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As Lethal as It Needs to Be

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Question: How does Bud train without hurting anyone?
Harley: She doesn't.
Bud: Oh please, I have Stinger Mode to make sure nobody gets hurt. note 
Outrageous Lime: Why's it called Stinger Mode? (gets struck by two small lasers) AGH OW!
Bud: 'Cause it just stings. Get it?

The Hero is doing his usual thing: battering mooks left and right with his trusty Phlebotinum Sword and leaving them out cold. Except for that one mook who he clearly just gutted. With the same sword and with the same moves. How?

Because we said so. That's why.

This trope is all about weapons or attacks that seem to jump between lethal and non-lethal as the plot demands. They throw one, and it cuts through a steel cable, next throw, it knocks someone out without even drawing blood. No explanation as to why said weapon's killing power seems to come and go. It simply does.

Energy attacks are great for this because the audience has no idea of what it's like to be hit by a ki blast and as a result, it can do whatever it needs to do. Additionally, energy attacks often depend on how fine the user's control of the technique is — obviously there is skill involved in swinging a sword too, but a sword is objectively sharp whereas the hero may only have gathered enough energy for a haphazard, ineffective blast that time.

This is where an obsession with Power Levels can be a disadvantage — if you've given the audience a statistic that says the character should be able to do (or withstand) a stronger attack than that, they're going to start asking questions if they then couldn't.

Compare with Inverse Law of Utility and Lethality and Inverse Law of Sharpness and Accuracy. Contrast Nerf Arm. See also: Bloodless Carnage, Could Have Been Messy.

When the lethality varies depending on who it hits, that's Almost Lethal Weapons.

For a specific video game version, see Set Swords to "Stun".


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In AKB0048, the Mic Sabers can cut straight through armored mechs, but when they hit a living enemy they simply zap them into unconsciousness.
  • In the Berserk movies, Guts' sword is sharp enough to cut falling leaves... he can also rest it on his shoulder with no problem.
  • in Chargeman Ken!, Ken's Alpha Gun has a tranquilizer mode, that can put a lion to sleep. However, the tranquilizer mode disintegrates Juralian aliens Ken fights against.
  • In Durarara!!, Celty can manifest a massive scythe that can cut through anything she chooses, possibly including souls. However, she's the nicest character on the show, so when she cuts people, they just fall unconscious.
  • The Gatchaman weapons qualify. Sometimes depicted as lethal, sometimes not. The only two that had definite lethal variations were Jun's yo-yos, which could be turned into bombs; and Jinpei's bolos, which could be loaded with timed explosives.
  • In High School D×D, Kiba's Sword Birth only seems to be effective against mooks, that is when he actually uses it.
  • Kamui Den: Many characters use a technique called "mine-uchi" (striking an opponent with the blunt side of the blade) to knock out their foes: Nishiki Tanba does it to Ryunoshin; Ryunoshin in turn uses it on a whole mob of wayward samurai. Conversely, Atena's failure to perform a non-lethal mine-uchi on an unruly peasant gets her killed by an angry mob.
  • In Kirby: Right Back at Ya!, Kirby's Crash ability does not harm his friends, only demon beasts.
  • In Lycoris Recoil, one scene has Chisato shooting non-lethal bullets which penetrate through a metal car's door, yet when she attacks the enemies in the next scene, the non-lethal bullets don't penetrate through them, only knock them out.
  • Justified in Lyrical Nanoha, most notably in StrikerS. Everyone uses magic, which is explicitly stated to be as lethal as it needs to be — that being one of the reasons why Mid-Childa outlawed old-fashioned 'slug-thrower' weapons and became a magic-driven society. Thanks to that, Nanoha is able to repeatedly pull off her signature 'befriend by superior firepower' trick without worrying about accidentally killing someone...
  • Medaka Box: Nienami, one of Medaka's suitors, is capable of cutting a battleship in half with her sword abilities. Yet in her fight against Zenkichi, she only succeeds in cutting him up a bit. Later, this is revealed to be a result of Nienami's style, which gives the least possible outcome. Zenkichi was considered the weakest of the student council but paradoxically had the greatest chance of winning.
  • In My Hero Academia, characters routinely hit opponents who have ordinary human levels of durability with Super-Strength punches that can shatter rock, explosions that can carve trenches in reinforced concrete, or blasts of fire that burn through brick walls and don't even necessarily knock the target off their feet, much less inflict any serious injuries.
  • In One Piece, it's stated that the best swordsmen can do this: strike a sheet of paper or a tree branch harmlessly, yet cut rocks or even steel the next second. Namely, when a swordsman gains the ability to "hear the breath of all things", they can use it to harm only the things that they want to harm while leaving what they don't want to destroy untouched (Zoro's sensei managed to slice at a sheet of paper without damaging it, and Zoro himself swipes his sword through a branch full of leaves without harming a thing when he figures it out). This is important because being able to do it is necessary for being able to cut steel. Zoro reaches this level during his battle against Mr 1 in the Alabasta arc.
  • In Pokémon: The Series, Pokémon attacks never kill humans even if they are shown to destroy buildings, mountains, forests, and mechas.
  • Rurouni Kenshin: Kenshin almost kills Seijuro with the Amakakeru Ryu no Hirameki, only sparing him because some bolts on his sword gave way, lessening the blow. Kenshin never comes close to doing that kind of damage with the move again, even though his subsequent enemies were far physically weaker than Seijuro. Justified somewhat as it's explicitly said that Kenshin must be very careful with that attack.
  • Transformers: Armada: The Star Saber is a pretty bad example of this. In its early appearances, its strong enough to slice Starscream's own sword and its said to be the equal of the Requiem Blaster in terms of power note . However, later episodes, the Star Saber seems much weak than before, as Optimus is fully capable of blocking the blade with his hands several times, while Starscream is capable of blocking it with one of his swords (nevermind the fact the Saber previously sliced his swords like nothing).

    Comic Books 
  • Batman: Batarangs qualify, at times sharp enough to cut steel, other times they only knock you out. Occasionally they blow up in your face. A diagram in one book showed that the front "round part" is hard and blunt, perfect for knocking thugs out. The back part with all the spiky bits is razor-sharp. Batman can throw it so that whichever end he wants strikes the target.
  • Captain America: Captain America's shield is like this, Depending on the Author. Sometimes the edges are portrayed as razor-sharp, other times blunted.
  • Green Lantern: Justified by Green Lantern's power ring. The creations made with the ring are as non-lethal as he wants them to be, so swords don't actually cut flesh, bullets and cannon balls don't kill. Effectively, it's like deliberately wielding Looney Tunes-type weaponry that incapacitates and hurts ("Ow!") without doing any actual injury.
  • Hawkeye: Hawkeye's arrows and his way of using them. Though traditionally Hawkeye abhors killing, in later years he has become a victim of the "darker and edgier" trend of superheroes (particularly notable when he unhesitatingly killed Bruce Banner during Civil War II). In his most recent appearances, however, Hawkeye tries to avoid killing people, but doesn't flinch at leaving his enemies paralyzed, perhaps for life.
    Hawkeye: He'll live. Not well but he'll live.
  • Nikolai Dante: Nikolai's Huntsman 5000 rifle is like this. It fires the optimum ammunition to eliminate its target at any time, but Nikolai's used it to shoot to wound on occasion.
  • 'The Punisher'':
    • Justified in The Punisher 2099, as Jake Gallows has a futuristic bat that can vary density with the flick of a switch, thus changing how lethal his weapon is.
    • Justified in The Punisher: Purgatory. Punisher has been granted divine weaponry that responds to his thoughts, making him able to just point and shoot as he pleases.

    Fan Works 
  • The New Math: Magical attacks can damage to varying degrees depending on the setting of the spells. Protective clothing known as Barrier Jackets also aid in stopping dangerous blows harming the person.
  • In a one-shot Worm/Star Wars plot bunny, the bank robber uses a lightsaber that she sets to stun rather than kill when taking down Glory Girl. It is lampshaded by one of the heroes in the debriefing.

  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier sees Cap's thrown shield knock out regular humans with no visible blood or cuts and break through the solid metal body of a VTOL S.H.I.E.L.D plane. Considering the Captain's level of strength, this might simply be caused by the amount of force with which he throws; he could probably kill regular humans in one throw if he wanted to.
  • Desierto is about a Vigilante Man hunting down a group of illegal immigrants with his hunting rifle. At first, he is terrifyingly accurate but as the number of survivors falls, the number of dramatic near-misses rises.
  • Harry Potter: Expelliarmus can either neatly send someone's wand flying out of their hand with no harm done to the victim, or send them violently crashing into the nearest wall.
  • The villains in Johnny English Reborn create a mind control chemical that eventually kills its victim. However, the titular character manages to survive it at the end of the film.
  • Spider-Man 3 has the Green Goblin's pumpkin bombs, which alternate between knocking Harry out, giving him amnesia, and vaporizing Venom. This last case may be justified; in some stories and games, symbiotes are weak to fire.
  • Star Trek: as mentioned in the TV section, torpedoes are antimatter weapons potentially more powerful than nukes, yet several films including Wrath of Khan, The Undiscovered Country and Generations show ships surviving a hit, or even multiple hits, even when their shields are penetrated and there was no reason for the attacker to be pulling their punches.

  • Deconstructed in the Night Watch (Series). The "White Blade" is a powerful Light Side spell, that forms a blazing sword that is supposed to only harm evil people. On practice, however, "you'd have to spend a decade meditating and aspiring for inner peace before the blade would spare you". So when the heroes are assaulted by a bunch of Mind-controlled human puppets, and one of the younger mages uses the Blade, it mows down the humans, and the mage cannot bear with what he's done and dies.
  • Alex, in the The Other Kind of Roommate, has the loosely described ability to overload a person's mind through direct eye contact. This stretches all the way from casually stunning his target to killing them, with plenty of middle-ground for friendly, non-lethal seizures.
  • The titular The Sword of Truth works this way — the sword can only cut if the wielder believes the target is an enemy except in its super-mode that he unlocks near the end of the first book. The wizard who gave Richard the sword stresses that the user doesn't have to be right in their beliefs, they merely have to believe. Which is why wizards agonize over who gets the title that the sword goes with.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Hero Yoshihiko and the Devil King's Castle: Yoshihiko's sword, the Sword of Beckoning, will render any humans it cuts unconscious without harming them, while still being able to actually harm and slay monsters.
  • Legend of the Seeker: The Dakras wielded by the Sisters of the Light and of the Dark. Their lethality is directly proportional to whom they hit: If it hits a Sister of the Dark, she's dead before she hits the ground. If it hits a main character, the thrower will have to release its magic to make the kill. In the latter case, the Dakra can be removed without any ill effects, even if it was previously embedded in the character's ribs.
  • Star Trek:
    • Phasers justify this by having multiple intensities, including a stun setting. Although some have noticed a tendency, regardless of other circumstances, for the lethality of phasers to be inversely proportional to the importance of the character they're being fired at. Similarly, the "kill" setting may or may not vaporize the target depending on the situation.
    • By the time of Star Trek: The Next Generation, torpedoes were codified as having an antimatter warhead, making them, pound for pound, vastly more powerful than a nuke. It's therefore astonishing how many times an unshielded target has survived multiple hits.
    • The phaser problem also existed between series and was most obvious when Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Voyager were both on the air. In the former being shot was almost always fatal, and even major characters lost limbs when they got hit. In the latter, Guns Are Useless was so ubiquitous that the best way to kill somebody with a phaser was to beat them to death with the stock.
  • Stargate-verse:
    • Used in-universe with the "zat guns" of Stargate SG-1: one shot stuns, two shots kill, three shots disintegrate. More literally, one shot would either cause unconsciousness or cause intense pain, as the plot demanded.
    • Like Star Trek's phasers, Ronon Dex's weapon in Stargate Atlantis apparently has multiple settings. The same weapon that can melt through a metal bulkhead in a few blasts can render someone unconscious with no lasting damage.
  • Super Sentai/Power Rangers:
    • In one case, a bunch of "monstrous" villains were killed but the few human-looking ones were turned good, by the same attack blast.
    • Going hand in hand with Strong as They Need to Be, a monster or villain making its debut will straight No-Sell the hero's weapon or Finishing Move, and yet can be hurt or even killed by the same attack that they shrugged off in earlier appearances.
  • Viper: Good guy makes cheese out of a car with a machine gun but bad girl only puts a dent into a car with her lethal weapon.
  • Xena: Warrior Princess: Xena's chakram is the Trope Codifier. It killed enemies or knocked them out, according to Rule of Drama... occasionally in the same episode. Occasionally in the same throw. (Though it was always lethal if she used it as a melee weapon.) It's usually used as a non-lethal Precision-Guided Boomerang, but on occasion, we've seen it cut through rope, wood, and human body parts. Callisto managed to throw it hard enough to go through Xena's sheathed sword and into her back. Many fans simply figure that there's a button, somewhere on the chakram, that turns it sharp.

  • In Dawn of a New Age: Oldport Blues, Sebastian's ability to manipulate shadows into weapons can alter their sharpness, meaning that a sharpened shadow spear can be turned blunt on the fly to keep it from being lethal.
  • We Are Our Avatars: Deathless. Said sword is made entirely out of unnatural darkness and can be lethal or nonlethal, due to how it cuts.note 

    Tabletop Games 
  • The Fate system, as used in The Dresden Files (and in an earlier incarnation in Spirit of the Century), formalizes this — the worst thing that can happen to a character in a conflict, including combat, is that they end up Taken Out, which then lets their attacker describe how they were removed from the action. Thus, the outcome certainly can be fatal, but death is never mandatory.
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • This happens due to the game's abstract combat system, varying the method with each edition. As one example, merciful weapons that are enchanted to deal an extra 1d6 damage, but have all the damage nonlethal. This ability can be switched on and off as a free action, and KO'd enemies can be killed at your leisure, so there's not even a drawback. Other weapons can be used to deal nonlethal damage, but at a penalty to accuracy. And just to round out the trope, normally nonlethal weapons can take this same accuracy penalty to deal lethal damage.
    • In the 4th Edition, the final attack is supposed to declare whether it was meant to be lethal or nonlethal. This can be declared retroactively non-lethal, up to and including a disintegrate spell.
  • In Princess: The Hopeful, most weapons provided by Fight Charms like Kensai and Levinbolt have the magic property of alternating between two modes: one where they inflict lethal damages, and one where they merely cause bashing damages. This allows Princesses to reliably use their weapon while fighting an opponent they do not wish to kill, yet still be able to use lethal force against creatures like Darkspawns who cannot be redeemed.
  • All rolls in Unknown Armies are d100's. In combat, rolling a 01 means you have instantly knocked out or killed your opponent, your choice, regardless of how you were fighting. A roll of 100 on your part means your opponent makes the same decision for you.
  • Par for the course in Warhammer 40,000, where different authors have different ideas of how powerful a weapon should be. For instance, gauss flayers — the codex that introduced them had a human get completely flayed by a shot to the legs and dying of shock, Dead Men Walking has them completely reducing targets to dust, and Ciaphas Cain is able to survive a shot with just the loss of the affected extremity.
  • In Werewolf: The Apocalypse, the Children of Gaia, a tribe of pacifists, have a spell that somehow turns their teeth and claws into nonlethal damage, allowing them to take down enemies with full force but avoid killing them.

    Video Games 
  • Batman: Arkham Knight. Batman shoves a thug headfirst into a fusebox; unconscious. The Arkham Knight shoves a thug headfirst into a fusebox; death.
  • Final Fantasy IX: Beatrix's Climhazzard and Stock Break attacks freely switch between doing normal damage and doing exactly enough damage to set HP to 1 depending purely on the story.
  • Final Fantasy XIV: The Warrior of Light's attacks, as mentioned in Endwalker and the Black Mage quests, seem to function this way. They absolutely can kill when needed, but often they are able to hold back enough to not kill their opponents despite using the exact same flashy attacks as always. Notably, it's mentioned that in Endwalker, when the Warrior of Light has their soul transferred into a much weaker body by Fandaniel, they are unable to hold back and are forced to kill their opponents, stating that they are too weak to control their blows properly in their current state, implying that they are only able to do so because of just how much stronger they are than everyone else.
  • The eponymous Binding Blade from Fire Emblem: The Binding Blade is, evidently, only as strong as the resolve of its wielder. When Hartmut, one of the generals of The Scouring, found that the leader of the dragons was really just a frail, broken girl being used against her will, he didn't have the heart to kill her outright, opting instead to knock her out with the sword, and sealing her away. This is reflected in gameplay, where in order to get the Golden Ending Roy needs to deal the finishing blow to Idunn with the Binding Blade, so as to avoid killing her.
  • In Ghostbusters: The Video Game, the proton packs and all energy-based add-ons should nastily burn any humans (especially Ghostbusters) who are in the way, but hitting your comrades only provokes an irritated "Hey, watch your aim!"
  • Ghost of Tsushima: While your katana is normally quite lethal, at one point you duel Lady Masako to prevent her from killing someone she shouldn't as part of her Roaring Rampage of Revenge. After you hit her at least 20 times with a katana, she loses, admits you were right, and continues her mission with not a single scratch on her.
  • Gothic integrated this quality into the gameplay. While crossbows and magic spells are lethal by default, melee weapons differentiate between targets. They kill animals and monsters outright, but only knock people down, allowing you to rob them without killing or intimidate into doing your bidding. The second game perfected the feature by further differentiating between people you might want to keep alive and those you might not, so you don't have to perform Coup de Grace on every last goddamn bandit you fight.
  • Weapons in Left 4 Dead can take out most zombies with a few shots/hits, but shooting a teammate will cause far less damage unless you're on Harder Than Hard, where they take the full numbers and a single shotgun blast can incapacitate someone at full health. Played straight in Left 4 Dead 2 with the melee weapons, however: while for the regular-sized infected they're a One-Hit Kill and even a One-Hit Polykill on hordes, they're a love tap on other survivors.
  • Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath: The difference between killing someone with Thudslugs, punches, or Zappflies and knocking them out is that a KO takes less damage. Stingbees and Fuzzles are always deadly, however.
  • Amaterasu's Power Slash ability in Ōkami can cleanly cut trees, boulders, diamonds, and various minor demons in half, but when performed on friendly NPCs, it will simply knock them back.
  • In Soul Calibur 4, several playable characters wield lightsabers. They act similarly to lightsabers in Knights of the Old Republic, though: they are more like normal metal swords (instead of plasma weapons) and clash against the mundane swords and other weapons wielded by the rest of the fighting roster.
  • Star Wars:
    • All Star Wars games that give the player a lightsaber at any point don't portray the weapon the way the movies do, otherwise the player could literally cut through the entire environment. Never mind that it would be a one-hit kill on almost all enemies.note 
    • Knights of the Old Republic: Although the lightsabers are extremely powerful weapons in both games (arguably the only powerful weapons in the first one), they generally do not behave like the lightsabers of the traditional Star Wars lore. They are more like normal swords, possibly to avoid the Game-Breaker status. Possibly justified through the use of "cortosis", a material which blocks lightsabers and little else. Presumably, the overuse of cortosis in this era rendered it rare by the time of the movies.
    • Star Wars: Masters of Teräs Käsi, which was basically just Tekken but with Star Wars characters. To keep the Jedi and Sith characters from being Game Breakers, lightsabers were essentially treated like clubs or baseball bats. That said, the Jedi and Sith characters were still Game Breakers, largely because of the reach afforded to them by the weapons and the unblockable, undodgeable Saber Throw that some of them had.
  • The Crusader's Crossbow equippable by the Medic in Team Fortress 2 heals allies and damages enemies. Which makes it hilarious to fire into the melee on the 3rd point in Medieval Mode.
  • In Tenchu 2, you get to battle some bosses early on in unwinnable fights; once the boss' health drops under a certain value, the fight will stop and a cutscene will play. It happens even if you enter a cheat code to deal 100 damage per strike and clearly kill the boss altogether before the cutscene triggers.
  • Undertale: The human's attacks in general seem to abide by this on the Neutral Route, and most egregious in a run where you keep one or two weapons equipped throughout. Any attempts to bring down Toriel to low HP will result in critically hitting and killing her, but even using the same weapon as you did that with in the final conventional bossfight of the run, it will instead bring said boss down to inches from doom and allow said boss to be spared or slain at your whim. Partly justified however due to the fact that Human attacks are so powerful against Monsters only because of Killing Intent; It's likely that the protagonist just didn't want to immediately kill their opponent in this instance.
  • In the comics, Wolverine's claws are lethal, and can cut through almost any material as easily as a hot knife through butter. In fighting games like the Marvel vs. Capcom series, Marvel Nemesis: Rise of the Imperfects or X-Men: Next Dimension, his claws basically act as extensions of his fists.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles 1: The Monado is incapable of cutting sentient beings born from the Bionis, represented in-game by only doing 1 damage to them. Hence why it's largely ineffective against Faced Mechons, which each have a Homs within. However, Zanza releases the Monado's power about midway through the game and makes it capable of damaging everything equally.

    Web Animation 
  • In RWBY, Coco Adel's gatling handbag shattered the hides of heavily armored Grimm like Death Stalkers (which can take high-caliber sniper rifle rounds, grenade explosions, and attacks from various bladed weapons with ease), split Giant Nevermores in half, and tore apart the surrounding infrastructure. Come the Vytal Festival, it somehow fails to destroy the trees Emerald and Mercury were using for cover and doesn't even put a scratch in the much smaller Griffons she was fighting. RWBY: After the Fall explains this as part of Coco's Semblance, Hype, which amplifies the power of explosive Dust in an area and thus she can increase the power of her bullets by amplifying the Dust inside of them. It does explain why she didn't use it in what was supposed to be a friendly competition, but less so in a fight to the death.

    Web Comics 
  • Sleepless Domain: Bud is capable of controlling the intensity of her laser drones to some extent, which allows her to practice on her friends without hurting anyone. Unfortunately, since even the lowest setting (which she's named "stinger mode") still... well, stings, none of her fellow training club members are all that eager to be used for target practice. She's eventually seen training with Undine, who floats water bubbles around for Bud to shoot down instead.

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • Sokka's boomerang is similar to the above Batman example. While it is used to cut and knock out, Sokka is often shown to be sharpening one edge of it while leaving the other edge dull. It can be assumed he chooses which side to throw it on.
    • Earthbending rather infamously has this applied when Jet is injured fatally by Long Feng because every other time somebody is hit with a rock thrown via Earthbending it doesn't do any lasting damage.
    • In the sequel The Legend of Korra, Vaatu's laser attack is frequently seen blasting through rock, yet human beings can survive it without any significant injury.
  • The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes: Wasp's stings are usually portrayed as annoying Beam Spam at best. But during the five-part pilot, she manages to whip off a blast that cut a railroad car in half (a railroad car that was being thrown through the air right at her). It didn't even seem to be a matter of concentration or energy use, because she went right back to her normal Beam Spam right afterward.
  • Galaxy Rangers did a nice dodge on this trope. Early on, Zachary would sometimes explicitly order his team to "set blasters for stun." Later in the series, when they were trying to score a toy deal, they had a crook say that Ranger blasters didn't have a kill setting. Now, seeing as the source of the information was a very dumb crook, the writers could both have the kid-friendly "stun only" mention on camera and a wink to the more likely prospect that there was a kill setting. Likewise, Crown blasters also had stun and kill settings, but it was justified in that the Queen wanted humans (or other compatible species) as fodder for the Psychocrypt, and you couldn't drain Life Energy from dead enemies.
  • Skeletor's Havoc Staff in the He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (2002) series. He's frequently blasted through rock with it, but nobody he blasts with it ever takes any real injuries.
  • Shego's Hand Blast power in Kim Possible has been known to slice through objects like metal railings, but only knocks down living targets.
  • Samurai Jack has a magical sword which will not harm those pure of heart — on the occasion where it was used against him, it merely bounced off, and when stolen and used against others, the best it can do is knock people away.
  • The Spectacular Spider-Man: Shocker can use the airblasts to punch through steel and tunnel through rock, yet they mainly just provide knockback on living targets.
  • In one episode of Spider-Man: The Animated Series, Doctor Octopus crashes a public demonstration of "argon laser", gets the upper hand against Spider-Man's attempt to stop him, and turns the beam on Spidey as he pins the superhero to the wall — only for Spider-Man to realize how the beam was specifically programmed to not harm organic matter; Spider-Man suffers only a little Clothing Damage as the beam lases across him before turning the tables and using it to slice off two of Doc Ock's four robotic arms.
  • Thundarr the Barbarian's Sun Sword can cut through inanimate objects and Mecha-Mooks as if they were tissue paper. But the moment he tries to strike down a living foe, the Sun Sword inexplicably doesn't work. (At least the writers lampshaded this by having Thundarr express surprise, dismay or both at this.)
  • Transformers: Prime sometimes run into this with characters' built-in guns. Typically they didn't do any significant damage, except against Vehicons, but in one instance Megatron used Dreadwing's gun to kill its owner with a single shot, and it was NEVER presented as being that powerful before. Megatron's own gun has shot Bulkhead in the back and dealt no lasting damage; in the final episode, it's able to kill Bumblebee with the first shot — the other two or three were because Megatron is a giant dick.
  • The Transformers: The Movie: In some scenes, Transformers die from one hit by even pistol-sized laser guns, but in other scenes, they are just knocked down (like Starscream during the battle for Autobot City) or even simply shrug them off (like Optimus Prime in the same battle).
  • Identity Discs in TRON: Uprising. However, it's shown that they can be thrown without activating the lethal cutting edge, for non-lethal sparring.

Alternative Title(s): Selectively Lethal Weapon, Set To Stun