Poor, Predictable Rock

http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/blaine_pokemon-silver_3013_9459.png

Lisa's Brain: Poor predictable Bart; always takes Rock.
Bart's Brain: Good ol' Rock, nothing beats that!

Curious tendency observed in Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors universes, where one element will beat another. (Water beats Fire, Fire beats Ice, etc.) These universes often have someone who will completely devote themselves to a particular element. Sometimes they will have entire cultures with that devotion.

...what that means is that they have some very obvious weaknesses. Curiously, usually only the heroes get the idea of diversifying their elements. Either that, or the one-element specialists are fully aware of their situation and develop various tricks and techniques that allow them to defend, to varying degrees, against those elements which counter theirs - so that Scissors Cuts Rock. In some settings, this could even be seen as a kind of Min-Maxing - specializing in one element to the point where you can just brute-force your way past a more generalist opponent, at the potential cost of losing hard to other specialists who counter your element.

Interestingly in actual rock-scissors-paper, throwing the same hand every time is a valid tactic against an inexpert opponent. Basically nobody expects a player to play the same hand twice or more. There are even names for the tactic, among those who care about such things. Also, rock is statistically the most used play, particularly among male beginners.

Compare Crippling Overspecialization and When All You Have Is a Hammer. This trope has nothing to do with mediocre lifeless chart-orientated AOR music.


Examples:

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     Anime and Manga 
  • With a very few exceptions (the most important characters), everyone in Yu-Gi-Oh! uses a themed deck: fairy tale monsters, insects, robots, penguins, fairies, cartoons, in spite of the fact that these themed decks always prove useless against a deck with the appropriately dominating theme, and many of these themes are pretty much worthless. To be fair, the game itself is designed such that it's difficult for an unthemed deck to provide a full hand of usable cards at any given time.
    • Played VERY straight in the battle between Pegasus and Kaiba in Duelist Kingdom. Pegasus took advantage of the fact that Kaiba was famous for his Blue-Eyes by using Dragon Capture Jar and Dragon Piper. The second is that he also knew that Kaiba's entire deck is built with overly powerful monsters so his reversal of the Crush card virus essentially blasted Kaiba's entire strategy to pieces.
    • Happens again in Yu-Gi-Oh! The Movie: Pyramid of Light, but this time it's Kaiba who beats Pegasus with this trope in mind. Having learned Pegasus still relies heavily on his toons, he also took advantage of how Toon Monsters require Toon World to be active on the field. In quickly aiming to destroy Toon World, he tore apart Pegasus's strategy in a matter of turns.
    • Also, unlike Pokémon, there are no built-in weaknesses to certain types. A card with a FIRE Attribute isn't automatically weak to one with a WATER Attribute, for example.
      • The anime and manga are spectacularly inconsistent about this. The Duel Kingdom arc in particular runs on the Rule of Cool and Rule of Drama: theme decks are often bizarrely overpowered and elemental weaknesses and consistencies pop up and disappear from moment to moment. This is because the manga was produced before Defictionalisation turned Duel Monsters into an actual card game that required actual rules, and the anime was based on the manga. By the time the Battle City arc was published, the game had become widespread and "expert rules" (a halfway compromise between the actual game rules and the Rule of Cool loose interpretation used before) were introduced to the story. The video games, however, take monster Attributes and make them into a several-network game of Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors.
    • Yu-Gi-Oh! GX: Misawa tries to shut-down Judai's Fusion strategy by prohibiting him from playing Polymerization, even though Judai has other cards to perform Fusion Summons. It's not enough, thanks to Judai's plot device cards, he wins without Fusions.
    • Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's: Team New World uses Meklords, an archetype that absorb Synchro Monsters, a type of monsters that almost everyone in 5D's uses, and the Meklords are hard to counter.
    • Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL: Kaito being a Number Hunter, his Galaxy-Eyes monsters are designed to counter Xyz Monster, a type of monster that literally everyone (barring one old retro man) has in their Extra Decks, even robots do.
    • Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V: Some characters use decks to counter specific Special Summoning methods or to counter against Special Summon decks in general.
      • Yuya in particularly has monsters that work well against high-Level monsters, something that most duelist have in their decks. But what if they don't have them on the field? He just increases their Levels or give them Levels in the first place (Xyz Monsters do not have Levels).
  • Subverted in Bastard where a fire djinn laughs that Dark Schneider, a Fire Wizard, can't beat him since he only has fire spells. Dark Schneider uses a spell hotter than the sun to extinguish him.
  • One of Rurouni Kenshin's Big Bads uses this to his advantage. Once Shishio is hit with an attack, he knows how to perfectly counter it. While Kenshin has a variety of different sword techniques to compensate for this, it sucks for Saito Hajime since all of his special moves are variants of the same basic attack. And when he attacked Shishio with it, he hit the only armored part, negating the attack.
  • Played for drama to hell and back (and back to Hell again) in Kaiji, where the first arc revolves around the titular character's ability to manipulate a high-stakes game of rock-paper-scissors (a variant that uses one-use playing cards to represent each hand sign). He ends up buying 30 rock cards in order to beat other players who have scissors. Then, another player named Kitami buys dozens of paper cards in response. After a fierce battle, Kaiji takes Kitami's cards and totals about 30 rocks and 30 papers. Later still, he is forced to re-shuffle his entire deck with the rest of the players... and in the end, his cards end up not being relevant to his final strategy.
  • In the billiards (you know, pool) manga Breakshot, practically every opposing player has one major strength and sticks to it 90% of the time. Jimmy and Oki's masse shots, Aono's center shots, Ryoji's shotgun shot (which, as it happens, is actually prety unpredictable in its effect, but he's still guaranteed to use it), Jeffrey's miracle shot, and main character Chinmi himself is inordinately fond of jump shots.
    • Hell, eventually, Chinmi is goaded into relying much much more on jump shots by his mentor to increase his level of skill by mastering the secret jump technique perfected by Douglas Mood, who won 60 straight games using only jump shots.
  • Eyeshield 21 plays this straight most of the time; most opposing teams have one or two defining strengths and rely almost entirely on them. The Sphinx' Pyramid Line, the Poseidons' height advantage, the Aliens' Shuttle Pass, etc. In many cases, however, these strengths are so formidable that they can usually win anyway.
    • Its also not played as straight as it could be, as though most teams had their aces into a specialization, they generally had a pretty effective general team to back it up (Hakkashuko, Shinryujii, Amino, Aliens) or had their specialization be so broad it didn't much matter they were specialized (White knights focusing on defence, 1/2 the game or Sebiuu/Daimon's focus on Offence, the other half). Only the Bando Spiders really played it straight, and even then they had more than just their kicks, and the reason for being so specialized was highly justified.
  • Hiromu Nishiki in the soccer manga Meister. On a team notorious for players with one spectacular talent and not much else, from Ryuho's expert dribbling to Koori's defensive power, Nishiki stands out. Once a rising star in the youth soccer world, he fell into obscurity after he adamantly refused to play defense in any way shape or form; the way he sees it, he's a natural born striker, and strikers just don't defend. Ever.
  • In Love Hina, Naru always picks scissors in games of Rock-Paper-Scissors.
  • In Hunter × Hunter, Gon's special attack is explicitly based on Rock-Paper-Scissors, with his "Rock" attack being by far his strongest, and the only one capable of ending fights against stronger enemies. And stronger enemies will catch on to that pretty fast. Winning when your opponent knows you have to throw Rock to win? That takes talent.
  • In Naruto, Deidara's sole means of attack are Earth element clay birds. He picks a fight with Sasuke, whose primary attack this point is the Lightning element Chidori and variants thereof. As Deidara loses in Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors, this ends badly for him. He still manages to be one hell of a Wake Up Call boss for Sasuke though.
  • In Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water, one of the characters always picks scissors as well. He learns to use rock and paper as well after throwing a literal giant rock at the scissor of a Giant Enemy Crab.
  • In Beelzebub the group on main characters decide to choose their leader through RPS. The eponymous Beelzebub instantly wins with paper since everybody else used rock.

    Card Games 
  • In Magic: The Gathering, this is built right into the game's mechanics. Each of the five colors lends itself to two or three basic strategies and weaknesses, but adding more colors to cover for each other makes it difficult to play spells reliably. On the other hand, Magic (and Yu-Gi-Oh!) allow the use of fifteen-card side decks in three-round matches, so between games you can swap out cards to counter your opponent's strategies or cover for particular vulnerabilities your opponent is hitting. Of course, nobody in the anime or manga plays three-round matches, making their extreme-theming all the sillier.
    • Well, Magic: The Gathering has these three cards, but they are a very uncommon example from a joke edition.
    • Tournament Magic is heavily based on rock-paper-scissors. Decks frequently fall into one of three categories: aggressive, combination, or control (aggro, combo, and control). Sometimes decks can play as either of two roles, but not as well as a deck truly dedicated to that role. The three roles fall into a rock-paper-scissors scenario: Aggro decks play multiple redundant threats to keep the pressure on and overwhelm Control decks. Combo decks use cards that are individually relatively weak but synergize to create powerful effects that can overcome even the strong threats from an Aggro deck. Control decks focus on defense foremost and use card-removal effects to dismantle combos — if a Control deck removes one part of a three-card combo, it cripples the whole combo, while removing one of three Aggro deck cards will leave the other two to continue attacking.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! also has something like that, with Meta, Anti-Meta, and other. Meta is the best deck at the moment. it can beat any other deck except for Anti-Meta, which is designed to counter it... which because it relies on you opponents to use a certain strategy, a deck not using that strategy can beat them.
  • A Cyclic Trope for the Pokémon Trading Card Game. Just like with Magic, having a deck be one or two Energy types (the equivalent of colors) makes a deck easy to use. However, how easy it is to use a deck with three or more Energy types varies over time, depending on whether or not there are recently-released cards designed to facilitate this, such as Energy Search or Rainbow Energy. (The card game's tournament rotation allows only the past several sets to be used in tournaments, banning all cards released before a certain date.)

    Literature 
  • The magic users of Eric Nylund's A Pawn's Dream all specialize in an elemental pair (the main character is a Life/Death magician, for example). They can use other elements, but they're not as proficient. (However while all specialise, there is no Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors in play, so this is not in fact a significant weakness.)
  • In Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy, one of the villain's Mooks has made himself magically immune to fire. The result is that he's very vulnerable to water, with Squick-y results.
  • In Gone, Sam does paper and loses, so he has to be the first to go into the nuclear plant.
    Quinn: Dude. Paper? Come on. Everyone knows you go with scissors on the first round.
  • In The Dresden Files, a common weakness of more ancient beings is that while they're vastly more powerful than Harry, they're also very set in their ways and inflexible when it comes to combat strategy. When Harry duels Arianna Ortega in Changes, after successfully fending off her first attack he's surprised when she does the same exact thing again. He figures this is because Arianna is only used to fighting in brawls where she can go all out with her vampiric strength rather than having to rely purely on magic. As a wizard Harry is used to having to use his magic flexibly to counter all kinds of situations and can take advantage of her weakness.

     Live Action Television 
  • In an episode of That '70s Show, Hyde and Fez settle something with best-two-out-of-three rock-paper-scissors, but since Fez has never played before, much of the humor is derived from Fez not understanding the whole point of the game (that each option can be beaten by another option) and announcing what he will play each time. First he plays rock, because "nothing beats rock", and then, when beaten with paper, plays paper, because "nothing beats paper".
  • Lampshaded & Justified with Little Pete's enemy Paper Cut, who, as one might guess, always throws paper...and attacks anyone who throws scissors with deadly homemade origami.
  • Taken to new heights in The Big Bang Theory with Rock Paper Scissors Lizard Spock; being the nerds they are, they always pick Spock. At one point Raj even points out "One of us needs to stop picking Spock." How do they decide? Rock Paper Scissors Lizard Spock! Guess where that goes...
    • Worth noting is that the entire reason Rock Paper Scissors Lizard Spock exists is because of this trope; Sheldon pulled out a statistic about how players familiar with each other will keep choosing the same options, either tying or disrupting the game and that the much more complicated RPSLS will fix the problem by allowing more options.note  As you can see above, it doesn't quite work out that way.
  • Arrested Development had an episode with a Running Gag about Michael and Gob playing rock-paper-scissors. Michael always picks rock.
  • Apparently, Dean from Supernatural always chooses "scissors".
  • Leverage: Hardison has a tell.
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000: During one host segment from The Beatniks, Joel takes advantage of the fact that both Crow and Servo have inanimate arms and hands to constantly defeat them at Rock Paper Scissors. Joel then learns the hard way that "Gypsy crushes Joel."
  • Reba sees Van constantly pick Rock.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Most psionic attacks used by Psychic Warriors in Dungeons & Dragons do acid damage. Then the subversion kicks in when you realize very few enemies are acid resistant.
    • Some canny DMs, to avert this trope, will feed the player characters misinformation about dragons they'll be facing by abusing subversions of Color-Coded for Your Convenience. Some versions:
      • Player characters learn of a red dragon, stock up on anti-red-dragon equipment and raid the lair... only to learn that the townspeople are all red-green color blind (green dragons have an entirely different set of weaknesses and strengths, and spit acid rather than fire).
      • Player characters learn of a white dragon, stock up on anti-white-dragon supplies and raid the lair... only to learn that the dragon is actually an albino specimen of another colored dragon. Or they hear that the dragon is black (acid) and it turns out to be melanistic.
      • Player characters learn of a white dragon, stock up and raid the lair... and it turns out to be a wight dragon of another color.
      • And even discounting the DM relying on incredibly aweful puns or co-incidences, every Dungeons & Dragons true dragon from 3.0 (possibly earlier) onwards has had some limited form of Voluntary Shapeshifting, and thus could disguise themselves as another type of dragon.
      • Also, the Draconomicon includes dragon feats that let them swap the type of their breath weapon.
  • In the fangame Pokemon Tabletop Adventures, the Advanced Class Elemental Expert embodies this trope of specialization like the gym leaders from the games, but there is a payoff. First the Pokemon of that type that they own gain an experience bonus (which stacks with the experience bonus from their base class), meaning that their mon level at a very fast pace. They also gain bonuses to finding and catching that type of mon, so they can more easily gain the benefits of this class. Finally, attacks of that type deal bonus damage even if their mon isn't that type.
    • More experienced players will augment their team with a counter to their main types counter. For example a Steel Expert would pack a water type to counter fire, and a Bronzong with psychic moves to counter fighting types. Dark Experts will have a psychic to counter fighting, and a fire to counter steel and bug.

     Video Games 
  • Each of the main Pokémon games play with this trope in various ways:
    • Generation III introduced the Wonder Guard ability, which takes this trope to its logical extreme by making the Pokémon that has it completely immune to any attack that does not do super-effective damage.
    • Generation IV subverts this trope with the introduction of the Solid Rock and Filter abilities, which reduce the power of super-effective attacks by 25%. The Solid Rock ability, however, plays with this trope even further and double-subverts it as the only Pokémon that can naturally have this ability are dual-type Pokémon with a 4x weakness to another type; reducing a 4x weakness to a 3x weakness is unlikely to stop the Fire/Ground-type Camerupt or Rock/Ground-type Rhyperior from fainting when they are hit by a strong Water-type attack, such as the ubiquitous Surf, used by a Pokémon of comparable level.
    • While it is entirely logical to attack the Water-type Goldeen or Seaking with an Electric-type move, the attacker might get a nasty surprise from Generation V onwards if said Goldeen/Seaking has the Lightning Rod ability, which averts this trope by not only making the Goldeen/Seaking immune to Electric-type attacks but also drawing all Electric-type moves to it and increasing its Special Attack by 1 stage each time it is hit by an Electric-type move.
    • From Generation V onwards, Marill and Azumarill, both with the Water-type as their primary type, may avert this trope by having the Sap Sipper ability. Grass-type moves will increase their Attack stat instead of doing super-effective damage.
    • The Ice-type move Freeze-Dry, introduced in Generation VI, inverts this trope. Every other Ice-type attack does half damage against Water-type Pokémon; Freeze-Dry is super-effective against Water-types instead.
    • The signature abilities of Primal Groudon and Mega Rayquaza in Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire avert this trope in two different ways. Primal Groudon's ability, Desolate Land, completely shuts down all Water-type attacks, which would otherwise have 4x effectiveness against it and be a highly obvious choice of attack if the ability was not in effect. Mega Rayquaza's ability, Delta Stream, negates the effectiveness of moves that do super-effective damage to Flying-type Pokémon, causing them to do normal damage instead.
    • Gym leaders from the earlier generations provide better examples of this trope being played straight. In particular, all the gym leaders in Generation I (like Blaine and his Fire-type Pokémon, pictured above) play this trope straight by focusing almost exclusively on one type; the strategy to beating them is simply to raise Pokémon that can learn moves capable of hitting theirs for super-effective damage (such as Water-type attacks against Blaine's Pokémon). Sabrina then subverts this trope, however, since Bug-type moves are pathetic in Generation I.
    • The Elite Four in all generations, as well as the gym leaders in later generations, play with this trope to the point of confusion. Some examples:
      • Lorelei from Generation I subverts this trope, as she runs a predominantly Ice-type team, except for her Slowbro, which is a dual Water/Psychic-type Pokémon, so an attempt to sweep her with a Fighting-type Pokémon might actually end quite badly.
      • Agatha from Generation I averts this trope with her Golbat, which is the only Poison-type Pokémon on her team that is also a Flying-type. Good luck trying to knock it out with Earthquake or Dig...
    • Whitney is the Wake-Up Call Boss in Generation II for only one reason: her Miltank. It's a Normal-type Pokémon, so it may initially look like Fighting-type bait. However, this trope gets subverted since the only Fighting-type Pokémon available at the point when the player has to defeat her is a Machop that is obtained from an in-game trade, and even with said Machop, Miltank's impressive Speed and bulk, coupled with its Stomp and Milk Drink moves, means that it can easily hold out against the Machop if the player is unlucky enough or unpreparednote .
    • Jasmine from Generation II provides an example of this trope being slightly subverted with her Steelix. Her two Magnemite will get one-shotted by a strong enough Fighting- or Ground-type attack, but because Steelix has one of the highest Defense stats in the games, even the strongest physical super-effective attacks are unlikely to knock Steelix out in one hit unless the attacking Pokémon is significantly overleveled.
    • Winona from Generation III averts this trope by having a Flying-type teamnote  that includes an Altaria which knows Earthquakenote .
    • Juan averts this trope twice in Pokémon Emerald by having, in his Water-type lineup, the dual Water/Ground-type Whiscashnote  and dual Water/Dragon-type Kingdranote .
    • Thinking of using a Fighting-type Pokémon against Elite Four Sidney in Generation III? Watch out—aversions of this trope on his team are his Shiftry, which knows Extrasensorynote , and, in Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, his Cacturne, which knows Spiky Shieldnote .
    • Crasher Wake, the Water-type gym leader in Generation IV, averts this trope with all of his three Pokémon, each with varying secondary types and/or movepools to handle both Electric- and Grass-type Pokémon—Gyarados to weaken physical attackers with its Intimidate ability and slow down Grass-types due to its Water/Flying-type making Grass-type moves do normal, instead of super-effective, damage; Quagsire to wall Electric-types with its dual Water/Ground-typing; and Floatzel, a fast and powerful Water-type Pokémon packing a moveset that includes Crunchnote  and Ice Fangnote .
    • Burgh from Generation V has a Dwebble on his Bug-type team. Dwebble averts this trope as it is a dual Bug/Rock-type, which negates the effectiveness of Fire- and Flying-type attacks on it.
    • Yahtzee was screwed by an aversion of this trope when he reviewed White; specifically, when he went up against Elesa:
      Yahtzee: There was a Gym fairly early on that might as well had a giant sign saying "We use Electric types!" Every guy in the city asked me non too subtly how I was for Ground type Pokémon, and the whole area was lousy with Ground random encounters. So after grinding my newly captured Groundie lads for an hour I challenge the Gym Leader and what does she pull out? A fucking Flying Electric type! And guess what Flying types are immune to. I'll give you a hint: It rhymes with pound-ing nails into my eyesocket.
    • Roxie provides an interesting subversion with her Poison-type gym in Pokémon Black 2 and White 2. Although both her Pokémon are weak to Psychic- and Ground-type attacks, none of the Pokémon the player has met so far will learn such attacks within their immediate level range.
    • Marlon from Black 2 and White 2 plays this trope straight with his Water-type Pokémon. Although his Carracosta has Sturdy, his entire team is still easy prey for Grass- and Electric-type attacks.
    • Shauntal and Caitlin, the Ghost- and Psychic-type Unova Elite Four respectively in Generation V, play this trope straight, with all their Pokémon sharing a common weakness to Dark-type attacks. A single Krookodile can Crunch both their teams into dust.
    • Viola from Generation VI averts this trope by running the dual Bug/Water-type Surskit in her Bug-type team, which can counter Fire-type Pokémon (such as Fennekin, the Fire-type starter) with Water Sportnote  and Bubblenote . Her other Pokémon, Vivillon, plays this trope straight as it doesn't know its signature move, Powder, which blows Fire-type attacks up in the attacker's face.
    • There's also Grant, the Generation VI Rock-type gym leader, whose two Fossil Pokémon avert this trope with their respective counters—Amaura has a secondary Ice-type as well as the Refrigerate ability, which turns its Take Down attack into an Ice-type move that can easily annihilate any Grass-type Pokémon it is pitted against; Tyrunt is a dual Rock/Dragon-type Pokémon, which on its own negates the super-effectiveness of Water- and Grass-type moves against it.
    • Generation VI's Grass-type gym leader, Ramos, plays this trope nearly dead straight. Apart from his Gogoat knowing Bulldoze, which can do a number on non-flying Fire-type Pokémon, his entire team is pure fodder for Flying- and Fire-type attacks.
    • Got those Steel- and Poison-type attacks to take on Valerie's Fairy-type Pokémon in Generation VI? Her first one is the dual Steel/Fairy-type Mawile, which averts this trope as it takes regular damage from Steel-type attacks and is completely damn immune to Poison-type moves!
    • Wulfric's Ice-type team in Generation VI plays with this trope in at least two ways on their own (and he even lampshades it). Abomasnow plays it straight with its 4x weakness to Fire-type moves and average defences, Cryogonal's high Special Defense deconstructs this trope versus special moves, and Avalugg's extremely high Defense stat—only slightly lower than Steelix's—deconstructs this trope versus physical moves.
    • Wikstrom, the Kalos Elite Four who specialises in Steel-type Pokémon, does a grand job averting this trope with three of his four Pokémon—Klefki, a part Fairy-type, takes neutral damage from Fighting-type moves, Probopass takes neutral damage from Fire-type moves due to its secondary Rock-type and has Sturdy as its ability, and Aegislash, being a part Ghost-type, is immune to Fighting-type moves and has King's Shield, a move that nullifies damage taken for one turn in addition to reducing the attacking Pokémon's Attack stat if they used a physical attack against it.
    • Pokémon Diamond and Pearl ended up featuring quite a few subversions, not because the developers were trying to make things more challenging, but because the Sinnoh Dex's lack of diversity forced them into a corner. The most blatant example is Elite 4 member Flint, a Fire-type specialist who only had two Fire-types on his five-member team because the only Fire evolution lines in the Sinnoh Dex were the obligatory Fire starter and the Ponyta line. When Platinum expanded the Sinnoh Dex significantly, the Gym Leaders and Elite 4 members got updated teams to better match their specialties.
    • All the games have trainer classes like Swimmer and Bug Catcher that openly broadcast their type specialty. But there's at least one Fisherman per game who takes it to a whole new level, by having an entire team of Magikarp, a pathetically weak Pokémon that can only learn 3 attacks, one of which does nothing whatsoever... and these Magikarp specialists are often strict devotees of the do-nothing move. Inexplicably, they are just as eager to fight you as trainers with non-useless mons. Some of them, however, will have a few Magikarps and a Gyarados, which can catch you off-guard if you're expecting another pushover opponent.
  • Averted almost entirely in Pokémon Colosseum and its sequel. Only a handful of Trainers in Colosseum (and most are effectively tutorial fights, the only other being Miror B., a noted eccentric character) and almost none in XD (only 2 Trainers, both carrying it over from Colosseum, plus a series of Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain characters stick to such predictable teams), stick to a single type/species. Even the enemy Grunts have far more variety than typical.
    • Speaking of enemy Grunts, the only enemy teams whose Grunts aren't armed with the same old Pokémon happen to be Team Snagem and Team Cipher. You can expect Zubat and Rattata on any Rocket Grunt you find (replace Zubat with any old Poison-type if you want variety), and Team Galactic is similarly armed. You can also ALWAYS expect a Poochyena or Mightyena on both Teams Magma and Aqua, as well as a Fire- or Water-type, respectively. Even Team Plasma is not immune, though they're a bit closer to the Orre villains in terms of variety, but when a disturbingly large number pack Watchog...
  • Averted in the crossover Pokémon Conquest, Where most Warlords have a junior Warrior whose Pokemon is strong against the Kingdom's common weakness. For example, Ginchiyo's Electric types are weak to Ground, but Muneshige uses Flying Pokemon which are immune. On the other hand, each Pokemon only uses one attack, and you can see the list of enemy Pokemon beforehand, so there's no chance of them whipping out a surprise super-effective move
  • Sometimes averted, sometimes played straight in Heroes of Mana. Sometimes you will face almost whole levels of enemies who use only one type, or two types that don't complement. But there are some notable exceptions: The ninjas you fight are all Ground-type units, weak against Heavy units, so they back themselves up with Flying monsters (weak against missile, which is weak against ground...). Although on one level, they send out hordes of flying units and keep them separate from their main units, giving missile units a very easy time.
    • Also on one late game level, 4 MacGuffins spew out units belonging to each of the four types. They can only be harmed by units that would be strong against them (ex: the flying mirror can only be harmed by missile attacks), but the other mirrors will send out monsters to attack those units, giving you a hard time.
  • Several raid bosses in World of Warcraft suffer from this, to the point that the encounter can be trivialized by amassing the appropriate resistance stat, even though this usually makes your other stats suffer (most resistance gear offers little to nothing in terms of offensive stats). Early raids were infamous for having an obsession with fire-based encounters (entire Molten Core, the dragon Onyxia and a good portion of Blackwing Lair (mostly dragons)), but it got more varied later on. There is even a holy-based encounter, to which there is no easy counter because holy resistance does not exist.
    • Also, a lot of players build their character towards using exclusively one form of magic, particularly mages. To be fair to them, it's often the only way to get a character that works. Realizing that this makes certain builds useless against some enemies, the designers introduced spell penetration that lowers resistance, and spells like the Frostfire bolt that deal multiple forms of damage to alleviate the problem. Somewhat.
    • Wrath of The Lich King threw this problem out the window. There are no bosses that are immune to certain types of damage - thus making double-typed attacks irrelevant (Frostfire was only useful because it could benefit from talents in two different trees). There is only one type of gatherable resist gear - frost resist. Only a handful of bosses in the expansion seriously use that type and it's not really needed even on them. The only thing you can do with that gear is to stomp frostmages in duels.
      • The frost resistance gear was created for one boss - Sapphiron in Naxxramas, who has a frost-based damage aura (and later Sindragosa, also an undead blue dragon of great power resurrected by Arthas). Blizzard's Monty Haul attitude towards powerful gear (and an achievement for doing the encounter without resistance gear) ensured most players just healed through it.
    • Since Mists of Pandaria resistance is removed from game to avoid all the problems listed above (i.e. enemies practically immune against some specific player class or need to obtain and store separate enocunter-specific gear sets). There are still some vestigial parts of in game engine, but all enemies have 0% resistance and it was removed from all gear.
    • Some of the opponents in the pet-battle minigame have this problem. The elemental "Spirit Tamers", for example, have very strong pets—but in some cases, those pets all use the same kind of attacks (e.g. the air elemental's pets all use "flying" attacks). This lets you field an entire team that's resistant to the attack, making the fight much easier.
  • Initially, the bosses in the Dinosaur King DS game embody this trope, having teams of the same dinosaur type. Later, though, they add a dinosaur of a different type into their teams - usually of a type which is strong against the type you would normally use against them-for example, a Wind boss has a Water dinosaur, which is strong against the Fire dinosaur/s that you took along on account of their strength against Wind dinosaurs.
  • The villains of Magi-Nation (the video game mind you) always use Core (shadow) Dream creatures, and said creatures are always the sole monsters in any of the Shadow Geysers, the Shadow Hold, or the Core itself. And since this game uses not-quite-random encounters anywhere where you won't encounter Core creatures, you can go nearly the whole game without fighting anything but them, except for two occasions. The first creature type you find, Naroom (leaf) is strong against Core types while being weak against them in turn though, so it may be a decent idea to bolster your creatures with Fire, Earth, Air or Water elements later on. Those types, meanwhile, have their own rock paper scissors, and since you'll need to grind like crazy between Shadow Geysers, you may want to have an advantage against the locals.
  • Entertainingly enough, on the Korean professional Starcraft scene there is a player who calls himself Rock. And he always builds Carriers (which are, surprisingly, basically aircraft carriers IN SPACE! and With Aliens), and 80% of the time he loses because his opponent knows he'll do this. The rest of the time he wins because he really is that good with the units.
  • A rare example where the villain takes advantage of this occurs in Advance Wars 2: one mission involves Hawke correctly anticipating that Eagle will send an all air unit force against his island fortress so he does the logical thing and surrounds it with LOTS of AA units. Thus, the player is faced with the tough challenge of destroying all his units despite having a weakness against them (not to mention Hawke's CO power, which damages ALL your units at once...).
    • In another mission, he keeps Eagle's Air Force out of the battle by staging an offensive next to a volcano, which air units cannot even get near to. However, he didn't seem to anticipate the skills of vehicle unit specialist Jess...
  • Diablo 2 characters also do this, for much the same reasons as World of Warcraft. Namely, specializing is the only way to get a character doing enough damage at the higher difficulties. As might be expected this is bad news for, for example, a sorceress who uses only fire spells who meets an enemy that is immune to fire.
  • Dofus's leveling system is similar to Diablo 2's and encourages specialization in a single element. Some classes are lucky enough to have damaging summons in unusual elements (The strength of summons is based of a characters level, not his stat). The prime example are Xelors and Sadidas, who get a suicide bomber summon that does damage opposed to the most commonly chosen element for the class (Xelors are usually fire, their summon does water - and has an inordinately large move range making it perfect as a counter to archers, Sadidas are usually earth, their summon does air). All classes have weaknesses, though. Feca characters are catastrophically weak to unbewitchment spells due to their shields being dispellable, Cra archers have severe difficulty fighting at close range, etc.
  • Strangely, and clearly unintentionally, averted in free MMORPG Mabinogi. Most, though far from all, monsters are attuned to a particular element. Weapons and armour can be enchanged with elements as well. Wearing/wielding equipment imbued with an element reduces the amount of damage taken from a monster attuned to that element; however, it also reduces the amount of damage done to said monster as well. This applies to both attack and defense, regardless of the equipment; so wielding a "fire" sword both reduces damage done to a "fire" monster, and reduces the damage taken. Likewise, it would also increase both the damage done to, and received from, an ice-attuned monster. This would appear to negate any usefulness of the element attributes; but there are only 3 elements, and the attributes are unevenly applied; so some utility is possible, although tricky to use effectively.
  • In the newer Persona games, the protagonist is the only one who can switch Personae. Everyone else is stuck with one, and until you can evolve their persona (and sometimes even afterwards), they're limited to a few elements and typically have a weakness that reflects that. Chie for instance, specializes in Ice attacks until you get Teddie, in which case she switches to physical, and has a weakness toward fire until you Max her Social Link. The game is aware of this, so whenever you're forced to have a character in your party (more common in Persona 3, but not unheard of in the early parts of 4) the boss will always have an attack of that type.
    • Of course, in The Battle with Margaret in Persona 4, a skilled Soloist can take advantage of this to get free heals!
  • Veterans of the Final Fantasy series know that certain types of enemies are vulnerable to specific elemental attacks. Watery or aquatic enemies are vulnerable to Lightning, cold-based enemies are weak against Fire, reptiles and fiery monsters are weak against Ice, undead and demons are typically vulnerable to Holy (and sometimes Fire), flying enemies suffer from Wind attacks, and machines or electricity-based enemies are weak against Water. Earth and Dark attacks are an exception — the number of enemies in the entire series that are vulnerable to Earth-based attacks can be counted on one hand, while Dark isn't much better off.
    • Which is a good thing, since spells or weapons with those particular elements are notoriously difficult to come by. However, the reverse is also true: enemies weak to Earth and Dark are very few and far between, but very few enemies are also strong against Earth and Dark, meaning that those elements are useful against enemies with otherwise powerful elemental defenses.
      • Unfortunately, enemies that are considered flying (which sometimes includes enemies you wouldn't expect) are generally immune to Earth damage, meaning Earth tends to be one of the least useful elements.
    • On top of this, most Random Encounters would have the one enemy of one type fought with four copies of the said enemy, making it a lot easier to kill them if they had a weakness. For example, the common Bomb enemy is a fire based monster weak to ice or water (depending on the game) so if you had a strong spell to exploit their weakness with and the ability to make the spell hit all enemies, you were good to go.
  • Treasure of the Rudra uses this trope constantly; almost every enemy focuses on one element, even though it's trivial to become immune to one and such immunity requires becoming vulnerable to its opposite. Subverted with the final boss. Wind/Lightning are opposing elements, so protecting yourself from one makes you weak against the other; the final bosses' first form is purely wind-element. Guess what element her final form (which you have no chance to change equipment before fighting) uses for her ultimate attack?
  • Surprisingly, the only real example in Mega Man Battle Network is the side game Battle Chip Challenge. In the regular series, most Navi bosses don't use the same chips you do, possessing their own unique attacks — and those who do use chips choose them at random. But in BCC, everybody's using the same pool of chips, and elemental bosses heavily favor chips of their own element. (This is also the only BN game with a same-type attack bonus à la Pokémon.)
  • In Golden Sun, there are entire societies that have one of the 4 prime elements as their standard power. This isn't a choice of the characters, more something they have to deal with. But as a result, the Big Bads of the first two games are Proxians, who are all Mars (fire) adepts, and hence weak to Mercury (water) adepts. This becomes a plot point when the first game's party is able to beat their vastly stronger opponent simply because they were on top of Mercury Lighthouse, which weakened fire's power and boosted water's.
  • With some exceptions, enemies in the Disgaea series have a +50% strength against one of the three elements (cold, fire, wind) and a -50% weakness to another, shown visibly, so you know who to attack with which spell for maximum damage. Additionally, some maps featured enemies with the exact same weakness - Salamander's Breath was a playground for your blue mages, for instance.
    • One map in Disgaea 2 features a group of high-level mages standing on "reverse damage" geo panels. They are utterly defenseless against your healers.
    • One of the aversions is when certain monster-types, dragons (fire), wind sabers (wind), and warslug (ice/water), have their weak element the same as the element they absorb, making their only "weakness" the neutral of the three elements or the "Star Element."
  • Appears in Chrono Cross when you think too hard about it. All of the guards in Viper Manor except two of the top three are Yellow-innate. This is because they're (almost) all members of a small pool of "monsters" and "monsters" of the same type always have the same innate. However, they're all human, and humans throughout the game have all sorts of different innates, so it really makes you question Viper's hiring policy. Even certain plot characters among his guard force (Solt, Peppor, Ketchop, Zoah, and even Viper himself) are Yellow-innate for some reason. It's just begging for a task force trying to break in (say, Serge and Kid) to load up on Green elements and storm on in. Only Karsh (Green), Marcy (Blue), and Lynx (Black) seem to get away from this trope at all.
  • In MARDEK powerful highly elementally aligned monsters have a spell, Inversion (of that element), which deals damage to the party based on how much elemental resistance they have to that element. Come in with 110% resistance to fire? Then Inversion: Fire does 110% of your health as damage. Due to this, it's best to apply a moderate degree of elemental resistance in these battles. Also played strait with the Security Demon and Animus, both of which are almost unbeatable normally, but can be beaten with a particular trick that neutralizes much of their power.
  • In Age of Empires II, units tend to be strong against some types and weak against others (cavalry are good against archers but weak against pikemen) and certain factions may be better at some types of units than others, especially taking into account what their unique units are. Amusingly enough, at one point in the development, a bug in the AI of the enemies of the third Joan of Arc mission caused the AI to keep building rams until they had an army that, while unable to fight well against player units, destroyed the player's town.

    Visual Novels 
  • The January story for Harvest December has main character Mizuho Touyama realize the only realistic way of winning against a god is in a game of chance, so she chooses Rock-Paper-Scissors. Naturally, one of them picks rock.

    Webcomics 
  • Exploited in a strip of the Adventurers! webcomic, in which the predictable enemy (the Ice Dragon of Ice Cave) paints himself red and convinces the party he's a Fire Dragon, and they give up in disgust (as they've spent all their resources on fire-based equipment.)
  • Spoofed in Nodwick after the party trashes a fire sorceress with bright red robes calling herself princess of flame or some such. After a remark by Nodwick that she couldn't have made her weakness any more obvious if she tried, his party members visit the next villain's tailor ahead of time to hear about the wonderfull snow-white dress he made for her.

     Web Original 
  • Web game example: The USA Rock Paper Scissors League (!) has a politically themed Flash game on its website: "Barack Paper Scissors." In the game, the player takes the part of Democratic US presidential candidate Barack Obama and plays Rock Paper Scissors against a number of other political opponents. The first opponent the player faces is former US President George W. Bush, who always chooses Rock.

    Wargames 
  • Iron Kingdoms: The related fantasy miniatures games Warmachine and Hordes have "tier lists", which give the player small bonuses if their army consists only of certain units. These small bonuses are not enough to counter the fact that an army built without those restrictions is far more competitive.
  • Warhammer 40,000 use to have this in the form of Armoured Companies and the Chaos Space Marines "Books of Chaos". Armoured Companies are made up solely of tanks, making them all but impervious to anti-infantry weapons and, in most cases, close combat. However because it's all tanks, only a handful of anti-tank weapons are needed to utterly cripple the entire army. Chaos Space Marines had the "Books of Chaos" and "Legion Rules" which allowed you to modify your force organisation chart to gain benefits, at the cost of losing the ability to use certain units. A World Eaters Army was horrendous in the close combat phase, but only had pistols to use during the shooting phase and, apart from the then-expensive rhinos, couldn't move that fast.
    • Certain armies chose to fore go one skill in favour of another. Tau have almost no close combat skills but have access to some of the (then) best ranged weapons in the game. Dark Eldar traded durability for high damage output and Tyranids had no tanks and few powerful ranged weapons in favour of a vast array of powerful close combat beasts and biomorphs. For most of these armies if you can survive the phase they dominate in, you can easily decimate their armies (most painfully obvious for the Dark Eldar and Tau, as almost any damage can cripple your army).
    • Even with the disadvantages like losing the ability to pump out high levels of anti-infantry firepower by removing More Dakka weapons like Heavy Bolters or Scatter Lasers, gearing an army towards killing Space Marines by filling it with plasma guns, melta guns, lascannons and high armour penetration weapons will never go out of fashion simply because the majority of opponents will have Space Marine armies anyway, and for those that aren't Space Marines, all those lascannons and high AP weapons will make mincemeat out of their elite troops & vehicles leaving your elite & regular troopers facing up against their regular quality ones.

     Western Animation 
  • Each of the planets in Shadow Raiders suffers from this. Justified for the actual people, in that their respective cultures are forced to be that way because their entire planet is that way. Also notable in that each group of people recognizes their own weaknesses and lack of other resources, forcing them to raid their neighbouring planets - the pilot episode involves the Rock people making a water run on Planet Ice.
    • Planet Bone seems to be the only one who is autonomous, as their one and only weakness is apparently the stupidity of their ruling class (they seem to have little need for Fire and Rock's resources, and produces their own food). Unsurprisingly, their leader tries to betray the alliance not once, but twice.
  • In King of the Hill "A Man Without A Country Club", Hank makes his decision for which one of his friends gets to come with him to Nine Rivers by having them pick a number between 1 and 10. Dale immediately says "3", to which Hank admits he is right. Dale admits that he knew it because Hank always picks 3... unless he picks 5.
  • On SpongeBob SquarePants, SpongeBob and Patrick are playing rock-paper-scissors with bubbles; after a while, SpongeBob realizes that Patrick always picks paper.
  • And of course, The Simpsons gives us the page quote.


http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/PoorPredictableRock