Shed Armor, Gain Speed

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.


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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. Once it's ejected, the suit is much faster. However, as it was made for Newtype Amuro Ray, the very Oldtype Christina McKenzie is out of her league with it.
  • Inverted in Mobile Suit Gundam F91. The titular Gundam's incredible speed causes its armor to heat up and for its outer layers to burn off.
  • 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.
  • 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 Lightning Bruiser 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.
  • 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 superstrength 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.

  • 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.
  • Occurs a few times in Kamen Rider:

  • 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.
  • 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 slower and Kratos sheds them as he attacks. When the armor's gone completely, Herc becomes much faster, but can be defeated in 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. Note that normally the Wuerger is closer to a (relatively fast, mind you) Mighty Glacier. 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.
  • Inverted in Kaiju A Gogo with one of Ginormasaurus's tier 2 abilities, which gives a boost to armour in exchange for reduced speed.

  • 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.

    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.
  • 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.
  • 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.