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The All Solving Hammer

"Of course you should fight fire with fire. You should fight everything with fire."

When All You Have Is a Hammer meets Running Gag.

Some people, when facing a problem, any problem, will suggest X, without even trying to consider some of the other, probably better, and usually more rational solutions. Why? Maybe they had a difficult past, maybe they were trained that way, or maybe they just can't think of anything else. The fact is, they have one and only one answer for everything, and it's not like it usually works.

This is a Super Trope of Spot of Tea, Kill It with Fire, Murder Is the Best Solution, Duct Tape for Everything, More Dakka, Nuke 'em, Your Answer to Everything and others. If examples fit better on one of those pages, please list it there rather than here. Sometimes used in conjunction with Percussive Maintenance.

Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • The title character in Asu no Yoichi!, when facing a problem that can't be solved with a Sword Fight, will resort to seppuku. Since the story needs a hero, he never succeeds.
  • One Piece: Zoro has a troubling habit of suggesting cutting off body parts as the solution to a number of problems. Sometimes, this is a case of a Life or Limb Decision, but he is also inclined to suggest this before it becomes a matter of life or death. Including one time when Luffy's finger was stuck in a bottle, and another time when he was handcuffed to Usopp.
  • Cowboy Bebop: Spike isn't the most technical-minded of hotshot bounty hunters. If something mechanical is broken, he'll kick it until it works. Even if it's a hundred-year-old Betamax player that may or may not be the last functional one in existence. Even when someone over his shoulder is yelling at him to stop.
  • Yuria from Yuria 100 Shiki, as a runaway Sex Bot, has a rather one-track mind. As a result, all her plans for dealing with whatever problems comes her way, essentially boils down to having sex with Shunsuke in some way, shape or form. This works about as well as one might expect.

    Film 
  • In My Big Fat Greek Wedding, the main character's father's response to any ailment is to put some Windex on it. At the end, we find out that the groom was inspired by his father-in-law to treat some acne with Windex. It worked. The groom may have simply been making a joke, too.
  • Magneto accuses Wolverine of this mentality in X2: X-Men United when discussing how to work the spillway mechanism.
    Magneto: What do you intend to do? Scratch it with your claws?
  • Wreck-It Ralph: Ralph's heroic counterpart, Fix-It Felix Jr., has a literal All-Fixing Hammer. Anything it touches gets automatically fixed: windows, doors, race-karts. It has drawbacks, though: it's hard to break out of a dungeon when your hammer keeps making the bars bigger.
  • The LEGO Movie; Benny's answer to pretty much any problem is "build a spaceship". Most of the time he doesn't get the chance, as the other Master Builders shoot down his idea before he can get very far. Once they let him build his spaceship...

    Literature 
  • In The Last Continent, Rincewind notes the Ecksian term "no worries" can fix just about any problem.
    It was an amazing phrase. It was practically magical all by itself. It just ...made things better. A shark's got your leg? No worries. You've been stung by a jellyfish? No worries! You're dead? She'll be right! No worries!
  • In Dave Barry Slept Here, President Truman's first idea for dealing with Stalin's blockade of West Berlin is dropping an atom bomb on Japan.
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy has towels. They're good for just about everything (and their diverse uses are really ramped up in Mostly Harmless).

    Live-Action TV 
  • Top Gear:
    • You may be assured that whenever an episode has a car with some mechanical work to be done, Jeremy Clarkson will be reaching for his hammer. By series 19, he has manged to acquire a drawer full of them in the Top Gear workshop, simply labeled "The Drawer of Jeremy."
    • Subverted during the Ground Force crossover. His co-presenters assumed he'd use one for gardening as well. To their alarm, he instead reached for his handy, all-solving shotgun.
  • Whose Line Is It Anyway?: Colin Mochrie's answer for everything in the Improbable Mission games is an All-Solving Cat. It's a towel! It's fabric softener! It's a vase... or at least it would've been if they had a cat that time.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer, in an alternate reality episode.
    Buffy: Why don't I just put a stake through her heart?
    Giles: She's not a vampire.
    Buffy: Yeah, well, you'd be surprised how many things that'll kill.
  • On The Red Green Show, while Red himself relied on duct tape to deal with any situation, Edgar Montrose inevitably tried explosives.
  • MythBusters:
    • All of the Mythbusters have a fondness for Stuff Blowing Up, and often suggest using explosives to deal with a given myth. They usually go through with it, too. As it's been summed up: "When in doubt, C4."
    • Grant Imahara often suggests building a robot for a myth. Usually it's viable, but sometimes the suggestion is clearly there as a gag.
  • For Burn Notice's Fiona, the only problems that can't be solved with C4 are the ones that require shooting someone. Even those probably could be solved with C4, it just wouldn't be cost-effective.
  • In the second instalment of Horatio Hornblower mini-series, Dr Clive's prescription to everything is a good dosage of laudanum. Captain is mentally unstable and harasses the crew? Laudanum! A midshipman was beaten to unconsciousness and his arse hurts like hell? Laudanum! Captain is utterly crazy and threatens the ship's mission? Laudanum! A cannonball tore off a sailor's leg? Lauda... Oh, wait, sometimes he does do surgeries as well. Interestingly, in all those cases laudanum might actually be useful since it is an analgesiac and has sedative properties. Given the state of medical science back then, laudanum (alcohol laced with opium) was considered a "miracle drug". A large enough dose and you *will* feel better.
  • In the Wizards of Waverly Place TV movie, during the challenge to become the family wizard, Alex continuously relies on a spell that turns the ground under the target's feet into a swamp.
  • In Doctor Who the reason The Doctor refuses to carry a weapon most of the time is based on this idea; if you always have the option of just shooting and killing your enemy, it's tempting to default to that and ignore possible better options.
  • Home Improvement Tim Taylor's typical suggested answer to every issue is it needs "More Power! Hrah hrah hrah hrah hrah hrah..!"

    Pinball 
  • In Star Wars (Data East), the ramp shot becomes this for some players, as it's possible to build it up to yield 99 million points per shot, ant then simply keep shooting it for high scores.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The Yozis and Primordials in general from Exalted tend to pull this, due to the nature of their existence as cosmic embodiments of certain phenomena. At any strategy meeting, the Ebon Dragon will suggest a sneaky course of action, Autochthon (like Grant Imahara from the Live-Action TV section above) will recommend building a tool or robot, and Malfeas will recommend killing or breaking something.
  • Players in general. Whatever the nature of the problem, many of them will try to use whatever their character is good at to solve it. Often, this means Murder Is the Best Solution.
  • Warhammer 40K has this in many ways. Asides from the obvious bent of the Imperium using holy-techno hammers to smite the enemies of man, they are a theocracy so ultra orthodox it allowed next to no inovation in the last 10,000 years. They've basically been using the same tactics (and sometimes gear) for that long.
  • "Of course you should fight fire with fire. You should fight EVERYTHING with fire." -- Jaya Ballard, Task Mage

    Video Games 
  • In Mass Effect 1, Wrex's first suggestion for solving any conflict or situation: "Eat them." In Mass Effect 2 a quarian admiral fighting against a fellow admiral who's itching for war can say "Once you build the galaxy's biggest hammer, someone will always start looking for nails."
    • Javik, your DLC Prothean squadmate in 3 and in many ways Wrex's successor, will suggest violence for any difficult negotiation, with Thrown Out the Airlock as his standard solution to any personnel difficulties. In the Citadel DLC, you get Renegade interrupts in which you threaten to cut off the villains' heads and throw them out of an airlock, and Javik will say "Finally!"
    • Another one out of BioWare Knights of the Old Republic's HK-47 will usually suggest firearms or grenades.
  • In Overlord, you can count problems that can't be solved with minions in one hand. Pretty much everything is fixed trough creative use of minions or just swarming the problem with the minions until it goes away.
  • In The Sims, pretty much any broken thing in your house can be fixed with a wrench.
  • In the Dwarf Fortress community, it is commonly agreed upon that magma can solve any problem. Invaders at your door? Magma. Troublesome nobles? Magma. !!Dwarf!! on fire? Not for long if you use enough magma.
  • In Team Fortress 2: Got a problem? Use a gun. That didn't fix it? Use more gun.
    • And how do you build and fix guns, dispensers, enemies or just about anything else? With a wrench.
      • Played straight with the Pyro and his weapon of choice for enemy buildings (and the occasional enemy Spy).
  • Link's sword in Link's Awakening, and the Oracle games. Aside from using it as a weapon or hedge trimmer, its uses include: deflecting a ball into breakable blocks in a minigame in Ages (even the Biggoron sword is used for this), poking at walls to figure out if they're hollow, grabbing items from a distance, hitting switches, harvesting seeds from trees, and of course, posing.
  • In Star Wars: The Old Republic during the Sith Inquisitor's storyline there is no problem that cannot be solved with a good dose of force lightning. Angry Jedi? Shock him. Interrogation subject? Shock him. Uppity party members? Shock them. Sith artefact refusing to open? Shock it. That last one is actually the first case, and as it also happens to be the only thing that works then might be the inspiration for a later fondness.
  • inFAMOUS is pretty much the same, with all of your powers being lightning based. In a fight, shoot lightning. If you're hurt, eat lightning. Need to get somewhere? Ride the Lightning. Need to heal someone else? Use lightning. Need to change history to prevent the end of the world? LIGHTNING. Essentially, Lightning Can Do Anything.
  • Baby Mario takes this approach in Mario & Luigi:Partners In Time from whacking the Star Gate with his hammer to whacking poor Luigi on the head with it. Really, in many Mario RPGs, hammering stuff either helps uncover coins and neat items or reveal secrets in the landscape.

    Web Comics 
  • 8-Bit Theater: The Light Warriors' (especially Black Mage) approach to anything: try to kill everything in sight. Including each other. If they don't do the first, then they stand around arguing until their enemies' stupidity makes them self-destruct. It's usually one or the other.
    • And Red Mage will usually try to solve a problem with animal husbandry.
    • Fighter is probably the closest of the cast to fitting the exact wording of this trope, his solution to all problems is to hit anything and everything with swords until whatever it is goes away.
  • Darths & Droids: "I cast Summon Bigger Fish", although even though Jim keeps mentioning it, it never really gets used - aside from the small bonus comic that was done once.
  • Vaarsuvius from The Order of the Stick has been known to engage in this line of thinking regarding his/her arcane powers. He/she even had to go through some major angst and character development to get over it (debatably crossing the Moral Event Horizon in the process), but still struggles with it sometimes like in this strip.

    Web Original 
  • In AH.com: The Series, Thande will always suggest "Daring Commando Raid(TM)?" as a plan to solve any crisis the crew find themselves in; this is almost invariably treated by the others as though it is a complex and tailor-made plan for the specific situation, and always works.
  • This Let's Play-style article on Galactic Civilizations II...well...
    God, look at me. This was supposed to be my quest for peace, and I've become addicted to destroying suns. How did I try to mend relations with the Terrans? I blew up a sun. How did I vanquish the Dread Lords? I destroyed their sun. How did I tackle the volatile Drengin? Destroyed all their suns. Drath relations dodgy? Gear up to destroy some suns. It was spreading to real life, too. Deputy Editor Tim called just now to ask how this diary was coming along, and all I could say was "It's taking a while. Couldn't we just destroy the sun?"
  • Kickassia shows Doctor Smith exhibiting this, even though "Nobody likes the plan with the spiders."
    • Hell, just about any That Guy with the Glasses sketch Dr. Smith appears in involves him suggesting an army of spiders for something.
  • An inversion: Essentially any time the SCP Foundation finds anything at all, someone will suggest using it to try to kill SCP-682. And if it's actually deadly, they really will try it on 682.
  • In SFDebris' imaginings, Ben Sisko solves all problems by punching them, even when said problems can't really be solved that way.
    • In keeping with his Alternate Character Interpretation of the characters, we see this played out during confabs between Sisko and the other Trek captains: Picard gives technobabble solutions, Kirk suggests giving a Kirk Summation followed by hitting someone, Janeway votes to kill everything in sight, and a paranoid Archer rants that Vulcans are to blame somehow.
    • He also notes that Janeway responds to everything with overwhelming force, and has on multiple occasions managed to resolve space-time anomalies she has no understanding of by blasting the hell out of them. In Equinox he suggests that this has become Star Fleet standard practice: on seeing a rift in space-time, whip out your phaser and start firing. He also at one point starts listing the past times Janeway has solved a problem by shooting it, only to realise that he was listing every episode from "Caretaker" in order.
    • Worf, presumably the originator of this policy, uses phasers and photon torpedoes to solve Borg problems, Cardassian problems, Romulan problems, and erectile dysfunction.

    Western Animation 
  • King of the Hill
    • When Kahn and family moved in, after they came over for dinner Minh suggested some improvements to Peggy's recipies, all of which were "add nutmeg."
    • In another episode, Hank gets his old football coach to coach Bobby's team. His solution for anything is "take a salt tablet".
  • On Bobby's World, Uncle Ted was coaching Bobby's T-Ball team; one of them got hit with a ball and Ted said "Walk it off." This leads to an Imagine Spot where Bobby imagines Uncle Ted confronted with various other medical conditions:
    Broken leg? Walk it off.
    Heart attack? Walk it off.
    Pregnant? Walk it off.
  • In the South Park episode "My Future Self 'n' Me," Cartman runs a Parental Revenge Center and claims to come up with plans tailored to each child's parents, but all his plans just involve smearing poop on the walls of their house. The "tailoring" is what kind of poop is used.
  • In a later episode of The Simpsons
    Betsy: It's all about little substitutions. If you want to eat something, eat a bell pepper. Crave something sweet? Eat a bell pepper. Want a beer? Bell pepper.
    Homer: It tastes good like pepper, but crunchy like a bell!
    Betsy: Bell pepper!
    • Another episode has the new gym teacher respond to anything with a dodgeball to the face. "Bombardment!"
    • In "Treehouse of Horror IX" when asked for suggestions for what to do about Maggie becoming an alien.
    Dr Hibbert: Fire, and lots of it!
    Marge: That's your cure for everything.
    • From "Homer Bad Man":
    Marge: That's your solution to everything: to move under the sea.
    • Poor Bart always chooses rock.
  • An episode of The Venture Bros. features a cleaning lady at the White House who prescribes club soda for cleaning up anything. She tries it on an indestructable forcefield and it works.
  • This is lampshaded in Avatar: The Abridged Series Episode 4.
    Katara: Have this magical plot-solving acorn. It has the power to resolve the plot of any episode.
  • In Futurama, the Neptunian master chef Elzar augments every dish he touches with a blast from a spice weasel. BAM!
  • In My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic Pinkie Pie's solution to a given situation seems to involve either throwing a party or bursting into song. Sometimes she does both.
    • Fluttershy's solution to anything, lampshaded in dialogue, is to panic.
  • Young Justice Invasion The Scarabs default reaction to every problem is to blast it with the plasma cannon, to which its host Jaime objects.
  • Corey's answer to EVERYTHING in Grojband is Music.

     Real Life  
  • There's an Irish saying along these lines;
    • "Advice for Builders.
    1. Always use the right tool for the job.
    2. The right tool for the job is always a Hammer.
    3. Anything can be used as a Hammer."
  • The advice "If you can't fix it by hitting it with a hammer then it must be an electrical problem." And the corollary, "If hitting it with a hammer doesn't work, hit it with a bigger hammer."
  • A true handyman only needs two tools: Duct tape for things that move when they shouldn't and WD-40 for things that don't move when they should.
  • There is a theory popular with Aberdeen University Engineers: There is no problem anywhere that cannot be solved through creative application of: Duct tape, WD-40, ice-cream, and a brick.
  • Engineering Solution 1: Hit it with a hammer. Solution 2: Hit it with a bigger hammer.
  • Millwright joke: What does a millwright call his hammer? Wrench. What does a millwright call all the other tools in the box? Hammers.
  • Damage Controlmen (essentially plumbers/general repairmen) in the US Navy and Coast Guard have a nickname for a mallet: The make-fit. Guess why. Also a wrench is referred to as a "Bosun's Hammer"
  • From a Certain Point of View, when in the proper quantity and with the proper application, Playing with Fire fixes everything. Need to cook some eggs? Use fire to heat them. al-Qaeda attacking? Kill It with Fire. Nothing cannot be solved by it!
  • In the same sense, a recurring joke in some fan circles states that all problems can be solved with sufficient application of Dalek.
  • A common English slang term for a hammer? "Birmingham Screwdriver".
  • A much quoted apocryphal military saying- "There is no problem that cannot be solved by the proper application of high explosives".
  • As anybody who's ever worked in the theatre around stage building will tell you, there is no problem that can't be solved by using wood. Wood has been used to keep cushions plump.
  • Charles M. Schulz believed that the introduction of the magical creature Eugene the Jeep to the Popeye comics, while an interesting idea in theory, was to the comic's detriment because Popeye solved all his problems by punching things; until Eugene came long, there weren't any problems he couldn't solve that way, and to introduce more complex problems so that Eugene could solve them took power away from Popeye.
  • In higher math and science, particularly in physics, there are multiple correct ways of arriving at an answer. So the people using the math tend to stick with what they're most comfortable with... which is generally the exact same set of math techniques. At a high enough level it gets to the point where people can be identified by the math they use because they will always use the same set of techniques every single time.

When All You Have Is a HammerIndex of SolutionsDuct Tape for Everything
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