It's awesome, powerful, unstoppable... but not as useful as it might seem (if it's useful at all).
Yes, it seems that the designers put so much time into maxing out the "ultimate" factor of the ultimate attack that they forgot to actually make it usable. Maybe it requires too many resources to use, causing its allure of "awesome" to be lost as fast as your party's money. Maybe it requires some sort of bizarre set-up to enact, making your normal attacks and spells much easier to apply inside of battle. Maybe it has a considerable chance of failing or backfiring that makes it unreliable from the start. Or maybe in mathematical terms it doesn't deliver as much bang for the buck as "inferior" alternatives.
Whatever the reason, it will get used once, as a test drive, and then never again. Yeah, it's amazing, but you've got a game to win here. It's Awesome, But Impractical.
Keep in mind, Awesome, But Impractical is not Cool, but Inefficient, which is where something appears to be awesome, but has no real benefit to using. Awesome, But Impractical is genuinely useful, it just requires such a cost and/or is so ridiculously conditional that you're probably not going to use it very often. Sometimes, Awesome, But Impractical moves carry a situational advantage, or are so Difficult, but Awesome that even highly skilled players have trouble using them but there is an advantage over normal moves if you can afford to pay the penalties. Sure, maybe that mini-nuke will irradiate and possibly kill your party, but if you're in a big enough pinch, possibility of death beats guaranteed death, so you may as well try it.
The very act of using a million tons of firepower on a few weaklings (a.k.a. overkill) is also Awesome, But Impractical.
Related to the Bragging Rights Reward and Inventional Wisdom on occasion. See also Useless Useful Spell, Blessed with Suck. Contrast Too Awesome to Use, Boring, but Practical, Game-Breaker, Simple, yet Awesome. Compare and contrast Difficult, but Awesome; there, the focus usually is on Impractical turning out to be Awesome. Crosses with Death or Glory Attack when a miss will result in nasty consequences, and Powerful, but Inaccurate when lack of accuracy is the reason for the impracticality. Scary Impractical Armor is a Sub-Trope, as well as Impractically Fancy Outfit. In Real Life, this trope is often the reason behind I Want My Jet Pack, and why a Rare Gun is rare in real life but common in fiction.
Please add only examples whose impracticality is shown within the work. If it works fine in-universe but later thought renders it clearly impractical, that's Fridge Logic.
- Anime & Manga
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- Fan Works
- Live-Action TV
- New Media
- Tabletop Games
- Video Games
- Western Animation
- Real Life
- In Motu Patlu, a lot of Dr. Jhatka's inventions sound cool or even awesome on paper, but in practice they get people in trouble more often than not.
- The Creature-Hunter Organization D.H.O.R.K.S. from Helluva Boss seems to fight exclusively with weapons from Edo period Japan. When the group ends up getting slaughtered in a Curb-Stomp Battle against I.M.P (who, besides being physically stronger than any D.H.O.R.K.S. member due to being demons, have guns and far more practical melee weapons), Agent One questions why they only use these weapons instead of something actually more useful. Agent Two's answer? Because the Edo period was badass.
- Marckus' Stake-jacket from Hunter: The Parenting. It can be used to stake any vampire that attacks him from the front, but it's useless at any other angle, requires him to put himself in danger, and runs the risk of him staking himself with one wrong move.
- Murder Drones: The protagonist Uzi creates a railgun design to fight the titular Murder Drones. When she is actually able to use it, the blast is powerful enough to blow one's head off in a single shot. However, this one shot is likely all one would get as it requires about 30 minutes to recharge and the Murder Drones also possess a potent regeneration ability and can simply repair the damage done to them, meaning that the shot will only be a temporary setback unless both the head and torso are destroyed.
- False Swipe Gaming: Reshiram boasts the unresisted STAB combo of Dragon/Fire,note and can 2-hit KO just about anything in Gen 5. However, its inability to switch in safely, vulnerability to entry hazards, and low speed rendered impractical to use. And when Kyurem-White was released and did everything Reshiram did but better, Reshiram was rendered unviable.
- Tulok the Barbrarian discusses it with some of his builds, which are more focused on character consistency than Min-Maxing. Builds that dump Constitution (i.e. All Might and sans) are never really good ideas because of how vulnerable it makes you, multiclassing Monk/Barbarian isn't optimal by any means, focusing on a specific element will hobble you if the monster happens to be immune to that element, and characters who focus on support or trickery often have very little methods of actually dealing damage.
- Discussed beautifully in Vision of Escaflowne Abridged.
Merle: Fossilized dragon hearts, stupid. They use them to power Guymelefs.
Van: That's why I had to kill a dragon before I could claim Escaflowne and become king. In a war, the side with the most energists usually wins.
Hitomi: ...Huh. And Zaibach mines them in mass quantities?
Hitomi: And your people get them by killing live dragons in single combat?
Van: Yup! ...When you put it that way, it sounds pretty stupid, huh?
Hitomi: A little bit, yeah.