[[quoteright:350:[[Film/TheFifthElement http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/police_fifthelement2.jpg]]]]

In many science-fiction works most if not all soldiers and or police (especially {{Space Marine}}s) wear roughly as much plating as a medieval knight, though often PoweredArmor or made of composite materials. Oftentimes this armor is portrayed as being completely [[ArmorIsUseless useless]], though sometimes it's [[AllThereInTheManual stated]] that the armor is completely bulletproof, it's just that they're using [[FrickinLaserBeams lasers]] - or [[RockBeatsLaser the other way around]].

Might be justified in that (though most militaries prefer mobility over protection) the armour provides ''very'' reliable protection against the weapons the soldiers are up against (like plate armor at its advent in the medieval times, with the armour making its wearer very hard to injure; once more ways to bypass it arose, to be fully armored fell out of fashion). Or if the armor is supposed to double as a space suit (which are already bulky and cumbersome).

As an aside, personal armor technology has improved dramatically in the last fifty years, whilst the average infantry rifle has actually become ''less'' powerful (cartridge sizes have decreased for the sake of accuracy, ergonomics, ammo capacity, and [[MoreDakka automatic fire]] capability). For this reason, this trope is increasingly looking like TruthInTelevision.[[note]]An average soldier can carry two to three times more 5.56mm ammunition than the older 7.62mm ammunition and the rifles that use it are lighter and easier to handle and more accurate and both rounds are equally lethal against unarmoured enemies.[[/note]]


[[folder:Fan Works]]
* {{Lampshade|Hanging}}d in ''Fanfic/RedFireRedPlanet''. Norigom, the IKS ''mupwi's'' Nausicaan operations officer, is described as "clanking" his way onto the bridge, and his captain, Brokosh, has no idea why he goes everywhere in corroded durasteel armor.

* ''Franchise/StarWars'': The infamous stormtroopers and their predecessors the clone troopers, which may well have been the {{Trope Codifier}}s, if not [[TropeMaker Makers]]. Also the Mandalorians (i.e. Boba and Jango Fett).
** Stormtrooper armor blocks radiation, chemical and biological weapons, stun bolts, vacuum exposure, and most (non-energy) melee attacks, as well as providing general life support and environmental protection. [[ArmorIsUseless Too bad (for the stormtroopers) that the rebels just use simple blasters.]] That said, [[AllThereInTheManual other sources]] say that while it might be penetrated by a direct blaster bolt, it would at least significantly reduce damage from the absorbed bolt, [[FanWank so the]] [[ShortRangeLongRangeWeapon constantly close-ranges of combat]] [[FanWank in the movies is why the armour seems useless]].
** This is illustrated in the first battle scene in the entire series. Armored stormtroopers vs. unarmored rebel bodyguards--if a blaster bolt hits anywhere near one of the rebels, they go down, while only direct hits to storm troopers do any damage. Also, you see some stormtroopers helping up their wounded after--while ''none'' of the rebel troops seem to be even moving.
*** Additionally, Mandalorian armour appears to be far tougher than the Stormtroopers' standard-issue panoply, given the number of blast-marks that Boba Fett's suit bears (including one [[GroinAttack on the codpiece]]). This is, perhaps, only fitting, as the design that would go on to become Fett was initially intended to represent a type of elite Stormtrooper, rather than the individualised BountyHunter it would come to be.
* ''Film/StarshipTroopers'' - Making the fact that they left out the book's power armor even more obvious. The armor props [[PropRecycling were sold]] to a ''lot'' of other productions, like ''Series/PowerRangersLostGalaxy'' and ''Series/{{Firefly}}''.
* The colonial marines in ''Film/{{Aliens}}'' have fairly realistic armour. Hicks even survives being sprayed with an alien's acidic blood thanks to his armor. Given the damage his breastplate sustained, he'd have died in pretty short order if he were unprotected.
* ''Film/TheFifthElement'': The cops wear so much armor that they look like mobile metal bon-bons with the word "Police" stenciled on them. Ditto for the Mondoshawan, assuming the mechanical-looking structures that covered them actually were armor, and not just environmental suits or their actual bodies. Unfortunately, [[ArmorIsUseless armor seems to do little to actually stop bullets]].

* The Literature/{{Lensman}} universe goes in very heavily for space battle armour, and it frequently incorporates a defence shield. The effect this has on combat is to force a reversion to axes, because first-class battle armour protects against hand-held beam and projectile weapons, although not against heavier semi-portable and fixed-mount systems. When you have to go up against ''those'', the armour is powered because it's acknowledged to be too heavy for the wearers to move unassisted.
* This appears in several sci-fi novels and series written by Creator/DavidWeber including:
** ''Literature/HonorHarrington'', with various characters employing PoweredArmor, "clam shell" style conventional armor, and an armored variant of the standard skin-tight sci-fi {{Latex Space Suit}}s, designed to provide some protection in the hazards of space combat.
** The Starfire novels (co-written with Steve White).
** The [[Literature/PrinceRoger March series]] features PoweredArmor, but beyond that there's little armor used by the troops, as the deadliness of personnel weaponry makes the weight penalty of non-powered armor too costly.
** The ''Literature/EmpireFromTheAshes'' series.
** ''Literature/InFuryBorn''
* As mentioned above, the book version of ''Literature/StarshipTroopers'' features not just 1, but 3 different variants of its powered armor, built for scouting, fighting, and being in charge.
* ''Literature/HammersSlammers'' wear full body armor made of a ceramic that can deflect the bullets used by most of the frontier militaries and insurgencies they end up fighting, so long as it doesn't hit any of the gaps, but are substantially less effective against the powerguns they and other mercenary groups prefer to use. They also inject stimulants or painkillers when the red or blue tab is pulled.

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* ''Series/BabylonFive'': Averted; Earth security forces wear flexible, sleeveless flak-vests designed to deflect energy and plasma-based weapons. There are a few variants of this, including the [[CanonDiscontinuity goofy-looking and never-seen-again full jacket style from the pilot]].
** Played straight with a couple of the alien races, though: Minbari of the warrior caste wear padded black armour, and high-ranking Narn are often seen wearing some kind of cuirass.
* ''Series/{{Farscape}}'': The Peacekeepers use an also-space-suit variant.
* ''Series/StarTrekTheNextGeneration'', in the first episode when Picard is put on trial by Q for the crimes of humanity there were some 21st century soldiers in heavy, solid body armor.
** Given that World War III was generally acknowledged to be partly nuclear in nature, these may be radiation suits of sorts. They definitely included built-in drug-dispensors (to keep the soldier angry, trigger happy, and following orders instead of thinking for himself or showing mercy)
** In the times periods the show are actually set, however, [[ArmorIsUseless no one ever wears more armor than a shirt.]] Well, humans don't; Cardassian uniforms include rigid plates and some Klingon outfits have armor on them, fitting given their preference for melee combat.
* On ''Series/{{Firefly}}'', the "Purple-Bellies" (as Alliance soldiers are called) get their name from the black and purple armor they wear (which seems to minimize the damage done by projectile weapons at least), while the "Brown Coats" had to make due with leather dusters and the occasional metal helmet. Guess who won the war?
** Zoe often wears a bulletproof vest under her shirt.
* The Jaffa in ''Series/StargateSG1'' wear suits of chainmail that are basically useless against any common weapons in the series, plus a slightly more resistant breastplate. The SGC tends to wear flak vests that don't work any better against energy weapons. In fact, one episode shows us the effects of staff weapons on and armored vest... [[ArmorIsUseless the armor actually amplifies the heat]], and it took them years to develop staff blast ''resistant'' armor inserts.

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* Most of the ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer 40000}}'' armies give their troops some sort of armor, though the [[RedshirtArmy Imperial Guard's]] flak armor is commonly nicknamed [[FanNickname "cardboard vests" or "t-shirts"]] due to its [[ArmorIsUseless ineffectiveness]].
** The Imperial Guard's uniforms make seem they're just wearing armour over top clothing like normal modern soldiers, but actually, their entire uniforms are flak armour as well.
*** Or in the case of the Catachan Jungle Fighters, just t-shirts over massive muscles. [[GameplayAndStorySegregation Which function just as well as the armour worn by other guard troops]].
*** The Death Korps of Krieg also make it a point to not wear any more armour than some shoulder pads and a not unintentionally German-looking helmet. And they are shock troops. In all fairness, their coats are heavy duty chemical suits, they wear a gasmask all the time and drink water filled with super-steroids, so who needs armour.
** "Carapace armour" is a significantly more effective form of armour worn by many of the Imperial Guard's elite troops, such as Stormtroopers.
** Bonus points for the Space Marines (who are in such extensively large and closed armor such that many inexperienced with the franchise may mistake them for robots) actually referring to their PowerArmor as plate mail.
** The Eldar run about in [[LatexSpaceSuit form-fitting mesh armor]], sometimes with the addition of molded composite plating, the Tau generally have pretty heavy battle armor, and the Tyranids have a variety of exoskeletal structures. Dark Eldar wear lightweight armour with SpikesOfVillainy, except [[DarkActionGirl Wyches]], who wear as little armour as possible as a point of pride, and rely instead on their athleticism to avoid being hit. Tau Ethereals are also known for going into battles with ceremonial robes, although the ones who make up Aun'va's bodyguard wear some light armour.
*** Specifically, Tau Fire Warriors wear armour made from a nano-crystalline compound called Fio'tak. It's very nearly as tough as Imperial ceramite (the same material used to make Space Marine PowerArmor), but it's ''much'' lighter. Fire Warrior armour distinctly has an enlarged shoulder pad on the wearer's firing side, maximizing their protection but minimizing weight, much like RealLife medieval archers or Japanese [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ashigaru Ashigaru]].
* In ''TabletopGame/{{GURPS}}'' the trend away from armor that started in [[TechnologyLevels TL 4]] (1450 to 1730) starts to reverse in TL 7 (1940 to 1980) with the discovery of lightweight, bullet-resistant synthetics such as kevlar. In some TL 10+ (2075 and beyond) campaigns armor is vital, while in others weapons are so devastating that dodging or shooting first is far more important. For example, disintegrator technology makes armor irrelevant because they do enormous damage and bypass most armor completely while FTL laser technology makes it so that soldiers always need to be in armor because shots can hit with deadly accuracy from tremendous range.
* Due to the general lethality of combat in ''TabletopGame/{{Traveller}}'' armour is all but required to survive more than a couple shots. Besides [[PoweredArmor Battle Dress]] available armours range from practically useless leather to Combat armour that requires a laser or gauss rifle to really penetrate, there's also reflec that only defends against lasers and can be added to other types of armour. However most armour tend to be a higher [[TechnologyLevels tech level]] and much more expensive than the weapons that can pierce it.
* Armor is almost literally an art form in ''{{TabletopGame/Rifts}}'', with all sorts of styles in nearly every book. Given that your average laser pistol can core a modern Main Battle Tank in less than half a clip, this is necessary.
* Averted for the most part in ''Tabletopgame/BattleTech''. Infantry generally wears fatigues with flak jackets and (somewhat bulky) helmets. Space Marines wear {{Latex Space Suit}}s to give them added agility in zero-g operations. On the other hand, full suits of [[PoweredArmor BattleArmor]] are more commonly used in place of infantry [[LostTechnology once the technology is rediscovered]], because even the emplaced weaponry used by infantry can do little against [[HumongousMecha BattleMech]] or combat vehicle armor. Mech pilots operate almost naked as any kind of personal armor would only exacerbate the OverHeating problems they have to deal with.
* In ''TabletopGame/HcSvntDracones'' a cheap bulletproof vest can double your effective hit points, if you dump-statted Body, while riot armor can triple it and a fully upgraded [=MarsCo=] Hardcase can quadruple it at the cost of mobility. And that's not even getting into the powered or living armors.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* Starting with ''Tiberian Sun'' soldiers in ''Videogame/CommandAndConquer'', particularly GDI, have worn plating and helmets, culminating in GDI's infantry all wearing powered armor by ''Tiberium Twilight''. Given that they're living in an increasingly-CrapsackWorld that is getting more and more toxic to humans, the armor is justified, given that it also contains life support systems, and protection from tiberium exposure.
* The Galactic Federation troopers in ''Franchise/{{Metroid}}'' wear powered armor, though it is less advanced than the suit worn by Samus herself.
* The UNSC Marines and Army Troopers in the ''{{Franchise/Halo}}'' series tend to wear more plating than their modern counterparts, especially [[ItsRainingMen the ODSTs]]. But it is not powered like the [[SuperSoldier Spartans]]' MJOLNIR armor. The trope has gotten more pronounced as the series progressed: in [[VideoGame/HaloCombatEvolved the first game]] the crew was evacuating from the Fall of Reach, so many marines are wearing simple fatigues, and even the armored ones wear a relatively modest set of helmet, breastplate, and greaves. The armor set gets noticeably bulkier in ''{{VideoGame/Halo 3}}'' and ''VideoGame/HaloReach''.
** Later media and background lore have indicated that non-augmented elite units are starting to be equipped with (relatively low-grade) PoweredArmor in the post-war era.
* Lots of armor in ''Franchise/MassEffect'', which also functions as a spacesuit when necessary. This is probably because mass accelerator technology has made small arms even more lethal without armour. Not so much in ''VideoGame/MassEffect2'', however, where most of your teammates do not, in fact, wear armour.[[note]]In the game's lore, armor itself is functionally useless: modern firearms fire rounds at such high velocities that you would need incredibly bulky armor to even slow it down. Instead, armor functions as a base for the mass effect shields, designed to slow down incoming fire to survivable levels. While the first game has the shield generators installed in armor exclusively, the second and subsequent games appear to have shield generators in a variety of forms, meaning bulky armor is no longer required.[[/note]] Interestingly, several of the villains do.
* In the ''VideoGame/{{Fallout}}'' series, being set in a SchizoTech AlternateUniverse, armour was very popular both before and after the war, amongst individuals, companies, armies and police forces alike. Its effectiveness greatly depends on how improvised it is--you may not even feel a difference shooting the fellow in the boiled leather and shooting his unarmored buddy, but a good suit of power armor (which only the best equipped factions have access to) can make one near immune or at least highly resistant to most every day wasteland threats, including radiation.
* [[Videogame/GearsOfWar The Gears]] wear armour so ridiculously bulky it's a wonder they can move their arms, but they're still just too badass to wear helmets. [[RedshirtArmy Well, the protagonists don't.]] [[MyFriendsAndZoidberg And the Carmines]]. It is revealed in the third game that most of that bulk wasn't armor, they are just that large and muscular (Marcus's biceps are two third's the width of Anya's torso).
* The armor worn by Terran Marines in ''VideoGame/StarCraft'' is likewise bulky, but does come with a helmet. Hilariously, the armor provides no in-game benefit as Marines have no armor value until you research upgrades. [[FridgeBrilliance However, the armor does give marines 55 health compared to the 10 health of an unarmored human.]]
* Averted in the ''Videogame/{{Killzone}} series'', while massive suits of powered armour do exist (their users referred to as heavies) said armour is bulky, interferes with peripheral vision and slows the wearer down considerably, as a result they aren't seen in use much, everyone makes do with rather contemporary looking body armour
* ''VideoGame/HalfLife2'' is an aversion of this trope, as the Combine soldiers are equipped with kevlar-like soft armor that resembles modern riot gear, in contrast to the standard Sci-Fi plate armor with ShouldersOfDoom that most FPS soldier enemies tend to wear. Played straight, however, with Gordon Freeman's iconic [[PoweredArmor HEV Suit]] (which appears to incorporate [[RockBeatsLaser maille]] into its construction, interestingly enough). The HEV suit, however, was clearly lab equipment designed for survival in hazardous environments or when handling dangerous materials (the name stands for '''H'''azardous '''E'''n'''v'''ironment suit) rather than a piece of military equipment; while the Powered Combat Vest Adrian Shephard wore in ''Opposing Force'' provided a similar level of protection, it was much closer to realistic modern-day combat gear.
* The marines in ''VideoGame/{{Doom}} 3'' and ''VideoGame/QuakeIV'' wear a cuirass of hard armor plates.
* ''VideoGame/{{Section 8}}'' takes this to the extreme, with every single soldier down to the lowest Mook being equipped with a [[Franchise/{{Halo}} SPARTAN-II]]-level suit of PoweredArmor that'a designed for dropping onto a planet from orbit, is built to withstand full-auto gauss rifle rounds, runs as fast as a speeding car, and (later on) is equipped with a jetpack.
* The enemy soldiers in ''VideoGame/TimeShift'' wear close to a full suit of composite plates, and even the lower-ranking cop enemies wear a single big metal plate strapped to their chest.
* The Korean Army soldiers in the alternate history game ''Videogame/{{Homefront}}'' all wear bulky armor that wouldn't look out of place on a bomb suit. Amusingly, they still can't take as many bullets as the crazed t-shirt wearing survivalists fought later in the game.
* ''Videogame/PlanetSide 2'''s [[MegaCorp New Conglomerate]] troopers wear large amounts of heavy-duty, box-shaped composite armor on top of civilian clothes (tan jeans and a sweatshirt). [[TheEmpire Terran Republic]] Heavy Assaults wear a huge breastplate, [[ShouldersOfDoom large pauldrons]], and heavy boots on top of military fatigues, though their other classes wear lightweight armor and shoulder/knee pads. Averted by the [[MachineCult Vanu Sovereignty]], who rely on FutureSpandex augmented with relatively small pieces of armor. Ironically, the New Conglomerate [[PoweredArmor MAX armor]] is the most unarmored, with the suit obviously being a [[ImprovisedArmor re-purposed]] mining exoskeleton, standing stark contrast to the purpose-built [=MAXes=] used by the other factions; the [[ShouldersOfDoom very]] [[GlowingEyesOfDoom intimidating]] Terran Republic MAX and elegant Vanu Sovereignty MAX.
* ''VideoGame/DeusExHumanRevolution'': Regular police officers in Detroit and Hengsha walk the streets wearing riot vests and protective helmets and brandishing combat rifles. Detroit's SWAT also wear some bulky, intimidating heavy armor with [[FacelessGoons face-concealing helmets]], and most [[PrivateMilitaryContractors Belltower]] operatives wear combat armor that even slightly resembles medieval armor, with many at least equipped with a futuristic breastplate at minimum. It's justified with the Detroit police, since the first time you visit there is just after a large semi-violent protest was shut down, and the second time is in the middle of a full scale riot, so the extra protection is warranted at that moment.

* In ''Webcomic/{{SSDD}}'' it's stated that buckminster fullerene armor made conventional firearms obsolete. However, the various weapons designed to counter it all have their own disadvantages ([[http://www.poisonedminds.com/d/20070709.html slow firing,]] [[http://www.poisonedminds.com/d/20070710.html cumbersome,]] [[http://www.poisonedminds.com/d/20070712.html expensive,]] [[http://www.poisonedminds.com/d/20070714.html tends to explode,]] etc).
* In ''Webcomic/SchlockMercenary'' the Toughs begin using armor fairly early on. The low-profile powered suits they eventually settle on look a lot like cloth uniforms, but definitely function as armor. And ArmorIsUseless is usually averted (when it's not, bloody dismemberment usually ensues.) They first realize they need armor after facing a squad of commandos wearing armor good against small arms, so they buy bulky powered armor that is destroyed a couple missions later. Since that armor restricted movement so much (their martial arts instructor said he'd rather fight naked) they exchanged it for low-profile suits that look exactly like regular uniforms (and are used as such), but are still powered and can stop a tank round. Now they also have heavier suits for use in boarding actions. The low profile armor, along with the obvious benefits of protection, also have neat features like being able to sustain the wearer in space for short time periods, and inertic flight.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* The FutureBadass episode of ''WesternAnimation/{{Gargoyles}}'', "Future Tense", has all the heroes pimped out in varying degrees of future armor.
* [[WesternAnimation/DarkwingDuck Dark Warrior Duck]] wears something like this on his patrols in a BadFuture ('Time and Punishment'). He also designed a set for Gosalyn. The tradeoff between protection and mobility is highlighted by her response to going out on patrol in it: [[DeadpanSnarker "Dad, I can't move."]]

[[folder:Real Life]]
* This trope already happened with UsefulNotes/WorldWarI. For the previous centuries armies had been using less and less Armor as gunpowder warfare made it hilariously obsolete, especially in line warfare of most European battles. After UsefulNotes/WW1 had devolved into trench warfare, the number of soldiers suffering from head wounds, especially from high explosive or shrapnel artillery rounds, increased dramatically. Light weight steel helmets were developed as a response and were quickly adopted by all combatants with the industrial capacity to manufacture them.
** Additional attempts at armor were attempted, many resembling medieval predecessors, but the power of infantry weapons rendered most of these experiments of limited value or of such weight as to be impractical.
*** The unlucky soldiers assigned to try and cut a hole in barbed wire were equipped with bulky plate armours to offer some protection against machine gun fire (the most notable being the American [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brewster_Body_Shield Brewster Body Shield,]] the old cuirass that gave the name to the cuirassiers armoured cavalry, and [[http://www.rockislandauction.com/photos/57/p_standard/ROP161-X-CU90-H.jpg a French suit commissioned by general Adrian,]] designer of the French helmet). Between the distance between the machine gun and the barbed wire and the fact the plates were ''thick'' they did offer decent protection (as seen [[http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/a0/French_cuirass_of_WWI.jpg here]] with the cuirass), but they protected only face and torso, and machine gun crews learned quickly to just shoot the legs.
* The trope was also largely subverted in [=WW2=] with the exception of specialized Soviet urban warfare units that were equipped with "light" steel cuirasses designed to protect against lower power pistol rounds and grenade fragments.
* The trope became TruthInTelevision when "futuristic" materials that had a chance of stopping high velocity projectiles were developed in the post war period. These materials included high strength aluminum, ballistic nylon, fiberglass composites (aka [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doron_Plate Duron]]), Kevlar and boron carbide ceramics. Widely deployed starting in the Korean war, the new materials were light enough to be worn as a matter of course, but also strong enough to protect against a wide variety of threats. Korean and Vietnam era armour could stop pistol caliber rounds and shell fragments at point black range. Today military grade armour can allow soldiers to shrug off hits from assault rifles. Further advances in material science will make soldier-armour even more effective and therefore, more widely deployed.
** Even if the lighter materials aren't strong enough to withstand direct assault rifle fire, they can still be lifesavers against richochets and longer-range shots, which have lost a chunk of their energy. To say nothing of much weker but still decidedly dangerous pistol-cartridge fire and shrapnel.
* Bomb Disposal units wear full body suits that protect them should the bomb they're dealing with explode unexpectedly.