Demon vs. rocket launcher. Demon loses.
"It doesn't matter how hard I try, or how much better the work is. It doesn't last the way it does when you do it."
In a Speculative Fiction
setting there are often a lot of people going on about how incredible and powerful the Phlebotinum
is, which is why people who have it are the ones who move the plot rather than all the ordinary Muggles
who need to be rescued.
Except, sometimes, the superhuman devices or abilities in the story aren't really all that earthshaking,
at least not compared to the more mundane methods available. Sure, being able to create fire with your mind
might be neat, but if it's not on a large enough scale, you might be better off with a handheld lighter. And a Trick Arrow
that electrocutes people could be useful, but we do
already have stun guns. And that guy saying he'll Take Over the World
now that he's got skin as strong as steel? Yeah, apparently he's never heard of armor piercing bullets. Of course, if they don't work, there's always the Nuclear Option
Sometimes the usefulness of Muggle
methods will be a big part of the story, like Van Helsing using modern scientific methods against vampires in Dracula (1931)
. Other times supernatural abilities and Muggle abilities will be kept largely separate thanks to the Masquerade
, but when they do intersect the superiority/equality of Muggle methods will be clear. And then there are some stories where it's clear the writers didn't really think about what ordinary people could contribute, or They Just Didn't Care
, but the fans certainly will
There are two ways this trope can go, if it isn't used correctly. In some cases, it applies if and only
if the Muggles are Crazy-Prepared
. A girl who freezes you at will
may be able to kill regular soldiers easily, but if they have insulated suits specifically to fight her, well, then it becomes a teenage girl with a useless power vs. a squad of heavily-armed, trained soldiers
. And one-sided fights aren't very entertaining. Usually
. On the flipside, it can become unsatisfying fast if Fridge Logic
sets in and critically-thinking viewers recognise that the only reason the Muggles win is because the supers are holding Idiot Balls
, suffering from Misapplied Phlebotinum
and using Hollywood Tactics
rather than embracing the true potential available. For example, smart audiences may wonder why supers do not use guns when muggles do. Trying to get this trope to work well may involve a delicate balancing act.
Related to, but distinct from, a Mundane Solution
, which is where the Phlebotinum
is given a specific weakness to some commonplace thing that it didn't necessarily have to have. See also Weaponized Weakness
, when muggle methods are used to exploit
an already dangerous Achilles' Heel
or Weaksauce Weakness
This trope is the main power and indeed the only hope of the Un-Sorcerer
. Also a key characteristic of the Badass Normal
, who utilize such methods in a way to keep up with (and sometimes defeat) the other superpowered beings of the universe. Can also lead to The Magic Versus Technology War
, with the Tech Level
being that of the present day.
Compare with Kinetic Weapons Are Just Better
, which is when mundane weapons work better than fancy shiny phlebotinum-powered weapons, though not necessarily as sometimes the "mundane" weapons are pretty phleotinum-loaded too. Compare Postmodern Magik
, which is when technology and magic intertwine. Also compare to Medieval Stasis
, as this trope assumes the supernatural is locked in such while the muggles continue to advance. Contrast Guns Are Worthless
, where those fancy muggle toys are, well, worthless
in the face of a supernatural threat.
Unrelated to Tropers Do It Without Notability
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Anime and Manga
- The WW2 / Vietnam war-era weapons that have crossed over to the world of Halkeginia in Zero no Tsukaima appear to far out-power all elements of offensive magic except that of the Void. Giant golem? LAWnote beats it. Dragons? WWII era Zero beats them. Giant walking magically impervious armor? Flak cannon shoots straight through itnote .
- The Zero packed twin 20mm cannon plus machine guns. It would be disappointing if the dragons didn't drop over.
- In Mahou Sensei Negima!, while a combination of magic and technology usually works best, it seems that cell phones are almost universally more useful than the Telepathy that mages tend to use, so long as there's reception. In terms of pure offensive firepower, the magic world does not appear to have anything like nukes. In a flashback, Nagi talks about it a little.
- Darker Than Black employs this trope a lot. Despite their (sometimes) awe-inspiring powers, the majority of Contractors are not Immune to Bullets; they are usually no match for a well-trained squad of armed police or soldiers. Contractors are therefore seldom used in open combat, and are employed more like special operatives where they're able to get the jump on people.
- Shinryaku! Ika Musume's titular Musume is quite powerful, and would make for an excellent B-movie monster - until the JDSF arrives on the scene. At the end of the day, squids are squishy, and there's only one of her.
- In, Puella Magi Madoka Magica, all the main characters have very efficient magical weaponry, and yet it's Homura who seems to be the most efficient magical girl out of the group, despite mostly killing witches with stolen military and Yakuza firearms rather than her powers. Though that's because her powers are over time, making using firearm much more cost efficient than a direct magical attacks and ending up driving much of the plot.
- In Hunter ◊ Hunter, the local Functional Magic system, Nen, allows the characters to use the aura every living being has to get Super Senses, Self-Enhancement, perform Ki Attacks, and create unique techniques, rendering normal weapons mostly useless against them. But when they had to face a Big Bad whose Nen greatly surpassed the strongest human characters, they gave normal weapons a shot. They threw a Rose Bomb at him; a Rose Bomb being an illegal weapon of mass destruction deemed too inhuman to be used in war. Thanks to his massive aura, he survived the explosion, but the exposure to the bomb left him poisoned and doomed to die anyway after a few hours.
- Very few of the good guys in Yu-Gi-Oh! had any supernatural abilities. The Pharaoh did, and so did Aki from Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds, and some could see and talk to Duel Spirits, but that was about it. (Kaiba might have had a few remnants of the magical skills that his past self as Priest Seto had, but couldn't use them at will.) Still, they tended to fight and defeat sorcerers, demons, and Eldritch Abominations on a regular basis.
- To drive this point home, one of two people to defeat the Pharaoh in a duel was Yugi himself, in what was likely the greatest duel in the first series. And just a few episodes before that, Yugi had defeated Yami Bakura without the Pharaoh's help.
- The exact premise of manga Gate - Thus the JSDF Fought There. Powerful Empire from a fantasy world sends conquer army through magical gate which leads to current day Japan. Said army is stopped with anti-mob waterguns, and fall back very shortly afterwards. Then Japan's Self-Defence Forces goes through gates, and inhabitants of that world is horrified by what humans can do to them with simple machine guns and mortars. And after that tanks, jets and APC's shows up. Luckily to them, Japan is seeking for a dipomatic solution, rather than simply curbstomping the entire realm.
- In The Three Kings: Hunt the mages after centuries of losing to the wizards have begun mounting an affective resistance by using the Internet
- In The Moment It Began, instead of being defeated by The Power of Love, Lord Voldemort, the most powerful Dark Wizard in the world, is defeated... by Snape's Muggle father Tobias and his trusty handgun.
- This is one of the running themes of Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality, where Harry has learned all about the scientific method and critical thinking before going to Hogwarts.
- The series plays with it a ton. While the magical world rarely if ever applies the scientific method to magic, just like in canon, that's because sometimes science doesn't work on magic. But once in a while characters find out that it does work, which usually leads to an Awesome Moment.
- This is the Anvil in The Return; The Demons and Eldritch Abominations have all these fantastic powers, but Humans have inventiveness and are much better at being bastardsl,and normal military tech more than levels the field.
- Old Soldiers never Die is made of this trope. It's also doubly ironic because Voldemort was defeated almost entirely by a force of 80+ year old squib veterans using technology that at its most modern dates back to World War II.
- Sort-of-done in My Immortal. Instead of telling Ebony to kill Vampire/Harry via magical means, Vloxemort gives her a gun to shoot him. Of course, given Tara Gilesbie hasn't displayed any real understanding of how the actual series works...
- In Harry Potter And The Invincible Technomage, Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four and Tony Stark (Iron Man) discover how Potter Verse magic works, and manage to make it work with their technology rather than against it (and Tony uses the magic as a cheap energy source for his various armours, such as the one he gives to Harry).
- The Book of Dobby, by Doghead Thirteen, focuses on Harry fighting the Death Eaters with World War II era bomber and fighter planes. Of course, he's basically going Magitek, what with the dragon-hide coatings and the de-ruster spells and so forth, but it's the same idea.
- An example appears in Oh God Not Again to explain why Theodore, a Slytherin, is in Muggle Studies. When asked why he was there, Theodore noted that his father learned the hard way that Muggles weren't as harmless as he thought after being shot on a trip to Las Vegas, and wanted his son to learn as much about Muggles as possible.
- Faery Heroes background had Voldermort coming back to life once more and deciding to wage direct war against Muggles. By the time of the story, almost 3/4ths of the magical population of Britain is dead, most of the survivors are in hiding, having been utterly unprepared for the grenades, the bullets, and just the way muggles wage war.
- Subverted by a few Heroic Bystanders who have tried to defend themselves with their guns in both the Ultimate Sleepwalker and Ultimate Spider-Woman series, rather than waiting for the heroes to rescue them. Unfortunately, Failure Is the Only Option for these Muggles.
- Discussed in the Zero no Tsukaima/Prototype crossover Unfamiliar; while magic can do many thing technology can't, it's also inefficient for more mundane things. For example, an earth mage can do the work of ten farming machines; however, it takes years to train a earth mage, whereas you can build farming machines in days.
- Subverted in some Axis Powers Hetalia fics involving human beings trying to take on the Nations themselves. As it turns out, all conventional weapons (whether it's a knife or a .50 caliber rifle) could do is simply stall them long enough for the Muggles to escape with their lives.
- The Conversion Bureau: Not Alone runs on this, as a deconstruction of The Conversion Bureau fanfic genre. Pony tech, unicorn, and alicorn magic are only remotely an even match for humanity's massed artillery, armoured cars, and automatic firearms. Much to the point where the ponies start using them against them with their magic.
- Thinking In Little Green Boxes has the following from the "Punisher's War Journal":
I've finally figured out how to bypass the defenses of Voldemort's hideout. It was actually easier than dealing with the Mob, since Death Eaters aren't quite as good as taking pain as they are dishing it out. They also have absolutely no experience or talent for psychological warfare or interrogation, rather they just choose to cast a few spells and expect things to work. They also don't expect people to be able to dodge. They called me a muggle, whatever that means, I called them target practice.
- In Fallout: Equestria, while magic and magic powered devices are capable of amazing things, guns and explosives tend to be more reliable in combat. Even Alicorns can easily be dispatched by completely normal gunfire without their magic shields (and at several points cannot react to conventional attacks fast enough to get those shields up). Even these shields can be broken by enough force — say, dropping a train car on top of the Alicorn.
- One of Arthur Arcturus' fears in The Audience is that humans will find their way to Equestria, as it his evaluation that Equestria's magic and (at best) napoleonic era battlefield tactics would be no match for even a third-world human army. His suggested solution to the Diarchs is to invent a magical anti-tech field.
- A running theme throughout Knowledge is Power is how wizards underestimate Muggles, culminating in Mrs Granger shooting Mrs Weasley. Which Makes Just as Much Sense in Context.
- Naruto's deal with the clans (and later the Hokage) in The Mouse of Konoha relies heavily on this. While every clan compound and restricted area is almost perfectly defended against shinobi intruders, they tend to have little to no defense against civilians. In exchange for finding the flaws in their security, the various clans teach Naruto different skills.
- An odd sports related version comes up in Harry Potter and the Wand of Uru. When Wood is knocked out of the game with a fractured skull, Hermione steps in as Keeper wearing her field hockey pads (she played goalie). Every non-muggleborn is amazed when she takes a bludger to the arm without injury.
- The Hokage learns a valuable lesson in A Month as Naruto Uzumaki, and it was learned the hard way - only the Super Reflexes he developed in his youth saved him from injury. The lesson? Ninjas are weak to explosives, when those aren't triggered by chakra. He makes very good use of it later.
Films — Animated
- Syndrome's long term goal in The Incredibles is to invoke this trope, to give away his advanced technology that matches (and in many ways, surpasses) the powers of the supers so superheroes aren't special anymore.
- In ParaNorman, the zombies walk into town, only to be more scared of the normal people than the people are of them. They are quickly mobbed and several of them are literally pulled apart. Although, the zombies really don't want to eat anyone, and this trope is very subverted when the witch comes along.
Films — Live-Action
- In the French movie Arthur et la guerre des deux mondes (Arthur and the war of two worlds), the Big Bad entered the human world thinking he would rollover humanity with his army of really stupid mooks... he did rollover the population of a mostly unarmed and peaceful really small town. But when an actual human army show up, they pulverised the Evil Army in seconds. Hell, the tanks were completely overkill. Granted, the Hero does lampshade the fact that the Big Bad had utterly no clue about humans' capabilities, as he come from a millimeters-sized population of fairy-like creatures that lived in the gardens and forests.
- Star Wars
- In Revenge of the Sith, the vast majority of Jedi are gunned down by common soldiers.
- Attack of the Clones has a Jedi leaping up to the platform to challenge Count Dooku... only to be nonchalantly gunned down by Jango Fett. All of the Jedi without Plot Armor are gunned down by droids during the same sequence.
- Ghostbusters: the title characters are Science Heroes who take on ghosts and extraplanar creatures.
- In their first movie, they avert the invasion of the plane-hopping conqueror Gozer the Traveler using Fantastic Science in the form of four unlicensed nuclear accelerators.
- In their second movie, the judicious use of the scientific method and cassette tapes of upbeat rock music turn the Big Bad's slimy energy source against him.
- In the Underworld series, vampires and werewolves have been fighting for centuries with neither side being able to achieve victory. In Underworld Awakening, humans get involved and drive both species to near extinction almost immediately.
- In the Blade series, this is the reason why the vampires keep up the masquerade. Lacking Blade's ability to move around at day and their weakness to other common things, the humans would be a serious problem if they didn't keep their activities limited.
- In The Mist, strange monsters from some other world are brought in after some secret military experiments in a nearby base. At the end, it is revealed that the military actually has the situation under control, leading dozens of survivors to safety and almost casually burning down the nightmarish nests with flame throwers.
- Most of the eponymous Army of Darkness was destroyed with common explosives attached to arrows, a guy with a chainsaw and a shotgun, and a heavily modified car.
- The Fair Folk are ethereal folk capable of enchanting humans and messing with their minds. Yet somehow they always seem to hide from humans. Why? Well, humans have lots and lots of iron.
Live Action TV
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer periodically showed that even the most Badass of supernatural beasties could be taken down with real world firepower. While it's shown that guns can't kill vampires, they do "hurt like hell," and most other monsters have no such immunity, and even Buffy was once almost killed by an ordinary guy with a handgun. Since the self-imposed Masquerade kept the police or military from getting involved in the plot much, and the Main Characters could only occasionally get their hands on post-medieval weaponry, this didn't stop most fights from being superpowered slug fests. This got a little wonky in Season 4 and beyond, though, when the government did get involved, equipping a lot of Muggle soldiers with hi-tech weapons and sending them off to fight demons, but how successful this actually was tended to vary by episode. One of Joss Whedon's ideas for the season was "magic vs. science, magic kicks ass", which was proved by the Curb-Stomp Battle in the penultimate episode, but up until the Big Bad made his move, it was largely back and forth.
- In "Homecoming," when various people, vampires, and demons compete to see who can kill Buffy and Faith, it's the two humans with machine guns and grenade launchers who prove the most effective and deadly (that's not to say they won, but they lasted the longest at least). To be fair, she had to trick them into shooting each other, she couldn't take them out directly.
- In "Innocence," the Judge is poised to destroy the world. The Judge is an ancient demon that it had previously taken an entire army to defeat because "no weapon forged can kill him". Buffy shoots him with a rocket launcher. No more Judge. (He didn't even know what the weapon was. His minions, however, certainly did, and ran the other way - fast.)
- Mayor Wilkins, the Big Bad of Season 3, spent a hundred years making deals with demons in order to become the gigantic snake demon Olvikan and take over the town of Sunnydale, and possibly the world after that. Once he finally becomes a demon, he finds his vampire army being defeated by a bunch of Ordinary High School Students armed with arrows, stakes, and a couple flamethrowers, and he himself is taken down by some strategically placed dynamite.
- The setting is full of monsters and vampires that were previously defeated or placed in their can by ordinary non-magical humans with medieval or older technology and numbers on their side.
- In one season 1 episode, Darla found herself facing a pissed off Angel and a crossbow-wielding Buffy, and quickly neutralized Angel and nearly killed Buffy by whipping out two SIG-Sauer P226s and shooting Angel first. The only reason our protagonist survived was that Angel managed to overcome the pain from getting shot twice (as a vampire, he wouldn't die from being shot, but it really hurt) and staked Darla.
- Stargate SG-1 makes great use of this trope (as, to a lesser extent, do its spin-offs). The Goa'uld have starships, plasma cannons, and teleporters. The heroes have... normal, modern-day U.S. Air Force issue weapons. But the entire Goa'uld society essentially runs on Cool, but Inefficient — their high-tech staff weapons are scary and flashy, but inaccurate and have a slow fire rate; their Space Fighters are impressive, but a surface-to-air missile will bring them down as surely as a plasma blast would. This is often lampshaded in the show. In one episode O'Neill points out explicitly that Earth's comparatively low-tech weapons can be superior to the Goa'ulds' Applied Phlebotinum because the Goa'uld are obsessed with intimidating and impressing their enemies, while primitive Earth weapons are designed merely to kill. As the show goes on Earth gradually gets more and more Applied Phlebotinum of its own, but even then the protagonists remain armed with old-fashioned Tau'ri guns.
- Teen Wolf has werewolf hunters, who can be extremely effective and deadly in their usage of modern weapons and technology. Stiles himself has even proven this from time to time, like when he pelted Peter Hale with concentrated acid. The fact that werewolves seemingly have a psychological block against using modern weapons themselves is never scrutinized too closely. Although Scott averts it somewhat when he uses some of the Argent's flash-bang arrowheads to blind Deucalion in the season three finale).
- The Outer Limits episode Rule Of Law has a scene where the judge protagonist, armed with a handgun, confronts a lynch mob armed with laser guns. The crooks mock his inferior weapon, but are defeated with ease, owing largely to the judge's superior marksmanship and training.
- In the Doctor Who (Seventh Doctor) episode "Battlefield" retired Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart kills the Destroyer Of Worlds by simply walking up and shooting it in the chest with silver bullets.
- Ultraviolet works on this, because modern technology means the "Code 5"'s - vampires - have to take a lot more care these days. The hunters are armed with the likes of gas grenades loaded with the active anti-vampire ingredient of garlic, and guns with video cameras (which, like mirrors, vampires don't appear in) and carbon rounds (like tiny, very fast stakes).
- Lost In Oz uses this as Caleb holds the Wicked Witch at gunpoint. While she claims it can't kill her, it apparently can, as a new host for the Witch's soul is chosen soon after.
- In the Sherlock episode "The Sign of the Three", John and his fiancee Mary are trying to decide on table settings for their wedding reception while Sherlock sits in on the conversation. The former two leave the room for a few moments and return to discover that Sherlock has folded all of the cloth napkins into various origami figures. He at first attempts to explain how he did it with some mathematical Technobabble before admitting that he learned it on YouTube.
- A frequent observation about the game system in Rifts, where advanced technological weapons can seem to have a huge advantage over magic and psionics in terms of rate of fire, range and number of shots. However, clever Game Masters might note that certain things, like the e-clips used to power most energy weapons, cannot always be easily recharged in the Schizo Tech environment of Rifts Earth, where many locations are very primitive and do not even have electricity! Likewise, getting repairs done on your Powered Armor might not be possible in the middle of the wilderness.
- In the world of Warhammer 40,000, almost every army relies on technology so advanced it might as well be magic, or actual magic. The Imperial Guard, on the other hand, somehow (barely) hold back an implacable hive mind, undead killing machines, barbarous green savages, and magic-using traitors with just laser guns, tanks, and artillery. And infantry. Lots and lots of infantry.
- Da Orks, strangely, are both Muggles Do It Better AND Wizards Do It Better. Despite using bullets, guns, tanks, and giant battle axes as their primary weapons - barely more advanced than what we have now - they can still kill just as good as any other race, and it is agreed that if the Orks were ever united, they would be able to walk over the rest of the galaxy. However, their technology runs on their collective psychic powers MAKING it work by thinking it will.
- In Changeling: The Lost, part of the angst for the Wizened is that, yes, they have magic and it does spiffy things; the problem is that it's just not sustainable.
- Most Old World of Darkness supernatural characters have this problem, given that magic and mad science suffers from No Ontological Inertia, while human technology does not. The Masquerade and the equivalent dictates are in place partially because the supernaturals learned this.
- Is Mage: The Ascension, this problem was deliberately caused and created by the Technocracy.
- Werewolf: The Apocalypse points out this trope in Hammer and Klaive, the splatbook detailing fetishes (magic items). Fetishes used by the more rural tribes tend to be flashy, ostentatious and straight-forward. The urban tribes, on the other hand, tend to go "Okay, we can find a wooden stick, inscribe it with a few glyphs and anoint it with sacred oils, bargain with a spirit of lightning and thus get something to point at people to kill them — or we could go to the local gunshop to get the same thing for a couple bucks." As a result, the more modern werewolves engage in lateral thinking and use fetishes for purposes that can't be achieved technologically.
- In the Gehenna scenarios that involve the Masquerade being blown wide open, it's not uncommon for single squads of human soldiers armed with automatic weapons to take out thousands-year-old elder vampires whose cultural stagnation has kept them from adapting to the times. To wit; they're not so stupid or Luddite that they don't know what a gun is, it's just that guns didn't exist in a time when they were still young and didn't spend as much time as possible ignoring the world, so they have no idea how to practically handle such a threat in person. Escalation happens when the smarter vampires start taking action; for example, a Ventrue using Dominate to force the launch of nuclear missiles.
- Genius The Transgression, the New World of Darkness fan-game, subverts this trope. Sure the Inspired can make changes last forever (it's very hard though) and they've built some of the oldest still functioning machines in the world and anything muggle technology can do a Wonder can do better. Despite all this as a rule of thumb: as soon as mundane science reaches the point where it can do something only Wonders could do before, the Inspired start using the mundane solution (e. g. switching from a network of Apokalypsi-based 'communication nodes' to... just connecting to the Internet). Sure, the effects aren't as flashy, but mundane science doesn't fall apart or go berserk when not "fed" enough Mania, it can be maintained by regular people without causing Glamour Failure, it can be mass produced easily. In short, Geniuses do it better, Muggles do it reliably.
- In Exalted's Autochthonia, this was made a basic point in the laws of physics of the world by Autochthon, its creator. While the Alchemical Exalted wield far more personal power than any muggle as the warrior champions of their people, Alchemicals lack Favored Abilities, which means muggles can become better at things much faster than them, and they are divinely forbidden from ever achieving a place in the gubernatorial hierarchy - not to mention only mortals can be blessed with the knowledge of how to make other Alchemicals by their patron god. This stands in stark contrast to most of the rest of the Exalted, which have an underlying theme of being better than puny little humans in every way and designed to be rulers and lords.
- Though, Exalted lacks a clear division between magic and non-magic, anyway; unenlightened mortals are just so weak that they have no control over their Essence. On the other other hand, the Solar Exalted, among the most powerful of Exalts, explicitly have powers that resemble the 'mortal' way of doing things (shooting arrows that hit you anywhere in the world and leaping over mountains instead of teleporting or firing blasts of fire), and are designed to win out against more obviously magical effects.
- The Dungeons & Dragons adventure "The City Beyond the Gate" by Robert M. Schroeck, in Dragon Magazine #100, where a PC party goes through a dimensional gate to modern day London, England. It's specifically stated that if the PC's decide to fight it out with the British police and/or military that they'll be slaughtered, either immediately or after their magic runs out.
- Zig-Zagged in the d20 Modern Urban Arcana setting. Obscuring mist? We have smoke grenades. Water breathing? We have scuba gear. Fireballs? Rocket launchers deal more damage. But at the same time, some magical effects are impossible to replicate with current mundane tech (Electro Magnetic Pulse spell, spell that turns the traffic in your favor...).
- One Call of Cthulhu adventure involved a villainous plot to psychically link a dreaming Eldritch Abomination to the collective unconscious of humanity, thus driving the world's entire population insane in its sleep. As a campaign-preserving failsafe, one of the proposed alternate endings was that, if the player characters couldn't stop the plot, it would indeed establish such a connection ... only to have the abomination itself go insane because, while its own otherworldly mind was powerful, the minds of humans were equally-strange to it, and there are just so darned many humans on Earth that its psyche would be overwhelmed by sheer numbers. Humanity on the other hand, just has nightmares.
- Sluggy Freelance parodies how Harry Potter uses this trope, by having Torg take on a Voldemort Expy and his gaggle of Death Eaters with a shotgun.
- He also realizes that all the safeguards on the Goblet of Flameyness don't stop them from tampering "Muggle Style."
- In another storyline Sam, a human who recently became a vampire and turned to killing other vampires, demonstrated that although vampires cannot enter houses uninvited, getting the invitation with a gun works too. The funny part? He's the dumbest recurring character, yet no other vampire had ever thought of that.
- Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal shows what to do with those pesky magic circles.
- Endstone did more or less the same thing as the above example
- Harry Potter Comics enjoys pitting magic vs. technology. Neither side wins regularly. It also features several villains (and later heroes) who have enhanced Muggle equipment with magical enchantments.
- Inverted in an earlier 8-Bit Theater strip where a demon is destroying a town right off panel;
Random Citizen #1: Look out, he's using laser eye-beams!
Random Citizen #2: But we haven't invented lasers yet!
Demon: WE HAVE.
- Johnny Saturn has this as a theme before the plot moves along to him getting cool gear.
"Unorthodox small puncture weapon. Treat as knife fighter."
- The Salvation War: This is pretty much the entire theme of the work. Humans have modern day technology. Demons have superpowers like superhuman strength, huge size in some cases, and limited mind control, but they have Bronze Age technology. Humans are pretty quick to figure out how to counter the superpowers. It goes very badly for the demons. Angels have better superpowers than demons, so they pose more of a threat to human armies, but they still lose.
- Just to give you an idea how much better the human weapons are than the demonic armies in the first battle 440,000 demons marched against a prepared group of a few (unnumbered) thousands of humans. 600 human lives were lost. Only 300 demons survived.
- The commander of the demonic invasion force performs a Heel-Face Turn after a group of men in plain suits show him a little video titled The Manhattan Project.
- He began to change sides when humans showed mercy and didn't eradicate him and his family, something neither he nor his overlords who sent them all to die in disgrace expected. He'd heard humans speaking of some weapon they were afraid of themselves, but it was the video that explained what they were afraid of and why, and showed him that the humans could have slaughtered his forces at will and had just been playing with him.
- Justified in the fight against the Slaughterhouse Nine in Worm. Their ringleader, Jack Slash, has a secondary thinker power designed to interact with other people's powers, telling him what they're doing and when. When he's fighting capes, he personally cannot lose. Until an unpowered police officer with a containment foam gun enters the fray and blindsides him.
- The 'Dragon Slayers', the bogeyman of the mutant world in the Whateley Universe, turns out to be a team of seven highly-trained U.S. Marines with complicated tactics but standard weaponry.
- And in one Team Tactics training sim during winter term, Team Kimba (with uber-mage Fey, Flying Brick Lancer, and Person of Mass Destruction Tennyo) gets slaughtered by conventional forces who use sniper rifles, regular soldiers with machine guns, and some surface-to-air missiles for Tennyo.
- In the Potter Puppet Pals, they resort to killing Voldemort by using machine guns.
- Voldemort also apparently kills them all with a pipe bomb.
- The Cracked video Why The Harry Potter Universe Is Secretly Terrifying discuses, among other Fridge Logic aspects of the books, why it was stupid not to inform the muggle governments about the danger Voldemort posed to the world.
Because you fight fire with fire. Wizards are supernatural. What help is a Muggle going to be? Swaim:
Thereís a bunch of us and we have helicarriers and assault rifles. We killed Hitler, Hussein, and Houdini
. You think we canít nuke Volter-man
into next week? Willers:
He has limitless
dark power. Swaim:
That he has to aim through a wand. We can shoot people with a thousand rockets from space! ...With iPhones.
- In How Harry Potter Should Have Ended, Snape kills Voldemort with a gun. Then, after his utterly muggle-like victory, he uses a magical time-turner to go back to when Voldemort was a young orphan named Tom Riddle being introduced to the existence of magic by Dumbledore, so that he can kill him way back then and none of the deaths will ever have happened in the first place.
- This Harry Potter fanart.
- Linkara frequently criticizes this trope with bad Batman stories, because the cases where it appears allow this trope by depicting characters WITH powers as outright incompetent to make Batman look better. His also invokes this with his Top 15 Things That Are Wrong with Identity Crisis video, where in the fight with Deathstroke, he notes that he's standing still for most of it while taking on the whole Justice League. In his words: "This is the part where you take yourself out of the story and realize that a sniper rifle would more effective than flashy superpowers, and in story about superheroes, we really shouldn't be thinking that."
- Done quite a bit in Gargoyles. Humans have always been a risk to the gargoyles because of how vulnerable they are to being smashed during the day when they're stone. In the first episode, after being awakened from their thousand year sleep, the Manhattan clan faced off and and lost against a group of well-armed human mercenaries. A human holding Hudson at gun point notes that he doesn't know what Hudson is, but he isn't bullet proof, which Hudson agrees with.
- In a later episode taking place on the island containing the offspring of the Greek Gods note that the invisibility shield won't hide them from humans much longer because of the advancement of human technology.
- Another episode, taking place on the island Avalon, a wizard who now had an extreme amount of magical power and the power to travel through time, the first thing he warned his younger self was that taking over the world would not be easy because human technology of the late 20th Century rivals the most powerful magic (the wizard in the question is from the Middle ages). In fact, the reason he wants to make Avalon his launching point is that it cannot be reached by non-magical means.
- Curses are shown to be written with nigh-impossible "escape" conditions, even with magic; ("They shall sleep till the castle rises above the clouds" and "They shall be stone till the sky burns"). Turns out technology (and loads of cash) can do many things that were thought impossible to the curse writers. (Move the castle on top of a skyscraper and set the sky on fire by dispersing flammable gas).
- In The Legend of Korra, Amon explicitly says that modern technology now allows any non-bender to go toe-to-toe with a bender, thanks to the spiffy taser gloves his men have invented. In practice, though, a bender still has the advantage at range (they haven't moved up to guns).
- Subverted due to most electricity in the city being produced by fire benders working in electrical plants.
- Another example is how the Bender police, Metal benders trained as elite cops, were wiped out in a Curb-Stomp Battle by non-benders piloting Giant Mechs.
- However, the non-benders have been able to win most of their battles against the benders by either closing the gap or exploiting the weaknesses of elements.
- Subverted hard when Vaatu shows up and fuses with Unalaq to become the Dark Avatar. An entire army throwing bending and weapons at him does nothing.
- The Real Ghostbusters continues the general theme of the movie, the heroes constantly using technology to fight supernatural threats - successfully - time and again.
- This is played with in the episode "The Collect Call of Cathulhu" (Yes, the name is misspelled, something that the DVD collection even commented on.) Normally, muggles cannot face Cthulhu itself without being driven insane. However, the Ghostbusters were somehow able to do so. Word of God suggested that this was because they faced horrifying monsters on a regular basis, and the beast really wasn't that much worse by comparison.
- In a Robot Chicken sketch, the Planeteers become Well Intentioned Extremists, and decide that since the US government is the world's second biggest polluter, they'll perform a coup, take over, and use the might of the US military to force the world into being more environmentally friendly. When Captain Planet refuses to go along with this, they use their powers to brutally murder him. We then cut to a news report about the Planeteers ruthlessly storming the US Capitol building... until all of them were shot in the back by a single overweight security guard.
- In South Park's "Woodland Critter Christmas" special, the Woodland Critters have the powers of Hell at their hands, ready to bring back the Anti-Christ. How does Santa beat them? With a 12-gauge shotgun.
- Here's a case of Nice Job Breaking It, Hero that almost got the heroes killed. In one episde of Aladdin: The Series, Aladdin and Jasmine went on a secret covert mission to infiltrate Mozenrath's castle, but did not ask for Genie's help, or even tell him about it. Genie found out what they were doing, and wondered why they would do something so dangerous on their own. (Mozenrath is definitely not someone you mess with without some serious backup.) So he followed them anyway, and as it turned out, Aladdin and Jasmine had the right idea. The dark wizard had upgraded his security with Genie in mind, with an anti-magic focus, so the two realized that their best chance of success would be to not use magic - or magical beings - at all. Genie's presence quickly gave them away, and they barely escaped. The one good thing to come out it was, he learned he had to start trusting them more.
- Zigzagged in Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Individual Jedi are presented being more of a threat than a group of battle droids or clone troopers, but the whole problem of having so few Jedi, as shown in the prequel films, does mean that the clone troopers have enough of an advantage to win a full-scale war. However, even if a character is a Badass Normal, fighting a Jedi nearly always ends in them losing.