomas both bring guns into Faerie anyway and also carry melee weapons as well, and it turns out that firearms work just fine around Arctis Tor.
    • For the most part though, this trope is averted. This is because of two main reasons. First several types of magic and creatures, like Faeries, are severely weak to iron, which is found in steel. Second in most cases a physical object has more power than magic (unless the magic is meant to block physical attacks) and any physical object breaking a Wizard or Warlock's magic circle stops the magic. Even characters with very powerful supernatural abilities will often carry guns and use them to good effect, and the main character points out that in some situations a gun is actually better than magic.
    • Wizards on Harry's level and above have what is called a Death Curse, used in the last moments of life and drawing all their power into one strike is something even the youngest Queens of Faerie are wary of dealing with. One hitman named Kincaid, who Harry has a business relationship with, tells Harry if he reneges on paying Kincaid's bill, he will avoid the Death Curse by sniping Harry from over 1000 yards away. Such a swift and unexpected death would make it impossible to cast his Death Curse back.
    • The RPG goes on at some length about how guns will get the attention of even the supernaturals when they're brought out. While it might not have the flash of a fireball, or the power of a troll's fists, the description notes that few things convey the idea that someone is deadly serious like pulling out a gun.
    • It is also because guns are so effective, drawing mortal forces, like the cops or military, is considered a Nuclear Option to the supernatural world.
  • In Roger Zelazny's The Chronicles of Amber, it's not so much that guns don't work as gunpowder doesn't ignite in Amber. Corwin gets around this by finding a powder which does ignite, after which the weapons work just fine.
  • L.E. Modesitt, Jr.'s The Saga Of Recluce novels have fairly good reasons why any weapon using gunpowder is useless. Chaos mages can set off gunpowder from a distance (typically somewhere outside the maximum effective range of the average firearm), or else make themselves invisible so as to get close enough otherwise. It isn't until late in the series chronology that we see firearms deployed to any great effect by any considerable force, and then it's essentially because shell casings have been invented (the shells prevent a chaos mage from tampering with the powder). Until this happens, arrows (particularly iron arrows, because chaos mages have a rough time with iron) are nearly the only reliable projectile weapons in the series.
  • In Edgar Rice Burroughs's John Carter of Mars novels the Martians have absurdly powerful firearms, but a nearly unbreakable cultural taboo against fighting a foe with "unequal weapons." So when an army of troops with radium rifles face swordsman John Carter, they instantly draw their own blades instead of gunning him down.
  • In Alcatraz Series, guns are not particularly effective against Smedry Talents, while daggers are. Justified, in that the more parts of the weapon that are there to be affected by a Talent, the more likely it's going to break on you.
  • The Infernal Devices: So it's best to just bring your seraph blade with you.
    • Although a few times, guns did come in handy... they just aren't magic.
  • How effective guns are overall in the Harry Potter series is never really established, but in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone Vernon Dursley tries to scare Hagrid off with a shotgun. In this showdown, Vernon is standing close enough for Hagrid to reach over and tie the gun's barrel in a knot. (In the movie version, Hagrid just bends the barrel so it's pointing up). Moral? Guns are worthless if your target is near and strong enough to bend metal.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer is a definite example of this. One episode even has Buffy picking up a gun and saying "These things. Never useful."
    • That's about fighting vampires, 'cause bullets hurt but don't kill them. Against Buffy herself... There is an early episode where Buffy was HELPLESS against a gun-wielding vampire, and survived only because Angel, shot early by the same vampire, rose and staked the attacker. Another episode where Buffy faced against a powerful demon named The Judge that no weapon forged could destroy. So her usual arsenal of blade weapons wouldn't harm him. She then blows him up with a rocket launcher.
    • Supplemental material suggests that a number of factors, such as vampires getting the idea to use guns and the noise they make, make guns a somewhat unwise choice in hurting vampires. One Angel episode suggests vampires are quite apt at dodging bullets, as Wesley tried to gun down Angelus. He may have been missing intentionally because at the time he was attempting a Batman Gambit, but he would also know that it wouldn't kill him and Angelus could quite likely have been captured after a shotgun slowed him down.
    • By season ten some of this has gone out the window where some Slayers have gone full commando and effortlessly gun down superpowered vamps with headshots.
  • Discussed in the Angel episode "Inside Out" by the demon Skip. He's the worst example yet, as he's a demon with a metallic hide... but once his horn is lopped off, Wesley opens fire on the gaping hole. Whoops.
  • In an early Doctor Who episode, as UNIT fires uselessly at a super-robot, the Brigadier says "Just once, it'd be nice to be up against something that isn't immune to bullets."
    • Over time they adapt by developing specialized bullets designed to combat just about any conceivable threat they may encounter. The Seventh Doctor serial "Battlefield" has the Brigadier putting silver bullets to good use.
  • Guns are useless in The Vampire Diaries as well… unless they're fitted with wooden bullets, which pretty much completely disable a vampire. And yes, both wooden bullets and silver bullets are possible IRL, just less effective than the usual lead.
  • Possibly averted in Star Trek in that the Borg can adapt to energy weapons, but are seemingly vulnerable to bullets and blades.
    • Ranged weapons in general in later Treks don't pack the punch you'd expect them to. Whether it's energy weapons or actual bullets, Plot Armor is in full effect.
  • Shows up in some of the Kamen Rider series. Especially the ones where the hero is allies with the police, like Kamen Rider Kuuga, Kamen Rider Agito and Kamen Rider Wizard. Wizard even took it so far that hitting a mook with traffic cone had more effect than the gun one of the officers was carrying.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Guns in Feng Shui are funny things. Because of the rules, a single bullet can put down a mook with little problem, but named heroes and villains alike get the benefit of Almost Lethal Weapons when dealing with guns — against named characters, your average pistol is only going to cause as much damage as a kung fu warrior's punch or kick, and when fighting a high-Toughness character like a Big Bruiser, something like a dinky .38 snub revolver isn't going to do much to him except piss him off unless it's a signature weapon. Still, heroes and villains alike in the Heroic Bloodshed movies that the gun rules try to emulate are known for taking serious amounts of punishment, sometimes to Normally, I Would Be Dead Now levels, so this may be reflective of genre.
    • It is explicitly stated that game tries to capture Hong Kong action movies atmosphere and doesn't even try to imitate reality.
  • Played with in SLA Industries, in which guns do massive amounts of damage, and are often the only way to penetrate the better armour suits in the game—but the 'bullet tax' levied by the government even on its own operatives (who are expected to lease all their equipment from said government) means that buying even one clip of ammunition often costs more than the players will earn in several missions.
  • Warhammer 40,000 does this to a degree. While guns are still very effective weapons, they did want a way to use their chainswords, power swords, etc, and so despite guns being effective in Warhammer 40,000, somehow melee charges manage to be effective as well. Short-Range Long-Range Weapon resulted, to the n-th degree.
    • Helps that most close combat troopers are either a) Made of Iron, b) can get into combat fast, c) the units just has so many troops they can take a few hits or a combination of the three.
      • Generally, a unit is considered a close combat troop if 1.) it has a movement modifier and 2.) if it has more than 1 attack (either by a innate stat boost, close combat weapons, some special rule, or all of the above). The ability to negate enemy toughness, weapon skill and/or armor are also indicators of a good close combat troop (although there are instances where a unit does indeed have poison or power weapons, but lack the necessary numbers or attacks to actually use them).
    • The new edition changed the rules so that melee fighters can no longer jump straight from combat to combat with no chance to shoot them. This made shooty armies much more powerful, as previously small groups of elite melee units could easily roll up an entire flank of Guards or Firewarriors if they got into close combat.
    • This is also partly why Kroot are considered inferior close combat troops. They lack the Made of Iron-ness of other dedicated close combat troops (having literally no armor and mediocre toughness) combined with crappy close combat weapons that can't deal with other Made of Iron troops. The only reason they're still being used is because they're the only troops in the Tau Army that actually has any close combat prowess (which is not saying much).
    • In the modern world, personal armour is generally inferior to offensive weaponry - 40k is the other way round.
    • In-universe, the description given for the Lasgun states that it can take off limbs and cause fatal burns against most conventional targets (i.e: other humans) and it's destructive force is comparable to that of a modern-day AK-47. The Bolt Pistol, standard sidearm to any Space Marine, is a one-handed RPG launcher. The problem is though, the targets are usually monsters with shells thicker than most structurally sound bunkers, supersoldiers clad in power armor surrounded by a forcefield/daemonic energies, undead skeletal machines that can regenerate their steel, and Eldritch Abominations that defy reality with every breath.
    • In Necromunda (a squad-sized game derived from the WH40K rules), close combat has a slight edge because when you take someone down with a sword, they stay down. Victims of gunfire may suddenly realise that it was Only a Flesh Wound, and make a partial recovery during the game or after the end. People taken out in close combat have a larger chance of developing long term injuries rather than making a full recovery.
  • Shadowrun has a blanket rule on the effectiveness of guns and explosives against supernatural entities—magical beasts and ghosts exist literally because Your Mind Makes It Real, thus only an attack that carries the wielder's intent can harm one—Good Old Fisticuffs, melee weapons, arrows, thrown objects or, of course, Magic and Powers. And a Cyborg will have a lot of trouble with them because Cybernetics Eat Your Soul. In other words, though it is a Cyber Punk game and every party must include at least one Street Samurai, Rigger and Decker, you also need at least one Wizboy because "Magic Must Defeat Magic!"
    • Outside of spirits, however, the trope is inverted. While it is, technically speaking, almost impossible to actually One-Hit Kill anyone in Shadowrun with a firearm, two to three good hits with a bullet usually does the job. Any player who thinks a "Street Samurai" is obligated to go into battle with nothing but a katana and the spirit of the warrior is bound to end up a punctured red mess on the pavement: In nine times out of ten (the tenth usually being a mage) firearms are generally the quickest and easiest way to go when you want someone dead.
  • In Spirit Of The Century guns, fists, and melee weapons do all the same amount of damage. Because it's a Pulp World it's assumed that someone with a 3 in Guns is just as lethal with those guns as someone with a 3 in Fists.
    • Guns do retain an edge in range, for which the Fists skill notionally compensates by not needing a gun in the first place — genre-appropriately, it's expected that characters will be deprived of their weapons or at least opportunities to casually use them at least some of the time. And of course most pulp-style combat scenarios will be spending at least some amount of time at fisticuff range in any event.
  • Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 falls squarely into this. While most settings don't really use them, the Dungeon Master's guide has rules for some modern weapons. Notably, they're treated as being harder to master than standard medieval weapons (exotic rather than simple, suggesting the difficulty is due to lack of familiarity), they don't do much if any more base damage than standard projectiles (and can't be modded to factor in ability score modifiers, but also don't suffer penalties for low strength), and there aren't any special rules for how they interact with armor or shields suggesting that they don't penetrate (which goes down to how abstract Armor Class works in the first place). They can still be enchanted, though.
    • This is due to the fact that characters gain hit points as they progress while weapon damage remains constant. This means that an experienced SWAT member is way more bulletproof (or can dodge more) than a rookie beat cop (who can die after one lucky shot from a 9mm pistol).
    • When players try and homebrew firearms, they either make them even weaker (taking minutes to reload in a game where a round is six seconds) or make them an absolute Game Breaker that ignores all armor, magical or otherwise, and always hits For Massive Damage.
    • Of course, there are enemies in D&D that are simply immune to bullets for one reason or another. They'll pass straight through Oozes or other liquid creatures without doing anything, they're another physical attack for spirits to ignore, and against gigantic things like titans and the Tarrasque, you may as well be throwing pebbles.
    • Pathfinder addresses most of these in the Ultimate Combat supplement. "Early" firearms (roughly equivalent to 16th-18th century real-world firearms) are rare, expensive, require an Exotic Weapon Proficiency, slow, prone to misfires, and have much poorer range compared to bows and crossbows. However they inflict significant damage and basically ignore armour (but not other defenses) at short range. "Advanced" firearms (roughly 19th-century equivalent) are reliable, faster, still do good damage, have better range, and ignore armour at much longer distances.
      • They are also more popular in regions such as the Mana Wastes, where magic is less reliable. While guns can be enchanted like any other weapon, they lose some of their inherent appeal in a world where a magic wand can do most of the same things, and be less prone to exploding.
  • Both Vampire: The Masquerade and Vampire: The Requiem rely on this. As vampires don't really have working circulatory systems, and everything else is functional solely because of The Power of Blood, guns will, for the most part, do bashing damage rather than lethal (comparative with being hit with a sledgehammer). Enough bullets will still screw them up (as will headshots, in some cases), but as guns mainly do damage by causing bleedout, vampires don't really have much to worry about.
    • Averted when shooting at mortals, however. Guns do lethal damage to living targets, which most mortals cannot soak (try to ignore damage from), and deal more damage — and faster — than all but the most optimized melee builds. One to three hits from even the weakest pistol in the game will kill or incapacitate a human.
  • Played straight in Scion where guns can are significantly less effective on the demi-gods characters than they are on mortals. Also, a gun will kill a mortal human but the game presents so many more effective ways to do so, like crossbows, which have a range and accuracy rating superior to a 9mm.
    • Guns are also the only weapons whose damage output isn't linked to a character's Attributes, so a gun fired by a God of War does exactly the same amount of damage as the same gun fired by a street punk. This makes guns severely underpowered compared to melee weapons or archery, once the PCs start accumulating dots in Epic Strength and Epic Dexterity.
  • Mutants & Masterminds exhibits this, much to the frustration of many of the players. Standard guns top out a 2-5 ranks of damage, equivalent to a good hard punch by a trained baseline human. Most PC heroes begin at a 10 Toughness bonus, meaning that, when hit by an assault rifle, they're going to avoid any injury half of the time. The addition of Impervious removes the save entirely.
    • Which is actually Justified by the Four-Color superhero setting (and characters) assumed by default. When your Player Characters are essentially expys of the Justice League or The Avengers, most of them are gonna be unfazed by a street-thug's gat, or even a soldier's assault rifle. On the other hand, the more down-to-earth, human characters in supplements like Agents of Freedom (characters at power-level 5) have a mere 3 to 5 Toughness save, so guns are not useless against them.
  • Played unbelievably straight in Mind's Eye Theater's LARP rules, to the point where grappling is more effective than shooting someone in the face.
    • Extremely debatable depending on what game you are playing and what ammunition is in the gun - in fact, in many cases, this is entirely inaccurate. For Garou, a Combat Shotgun loaded with silver ammunition can unload four aggravated wound levels per attack against werewolves because of the bonus damage effect of both shotguns and fully automatic weapons, plus you can hit basically everything in a room with it at once. Put that in the hands of a Glass Walker armed with magical knickknacks or Gifts that give him unlimited ammunition and watch him expend Rage to turn entire packs of Black Spiral Dancers into salsa. That's not even bringing up chainguns...
  • In the Buffy the Vampire Slayer RPG, guns do only one-fifth damage to vampires, in line with TV show continuity. Similarly, guns are still perfectly effective on humans and most demons.
  • A deliberate stylistic choice in Burn Legend from Shards of the Exalted Dream. Because BL is about martial arts, firearms are incredibly weak and interact poorly with your ki, rendering you unable to use martial arts beyond Basic techniques while you hold them...and, if you take a hit while wielding a gun, you automatically lose a health stock. To make matters worse for gun-toting mooks, range is divided quite neatly into "near" and "distant", and the main projectile-trumping techniques, Aerial moves, are a) available to everyone and b) allow you to move from distant to near. The net result is that no-one in their right mind picks up a gun. Ever.
  • In Nomine deliberately downplays the effectiveness of guns as compared to blades, hand-to-hand, and supernatural powers, because it's more thematically appropriate to a game involving angels and demons. Still, many characters will carry a gun anyway.
  • Sanguine Production's Ironclaw and its expansion Jadeclaw allow characters to purchase and use firearms. While a gun in Ironclaw is appropriately powerful, it's also ridiculously expensive, horribly inaccurate, slow to reload, and requires a reliability roll with each shot. If the roll fails, guns suffer from the unnerving tendency to fail in the worst possible way at the worst possible time, such as a dud fuse not firing or, even worse, a spontaneous powder explosion. With such issues only applying to firearm weapons, this means bows and melee weapons are much more practical to their users and much less likely to cause them to accidentally kill themselves.

    Video Games 
  • In The Matrix: Path of Neo, guns are useless against agents, so Neo is forced to take a more hands on approach with them. Unless said gun is a grenade launcher. Or the Gatling Gun. Or the send-them-flying-with-a-kick-then-shoot-them-in-the-air combo.
  • Prototype played this trope in a rather realistic way. Guns are actually very powerful against what you'd expect them to work on. Walkers, the basic mutated humans that you face in droves, usually die after a few rounds to the face, same with the soldiers. Problem is, over time you get giant mutants that are more than capable of shrugging off small arms fire, which quickly makes guns useless in favor of your powers.
  • Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura was criticised for having all firearms be severely underpowered compared to melee weaponry. This was especially odd given that the background mentioned a war between two of the kingdoms of Arcanum in which the elite knights of the more backward one had been easily slaughtered by volley fire from poorly trained Tarantian conscripts.
    • Guns do have advantages over tech melee weapons, such as range and higher accuracy for more damaging criticals. But thrown weapons of either tech or magick have major advantages over guns; they're faster, magick doesn't cause them to fail and the uberweapon for the type becomes available much earlier in the game. The Aerial Decapitator does make guns look worthless.
    • Additionally the game suffered from a bug causing damage being calculated per shot, not per bullet. This caused mechanized rifles to consume several bullets per 'burst' but still dealing the damage only slightly higher than damage of a simple pistol.
    • However the elite knights were slaughtered by huge volleys, one on one an elite warrior is better than a lone soldier with a gun, or rifle; unless that soldier has exceptional gear, armour and the like, it's the peasant armies that beat the few knights.
  • Final Fantasy is, as always, the seminal example.
    • To start us off: Barret from Final Fantasy VII has a gun stuck on his arm that can practically shoot cannon balls, and Vincent uses pistols as his weapon of choice, but they only cause as much damage as Tifa's fists or Cloud's oversized sword.
      • Actually is averted in the end, but by then most people don't realize or care. Barret and Vincent have the two most powerful damage bonuses on their ultimate weapons, which more of less let's them always do maximum damage, regardless of what they do, what condition they are in, and what command they use. Tifa can technically do this, too, but her method of powering up her weapon is nearly impossible to do, let alone do enough to get a significant damage bonus.
      • It's even worse for the enemies; their guns are lucky to do a tenth of the damage that Cloud's detached helicopter rotor does.
      • The very first enemy you meet in the game punches for more damage than when they shoot you.
    • In Advent Children, Cloud gets shot at point blank range directly between his eyes. It breaks his sunglasses and gives him a tiny scratch. Then, at the end he gets shot in the back and is actually seriously wounded, but only because Yazoo and Loz upgraded their weapons with loads of materia.
    • Both played straight and averted by Final Fantasy VIII. Though the game itself states that melee weapons deal more damage than guns, it also points out that modern technology allows for greater weapons yields than magic. Also, Irvine, the gun-wielding party member, is capable of doing incredible damage with his rifle, and the specialist ammunition he carries can amplify that damage to ridiculous levels, and Laguna, who carries a machine gun, does most of his damage through the use of raw firepower and grenades.
    • In Final Fantasy X-2 the Gunner's rapid shot technique is one of the weakest in the game until combined with the catnip accessory, whereupon it becomes one of the two most powerful attacks in the game. The rapid shot technique is also useful in starting up a combo, giving a boost to damage for a follow up attack.
    • Final Fantasy XI makes use of the first generation of handheld firearms such as flintlocks and blunderbusses, fitting their real-life counterparts in use delay, but not so much their effectiveness against small rabbits at close range, although these bunnies can destroy anyone, so it's not that bad.
    • Final Fantasy XII uses guns, but they have low attack power compared to swords or other weapons for balance reasons. The quirk here is that guns ignore defense, so a weak character can do a decent amount of damage to enemies if you get guns early in the game and you can do even more damage if you use elemental bullets on enemies that are weak to it. By the halfway point to the end of the game, your other characters will be strong enough to outclass gunners and attack faster since guns have a slow wait time. Not only that, but most enemies and bosses by this point will have a passive resistance to guns, making gunners do only a few hundred points in damage compared to the 2000 damage they were doing earlier in the game.
    • This trope is all over the place in Final Fantasy XIII. One of your party members, Sazh, uses guns and has the weakest stats, but compensates for it by being able to hit twice on every attack AND having better bonuses on his crafted weapons. His Blitz attack is a textbook example of More Dakka. Late in the game there are human mooks carrying bazookas that are potential game-enders if they are not dealt with first.
    • For balance purposes; guns have the highest range in the Tactics series but are also very weak. (After all what'd be the point of having melee weapons at all if you can just slaughter enemies before you even get in their range?) However, you can actually use abilities that have weapon range with them - Gunners and Cannoneers with Ultima. OUCH.
    • Guns in Tactics have just about the best attack range in the game, but rarely do as much damage as a solid sword... unless you find one of the rare varieties that shoot magic at the enemies instead of bullets, anyway.
    • Played straight in Final Fantasy Tactics A2. Guns do have long range, but the strongest gun has an attack of 35, as compared to mid 50s for other ranged weapons, about 60-80 for melee weapons that are actually intended to be used as such, and a whooping 92 for the strongest weapon (Knightswords). Even staves and rods are stronger than guns for heaven's sake. Add in that Fusiliers have terrible growths across the board...
      • But if you add in that Fusiliers learn loads of attacks that cost no MP and have decent chances of causing Standard Status Effects while still causing regular damage to their enormous range then you still have a great supporting unit.
      • If you give Gunners/Fusiliers Onslaught as their secondary ability set, they can use Ultima at a ridiculous range, and if you have them level up as Moogle Knights they'll have much better attack (somehow).
  • Several of the newer Castlevania games have guns (one with silver bullets!) but they are generally 75% as strong as the weapons you already have at that point. To rub it in, the bullets only go about five steps forward before vanishing!
    • In Castlevania: Circle of the Moon the character can get a gun as a special attack that deals double the damage of the normal attack, however it's incredibly slow to load.
    • In Order of Ecclesia, there's Albus, who is quite effective with his gun, firing both regular shots, a light/dark spiralling shot and a giant ball of darkness the game describes as using the power of spite!
      • In Hard Mode, he can even shoot Ignis, Grando, and Fulgur out of his gun. In other words, he can use magic fireballs, icicles, and ball lightning as bullets. Not so worthless now, is it? And yet, one of his best attacks is a flaming kick.
    • Symphony of the Night subverts this trope with the skeletal 'Bone Musket' enemy. They appear in groups of three and stagger while they're reloading to lay down about one shot every two seconds, and they really hurt! About the only advantage you have is that most of the time you're above or below them, and they can only shoot straight ahead.
    • In Aria of Sorrow a high tech rifle was the Bragging Rights Reward.
      • There was also the pistol, which could be useful if not for the fact that you could get Claiomh Solais at the same time, if not a little earlier.
    • In Dawn of Sorrow guns are fine weapons (and actually gain quite a rate of fire with a Lag Cancel), but there are only 2 in the game (outside of the rocket launcher) and they quickly get outclassed by the (still progressing) melee and throwing weapons.
  • In La-Mulana, the pistol is very powerful, but ammunition is the most expensive purchase in the game and the character can only carry six bullets at a time.
  • Eternal Darkness: in the levels set from World War I onwards, guns do considerable damage; however, bladed weapons have the advantage of allowing the player to hack the heads and limbs off zombies and, being a horror game, have no ammo concerns.
    • The first time you can actually use a rifle on a boss, it laughs at you:
      Black Guardian: "The tools of your puerile civilization are of no use against the Power of the Planes."
    • Then it ends up averted in the next to last level where the game drops an OICW on you along with enough ammo and grenades to spam everything.
  • Knights of the Old Republic is the virtual epitome of this trope; blasters are piss-weak and have barely more range than your arm (and level design often fails to give ranges higher than your elbow half the time).note  This all the more insulting because ranged weapons are actually highly useful in the Star Wars d20 ruleset the game is supposedly based on. The lesson? It's all about the lightsabers, baby.
    • The relative uselessness of blasters and the prevalence of melee weapons is explained by the recent proliferation of personal shields - which kind of falls flat given that there's no Gameplay and Story Segregation about this; if an enemy has a personal shield, they will actually use it. And most of them are damn near useless anyway, only protecting you from about two rounds' worth of attacks per charge.
    • For that matter, lightsabers in KOTOR are ridiculously weak compared to what's seen in the movies and other non-game media. "Realistic" lightsabers should not bounce off your enemies like a nerf bat, and allow you to cut through that pesky Insurmountable Waist-Height Fence.
    • While this trope is usually played straight, it is possible to make a highly effective blaster scoundrel Jedi by focusing on maximizing your number of attacks and using force powers to stun enemies for sneak attacks.
    • Knights of the Old Republic II, on the other hand, introduces powerful weapon upgrades and character combat feats that make long range weapons perfectly comfortable for finishing the whole game with, enough that the Let's Play by Scorchy did play the whole game giving the PC nothing but dual pistols as soon as they were available. In fact, one of the most fun things to do is to recruit Mira on Nar Shaddaa, build her a nice rifle at the workbench, develop her into a good gunslinger char with good Force abilities for that kind of a thing, and go nuts. You can park your other team members, including "you" aka the almighty PC, somewhere safe, and knock yourself out cleaning up the two major gangs in the area in solo mode, at the hardest difficulty level.
    • Averted in The Old Republic: Troopers, Smugglers, Imperial Agents and Bounty Hunters all use guns, and they hit just as hard as melee weapons, even lightsabers. In fact, Troopers using Mortar Barrage and Bounty Hunters using Death From Above can inflict more damage in five seconds than most classes in a minute.
  • Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines. Justified when firing at vampires (who are essentially walking balls of dust—the bullets have very little actual tissue to rupture or tear apart), not so much when dealing with juicebags. Your character's fists are usually more effective against mortals for the first half of the game, even if you play a low-physical stat clan like Tremere or Ventrue. Guns are the most effective weapon if you can get your firearms to 10 and start wielding a Desert Eagle, Uzi, or Steyr AUG as your primary weapon, but that means that you have to get world-class aiming skills and military hardware before you start to get realistic performance from your firearms.
    • To top it off, the scope drift at low to moderate levels is truly terrible. Your sight drifts beyond even a 45 degree cone when trying to look straight ahead.
    • This is of course carried over from Vampire: The Masquerade, where bullets only do bashing damage to vampires since, being dead, they don't experience the same tissue trauma as mortals. Bladed weapons still do lethal damage, however, because they can take a huge chunk out of the vampire.
    • A lot more extreme in Vampire: The Masquerade – Redemption. Upon coming into the modern world, you'll find that a medieval sword is going to be a hell of a lot more effective than any weapon short of a rocket launcher, killing many a vampire opponent with a single strike. Somewhat justified in that a) body armor in the modern world is specifically designed to protect against guns rather than blades, and b) your characters are super-strong vampires and so absurdly fast that their opponents can fire at most one shot before you've closed in on them. That doesn't excuse the fact that one of the best weapons in the game is a unique dagger you get about two-thirds of the way through the medieval era. If you hang on to it for the first dungeon of the modern age, you'll have no problem taking apart the vampire hunter cult.
  • Due to various gameplay balance concepts, the developers of City of Heroes made ranged attacks somewhat weaker than melee attacks. This has the upshot of player characters with range preferring to get shot for less damage than being punched.
    • Powers such as Rise To The Challenge, however, offer a defensive bonus based on the number of enemies within melee range. This makes the character more vulnerable to groups of gunfighters, since they tend to be spread out, although bowmen are just as deadly.
  • The Howling Voice Guild in the Suikoden series uses guns when everyone else is using swords and magic. Cathari, a member of the Howling Voice Guild in Suikoden V subverts this trope in two ways: she is one of the best physical damage dealers in the game, and she lampshades it in the following exchange:
    Cathari: You think guns are scary? Elven arrows are worse by a long shot, if you ask me.
    Urda: How can you say that?
    Cathari: There's only a handful of guns in the world, let alone on the battlefield, so they haven't killed many people. Now, how many people do you think have died from arrow fire? Hundreds? Thousands? Is that not horrible?
    Urda: You're just splitting hairs!
    Cathari: Then tell me. What about guns makes them "horrible" to you?
    Urda: Wh-What about them? They make inexplicable sounds and belch fire and shoot iron bullets! What could be worse?
    Cathari: Technically, it's lead, not iron. But, basically, she's right.
    Hazuki: Wait — pardon?
    Cathari: Simply put, guns are "inexplicable." They're an unknown. People fear that, especially in a weapon.
    Hazuki: You're saying guns are merely a... bluff tactic?
    Cathari: Pretty much, so far. Guns are still under development. They don't fire as quickly as arrows, or as accurately... Once you know that, they're not all that difficult to deal with.
  • Skies of Arcadia. Most gun-wielding enemies are not a serious threat, and while Gilder, the resident Badass Longcoat gunslinger in your party, is a powerful fighter, he is not the most powerful — both Vyse, who uses swords, and Drachma, who uses a mechanical arm, are more powerful physically. Mind you, Skies of Arcadia's handguns are of the flintlock kind.
  • In the original Persona, all characters could equip a firearm in addition to their usual non-gun weapon. Certain enemies are weak to firearms, but outside of that they aren't treated any differently from the other weapons.
    • Though they're actually incredibly useful despite their unimpressive attack power due to things like charm bullets. A decent chance to cause charm on every hit with a gun that hits six or more times can cripple a lot of enemies very quickly.
    • Which was lifted from the first Shin Megami Tensei game by the same company. While magic powers and ancient magical swords could outpace firearms in raw damage before too long, getting to choose which status effects your multi-hit firearms put on your foes is invaluable. Especially since SMT1 averts Useless Useful Spell even more than other games in the series, because charm works very well even on boss monsters.
  • In Persona 3 guns that appear in cutscenes are treated realistically and even kill party members with one or two shots. Aegis and Takaya both use guns in combat, however, where they are rather pathetic (all considered) standard attacks that deal about as much damage as the assorted swords, bows, and boxing gloves the rest of the party use and have no improved range to speak of. Heck, one boss character (Jin) throws grenades at people that hardly do any damage. Aside from that, the main characters use gun-shaped Evokers to call their Persona out in a way all-too-reminiscent of suicide, so while it is debatable whether they count as guns or not, they are still vital for your success.
    • Persona 4 carries on this fine tradition in-game: Naoto and Adachi both use guns, and neither are particularly dangerous physically.
  • Certain enemies in Digital Devil Saga are in fact weak to firearms, but using them requires wasting a turn to switch back to human form along with the loss of all skills you'd be able to use while transformed. It is averted in the sense that firearms are the only option available as a human.
  • In Devil Survivor, the characters' Hit Points and stats are justified by the harmonizer tech in their demon summoning PDAs, which allows Puny Earthlings to 'roll with it' when attacked by a demon and avoid getting instant-pulped. For some reason this also works against human guns, who are a very rare enemy-only physical attack that is quite underwhelming. Although they do deal triple damage to humans, that triple damage still usually isn't enough to simulate the Real Life effects of burst-firing an assault rifle point blank at an unarmoured teenager with intent to kill.
  • In the Samurai Warriors and Warriors Orochi games, it depends on the particular game; Saika Magoichi in Samurai Warriors uses this instead of a bow for his first-person shooting, it in fact being needed to unlock part of his story and final weapon, while Ishikawa Goemon uses a back-mounted cannon. In Samurai Warriors 2 the first-person aspect is gone, but Magoichi, Tokugawa Ieyasu and Date Masamune have on-command shots — individually little damage and hard to aim but semiautomatic, able to interrupt enemies, and eventually able to go through enemies (potentially hitting other enemies). In Warriors Orochi the on-command shots are traded for Magoichi's close-range "shotgun" blast attack, Ieyasu's energy beam (which doesn't really subvert the trope by not being a 'proper' shot), and Masamune's pair of attacks where he goes airborne and fires a barrage all around. Unfortunately, these (like all on-command projectiles) are nerfed in Warriors Orochi by losing the ability to interrupt or knock down enemies, so in that game the trope is partly played straight. However, in all of these games and their spin-offs the shots that are part of the characters' normal, charge, and Musou attacks depend on the character's level and (ranged) attack power.
    • The rifles wielded by common mooks in Samurai Warriors fire slowly and do negligible damage. However, their shots will knock you down/off your horse if they hit you, and have a long range, making them very annoying enemies if nothing else.
  • The Gunslinger class in the MMORPG Ragnarok Online is, for the most part, arguably one of the weakest classes in the game unless extensive care is taken to ensure they do decent damage, and even at that they still tend to fall far behind other classes (notably the Sniper).
  • Another MMORPG example is MapleStory, whose Gunslinger class — one of the two Second Job options for a Pirate — carries flintlock pistols that never need to be reloaded, have a range of about 6 feet, and are pathetically weak (at least initially). The Gunslinger is considered so weak by most players that the other job branch for Pirate, the Brawler, who wields increasingly elaborate BRASS KNUCKLES, is the more popular choice by a landslide.
    • Arguably averted in later levels, as the Gunslinger is a Magikarp Power class that becomes one of the highest damaging classes in the game. The "arguably" part comes from the fact that a lot of that damage comes from summoning a personal battleship, but the gun's stats still factor in.
  • Present in Chrono Trigger. Lucca's guns are basically your standard "magic user weapon", which deal damage just high enough to be occasionally useful, but far less than the guys with swords. To make things worse, as a projectile weapon it's boosted by the Hit/Accuracy stat, rather than the Power/Strength stat. Not only are there far more accessories that boost Power/Strength, but there are no Tabs/Capsules that boost Hit/Accuracy as well. Plus, for comparison, Chrono has about 70 base Power/Strength by the end of the game (at about level 48 or so). Lucca has only 49 Hit/Accuracy at level 99.
    • Guns use the attack stat and are thus more powerful in Chrono Cross, but they are still no more powerful than other weapons of their rank.
  • Played so straight in Rogue Galaxy that weapons like gatling guns, grenade launchers and missiles are comparable to pistols or weaker. None of which are more powerful than swords or a kick to the face, of course. The machine gun-toting mobsters you fight a couple of times are probably the least threatening enemies in the game.
  • In the Wizardry series, Umpani has some firearms, which the PC can obtain and use, even as a secondary weapon. Guns do considerable damage, but unlike other ranged weapons have no Abnormal Ammo. And you need to spend actions to manually reload them after every shot — a valid requirement, but somehow isn't applied to any crossbows — so in average you get half of that damage and it sucks.
    • The Umpani flamethrower and rocket launcher from Wizardry 8, on the other hand, are quite useful in the right situations, and one of the two main gimmicks of the player Gadgeteer class is their self-built Omnigun, which starts out as a pathetic sling-equivalent, and ends being able to fire just about anything you stick into it, including swords, to great effect.
  • Medieval II: Total War plays this trope relatively realistically. Early firearms, such as arquebuses, are good for little more than scattering poor-morale peasants at an arm's length, but late-game musketmen will fell their worth in knights before the latter can get anywhere within melee range.
    • Even the latest-game musketmen get vastly outranged by archers, though, resulting in unobservant or unlucky players seeing their fancy-pants musket army getting shredded by a few longbows or American tribesmen doing hit-and-run tactics (also true in Empire: Total War). While having some historical basis, Total War gives this trope a corollary of Guns Are Worthless when the enemy has bows and arrows.
    • Played even more straight in the original Shogun: Total War. Guns could not be obtained until pretty late in the game, the troops took a long time to set them up, they were useless at close quarters and they were completely inoperable if it rained as this caused the powder to get wet. If your opponent attacked you then they got to choose the weather conditions, and would inevitably end up with a rainy option to cripple your gunners. If you attacked an opponent then they would get to choose their initial position, normally picking a tall hill to force gunners to get fairly close so that they could easily be charged or peppered with arrows before they were ready.
      • In Shogun 2, matchlock-armed footsoldiers are fairly balanced, and the one gunner cavalry unit has to go through a very long reload time before they can fire at anything. The Otomo clan's Donderbuss Cavalry does not have this limitation, although the Otomo in general practically have disagreeing with this trope's name as their hat - if the Otomo somehow manage to hold off the two clans they start at war with, as well as the aggressive and expansionist Shimazu, then their armies and ships bristling with matchlocks become a formidable force indeed.
  • Star Ocean The Last Hope at least tries to explain this. Soldiers realistically use railguns to try to kill the giant bugs that attack them, but apparently the eletromagnetic signature emitted by the railgun when fired allows the bugs to block the shots with some kind of shield. Protagonist Edge only gives up on his railgun when he drops it, and then grabs the first weapon he can, which just happens to be a sword-like cutting tool, which, of course, works perfectly. It does not at any point however explain how every single example of wildlife on every planet in the universe except Earth somehow evolved with the ability to generate these shields.
    • Further explained in that Edge's special ability makes it harder for him to use a gun; it causes him to lead his shots too much and miss more often than not.
  • Subverted in Defense Of The Ancients: All-Stars: The only gunslinger, the Dwarven Sniper, is for various good reasons considered a low-tier character. However, none of these are innately because he uses a gun.
  • In Lost Odyssey, Sed's rifle does less damage than the other character's swords. Even Tolten's sword, the weak pretty boy. Even Mack's fists, and he's 10 years old! Though, on the plus side, he never misses and he can shoot through the barrier to the enemy's back row with no penalty.
  • In Nostalgia, guns do less damage than swords, only compensated by higher accuracy.
    • Pad's "Dead Shot" skill turns out to be your best weapon against the ridiculously strong mobs in the bonus dungeons, since they have huge amounts of HP but no instant death immunity.
  • In Dungeon Siege your dungeon crawls take you to a lair of goblins that use gatling guns, flamethrowers and rocket launchers, and also drop these weapons for the player. They are acceptable, but when you move on in the story, the enemies will be dropping bows again, which will invariably be stronger.
  • BlazBlue's Noel Vermillion is the only gun-user among the player characters, and while she's not low-tier, she doesn't exactly do killer damage easily. Her guns can't even reach across the whole screen except with the Distortion Drives.
    • Somewhat averted as Noel's guns in-story are Nox Nyctores class weapons; one of ten of the most powerful weapons in the lore. They are also not ordinary guns and are designed to be close/melee ranged. In-story, these guns have the ability to shoot targets behind walls and barriers, although this isn't really executed in game.
    • In addition, characters in the BlazBlue universe do not use regular guns or gunpowder. The in-story explanation being that conventional weapons had no effect on the Black Beast, and the only way to damage the beast was through seither-powered Ars Armagus (which essentially allowed mankind to use Magic). Since seither came from the Black Beast, concentrations were highest in proximity to the beast and allowed for more efficient usage of Armagus. This lead to weapons being designed for close- or melee-ranged, and after the Dark War, the population just continued to use Ars.
  • In the Warcraft series, Guns are largely equal to Bows and other ranged weapons. They aren't as powerful as melee weapons, but can attack from a long distance away, possibly protected by a cliff or other obstacles.
    • In World of Warcraft, guns are exactly as useful as crossbows and bows. Which is to say, incredibly useful for hunters, practically harmless in the hands of anyone else.
      • However several classes were able to make use of them for stat boosts, if nothing else, at least until the third weapon slot was removed in Mists of Pandaria.
  • In Mass Effect 2, Shepard's punches deal more damage than bullets. However, it should be noted that the guns are in no way weak, and Shepard is at that point essentially an indestructible cyborg.
  • On the subject of the guns in Too Human:
    Yahtzee: Baldur, it seems, buys his guns from the same shop as Dante, where the only available ammo is peas and bits of tissue paper.
  • Guns in Devil May Cry do pathetic amounts of damage, and aside from a few special attacks (and cut scenes), are generally pretty useless.
    • Apart from extending combos. A cushion of handgun bullets might not have the raw DPS of a sword, but if the enemy is in the air then they're not hitting you. Shotguns deal fantastic knockback and have a great chance of interrupting an enemy's attack. Simply, melee weapons will deal great damage, but the firearms have utility.
    • And then thrown down and beaten until it cries in DMC3. If you don't use Ebony and Ivory well, you are a dead man. Fighting exclusively in melee is fatal, and an entirely viable method of combat is to go airborne and rain bullets on the enemy. There's even a Gunslinger Style in order to make guns more deadly.
  • In Sengoku Basara, arquebusier-wielding Mooks are frequent enemies; their bullets are visible, travel slow enough to dodge or even parry, and deal only slightly more damage than a mook sword. Magoichi and Nouhime are both gun users, and their guns are no more fatal than the assorted swords, bows, hammers, spears, rocks, fists and associated whatnots everyone else uses (they do have a range advantage though). Their bullets are also visible to the eye and dodge/blockable by enemies (except Magoichi's shotgun, which is practically a melee weapon anyway).
  • In Darksiders War gets a Hand Cannon that is a four barrelled, repeating revolver custom made by an Ultimate Blacksmith, with infinite ammo, and named Mercy. It takes about twenty shots from it to down most mooks that can be Action Command auto killed with a single button.
    • While functionally pointless against even average mooks, it comes in so handy when fighting flying demons, or picking off/wearing down creatures when on horseback while you charge in to hit them with your sword.
  • Compared to the swords you get at the same time in Mega Man Battle Network, guns are extremely weak: the first swords can One-Hit Kill anything up to the first boss, while the first guns don't do enough damage to kill the weakest enemies in the game. Even at the end game, any gun more powerful than a sword takes so long to form that you will miss against most enemies at that stage.
    • Although, it's worth noting, the grid system the series' combat operates on balances this out, since sword chips have a range of one square ahead of you, while guns effectively have unlimited range, so sword chips vs. gun chips are a question of whether you're willing to learn an enemy's pattern and wait for them to get to the front row or hammer away at them at your leisure.
  • In Disgaea guns are a 'trick' weapon, with its primary bonus being that it damages based on your HIT stat and drops speed, making them the primary weapon against dodging enemies. They fall behind axes, swords and possibly also bows in damage, and have a range of 4 to 5 — the same as the movement range for most offensive melee-classes.
    • They also have no area-of-effect attacks, which makes them pretty bad for Level Grinding in Cave of Ordeals 3, and since they're based on Hit rather than Atk you can't as easily swap them for a sword. On the magic side, there is no spell for increasing Hit, while there is one for Atk.
    • They were also nerfed in the second game, in which they can only fire in a straight line (the four cardinal directions)
  • Cryostasis plays this straight by giving you less-than-impressive guns—the first one you get is a bolt-action Mosin-Nagant that appears to have been made in the 1800s. The one and only submachine gun is necessary against a few bosses, but a lot of the time it's more effective to just hit monsters with a lock and chain.
  • While we see very few guns in Kingdom Hearts (Port Royal even replaces them with crossbows), Clayton has a shotgun that he uses to hunt 500 pound gorillas, which nevertheless deals comparatively little damage to an unarmoured fourteen-year-old.
  • Valkyria Chronicles II has a bit of this. While most classes of soldiers use guns or rocket launchers that are usually pretty effective against each other, the Tech superclass uses melee weapons and a shield that can deflect essentially all gunfire minus a couple of late-game/DLC weapons (shooting them from behind, where their shield doesn't cover, is a lot more effective). The Fencer/Fencer Elite specializations of the Tech class, which wield BFSes, can take out almost any infantry unit in one swing while classes that use guns would take several shots to accomplish the same thing (most classes can fire more than one shot per command point, but it could still take multiple CP to take out a high-defense or crouched target). Fencers have very low movement to compensate for their tank-like defense and virtually-guaranteed One-Hit KOs, however, so they aren't completely broken.
  • Painkiller: inverted oh so beautifully for you, played straight for the enemies. Most notably, the mobsters in City on Water switch out their tommy guns for nailguns when they reappear in The Docks, and the nails do at least 4 times more damage. Their Elite Mook friends the Skulls use huge shotguns that can actually do hefty damage the one time they actually hit you.
  • Usually, Team Fortress 2 is pretty much packed with guns; there are, however, two exceptions. The Demoman can choose to go "Demoknight", where he discards his grenade launcher for some Nice Shoes, his sticky bomb launcher for a shield and uses one of his many swords as his melee. This can be surprisingly effective. Similarly, the Sniper can discard his sniper rifle in favour of the Huntsman, a set of bow and arrows. If you're good, the Huntsman can be devastating.
  • With a few exceptions, guns in the first Ryu Ga Gotoku game are useless. When used against Kazuma, they serve only to interrupt his combat animations and chip off his health from a distance, doing a pittance of damage while other enemies lay into him with deadlier weapons...like tables or golf clubs. When Kazuma gets his hands on one dropped by a mook, it fires only one shot and will take off a quarter of the mook's health, if he is lucky enough to hit him in the first place. Truth in Television, as the rarity of guns in Japan means that most are old and poorly maintained.
  • In the Sam & Max games, both Sam and Max have guns you can use at any time, but they are useless as weapons. The guns are used more like remote controls to hit buttons, bells etc., that you are physically unable to reach. This becomes a running gag through the series.
  • Utterly averted in Live A Live. Sunset Kid, the party member from the Old West, uses a gun (specifically, a Colt Peacemaker to start with; his Infinity+1 Sword is a .44 Magnum). His attacks have no charge time, except for his strongest attack, have extremely good range, and deal high damage. His strongest attack, while it has a charge time and limited range, makes up for this with 999 damage every time. The boss of his chapter could also deal 999 damage with his strongest attack, and he used a Gatling gun. Guns aren't just worthwhile, they're dangerous.
  • In the latest Tekken game you can equip a character with various firearms that are actually useable during a fight. The input to use them is a little tricky to get the timing down, and while they provide a nice ranged attack they don't do much damage at all.
  • In the Fallout series of games, having a low skill in guns makes them utterly worthless weapons, subject to low damage, poor aiming and frustratingly common jamming problems. Guns are certainly not useless in Fallout Tactics but your squad mates often make them so. It's frustrating to arrive back from scouting just in time to watch your machine-pistol toting allies being bludgeoned to death by a man with a chair leg.
  • Rifles in DC Universe Online sound awesome on paper in that with their first upgrade they get a grenade launcher attachment and they can later become an improvised melee weapon, but their firing speed and their melee damage and speed are so piss-poor that you're better off using a hand blaster or martial arts weapon.
  • By the time of Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance CNT defences have made small arms effectively worthless against modern cyborgs, making melee weapon the weapon of choice for the discerning combatant. Made particularly obvious at one point when some cyborg Dirty Cops see Raiden and one says that "deadly force is authorised" before putting away their guns in exchange for telescoping batons.
  • Averted in Wild Arms where the protagonists' guns are incredibly powerful and feared. Combat-wise, Rudy's ARM tends to deal the most damage, although Jack, who uses a regular sword, does comparable damage. Whether this is because Jack is a Badass Normal or the power of an ARM is an Informed Ability is left up to the discretion of the player.
  • Vector Thrust is a weird example of this trope as aircraft cannon are designed to be inferior to missiles and bombs. However, the guns are so worthless you'd be better off trying to pull back to minimum missile range when you draw in close, because they deal Scratch Damage, have a retarded aiming reticule that lies to you and overheat if fired continuously for more than a few seconds. A recent update really upped the damage on them, but good luck hitting anything with them. Hey, at least you can rest easy knowing that the AI can't hit you either at close range.
  • Jade Empire zig-zags this trope in Mirabelle, a 16th century flintlock you can get from a Side Quest. Mirabelle is far more effective against most supernatural foes than it has any business being (just how effective would a lead ball be against a solid-stone golem anyway?), deals more damage per attack than any weapon, martial style or magic in the game, and allows you to stun-lock human foes due to Blown Across the Room. Still, it takes a distressing amount of musket balls to take down even basic human mooks; certainly more than Ser Roderick uses to reduce an opponent to Ludicrous Gibs during his Establishing Character Moment.

    Web Comics 
  • Adventurers! subverts it in two major ways: main character Tesla is an incredibly effective gunslinger (and user of anachronistic projectile weaponry in general), and, more pointedly, Cody wields a gun forged by god-like beings. The characters assume it will be ineffective, being a gun in an RPG setting, until he casually points it at a rock and deals 9999 damage (!). It's also enough to compensate for nonsensical dialogue, apparently.
    • Parodied in this comic, when the main characters are being mugged by a gun wielding thief.
  • The Adventures of Dr. McNinja: Dan and Sean get on Gordito's case about how guns are the weapons of cowards, but he still manages to kick ass with them. It's often played straight, though; guns are completely ineffective against ninjas, who will invariably dodge all the bullets.

    Web Original 
  • Suburban Knights: Multiple times guns are fired at close range into large groups of people, sometimes even with bullet animations bouncing off people, to no effect whatsoever.
  • Rule 16 of the Freedom Fighters: Encyclopedic knowledge of firearms means nothing in a world where all the guns are permanently set to "bitchslap".
  • This blog entry goes into some detail regarding the usefulness of conventional weaponry against typical fictional threats (zombies, dinosaurs, Cthulhu, etc.).

    Western Animation 
  • A number of foes in Samurai Jack have attempted to use guns on him. None have even managed to put a scratch on him, as he moves so quickly he can dodge their bullets and get up close enough to strike with his sword. This includes a hillbilly sheriff who tried a gatling gun. The only enemies who have ever inflicted serious damage to Jack are all either blade wielders or hand-to-hand combatants. This trope is best exemplified in "Robo Samurai vs. Mondo-Bot," where Mondo-Bot, having exhausted all of its projectiles to no effect, resorts to an old-fashioned sword and suddenly puts up a challenge for Jack.
    • This was finally averted in "The Good, The Bad, and The Beautiful". The Clenches, an estranged team of western-themed bounty hunters, have Jack on the ropes for the entire episode. He can barely defend himself, let alone fight back, and The Clenches would have won had Josephine not pulled a You Have Out Lived Your Usefulness on Zeke.
    • The Scotsman's leg gun has also been shown to be extremely effective.

    Real Life 
  • The modern firearm is a vast improvement over the early models when it comes to aiming and reliability. When your projectile-thrower will be more useful as a club if the weather gets a bit too damp for it, it better be a really good club. Consider, too, the problems that'd be caused if your enemy does not helpfully clump together and the best your guns do for aiming is 'point in general direction of the enemy.' Long story short, there was an early period of time when guns were worthless. The problem is, people are never seen using those early worthless models.
    • Even the early model guns were not completely worthless. They may not have been as effective as other period weapons, but they took only a few days to learn how to use, as opposed to years and/or decades for the other more effective weapons. What they lacked in individual effectiveness, they more than made up for in the ability to rapidly assemble an army of them.
  • There was an American Civil War -era general who once said that you can be fired at all day by a musket and not realize it.
    • Words taken at face value by Union Gen. John Sedgewick, whose last words were “They couldn't hit an elephant at this distance,” seconds before he took a shot to the head.
      • One must recognize the difference between a musket and a rifled musket. A musket is notoriously inaccurate and must be used en masse to have any effectiveness. A rifled musket, the primary weapon on both sides of the American Civil War, is extremely accurate and a single aimed shot can be reasonably expected to hit its intended target. This is the primary reason for the casualty rates during the conflict. The relative newness of the rifled musket meant that tactics had not yet adjusted to their use. Armies lined up in formations designed to maximize the effectiveness of inaccurate weapons, and then opened fire on each other with very accurate weapons. The tactical evolution to compensate for the new technology is blatantly obvious when you compare the early battles of the war with, say, the Siege of Petersburg which basically used tactics more commonly associated with the sieges of Sevastopol (Crimean War), Port Arthur (Russo-Japanese War), and World War I in general.
  • Back in the day, the bayonet was there because sometimes charging something was preferable to a long reload. As guns became less and less worthless, a bayonet was actually more useful as a tool than anything, further showing how far gun tech has come. The bayonet was developed primarily to allow musketeers to defend themselves against cavalry, allowing armies to dispense with the pikemen who had previously been charged with this task.
    • "A bullet is foolish; the bayonet is wise" - General Aleksandr Suvorov (1729-1800), who favored all-out bayonet charges over stationary shooting, because he knew that you can watch someone shooting at you forever, but if someone runs at you waving eight inches of razor-sharp steel and screaming bloody murder, you will run away.
    • Bayonet charges are still used by some armies to great effect. It turns out that sending in a horde of mad Scotsmen wielding blades on sticks is still an effective tactic.
  • In nation-states that have heavy gun control, such as the United Kingdom or Japan, criminals will often commit violent acts with whatever else they have available. Knives, stones and bricks, hammers, Molotov Cocktails, bows and crossbows and bare fists will often be used in lieu of firearms. Most firearms available to these criminals are thus likely to be expensive, lacking in stopping power, low capacity, old and poorly maintained due to an inability to get the required parts, and actually getting one generally requires you to associate with shifty, paranoid, dangerous, and quite possibly unstable people who very well may just make you disappear if you give them any reason to believe that you're not who you say you are thanks to the serious consequences that smuggling tends to have in those countries.
    • Crime committed with a gun tends also to attract much more attention, since it is rare, thus making it more probable to be caught. And having a gun allows the police to act more freely with their own - yes, the typical pair of British coppers walking around town are unarmed. But threatening one with a gun is an automatic gaol sentence, and wounding or killing one is liable to get you put away forever. Moreover their police district's Armed Response Team is, you guessed it, like something straight out of America and it's a pretty small country - fleeing a district is virtually impossible with even a basic cordon. In short guns aren't worthless in states that regulate and restrict their use, but the governments of such states do their best to ensure that they're way more trouble than they're worth.
  • Ironically, Miyamoto Musashi—the archetype of many sword users in fiction who often disdain guns—did not hold to this trope. He believed that the gun had no equal on the battlefield. He did believe that it was useless in close quarters and that it was less than the bow when it came to accuracy and rate of fire, but that was because the guns of his time were the earlier models mentioned above. Being that he was a famous Combat Pragmatist, those who have actually studied his writings believe that he would have greatly approved of modern efficient firearms.
    • His specific advice was that a samurai had to master the gun because the weapon had no equal in siege warfare. He believed in matching his weapon to the situation he found himself in.
  • It should also be noted that the noted inaccuracy of a smoothbore musket was more because the musket ball was smaller than the barrel so it could fit in. It was also a sphere, so it would not properly sit on the powder and would bounce down the barrel and would be going in the same relative direction it was as its last bounce. Once the conical bullet was developed with a lead skirt to catch rifling upon expansion in the 19th Century, accuracy from the bullet was less of a problem.
    • On top of this, muskets could be fired with well fitting balls. But when shot in succession under battlefield conditions soot from the black powder would build op in the barrel, preventing new balls from being dropped in the barrel or jamming or even exploding the gun upon it being fired. The generals of the time chose to value the ability to reload over a single accurate shot.


Guest Star Party MemberRole-Playing GameHard-Coded Hostility
Failure HeroThis Index Is UselessHelmets Are Hardly Heroic
Guns AkimboGuns and Gunplay TropesGuns Do Not Work That Way
Explosive DecompressionReality Is UnrealisticHeart in the Wrong Place
Draco in Leather PantsImageSource/Video GamesHealing Spring

alternative title(s): Guns Are Useless
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