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Armor Is Useless

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"I have never seen stormtrooper armor protect anyone from anything."
Neeku Vozo, Star Wars Resistance

In fiction, or at least a large portion of it, armor has virtually no protective qualities. Characters who wear no armor to speak of are no more (and often less) at risk of injury or death than somebody who is "protected". A single swing of a sword is enough to kill an opponent wearing full plate armor. All arrows are armor-piercing and will penetrate even thick armor as if it were just a sheet of paper. Indeed, it often happens that people who wear armor find themselves far more capable after they either discard it or have it destroyed for them by the nice people out to kill them. In the latter case, it leaves one wondering why they bothered with it in the first place, if they can survive attacks that completely demolish their armor anyway.

There are a couple of reasons that this trope may appear:

  1. It is often the case that in movies, games, and other visual media, armor and especially helmets are not really there to protect characters, but to render them faceless and anonymous. Such dehumanized extras make excellent Red Shirts and Mooks, with the bonus that an entire army can be portrayed by a half dozen or so stuntmen.
  2. Creators making a historical or fantasy work include armor for the sake of aesthetics, but don’t want the bother of factoring it into combat. The repertoire of Flynning is largely based on unarmored fighting, and it's easier for the actors if they don't have to learn a whole different set of moves for defeating armor. In a video game, you can avoid the bother of additional fight animations or complicated physics/damage modeling if just hitting any part of the enemy can kill them.
  3. A creator may want to make battles look as violent and gory as possible, so making the armor useless provides more opportunities for bleeding and dismemberment. Sometimes combined with Made of Plasticine.
  4. It may be justified if the attacking character is much, much stronger than the defending character's armor was designed to handle. They could have Super Strength, Charles Atlas Superpower, or be some nonhuman creature like an ogre, an alien, etc.
  5. The creator is simply ignorant or misinformed about how armor works. There are a lot of popular myths and misconceptions about historical armor, and it's pretty common for creators to be inspired by previous works of fiction which had these errors in them, rather than doing historical research. You can even be led astray by genuine historical documents or artworks if you look at them without understanding their context, such as religious/mythical subject matter or the possibility of artistic license.

A potential handwave is that quality armor (such as the plate suit that stamps someone as "medieval warrior" on sight) should be quite expensive; mooks might be issued cheap protection that only looks like quality armor. From a more meta perspective, Unspoken Plan Guarantee may also be connected: the armor represents a plan to be invulnerable, which, once presented to the audience, has to fail or it'd be boringly predictable. That would do a lot to explain why hidden Bulletproof Vests usually work. The Law of Diminishing Defensive Effort is a reason that heroes or the "cool" characters are often less armored than the common rabble; they're either confident enough in their skill to not get hit in the first place, or else so superhumanly tough that armor would be superfluous.

As illustrated by various examples in the Real Life section, the balance of power between weapons and armor has fluctuated throughout history. There really have been certain times when a new weapon appeared that could reliably defeat even the highest practical level of armor, leading to decreased reliance on armor for protection until some improved version was invented. The trope can be justified in a story if it depicts such a transitional period in technology, or if a violent First Contact occurs between peoples or species of different technology levels. The trope becomes unrealistic when people of the same technology level as their foes are shown to wear armor that doesn't have enough protective function to justify its expense and encumbrance, to the point where you wonder who bothered to invent that useless armor in the first place.

As in real life, there are many different levels of threat and also different levels of protection. World War I saw the reintroduction of steel helmets, which may not have been expected to do much good against rifles and machine guns, but did greatly reduce deaths and injuries from low-velocity shrapnel. Similarly, an armored car for reconnaissance may have a shell that's proof against machine guns, but wouldn't stand a chance against the main gun of a tank. Troops are armored according to their role, and no matter how armored you may be there is always someone out there with a Bigger Stick. Mobility, cover, and not being seen are often at least as important as armor for avoiding damage.

The logical extreme of this trope is the Full-Frontal Assault, where the warrior doesn't even bother to wear clothes. See also Tanks for Nothing, if the useless armor in question has treads and a gun on it.

For non-armor objects that make for bizarrely non-useless armor, see Pocket Protector. The best armor, of course, is Plot Armor. When armor isn't useless, but it limits speed, see Shed Armor, Gain Speed. See Armor-Piercing Attack or Anti-Armor for different ways of modeling the vulnerability of armor, and Body Armor as Hit Points, in which your game character gets armor points as a way of supplementing their hit points. The inversion is Armor of Invincibility, which is not only not useless, but amazingly good.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • A (justified) version of this trope is why Aldnoah.Zero's protagonist Inaho refuses to upgrade from his KG-6 Sleipnir, a lightly-armored training Kataphrakt, to the military's standard-issue KG-7 Areion. Seeing as most Martian Kataphrakts have insanely powerful weaponry that can easily One-Hit Kill even an Areion, the extra armor would be irrelevant, and the Sleipnir has the advantage of greater speed and maneuverability.
  • Von Jobina in Bastard!! (1988), full stop. He's always clad in armor from head to toe but, as the series' resident Butt-Monkey, that doesn't stop him from getting his ass kicked around.
  • Berserk:
    • The series gives us a Zig-Zagged version of this trope. In general, armor is a lot less protective against all weapons than it would be in reality, but it's still better than nothing and can sometimes save the life of the person wearing it, provided that their armor's good enough and they're somehow important to the plot. A plot-important character is more likely to have their armor deflect or at least reduce the damage of a blow than any Mook or Red Shirt soldiers, who tend to get shot or stabbed right through their armor even if they're wearing heavy full plate. In those cases projectiles such as arrows, bolts, and thrown weapons often deeply penetrate plate armor and helmets, even if they are fired from a relatively weak weapon or over a long range. On the other hand, characters are often shown making an effort to target the armor's weak points such as the eye slits and armpits. The characters who can reliably defeat armor outright tend to be unusually or even superhumanly strong, such as Guts and some of the Giant Mooks he faces. The fact that enemies always gawk at Guts' Dragon Slayer and ability to cut fully armored men in half shows that this is rare in-universe and beyond the abilities of most. Episode 330 of the manga shows that without being able to use his full strength or his giant sword, Guts has to use some unorthodox techniques to defeat a noble's son wearing top quality full plate armor, as he can't simply crack it open like usual. Apostles and other monsters are exempt from all of these rules, since they tend to be huge or strong enough to make treating armor like tissue paper justified.
    • Guts himself acknowledges his need for armor even though he's Made of Iron, crediting Godo's armor with protecting him against the goat-cult leader and remarking while fighting Grunbeld that without armor he doesn't have a chance against such a strong opponent. The Berserker armor that he acquires later not only unleashes his offensive power, but is also tough enough to protect him from the jaws of an Apostle.
  • Possibly the only thing in all of Bleach to wear armor is the giant summoned by Sajin Komamura's Bankai. However, it seems to wear normal samurai armor in a world where other characters can, say, cut through all the buildings in a half-mile radius just by unsheathing their sword. The fact that Komamura takes any damage the giant does makes the worf notoriously strong with this one.
    • Hardly Worfed. The only person able to damage him through the Bankai was Tousen, another captain who had become a Vizard, and that put a graze on his arm.
    • Exaggerated in the Vandenreich arc, where Komamura's Deadly Upgrade causes his Bankai to shed its armor... and makes it completely indestructible.
  • In Claymore you can see it more often. Each of the warriors wears armor. And while the armor is still quite effective against simple yoma, the Awakened Beings can shred it easily.
  • In Dawn of the Seeker, Cassandra is able to punch out foes who are wearing plate mail and helmets with her bare hands. There are a few points where armor is shown deflecting a blow, but for the most part the trope is played completely straight.
  • Averted in DNA², at least in the manga version: Karin wears armor almost all the time, and while it gets destroyed a few times it explicitly saves her life against Ryuji, and the undersuit is resistant enough to cutting that, even tattered, it took a while for some would-be rapists to cut it (long enough for Junta to pull a Big Damn Heroes) and blunted the knife in the process. The only time it's useless is when Mori shows up, and that was because he came with a fluid made specifically to dissolve it.
  • Dragon Ball: Everybody who wears armor either gets rid of it or dies. Or as often as not, both. However, this isn't due as much to the armor itself (which is used quite often by even the Main Characters) as the fact that they eventually get to the point that their superpowers outstrip their armor's ability to protect. It's also explained in the original series, as most characters wore armor or clothing that was weighted for training purposes, and after removing it they become much faster. One notable aversion is after Goku's first battle with Vegeta in the Saiyan Saga of Dragon Ball Z. When Vegeta recovers from his injuries, the doctor reveals that the only reason he's still alive is because his armor protected him from being crushed by Gohan.
    • The reason Vegeta isn't wearing armor through the Buu saga is because it's against the rules of the World's Martial Arts Tournament. He's back to wearing armor in the more recent works set between Kid Buu's defeat and DBZ's Distant Finale.
  • The heavily kevlar-armoured soldiers in Elfen Lied die in scores when battling naked teenage girls — then again, said teenage girls have immense Psychic Powers that render them Immune to Bullets and lets them pull people's limbs off with their mind.
  • Fairy Tail: Despite being armor-equipping being her primary magic, Erza later in the manga seems to do much better the less armor she equips, as her stronger opponents tend to break through them very easily. Erza has an... interesting relationship with this trope. While she tends to play it straight in the later parts of the manga, it's also subverted in that while her armor tends to be pretty useless as armor, it's often tremendously useful as a stat buff or for the moves unique to a given armor set, some of which are very much not useless defensively (e.g. nullifying a several-story-building-sized magic cannon shot down to nothing with the Adamantine Armor).
  • Fate/Zero: Berserker AKA Sir Lancelot supposedly wears armor of the highest quality, but his insanely high stats, and a Noble Phantasm that allows him to wield anything like he was born to do so (including an F15 jet fighter, a Gatling gun, and a steel pole), make it almost meaningless, as he is only hit once throughout the entire series (Excluding when Rider ran him over with his A+ Rank Noble Phantasm chariot, which he survived seemingly without any more damage than a few bruises). His armor is technically extremely powerful and very useful, but he doesn't even need it because he's so damned good.
    • During her initial battle with Lancer, Saber is cut by one of his spears clean through her armor. The spear has an Anti-Magic ability, and her armor is magical in nature, so it simply passed through the armor as if it wasn't even there. Believing this trope to be in effect, Saber discards the armor because it would otherwise only slow her down...which turns out to be a poor decision, as the armor would have blocked Lancer's second spear, which creates injuries that cannot be healed.
  • In Fist of the North Star, armor means nothing against Kenshiro.
    • One enemy challenged him while wearing a suit of plate armor. Kenshiro disposed of him just like he would dispose of any unarmored enemy.
    • And then a group tried to challenge him while they were in a tank. Kenshiro just casually demolished the tank.
  • Gamaran: Armors (usually chainmails) are pretty effective against swords, but more often than not, the sword users (99% of the times, Ogame Ryu Members) will find a way to pierce the mail anyway. In Iori's case, is because he's so powerful that even his slashes can break a chainmail.
  • Gate: The Empire's Roman/Medieval style armor and shields do not provide any protection against bullets. In addition, Rory Mercury has Super Strength so her halberd can slice through armor and shields like butter. Averted in one scene where Lelei wears armor under her robes, which saves her life when an assassin tries to stab her.
  • Continuously averted in Goblin Slayer. As a series that emphasises Boring, but Practical and Surprisingly Realistic Outcome in brutal war against an insidious enemy, armour has proven indispensable time and time again.
    • The Greenhorn Team make the mistake of not using armour. The Wizard girl is pinned down to the floor and incapacitated with a poison dagger stab wound. The Warrior boy wears armour and fares better but a retaliatory stab in the leg makes him panic and seals his fate when he loses his grip on his sword.
    • A female adventurer wearing armour but not a helmet is incapacitated and dragged away to a Fate Worse than Death when a goblin hits her in the head with a rock. The Goblin Slayer, who wears a fully enclosed steel helm, takes several similar hits to the head and is only mildly dazed.
    • It even works against the heroes. At one point a senior goblin is wearing a looted steel breastplate under his cloak; without it the Goblin Slayer would have killed it then and there.
  • Gundam: Played with in every possible way. Usually averted in the beginning, where the titular Super Prototype is usually invulnerable or at least highly resistant to enemy fire at the start of the war, the usually played straight as the enemy develops weapons capable of penetrating it. Played straight and justified in Universal Century series from Zeta Gundam onwards, as no armor except for exceptionally thick ones like on Scirocco's The O could stand up to sustained exposure to beam weaponry, so the main defense was not getting hit in the first place. Thus, most Mobile Suits built after the One Year War period usually had less armor than previous designs.
    • Reaches a head in Mobile Suit Crossbone Gundam, where it turns out that while regular armor (that is, built onto a Mobile Suit as a standard feature) won't do jack against beam weaponry, ablative armor works just fine, and the Anti-Beam Coating mantles the Crossbone Gundams use means they can charge in as they please. (The Crossbones were designed on the principle that Mobile Suits of this time focused on evading and defending against long-range beam attacks, with beam shields in common use, and were thus rather inept at close-in or melee beam attacks.)
    • As a rule, putting heavy armor on your mobile suit is next to useless against Char, as he's savvy enough to: 1.) pack weapons that can pierce said armor (the heat hawk can cut through it, and a mecha-scale bazooka capable of penetrating battleship armor can pass through the armor of the usually Nigh Invulnerable Gundam like a hot bullet through butter. This is what he went around with before getting the beam weapons that made armor useless in general); 2.) If for some reason he doesn't have weapons powerful enough, he knows how to work around said armor (on his first fight with the Gundam, for example, his reaction to finding his current loadout useless was to kick the Gundam on the cockpit to throw the pilot around like a ragdoll, nearly killing Amuro before being forced to retreat).
    • Series that include Mobile Armors generally follow this principle: Whenever a Mobile Armor is introduced, it is very likely to be destroyed in that episode. One notable exception is the first Destroy Gundam, which took an entire story arc to take down, while a later battle against 7 of them takes about 2 minutes. Another exception is the Psyco Gundam, introduced around episode 20, and didn't leave the show until Episode 40. An improved version returned in Gundam ZZ only to get destroyed. Probably the only one that survives the series it appears in is the Regnant — and even then, its main reason for survival was its Roboteching Wave-Motion Gun and The Paralyzer, not armor. Neither its Flawed Prototype Empruss nor its Ace Custom successor Gadelaza achieves this feat, however.
    • Of course, this trope has been proven to be subverted numerous times. In Mobile Suit Gundam 0080: War in the Pocket, the NT-1 "Alex" is wrapped up in the Kampher's Chain Mine and is detonated. When the dust settles, the "Alex"'s Chobham Armor falls away and the only damage the "Alex" has is just a broken V-Fin. In Mobile Suit Gundam SEED the Duel Gundam tanks a hit by the Raider Gundam, sacrificing its Assault Shroud armor to race in and destroy the Gundam.
  • The Hellsing anime. Anyone with body armor is really dead by the end of the arc they show up in, if not the very episode. Given the super-powered supernatural freaks one is likely to deal with in the series, mobility (or, in Alucard's case, a truly impressive Healing Factor) is a better defense than Kevlar.
  • Averted in Holyland: Yuu's makeshift armor gives him a decisive advantage against his targets during his Roaring Rampage of Revenge (it helps he was facing high-school delinquents whose most powerful weapons were bats and sticks), and even the simple boxing handwraps he wears for duels are quite useful.
  • Inuyasha: In the earliest episodes, Inuyasha's robe (made from the fur of the fire rat, making it fireproof) provides protection from a villain's attack whether he or Kagome is wearing it. However, after a few episodes this protection apparently vanishes and it seems to grant less protection than Kagome's school uniform.
  • In animated short Kigeki, the Black Swordsman cuts through an army of heavily armoured cavalry knights like butter. One of them he even slices in half down the middle.
  • In the Mazinger saga:
    • Mazinger Z tries to avert this trope. Mazinger's cockpit offers little protection, and in the first chapters, Kouji repeatedly gets hurt and even knocked out because he fights in civilian clothes (and in the manga, the villains are aware of that and try to exploit it). In an early story, Baron Ashura commands a Mechanical Beast to grab Mazinger, fly high and drop it, knowing — as Kouji does — that the freefall's impact would kill the pilot, even if Mazinger endured it). In order to avoid that, he begins wearing a Latex Space Suit to protect his body during the fights. It is more protective than plain clothes, but he still gets injured while wearing it.
    • Another series of the franchise plays this trope in a more straight fashion. Tetsuya Tsurugi, Duke Fleed and their allies wear sturdy Latex Space Suits to protect their bodies from harm during the battles. They often get injured nonetheless, especially Tetsuya, who is too rash and reckless. On the other hand, New Mazinger averts this trope. Kabuto wears Powered Armor that protects him efficiently during the whole story.
  • Naruto: Various characters wear plate armor (samurai, Choza, Choji, the first three Hokages), some wear what appears to be chainmail underarmor (Naruto, Jiraiya, Anko), the vests/jackets most ninja wear is ostensibly supposed to be a form of armor (looking a lot like the type of flak vests used by soldiers before bullet-resistant vests were invented). They have only ever been shown to be useful on three occasions:
    • A sand jounin survived a neck shot with a sword because his flack jacket's high collar absorbed the strike and trapped the blade. He then counter-attacked with a wind blade that sliced through armor.
    • Hinata's chainmail underarmor saved her life when Pain tried to stab her in the heart with a spike, though she did require some healing.
    • A samurai being consumed in Amaterasu fire was saved by having his armor taken off.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion plays with this trope:
    • The armor on the Evangelion units protects the pilot but the list of damages is incredible. Broken skull-piece (Sachiel, #3), broken arm (ditto), pierced (Shamshel, #4; Armisael, #16), cut (Zeruel, #14), not to mention nearly turning its pilot into Kentucky Fried Shinji (Ramiel, #5; also aversion to Convection Schmonvection against Sandalphon, #11). Also, it can't do anything against psychic attacks at all. Poor Asuka... The armor's true purpose is to weaken and keep the Evas under control.
    • The multiple layers of armor covering the Geofront become increasingly less effective as the series progress. Ramiel (#5) takes 24 hours to drill through, while Zeruel (#14) penetrates it with just a few energy blasts. The first encountered angel — Salchiel (#3) — manages to blast through it in two shots — much faster than Zeruel — though he doesn't use this hole to his advantage.
    • Played more conventionally in The End of Evangelion. When Misato takes out several of the invading commandos, a close examination will reveal that the soldiers' vests were penetrated despite Misato only using a pistol.
  • In One Piece, armor is usually either not present or is dismantled fairly quickly (ignoring, of course, characters who are literally Made of Iron). One notable exception is in the Baratie Arc, where a major part of the battle involves Luffy's attempts to get through Don Krieg's armor.
  • In the same vein as Sailor Moon, the characters from the Pretty Cure series wear different varieties of clothing, but still withstand the same kinds of forces the Senshi dealt with, including space. Unlike the Senshi, their uniforms get scuffed in major battles, but never torn or ripped.
  • Rurouni Kenshin:
    • Kenshin's sensei tells an armored giant opponent to remove his armor because it restricts his movements, weakening his offense and that the false sense of protection from armor weakens his dodging/parrying skills. Taken to the extreme with Bright King Anji, whose special technique delivers two strikes so quickly in succession that an object's hardness is negated, meaning it can literally destroy anything, no matter how hard.
    • In a bonus chapter, Kenshin faces an opponent who wears a suit of European armor. The man boasts that his armor can stop katanas, but Kenshin nonchalantly hits him in the side with the blunt side of his sword. The impact cracks the armor apart and instantly KO's him.
  • In Samurai 7, most of the titular samurai wear no armor, and the armored one is a cyborg. They are shot at frequently, by everything from soldiers to giant mecha.
  • Sailor Moon: The Sailor Senshi wear nothing but moderately skimpy clothing made of what appears to be cotton, yet appears to be perfectly capable of keeping the wearer — exposed skin and all — protected from everything from flying debris to flames to the vacuum of space. Further, while they are often smacked around, their clothing only shows it when they are fighting the Big Bad or somebody directly under them. In the live-action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon, Senshi wears some armor — a sports-bra-style Breast Plate made of what looks like fiberglass or plastic.
  • Saint Seiya:
    • Varies wildly. Sometimes armor plays a vital role in a fight, sometimes a Saint gets his armor destroyed yet it doesn't seem to make him more vulnerable to attacks. The fact that some armors leave a lot of the wearer's body completely exposed remains consistently unimportant.
    • Shiryu is an isolated case, as he always seems to end up naked (and blind too), but still wins most of his fights. In the fandom, it is common to joke that a battle starring Shiryu is to take a while while he's still armored (and seeing.) It is a common theme that Shiryu needs to outgrow the need for his armor to win a battle, not in small part because the armor gets in the way of his special technique of the week. On the other hand, he usually ends up the most battered of the team (Seiya gets battered a lot too, but since it is usually in his Hard Head, he's fine.)
  • Super Dimension Fortress Macross: Multiple ways. The giant Zentradi soldiers wear suits of armor that really should have armor thickness comparable to tanks, yet it offers them no survivability. Similarly, Destroids are much more heavily built than the slender Variable fighters in Mech mode, so logically should be more armored, yet they're routinely finished off in one shot.
  • Tears to Tiara: The enemy soldiers in the first arc may as well have been wearing Saran Wrap, for all the good their armor did them against the heroes' attacks.
  • In Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, the only one to ever wear armor is actually Thymilph, the first General of the Capitol. He's also the second named character to die (Kamina being the first, despite the fact that he only truly faded away after performing a Giga Drill Breaker, thus avenging his own death).
  • Wolf's Rain: The Nobles' elite guard have heavy full-body armor and shields with built-in disruptor rays. Yet even all that doesn't prevent several of them from being bitten to death by wolves. The wolves go straight for their necks, which have no plate armor to allow their heads to move easily. Justified, in that the armor was intended to protect against the attacks of other human beings instead of an ostensibly extinct animal.
  • Zom 100: Bucket List of the Dead:
    • Thoroughly averted. Akira and Kencho manage to procure a shark suit from the abandoned aquarium, allowing Akira to act out his childhood superhero dreams by rescuing people from the zombies. While it doesn't stop him from feeling the pain of the bites, the chainmail links do an excellent job of preventing any of the zombies from breaking his skin and infecting him.
    • Beatrix also has a historically accurate suit of Japanese samurai armor as part of her Occidental Otaku hobby. Old-fashioned it may be, it prevents her from getting bitten, allowing her and Akira to temporarily hold off the zombie horde when push comes to shove.

  • The tyrant king in The Apotheosis of Washington is easily knocked over and stomped on despite wearing full-body metal armor. His opponent, Lady Freedom, is wearing a liberating dress and cape that shouldn't protect her, but she conquers her opponent despite this apparent flaw.

    Comic Books 
  • Frank Miller's 300 features Spartans going bare-chested into battle, with little but loincloths and bracers as armor besides their shields. Miller, with his background drawing spandex-clad superheroes, was more comfortable drawing human physiques and thought the Spartans in armor looked too weird. In reality, Spartans wore heavy bronze armor, including breastplates, which was a major advantage over the cloth armor and wicker shields of the Persian soldiers.
  • Democracy: The Spartans, given their profession, are heavily armoured, but this proves utterly useless when the Athenians rebel against them.
  • In ElfQuest, when the elves fight the trolls for the Palace, the rogue half-troll Two-Edge set the elves up with plate armor. It does, in fact, even the odds — but even so, many die, and one character spends two good pages on the horrified realization that armor doesn't make him invincible (not that he was in much danger by that point, as co-creator Richard Pini had taken a shine to the lad and even vetoed an earlier dramatic death for him). It is not so much that this trope is played straight but merely demonstrates that despite the considerable advantages of arming your foot soldiers in full plate armor, it's not impenetrable, especially not when your enemy is a hulking, raging troll.
  • Harlem Heroes. The Heroes don't wear armour, unlike other teams. At one point, they use this to their advantage on the ground, as they use their speed on the ground to dodge past the other team.
  • In his first few years, Prince Valiant deliberately outfitted himself relatively lightly, to allow himself greater speed in combat. Somewhat justified here, as Val isn't even 18, going up against experienced, fully-armored knights. If he had a full loadout, he would be easily out-muscled. Using his maneuverability to stay ahead of his opponent is his only chance.
  • Wonder Woman:
    • Wonder Woman (1942): The Amazons don armor to defend Paradise Island from Hades invasion as Earth-One draws close to its destruction in Crisis on Infinite Earths but it looks impractical and proves to be entirely ineffective.
    • Wonder Woman (1987): During the slave revolt which Diana turns into an outright rebellion against the empire the Sangtee slave drivers are wearing armor and are easily taken out by a bunch of slaves wearing rags, who start out with rocks and their fists as weapons. This is justified as the slavers are very outnumbered and several of the slaves are khunds and durlans.

    Fan Works 
  • Abyssal Plain: Skitter's spider-silk armor, which in-universe was noted to be spectacularly knife resistant, does nothing when a carnivorous Mermaid takes a chomp out of her leg.
  • Both played straight and averted in Age of Strife.
    • The deadly plant life on the Death World of Dandriss kills anyone who doesn't wears heavily armored bodysuits. However, actual military grade weaponry goes though it like tissue paper.
    • The even heavier military issue armor made from Dandriss wildlife carapace is capable of standing up to biomancy enhanced mutants.
  • Also averted and played straight in Be All My Sins. As heroine Natalie points out, the standard guard flak armor is useless against many weapons, but will offer some protection against at least a few. Therefore, it's better than nothing.
  • Fire Emblem Fates fanfic A Brighter Dark goes to lengths to avert this. There are multiple instances where armor saves a character's life, either by allowing a blow to glance off of them or by mitigating the damage.
  • Averted in Sailor Moon: Legends of Lightstorm:
    • In Episode 1, upon seeing her Combat Mode for the first time, Jason is disappointed that it does not contain armor. Internally, he repeats these sentiments as the other Sailor Scouts are activated.
    • In Episode 5, when Sailor Jupiter comments that her uniform isn't very protective, Jason explains why: "The people of the Silver Millennium Moon Kingdom always preferred aesthetics first and performance second." He goes on to assure her that her durability will increase over time.
    • Jason himself uses handcrafted armor all the time, in part because he has no powers of his own.
  • A Feddie Story zigzags the trope. A Zaku's armor is resistant to shoulder-fired rockets and tank kinetic penetrator rounds depending on where it's hit, with the legs and arms doing better than the torso generally, but at least in early models offers no real defense against 150mm HEAT shells from Federation tanks...which are rare because before the war there wasn't much need for them. Federation tank armor by contrast is nearly immune to Zeon infantry weapons and even shoulder-fired rockets from most angles; but it offers absolutely no defense against the weapons carried by Zakus.
  • In The Night Unfurls, this trope is played as realistically straight as a Low Fantasy setting could get.
    • The Bloodborne hunters are simply on a whole nother level compared to their adversaries. They a) are superhuman, b) have weapons empowered by Blood Magic, and c) have guns. Of course armour would mean nothing to them. Heck, it would be unrealistic if their bullets somehow fail to penetrate a mook's armour.
      • As for the Soren's P.O.V. in Chapter 29 shows, the apprentice hunters are trained to attack the weak points of armour. While he does lampshade how he doesn't have enough strength to tear into the chestplate with his bare hands, Soren goes for his armoured opponent's throat, winning the fight.
      • There's also how the hunters invoke and exploit this trope via their emphasis on manoeuvrability over protection. After all, avoiding damage outright is better than receiving damage, with incapacitation or death being the likely result.
    • By reading in between lines, it is evident that a majority of mooks don't have access to high-quality plate armour. To start off, the fantasy "monsters", dumb brutes as they are, hardly wear any armour, though some groups (e.g. orcs, mutants and other Smash Mooks) compensate this with their innate toughness. Most of the Black Dog mercenaries, supposedly the most renowned Private Military Contractors in the country, all wear light leather armour. The exceptions are The Leader Vault (hard leather, metal plate) and, in the remastered version, Boris (mail and leather). On a similar level are the human rebels, ranging from being poorly armed to wearing leather armour. Armed soldiery / guards in general are assumed to be wearing metallic armour (the narrative does not specify whether it is heavy plate armour or not).
    • The one time where heavy armour is portrayed as durable is when Kyril fights a Dual Boss — Mandeville's familiars. The pair's golden heavy armour manages to protect them from Kyril's blows... for a short while. The first ends up having its entire helmet cleaved off, while the second is finally struck down via a vertical blow of the Hunter's Axe that splits it in half.
    • Last but not least, any amount of armour is worthless when the unit is on the receiving end of a giant fireball, a Sword Beam, or an exploding star that scatters streams of starlight, all of which classify as Anti-Armor.
  • In Pony POV Series, this is generally averted:
    • Guard Armor frequently protects against injuries in combat. During his own arc, Shining gets a divinely created set from Pandora when she intervenes at one point that saves his life on a few occasions.
    • During the Wedding Arc, the mane six decide to put on armor for the final showdown and Silver Tongue/Silver Ax spends much of the arc in guard armor (being a retired one). This is both for protection and, because of Rarity's customizing, to inspire those fighting alongside them. During the Final Battle of the story with Discord and Nightmare Diamond Tiara, Mother Deer (the Tree of Harmony itself) unlocks a function in the Elements giving the Mane Six magical armor from the Elements. It does very well, both due to blocking attacks conventionally and because its magical abilities protect them from certain types of attacks to the point of No-Sell if it's based on something that Element actively opposes (such as Generosity stopping Greed based mind magic). It also comes with other useful abilities, especially if used together.
  • Averted in Traveler when Ash's new armor saves his life twice in a single encounter, though admittedly it's completely ruined afterwards.
  • Jaune averts this in The ProfessionArc as Yang struggles to do much in their first spar due to his armor and shield giving him a massive defensive advantage. What makes it a close match is that Jaune simply isn't used to fighting people, having only seriously fought Grimm before coming to Beacon.
  • Subverted in Equestria: Across the Multiverse, as a major development in everything is Powered Armor. This proves nigh-invulnerable to conventional weapons and even against higher tier weapons that can threaten it provides life saving protection.
  • Pointedly averted in Son of the Western Sea. Even with the Mark of Achilles, Percy still wears armor in part to protect his mortal spot whenever he knows he is going to be going into battle. At some point during his time in Japan, it stopped a yuki-onna from clawing his back.
  • Averted in Ward/Skyrim crossover Point Me at the Skyrim. The only reason Antares's many horrible wounds aren't even worse was because she wore metal armor as part of her costume, and bemoans losing them in Skyrim. Her first act once things calmed down was to request some armor from Claudya.
  • Subverted in Hellsister Trilogy's second story arc. Supergirl wears a Kryptonite-proof armor which doesn't provide a better protection than her own invulnerable skin but will save her life if she runs into Kryptonite-based enemies on Darkseid's payroll.
  • Zig-zagged in Spirit Of Redemption. The armor the Young Guns start out with works as well as expected when it is 10-20 years old and comes face to face with modern high-end weapons. However, when you take a vibroblade to a rachni's natural armor, it will scratch it at best, and piss off the rachni at worst.
  • Gospel of the Lost Gods: Averted. All of the Wards have spider-silk armor in addition to their costumes (Grace wears light-armor studs, Golem has various hard materials as armor, and Cuff walks around with Valerian steel armor). Olly imbues his armor with his powers as well.
  • Averted in Remnant Inferis: DOOM. Armor is routinely shown to be highly useful for survival. The Slayer's armor tanks several blows that would outright kill any normal Aura-enhanced human, and the students are given more practical combat armor as part of their uniforms. Even Ozpin's suit is lined with armor, which protected him from an unexpected sword strike when he was trying to save one of his students. When Yang's Aura is completely drained from exhaustion and fighting numerous demons, she would have been killed had she not been wearing her armor to withstand the attacks she couldn't at the time.
  • In the Jessica Canon Drop-In spinoff of Promotion to Queen, Naofumi's armor becomes pointless in only two days due to Malty/Jessice power leveling him until he's over level fifty. At that point, his defense stat is so ludicrously high that it's unlikely an armor exists which would be useful for him.
  • With This Ring:
    • Averted, with Orange Lantern, who wears high-grade body armor under his Ring-generated armor, which wound up saving his life. He also points out that Robin and Kid Flash have Kevlar incorporated in their costumes, and later convinces Kaldur to wear Ocean Master's armor in battle after he claimed it as spoils of war, and arranged for Artemis and Zatanna to acquire proper armor of their own. And Kon, despite the whole "near-invulnerable kryptonian" thing, received a set of armor with Nth metal in the Paragon timeline, increasing his durability and allowing him the power of flight. In Renegade, Kon has Apokolipitian armor despite being full Kryptonian. On top of all that, when stealth goes out the window, one of the first things OL usually does is cover the entire team in Construct-armor. So far only M'gann is the only one he hasn't convinced to wear extra plating in the field, and that's more of her powerset not being suitable for it than anything else.
    • When Zatanna brings up Wonder Woman fighting crime in what is essentially a leotard, OL points out that not only could Wonder Woman, quote, "Tank anti-armor rounds naked", but her armor was forged by the Greek God of the forge and is actually of higher quality than his own.
    • Played with in regards to head covering and hand coverings; OL deems the loss of awareness and dexterity far more deleterious to his survival than a minor increase in protection.
      • OL later produces a power-armor construct that includes a fully covering helmet with 360-degree vision coverage through construct cameras.
    • Had Prince Orm wore gauntlets with his Ocean Master armor, he probably wouldn't have lost his hands.

    Films — Animation 
  • In Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, the soldiers wear all of this heavy armor that does nothing to protect them from Phantoms. Which makes sense because the Phantoms are ghosts.
  • Played with at the end of Ultimate Avengers: when the team fights The Hulk, guess who appears to be doing the least well in the fight? Iron Man. That's right, the only dude wearing any kind of outfit that would seem useful when fighting something that can rip a tank apart, is the one who seemingly does the least. This is, however, mostly due to his massive power demands to operate the suit and less due to the armor itself failing to protect him. It even manages to shrug off a hit from the Hulk, though not before he rips Tony's helmet off.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Played straight in 300, which mimics the bare-chested Spartan battle outfit found in Frank Miller's graphic novel. The Spartans do wear helmets and shields, however, which are shown to block several blows.
  • Averted in Aliens. Xenomorph acid burns swiftly through Hicks' chestplate and onto his chest, but it's obvious that the armor kept the damage from being lethal. While the other Marines' armor doesn't prevent them from being killed, it wouldn't have offered protection anyway against being set on fire, thrown into a wall by an explosion, or being seized by a xenomorph.
  • In Battle: Los Angeles, the Marines' armor is ineffective at stopping the aliens' weapons, as the incendiary rounds they have burns right through them and they impact with enough force to consistently throw people off their feet and backwards.
  • The Chronicles of Riddick: Necromonger troops wear heavy, bulky suits of what looks suspiciously like 16th-century Maximilian armor, which have no apparent damage resistance whatsoever.
  • Discussed in The Dark Knight when Lucius and Bruce are discussing upgrading/improving Batman's armour - increasing its worth against knives makes it less resistant against bullets and vice versa, and the payoff to agility and speed is less protection. Both are Truth in Television.
    • Strangely, despite hanging this lampshade on how impractical it actually is for superheroics, the armoured design of Batman in this film ended up proving popular enough to inspire a trend of superheroes dressing in armour across live action and comics, particularly street level heroes like Batman, but even superpowered ones like Superman who wouldn't even need it. Very rarely does it seem to offer any more protection than just wearing tights, and in live action it can even cause Fight Scene Failure by encumbering the actors.
  • In District 9, the kevlar/ceramic vests worn by MNU security forces provide no protection whatsoever against high-powered Prawn weaponry. The weakest alien weapon shown is a kind of compressed-air cannon that sends a grown man crashing through the wall of a cabin, and he doesn't get back up from that. A rapid-firing Prawn Railgun punches clean through the heaviest protection like wet tissue. Another weapon, a kind of Lightning Gun, simply causes the unfortunate target to explode like a blood-filled balloon if they are hit.
  • In Dracula Untold, Vlad's armor evaporates to allow a stake to pierce him. Subverted in that he was setting himself up to dematerialize into a bat swarm.
  • Noticeable in Dragonheart, where the ragtag, unarmored peasant army led by Bowen, has no noticeable issues, punching through the chain-mail and other armor the villain's troops are wielding, despite being armed with sharpened sticks and other Improvised Weapons, mixed in with a few real ones.
  • All cops in The Fifth Element wear bulky armor that does absolutely nothing to stop bullets.
  • In Hero (2002), the Emperor wears armor at all times to protect himself from assassins, but whenever he's confronted by one, they can kill him at will.
  • The Hurt Locker: Played relatively straight; a bomb squad worker is confronted with a bomb so big it completely fills a car trunk. He chooses to take off his armor at this point, noting that he might as well work in comfort since the suit won't save him from a blast that big. The armor's weaknesses are demonstrated at the start of the film when the Decoy Protagonist is in full armor and running away from the bomb when it detonates, but is still killed by the blast. Also inverted; wearing the armor does save one life in the course of the film.
  • In Iron Man 3 Extremis-enhanced soldiers cut through Tony's armors like butter, as their bare hands can generate heat of up to 3000 degrees Celsius. It also doesn't help that most of the versions of the armor we're shown during the battle are half-baked prototypes that Tony didn't bother perfecting before moving on to the next idea.
    • The Iron Man armor does, however, hold up extremely well against almost everything else in the MCU, with the notable exception of Thanos. And even then, the Nanosuit manages to keep Tony alive in a hand-to-hand fight against a guy that beat the Hulk, so it's very far from useless.
  • The Lord of the Rings films have an interesting combination of both aversions and invocations of the trope:
    • Legolas manages to shoot an arrow through two Uruk-Hai warriors and both of their breastplates. The armor was so useless, the arrow penetrated three plates of steel and two bodies.
    • In The Fellowship of the Ring, Merry and Pippin take several heavily armored Uruk-hai down by throwing rocks at their heavily armored heads, and whether or not they're outright killed is never clarified.
    • Legolas and Aragorn wear no armor through all of Fellowship and slaughter goblins and Uruk-hai with half-plate armor and heavy shields by the dozens. At the Battle of Helms Deep in The Two Towers, Aragorn wears a mail hauberk while Legolas has only bracers and leather pauldrons. In this same battle, Théoden, wearing the best armor of anyone in Rohan's forces, gets wounded in the shoulder (albeit in the weak armpit underside, putting the blame on his chain mail undercoat).
    • Especially ironic in that while warning Théoden how much more dangerous the Uruk-hai in compared to orcs, instead of bringing up the obvious fact that they're bigger and tougher, Gimli points out how thick their armor and broad their shields are.
    • The Uruk-hai berserkers take this trope to the max. They wear nothing but helmets and mail loincloths, yet are deadly against the defending Rohan forces. In a slight aversion, the helmet of one of them comes in handy while he is fighting Gimli, as Gimli had to hit him twice to take him down.
    • The soldiers of Gondor especially have rather useless armor. In one scene in the Extended Edition of The Return of the King, an orc arrow goes straight through a random soldier's breastplate. In real life, steel breastplates would deflect an arrow from that range, especially from such a small and flimsy bow.
    • Perhaps the biggest aversion comes when Frodo is seemingly impaled by a spear, only to reveal that the spear failed to penetrate his mithril shirt. Instead of being skewered, he merely had the wind knocked out of him and was probably bruised, but otherwise fine. Considering the spear was wielded by a giant troll (upgraded from a big orc in the book), it's amazing it didn't break his ribs, mail or no.
    • The Hobbit: Thorin stabs Azog straight through his breastplate.
  • Prince Caspian prompted at least one reviewer to throw up his hands and declare the Pevensies all had lightsabers disguised as swords, given how quickly and easily they'd kill men in full plate with a single slash across the chest over and over again. Averted in the duel between Peter and Miraz, where they block sword blows with their armor several times and the only hits occur on unprotected parts of the body.
  • Most of the troops in Red Cliff wear various forms of armor which provide no protection whatsoever. Master Archers who (because this is a John Woo film) can bullseye any target they can see shoot enemy troops right through their breast plates, not even bothering to aim a few inches higher to hit exposed necks. The senior generals frequently cut off limbs with a single stroke, not even slowed down by the heavy metal armor their targets are wearing.
  • In Resident Evil: Apocalypse, Alice takes down a fully armored Umbrella Squad while wearing only skimpy clothing. Jill Valentine also wears a skimpy outfit through most of the film and never sees fit to cover up a bit to guard against zombie bites.
  • In the climax of Robin Hood (1991), outlaws in carnival costumes are beating up fully armoured soldiers with ease.
  • Zigzagged/Played With through the RoboCop films. RoboCop's titanium/kevlar composite armor provides more than adequate protection from most small arms fire, but ED-209's heavy weapons compromise his armor and make him much more vulnerable when the police turn on him and unload with a massed assault rifle and shotgun barrage. In the second film, the goons upgrade to rocket launchers and anti-armor rifles which do a real number on him. In the third film, a single shot from a grenade launcher is enough to disable him. In the first film, before he became RoboCop, Murphy's standard-issue police flak vest crumples in the face of four gang members each unloading a shotgun's (presumably an R870) full tube of rounds into his chest, but without the vest, there wouldn't have been enough left for the paramedics to try and save. However, the vest does nothing when Boddicker puts a coup de grace shot through his head.
  • The Siege of Jadotville: Commandant Quinlan and Sergeant Pendergast examine the UN helmets provided. They're plastic — and rather flimsy at that — and offer no protection against a bullet or shrapnel. They decide them pointless to issue.
    • Notably, special forces actually made use of plastic helmets, using them to protect against bumps to the head against doorframes, walls, etc.
  • Starship Troopers where the MI's armor vests provide no protection whatsoever from anything. Bug claws, their own weapons, shovels...
    • It may simply be flak armor, designed to protect the wearer from debris, shrapnel, and the occasional bullet hitting from an oblique angle, but simply not designed to withstand the colossal biting and crushing power of the claws and mandibles of an alien arthropod the size of a terrestrial auroch.
  • In Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, Chang's Bird of Prey rattles the hell out of the Enterprise with its photon torpedo barrage. Even before the shields fully collapse and the saucer section takes a critical strike, the ship is littered with burn marks and the blasts are powerful enough to damage auxiliary power. Even the Excelsior, which is more advanced than the Enterprise, takes a good hit when it arrives.
    • A more egregious example can be found in Star Trek: Generations when the Klingons Lursa and B'etor slip a hidden camera into Geordi's VISOR and can see the "modulation" of the Enterprise-D's shields and program their torpedoes to fire at the same frequency, thus passing through the shields as if they aren't even there.
  • Star Wars: It is often lampshaded that Stormtrooper armor is almost completely useless for protection. So far, the only thing the armor has ever canonically stopped is a very weak stun weapon.
    • This is seen in A New Hope as well. At one point during the film, Han Solo and Luke Skywalker stole two sets of Stormtrooper armor to hide among Death Star personnel. As soon as they free Leia and escape the trash compactor, they immediately dispense with the armor. Once its use as camouflage is rendered irrelevant, so is its use as armor.
      • It is shown to have at least some use in the first firefight of the movie. Several Rebel troopers go down from shrapnel after near misses hit the walls near them, but the Stormtroopers are completely unaffected by anything but a square hit to the chest. We also see a few of them getting back up after the fight. It's been theorized that it just limits the burning so much, a quick bacta dip and you're good.
    • In Rogue One, Chirrut manages to kick much Stormtrooper ass with a staff. On the other hand, the armor is shown deflecting the Stormtroopers' own rounds, so it could simply be a case of the armor being made to withstand more common blasters, as opposed to the military-grade or heavily-modified stuff we would see in the Original Trilogy and beyond.
    • Averted in The Last Jedi. Snoke's Praetorian Guards are notable for wearing armor despite being trained to fight lightsaber wielders. Given the nature of lightsabers armor would normally offer no additional protection against lightsabers, and merely slow down the wearer. However, one guard survives a glancing lightsaber slash to the torso courtesy of Rey, and manages to rejoin the fight later. Though we see direct, head-on thrusts from lightsabers penetrating the armor, and the combatants aim strikes at gaps in the plating at the neck and legs, if whatever armor the guards wear can withstand glancing strikes that would kill an unarmored person, then it is certainly worth it.

  • Subverted in the Genevieve sub-story for The Bloody Red Baron, Nezima (nicknamed Mouse) is a super-strong elder vampire who uses a katana. Normally in fiction, this would have her rip through enemy armor like paper. Not in this story, while she and a friend are investigating a cult, Mouse ends up having to fight an enemy vampire in full-plate armour. No matter where she hits, the katana kept deflecting off the armour and her foe gets her non-lethally impaled.
  • A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court is a classic example of this trope being Played for Laughs. Hank puts on full armor during his Knight Errant quest for Sandy, and he finds it to be so insufferably stiff and hot that he never wants to do it again. For his duel with Sir Sagramore le Desirous, he forgoes armor himself and takes advantage of his speed in order to lasso him. The fact that he subsequently mows down multiple armored knights is justified since medieval armor was not designed to protect against Colt revolvers.
  • Don Quixote is an early example of this trope, if not the Trope Codifier. When he decides to become a Knight Errant, Don Quixote digs his ancestors' armor out of storage and jerry-rigs it for his adventures. It does not even protect him from being beaten up by guys with sticks. There are also plenty of instances of swords cleaving right through helmets, although this may be a nod to the exaggerated Chivalric Romance that the book is a parody of.
  • Dragaera: Justified, as metal armor is a great target for sorcery. This is a bit of an after-the-fact handwave by author Steven Brust, who loves the cloak-twirling romances of Dumas and modeled his world after them, complete with the general lack of armor. We do see that some leather armor is used during the war.
  • Mostly averted in The Dresden Files. Harry habitually wears his magically armored duster, even when it's uncomfortable, and it's saved his life on numerous occaisons. Basically anyone remotely professional is going to be wearing bulletproof vests and some sort of tactical gear or armor whenever possible. Even the holy Knights of the Cross wear a special bit of armor made of chainmail over kevlar because, as Michael put is: "My faith protects me. My Kevlar helps." Even when armor doesn't fully protect someone (Michael is hit with several rounds from an assault rifle) it's noted that the damage without armor would still have been much worse. Michael does survive, crippled but alive. Some supernatural creatures do choose to go without armor (EG. Ghouls, Bigfoot, White Court Vampires) but this is presumably due to their reliance on supernatural durability and mobility instead. Particularly in the case of the former two, anything that hurts them in the first place probably isn't getting stopped by most armor.
  • In one of the Dune prequel novels Duncan Idaho is given a suit of full plate while training at Ginaz and promptly gets his ass handed to him by the lightly armed and armored opponents who are almost literally running circles around him. The fight was a lesson to drive home the point that bigger armor is not always better armor and that mobility can be just as important as pure defense.
  • David Eddings' The Elenium and The Tamuli:
    • Partial credit for the Thalesians: Thalesian knights go to war in chainmail, not in full plate, as Thalesia is full of deep rivers and streams, making plate armor more of a hazard than a help. A chainmail shirt is easily removable, whereas by the time you have a chance to get a full suit of riding armour off, you'll have drowned.
    • Funnily enough, a full suit of riding armor incorporates quite a bit of chain, is about as heavy as a full chainmail and is easier to remove underwater than chainmail. If we were looking at normal plate, it would be lighter than chain, and way easier to remove. Removing chain is about pulling it a bit over your head, and wriggling out of it, while gravity pulls it down, which is way harder to do underwater than to cut the straps of the plate parts that hinder swimming.
    • To Khalad's assertion that he could create a crossbow capable of firing a bolt several miles, Vanion shakes his head and foresees the obsolescence of the knight in full armour.
    • A literal case happens at the end of the Elenium when they encounter several undead Zemochian knights. The Zemochians have never understood that armor is supposed to protect you, and assume it's there for intimidation purposes only — so they wear Scary Impractical Armor that hinders their movement and has countless weak and blind spots, and with spikes that threaten to cut or impale the wearer if they make a wrong move.
    • Played with: Adus' armor, which might have saved him if it had ever been fitted to him. As it was, there were more than enough unarmored gaps for Talen's dagger to slide through. (Whether Adus had sufficient brainpower to put armor pieces on correctly is another question.)
    • Also played with in the final confrontation between Sparhawk and Martel. Martel's armour is very far from useless, but its style and ornamentation make it far heavier than the suit worn by Sparhawk and causes Martel to lose his wind quickly.
  • Subverted in the Lord Dunsany story The Fortress Unvanquishable Save For Sacnoth, Leothric is armed with Sacnoth — a magical weapon that is the greatest sword in the world and he goes to hunt the evil wizard Gaznak. Unfortunately for Leothric, Gaznak wears black, magical armour Sacnoth is incapable of penetrating. The real subversion is Gaznak also carries the 2nd greatest sword in the world, but while Leothric's mundane armour can't stop the sword for ripping pieces out of it, it does keep Leothric from getting injured until it's completely on the floor.
  • Gor is a case where wearing armor is explicitly more dangerous than not, the same aliens who enforce Medieval Stasis on Gor also incinerate armored combatants with heat beams from space. Their given rationale is reintroducing Darwinian selection pressures, only the quickest and the strongest live to reproduce, rather than those wealthy enough to afford armor. Only helmets are permitted. Yet archery and crossbows are fine, and indeed more effective where only shields can stop them.
  • In The Heirs of Alexandria, it is subverted. The Knights of the Holy Trinity acknowledge that the heavy Gothic full-plate they prefer is obsolete for conventional battles, given the preponderance of firearms. However, in this setting iron protects against magic, and many of the Knights' opponents have either demonic or sorcerous backup, making wrapping yourself in sixty pounds of the stuff before a fight a somewhat situational, but ultimately quite sensible, thing to do.
  • Subverted in The Heroes: "Cracknut" Whirrun was told the day he would die by a witch, so he has gradually stopped wearing armor over his legendary career as a swordsman. When Bremer dan Gorst fights him, Bremer is amazed by how effectively Whirrun fights without armor. However, in the middle of their fight, Whirrun is randomly stabbed in the back by someone else. Dying, Whirrun laments that if he'd known the witch was lying, he would have worn more armor.
  • Kris Longknife: Played with. Personal body armor is extremely effective, requiring specialized rounds to reliably penetrate, and saves the lives of cast members and Red Shirts alike multiple times (the title character is something of an assassin magnet). Warship armor is more variable. At the start of the series most ships use ice extruded over the hull to fend off laser attacks, which generally requires concentrated fire on a single point to punch through. However, in the first encounter with the still-unnamed Planet Looters and their Beam Spam, it's Kris's smaller, faster Q-ships that survive rather than the big battleships, because they're able to evade. Later in the series, the all-Smart Metal "battlecruisers" that Kris commands have some armor, but their primary defense is rapid-fire jinking and dodging, which proves effective against prewar battleships as well.
  • Justified in Sergey Lukyanenko's A Lord from Planet Earth with the planar swords being the main weapon of combat. The blade can cut through anything without slowing down with Like Cannot Cut Like completely averted (swordfighting techniques are focused on avoiding getting your own blade cut while timing your strikes to cut the opponent's blade). Combatants can wear special armor, but even that can't prevent a blade that sharp from cutting. The main goal of the armor is to harden at the point of the cut in order to allow the wound to heal (which takes about 3 seconds given how fine it is). A wound to the heart, though, can never heal, as the heart beating will expand the tiny cut into a gaping hole. An additional effect of the armor hardening is to try to hold the sides of the blade, keeping the opponent from moving it. The protagonist accidentally figures out how to defeat the latter function, killing the Big Bad of the first novel in the process in a gruesome fashion. In the third novel, the protagonist dons an advanced nano-armor that can take any hit and will protect the wearer and self-repair (being composed of nanites). However, the nano-armor still can't stop a planar blade, although it, presumably, can function like the normal dueling armor. When the protagonist faces off against his Fang counterpart wearing their equivalent of the armor, the two armors destroy each other nanite-by-nanite.
  • The Gonne in Men at Arms makes this the case, going through Detritus' breastplate from significant range. Through the rest of the series, armour is more likely to work than not against anything that isn't a breech-loading rifle matching real world-technology from long after guns made armour useless.
  • In Mistborn, metal armor is extremely useful... for conventional soldiers fighting other soldiers. Against an Allomancer like a Steelpusher or Lurcher, who can telekinetically push or pull on metals, metal armor is entirely a liability. The Allomancer can use their powers to knock their enemy off-balance (though Pushing or Pulling exerts an equal and opposite force on the Allomancer, meaning that Pushing hard enough to throw a human will be just as likely to Push the Allomancer away if they don't have an anchor). Allomancers often specifically ensure they carry no metal if possible, as it can be an enormous liability in a fight against other Allomancers. Most soldiers (save those who are specifically intended to fight Allomancers) still wear armor since allomancers are fairly rare, although it is often limted amounts so that it can be removed quickly when needed.
  • In The Mortal Instruments, the shadowhunters code explains exactly why the nephilim do not wear armor. They rely on maintaining a fighting style that requires agility, agility, and speed. An armor would only slow them down unnecessarily. In addition, most demons can easily shred metal. And for those who spit fire or acid, or use magical attacks, a shadowhunter in an armor would be a gorging.
    • Many fairies warriors wear armor. These, however, seem to be just for decoration, because shadowhunters and other fairies can effortlessly penetrate them with their weapons. Of course, both shadowhunters and fairies are superhuman strong, so it may work against other foes.
  • The Once and Future King sometimes plays it straight, such as when Lancelot kills Agravain, but usually inverts this. When fighting unarmoured peasants on the battlefield, being an armoured knight is like using an invincibility hack. White includes one passage where a knight was none the worse for wear from being unhorsed and mobbed by spearmen. Indeed, after his comrades rescued him, it was actually found that he fought better because now he had lost his temper.
  • Percy Jackson and the Olympians and The Heroes of Olympus let the heroes almost always fight without armor, with the only real exceptions being during the war games (since they use actual weapons and it's meant just as much to be a training exercise) and during the Battle of Manhattan (which would be plain stupid given they're fighting a defensive battle against armies of monsters and rogue demigods). In a book, Percy is said to be fighting in an arena, even hinting that armor would give him more protection, but that he would slow down and tire more quickly.
  • Perfect Dark: The first novel (yes, novel) notes the uselessness of armor in the games. The evil company is so huge that its offensive division is constantly outclassing the defensive division. Nobody is telling the right hand to stop inventing guns that can chew through the bulletproof vest the left hand issues the company soldiers.
  • Played with in A Practical Guide to Evil. Armor is generally good and saves people's lives many times. It is also useless against a variety of magic weapons in the setting and touch and go at best against Named. In at least one case, a minor character, the Exiled Prince is hilariously killed through misuse of his armor. It was enchanted to deflect arrows and quarrels, which was great, but he didn't wear the helmet so as to inspire his men. Thus a bolt that would have harmlessly dinged off the thickest portion of his breastplate was instead magically deflected up into his unprotected head.
  • Few Redwall characters wear armour, except Martin and the Badger Lords. In an aversion, though, Martin's armor actually saves his life from being torn to pieces by Tsarmina's claws, though it still gets horribly mangled and doesn't spare him from bleeding badly. Tsarmina's Mooks were an exception, but the armour was described as "cumbersome" and hindered more than it helped (particularly when the heroes flooded the castle). Possibly justified in that mammals fur does offer some basic protection that humans lack and some species (like ironically, badgers) have remarkably thick skin that offers additional advantages. Plus the general shape of most small rodent and mustelid skeletal structures would make it really difficult to make armour to fit them without severely restricting movement, as most already have considerably worse range of motions in their arms regardless. Also the Redwall forest is not particularly industrialized. Swords are pretty rare in the books, with most combatants using spears, clubs and knives as melee weapons, so it's not a huge surprise there isn't a great deal of iron or steel armor. And of course there are numerous problems with various small mammals making leather armor...
  • Lampshaded for one particular scenario in K.C Alexander's SINless, protagonist Riko is in corporate raid on a lab that's surrounded by Necrotech. She and her team are outfitted with heavy armour, but she notes that the armour was only effective at stopping bullets from a rival mercenary team and that the Necrotech would tear through it like it didn't exist. Her employer for the mission is Mantis, an industrial corporation that has gone into armor development as a branch. Riko tells them that they better work on much better generation of armour for her if she's on the field, as what she was currently wearing was shit.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire usually averts this trope, as knights rely on heavy armor, and when someone eschews it others often note the decision as a considerable risk. It is still played with occasionally:
    • Bronn eschews heavy armor during his duel with Vardis Egan. He dodges his more heavily armored opponent until the knight is exhausted, then moves in for the kill. Justified in that this is a one-on-one duel where he doesn't have to watch his back, and has lots of room to maneuver.
    • Prince Oberyn Martell employs basically the same strategy as above when facing "The Mountain", Ser Gregor Clegane, in a Trial by Combat. He opts uses his superior speed to his advantage, since getting hit by the absurdly large and strong Mountain at all could be crippling if not fatal, armor or not. Whilst he inflicts mortal wounds on the Mountain, the Prince lets his guard down and is killed nonetheless.
    • Water dancers of Braavos do not wear armor and rely on light piercing swords. Syrio Forel manages to kill four lightly armored guardsmen with a wooden practice sword, although he is also supposed to be one of the best swordsmen on the planet. He has less success against an opponent in plate armor, though of course he also would have been much better off with a real sword.
    • In the Battle of the Blackwater, armor is not quite "useless" so much as "Awesome, but Impractical." When Stannis fleet is trapped in the bay and set aflame, most of the high lords and knights, who go into the battle heavily armored, go down with their ships and are drowned. Ser Davos Seaworth, being somewhat smarter about naval combat, eschews heavy armor and is able to swim to relative safety.
    • The above example is inverted by Victarion Greyjoy, who derides the armorless soldiers he faces at the Shield Islands as cowards who fear drowning (he has no such fear for religious reasons). Heavily-armored himself, he cuts through them easily.
    • Also inverted by Barriatan Selmy, who easily outmatches a Dothraki with a slashing arakh in single combat when his opponent's Hurricane Of Blows keep glancing off his breastplate. Comparing this to Bronn's duel with Ser Vardis, the moral is that heavy armour won't win or lose a fight by itself. The Dothraki was unfamiliar with heavy armor and was unable to come up with an apporpriate tactic to combat it, while Bronn was much more familiar and knew how to exploit the weaknesses of his opponents armor.
  • Played straight in The Sorcerer's Daughter: Rothbart and Siegfried are armored very lightly when they go to rescue Odette from Castle Tudl. That’s because their antagonist is a magician rather than a warrior, so Rothbart realizes heavy armor wouldn’t help them and would only slow them down instead.
  • Subverted and played with in The Stormlight Archive, where knights wear Shardplate, magitek Powered Armor capable of shrugging off anything short of a Shardblade or sustained attacks by almost entire armies. Two knights equipped with full Plate and Blades are able to survive against an army that outnumbered their own greatly for the better part of a day, albeit with horrific casualties among their more conventionally armored allies. Bringing down someone who is wearing Shardplate is considered such an achievement that it is a widely-honored tradition that the one who killed the Shardbearer gets his weapon and armor as a reward which motivates troops to fight Shardbearers in hopes killing one. Doing so through their Plate requires overwhelming them and beating them until a part of the armor wears down and breaks, or to strike through the helmet's narrow eye slit. That being said, everyone in the army still wears conventional armor as even the most well-equipped armies have only a handful of Shards, meaning the vast majority of combat is still happening between conventionally equipped soldiers, so mundane weaponry is the main threat.
  • Played with in the 1950's science fiction novel Tunnel In The Sky. One of the characters wears body armor all the time for awhile after being introduced, prompting another character to wonder why trade marginal protection for a much greater loss of speed and agility? Turns out the character is wearing the body armor because it helps hide that she's a woman.
  • Dan Abnett's Warhammer 40,000 novel Brothers of the Snake discusses and averts this. When Space Marines fight a foe that they can see only with the naked eye, they open their visors with explicit commentary about how it makes them more vulnerable in one sense. Indeed, several of them die because of it. A number of other Warhammer 40,000 novels fall back on playing it straight, especially the Horus Heresy series (where hundreds of power armoured supermen get cut down by necessity, usually by guns that wouldn't actually penetrate the armour in the game itself) but notable exceptions are skirmishes in the Abnett Eisenhorn and Ravenor series, where even basic armour is a major obstacle to the Main Characters, and Ciaphas Cainnote  who has his life saved on several occasions by his battered set of misappropriated carapace armour.
    • Also discussed in Prospero Burns, also by Dan Abnett, where Leman Russ has taught his legion to appropriate the enemy guns when possible, having noted that often the cyclic nature of armor and weapon penetration will fall in favor of the weapons.
  • In The Wheel of Time, many characters forgo armor either because they fight with magic, or because they're trained swordsmen, not soldiers, and the armor would only slow them down. Besides them, this trope is largely averted for mundane weapons. Though obviously magic fireballs and lightning aren't terribly impeded by steel.
  • Averted in Worm. Taylor's spidersilk costume is able to stop lower calibur bullets and knives, which saves her life many times over, and she makes similar costumes for teammates on a few occaions. Plus being spidersilk means that it's light and easy to move in. Many other Capes who don't have such a convenient option instead totally forgo armor. Of course many powers make using armor uncessecary or impractical, and armor is pretty useless against most superpowers anyways, so if you aren't worried about more conventional attack armor is probably pointless.
  • The Zombie Survival Guide: Modern Body armor is simply dead weight - it doesn't protect against bites on the arms or legs. Chain mail is considered noisy and thus attracts zombies. Cumbersome plate is considered suicidal. The best defense is simply being able to move as fast as possible. The sole exception is a shark suit, which can protect against bites stronger than a zombie, and is therefore useful when fighting underwater zombies.

    Live-Action TV 

In General:

  • It's a gimmie that the Sheriff's men in any series of Robin Hood will be issued with almost completely unarrowproof armour. In the creators' defence, the mooks are often shown with what a well-equipped soldier in the reign of King Richard might wear. It's just that the outlaw's longbows shouldn't be around for another hundred years or so. Further (sort-of) justified when it's Robin Hood doing the shooting - he of all people would be capable of hitting even a small opening in someone's armor.

By Series:

  • While normally played straight in Andromeda (with personnel armor, that is, starship armor works just fine), Gennite soldiers have "photo-reactive" armor that is shown to be quite resistant to handheld weapons.
    • One episode also mentions that most handheld weapons use guided projectiles. Thus, they can be fooled by special bracelets that throw up interference.
    • Considering every weapon is some kind of plasma, laser, or coil gun, armor generally seems useless. The Electromagnetic Bracelets are used as an excuse for some defense.
    • Nietzschean bone blades (which grow out of their forearms) can also go right through armor. This is similar to Real Life cases of bulletproof vests being incapable of stopping a blade.
  • Played with in the "Ming Warrior vs. Musketeer" episode of Deadliest Warrior. When testing whether the respecting warriors' firearms could punch through their opponents' armor, it's shown that a Musketeer's wheel lock pistol could punch through a Ming Warrior's leather lamellar, while a Ming Warrior's 3-Barrel Pole Gun only put a dent in a Musketeer's steel cuirass (a stray shot hit the dummy's exposed neck, but it was deemed inadmissible, as the goal was to hit the armor). During the live-action simulation, musketeer shots are shown to be deadly to Ming warriors, while a Ming warrior's first shot with a pole gun only knocked a musketeer to the ground. However, just as his friend is helping the fallen musketeer to get up, another shot hits the same musketeer right between the eyes. The musketeers still win the battle.
  • Doctor Who: In "The Sontaran Stratagem"/"The Poison Sky", the Sontarans' armour seems mostly decorative, as UNIT mows them down with impunity once they regain working guns. It might be that their armour is specifically designed to counter energy weapons like their own, in the same way that Kevlar is intended to stop bullets so is decidedly less effective against blades.
  • Game of Thrones often discusses and averts the trope, but plays it straight at other times:
    • Ramsay Bolton manages to kill several fully armed soldiers while half-naked.
    • Ser Hugh is killed in a joust when he's struck in the neck by a splinter of Gregor Clegane's lance. In the books, it's explained that he lacked a squire and so did not put on his gorget correctly; in the show he is clearly under-armored compared to his opponent and it's subtly implied the armor was sabotaged.
    • Bronn champions Tyrion against Ser Vardis Egan. Bronn refuses a shield and wears almost no armor, using his speed and maneuverability to simply evade his opponent until Egan's heavy armor exhausts him and makes him a sitting duck.
    • The long-awaited Oberyn and Mountain duel is a fascinating glimpse of this. Oberyn wears light armor and no helmet to give him speed, while the Mountain is a walking Tank covered in chainmail and metal helmet, Oberyn wields a very sharp spear that proves effective in piercing Gregor Clegane and he ends up defeating him and flat on the mat, he could have easily won had he not delayed the Coup de Grâce.
      • While Oberyn's cut to Ser Gregor's leg made perfect sense, he followed it up with a stab to the chest to the "walking tank."
      • Some of the Game of Thrones examples should be taken with the consideration that they involved skilled warriors taking considerable effort to attack unarmored gaps in their opponents' defenses during extended duels. Very few warriors would be able to last more than six seconds against the likes of Bronn or Oberyn if they didn't have armor to ward off killing blows right off the bat.
    • Zig-Zagging Trope when Syrio Forel defeats several armored mooks with his wooden practice sword by knocking them on the helmets but fares less well against a slightly heavier-armed Ser Meryn Trant of the Kingsguard.
    • On multiple occasions armor is played as useless when a mook needs to go down and a sword slash or stab anywhere on the body will do to move the plot along. In a flashback battle, a Targaryen Kingsguard puts his sword through the chest (and out the back) of a Stark bannerman who is clearly wearing several layers of mail, leather, and wool. Although this perhaps is more a justified example as the sword in question was crafted from an extremely rare meteorite metal considered on-par with Valyrian steel.
    • Rakharo believes a Dothraki would defeat an armored knight in a duel because of speed and freedom of movement. Ser Jorah's duel with Qotho convinces him otherwise.
    • The Hound puts it best to Arya when they discuss the death of her fencing instructor. This being right after she tried to stab him with Needle and being unable to penetrate his armour.
      The Hound: Your friend's dead, and Meryn Trant's not, 'cause Trant had armour. And a big fucking sword.
    • There's also a brief exchange when Arya and Gendry stay with the Brotherhood Without Banners where Gendry, a blacksmith by training, is shown an arrowhead designed to penetrate plate armor and asked if he can duplicate it. In response, Gendry makes a point that he would need quality steel to work with (not easy to come by since Westeros has yet to develop the Bessemer process).
    • Averted in "Stormborn" when Yara Greyjoy's flagship gets attacked while she's off-guard and not wearing her usual halfplate armor. With no time to locate and don her armor she's forced to enter combat without it and, as a result, is bested and taken prisoner by her fully armored uncle Euron.
    • Absolutely averted with Euron. Nymeria is not able to significantly hurt him with her whip or knife because of his armor, even striking at his softer parts. Euron's unconventionally heavy armor allows him to go full offense with little risk of being severely injured.
    • During the penultimate episode, the writers kind of forgot that swords aren't lightsabers, and Sandor is able to pierce his sword through his brother's armor all the way to the back.
  • Hanna: The Pioneer commandos use helmets and body armor, yet are still killed easily. Meanwhile, the protagonists are unarmed, but get away with flesh wounds at worse (of course, they have the far more effective Plot Armor to protect them).
  • Lampshaded in Heroes. As Mr. Bennet is putting on a Bulletproof Vest, he admits that it'll be useless against the supervillains he's about to face, and he's only bothering with it in order to keep up the masquerade.
  • Kamen Rider Kabuto: Each Rider has a bulky "Masked Form" and a sleek "Rider Form". Allegedly the Masked Form is tougher and better protected, but one cannot help noticing that the Riders invariably cast it off at the first opportunity and finish off the monster in Rider Form. The Riders in that series need to shed the heavier armor to use their finishing moves. Yeah, even the ones whose finishers use almost-completely external equipment (Drake and Sasword). It's only in their leaner modes that they can move at hyper-speeds, too, and not having anybody who could counter the monsters' ability to do that themselves was why ZECT was losing so badly before the Riders started seeing action.
  • The Mandalorian:
    • Averted with the title character. His beskar-steel armor (especially when upgraded) is able to withstand everything from full blaster bolts to other attacks and barely showing much damage afterward. The only blaster weapon shown to pose a threat to him is a high-powered sniper rifle, which he says is capable of penetrating even beskar if he takes the hit from close enough.
    • Several droids from IG-11 to security droids likewise have very tough armor plating.
    • Played straight (of course) with Imperial stormtroopers easily going down to a single blaster shot or a hard punch. It's clearly shown to be useless in-universe and not just as a storytelling device, as the main character learns the hard way when he has to briefly use some instead of his usual armor.
  • On Spartacus: Blood and Sand, Roman soldiers in full armor seem, if anything, more hindered when fighting against nearly-naked rebel gladiators. In one instance Spartacus even knocks a helmeted soldier unconscious using another soldier's helmet! The rebels meticulously collect any weapons they can from fallen soldiers, but never bother with their armor or helmets, presumably because they did not do their deceased wearers any good. Another reason would be that, in the heat of battle, you wouldn't want to be wearing the enemy's uniform. The rebels do start wearing more castoff and modified Roman armor as the series progresses, especially in War of the Damned.
  • Stargate SG-1 featured all kinds of armor, almost none of which were actually useful. The kevlar worn by the Tau'ri (humans from Earth) does nothing to stop any of the weapons they face (in fact, it's been stated that it actually makes things worse when it comes to staff weapons). It's worth noting that SG-1 itself doesn't bother with armor yet seems to have the lowest casualty rate of any SG team. Jaffa armor starts off being effective, a situation that is changed once the Tau'ri replace low-velocity MP5s with P90s and armor-piercing ammunition, instantly turning initially invincible juggernauts into generic mooks.
    • "Heroes," the same episode that mentioned the kevlar problem, also demonstrated an experiment in new anti-Jaffa armor inserts, which let Sgt. Siler take a full staff blast in the gut and only gets knocked back and lightly set on fire. This armor is credited with saving Colonel O'Neill's life when he's shot in action.
    • The Jaffa in the original movie were more ceremonially dressed and didn't wear armor, allowing O'Neill to take one down with a burst of submachine gun rounds into the exposed gut. The TV show had to tone down the violence though and had armored Jaffa largely because bullet impacts on armor are less graphic than bloody chunks getting shot out of somebody. So the armor was more to protect the show's rating than the Jaffa themselves.
    • Ori warriors also wear armor that appears to be more for show. Then again, it's not clear how that armor faces against energy weapons, as we mostly see it fail spectacularly against P90s. Of course, the Ori hardly concern themselves about the lives of their worshipers.
  • Xena: Warrior Princess makes sure that no amount of armor will ever save an enemy warrior from any sort of attack, whether it's a thrown chakram, a casual sword slash, a small dagger stabbed right through a breastplate, or Gabrielle's staff easily knocking out armored and helmeted bad guys.

    Myths & Religion 
  • Played very straight in The Bible, and possibly the Ur-Example: David and Goliath. When David prepares to face Goliath, King Saul offers him his armor, but as David is a young boy, the armor is too big and heavy for him, so he declines. Goliath is heavily armored, but David nails him in his unprotected forehead with his sling to knock him out, then decapitates him with his own sword. Then again, God is responsible for this outcome: God's protection is better than any armor, and if God is on the side of your enemy then no armor will keep you safe.
    • It's notable that in that day, a sling was no peashooter. It carried FORCE, comparable to a modern FIREARM. David didn't bring a child's toy, he brought a GUN!
  • Thoroughly averted in The Book of Mormon, where the widespread introduction of armour among the Nephites is a game-changer that makes the clash of armies quite one-sided until the Lamanites catch up. To the point where, while the Nephites praise God for their victory, the Lamanites insist it was merely their armour.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • When Eddie Guerrero tried to wrestle in a flak jacket back when Smackdown went to Iraq in 2004, it was considered an illegal advantage and he was forced to remove it. When Dean Ambrose wrestled for the same company in a flak jacket, it served him no better than his t-shirts and wifebeaters had before. So this is either Three Month Rule or Depending on the Writer (booker?) in effect.

  • Destroy the Godmodder: Zigzagged, describing an entity as having armor doesn't bring any defensive capabilities unless the armor itself has its own health bar that has to be destroyed before the entity can be actually attacked or otherwise augments its actual stats. In addition, armor alchemies stand out for being the only clothing alchemies to actually do anything.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Ammo almost every player character has some sort of manga-inspired power, but only a few will be even moderately defensive or last more than a few battle turns. Armors, both passive or Powered Armor, are required, even against the weakest foe. Between normal unprotected humans, a round kick is often lethal, and two is overkilling.
  • In the 4th Edition of Ars Magica Armour actually makes characters more vulnerable to injury. This is because the encumbrance penalty imposed by the weight of the armour detracts from the character's Defense, giving the opponent a bonus to their Attack Advantage that can be substantial enough to more than compensate for the armour's Soak.
  • In Dungeons & Dragons in general armor works, with heavy armor being the easiest way to get higher Armor Class, but it has a number of drawbacks depending on the version:
    • The trope does not apply in the first and second editions, where armor is one of the few ways to increase your Armor Class and make your character more difficult to hit. Further, it provides few drawbacks.
    • In 3.0 and 3.5 editions, armor tops out at a certain point, and using the really heavy armor comes with drawbacks — including penalties to many physical actions, decreased movement speed and penalties for sleeping in it. Some characters are prohibited from using their special powers while wearing armor that is too heavy or wearing any armor at all. Armor is also judged worthless when determining whether "touch attack" spells hit, which generally confer the most devastating effects in the game. Ultimately there are many magical alternatives to armor that will increase your Armor Class or make you more difficult to hit without many of these drawbacks.
    • 4th edition reduces the importance of armor by having characters add half their level to their armor class. This means that high-level characters are still more difficult to hit. Further, if a character is wearing light or no armor they can add their DEX or their INT bonus to their armor class. All of this means that high-level characters can evade attacks even when lightly armored.
    • In 5th edition heavier armour is generally the best way to get high AC. Medium armor with okay Dex or light armor with very good Dex can get pretty close, but platemale will is the best armor available AC wise, although heavy armours and some medium armours give disadvantage on stealth checks. Notably Barbarians and Monks can end up as good or better (depending on magic items) with their unarmored defense class features. Spellcasters in general will have poor armor and be quite squishy as a result, although it's possible to create even a wizard who walks around in plate mail.
  • In Exalted, averted at the low levels, as good armor vastly increases your survival chance in a fight—aside from the fact that the rules specifically state that the only reason to wear a helmet is if you don't think your hairstyle is cool enough. Played straight at high levels, as there are enough Martial Arts and Crafts abilities that only need to touch you to mess you up in ways ranging from petrification to having your soul fall off that characters will mostly be depending on magically-powered defenses, rendering armor somewhat redundant. Armour is a lot more useful with the 2.5 revisions, which halved the cost in Artifact dots for a decent suit and reduced weapon damage across the board. It's still vulnerable to bad-touch effects, though. In the 3rd edition, however, armor has become viable again, and stacks with the Resistance skills. However, most Martial Arts don't function with armor on.
  • F.A.T.A.L. has such things as stabbing attacks (which hurt rather a lot even through armour) and magical armour that actively reduces your Current Armour stat. And that's not going into the armour that kills you and raises you as a zombie serial killer, armour that simply kills you, or armour that fills your crap with kitten seeds. Even that's not as terrible as the armor that turns you into grotesquely offensive racial stereotypes from countries or ethnicities that supposedly don't even exist in the setting. It ain't called "the worst RPG ever made" for nothin'.
  • Discussed in the Fate Core System, which by default assigns no special bonuses to either weapons or armor; mechanically, combat is resolved simply using skills, stunts, and aspects just like any other type of conflict. The point is brought up that if one does make some types of weapons and armor better than others strictly in game terms — and there's explicitly nothing preventing any given GM from doing so — then player characters will naturally gravitate towards wanting the best, NPCs (at least the important ones) will have to compensate to not get slaughtered in droves themselves, and it's potentially easy to end up with a game that ends up playing out just the same way it would if it didn't bother with the modifiers in the first place, only with less variety in terms of "useful" equipment. (Which is, of course, a plausible enough outcome, just not necessarily the most entertaining one.)
    • In variations that use the Weapon and Armour rating extras, or variations on them, weapon values are generally higher than armour: the Atomic Robo Role Playing Game has Weapon:4 cost as much as Armour:2, while Jadepunk has Harmful 2 for the same price as Protective 1, and even if your Armour/Protective rating does nullify a hit, the enemy will still get a boost, making them more likely to penetrate next time.
  • Godbound has armour that's useful early on and against weaklings, but the to-hit bonuses a high-level Godbound gets will effectively nullify the attack, and that's if they aren't spending Effort on something that hits automatically. Also, there are plenty of Gifts that give you an AC on par with heavy armour even if you're naked, although those do cost some of your sharply limited pool of Gift points.
  • Armor in GURPS very roughly mirrors the rise and fall in armor usefulness in reality, with available armor playing catch up early in each TL. This ceases to be the case at TL 12 where you can buy guns that delete people from reality, which renders armor rather pointless. In 4th Edition GURPS: Spaceships the rules have led to the comparison "eggshells armed with hammers". When you reach TL 9, Powered Armor starts appearing. This type of armor's true strength is to turn choosing between dodging and DR a False Dichotomy: Powered Armor will stop small arms fire or fragmentation damage while still allowing you to dodge heavier rounds.
  • In early editions, armor was practically pointless in Mechwarrior, the RPG spinoff of BattleTech. The only armor that existed with any regularity was the flak jacket, armored flak suit, and anti-laser ablative armor. Statistically, any of those armors would stop, on average, three shots from the weapon type they are designed to resist (ballistic weapons and lasers, respectively) and nothing from everything else. It also only protected a limited portion of the body (the flak suit being the exception—covering more of the body and providing a bit more protection, but degrading more quickly due to it being constantly hit). This meant that your rare and highly expensive laser-absorbing armor could be bashed to pieces by a thug with a tree branch and there was nothing you could do about it, and none of this was much good if your characters were called on to fight vehicles or 'Mechs. Later editions of the game improved this somewhat, but it was only after the advent of the revised second edition that Mechwarrior characters finally had a modicum of protection to call on.
  • In MERP note , unarmoured was usually better than soft and hard leather armour against most weapons. Each weapon had a strike table against each armour type (AT) and it was far easier to hit higher armors on average, but you dealt mere damage. The real killer in rolemaster/MERP was the critical strike table roll, which was easier to gain against most armors in the game than it was against not wearing armor at all. Soft and Rigid leather was not only easier to hit and deal damage to, it was far more deadly to wear as critical strike table rolls occurred more often! Medium armors like chain also suffered from this to an extent against many weapons. Not only did critical strike table rolls deal things such as stuns, even the weakest table (A) had a chance to maim, incapacitate or outright kill your character on a percentage roll! And this is something you not only had to invest dev points in for maneuverability, it also carried a quickness penalty to make you even easier to hit while wearing it!
  • Pathfinder uses a system based on the D20 system of Dungeons and Dragons, so it has all the same examples. It also riffs on the trope in a number of additional ways:
    • There is a barbarian variant that grants the ability "Naked Courage." It grants the character a bonus to AC when not wearing armour. Granted, it's a fairly small bonus.
    • In the NPC Codex, which provides official stats for the game's iconic characters, Seoni (the sorceress in the slinky red dress) officially has a better armor class with her spells running than any of the heavy-armor wearing melee characters.
    • Firearms, if allowed, render armour useless at close range since they are treated as touch attacks.
    • By mid levels anything capable of doing significant damage to a character will have such a high attack bonus that AC in general is nearly irrelevant. Defense becomes all about spells like Mirror Image and Blur that provide a flat miss percentage, along with damage reduction and regeneration effects.
  • The only form of armor worth using in 7th Sea is a rare form of nigh-magical armor held by one nation. If you're anyone else... well, they don't even print statistics for armor. That should tell you all you need to know.
    • Technically, they did print statistics for armor, if "it does nothing" counts as statistics.
    • To quote the Player's Guide, "Everyone else simply does without."
    • Armor rules were later printed in the Cathay supplement, which was written after all of the setting's creators had jumped ship.
  • Star Wars d20 had armor that really was useless, unless you were already almost dead. It provided damage reduction only when you were out of vitality points or against a critical hit when damage went to wound points. So for most of a battle, all most armor did was provide a situation bonus to one ability and an armor check penalty to certain skills. ...yay? It also denied you your class-based AC and limited your max Dex Bonus. This could be designed to reflect the stormtrooper armor's uselessness.
  • In Star Wars: Saga Edition, characters gain bonuses to their Reflex Defense (the defense that keeps blaster bolts hitting you) from armor or a level-based bonus, and they don't stack. At higher levels, it's better to go into a fight naked, rather than wearing the heaviest protection you can find. However, it isn't played completely straight as the bonuses to Fortitude Defense from armor do stack and with the right talents, you can get them to stack with the Reflex Defense as well.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • The standard issue flak armour of the Imperial Guard — a bulletproof, heat and shrapnel resistant uniform with potentially extra armoured-areas by our standards... that is generally useless against most of the weaponry of the other species within Warhammer 40,000. It's fan nickname is "the T-shirt" to go alongside the similarly underpowered lasgun, "the flashlight". On the tabletop, until 8th edition, basically everything immediately punched straight through flak armor; 8th edition AP rules changed this to adding negative modifiers to armor rolls instead. It is actually reasonably effective against smaller arms fire, with flak armor actually stopping would be fatal shots from non-armor piercing weapons 1/3rd of the time.
    • Dark Eldar wyches play this trope to a tee, with a superhuman athleticism that means the less armour they wear, the more they've practised to avoid needing it (and wearing less armour allows you to be more agile). A wych who goes into battle wearing nothing will mess your heavily-armoured troops up badly.
    • Terminator armor is dramatically nerfed in Space Hulk, where Genestealers easily shred it (in the normal game, they just have a rule that reduces its protection from "block 5/6th of attacks" to "block 1/3rd of attacks", 1/6th of the time).
  • In Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 1st edition, armour grants a single point of Damage Reduction, whereas a character's innate Toughness grants an average of three points and can increase with level. This leads to situations where a naked dwarf (with their +1 Toughness) is hardier than a human in full plate armor. Later editions scale armor up to a much more useful 5 points, leaving only the difficulty and expense of getting the good stuff.
  • For Wild Talents this is a Zig-Zagging Trope. Armor is both hugely important and easy to circumvent, much like in real life, and attack powers with Non-Physical can ignore most armor outright. With that said, it's also possible to build armor that normal weapons and even many superpowers can't penetrate, and stacking all three types of armor (light, medium, and heavy) will make you pretty damn hard to stop.

  • Princess Ida by Gilbert and Sullivan has a guardsman sing an entire song, "This Helmet I Suppose" about how his armor is heavy, stifling, and ill-fitting, and doesn't really offer enough protection to balance those drawbacks out.

  • In BIONICLE, armor is mostly a part of the characters' anatomy, but unless it's explicitly made of some super-rare and super-strong material (like protosteel), or is somehow connected to their powers, does little to protect their wearers during battle. This is because there rarely is any physical combat, most of the attacks are based on powers that make protective armor not only useless but at times disadvantageous. And even so, the armor almost always leaves many fleshy bits uncovered. But even when armor does prove useful, there usually is some contrived story reason why they have to take it off (such as with the Exo-Toa mechs that blocked the users' powers). In a nutshell: armor is essential for day-to-day life but doesn't do much during battle. This is however averted in the Bara Magna storyline, where the fights are physical and armor is very important.

    Video Games 
  • Played realistically straight in 7.62 High Caliber. Combat is extremely lethal and even the weakest pistol in the game can cause fatal damage with two or three shots to the chest. Armor, like in real life, only provides a token amount of damage resistance, enough for several assault rifle rounds at the most; ceramic and titanium plates can be inserted for improved protection in certain vests, but they can be broken completely by enough damage and have to be replaced. Even worse, helmets and bulletproof vests only protect the head and torso respectively, so any shots not to those areas get no damage resistance (unless you turn on an option on the difficulty settings). And armor piercing ammo (or powerful cartridges) tend to just slice through that armor anyway, so it'll usually only provide just enough protection to escape immediate death and run for cover. As in real life, the best defense is to not get shot.
  • Parodied in Alex Kidd in High-Tech World, where putting on a suit of samurai armor would completely immobilize you, causing a Game Over.
  • Asheron's Call: While normally completely averted, (armor is very useful for players) It's played very straight with the tuskers, a race of killer gorillas with tusks who have mostly been enslaved by the virindi, and made to wear armor. While almost all of them have armor (ranging from leather to plate), they tend to have a very low armor rating, with the plate-wearing tusker guards have a lower armor rating than the leather wearing tusker slaves. It's subverted with the armored and plated tuskers, which are Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
  • In Assassin's Creed, Assassinations, Hidden Blade Counter Attacks and Brotherhood's new Arrow Storm and Execution moves will one-shot anyone regardless of health. Also, the Captain from Brotherhood multiplayer is a One-Hit-Point Wonder despite wearing full plate. On the other hand, Ezio's damage-taking improves as he gets better armour and more heavily-armoured opponents are themselves harder to kill in a straight fight, with Borgia Captains (those that fight you anyway) and Papal Guards needing multiple Hidden Gun shots to kill. To add to this, the Armor of Altaïr saved Ezio from a nasty stabbing at the end of 2, while part of the Cesare fight is spent stripping off the boss's armour so he can be properly hurt. They seem to be improving on that with the enemies, as in Revelations the Janissaries cannot be one-hit killed by the hidden blade.
    • Is played slightly differently with the RPG turn in Origins and Odyssey, in a few ways. First, enemies can come in ranks such as Captain and Polemarch that denote their health and damage. Normally these ranks apply logically to what the enemy is wearing, but sometimes it's thrown out the window, resulting in lightly-armoured foes requiring a full-on brawl to kill, while a heavily-adorned normal enemy can be assassinated with a single blade through the head. Second is your own gear thanks to levels and rarities: a Common Conqueror's Helmet will protect you less than a Legendary-rank fabric Shroud, and visual customization can invoke it to be even worse. Third, many attacks finishing moves completely disregard armour just to look cool, so swords will cut and stab straight through armour and send blood flying.
  • In Baldur's Gate II there are classic AD&D rules and values of THAC0 ("to hit armor class 0") and AC ("armor class"). They work in a way that the lesser number is stronger, that is, a chain mail armor that gives an AC of 2 is better than a leather armor with an AC of 5. This can be sometimes confusing, i.e. when an enchanted full plate mail +1 gives a value of -1. A virtual die is rolled to check if the attack is successful and does damage or is absorbed/blocked, and it depends on the AC of the defender and the THAC0 of the attacker. Both are influenced by character weapons and skills, such as dexterity, or even by spells. In the first game, AC was very important and could make the difference, with negative AC making you almost invulnerable against weaker opponents. But in the sequel expansion Throne of Bhaal major enemies start to get THAC0s ridiculously low (to the point of -30) that they will hit you anyway (unless they roll a 1 which is a miss). Minor enemies are still suffering your armor, but by that time you are so much powerful that they wouldn't represent a menace at all. That being said, the powerful magic armors available in the game might not be useful for preventing you from being hit, but they do offer things like resistance or immunity to different damage types, the ability to cast various spells, and other useful properties. So there's still a reason to equip them.
  • Zigzagged in the Batman: Arkham Series:
    • Batman's costumes in Batman: Arkham Asylum and Batman: Arkham City are made of an unspecified fabric armor that are torn up as the night progresses, yet they offer limited protection from firearms and melee attacks via in-game upgrades, with Batman even surviving a shot to the chest from Two-Face (as the chest is where the strongest armor layers reside) Though you will die if you take enough damage, which is justified in that real-life armor has its limits and being shot while wearing it will still cause bodily harm.
    • The prequel game Batman: Arkham Origins features Batman wearing clunky hardened armor that takes less damage over the course of the game (apart from the cape) merely being scratched up. You'll still be shot to pieces and take damage from melee strikes, but in a cutscene, Batman is able to take three point-blank gunshots from the Joker and remain unharmed.
    • Batman: Arkham Knight features a sleeker version of the armored suit from Origins with Titanium plates covering an MR fluid bodysuit. You still take damage from gunfire in-game, but Batman again survives a point-blank gunshot to the chest courtesy of Commissioner Gordon Before that Gordon punches Batman in the face without breaking his hand on the Titanium cowl, and Bats even seemed to be somewhat shaken by it. However, the titular Arkham Knight fires a contact bullet into Batman's unarmored side but Bats is able to inject himself with something that saves his life. So basically, the armor is near-useless in gameplay, but occasionally proves useful in cutscenes.
    • The latter three games feature mooks with body armor who are immune to regular strikes and must be taken out with Rapid-Fire Fisticuffs or takedowns. They also cannot be choked out silently in predator mode and have to be taken out in other ways.
  • Averted in Battle Brothers. True to real life, helmets are a must-have since nearly any hit to the head will kill instantly. Even a simple padded gambeson is a huge improvement on a basic cloth tunic, and a mail byrnie or set of scale armour is an even greater improvement on a gambeson. Good armour saves you money in the long run, as it is cheaper and faster to repair damaged gear than to wait until a mercenaries' wounds heal.
  • Played straight and averted in the Battlefield series, depending on the entry:
    • In Battlefield 2 the Assault, Support, and Anti Tank classes have body armor which slightly reduces the damage they take from torso shots in exchange for having lower sprint stamina. Battlefield 2142 allows any class to equip body armor with identical benefits and tradeoffs.
    • Battlefield: Bad Company 2, Battlefield 4, and Battlefield Hardline allow players to equip armor as specializations (in 4 and BC2) or gadgets (in Hardline). As these games don't have sprint stamina, there are no downsides beyond taking up a specialization or gadget slot.
    • Battlefield 1 inverts this - all elite classes wear armor that is much, much more effective than actual World War I armor was. Of special note is the Sentry class, whose plate armor lets him negate 83% of bullet damage, negate the typical headshot multiplier, and No-Sell most melee attacks. Cavalry also took reduced damage to their chest and torso thanks to their chest armor.
  • BioShock 2. Yes, you are wearing a suit that can withstand pressure at the bottom of the ocean. No, that won't help against a gun. Or a wrench. Or fire. Or anything else, for that matter.
    • It's weaker than human skin, but it does have two very important features — because the Big Daddy is a bunch of ADAM-infused organs surgically grafted to a diving suit, you get one whole second of undershirt to prevent fatal damage temporarily, at which point you have the option of using a single medkit, which heals ALL damage. This represents the Big Daddy's massive health pool, rather than their damage resistance.
    • However, in the first game you do get to equip a Big Daddy diving suit, which, unlike in BioShock 2, does reduce the damage you take. You still aren't invincible, though.
  • In Black Sigil: Blade of the Exiled, armor isn't entirely useless so much as Defense is. You appear to take the same damage from introductory-area enemies, even after abusing a specific shop's buy/sell mechanics to purchase hundreds of Defense Up potions and using them to max every character's Defense. It's for this very reason that it's best to equip armor based on any offense and status resistances they have, as opposed to Defense. At least technically the armor itself isn't what's useless...
  • Boktai 2 had armor available to the main character, which offers a minuscule defense increase, but also decreases his movement speed based on its weight. Players very quickly learn they're better off playing as an armor-less Fragile Speedster that is quick enough to dodge and outrun enemies and with a curative item or two on standby, rather than a slow-as-molasses character that's still a Glass Cannon.
  • Zig Zagged in Carmageddon II. Getting more armor makes it a lot harder for the opponents to raze your car from direct damage, to the point where getting hit by even the Big Dump won't bend your chassis a single centimeter. However, God help you if you run (or get knocked) too fast into any pointed edge of the world's geometrynote , as the armor value doesn't affect the chances of your car getting split in half, which usually gets you wasted. This, combined with the increase in the average vehicle's speed later in the game, means that even as your armor gets stronger, your chances of getting instantly wasted also become paradoxically higher.
  • Averted in Carrion. Security Guards wear body armor that not just protects them from being torn in half, but eaten too. The only way to kill them is to 1) get them from behind, or 2) nail them with a thrown object to stun them. Then, the monster (i.e., the player) has to smash their shit all over the walls, floor, and ceiling to put them down. The monster can also grow a durable (i.e., bulletproof and bomb-resistant) keratin exoskeleton at its max size.
  • In City of Heroes, your powers are completely divorced from your appearance, so armor really is useless. At least for protection, anyway. If you choose to wear armor, it's typically for conceptual reasons or looking cool. Not counting armor (or shields) provided by your powers, which work and do provide protection when in use. Although there aren't many powers that really produce material armor instead of auras of some sort, and you'll still get something like being temporarily covered in ice or granite instead of plate armor or a flak jacket out of them.
  • Played straight in Dead or Alive, with the fully power-armored Space Marine Nicole being just as vulnerable to punches and kicks as the more Stripperiffically-dressed women.
  • In Deep Rock Galactic, the Space Dwarf use armour ranging from the Driller's Powered Armor to the Scout's light flak jacket. Barring mods, all dwarfs have the same HP and shielding. You can purchase new iterations of each classes' armour, which is purely cosmetic and just makes each suit look more high-tech. The underlying armour rig however can be upgraded. And the Roughneck cosmetics simply forego all visible armor in favor of rough casual wear complete with arms on display, while sacrificing no actual protection.
    The veteran roughnecks of DRG are known to care less for protection, and more for utility. Years of hard work in the mines make you that way - why wear heavy armor when YOU are the most dangerous thing down here by far?
  • Demon's Souls and Dark Souls players typically end up falling into this mentality sooner or later, as well as Shields Are Useless. Players will typically only equip heavy armour and actually use a shield for blocking when they first start playing the series, as a form of Skill Gate Character. Once they get used to the mechanics, players will typically come to value mobility over defense, and discard both their heavy armour and shield in favour of light (or sometimes no) armour to maintain full mobility and Stat Sticks that are glued to the player's back 100% of the time and never actually used, ending up with a Glass Cannon that never gets hit rather than a Mighty Glacier that can block or tank many hits. The "Fashion Souls" meme resulted from this: the idea being that if you're any good at the games, you don't care about your armour's stats and only care about putting together a cool-looking outfit.
    • That said, some of the most dangerous (and most reviled) PvP builds in Dark Souls are Lightning Bruisers who have min-maxed to the extent that they can wear some of the heaviest, tankiest armour in the game without suffering any loss in mobility, such as the infamously meme-tastic "Giant Dad".
    • Due to the way damage is calculated in Dark Souls III, armour is especially useless. Basically, there are two defensive stats for each damage type: "Defense", which decreases the damage by a flat amount, and "Absorption", which further decreases it by a percentage. Equipping heavy armor will only improve your Absorption. Your Defense is always the same regardless of what you have equipped (as long as you have something equipped, as leaving an armor slot empty decreases Defense by varying amounts depending on the slot). Even the lightest sets have Absorption in the 10s, while even the heaviest have it only in the 30s; you may have to put on armor that's more than four times as heavy to reduce damage by barely a quarter! And since Poise is practically nonexistent in Dark Souls III, the PvP meta pretty much entirely revolves around stunlocking the opponent with small, quick weapons like straight swords, which Defense is far more valuable against than Absorption (which is more valuable against big weapons that hit really hard). So you might as well just use the lightest armour you can find since it's all going to be pretty much the same in the end.
    • FromSoftware appears to have taken notice of the player base's preference for dodging over defense, since Bloodborne does away with equipment weight entirely and armour/clothing offers little protection, existing primarily to look cool. There's also exactly one shield in the game, which exists solely for its Flavor Text to tell you that shields suck and there are none in the game. The in-story justification is that beasts are much stronger than humans which renders traditional methods of combat ineffective against them, necessitating that Hunters adopt the fighting style pioneered by Gehrman, forgoing armour and defensiveness in favour of pure speed and aggression, killing beasts as quickly as possible before one is overwhelmed. In the Chalice Dungeons, you can sometimes find long-dead corpses of knights in plate armour with swords and shields, who clearly didn't stand a chance against the beasts.
  • Deus Ex: Armored soldiers from UNATCO and Majestic 12 have as many hit points as homeless bums. NSF terrorists are actually weaker.
  • Devil May Cry: The playable characters' weapons cut and pierce armored enemies like butter. The only enemies that can defend against the player's attacks are those with magical barriers, shields or demonic weapons of their own.
  • In Diablo, armor was virtually mandatory for players but due to a bug, monsters with high armor rating were actually easier to hit. Diablo himself had a 95% chance to be hit by even a level 1 character swinging a broken dagger.
  • In early versions of Diablo II, enemy attack rating was actually four times bigger than displayed, making the "chance to hit" percentage meaningless. As a result, and because most advanced armor types didn't have unique versions and required more strength (which was a dump stat unless you were a barbarian) there was little point in going higher than the most basic armors. Furthermore, defensive skills that increased armor were useless. The attack rating change was made at the last moment before release because the game was considered to be too easy. The expansion reduced the multiplier from x4 to x2 and added unique versions of better armors. It still wasn't enough because for some reason you had a 95% chance to hit while moving and you're always moving. Using a shield was infinitely better.
  • In Drakengard, there is no amount of armor you can be wearing, damaged or undamaged, that changes how much damage you take. And in cutscenes, we're shown it works the same way for The Evil Army, although that's possibly because the protagonist is a Badass Normal.
  • Averted in Dwarf Fortress, up to a point; any stabbing or slashing attack that fails the armour check is re-rolled for bludgeoning damage, which plate armour or chainmail do very little to protect against. Broken ribs are definitely preferable to getting run through with a sword, however. One straight example is that the current version's armor is remarkably vulnerable to Annoying Arrows, with weak-material arrows reliably piercing anything up to adamantine. The only exceptions are that wood or bone arrows/bolts are still liable to deflect off any metal armor while adamantime arrows bounce off everything in spite of their hardness because of their extremely low density. There's also the problem of hits transferring some of the force to the wearer of the armor, the ratios of which are somewhat out of whack and can result in most of the hit making it through even the strongest armor.
  • Dynasty Warriors and Samurai Warriors have a number of characters who run around the battlefield in heavy armour. There is little or no evidence that they take any less damage than the characters who run around in robes or barechested (in earlier games in the franchise, there actually was actually was an armor stat that supposedly reduced damage, with characters who wore heavier armor having a higher rating, but the difference it made was too small to be relevant). They do tend to be pretty slow, though. These series seem to work off the principle of Glass Cannon instead. Those bigger guys or armored guys DO do more damage, or at the very least, have much larger range. Except for Xiahou Yuan. Because he just fails that much. Whoopee! Free arrows! Now, do you have anything else to offer? Worse, his attacks have a habit of juggling enemies, which means they can't attack, but they also take a third as much damage, making one on one fights take even longer.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • Throughout the series, a character's protection depends more on his skill with the armor class rather than the armor itself (though despite this, NPCs are almost always armored appropriately). For example, a character with a high Heavy Armor skill will be better protected in a suit of low-quality Iron armor than a character with a low Heavy Armor skill will be in a set of elite Daedric armor. In Morrowind, NPCs will occasionally reference this trope if the player asks them for advice. You're warned not to judge how tough a fight will be based on the amount or quality of your opponent's armor or weapons, as the really powerful characters don't need these things to kill you.
    • The effectiveness of armor skill is discussed in-universe in various instruction manuals and books. One of the keys to fighting in armor is to not just wear the armor but learn how to move around in the various suits, recognize the resistance in the joints, and understanding how to turn and move so a blow that might hit a weak spot will instead strike unyielding plate.
    • Played straight throughout the series when it comes to magical attacks, as standard armor is completely useless against them. In order to defend against them, you either need to use specific Anti-Magic spells or enchant them onto your armor as a constant effect.
    • Skyrim:
      • In addition to the above, armor will never block more than 80% of the damage dealt. If you max out your heavy armor skill tree, it's possible to reach this cap wearing nothing more advanced than Steel armor (the second-lowest standard quality).
      • Armor also depends on the level of smithing and which skill tree you invested in. If you are a master smith, alchemist, and trained in the use of the Light Armor skill, it's very well that a set of simple reinforced leather is actually stronger for you than even something made from dragon bones, or Daedric (which is crystallised gods' blood forged with demon hearts).
      • The Vigil of Stendarr, a Church Militant order dedicated to hunting down supernatural threats to mortal life, apparently believe this to be the case. The only armor they wear are boots and gauntlets, forgoing body armor to wear enchanted robes.
    • Heavy metal armor can feel this way in The Elder Scrolls Online, where it is only 25% stronger than leather medium armor, and the stamina and crit-damage bonuses of medium tend to outweigh the slight tanking bonuses granted by heavy.
  • Played straight at higher levels in Elona, as elemental resistance followed by speed become the most important defense. After all, if an enemy only does 1-3 HP damage, but gets 5-8 TURNS compared to your one, (say a quickling or alien kid, who does additional acid damage on top of that) then you may as well be taking 30HP damage a turn anyway. However, with light enough armor you can cut this down to as low as two or three, and with a pair of rings of speed, even out, as well as get chances to dodge the attacks. However, it is inverted again when you face down Frisia, the cat queen, as you'll never be able to match her speed unless you play a Catgod as well, or a quickling or bell, so it's best to reduce the damage you take as much as possible and let her kill herself by spamming Firewall/Acidground or throwing things which cause damage over time along with wearing the artifact mentioned. She takes so many turns compared to your character that you'll do much more damage in the same amount of time as trying to hit her with your main weapon, even if she only takes roughly 5-8 HP damage per turn. The other two bonus bosses are chumps compared to Frisia.
  • In EverQuest, damage mitigation is primarily determined by your character class, with your armor class (AC) being more effective on some classes (like warriors) than others. This means that a warrior wearing a full suit of simple clothing is still going to resist considerably more damage than a wizard wearing the same armor because the former gains more AC from the cloth. Even at the same AC rating, warriors resist more damage than less melee-oriented classes. Furthermore, the actual "type" of armor in EverQuest is irrelevant, as the game makes no inherent distinction between plate armor, chain, leather, or cloth other than how its texture is displayed. Because of this, there are leather breastplates that provide several times as much protection as steel, and some cloth robes that are considerably more protective than earlier metal varieties. Ultimately, all that matters for protection when it comes to worn items is what level encounter they were obtained from and what classes can wear them.
  • In Fable I, different armors have different strengths and weaknesses, but these are negligible. Defeating the final boss wearing nothing but underpants is not only possible but hardly more difficult than doing so in full plate. Lionhead Studios realized that armor was useless in Fable, and as a result, in Fable II, you get the same armor bonus for wearing a harlot dress as you do for wearing a heavily layered assassin outfit: zero.
  • Double Subversion in Fallout 3. Normally armor does a pretty good job reducing damage. Then you go to Point Lookout, where the enemies automatically get a certain amount of free damage in. This means that a player who easily mows through Enclave soldiers and Super Mutants can get pwned by mutated rednecks with shotguns. It can also be double subverted because of the equipment degradation reducing effectiveness over time and the low-quality (as in broken, not poorly made) equipment most NPCs have, which can result in a pair of Brotherhood of Steel knights in Powered Armor getting killed by a trio of raiders in Mad Max-style armor.
    • Fallout: New Vegas changes the armor calculations from being percentile to being additive, and if you don't exceed something's armor rating you only do Scratch Damage. It's played straight or averted depending on where you are in the game: higher enemy damage makes armor progressively less helpful, and all energy weapons ignore some by default anyway (although one Perk is supposed to make metal armor more potent against energy weapons, but the Perk is set up incorrectly unless you use a player-created mod to fix the issue). Any of the various infinity plus one armors, however, do greatly increase your survivability, and the wearables with stat boosts but poor defense are highly situational.
      • The Piercing Palm perk allows your unarmed attacks to ignore 15 points of DT. For reference, the only things that have more defense than that are NPCs in metal armor, powered armor, and some unique characters.
      • It does get double subverted on the highest difficulty, and against the most powerful enemies. Basically, they're going to kill you in either 1 or 2 hits, and no armor you wear will help with that. Worse, if they make you slower than lighter equipment. Most of the DLC enemies and some of the main game enemies also scale to the player's Experience level. Of course, your damage skyrockets just as much as the enemies', so everyone is a Glass Cannon on this difficulty.
      • Ironically, a DLC perk actually makes light armor better than even power armor. The Light Touch perk reduces enemy critical hit chance by 25%...which equates to a 0% critical chance for almost every enemy. 10 DT stands up to 80 damage a lot better than 30 DT stands up to 160 damage.
      • As with the later-released The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, armor will stop no more than 80% of incoming damage.
    • Played straight and averted in Fallout 4. While its possible to upgrade any normal armour you find, as well as upgrading regular clothing with a ballistic weave which gives it a defense value which stacks with other types of armour after completing a specific quest, on higher difficulties (specifically Survival Mode, where you take 200% damage from all attacks) even a fully upgrade set of gear will give you maybe one or two extra seconds to find some cover and heal. Averted though with Powered Armor, which in this game acts more like a vehicle you pilot rather than worn gear like it was in the previous games. A fully upgrade set of X-01 armour will let you tank a mini-nuke to the face and limp out the other side, even on the aforementioned Survival mode.
  • The original Far Cry averted this trope for both the player and enemies, except in the case of headshots, but the Classic Updated Re-release for consoles removed the damage reduction properties of enemies' armor, making it purely cosmetic.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • In the original Final Fantasy, the Black Belt could wear some equipment, but when unarmored he gains one absorb for each level which will outstrip the absorb he can get from armors at very high levels. It's not something that people who tries to beat the game on a timely pace should worry about, though.
    • Final Fantasy II flirts with this. Armor is certainly useful, but heavy armor takes a considerable toll on your Evasion percentage, which is easily the One Stat to Rule Them All—especially when late-game enemies can inflict nasty status effects on hit. The game does provide light armor that gives respectable Defense without too heavy an Evasion penalty, and improving your Agility and shield skill (yes, strapping a piece of metal to your arm makes you ''faster'') will let you wear the super-heavy Armor of Invincibility and dodge everything thrown at you like a ninja.
    • Final Fantasy VII: The only "armor" you can buy for any character is "bangles," which are essentially large, heavy bracelets. You can see the characters wearing them, and occasionally even making motions as if they are trying to block or deflect attacks with them. As for how well this works... the way the game calculates damage means that defence stats in general aren't really worth the effort to improve (the most effective armor work by halving damage from physical elements), a glitch means that mdef ignores what armor is supposed to contribute to it, and you can cause your defence to roll over if you raised your stats high enough.
    • Final Fantasy VIII: While most Final Fantasy characters equip armor, even if only in inventory, here characters do not wear armor, visually or no. In-universe they're covert operatives who often go undercover, and wearing heavy armor would blow said cover pretty quickly. Besides, with Guardian Forces and junctioned magic, they don't need it.
    • Final Fantasy X has this rule too, to a certain extent. Nobody wears armor, aside from the crusaders, who are practically the Red Shirt Army of Spira. Any playable character in the entire game, however, can only equip a weapon and an arm-guard.
    • Final Fantasy XII: Subverted in the opening sequence. Some poor sap had a gaping hole in his armor, right in front of his throat. Three guesses where he was shot, and the first two don't count.
    • In Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII, Lightning can obtain several armor garbs. Most do provide minor damage reduction, but the two best defensive garbs are in fact robes.
  • Fire Emblem doesn't usually include armor as a mechanic (except for the shields in Gaiden/Echoes and Three Houses). Defense is based entirely on character growths and class-based caps, rather than what armor a character is physically wearing. For example, in Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn, Meg's defenses tend to be lower than Aran's, despite her being clad in full plate armor compared to his lighter breastplate (Meg's Defense cap is higher than Aran's, but even then, she's not likely to surpass him). Still, characters and classes featured with heavy armor tend to have a higher Defense base, growth, and cap. The exception to the rule is Jagen from the first game, who has a 0% Defense growth despite wearing his famous purple armor.
  • In For Honor, the Viking Raider hero does not wear any armor at all beyond some furry leather shoulder pads. Indeed, a lack of armor is a common theme among the Viking factions as a whole, with the Berserker wearing little more than furs and the Valkyrie wearing a leather gambeson, a light helmet, and a shield. Only the Warlord wears real armor, consisting of chainmail underneath a leather gambeson. True to the trope, the Raider is the second-toughest of the Viking heroes, surpassed only by the Warlord. On the other hand, for the Knights and the Samurai factions, the more heavily-armored heroes are tougher than their more lightly-armored compatriots, though the trope is played straight in the sense that weapons that realistically couldn't hope to hurt a knight in full plate will still damage and kill even the most heavily-armored of warriors.
  • Partly true in Galactic Civilizations II, given that armor is one of the three types of defenses you can install on ships, the other two being Deflector Shields and anti-missile systems. Basically, each type of defense is a good counter only for a specific type of weapon. Armor is good against kinetic projectiles, shields are good against energy weapons, and anti-missile systems are (obviously) good against missiles. Against any other type of weapon, their effect is reduced to the square root of the value. So, armor with a defense rating of 9 will only provide 3 defense points against lasers or missiles. Even without this approach, late-game weapons completely outstrip equivalent defensive technologies to the point of making them pointless even if they match.
  • Played straight in Gears of War, where one of the FEW people wearing an honest helmet, Anthony Carmine, gets sniped in the head early on, killing him. Though the helmet made him one of The Faceless, despite being an actual character, his death was an in-joke to the developers, based on a study that showed people who wore helmets like that get shot more due to the lack of peripheral vision.
    • Lampshaded in Gears of War 2 though. During one level the group is complaining about the smell and even has to run through toxic gas later in the game. The one member wearing a helmet points out that they wouldn't have this problem if they'd wear one. Also, the character with the helmet is the Benjamen Carmine, little brother of Anthony Carmine.
      B. Carmine: If you wore a helmet, you wouldn't have to breathe in the dust.
      Dom: Yeah, [coughs] but I wouldn't be able to see snipers so well, would I?"''
      Marcus Cool it Dom...
    • In Gears of War 3, Clayton Carmine, also wearing a helmet, is walking with the squad towards a COG base when a friendly sniper mistakes them for the Lambent, and shoots Clay in the head only for the bullet to ricochet off Clay's helmet, prompting a shocked, "Jeez louise, what the fuck?!"
    • While all the gears tromp around half a car's worth of armor, they seem to be about as tough as the Locust, most of whom aren't even wearing shirts. Sera also seems to have a surprising number of indigenous species that are completely immune to gunfire on some or most of their carapace (including rockworms, serapedes, Berserkers, and Corpsers), which begs the questions of why no one's making armor out of them.
    • Averted by Maulers and Armored Kantus. Maulers carry a shield that can absorb (or in the case of Elites, reflect) bullets and even rockets. Kantus armor slows the wearer down (and denies it the use of Ink Grenades in Beast Mode) but is nearly immune to bullets. Unlike the Mauler's shield, a Kantus' armor doesn't help it against fire or explosives.
    • Exaggerated in 3, which has unarmored versions of Anya, Dizzy, Marcus, and a version of Cole in football pads. All can take just as much damage as their heavily armored counterparts.
  • The Ghosts 'n Goblins/Ghouls 'n Ghosts series has Arthur, who starts in full plate armour: however it just takes one hit and your armor goes flying off, leaving you to fight beasties in his pretty underpants. Another hit in that state, and he's dead. Ultimate Ghosts 'n Goblins has a variety of armors, most of which can take more than one hit. The trouble happens when you need a certain armor that can take only one hit to get past a certain point (especially the Angel Armor), meaning that once you lose the armor, you're hosed. Dorkly even made a video deconstructing this.
    • Played with for his appearance in Project X Zone. Arthur's armor is directly stated to be good against only one hit, but it will protect him from that hit, no matter how powerful it is. This allows him to be able to tank a massive explosion from ground zero.
  • In the Golden Axe series, almost every hero character is either bare-chested or otherwise exposing large parts of the body. They can still take multiple slashes/bashes from weapons.
  • Granblue Fantasy tends to play this trope regarding the characters, since the game's inventory system does not include armors and is limited only to weapons, rings, and summons:
    • Some characters who wear a full set of armor and a helmet are designated as Defense types (i.e. Baotorda, Deliford, Naoise, Vira's Grand version), fully averting this trope.
    • Yet, there are other armor-clad characters who are not Defense-oriented (Black Knight, Lancelot, Percival, Rackam), applying this trope.
    • A large number of the playable characters are wearing some types of armor, including those stated above, yet they can still receive the same amounts of damage as any other character without Defensive buffs.
    • It is possible for the player to directly play around this trope with the ability to change a character's appearance and outfit, such as Grand Vira still capable to tanking a huge amount of damage while wearing a swimsuit.
    • Vaseraga is probably one of the worst offenders. He wears an armor and a helmet in his Dark version, but his kit is focused on attack (though his passive allows him to stack defense). He loses all that protection in his Earth version, but he has a skill that provides him 50% damage reduction and an immunity to debuffs.
  • Body armor in Grand Theft Auto V works fine in single-player, but is absolutely garbage when playing online. A few bullets is all it takes to take out the heaviest armor and it's not uncommon to see players forego armor entirely. Online lets you have a stock of armor in your inventory so you can equip one in a pinch, which is probably why the body armor is so flimsy.
  • While Halo's story and Expanded Universe mostly avert this, its gameplay is all over the place with the trope:
    • In all lore, from novels to live-action films to in-game cutscenes, Covenant armor is consistently useless against any kind of bullets. Elites decked out in hundreds of pounds of the stuff fail to single shotgun shells or bursts of submachine gun fire that would be no-sold by any standard body armor today, once their shields are down. Grunts and Jackals are in the same boat. The exceptions are the Brutes, who actually have been scene tanking some fire when stripped of shielding.
    • Zig-zagged by anyone with personal energy shields. While a fully-shielded Elite Zealot can take half a mag of assault rifle fire without even flinching, one with its shields drained is only slightly more durable than a common Grunt, despite the fact that the former wears a lot more armor than the latter (and the lore stating that Elites are in general a lot tougher than Grunts). It's possible that the "armor" is actually just an exosuit jammed with electronics for supporting things like the shield and strength-enhancement, leaving little armor for actual bullet-resistant plating, which is supported by many sources showing that their "armor" won't even stop shotgun pellets. This discrepancy is particularly apparent (and less justified, considering their armor is explicitly supposed to be titanium) with Player Character Spartans; despite their supposedly incredibly advanced tailored-specifically-for-Spartan painstakingly-manufactured cutting-edge armor, no Spartan with its shields down can survive one single shot to the head from a basic pistol in any game, or more than just a few shots to the body from almost any other weapon in any game (an unshielded Player Character in fact has the same health as a UNSC marine on normal difficulty).
    • In the later games, Covenant mooks both wear more armor and have greater health the higher-ranked they are. What keeps this from being an aversion is that, with the exception of headshots, they take the same amount of damage from any given weapon regardless of whether you hit them in an armored or unarmored spot. The one exception are Hunters, who have such thick armor that you have to shoot the unarmored parts if you want to do any damage.
    • There's a partial aversion by some higher-ranking Brute variants and Halo: Reach's Grunt Ultras; you'll have to shoot off their helmets first before you can headshot them. Depending on the game, the same thing also applies to any allied human NPC wearing a helmet. In general though, even helmet-wearing enemies will go down in one headshot if they don't have energy shields.
    • Inverted with the Brutes; Halo 2's and Reach's unarmored versions are noticeably more durable than Halo 3's armored ones (in fact, 2's Brutes were infamous for being insanely bullet-spongy). Within each individual game, however, they do still follow the general rule of "armored variants have more health". In lore, Brute armor is also consistently the only armor that provides any protection against bullets: in one ODST cutscene, for example, Buck fruitlessly empties an entire assault rifle magazine into an unshielded Brute Chieftan, while in a Reach cutscene, Noble Six kills an unshielded Elite Ultra with four shots to the chest from the same rifle.
  • Horizon Zero Dawn is all over the place with this. First of all, what Aloy's outfits look like has nothing to do with what they protect against, nor how effective they are at it. The Carja Blazon outfit for instance has escalating amounts of metal belts strapped across its chest while leaving Aloy's midriff exposed, making it seem like a it's meant to defend against physical attacks at most, but it's actually the game's anti-fire damage outfit. Speaking of which, almost all outfits only protect against a single one of six damage types, and with most enemies attacking with multiple damage types, even the top-tier outfits always leave Aloy partially vulnerable. Said top-tier outfits only become available quite far into the story, and the initial ones are so worthless (providing a mighty 10% damage reduction on average) that the choice is essentially cosmetic. They also have only one weave slot, but that's okay because basic weave bonuses don't make much of a difference, anyway. It isn't until you get your hands on medium and heavy outfit versions, combined with some decent weaves, that outfits stop being completely useless and turn into situational life savers instead, especially on Ultra Hard difficulty where enemies deal several times their normal damage and quickly donning an outfit that protects against the current enemy's main attacks can mean the difference between life and death. The only outfit that averts this whole discussion is the unique Shield Weaver due to its Deflector Shields always providing some decent protection against all damage types. Still, Aloy's main defense regardless of difficulty is always dodging, never relying on armor to soak up hits - if you got hit, you did something wrong, and on Ultra Hard you'll probably be dead.
  • None of the possible PCs, or your companions for that matter, wear armor in Jade Empire, and it doesn't affect their defense at all, although amusingly several incorrect descriptions of you by enemies describe you wearing head-to-toe suits of armor.
  • In KanColle, the stronger enemy types and bosses are so powerful that they can one-shot even the player's toughest battleships. In such cases, it can be better to just avoid the defensive formations in favour of offence-oriented ones and hope your girls can sink or cripple them before they do it to you.
  • Averted in Kingdom Come: Deliverance where even a simple gambeson can spell the difference between life and death and wearing quality plate armor can turn you from a squishy meat person into a nearly unstoppable tank. Just watch out for enemies with maces and warhammers.
  • Kingdom Hearts:
    • The only reason why Sora wears armor in Space Paranoids is to blend in. Of course, the armor happens to be his magical clothes in a different shape, and he can still use his Drive Forms; his circuits change color to match each form, from red to blue to yellow.
    • Completely played straight with his and Riku's armor for The Grid. Their armor's only purpose here is to hold their Identity Discs and, in Sora's case, his Recusant's Sigil; in Riku's case, his Spirit Dream Eater symbol.
    • The keyblade armors worn by Terra, Aqua, and Ventus in Birth By Sleep also count. In-universe, they're meant to protect their users from the darkness as they travel the Lanes Between, but in gameplay, the armor doesn't affect your defense stat or give any extra resistance to Dark attacks.
    • In Kingdom Hearts II, Mulan becomes much more powerful once she ditches all the armor she was wearing while pretending to be a man.
  • Played with in League of Legends. Armor is a stat, which can be more or less useful depending on your opponent's team comp and the current meta. It's also zig-zagged with champion models; most tank characters are heavily armored (if often lacking helmets) while squishier characters are often in normal clothes, but there's always exceptions, like the skimpily-dressed Morgana being tougher than her fully-armored sister, Kayle, and the breastplate-wearing Lux being squishier than the shirtless Sylas. Sometimes it's justified by the unarmored characters being demigods or similar beings who don't really require armor in the first place.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • The corrupted guard enemies debuting in The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past wear so much plate armor that their face can't even be seen. Yet in all of their appearances, they are among the weakest enemies in the game unlike other armored enemies.
    • The improved graphics of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess reveal that Link wears chainmail under his trademark green tunic. But he takes exactly the same amount of damage from goblin attacks with the armor as he does without it in the prologue.
  • Mass Effect both averts and plays this straight:
    • The first game included armor customization for both Shepard and his/her squadmates, with armor bonuses and protection factored in through multiple armor classes.
    • The sequel both played this straight and averted it. The player could now acquire armor pieces that improved various aspects of their health, shields, shield recharge time, ammo capacity, and so forth. Meanwhile, all of the squadmates' armors became merely cosmetic, with instances like Garrus' damaged armor, Miranda's catsuit, and Jack's "strips of clothing" having the exact same armor rating as their fully-armored versions from the Alternate Appearance Pack DLC's.
      • The two healthiest teammates are Grunt, a Krogan in full armor, and Thane, who wears a trenchcoat and bares the skin over his vital organs for medical reasons. However, this doesn't extend to the Suicide Mission, where characters who are heavily armored can fall just as easily as the one's who aren't during the rendezvous with the secondary fire team.
    • In the third game, squadmates received a 25% bonus to certain stats (shields, power damage, weapon damage, etc.) based on what costume they are wearing. However, the game also played it straight in certain situations (having Ashley/Kaidan potentially die from a single shot to their torso during the Cerberus Coup) and averted in others (Shepard's armor saving his/her life, but being burned off, when s/he's hit with Harbinger's beam).
      • Likewise, Tali is notably covered with what appears to be blood in the Extended Cut's evacuation scene, even if she's wearing her From Ashes DLC costume (which includes an armored facemask).
  • Averted in Max Payne 3, where armoured paramilitaries and Dirty Cops are noticeably harder to kill than unprotected favela gangbangers or mobsters. The extreme of this are the thankfully rare Heavily Armored Mooks that are Immune to Bullets centre mass and can only be killed with headshots. It's especially obvious when Max goes to the UFE HQ and fights both the armoured frontliners and the unarmoured desk jockeys; the latter are much easier to kill.
  • Metal Gear Online lets you customize your player characters, where you have the option of giving him/her combat armor or helmets, but these are merely aesthetic accessories, and have no effect on how much damage you take. You still take as much damage as shirtless male characters or bikini-clad female characters.
  • Armor in Might and Magic 6 — 8 is only as good as three things: Your skill with the armor in question, The abilities of the enemy you're fighting, and how good your Repair Skill is. Given how many late-game enemies had abilities that (a) ignore armor class and (b) break armor, you may as well rely entirely on magic resistance once you reach the Lost Technology section of the games. Leather armor is slightly more useful than the other armors - every class that can use armor can upgrade the leather skill to a level where this is no disadvantage to having one on, which meshes well with that it, as all armors, can carry useful bonuses that have nothing to do with armor class (there are no non-armor options for the torso slot), and in 7 and 8 the Grandmaster bonus applies even if the armor class does not.
  • Minecraft: Story Mode: Averted in Episode 3. Either Ellegard or Magnus can die depending on whose armor Jesse takes. Also inverted in regular Minecraft, as armor significantly reduces damage taken from enemies.
  • Exists but to a lesser degree in the Monster Hunter series. While armor is both useful and effective, the trope comes into play in terms of how you'll commonly use them. The good armor is made from killing the monster the armor set comes from many times to get loot used to make it. The problem is that the armor tends to be most resistant to the element said monster uses. Say you kill a monster with electric powers over and over again, you've now made armor most effective in defending against the very monster you now never need to see again. While the armor can still help if there's ANOTHER monster of that element you have trouble with, this still heavily contrasts with crafting weapons which do the opposite (are less effective against the monster you were grinding with and more effective on some other monster).
    • When it comes to offering damage protection from monster attacks, most armors in Monster Hunter games are horrible when faced with monsters of the same rank. You got armor with high elemental resistance and high raw defense? Yeah that's great, instead of being killed in 1-2 hits now you can take about 3 (maybe 4!) hits before dying.
      • Being able to take a few more hits makes a huge difference. Try taking on G-rank with a High-rank or Low-rank armor and you will die if a monster so much as sneeze on you. It is very recommended that you upgrade your armor to one of the current rank you're on in order to get the defense even if it means sacrificing armor skill. If both armor are of similar rank though, the defense is negligible.
  • MORDHAU: Utterly averted. While blunt weaponry will still do its share of nasty damage, even that is dampened by some amount of armor. And full heavy armor will let you survive whole barrages of blows, especially swords and axes. It does slow you down significantly, but the other option risks instant death from just about every weapon. And trying to be clever by armoring only certain parts will not help; a lack of helmet will directly lead to a lack of head from a stray blow from anything, and skimping on leg armor will get you swept off your feet with very large and sharp/heavy implements, or most likely killed because a Bear Trap just claimed everything below the knee.
  • In Mordheim: City of the Damned, you'll only rarely see players kit up their fighters in heavy armour. You'd be amazed just how many weapons can bypass armour - many of them are the kind of hefty, two-handed weapons that nimble and lightly-armoured fighters with good dodging skills would laugh at. Plus more obviously it limits the wearer's mobility, meaning they can't move very far per turn and are also more prone to falling and hurting themselves when trying to traverse ledges and gaps. Heavy armour does become fairly useful on fighters who expect to wade into heated melees with multiple opponents due to the limit on how many attacks the fighter can possibly dodge, but for one-on-one scraps and general exploration and looting, the extra mobility is way more useful.
  • In Mount & Blade, most weapons do cutting damage, which is significantly hampered by armor. Piercing and blunt attacks get through more often, but generally have less power once they pass the armor.
  • Neverwinter Nights was based on the D&D ruleset, so armor was completely useless for around half of all possible characters at higher levels and only moderately useful for the other half. Ditto Neverwinter Nights 2. At a certain level, you're wearing armor less for protection and more for the bonus effects from the enchantment on it.
  • Operation Body Count. While most attacks will hit armor first, two enemies that start appearing in the first 10 levels will also damage your health directly regardless of armor: Giant rats and shock drones. The former has health damage reduced by the presence of armor, the latter completely bypasses it.
  • Overwatch subverts it. Armor reduces the damage of every projectile/attack by up to 5 points (a percentage until that point, so something that does less than 10 damage is only reduced by a percentage). Which means that characters who deal damage with rapid-fire, shotgun-style, or damage-over-time weapons (ex: Tracer, Reaper, Roadhog, Soldier: 76, Winston, Symmetra) have their damage noticeably reduced. However, since the damage reduction caps at 5 points, Armor does little to nothing against single attacks that do a lot of damage (ex: Pharah's rockets, Junkrat's grenades, Widowmaker's scoped rifle).
  • Averted in Pacific Fleet and Atlantic Fleet. Heavily-armored ships won't take much damage from small-caliber guns, especially if they fire HE ammo instead of AP. However, like Real Life warships, ships in the game don't have the same armor stat everywhere, typically differentiating between belt and deck armor (the latter tends to be far weaker, favoring plunging shots and bomb airstrikes). Atlantic Fleet also adds Subsystem Damage, with heavier ships having their large-caliber turrets armored. This, of course, doesn't stop a tiny destroyer from sinking a battleship by getting close enough to launch a broadside of torpedoes.
  • Averted in Paladins. Fernando, Ash, and Khan wear immense suits of armour that give them their huge tank health pools. The other frontlines have similar character design justifications for their health, such as being a stone-skinned giantess, an enormous tortoise, or a mech. Barik has the least health of the frontlines due to his much smaller stature but his body armour gives him more than any non-frontline.
  • PAYDAY 2:
    • The game has various types of armor; the smaller and lighter armors offer little protection but don't really hamper your movement speed. Bulkier and heavier armors give more protection in exchange for slower speed and less stamina. Due to rebalancing for enemies and players in some updates and the introduction to the SWAT Van Turret, armor is torn up so fast (especially on Death Wish) that wearing bulky armor slows you down enough to get shot up and make your extra protection become gone in a matter of seconds. Most players prefer to wear a two-piece suit, which has no armor value but offers the highest stamina and speed values, plus it's the only "armor" that has a base value for dodge (random chance on whether a shot that hits you deals no damage). There's also several perk decks that can boost dodge even further, making you almost immune to being shot at if lady luck's at your side. Because armor is too cumbersome and is a liability for most, the majority of skilled players will never use armor. This also has a side-effect where most players attempting to stealth a heist will restart whenever stealth is broken instead of attempting to salvage things and leave guns blazing - "stealth" in this game is often more a matter of being able to move within a security guard's line of sight without arousing suspicion rather than actively staying out of sight. This is obviously much easier to do with a two-piece suit and an easily-concealable but likely weak weapon than it is coming in with full torso-, arm- and thigh-covering body armor and a heavy weapon that drops similarly-armored cops in one shot, which means that players gearing up for stealth aren't geared for surviving protracted firefights.
    • For the enemies, most of them are heavily armored on higher difficulties. Their heads have minimal protection, which makes having armor entirely pointless and explosive weapons can tear through armor anyway. The Bulldozer is covered from head to toe in armor, but the faceplate can be shot off, exposing the Bulldozer's face to further gunfire.
  • In Pillars of Eternity there's nothing stopping a caster class from wearing heavy armor, but it does come at the cost of an increased recovery when it comes to performing actions.
  • Armor in Postal 2 doesn't last very long. They're actually very effective at stopping damage from bullets, absorbing something like 80% of the damage you take. The issue is that your armor, even the silicon-carbide stuff with doubled durability, only survives a handful of bullets before getting destroyed, and the Postal Dude is your average everyman who nevertheless finds himself getting shot at about as often as any other FPS protagonist, so it's rare for you to keep armor for more than a couple minutes.
  • [PROTOTYPE 2] has a DLC Pack which includes an Armored form for Protagonist James Heller, as well as another that was used by Alex Mercer in the first one; both of them are merely skins, so you won't take any less damage using either one. Averted for the first one, though; Armor Power does a number on your speed and mobility, but decreases the overall damage you'll take.
  • Ragnarok Online — upper end armors like full plate armor are comparatively little more powerful than lesser armors. While a character in full plate in most RPGs can get beat on all day (especially by 'trash' and low level monsters) and not feel it, RO characters in full plate take much more damage than the idea of full plate armor seems to indicate. It is true that armor is upgradeable and you can add 'cards' to the slots, it is ridiculous how little protection the best armors give warriors and tanks.
  • Played straight in the Rainbow Six games, though this is more of a case of Helmets Are Useless. Heavy armor will completely shrug off shotguns loaded with buckshot at point blank range as well as submachineguns with JHPs at long range, as long as it doesn't hit your head, which doesn't happen very often since enemies almost always aim for your head and are often equipped with assault rifles. In the first game, in particular, the AI was known to score headshots from beyond the real-life effective range of their weapons while looking completely the other way. Lampshaded in the original novel, where it is noted that 7.62 rounds will still go through their armour. It takes about three missions before anyone they go up against can even get a shot off, but once those odds are surmounted, a good chunk of Rainbow's Team One is dead or hospitalized despite the armor difference.
  • Resident Evil 4: Completely averted by the suit of armor Ashley can wear as an unlockable costume in the game's rereleases. It makes her completely invincible from any kind of hazard in the game; bullets won't make her flinch, explosions will merely make her tumble, and enemies who try to kidnap her will fall and fail due to the armor's weight. This makes the segments with her much easier, as you don't need to worry about her safety anymore.
  • Averted in Sabres of Infinity with Banehardened armor, which, while incredibly expensive, renders the wearer extremely effective protection against conventional weapons.
  • In Scribblenauts it is possible to create armor, helmets, shields, etc. but they don't make it any harder to die.
  • In the anime-themed PC game Shogo: Mobile Armor Division, the enemies come in many varieties, some sporting basic uniforms, others power armor, and still others ten-foot-tall mini-mechas. The difference that makes in their durability is negligible: 100, 125, and 150 health points. All forms die to a single shotgun blast or a short burst from an assault rifle.
  • In the video game based on Shrek 2, the armored knights you face in later levels are no tougher than the unarmoured peasants from the early game. Better yet, the knights are fully aware of this and complain about it in foppish Upper-Class Twit voices as Shrek and the gang pummel them.
    "Why is armor so useless?" "Ouch! Stupid cheap armor!"
  • In the Siege of Avalon Anthology, the action takes place in a castle under siege, which had run out of good quality steel months earlier. Consequently, the armor and weapons coming out of the armory are pretty much worthless—one soldier calls them "tin swords and paper armor," and one of your earlier optional quests is to locate a cache of steel in the ruins of the town outside (though you only get a sword, not armor, for completing it). The real determining factors of whether you survive are how many hit points you have, how quickly you heal, whether you heal yourself using magic (and how good you are at it), and how many hits you actually take. Even the enchanted armor you can pick up toward the end of the game is more useful for the enchantments than the armor they're attached to.
  • In The Sims Medieval, armor helps those who wear it (especially good-quality armors) but Sim level and Focus count for even more. The Spy is the only playable class who swordfights with no armor and an unarmored but high-level and focused Spy will usually beat an armored Sim with a lower level or focus.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • In Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) the first Iblis boss battle with Silver requires you to throw rocks at Iblis's ARMORED HEAD!
    • In Sonic Chronicles, only one playable character wears armour (discounting Omega, on account of being a robot). She has one of the lowest defences of the non-Squishy Wizard characters.
  • SoulCalibur: The female warrior Hilde and male hero Siegfried both wear heavy plate armor, and yet they still take damage at the same rate as the rest of the cast, who wear ordinary clothes, fabric bodysuits, or in Voldo's case, a simple codpiece. Nightmare too; when he's not Siegfried, he is a set of heavy plate armor and still takes the same amount of damage as all the bondage-clad nudists running around. Plus, Darth Vader is in the fourth game and is subject to the same convention too (contradicting the Star Wars example above in "Film").
  • Space Empires: Mostly averted in the series. It can have special effects, like damage regeneration, and armor-piercing weapons aren't very common.
  • In Splatoon, unless it has Defense Up, a bulkier gear doesn't protect any more than less bulky ones. Averted in single-player modes, where you can pick up to three (two in the sequel) pieces of armor, each serving as an extra life of sorts.
  • Much like in 7.62 High Caliber, armor matters some but not much in the STALKER series. There is a sensible difference between how many shots you can take while wearing a sunrise suit or an exoskeleton, but the latter definitely does not warrant carelessness: if you "run full-pelt into enemy strongholds gleefully spraying bullets, then your corpse will be strung up in their garden being used as a bird feeder before you can say 'reload, Doctor Freeman!'". Bullets hurt, you know.
  • In StarCraft I each point of armor translates to one point less damage taken from each attack. Given how little armor units have and the rate most units attack or do damage, this really doesn't make an appreciable difference.
    • Not entirely invoked because while armor typically does very little to reduce the damage of a Siege Tank which typically does a whopping 70 damage it matters little if you reduce the damage by a few points. But take a Terran Marine which typically does 6 points of damage and send him up against a fully upgraded Battlecruiser which will have 6 points of armor and the marine will do little to no damage.
    • Also, the "armor" stat isn't the full effect of armor. An unarmored human civilian has far fewer hitpoints than a generic marine.
  • Star Trek Online has this problem due to the fact that the game really relies on DPS - even if you have a high resistance rating and powerful shields, escorts can melt that and your hull in an instant.
  • Star Wars:
    • At first it was subverted in Star Wars: The Old Republic. Tanking classes, the ones who could take the most damage, typically wore heavy armor that would cover them head to toe, even the Jedi (though rarely with face-concealing gear). The Squishy Wizard classes were restricted to light armor, and the rest were an intermediate between the two.

      Then with later game updates, adaptive armor was added, which are really just Impossibly Cool Clothes. Since armor rating is based on the mods added to them, and adaptive armor sets could accept any mods, this allows players to disassemble hyper-advanced Powered Armor, put the components in a flashy robe or jacket, and get the exact same ratings. Now, the servers are filled with Jedi running around in Leia's stripper outfit and Troopers relying only on their well-toned abs for chest protection, with equal chances of winning against better-armed (and outfitted) opponents.
    • Played straight (at least after you become a Jedi) in Knights of the Old Republic, where the main character wearing armor actually makes Force powers unusable, making it necessary to downgrade from heavy combat vests to the simple robes of a Jedi. The sequel introduces a few types of armor designed for Force-users that lack this restriction, although they're only available as random loot.
    • Humorously lampshaded in Star Wars Battlefront 2. After gunning down Stormtroopers, Rebel soldiers can be heard to mockingly say "Yeah, that armor worked real well, didn't it?".
  • In the Syphon Filter series starting with the second game, certain enemies deliver headshots that One-Hit Kill regardless of armor condition. Explosions fire and certain high-power guns also ignore armor. In the fourth game, there are thugs that wear both flak jackets and helmets but still die from a single headshot.
  • Averted in Team Fortress 2 with the Heavy and Demoman, who wear black ballistic vests and have the highest amount of health of all the classes (300 and 175 HP respectively) (aside from the Soldier, who has 200).
  • In the Total War series, whether armored troops are useful depends on both how you use them and what they're up against. Heavy knights on foot or on horseback can tear into light infantry with minimal losses and wade through heavy arrow barrages with limited casualties, but horse-mounted knights are still very vulnerable to pikemen and spears even with all their armor and barding. Dismounted heavily-armored troops are also vulnerable to cavalry charges unless they have their own spears since all that armor won't help when a lance-wielding knight in full plate charges you on the back of a furious destrier. Heavy armor can also be a drawback when fighting certain heavy infantry types like Venetian Hammers, who deal massive bonus damage to heavily-armored units. Also averted in "The Fall of the Samurai" DLC for Total War: Shogun 2 with ironclads, which are extremely tough compared to the wooden, or even armored, warships. For instance, the best way to kill a wooden ship is to fire incendiary ammo at it, causing it to be set on fire. Can't do that with an ironclad, and most non-AP shots bounce off without doing any serious damage. Armor-piercing ammo, though, can do enough damage to hurt even an ironclad.
  • Tyrian: Once your ship loses its shields, its own armor is what separates you from a very explosive death. On higher difficulties, even ships with the highest armor ratings will fall apart after about a dozen hits.
  • Undertale has some boss monsters covered in armor and checking their stats shows they got the defense to back it up. However, depending on what weapon you use and how high your LV is, you can take down those heavily armored monsters in just a few hits. It's explained in-universe that someone with a ton of malice and hatred can easily destroy a monster's body and soul (sometimes in a single strike), even if said monster is supposed to be way stronger than the human that is attacking them. It is also explained that a monster is extremely sensitive to the emotions and feelings of those around them and they get weak if they face against someone who has a lot of negative energy. LV stands for Level of Violence (i.e. a stat for It Gets Easier), which explains why you can easily one shot almost anyone if it gets really high.
  • Warcraft III: Armor reduces damage taken from standard attacks, but the effects aren't very visible at low levels. The type of armor also matters: Fortified armor takes a lot less damage from most attacks, but takes more damage from siege weapons.
    • The human Footman is covered in metal, yet has one less point of armor than the half-naked orc Grunt.
  • Inverted in Warframe. High-level Grineer enemies and numerous mechanized Corpus proxies wear alloy or ferrite armor, which sharply cuts incoming damage from most damage sources. Corrosive damage is one of the most popular damage types in the game because of its ability to permanently reduce the armor of those hit, rendering the target vulnerable. This is especially noticeable with the colossal Eidolons, who enjoy Contractual Boss Immunity on top of insane amounts of armor that renders anything other than a radiation-specced weapon or an anti-Sentient weapon useless. Before you even get to that, you have to penetrate its nigh-invulnerable Deflector Shields, which can only be breached by the Void energy produced by the Operators.
    • At the same time though, Grineer heavy armour means that even basic Lancers and Troopers are Incredibly Durable Enemies that can take a few bursts of fire if you don't shoot them in the face, and their Elite Mooks are even tougher. In contrast, Corpus only wear future spacesuits and have to rely on their Deflector Shields, turning into Glass Cannon once those are down.
    • Played with when it comes to player Warframes. Most have pitiful to moderate armor values and don't need any higher, as the primary defenses of most Warframes are shields. Not so for Rhino, Atlas, and Valkyr. Rhino's Iron Skin multiplies his existing armor value which is already high and adds it as a layer of extra health, Atlas's power strength increases proportionally to his armor level, and Valkyr's armor without mods or powers is a flat 600. Compare that to Excalibur, the poster-boy, at 225.
  • Zigzagged in War Thunder when it comes to ground vehicles. While thick and/or well-angled armor can shrug off rounds, some lightly armored vehicles are deceptively survivable since their thin armor allows armor-piercing rounds to simply pass through without fragmenting. At the same though, the introduction of the hull break mechanic means that rounds with sufficient explosive charge like HE, HESH and HEAT rounds can knock out any lightly-armored vehicle. When it comes to early Cold War tanks, heavy tanks often struggle for relevancy since their steel armor weighs them down significantly yet can be easily penetrated by shaped-charge warheads used by more lightly armored vehicles. However, later Cold War/modern tanks have reactive and composite armor that can protect them from anything short of armor-piercing dart rounds or top-attack missiles. Overall, while armor can be a life-saver, mobility and stealth often take a higher priority in the current meta.
  • In Wasteland 2, armor is not only useless, it's actually a hindrance more often than not. The effect it has against conventional attacks is minimal. Heavier suits slow the wearer down, when those that would benefit the most from heavy armor (characters that need to get up close and personal to the enemies) also require good speed to function. Furthermore, enemies tend to use Energy Weapons toward the end of the game, which do significantly more damage against targets in heavy armor. At that point, it's better to just strip down. Director's Cut reworked energy weapon damage so there's no downside to wearing light armor and some of the perks let you stack up enough armor points for decent protection, but heavy armor remains incredibly impractical.
  • Increasingly played straight in World of Tanks. Highly armored vehicles take little or no damage when shot by much weak guns, but the game has increasingly been pushed toward weapon penetration beating armor as new tanks with high-penetration guns have been introduced and the decision was made to allow premium ammo (which usually has superior armor-penetration ability to standard ammo) to be purchased with in-game currency instead of real money. This means that even the fearsome T95, which boasts the thickest frontal armor of any tank in the game, is still vulnerable to shots penetrating its front glacis.
  • While armor is quite important and tends to provide benefits other than sheer protection in World of Warcraft, these values don't necessarily correlate with the amount of armor. Females get away with much less armor in general, and an Eyepatch provides just as much protection as a full plate helmet, as long as it's given the same armor class. Another weird instance is the druid's bear form, which, despite not showing any armor whatsoever, magically quintuples the armor rating of his equipment, enabling the usually rather fragile, leather-wearing class to be a very capable tank which outranks full plate warriors and paladins in terms of sheer physical damage reduction (however, they can't use shields to block or weapons to parry, and have a rather limited array of abilities). Of course, given their magical nature, it's possible that this is representing the druid's bear form incorporating the magic from his or her armor into a magically reinforced thick hide. In addition, this trope applies when fighting elemental enemies whose elemental damage ignores armor, as do spells. Which kinda makes sense to some extent; getting hit by a fireball will probably melt you the same regardless of the thickness of what you're wearing — it may even be worse with metal armor if it's hot enough — but considering how the fire came from a flaming boulder, and therefore part of the damage is blunt force trauma, there's many types of magic for which you must scour your brain for the reasoning of how it damages someone, in that you'll survive a fireball from someone around the same level around you, despite how it's hot enough to set a boulder on fire, which makes it kind of like a meteor...
  • X-COM: UFO Defense is a peculiar case that caused a fair bit of Natter. A soldier wearing the most powerful armor in the game, hit where it's thickest, has roughly a 2/3 chance of surviving one hit from the most common alien weapon. There's no guarantee against multiple shots. What would be rejected in most games is here a crucial improvement from losing half the squad on nearly every mission. The first armor available occasionally saves from getting their faces imploded, and instead leaves them in dire need of a medic on the field and time in the infirmary when they return.note  It's another major development.note 
    • Tricky players note that advanced armor makes automatic high-explosive and incendiary rounds into amusing close combat weapons and that its flying version reduces Chryssalids from nigh-invincible instant death machines to mostly harmless. (While it also makes Silacoids completely harmless, that's not really a downgrade for them.) The sequel Apocalypse has much stronger armor.
  • XCOM: Enemy Unknown, the 2012 reboot of X-Com, plays Body Armor As Hitpoints, and it does improve your operatives's survivability in battle as long as you take care to avoid getting exposed to flanking attacks, as critical hits will still hurt like crazy. In some cases, the armor can even help your operatives avoid being hospitalized in the medical bay for days or even weeks if the damage they suffered is less than the bonus health provided by the armor. Furthermore, the advanced suits of armor all possess unique abilities that give your operatives other benefits besides protection from weapons fire.
    • The Enemy Within expansion pack adds MEC troopers wearing Powered Armor (although they have to literally lose An Arm and a Leg to be able to do that, replacing them with robotic substitutes). MEC troopers are very tough to kill, especially since going into Overwatch without moving during the turn adds more protection. This is to compensate for the fact that MEC troopers are too large to be able to hide behind objects and are thus always exposed.
  • XCOM 2 has armor pulling double duty: in addition increasing hit points, heavy armor (and a specific Grenadier skill) provides armor plating, which is a straight damage reduction: 1 point of armor plating reduces the damage from an attack by 1 point. However, armor plating, while nice to have, is rarely worth stacking: there's a number of attacks, including common grenades and increasingly common acid attacks, that can shred armor plating for the remainder of the mission, rendering it useless, and it's difficult to get 3 points of armor plating on one character, which is not very useful when enemies start doing 10+ points of damage per attack, most of which shred or even ignore armor. The inverse, however, is not true: the alien enemies you can fight against get plenty of armor, from the lowly Shieldbearer with 1 point, to the Andromedon with 4 points, and all the way up to the Gatekeeper with 7 points, and usually with excessive health pools as well.
  • Justified in Xenonauts. Not only are the enemy soldiers using plasma weapons, which wouldn't even be impeded by Kevlar, but the game takes place at the dawn of The '80s when mass-produced bulletproof vests as standard issue infantry was still in the future anyway. One of the first research projects that opens up after capturing some samples of alien weapons is some armour that is not useless, although the best you can say for the cumbersome and only marginally protective "Jackal" armour you unlock first is that it's better than nothing. However, no armour will be of any use against Reapers. One blow from a Reaper will immediately convert any soldier it hits into a zombified horror, which spawns another Reaper when killed.
  • In zOMG your character's appearance is fully independent of your stats, to allow for total character customization. However, this also means that no matter how cool that Mythrill Armor(sic) looks on you, or how badass you look with your giant axe, you can still get killed by a flamingo if you don't have rings. The opposite is true as well. This is illustrated in the zOMG Manga, where a guard named Baldur is equipped with rare and expensive Mythrill Armor and an Ancient Katana, but is still taken out in one hit by a Buzz Saw. Conversely, Dani (Who is wearing Armor, but forgoes the chest plate) and Blaze (who isn't wearing armor at all, save for a small leather jacket) are much more effective fighters.

    Visual Novels 
  • Played with in Sunrider. All units have an Armor stat that mitigates damage taken from attacks, and the higher your Armor is the less damage you take. However, every time a unit gets hit their Armor stat goes down a bit, making it less and less effective as the fight drags on. Kinetic weapons in particular will tear through Armor like tissue paper. Deflector Shields work the same way, with the added bonus that they get stronger when two or more shields overlap, but unlike Armor Shields will only protect you from laser and pulse weapons.
  • Yo-Jin-Bo: Nobody wears armor, except for Mon-Mon, who wears chain mail under his clothes. Which does save him from being stabbed in the back in one event, but the trope is played straight aside from that one instance.

    Web Animation 
  • In Freeman's Mind, the Alien Grunts' armor zig-zags this. It makes them extremely tough for Freeman to take down, but it also doesn't cover their abs, which severely limits its protective abilities. Freeman at one point wonders if they're wearing such impractical armor because they're male strippers and the invasion has some kinky alien context.
  • RWBY: Discussed. In Volume 4, Blake's father comments that Blake's combat attire doesn't "seem to cover very much"; he's talking about her complete lack of armour. She defensively points out that she doesn't need any armour in battle, which Ghira accepts. Huntsmen have trained Auras, which act as spiritual armour. While some Huntsmen do wear minimal or token armour, such as Ghira himself, who wears only an abdominal plate and later gets stabbed in his unprotected shoulder during battle, a Huntsman's best protection will always be their Aura.

  • In Errant Story, weapons technology (guns, magic, Durus Flamma weaponry, etc.) has advanced significantly farther and faster than armor, making most armor relatively useless. Sarine comments on this when considering if she should get her damaged armor repaired, stating that most people don't even bother wearing armor any more because of it. However, Jon did have to fire point-blank in an armor-wearing elf's gut just in case.
  • In Exterminatus Now, the main characters don't bother to wear armor when assaulting a facility infested with demons. Since the only real defense against a demon is to not get hit at all, armor would only slow them down.
  • Fate/type Redline: An unnamed Servant wears a huge suit of armor, only for Okita to stab him in the throat through a gap in it.
  • In Oglaf, a tribe of orcs realize this after finding record of a "toddler" with a stick stabbing right through an orc's breastplate (the "toddler" appears to actually be a hobbit), and switch to Chainmail Bikini armor on the theory that it offers just as much protection, but weighs much less and distracts the enemy.
  • Zig-zagged in Schlock Mercenary. Most uniforms worn by the Toughs and similarly equipped military units use fullerene, a carbon-based compound, and function as lightweight Powered Armor. proof against light arms and most physical attacks, but weak to armor-piercing pistol rounds. For more dangerous missions, combatants usually use more conventional suits of power armor that, while allowing the Toughs to survive firefights with a variety of foes, are often more useful for the extra strength they provide rather than defense, usually falling under the tactics the current enemy's using (nanotech, heavy duty firepower, etc.). It helps that medical science in this universe is so advanced that you can regrow most of your body if your head survives, or even regrow your whole body from scratch from a digital backup later on in the series.
  • In Cryptida, a group of naked mermaids emerge out of the ocean and succeed in invading a naval base in Communist East Germany. They overwhelm the better armed sailors with nothing but shells on sticks (and a few well placed sonic scream attacks.)

    Web Original 
  • Tobuscus parodies this in his Literal Trailer for Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood. The lyrics accompany Ezio defeating two pairs of guards with his Hidden Blades and throwing knives, respectively.
    Hopefully those guards have good armor / No they don't, maybe they do / They don't.
  • In Orion's Arm early space warfare is described as being like playing hide-and-seek with bazookas.
  • Students use armor and padded clothing during their spars in Void Domain. Trope averted and played straight at the same time. None of the students injure each other, however one student takes a bout of holy fire which severely burns her.

    Web Videos 
  • Averted in Knight of Hope: the protagonist's full plate armor is realistically depicted as very protective, and he uses it to full advantage. Namely, it lets him tank most of what the bandits throw at him without injury, with only weapons specifically for fighting armor (such as a pole-ax) or strikes to the exposed joints are able to actually harm him. It's one reason he's able to fight an entire bandit camp by himself and win.
  • Mahu: In "Crownless Eagle" there are cavalry troops who ride to battle wearing cuirasses alongside other pieces of armor. For hand-to-hand combat, that gives them an edge against their foes. It does not work so well however, when faced by a line of musket-wielding troops.

    Western Animation 
  • Archer: One episode shows Krieger testing a Bulletproof Vest on Chet, a new intern. It shows Krieger firing a submachine gun, then cuts to Chet, slumped against the wall, dead, bleeding from multiple gunshot wounds.
    Krieger: Now, normally I don't let an intern do this on his first day, but... Chet? How's it hanging, buddy?
  • Duck Dodgers in the 24½th Century: Duck Dodgers plays this trope straight in his first confrontation with Marvin the Martian. Marvin threatens him with a disintegration-ray. He smugly announces in an Aside Comment that he is wearing a disintegration-proof vest, and indeed he is; Dodgers dares him to shoot, and Marvin does so. Dodgers disintegrates. The completely undamaged vest hangs in mid-air for a moment before plopping onto the pile of Dodger's ashes.
  • Family Guy: Exaggerated/parodied in "It's a Trap!", a parody of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi. The stormtroopers' armor can't even withstand arrowfire, and one of them (even as he's riddled with arrows) exclaims "This armor's useless! Why do we even wear it?"
  • In Futurama: Bender's Big Score, the head nudist scammer informs the cast that he was wearing a doom-proof vest — then dolefully repents that he wasn't wearing doom-proof pants.
  • In Samurai Jack, we see Jack slicing through heavily-armored robots and mercenaries with ease, making it likely that the armorers of Aku's evil future make people's armor out of aluminum foil out of spite. Jack himself dons a full set of plate mail after the Time Skip, it gets disintegrated within the first minute of him facing the Daughters of Aku, and he never bothers to replace it.
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars: The Jedi wade into battle wearing ordinary fabric (and sometimes quite revealing, in the cases of Aayla and Ahsoka) clothing, while the Mooks under their command have full body armor and armor. The latter get mown down by the dozen; the former only get killed for drama's sake. Though Obi-Wan wears some of the clone trooper armor that he's first seen wearing in the previous Clone Wars cartoon. One episode sees Padmé and Satine investigating a poisoning outbreak. When they finally track down the bad guys, said bad guys open fire. The front line consists of one lightly armored officer and two heavily armored guards bearing blaster-deflecting shields. Guess who goes down?
    • Jedi only really wear armor when the situation is just that dire, because they are ultimately peacekeeping Warrior Monks. As shown in various Star Wars Legends material Jedi used to wear armor, but they abandoned it following the Ruusan Reformation at the end of the Old Republic era as part of their (and the Republic's) demilitarization. The Clone Wars became fierce so quickly that the Jedi had to adapt to survive and embrace many things once thought to be taboo.
  • Star Wars Rebels:
    • This is both played straight and subverted. Ezra's energy slingshot seems to have no effect on Stormtrooper armor, but seemingly everything above a child's makeshift weapon takes them out. In one scene a trooper commented on his weapon being ineffective, and Ezra took him out by throwing fruit at him. Subverted in S2 when we see Sabine take two hits to the chest and face (by her own blasters no less) and is saved by her Mandalorian armor, and Kanan's shoulder armor saves him from losing an arm in the same fight. Subverted again in "The Last Battle" when the group are up against much better shots than they're used to, and Rex takes hits to his chest and head while Ezra takes a hit to the chest, both times being saved by their armor.
    • Lampshaded in the Season 2 episode "Stealth Strike", when Rex headbutts a Stormtrooper into submission, then comments that the Stormtrooper armor really does seem useless. The rule of thumb seems to be that practical armor (Kallus' ISB armor, Sabine's Mandalorian armor, Rex's Clone Wars armor) is far from useless, but the cheap, mass-produced armor the Stormtroopers wear is, as they're too expendable to waste decent armor on. Rex also says that his own first-generation armor is better than what later marks of clones were issued (although as an ARC Trooper he got a heavier version than standard).
    • All that said, we do occasionally see Stormtroopers get back up(or at least move around in obvious pain) after being shot by blasters, suggesting that the main function of their cheap, mass-produced armour is to turn a lethal hit into a non-lethal one, rather than trying to stop the attack entirely.
    • And then it goes even further in "Heroes of Mandalore" with a weapon that's designed to destroy Mandalorian armor and anybody wearing it, making such armor worse than useless.
  • Gems in Steven Universe fight in unarmored clothing, usually Future Spandex, even during wartime. Rose's armory has several suits of armor and another gem owns at least one set (which she used as formal wear), suggesting they have effective armor, but don't use it. The one partial exception is Jasper, whose gem weapon is a helmet, but she uses it more as a hammer than armor.
  • Winx Club: This trope was common between the red fontana specialists, at least during the first seasons, and the battle of alfea against the armies of darkness was the primal example of this, where we seen many of them taking strikes that could kill a normal person, with minor or medium damage. This applies to the winx girls in a lesser degree, since in an episode, layla took a serious hit from a monster in the holopryector, layla was mostly unscathed by this.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Armour Is Useless


Shino Kuribayashi

The numerical advantage of the Empire is no match for a single JSDF Sergeant First Class armed with a Howa Type 64 Battle Rifle.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (12 votes)

Example of:

Main / ArmorIsUseless

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