main index




Topical Tropes

Other Categories

TV Tropes Org
Kickstarter Message
TV Tropes Needs Your Help
Big things are happening on TV Tropes! New admins, new designs, fewer ads, mobile versions, beta testing opportunities, thematic discovery engine, fun trope tools and toys, and much more - Learn how to help here and discuss here.
View Kickstarter Project
Simple Yet Awesome
The Browning M2: in continual service since 1921, with only one major modification to the design.

"This [alien staff weapon] is a weapon of terror. It's designed to intimidate the enemy. This [P-90] is a weapon of war. It's designed to kill your enemy."
Jack O'Neill, Stargate SG-1

Sometimes the simple solutions are the best ones. While the best solutions are sometimes the boring ones, occasionally they achieve a sort of elegance that keeps them from being dull. While lacking the over-the-top badassery and flashy visual effects that would make it Awesome but Impractical, their very simplicity gives them a sort of awesomeness all their own. These are timeless answers to enduring problems, and can always be relied on to do what needs to be done, without needed unnecessary ostentation to call attention to themselves. While other things come and go, things that are Simple, yet Awesome endure.

Less impressive than Awesome but Impractical, but not as dull as Boring but Practical. Something that's Simple, yet Awesome is something that you'll find yourself using over and over again, and enjoying it, despite its lack of Visual Effects of Awesome.

Obviously more common in Real Life than in fiction, as once a simple, effective, cheap solution to a problem is obtained, basic economics prevents fancier but less cost-efficient methods from replacing it.

Compare Simple Yet Opulent.


    open/close all folders 

  • Dragon Ball: The most useful technique in the entire franchise is none other than the humble Solar Flare, a non-damaging technique that temporarily blinds the opponent and never stops being useful, all the way from the original series through GT. Your enemy can punch teleport? Solar Flare. Your enemy can regenerate? Solar Flare. Your enemy is a thousand times stronger than you are? Solar Flare. If your enemy has eyes, it will work.
    • Also, Krillin's Ki-enzan (energy disc). A weak attack honed to absurd sharpness, it never fails to cut through whatever it encounters, barring Perfect Cell. It's especially effective against arrogant bruisers who assume that they can No Sell it because they have many times Krillin's power. The only reason he's never managed to kill a main villain with it is that they always catch on at the last second and dodge (except Cell, who stops it with his neck).
      • It really says something that, in spite of Frieza being so much more powerful than he is, Krillin's Ki-enzan is able to cut off Frieza's tail. Given that Krillin can't so much as scratch Frieza with other attacks, it gives you an idea of just how effective this attack can be. Frieza later uses a similar, but remote guided, attack, in his fight against Super Saiyan Goku. Until Cell comes along, there is no one, but no one, who could survive a blow to a critical area from this attack.
    • Piccolo's "Special Beam Cannon" is another example. It's not insanely powerful, or flashy. It's simply a powerful blast condensed into a shot the size of a handgun bullet... and has been used to kill enemies much stronger than he is, and that can No Sell most of his other attacks. It started as Awesome but Impractical due to its five-minute charge time, but further training obviated that drawback and turned it into this.
    • The initial Super Saiyan transformation could count as well. Despite there being more levels beyond it, the first level continues to be the most used transformation among the Saiyan protagonists. This trope is kind of spelled out in the Android Saga by Goku. Vegeta and Trunks opt for more powerful, but severely draining transformations while Goku and Gohan decide to train their control over the initial transformation to better conserve their energy. As a result, Goku and Gohan end up far more powerful than either Trunks or Vegeta and have the greatest chances of defeating Cell.
    • Tien's Tri-Beam. A triangular energy blast that leaves a square shaped hole. It is, more or less, just a powerful burst of energy that covers a fairly wide area. It is more or less the opposite of the Special Beam Cannon, and it is more or less just a blast of force more than anything. Tien is one of the characters who Can't Catch Up, and seems like he cannot contribute anything during the Cell Saga... up until he confronts a Semi-Perfect Cell, and proves that, while he can't stop Cell, he can at least stop him from moving by using this attack to pound Cell into the ground like a nail over and over. Cell cannot move fast enough to evade the blows (Since they cover such a wide area), and while they don't actually hurt him, they're powerful enough to keep pushing him down further and further. The only reason that Cell was eventually able to escape was because Tien eventually ran out of stamina.
  • In Hellsing, Captain Pip Bernadotte and his Wild Geese prove that you don't need to be a supernatural ultra-badass to take down vampires. They do it with conventional military tactics — open ground seeded with land mines and covered by machine gun positions, only modified by being blessed.
    • In fact, they would have picked off the whole army had Zorin Blitz not arrived and used her nightmarish illusion powers to leave the Wild Geese in psychological shambles and thus vulnerable.
  • Holyland is all about straightforward, effective moves for surviving street fights. It's still really awesome.
  • If Fate/Zero taught us something, is that Firearms are a great way to deal with Mages.
    • Also: the enemy has fortified the upper floors of a hotel in such a way they're impassable? Just blow up the hotel.
  • The simple Kunai and Explosive Tag combo from Naruto. Explosive Tags are explosives made of paper, and can easily be made to be as strong as a hand grenade or a cannon shell. Kunai can be extremely sharp in the Narutoverse and are still used even against strong enemies. Combine the two and you got a stabbing exploding weapon. Naruto combines this with the 'Thousand Years of Death' to jam an kunai with an explosive tag wrapped around its handle right into partially transformed Gaara's rear... and... BOOM! Weakened him enough that he'd need to fully transform! Not only that, explosive tags can be used for more mundane purposes and can be stored safely-they only activate through chakra thus, fire can't set them off (unless purposely designed that way), they can be stored in the hottest, driest, or even wettest areas in the Narutoverse and still work. And Konan takes this Up to Eleven, combining 600,000,000,000 Explosive Tags with her Paper Person of God technique for 10 minutes straight of explosions.

    Comic Books 
  • Batman does things like this occasionally.
    • One Issue of The Batman Strikes! had Batman defeating villain Black Mask by walking into his lair and... offering his henchmen jobs. Without Mooks, there wasn't much that Black Mask could do.
    • Batman also once took down the Injustice League by paying off Mirror Master and donating to the orphanage he grew up in. Every once in a while, being one of the wealthiest men in The DCU comes in handy.
  • Early on in Chris Claremont first X-Men run, the X-Men have to fight a bad guy who's on a space station. Does Claremont give us a hypertech Reed Richards-designed ship? No, we get six pages of a midnight launch of an ordinary space shuttle that make it seem just as cool as anything out of sci-fi.

  • Black Hawk Down: Two Delta Force snipers kill dozens of attacking Somalis while defending a crashed helicopter with nothing but small arms. No artillery, machine guns, or gunships, just superior training and professionalism against a Zerg Rush. The two snipers were eventually overrun and killed, but they successfully saved the helicopter pilot they were defending, and received the Medal of Honor for their actions.
  • The Bourne Series was intended to be the Simple, yet Awesome counterpart to the Awesome, yet Impractical James Bond series. No crazy gadgets or tricked out vehicles for Mr. Bourne, just a cool head and some serious training.
  • Possibly in a reaction to The Bourne Series, James Bond film Casino Royale seriously tones down the gadgetry and over-the-top save the world plots in favor of a more realistic, "down to earth" tone.
  • The Dark Knight Saga does the same thing with the Batman franchise, by reinventing the source material as gritty and practical instead of campy and ridiculous.
  • Ash in Evil Dead 2 has to figure out how to start his chainsaw when he's got a boomstick in his left hand and a chainsaw in place of his right. So he adds two little protruding bits of scrap metal to his harness, which allows him to pull the ripcord quickly, easily, and badassly.
  • Near the beginning of Taken, Liam Neeson's character has to catch a mook. In Paris, no less. Surely there will be a free-running scene! But no, he simply climbs into the mook's abandoned car and runs him down. He later acquires two handguns, but instead of using Guns Akimbo, he tucks one into his belt and doesn't draw it until he's exhausted the other's ammo. Most of the movie ends up being Liam Neeson's ex-CIA character subverting standard action movie tropes with much more practical approaches.
  • Johnny English Reborn when chasing down an highly athletic Chinese thug, Johnny uses practical means to chase him, the thug jumps up a fence Johnny opens the gate, the thug athletic jumps over some obstacles Johnny uses a ladder, and so on....
  • Late in Iron Man, Pepper Potts and several SHIELD agents need to break into Obadiah Stane's vault. Pepper's key card won't work, so Phil Coulson attaches a small device to the door's lock. As Pepper asks if it's some kind of hacking device, the door explodes open.

  • Predating the Bourne movies by several decades, John Buchan's Gentleman Adventurer Richard Hannay is an extremely competent spy who relies upon very practical strategies. For instance, he is a Master of Disguise, which he accomplishes through altering his mannerisms more so than his appearance.
  • Many hitmen in Tony Hillerman's novels fit this trope — they accomplish cool things by meticulous planning and step-by-step execution (no pun intended).
  • The Dresden Files is fond of this.
    • How do you deal with a Native American Eldritch Abomination that eats magic and is practically immune to everything you throw at it? Opt for the Nuclear Option.
    • How do you kill a wizard, which can usually manage to cast a revenge-curse before they die even if you manage to mortally wound them? With no warning, via sniper rifle, at sufficient range for the bullet to arrive before the sound of the gun.
    • Firearms are used extensively against supernatural horrors, notably when Marcone led a squad of mercenaries into a counsel of vampires by way of the Nevernever.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer featured an episode that dealt with an ancient demon that "cannot be killed by any weapon forged". It was eventually realized that this was descriptive, not prescriptive, and weapon technology had come a long way since it first appeared. They blew it up with a rocket launcher.
    The Judge: What's that do?
  • Burn Notice runs on this. Most of the plans they use are designed to be as simple as possible to execute while completely blowing their target's mind.
  • The Stargate Verse uses this extensively.
    • Stargate SG-1 explains the difference between an alien staff weapon and a P-90.
    • One of the most important things they're trying to do in the show is keep Bad Things from getting on Earth through the Stargate. The primary way they do this? Keeping the door closed. Which causes anything trying to get through to disintegrate.
    • Stargate Continuum features a type of stargate wormhole that allows time travel by routing through a certain, extremely rare type of solar flare. The obvious solution is to invent some way to artificially induce one, right? Nope! Just use a deep space observatory to watch the hundreds of billions of stars in the galaxy and wait for one to oblige you.
  • Robot Wars had a huge amount of this. In particular, Chaos 2, which had a simple pneumatic flipper, but claimed the UK title twice in a row.
    • The srimec, or self-righting mechanism. It can both flip your opponent over, making him unable to move, and flip you back over if he does it to you.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Pokémon: Base Set Blastoise is very good (with an ability letting it break one of the basic rules of the game by playing more than one energy card per turn), but is usually overshadowed by much more popular Charizard.
    • It should be noted that Charizard only foreshadows Blastoise in the minds of people who never played in early tournaments (in which Blastoise-based "rain dance" decks were one of only two main viable archetypes).
  • Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 edition has "save or die" spells, which (instead of dealing damage directly like Fireball or Lightning Bolt) usually give the enemy huge penalties that lets you kill them in other ways. Prominent examples include Grease (a low-level spell that makes the floor slippery, making it harder for the enemy to move or dodge, and may make them fall over entirely) and Glitterdust (which blinds everything in an area by covering it in glowing golden dust). Better than that, Glitterdust also outlines invisible creatures inside its area, NO SAVE ALLOWED, and bypasses spell resistance. Even when See Invisibility can't help (such as spotting a water elemental underwater), Glitterdust can show you exactly where it is if you can find it within a 10' radius circle. It's one of the best 2nd-level spells in the game.
  • Magic The Gathering has its share of huge, flashy spells, but some of its most powerful and exciting cards have very simple, basic effects like "Draw three cards", "Add three mana to your mana pool", "Take an extra turn after this one", or "Deal 3 damage to target creature or player." Even creatures with no abilities at all can be exciting and powerful.
    • A general rule for the metagame, especially Legacy format, is that the best spells are the ones with cheap costs and good effects. Due largely to Power Creep, Power Seep, this means that the vast majority of "playable" or "optimal" spells in Legacy cost either 1 or 2 mana, with the ocassional 3-drop or higher popping up. In all these cases, the effects are generally simple yet absurdly devastating: 1 Black Mana: Lose 2 life, look at your opponent's hand, and they discard any one non-Land card you choose; 2 Blue: Counter target spell; etc.
    • There is an entire deck archetype based on this principle: Mono-Red Burn. The deck contains exactly 17 Mountains, 3 Mountain-like lands that can burn, and no less than 24 effective copies the same card - spend 1 red mana to deal 3 damage to your opponent.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!: Dark Hole. It clears the field of monsters, and often is the best card for removing an opponents best monster from the field. Also its equivalent for spell cards, Heavy Storm.
  • Exalted has Excellencies, simple magic powers that - depending on the specific Excellency - add more dice to a character's pool for a roll, add automatic successes to a roll, or allow a re-roll. There's nothing complex about Excellencies, but Exalts can use them to generate absurdly large die pools and achieve successes far beyond what mortals are capable of.
  • BattleTech sports the Medium Laser. A staple even in the first versions of the game, the Medium Laser is, succinctly, perfectly balanced. It is ideally sized to cram just about anywhere in the mech design process so long as you have a ton left to fill and an empty crit slot, and has a very impressive damage/mass ratio. It also has manageable heat output, no need for ammo, and is quite cheap. You can cram a stupid amount of them on a 'mech as well as enough heat sinks to fire most of them without overheating. Its sole downside is that its range is a bit short. Its more advanced offshoots don't manage this awesome simplicity quite as well: Extended Range variants put out too much heat, pulse lasers weigh twice as much and don't have the same range, heavy lasers are twice as bulky and are REALLY hot-running, and also have accuracy penalties.
  • Go Has two objectives. Control larger areas of the board and avoid having the other player capture your stones. Because these two goals are so contradictory of each other, strategies can be extremely varied and even psychological. The game is Serious Business on the Orient, on a level similar to Football in Europe, and games can last for days with the loser vomiting blood simply by succumbing to stress. In addition, unlike with chess, no computer program in existence can reliably beat a competent Go player.
  • War Hammer 40 K has the Imperial Guard, an army of Red Shirt soldiers backed up by some of the most practical and easy-to-field vehicles in the entire game.
    • The Leman Russ is the bread and butter of the Imperial Guard vehicular lineup, being able to do and take immense damage for it's very cheap price. Between the number of loadouts and varieties, no proper Imperial Guard army would be complete without at least half a dozen waiting to be deployed.
    • The Basilisk Artillery cannon is essentially a WWII mobile artillery piece sized up to Warhammer40K levels. They're little more than giant metal tubes on treads, but they will destroy anything unlucky enough to be in their range of fire.
    • The Chimera is the standard APC, and essentially a brick on treads. It's so solid, however, that it can get soldiers to and from places safer than most aerial transports.
    • Even without vehicles, an Imperial Guard army consists of men with what equates to a bunch of flashlights and t-shirts. All of them firing at once, though, can melt just about any target, and a huge grouping of simple soldiers can be terrifying.
    • The heavy stubber is an extremely unsophisticated weapon compared to the bolters and power swords out there- yet is churned out by the billion on forge worlds due to its simplicity, ease of maintenance, and rate of fire. Yes, even 40 millenia into the future, you still can't do better than the Browning M2.

    Web Video 

    Video Games 
  • There's a reason why Shotguns Are Just Better is a very prevalent trope. Simple to use, easy to maintain, efficient... it's hard to find a game in which the shotgun is a bad weapon, even when it's a Short Range Shotgun. The only consistent aspect that keeps them from being a Game Breaker is that they have painfully long reload times.
  • StarCraft has the M and Ms. It's simply a bunch of Marines and Medics and can win the entire game if enough of them are used.
    • Basically the same thing as the Zerg Rush, which also counts as Simple, yet Awesome.
    • Starcraft II introduced a feature that made the Zerg much easier to play: a button to select your entire army at once.
  • Mirror's Edge: Everything you can do in the game can be done in real life, albeit with a lot of practice and a lot more pain. Yes, even that three story jump you just did in a cutscene.
    • It also requires being absolutely suicidal. But still. Entirely possible.
  • The SMG in Just Cause 2 is a nice example. It's fairly effective, and, though you can't order it right away, ammo is plentiful, between enemies who use it, and the crate containing one given to you at the start of most faction missions. In addition, any given respawn point (faction HQ) probably contains one for the taking.
  • The Iroquois Light Cannon in Age of Empires III. It can't be built until the Industrial Age, and doesn't do as much damage as any other cannon in the game, but is long-ranged and has enough bonus damage modifiers to fill the roles of three European cannon units at once, and has an incredible level of mobility. It's also slightly cheaper, and (with Siege Discipline) takes up relatively little population.
  • Team Fortress 2: The Spy's main weapon is a simple Butterfly Knife. It's the weakest melee weapon...unless you hit them in the back, resulting in an instant kill. This knife has been the bane of players everywhere since the beginning of Team Fortress 2.
    • What many pro-players consider to be the greatest class in the game is the Soldier: Rocket Launcher, Shotgun, Shovel. The sheer amount of stuff people pull off with Rocket Jumping is amazing, and the class is known for being able to switch from defensive positions to ultra-aggressive bombing run attacks within a matter of seconds.
  • The Godfather game: You can get through the whole game just using Boom, Headshot to One-Hit Kill.
  • In Kingdom of Loathing, most classes have special skills like the ability to drown your foe in sauce or dance battle them until they are rendered harmless. Turtle Tamers get the ability to headbutt, knee, and whack them with their shield. Oh, and, they will always hit, the second delevels, and the third stuns, which makes for a very easy fight for as long as your MP keeps up.
  • The Grand Theft Auto series is full of this sort of thing. Someone running from you? Create a roadblock of stolen cars. Need to avoid a swarm of heavily-armed enemies? Drive a car up to a wall and climb on top to hop over.
  • Metroid's humble but mighty Screw Attack. All you have to do is jump to one side or the other, and Samus' armor is electrified, killing most enemies on contact. Plus you can repeat it in midair to go higher up than you could with a normal jump!
    • Super Missiles, particularly in the Metroid Prime series. They're by far the most cost-effective ammo weapon available, doing considerable damage in exchange for a mere five regular missiles and a brief charging period.
  • In the Mega Man series, using the regular 'ol Mega Buster is sometimes the best way to defeat certain enemies and bosses.
  • In Mass Effect 3, one of the starting weapons is the Mantis sniper rifle. Because it's a starter weapon, it can be easily and quickly upgraded to it's full level, is one of the most powerful weapons ingame, and is the lightest sniper rifle, which is a godsend to power-dependant classes. Whatever the Mantis can't One-Hit Kill with a torso shot, it can kill with a headshot.
  • Ar Tonelico 3: This is Coccona's preference; she doesn't like her weapons having extra dodads and her supermoves are all based on a simple premise like 'turning' or 'go fast in one direction'.
  • Crysis 2 has the K-VOLT. It's a humble submachinegun, so on paper it should pale compared to much of the rest of the inventory; however, it's an electric submachinegun, so while the damage isn't high compared to, say, a heavy machine gun, its pellets shock Ceph troopers into complete inactivity for a couple seconds. Paired to your suit's massive damage in melee attacks, this lets you fire a shot into a trooper, you run up to him while he's twitching harmlessly and whack him with a powered punch, then retreat back to safety and let the suit recharge. Enemy grunt down, with a total ammo expenditure of one.
  • In Metro 2033, you have not one, not two, but three types of shotguns. The Uboinik is a perfect semi-automatic with a capacity of six shells and a rather nasty melee attack, but its reload is awkward to put it mildly and, due to a glitch, it fogs up even your watch when you try to look at it (it's supposed to fog up only the background). The Heavy Automatic Shotgun has a 20-round capacity and a good fire rate, but its firepower per shot leaves much to be desired. On the other hand, the humble, crudely-made and extremely common Duplet, a double-barrel, has a no-nonsense operation and the highest punch of the selection (especially when discharging both barrels), and its drawback - rather short range - isn't much of an issue in the cramped tunnels you spend the majority of the game traversing through.
  • Dark Souls offers all types of fancy, super-menacing enchanted equipment derived from demons, angels, dragons and Eldritch Abominations alike, with quite a few earning the "Great-" prefix in their categorization. Yet some most impressive and efficient-in-action weapons are completely ordinary ones. One of the most famous is the Halberd which has not only the high-speed long-range attack of spear classes and a Difficult but Awesome secondary swing attack possessing both spear-class range and a near full-circle spread, but also does axe class levels of damage, meaning a moderately upgraded Halberd can one-shot most minor mooks and immediately clear rooms full of them with enough distance. There's a reason you so commonly see specters wielding them for most of the game.
  • While players usually insist on the awesome yet insane option, the most efficient ways to defend a fort in Dwarf Fortress tend to be simple in nature. The humble drawbridge, linked to a lever, will seal off most threats outright, even without being used to squash invaders. Carving fortifications is also simple yet effective, allowing marksdwarves to turn enemies into pincushions while being mostly protected from return fire.
  • Take every shape that you can make by rearranging four squares of identical size. Give them to the player one by one and task them with stacking them so as to minimize empty spaces between blocks. Increase speed as the game progresses. Tetris. Awesome.
  • Give the player a field of different-colored tiles and a limited ability to rearrange them. Cause them to disappear and be replaced when three or more identical tiles are placed in a row. Bejeweled and every other Match Three Game out there. Awesome.

    Western Animation 
  • The first episode about Clay from Xiaolin Showdown is centred around this trope. He completes the obstacle course faster than his teammates by turning around and taking the objective directly behind him — since the course is arranged in a circle, he sees no reason to go though the traps to reach the goal. Later he beats Jack Spicer in a showdown involving catching a bird — Jack gets beaten and bruised chasing it, while Clay fills his hat with seeds from nearby sunflowers to get the bird to come to him.
  • Similar to the comics example above, Batman is able to take down another incarnation of the Injustice League by donating to a public television station (it's made in the Ultrahumanite's name to the villain's favorite station).

    Real Life 
  • Simple, yet Awesome solutions are the dream of every mathematician and computer scientist ever. So much so that they describe these solutions as beautiful or elegant. It is also what engineers strive for: the simplest and most efficient design possible as such designs are often cheaper while being structurally sound. The more complex designs are, the more possible points of failure there are—and so are avoided as much as possible given cost, feasibility, and safety constraints.
  • Science generally paints a picture of the amazing complexity of our universe arising from incredible simplicity. For example, in order to get the wide variety of life on Earth, all you need is 'reproduction with variation'. From a single absurdly simple original replicator (the existence of this original replicator is the subject of Abiogenesis), and the almost tautologically basic idea of natural selection (that which reproduces better will make more copies of itself), we have a planet populated by animals that are capable of traveling to the moon, and maybe more. Evolution doesn't need very much in order to make something amazing.
    Carl Sagan: These are some of the things that molecules do, given four billion years of evolution.
  • Modern firearms in general, really. You might be wondering why we don't use caseless rounds, or gyrojets, or flechettes. Simply put, modern firearms are simply just that practical. Specific examples, in chronological order are:
    • The oldest firearm design still in mass production is the break-action rifle or shotgun. The basic boxlock design had already been perfected in 1875 and it's still in production in the same basic form, which has exactly 3 parts: hammer, spring, trigger. Manufacturers had added over time features like ejectors, Drilling three-barrel combinations, single selective triggers, automatic safeties, yet the basic and also most reliable design is not different from what the great-great-grandfather of a modern trooper might have wielded. It's basically indestructible (as in firing nowadays a gun of 1900 vintage) and with proper barrel construction it has been endlessly proven one can fire 1 MOA (in layman terms, a 5-shot group the size of a wristwatch) from a break-action cheap as dirt.
    • The M1911 pistol. A simple and reliable gun that has been in service in the US Army, from World War I to beyond the Cold War. More importantly, its short recoil design is now used by the vast majority of other semiautomatic pistol designs, including the extremely popular Browning HiPower, CZ75, and the Glock series of pistols.
    • The Browning M2, as pictured. Designed by the famously prolific gun designer John Browning back in 1918, the "Ma Deuce" remains the quintessential and most prolific heavy machine gun in the world, still used even today by modern armies. Its mountings have evolved over time, but the core weapon itself remains largely the same as when Browning designed it. Gets bonus points for having such a high precision that a scope and switching to single shot can effectively turn it into an anti-material sniper rifle. Carlos Hathcock held the sniper kill distance record for thirty-five years using this weapon. Upgrades by the US Army are modest by DOD standards: a quick change barrel, minor modifications to the bolt, a new trigger. The M2A1 was named the "greatest Army inventions of 2011".
    • The AK-47 is, essentially, as simple and rough-hewn as a fully automatic rifle can actually be. That makes it virtually indestructible (they can notoriously be dunked in mud and fired without cleaning) and has allowed people to acquire one who could otherwise hardly afford a good club.
      • It's also worth noting that the design of the AK-47 has since been utilized in many weapons used to this very day. Most Eastern European, Middle Eastern, African and Asian armies use assault rifles, marksman's rifles, squad automatic weapons and sub-machine guns using the same designs Mikhail Kalashnikov made close to seventy years ago. Russia's current service rifle, the AK-74M, is really just an AK-47 with a different caliber, a multifunction recoil compensator and new synthetic furniture.
    • The Carl Gustav is slightly older than the AK-47 (first released 1946) but still widely used today.
    • The common pump-action shotgun. Although weapons like the AK-47, Browning Hi-Power and Smith and Wesson Model 10 are popular with many homeowners, the pump-action shotgun is one of the most-loved weapons for home defense. The operation's simple: fire the shotgun, pump the slide and reload. Rinse and repeat. Other factors include easy-to-get ammunition (while people may have difficulty finding assault rifle rounds, buckshot is incredibly plentiful.), the awesome cocking sound can put off burglars/murderers/stalkers/salesmen almost instantly and thanks to the smoothbore design, loads of rounds can be fired without much problems, from buckshot/birdshot to flechettes, incendiary rounds, flares, solid slugs, tracers, rubber shot, grenades and even table salt. And with reliable designs like the Ithaca 37, Remington 870, SPAS-12, Mossberg 500 and Winchester 1912, it's hard to find one that will let you down.
  • The humble crossbow, in use for centuries, can put an arrow through your chest at the pull of a trigger.
    • And a regular bow, though taking more skill to use well, is even simpler.
  • Arabic numerals. Or any positional notation system. Ten symbols (eleven if you want fractions) is all you need to write any number at all, no upper limit, in a way that's incredibly easy to do sums with. Previous systems relied on inventing new symbols every order of magnitude, and were only really useful for recording totals - just try adding up Roman numerals.
  • The goal of computer science is a machine that's like an infant; empty, but with an ability to learn. The concept is that simple. No one has been able to make it, and once that is achieved, we would finally be able to make androids, Angeloids,...
  • The Beautiful Game. All that is required to play is two teams and a small round ball, and the rules are also easy to learn: don't use your arms (unless you're the goalie), and kick the ball into the net. Even in the professional levels where you need much more than that, the rules and equipment required are simpler compared to most other sports. It's relative simplicity has helped made it the world's most popular sport — so much, that its biggest event, The World Cup, is THE biggest event in the world.
  • To some, Minimalism, less in detail, more on space.
    Antoine de Saint-Exupéry: Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.
  • Tools and machines can be astonishingly simple. In fact, you can get quite a bit done with a bit of brute strength and one of the Simple Machines: The Lever, Wheel and Axle, Pulley, Inclined Plane, Wedge, and Screw. For everything else, you have Duct Tape and a hammer. Or, if you lost your hammer, you have a rock.
  • Many martial arts
    • Boxing has only four attack moves.note  It is still one the most effective forms of martial arts in existence.
    • Krav Maga and Kajukenbo are designed to end the fight as quickly and pragmatically as possible without complex movements. Your nards are not safe.
    • Jeet Kune Do is based on simplicity; Bruce Lee had little respect for fancy moves.
    • Savate essentially revolves around delivering fast, accurate kicks with hard footwear. In execution, it is as elegant as it is brutally effective.
  • During the Second World War the de Havilland Mosquito was made of wood and canvas, old fashioned and low tech for the time. However whereas repairing a Spitfire took time and effort, a Mosquito could often be patched up by glue and canvas. Despite that it was the fastest plane ever built at the time, had enough capacity to act as a bomber (so much so that the British often sent it bombing Berlin by day), and if it found itself against enemy fighters it could outgun and outrun them with ease. To quote the Reichsmarschall:
    In 1940 I could at least fly as far as Glasgow in most of my aircraft, but not now! It makes me furious when I see the Mosquito. I turn green and yellow with envy.
    The British, who can afford aluminium better than we can, knock together a beautiful wooden aircraft that every piano factory over there is building, and they give it a speed which they have now increased yet again. What do you make of that?
    • Production had the advantage that, being made of wood, canvas, and glues, there was much less pressure on the supplies of raw materials from other war production, making it much easier to get raw materials. It was also easier to find people already skilled in the use of the simple materials (cabinet makers and carpenters, for instance, could easily learn how to make parts for the Mosquito). If not, then training for woodwork is easier and faster than training for metalwork, and also requires less sophisticated manufacturing equipment.
    • Paradoxically, it was not only fast and well-armed but very durable too. German cannons fire explosive shells which do not trigger properly against the Mosquito's frame - the shells just punch through without detonating. Lightning Bruiser.
  • Hotbulb engines, also called semidiesels. They are extremely simple machines made of low-precision, easy to manufacture cast-iron parts, so they can be produced entirely in your average machine shop with no need for special tools. They're also easy to maintain and repair, and once their head is heated enough they run for ages on pretty much anything that can burn, from automotive fuel to volatile flammable dust. Modern engines have all but displaced them in developed countries (mostly because of their massive weight and need for pre-heating), but the poorest countries in the world - where even a normal diesel is troublesome to repair - still get a lot of use out of them.
  • Homes made with shipping containers. As pointed in the Boring but Practical page, the standard container's usefulness in transport is unquestionable, but as they're designed to be sturdy and withstand abuse they make for surprisingly good accommodation. The homes built in them don't have to be tiny or basic either, as they can be joined together and furnished just like a normal house.
  • Tabasco sauce has a very popular hot sauce for the almost 150 years it's been around. Most hot sauces will have a variety of ingredients, some natural, some artificial. Tabasco, on the other hand, lists only three (red pepper, vinegar, and salt).
  • Duct Tape. Just plastic, cloth weaving, and glue. So many uses that the MythBusters have claimed they could do an entire season based on it. Given that they've already done three episodes (plus one segment) based on duct tape, and a fourth episode with bubble-wrap as a co-star, this may not be an exaggeration.
    • Often paired up with WD-40. Originally developed to prevent corrosion in nuclear missiles, it has nearly as many mundane uses as duct tape. The corporate website boasts 2000+ known uses for WD-40, and allows visitors to submit new uses they have found on their own. The two products are associated with each other so much that it led to the development of a loose rule of thumb among mechanics and engineers: "If it moves, and it shouldn't: Duct Tape. If it doesn't move, and it should: WD-40."
  • Command line interfaces. They don't look like much, but a serious geek can move mountains with a few commands, especially on UNIX-like systems.
  • It is well known among engineers, computer scientists, and hackers that the ThinkPad line of laptops (especially the T series) is the personification of this trope among computers. They have a dull, boxy and dark-gray design that has barely changed in 15 years and rather unimpressive technical specifications, yet their price tag is at least 50% more than a laptop with comparable performances. Why? Because they are famous for their extreme reliability, robustness, and general usability. The design process is simply geared towards making a solid, reliable and efficient machine rather than maximizing performance for a price. Some regular users claim the quality has gotten lower since Lenovo bought the brand from IBM in 2005, but others find they have remained faithful to the original philosophy.
  • The ideal muscle car is meant to embody this trope, in the sense of being high performance yet inexpensive compared to dedicated sports cars. Many of the first muscle cars and ponycars in The Sixties were simply coupes and family sedans with bigger engines installed in them; the Pontiac GTO, for instance, was originally just a package for the comparatively plain Tempest sedan, while the original Ford Mustang was built on the same platform as the compact Falcon. They often didn't have the tight handling of Porsches or Ferraris (and are thus occasionally mocked by some auto enthusiasts as "poor man's sports cars"), but they were fast. Even today, cars like the Mustang, the Dodge Challenger, and the Chevrolet Camaro start in the low-mid $20k range, and only go above $40,000 on the most high-end models.
  • A Deck of Cards. It's cheap, the possibilities for games are endless, it uses no electricity, and can be played alone or in a group.
  • Handwraps for boxers. They are actually necessary; they protect your hands and makes wearing boxing gloves a lot less uncomfortable. At the same time, it looks really, really cool.
  • Food in general.
    • Peanut butter. Not only does it taste good, but it's cheap, it's a good source of fiber and protein (meaning that it makes you feel full so you'll eat less), it contains several healthy vitamins and minerals, and it can decrease your risk of developing diabetes or heart disease. Many people are surprised to learn that peanut butter can actually be considered a health food because it tastes so good.
    • Two slices of bread, with any filling you desire. Just about anything can go in a sandwich, and it creates a healthy, portable, no-silverware-needed snack or meal that can be eaten at any time of the day, breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Indeed, sandwiches have fed countless people, young and old, rich and poor, the world over for decades. And, with a little creativity, you can create some very interesting and tasty fillings. Suddenly your humble sandwich isn't so boring now, is it?
      • Like grilled cheese sandwiches? Try the indoor grill. Probably the most famous of them all is George Foreman's Lean Mean Fat Reducing Grilling Machine line. Fits on top of the stove without getting in the way of other cookware. You just have to plug it in, let it heat up, and then cook your stuff. Best of all, no fire and next to no grease — which makes it perfect for more challenging creations.
    • Rice and beans. A popular dish all over the world (Latin American, India, Middle East), it is very nutritious, it's a complete protein source, cheap, easy to make and with spices, quite tasty.
  • For similar reasons to engineering, such solutions are much desired in some schools of thought about game design, especially for tabletop games. The more contained a rules set is, the easier it is to make it fly. That, and too many rules start interacting in weird ways, allowing for more and more Game Breaker problems to crop up. Notable aversions come from attempts to add "realism" to a game, reflecting the wide range of variables that can influence events in real life. There's a definite upper limit to how much math most people will happily tolerate in the basic attack roll, however - if your rules start requiring long division, you might want to go back to the drawing board.
  • In software design, simple, clear algorithms are more robust and easier to understand than trying to improve performance.
  • The introduction of radio communications had massive effects on many fields, not least of which was the practice of war. Ships at sea could communicate with each other or their home bases instantaneously (or at least as fast as a message could be keyed into a telegraph and relayed along) instead of having to send messengers directly. As radios became smaller and introduced voice capability, pilots could more easily communicate with each other or their ground forces to coordinate their efforts instead of resorting to wing waggles and hand signals. And then, of course, they introduced Radar, which meant the radio could also help look for the enemy, instead of needing someone to spot him with the Mark One Eyeball first.
  • Books, and in fact any writing of any kind. Provided that the individual in question was literate and took the time to write, you could hear the words of heroes, generals, and kings who died centuries before you were born. You can learn skills that no one else in your area knows how to do, just by visiting your local library. You can, with the right text, learn anything from the scientific theories of Thomas Edison to the sword fighting strategies of Miyamoto Musashi! Take a look, it's in a book!

Sky PirateRule of CoolShe-Fu

TV Tropes by TV Tropes Foundation, LLC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available from
Privacy Policy