Unfinished, Untested, Used Anyway
aka: But Sir Its Not Ready
: Sir, the Mark VII hasn't finished testing yet. Tony
: Then skip the spinning wheels, we're on the clock.
When something is brand-new, fresh off the assembly line, there is typically a period of testing and shakedown to work out all the bugs and make sure everything's working the way it should and ensure a smooth entry into service. The larger and more complex it is, the more tests it needs before its deployment. In this case, however, that important step is skipped and it's put directly into service, untried and unfinished.
Why? Because it's needed, right now
! Never mind that some subordinate is bound to complain, "But Sir, it's not ready yet!" Their warnings can be ignored for now, even though you might have to regret the results later.
This is common in military settings, where one side finds itself lacking in resources or up against something its current assets can't handle and so starts deploying things that really aren't ready yet. Ships that have just barely finished being built, and still have the paint drying, if that, tanks that were just designed suddenly being fielded, weaponry that has just been assembled, or at times computer systems that are compiled and implemented.
This can cause more problems, as parts of it will not be up to standards or even active at all. Field installations will then be required to get finished in days or less what might take weeks at a dedicated facility. Rushed programs will have many undetected bugs, and be unstable.
If the characters are heroes, this serves to point out how cutting edge the weapon is and may involve a Million-to-One Chance
. If the one giving the order is a villain, then it shows how desperate he is to defeat The Hero
and his Ragtag Band of Misfits
, and if they are just clueless NPCs then this is the cue for the experiment to Go Horribly Wrong
. Can also be used to show that Science Is Bad
. Other times, it's openly acknowledged that this is a bad idea, but the situation is so dire that all the other options are even worse ideas
See also: Unpredictable Results
and contrast with Super Prototype
, when the Alpha version is better than the finished product.
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Anime & Manga
- In Mazinger Z, Kouji decided using the Jet Scrander during a battle even though it had not been tested yet in an "If I do not use it I'll die anyways" kind of situation.
- In Neon Genesis Evangelion, the dummy plug system wasn't ready but Gendo Ikari thought it's sufficient.
- There's also the Evangelion units themselves. They use Unit 00 and Unit 01 in combat, even though they are a prototype and test type, respectively. Predictably, both units have numerous issues like going berserk.
- In Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, the Demon Giant used by the Tolmekians in the final battle was not yet ready. Consequently, it fell apart after a couple of shots.
- Movie only. In the comics it became an important character. Nausicaa eventually names it Ohma; it thinks she's its mother.
- Used by Char 'The Red Comet' Aznable in the Final Battle of Mobile Suit Gundam, taking out an advanced - and unfinished - prototype mecha to match the 'White Devil' Gundam. Fortunately the only thing missing from the mecha was the LEGS which, while otherwise useful for inertial maneuvering in Zero-G, were rendered unnecessary by the thrusters in its lower torso. Consequently, while it was structurally only 80% complete, it was at full combat ability.
- The unanimated Perfect Zeong, on the other hand, would have had the legs (with the torso thrusters moved onto them). It would likely have been slower (due to the added mass) and a somewhat larger target, but more agile (better movement from the legs). Given that Char has a history of using his mobile suits' feet as weapons, the very large legs of the Perfect Zeong would have allowed for some fairly impressive kicks, too.
- An example with rather more serious consequences was the Colony Laser, Zeon's answer to the Federation's Solar Flare System, which was fired early in an attempt to prevent a secret surrender offer. It was completely wrecked as a result, denying the Principality a potentially war-winning superweapon. Apparently, it didn't occur to Gihren to wait for the Colony Laser to be completed, then stage a coup and break the treaty afterward.
- The Big Zam, activated by Dozle Zabi during the last hours of the Battle for Solomon, is another example, and one that was largely acceptable, wiping out half the Federation fleet before going down.
- In Chars Counterattack, Amuro and his team had just started the testing phase of the Nu Gundam's systems when hostilities broke out between Earth and Char's forces. Because of the urgency of the situation, they quick-wired the remaining equipment into the cockpit, slapped on whatever weapons they could findnote , then launched without fine-tuning the instruments.
- Several Templars had to be field tested this way in Mechwarrior Mercenaries.
- In Fullmetal Alchemist, the activation of doll soldiers qualifies. The villains are losing, so some military guy decides to use them, and scientists warns him that the tests aren't done yet, he ignores the warning, activates them and both get killed.
- The SoulTaker (the anime): When the main villain activates Soul Anubis after its upgrades (another typical example) despite researcher's warnings, Soul Anubis ignores orders and starts to follow orders of the true Big Bad.
- Team Rocket from Pokémon has on numerous occasions lampshaded the fact that many of their scheme-of-the-week contraptions haven't been properly tested.
- In the movie version of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha, Precia Testarossa was told by her superiors to have her experimental reactor ready for a full-power activation in a week. She tried to explain that she needed a month to complete the construction and testing, but they decided the stock price impact of getting done three weeks early was more important than making sure the thing would work. The reactor suffered a catastrophic meltdown upon activation... resulting in the death of Alicia, Precia's daughter. Thus causing Precia's very demonstrable insanity as the Big Bad of the story.
- Digimon Tamers: Yamaki orders the activation of the Juggernaut program in order to wipe out all the Digimon, despite being told that it's not ready yet. This results in creating a portal that allows the Devas to enter the real world.
- A sizable portion of the problems that Sousuke has with the Arbalest in Full Metal Panic! can be traced to the fact that it's technically still in beta, and not likely to change due to the fact that its creator committed suicide two months before the start of the series.
- In Yaiba during the Underworld Arc, Boss pit the young samurai against his best warriors, Gold and Silver, and his subordinates warns him that they're still uncomplete. Of course, he doesn't listen.
- In issue 30 of Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog, Robotnik and Snively are testing the Transdimensional Teleporter in order to perfect two-way travel. However, before activating the device, Snively wants to run some final diagnostics. Robotnik gets upset at the idea of "a test of a test" and activates the machine himself — and ends up in the Void. As a side effect, the roboticized Uncle Chuck who was the intended test subject regains free will.
- Evangelion 303: In chapter 3, Nerv wanted to use a new, experimental aircraft to perform a reconnaissance mission. Maya pointed out that war plane had not even flown once, and they were expecting it fleeing to the other side of the world and back at nearly match 4. Ritsuko admitted that she agreed, but they had no time to test it properly.
- The Second Try: In the original timeline, Gendo tried to invoke this trope with the Dummy Plug system, and it worked (temporarily). In the altered timeline, his attempt fails because his son knew how to go about pulling the plug on it.
- In Worldwar: War of Equals, as The Race overrun more and more of Ukraine, the Ukrainian government authorizes the unleashing of untested nerve gas on Race infantry out of sheer desperation.
- The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension. In a Flash Back to the Back Story, Professor Hikita and Dr. Emilio Lizardo are working on an experiment to penetrate the 8th Dimension.
Professor Hikita: Almost ready, Dr. Lizardo. Almost.
Dr. Emilio Lizardo: [Prepares to start the experiment]
Hikita: No, not yet. No!
Dr. Lizardo: [Continues his preparations]
Hikita: No, not yet! Not yet! I'm not ready!
Dr. Lizardo: [Starts the experiment, leading to disaster]
- The Last Starfighter
Grig: Remember, Death Blossom delivers only one massive volley at close range...theoretically.
Alex: What do you mean "theoretically"?
Grig: After all, D.B. has never been tested. It might overload the systems, blow up the ship!
Alex: What are you worried about, Grig? Theoretically, we should already be dead!
- Wild Wild West
Jim West: That flying machine idea of yours. Were you acting like you knew what you were talking about, or can you build it?
[After the machine is prepared]
Artemus Gordon: Although he was considered insane by his peers, Bernoulli's theory states that the air flowing over a bird's wing is at a lower pressure than the air flowing under the wing. That's called "lift", and that is what we're now going to...attempt. Of course, it's only a theory, it's never been tested...
West: Stop talking.
- Batman Forever:
Bruce Wayne: Were all the Batsuits destroyed, Alfred?
Alfred Pennyworth: All except the prototype with the sonar modifications you invented. But you haven't tested it yet.
Bruce: Tonight's a good night.
- James Bond, The World Is Not Enough: Q's new "fishing boat" isn't ready yet when Bond hijacks it.
- In Star Trek The Motion Picture, Kirk rushes the completely redesigned and refit Enterprise out before she's finished due to an incoming threat to Earth. The first time they fire up the untested warp drive, the engines go into imbalance and throw the ship into a wormhole that the crew barely escape.
- Star Trek V: The Final Frontier has the Enterprise-A being sent into action despite being barely operational to investigate a Hostage Situation.
- Star Trek: Generations begins with the Enterprise-B being forced to undertake a rescue mission despite being on a shakedown cruise and not having most of her main systems installed, which was supposed to happen on Tuesday.
- This seems to be a recurring problem in the Star Trek movies. Fortunately, it's been averted thus far in the reboot films. In fact, in Star Trek, the Enterprise is among a whole fleet responding to Nero's attack on Vulcan, and actually gets there last. Though the delay saved the Enterprise, as the Narada wiped out the fleet the moment they dropped from warp, and Nero didn't expect the Enterprise to show up afterward.
- In the Spider-Man movie, Norman Osborne turns into the Green Goblin in the test of his stimulants after being told that it has never been tested on humans and isn't ready yet.
- Iron Man:
JARVIS: Sir, there are still terabytes of calculations required before an actual flight is...
Tony Stark: Jarvis... sometimes you gotta run before you can walk.
- Unusual for a hero using this trope, Tony's first flight could be charitably called a miserable failure that he barely survives. It does, however uncover a previously unknown flaw in the armor's design that comes into play later.
- The same situation comes up in The Avengers. Tony's old Mark VI suit is too trashed to rely on anymore, so he demands that JARVIS prepare his still in testing Mark VII. The new suit arrives just in time to save his life and works perfectly during the whole battle. Of course, the Mark VII being an incremental upgrade of by then well-proven technology means there was at least theoretically less that could go wrong.
- As of Iron Man 3, Tony's become erratic from PTSD and has been rushing through prototypes without giving them the proper testing time. His successes in the film were generally earned in spite of the flawed tech instead of because of it - in fact, a number of the action scenes avert this trope because the armor is so unreliable he doesn't use it at all.
- The executioner's complaints to the warden about the unreliable electric chair in Seed.
Alright, look. We have to cancel this execution, and you know that. Okay, this chair, it cannot do the job. Okay, we have standards here. I have standards here! You remember the last time? It was like the goddamn Fourth of July in there!
- In Justice League: Doom, they are about to phase the entire planet to let a solar flare pass through. Though this was mainly due for being short on time.
Cyborg: Now I just need to do a test run.
Batman: This IS the test run. (Activates it)
- Not a device, but a chemical. In Evolution, the heroes are trying to figure out how to stop a hostile alien lifeform that threatens to make every Earth lifeform extinct in a matter of months due to its rapidly-evolving nature. The military decides to obliterate the aliens with tons of napalm. However, the heroes accidentally discover that fire only speeds up the evolution. Then the protagonist looks at a periodic chart and determines that the aliens must be susceptible to selenium poisoning by going two rows down and one to the right of nitrogen (the aliens are nitrogen-based), same as arsenic (two down and one right from carbon) is poisonous to humans. So they load up on selenium (in the form of Head & Shoulders shampoo) and take a fire truck to kill the aliens. It works. They never bothered to test their theory on any alien samples beforehand.
- From Ghostbusters: "Why worry? Each of us is carrying an unlicensed nuclear accelerator on his back."
- In Pacific Rim, the Mark I Jaegers were thrown together in 14 months. Unfortunately, this meant that certain features were skimped, including radiation shielding for the pilots. As a result, Marshall Pentecost (the Big Good, a former Mk. I pilot) is Secretly Dying of radiation poisoning.
- Airplane II: The Sequel. Ted Striker decides that he'll have to take the shuttle to 0.5 Worp (half the speed of light) in order to get back to the Moon before they run out of air. He's warned that the Worp drive has never been tested and that the ship will apart at that speed. It's later mentioned that no one has flown at that speed before. Of course it works anyway.
- In Galaxy Quest, the Thermians built the NSCA Protector from what they gathered from the Galaxy Quest TV show. The ship's flying capabilities had never been tested due to the Thermians' missing navigational skills. The ship turns out to be working just fine. Also, Jason decides to activate the Omega 13, a most powerful device that was never tested before. It works like a charm.
Live Action TV
- Star Trek: The Original Series episode "The Naked Time". The Enterprise is minutes away from burning up in the planet's atmosphere.
Scott: Captain, you can't mix matter and antimatter cold. We'd go up in the biggest explosion since...
Kirk: We can balance our engines into a controlled implosion.
Scott: That's only a theory. It's never been done.
Kirk: We've got to risk a full-power start. The engines were shut off. No time to regenerate them. [snip] We've got to risk implosion. It's our only chance.
Spock: It's never been done.
Kirk: Don't tell me that again, Science Officer! It's a theory. It's possible. We may go up into the biggest ball of fire since the last sun in these parts exploded, but we've got to take that one in 10,000 chance!
- Scotty is, in fact, the patron saint of this trope. All other Starfleet engineers aspire to live up to his example.
- Just about every prototype and jury-rigged piece of machinery, in fact. So much so that it's probably covered at Starfleet Academy.
- Stargate SG-1:
- The Asgard ship O'Neill was barely out of drydock before it was used to draw a Replicator fleet away from the Asgard homeworld and blown up.
- The Russian BC-304, Korolev, was rushed into service to help fight the Ori invasion at the Supergate, and was destroyed in the battle.
- The same may have happened with the Chinese Sun Tzu in the Stargate Atlantis Grand Finale, as it received far worse damage than the American Apollo and might end up being scuttled.
- Stargate Atlantis: In an Alternate Timeline the newest BC-304, the Phoenix, was sent to the Pegasus Galaxy to help curb Michael's forces. It was so new that more than half it's systems were not operable yet and Carter and Mc Kay had to finish the work themselves. While it's not stated, it's implied that the Phoenix didn't even have working railguns and only used the Asgard plasma beams. While they're devastating, they're useless against small, maneuverable targets (which the Wraith tend to spam).
- In 1996, Formula 3000 manufacturer Lola began work on a Formula One entry, with an eye to joining the sport in 1998. However, title sponsor Master Card demanded the team enter in 1997 instead, leaving them barely enough time to design and build the car and no time at all to test it. When they got to the first race, the car was abysmally slow, both drivers failed to qualify, and the team promptly collapsed.
- Happens occasionally in Warhammer 40,000.
- The Tau have sent several of their Mini-Mecha battlesuits into service without proper testing (sometimes with unintended side-effects) and one of their experimental rifles had the nasty tendency to kill its own wielder via neural feedback.
- The Imperium did this in Armageddon. There were plenty of reports of Leman Russ battletanks being piloted mere seconds after their construction (without even a single coat of primer) and joining the battle raging just outside the factory doors.
- The Orks do this all the time, but mostly because "testing" and "safety" aren't really in their vocabulary.
- The Trace machine from Another Code, which was only just finished mere days before the start of the game. A little more justifiable than most, given the need for a human test subject and Richard was the only one there when it was finished. The earlier model in the second game averts this, as it was tested and worked perfectly.
- Said to Elder Lyons about Liberty Prime near the end of Fallout 3.
- In Shadow the Hedgehog, the commander calls for a Giant Mecha called the Diablon (which he himself will pilot). The subordinate responds in this way.
- Sonic Unleashed: Dark Gaia, of course, who had yet to reach maturity within the planet's core. Ergo, it was still incomplete at the time of its awakening. Ergo, it was unable to sustain its own weight upon its release. Ergo, it scattered across the world.
- Crash Bandicoot (1996): When Dr. Neo Cortex and N. Brio are trying to brainwash the newly created titular hero.
Dr. Cortex: Quickly! Into the Vortex!
N. Brio: But Doctor Cortex, the Vortex is not ready! We have no idea what it could do!
- Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3: In the bowels of the besieged Kremlin, Colonel Cherdenko has an exchange with Dr. Zelinsky about his Time Machine that follows this trope.
- Done in Croc 2, where Baron Dante tells his minions to send out a giant t-rex robot. Naturally, he doesn't listen.
- In the Hikage Street level of Jet Set Radio Future, Hiyashi yells at a subordinate to send in "the experimental weapon!" He's met with this reaction, and it's implied that he has a pretty violent tantrum. The subordinate reluctantly obeys. Oddly enough for a Secret Weapon, this is considerably early in the game, and he returns in a later chapter with an improved version.
- In Professor Layton and the Unwound Future, Bill Hawks pushed his time machine into testing before it was ready because corporations were offering him lots of money. The resulting disaster killed Claire and dozens of other people, and resulted in Dmitri seeking a way to bring Claire back, while Clive, a young boy orphaned by the disaster, grew up to want revenge on both of them.
- One of the Web Of Intrigue nodes in Prototype recalls General Randall insisting that the Super Soldiers be fielded immediately despite a scientist's reservations on the decision. Hilariously, he tells the scientist he's "not paid to think." The Super Soldiers work fine, and in fact are superior to the Hunters in several ways.
- In the introduction cutscene to Donkey Kong 64's final level, K. Rool realizes that the Kongs are attacking, and that he needs to arm his Doomsday Device NOW. As the Blast-o-Matic powers up, a minion pleadingly tries to tell him it's not finished and could blow them all up, but K. Rool is too wound up to listen to reason.
- At one point in Batman: Arkham City, you call up Alfred and tell him to drop off a grapnel upgrade that will allow you to travel farther and faster. Alfred protests that it's not ready for field deployment, but Batman insists that he can handle it (justifying the difficult Pass Through the Rings missions that unlock it). As far as the gameplay is concerned, the upgrade works fine.
- Applies to The Crucible in Mass Effect 3, since the galaxy knows they cannot beat The Reapers in a conventional fight. Commander Shepard's War Assets determine the level of completion by the endgame. Even at 100% they have no idea what it will even do.
- Starcraft II Heart Of The Swarm: during the attack on Korhal, Mengsk orders special new nuclear weapons used against a group of Ultralisks attacking the city. The nukes produce a unique type of radiation, which the Zerg are able to absorb in order to mutate all of their Ultralisks into Torrasques. Mengsk's aide does warn him that using the nukes wasn't a good idea...
- In Ghostbusters: The Video Game, your job is to test the prototype equipment. Peter and Winston hang a lampshade on it with this exchange:
Peter: And what makes you think it's going to stop guys like us?
Winston: Yeah, man, what are we? The FDA?
- TIE Fighter has the Corvette Vorknkx, which houses an experimental cloaking device that is extremely unstable if used in conjunction with a hyperspace engine. Zaarin does anyways. It explodes.
- Shows up in The Adventures of Dr. McNinja. The leader of Raptor Force insists that a horrorsaurus be sent to the battlefield, over the scientists' protests that it's too young.
- And in "Army of One", the doctor asks how he could say no to a machine that clones him hundreds of times so he can learn many lifetimes of study in a few years, and then merge back into one, and is unfazed when told that the machine is completely untested.
- Mentioned in the Evil Overlord List: If the scientist says the device is not ready, the overlord shall listen. "No one conquered the universe using the Beta version."
- From the 100 Reasons Why Kirk Is Better Than Picard:
Kirk doesn't test the engines — he just fires them up.
- And from the 100 Reasons Why Picard Is Better Than Kirk
This is exactly why the Enterprise, under Kirk, spent most of its five-year mission either without warp drive or adrift.
- Jonny Quest TOS episode "The Robot Spy": The title opponent is escaping.
What if they can't stop it, Doctor? Benton Quest:
Then we'll use my Parapower Ray Gun. Race:
But you don't even know if it works! You haven't tested it yet! Benton:
We don't have a choice. We have to test it now. We've got to stop the robot!
As it turns out, the gun is Cool, but Inefficient
; it stops the robot, but not the way it was supposed to.
- Used in Superjail when the Twins' creation Combaticaus starts dominating The Warden's Fight City arena. The Warden call on The Doctor to release Prototype 7 which the Doctor exclaims its not ready. Subverted however in that it turns out to be more then a match for Combatitcus and saves the Superjail staff when Fight City starts to crumble.
- Arthur plays with this in the episode, "Get Smart", in which Mr. Ratburn's class is equipped with a new computerized whiteboard called HUGO (a Shout-Out to HAL-9000 from 2001ASpaceOdyssey) - HUGO claims Ratburn is incorrect in one of his lessons, despite Ratburn insist he's correct. Brain is suspicious of HUGO's true accuracy, and his suspicions are confirmed, not only by doing his own research, but also thanks, in part, to a vision he has where the laboratory HUGO was developed turned up its accuracy level was only 98%, which the developers dismiss, figuring 2% inaccuracy isn't going to make a difference.
- Deconstructed towards the end of Exosquad: Phaeton orders to release all Neo Lords currently in production to bolster the defense of Earth (under siege from Exofleet) but the incompletely bred Neo Lords dissolve into mush almost instantly and cannot be deployed to combat, effectively wasting all effort that went into the project.
- Colonel K sends Danger Mouse a vitamin pill prototype that he instructs to have tested and to not give it to himself or Penfold. Naturally, Penfold thinks it's a piece of candy and swallows it anyway. It turns him into a rhyming superhero, the Blue Flash.
- During The American Civil War the Monitor was rushed into production by the Union in order to combat the Virginia, the first iron-sided ship fielded by the Confederates.
- For the 1943 Operation Citadel on the Eastern Front during World War II, which resulted in the Battle of Kursk, Hitler delayed the attack because he wanted to include the brand-new Panzerkampfwagen V Panther medium tank in the offensive. Not only did the Soviets have ample time to set up their defensive lines, the new tank was extremely unreliable and the vehicles suffered numerous breakdowns even before reaching the front.
- HMS Prince Of Wales was immediately dispatched in pursuit of Bismarck with shipyard workers still aboard even though she hadn't been given a proper shake-down period. She still managed to give a good account of herself during the battle of Denmark Strait despite constant problems with turrets of a new, untested (and quite troublesome, as it turned out) design that reduced her firepower to to just two guns for much of the battle. Despite her difficulties she scored the hit that forced the Bismarck to turn back. It's especially notable because the Germans elected not to include Tirpitz in their sortie because Tirpitz was still in her shakedown period.
Ergo, this is the repercussion of your hasty actions.