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The Browning M2: in continual service since 1921, with only one 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."
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 yet Practical
, 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
Less impressive than Awesome yet Practical
, 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 when 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
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- 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.
- Also, Krillin's Ki-enzan (energy disc). A weak attack honed to absurd sharpness, it's never failed to cut through whatever it encountered. 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 they always catch on at the last second.
- 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.
- 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.
- Pity it doesn't work LONG....
- 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.
- Batman does things like this occasionally.
- One Issue of The Batman Strikes! had Batman defeated 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 1, Pepper Potts and several SHIELD agents need to break in 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.
- Pokémon: Base set Pokémon 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.
- Tabletop Game: 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Happens fairly often in Dark Souls, where simple, plain-looking weapons and gear, when upgraded high enough, may prove better than fancy and intimidationg ones, because of their lower weight and stat requirements, flexible movesets and higher stat scaling. Starter Equipment for most classes tends to be this: Warrior's longsword, for example, is very well rounded, his Heater shield (which looks like it lasted through a war or two) has wight and parry speed of small shield and defense and stability of meduim one, and Deprived's humble wooden club has exellent strength scaling. Realistic-looking claymore and zweihander are longsword's big brothers. One of the most powerful weapons is another roughly cut wooden club, abeit a huge one; killing gods by smashing them with a log is both this trope and Awesome yet Practical.
- 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.
- The first episode about Clay from Xiaolin Showdown is centred around this trope. He holds the record for completing the obstacle course by turning around and getting the objective, seeing no point in going though the traps as long as he got the objective. Later he beats Jack Spicer in catching a bird by filling his hat with seeds to attract the bird to land there unlike Jack who got beaten and bruised by chasing the bird.
- Similar to the Comic Books example above, Batman is able to take down another incarnation of the Injustice League by making a donation in the Ultrahumanite's name to the villain's favorite public television station.
- 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.
- Firearms examples:
- 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 Troper 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.
- 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.
- 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 assault rifle, the AK-74M, is really just an AK-47 with a different caliber, a multifunction recoil compensator and new synthetic furniture.
- 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.
- 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 Kun Do is based on simplicity; Bruce Lee had little respect for fancy moves.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 embodying this trope is the purpose of the ThinkPad laptops (especially the T series). 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 got lower since the brand was bought by Lenovo, but others find they have remained faithful to the original philosophy.