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Fake Arm Disarm

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A character's prosthesis is lost or destroyed.

This trope has been Nuked
Proposed By:
Bookwyrm on Mar 12th 2013 at 7:27:43 PM
Last Edited By:
Bookwyrm on Feb 14th 2018 at 3:18:24 PM
Name Space: Main
Page Type: Trope

This character has an Artificial Limb, Electronic Eye or other prosthesis, and while he's not a full Cyborg--the rest of him is just squishy human flesh--what he does have is far stronger, more durable and just plain better than his former body part. There's only one problem: it keeps getting wrecked. Enemies shoot like there's a bullseye on it, falling rocks gravitate towards it and it falls off at the drop of a hat like the character is some Steam Punk leper. Meanwhile, his natural appendages never suffer more than flesh wounds, despite being made of far less hardy stuff.

Often Fake Arm Disarms are used to temporarily bring a character down to normal in a way that preserves the status quo. Destroying the flesh-and-blood arm of a character would gravely injure them and provoke major Character Development, but a prosthesis can be broken or detached without endangering the character and fixed with relative ease after the fight.

On the other hand, the character can also Invoke the trope in order to protect his less replaceable limbs, like leaving the prosthesis behind as a decoy while the character escapes.

Frequently Justified, as realistic prostheses are usually weaker than the body parts they replace and detachable, making them easy to lose. Also, the strength of an Artificial Limb could make a character be more reckless with it and a weaponized prosthesis would be an obvious target for enemies.

Compare to the bloodier An Arm and a Leg.

Subtrope of Good Thing You Can Heal.

Feedback: 30 replies

Mar 13th 2013 at 1:29:21 AM

  • In the original novel Live And Let Die Bond's CIA friend Felix Leiter gets his arm and leg eaten by sharks, but this doesn't happen in the film. In the film Licence To Kill it happens. John Gardner, who wrote the Novelization of Licence to Kill, justified the two by making it that Felix's prostetic arm & leg get ripped off by sharks without the bad guys (who tossed him into the shark tank) noticing.
  • One-legged wrestler Zack Gowen made his WWE debut as a fan who a Heel wrestler pulled into the ring and tried to give a leglock too - but his prostetic leg comes off!

Mar 13th 2013 at 1:56:33 AM

  • In [Exterminatus Now], Lothar Hex has a bionic arm and legs, as well as an eye. His arm is ripped off by Blasphemy at one point, and all of his bionics get possessed by a Fernex demon in one arc, which ceases when Rogue slices his bionic limbs off.

Mar 13th 2013 at 4:28:55 AM

Invoked by Herr Starr in Preacher. When cornered by an ex-Spetnatz, he holds his (false, the real one was eaten by Texan cannibals) leg out, as if readying for a kick. The guy just grabs it contemptuously before it pops off, leaving him staring at it just long enough for Starr to shoot him.

Mar 13th 2013 at 5:20:44 AM

Played straight in Full Metal Alchemist. Ed's arm often gets destroyed and as the series progresses he requires more stable auotmail.

Mar 13th 2013 at 8:06:49 AM

  • One of the people Earl has on his list in My Name Is Earl is a woman with a prostetic leg that Earl destroyed. She appears chasing Earl, hopping on her one good leg, as a Running Gag throughout the series.
  • On Friends, Chandler dates a woman who has a prostetic leg. He finds out about it when he accidentally throws it in the fireplace thinking it was a log.
  • On The Simpsons episode "Who Shot Mr. Burns, Part 2", Smithers remembers shooting Jasper when drunk. Noting that no one reported the shooting, the police go to check on Jasper. Turns out Smithers shot him on his wooden leg, and Jasper never even noticed.
  • In Treasure Planet, Jim stabs Silver's mechanical leg, imparing it. He is next seen using his robot arm as a crutch, in a nod to the 1950 version of Treasure Island.

Mar 13th 2013 at 8:47:00 AM

Mar 13th 2013 at 9:05:51 AM

  • Angel smashes Lindsey's prosthetic hand after a fight, telling him to be thankful he only broke the fake one. Of course, it was Angel himself who cut off his real hand so it was certainly intentional.

Mar 13th 2013 at 2:20:53 PM

  • Arrested Development gives us J. Walter Weatherman, a one-armed man who willingly employs this trope, when he gets involved in George Sr's plots to teach his kids a lesson by having his fake arm repeatedly torn off in order to demonstrate what happens as a result of yelling, fighting, etc.

Mar 13th 2013 at 4:15:57 PM

Mar 13th 2013 at 7:23:09 PM

Averted in IRobot, where Spooner's robotic arm doesn't get hurt aside from superficial damage to its artificial "flesh".

Mar 13th 2013 at 7:27:42 PM

  • Ghost In The Shell Stand Alone Complex provides a few examples:
    • An assassin named Fem is hired by the South Seas Mafia to kill a multi-millionaire recluse. Section 9 stays one step ahead of her. While she monologues about the evils of capitalism, Motoko exploits it and sneaks up behind her. Before Fem can put up a proper defense with the shotgun built into her arm, Motoko twists her arm and breaks it off.
    • The Russian spy Cruzkowa has been doing her job for so long, that she's Crazy Prepared for almost any situation. When Togusa grabs her left hand while she was running away, her arm came off. Batou has to tell Togusa to throw the damn thing away before the bomb inside exploded.
    • Batou enters hand to hand combat with Kuze later on in the 2nd season. The two are pretty evenly matched against each other, but Kuze gets the upper hand when Batou tries to swing a metal shaft at him, but gets knocked off balance. Kuze shoves the metal shaft into Batou's left shoulder, pinning him to the ground. Batou was ok, but he later remarked that it was annoying trying to get used to his replacement shoulder and arm.
  • The durability and maintenance of Edward's right arm in Fullmetal Alchemist is brought up as a plot point at a few points along the series. As a result of fatigue from having 3 all-nighters in a row, Winry accidentally forgot to install a screw after building Ed a new arm, leading to it breaking at a critical moment in battle for him. Later on in the series, while his arm was working just fine, he ends up getting it destroyed in another fight just because the enemy was just that strong. The arm's structure and metal compositions are brought up yet even further into the story when Ed finds it a bit difficult to move in the freezing cold temperatures up north. Other Automail users were able to work just fine because of the metals used that weren't as susceptible to cold.

Mar 14th 2013 at 2:11:54 AM

^ Doesn't Batou have a full cyborg replacement body?

Stand Alone Complex Characters

Mar 14th 2013 at 8:16:01 PM

Clarification: In Fullmetal Alchemist, Edward's arm is destroyed or heavily damaged on five separate occasions. It is destroyed by Scar; it malfunctions while Ed fights Lust and Envy due to a missing screw from Winry's rushed repairs; it is damaged and used as bait during his fight with Lan Fan; it is unable to function in the North due to the cold; and it is destroyed by Father, aka the Dwarf in the Flask.

Apr 2nd 2013 at 11:35:22 PM

What, no mention of Return Of The Jedi, with that famous shot of Darth Vader's cyborg hand severed?

Apr 3rd 2013 at 1:44:14 AM

In Michael Moorcock's Eternal Champion sagas, the champion Corum is tortured and loses an eye and a hand, which are later replaced with artificial versions formerly belonging to a mysterious God of great power. When the god finally turns up to reclaim his lost arm and eye, Corum endures the pain of their forcible removal, and is left in shocked weakened agony (Just in time for his showdown with the human sadist who removed the original items.)

Apr 3rd 2013 at 2:15:29 AM

  • Happens in part one of Kara No Kyoukai: Shiki's arm is mutilated by the poltergeist but is revealed to be a prosthetic made by Touko. Because of the story's Anachronic Order, we learn how she got the prosthetic in later installments.

Apr 3rd 2013 at 8:17:38 AM

Another for 40K: Chapter Master Sarpedon of the Soul Drinkers chapter has eight arachnid legs as a result of warp exposure. One of these was torn off, replaced by a bionic one that keeps getting destroyed.

Apr 3rd 2013 at 8:19:50 AM

The Darth Vader example falls under the same trap as Batou from Ghost In The Shell: BOTH hands are mechanical so it's not odd that his robotic hand gets cut off, it's inevitable.

Apr 3rd 2013 at 8:20:02 AM

@Arivne: Actually, that depends on the continuity. In the original GITS manga he at one point wonders if he should go full cyborg (I think after he has trouble fighting one but I forget the details; have to check).

Apr 5th 2013 at 12:56:33 AM

  • In Happy Gilmore, Chubbs has a prosthetic hand. Happy accidentally knocks it off, and Chubbs tells him not to worry, as it's real sturdy - only for it to promptly get run over by a semi and crushed to bits. He later glues it back together.

Apr 5th 2013 at 3:03:14 AM

  • In the film version of The Fugitive, the legendary One-Armed Man is exposed when Richard Kimble wrestles with him after his wife's murder and pops his artifical arm partially off.

Feb 12th 2018 at 9:00:25 PM

This exists, so this draft can be discarded.

Feb 13th 2018 at 1:37:41 AM

^ Where does this exist?

Feb 13th 2018 at 3:26:49 AM

Compare Made Of Plasticine when this is done to a real limb.

Feb 13th 2018 at 4:40:45 AM

Aye, let's discard this. There are examples that aren't on that page, though, so let's move them over first before doing so.

Feb 14th 2018 at 7:13:36 AM

Is somebody moving examples?

Feb 14th 2018 at 2:17:58 PM

I'll move examples, I checked history and it seems nobody else did.

Feb 14th 2018 at 3:18:24 PM

I finished moving examples except for Darth Vader and the Ghost in the Shell examples, which Larkmarn pointed out a potential problem with - quote: "BOTH hands are mechanical so it's not odd that [[the character's]] robotic hand gets cut off, it's inevitable." Is this indeed a problem that disqualifies these examples?