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- The Neuroi from Strike Witches. They came en masse, massacred humanity without a word of communication, covered the land with miasma that ate at the crust of Earth until it shattered, and pushed humanity to the point where sending teenage girls into combat with them was the only viable option remaining.
- Kuya and the nation of Kunnekamun in Utawarerumono mark their entrance into the plot by walking all over the various medieval Japanese nations with their state-of-the-art Humongous Mecha.
- The Fleet of Fog from Arpeggio of Blue Steel is a globe-spanning fleet of nigh-unstoppable robot warships emulating the fleets of World War II with absurdly advanced technology. It's taken humanity nearly twenty years to come up with anything capable of breaking their total blockade of the oceans.
- The titular mecha from the Gundam franchise frequently prove this to whomever is unlucky enough to be on their receiving end. A Lensman Arms Race by the various factions to catch up to or maintain their technological superiority is the usual result.
- Turn A Gundam: The Moonrace is such to the terrestrial humans. Humanity on Earth got knocked back into the Stone Age a few thousand years ago and has only just managed to reach the Industrial Age again. The Moonrace, by comparison, have anti-gravity, particle cannons, and nanomachines. The only reason the Earth humans are even able to put up a fight is due to finding some ancient, buried Mobile Suits from a long past age, including the Turn A Gundam itself (which turns out to be technologically superior to anything the Moonrace has).
- Gate has the Roman/Medieval mash-up Empire ill-prepared for a counterattack from the JSDF. Legions of pre-industrial soldiers and fantasy-genre monsters were simply no match for heavy artillery. And to rub salt in the wound, said heavy artillery is technically outdated by the JSDF's standards.
- Attack on Titan has the Kingdom of Marley from beyond the three Walls. Unlike the people from behind the Walls, who live in a mostly 17th-century technological stasis, the Marleyans are shown employing Industrial Age technology and are currently in an arms race to boot; it's stated that if it wasn't for the millions of Titans entombed inside the Walls, the Marleyans would easily massacre every man, woman and child behind the walls should they decide to invade. Interestingly, it's later revealed that the Marleyans themselves are technologically falling behind their rivals, due to their over-reliance on Titans.
- Done often with Cosmic Marvel. In Annihilation none of the major players in the Universe - neither Kree or Skrull Empires or Nova Corps, were prepared for a massive attack by Annihilus. Similiar in Annihilation: Conquest no one was prepared for Kree to be suddenly attacked by upgraded version of Phalanx, lead by Ultron. In The Thanos Imperative no one was ready for invasions from a reality full of Cosmic Horrors. And in Infinity they were not ready for the Builders either. It's justified by the fact that most of the bad guys beside these attacks until this point were mostly interested in conquering Earth and there was no way or reason for cosmic forces to know about them.
- Judge Dredd: In a Dark Judges story published in New Scientist, the murdering foursome accidentally end up in a far future Earth due to a black hole interfering with their dimensional teleporters. The entire planet now consists of an impervious Hive Mind of Silver-Surfer-esque metahumans. Cue the Dark Judges getting their asses handed to them since the inhabitants can't experience pain, fear, or death, until Judge Death tricks them so he can infect their hivemind with the Dead Fluids and wipe out the entire collective.
- Superwomen of Eva 2: Lone Heir of Krypton: NERV was made to fight the Angels, not Superman villains. So what happens when Brainiac -a living, conniving humanoid super-computer that hails from a more technologically advanced alien civilization- comes along? They are completely helpless. His computers could hack into the Magi easily, his machines could nullify an A T Field, and his base was a space-ship that drifted out of NERV's reach. If Asuka had not stopped him, he would taken everything he wanted and left.
- The Ironstorm Army is this in Yognapped. In previous years, Minecraftia's greatest battles were fought against a shadowy cult with swords and bows. When teams of masked soldiers with advanced firearms appear out of nowhere and start marching into the largest population centers, not even the heroes can prevent millions of casualties and the regression of Minecraftia to an After the End state.
- The Harry Potter fanfic "The Squad", the British Army is this to the wizarding world. The titular squad is a group of SAS Commandoes sporting state-of-the-art anti-terror training and equipment. Let's just say high-powered scoped sniper rifles, assault helicopters, and claymore mines are all great equalizer when it comes to Death Eaters and their wands.
- In Perfection Is Overrated, the Mai-HiME cast faces SUEs armed with powers such as mind control, time manipulation and Anti-Magic. One even opens a portal to the Mai-Otome world and brings over an army of Schwarz members with Slaves.
- Mega Man: Defender of the Human Race has the Stardroids, extremely powerful robot aliens that no one on Earth knew about before they invaded. Their mere presence en route to Earth enabled them to scan Bass's memories and even make him go haywire, when he was the most powerful robot in the series before they arrived.
- Better Living Through Science and Ponies boasts this too; Equestria doesn't have any science or devices more complicated than a steam locomotive or an old-timey newsreel. So when GLaDOS shows up looking for new test subjects, nobody has the slightest clue how to react to it.
- Apocalypto plays this twice, first with a small hunter-gatherer tribe being suddenly invaded by the massive and industrialized Mayan nation, which they had no apparent awareness of. In the end, the Spanish arrive to return the favor to the Mayans.
- This is how the aliens are viewed in Cowboys & Aliens. As a result, they're initially referred to as "demons", something the cowboys do have context for.
- Battleship involves an international naval exercise being interrupted... by alien ships coming from underwater to seal an island chain in an impenetrable force field, leaving three destroyers to fight them.
- Outlander: Features a Norse Viking population suddenly being violently attacked by an intelligent, nigh indestructible creature, driven to anger and desperation by the genocide of its entire species on a distant planet. Mostly they refer to it as a dragon, sometimes as a demon. Luckily they have an Outside-Context Problem to help them.
- This is the entire point of the movie Predator: five heavily-armed military men hunting down a missing cabinet member when suddenly... technologically-advanced alien hunter!
- In Predator 2, the LA police think they're dealing with gang war between rival drug gangs. However, the federal task force sent in turns out to know they're dealing with an alien, they just refuse to tell anyone about it.
- The Romans in Rome Sweet Rome are completely unprepared for facing the United States Marine Corps. Several Romans die in a confrontation that they thought was just a parley, because the Romans didn't heed the Marines' warning to halt, and they thought they were maintaining a safe distance because they were out of archery range.
- The premise of the Worldwar series has World War II being thrown into confusion when the alien Race arrives with its invasion fleet, forcing former mortal enemies to fight together to save humanity. Oddly enough, this works both ways - the Race had been expecting the same knights on horseback their probes found a mere seven hundred years earlier. But not only have the natives gone on to invent tanks and airplanes, they've also devised weapons the Race never conceived of, like chemical warfare, suicide attacks, and wet-navy warships (the Race hadn't encountered any planets with sizable oceans before). Combined with mankind's extreme tenacity, fanaticism, and potential for cruelty, the Race consider just glassing the damn planet at least once a book.
- In Triplanetary, the first book of the Lensman series, the heroes have escaped from the clutches of the villainous Gray Roger, figured out his nefarious plans, have mustered the space cavalry, and at last have his evil forces on the ropes — and then out of nowhere a brand new super-advanced alien species called the Nevians barges in on the battle, easily trounces every ship with its ability to partially neutralize inertia, and kidnaps the heroes several light-years away. This signals the beginning of the Lensman Arms Race.
- The Eddorians and their more powerful underlings are this to humans and other friendly species, while the Arisians and the most powerful Lensmen are outside context heroes to the Eddorians, who simply can't grasp the concept of any being having power and not immediately trying to conquer everything in sight. By the end of the series, the Children of the Lens are outside the context of everyone, including the Arisians who engineered them in the first place.
- The New Republic in The Eschaton Series is essentially 19th century Prussia IN SPACE, trying to pretend The Singularity never happened. It is therefore unequipped to even understand the Festival, which is the Edinburgh Arts Festival hopped up on nanotech, much less defend against it.
- Karl Schroeder's science fiction works, especially Lady of Mazes. A recurring theme involves small societies whose ancestors exiled themselves from an all-encompassing transhuman future full of godlike artificial intelligences that manage everything. These societies strongly restrict technology and knowledge to keep from accidentally growing the AIs all over again and try to provide meaning for their people's lives, to the point that after a few generations the people have completely forgotten any other way of life existed. And then the outside world comes for them, unable to tolerate a pocket of humanity that does not take part in their "enlightened, perfect" transhuman society.
- The Half-Made World takes this trope and sends it back a century or two. Imagine being a soldier in the mid-19th century, when horses are the primary mode of transport and electricity is an expensive luxury. Now imagine you're fighting an enemy armed with rockets, chemical weapons, aircraft, and tanks, and who always outnumbers you. And that's why the Line always wins.
- Azania in Victoria, who gender-flip stereotypes about masculine technology. A Lady Land that embraces technology and science, they field 21st-century network-centric warfare with modern-to-near-future equipment and tactics, compensating for the individual physical weakness of their Amazon Brigade troops. The heroes of the book, the Northern Confederation, are a reactionary nation of right-wing Christians whose general tech standard averages out somewhere around the World War I/II level, and who must therefore rely on greatly superior numbers to break even.
- Mikhail Akhmanov's Arrivals from the Dark series starts as this, with the incredibly-advanced Faata attempt to invade Earth and obliterate the fleet sent against them in a Curb-Stomp Battle. Only a timely intervention by a friendly alien of a different species helps humanity defeat the invaders. By the following novels, humanity has managed to reverse-engineer enough of the alien tech to significantly narrow the gap, at least as far as space technology goes, yet they still spend over a century fighting the Faata in four devastating wars that end with the collapse of Faata society and humanity emerging as a galactic power. After that, the trope tends to be reversed, as humans actually have a number of technological advantages, largely borrowed from the Faata, that other races don't. The other big enemy of the series, the Dromi, are a threat not because of their technology, which is inferior, but because of their sheer numbers (outnumbering all other known races many times over). In Consul Trevelyan, taking place centuries later, the titular protagonist manages to trick a newly-discovered race of a roughly equal technological level that humans have mastered teleportation, thus allowing them to easily overwhelm enemy ships by teleporting heavily-armed marines aboard. The trick works, even though only two people in all of Earth Federation are capable of this trick.
Live Action TV
- The Doomsday Machine, from Star Trek: The Original Series. It came from outside the Milky Way, a weapon intentionally designed to be "too dreadful to use." Not even whales can stop it. It eats planets.
- The Borg from Star Trek: The Next Generation. In their first appearance, Q uses them to give the crew of the Enterprise a lesson in just how dangerous the universe still is and how "prepared" they are.
- The Q themselves could also fit this trope.
- Interestingly, Species 8472 is an Outside-Context Villain for the Borg: a species from another dimension that they can neither assimilate nor destroy. It proceeds to kick their asses.
- Babylon 5 has a few examples to offer:
- From a Earther perspective, the Minbari: Earth Alliance knew of their existence and their fame and could conceive their firepower (on a similar level of that of the Centauri warships, that Earth Alliance knew of), but had no idea that Stealth in Space was even possible. The end result was a Hopeless War in which Humans were considered incredibly badass for forcing the Minbari to actually try to annihilate them instead of just waltzing in and winning automatically, and would have ended with the complete extinction of Mankind had the Minbari not changed their mind at the last moment;
- The Shadows. The first time we see them, one of their warships appears from literally nowhere and disintegrate a Raider ship for no apparent reason, and one of their emissaries gives the Raider's loot to Londo. It takes a while for the good guys to realize even their very existence, or how powerful they actually are;
- The Thirdspace Aliens, who, in the distant past, nearly subjugated every single sentient in the galaxy, appear from nowhere with ships that could take on both the Vorlon and the Shadows and telepathic powers so immense that they could brainwash even the Vorlons (until then the most powerful telepaths in the series), and their scouting party is barely defeated before the gate enabling them to show up is destroyed.
- In Stargate-verse, many of the enemies the Tau'ri face have technology at a level above that of Earth. This tends to change later, as humans manage to acquire and reverse-engineer powerful tech (all while maintaining The Masquerade among the larger population of Earth). Played with, when dealing with the Goa'uld, who do possess powerful advanced technology, but whose society in general is at Medieval level. Their tech is also horribly inefficient. For example, the powerful and intimidating staff weapons fire deadly plasma blasts, but it takes considerable training and skill in order to reliably hit a target from afar. Meanwhile, the far less advanced Earth assault rifles and sub-machineguns can actually be deadlier in proper hands, especially since the metal armor worn by Jaffa warriors is all for show, while the Tau'ri do, eventually, figure out a way to, at least, mitigate some of the damage from a staff blast, to the point where a staff blast to the chest may be survivable with proper gear.
- The history of the Iron Kingdoms is this: people puttering around with warriors, wizards and the like getting steamrolled by The Empire with seriously high sorcery Power Levels from across the western ocean. It took the creation of "scientific" items such as Gunpowder, Steam engines and War Machines four hundred years later before The Empire finally got driven off.
- In Warhammer 40,000, The Necrons qualify, being ancient robots with far better tech than the Imperium, using weapons like Gauss Rifles, and being near immune to normal weaponry. It's impossible for them to even research it, as a Necron warrior self destructs after they die.
- In the first FreeSpace, the two known races of the galaxy, the Humans and the Vasudans, are at war. Then suddenly, weird black ships (with Deflector Shields, something neither race thought possible) show up and start killing everyone. Turns out those ships belong to the Shivans, a race of seriously deadly Horde of Alien Locusts. Even after two games, the only things known about them for certain is that they're extremely technologically advanced and they always have way more power available than you think.
- Similarly in Crysis, the Americans and North Koreans are busily having a scrap on an island and managing to ignore various weird happenings around the mountain in the middle of it, until suddenly the aliens leap out and freeze the whole place solid.
- Few of the factions in Galactic Civilizations II even knew the Dread Lords ever existed, and no-one expected they would ever return.
- The Galactic Civilisations story is almost directly copied from the Master of Orion, with the Antarans having been the ancient enemies of the Orions who suddenly return and disrupt the younger races (ie. the player and their opponents) efforts to conquer the galaxy for themselves. Arguably the Harvesters are this in turn to the Antarans before the start of the third game. Bioweapons created by the Antarans themselves, most of the Antarans had no idea what they were, where they came from, or why their home systems had suddenly stop communicating, and were forced into desperate measures to avoid extinction. Finally, the backstory also mentions a third galactic power descended from those exiled from the original home of the Orions and Antarans, with one of the playable races apparently being scouts or infiltrators engineered to either investigate or soften things up for invasion. However, with no further games having come in the franchise, this idea was never expanded on.
- Mass Effect:
- The Reapers, like Sovereign, are this to the entire galaxy. They appear to wipe out all space-faring life every 50,000 years, and spend the intervening time asleep in dark space. Driven home in the Mass Effect 3 announcement trailer where it's made clear, given that the higher-ups constantly tried to silence his/her warnings about them, that no one besides Shepard knows what they are.
- What makes the Reapers so devastating is that the scale and capabilities of the Reapers sits outside of the context of the Citadel's military doctrine. The three primary Citadel species have geared their militaries to cooperate and specialize, with each species supporting one another: the turians serve as the primary heavy combat element, supplying most of the ground troops, armored vehicles, and spacecraft. The asari provide elite biotic special forces and economic and diplomatic clout, at the expense of heavy combat units. The salarians provide advanced technology, intelligence, and covert operations units at the expense of heavy combat elements as well. This works just fine for the enemies that the Citadel is accustomed to fighting. But when the Reapers show up, they're so fast, they have such huge numbers, they have nonexistent logistics requirements, they have technology that at times breaks the laws of physics, and they have firepower and armor more powerful than anything the other races can even hope to achieve, which means they can attack anywhere at their leisure. As a result, the asari military gets smashed and the salarians only survive the majority of the war because the Reapers haven't bothered with them because their intelligence apparatus (geared to fight more conventional enemies) is a nonthreat. The turians are the only ones who spend the entire game in a (losing) slugging match over their homeworld.
- In the Leviathan DLC for the third game, Shepard hunts for a mysterious Reaper-killer codenamed Leviathan. Instead of a rogue Reaper as the characters initially believed, the Leviathan are revealed to be giant aquatic lifeforms, with incredible mental abilities and a massive God-complex. They are also the race indirectly responsible for the creation of the Reapers, when a Rogue AI note turned against them and created the first Reapers in their image.
- This scenario forms the backstory of Gears of War. Sera's human population had been fighting each other for seventy-nine years and only just come to an exhausted peace when a massive, well-equipped, highly-organized army—the Locust Horde—erupted from the ground in multiple areas simultaneously and brought their civilization to its knees.
- Even earlier, this happened to the Locust themselves, with the arrival of Lambency. It was the mutation's virulence that lead to the Locust eventually declaring their underground home a lost cause and making war with humanity because waging a genocidal war against humanity so that they could relocate to the surface was deemed easier than holding the Hollow.
- In Command And Conquer 3 Tiberium Wars, it's business as usual with GDI and Nod killing each other, then aliens show up. The humans are so startled that they call a ceasefire and manage a (very short-lived) truce to deal with the new threat before continuing their war. The aliens are surprised because Earth was supposed to be uninhabitable by that point, so their fleet sent to harvest Tiberium is met with unexpected resistance. And deep within his command center, Kane smiles to himself.
- In a Bodycount trailer an African militiaman is surprised by a skyscraper rising from the ground, with a large door opening. He promptly gets one-shotted by a laser from a guy in futuristic body armour.
- The Tuaparang in Golden Sun: Dark Dawn are explicitly noted not to be from any of Weyard's known nations or peoples. They have extremely advanced Magitek (Weyard is just now breaking out of Medieval Stasis; Tuaparang's agents show up in a giant airship), a total war culture, and Psynergy outside the four elements.
- Kid Icarus: Uprising has the Aurum, a group of planet-eating aliens that only Pyrrhon saw coming. The battle against them takes only three chapters where Palutena's Forces of Light, Viridi's Forces of Nature, and even Hades' Underworld Army join to fight them. They leave as quickly as they appeared.
- In Star Trek Online, the Iconians. Up until The Reveal, most of the galaxy believed they were extinct for thousands of years.
- In the storyline between the Half-Life games, humanity was so completely unprepared for the Combine invasion that the entire planet Earth was conquered in seven hours.
- The Grand Menaces from Sword of the Stars almost all have capabilities beyond the reckoning of the playable factions. The System Killer is Exactly What It Says on the Tin in a universe where the lesser factions can only glass planet surfaces. The Puppetmaster can somehow subvert enemy ships and whole planets without recourse to lesser methods like Boarding Parties and ground invasion. The Locusts are Planet Looters that replicate exponentially if left unchecked. And those are just three of goodness knows how many. All will mop the floor with an unprepared player blindly going Attack! Attack! Attack! and are hard fights even with planning and strategy.
- Medieval II: Total War has two of these in the Grand Campaign. Unless you know it's coming and spend the entire early game preparing for it, the Mongol Hordes can steamroll any faction on the eastern half of the map, and even if you've prepared it's not going to be an easy fight. Then, about the time you think you've recovered from the Black Death towards the endgame, the Timurids show up, and on top of all the Mongols' strengths they have cannon-toting elephants.
- Crusader Kings II has this, unusually for a historically-accurate game, with an expansion pack that introduces an Aztec invasion of Europe. They have different gods, powerful weapons, and spread diseases that Europeans have no resistance to, making them a serious threat completely out of left field for all the dynasties engaged in intricate political machinations.
- The Mongols and Timurids are also present, and they will utterly WRECK the east side of the map on arrival.
- In the After The End mod, the British and Brazilians take the place of other invasions.
- The Enclave functions as this in Fallout 3. The player initially hears nothing from them except from a bunch of eyebots flying around the Wasteland blasting Enclave propaganda, which most people think is simply an old radio broadcast playing on a loop. So when a bunch of stormtroopers in advanced power armor (even more advanced than the Brotherhood of Steel's) and vertibirds fly in out of nowhere to seize control of Project Purity and start occupying the Wasteland, everyone is caught off-guard, including the Brotherhood themselves, who figured that they had been wiped out in the previous game.
- In Destiny , the Darkness is explicitly referred to as an OCP/Outside Context Problem. Fitting, as what is known about the Darkness hints at a Kardeshev type-4 entity.
- Star Wars: The Old Republic: The Eternal Empire, hailing from the backwater region of Wild Space. It is a advanced empire with technology that outmatches anything the Old Republic or Sith Empire has, and has an army of force users capable of standing toe-to-toe with Jedi or Sith. Their leader is the Immortal Emperor Valkorion who is one of the fallen Sith Emperor's latest incarnations. By the time the Outlander is freed from carbonite the Empire has dominated the galaxy and has the Republic and Sith under its thumb.
- The Covenant play with this; their technology was far superior to humanity's during the Human-Covenant War, but they themselves barely understood how it worked, as it was all poorly reverse-engineered from Forerunner artifacts. After the war, humanity's been able to close much of the tech gap with the Covenant's various remnants.
- Forerunner constructs play this straight, especially from Halo 4 onward.
- A small-scale Flood infestation relies almost completely on captured technology, but Halo: Silentium reveals that a large-scale infestation actually plays this trope 100% straight, since the Flood are the descendants of the Precursors, the most technologically-advanced species in the entire setting. As such, the Flood are the only remaining species capable of fully utilizing "neural physics".
- Wolfenstein: The New Order makes the Nazis this - Stupid Jetpack Hitler taken Up to 11. With their super technology which they stole from a sect of Jewish scientists, they destroy the Allies, win World War II and take over the world.
- The aliens in XCOM. Interestingly, all XCOM games so far have the titular organization stealing technology from the dead alien bodies and reverse engineering it to use it against those who introduced it, performing Alien Autopsy on those bodies they recover to learn about the alien's cybernetic technology, and so on.
- Empire Earth has Novaya Russia from the last mission in the Russian campaign. Novaya Russia is a dictatorial regime that started during the first mission as an uprising in Volgograd led by a power hungry man known as Grigor Stoyanovich, and quickly gains ground after recruiting the cities of Rostov, Saratov, and getting the aid of the Ukraine to raze Voronezh. And then Grigor dies from complications related to old age, leading his robotic bodyguard (which he named Grigor II) to lead Novaya Russia. Novaya Russia crushes China and sabotage a Chinese superweapon that would turn the tide of the war: A Time Machine. Then, a Novaya Russia officer becomes a Defector from Decadence, and uses said superweapon to stop Novaya Russia. While said officer and an ally he recruited from the US try to go the subtle route and convince Grigor not to make the mistakes that lead to this, and kill him if he refuses. Grigor II manages to capture the super weapon, and the defector becomes stranded with much lower technology in Voronezh, before the rise of the first Grigor, while Grigor II went the much less subtle route of arming Novaya Russia with nanotech era equipment. The mission relies on stealing technology from Novaya Russia, as the Hero Unit stranded with the defector is a spy and can train other spies to infiltrate key facilities.
- In Storm Hawks, Master Cyclonis actually manages to become this mid season 2 by traveling to the other side of the planet and bringing back some of its technology.
- Mega Man: The appearance of Vile and Spark Mandrill in "Mega X", given they're from the future. Their armor is literally centuries ahead of any present-day weapons, and they are able to shrug off attacks from Mega Man and Dr. Wily alike.
- Thunder Cats 2011 presents Mumm-Ra this way to the Cats, as he and the Lost Technology his armies use have both been reduced to superstitions and legends in the centuries since he was first defeated by their ancestors.
- Needless to say, with the European nations' tendency to colonize newly discovered landmasses whose inhabitants hadn't invented gunpowder yet, this trope has historically been in effect many times.