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Artificial Limbs Are Stronger

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"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, it's more complicated than that. A robotic limb can be stronger in and of itself, but as 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. Contrast Biotech Is Better, where an organic creation is treated as stronger than, or otherwise superior to, a mechanical one, and Fake Arm Disarm, where artificial limbs tend to get beaten up more than the home grown ones.

A Sub-Trope of Badass Transplant and Artificial Limbs.

Straight Examples

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    Anime and Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • One issue of Global Frequency focuses on the potential of cybernetics, and one character explicitly notes the extensive modifications required to give someone a super-strong prosthetic, including spinal enhancements to make sure the arm doesn't simply rip out of its socket.
  • Marvel Universe: Misty Knight is a private detective first appearing in the 1970s Iron Fist and Heroes for Hire comics. 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 superpowers, including Super-Strength, various Iron Man-based repulsor weaponry and, due to being made of Antarctic Vibranium, the ability to liquefy metal.

  • 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.
  • The main villain of The Battle Wizard, simply called the Yellow Robed Monster, has both legs seared off in the opening fight. After a 20-year Time Skip, he returns as a vengeance-crazed fighter with a pair of metal raven-like legs in place, which allows him to leap all over the place and even impale his enemies.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Kingsman:
    • Gazelle from 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.
  • Bucky Barnes/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. After it gets destroyed by Iron Man's Chest Blaster at the end of Captain America: Civil War, he receives a new one made of Vibranium (the strongest known metal on Earth) in Avengers: Infinity War courtesy of Wakandans.
  • Star Wars: The second scene of Darth Vader aboard the rebel starship in A New Hope 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." In Star Wars Legends, Vader reflects that his prosthetic arms are strong enough to lift a humanoid clear off the deck without using the Force.

  • 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 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.
  • Limbo by Bernard Wolfe is about a post-World War III 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.
  • Prince Red from Nova 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 degree of reinforcement 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.

    Live-Action TV 

    Tabletop Games 
  • 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.
  • Dungeons & Dragons: In Third Edition, it was possible to replace one or both arms with magical golem arms. They provide a considerable bonus to strength, but the implantation process runs the risk of driving the person receiving it insane and turning them into a half-golem that's driven to kill every living being they see.
  • 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.

    Video Games 
  • One available arm prosthesis in Cyberpunk 2077 are Gorilla Arms, implants strong enough to allow V to force armored security gates open with nothing but sheer physical strength. The door's metal plating visibly buckles under the assault until the locks can't take it any longer. Unsurprisingly, they're also great for punching people to a bloody pulp.
  • Deus Ex Universe:
    • During the prologue of Deus Ex: Human Revolution, 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 three meters high. However, his spine is also augmented, and it's unclear if people with just limbs augmented are any stronger. His cybernetic arms also have retractable blades, but that's beside the point.
    • 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.
  • Forget Me Not: My Organic Garden: The sick boy who gets magical replacement organs from Irene, gets accused of doing something "shady" by his friends who marvel at his strange improvement. Irene offers to sell the boy's friends better organs to smooth things out between them.
  • Justified in Hob, as the protagonist's replacement left arm comes from a Gentle Giant robot more than twice their size.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • New Legends have you losing your left arm halfway through (in an unskippable cutscene), and after spending one whole stage sans an arm, you gain a magical stone hand which deals more damage on enemies when executing melee attacks.
  • 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. Notably, one of the factors in his Start of Darkness was the fact that having an artificial arm disqualified him from his previous career as a professional boxer (because of the unfair advantage it would have given him).
  • Aruni from Rainbow Six Siege has prosthetics replacing the limbs she lost to a bomb. While other operators use knives and butt stocks for melee, Aruni uses her robo-fist instead, leaving head-sized holes in soft surfaces and one-hitting barricades (other operators require three hits to break a barricade and only make small holes). Her prosthetic leg, however, doesn't make her any faster but comes with a built-in knife sheath.
  • In Rimworld, bionic limbs are superior to normal human limbs, Bionic arms give superior melee damage and increased manipulation, which improves combat and most crafting and manual skills. Bionic legs increase movement speed. Archotech limbs, which are engineered by god-like planet-scale artificial intelligences, are vastly superior to even bionic replacements.
  • Hagane, the cyborg ninja of Samurai Maiden, comes from a parallel universe that has highly advanced technology, to the point where any limbs or body parts lost to disease or injury can be easily and conveniently replaced with incredibly powerful cybernetic limbs and other supporting organs, such as the spine, the lungs, and the rest of your skeleton. Aside from being visibly larger than her (mostly) organic arm, Hagane can punch incredibly powerfully with it, the arm can extend like a grappling hook, and the cable can be electrified to stun a long column of enemies too close to it.
  • In Shatterhand, Steve Herman gets robotic hands, and can just them to punch robots, and walls, until they explode.
  • Spider: The Video Game has artificial metal limbs you can collect and upgrade yourselves with, allowing you to move faster and jump higher. Your onscreen character's appendages also turns metallic each time you have them equipped.
  • In Tales from the Borderlands, Rhys is not a particularly strong man who is incapable of choking out a normal bandit (who are typically bottom-barrel mooks in the Borderlands series) but in episode four Jack reminds him that his cybernetic arm is a lot stronger than his real one and therefore good for throwing a solid punch.
  • 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 player,note  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.

    Web Animation 
  • The character known only as "Demo Man" from Red vs. Blue: The Project 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.
  • 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.

    Western Animation 
  • 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.
  • 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 bodyguard.
  • In Sonic the Hedgehog (SatAM), Bunny Rabbot suffered Unwilling Roboticisation, 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 (Hugh 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 


  • The protagonist of And A Star to Steer Her By, a 1954 Raygun Gothic novel by Lee Correy (G. Harry Stine), 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.
  • In "C-Chute", 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 Martin Caidin's Cyborg, the basis for The Six Million Dollar Man, Steve Austin's bionic limbs are 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.
  • 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.
  • Honor Harrington: Honor'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.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Red Dwarf: After Lister loses his right arm, Kryten builds him a prosthetic arm as a replacement. Unfortunately, it's a complete failure; in its default setting, it takes Lister so much effort to perform the simple act of picking up a ball that he claims that he'll have to take the morning off every time he does so. With the impulse valve adjusted to increase sensitivity, the arm taps into Lister's subconscious and instead of picking up the ball, punches Kryten in the face.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Hc Svnt Dracones: Body stat boosts are Bio-Augmentation, while 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.
  • In Traveller, strength augmentations are entirely separate from prosthetics and are much more expensive.


    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 Exo Squad, 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.

    Real Life 
  • This is the subject of genuine debate within the sports world, where prosthetics have given some athletes abilities far in excess of their abled competitors. South African sprinter Oscar Pistorius' artificial legs, for instance, enabled him to outrun many of his able-bodied competitors, leading to questions about whether or not he should be permitted to compete in the Olympic Games as opposed to the Paralympics, and whether records set by athletes with artificial limbs should stand as is or be counted separately from those set by athletes without.