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Are These Wires Important?

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"This looks important!" [yoink]
Iron Man, Iron Man

There are many ways to stop a rampaging robot, a spider-tank, or even a huge mecha. Missiles, More Dakka, or perhaps even another rampaging robot, spider-tank, or mecha! But the method that is most enjoyable, from a heroic perspective, is tearing a hole in the machine's armor, reaching an arm in, and simply yanking wires and components out until it stops moving.

The destructive opposite of Percussive Maintenance. For one wire in particular, see Cut the Juice. For wires that need to be dealt with in a particular order, see Wire Dilemma. Contrast What Does This Button Do?, where the character is poking at the works out of curiosity rather than destructive intent.



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    Comic Books 
  • Spider-Man:
    • In an issue of Spectacular Spider-Man, Spidey lands on the Vulture's back mid-flight and begins ripping things out of the Vulture's wing-pack. The flight ends pretty quickly.
    • In The Amazing Spider-Man, Red Hulk tries this strategy on one of Doc Ock's giant robots and is surprised when it doesn't work. Chameleon mentions that he is used to fighting government-issue giant robots, whereas Doc Ock's is built with an incredible amount of redundancy.
    • On more than one occasion, Spider-Man has defeated a robot by punching a hole in its outer shell and emptying his webshooters into the inside.
  • In the Astro City story "Old Times", Supersonic is no longer able to think of clever schemes to defeat a rampaging robot due to his age. Instead, he resorts to simply pounding it repeatedly until he can reach and tear out some vital components.
  • Atomic Robo is fond of this tried-and-true technique. Bash in and start yanking.
  • Lampshaded in Sonic the Comic when Sonic does this to take down the giant robot Mekanik, after breaking a hole in his armour with help from Shortfuse the Cybernik. "Typical shoddy work by Robotnik! Impressive on the outside, but rubbish inside!"
  • In one Ultimate X-Men, Kitty Pryde phases inside of a rampaging physical manifestation of the Danger Room and attempts to stop it this way. Becomes a bit of a Mexican Standoff, as she needs to turn solid to damage it, and it threatens to kill her as soon as she does.
  • Superboy:
    • He pulled this stunt during the Reign of the Supermen event, tearing into a robot that tried to kill Superman (again) and ripping out a few random parts.
    • He pulled this a few times in his own book as well, disabling parts of a villain's lair and disarming a cyborg opponent by dismantling parts of their machinery. His telekinesis means that dismantling objects with a touch is one of his favorite ways of dealing with threats.
  • This is probably Squirrel Girl's favorite trick. She's used her ability to Talk To Squirrels to defeat both MODOK and Doctor Doom.
  • Parodied in a Rat-Man issue where, to stop a conspiracy of evil geologists (don't ask), the hero infiltrates their base, finds a control room and smashes every piece of machinery he can put his hands on. This has the effect of shorting out the conspiracy's vending machine.
  • Tintin: Inverted in The Shooting Star: Captain Haddock is wondering why the radio isn't working, when the scientist next to him holds up two wires and asks if they're supposed to be plugged into something. The captain had accidentally yanked them out due to his Large Ham tendencies.
  • In a late '70s issue of The Avengers, the team is trying to stop a giant robot called Red Ronin — designed, incidentally, to fight Godzilla — from reaching New York and presumably destroying it. Thor's not around, and the rest of the team — Iron Man, Wonder Man, Vision, Captain America, and a few others — are fighting Ronin from outside, along with the Shield Helicarrier. But not Beast. He makes his way inside the mecha, finds the control room, sits down, and susses out how it's controlled, then yanks the one plug that will cause the thing to shut down. It's a Moment of Awesome.
  • In an issue of Wolverine, a rampaging Red Ronin returns and while Japanese superhero Sunfire attacks from the outside, Wolverine gets inside and begins destroying components until Red Ronin returns to rest. It helps that the susceptible components are labeled with the Japanese word for "heart," which clues Wolverine to their importance.

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe
    • Iron Man: During the final fight with Iron Monger, Tony Stark quips "This looks important!" and rips the targeting sensor out of his armor. This is an especially justified example of the trope, as the Iron Monger is based on Tony's own design, so he would obviously know exactly where to grab and yank.
    • In Guardians of the Galaxy, Drax kills Korath by ripping out the mechanisms sprouting from his head.
    • In Ant-Man, the title character resorts to this after getting into a fight with the Falcon, shrinking down to disable his wingsuit from within before fleeing.
    • Ant-Man does it again in Captain America: Civil War, this time to Iron Man. Unfortunately for him, the suit's fire suppression system kicks in before he can do too much damage.
  • In RoboCop 2, Robocop puts a stop to the rampaging Robocop Mk. II by yanking out the jar Cain's brain is housed in and smashing it on the ground.
  • Judge Dredd: Fergee (Dredd's Comic Relief Sidekick) disables Rico's robot by yanking out some of the wires behind its head.
  • In the first Spider-Man film, Spidey's first encounter with the Green Goblin ends when he reaches up and rips some wires out of the Goblin's glider, leading to it careening away.
  • The Avengers (1998). Steed rips the guts out of one of Sir August's robot insects after it crashes into Mrs. Peel's car.
  • In Lara Croft: Tomb Raider Lara pulls out a few wires from her practice robot to try and stop it; oddly, it then responds to a stop command.

  • The second two books of the Protector of the Small quartet have a truncated variant with the killing devices, which are Powered by a Forsaken Child. Kel and her squad figure out that the way to stop them is to punch a hole in the machine's iron "head," which lets the spirit escape.
  • A similar mystical variation on the trope is used in the Mistborn series. Steel Inquisitors are named for the large spikes piercing their bodies, some of which are in positions that should kill them. Places like through the heart, or in through the eye sockets and out the back of the skull. One property of the spikes is that they don't interfere with the Steel Inquisitors' brains or hearts (and they compensate for the loss of their eyes), but the holes left behind by removed spikes have no such properties, they can survive having some of the spikes removed, but removing the "linchpin" spike in their back, or both eye spikes will kill them.
  • How Jack Ryan stopped the sabotage caused by The Mole that would have destroyed the titular submarine in The Hunt for Red October, by yanking out everything he could yank (shocking himself in the process and giving himself a scare), then smashing everything left that he could smash, leaving the components inside resembling "the inside of his daughter's toy box".

    Live-Action TV 
  • That's the way the cyborg Adam is defeated in Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Buffy managed to put her hand inside him and tear out his power source. She even did the "Kung-Fu Badass" thing where she showed it to him before he died.
  • D'argo does this to disconnect Moya's "control collar" in the first episode of Farscape.
  • In the classic The Twilight Zone episode, "Terror At 20,000 Feet", a gremlin is doing this to an airplane until stopped by an acrophobic William Shatner. Before his intervention, the thing was yanking wires and pieces out of the airplane's engines.
  • In the Battlestar Galactica (2003) episode "You Can't Go Home again," Starbuck is trying to get a dead Cylon Raider to fly. As she is examining the interior, she looks at what appears to be a large mass of tissue and says "This must be your brain. You won't need it," and yanks it out. "Lucky I brought one of my own."
  • In the Star Trek series, Borg drones can generally be disabled by yanking out the wires attached to their heads. Given they're super-strong cyborgs, however, this is generally considered a last resort.
  • Star Trek: Voyager: In "Night", Tom Paris ropes in a bored Seven of Nine to play the Damsel in Distress in the holodeck program The Adventures of Captain Proton. On being menaced by a Tin-Can Robot, Seven deactivates it by quickly opening an access hatch and ripping out a handful of wires and electronic components. "The robot is destroyed. May I go now?"

    Tabletop Games 
  • In BattleTech, this is a favored attack method of battle armor with a battle claw and jumpjets. That is to say, they jump up to a Battlemech, grab hold and generally start shooting holes in delicate looking things. It's not a battle armour specialty, either; there's Anti-'Mech Infantry who do exactly the same thing with nothing but their bare hands, climbing gear, a combat rifle and satchel charges. They tend to take tremendous casualties in the process, given that they're chasing after a multi-story war machine's feet trying to climb up, normally while it's moving. Suicidal, but for underequipped units that can't take on a 'mech in direct combat it's better to take a chance of having half the army smeared over the landscape than to just allow the things to do whatever they want. Especially against the Clans, who don't mind sending 'Freebirths', and anyone above 40 to their honorable deaths.

    Video Games 
  • In Batman: Arkham City, Batman destroys Penguin's radio jammers by punching through the screens and ripping pieces out. Particularly egregious as he usually has Explosive Gel for situations like that.
  • In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim you can pickpocket the Briar Heart out of a Briarheart Warrior, causing him to fall over dead.
  • In Final Fantasy X, using the "Steal" command against a mechanical mook results in an instant kill (and the player gaining a grenade). Presumably, this represents your thief reaching into the machine and pulling out some vital (but explosive) component.
  • At several points in Mass Effect 3, Commander Shepard must assign one squad member to activate or disable some sort of electronic system while Shepard and the other squad member fend off the enemy. There's almost always a tech specialist in the party during these moments, but there's nothing stopping the player from giving the job to The Big Guy James Vega instead... to which James replies that it's not really his specialty, but he'll "pull a few wires, see what comes out." He walks up to the panel, stares at it in bewilderment...and then starts kicking it. And it works.
  • In Rise of Legends, Giacomo rips some wires out of the Doge's laser cannon, causing it to blow up in his face.
  • In Stray, to unlock three consoles in the Control Room the Cat must find a nearby wiring panel and claw at the wires until the security protocol goes offline.
  • Super Robot Wars Z: Ripping out wires is just one of the many parts of Rand's best attack after the Gunleon's Sphere is activated.
  • The point of the Rodeo in Titanfall is to tear open paneling on an enemy's Mini-Mecha so you can fire directly into it, ignoring their shields and doing massively boosted damage. Even if you fail to take it down in one climb, just ripping it open gives it a permanent weakpoint for others to shoot out when shields are down or for another pilot to fire into immediately once they Rodeo.
    • In the sequel, pilots steal a nuclear battery from the titan, which instantly deals one health bar segment to the Titan in damage and disables their shieldsnote . If they remove the battery while the titan is in a Doomed state, it explodes despite losing the last of its battery power. If they rodeo an enemy titan while they are carrying a battery, they will throw a grenade into the open battery port, which does less damage but is faster.
  • One of the funnier cutscenes in MDK2 is Max trying to stop a doomsday missile aimed at the Earth. Because he isn't known for finesse, he just opens a panel and starts rapidly ripping every component out he can get his hands on. Unfortunately, he can't stop it, however he does apparently disable the navigation and the warhead, causing it to harmlessly crash into the palace where Kurt is. Max tries to play it off that he arrived to save him.


    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Ben has used this technique a couple of times in Ben 10.
Ben as Greymatter: I wonder what would happen if I did this? (Pulls out a wire)
  • Teen Titans:
    • Badass Normal Robin did this to a squid-shaped robot in an early episode. As Teen Titans The Abridged Series points out, he was somehow able to punch through the robot's armor despite Starfire's laser blasts having absolutely no effect.
    • A more realistic example had Beast Boy turn into a mouse, crawl into the giant robot, and start biting all the wires he could see, although one must wonder how he avoided being shocked to death.
  • Flash:
    • In the Justice League Unlimited episode "Flash and Substance", the Flash does this to the giant, rocket-powered boomerang Captain Boomerang catches Flash with.
    • Justice League: Flash likes this. In "The Brave and the Bold" he did something similar to Grodd's mind control helmet, at super speed, while making it look like he was just slapping his head repeatedly.
  • In the 1960s Justice League of America episode "Target Earth", the Atom shrinks down to get inside the villains' "Magno-Ray". Once inside, he goes on a mini-rampage (pardon the pun...), yanking out wires, smashing vacuum tubes (!) and generally busting up the innards of the thing. Eventually, it blows up, or at least explosively wilts.
  • In Transformers: Prime, Bumblebee does this to Skyquake while clinging to the exterior of his jet mode in midair; once he yanks enough stuff out, the Seeker goes into a nosedive and fatally crashes into the ground.
  • In one episode of Star Wars: Clone Wars, Mace Windu cuts a hole in a droid fighter with his lightsaber, yanks at some wires... and starts using them as reins. Implausible as all get out, but it looks cool.
  • In one Kim Possible episode, Dr. Drakken launches a "Hypertronic Devastator Drone" while Shego keeps Kim too busy to interfere. Then Ron shows him the gizmo that broke off while he was climbing up the side of the drone and asks "Is this important?" It turns out to be a gyroscopic control unit, without which the drone will fly straight up and then fall straight down.
  • In the Futurama episode "Parasites Lost", Fry does this to his own brain.
  • Enzo in ReBoot does this while trapped in Megabyte's fortress in one of the earlier episodes.
    Gee, Frisket, these wires look important! It sure would be awful if something were to happen to them, huh?
  • In Tom and Jerry: Blast Off to Mars, Jerry whistles for Spike before throwing a bone into an access hatch on the Invince-a-tron. Spike's rather enthusiastic pursuit of the bone throughout the robot's interior does quite a bit of damage.
  • In Totally Spies! ep "Spies in Space". When the Spies used various tools (including space vehicles) to attack Ziggy's giant robot without any effect, Sam had to jumped on the robot’s back and opened the hatch. After Sam reinstalled its wiring, the robot madly picked up all the instruments then played quickly, which caused the robot to overheat and eventually explode.

    Real Life 
  • Truth in Television: Open a computer case and pull a wire out at random. Any wire. Chances are something will go horribly wrong to prevent it from working when you try to turn it back on. Don't Try This at Home.
    • Though subverted once in a popular computing urban legend, where a company adds unnecessary components to their hardware to make it run slower, so that when it comes time for the "upgrade", they need only to remove a wire. Usually the punchline is a disgruntled programmer sending out a memo to customers warning them not to remove the blue wire or else the result will be their computer running 1.07 times faster. In this case only one specific wire removed would achieve this result. Any other would invoke the trope in full force.
      • At least someone has shown by testing with his/her computer that urban legend is wrong.
    • Task Manager, anyone? Or worse, the computer registry. Note that you theoretically can improve performance by messing with those - after a year or more of installing and uninstalling things, junk data can pile up and cause an impact on the system. Of course, if you don't know exactly what you're doing, you can easily delete something important while trying to clean out junk data, resulting in serious system problems.
      • I call your task manager and registry, and raise you one file allocation table. Everything on your hard drive is now gone. (Or, technically, the computer doesn't know where any of it is.)
      • I call your FAT (no, I'm not calling *you* FAT) and raise you a partition table. Now your computer can't even find the drive. Or flash your BIOS with something buggy - now it can't find ANYTHING. Modern computers are full of tiny-but-critical "locator" tools, without which large sections of things don't work.
  • In general, if there's a wire, it's there for a reason. If you disconnect, cut, or otherwise remove the wire from the equation, chances are you just stopped something from working. This could be as simple as unplugging a lamp, or as complex as disabling the safety system for a huge piece of technology (though in the latter case, that's what backups and redundant safety systems are for).
  • "Muntzing" (named after mid-20th century car salesman and self-taught electrical engineer Earl "Madman" Muntz) is the practice-cum-technique of reducing the number of components inside an electrical appliance to a minimum. In order to come up with the basis for an inexpensive TV, Muntz took contemporary models and removed one component of a time until they stopped working. After he put that "last wire" back, the resulting designs worked as well as their more complex predecessors in areas with good reception, were cheaper, and (since fewer components meant less heat, in an era when that mattered) were often more reliable too.
    • However this only worked as at the time TVs were over-engineered so they could work it a wide variety of locations. Muntz's TVs could only work if one was in a city and near the TV broadcast towers.... Which was where most of his customers were anyway.
  • For important applications in which equipment failure cannot happen under any circumstances (I.E. anything aerospace related), engineered redundancy is implemented to avoid this trope. Most modern planes, for example, have two completely parallel flight computers such that if one breaks or has a glitch, the flight can still continue.
    • Not just the wiring, but the plumbing. Aircraft have redundant hydraulic systems to move the flight control surfaces, each system with its own pump. In the event of a failure of one system, from losing pressure, fluid, or the pump, automatic valves close to isolate it from the other system. But sometimes, both systems can fail: American Airlines Flight 191 crashed after a damaged engine mount cracked, letting the engine fly off and tearing out lines from both hydraulic systems.