Useless Item

The programmers or writers come up with an element for the hero to use. It's all cool, but they forget to make (or Dummied Out) any enemies that are affected by that element in any way. Or they put an item in that cures a specific one of the Standard Status Effects, but the said status is AWOL. You might be able to sell it for a little bit, but it won't be worth as much as Vendor Trash that exists for that purpose.

Compare/contrast Useless Useful Spell, Joke Item, and Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors. See also Antidote Effect, where it's strategic concerns that make something useless rather than programming ones.

Not the opposite of Use Item (arf arf).

Examples:

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     Video Games  

  • In Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals, the "Sea Ring" is strong against "Sea Creatures", but the programmers didn't flag any monsters as "Sea Creatures".
    • Again in the same game, there is a Capsule monster with "Soil" attacks. There are no monsters with the "Soil" flag set.
  • The "Ghost" and "Dragon" Pokémon types during Pokémon Red and Blue were this with respect to attacking in the Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors:
    • "Ghost" type Pokémon were supposedly strong against Psychic types, but out of three Ghost type moves available in the first generation, one was a status attack, another only inflicted fixed damage, and the third not only had an awful base power of 20, but was completely ineffective against Psychics due to a glitch in the Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors chart. Worse, the Gastly line, the only Ghost-type Pokémon in the first generation, were also part Poison, making them vulnerable to Psychic attacks themselves. Finally, the strongest first-generation Pokémon (Mewtwo) was also a Psychic, making the Psychic elemental type an overall Game-Breaker.
    • "Dragon"-type Pokémon were supposedly strong against other Dragons, but the sole "Dragon" type move in the first generation inflicted fixed damage, ignoring elemental type bonuses and making it almost useless against the sole Dragon-themed trainer in the game.
    • There were some other items that were useless. The Dire Hit item, which was supposed to boost the chance of critical hits, was bugged and worse than useless in the first generation; using it would prohibit your Pokémon from getting critical hits on anything faster than it (Focus Energy had the same problem).
    • The Moon Ball in Pokémon Gold and Silver is supposed to be good at catching Pokémon that evolve with a Moon Stone. Since only a select few species evolve this way, this alone would make it a Joke Item. What makes it a Useless Item is that the developers goofed and instead made it have a higher catch rate on Pokémon that evolve with a Burn Heal (read: no Pokémon), essentially making it a glorified Poké Ball. The remakes fixed this.
    • Starting in FireRed and LeafGreen, key items from earlier games are, for whatever reason, programmed into every game, complete with icon, name, and description. They're all Dummied Out, and if you hack them in, most of them do absolutely nothing anyway, since they're meant to advance a different plot from the one you're currently in.
  • Infamously, the Anti-MUTE spell in the original Final Fantasy is completely useless since there are no enemies in the game that can inflict MUTE status on your party.
    • Moreover the original NES version suffered from numerous internal bugs that included rendering certain spells (LOCK and XFER, for example) absolutely useless, and ignoring attack bonuses for weapons that were intended to be elemental or monster-specific (Giant Sword vs. giants, Were Sword vs. werebeasts, etc.).
  • Kingdom of Loathing has boots that offer "slight cute resistance". There's nothing that deals "cute" damage in the game yet, and, since the "cute" element only ever comes up during a Fifth Element parody set in the distant future (for which the boots in question are a reward), there probably never will be.
  • In the early stages of Ragnarok Online, functions existed to cause or deter status damages like poison. The catch was that these statuses did not yet exist in the game.
  • In World of Warcraft, there is a troll vendor in Shattrath City who sells you various trinkets that are supposedly good at repelling certain mobs, none of which exist.
    • Griftah actually sells a whole variety of items, most of which do exactly what they claim to, but are nonetheless completely useless - because they're charms that give you 'powers' that you, as a PC, already have, such as being healed by eating food. However, one item he sells that has no use listed in its tooltip is a part you'll need to build a really cool device.
  • Castlevania: Symphony of the Night has plenty of weapons with obscure bonuses, one of which [the Were-Bane] gives bonuses against Were-Beasts. Unfortunately there's only one Were creature in the game (the Werewolf) and although a mini-boss originally, by the time you get this weapon is encountered as just as a random grunt in one specific area and is not much of a challenge as you're now a much higher level, and there's plenty of weapons with much higher base damage that eclipse the bonus you'd get anyway. On top of this, though, the sword is glitched, in that it does absolutely zero extra damage to them anyway!
    • Mind you, the sword isn't completely useless, as it's QCF+Attack move is a flurry of thrusts in the same vein as the Rapier's, and Were-Bane is stronger than the Rapier. It makes for a good off-hand weapon if you decide to forgo two-handed weapons and shields.
  • Fable (the 1996 point and click adventure, not the newer action RPG series) was absolutely chock full of items that are never used. Whether their uses were Dummied Out or they were never intended to be used and served only as red herrings is unknown.
  • The Legend of Dragoon features three useless key items that serve no purpose other than 100% Completion- the War Bulletin, Lavitz's Portrait, and Kate's Bouquet. The former is already in your possession when you start the game, while the other two are optional.
  • In Secret of Evermore, the Magic Gourd literally has no effect on anything. Even the programmers couldn't remember what it was supposed to do.
  • Cosmic Fantasy 2 does not contain status ailments, but has a full selection of remedies and accessories that cure and prevent such remedies, which are all are a waste of inventory space.
  • In the original SNES version of Final Fantasy VI, the 'goggles' item prevented the 'blind' status effect, which did exist, and there were enemies that used it, but due to a glitch the effect did nothing to you at all. The only thing the blind effect did was prevent Strago from learning lores cast in battle. One might say The Goggles Do Nothing.
    • In the original release, Physical Evasion is bugged and does nothing, the Magic Evasion stat is used for both physical and magical attacks. As a result, a lot of items that only increase physical evasion, like most shields, are useless.
    • While exploring the Returners' hideout as Terra, she can find a scrap of paper and choose whether to throw it in the nearby dustbin. Ignoring it leads to Banon remarking on it during the meeting among the Returners; tossing it (or never finding it in the first place) just have the scene play out as it usually does. Nothing ever comes of it.
  • In the SNES North American release of Final Fantasy IV, Fire Bombs. Originally seen in the opening, when Cecil uses one to dispose of enemies in a cutscene, most enemies that would drop them had them removed from the drop list. The one exception were Red Dragons. However, they only exist in the final dungeon, and all of the characters can greatly outstrip them in damage. Averted in other releases, where they appear earlier in the game, when they're much more useful.
  • In Dungeons & Dragons Online, random loot can generate a lot of items of... questionable usefulness, like race restricted Warforged (Living constructs with no need to breathe, and as such having Super Not-Drowning Skills) restricted item of underwater action (giving you Super Not-Drowning Skills, redundant with a warforged racial ability).
  • Jet Force Gemini has the fish food, which can be used to feed fish in ponds. There is absolutely no benefit to doing this. However, if used properly, this is a subversion: some enemies will react to the Fish Food as though you'd thrown a grenade at them, and certain others will eat it if it's thrown near them, leaving them open. It's a Lethal Joke Item once you work out its tricks.
    • Along similar lines, the Biscuiteer mastery in League of Legends gives you (a useful consumable and) a "Poro-Snax" cookie if you are playing on the Howling Abyss map. This cookie is used to feed poros, critters that have no other impact on the game, making them follow you while emitting hearts. Intended as a joke that does not affect gameplay, it ended up affecting gameplay... there is a poro at the stealth bush in the middle of the map which would normally run away from players in the bush, giving away their position. Feeding the poro a Snax prevents this and the enemy just might facecheck the bush thinking it is empty.
  • The Mini Block ability in Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance is this, thanks to there being a grand total of one enemy in the game capable of applying the Mini status, and only under specific circumstances. It gets especially annoying when you realize they neglected to provide abilities to block far more common (And annoying) status effects such as freezing and Zero Gravity.
  • The bike in EarthBound. While it's faster than Ness' normal walking speed and has a great theme while riding it, it can't be used if anything or anyone else is following Ness, and since you get a second character about an hour or so after getting it and this is a game with All in a Row and Inventory Management Puzzle there's little point in ever picking it up.
    • Deliberately parodied with the Orange Kid's device, the Suporma, if you provided him some money. If used, it plays a short song about how awesome Orange Kid is, and then it promptly breaks and disappears from your inventory.
    • Also parodied with the Ruler and Protractor, which if used in battle, will have the game excitedly declare that the character can now determine the length/angle of things, while playing the same sound effect associated with status buffs. Neither of them actually do anything at all, except with one NPC who won't move out of your way until you give him one.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess has the Horse Call. It's basically an item version of the grass that Link picks up and blows on to call Epona. The useless-isity of the item comes from the fact that you obtain it shortly before the Disc One Final Dungeon, after you have completed majority of the game and have gained access to teleportation gates all over the world map and have been using that exclusively since you unlocked it by the halfway point of the game. In-Universe justification being that Ilia wanted to give you this item before Link left on his journey during the introduction scenes, but then the plot happened and prevented her from doing so.
  • Sleep-reducing items in Spiral Knights are useless because no enemies inflict the Sleep status.
  • The Raven's Feather key item found in the Satta Pass Fortress in ''Onimusha: Dawn of Dreams".
  • In Maniac Mansion, not all items are needed for the characters you picked to play as, but all items are available nonetheless. Some items are useless no matter what, or just not needed.
  • Scrolls has a literal Useless Contraption card, which is "working as intended". It spawns an object that does nothing but does have (lots of) hit points, acting as a wall.
  • Batman Dark Tomorrow: Where to begin? There are several documents that can be found in the game and only one document- which gives you a hint about the Killer Croc boss fight- has anything to do with the actual game. All of the rest of the documents have nothing to do with the game.
    • Two items that can be found in the game are "Weapons Crate 1" and "Weapons Crate 3". A Weapons Crate 2 has never been found, and although the weapons crates are stated to "increase weapon power," neither item has any impact on the game.
  • NetHack has many items that seem useless, but have some outside-the-box use; an expensive camera can be used to blind and scare monsters, a blindfold can be worn to protect from gaze attacks or activate intrinsic telepathy, and even a drum scares monsters off. However, there are some items that lack even those uses; a wand of nothing does, well, absolutely nothing. Its only use is Vendor Trash or polymorphing into a better wand.
    • Iron chains are even more useless than wands of nothing. They have no value to shopkeepers, can't be polymorphed into anything other than iron chains, and aren't even heavy enough to make a decent Improvised Weapon barring Self Imposed Challenges. They can be polypiled into a probably-hostile iron golem, but as you can only get them in the first place by being punished or killing iron golems, it's not practical for grinding, farming, or taming.
    • Worthless pieces of glass are exactly what they sound like. They exist only to complicate gem identification, are too light to be used as projectile weapons, too soft to engrave with, and chances are that by the time you can polymorph them into better gems, you don't need money anymore.
  • In Dark Souls, one of the options for starting gifts is the Pendant. As far as can be told, it has no use in the game.
  • Superman 64 has X-Ray Vision; the superpower that does absolutely nothing. It can only be found in one level.
  • BioShock has some crafting materials that are only used for a few gene tonics, and can't be used again. By far the most infamous is the empty Hypo, where there's beyond plenty of them hanging around Rapture, but only three of them are required for crafting those three tonics.
    • Parodied in BioShock 2 in Minerva's Den, where Reed Wahl's corpse contains a necessary key, as well as a bunch of lint and a chewed-up pencil.
  • Parodied in Evoland during the Diablo portion of the game. You pick up a massive amount of gear (one for each of your newly acquired equipment slots), but all of them grant useless bonuses to non-existent stats or damage to enemies that don't exist. One item gives you a ".000001% chance of finding something useful."
  • Done for character reasons in the Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance bonus story "External Gazer". Snake starts the game with a bunch of useless junk in his inventory - Cigarettes, a Shaver, a Cellphone, Cold Medicine and a Wet Box. None of these have any purpose in that storyline (the Cigarettes can be smoked, sapping your health, but none of the situations in which this is useful are there) and are presumably supposed to just be junk he had in his pockets at the time of this ridiculous mission he is not taking seriously.
  • In Team Fortress 2, the #86 Mann Co. Supply Crate doesn't expire, but the key used to open it eventually stopped being sold, essentially turning the crate into just something to take up inventory space.
  • You can pick up a fire extinguisher and soda can in the white chamber, but they don't help in solving any puzzles. Of course, the red color might have been a clue.
  • Early in Another Code R, Ashley can buy some souvenirs from the Lake Juliet gift shop. Aside from running up Richard's credit card bill, none of them will help you advance the plot. It's really more for flavor.
  • During an early chapter of Hotel Dusk: Room 215, Kyle can pick up a screwdriver, a crowbar and some pliers. The crowbar and pliers are both required to solve a pair of puzzles, but the screwdriver serves no purpose. In fact, if you're still holding onto it or any of the other tools when Dunning is searching the rooms for stolen cash, he'll throw Kyle out of the hotel for stealing his stuff.
  • Final Fantasy Mystic Quest is full of abandoned elements and abandoned elemental resistances, including Guest characters strong against elements they can never encounter during their tenure. The player even earns the Mystic Ring, which protects them against the (essentially nonfunctional) Silence status effect, though it can't be considered completely "useless" thanks to a pitiful +2 defence.
  • In Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge you can buy almost anything visible within the shop on Phatt Island, but only three of the many items available are actually useful in the game. Thankfully, you can refund any of the useless items at any time. The way you can tell if an item is useful is that it disappears from the shop after you buy it; if you buy something unnecessary, the shopkeeper will procure an identical copy from behind the counter to give to you.
  • Blood II: The Chosen has The Eye, which works as a remote camera. However, singleplayer enemies don't do patrols to justify you dropping it in an enemy route, and Bloodbath multiplayer is so fast-paced, stopping yourself to look around with it is at best useless and at worst suicidal. You can't even use it to scout out a new area; the player character drops it literally 30 centimeters in front of him/her upon use.
  • Golden Sun: In Vault, a woman at the inn will give you a leftover bone if you ask for it, which you can then give to a dog who'll show you the entrance to a Bonus Dungeon. You can keep getting bones, but there is no further use for them, and they can't be dropped or sold.
  • Tomb Raider has the compass, which has no use whatsoever since the levels are mostly linear and are impossible to get lost. Later games removed the item, but it comes back as UI element instead of an item in Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation where its only use is to help trigger cheat codes. The game also has the broken glasses you can collect and it has completely no use whatsoever.
  • The reward you get for finding all 900 Korok Seeds in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is a piece of solid yellow/gold turd. It sits in your key item tab and has no use for anything at all other than showcasing your friendship with Hetsu. It could be seen as a Take That, Audience! from the developers since you only need half of the seeds to fully expand your inventory slots.
  • Final Fantasy XIV has a lot of items that could be useful, but isn't:
    • Phoenix Downs revive a fallen player like it always has in the series, but the stipulations of using it makes it not worth carrying; it can only be used on players in your party, thus anyone who was not in your group could not be revived with it. The item also cannot be used while engaged in battle while a raise from a healer can be done in the middle of the fight. Lastly, Phoenix Downs are labeled as unique items, which means you can't carry more than one. Phoenix Downs do get a bit more use in the Palace of the Dead since the dungeon can be done without a healer present.
    • Potions that boost your elemental resistance has no use anywhere due to items barely having any effect against elemental attacks and they only last for a few seconds.
    • Potions that cause Paralysis, Sleep, Poison, and Blind are only useful against enemies up to level 50. Once you start fighting enemies that are level 51 and higher, the potions become worthless.
    • Items that cure status effects like Silence and Blind go on a cooldown once used, meaning they are only good for one player who is affected while the rest have to suffer. Healers have the ability to cleanse negative effects with a one second cooldown per cast, which makes the items that cure the effects pointless to carry.
  • Undertale has the Real Knife and the Locket, which up your ATTACK and DEFENCE by 99 each. Not only are they only obtained towards the end of the Genocide Route, but when you do get them, the only enemy left in the game that can be fought at all, Sans, has 1 HP, 1 ATK, and 1 DEF, thus making the boosts given by the items completely useless. Unlike most other examples of this trope, this is very deliberate.
  • Hospitals in the SNES version of SimCity are one of the few things in the game which have no effect on anything; they don't benefit your city at all, but they're not Poison Mushrooms, either. They just exist to occupy space until bulldozed and rezoned.

     Tabletop Games  

  • The Magic: The Gathering card Steamflogger Boss has a deliberately useless ability: "If a Rigger you control would assemble a Contraption, it assembles two Contraptions instead." The term "assemble" has no meaning in the rules. "Contraption" is defined in the rules as being a type of Artifact, but no such Artifacts have been printed. On top of that, the only Riggers ever printed are the Steamflogger Boss itself and, retroactively, Moriok Rigger (who does not reference assembling contraptions in any way)note . The reason for this useless ability is that it comes from a time-travel-themed set, and is meant to evoke future yet-to-be-designed mechanics.
  • In Rifts, stats were given on page 46 for Long-Range missiles, yet nothing in the main rule book was actually capable of firing them. The closest usable thing was the next step down, Medium-Range missiles, which could be fired by Enforcers, Death's Head Transports and Titan Combat Robots. It was not until subsequent sourcebooks that PB got around to introducing larger robots and vehicles actually capable of firing LRMs.
  • Back in the day, the Yu-Gi-Oh! card game had a bunch of cards that were only useful against one specific card. Not a specific type of card, not a specific group of named cards, but a single, solitary card. 10 years later, most of the cards they were useful against have been banned, leaving them with no use whatsoever (except if they're monsters, in which case they might as well be effectless). Even before then, the cards in question were limited to 1, so there wasn't much chance of being used in fans' eyes, anyway.
  • The official Girl Genius card game includes a Vampire Hunter card that affects only Vampire cards. There are no Vampire cards. (Just as the series itself contains a vampire hunter, but no vampires.) Though there are no vampires, there is a card that, by the rules (explicitly: it is used as an example of the card game's literal text-based mechanism for determining to what cards the "Instructions" on a given card apply) counts as one: the Vampire Hunter card.
  • The earliest releases of Spellfire had a plethora of Ally cards that offered pathetically small combat bonuses and had no special abilities whatsoever. Since all Ally cards in Spellfire have the same cost and Allies were at the time the weakest card type in the game, there was never any reason anyone would ever put one in a deck. Unsurprising, as due to Executive Meddling the game was barely tested; the reprints gave these cards special abilities.


http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/UselessItem