Shed Armor, Gain Speed

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Solid Snake: Mei Ling, Samus took her clothes off!
Mei Ling: That's just her in the Zero Suit, Snake.
Snake: Without that bulky Power Suit, she's gotten a lot more agile... You know, I bet if I took off all this heavy gear, I could catch her...

A subtrope of Multiform Balance, this is where a combatant sheds armor for the sake of speed. Unencumbered by weighty armor, they're less resilient, but much faster. This usually turns them from a Mighty Glacier into a Fragile Speedster. In cases of extreme power level or where Armor Is Useless, this can lead to the armor effectively being a Power Limiter and/or invoking the Bishonen Line. The Action Dress Rip is related, in that they're both sacrificing clothing for mobility, though the circumstances are usually fairly different.

Compare Didn't Need Those Anyway, which often overlaps with this trope when it comes to video game enemies. If it happens to a boss, it's probably a sign that he Turned Red. Compare also Disposable Vehicle Section; sometimes overlaps when the thing being shed is the vehicle's protective armor.


Examples:

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    Anime and Manga 
  • In GUN×SWORD, Priscilla does this in her introductory episode when she sheds her Humongous Mecha's armor to increase its speed and mobility in a battle with the protagonist.
  • In Mobile Suit Gundam 0080: War in the Pocket, the NT-1 "Alex" is outfitted with a special Chobam Armor which makes it incredible resilient, but kills its mobility and agility. Once it's ejected, the suit is much faster, having been designed to A) not be completely useless with all the extra weight, and B) keep up with Amuro Ray's Newtype reflexes. However, the very Oldtype Christina McKenzie is out of her league with it.
  • Inverted in Mobile Suit Gundam F91. The titular Gundam's high output and use of its Biocomputer require tremendous cooling, and one solution turned out to be the Metal Peel-off Effect (MEPE). Basically it transfers heat up its outer layers of armor material and dissipates it, with the added effect of playing merry hell on an opponent's visual sensors as they continue to register a mobile suit where there are only dissipated armor particles. (Later versions of the F91 remove this by limiting its output and using more advanced cooling materials, but it's made clear that it can be restored.)
  • In Mobile Fighter G Gundam, Neo-America's Gundam Maxter can eject its chest and shoulder armor for improved performance. Its shoulder armor actually mounts on its fists, improving its attack as well.
  • The prototype Stark Jegan from Mobile Suit Gundam: Char's Counterattack-MSV (basically canon mecha designs that didn't make it to the screen) had additional armor and armaments that it could eject in order to increase its speed.
  • In Mobile Suit Gundam 00 the Virtue Gundam can eject most of its armor to become the more maneuverable Nadleeh Gundam. However, the Nadleeh was not intended as a combat unit - as most of its capacitors and weapons are in its armor, it's much weaker than Virtue and never used in battle except as a last resort.
  • In Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans, Mikazuki shed Gumdam Barbatos' heavy armor and overclocks it in order to defeat Graze Ein.
  • Chirico does this in the Big Battle OVA, shedding a full sixth of a standard Scopedog's weight off to create the Light Scopedog custom unit. (This sort of customization is also pretty standard in the setting.)
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure Part 3, Jean-Pierre Polnareff's stand, the knight-like Silver Chariot can shed its armor for a more organic, much faster form.
  • A power limiter example rather than a simple speed boost, but in one episode of Yu-Gi-Oh!, Joey talks about how his card "Gearfried the Iron Knight" really wears its armor to control its own power, before removing that armor with a spell card to transform it into the powerful "Gearfried the Swordmaster."
  • In YuYu Hakusho, Bui's armor is used as a Power Limiter. Before he takes it off he's a ponderous Mighty Glacier, but upon shedding it he's a Lightning Bruiser and now capable of flight.
  • Rurouni Kenshin: During the battle with the Juppongatana, Hiko Seijuurou tells the giant Fuji to lose the armor because, though it protects him, it restricts his movements. Hiko then curbstomps him anyway.
  • Fate Testarossa from the Lyrical Nanoha franchise is already a Fragile Speedster, but in StrikerS, she adds the "True Sonic Form" to her armor, which essentially trades whatever meager defense it still provided for another speed boost. Her enemy at the time notes that she can be killed with a single blow in that form—but fails to take into account that you can't hit someone who moves so fast you can't see her.
  • In Fate/Zero, Saber discovers during her fight with Lancer that his weapon can ignore magical objects (like her armor), so she removes it to gain a boost in speed with little cost since it wasn't actually protecting her. Which he'd planned for, he actually had a second weapon that causes much more dangerous wounds but could be blocked by armor.
  • In Break Blade, the ancient golem Tyrfing goes into battle wearing enormous plates of bolt-on armor, which only it is strong enough to carry. If those become too damaged to help anymore, Rygart drops them and gets about 200% faster.
  • In Attack on Titan, the Armored Titan is able to go from a Mighty Glacier to a (relative) Fragile Speedster by shedding the armor at its joints. This grants it increased mobility and speed, but creates an Achilles' Heel that soldiers are already trained to exploit. As such, doing so is a risky gamble.
  • In Dragon Ball Z, when King Kai tells Goku to chase and catch his pet monkey to get acquainted to his home's gravity, which is much higher than that of Earth, Goku sheds his weighted training gear to better do so. After a while, King Kai tells him to put it back on, telling him that the other Saiyans— who he's here to prepare to fight— use the same gear while training in even higher gravity.
  • In Dragon Ball GT, Nouva Shenron discards his armor and his already impressive speed skyrockets.
  • One Piece: Although he doesn't shed actual armor, Rob Lucci's use of the Life Return technique is essentially this trope. Using the technique in his half-leopard hybrid form, he turns his bulky and resistant body into a much slimmer form. What he loses in power and defense, he gains in agility and speed.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • A downplayed example, at the climax of 300, Leonidas discards his shield and his helmet both to lull his enemy into a sense of security and give him the mobility he needed to have a Defiant Stone Throw at the Persian king and wound him before Leonidas and the rest of the Spartans are killed.
  • In Man of Steel, at the film's climax, Zod sheds his Powered Armor. This allows him to gain Flying Brick powers by exposing him to the Earth's atmosphere, giving him the ability to fly thus turning him from a Mighty Glacier to a Lightning Bruiser, as his the exposure also gives him both Super Strength and Super Toughness that compensates for the loss of his armor.
  • First Knight: as part of the celebration of King Arthur's betrothal to Guinevere, several able-bodied young men tried braving the Gauntlet (a mechanical obstacle course). Everyone who went through the Gauntlet wore heavy protective padding, and promptly got pushed off the Gauntlet. When Guinevere agreed to give a kiss to the first man to clear the Gauntlet, Lancelot immediately braved the Gauntlet, but without the padded armor. Needless to say, he skated through the contraption, although he opted not to kiss Guinevere.

    Literature 
  • Star Wars Expanded Universe: The New Essential Guide to Vehicles and Vessels says that Rebel engineers would frequently strip off hull plating and extra weight from the Y-Wing in order to give it extra speed for some types of operations.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Parodied in the zombie episode of Community. At the climax, Troy dons his Halloween costume: a cardboard version of the power loader from Aliens. While it does give him a little bit of protection from the Technically Living Zombies, it also gives them more to grab onto and slows him down. He quickly sheds it and wonders why he thought that it would be a good idea.
  • In the Doctor Who episode "Cold War" Skaldak sneaks out of his Ice Warrior armor, gaining not just speed but more importantly maneuverability and stealth, allowing him to crawl around in ducts and attack people unexpectedly.
  • Shurikenger from Ninpuu Sentai Hurricaneger (and his American counterpart, the Green Samurai Ranger from Power Rangers Ninja Storm). In their default morphed form, they can be seen wearing some sort of armor. However, they can remove the armor to go into their Super Mode, which granted them - among a new visor and a samurai saber - extra speed. Similarly, the mecha Senpuujin/Storm Megazord can do a similar transformation into its Lightning mode, trading its bulky frame for a sleeker, quicker form that however can only last for a few minutes.
  • Occurs a few times in Kamen Rider:

    Toys 
  • A variant in BIONICLE: During the Bohrok arc, the Toa discovered armor suits called "Exo-Toa" that boosted their durability and physical strength. However, they soon discovered this came at the cost of reduced elemental powers, and ended up shedding the armor in order to defeat the Bahrag queens.

    Video Games 
  • The Legend of Zelda:
  • Pokémon:
    • The move Autotomize causes the user to shed part of its body armor in order to gain speed. This raises speed by two levels and also lightens the user.
    • The move Shell Smash is inspired by this trope. All of the user's defensive stats drop by one, but their offensive stats (including speed) increase by 2.
    • The ability Weak Armor represents this similarly. Every time a Pokemon is hit with a physical attack, its defense drops a stage, but its Speed increases one. Its Japanese name Broken Armor makes it even more apparent.
    • Shelmet and Karrablast exhibit this when they evolve. They only evolve when one is traded for the other; effectively, mid-trade, Karrablast swipes Shelmet's metal shell. Karrablast slows down and becomes the Mighty Glacier Escavalier, while the newly-unencumbered Shelmet evolves into Accelgor, the second fastest non-legendary non-Mega Pokemon ever released.
    • Minior has the unique Shields Down ability, which starts it out with a thick layer of armor that gives it strong defenses and protection from status ailments. Once its health dips below half, the armor breaks apart, revealing its faster, more offensively oriented core.
  • Super Smash Bros. Brawl: Samus sheds her Powered Armor and wears a skin-tight suit. Zero Suit Samus, as she is thus called, is much faster and lighter.
  • In God of War III, Hercules is decked in full armor that makes him move slowly, which Kratos knocks off bit by bit. When the armor's gone completely, Herc becomes much faster, but can be defeated in only a few more hits.
  • In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, heavy armor offers the best protection, but is cumbersome and loud. It's not uncommon for players to don armor in close combat and then stash it in their inventory when moving across the landscape or sneaking.
  • In Mega Man X2, if you remove Crystal Snail's protective shell with Magnet Mine, he'll move quickly and wildly around the arena until he gets hold of the shell again.
  • Wild Wuerger from Super Robot Wars Original Generation. As part of its finishing move it sheds its armor and reveals a pair of bladed wings, with which it launches a series of blindingly-fast attacks. One of Arado's possible lines when using this maneuver is even a Shout-Out to Kamen Rider Kabuto.
  • In Virtual-ON Oratorio Tangram, Raiden can sacrifice 90% of its health and all of its V-Armor in exchange for a massive boost to speed.
  • In Plants vs. Zombies 2: It's About Time, the Pharaoh Zombie is initially the slowest zombie in the game since it's wearing its sarcophagus, but that makes him one of the toughest with an insane amount of health, immunity to being paralyzed, and the fact it can survive an explosive plant, which are usually a OHKO. Once it takes enough damage, the sarcophagus breaks and while he still has a Zombie Gait, he's one of the fastest zombies in the game.
  • Little Fighter 2: Louis, who wears full body armor, is one of the slowest characters in game. However, by executing a specific key combination he will eject his armor off his body and become Louis EX, the fastest character in game.
  • In Kid Icarus: Uprising, the Great Sacred Treasure used in the Final Battle combines this with Transforming Mecha. It starts by shedding a few weapons in transformation to Pursuit Mode. When Hades bombards it, in morphs into the more naturally controlled Mech Armor Mode. When Hades breaks off the top half, the two primary jet engines reattach into Ultra-Light Mode. When Hades completely smashes the thing, Pit salvages its major cannon to deliver the Final Strike.
  • In Space Pirates and Zombies, players can have their ships jettison their armor plates to increase their speed.
  • In Shining Force: Resurrection of the Dark Dragon, promoting Zuika to the Terminator class gives him a chitinous armor. When his health drops below 30%, the armor breaks, dramatically increasing his movement speed and replacing his normal attack with a Flash Step strike that has increased range and deals double damage.
  • In Robotech: Battlecry, you can choose to pilot an armored version of any given Veritech fighter in multiplayer—you start in your humanoid Humongous Mecha mode and are forced to stay that way due to the heavy armor and numerous missile pods installed on your legs, chest, and shoulders disabling the Veritech's ability to change modes. This leaves you in the slowest possible form, as the additional armaments and protection hamper the Battloid mode's mobility, but provides an exceptional defense boost as well as a lot of missiles to throw around. In an emergency, however, you can execute the 'purge' command, which ejects all that extra armor and weaponry, reverting the Veritech to its standard model and re-enabling transformation.
  • Played with in Valkyria Chronicles. General Jaeger's tank the Lupus has extra armor plating, slowing it down. The speed it gains after they're destroyed isn't a "boost" so much as it finally being able to go its regular speed. Its no less durable than a heavy tank without them either. The only real drawback being that the radiator(every tank's weak spot) is finally exposed.
  • Inverted in Kaiju A Gogo with one of Ginormasaurus's tier 2 abilities, which gives a boost to armour in exchange for reduced speed.
  • In Warframe, Chroma can use the Effigy spell to animate his pelt into a fire-breathing dragonnote . As he's no longer wearing the pelt, this causes his Armor stat to drop but boosts his running speed.
  • In Xenoblade Chronicles, Dunban's skill trees contain abilities that increase his Agility and Evasion if he isn't wearing armor. This leads to the surprisingly deadly strategy fans term "Naked Dunban".
  • Overlaps somewhat with Disposable Vehicle Section in Spy Hunter. Once the Interceptor is reduced to 25% of its maximum health (or on player command in the sequels), it turns into a motorcycle. The two-wheeled Interceptor is lighter and faster, with better handling and acceleration, but loses a significant portion of its protective body panels, its Rail Gun, Turbo Boost, and all of its defensive weapons.
  • In Cursed Treasure 2, there are several enemies and bosses who lose their armor when reduced to some fraction of their maximum health, greatly boosting their speed. The game calls this a "Final Rush".
  • This is a favored tactic in Boktai 2: Solar Boy Django which put a de-facto level limit on armor by giving you running speed boosts with every level up, while stronger armor weighed more and reduced your running speed. Most players preferred having a base running speed faster than the Dash ability and would opt for no armor at all (until they found the Earthly Robe with it's 28 defense / 8 weight) in favor of being able to take extra hits.

    Webcomic 
  • Exterminatus Now has the team explain to a scientist that armor would slow them down and only be useful at close range. And if they let demons get into close range, they're dead, armor or not.
  • Parodied in The Order of the Stick: Elan hears that taking off heavy armor increases speed. Not understanding that clothing and light armor have no movement penalties, Elan concludes that he'll obtain maximum speed by stripping completely naked.

    Real Life 
  • World War II:
    • In 1943 the Royal Air Force mounted an Airstrike Impossible on several dams in Germany, codenamed Operation Chastise, which was later made into the book and film The Dam Busters. The preparations for the raid included removing armor plating and the amidships dorsal gun turret from the Avro Lancaster bombers used in the raid, in order to save weight and gain back some of the speed they'd lose by carrying the raid's purpose-built 10-ton bomb underneath.
    • Similar changes were made to the "Silverplate" B-29 Superfortresses that were designed to drop the first atomic bombs.
    • The Doolittle Raid took this Up to Eleven, stripping most of the weapons, armor and bombs out of the B-25 to allow an army medium bomber to fly off a navy carrier.
    • Medal of Honor recipient Tony Stein, while storming enemy pillboxes at Iwo Jima (the weapon used for this feat is listed under Removable Turret Gun), removed his boots and helmet so he could move faster when running back for more ammo. He did this eight times total, carrying a wounded Marine back with him each time.
  • Modern soldiers wear only as much gear as absolutely necessary due to this. Sure a full flak vest with bullet-proof plates will offer a lot of protection against small arms fire, but they're going to go for the much lighter anti-frag plates unless being shot at is likely, and no flak vest at all if IEDs are unlikely, etc.
  • While not armor, this is the theory behind the use of drop tanks. They allow fighters (and the occasional light bomber) to carry additional fuel for extra range, then drop them to decrease weight and drag for better speed and maneuverability.note 
  • A Spartan saying admonished soldiers to "come back with or on your shield," defying this trope. Spartan shields were large and sturdy enough to carry a human body, and thus they were extremely cumbersome; to run at full speed (i.e. to retreat from a battle), a soldier would have to throw away his shield. Hence the command to "come back with your shield," i.e. victorious, "or on it," i.e. dead.
  • Knights on foot. If the knights were ordered to fight dismounted, they usually shed their greaves and sabatons in order to gain more agility and mobility. Some also wore lighter but more mobile brigandine cuirasses instead of plate cuirass, or left the back plate away altogether, insisting they would never turn their back to the enemy anyway. Since the foot combat with knightly weapons such as two-handed sword or poleaxe requires very much agility, this is a Justified Trope.
  • A variant; Knights or similar warriors would sometimes remove one of their gauntlets (or, in the event that they had a very well designed set of gauntlets, just the plating, leaving a minor but still present defense on the hand) before a duel if they thought that they could use the extra agility of a free hand more than the protection of a gauntlet. Though it did not give them speed, it permitted more fine control of sword, which could make stabbing between the plates of an armoured opponent easier. This was not done in the middle of a duel or on the battlefield, but was a matter of preference and combat style in preparation of a duel.
  • In American football, there has been a recent emphasis on slimming down, both in terms of padding and for the players themselves. Modern shoulder pads are sleek and slim, compared with the enormous pads of the 90s and earlier. And a lot of players are cutting weight in order to be faster in today's quick-hitting, pass-heavy game. Runningbacks are now better off if they're quicker and better able to run pass routes, and there aren't a whole lot of "battering ram" backs anymore. Offensive and defensive linemen are still big, but there's more of an emphasis on maintaining an athletic build rather than carrying around a bunch of dead weight.
  • This is basically how plate armor gradually disappeared from European battlefields during the 17th century thanks to the insoluble dilemma that increasing firearm effectiveness presented. In The Late Middle Ages, you only needed relatively thin armor plates to make edged weapons and arrows glance off, especially if the steel was hardened and tempered. Full head-to-toe armor might weigh 45-60 pounds depending on the individual and their level of protection, which may sound like a lot but which is actually quite manageable. This changed as the guns which had been present in the 14th and 15th centuries started to get more powerful, more numerous, and more accurate over the course of the 16th century. In order to make armor proof against the more powerful arquebus and musket, you had to thicken the plates and add reinforcing pieces to the most vulnerable areas, so that the average weight of each armor component kept increasing over time. It got to the point where an armor that covered the entire body in bulletproof plates would simply be too heavy and taxing on the wearer's stamina to be practical, so they kept removing pieces bit by bit. The first type of armor to be abandoned was horse armor, since there was no way a horse could carry both its own armor and a heavily armored rider anymore. Next went the feet and calves, then the legs, then the arms, and pretty soon most cavalry were only wearing backplate, breastplate, open helmet, a left hand gauntlet that went up to the elbow, and a leather buff coat underneath. A buff coat could stop a sword cut or a bullet that had already spent its energy, so some soldiers took their chances with just that at the risk that a direct hit to somewhere without plate armor would kill them. They would also ditch their helmets and wear "secrets", metal skull caps small enough to fit under their hats, which were unlikely to stop a bullet but effective against sword blows. By the 18th century, armor heavy enough to stop most bullets was only being worn by sappers who worked close to the walls exposed to enemy fire, while cuirassiers' cuirasses could only be relied upon to deflect saber points and bayonets. In World War I, however, armor began being phased back in starting with helmets to protect against shrapnel, and advances in bulletproof materials have started swinging the pendulum back in the other direction.

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