"The hell of it was that a nineteenth-century bullet or even a Stone Age spear could still kill a twenty-third-century marine. It shouldn't. It should not be
allowed. And that was it — it was your sense of superiority that killed you.
A technologically advanced empire has come to conquer a poor, defenseless, primitive planet where the most advanced piece of technology is a horse. Unfortunately for the empire, Our Heroes happen to be living on the planet and helping the natives
at this time, and they are anything but Medieval Morons
As it turns out, centuries of starship-to-starship combat with particle beams and shields have rendered The Empire
ignorant of the simpler ways of getting killed. Wooden crossbow bolts don't show up on radar, and go straight through magnetic barriers. Humongous Mecha
fall into hidden pits and get stuck. Swinging tree
trunks smash straight through Powered Armor
and send the enemy soldiers flying through the air into a conveniently placed abyss. A little pluck, some old-fashioned ingenuity, and a really big rock will beat a laser every time.
Don't think too hard on this one
, suffice it to say these rocks tend to de-emphasize the "elite"ness of the supposed crack troops in a Redshirt Army
. Historically, every industrialized nation on Earth with imperialist goals regularly steamrolled over the militia army of soon-to-be-conquered natives. (Natives without help, that is. In places such as Ethiopia—which famously beat the Italians twice during the Scramble for Africa—where the natives had help, there tends to be more emphasis on giving their development a crash course rather than using Bamboo Technology
.) It would take a while before a conquered nation could get a decent La Résistance
or revolution to kick out these powers... usually using their own technology against them and with guerilla tactics. Bamboo
usually wasn't involved, though "bamboo-spear tactics" is the actual Japanese term for fighting against a technologically superior adversary. (The fact that the colonial forces were often commanded by arrogant aristocrats
who completely underestimated the capabilities of the primitive natives
and knew more about "matters vegetable, animal, and mineral" than actually leading an army
tended to help things along, too.)
In certain Speculative Fiction
circles, especially those revolving around The Singularity
, this is called the Plucky Baseline
It is worth noting that, in Real Life
, rock is one of the better materials to have between yourself and a laser, given its typically high melting point and lack of flammability. Especially if you manage to drop it from high enough.
In short, The Empire
's Achilles' Heel
is anything Traveling at the Speed of Plot
Compare Archaic Weapon for an Advanced Age
, Cool, but Inefficient
, Good Old Fisticuffs
, Kinetic Weapons Are Just Better
, Guns Are Worthless
, Break Out the Museum Piece
, Muggles Do It Better
and Older Is Better
. One of the things to watch for in How to Invade an Alien Planet
. Contrast Low Culture, High Tech
, where a low tech culture uses superior high tech devices. See also Superweapon Surprise
when natives have something up their sleeves that could reasonably be expected to beat the invaders, or Insufficiently Advanced Alien
when the invaders themselves really don't have anything that could reasonably be expected to beat the natives. See Schizo Tech
for low tech and high tech used together. Can be justified if the primitives have a huge numerical superiority
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- New Mazinger. The trope is definitely subverted in this Mazinger Z spin-off. At the beginning, Mazinger easily defeats with a sword a bunch of mechas armed with laser blades, ray guns and missile launchers... However Mazinger later faced an army not even used firearms. Mazinger was loaded with clusters of missiles. He easily annihilated them.
- Tower of God. Rak and his spear easily took out Levin and his Sniper Rifle. Literally, the thing fell to pieces
- In Transformers: Robots in Disguise, the Predacons attempt to steal an antique steam train which is being guarded by Team Bullet Train. Gas Skunk fires an EMP pulse which disables Rail Spike and Rapid Run, but has no effect on the steam train due it its lack of electronic components. Also, Sky Bite, Dark Scream, and Slapper are all disabled by smoke from its chimney.
- As a result of the predominant Steam Punk Schizo Tech universe of Samurai 7, the only available weapon against a giant floating battlecruiser is... a massive sharpened pike the size of a building, hurled across miles by a giant ballista. And it WORKS.
- Largely averted in Turn A Gundam. Although the Earth Militia forces know their environment well enough to stage ambushes against the technologically superior Moonrace invaders (not to mention that solid munitions can pass through their advanced shielding), it doesn't change the fact that it's a lopsided contest. Especially given that Earth-bound humanity is using what amounts to World War I technology at best against enemies that can wipe out entire regiments with beam weapons. It's only after they uncover caches of mobile suits and with the Turn-A's help that they actually put up a decent fight.
- In X-Statix / Avengers, the Orphan fights Iron Man armed only with an anvil, of all things, as depicted above. You'll never guess who wins (ultimately; both of them eventually lose their armor and are forced to fight naked for the win). Although, arguably, the Rule of Cool is in effect there; When you can descend on an enemy like a vampire while carrying an anvil, you deserve to win no matter what.
- Daredevil, having failed to defeat Ultron by crashing a truck into him, knocks the robot's head off with a stick.
- Slightly justified in JLA: Year One with The Flash. Snapper Carr complains that the League having a library in their base is pointless, since they also have a computer and can use it to do research much faster. But no Internet connection in the world can move faster than Flash, who has a book open to the appropriate page before Snapper even finishes typing. And could probably even run to any library in the world and back in the time it takes Google to load. This was based on Real Life accounts of the series' writer answering comic trivia faster than the Internet.
- It's a fairly common tactic for the Hulk to use a blunt object against technologically advanced foes. This is presuming that he can't simply tear them metal limb from metal limb with his bare hands (which he usually can). Granted, the Hulk pretty much applies this tactic to any foe, regardless of the level of technology at their disposal. This is quite in line with real world physics; you can destroy anything in the universe, ANYTHING at all... if you hit it hard enough. And who could possibly hit harder than an enraged Hulk? Hulk is also Nuclear powered. Being hit by the Hulk is like having a nuclear bomb go off in your face.
- An interesting example involving laser swords is found in the Star Wars mini-series Jango Fett: Open Seasons, wherein the eponymous Mandalorian badass kills nearly a dozen Jedi Knights in close combat with his fists, armoured boots, garrote wire, his helmet (he kills his last opponent by throwing snow in his eyes and head-butting him in the face) and yes, a rock, before finally collapsing and being taken prisoner, an incident which many years later inspires Count Dooku (who was present at the time) to select Jango as the template for the Jedi-killing Clone Army.
- In an Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers comic, a gang of crooks turns up wearing laser-reflective armour that renders the Rangers' weapons ineffective. A Jerk Ass Bounty Hunter puts them down with regular bullets from a primitive firearm. Amusingly, the Rangers then arrest him for the use of illegal weaponry.
- In Wonder Woman: Amazons Attack, the Amazons repeatedly take down tanks and jet fighters using bows and arrows.
- In a Thunderbirds story in TV Century 21, a Jovian alien arrives on Earth in an African village, growing gigantic and turning people to stone. It's seemingly unstoppable, not even the most powerful atomic weapons can subdue it, but a single native kills it merely with a poison dart to the eye.
- From a Blue Beetle comic, in a showdown with a highly advanced alien race:
Negotiator: Reyes! You could not possibly have co-ordinated with this "Bat-Man"! We monitored every electronic frequency, every bandwidth you could use to reach him!
Blue Beetle: I know. Scarab told me. That's why I sent a letter.
- In a miniseries Image comic called Area 52, which is a giant warehouse full of supernatural stuff, the true enemy is revealed as a robotic head from outer space that can take over anything electronic, making it virtually unstoppable. It came to Earth in the 1940s, before computers were invented, so it didn't have anything to take over, and was promptly defeated and sealed in a crate.
- In IDW's reboot of G.I. Joe, one of the remote-controlled units that Destro had snuck into the Joes' Pit meets this fate after it and its brethren wreck havoc on the Joes plus surviving all sorts of ammo.
James McMullen XXIV/Destro: A three-million-dollar unit...
Rory: ...done in by a bloody rock.
(one of the Joes): Itsy-bitsy spider signing off! (rock smash)
- In Metroid's manga, the cutting-edge new Power Beam can't pierce Mother Brain's Zebetites shield, but Grey Voice's century-old weapon can.
- The Polish comic book Kajtek i Koko w kosmosie has out heroes captured and taken before the alien Big Bad in his planetary base. The Big Bad's robots assure him that the heroes have no weapons of any sort with them. But then Koko simply punches out a robot with his fists, and the other robots meekly admit that they haven't taken such a primitive weapon into account.
- Two issues of Hawkeye revolved around Clint trying to recapture a videotape of him murdering someone. Captain America notes that criminal organisations are using more and more analogue technology since digital information is much more easily traceable.
- In Fantastic Four: The End the solar system is surrounded by a high-tech energy barrier meant to prevent any communication or travel between the solar system and the rest of the universe while it's completing its trial period before joining the Galactic community. The Mad Thinker, part of a group of super-villains seeking to work with outside agents to bring the barrier down, outwits the barrier by the simple method of using Morse Code and what amounts to a flash light since the barrier didn't block normal light from passing through.
- When The Losers need to steal some data from a Mega Corp., they send Jensen to get the data. When the network proves too well-protected, he resorts to "analog hacking": Grabbing a fire axe and hacking his way into their server room to physically steal a hard drive.
- The Open Door sees Bill Adama and the nBSG crew dance around the antimatter-equipped Praxis despite only having chemically-propelled kinetic energy weapons. Admittedly, they had fire support from the far superior Stiletto, but... Also averted in that the odd ideology the Praxis had towards technology means that the Colonials are more advanced in some ways. "Apparently these nutcases used antimatter weapons, a technology the Colonials didn't possess because they had cheaper, more stable fuels that wouldn't destroy the ship on a lucky hit. Who strapped a bomb to their frakking asses like that?"
- A literal example in Enemy Of My Enemy, where Zerat kills the enemy sniper Yik by sneaking up behind him and crushing him with a huge rock.
- An even more literal example is in Fallout: Equestria - Pink Eyes, where the lead character Puppysmiles's only weapon is a rock. So far, her rock has claimed the life of anyone caught on the wrong end, even killer robots and manticores.
- Averted in Finishing The Fight which has Master Chief and the UNSC crushing their medieval-level enemies with great ease. Even their armor is far superior. Also rather amusingly inverted on one occasion, where Briza Do'urden is barely halfway through gloating about her newly summoned Earth Elemental before it gets annihilated by a Spartan Laser.
- Mass Foundations: Redemption in the Stars sees Courier Ethan Sunderland kill a heavily shielded Blue Suns Centurion by stabbing him in the throat with his Bowie knife (which is a regular bladed knife, albeit quite fancy). Justified in-universe as kinetic shielding is only meant to work against high-speed objects, either being very ineffective or completely useless against melee attacks.
- Subverted in Mass Effect Human Revolution, where Hein only gets away with bringing Automatic Crossbows to a gunfight because the bolts release Snowblind particles to confound kinetic barrier sensors.
- Averted in a fanmade Death Battle pitting Black Panther against Conner Kenway which instead applies Reality Ensues. Conner enters the battle armed with 18th-century weapons and armor, whereas Black Panther has weapons composed of vibranium more advanced, and effective, than anything existing in the present day. The Black Panther's greater strength and fighting skills are enough that the writer found the battle so much a mismatch in Black Panther's favor that the set-up for the fight made his victory a Foregone Conclusion.
- Batman vs. Ezio. Much like the above example, Batman's more advanced equipment and gadgets are part of the reason for his victory, along with him being a much better fighter than Ezio.
- In Worldwar: War of Equals the newly improved Killercrafts of the Race got their asses handed to them by Italy's Cold War-era fighters, more specifically F-104S already phased out but reactivated to face them.
- Star Wars:
- Independence Day. No, seriously, the aliens come down to Earth, they glass a portion of the planet, they blow up some of the most advanced fighter planes in the world (and their elite pilots) and even nukes can't stop them … but a combination of Morse Code and a computer virus can?! It was even worse in the original cut of the movie. Russell is denied permission to fly one of the remaining F-18's, so he shows up to the final battle and destroys the enemy ship with his crop-dusting biplane with a sidewinder missile taped to its side.
- Dutch used this trope in the climax of the first movie making traps out of sticks and stones and covering himself in mud to mask his heat signature. But it doesn't actually work. Despite exploiting the predator's heat vision to his advantage, Arnold's low-tech approach fails to beat the alien. It's only when the latter decides to "even things out" by removing its multipurpose helmet and shoulder gun that Arnold manages to beat it. And even then it's more due to dumb luck more than anything. In the expanded Predator material, the Predators are shown to particularly enjoy hunting humans because of our ability to make rocks beat lasers. Being intelligent, wily, and resourceful makes us the second-ultimate prey. The expanded universe goes on to reveal that Predators themselves gain more honor from hunting things using only low-tech weapons: any hunter can laser someone with a rock from a kilometre away, but using a rock to beat someone with a laser takes true skill. In the 2010 Alien vs. Predator game, you gain bonus points for completing a level using only your wrist blades.
- Predator 2 shows us a Predator trophy room which contains, among other things (like the skull of an alien from the Alien franchise) a flintlock pistol... implying that not only did a human attempt to challenge a Predator with this weapon, this individual put up enough of a fight to be considered a worthy opponent!
- In Star Trek: First Contact, Picard pumps some Borg drones full of Holodeck-simulated lead from Tommy guns (with the safeties off), because Borg shields are calibrated to stop phasers, not old-fashioned bullets. The debate on whether holodeck-generated bullets are more phaser than bullet is something that fans debate to this day (plus, the number of Borg drones defeated by the holographic Tommy Gun is roughly equivalent to the number of drones defeated by phasers before they adapt... two). Later on in the film, Worf kills another Borg with a sword. He's a dangerous man-allegedly. Indeed, people tend to fare better against the Borg in close combat in general, until assimilation occurs. But that only really comes into play when dealing with inhumanly strong people like Worf or Data. Early on, a Red Shirt tries to rifle butt a Borg drone after his phaser is adapted to. The Borg shrugs off the hit and promptly hands the man his ass. Some of the expanded universe material does take the "kinetic strikes are effective against the Borg" approach.
- Star Trek: Voyager: Janeway, not an exceptionally strong woman, managed to kill a Borg drone with a bat'leth at least once... after the drone had knocked down the bat'leth's owner-a large Klingon male. Though this was in a simulated world.
- Though not quite as far apart technologically, in The Last Samurai the Samurai army universally favors "honorable" weapons like katanas, spears, and bows instead of the firearms of the regular Imperial Army of Japan. They win their initial battles against poorly-trained soldiers armed with rifles, and only lose their climactic final battle after killing over two-thirds of the second, better-trained and armed army, who outnumbered them six to one. This is somewhat of a subversion. In the end the Samurai win a moral battle by showing the newer army that traditional values, especially courage against overwhelming odds, should be respected. This may have been their goal all along.
- In Flight of the Intruder, the eponymous plane is flown through a hail of anti-aircraft fire twice in an attack on Hanoi, but on the first mission of the film earlier, a weapons officer is killed by a farmer with an old rifle on the return flight. Actually justified, as the Vietnamese were trained to fire their guns in the air when they heard jet fighters, on the chance that one of them would get lucky. A single bullet hitting a vital part through sheer luck is known in the military as the "golden bb". It happens.
- The Dudley Do-Right movie: "That's unfair, they've got rocks! And all we have is machine-guns!" To be fair, said rocks are giant boulders coming down on them when besides some riot gear and said guns, they have no other defenses.
- Used in Avatar. On the one hand, when the Na'vi fire up at human vehicles, their arrows do little more than scratch the windows. On the other hand, arrows fired at a right angle from power-diving ikrans can punch through aircraft canopies (which is Truth in Television). But on the other other hand, the Na'vi still get their blue butts kicked by machine guns and missiles, at least until the planet itself sends its wildlife in as reserve. Turns out rocks can't beat mecha—but a stampede of armored rhinos that shrug off gunfire like a gentle shower can.
- The War of the Worlds - The alien race dominates earth, but succumbs en masse to common bacterias as soon as they exit their machines.
- In Hostel, a pair of gun-toting professional killers are taken out by a gang of prepubescent boys armed with nothing but rocks and crowbars.
- About half of First Blood was made of this trope, when Rambo hadn't yet gotten ahold of a gun and had to use Nam-style mantraps against his pursuers.
- Quite literally in Yor: The Hunter from the Future, the main character, a caveman is confronting a robot with a laser arm, and Yor bashes its head off with a rock.
- And in another way too literal approach, Short Circuit's Number Five successfully blocks another S.A.I.N.T. robot's tank-busting pulse laser with a big rock.
- Subverted in Cowboys and Aliens, in that the only reason the cowboys win against the bigger and Sufficiently Advanced Aliens is by using stolen technology and help from another Sufficiently Advanced Alien fighting against the first.
- In Down Periscope it's revealed by Vice Admiral Winslow to Dodge, that an old diesel submarine could be a threat to US harbors - if it was crewed and commanded by people willing to play outside the rule books of more conventional submarine forces in an underwater version of guerrilla warfare. Given technical issues too complex to be addressed here, the scenario is one that makes Real Life military planners less than happy. Partially subverted by the fact that in conventional warfare a diesel is no match for a nuclear sub, see the Real Life section below.
- In Skyfall, the villain is a ruthless cyberterrorist who can hack any defense system. James Bond defeats him with shells in the floorboards, shrapnel in the light fixtures, and a hunting knife.
- Tarzan brings down a helicopter with a single well-aimed rock in Tarzan (2013).
Live Action TV
- One prime fictional example is Stargate SG-1, where Human-made bullets are more useful than Asgardian high-tech weapons against Replicators: they absorb the energy of energy blasts, but bullets blow them apart. Also, it was shown that while Goa'uld personal shields can easily deflect fast moving bullets, they're powerless to stop a relatively slow moving arrows or thrown knives. The implication throughout the series is that Applied Phlebotinum is often Awesome but Impractical.
- It was lampshaded in one episode, when the team mentioned that the Goa'uld staff weapons are not meant to be effective so much as flashy and impressive, the better to intimidate conquered populations. The "sidearm" zat'nik'tel pistols are the weapon of choice for savvy Jaffa.
: "This [a staff weapon] is a weapon of terror: it's made to intimidate
the enemy. This [an FNP90] is a weapon of war: it's made to kill
- Later subverted when human-form replicators were created, who are immune to bullets, forcing the Asgard and Humans to create a brand new hi-tech weapon to fight them.
- US soldiers defend a gate and actually shoot down Goa'uld Death Glider fighters with Stinger portable AA missiles. Boom!◊
- On every alien planet or Alternate Earth where the Goa'uld came in ships, there was a Curb-Stomp Battle. Goa'uld technology is much better than Earth technology at ship-to-ship or ship-to-ground combat until the end of the series. However, five thousand years of A God Am I left them unprepared for guerilla warfare.
- When SG-1 gets captured by a Bounty Hunter named Aris Boch, O'Neill tries to throw a knife at him through the shield. The knife hits the shield and drops to the ground. Boch reveals that he has improved on the Goa'uld design so that slow objects no longer pass through the shield. It should be noted that if a thrown knife worked SG-1 could've walked out of the shield. As Boch himself put it, that kind of shield doesn't work very well as a trap.
- From Doctor Who:
Donna: Sonic it; use the thingy! [meaning the sonic screwdriver]
Doctor: I can't; it's wood!
Donna: What, it doesn't do wood?
- Subverted in "Death to the Daleks". A human spaceship, a Dalek spaceship and the TARDIS are immobilised on a planet. The Daleks try to exterminate the Doctor only to find their weapons don't work, one Dalek is taken out by the locals with rocks and spears, and some of the rest are captured and led off to be sacrificed. The remaining Daleks promptly replace their energy weapons with slug-throwing guns (meaning bullets, not gastropods), which still work just fine, and wreak brutal revenge.
- In the old series episode "The Pirate Planet" (that's the Fourth Doctor), when faced with a locked door, the Doctor tries the Sonic Screwdriver, which fails. So he pulls out a bobby-pin, which succeeds. Quoth the Doctor: "The more sophisticated a technology, the more vulnerable it is to primitive attack."
- Shows up in the revival with the Sontarans. For all their advanced technology they're caught by surprise and slaughtered by U.N.I.T. (the resident Red Shirts). The Sontarans have technology that expands copper casings of bullets, making guns unable to fire... so U.N.I.T. switches to non-copper casings. Hilarity ensues.
- Well, U.N.I.T. does also use a huge Airborne Aircraft Carrier firing an alien-technology-based laser cannon, so it's not as if they're that far behind technologically.
- In Planet of the Daleks, Thals drop rocks on a Dalek rising through a long shaft on antigravity. The rocks, after all, have gravity on their side.
- In the Second Doctor episode "The Dominators", Jamie and Cully defeat deadly robots (which are wielding some kind of powerful beam weapons) using rocks large and small.
- In "The Day of the Doctor", The Doctor (all three) can't use the sonic screwdriver to escape a cell because the door is too primitive.
- In an episode of Andromeda, when Captain Hunt tries to arm a peaceful settlement so they can defend themselves from space pirates, be brings along a load of force lances. But, what do you know, a religious extremist who'd rather see the people enslaved than lose their innocence explodes the box of force lances. So, Hunt has the natives sharpen sticks and throw them from the walls at the well-armed pirates, and they end up driving them back. The being said, Hunt is a relic of a bygone age when the Systems Commonwealth crews were some of the most badass men and women alive.
- Also, Captain Hunt was a member of the Argosy Special Operations Service, one of the most badass of the badasses. He was also batshit insane (as the events on Acheron proved...)
- From the Die Hard episode of Farscape "I Shrink Therefore I Am":
Big, Armored Alien: Pulse-chamber overload. [snort] Not very creative.
Crichton: Bear trap. Ugly, but creative.
- Similarly, in "Lava's A Many Splendored Thing," the bad guys' personal shields protect them from pulse pistol blasts... but not from a conk on the head with a rock. Preceded by a wonderful explanation of why fire and rock beat laser.
D'Argo: That is your plan?...To hit him with a rock when they have these, like, shield things?
Crichton: The shields work against pulse energy. They don't work against other things. We saw the guy get burned.
D'Argo: Yeah, but not by a rock!
Crichton: Alright, let me lay this out for you. Fire is thermal energy. Thermal energy is like, kinetic energy. A rock has kinetic energy, ergo, a rock will work!
- Referenced, if not quite employed, in the Angel episode "A Hole in the World." At the beginning of the show, Angel and Spike argue—for half an hour!—about who would win in a fight: an astronaut or a caveman (i.e., technological savvy or primitive savagery). Later, when Fred lies dying from the essence of an ancient demon, she whispers, "The caveman wins. The caveman always wins."
- On Mystery Science Theater 3000, Tom Servo accidentally shoots down a tiny satellite with an arrow. The mother satellite is not happy about that.
- The episode "The Tribe" of Criminal Minds features an Apache cop that Doesn't Like Guns and is instead armed with a knife. In his own words, he'll kill or disarm any gunman that is less than 6 meters away from him while he is still (re)loading or aiming; if he's more than 6 meters away, he runs.
- In the Hogan's Heroes episode "Drums Along the Dusseldorf," Carter and Newkirk take out a truck of experimental fuel with a flaming arrow.
- The Firefly 'verse in general prefers projectile weapons to lasers. Specifically, in "Heart of Gold", the Big Bad brandishes a laser, which does do quite a bit of damage...until it runs out of power, very quickly, thus illustrating why projectile weapons are preferred. On the other hand, guns can run out of ammo too. Presumably, the Alliance troops who use lasers carry spare power packs, just like modern-day soldiers carry spare clips.
- In one episode of MythBusters, the team is trying to find ways to fool advanced security systems. Though most of them don't work, they do find out that it is possible to fool a state-of-the-art infrared motion detector by holding a large white sheet in front of yourself.
- In an episode of The Muppet Show where Mark Hamill guest-stars as Luke Skywalker, he is about to vaporize Dearth Nadir only to find that Nader disabled his blaster with a technobabble plot device. Thankfully, since "Dearth Nadir" is really just Gonzo the Great in a silly mask, Chewbacca proves more than capable of giving him a beatdown. Unfortunately, even Chewbacca is useless against the awesome might of Angus McGonoggle, the Argyle Gargoyle gargling Gershwin.
- Battlestar Galactica (Reimagined) downplays and justifies this. The Galactica avoids infection from Cylon viruses by using dumb computers, manually controlled starfighters and weaponry, and hardwired communications.
- During her time on Star Trek: The Next Generation, Dr. Katherine Pulaski shows herself to be a believer in a peaceful variety of this trope—using low-tech medical technologies such as splints and chicken soup in place of the usual hyper-advanced Star Trek medical technology when necessary.
- This occasionally happens on Leverage against high-tech security systems. In "The Last Dam Job" this happens twice. As their antagonist has recognized them and knows them enough to predict what they will, do they are forced to be somewhat creative. Hardison and Eliot use Mussels (an invasive species) to shut down a dam instead of a more complicated computer intrusion. Later, Hardison and Chaos plan to give Archie and Parker a bunch of high-tech doodads to break into a vault. Archie thanks them, but notes that all they need is flour, milk, eggs, and sugar. With the only advanced tech involved being Archie's tazer cane and a bomb, it works perfectly.
- Said but not shown on Babylon 5: the reason energy weapons are used on the station and on starships is that the BiLPro weapons (Binary Liquid Propellant, firearms with extremely powerful liquid propellant that is partly stored in the round and partly in the gun in the form of two inert liquids) issued to EarthForce infantry for planetside combat are too powerful and have an unfortunate tendency to rupture the weaker sections of the hull and cause collateral damage with the ricochet from hitting the stronger parts of the hull (the ricochet will always happen with more conventional and less powerful firearms), whereas handheld energy weapons don't do either. The Expanded Universe explains that EarthForce is still using BiLPro as small arms for planetside combat as well as for artillery and tank guns, even if gauss cannons are starting to take over as tank guns.
- It's also shown that, in a literal example of this trope, attacking a planet with lasers and particle weapons is acceptable, but throwing rocks at it is a war crime due the greater devastation and the long-term effects.
- The game Babylon 5 Wars has the Attarn, a race whose hat is exactly this: they originally armed their starships with large-scale BiLPro weapons because, being almost identical to normal firearms, they were faster and cheaper to develop than lasers and plasma weapons, but kept and continued developing them after their first interstellar war proved their superiority over the (admittedly primitive) laser, plasma and particle weapons of the Skand. Their largest ships are a tough foe even for EarthForce and Narn ships of similar size, and in their war with the Gromenote they quickly overwhelmed them before the intervention of the Hurrnote managed to fight them to a standstill.
- Also Subverted: BiLPro weapons aside, the Attarn are a technologically advanced race, whose ships are equipped with indigenously-developed Artificial Gravity (something Earth and Narn got only at the end of the Earth Civil War, and even then with technological help from the Interstellar Alliance and, for Earth, decades of study of alien technologies), armour comparable to the ludicrously-armoured EarthForce ships and sensors extremely superior to what the Grome and Hurr had, meaning their ships could survive more punishment than their opponents, hit them at longer ranges and sneak over six hundred fighters and attack bombers in the middle of the Grome fleet assembled over their homeworld (the opening strike of the war).
- Zig Zagged Trope in Deadliest Warrior. The general rule is, the warrior with the clear technology advantage is usually the one who wins in the end (as is the case with Pirate vs. Knight, French Musketeers vs Ming Warriors, Vlad the Impaler vs. Sun Tzu and Joan of Arc vs. William the Conqueror). but occasionally an older weapon manages to outperform a more advanced counterpart in simulation, such as Theodore Roosevelt's Gatling Gun actually managing to work better than Lawrence of Arabia's WW1-era Vickers. Sometimes, however, a warrior with more primitive weaponry manages to beat the odds and overcome their more advanced opponents (the Spartan, who manages to defeat both the Ninja and the Samurai, armed with steel weapons and armour, using only bronze-age gear, and the Jesse James gang, who go up against Al Capone's gang, who have Tommy guns, armed with Civil War-era rifles and revolvers, and win).
- Leslie Fish
- The Aesop of the Car Wars inspired song "The Discards":
No radar for your jamming, no lasers to deflect, just armor made for ramming and bullets worth respect…
- Also the point of Leslie Fish's song Serious Steel, in which members of the Society for Creative Anachronism, using steel armor and recreated medieval weapons, fight various bandits and dictators after the World War III.
Our armor proved half-bullet proof, our weapons worked as well.
The townsfolk afterwards thanked us all for freeing them from Hell.
- Space 1889 averts this trope or possibly even inverts it because in fictional Mars, the Europeans superior technology is even more effective than in historical colonial areas. Europeans use their superior technology just as effectively against Martians as against, say black Africans. Martian terrain does not lend itself to effective guerilla warfare nor do the Europeans have much trouble with Martian diseases the way they are subject to tropical diseases on Earth. It is the cost of transport to Mars and the lack of resources needed for European-style warfare (particularly coal or some other burnable fuel for the steam engines and metal for casings) that is slowing European conquest and colonization.$
- Warhammer 40,000, due to the ridiculously Schizo Tech of the setting. On one side you could have the Eldar casually using fusion guns and black hole projectors, or the Tau whose basic infantry weapon is a plasma-launching coilgun assisted by sophisticated electronic targeting systems. But due to the game rules, if those warriors are unfortunate enough to get locked in close combat with a bunch of howling Orks waving around stone clubs, their advanced sci-fi ranged weaponry is exactly as effective as a stick with a nail in it.
- The later model for kobolds in AD&D was posited in a Dragon Magazine in the '80s, Tucker's Kobolds, as a way to turn single-HD runts into holy terrors for 20th level parties armed to the teeth with Infinity Plus One artifacts and insane eldritch arsenals. They became more formidable when they weren't dominated by evil wizards or warlords of more powerful races, as they would avoid battle-by-attrition in favor of ingenious traps and ambush-and-retreat positions.
- In the Mystara D&D setting's Hollow World, many members of lower-technology cultures get Immortal-granted bonuses in combat, as the Powers That Be don't want any one culture to overwhelm the others and are skewing the game-rules to ensure that Rock Holds Its Own Against Laser.
- Due to a variety of factors, usually happens at least once in a blue moon during a corp run in Shadowrun. As in sci-fi examples stated further above, megacorps do not bother with failsafes and countermeasures against primitive measures, as they just won't be utilized enough to make the cost worth it. Corps that fear such things may be used to infiltrate them tend to hire mage/tracker(usually a bandersnatch or hellhound) teams to roam their halls and spot anything out of the ordinary.
- In yet another Star Wars-related example, the Saga edition RPG has it in the rules that while energy shields will stop any energy weapon, up to and including the ubiquitous lightsaber, a simple slugthrower or sling can penetrate it. And using that ruleset (namely the Scum and Villainy sourcebook) it was possible to develop weapons that could be used to take down shielded enemies in an area larger than a major city, so long as it was clear line of sight to them.
- There is a Chinese board game that has these aspects with 8 units, the elephant all the way down to the mouse. Simply put, it is a game of 1-8, where the higher number eats any number directly below it. However, the mouse which is the number 1 is the only piece that can eat the number 8 which means that it is the weakest that defeats the strongest. Stratego has the same mechanic, where the Spy can defeat the Marshal if it attacks first.
- Some of the more powerful units in Heroscape are Medieval units or colonial-times soldiers who are able to destroy the Soulborgs
- Magic: The Gathering has a variety of formats, some with over ten thousand cards available, some with less than two thousand. While Legacy (which contains every card ever printed) is typically considered more powerful than smaller ones they are also specifically designed to beat the metagame they exist in. The result is that decks made for Standard (which has only the most recent cards) can sometimes create present Legacy decks with cards they're incapable of dealing with because the card is unplayable within the Legacy metagame.
- In many video games (Quake II and Unreal games come to mind), the player's initial weapon is a futuristic blaster—a pea-shooter compared with less sophisticated weapons such as a shotgun (single- or double-barrelled), which can deal out much more damage. Even bullet-using rifles/SMGs and miniguns/chainguns are more effective. (There's usually a powered-up version of the pea-shooting blaster available, though, such as Quake II's Hyperblaster and BFG, or the various upgrades to the dispersion pistol in Unreal.) The futuristic but ineffective blaster does have two advantages, since it's intended as an Emergency Weapon—it doesn't break and never runs out of ammunition.
- Even more jarring, in many fps games, e.g., GoldenEye on Wii, meleeing someone with the butt of an assault rifle is more deadly than shooting someone with a bullet from said rifle. It will take just one or two melee hits, but many AK 47 shots to kill someonenote . This is mostly just to get the player out of tight spots, as actively trying to rush and melee will get you killed pretty quickly.
- Chrono Trigger takes this to a literal extreme, where Lucca's prehistoric rock-slinger is more powerful than a laser pistol from the future. When Ayla reaches maximum level, her fist can hit for more damage than any other weapon in the game, including swords, guns, bows, etc.
- The Battle Walkers of Battlefield 2142 are supposed to be the pinnacle of Infantry Fighting Vehicles. Should an infantryman wander between its legs, however, he can whittle down the hulking machine with little more than a pistol pointed at its Achilles' Heel (though you'd still need a hundred rounds or so to do so). The Walker pilot can further uphold the trope, though, by simply crouching down, beating the infantryman's pistol with a very heavy chunk of metal.
- Similarly, the "Active Defense" shielding employed by most of the vehicle lines do not fully repel gunfire. Air vehicles (especially the heavily armed Gunship) are especially prone to AA fire.
- Ditto on both of these for the Battlezone RTS/FPS genre crossover remake and its sequel, except for the crouching part. However, being filled to the brim with hover tech, ANYTHING can fly given the proper incline to start up its ascent. Unfortunately they can't aim very far downwards, making this more of a sped-up transportation method (skipping slopes and pits in the terrain) than battle tactic.
- In Mass Effect, this is actually justified- while laser weapons do exist, kinetic energy weapons are more effective shot-for-shot. Thus even in the future, we're still using guns that fire bullets- although now that gun has nearly limitless ammo and is capable of freezing you, setting you on fire, punching through your armor, destroying your shields, increase their mass... That said, in close-range ship-to-ship combat, lasers will literally melt enemy warships, since point-defence lasers ignore kinetic barriers. The series zigzags it—the most technologically advanced weapons are not lasers, but streams of molten metal fired like one. It is absolutely played straight in the third game, however; the protagonists release a giant Sand Worm to distract the resident technological Eldritch Abomination, and the creature does them one better and manages to kill it. Without assistance. After being hit with one of its weapons nearly point-blank.
- Worms: A Space Oddity takes this to great levels of awesome for the final mini-game, which is also the final level of the single-player campaign. Realising that their high-tech weaponry ain't doing smeg against the invaders, the worms decide to arm the "trusty shotgun"... Which can take down UFOs. In a single shot. Much ass-kicking ensues.
- The Civilization series is notorious for this. Put a tank (attack 8) against a spearman (defense 3) that happened to be left lying around from the early game, make the spearman a fortified (+ 50%) veteran (+ 50%) defending a mountain (+ 200%) and presto. Or a missile cruiser against a galleon, or a helicopter against a maceman... games after the first one added multiple combat rounds to help modern units out, which made instances of this trope rare enough to stand out better.
- Worse yet, in the original Civilization, a battleship could attack a city guarded with just an ancient phalanx, only to have the phalanx win. Radar doesn't detect wooden rowboats indeed.
- Archer stack on defense.
- The developers have actively been trying to fix this problem in the later games, with mixed results.
- Another noticeable example is a warrior fighting a musketman; due to inexplicable reasons(possibly referring to guns being worthless in close combat at that point in time) the warrior always wins. ALWAYS.
- Rise of Nations is almost as bad. Thanks to the Tactical Rock-Paper-Scissors mechanic, if the tech levels are different enough, you can see not just spearmen killing tanks, but archers killing missile-armed anti-tank infantry, cavalry cutting down machine guns (the reverse of which happened in real life), sloops sinking submarines, and lookout towers shooting down fighter planes. Perhaps the worse example is the transition from the enlightenment era to a late industrial navy. Dreadnoughts have a relatively minor stat increase compared to the Men o' War/Ships of the Line they replace, and are liable to be sunk when engaging more then one, when logically the latter shouldn't be able to scratch the former.
- Done literally in sub-par platform game Xargon, where the laser is the protagonist's initial weapon, and the thrown rock is considered an upgrade (and, ironically, a worse weapon; it deals the same amount of damage, but flies in an upwards arc that makes it impractical to hit enemies in front of you). See also: Ghouls n' Ghosts. THAT FUCKING TORCH
- Sonic the Hedgehog does this. The titular character defeats an entire army of robots, guns, traps, and the Big Bad himself... by running fast and jumping into them.
- In the Xbox remake of Ninja Gaiden, Ryu defeats the slightly-beyond-modern technology-boasting forces of Vigoor, users of electrified batons, unlimited ammo firearms and cyborgs with energy weapons, using swords, nunchaku, and a variety of other old-timey weapons. Especially so if he uses the Wooden Sword (absolutely useless in most situations, unless the player upgrades it to level seven... where it becomes one of the most powerful weapons in the game. But still wooden.)
- StarCraft: a Protoss Dragoon is a massive Spider Tank with an antimatter cannon. A Zergling is a lizard with teeth and claws. Dragoons can quite easily be ripped to small pieces by a standard-issue Zerg Rush. The sequel is taking this to an even higher level by giving the Dragoons' successor, the Immortal, shields that can stop a nuke...but which offer no protection against light attacks, like those of said Zerglings and Marines. This is somewhat justified in the description of Zerg units where it's mentioned their bodies are durable enough to take those hits.
- Firstly, the Stalker is the Dragoon's role-successor, secondly, The Immortals' shields offer protection against everything, but they're not much stronger than the Dragoons' against attacks that don't trigger hardened shields. (despite their being twice as expensive).
- Also, in the campaign for the second game, you can use classic units from the first game, which in-universe are considered outdated and obsolete. However, there are times where players would gladly take a Science Vessel or Goliath over their more "advanced" counterparts.
- Mother 3 is big on this, what with the whole plot being nature vs. technology. It's especially apparent in the later battles where Lucas is still using a stick and able to take down mechanical monstrosities as well as guys equipped with armor and lasers. In fact the only thing that Lucas and the gang can't beat by punching and kicking and sticks is something that NOTHING can defeat.
- Shows up occasionally in World of Warcraft, particularly against gnomes and goblins. A giant mecha equipped with missile launchers and laser guns can be taken out with crossbows, maces, and animal claws.
- Shows up of all places Modern Warfare. Where with the right built the best weapons is a knife and shield combo. Also until being patched the model 1887 had the best range in game, almost that of real life.
- In City of Heroes, your character may have powered armour, a Healing Factor, or control over gravity itself, but nothing will save you from the Knives of Artemis, whose main weapons are crossbows and caltrops. Then again, your Badass Normal hero can take out killer robots, alien warriors, super soldiers, evil wizards, rogue superheroes, cybernetic street gangs…
- Galaxy Man, a UFO-like robot who creates black holes in Mega Man 9, is taken down easily by wet concrete. It does work both ways though, given Concrete Man's weakness is laser-powered.
- Mega Man X2: Magna Centipede, who's a tech-skilled ninja hacker centipede that teleports and throws homing mine-shurikens, is weak to scrap metal.
- You get Blasters near the end of Might and Magic VII (and some other games of the series). Besides incredible accuracy, they are inferior in raw damage to high-end bows and swords - but they do Energy damage instead of Physical, and the enemies in the area they're supplied for use in have more Physical resistance than they do Energy resistance. Kreegans (known as "devils" among natives) are Sufficiently Advanced Aliens that use Organic Technology' and are quite good at terramorphing. When they tried to conquer Enroth with brute force, they had a hard time dealing with 500 armed men and were completely stopped by dragons and titans that happened to live in neighborhood; after that, they resorted to infiltrating local society and building their own cult. Those that landed on Antagarich did a lot better due to being more numberous and willing to ally with some natives; nonetheless, they went from posing a major threat to desperately struggling for power to losing any importance and becoming simple mercenaries in less than a decade.
- The terrorist faction in Command & Conquer: Generals repeatedly routs the United States and China in a 21-century war using Cold War-era technology, with supersonic planes being shot down by machine guns and Molotov-wielding mobs of rioters blowing up scores of tanks with lasers.
- A huge balance issue in the F2P MMO Black Prophecy. Bullet weapons completely overpower energy weapons because they ignore shields. Energy weapons have to deal with a fighter's shields first- and then they do less damage to the actual hull of the shield in average than projectiles. The only "drawback" projectile weapons have is that bullets supposedly slow down when approaching an enemy with shields (with no damage penalties). This doesn't actually happen ingame, and even if it did, chances of hitting the target would still be high, considering you are using either a fast-firing chaingun or a hitscan sniper rifle.
- In Metal Gear Solid 4, in a world where anybody with nanomachines can be manipulated and incapacitated, Johnny gets his moments to shine when he reveals that he never had nanomachines implanted into his body, rendering him immune to the high tech methods to disable nanomachine-enhanced soldiers.
- In the reboot of Syndicate, the LAW-92 is a relatively low-tech unguided missile popular with terrorists because Agents cannot disable them via Breaching.
- Justified in Star Ocean. Despite having access to laser pistols, Ronyx and Ilia were chosen to go after the Jie Revorse with Millie, Roddick, and their four friends from the past wielding their bare hands, swords, knives, staves (or spears) bows, and symbology because Revorse was genetically modified to the point where he was immune to energy-based weaponry. Presumably, they don't have much Ballistics in the present time. Actually, it could be a safety measure - maybe the energy weaponry is a bit safe so that it only works on organic targets (or robots), or at least can't break spaceship walls like Ballistics could. Even if this is futuristic, early adapters could probably have banned ballistic weaponry.
- Inverted in Star Ruler. With a large enough gap in tech level, the more advanced faction will absolutely Curb Stomp the less advanced one. Furthermore, because production rate is also improved by research, the lesser faction can't count on numbers either.
- The Combat Shotgun in Fallout 3 is more powerful than any energy weapon you'll get until the end of the game.
- In the Mothership Zeta DLC, one of the allies you encounter on the alien ship is a feudal-era Japanese Samurai. A Samurai on a spaceship full of aliens with ray-guns. Curb-Stomp Battle waiting to happen, right? You can have an encounter where he is standing in a room, katana drawn, surrounded by dismembered alien corpses. Yep. Curb-Stomp Battle all right.
- Some entries on the Shield Tech Tree in Spaceward Ho!, by ascending effectiveness:
Hide behind a big rock
- In Enemy Infestation, due to the aliens' Adaptive Ability, the effects of weapons on them are largely unpredictable every mission. There are two exceptions: a rocket launcher (primitive compared to the abundant rayguns), and a cook's cleaver.
- In Plants vs. Zombies, the Zombies try to invade your house using tools, vehicles, and a Humongous Mecha (and futuristic Mini Mechas in the sequel). They all get taken down by plants.
- In the sequel, the Infi-nut (a projected Hard Light Wall-Nut that regenerates via its projector) can be instantly destroyed, projector and all, by a zombie carrying a lit wooden torch.
- In Dark Souls II, the "Strike" type weapons tend to be relatively crude compared to the other weapons in the game. The Great Club in particular is just a branch taken from a huge tree. Strike damage in this game is arguably the most useful type of damage in the game since many enemies take less damage from any physical damage except Strike damage, especially armored opponents. Quite a few enemies will go down faster when hit by a big rock on a stick or the aforementioned tree branch than by a fancy enchanted sword.
- Armored Core V and its sequel Verdict Day play with this trope. At certain points in the games, jury-rigged one-shot weapons known as Ultimate Weapons become available and can be loaded onto the player's AC. The weapon that embodies this trope, known as the Mass Blade, is a concrete pillar, outfitted with rocket boosters and used as a giant bludgeon. Said weapon can demolish a supertech, laser-armed Humongous Mecha in a single strike.
- A fully automated, aim-assisted Sentry Gun built by a man with 11 PhDs that usually takes an invulnerability shield and lots of firepower to destroy can be destroyed in two swings by a incomprehensible nut in an asbestos suit with a sledgehammer. Welcome to Team Fortress 2. On a related note, the miraculous glowing shield that provides total invulnerability to harm from bullets, explosions, fire, and even One Hit Kills? Its greatest nemesis is compressed air, also provided the aforementioned nut in a rubber suit.
- Unintentionally played straight by the flash game Age of War. The best strategy to beat the otherwise really hard Impossible difficulty is to stay at the lowest age and just keep spamming Cavemen endlessly.
- Spoofed in Anti Hero For Hire. Canada managed to conquer the northern half of the United States using Dinosaurs. Yes, Dinosaurs. The American hi-tech missile shields, prepared to stop WMDs, were never programmed with anti-Dinosaur measures. It was called "The Unexpected War".
- Likewise, Axe Cop brings a "Dinosuar Horn" with him when he goes to Invisible King Bad Guy Planet Number Two, saying that he doesn't know what he'll find up there, but that it probably can't beat Dinosuars. And indeed, Dinosuars seem to be the only thing Invisible King Bad Guy's scientists can't make.
- In Freefall, Ecosystems Unlimited attempts to control the information leaving the company by dosing recycled parts with EMP before releasing them to destroy any clandestine listening/recording devices that someone may try to sneak out that way, which has absolutely no effect on hand-written notes.
- In a Story Arc of Sluggy Freelance, it looks like some Hereti-Corp agents are royally screwed when they're faced with an army of robots that are Immune to Bullets. Then it turns out that, while the robots' builders thought to make them bulletproof, they didn't do anything about flammability. Cue the flamethrower.
- Prequel treats its readers to a flash minigame where they control Katia as she chases a skilled mage throughout the city of Kvatch- his ability as a wizard gives him a great advantage in agility as he escapes from the normally clumsy Katia. The chase ends with Katia performing a combat roll, simultaneously grabbing a stone, chucking it at the back of his head and scoring a direct hit. "Situation: controlled!"
- Explicitly argued against in Orion's Arm, where the "Plucky Baseline" is specifically declared impossible. A higher sophont is fundamentally unbeatable by a lower one barring the aid of an equal.
- In Worm, Skitter escapes a cage made of nano robots that cut through anything using a lighter.
- The Simpsons
- Parodied in "Treehouse of Horror II", where the primary weapon for the human uprising against their alien overlords is Moe wielding a board with a nail in it. This makes sense considering the aliens invaded when the entire earth was unarmed after Lisa wished for world peace, and had things like slingshots. After being driven off, the aliens muse that one day the humans will "create bigger boards and bigger nails" until one day "they will create a board with a nail so big it will destroy them all!"
Kang: "Your superior intellect is no match for our puny weapons!"
- Parodied again in "The Lastest Gun in the West" when Buck McCoy with his lasso stops Snake and his gang who have guns. One member explains that the bullets are just going through which leads them to realize that they are facing the ultimate weapon.
- The Powerpuff Girls
- In one episode, the combined energy blasts of Mojo Jojo, Princess, and HIM only manage to hold off the girls... until Fuzzy Lumpkins drops a rock, and defeats them.
- In another episode, when a race of advanced vegetable aliens try to invade the planet, the Powerpuff Girls and the kids of Townsville fend them off by literally eating them.
- Transformers: Beast Wars
- Oona, the little protohuman girl, successfully took down Waspinator with a stick thanks to Cheetor's advice: "When you're battling 'bots, hack at the hinges." Really, Waspinator may have been the series' Butt Monkey, but he's still an alien war machine.
- Also, in the series finale, the primitive humans held off Inferno, a flamethrower wielding war machine, and Quickstrike, a poison wielding war machine, with, well, sticks. The two did eventually get their act together, though, mostly because they weren't expecting the assault. They were inspired by Dinobot, who took down Megatron with a stone hammer. Although, again, Dinobot is an alien war machine.
- In Rampage's introductory episode, he proved to be unstoppable by conventional weapons. They could only halt his progress by having Silver Bolt bury him in a rock slide.
- Parodied in a Scary Door episode (that happens to be a parody of The War of the Worlds) in the third Futurama movie.
Narrator: In the end, it wasn't guns or bombs that defeated the aliens, but that humblest of God's creatures: the Tyrannosaurus Rex
- Also the page quote that is from a classic monster horror movie that was aired on a planet inhabited only by robots. It had the robots as heroes (obviously) and a human as monster that dies by falling into a stick.
- In Fun on a Bun, the army of Neanderthals along with various beasts manage to handle themselves wellnote against the modern humans, led by Zapp Brannigan mind you.
- See any show having a special episode about guns, where the guns are also used, then the gun user must be defeated with non-lethal methods to show who's 'good' and who's 'bad.' Captain Planet and the Planeteers got a character out of this trope! (Lootan Plunder, prior to any summoning of CP, to the point his frustration rants sometimes make him sound like a Scooby-Doo villain.)
- Occurs often in one episode of Megas XLR, where a fountain drink is teleported into the control room of a doomsday weapon, frying the controls, and destroying the weapon.
- In the Spiral Zone episode "Back to the Stone Age", the evil Black Widows disable the heroic Zone Riders' equipment during a battle in the Australian outback. The Zone Riders respond by enlisting a friendly tribe of aborigines to train them in using ancient weapons, which they use to defeat the Black Widows.
- In the Dexter's Laboratory Dial M For Monkey segment "Huntor", Monkey defeats Huntor by smashing his weapons with rocks and trapping him like a tiger using a hole.
- Parodied in SpongeBob SquarePants B.C. (Before Comedy), in which a caveman's curiosity about a robot activates its defense mechanisms. The caveman later responds by throwing large rocks at it; for the rest of the fight, they seem evenly matched.
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars episode 15 season 1. Territorial natives of Orto Plutonia attack republic troops that have superior armament.
- In the episode "The Infinite Vulcan" in Star Trek: The Animated Series, a container of knockout gas proves to be very effective in a room with a phaser-disabling field.
- Zig-Zagging Trope in The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes.
- When Kang the Conqueror comes back from the future with advanced weapons, Cap and Iron Man have to pull out all the stops just to stay alive. However, when The Hulk arrives, he smashes Kang's shields with nothing but his fists. However, after Kang warps himself and the entire team to a Bad Future, he ups his shield power, meaning brute strength stops working, and Kang laughs at Hulk for thinking that throwing rocks will be enough to break his shield. However, Hulk reveals that even though Rock can't beat Laser, Rock can certainly distract Laser, and Black Panther uses this opening to attack Kang from behind, which sets up Ant-Man to ruin Kang's equipment with a swarm of cockroaches.
- In the same series, Wakandan technology is superior to pretty much everything, thanks to their strongly implied usage of Magitek and the fact that the spears and arrows are outfitted with heads made of Vibranium (the ultimate Unobtainium of the Marvel Universe — to put this into perspective, the adamantium used on Wolverine is vibranium's second-rate, inferior copy).
- Zigzagged also in the second Ultimate Avengers movie. Wakanda's weapons technology is surprisingly effective, but this is solely because they are forged of vibranium and their few gun-based weapons are powered/controlled from a down Chitauri ship. When the ship is destroyed, and they have to rely on their medieval-grade tech, they really don't do so well, for all that their weapons are capable of piercing Chitauri armor.
- Gemma from Dogstar is an expert with thrown rocks (as are most of her race). In "Persuasion", she destroys an entire space station with a single, well-thrown rock.
- A note on military technology: New equipment is often designed to outperform or counter what is currently common, with effectiveness against even older technology being taken for granted as the current standard is always supposed to have superseded everything before it. Even if this assumption is not present, compromises have to be made during the design process and it is simply more logical to balance performance against the threats of today (which an army is almost certain to face on the battlefield) than those of a decade ago (which are likely to have been phased out altogether). In any case, armed forces tend to hold on to old equipment for a long time due to the sizable investment, so if someone is beating your lasers with rocks, you should still have some rocks of your own to send right back.
- A real-life example took place in the Millennium Challenge, a 2002 wargame carried out by the U.S. military (as mentioned in Blink by Malcolm Gladwell). A test for a new information-gathering system, it was unofficially a resounding failure. The opposing military, whose modern communications had been jammed or would be intercepted, communicated with the front by motorcycle courier and used light signals to launch planes. Most notably, they swarmed a U.S. naval force in the Persian Gulf with small, missile-armed PT boats with the magic ability to teleport around the game board and which were never in his original unit list to begin with. Backed up by regenerating shore-based missile batteries, he “sank" a fully-crewed aircraft carrier. The U.S. military reset the game, pointing out that the OPFOR commander's tactics were impossible under the circumstances, and were completely impractical given the operational environment.
- These abuses resulted in the game being massively disputed and actually led to a reprimand of the guy running the OPFOR on accusations he effectively cheated and ignored parameters of the game in order to "win" it. There were also a lot of questions if what he was doing was even possible in the real world with accusations that he was basically using game mechanics to execute plans that would never have worked in the real world thus ruining the training value. His opponents argued that in effect, his conduct wasted the money spent on setting the simulation up and destroyed a valuable training exercise. His supporters argued that he was simply doing his duty to find whatever flaws in US strategy that a potential enemy could exploit, and that the ones in charge of the exercise were simply using it as a propaganda show to validate existing US strategy and placate the traditionalists. Either way, the entire exercise was discredited.
- During wargames conducted in 2004 the USS Ronald Reagan was "sunk" by the HMS Gotland (Royal Swedish Navy submarine, not the British Royal Navy) A diesel-electric submarine (based on a design pioneered in 1929 in the US) using a Stirling Engine (originally conceived in 1816) rather than the standard piston engine. The Gotland, BTW was commissioned in 1996, 2 years before the Reagan was even laid down (and the Gotland was not "sunk" by the other ships, as opposed to the subs in the entry below).
- Canadian and Australian submarines built in the 1960s (which weren't that much more advanced than a World War II sub in terms of basic technology) routinely "sank" US Fleet carriers in wargames. The standard tactic was to try and get ahead of the carrier battlegroup, and then go absolutely silent and unmoving and let the fleet run over them. Inevitably the subs were "sunk" when they executed an attack on the carrier, but more often than not they'd have gotten their torpedoes off first, trading a few dozen men and a dinky little diesel-electric boat for a multi-billion dollar fleet carrier. Mind, awareness of the threat posed by diesel-electric subs is the whole reason they get invited to these wargames.
- In general the reason that diesel-electric submarines are effective in exercises is that said exercises are geographically isolated such that useful training can be done. In a real war, carriers would only operate on open seas and be all but immune from non nuclear submarine attacks due to their high speeds. The one exception is geographic barriers such as the Persian Gulf.
- Spear throwers (atlatl), long forgotten in Europe, proved an effective armor piercing weapon against Cortés' army. It was said by Cortés that the holes left by the javelins were indistinguishable from those left by muskets.
- Primitive firearms didn't necessarily impart massively more energy to their targets than some other primitive weapons did. As KE = 1/2 mv^2, a projectile which weighs 40 times less would need to be travelling six times faster. As it turns out, a dart thrown by an atlatl travels almost exactly 1/6th as quickly as a bullet fired by a musket does (~150 kph vs ~900 kph), and depending on the size of the bullet, may weigh close to 40 times as much, so the overall kinetic energy delivered on target may well have been comparable.
- Australian colonial history is bloodier than some might think, and the Aborigines often had the advantage. Colonists had muzzle-loading muskets; the natives carried four or five spears, and could throw them all in about the time it took the musket to be reloaded, often with the aid of a spear-thrower. Their hunter-gatherer lifestyle also gave them an edge in stealth and tracking; it was fairly common for troopers to spend weeks chasing native sheep-thieves and never even see them.
- It is frequently forgotten that the primary reason that muskets took over from bows and crossbows was not their greater efficacy, but rather the fact that they were much easier to train men how to use properly. Early firearms were inferior to bows in most respects, but training a longbowman was much harder than training someone to use a musket; an expert longbowman had to be trained pretty much from childhood on up (giving rise to the old quote "To train a longbowman, start with his grandfather."), but an expert musketman could be trained and ready for battle in a few weeks to a few months.
- One of the nastier tricks employed by the guerillas in The Vietnam War did involve bamboo. Pungi sticks were bamboo shoots, cut while the wood was still young and highly absorbent. They'd cut a very sharp point on one end, smear the spikes with human feces, then place several of them point-up in a covered pit and find various ways to lure American soldiers over the pits. If getting impaled didn't kill them, the resulting infection was sure to do some damage.
- Improvised man-traps in general can be extremely effective in dense vegetation of all kinds, despite most designs being indistinguishable from what Stone Age hunters would've employed.
- The Vietnamese guerillas also would string tripwires and coat them in urine so that enemies would cut their ankles on them, which would then get infected. In fact, the Vietnamese employed tactics similar to those used by Le Loi's men in the Vietnamese rebellion against China in the 1400s. The reason this worked is because the Vietnamese were familiar with their territory, while the Americans had no way of navigating the dense jungle.
- Urine squicks a lot of people out, but unless the "donor" of the urine has some kind of UTI it's more or less sterile. Urinating into dirt to make mud and smearing that on the wires would likely work, because dirt is actually fairly "dirty" (often containing, among other things, tetanus bacteria spores).
- To add insult to injury, landmines planted by American forces were reputedly neutralised by Viet Cong forces, simply by urinating on them.
- On the other side of the Vietnam war, the US constantly had to resort to using older cluster bomb models because their submunitions had much greater chances at failing to fire on the initial drop and becoming deadly unexploded ordinance. As it turns out, having a bunch of unexploded bombs on the ground was much more damaging to the Vietnamese than having a whole area blown away in one go.
- In fact one the United States's most lethal cluster bombs was called the yellow dog, essentially a lump of steel cast to look like a bullet sized bomb. Simply using gravity, these things would build up the inertia of a fifty caliber round during their decent. Each yellow dog cost just pennies to make and thousands could be deployed by a single airplane. What made them so deadly is that they could penetrate several yards into the earth in some cases, effectively foiling the Vietnamese's counters to more conventional cluster bomb submunitions that actually explode. They only had such incredible penetrating power because they were designed to mimic the shapes of several of Britain's WWII earth penetrating bombs, long thought to be obsolete. Additionally, yellow dogs could be deployed from any kind of Aircraft imaginable, including C-130s which would fake a mid-flight cargo ejection to lure Vietnamese troops out in the open before spraying the area with them.
- During early encounters with the U.S., Filipino fighters repelled gunfire (from the then-new .38 Long Colt revolvers, at least; rifle fire was another story entirely) with ropes, wrapped around their bodies as armor. Even after taking direct hits, the natives were still in fine condition to rip apart their colonizers. Many no doubt died of blood loss later, but that didn't do the American soldiers they'd hacked up in the meantime any good. This forced the U.S. to develop the heavier .45 ACP bullet (and the Colt 1911 pistol to fire it) in response (and as a stop-gap, bring the recently retired .45 Long Colt revolvers back into service).
- Due to the poor condition (or outright lack) of firearms available, many of these fighters were armed with kris swords, or in some cases the machetes they used in farming.
- Speaking of the Filipinos, this was in force way before the Americans came in. Recall for instance April 27, 1521: the Battle of Mactan, where it was 50 Spaniards versus 1500 Filipinos. The Spaniards, despite their technologically superior weapons, lost (Ferdinand Magellan was killed, among others) to the natives who were armed with kampilan and kalis swords as well as bamboo lances tipped with poison. This trope was also taken literally in that the Filipinos also took to hurling rocks, coconuts, jackfruit, and allegedly their own bodily wastes at the invaders.
- 30 filipinos for every single spaniard is less a "Rock beats Laser" and more a Zerg Rush case!
- In older history books it was documented that Ferdinand Magellan's forces was reinforced with 1000 strong natives(they were hosted by a pair of local chieftains at the time). They still lost.
- During the Indian Wars in the swamps of Florida prior to the invention of the Colt revolver, the US Army kept losing. Bows have a much higher rate of fire than muskets, and with the short lines of sight involved, the longer range of muskets didn't matter. There is a reason why the Seminoles were the only nation to never surrender to the US Government...
- A general one from those wars as well: Bows can be used for indirect fire, as used to great effect at Little Big Horn.
- The woefully underequipped Finnish army destroyed hundreds of Soviet tanks during the Winter War, using such equipment as Molotov cocktails and wooden logs. Hell, the Finns named the Molotov Cocktail after the Soviet foreign minister who claimed that the Red Air Force was dropping breadbaskets, not cluster bombs (thus, the Finns made a cocktail to go with the bread).
- Repeated, to some degree, in Grozny during the First Chechen War, when Chechen fighters occasionally took on modern T-72s and T-80s with Molotov cocktails. More commonly, the Chechen weapons of choice were more modern RPG's and ATGM's, though. Either way, Russians lost hundreds of tanks in a disastrous assault on what was supposed to be a ragtag group of "criminals and outlaws." Worth noting, many of the Chechen fighters had previously served in the Russian military, hence their familiarity with anti-tank weapons and tactics.
- In 1940, the Norwegian garrison at the Oscarborg Fortress guarding the approaches to Oslo sank the Bluecher, a modern German heavy cruiser, using guns and torpedoes that were more than 70 years old (originally delivered by Germans, ironically). Not quite "rocks," but certainly quite old and outdated technology.
- It took such a long time for European armaments to reach the effectiveness of Native American armaments (at least on American turf) that there are copious stories of Spaniards adopting native armor (metal armor was hot and heavy) and everybody being outgunned by arrows, spears, and slings (back then, the only advantage guns had was ease of use and piercing ability). There are also plenty of instances of Spaniards using swords massacring armies of thousands with a hundred or so soldiers. Even when outnumbered, and after the shock of 'newness' wore off, cutting edge technology such as highly developed crossbows, pikes, and efficient fighting formations.
- During the first phase of the colonial era, the Europeans didn't have much of an edge in material technology anyway. Their secret weapon was unit organization and battle tactics — American Indians typically fought to win renown as individuals on the battlefield, whereas the Europeans were trying to destroy the enemy force.
Another major factor was the Native Americans' susceptibility to European diseases. These diseases, in fact, spread more quickly than the Europeans themselves did, killing large numbers of natives and throwing their societies into chaos before the colonizers arrived on the scene with settlers and armies. At least one historian has made the comparison of what Europe might have looked like if the Black Plague of the 14th century was immediately followed by another major Mongol invasion.
- Underscored by the inversion during late 19th century, when the Chinese clashed with the French in 1880s over Vietnam and then the Japanese in 1890s over Korea. Chinese spent enormous sums of money buying up European arms and equipment but did next to nothing to update their military doctrine, training technique, or organization. Consequently, the Chinese were often actually better armed than both the French and the Japanese, but performed poorly against both.
- In 1879 the British Imperial Army suffered its greatest defeat at the hands of a native army at the battle of Isandhlwana. The Zulus were known for their tactical cunning, their rigorous training, and their suicidal bravery. They were also known for being equipped primarily with iron-headed spears and rawhide shields. The British were armed with the latest breech-loading rifles and even had some machine-guns on hand and, feeling that their technological advantage rendered the result of the upcoming battle a foregone conclusion, set-up a rather shoddy line to meet the Zulus at Isandhlwana. The Zulus ruthlessly exploited the Brits' complacency, easily out-flanking and annihilating the much better-armed force.
- Secrets Of The Dead also went into further details as to why the British got their asses kicked. Not only were the Zulus also hopped up on the local plant equivalents of Berserker Packs, the British were doubly screwed by the fact that the Martini Henry rifles they were using had a habit of jamming when overheated from extended fire and someone forgot to bring the keys for the ammunition crates so they had to spend most of the fight trying to smash the locks open to get to the bullets.
- Actually the whole "forgetting the keys/screwdrivers for the munition boxes"-thing is a made-up myth. The British authorities (including high command) knew it made them look damn silly being beaten by (in their eyes) a bunch of savages with sticks so they made things up to explain that it wasn't really their fault that the highly trained, well-equipped British army got its ass kicked. In fact, the ammo crates have a slide-on top held by only one screw that was designed to be broken off when kicked, just so that you wouldn't need a screwdriver!
- The Zulus also had an astonishing piece of pure luck on their side that helped them exploit a weakness in the British weapons: The British were using gunpowder-based ammunition, which produces large quantities of dense, white smoke, and there just happened to be a total solar eclipse that went over during the battle. The combination of smoke and eclipse made it impossible for the British to see the Zulus for a few critical minutes in the midst of the battle, allowing them to get close enough to be extremely effective.
- The British were often on the losing end of Rock Beats Laser. At Isandlwana they where deployed in loose formation with a few meters between the soldiers, suitable for fighting against other armies with breech-loading rifles and cannons, but not against charging impis. When the British used tight formations that were outdated for European warfare, they fared better, especially when they got to use gatling machine guns to support to make any charge by the Zulu on open terrain utter suicide.
- One must remember that the reason that the Zulus were such a famous example is that it was an exception. For instance, the Battle of Roark's Drift that was fought soon after Isandalwana had less than 200 British troops, many of whom were sick and wounded, successfully holding off a Zulu force of 4000 because the British commanders there operated with some intelligence. The reason the British had such an expansive empire was because they were the earliest to the industrialization game and the resultant technology from an entire population with time to think rather spending all their time working for both food and goods, so this is more exceptions proving the rule.
- In a way this was a subversion. The Zulus were an organized army optimized for pitched battles, if a low-tech version of it. Tribes that used the same tactics that they used in feuding with each other generally lasted longer even if they aren't remembered as fondly.
- Until the repeating rifle, generally what happened in archer/crossbow vs musket match-ups, though exceptions abound on all fronts based on commander tactics/sense.
- In terms of range, rate of fire, and accuracy, bows were superior to early guns without question. The only advantage the guns had was the noise and smoke was unnerving, particularly to horses, and it was much easier to train a musketman than it was to train a good archer, which might take decades. The cost in training outweighed the cost in the equipment itself, so an army could field more musketmen and replace them quicker over long campaigns of attrition.
- From the beginning, firearms also presented a major logistics advantage over bows: a musketman could carry enough powder and shot with him for 50-100 firings. An archer would be very hard pressed to carry 50-100 arrows with him, making necessary wagonloads carrying nothing but arrows in the supply train. Thus, the supply train is shortened significantly, making firearm-equipped armies more mobile.
- However, they still had their place; Indian rulers usually retained their archers even after they adopted Western-style firearms, and the Duke of Wellington, who had himself served in India and seen the effectiveness of such weapons, attempted to form a Longbow Corps during the Peninsular War, to act as an elite rapid-response force. Unfortunately for the Duke and his men, the musket had so thoroughly supplanted the bow in the West that England simply couldn't produce enough trained archers to be of any use.
- It's also a silly example, as matchlocks used tighter bullets and so had better range (but rates of fire only slightly better than an 18th century rifle), and it's not possible to string a bow or a crossbow under the rain, either.
- Until percussion locks were invented, firearms were equally useless in the rain - or even just humid conditions.
- By Wellington's time, they were using flintlocks. Somewhat faster than matchlocks, and far more reliable. The minimum may have been three shots a minute, but well disciplined and trained units often managed four or even five shots a minute. Firing rates were slower simply because volley fire was much more effective than individual fire. You're also failing to take into account cannons, which were the true killers of the battlefield.
- During the early days of radar-guided and heat-seeking missiles many US military planners were so confident of their superiority that the F-4 Phantom fighter was initially designed without guns, as they believed that missiles would make aerial cannon fights a thing of the past. This was quickly disproven in the Vietnam War when the Vietnamese pilots quickly learned to fight close to the ground, where ground clutter and thermal reflection greatly confused early missile guidance systems to the point of practical uselessness. Worse, the old "obsolete" MiG-15s and MiG-17s had superior maneuverability to the Phantom at lower speeds and altitude, which allowed them to keep their guns trained on any unfortunate Phantom they got close enough to. Even if the Phantom managed to outmaneuver such MiGs, their lack of guns meant that they couldn't enagage at closer distances. Often the Phantoms had to resort to their superior speed and climb rate to escape. note
- Played with in Real Life with concrete bombs. Need a target in an urban area destroyed while minimizing the collateral damage using shrapnel-and-blast-force-inducing high explosives? Just drop a slab of good old-fashioned concrete right on top of your pesky target. Who needs fancy high-explosive mixtures when you have the simple blunt force of a solid chunk of concrete dropped from the sky? Catch is, this straight-forward blunt force weapon is only effective when laser-guided.
- Laser-guided-rock beats everything?
- Well, they're pretty good at beating vehicles and artillery pieces hidden in urban areas at least.
- The "Rods From God" concept takes this a step further, replacing the chunk of concrete with, essentially, crowbars with fins on placed in orbit. They don't weigh as much, but they make up for it with extra speed (kinetic energy is mass times the velocity squared).
- During the NATO operations in the former Yugoslavia, only two F-117 stealth aircraft were lost (one was shot down; one was hit and managed to return to base, but never flew again). This was due to, among other things, old radar sets that operated on a wavelength that the aircraft weren't so stealthy against, combined with prodigious application of anti-aircraft cannons and SAM spam. Notably the same battery scored both. Partly attributed to carelessness on NATO's part, who flew the F-117s on the exact same flight path for every mission.
- And statement that "only" two F-117s were lost is questionable once one realizes that F-117s only flew 1.300 sorties and suffered two losses, while F-16s flew 4.500 sorties and suffered 1 loss. Basically, loss rate for F-16 was seven times less than that for F-117.
- It is nearly legendary that a SEAL team was put up against an 'amphib' ship (looks like a small carrier—think "helicopter and Harrier carrier" and you've got it; they are used to deploy marines; an example would be the LHD) and quickly took out all the defenses...except for engineering, which was armed with foot long bits of pipe ('pipe wrenches,' used to shut water tight doors) and safety netting, which they deployed at every level of the vertical shafts... basically, there wasn't any way to invade or drop a bomb without either exposing oneself to pipes or getting caught in safety net.
- Early in the Vietnam War, a flight of piston-engine A-1 Skyraiders was attacked by Mig-17 jets. Thanks to their slower speed and straight wing design, they were able to outmaneuver the faster Migs. Lacking air-to-air missiles, two of the Skyraiders used their 20mm cannons to shoot down one of the Migs in a head-on pass. It was one of the few times since WWII piston-engine aircraft were able to shoot down jet aircraft.
- On a similar note, in WWII, Me 262 jet fighters initially had difficulties fighting the more primitive piston engined fighters. Their maneuverability dropped off sharply at low speeds, and they often had trouble dogfighting piston fighters at high speeds because they were going too fast to get an accurate bead on the enemy fighters. Allied strategies to counter Me 262s essentially boiled down to loitering around German airfields and shooting down the jet fighters as they attempted to take off and land, where they were the most vulnerable.
- YMMV on the second example as the Me 262 was designed to intercept bombers at high speed without any intention of having to dogfight with escort fighters.
- The US Navy's air division spends incredible amounts of time on "FOD" control— that is, Foreign Object Damage control, making sure there's not so much as a pebble or an earring where it could, possibly, by any chance be thrown into the engine of a jet. It is amazing how a tiny object can utterly destroy a sufficiently advanced bit of equipment. That's why the first thing done at beginning of each day of duty on a carrier is a line of personnel walking together the length of the flight deck in strict formation to remove any piece of debris before any air traffic happens.
- Contrast this with what the USSR did in designing the MiG-29: They gave it alternate air intakes on TOP of the wings, so that it could close the forward intakes and not risk ingesting debris when taking off or landing on poorly maintained, rough, or damaged runways. These are far less efficient than the forward intakes, which is why they're only used during takeoff and landing, but for those couple of minutes of use they get the job done. (The Soviets never could quite match US technology, but they had some DAMN clever engineers.)
- The A-10 Thunderbolt II used a similar system, where the engines were placed above the wings and near the rear of the craft so it could be stationed at forward airbases where there was a greater chance of accidentally ingesting loose debris. The externally-mounted engines also have the advantage that if one is damaged it's unlikely the throw debris into the other, leaving the A-10 still having power to return to base.
- The A-10 itself is something of this trope. There is no better armor destroyer in the world and it is done very simply with a supremely protected plane built around an enormous gun that fires very heavy bullets.
- The Bismarck was attacked by a small squadron of the obsolete Fairey Swordfish biplane, outdated and primitive even before the war started - though not as is occasionally assumed a World War I design, having been designed in the 1930s (the Swordfish was simply obsolete before it was even designed). The planes crippled the battleship by taking out her rudder with a torpedo hit, leaving her unable to do anything but run in circles until the rest of the Royal Navy caught up. The Bismarck couldn't track and hit the slow-moving, low-flying biplanes since she had been designed with medium-velocity C33 105mm anti-aircraft guns but these had been substituted while under construction for the more modern high-velocity C37 105mm. Nobody told the fire control designers about the change and the fire control system was still optimized for the C33. As a result, the fire control system unerringly pointed the guns at the wrong place and overshot the planes. By some incredible chance five Swordfish were damaged but none shot down..
- Important to note the hit on the rudder (which was blind luck, ordnance from planes at the time couldn't really be aimed reliably) was the only hit by the planes that actually did any damage to the Bismarck. Outside of that, this trope was not Truth in Television as the planes out of date torpedoes were too weak to inflict damage to anything besides the rudder.
- One countermeasure to advanced armor-piercing shaped-charge warheads: "slat armor," also known as a "fence", which is really just the newest version of a technique that goes back to WWII (and the introduction of shaped-charge AT rocket-propelled grenades): The Sherman, for instance, could have tool boxes all over the hull. Since the plasma jet of a shaped charge is only effective for a matter of several inches, getting it to detonate 2 feet away from the main hull will protect the vehicle extremely well.
- During the 1990s at the National Training Center, the resident OPFOR had no trouble employing simple effective countermeasures against advanced American equipment, including digital C4I systems and Apache Longbows. In one occasion, a group of Longbows launched their entire load of simulated Hellfires on burn barrels that looked like a group of armored vehicles on their sensors, before being shot down by MANPADS teams waiting by their battle positions.
- The US army discovered that insurgents could use cheap, commercially available equipment to intercept and view camera footage being transmitted by American UAVs.
- And as it turned out, the information is completely useless to them. They already know they are being watched.
- Possibly intended as encryption of the signal would not be all that difficult. A form of psychological warfare. See Paranoia Fuel.
- The reason this is not encrypted is because of who wants to see the footage. If it was encrypted lower level units would never be able to see it and that is considered worth the fact that the enemy can potentially see it.
- China has been arming its police officers with crossbows instead of traditional guns. The reason for this is because China has to defend against Islamist rebels crossing the border from Pakistan, and crossbows allegedly have less chance of setting off any bombs a suicide bomber is carrying than a gun.
- This has cultural tradition behind it as well. Semi-automatic crossbows have been around in China for 2400 years.
- It is also to lessen the chance of providing potential rebels with firearms.
- Similar to the above post, during the breakup of Yugoslavia, the crossbow manufacturer Barnett sold Crossbows to Serbian paramilitaries due to crossbows not being banned under the UN arms embargo. The Paramilitaries and even some army units used the crossbows as virtually silent sniper weapons. The crossbows also had a terrifying effect on the soldiers who came under attack from them, as their broadhead wounds were often harder to treat than gunshot wounds and the crossbows were so quiet they never knew they were being attacked.
- Since the Vietnam War, a popular and easy way to mark mines and explosives was to put some shaving cream on them. In the Afghanistan and second Iraq Wars, soldiers use silly string to check for tripwires, since the foam can reveal their positions yet is light enough not to set them off.
- In WWII, most armies were already implementing metal detectors to find mines. The Germans got around this by making mines made completely out of wood.
- Averted during the US war in Afghanistan. In 2001, US Special Forces that were inserted in the country to assist anti-Taliban tribesmen were forced to learn how to fight on horseback and to support mounted troops, which was the tribes' primary method of transportation since the area they lived in lacked roads or other infrastructure needed to support vehicles. While it is true that cavalry charges were on occasion somewhat successful against Taliban mechanized units, what is often not mentioned in the rock beats laser narrative is that smart bombs and other aerial support were called in by the US special forces ahead of the charges and were essential to their success - without smart bomb support, the cavalry was easily driven off by enemy armor.
- There has been a resurgence of interest in blimps and other lighter-than-air aircraft, which have a number of advantages over fixed wing aircraft such being cheaper to maintain, longer flight time, and greater carrying capacity. The US is already using several blimps as testbeds for carrying radar equipment to bolster air defense systems.
- Also US Army radio operators found metal Slinky toys are great as field radio aerials; they are easy to carry around the coils are bound together, yet easy to drape over any tree branch when extended and equally easy to pull down and gather when done.
- The Naval Battle of Campeche, fought in 1843, pitted warships of the Republic of Texas and the Republic of Yucatan (both of which had declared independence from Mexico) against warships of the Mexican Navy. It has the distinction of being the only time that sailing ships have defeated steamships in battle.
- Military hovercrafts can be defeated by long nails, hammered through a plank of wood, buried in the sand. These nails rip the vulnerable underbelly airbags of the craft, thus making it unable to hover.
- The Russian Antonov-2 is a large all metal Bi-plane designed between WWI and WWII as a transport and scout plane. Today several countries still use it in military service because it flies so slowly and so low to the ground that it evades radar. They are almost impossible to shoot down too, their sturdy construction means they can take a beating from AA batteries and still remain flying and its low and low flight altitude often means anti aircraft missiles will miss or steer themselves into the ground before they hit the An-2.
- Not true. The An-2 prototype first flew in 1946. An improved version, the An-3, appeared in 1980s. It is true, however, that their development was inspired by successful use of old biplanes for all sorts of missions by USSR during World War 2, however.
- Taking the trope literally, lasers in real life do not (yet) make very effective weapons, due to prohibitive power requirements, range limitations due to the "blooming" effect caused by the atmosphere, and various other drawbacks. Basically, any laser weapon that can be built with modern technology will be outperformed by a more conventional weapon. This only applies to lasers intended for causing physical damage to enemy targets, though. They are still quite effective in target guidance systems, gun sights, and for blinding enemies. They are also finding use in missile defense systems.
- After the reuinification of Germany, NATO managed to get their hands on Soviet-made East German weapons systems—which resulted in some shocking instances of this trope. NATO had created advanced flares designed to spoof IR missile guidance systems, and so NATO seekers in Sidewinder missiles had been improved to compensate for such flares. The Soviets, however, continued using cruder dirty-burning flares. In a serious technological oversight the Sidewinder's developers had optimized the missile seeker to discriminate the thermal patterns of NATO flares on the assumption that the Soviets had developed something similar. You know where this is going. This oversight was corrected in later versions of the missile.
- In WW2 the American codebreakers were easily able to break Japanese codes, yet the Japanese were never able to do the same, primarily because the Americans didn't use codes, they simply employed Navajo (among others) speakers, and since the Japanese couldn't speak the language they stood no chance of decyphering the American signals.