Follow TV Tropes


Artificial Limbs Are Stronger

Go To

"The maximum amount of work the human organism can put out over a sustained period of time is no more than 1/60th of a horsepower. But with an atomic-powered prosthesis I can sustain indefinitely a level of work equivalent to dozens or even hundreds of horsepower. The power comes not from my body, but directly from the energy capsules. All my body does is direct that power."
Limbo, by Bernard Wolfe

There's a popular perception that robots are stronger than creatures of flesh and bone, and by logical extension this would mean that people who replaced parts of their bodies with cybernetics would also be stronger than those with just flesh. Prosthetic arms let one lift a car or punch through a wall, legs run faster or jump higher.

In reality though, those metal limbs would still be anchored in flesh and bone, someone who tried lifting a ton weight with a prosthetic arm would be more likely to rip their arm out of its socket. It could be doable but you'd need a lot of extensive reinforcement all over the body.

A regular trait of the Handicapped Badass.

A Sub-Trope of Badass Transplant and Artificial Limbs.


Straight Examples

    open/close all folders 

     Anime and Manga  

     Comic Books  

  • Misty Knight was a private detective in the 1970s. She was brought back in 2006 in the Ultimate Galactus Trilogy (in the Ultimate Marvel universe) and then in Daughters of the Dragon (in the mainstream universe). In both incarnations, she has a bionic arm designed by Tony Stark, that grants her several super powers including super strength, various Iron Man-based repulsor weaponry and, due to being made of Antarctic Vibranium, the ability to liquefy metal.


  • The Winter Soldier from the Marvel Cinematic Universe is a Super Soldier enhanced with a knockoff of Captain America's Super Serum, but he's not as strong as the Cap. However his left arm is a bulletproof prosthetic that can punch through solid concrete, and close-ups show that he has metal reaching into his shoulder and ribs to help reinforce it.
  • In I, Robot Spooner's fight with an NS-5 noticeably turns around after his prosthetic arm is revealed. He first uses it to block an attack with a broken pipe, tearing the fake skin off, then starts punching holes in concrete. In this case, not only is his arm prosthetic, but he has significant reinforcement going all the way to his rib cage so he can support it.
  • Star Wars: The second scene of Darth Vader aboard the rebel starship shows Vader doing a Neck Lift on Captain Antilles. It's not until further in the series that it's revealed that Vader is a cyborg: "He's more machine now than man; twisted and evil."
  • Gazelle in Kingsman: The Secret Service has two prosthetic legs from the knees down, which don't make her physically stronger, but allow her to do acrobatic feats and she has blades in them sharp enough to cleave a man in two.
    • Charlie Hesketh has become The Dragon to Poppy in Kingsman: The Golden Circle. He lost his arm when his subdermal chip exploded in the first film, and Poppy provided him with robotic arms. He demonstrates the strength of his second robotic arm by destroying the wall of Poppy's bowling hall with a bowling ball he threw with it.
  • Spoofed in Attack of the Killer Tomatoes! when the bionic man being demonstrated can only run in circles very fast because they could only afford to replace one leg.
  • In The Hand, Jon's prosthetic hand is capable of a much stronger grip than his real hand, and he often causes people pain when he grabs them in a fit of anger.



  • Limbo by Bernard Wolfe is about a post-World War Three future where people voluntarily amputate their limbs as a moral equivalent to fighting wars, a case of literal disarmament. However scientists then develop nuclear-powered prosthesis enabling great feats of strength and agility. This leads to war breaking out again over the rare metal needed to build them.
  • From Cyborg, by Martin Caidin, better known through its TV adaptation The Six Million Dollar Man.
    "Your arm should have on the order of ten times the gripping and handling strength you once had. The same applies, of course, to your fingers. Objects you could never dent with your natural fingers before, well, now you should be able to crush them like an eggshell."
  • In Samuel Delany's Nova, Prince Red was born without right arm and with a neurological defect that made grafting a cloned one impossible, so he was given a mechanical prosthetic. His grip strength is positively insane - at one point he sticks his hand into sand and clenches his fist hard enough to compress some sand into a lump of hot glass, and later he squeezes the same glass into quartz crystal. The actual amount of reinforcements of his body isn't shown, but he also can do a one-armed pull-up fast enough to make the air whiz, shatter unbreakable glass with a punch and throw stones (including aforementioned crystals) with the force and precision of bullets.
  • Averted in And A Star To Steer Her By, a 1954 Atom Punk by Lee Correy (G. Harry Stine). The protagonist is a jetman who has lost a hand; at one point he has to build extra tools for leverage to help him carry out repair work because he hasn't sufficient strength in his artificial hand to tighten things.
  • Averted in C-Chute by Isaac Asimov. John Stuart had mangled his hands irreparably, but alien surgeons grew him artificial hands out of artiplasm instead. The new hands are weaker than the originals, and require delicate care.
  • In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Lord Voldemort grants Peter Pettigrew a silver hand after he sacrifices his right hand to aid in his resurrection. He quickly tests it by crushing a twig into dust, showing that it's much stronger than a normal human hand. Justified by being of magical nature as opposed to mechanical like most examples of this trope.

     Live Action TV  

     Tabletop Games  

  • Zig-zagged in Shadowrun, depending on edition.
    • Commercial-grade, off-the-shelf cyberlimbs usually have the average stats of a limb of the metatype they were built for. Custom-built limbs, however, can be upgraded to the maximum for the owner's metatype and further enhanced beyond that, in which case they have been custom-designed for that owner and with appropriate reinforcement.
    • The physical stats for a cybernetic limb only counts for using that limb alone: In cases where multiple limbs are involved, the cyberlimb's stats are averaged with your innate stats. Lifting a car requires your whole body's strength, so no matter how powerful your cyberlimbs you'll be hamstrung by your meat, while crushing a beer can with a cyberhand allows for the hand/arm's full strength to be used.
  • In Bleeding Edge replacing both arms or legs with prosthetics increases Str by 1 and decreases Dex 1, replacing a single arm or leg just diminishes Dex.
  • In Cyberpunk 2020 cyberlimb attacks deal more damage than regular limbs, and certain upgrades can increase this further.

     Video Games  

  • Deus Ex: Human Revolution: during the prologue, Adam Jensen is a normal, non-augmented human, and has no melee attack available. Then he gets his arms and legs replaced with metal ones and can break bones with ease, deliver instant-KO Hey You Haymakers, and if he unlocks his software with Praxis kits, punch through walls and jump 3 meters high. However, his spine is also augmented, and it's unclear if people with just limbs augmented are any stronger.
  • In Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, Adam Jensen's artificial limbs are so strong, that his signature move is to punch through a wall to a guy to snap his neck.
  • In the XCOM: Enemy Unknown expansion Enemy Within, MEC Troopers are a soldier class blur the line between Cyborg and Mini-Mecha, created by replacing a soldier's limbs with artificial ones. Their Kinetic Strike Module is the strongest attack available to the playernote , and mounting it on the MEC suit passively grants an extra 3 mobility. An operative with 14 mobility (the maximum possible) that's augmented into a MEC trooper and saddled with the KSM, after a Foundry upgrade, can run through the battlefield at a speed matching a skittering Chryssalid.
  • After the second game and his first appearance, Mortal Kombat's Major Jackson "Jax" Briggs wears a pair of bionic armor-plating that covers and protects both of his arms from Mortal Kombat 3 and onwards. It is not known whether his arms were replaced or upgraded in the original storyline. However, it is possible that he may have used bionic implants until the events of Deception, where he may have willingly had his own arms removed in favor of mechanical replacements.
  • Killer Instinct's TJ Combo was once the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world for five years straight. He was stripped of his title for his use of cybernetic enhancements in his arms, he fights to regain his lost fame and fortune (his metallic arms are shown in the sequel, in which he has to fight for his life). Subverted in the 2013 Continuity Reboot in which the story is almost the same, but instead, determined to prove himself and regain glory, TJ rips out his cybernetics and returns to the fight.
  • The player character of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain has a robotic arm which he can use to deliver a devastating punch that instantly knocks out enemies, something no fully-limbed soldier can replicate.
  • In Shatterhand, Steve Herman gets robotic hands, and can just them to punch robots, and walls, until they explode.
  • Doomfist of Overwatch lost his right arm during the Omnic Crisis. The cybernetic replacement is leagues stronger than his original arm. Best displayed when he uses it to punch his way out of his concrete prison cell.
  • Justified in Hob, as the protagonist's replacement left arm comes from a Gentle Giant robot more than twice their size.
  • In Rimworld, bionic limbs are superior to normal human limbs, giving superior melee damage and increased manipulation, which improves combat and most crafting and manual skills. Archotech arms, which are engineered by god-like planet-scale artificial intelligences, are vastly superior to even bionic replacements.

     Web Animation  

  • RWBY:
    • James Ironwood's cyborg half has Super Strength potent enough to lift an Alpha Beowolf.
    • Mercury Black has robotic legs as his Weapon of Choice and is one of the strongest and fastest fighters in his generation because of them.
    • Averted with Yang Xiao Long in Volume 4, whose prosthetic merely serves as a replacement and nothing more. Its utility comes from the fact it can be freely detached and re-attached and is also much tougher than the original, able to withstand the same attack that severed the real arm with some literal Scratch Damage.
  • The character known only as "Demo Man" from the Red vs. Blue Freelancer saga. A member of the Insurrection, he took a MAC round fired from orbit to the face and came back only missing his left arm. When the Freelancers face the Insurrection again in Season 10, he uses his robot arm to fire a shotgun one handed, knock down Agent Carolina in a hand to hand fight, and even catch a grenade fired by Agent Maine's Brute Shot and throw it back.

     Western Animation  

  • Modo of the Biker Mice from Mars confronts the Mad Scientist Doctor Karbunkle, and reminds the man that he took Modo's right arm while he was Karbunkle's guinea pig. "But I got me another one: see?" Modo retorts, pointing his enhanced and weaponized cybernetic arm at The Dragon. Karbunkle compliments Modo on his new limb, then introduces his Terminator expy bodyguard.
  • Zig-Zagged with Zachary Foxx of Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers. While his cybernetic arm and leg are far stronger than human norms, and the arm can double as an Arm Cannon, the cyberware is still experimental and prone to Plot Driven Breakdowns, tampering ("Rogue Arm"), and malfunctions.
  • In Sonic the Hedgehog (SatAM), Bunny Rabbot suffered an Unwilling Robotization but the process was interrupted halfway through, leaving her with metal left arm and both legs. These appendages grant her enough strength to rip out armored doors.

     Real Life  

  • Athlete and double leg amputee Oscar Pistorius was temporarily banned from running in the Olympics because the IAAF determined that his "Cheetah Blades" used for running offered an unfair mechanical advantage - and they do, but only when running in a straight line at full speed. (The testers forgot to include the slowdown he faces at the beginning of the race before reaching top speed.) The decision was eventually overturned.
  • This actually is a real long-term goal of many people involved in the bionic prosthetics and implants industry (Huge Herr is a good example), for the tech to advance to the point that one day people will actually want to replace natural parts of their body with artificial replacements that perform better.


     Anime and Manga  

  • Chapter five of Ghost in the Shell illustrates why a lot of characters have full-body prostheses: when the whole body other than the braincase is made of reinforced titanium alloy you don't risk as much damage when strength-testing the servomotors.


  • Hammer's Slammers front-line personnel who receive prosthetics are either retired or rotated to desk jobs, one of the reasons being that prosthetic limbs need to be periodically recalibrated by a powerful computer.
  • In Martin Caidin's Cyborg, the basis for The Six Million Dollar Man, Steve Austin's bionic limbs were stronger than his natural ones, but their abilities were limited by his human body. He couldn't lift enormous weight or run super faster, but he did have a super-strong grip and could sprint for an indefinitely long period.
  • Honor Harrington's prosthetic arm is treated realistically, with the arm being decidedly stronger than natural, but limited by her mostly-original shoulder.
  • The protagonist of The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress has several artificial limbs with micromachine tools that he swops around for various tasks, but in one scene he rejects the idea of handling a BFG laser drill because a prosthetic limb doesn't substitute for actual muscle power.

     Tabletop Games  

  • In Traveller, strength augmentations are entirely separate from prosthetics and are much more expensive.
  • In Hc Svnt Dracones Body stat boosts are Bio-Augmentation, artificial limbs have no advantages other than hiding small items. A reinforced prosthesis won't increase lifting strength but can make an effective bludgeoning weapon or shield.


     Western Animation  

  • Archer: When Ray is rendered paraplegic, he gets mechanical implants to walk again. Unlike full-body cyborgs like Barry, Ray is no stronger than he was before because the rest of his body limits what they can do. The one time Ray tried to use them for a feat of strength (lifting a car out of mud), he threw out his back.
    Archer: Are you shitting me?! Bionic legs, and you lift with your back?!
  • In Exosquad, James Burns sustains heavy injuries during the battle to liberate Venus, forcing the doctors to replace An Arm and a Leg with robotic prostheses. These replacements are notably clumsier and weaker than his original limbs, effectively ending his days as a soldier and causing him considerable distress.


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: