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Boring, but Practical

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"It's not the most accurate weapon, nor the most elegant - but it simply doesn't have to be. It's good enough. It excels where fighters need it most. It's reliable: stoppages are rare, and any faults that do occur can probably be fixed with a hammer. It's simple to use: there's no need to pore over a manual. The AK is point and shoot. It's so simple a child could use it - and in some parts of the world, they often do."
Ahoy on the AK-47 assault rifle.

Everyone loves flashy magic, BFGs, and big, thundering tanks. However, the more interesting something is, the more likely it falls victim to the rule of Awesome, but Impractical: You can't use it often enough, it costs too much, or it just takes too much effort to get it. You could even have Cool, but Inefficient, where it just looks awesome, but that is about it.

Therefore, we have things that are much more "boring" and normal, but these things often contribute more to your success in the long term than the visually more impressive things. The Reliable Ones, if you will — and proof that Hollywood does not always hate boring. Often overlaps with Mundane Solution. As the list below shows, this trope doesn't require that a non-boring counterpart exists.

Things that will frequently fall into this trope:

  • Defensive abilities, strategies, builds, classes, or playstyles, especially in competitive games and in Real Life — the most straightforward way to get ahead of someone is to take fewer losses than they do or replace your losses faster. Preventing damage, producing resources and delivering them (economy and logistics), preventing the opponent from acting whenever possible, gaining intel, forcing confrontation on your own terms, and doing all of this as efficiently as possible, are all time-honored principles with a lot less flash and glamour than overwhelming offense, yet the better part of Boring But Practical applications in real or competitive environments rely on these and similar concepts. See Combat Pragmatist.
  • Weapon loadouts that don't require much ammunition or allow you put a ton of ammunition on your vehicle in things like Humongous Mecha combat sims. The bigger guns tend to be unable to stock much ammo and take up more space, besides.
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  • The Medic in co-operative games, whether that be TabletopRPGs, MMOs or FPSes. Fiery doom, big swords, or raining bullets are a lot cooler, but try getting anywhere without a dedicated healer in your group. (A lot of video games try to circumvent this by giving healing spells effects just as spectacular as their offensive counterparts, such as big shining lights, summoning gods, killing zombies, or massive plant growth).
  • Buffing and debuffing abilities. "Why use these when you can attack right away," you ask? Raising your stats (particularly defense and evasion) and lowering the enemy's (particularly attack and accuracy) can make the difference between That One Attack hitting only half of your party for damage that can be healed back up promptly and that same attack causing a Total Party Kill.
  • Passive abilities in games with customization involved. The kind of ability that's always on, and carries you through trouble. Sure, that big hellfire that fills half the screen and uses a high amount of resources looks cool and you see big numbers on the screen, but the +5% fire damage passive ability combined with your usual fire attacks improves your damage much more over time as you use it.
  • All the behind-the-scenes stuff in strategy games. You might be itching to generate as many Panzer divisions or equivalent as they possibly can in order to roll over things with the high-end glamorous Bling of War, but if you don't pay attention to the boring stuff — your supply and support network, the boring logistics that needs lots and lots of boring trucks — then you're doomed once the panzers start running out of fuel and ammo.
    • This is a lesson drummed into trainee army officers: "The teeth of an army are as nothing without its tail". If every German panzer division in the Blitzkrieg required a logistics train whose less glamorous vehicles — many horse-drawn — would have stretched for a hundred miles behind the Panzers if placed nose-to-tail. It took several thousand lorries to keep the six hundred tanks of an armored division in the battle. Hitler's Ardennes offensive of 1944 failed because he was obsessed with using tanks to spearhead it — and paid scant heed to the logistics trains necessary to sustain them.
    • One quote from US General Omar Bradley sums up how critically important these mundane things are:
      Amateurs talk strategy, professionals talk logistics.
  • In strategy games, Worker Units and by extension the stuff they build. These guys have little or no combat capability, present easy targets for your enemies, and what they make usually just sit in place passively generating resources, but without them you have no economy, and without an economy, you have no army. Workers are also used as early-game scouts due to starting the game with several of them, and having a very low cost per unit.
  • The Jack-of-All-Stats: they may lack the coolest, or strongest moves, but are fairly good at most attributes, and lack the glaring weaknesses of other character types.
  • The elementaries:
    • Basic attacks and moves. Special moves and magic are a lot more flashy and generally much more effective, but they are usually restricted by something or other (Mana, Limit Break, requires a complex button combo or has long prep time, etc.) And some spells might not even work when you really need them. Normal attacks usually cost nothing at all to use, and have no cooldown or speed penalty.
      • Truth in Television: In martial arts complex and flashy moves look good, but they are often difficult to execute, require a lot of training, and, if failed, often leave you open for a counterattack. Many masters discourage their use even in tournaments, and in a common street brawl you can do very well with just a couple of boxing punches.
    • In platformers, Goomba Stomp or basic moves, as opposed to the things you can do with powerups. Vital since the said powerups aren't always available, and if you lose yours mid-level, what then?
    • Your most basic combat units, typically some kind of infantry, is usually more efficient than the larger (and cooler looking) counterparts. Tournament players will often make heavy use of rather basic units in general. Any type of rush depends on this trope.
    • In Tower Defense Games, whatever the "basic" tower is may be this; they are cheap, dependable, and easy to fill the map with. But they are nowhere near as cool as many other towers in your arsenal.
    • In Card Games, simple and resource-cheap cards often reign supreme, with efficiency being more important than raw power. Common-rarity cards also tend towards this: rare cards typically have powerful and unique effects... but it'll be rare in and of itself for anyone to have more than one, making them useless if countered. Common cards may have simpler effects, but they're easy to get and can easily be used multiple times.
  • In competitive circles, the Metagame-defined optimal manner of play that may not be the most exciting way to play, especially since you're going to see that same strategy/character/build/whatever used over and over, but it's the one that achieves the best results in the extremely restrictive circumstances.
  • The Infinity -1 Sword that's a few notches down from the Infinity +1 Sword but often takes significantly less effort to get, especially if it's a weapon you earn as part of the plot rather than a long or difficult sidequest.
  • In a Tabletop RPG, the characters placing themselves into positions that offer decent protection, slow the enemy down, or give another advantage, can be very useful. For instance, in a narrow corridor or tunnel, if it's found that enemies are coming, placing the designated Tank (Fighter or Paladin with heavy armor, or the beefy Barbarian, or someone with a high Armor Class and/or Hit Points, or a Summoned creature) between the party and the enemy can allow the squishier magic and ranged attackers to fight from a safe distance, while the tank soaks up the damage and dishes out their own. Likewise, knowing when to be a Substitute Tank is also a good idea if the enemy proves to be more numerous than expected and the Main Tank is in a world of hurt.

Fits into the Technician side of Technician Versus Performer, by nature. May border on Game-Breaker. Compare Simple, yet Awesome. Contrast Awesome, but Impractical; Cool, but Inefficient. If mass-produced, it's likely to become The Workhorse.

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  • In Ah! My Goddess, half the reason Megumi and her 80cc Kawasaki KSR80 manage to defeat the Queen of the Ridge and her much more powerful Yamaha TDM850 twice and on a mountain road is that Megumi performs careful maintenance on her bike, while Queen does the bare minimum (at least until Megumi calls her out on it right after the poor maintenance almost gets Queen in a crash). The other half is that Megumi is a much better biker... But all the maintenance she gives her bike allows it to resist Megumi's aggressive style, while the poor maintenance of Queen's bike nearly got her killed when she skidded during a race and couldn't recover.
  • In Attack on Titan, each of the nine Titan Shifter forms have various special abilities, but the Cart Titan merely boasts immense endurance and utility, as well as Running on All Fours. Despite that, those abilities are rather useful in a supporting role, enabling the Cart Titan to save Zeke's life during the Return to Shiganshima arc. The Cart Titan can also be outfitted with machine guns or other artillery, making it even more dangerous.
  • Bleach:
    • Ichigo, who in a world where shikais and bankais give elemental abilities to weapons, turn them into entirely different weapons, summon giant poison baby familiars, has a shikai that simply fires off sword beams of varying levels of power and a bankai that takes his already considerable physical strength and speed and amps them up.
    • Most Captains utilize their Bankai to turn around a fight that's going against them. Kenpachi Zaraki? Holds his sword with both his hands and use kendo, rather than swinging it around like a madman. He generally doesn't like to use it because it's so boring, but it takes him from 'terrifyingly powerful' to 'nigh unstoppable'.
    • Gin Ichimaru's bankai is this. His sword at basic can hit you from a distance. His bankai upgrades this to roughly 13 km, and extend/ contract at near hypersonic speeds, making it essentially a handheld railgun/sniper rifle combo. Lastly, he later reveals that it has a cell-destroying poison that WILL dissolve on verbal command. To top it off, given his tendency to outright lie or omit details about his powers, then he can win virtually any battle easily by nicking you once.
    • Yamamoto's bankai, Zanka No Tachi. Far from the most visually impressive bankai in the series, but with destructive power far beyond what most are capable of, even with just its passive abilities.
    • For the characters of any race in general, their natural ability is this. Certainly, Shinigami and Quincy have various powerful spells at their disposal, but a number of them require incantations and/or preparation to cast at full power, which leaves such spells as Awesome, but Impractical if you aren't a master at using them. On the other hand, a person's natural ability (Zanpakuto or Schrift) is generally their first resort in battle, and the most effective one in an intense battle where the time to prepare spells doesn't exist.
  • Buso Renkin: While other Alchemist Warrior's buso renkin manifest weapons with powers such as gravity control or invulnerability, Tokiko's Valkyrie Skirt just gives her a four of Spider Limbs ending in sharp blades that, while lacking any abilities beyond precise manipulation, can quickly and efficiently kill her opponents.
  • In Chainsaw Man, contracting with a devil can yield a portion of its power to you. Most devils provide all manner of strange superpowers, like telekinesis, summoning giant monsters, superhuman strength and speed, or assuming a highly dangerous weaponized form. However, it's noted that one of the most common contracts is making one with the Gun Devil, which allows the user to conjure ordinary firearms. This doesn't seem like a particularly big deal in a setting with superpowers, but given that the world of the series features heavy-duty gun control laws, this ends up being a very basic and cheap way to kill people, especially since most Gun Devil contractees are fighting devil hunters, who tend to have human-level durability.
  • In Charlotte, Nao Tomori's ability to make her invisible to one person is an awesome power that has a severe drawback. However, as disappointing as it is, it's also well-suited to Nao's particular goals. Nao's mission is to find other users of superpowers and convince them to stop abusing them lest they end up as lab rats, so she's usually only tracking one person at a time, meaning she can hide herself from that person as necessary. Nao later uses this power to follow Yuu around as he goes into a downward spiral after his sister's death, then reveal herself at the right moment.
  • In Delicious in Dungeon it's suggested that the main reason Team Touden succeeds where other parties fail is the simple fact that they eat well and get regular sleep, where said other adventurers survive off rations and delve 24/7.
  • Dragon Ball:
    • The Solar Flare technique introduced in Dragon Ball. It's the most generally useful technique in the entire story because it doesn't rely on power levels. If the Z-Fighters were more pragmatic a whole lot of story arcs would be a whole lot shorter.
    • Word of God is that after Goku's battle against Beerus in Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods, he reached the conclusion that it is overall better to just train his base and Super Saiyan forms to become stronger instead of relying on transformations, since Super Saiyan 2 and 3 are little more than extensions to the normal Super Saiyan form that ultimately drain more energy in the long run. In Dragon Ball Super the transformations Goku uses regularly are his Super Saiyan form and his Super Saiyan Blue form, which is just Super Saiyan merged with godly energy. He does use Super Saiyan 2 and even goes Super Saiyan 3 to showoff to Future Trunks, but Super Saiyan 2 is treated an in-between transformation that Goku uses when he wants to test opponents who surpass him as a regular Super Saiyan.
      • Even earlier, he became strong enough to go toe-on-toe with Cell in Dragon Ball Z not with bulked-up transformations like Super Saiyan Second or Third Grade, but by mastering the basic form: Second Grade increases the power but at cost of consuming stamina and power much faster, and Third Grade grants power even greater than Super Saiyan 2 but consumes stamina and power even faster and reduces speed too, while simply mastering the basic form reduces ki consumption (and thus power and stamina ones) to negligible levels, to the point one can keep it up in their sleep, and the greater ki availability gives enough power and speed increase to surpass Second Grade as a side effect. Also, it negates the usual wild emotions, allowing the fighter to think straight (with the inability of thinking straight as a Second Grade being what led Vegeta to be defeated by Cell).
    • Anyone going against 17 or 18 needs to be massively stronger than them, or they'll find themselves falling at their favorite tactic: simply outlast the enemy thanks to the fact they never run out of energy. They like this tactic so much they use it even when they don't need it, as shown in the fight between Vegeta and 18 when the latter, in spite of being stronger enough to break his arm with a kick, simply let Vegeta tire himself out until he gave her an opening, at which point she kicked his left arm.
  • Fairy Tail: Larcade Dragneel, compared to the other Spriggan 12, possesses less flashy and destructive powers compared to his compatriots. And he doesn't openly display the sheer strength, speed, and destructive feats of his two peers August and Irene. But being a Man of Kryptonite who can overload anyone who's had sex is so effective that he can drop entire armies of wizards and even stronger people than himself like Irene. And if for some reason, his pleasure magic doesn't work, he can still drop you with his comparatively mundane sleep or hunger magic because even people who can resist his Orgasmatron powers will still feel the pangs of hunger or the need for sleep.
  • Fate/Zero: Waver successfully finds Caster's lair by collecting water samples around Fuyuki and testing them for magical residue. Rider approves, saying that sometimes the simplest approach is the most effective (he would know).
  • Fly Me to the Moon:
    • Near the start of the manga, Tsukasa and Nasa get married. Not only do they opt for just dropping off the marriage registration form at the local ward office in lieu of an actual wedding, but Tsukasa convinces Nasa to buy a relatively cheap pair of rings for 32,000 yen (roughly $160 US for each ring) instead of more elaborate and expensive rings that would cost millions of yen.
    • Nasa uses his genius-level intelligence to put together a nutritionally sound menu for himself, which ends up amounting to hot pots full of nutritionally balanced ingredients. In response, his wife starts cooking for him, which results in Nasa putting on weight.
  • Zenji Marui in Food Wars! is, according to most of the characters, a boring chef. Most of the time he easily collapses under pressure, tires easily, and lacks the amount of stamina that other characters have. However, he makes up for this by simply studying a lot about cooking techniques and various dishes that would be long forgotten by the other characters. The fruits of his studying finally showed during the Autumn Election when he scored 88 points, surpassing even Mito Ikumi, an established strong contender for the Autumn Election. The victory was short lived however when Subaru Mimasaka surpassed him in the end.
    • Soma himself walked this path when battling Nene Kunokini. While Nene made beautiful hand-made noodles, Soma used a machine. While this earned him a lot of ridicule from the spectators, those involved in the match saw this for the very clever move it was. Soma could never make noodles of Nene's quality, and would more likely than not mess up making them by hand. However, by using the machine, he could very quickly make adequate noodles, and move on to the parts of the dish he could match Nene in.
  • The advice of Gavrill from Franken Fran for the school students is a combination of this and Brutal Honesty
    Gavrill: *to a gonky boy* You wanna be popular with the girls? Get plastic surgery and transfer to another school. Also, practice talking to people a lot. And if you need to, lie to women or buy them off with money.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist: Roy Mustang is a Military Mage with the ability to manipulate fire and cause massive explosions. His first tactic when he faces the homunculus Lust is to shoot her in the face. Subverted in that it doesn't really work.
  • In GaoGaiGar, since 3G is dedicated to protecting life and property as much as they can a lot of their gear is dedicated to doing just that, thought a lot of them are one-and-done for the fight. Thus, GaoGaiGar comes charging into battle fists and feet flying and keeping the flashier attacks like the Broken Magnum as an opening shot and the Hell and Heaven/Hammer Hell and Heaven as a final blow.
  • The Kuromorimine Women's College Sensha-Do team in Girls und Panzer. Kuromorimine lacks both flashy tricks and individual genius tankers. However, while Germanic Efficiency, iron-clad discipline, excellent formation drill and a few unremarkable but well-performing late-gen AFVs may be boring to watch, they are murder on the field. That is, until they realise they have to start taking Oarai seriously, and pull out ALL the stops.
  • This is the mantra of the titular character in Goblin Slayer. If it isn't the practical, least-flashy decision, he's not interested.
    • Goblin Slayer's equipment looks pretty shabby and worn even compared to the gear of most rookies, but it gets the job done. Other silver-level adventurers look down on him partly because his equipment isn't as fancy as theirs. The thing is, it doesn't need to since he's only hunting goblins and it's also easily replaceable, though he prefers to get it repaired.
    • Goblin Slayer doesn't even clean his armor and weapons beyond wiping off any excess blood and viscera, since goblins have a very sharp sense of smell. They smell the clean metal of a weapon, they think warriors are coming; they smell blood and guts, they think business as usual. And that's where Goblin Slayer gets the jump on them.
    • An apprentice blacksmith asks his master why Goblin Slayer doesn't invest in enchanted weapons, and is told that magic weapons would be overkill against the typical horde, and that the magical aura and flashy aftereffects of most enchantments would just give Goblin Slayer away to the goblins and utterly undermine his stealth-focused extermination methods. Also, the Goblin Slayer uses average quality gear, to avoid the goblins getting their hands on good gear in the case he dies to them. No one enjoys facing little buggers wearing high-quality gear looted from their last victim.
    • In the Brand New Day Spin-Off, Goblin Slayer indirectly advises Rookie Warrior about using clubs as a replacement weapon, reasoning that clubs are easy to use and do not have the risk of chipping unlike swords. Rookie Warrior acknowledges when using a club in the sewers later that it's effective as a weapon, although not very flashy.
    • In one part of the story, goblins take over an old elven tree-fortress. Goblin Slayer just seals the entrance and sets the whole thing on fire. His business is killing goblins, not fighting them. Sure there might be captives inside, but he's not about to risk his life and the lives of his comrades (and not to mention waste time and resources) trying to save people who are probably already dead or, given all the things goblins do to their captives, wish they were.
  • Most Holyland fights end after the second or third exchange and a character (Izawa) constantly reminds everyone else that basic movements are the best option; he claims that he doesn't do it because it looks cool, but because it's the safest way to go. Two of the best examples are Yuu's second fight with Osada and his spar with Yamazaki:
    • Osada is bigger, stronger, and has longer reach than Yuu... But is a full-contact Karateka whose style has relatively limited reach. Yuu's self-made style, however, is based on Boxing, thus his jab has a slightly greater reach, allowing him to get the upper hand by using nothing but jabs, as using anything else would be too dangerous. An onlooker even complains about this because he was expecting more from the fight.
      • Osada had previously been at the dishing end of this: when fellow Karateka Shougo won a spar by using street-fighting techniques Osada started imposing him rules that put the much shorter Shougo at a reach disadvantage.
    • Even after deciding to eliminate rules on account of Yuu having no experience in regulated Boxing, Yamazaki nearly wins because, as a Boxer, his training regime gave him far greater stamina than Yuu, nearly allowing him to simply outlast his non-formally trained opponent.
      • Yuu later falls afoul of this again during his first fight with Yoshito, a kickboxer, who is also more skilled as a boxer and a kicker-kicks being what barely allowed Yuu to beat Yamazaki. For the rematch Yuu had Yamazaki train him as a boxer, with the training including aerobic exercises that fixed that issue.
      • The finaly of the manga has Yuu, who had survived many brutal street fights throughout the series, being nearly killed by a random desperate kid armed with a switchblade. Turns out even the best street-fighters can buy it to muggers if they have the advantage of surprise.
  • In Initial D, Takeshi Nakazato chooses to drive with a grip cornering style rather than the drifty style the series is known for, citing drifting as a showy, needless technique. Which it is in real life; when was the last time you saw a driver on the asphalt drift in a race of who's the fastest and actually get taken seriously? That said, this trope is subverted when he loses to Takumi, with Rule of Cool winning out over realism.
  • This is common in JoJo's Bizarre Adventure. Traditionally, the protagonist Stands will have comparatively basic abilities based on mundane physical combat and one or two gimmicks (turning into string, repairing objects, shooting projectiles), while the villain Stands tend to have far more gimmicky, flashy, or esoteric powers. Consequently, though the protagonist usually gets caught off-guard by the villain at first, the moment they've figured out the villain's gimmick, simple fisticuffs turn out to be plenty.
    • Jotaro Kujo's Star Platinum stands out among the protagonist Stands, because it doesn't even have some of the gimmicks that subsequent protagonist Stands do until it gains the ability to stop time during the Final Battle with Dio, but is simply fast, strong, and precise. Jotaro uses those gifts to great effect, particularly analyzing Joseph's spirit photo of Dio and removing the flesh bud from Kakyoin and Polnareff's heads, showing the group where to find the Big Bad and gaining them two powerful allies.
    • Jean-Pierre Polnareff's Silver Chariot similarly stands out as probably one of the simplest Stands in the series, simply being a metal knight with a rapier. It doesn't have much in the way of "special powers" like even other simple protagonist Stands and its main benefits basically amount to just being fast and being able to travel a bit further away from its user than other melee range Stands. Even the unique abilities it does show amount to just enhancing its natural speed and using its speed to create afterimages. Despite this, he's the one who takes down some of the most dangerous enemies in Part 3, nearly kills Dio with one hit during the final fight by Dio's own admission, and is the only non-JoJo on the team who lives to see the end of the part.
    • In JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Golden Wind, the protagonists, who are escorting Trish to the boss of Passione, are given a key that will show them the way to a "vehicle" that will make things easier for them. They realize that the vehicle in question is a turtle, and the key activates the turtle's ability to create a Pocket Dimension where Trish and the others can hide. What makes the turtle this trope is its form; turtles are small and quiet, so it's easy to hide the turtle and the people inside it.
  • Legend of the Galactic Heroes:
    • Those who are in charge of supplies and logistics don't have the most glamorous jobs, but is thanks to them space fleets are able to function properly during a campaign. When the Alliance launches an invasion of the Empire, the Imperials don't stay and defend the potentially rebellious border worlds but retreat and take with them all useful resources in the border worlds and hit the Allied supply convoys. To support themselves, the Alliance troops are ordered to loot the already depleted border worlds, with the result that not only they are under-supplied when the Imperials finally launch their well-supplied counteroffensive (that includes even a state-of-the-art technology that the Alliance doesn't even imagine is possible), the border worlds are now fully on the Empire's side.
    • Vice-Admiral Edwin Fischer may not be a military genius, but he can coordinate fleet movements with almost surgical precision, and while it's not the flashiest job, he is considered invaluable by Yang Wenli.
  • Little Witch Academia: The default wands used by Luna Nova are not as fancy looking or as powerful as something like the Shiny Rod and can only hold a limited charge, but their small size makes them very portable, they can be used by anybody and they're incredibly versatile, being able to do all kinds of magic as long as the user knows how to perform it. They can also be used to power up Magitek devices as Constanze demonstrates.
  • Most of the main characters of the Lyrical Nanoha franchise use transforming weapons with built-in A.I. (of various levels of sophistication) called Intelligent Devices. However, most mages in the universe of the series instead use Storage Devices, which have no A.I. and are limited to only one active form and one inactive form, but apparently process magic faster.
    • Binding Spells are the Boring But Practical spell of the entire series. Its function is only to restrict movement, which looks very underwhelming compared to some of the bigger spells shown in the series. It also comes up just about instantly, can be casted pre-emptively, and getting hit by one can spell doom since it opens up the victim to a bigger spell to hit them. In the series itself, variations of binding spells have been used throughout the series as way to secure criminals, or as a key spells in some of the fights in the series. It was the Signature Move of Chrono, which he used to handily defeat the much stronger Fate in a mock battle, and its frequently used by Nanoha to ensure that her big spells will hit, such as the Starlight Breaker, or to buy some time in combat.
  • Mazinger Z:
    • Mazinger's Photon Beams are one of the most boring weapons of the titular Humongous Mecha, lacking from the inherent visual awesomeness and raw power of the Rocket Punch, the Breast Fire or the Rust Hurricane. However it is Mazinger-Z's most used weapon in the series. Why? Because they are powerful enough to have the work done, cost-efficient and can be shot many times in quick sucession (Kouji can't use Mazinger's Finishing Moves recklessly because they overheat his robot and consume a lot of energy). Also, in the original manga Kouji dealt with the enemy by punching it and kicking it and using a weapon to finish it more often than not. Less spectacular? Certainly. Effective, regardles? Definitely.
    • In one episode Kouji could not use Mazinger-Z since the Pilder was destroyed. So he destroyed one of the Mechanical Monsters of Archduke Gorgon by planting landmines and luring it to step on them. Not so impressive like a giant robot, but effective.
  • In the same vein that the Mazinger Z example, the various vulcan cannons in the Gundam metaseries. They're too weak to completely defeat an enemy mobile suit, but their primary purpose is shooting down enemy aircraft and missiles, which conserves ammunition for stronger targets.
    • One rare case where the vulcans DO work is in After War Gundam X, where one of the Mecha of the Week is the very definition of Fragile Speedster, literally shedding everything except the parts that were absolutely necessary to operate in order to give it incredible running speed. Garrod couldn't hit it with his beam rifle, but his vulcans tore through it like paper.
    • Nine times out of ten, the Earth-based factions tend to run on this trope, keeping to one type of Mobile Suit and giving it different variants over the flashier suits that are spat out by those in space. Of note are the GMs of Mobile Suit Gundam and the GN-Xs of Mobile Suit Gundam 00. The GM is the original mass-produced version of the Gundam and variants of it exist all the way to at least the era of Mobile Suit Gundam: Char's Counterattack. Even the Jegan, introduced in that movie, is derived from the GM. They have no transformation gimmicks or heavy weaponry or built for Newtypes; they're just normal Mobile Suits with standardized weaponry. The GN-X were essentially the Earth forces' means to catch up with Celestial Being's Gundams, even if their power source was an incomplete version of what the Gundams used. By the time of Gundam 00: A Wakening of the Trailblazer, they've gone up to a GN-X IV and most of those are just refurbished GN-X units that made it all the way to that state.
    • In Mobile Suit Gundam SEED, Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny and its spinoffs, many standard hero-type Gundams tend to use the flight packs like the Aile Striker Pack and the Force Silhouette Pack. While they have other weapon packs, the flight packs allow them to get to where they're needed with the less amount of fuss and have no specialized equipment.
    • Gundam Build Fighters and Gundam Build Fighters Try go out of its way to avert this trope. As Meijin Kawaguchi III is fond of saying, "Gunpla is freedom!", meaning that you can do whatever you want with your model and trying to constrain your ideas within the boundaries of the original Gundam canon just limits your potential. So "straight builds" will just get wrecked by the girl who combined the Victory Gundam with one of the Impulse Gundam's weapon packs, the guy who gave the Strike Gundam an energy-absorbing shield and a Super Mode that lets it pull off a Megaton Punch Finishing Move, or the guy who turned the ZZ Gundam into an old-school Combining Super Robot with Rocket Punches, Eye Beams, and a BFS.
      • On the other side of the coin, sometimes straight-builds can still perform well, but this mainly because more mundane factors (like build quality, the operator's fighting skills, and good old-fashioned determination) help bridge the gap. Two prominent examples from Try include Simon Izuna and his Destiny Gundam and Lucas Nemesis' Crossbone Gundam Full Cloth, the latter of whom manages to go toe-to-toe with Wilfred Kijima, who's not only an incredibly talented fighter but has a highly customized Original Generation 00-style Gunpla.
    • Similarly, Gunpla piloted in GBN, the video game world of Gundam Build Divers and Gundam Build Divers Re:RISE don't need to be heavily customized to be awesome. Case in point: in the original Build Divers, the number seven player of the game is Randy, who pilots the Mobile Armor Mobius ZERO, a Super Prototype in Mobile Suit Gundam SEED that is heavily outclassed early on. While Randy does lose on screen twice, the first time is because he's ambushed by a cheater and the second time is because Riku has to unleash the arsenal he's carrying to rescue Sarah and even then, it's by the skin of his teeth.
  • Yuri from Megalo Box is referred to as "Mr. Classic" for his extremely low-key, no-frills-attached boxing persona and technique, his Signature Move being a simple right hook. He's also the undefeated champion of the Megalobox rankings.
  • My Hero Academia:
    • Kirishima feels this way about his Quirk, which makes his body hard as a rock. It's useful both defensively and offensively, but it doesn't look as cool as, say, the guy who can throw around blasts of ice and fire. He's also initially quite annoyed by Tetsutetsu Tetsutetsu, whose power (turning his body to steel) is functionally the same as his but looks cooler.
    • Mashirao Ojiro has the Quirk of... having a tail. However, it's a very strong, prehensile, and combined with martial arts training makes him a very versatile fighter. Furniture's a problem, though.
    • Minoru Mineta's Quirk Pop Off allows him to pull sticky balls from his head. Not great offensively and in no way flashy, but absolutely invaluable for trapmaking.
    • Hanta Sero has tape dispensers in his elbows. Check the Duct Tape for Everything page to see how far it can get him.
    • Hitoshi Shinso. Even the professional heroes note that his Mind Control Quirk would be incredibly useful against criminals, but it's so low-key that during the Tournament Arc, nobody even noticed that he was using it until the very end of the second round (and even then, most of his victims couldn't tell what he did).
  • Naruto:
    • Although Naruto makes extensive use of all two of his advanced jutsu, he's ended most of his fights in the entire series thus far by just punching the guy. In some cases, this was necessitated by him using up most of his chakra using his advanced jutsu.
    • There's also Shikamaru's shadow manipulation jutsu, which never changes its basic function throughout the series (ensnaring and controlling people with their shadows), yet Shikamaru uses it efficiently and in a variety of methods. Overall, he's definitely a boring fighter, but far more practical at getting the job done than many others. Though for the first half of the series his technique is really more boring but useless. It requires him to be motionless to use. Shikamaru can only stretch it as as far as his shadow is long (meaning both that his technique is dependent on the environment and that it's easy for an enemy to see it coming). He's stuck making the same motions his enemy does even if he catches the enemy, and even if all that fall into place perfectly, the enemy could potentially just flat out be strong enough to over power it. He compares how useless his ability is with how it took him several episodes of constant planning and tactics to still fail with the technique, while Temari won with a single move.
    • This is also why Kakashi has been Over Shadowed By Awesome. His signature skill is an electricity fueled punch in a series with Reality Warping, unquenchable black flames and giant monsters almost literally made of pure energy. His approach to summoning is a perfect example. Most people summon massive creatures to fight for them, Kakashi summons hunting hounds, who are much more useful for a ninja in most situations.
    • Kunai are excessively boring, compared to the high powered pseudo-magic jutsus. Still, stabbing a guy is a great way to mess up his day. They also serve as basic but accurate ranged weapons, both for direct attacks and other purposes.
    • Tsunade is incredibly dull compared to other S-rank ninja who almost all use immensely impressive ninjutsu to fight. Instead, she uses Super Strength and a Healing Factor which make her physically stronger than anyone else and capable of tanking nearly any attack respectively.
    • One of Kakashi's first lessons to his team involves focusing their chakra to their feet so they can climb up walls, with a more advanced version allowing them to stand on water. The real utility of this is how it improves one's chakra control, which is essential for making one's jutsus more effective and chakra-efficient.
    • Taijutsu in general. It's less showy or impressive than ninjutsu and genjutsu but when used effectively, it can be effective when one person runs out of chakra to perform the other two.
  • In One Piece:
    • Zoans are rather dull as far as Devil Fruits go, only allowing their wielder to transform between their natural form, an animal form, and a hybrid form. Meanwhile Logias turn anyone who eats them into an Elemental Embodiment and Paramecias grant a random superpower. However, Zoan transformations almost universally make a person stronger, faster, and tougher (not to mention possible other perks like better senses or flight) and don't require training to use properly. While they won't make the weak strong, they do make the strong stronger. Tellingly, the three strongest members of the CP9 were all Zoan users, with Lucci giving Luffy the hardest fight he'd ever had in that series. Kaido, one of the Four Emperors and considered one of the strongest beings in the world, is also a Zoan type.
    • Impel Down has 6 levels of torture with increasing brutality, ranging from a literal forest of blades, a hall of beasts, and a boiling cauldron of blood, to the final level reserved for criminals so strong that all the above levels failed to even make them notice, which is just locking them in normal cells and letting them die of boredom(although Ace was sentenced to public execution and held in Level 6 until his sentence was to be carried out).
    • Nami's job as a navigator is mostly carried out offscreen, but it's exceptionally important to have a crewmember who can get the ship to its destination without getting lost. When Nami falls ill, Vivi justifies taking a detour to find a doctor for her by saying that while the situation in her home kingdom of Alabasta is precarious, finding a doctor for Nami will help the Straw Hats get there as fast as possible.
  • Similarly to Sailor Venus, and one of the main reasons why the series is so popular with older fans, Pretty Cure will pummel the Monster of the Week with their fists, feet, their butts and others before using using their signature attacks to finish them off.
  • In the original Sailor Moon anime, Sailor Venus' Crescent Beam. It was simply a blast of energy fired from the finger that she stuck to up until Season 4 while everyone else got bigger and flashier attacks... And still remained effective through the sheer mastery she had over it and the ability to just spam it (and when she does it, you run for the hills or drop to the ground).
  • In Saki, Miharu is implied to have an ability like this in the PSP game, enabling her to sense which of her tiles are dangerous to discard, which doesn't help her win hands but prevents her from playing into anyone else's. As such, she only loses 1,200 points in the sergeant round of the prefectural finals, less points than any of her other opponents, and enables her school to keep first place for the moment.
    • Nodoka lacks any special powers or awareness of other people's powers and therefore rarely gets substantial wins. She makes up for it by winning a lot of hands and not letting people get wins off her discards.
  • Slayers: Xellos' favorite attack pattern is launching a Flechette Storm using small black pins. Not very powerful, as Valgaav in Slayers TRY could tank it without much injury. The problems are, it's hideously quick, hard to avoid, and infinitely repeatable, resulting in Valgaav eventually succumbing to multiple application of this.
    Xellos: If you can't hit me with big attacks, there's no point in fighting. However... small attacks can hurt if they are repeated several times!
  • Soul Eater: Black Star and Mifune deciding to finish their final fight on even ground as swordsmen (just ordinary katana, or as close as Tsubaki could make herself) makes for one of the best and worst moments in the series.
  • Super Cub:
    • Koguma, who recently bought a motorcycle, searches for a face shield to protect her face from the wind, but finds that face shields are expensive and full face helmets are even more so. She then gets a "Eureka!" Moment watching a man doing work on the school library with safety goggles and a face mask, and decides to buy a cheap pair of goggles to protect her face.
    • When Koguma and Reiko are faced with the potentially difficult and expensive task of winterizing their Cubs, Koguma goes with cheap handlebar covers, which prevent the breeze from blowing up their jacket sleeves. Reiko is initially turned off, but finds that they're a good choice in the end.
    • Slightly later on, as the temperatures continue to drop and the handlebar covers don't prove enough to fight the cold on their own, Koguma insists on taking a protective measure that Reiko is extremely reluctant to resort to. What is this measure? Quite simply, a windshield.
  • YuYu Hakusho: Compared to his own teammates like Bui and Karasu and even other major villains of the series who possess much more impressive looking energy attacks, Younger Toguro's ability is to simply increase his muscles, which sounds underwhelming by comparison; until it's shown it makes him so physically strong he can turn nearly any opponent to paste from a single punch without even half his full might. This is deliberate on his part: in their youth, he would lose to Genkai any time they sparred together because she could counter any strategy he came up with and had an answer for any technique he attempted. When he became a demon, he chose to make his fighting style based on sheer power so overwhelming that he could render any technique and strategy irrelevant. All so he could ensure he could kill her if they ever fought again.
  • This trope is applied to jobs in Zatch Bell!. When a class of students is asked what kind of careers they want, most chose glamorous jobs like being an actor or an athlete, with Noguchi (who wants to be a salaryman) being mocked for a lack of imagination. Their teacher reminds them that for the glamorous careers, your time in the spotlight will eventually end and then you will have no job security. For people who want to raise a family, the stable, secure job of an office drone is a much better way to go, with benefits like a health plan and a pension making things easier for you in the long run.

    Board Games 
  • 7 Wonders Duel:
    • Most of the Wonders have nice effects like producing resources, giving you an Extra Turn, giving you money or blowing up one of your opponent's resources. And then there are the Pyramids, which do nothing but give you 9 Victory Points. However, as having the most VP at the end of the game is the main victory condition, and games are often decided on 1-15 VP, this can win you the game. Similarly, the Sphinx is the most boring Extra Turn wonder — its only additional effect is giving you 6 VP — but an extra turn and 6 VP is solid.
    • Unlike most of the Progress Tokens, which have cool and unique effects, all Philosophy does is sit around and be worth 7 Victory Points at the end of the game. However, that is a pretty decent amount, and unlike the more situational tokens, it has an effect that is useful in most games (i.e. whenever you're not going all-in on an Instant-Win Condition).
    • Civilian buildings. While other buildings can help you gather resources and/or push for an Instant-Win Condition, civilian buildings only exist to give you Victory Points.
  • The standard "Warrior" class in most tabletop RPGs such as Dungeons & Dragons is this: while its choice of attacks is limited in variety with the exception of applying certain modifiers to their regular attacks, their capability to equip strong weapons and armor and high Hit Points means they will be welcome in any party for their useful ability to tank and deal physical damage. They often balance out the fact they don't gain special powers or spells with the advantage of learning more Feats than other classes.
  • In Chess, most people will try to learn the flashy openings and glitzy combo attacks, but the tactics of piece exchange should come in second place to the logistic considerations of controlling board space. It sounds boring, but it pays to know when to crack open the defense of a turtling player or to suffocate an aggressive attacker with a locked pawn center.
    • Many famous players, such as Wilhelm Steinitz, Tigran Vartanovich Petrosian, Jose Raul Capablanca, and Vladimir Kramnik, had playing styles that could be described this way. They rarely played flashy combinations or won brilliancy prizes, but their mastery of solid positional play allowed them to consistently score great results, to the point of becoming World Champions.
    • Some openings for white like the London system or the similar Colle system have negative reputations as being "lazy" "boring" or "dull" openings. But they are easy to learn and offer white good, quick development, a solid pawn structure and decent defense, making them practical, particularly for less experienced players. "System" openings in general are seen by some players as boring and repetitive since the player usually performs the exact same moves in (mostly) the exact same order every single game with little to no variation no matter what moves their opponent makes, which can be seen as unimaginative and lazy.

  • In the Firefly board game, Legal missions tend to be this. They don't pay as well as the big bank heists and mine robberies, but they also don't risk the Misbehave deck, sparing you the risk of spending hundreds of dollars on bribes, getting an automatic fail (and, if a Niska job, the loss of a crewman) from a Warrant being issued, or getting your crew killed.
  • In Go, there are dozens of standard sequences called joseki, i.e. "best move". Playing them out according to the standard may seem boring to a junior player, but the reason they became standard in the first place is that they provide both sides with usable structures and "fair share" of the area where it is played.
  • In Monopoly a fairly common tactic among experienced players is to buy up the (light) purple, orange, and red properties. While they are far less impressive than Park Place and Boardwalk, they are the most commonly landed on properties in the entire game, thanks to the multiple ways to be sent to jail.
  • In Poker, sneaky check-raise traps, big risky bluffs, and hero-calling a suspected bluffer are all big fun moves... but the most reliable way to build your stack, especially against middling opposition, is to fold a lot, make small-to-medium-sized bets to take the blinds and antes when you're in position and no one else seems particularly interested in them, and save your big plays for when you've got a very strong hand.
  • In Risk, Australia is the continent of choice for many veterans for locking down early then slowly amassing the 2 reinforcements per round. It requires the player to play the waiting game while others battle it out but by the time the inevitable bloodbath for Asia is over, other players will be severely weakened... and vulnerable to the massive army about to backdoor it.
  • The XCOM Board Game has several Boring But Practical assets. How useful thy are depends on the invasion plan.
    • The Skyranger sees a lot of use in Infiltration and Domination. Enemies in Infiltration are extremely weak, but the Infiltration plans throws a lot of crises at you, which generally wrecks havoc with your logistics. Thus you have a lot of spare soldiers. Domination enemies are not quite as weak, but the main battle in Domination happens in the air. Removing crises with spare soldier thus gets very useful.
    • Technologies. Researching a technology requires you to roll 1, 2 or 3 successes. Some technologies allow to research technologies faster, and pulling them early lets you snowball.
      • 1 success technologies usually involve placing an undeployed unit on it to generate some benefits. These units aren't considered deployed and cost you nothing. One tech allows you to assign undeployed scientists to raft Interceptors for free. One allows you to use undployed Satellites for credits. For how cheap they are, they can turn a game around.
      • 2 successes technologies usually allow you to claim free successes or to save units that should be destroyed. The SHIV can by itself trivialize the FinalMission and many regular missions, and on any invasion plan that's light on UFOs, the technology that allows you to deal two damage to enemies by usig undeployed interceptors can make missions much lss dangerous.

    Comic Books 
  • Of the superhero world, the Flying Brick archetype, for simple reasons. They can get there fast, and they can hit hard, but unless they have an otherwise amazing gimmick, they won't be as popular as the Badass Normal or the guy with the Imagination-Based Superpower, but they're effective at what they do, and usually make great leaders.
  • In one Batman story, Maxie Zeus hires construction workers to build a copy of Ancient Rome. When one of the workers suggests building traps for the lion pit or using a lion that turns into a velociraptor to make things more interesting, Zeus refuses because he doesn't want his Ancient Rome to have anything the original one didn't. The worker comments that just a normal pit with a lion isn't scary and Zeus reacts by throwing the worker at the pit and daring him not to feel scared once the lion arrives.
  • Cyclops of the X-Men is often made fun of for not having an interesting personality (Socially Inept and approaches everything from a soldier-like mentality), and his only power is that he can shoot beams from his eyes (and not heat beams but beams which are more like solid force. In other words, he shoots punches out of his eyes), which naturally doesn't rank him high on popularity charts. However, as his power comes from his eyes, it means that, no matter what, he will always hit his target if he can see them, and because of his personality, he's trained his body to be an expert martial artist (meaning that, without his powers, he's essentially Batman without a utility belt or any hangups about guns, which serves well when he's left without his powers). He's also one of the most tenured field strategists in the Marvel Universe, easily an equal to the likes of Captain America, Black Panther, Black Bolt, and Nick Fury, which makes him the perfect leader of any group of heroes when out in the field. He might not be enough to sell an ongoing comic strip without a great writer involved, but if you're about to face any villain, he's the guy you'd want on your team.
  • Of The Fantastic Four, Sue Storm — aka Invisible Woman — has frequently been the target of this trope. Compared with the Thing's Super Strength and literal rocky exterior which grants him nigh-invulnerability, her husband Reed's Rubber Man abilities and Super Intelligence, and brother Johnny Storm/Human Torch's Playing with Fire powers and flight, her gifts of turning invisible and conjuring force fields seem rather lame. However, once writers figured out what to do with her powers (she was essentially just a Damsel in Distress for most early stories), they quickly became the most useful on the team, though they didn't get any flashier. Enemy giving you trouble? Either create a force field inside their body and expand it, or, as was the case with She-Hulk, summon a field around their head, cutting off their air supply (even the biggest foes still need to breathe). Sue's creative use of her "boring" powers has made her not just the strongest member of the Four, but among Marvel heroes in general — she once single-handedly took on and defeated Thundra, the Absorbing Man, and the brainwashed Hulk and Thing — in that case, Sue's daughter Valeria was in danger — and to date, Sue is the only mortal, mutant or otherwise, who has ever outright killed a Celestial, the Physical Gods of the Marvel Universe. And she did it with her regular powers—her boring, practical, extremely lethal powers.
    • Her powers can't even be flashy because most of the time they're invisible, meaning you can't even see the forcefields massacring her foes. But that just means most enemies can't even see their quick and gory death coming. As for her Invisibility powers, while they don't get as much work as her force fields, can be just as powerful and just as boring. She once tricked Dr. Doom into smashing into a mountain by turning the whole thing invisible. Flashy? No. Awesome? Possibly. Effective? Yes. Any alternate universe where she's a villain invitably shows her as being an absolutely terrifying foe, and in one storyline where Doctor Doom did a Body Surf on each of the Fantastic Four in turn he said that Sue was easily the strongest of them.
  • Doc Samson of Incredible Hulk has noted that for a fraction of what General Ross and other have wasted trying to build robots/containment/powered armor to take down/control the Hulk, you could just get a satellite array going that would warn people in urban areas to evacuate when he starts getting too close. Naturally no one will consider this.
  • During the Marvel's Onslaught crossover, the villain spent a lot of resources to capture X-Man Nate Grey. As the villain is gloating, the hero calls him out for having such rubbish underlings. The villain acknowledges that everyone under him is either blindly obedient, on the run from everyone else, or a giant robot... but that his underlings succeeded in catching the hero, which was what he wanted all along.
  • Disney Italy gave Donald Duck a Super Hero/Anti-Hero alter ego named Paperinik. What are his most iconic and useful gadgets? Spring-loaded punch, paralyzing beam, and spring-loaded boots.
    • In Paperinik New Adventures he has access to much more advanced technology than in the 'classic' stories, most iconic of all the Extransformer Shield, with multiple functions and weapons. What are the features he uses most often? Extensible punch of increased power, a better paralizing beam, and the shield, the most boring of all (with two being his old iconic weapons in an improved version), without even bothering with the flashier functions most of the time. Also, he's prone to whip out his old tricks, such as the Car-can (memory-erasing candy. Not as sophisticated as Everett Ducklair's amnesia beam, but just as effective), the rockets on his belt, and a small ball that produces a very bright flash such as the Kamehameha of Dragon Ball's fame (and he dropped a demolition ball on the enemy while he was blinded).
    • Also from Paperinik New Adventures: the Evronians have a penchant for whipping out Super Soldiers with such features as beastly strength and claws, Psychic Powers that make you live your worst fears and turn them into a slave by eating them while having Super Strength and toughness, Voluntary Shapeshifting, and more... But at the end of the day the standard warriors proved superiors to all but the Augmented Units, that are no more than standard warriors twice as large, with the others being no more than niche warriors.
      • Speaking of Evronians, we have Trauma. He's the one with the psychic powers and the strength, but the ability that allowed him to nearly defeat Paperinik was imitating a woman's voice: after being matched and even slowly losing a straight fight, he retreated and used his previously unknown ability to imitate voices to lay a trap and wreck the psychic-repellant helmet of Paperinik's Powered Armor, allowing him to finally use his psychic powers. Not that his goal was that: in another example of the trope, he was actually trying to kick Paperinik down a tall building to simply kill him, and only wrecked the helmet because Paperinik dodged at the last moment.
      • Then there's the precautions they take in case some of their super soldiers rebel: the beast warriors have a brainwashing chip secretly installed in their helmets, the Augmented Units have large numbers of guns trained at their back, the formidable underwater warriors can't breathe air, the cyborg with the firepower of a battalion has a remote-controlled off switch (and it's implied that when he mutinied his handlers simply activated it, considering how pissed he is when he mentions it), and so on.
  • In Runaways, Klara's ability to control plants isn't terribly impressive when compared to Nico's magic, Molly's super-strength, or Karolina's light-based powers, but on the other hand, she's been using her powers since she was a child and thus knows how to use them, they don't have a blood or energy cost like Nico's magic or Molly's powers, and they deploy quickly.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (IDW): Dr. Eggman constantly wastes his time with complex plans and elaborate over-the-top schemes to defeat Sonic, which always fail. Dr. Starline nearly kills Sonic on his first try using simple misdirection and a bomb, only failing thanks to Silver putting up a force field. Of course, this gets him manhandled by a furious Eggman, who states if he wanted to just kill Sonic, he'd carpet-bomb him from his ship and be done with it; he wants to actually defeat him and prove his superiority first.
  • In the Darth Vader series, General Tagge embraces this trope like no one else. He makes it clear that he thinks the Death Star was a stupid idea from the very beginning and that they should have used those resources to simply build more Star Destroyers, insulting Tarkin in the process. When Vader replied that Tarkin was a man with vision, Tagge said that Tarkin was pretty much responsible for the Empire's biggest defeat so far.
    Tagge: My plans might not be as glamorous or grand as yours or the departed Tarkin's, but they work.
  • In the Ultimate Spider-Man comic, this is the reason why the Clone Saga happens: sure, Spider-Man isn't as powerful or recognizable as Captain America and The Incredible Hulk, but considering every single attempt at replicating Cap has been an utter, epic, horrifying failure, the Ultimate Universe's version of the Hulk is an uncontrollable malevolently sentient weapon of mass destruction that is one of these aforementioned failures, and Spidey's powers are a pretty adaptable jack-of-all-trades package that soldiers and intelligence operatives can find useful in most scenarios they will encounter, then it's just better to go for that. Turns out that the man behind the cloning project is Otto Octavius and the reason he did it was just for the sake of screwing with Peter, but it's never said whether or not the actual pitch was just a bluff.

    Comic Strips 
  • Doonesbury: during a session of Congress, Congresswoman Lacey Barnes points out to an Air Force General that for the price of one of his proposed cutting-edge (i.e., untested and of unknown reliability) stealth bombers, the military could build several hundred tested, reliable cruise missiles: "if you were a Russian general, which would you rather be defending against?"
    General: Uh... how deep's my bunker?
    Lacey: You can dig as deep a hole as you like, General.

    Fan Works 
  • Hinata becomes clan head in Accounting no Jutsu because she shows that she can manage the clan's money far better than anyone else. As one clan elder puts it, "Not like clan heads fight much anyway. Better a head that's good with money."
  • In All For Power, many of the bigwigs in the League of Villains have turned to tamer and less flashy uses of their Quirks while laying low, that nonethelss earn them considerable money. Kurogiri and Ujiko smuggle drugs throughout Japan using the formers Warp Gate. Twice uses his clones to both star in snuff films but also fake people's deaths for them. Mustard has the most legitimate job in selling his gas to a pharmaceutical company which develops sleeping pills from it.
  • Naruto's method for solving Suna's food supply problems (and becoming filthy rich) in The Art of the Deal doesn't involve complex seals or jutsu for preserving and transporting food. Instead, he introduces them to the humble potato and tofu, delicious and nutritious foods that can be stored for months without perishing.
  • Played for Laughs in Atlas Arc when Jaune discovers the perfect landing strategy for him: crash and walk it off. This is due to learning that trying to preform any cool or special tricks to land will actually make him lose more Aura than simply crashing at terminal velocity.
  • The moment Todoroki's battle trial starts in Beast Mode, he freezes the entire building, which traps his opponents in ice without fighting them. While described In-Universe as lame and anticlimactic, it did win him the match.
  • Boldores And Boomsticks:
    • Team RWBY expains to Pinot, a snobby Devon Corp. scientist, why they use metal cages to hold Grimm: unlike force fields there's no battery to drain.
    • Wiffle bats and other toys are useful for training because they're cheap to replace.
  • Child of the Storm:
    • When being offered weapons during, Carol, who doesn't have much combat experience at this point, rejects something like a sword or an axe (which she doesn't know how to use) in favour of a simple, kite-shaped shield. It's not as deadly as, say, Uhtred's axe, but it does come in very useful during the ensuing fight.
    • Natasha, Steve's, and Clint's abilities as spotters and The Strategist are well-harnessed by the Avengers. While Thor and Loki are Physical Gods with Combo Platter Powers, Tony has his armors, and the Hulk has the raw physical power to crush almost any other opponent, Steve's abilities as The Strategist are used to figure out where and how to best utilize them, while one or both of Clint and Natasha will go high and keep an eye on the battlefield to direct their allies.
    • The Winter Soldier's lethal nature and rep for taking down high-level targets is shown to be heavily related to this — not his abilities, not his metal arm, nor close up assaults. This is not to say that he isn't good at all of these; in fact, he's downright deadly, capable of matching Wolverine a.k.a. The Best There Is At What He Does, in a knife fight, while carrying broken ribs. However, he's realistic about his limits and most of the time, he will simply either set up a bomb, or use his abilities as a sniper in conjunction with the best ammunition he can get hold of. By doing so, he has so far managed to kill a previous Captain Britain, almost kill Thor (putting him in a coma), and severely piss off Dracula (leaving him open to a brutal psychic attack that almost worked). All three are Physical God level beings.
    • While comparing wandless and wanded magic, Harry Dresden states that the latter falls into this trope. While wandless magic has all kinds of great perks, like greater longevity and magical senses, and is incredibly flexible (every practitioner has their own strengths and can do all kinds of things with their area of expertise), it also takes longer to learn, partially because that same flexibility also makes it harder to standardize. Meanwhile, a wanded mage can become incredibly proficient in just a decade or two of study, and its standardization means that a wizard doesn't have to make things up, say, in the middle of a fight.
  • According to Cole in Conduit of Central City, this was the intent behind the design of the Amp.
    Wells: Despite its crude design, it's quite effective at channeling your energy.
    Cole: That was the point. Nothing flashy, nothing too complex, just good old grit, sweat, and blood.
  • In Crimson Rising, the anti-Power Ranger organisation Sector Nine has spent the better part of a decade studying the salvaged remains of the Thunderzords, and have created at least two 'zords' that vaguely resemble the Shogunzords without any of the animal theme elements. While relatively bland by zord standards, Sector Nine's zords are least powerful enough to hold their own against the monsters even if the true zords always win the day.
  • Somewhat in contrast to her presentation in Daria, Jane takes this approach to art in Daria In Morrowind. It'd be considered weird and unprofessional for artists to follow their own visions in Tamriel, so they generally imitate the masters and flatter their clients. Jane does have some more eccentric personal work, but she keeps them to herself and has no wish to try and sell them.
  • Harry Potter in A Discordant Note teaches his children how to fight with staves initially because doing so will prepare them for using almost any weapon to some extent. He also defeats the first attempted siege on his tower not with magic but by forcing the attacking hordes to charge up a narrow icy slope into a choke point staffed by men with spears.
  • While hailed for his power as the titular dragon in Dragon Knight, the biggest reason Xander's army was so successful was due to him teaching them basic tactics like shield walls and rotating out men on the front line between charges. Such tactics allow his men to rather easily defeat a force five times their size due to the latter's lack of discipline. He also teaches what he knows of sanitation and modern medicine (such as digging latrines downhill from the camp to cut down on sickness).
  • Naruto learns in A Drop of Poison that he needs to train the basics. He later demonstrates this to the Konohomaru Corps, beating Konohomaru with nothing but repeated high-speed substitutions and dropping him into a pool — one of the three basic academy techniques, but extremely effective when mastered. Once Konohomaru and his friends settle down and learn the basic three techniques properly, he deigns to teach them something greater: the Fire Candle technique, which simply makes a small flame appear at the tip of one's finger. They're disappointed until he explains that it builds control that will be necessary for all fire techniques.
    Naruto: Those who start with the Great Fireball often burn their lips and tongue when they fail.
  • In the Animorphs fanfic Slaughterhouse-Five, Jake says that his most useful morph is the seagull, because it can fly, walk, swim, and be anywhere on Earth without looking conspicuous.
  • In Enough Rope, Tony Stark tells Rhodes to guess which act of his saved the most lives. While Rhodes guesses it was sending the nuke bound for New York through the Chitauri portal, Tony corrects him that it was inventing mosquito repelling fabric. Because of the clothes, screens, and nets made from that fabric (the last of which Tony donates in mass to charities), mosquito born diseases have almost been eradicated.
  • In Equestria Divided House Earthborn fights mostly using a combination of medieval weaponry and clockpunk war machines and does a pretty good job at it.
  • In one story of the Facing the Future Series, Desiree is given noise-cancelling headphones to prevent her from hearing wishes that could be used against her.
  • In Faith No More, the best weapons for fighting vampires (even for normal humans) are simple spears and bows. As Faith demonstrated, a stake allows your enemy within arms reach (and biting reach) before you can kill them, a spear doesn't.
  • Fallout: Equestria:
    • Unlike most unicorns, Littlepip does not have a unique spell related to her Cutie Mark. All she has is the same basic telekinesis spell that every unicorn has. But in a world where no one has hands, basic telekinesis is pretty useful. She starts with the ability to use it to hold lockpicks, quickly learns how to fire guns with it, and even trains it to be strong enough to lift extremely heavy objects such as train cars.
    • Littlepip's cutie mark is a PipBuck, omnipresent in the Stable. She got a job as a PipBuck repair pony. She's rather embarrassed that her special talent is nothing but doing minor repair work. However, she eventually realizes her talent is something else altogether. Her cutie mark doesn't represent that she's good with PipBucks (though she is), but that she's good at the thing PipBucks were originally designed for: Finding people. Spike spent two hundred years searching for six people who could bear the Elements of Harmony, with no luck. Littlepip found four of them in two months, and the rest in under a year.
  • Harry and his girls learn to defend against the Killing Curse in For Love of Magic by conjuring a swarm of butterflies in front of them. While the curse can't be magically blocked, it can only kill a single target, regardless of said target's size.
  • In Fox Rain Vorpika (Lila's superhero alter ego) prefers this approach:
    • In combat, she uses an illusion to make herself invisible or otherwise hide her approach and then hits the supervillain as hard as she can with whatever she finds, or just kicks and punches (her costume even has MMA gloves-like padding over the hands). And when she feels she owes a favor to Ladybug and Chat Noir she pays them back by teaching them the basic one-two of boxing.
    • How does she improves her skills? Practice: upon receiving the Fox Miraculous she spends a whole night casting illusions (it helps her favorite snack is what Trixx uses to fuel his powers and that she already knows how to play the dizi), and later starts taking MMA classes, something that has the added benefit of helping her with her anger management issues by allowing her to vent on something.
  • Fragmentation has Executive Outcomes becoming very popular by selling Zerg Rush quantities of simple tanks such as the Pike at dirt-cheap prices that, Pound for C-Bill, provide enough firepower to overwhelm pirate 'Mech units, making EO welcomed to planets that can't afford or are incapable of training 'Mechwarriors, but can recruit and train tank crews by the dozens.
  • In Game and Bleach, Ichigo and Tatsuki make a point of taking any perks they're eligible for that make it easier to boost their stats. As a result, Tatsuki is two hundred levels lower than Yoruichi but almost all of her stats being around the same levelnote .
  • In Hard Being Pure, during Rust's fight with Snatch, the latter complains that lasers are cheap and boring. Rust agrees, and summarily uses his lasers to rip through Snatch's robots one by one.
  • In Harry Potter and the Lack of Lamb Sauce, Ron Weasley competes in a magical cooking competition and due to a poor showing in the previous challenge, has to make a breakfast dish with only two ingredients, one of which has to be eggs. In the end, he makes three different variations of bacon and eggs with the only criticism he receives being that his dish was rather bland because he wasn't allowed to use anything else.
  • Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality:
    • Quirrell asks the class how to defeat a troll. They come up with a number of complex scenarios to get around its Healing Factor, most of them involving acid. Quirrell tells them that the correct answer is "hit it with the Killing Curse." That is always the correct answer.
      Quirrell: The Killing Curse is unblockable, unstoppable, and works every single time on anything with a brain. If, as an adult wizard, you find yourself incapable of using the Killing Curse, then you can simply Apparate away!
    • Bear in mind that even if it's a very practical offensive spell, the Killing Curse is an "Unforgivable" (that is, "instant ticket to Azkaban for life, even if you're a minor and you were defending yourself") Curse, so the fact he's teaching kids to make this their "hammer" provides quite a hefty amount of Foreshadowing about him. Furthermore, canonically, both the Killing Curse and Apparation are actually fairly difficult for even adult wizards, so they're not necessarily practical to begin with. They also don't help if you're in a situation where you can't kill your opponent (such as when you need to capture them alive) or can't escape (such as when you need to protect a location).
    • Lucius Malfoy's lesson to his son Draco regarding plan-making is pretty much this: any plan that needs more than two steps to succeed is automatically hoping to get lucky on the Last Plan Standing Gambit Pileup Roulette, so it's best to make them very simple (to put in context: this lecture he gave as a "Take That!" response to an In-Universe version of Death Note and Draco's apparent decision to take inspiration from it for his rivalry with Harry). Quirrell eventually also provides a similar speech when he says that plans that are absolutely essential for the planner to succeed should not depend on anything that runs on chance (those that don't can be done as fancy as the planner wants, maybe even allowing them to fail for the sake of Obfuscating Stupidity).
  • In Hunter, while Xander becomes magically empowered to be functionally a male Slayer and Willow takes lessons in magic, Oz simply becomes a member of the clergy. While it has no direct combat applications, he can now bless objects, giving the Scoobies a functionally infinite supply of holy water. He also blesses the water tank for the school's fire suppression system so the sprinklers spray out holy water, making the school unassailable to vampires.
  • In Infinity Train: Seeker of Crocus, the Red Lotus Uprising don't have flashy weapons made from premium blacksmiths, illusion powers or Personas. Instead, they all have more simplistic skillsets that translates into useful abilities.
    • Chloe Cerise, aside from her very powerful cloak that lets her cast fire, uses a donut holer named Cheshire as her main weapon. A donut holer, in this case, is a long rusty L-bend steel pipe which is supposedly capable of punching holes into things to turn them into "donuts". Chloe herself is said to be a softball enthusiast, so a pipe is no different than a bat, and if she gets a hit with it, it will hurt in the morning. This is noted when she fights off against her bully, Sara, in the climax of Act 1: while Sara goes for cooler things like a crystal bat that shoots spikes and is lit on fire, Chloe simply just fights with her pipe as she's been using it for so long that it's become second nature to her.
    • Atticus is a corgi king and doesn't have any other abilities except that he talks. But he's a dog and like any dog he has a good snes of hearing and smell, plus his leadership skills and his experience in Train adventures means he's the most observant and capable of making strategies. Plus his small size means he can sneak into areas that others usually can't fit.
    • Lexi is a flying book who can manipulate his papers into any constructs he wants. Instead of turning into a kaiju or badass paper monster, he simply folds his hands into sharp blades, throws paper kunai at the enemy or swallow them whole with a tsunami of papers.
    • Amelia's major weapon is the Ice Wand and she uses it to make slopes or walls. Not only does she not have to expend so much energy, but a wall of ice is not something one can easily shatter quickly and makes for a good stalling tactic or barrier in case someone is going through a meltdown.
  • Cinder Fall in In the Kingdom's Service compliments John White's (Jaune Arc's cover identity) preference for simply knives over fancier mecha shift weaponry, citing that they're concealable and basic enough that they're both easy to replace and hard to trace back to him. Likewise both she and Roman would rather take on someone intelligent but with subpar power over someone strong but stupid as not only are the latter more liable to screw up a job, but it's easier to make someone stronger than to make them smarter.
  • Jedi of the Boiling Isles: Unlike in The Owl House, where Luz pretends to be an Abomination to help out Willow with the Abomination Track as part of a Zany Scheme, Luz's idea to help out her new friend in this story involves... talking to Principal Bump and showing him that Willow is far more suited for the Plant Track.
  • In The Knight and Fairy of the Forward unto Dawn, Master Chief introduces Kites to the denizens of Winterfell. The design is so simple and easy to make that many people (not just kids, but adults and even nobles) are able to build their own in no time at all, and then proceed to spend hours outside playing with them. Ned Stark notes that these simple toys have brought color and merriment back to the North.
  • A Man of Iron: When asked what he would order if he got to order one thing from the Ultimate Blacksmith, Jaime Lannister answers "a sword". His companions decry his choice as boring, but when Jaime explains that he is famous for being very good with a sword, and refuses to waste a wish like that on something he can't use, they grudgingly accept the logic.
  • Maria Campbell of the Astral Clocktower:
    • Katarina has been diligently training in the sword every single day since she was eight years old for the sole purpose of surviving a possible sword duel. Therefore her skills are utterly basic, completely defensive, and absolutely perfect. She has no offensive capabilities besides counters, but she can perfectly evade, riposte, or parry any attack, to the point that multiple trained knights sparring with her find themselves utterly unable to break her defense. Even Maria is impressed, despite their fighting styles being complete opposites.
    • When Maria begins inventing guns from her old life, some of Sophia's past-life memories bleed through a little as well, giving her more familiarity with the weapons, and she is able to suggest enough new ideas that Maria enters into business with her. What's Sophia's most valuable contribution? The idea of an assembly line and standardized parts to streamline construction. Which, it should be noted, was an example in real life as well.
  • In the MLP:FIM fanfic A Minor Variation, Rarity's teleporting apples can be used by anypony with a functional mouth, provide their own magical power, and can bypass most conventional wards.
  • In My Hero Playthrough, after Shinso used his Quirk to brainwash Ojiro and Hagakure into doing his bidding, Aizawa calls Shinso in for a meeting. He counters Shinso's claim that the entrance exam favors those with flashy quirks by saying that the two of them managed to pass despite having Quirks that aren't all that impressive because they put in the work to improve themselves, thereby demonstrating the utility of seemingly useless quirks(an extra limb and Invisibility) and good old-fashioned hard work.
  • One of Hikigaya's favourite skills in My Hero School Adventure Is All Wrong As Expected is the ability to sleep soundly, anytime and anywhere. It's not as flashy as the original skill he copied it from, which allowed the holder to survive on just 15 minutes of sleep per day, but for a cynical and jaded member of society, surrounded by superheroes and villains, it's still priceless.
  • In My Huntsman Academia, Mei notes that weapons designed and built in Mountain Glenn, are "designed more for efficiency rather than any spark or showmanship." Case in point, Izuku's Emerald Gust is a set of armored gloves and boots that protect his hands and feet while bolstering his attacks with shotgun blasts. However, they don't have the bells and whistles and multiple transformations of weapons like Ruby's Crescent Rose and Weiss' Myrtenaster.
  • Early in Naruto and the Overpowered Academy Three, it's made clear that the three academy jutsu aren't flashy but can easily save your life, even if you're a Jounin. Naruto manages to remove the "boring" part because of how ridiculously he overpowers them, such as turning the henge into Voluntary Shapeshifting and transforming into a cross between a hydra and a tentacle monster.
  • The Night Unfurls:
    • This trope is the reason why Kyril fights using the innate attributes of a Bloodborne Hunter of Monsters, rather than the Combo Platter Powers of his great one form. The former essentially boils down to "super-human mowing down mooks left and right while dodging to avoid damage", while the latter boils down to "resolving the plot in an instant while driving innocents insane just by perceiving his true form". Obviously, the former is less flashy but more reliable.
    • Apart from that, this trope is what allows Kyril's company to be the Men of Sherwood in the story. Compared to Kyril and his apprentices, the soldiers don't look that impressive. These men and women in the company don't have their fancy, overpowered trick-weaponry. They don't have the hunters' enhanced strength and reflexes. Nonetheless, they are able to perform their duty efficiently in the battlefield, and they have yet to suffer from The Worf Effect. Why? Are they disciplined? Yes. Do they have high morale? Yes. Do they put emphasis on practical tactics (flanking, pincer maneuvers)? Yes. And most importantly, can they strike at multiple places/directions at once with their numbers? Oh yes.
  • While clothes shopping for Diana in A Phantom Hero in Metropolis, all of the girls confuse her by recommending their own personal style. Danny, meanwhile, advises against something unique and advocates for a look that's the bare minimum of socially acceptable clothing, which is promptly ignored.
  • In the fan game Pokémon Insurgence, most of the villains try to bring legendary Pokémon to their sides by offering up sacrifices, blackmailing them, using magic to control them, or beseeching them to join their cause. Perfection, meanwhile, just uses Master Balls to capture them — a less flashy method, but one that's proven to be a lot more efficient.
  • Giovanni is quite pleased with Team Rocket in Pokémon Reset Bloodlines for capturing a flock of Spearow and Fearow. While they're not rare or valuable, they do make useful pokemon for his grunts to use.
  • In Pro Hero Metal Bat After Todoroki freezes Ojiro to the ground, he stops and apologizes/gloats about how he's sorry but he had to do this. Ojiro just waits until Todoroki is about to walk past and winds him with a powerful tail blow, leading to Todoroki's capture and his team ultimately losing the match.
  • Jaune in The ProfessionARC makes a point of color coding his elixirs by their strength as well as putting them in differently shaped containers. As a result, he can always tell what an elixir is with a glance or a feel if he can't look at it. Jaune also admits that the ones that see the most use aren't ones that enhance his senses or combat ability but ones that speed up his healing.
  • In Red and Green in Blue, Yukiko cuts her hair short before joining the police alongside Chie and ends up liking her new haircut better, since not only does it meet the police's grooming standards, but it's also much easier to take care of her hair. The only downside is that some people come to the conclusion that Yukiko just had a breakup, resulting in Yukiko getting more unwanted love confessions.
  • Attacking a major installation in Star Trek usually requires a huge fleet and lots of Beam Spam and/or technobabble. In Red Fire, Red Planet, Norigom eschews all of that in favor of dropping a ten ton block of uranium out of the bottom of a Bird-of-Prey moving at 25,000 kilometers per second. (For reference, that's on the order of 750 megatons of kinetic energy.)
  • Harriet Potter in The Rigel Black Chronicles gives the Weasley Twins a new potion she invented herself: a preservation oil that can be applied to a vial to extend the shelf life of a potion stored in it. It's not spectacular, but the Twins are savvy enough to realise that it would have been worth a mint to a commercial brewer.
  • When Tenzou starts teaching his students some jutsus in Sage of the Leaf, he opts to focus on some lower rank ones instead of anything too advanced. Naruto, while annoyed that that he won't be learning anything powerful or super cool, does somewhat understand the importance of such jutsus after Tenzou demonstrates how practical they can be when used correctly.
  • Saruman of Many Devices: This is Central's approach to introducing new weapons summarized — it's better to have a good weapon for all of your troops than an awesome one for a few of them. Something as simple as using the same caliber of ammunition for pistols, revolvers, and rifles makes the Army of the White Hand quite a bit more efficient than historical Real Life armies, and one of his most revolutionary changes is constructing a railroad to carry supplies.
  • This is practically Harry, Ron, and Hermione's motto in Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum. Any plan that gets them out of a situation alive and well is always the go-to plan. For example, when scouting the Chamber of Secrets to see if there's another Basilisk, Luna asks if they're going to fight it if there is one. The trio reply that if there is indeed a second Basilisk, then they're going to flee and report the Basilisk to Dumbledore. note 
    "I thought we were hunting the basilisk." Luna commented.
    "No, we're investigating," Harry managed through his constricted throat. "If we actually think there's a giant murder snake here, we are all going to move quickly back to the hole and get out."
    "That's no fun."
    "Nope," Ron agreed. "It's nice and boring."
    "And safe." Harry added.
  • Son of the Sannin: During her final battle against Toneri Otsutsuki, Hinata finds herself in a pinch as he tries to drag her towards him to kill her, so she pulls out a chakra bow she got from Tenten a while ago. Toneri mockingly says she expected something more impressive from her, but as soon as she gets the chance, all she needs is one clean shot to kill him off.
  • In The Stalking Zuko Series for a Continuity Nod and Call-Back Zuko's firebending lessons to Aang. Aang finds Zuko's lesson extremely boring and all Zuko teaches is how to block and breathing exercises but Zuko points out how dangerous fire is so it's more important to know how to block before learning how to attack and the breathing exercises would be good for his control.
  • Xander brings a tool belt on a mission to a hell dimension in Stand Ins and Stunt Doubles. Why? Because he can use his tools to make weapons but the reverse is much trickier. Also, several tools (such as a short handled sledgehammer) make decent weapons themselves.
  • Julio in Star Wars Episode I: The Familiar of Zero (a Jedi in this story) massively improves the standard of living in Romalia by introducing them to the concept of indoor plumbing, eliminating the need to simply throw body waste into the streets.
  • After being turned into Gargoyles in Stone in Love, Giles initially wants everyone to follow tradition when it comes to their stone sleep: assuming a threatening stance to scare off enemies. He changes his mind when he realizes Xander's method (curling up in a ball and covering himself with his wings) would leave them indistinguishable from large rocks, and thus is far better suited to the large forest they're in than a group of statues.
  • During the first Chunin Exam Arc of the fic Sugar Plums, there is a chapter devoted to showing some of the genin's fighting styles. When it gets to Ume, she notes the opponent she's fighting doesn't seem to have any clear signs of being from a powerful Konoha clan. So instead of doing anything flashy, she closes the distance then one by one breaks the genin's wrists, then yells to the exam proctor to call the match since her opponent could no longer throw weapons, punches or use hand signs. This style of very nonflashy but efficient ways of standard combat is something that becomes a hallmark of Ume's overall fighting style, which focuses mostly on very fast movements and standard ninja tools rather than large scale or complicated jutsu.
  • In Transcendence, Zangetsu is seen as this at a glance in-universe since the blade is remarkably plain looking by Azeroth standards.
  • Similarly in Uchibi Sasuke, Orochimaru decides to go after Naruto instead of Sasuke when he finds out that Naruto is a skilled accountant. Sure, having the the Sharingan would be nice and all, but Orochimaru's experience with running a village has showed him that he needs someone who can expertly handle money, paperwork, etc.
  • Kirishima's Hardening Quirk in The Vigilante Boss and His Failed Retirement Plan simply grants him Super Toughness and even the boy himself remarks that it's not very flashy. But it nets him the top score in the entrance exam due to using his Quirk to shield other examees, often from debris from Bakugou's explosions.
  • Izuku's first two weeks as a Vigilante in Viridian: The Green Guide consist entirely of heckling Pro Heroes until they chase him towards a crime he spotted earlier. While certainly not glamorous, it does help people and Izuku currently has neither the skills nor physical fitness to fight villains himself.
  • In Voyages of the Wild Sea Horse, it's established early on that the Kamikaze Pirates prefer to largely loot ships of their supplies — food, medicine, extra sails, leisure objects, repair materials, etc. It's not that they're averse to taking treasure, it's just that they're not primarily motivated by the desire for wealth, nor do they have any interest in preying on civilians, so stealing supplies from the marines and rival pirates they prefer to battle with keeps them largely self-sufficient.
  • In We're Taking Over, Nick Fury sent a second flash drive to Tony Stark. While Steve and Natasha come up with a risky plan to use their flash drive without being caught by HYDRA, Tony just disables the wifi in a room and uses a computer that's physically disconnected from any networks. The program can't send out an alert if there's no network to send it through.
  • In What the Cat Dragged In, Tony is disappointed to learn that the S.H.I.E.L.D. project Clint and Natasha are assessing is simple formal wear that allows complete freedom of movement. Natasha explains that regular formal wear is completely restrictive, which is unfortunate for anyone who's wearing them when facing an unexpected threat; this new project will save the lives of many agents.
    • On top of that, Gabriel designed the clothing based on simple three-piece business suits, instead of a fancy Bond-esque tuxedo or something similar, because its classic design will help integrate its wearer into even the wildest setting.
  • In Where Talent Goes on Vacation, during the "Crime and Punishment" side story, hanging is described this way when it comes to executions in the post-Tragedy world. As one prison guard points out, all you need is some rope and a good place to tie it in order to execute someone and possibly leave their body on display. She adds that she doesn't get why Monokuma felt the need to use elaborate and high-tech executions.
  • Used repeatedly in the Star Wars fanfic Wilhuff Tarkin, Hero of the Rebellion. The most notable so far is Armand Isard's assassination, executed with a slugthrower (that is, a real world gun) through a window: the window would have saved him from a blaster, as the bolt would have simply exploded on contact and showered him with small shards, but the slug, being a solid object, went through it and hit Isard.
  • With This Ring:
    • When Paul first comes to universe 16, he doesn't try some complex scheme to power up; he simply goes to the original Earth Green Lantern's house, knowing that he's retired from costumed heroics, and offers to buy his lantern.
    • He later partners with a local shooting range to improve on the AK-47, producing the "Cobra" gun. It doesn't have any special effects, it just fires bullets. However, it uses a magnetic field to fire solid metal bullets rather than cartridges. With no explosives, it's cheaper to maintain (a standard electricity supply will do), easier to aim (minimal recoil), and has a better rate of fire than an AK-47.
    • Paul eventually gains access to a large database of alien technology, including all sorts of energy weapons and even beam singularity projectors that essentially create a black hole. But when a combat situation comes up, he almost always creates construct railguns. They're not especially intimidating — indeed, rookie Lanterns tend to dismiss them — and they don't attack at lightspeed, but they're cheap to create, easily scaled up by just making more of them, precise enough to avoid friendly fire, and they can launch a variety of specialist ammunition types, allowing them to hurt almost any target.
    • One of the really revolutionary products that Paul is distributing through KordTech is jovium, a perfect conductor of heat and electricity. The Amazons, who have had it for centuries, mostly shrugged their shoulders at it, using it in bathhouses but otherwise ignoring it; they're more interested in nigh-indestructible metals like orichalcum that can be used to make armour and weapons. However, by building an electricity grid without losses in transmission, electricity becomes cheaper, there's less conflict over oil reserves, and thousands of lives are improved or outright saved.
  • In Wizard Runemaster, Harry Potter has two instances in Naxxramas where easy low level spells are just as, if not more, effective as complicated battle oriented spells. First, using a spell for banishing spiders to turn the entirety of the Arachnid Quarter into a Zero-Effort Boss. Second, while fighting the Four Horsemen, Harry stops Mograine from using the Ashbringer by hitting him with a disarming spell then using a sticking spell to glue the sword to the floor.
    • Later he demonstrates how a silencing spell renders magic users helpless, easily taking out a large group of mages with an area silencing spells.
    • Right from the start, one of Harry's most used spells is the translation spell which allows anyone under its effect to hear every language as their native language for twelve hours and any word they hear in another language, they'll be able to speak afterwards. An example given by a Tauren was that if she was hit by the spell then spent a day in Stormwind, she'd likely be completely fluent in Common by the time it wore off.
    • Harry earns a lot of goodwill with both the Night Elves and the Horde leadership by introducing them to communication mirrors. Previously, communication between cities or outposts took weeks and changed hands so many times that the contents were frequently white-washed if not outright falsified. By giving Tyrande a hundred such mirrors, she and all her major outposts can communicate instantly with each other. While the Horde isn't initially given as many (due to Harry having no interaction with them yet), they still get a few dozen that allows all their leaders to contact each other at once. Furthermore, said mirrors have a conference call function so for example, all the Horde leaders can meet with each other without spending months preparing.
  • In the Medaka Box fanfic World as Myth, Kumagawa's Minus, Book Maker, is a giant screw. That can subdue even War God Mode Medaka.
  • Worldfall has a few examples:
    • What are the improvements of the M1A5 over the existing variants of the Abrams? A new 140mm gun, thicker armor, and an autoloader to fire faster. Race tank crews find the latter the most devastating.
    • The post-Footfall Race offensive suffers three massive defeats, but if the Americans, the Mexicans and the Canadians used massive amounts of air bombardment (even using every single strategic bomber in tactical roles) and artillery at Route 55 and the French wiped out the Race offensive on Lyon with nerve gas, the Italians decimated the invasion of Sicily by simply taking advantage of the hill/mountain terrain mix their army is uniquely adapted to. No immense firepower, no nerve gas, simply their usual weapons on their chosen terrain.
  • Xander in Xendra makes a point while patrolling to wear durable clothes he can afford to lose, including either cheap tennis shoes or work boots. Contrast Buffy who wears designer clothes and shoes and has a manicure while on patrol then complains when they get damaged or stained.
    • Xander's carpentry skills frequently help out the Scoobies, and later Angel's group, by enabling him to cheaply and efficiently repair any damage incurred against their homes. While he lacks Buffy's and Faith's fighting ability or Willow's magic and brains, Xander makes sure they don't go bankrupt repairing the Hyperion after the battle against Skip trashes the place.
  • In Dark Arts and Crafts one of the first spells Xander casts on himself is a curse to prevent himself from feeling any pleasure from a designated action, casting spells in this case, thus preventing himself from ever getting addicted to magic. The fact said curse stores the pleasure that would be felt as a secondary energy source is also a useful bonus.
  • In Sounds Fishy to Me or Blackened White Fish Xander teaches Pyro a basic candle lighting spell. For most people, it's near useless offensively as the flame is roughly equivalent to a lit match. For Pyro however, it means he no longer needs a flame source to use his powers.
  • The M2A2 "Ma Deuce" .50 BMG Machine Gun gets described with this exact term on Regular Dinosaur Park during a weapons demonstration to some corporate big-wigs. When said "corporation" happens to be Jurassic freaking Park and the objective of said weapons is to mow down rampaging dinosaurs (or people barging into the park to commit crimes, most probably violently) before they can hurt any guests, you don't want awesome, you want it to work. The whole gamut of "awesome" (including Simple, yet Awesome) is covered by all the other guns on display, any case.
  • Whenever he masters a skill in The Lemon Games, Naruto gets the choice of two perks, almost always one Awesome, but Impractical and one Boring, but Practical. For example, archery allows him either the "Like the Wind" or "Like the Lightning" perk. The former decreases his range by a third but allows him perfect accuracy even while running at top speed; whereas the latter increases his range by a third but forces him to stand perfectly still while shooting. More often than not, Naruto takes the Boring, but Practical route.
  • To gather the large amounts of various poisons he needs for his experiments in Blood and Venom, Naruto places a standing bounty on them. While it's not very much, it's enough for any shinobi who comes across some to grab it for a minor bonus, thus giving Naruto access to a much larger variety of venoms, toxins, and poisons than he otherwise would have.
  • Sirius Black in the snippet Magical Contracts completely changes the Shinobi world via the titular items. While not remotely flashy, the idea of contracts that are impossible to break (at least not without dire consequences) reshape the world as not only are agreements between two parties actually ironclad, but no one is willing to make an agreement without a magical contract.
  • In Voyages of the Wild Sea Horse, our protagonists the Kamikaze Pirates were forced into a life of piracy by the corrupt navy, and have no interest in pillaging or terrorizing innocent civilians, and aren't particularly interested in wealth. As a result, they largely confine their attacks to raiding the navy and rival pirates, and whilst they do take whatever treasure they can scrape up, they focus their thievery on their enemies' supplies. It's not flashy or conventionally valuable, but it allows the Kamikaze Pirates to operate for extended periods of time without the use of a home base.

    Films — Animation 
  • In The LEGO Movie, Emmett turns out to be this trope. The Master Builders look down on him because he's just an average and mundane construction worker, and seemingly not as creative as they are. But while the other Master Builders squabble and try to force their own dominant styles onto a project, resulting in a chaotic mess that quickly falls apart, Emmett's comparatively more boring constructions hold together because he knows where the pieces ought to go to prevent them from collapsing. Such as his double-decker couch, which everyone sneers at, but which turns out to be the only thing that survives the collapse of the submarine the others had previously tried to build.
  • Little Witch Academia (2013): During the fight against the minotaur, in contrast to Diana's impressive Storm of Blades spell, which merely wounds it, Sucy simply whips out some poison and gives it to the minotaur, which causes it to melt to the ground and create a hole. It isn't as fancy or impressive as Diana's spell, but it was certainly simpler and far more effective.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Used repeatedly, mostly by Nick Fury, in The Avengers.
    • The S.H.I.E.L.D. agents all use conventional firearms. Even the RPG that Nick Fury uses at one point qualifies, since he used it for its intended purpose of destroying vehicles (disabling an F-35, in this case).
    • At one point Tony Stark wonders aloud how Fury can see the monitors on his left, since he's missing his left eye. He's told that Fury just turns his head.
      Tony: Must be exhausting.
    • During the fight aboard the Helicarrier, Fury orders the helmsman to move the ship south. The helmsman tells him the nav systems are offline.
      Fury: Is the sun coming up?
      Helmsman: Yes?
      Fury: Then put it on the left!
    • The Avengers want to find out what S.H.I.E.L.D. is using the Tesseract for. Tony tries to hack into the Helicarrier's computer system, which is quickly detected by S.H.I.E.L.D., while Cap just breaks into the armory, because he thought the computer was "going too slow".
  • Blade Runner 2049: In the final fight, Joe manages to defeat Luv, a fellow Replicant and an expert in Waif-Fu who has already given him one Curb-Stomp Battle, by simply exploiting the fact that they are in a sinking car, grabbing her by the throat and shoving her head underwater until she drowns.
  • In The Bourne Identity, Bourne and Marie need to get information on Michael Kane, one of Bourne's cover identities, from a hotel. Bourne forms an incredibly complex and precise plan that isn't even fully explained. In the middle of executing it, Marie decides to walk up to the desk clerk and ask for the papers they need. It works.
    Bourne: You just asked for it?
    Marie: I said I was Mr. Kane's personal assistant.
    Bourne: Oh. Okay. Good thinking.
  • Captain America: The First Avenger: Howard Stark showcases a number of shields featuring a variety of gadgets and nifty features, but Steve settles on a simple round shield that's made from vibranium, a rare alloy which is stronger than steel and a third of the weight. This later proves to be a good choice, as it's the only thing that can withstand Hydra's disintegration weapons; had he been seduced by the gimmicks of the other shields, Cap would have been killed horribly in his first battle with Hydra mooks and we would've had a very short film.
  • The Firm: The conflict of the movie is newcomer lawyer Mitch Mc Deere being in the middle of a conundrum: he can either rat on the criminal activities of the Amoral Attorney firm he works for and every client that it is associated with (which includes The Mafia) and get disbarred and most probably have to go into Witness Protection and/or get killed, or do nothing and risk having outlived his usefulness to the firm eventually or be tossed in jail as an accomplice. The option the FBI wants him to take is the full disclosure of the case files, and spends a good part of the film trying to strong-arm him into it. Mitch successfully manages to Take a Third Option and ensnares the firm by proving that every legal partner was guilty of overbilling every single one of their clients (a federal offense that will send everybody who did it straight to jail without the standard circus), thus allowing him to keep his status as a lawyer.
    Mitch: It's not sexy, but it's got teeth! Ten thousand dollars and five years in prison. That's ten and five for each act. Have you really looked at that? You've got every partner in the firm on overbilling. There's two hundred-fifty acts of documented mail fraud there. That's racketeering! That's minimum: 1250 years in prison and half a million dollars in fines. That's more than you had on Capone.
  • The Hunger Games has both the trainers and Haymitch stress that smart tributes learn wilderness survival and forgo getting glamorous weapons at the start before bolting for high ground and water to give themselves a good chance of survival.
  • James Bond's gear in Skyfall: a small radio and a biometric pistol that only responds to his particular "grip." Both of these save his life. Most of the movie's "old vs. new" theme qualifies, too — the old-school DB-5 vs. company cars with tracking mechanisms; the 00 Agents vs. computer-based espionage; old-fashioned booby traps vs. more complex arrangements. One of the Arc Words in Skyfall is "old dog, new tricks."
    • Likewise in Spectre: one of the ethical dilemmas posed here is whether the Attack Drones and Sinister Surveillance advocated by C/Max Denbigh can do the job of field agents like 007. M holds up the importance of spies because they're capable of autonomous decisions, especially ethical ones on the spot, going so far to ask C if he ever held a gun. Spectre later does prove that even in a digitized era, old-fashioned spies like 007 are still necessary to prevent critical errors.
Q [derisively] Now and then, a trigger needs to be pulled.
Bond: Or not pulled. It's hard to know which in your pajamas.
  • Kingsman: The Secret Service:
    • Along with all their cool spy gadgets, the Kingsmen keep a supply of off-the-shelf smartphones and tablets, which are undeniably useful for communication, photography, etc. (in the film, they explain that civilian technology had caught up to the spy game when it came to phones).
    • Valentine keeps a list of his personnel on paper instead of a hackable computer system.
  • Knives Out: Despite his eccentric behaviour and bizarre explanations of his train of thought, Benoit Blanc is actually considerably less flashy than most fictional detectives in his methods (similar to his obvious influence, Poirot). He doesn't have any CSI kits or super detective abilities, but instead does solid detective work, going over the scene of the crime and interrogating the witnesses, noting small but key details such as Harlan's blood on Marta's shoe. He predicts how events will unfold as the case proceeds, while avoiding assumptions where possible, then notes and investigates when events differ from his predictions. His ability to judge character is also a key skill in this investigation.
  • In The Last Samurai, the traditional weapons of the Samurai arsenal — bows and arrows, spears and swords, are derided as primitive and barbaric by the Japanese government and their western partners who are pushing for modernization. Katsumoto (a Samurai traditionalist and insurgent) and his followers make a point of demonstrating that these anachronisms are not quite out of the running just yet...
  • Moneyball: Billy Beane's strategy for the Oakland A's (who just don't have the money to compete with other teams) is to simply stop caring about which players are better-looking/cooler/have better chances of doing home runs/gifted/have more teams looking to hire them and just start checking up their statistical averages, then hiring the ones that these averages determine would help gain a better defense (if necessary, just hiring them and then training them to do their work). This works for Oakland quite well, even getting them a 20-game streak that was unprecedented in the team's history... until it didn't, because the other teams, the ones who have all of the money? They still have all of the money and they are now using "moneyball" too.
  • Mystery Men:
    • Early on, some of the heroes try to infiltrate a mansion with an array of gimmicky but mostly useless powers. When they come across a group of disco-themed villains guarding the mansion, they ridicule them for bringing pistols, junction pipes, switchblades, etc to the fight which have nothing to do with disco. A No-Holds-Barred Beatdown ensues.
      Blue Raja: (incredulous) There's no theme at all here!
    • The Blue Raja is a superhero who uses forks as throwing projectiles, but his overly showy method of throwing them makes them completely ineffectual. During the team's Training Montage with the Sphinx, he teaches him a more proper, less theatrical method of throwing, and he suddenly becomes a lot more accurate and his forks actually stick to things.
  • The Quick and the Dead: When he's forced to become part of the town's quick-draw Duel to the Death contest, Cort has no money and no gun, so Herod (in a Faux Affably Evil Bait the Dog moment) asks The Kid to sell Cort a gun. The Kid displays several fancy top of the line models, and Cort, despite having retired from gunfighting and attempting to atone for his past misdeeds, can't help but look interested at the various guns. Herod then demands that the Kid sell Cort the cheapest gun in the whole shop. The gun is an SAA that looks so rusty that it appears to be falling apart and costs only $5, but The Kid assures Cort that "it shoots straight. I wouldn't give it to you if it didn't." Cort then goes on to become a finalist of the contest with it (although in one round he was helped along by the Lady's plan, as she lost on purpose and faked her death), while numerous contestants with much fancier guns drop like flies in the early rounds of the contest.
  • The famous gun vs sword fight in Raiders of the Lost Ark. A Mook brandishes a scimitar in precise and skillful ways, but Indy just raises his gun and shoots him.
  • Rudy: When former steelworker turned Notre Dame student Rudy is getting bummed about not getting to play during a football game, his janitor pal points out that he's been getting an education at a prestigious university that will certainly play a large role in improving his life. It might not be as glamorous as football, but it will save him from returning to the steel mill that he fled from.

  • In the 1632 series, the uptimers spend over a year and a huge amount of resources building ironclad naval vessels, with propulsion, armor and weaponry far in advance of anything in existence at the time. When they launch an attack on Copenhagen, the Danes simply Zerg Rush the ships with a fleet of longboats armed with spar torpedoes. The casualty rate among the Danes is appalling, but their boats and bombs are easy and cheap to produce in large numbers. They don't win the battle, but they manage to mission kill one ironclad, and pose a genuine threat to the rest.
    • Earlier, after a discussion of just how far they should uplift their downtime allies, the Uptimers decide to share Civil War technology for this reason. Grantville is a small mining town that lacks the precision tools needed to make 20th century firearms, but 19th century guns are basically the same tech the 17th century Downtimers are using but slightly improved for power and accuracy (which also means their allies don't have to adjust their training regimens to compensate for unfamiliar weapons). Ammunition is easy to come by as it's the same as the older guns, and restocking after a battle isn't too much of an issue as the victors can loot their foe's supplies. Finally, in the inevitability that some of the guns fall into the hands of Grantville's geopolitical enemies like the French or Spanish and get reverse-engineered, the resulting leap won't tip the balance of power too far against them (as they still have a decent cache of modern weapons, and the know-how to make more ammo for them).
  • Beesong Chronicles: There are a number of non-combat abilities, such as Salvaging, that adventurers prize highly. Salvaging is one of the only ways to collect valuable body parts from monsters, and even then it's not very efficient (Minor Salvaging has a ten percent success rate, and even Advanced Salvaging only has a fifty percent success rate). Furthermore, most of the time the only way to get the really good abilities is to have the appropriate Job. Non-combat abilities only come with a non-combat job, which is not suited for adventuring, and if you stop training the non-combat job you lose access to the abilities — so you can't take a couple levels of the Farmer Job for the perks and then dive into a dungeon as a Mage. The series starts with the introduction of the apis demihuman race, who have Advanced Harvesting as an innate racial ability. Not only is Harvesting better than Salvaging, since it's racial it is not dependent on Job. The apis immediately become very valuable party members, since all those 20 Bear Asses quests are much, much easier with one of them on your side.
  • In the Belisarius Series, both the Romans and the Malwa have advisers from the future, but while the Malwa adviser Link tends to think in terms of flashy, futuristic weaponry, the Roman adviser Aide tends towards this trope. While Aide does help the Romans make gunpowder weapons, he also gives them boring but practical advances with things like stirrups: easy to make, simple to use, and instantly makes your cavalry far more effective.
  • Chrysalis (RinoZ): In his first few evolutions, Anthony skips over the options to upgrade his stomach, focusing on more interesting options like beefing up his muscles, getting access to magic, adding extra sub-brains, and even contemplating growing wings. Who cares about something boring like digestion? Eventually, however, as he watches what monsters like Crinis can do, he realises that a more efficient stomach — one that can hold more of a large haul, or extract more biomass points from weak enemies — is an important asset for gaining strength quickly. He eventually makes it a standard requirement for all new hatchlings, when they evolve the first time, to make their stomachs mutable.
  • Ciaphas Cain (HERO OF THE IMPERIUM!!!) is given multiple opportunities throughout his series to upgrade from his fairly dinky laspistol to the much heftier, menacing, and powerful bolt pistol (or Hellpistol on one occasion). He opts for the laspistol every time, reasoning that he's become so used to the weapon, learning the intricacies of such a different one might throw him off at a critical moment.
    • "Used to it" is a bit of an understatement, even for Cain. As Amberley herself has witnessed and commented on, Cain is capable of performing headshots with that laspistol at ranges well outside what should otherwise be the weapon's optimal performance level. And much more, he's used it to make One Shot Kills on virtually every race within the Warhammer verse, from Orks (up to and including a friggin' Warboss) and Tyranids to Chaos cultists, Dark Eldar and Daemons. Basically, Cain has (arguably) killed more with that "dinky" laspistol than most Space Marines have with bolters and plasma pistols.
  • The Cosmere:
    • Discussed and Subverted in The Bands of Mourning. The titular treasure is hidden in a Temple of Doom deep in the mountains, which Wax thinks is a terrible way to hide something; if Wax were to hide an Artifact of Doom, he'd put it in a nondescript cave. He later realizes that while a cave would hide the Bands from the builder's enemies, it would also make it difficult for the builder to find them as well. The enormous temple ensures that should the builder return, he could always find them. In fact, the Bands are hidden as part of the seemingly decorative statue in front of the trapped temple. The temple is full of multiple layers of tricks to make it look like someone else looted the place first, but it's all just a distraction. The original bearer could retrieve the Bands in half a minute.
    • The Shattered Plains in The Stormlight Archive is the home of the giant chasmfiends, enormous shelled beasts whose gemhearts are valuable as a Practical Currency (gems can be used for Soulcasting, or magical transmutation). The entire Alethi court is stationed there after a war for vengance brought them there, but now they're most just seeking wealth by killing these beasts. While the other Highprinces are off fighting Parshmen and eachother to kill the Chasmfiends and take their Gemharts, Highprince Sebarial took one look at the chasmfiends and knew they were going to be here for the long haul. Even after the war that brought them there ends, the opportunity to keep hunting the Chasmfiends and literally make money is too valuable to pass up. He largely ignores hunting them, instead focusing on setting up a permanent economy in what is currently the de facto Alethi court and will inevitably become a permenant part of the kingdom. As he tells Shallan, no matter who harvests the gemhearts, they end spending it in his camps.
  • Cradle Series:
    • Lindon has a few of these. One of his key advantages throughout the series is that he has pure madra — the same kind children have — which has some Anti-Magic properties and some benefit to soulsmithing. When he eventually invents an Enforcement technique for his pure madra, all it does is improve his physical abilities a bit. It's not much, but compared to the explosive bursts of power from his other Enforcer technique, it's often more useful.
    • In a world where everyone has custom-made magical weapons, Eithan has ordinary janitor tools like brooms and shears. He reforges them in soulfire (which makes them Nigh-Invulnerable) and then uses them to kill people who can survive having mountains thrown at them.
    • Likewise, Eithan's solution to most problems is "throw madra at it." He has deep madra reserves due to his advanced cycling technique (which he teaches to Lindon), so he basically always has more power to use. As he says, there are other cycling techniques that improve recovery time and so on, but why worry about all that when you have so much power that you'll never run out? Underlords such as Eithan can also turn madra into soulfire (though there are more efficient methods of creating soulfire), so he also has deep soulfire reserves. Most underlords are miserly with their soulfire, but Eithan burns it casually because he is confident he can always make more.
  • On The Day of the Jackal, the tactics used by Lebel and the French police to find the titular master assassin are pretty much brute-force and absurd thoroughness (Lebel's bugging of all the phones of the French government high-ups in his search of The Mole, the obtaining of all the guest records of all the hotels in France and looking through all of the birth and death certificates for The Jackal's aliases). In an era where all the records were paper and had to be looked through by hand, these searches were very slow — yet nevertheless the police are able to find proof of the Jackal's activities and force him to keep moving and changing identities. The way with which he finds the Jackal's sniping spot at the end is also very much this: instead of a complicated criminal profiling mind-game, he just asks every guard on the perimeter of the event if they saw someone that looked like the Jackal, until he finds one that did.
  • Discworld:
    • Guards! Guards! uses this trope to lampshade the trope where MacGuffins which are swords are most often shiny and cool looking (as described: shiny that lights up with a ting!) At the end of the book in which Carrot joins the Watch, Fred Colon thinks that perhaps the sword of the last king of Ankh-Morpork isn't shiny and lights up with a "ting!" Perhaps the sword of the king is a boring old sword that was simply very, very, very sharp. Carrot has such a sword. The sword in question may even be something of an Inverted Trope. It is so remarkably unmagical it doesn't even have the trace of background magic almost everything on the Disc is saturated with, thus making it slightly more real than everything else it encounters.
    • In the same vein, Cohen and the Silver Horde (a group of octogenarian barbarian heroes) carry notably notched and beat-up swords that are STILL sharp enough to cut a die in half in mid-air. At one point, Cohen internally reflects that a simple, plain non-magical sword in the hands of a truly brave man will cut through a magical sword like suet. He's reflecting on this fact while looking at Carrot's sword, which has been previously described as one of the most non-magical objects on the Disc.
    • Discworld witches in general tend to be this, especially compared to wizards. Witchcraft is more about using psychology and common sense to make things do what they're supposed to, and even the "real magic" tends to be subtle. When the Lancre Witches face off against Lady Felmet, Granny tries to defeat her by reaching into her mind and breaking down the mental barriers that keep her from seeing her true self, revealing to her what a sadistic monster she is. When this doesn't work, Nanny Ogg just hits her on the head with a cauldron.
    • In A Hat Full of Sky, the Witch Trials are special events (not competitions) where witches gather to show off. Among impressive entries like the Pig Trick (with a sausage) and two-person juggling tricks with one person, one witch presents a better way to stop people from choking. The narration points out that while it isn't magical, something that turns almost-dead people into living people is worth more than a dozen spells that just look pretty.
    • Though wizards can be practical when the need arises. As Mustrum Ridcully has pointed out, if the magic stored in a wizard's staff doesn't work, "a good poke in any available soft bits" with a six-foot stick-with-a-knob-on-the-end can still be a very effective deterrent.
    • Discworld dwarfs have a virtually religious attachment to their axes, usually owning or carrying a few different types. However, the traditional "Dwarf axe" shape is an utterly practical one. It has a pickaxe on one side, for digging up interesting minerals, and a regular axeblade on the other, for dealing with unreasonable people who want to take your interesting minerals. A dwarf with a proper dwarf axe can both dig interesting minerals and cut firewood. A dwarf with minerals and fire can make a forge and tools, and a dwarf with a forge and tools can make anything.
    • Although Moist von Lipwig is a theatrical conman with a flair for the dramatic, when he's put in charge of revitalizing Ankh-Morpork's decrepit postal system, his main selling point amounts to this. The post may not be as modern, flashy, and fast as the recently invented "Clacks" semaphore system, but it's also more reliable, less expensive, and sending a whole book isn't much harder than sending a letter.
  • The Dresden Files:
    • The "Eebs" work like this. When trying to kill an extremely powerful wizard they shoot at him with a silenced pistol from inside a car. When it fails they just drive away. They hire a local killer to attack him. They chuck a firebomb into his building while he sleeps. All things that don't take a scrap of supernatural power to achieve. They are also the Red Court's two most successful assassins. The reasons being that while these individual attempts don't have a particularly high success rate, they also expose them to barely any risk and take little effort, and sooner or later they get lucky.
    • Grevane makes zombies. Not a particularly spectacular power, compared to insanely powerful and insanely versatile sorcerer Cowl or body-surfer Corpsetaker, but it is hard to argue with a man who can raise and control undead in high three-digit numbers. It helps that Dresdenverse zombies are more like meaty T-800s than the usual shamblers.
    • Similar to Grevane is Binder. Binder is a one-trick pony, and his trick is creating servitors known as the Grey Men. Again, compared to Harry's fireballs, it's less than impressive, but the Grey Men are fast, strong, intelligent enough to use simple machines (like guns) and, unlike Grevane's zombies, can operate semi-independently.
    • Harry's .44 Magnum revolver. It's not as sophisticated as the FN P-90 that Murphy favors during combat, nor does it have any badass enchantments like the swords of the Knights Of The Cross (or Harry's other magical apparel), but what it is is a highly reliable Hand Cannon that has saved Harry often both because of its stopping power and because it is highly intimidating. For that matter, when an enemy does get to close range, Harry's been known to just bonk them over the head with his staff (which, after all, is a six-foot length of solid oak) or punch them in the face.
  • The Gamebook Duel of the Masters both you and the book's Big Bad are monks skilled in the martial arts. In at least one ending you realize he's used to fighting less skilled opponents and using flashy, impressive moves to cement his reputation as someone not to be messed with. Once you realize this you quickly start fighting back with moves that don't look cool, but, well, you win.
  • Fire & Blood: Seems to have been Aegon III's method of ruling. No big fancy displays of the kingdom and crown's wealth and power, just keep the smallfolk warm, fed and content.
  • The Four Horsemen Universe: Mark 8 CASPers are the current state of the art, but Mark 7s are still in common use and are perfectly serviceable for mercenary companies that can't afford Mark 8s (as is the case for the protagonist companies in the first two books). They're also less cramped inside than the Mark 8, though this means they're bigger on the outside.
  • Fred, The Vampire Accountant: Fred is considered immensely valuable in the supernatural community. Not because vampires are powerful (though they are) or because he has a legion of powerful friends (though he does), but because he's an accountant. Due to The Masquerade laws, supernaturals aren't allowed to talk about supernatural affairs with normals — including accountants. Meaning that if they have a magical business, or even a normal business that occasionally makes use of magical assistance, they have to do all the paperwork themselves. Fred, as someone in on The Masquerade who is both willing and able to do accounting, quickly finds his business booming.
  • Harry Potter:
    • Expelliarmus, the Disarming Charm. Simple, plain, does no damage. Easy to cast. But since most wizards are useless in combat without their wands, very useful. (And there's the added bonus that an expelliarmus-ed wand will sometimes change allegiance to the wizard responsible.) It knocks whatever someone's holding out of their grip, too, not just wands. In Deathly Hallows, Lupin warns Harry not to make it his signature move, despite how useful it is. In practice, it turns out to be incredibly useful: Draco effectively defeats Dumbledore with it, and Harry uses it twice to counter Voldemort's Avada Kedavra, killing Voldemort for good.
    • While we're at it, Stupefy. It is a spell that knocks someone out. That is all. But unless you want a person dead (and there are plenty of situations where you wouldn't, even if you have no qualms about killing, and even if your goal was to kill you could use Stupefy and deliver the killing blow muggle style, while the Killing Curse is one of the most difficult spells to cast), it's just as effective at putting an opponent out of a fight (it also helps that using Stupefy won't earn its user a life sentence in Azkaban, like the Killing Curse will). There's also the simple fact that Stupefy is both simpler and faster to say — you could have it cast by the time your opponent is halfway through Avada Kedavra. Assuming of course you can't use silent casting, something that works for Stupefy and not for the Killing Curse (unless the wizard is very, very powerful). Of course, if Stupefy is overpowered or multiple wizards cast it at one person, you risk harming or killing your target (McGonagall was hospitalized after being struck by four simultaneous Stunners in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, as an example of the latter.)
    • Furthermore, the Confundus Charm, as used by Snape in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, amongst others. It's not as powerful of a mind-control spell as the Imperius Curse, but a clever user can still cause havoc by giving the Confunded person the right instructions, with the added bonus that it's not illegal like the Imperius or Killing Curses. (Un)fortunately, however, most wizards operate on very little logic, something that is lampshaded by Hermione.
    • By a certain defintinion of "boring", Harry's Invisibility Cloak is this in regards to the three Deathly Hallows. The other two artifacts are the most powerful wand in the world and a stone that can make the user immortal (and quite possibly command an army of Inferi, among a range of other effects). Hiding from your enemies and walking past problems doesn't sound quite as impressive, but it's incredibly effective in a wide range of places, and it does wonders for Harry and his friends.
    • This trope is a big reason the Killing Curse is so reviled in-story. Lots of spells will kill the target, or even a lot of people at once, often in very flashy ways. The Killing Curse kills one person, very deliberately, with no ceremony, fancy effects, or hope of recovery. It's murder, pure and simple.
    • And when magic spells fail to take out an opponent, just whack it with a club. Right, troll in the dungeon?
  • This comes up with several characters in the Honor Harrington series, like Admiral Khumalo and to a lesser extent Admiral Caparelli. While they lack the sheer genius of many other characters in the series, they make up for it by being hard-working, determined and good at delegation and are in fact acknowledged to be better at their assigned tasks (commanding officer of the Talbott Sector and senior uniformed officer of the entire Royal Manticoran Navy, respectively) than their more inspired and "flashy" colleagues would have been.
  • Ignition! An Informal History of Liquid Rocket Propellants by John D Clark. The chapter "What Ivan Was Doing" ends with this observation:
    In short, the Russians tend to be squares in their choices of propellants. […] When he wants more thrust, Ivan doesn't look for a fancy propellant with a higher specific impulse. He just builds himself a bigger rocket. Maybe he's got something there.
  • In Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, the first of the titular magicians is sent to the Duke of Wellington so as apply his magical abilities in service of the war against Napoleon. His initial, flashy efforts, however, are usually dismissed as worse than useless, leading to a lot of skepticism and tension. It's only when he starts getting to know the common soldiers and finding out what they really want that he begins to fit in, as is reflected by his magic getting a lot less flashy but a lot more useful. Tellingly, the first spell that convinces Wellington that this guy might actually be useful is when he conjures up magical roads for the armies to march on.
  • The Known Space series has the ships produced by the Puppetteers: 4 models (3 available to civilians) which are customizable only in the paint job you want on them, but account for 95% of starship sales in Known Space because they are completely indestructible and impervious to radiation and weaponry. But not antimatter or tides, as several characters learn the hard way.
  • A similar short story by Isaac Asimov, "The Machine That Won The War", showcases the "garbage in, garbage out" problem by mentioning that every single person in the chain of providing tactical information to the titular supercomputer, from the front-line generals down to the keyboard operator, all embellished the information for the sake of looking good or because the other information looked too good. So the person who took a look at the predictions of the super-computer and made the plans for the military used the actual titular machine to assist him... he flipped a coin.
  • In The Magicians magicians and gods have access to an immense range of weird abilities. The most powerful beings however, have a tendency to just physically attack with Super Strength and shrug off any complicated magic thrown at them.
  • The French novel Malevil features the eponymous castle. Built by the invading English during The Hundred Years War it was built solely for function and has little aesthetic value unlike its opposing neighbor, the French castle Les Rouzies.
  • In Nevermoor, various people have "knacks," phenomenal and sometimes supernatural talents, which can include things like being a master thief, having a Compelling Voice, being able to see the future, and so on. Henry Mildmay stands out because his knack is an ability to make insanely accurate and detailed maps. He's all too aware that it's not very exciting, and is just a touch bitter about being constantly compared to people with flashier knacks, but it's dead useful.
  • In one of the Night Watch books, Anton travels to Taiwan and is staying in a nice hotel. He walks to into the bathroom and sees a small TV there. He's jealous since he has considered buying one for himself but changed his mind after finding out how much a waterproof TV costs. Then he looks at the back of the TV and is shocked to see that it's not waterproofed in any way. He muses that the moisture will kill the TV in a few years, so they will have to buy another. Then he realizes that this is the point. Why waste tons of money on a waterproof TV, when they can simply buy another at a fraction of the price every 4 years or so, especially since technology will have changed by then, so the new TV will be better? He admits it makes sense. It's just that the post-Soviet people have not yet learned to be as wasteful as other capitalist countries.
  • The Reluctant King: In the third book, Jorian tries to use sorcery (first a flying, demon-manned giant bathtub, then a demonic envoy) to reach his beloved Estrildis in the palace. He's successful when he's advised to simply bribe someone from the palace to take her out to him.
  • Renegades: the hero Insomnia has only one power, and that's being The Sleepless. Nowhere near as flashy as Elemental Powers, Super Strength or any other highly effective abilities of her teammates, but invaluable when conducting detective work such as trailing or stakeouts.
  • In The Salamanders adventurers (called climbers) actually wear practical armor and learn to use different kinds of weapons for different situations.
  • Sandokan novel The King of the Sea reveals that most of Sandokan's immense fortune is kept safe in one or more banking accounts in neutral countries (what he has at Mompracem is just petty cash), and that he gave Yanez the cheque book in case the 'petty cash' he had with him (a small fortune) wasn't enough to buy whatever Yanez considered necessary, like food, gunpowder, or an ironclad warship.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, Bronn is forced to fight Vardis Egen, the champion of House Arryn, in a trial by combat. Vardis wears customized armor and an elaborate sword. Bronn wears just his own armor and uses his own sword. While Vardis' gear looks cool, it soon becomes clear that he hasn't had a lot of experience wearing it and he's way too cautious about wielding his sword because it's on loan from House Arryn. Bronn easily kills him.
    • The opposite happens when Ser Barristan Selmy goes to imprison Hizdahr zo Loraq and has to fight his body guard, Khrazz. Selmy lets Khrazz attack him knowing every strike will just harmlessly bounce of his armor. He only bothers to protect his head and easily dispatches a legendary pit fighter.
  • Star Wars Expanded Universe and Legends:
    • "Slugthrower" weaponry — these are firearms, guns that fire bullets. This is a 'verse where blasters are fairly easy to come by. But Luke Skywalker trained with slugthrowers as a kid on Tatooine, and a character in Shatterpoint has this to say about them.
      Tenk: Slugthrowers. I hate 'em. But they're easy to maintain. Day or two in the jungle and your blaster'll never fire again. A good slug rifle, keep 'em wiped and oiled, they last forever. The guerrillas have pretty good luck with them, even though they take a lot of practice — slugs are ballistic, y'know? You have to plot the trajectory in your head.
    • That and they're the perfect Jedi-killing weapon: a blaster bolt can be easily deflected back with a lightsaber, but if a Jedi intercepts a slugthrower round it will only melt it without deflecting or slowing it, resulting in the defending Jedi getting hit with a less lethal but much more painful slug. And making him defenseless due to the pain, if the bullet didn't kill him outright. Even if the lightsaber does deflect the slug, the Jedi can't reflect it back at an opponent the way they could a blaster bolt. The Force is effective against them, but it takes a skilled Jedi to catch a bullet with it.
      • There is one noted weakness: Stormtrooper armor actually works against them. Which is why most guerrillas that use them against Stormtroopers have to do stuff like filling the rounds with explosives. Even then, it's also mentioned that one advantage slugthrowers have over blasters is that you can silence slugthrowers.
    • The YT-1300 Corellian Light Freighter when compared to an X-Wing or Star Destroyer is one of the most boring ships in the universe. It is, however, one of the most popular. Reliable, durable, easy to modify and repair in an emergency; the YT-1300 is a favorite of smugglers throughout the galaxy. The most famous example, of course, is the Millennium Falcon as it is the best example of what a resourceful spacer can do with the design.
    • The X-Wing also falls into this in the Expanded Universe, where, before the production of the XJ and StealthX series, it was outmatched entirely by next generation fighters like its distant cousin the E-Wing and the Empire's pure hotrod of a starship, the TIE Defender. Yet even all the way to the Yuuzhan Vong War, the X-Wing remained perhaps the most effective fighter in the Rebel Alliance/New Republic/Galactic Alliance's arsenal, thanks to its near perfectly balanced performance and capabilities, as well as the ease at which pilots (namely Rogue Squadron) can use them. Sure, a few good pilots in TIE Defenders are a considerable threat, but an X-Wing with Luke Skywalker, Wedge Antilles, Tycho Celchu or Corran Horn at the controls is guaranteed to be the superior force (no pun intended). Part of that for the X-wing is that the cockpit and controls are intentionally designed to resemble those of cheap, popular civilian aircraft. This makes them seem mundane ("boring") but also makes it much easier and faster for civilian pilots to transition to X-wings ("practical").
    • The lightsaber style Form III Soresu. It's the most widespread and defensive form of Jedi combat, and it's nowhere near as flashy as other styles like Ataru or Vaapad. It's also why Obi-Wan Kenobi was able to beat General Grievous, despite the latter wielding four lightsabers, as it made for an impregnable defense. He managed to defeat Darth Vader and in Star Wars Rebels Darth Maul, by using this very style. Darth Bane notes in his part of Book of the Sith that Soresu and Form V (Shien/Djem So, the attacking style), are the best useful fighting styles for the Sith, and in Darth Bane: Rule of Two, he teaches his own apprentice Darth Zannah to use Soresu because her smaller size makes more offensively oriented stylesnote  impractical for her.
    • Regarding the otherwise Awesome, but Impractical Death Star — in the Novelization of Rogue One, Governor Tarkin sends Director Krennic a message warning him not to get so carried away with making the Death Star a technological marvel that he loses sight of its true purpose as a weapon to silence dissent against The Empire. In short, a "crude but functional" Death Star is acceptable. Krennic, however, begs to differ. We all know how that turns out.
    • The main competing plan, which the Death Star steals all the funding from for purely political reasons, is Grand Admiral Thrawn's plan of "replace our current generation of utterly useless fighters with some that can actually win a fight against the Clone Wars surplus and civilian models the Rebels are using".
    • While no lightsaber could be considered "boring", there are plenty of variations, like the saberstaff, the long-handled saber, the even-longer-handled saberpike, the lightwhip, the lightclub, the shoto, etc. etc. etc. Despite this, nearly everyone uses the simple one-handed saber with a single blade. While it may not be very flashy, the simple lightsaber can be held easily with one or two hands, most styles of combat are designed for its use, it's excellent for both offense and defense, and it can be easily carried around unnoticed. Also, unlike saberstaffs or pikes, it can be constructed from ordinary materials without risking it be hit by an opponent's attack and being destroyed, unless that opponent is extraordinarily skillfull.
    • Most lightsabers are noted to be very difficult for non-Force users to handle properly. The weightless blade takes a lot of getting used to, and that's a problem when one mistake can lose you an arm. Therefore, whenever non-Force users are given lightsabers, they are typically given saberpikes. It's a staff with a laser on the end, perfectly easy for an ordinary person to use. In fact, this is the reason why in real life spears and other polearms were the standard infantry weapon, rather than swords. It takes much less training to teach a common soldier how to hold a spear and stab than how to fight with a sword.
  • Robert Sheckley's book "The Status Civilization" has the main character running an antidote shop on a lawless planet. He is amazed at how, despite all the scientific advancement, most poisoners prefer the plain old arsenic and strychnine. The main problem in his job, in fact, turned out to be convincing his clients that their wives would use something so primitive.
  • There's a short story by Arthur C. Clarke called Superiority about a space empire that keeps inventing one incredible super weapon after another, with the most cutting edge science. They end up getting overrun by their enemies who directed their resources towards making huge numbers of basic ships with 'generic' weapons while the other side was busy updating their ships, and by exploiting the flaws and weaknesses of waves of new technology being field-tested for the first time.
  • In The Three-Body Problem's second sequel, Death's End, we are introduced to the photoid: the simplest way to kill a solar system. It takes a lot of energy, but other than that, it's very straightforward: it's just a large projectile converted into a relativistic kill vehicle and shot at really high speed into a star. It's basically a bullet that can destroy a sun.
  • We Are Legion (We Are Bob):
    • Traditional wisdom was to clone a replicant from an unimaginative mind, so that it wouldn't go insane from isolation and repetitive tasks. Bob is a new idea, an engineer and a programmer who is able to automate most tasks for maximum efficiency.
    • Space stations are initially dismissed when trying to find a way to save the survivors on Earth, but Homer eventually realizes that space farms are much more practical, due to a wider margin of error and fewer needs. They fill a few with kudzu and extend the life of the planet by decades.
    • Major Ernesto Medeiros, the Brazilian probe, is not an engineer or a programmer, but he is an excellent tactician and a ruthless soldier. He is able to set several ambushes for Bobs using unexpected tactics, including secret Brazilian projects he was keeping in reserve.
  • In Welcome to the Impregnable Demon King Castle, one of the major issues protagonist Remme faces is that in a world where tackling dungeons is a media entertainment, the debuffing abilities of a black mage is not visible and therefore not very flashy. It's acknowledged that back when the world was at war, these abilities were very useful against the enemy, and protagonist Remme's skill with it gained the acknowledgement of number one hero Aerial. In fact, when Remme left his party, they found themselves barely surviving by the skin of their teeth. As it turns out, it's harder to fight the strong enemy when they aren't being debuffed.
  • This is basically the Forsaken Mesaana's whole shtick in The Wheel of Time. She may not be as smart as Ishamael, as powerful as Lanfear, as great a warrior as Demandred, or as feared as Semirhage, but she's a solidly intelligent, methodical planner who is driven primarily by a pathological need to prove her own competence. She also lacks many of the extreme mental issues that her comrades exhibit, and is neither a Dirty Coward nor Hot-Blooded enough to throw herself into fights willy-nilly. Her careful, goal-oriented approach lets her through careful action paralyze the most powerful institution on the planet for most of the series, and she manages to survive all the way to the penultimate book. She is, however, fully aware that she falls under the boring side of things and has a chip on her shoulder about it (again, her Freudian Excuse is basically feeling that no one ever recognized or appreciated her true talents) so Egwene is able to exploit it to draw her into a direct confrontation and destroy her mind in a battle of wills.
  • In The Witcher, Signs pale in comparison to the power of real magics cast by mages and sorceresses, but they are practical little magical effects that can be cast quickly and more importantly, with one hand. This makes them a handy tool for Witchers in the middle of combat. Of these Signs, perhaps the most useful is Axii — a simple charm spell that can calm down people or animals and manipulate their minds, not just useful in fights but for avoiding them entirely.
  • In World War Z, once the nations of the world decide to go on the offensive after the Zombie Apocalypse, they get rid of their flashy tanks, jet fighters, machine guns, and indeed most modern tactics. Instead, the average infantryman carries a highly-accurate, semi-automatic rifle that is designed for pulling off headshots quickly and consistently, they form up in lines and open fire. These old-school tactics kill zombies better than anything. Do Not ask how realistic this is.
    • Equally important at this point is having dedicated supply runners whose sole purpose is to provide the soldiers with ammo and snacks, as any zombie engaged can potentially call a nigh-limitless horde to their location, turning a skirmish into a days-long siege.
    • Additionally, the melee weapon of choice in later chapters is the Lobotomizer, "Lobo" for short. It's described in-book as a cross between a shovel and a medieval battle axe. Dig a trench, bury a fallen comrade, decapitate a zombie.
    • One of the interviewed heroes is a member of the ISS crew who were stranded when the Zombie Apocalypse broke out. They spent their prolonged stay keeping the satellite communications network operating so the rest of humanity could coordinate the eventual counterattack.
    • In general the entire counterattack in America relied on this, retooling the entire economy for pure efficiency. For instance, the main point of those rifles was that they were incredibly cheap to make in massive numbers, and so was their ammunition.
    • One of their best tactics for clearing multilevel buildings was to just stand on a neighboring roof and make a lot of noise so the zombies will walk off the roof trying to get to you; about as boring as it gets, but effective (incidentally, the technique was invented by a dog).
  • Worm may be superhero fiction but still has a healthy respect for ordinary weapons like guns or knives, and indeed a number of major characters lacking Super Toughness get seriously wounded or even killed by them.
    • Not to mention all the superpowers themselves that qualify as this. Special mention goes to Fletchette whose power essentially boils down to this setting's version of a magic missile: a relatively weak attack that can harm almost anything and is nearly impossible to reliably defend against. Coupled with her secondary power of enhanced understanding of angles, trajectory, and sense of timing, and she becomes a nightmare. Little wonder how she manages to kill Gray Boy.
  • The Zombie Survival Guide (which is occasionally referenced in World War Z In-Universe) offers a few recommendations for equipment and tactics based on this golden principle.
    • The best long-arm to use for zombie hunting is a typical bolt-action rifle (preferably one that has a bayonet on it for CQC). The reason being that any store that sells hunting weapons will probably have at least one available (or you could purchase one with ease), ammunition is plenty, and More Dakka is useless against zombies if the only way to kill them is Removing the Head or Destroying the Brain (simply said, accuracy is a must), plus the action is much more reliable in long-term use than a full-auto or semi-auto gun. Coming a close second due to less accessibility is a semi-automatic rifle fitted with a suppressor.
    • As far as melee weapons are concerned, the book highly recommends survivors pass up exotic blades in favour of the humble crowbar, for its reach, balance and utility: can you pry open a door or tear down a barricade with that fancy katana?
    • Heavy cruiser/touring motorcycles may not be the coolest option depending on your view, but their advantages over cars are considerable: they're far easier to repair, much more maneuverable, can carry a few hundred pounds of supplies (plus more if you have a sidecar), and have reasonable performance on dirt roads or damaged urban roads. Plus they can be easily pushed somewhere safe to be repaired, while cars leave you out in the open. Bicycles are also an excellent choice, being even easier to keep working as well as quiet and versatile.
    • Armour Is Useless, being either too cumbersome to wear for more than a few hours or something that will seal in your sweat. The book recommends you settle for tight (but comfortable) clothing with a few pockets, running shoes, and short length hair. This won't tire you out and still prevent zombies from grabbing you easily as there's nothing to really grip.
    • In the book, one attack at a dockyard was foiled by the crane operators using the cargo containers as barricades and simply dropping them on the zombies to crush them.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The CBS logo, introduced in 1951, was based on the designs seen on barn walls. It was a simple round shape with an eye-like depiction in the center. When William Golden began work on another logo about a year later, his boss Frank Stanton worked like crazy to have the logo plastered on anything and everything he could think of. Stanton's reasoning? "Just when you're beginning to be bored by what you've done is when it's beginning to be noticed by your audience." note  More than six decades later, it remains one of the media world's most recognizable symbols.
  • The core of the (American) ABC network logo has remained practically unchanged for five decades. Like the CBS eye, it is a highly recognized corporate symbol.
  • On the subject of TV idents/logos, when The BBC decided to spend something like a million pounds developing a new set of idents for BBC One, a reader wrote into a certain publication wondering why they didn't simply go back to a simple spinning globe, variations of which concept had served the channel from The '60s to well into The '90s.
  • Altered Carbon: Quellcrist Falconer says that the thing that allowed the Roman Empire to conquer the known world was their roads. Therefore, she blames cortical stacks for allowing the creation of a star-spanning fascist state. The technology was originally intended to allow humans to transfer their minds across worlds in moments (with immortality through resleeving as a happy side effect), but it resulted in the conquest of the known universe. The military could needle-cast to backup bodies on any world in moments, allowing them to defeat uprisings far more cheaply than before.
  • Auction Kings has speed rugs. Sell as many rugs as fast as you can! Takes Jon all episode to prepare for it, though.
  • Babylon 5 has Earthforce's boxy warships: they are ugly and primitive-looking, but are effective and quick enough to produce that in the Earth-Minbari War the ridiculously more advanced Minbari took two years to reach Earth.
    • Two weapons examples: Earth nukes and Narn energy mines. The first are just plain nuclear weapons, the latter use a matter-antimatter warhead barely held together by a primitive reaction and that blows up as soon as the reactor fails, and is rather prone to misfire. Nukes were the one thing that gave the Minbari pause during the Earth-Minbari War, on one occasion taking down their flagship. Energy mines made Shadow warships cry in pain (the Shadows promptly wiped out the Narn warships that had hurt them, but it's still better than what most Younger Races can do to the Shadows).
    • The Expanded Universe has the Attarn, whose ships are equipped with Bil-Pro weapons... That is, advanced chemically-propelled firearms. Attarn ships are also known for their exaggerated firepower, and defeated two similar-sized empires with energy weapons before first meeting the galactic community.
      • The Attarn aren't the only ones to use good old chemically-propelled firearms, as both Earth Alliance and the Centauri Republic (the most advanced of the Younger Races bar the Minbari, and they aren't too far behind them either) have found some use for them: the Centauri use them as tank guns, long range artillery and support weapons not too different from our own GAU-8 Avenger (and have in fact a meaner version of the Warthog in their ground aicraft inventory), and Earth's ground forces have them for the same uses and infantry small arms (that are a lot more powerful than the energy small arms made by anyone but the Centauri, Narn and Minbari. In fact, the only reason shipboard and space station forces don't carry them too is that the bullets are too powerful and could damage a delicate system — or punch through the hull. That and the ricochet).
  • Weaponless robots have slowly become the dominant type in other robot combat events too, such as BattleBots, ComBots, and Steel Conflict due to their versatility and durability: Because there are weight caps, weaponless robots can allocate all of their weight to pushing power whereas other bots need to set some aside for weapons, which gives them the advantage for when their opponents' weapons invariably break down. This allocation also tends to give weaponless robots the edge in speed and maneuverability, rendering many weapons useless against them as they can drive circles around their competitors. For instance, by ComBots V's semifinals, Last Rites was the only remaining robot that had a weapon, and even then, its operator also registered The Great Pumpkin, a weaponless robot, into the competition, which did almost as well.
  • On Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, most of the witches use flashy, glamorous powers to create all manner of twisted, evil spells. And then there's Hilda. Meek and unassuming, and the frequent target of her sister Zelda's abuse — which is sometimes lethal, although since Zelda can raise her from the dead easily, it's hardly a problem for her — Hilda is generally viewed in the witch community as something of a dowdy matron who isn't special. She's especially looked down upon because witches in general are highly focused on black magic, while she's a White Mage who focuses the majority of her time on basic healing spells and salves. But don't let any of her focus on simple, practical magic fool you into thinking Hilda is in any way, shape, or form weak:
    • Her broad knowledge of restorative herbs and root magic has been instrumental in keeping the whole coven healthy and active.
    • Her skill as a Supreme Chef is helpful in maintaining The Masquerade — she has a recipe for delicious shortbread cookies that provide a dose of quick, hyper-focused amnesia to anyone who has one, and they're so tasty that no one can resist them.
    • When the enchantress Circe puts Hilda through Body Horror by transforming her into a half-human/half-spider hybrid, she gets her revenge through the power of knitting — that is, a cloth voodoo doll. Which she promptly brings to Circe and twists in half. To say it was a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown is an understatement.
    • In one episode, Hilda stops some Jerk Jock bullies using a simple mind-reading spell (that doesn't even require an incantation) to review their entire lives and deliver a ruthless speech that leaves them terrified (one has a Dark and Troubled Past and one is an Armored Closet Gay in love with the other). She doesn't even raise her voice as she kicks them out of her shop, and they go without another word.
    • In one particularly triumphant example, Zelda's rival Shirley Jackson sets up all manner of evil spells against her out of envy. After easily dismissing the magics which Shirley conjured, Hilda decides to solve the problem in the form of...a perfectly boring chat over tea and cookies. Cookies that she laced with cyanide. Shirley wove all manner of protection charms against any hexes that the Spellman sisters might have made, but failed to consider that all of the magic in the world doesn't work against highly lethal poison. She promptly drops dead right at the table, leaving Hilda casually sipping tea without a care in the world.
  • Doctor Who:
    • in Jack Harkness' first appearance, he and the Doctor have a bit of a conflict around their respective tools — Jack has the very flashy sonic blaster, which can cut holes into walls and do all sorts of cool things, against which the Doctor's sonic screwdriver, which Jack derides as able to "put up some shelves", looks a lot less impressive. Except that Jack's flashy sonic blaster has a very quickly drained battery which, since the factory that produced both blaster and batteries has now been blown up (and replaced with a banana grove), renders it a flashy paperweight when the battery runs out, while the sonic screwdriver is frequently shown to be useful and reliable.
    • Subverted with Jack's vortex manipulator, which is the size of a wristwatch and can be used for time travel, sometimes to places where even the Doctor's TARDIS can't go. It also doubles as a teleporter, a chemical scanner, a remote control (that can hack most electronic objects), a hologram projector, a lifesign detector, and a communications transceiver. While an incredibly useful gadget in its own right, it still suffers in comparison to the TARDIS, which is far larger but unimaginably more powerful and capable in all respects (plus TARDIS travel is usually more pleasant).
    • In the 1972 story "Frontier in Space," Jo is able to defeat the Master's hypnotism, having previously fallen victim to it. No, the Doctor hasn't helped her establish a Psychic Block Defense; she just recites children's nursery rhymes as a kind of Psychic Static. The Master is reluctantly impressed.
    • This is the Doctor's general shtick. They may or may not have much in the way of superpowers, and their only weapons, most of the time, are a rackety old time machine and a sonic multitool, but their Super Intelligence, ability to use an enemy's weapons against them, and mastery of Obfuscating Stupidity has allowed the Doctor to defeat armies and topple empires.
    • The Doctor's greatest tactic? Run. Sure, fighting back would be flashy, but fighting only covers one instance. Half an episode is spent running, but by the end of that time, the Doctor's had enough time to think and come up with some plan to not just defeat the enemy of the week, but very often pull off a Curb-Stomp Battle with them.
    • In "The Sontaran Stratagem," a mysterious company attracts the attention of both UNIT and the Doctor, who try all manner of subterfuge and broad investigation to figure out what's going on — without success. Then Donna strolls into the Personnel office and immediately exposes the fact that the employees aren't human. How? She simply looks through the paperwork and notices that the file that lists sick time is completely empty. The UNIT soldiers are stunned by the boring but effective tactic, which Donna chalks up her to own experience as a perpetual office worker: "Super temp!"
    • In a meta-sense, the decision to make the Doctor's TARDIS a Bigger on the Inside police telephone box was partly this for the production team. Sure, it's maybe not the flashiest or most visually exciting spaceship design in science fiction — but it's also essentially a large wooden box, which means it's cheap and easy to make (whether life-sized, in scale model form, or digitally), which is not nothing if you're a cash-strapped TV producer trying to make a science fiction show. It can be quickly put up and down in a wide range of sets and locations, meaning you can set the story basically anywhere and don't need to worry about how to get the characters from the ship to where all the interesting stuff is happening — who needs teleporters or landing craft when the main characters can literally just walk out the door to get to where the story is? And, ironically in part due to being based on an easily-identifiable part of British 20th century society, it's immediately distinctive because it's both familiar to the audience (or at least was when the show first aired) and yet always stands out in the weird locations that the Doctor ends up in, meaning that it quickly became an Iconic Item.
  • Firefly had this in the form of the eponymous space-vehicle. When a group of starship thieves looks toward Serenity as their next catch, one younger thief remarks that the ship has no flash and is made of very mundane parts. An older thief retorts that the ship is not very flashy, fast, or armed, but if you have a half-decent mechanic on board, it will operate perfectly until the heat-death of the universe, and that is far more than enough for plenty of spacers.
  • Throught the third season of The Flash (2014), Savitar generally fights by simply rushing his opponents with his incredibly potent Super Speed. He tends to forgo the more advanced techniques available to speedsters, like phasing or lightning-throwing, and usually doesn't even use his own unique Blade Below the Shoulder except for surprise attacks or executing a downed enemy.
    • In the fourth season, Killer Frost has a Good Costume Switch, changing from her dark blue dress and boots to a simple light blue jacket that she wears over whatever Caitlin happened to be wearing at the time. This is useful because Caitlin can easily change into it when she turns into Killer Frost, instead of wasting time changing her entire outfit.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Armour whenever Armor Is Useless is averted or deconstructed.
    • The utilitarian armour of the Starks and their bannermen and soldiers.
    • The Lannisters and Tyrells don't have dragons like the Targaryens, the power of a god like Stannis, or even pet direwolves like the Stark children, but they do have gold and arable land respectively, which they parley into tremendous military and political clout.
    • The typical armored hack-and-slash fighting style of Westerosi knights like Jorah Mormont can be described this way in comparison to some of the more elegant fighting styles from Essos. It may not be as energetic as the Dothraki, as precise as the Unsullied, or as graceful as the Braavosi Water Dance, but it is just as effective. It shows in Jorah's fight with Qotho, and is best seen when Jorah, Grey Worm, and Daario fight off Yunkish guards in "The Rains of Castamere". Daario and Grey Worm are far more graceful in their movements, but Jorah is just as effective.
    • Roose's strategy to remain behind Winterfell's high walls and let Stannis' forces waste away from cold and deprivation. To inject some action into the narrative, Ramsay prefers to take the fight to Stannis with twenty picked men, though this itself is a very good example of the trope — only twenty men were risked, and Stannis' already in-trouble army was even more severely crippled, losing most of their horses and food, making the eventual battle even easier than it was before. (Of course the way it is carried out is quite laughably ridiculous, considering that 20 men are apparently able to destroy all the siege weapons and kill vast numbers of horses without even being seen, making the episode very hard to take seriously. In the books the reason that Roose couldn't just wait in Winterfell is because the forces he has in with him hate each other and are on the verge of attacking each other by the time he sends them out.)
  • Good Eats; Alton pushes simple "multitasker" tools that can serve multiple cooking or preparation tasks instead of overly complicated (not to mention expensive) "unitasker" devices that do one thing. The only exception he makes is for safety tools such as fire extinguishers (and even then he found a use for a CO2 one besides putting out fires).
  • This becomes an important point on Halt and Catch Fire when Joe realizes that their new computer has some great features but ultimately the buyers at COMDEX are looking for a "station wagon" so he presents the computer as a reliable work computer. To this end he agrees to remove the fancy operating system Cameron designed for it since while it makes the computer "sexier" it makes it slower and more expensive.
    • This comes back to bite him in the ass at the beginning of Season 2; once Apple enters the computer business, the Cardiff Giant has nothing special to make it stand out in the increasingly competitive market, and the owners of Cardiff Electric choose to shut down their computer division rather than sink any more money into it.
  • In Home Improvement this is Al's main schtick. While Tim comes up with wild and flashy projects that are just as spectacular when they fail as when they work, Al uses straightforward handyman techniques and good general craftsmanship that work every time.
  • iCarly: Carly and the team seek to gain the ear of a well-renowned web enthusiast, who turns out to be a very sleazy, spoiled kid. When he writes a deliberately negative review after Carly spurns his advances, the team simply call his mom, who orders him to recant his negative review.
  • In Jekyll they eventually realize that Hyde has an "Instant Death" Radius and get Hyde into a long empty hallway, then riddle him with machine gun fire until he falls over. He still gets a lot closer to them than they're comfortable with, and by the time he falls there's only one guy who hasn't fled.
  • On one episode of Leverage, Nate teaches Hardison that this is the backbone of every con he schemes: he takes time to make a very "ugly" plan that is straightforward and will work no matter what happens, and he then starts working on the cons that involve bells and whistles and massive amounts of misinformation and stealing weird things like elections and churches. Hardison's big mistake during the episode (in which he was allowed to create the scheme of the week all by himself) was to go for a fancy con without thinking of adding any "safety nets", and nearly got in trouble when the people he was conning simply got fed up and tried to walk away (which is when Nate applied his own plan to simply rob them blind).
  • The titular Cool Starship of The Orville is a mid-level explorer, nowhere near as large or powerful (or glamorous, as several characters muse) as a heavy cruiser. With her crew, however, she's capable of taking down a much larger Krill destroyer.
  • In Reno 911!, when it came time to hire a new officer for the Reno Sheriff's Department, most of the attention was focused on Reese, who is a war hero, or Jackson, who is a badass. Meanwhile, Kimball, who seems to have no personality at all, manages to rack up a record number of arrests and ends up getting the job.
  • Retro Game Master: Clearing levels in Dig Dug II by exploding each enemy instead of sinking them all spectacularly. Arino gets very annoyed at having to do it to save time.
  • Many of the more successful robots in Robot Wars:
    • Chaos 2 just looked like a black box, yet it was a full-on Lightning Bruiser that achieved a maximum speed of 20mph and flipped robots with sufficient force to knock them clean out of the arena. Seasons 3 and 4 were defined by Chaos 2 doling out Curb Stomp Battles to other robots (its battle against Trident lasted 10 seconds), and it ranked very highly in all series afterwards.
    • Panic Attack was basically a small yellow box with ineffective lifting forks. In Season 2, through pushing power and Kim Davies' driving skill, it beat all the other competitors and won the championship.
    • Tornado followed similar principles: it was a Jack-of-All-Stats with interchangeable weapons, although most of the time it won by pushing over robots into arena hazards. It was Season 6 champion and did very well in practically every other tournament it entered, but among fans it has a somewhat negative reputation for being uninteresting to watch. Hey, you gotta be a showman as well as a winner.
  • Stargate-verse: In the words of Teal'c, "Tau'ri firearms are primitive, but effective." And as Jack puts it: "[Goa'uld energy weapons] are designed to terrify your opponent; [human firearms] are designed to kill your opponent." The Stargate franchise also has a Running Gag where one character explains how they have to do something long and complicated to solve a problem, but another character pulls out a gun and shoots the problem.
    • The most iconic version of this is with grenades rather than guns. Wily old Bra'tac describes the long, difficult, dangerous journey they must make to get from where they are in the Mothership to reach the shield generators at the bottom of the shaft they are at so they can disable them, allowing the ship to be destroyed. Jack O'Neill pulls out two grenades, pulls the pins, and casually drops them down the shaft so they can blow up the generators. "Primitive explosive devices" are quite effective, if you know how to use them.
  • Star Trek
    • The Excelsior-class starship. First introduced in Kirk's era, eighty years later they still serve as the backbone of Starfleet. They might not be as flashy as the later Defiants or Akiras, but a refitted Excelsior can hold its own against them. It's even lampshaded in episode of TNG that, while the Enterprise might get the more glamorous deep space assignments, the Excelsiors remain the vital workhorses of the fleet.
    • Before the Excelsior-class (specifically back when the Excelsior herself was the new kid on the block), we have the Constitution-class starship as Starfleet's original workhorse (similar to the modern day Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, the Federation had these things by the dozen). This is best exemplified by the original Enterprise: unlike her immediate predecessor, her numerous descendants or her alternate incarnation (all of which were among the most advanced ships of Starfleet), the first Enterprise was more or less a standard ship of the fleet, yet, through a combination of her capabilities and her crew's skill and perseverance, became one of the most celebrated and legendary starships within the Federation.
    • Case in point with Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. By this point, the Enterprise is decades old, barely functioning from her prior battle against Khan and slated for retirement, whereas the paint was still drying on the Excelsior. Cue the Enterprise hijacking, in which, despite all of the damage she retained, the Big E remained perfectly functional (enough to get Kirk and the rest back to Genesis even), whereas the Excelsior was easily disabled by pulling out a few circuits from her computer system.
      Scotty: The more they overthink the plumbing, the easier it is to stuff up the drain.
    • The Miranda-class is also this compared to those two classes. Despite the blight on its record with the Reliant's hijacking, the Miranda-class has remained in service since at least the 2260s, lasting into at least the 2380s (canonically, it was last seen escorting Voyager back to Earth in 2378) and was the inspiration of numerous variations such as the Soyuz and the Centaur.
    • According to Major Kira, the Cardassian Rifle. It only has "stun" and "kill" settings instead of the dozens of degrees Federation rifles have, it doesn't have anywhere near the variety of bells and whistles, but you can drag it through the mud and use it for weeks without maintenance and it still works perfectly.
    • Foreign language studies might sound boring and ridiculous in an era filled with everyone carrying a Universal Translator, but when it breaks down, it's helpful. Just ask Saru, who learned 94 languages and was able to aid the crew of the Discovery when a virus screwed around with the Translator.
    • Star Trek: Picard:
      • In "Absolute Candor", Raffi describes Vashti's planetary defense system as primitive, but effective.
      • In "Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 1", La Sirena is totally without power, so without Sickbay's fancy Holographic Terminal, Jurati is unable to scan an unconscious Picard until she finds an old-school medical tricorder.
  • One of the tasks in Taskmaster saw the contestants having to get an egg as high as possible in 20 minutes. They were aided with a table, some pens, and a big stack of paper. Romesh's attempt saw him just stack the egg on top of the pens, and the pens on top of the paper. Greg was in disbelief that that was all Romesh could come up with in 20 minutes, and he was certain Romesh would come last ... until it transpired that Roisin, Tim, and Frank all had to be disqualified because they broke their eggs, meaning that Josh came in first place, and Romesh in second.
    • In another episode, the contestants are tasked with scoring a goal from the furthest distance. Almost everyone elects to try and score from distances that would be difficult for professional soccer players to get into the goal, but Sian Gibson — who freely admits she's terrible at sport — just moves the ball a few metres back, reasoning that she'd be better off at least getting a point rather than trying to show off. She ends up winning the task, because everyone else gets overconfident and misses the goal entirely.
    • This is a recurring theme throughout the series. It's become common for contestants to try and seek out clever little Loophole Abuses and play on Exact Words when trying to complete the tasks in an attempt to complete the task in the coolest and flashiest way possible. Thing is, while this is impressive when it works, it's often a humiliating disaster when it doesn't, and the latter is far more likely to occur than the former. Meanwhile, the people who just plug away at the task and try to complete it might not always come up with the most exciting solution, but they can usually guarantee themselves a pretty solid score, which all adds up as the series goes on. Looking at the list of series champions, it's common that they're usually participants who knuckled down and got on with things.
  • Supernatural: Sam and Dean have access to books of arcane lore, tablets of spells created for angels and demons, weapons touched by the Hand of God, the list goes on. But for the vast majority of the monsters they take down, they use their guns, knives, rock salt, and gasoline.
  • On Warehouse 13, the titular warehouse is an Artifact Collection Agency that gathers Famously Mundane, Fictionally Magical items from across history. The Artifacts are extremely powerful and dangerous, but the governing body of the Warehouse, the Regents, are deliberately selected from among hard-working but plain citizens, each with a decidedly non-superhuman talent: the recording secretary is a diner waitress who's really good at taking notes in shorthand, and other members include a former schoolteacher who's a Friend to All Children, a grocery store manager with a Master's degree in American history that gives him broad knowledge of potential targets, and a pharmaceutical company researcher who has a knack for investigating suspicious things. It's lampshaded when a Warehouse employee remarks that he was expecting something flashier, and a Regent points out that kings and generals would be too corrrupt to be trusted with such power—everyday people are far Closer to Earth and thus a better choice for guardians.
  • Whenever Mulder or Scully used their guns in The X-Files, it was a very, very toned down affair that would usually take down the Monster of the Week in about a tenth of a second.

  • Some Pinball games can invoke this if there's a shot that is not too difficult to repeat and yields a substantial number of points — the player can (try to) spam the shot and build up their score. This trope tends to come up most often in competitions where maximizing your score on each table is the main purpose, but doesn't happen as often in solo or friendly play due to its boring nature, where as long as you made the replay, you can just try again for free next game if you don't get your high score. Well designed tournament pinball machines will reward riskier and more difficult strategies with more points, allowing someone going for Awesome, but Impractical to get ahead with enough skill, which is always entertaining.
  • The center ramp in Police Force can be lit for Unlimited Millions, which gives a million points for each shot. Since the ramp is easily accessible in the middle of the playfield from either flipper, it's prone to this trope. You light unlimited millions by shooting the ramp repeatedly. Any shot not a ramp risks a drain even if you hit it, and this one provides a consistent feed to let you repeat it from the right flipper. This makes it practical, and nearly always the shot you want to shoot. Very boring, but it's the fastest and safest way to get points on the table.
  • On Terminator 2: Judgment Day, the Chase Loop (the upper-right counterclockwise lane) can be built up so it rewards 5 million points per shot after just five times. Completing the orbit returns the ball to the left flipper for another shot, and doing so fast enough also rewards a Combo bonus that increases by 1 million points for every successful loop. Unsurprisingly, competitive players will frequently try to spam this for hundreds of millions of points in a few minutes.
  • In general, trapping a ball on a raised flipper. Nothing is moving — which, while the least interesting thing to look at if you're spectating, slows the pace of the game down to a manageable level, gives the player time to plan out his or her next moves, and, because the ball will always roll down in the same way once the flipper lowers, improves aim.
  • Ramps in general are this. They will nearly always feed the ball to a flipper safely at a slow speed when you hit them, keeping the ball under control so you can shoot another shot afterwards without needing to nudge, possibly another ramp, or even the same ramp (like in Police Force). Not all ramps are like this, but the vast majority of them are.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Whenever a wrestler uses a basic move (like a suplex or a body slam) as a finisher, it's this. Mainly because the move itself is something that, if legitimately done with intent to harm rather than pulled for appearances the way it is in pro wrestling, chances are the victim (and perhaps even the perpetrator) wouldn't soon get back up. The legends of the '80s and early '90s excelled at making such moves look like the former while actually being the latter, to the point where even in the 21st century where wrestlers are employing much flashier versions of said moves as routine mid-match transitional spots, the back-to-basics versions performed by the legends are instantly recognized as match-enders or KO spots.
    • The best examples through history are Hulk Hogan and The Ultimate Warrior, who used a leg drop and a body splash respectively. Their muscular frames and ability to convincingly project an aura of superhuman adrenaline meant that if you were flat on your back and Hogan dropped his right leg on your neck or Warrior's chest crashed down into yours, you weren't getting up. Matt Jackson or Jeff Hardy dropping the same leg, even while flipping forward 270 degrees, doesn't quite have the same sense of gravity to it.
    • Sting's Scorpion Death Drop is a great example. The move is just an Inverted DDT, which doesn't stand out in a world full of Attitude Adjustments and 450 Splashes. But if someone were to legitimately do that to an opponent on something harder than a wrestling mat, chances are they're not getting up from it. And when Sting holds you in place for it, he builds the anticipation for the move while making it look like he's setting himself up to drop you as hard as he can, before falling backwards and dragging you down in cascading fashion. This is how he was able to consistently use it as a believable finisher even in TNA, when in the same company AJ Styles was doing it with the added momentum of a springboard somersault and would rarely if ever get a three-count off it.
    • Speaking of a DDT, the original by Jake Roberts is another perfect example. Anyone getting intentionally dropped, dragged, or thrown headfirst into a hard surface floor is probably coming away with a concussion AT BEST. Jake pulls off the move with a psychological authority that projects a realistic intent to incapacitate and makes it look, in the moment, like a pure knockout drop, in a way that The Rock spinning around an opponent or wrenching their arm and kicking them in the gut to set them up, or Mick Foley or Dustin Rhodes catching an opponent while running off the ropes, or Rey Mysterio Jr. holding an opponent while swinging off the second rope, simply can't.
  • Exiting the cage in a steel cage match via the door. You COULD go over the top of the cage to leave but the official standing near the door is compelled to open it when a competitor tells him to. This is usually a good way to get heel heat since it's taking the "easy way" out. However, it's very often subverted because, despite the practicality and effectiveness of leaving via the cage door, no one ever seems to get to it in time before the opponent is back on their feet and dragging them away from it. When cage matches end by escape, it's almost always via going over the top. In fact, the few times someone does win by escaping through the door, it's almost always beating an opponent who attempted to escape over the top.
  • Tripping your opponent via Drop Toehold, Dropkick to the knee, etc. Not as impressive as a Clothesline, Spear, etc.; nor as flashy as a Hurricanrana, Missile Dropkick, etc.; but much harder, if not impossible, to avoid. This especially comes in handy against The Giant-types.
  • Strike finishers. The WWE began handing them out like candy in the mid-to-late 2010s and while they're often quite simple and not very flashy (especially if one is into more grapple-based finishers), they make a loud enough noise that fans can react to it, requires a fairly simple bump to be taken by the performers (sometimes just doing a simple prat fall), and can be pulled from out of nowhere for shock value. As an added bonus, it reduces the amount of stress either performer takes, which is important in the Fed due to its exhausting touring and TV schedule.
  • The first, most useful, and most ubiquitous move that is trained into new wrestling prospects isn't a punch or a kick, but the flat back bump. It is the safest way to take a move, since you distribute the impact over your entire back while tucking your head in to protect your skull and neck, and it's used everywhere. What's an RKO? A flat back bump. Taking a Rock Bottom or Chokeslam? Jump up, flat back bump. Taking a clothesline or superkick? Run into your opponent's limb and flat back bump. Receiving a suplex? Do a beel (or biel) bump, jump into a front flip and do a flat back bump while your opponent holds you. Sunset flips, senton bombs, DDTs, dropkicks, powerslams, suplexes, powerbombs, all involve variations of the flat back bump or beel bump, and once you know what to look for, you'll see them all over the place.
  • At Extreme Rules 2010, John Cena used a roll of duct tape to beat Dave Bautista in a Last Man Standing match for the WWE Championship. No, that is not a joke. Cena really used duct tape to bind Bautista to a ringpost.

    Reality Television 
  • Go onto almost any message board for America's Next Top Model. You'll probably find no shortage of support for Nigel Barker or Jay Manuel (Mister Jay) while It's All About Me Tyra hardly gets any. Part of that came from their dry delivery, which is almost always in plain simple English rather than the "Tyraspeak" she is ever so fond of. Hell, even with his silly accent imitations, the flamboyant J. Alexander (Miss Jay, also a fan favorite) can get his point across with next to no mumbo-jumbo. There is a reason many fans did not like the news that they all left (though Miss Jay did return).
    • Love him or hate him, Rob Evans was an excellent example of this trope. He might not have had the giant personality that fans of Miss Jay love, but as a working model, he knew how the game worked and made no attempt to lie about it to anyone.
  • In the American Big Brother, there's similar strategies to Survivor. However in this game, it's free-for-all from the very start — so as a result, you want to make yourself appear to be not so much of a threat that people will target you. You want them directing their sights at someone else, not you. Thus, a fair amount of Obfuscating Stupidity is involved in making yourself appear much less of a threat than you actually are. Naturally this leads to a lot of sitting around and letting someone else strategize, so that they make themselves appear to be the threat, not you. Maggie Ausburn won her season for this reason.
  • One episode of Food Network's Celebrity Chef Cook-Off had as its Elimination Challenge... grilled cheese. Cheech Marin and Lou Diamond Philips made fancy sandwiches with unusual breads and extra bits thrown in, while Joey Fatone made a basic grilled cheese sandwich decorated only with a smiley face made of sliced tomatoes and a pickle. However, Cheech's sandwich was greasy and LDP didn't melt the cheese, while Joey (who said he makes grilled cheese all the time for his kids) ended up winning immunity because his no-frills sandwich was perfectly made.
  • In Hell's Kitchen Season 3, one of the top performers was Julia, a Waffle House line cook from Atlanta. The professionally-trained chefs (especially those on her own team) tended to treat her like crap and denigrate her skillsnote , but it turned out she had precisely the skill set Gordon Ramsay was looking for — good teamwork, promptness with her cooking, and staying cool under pressure. So much so that when she was eliminated near the end, Gordon praised her potential and dedication, and then paid for her to go to culinary school.
  • Plenty of episodes in both the UK and US versions of Kitchen Nightmares had chefs making extremely flashy food that was especially difficult or time-consuming to cook, or had managers decorate their restaurants with flashy but gaudy styles and using tacky gimmicks to draw in customers. Gordon has them change to fit this trope. Some of the best examples of the former and the later respectively are Rococo's and The Curry Lounge.
  • Similarly, in US Season 4 of MasterChef, one episode's Mystery Box challenge gave the contestants a bunch of unlabeled foreign ingredients. Some chefs panicked, some chefs experimented, but Eddie won the challenge by just grilling the meat, mashing the yam, and sauteeing the greens. The judges unanimously agreed that it was a very plain dish, but prepared perfectly.
  • On Rupauls Drag Race, Bianca Del Rio's looks were always fabulous, but were always in the same simple silhouette. As her competitor BenDeLaCreme put it, Bianca had "50 of the same dress in different fabrics". However, Bianca's no-nonsense attitude and skills in acting and comedy outweighed her relatively tame runway looks, and she went on to win her season as well as become one of the most popular season winners in the entire series.
  • Survivor has a strategy known as "Pagonging" (named after the Pagong tribe, who fell victim to it all the way back in the first season). Initially, the survivors are split into two teams of equal number. Partway through the game, after several survivors have been eliminated, the two teams merge and it becomes every man for himself — but the players hold on to the "us vs. them" mentality of the previous teams, and if all goes well, the larger team will stay together and eliminate the smaller team one by one, only turning on each other when they've run out of targets or the last member of that other tribe has won immunity. It's very efficient for those members of the larger team, but predictable and not nearly as fun for the home audience to watch as a chaotic Gambit Pileup.
    • Then there's the strategy of being The Quiet One or Obfuscating Stupidity. Unless pretending to be stupid involves doing something that's funny, you won't get much screentime by staying out of harm's way. That being said, if you can convince the players in control that you're not a threat at all (e.g. Natalie White, who played this to perfection), they'll take you to the end under the assumption that you're no trouble to beat.
  • On MTV's first ever Wanna Be A VJ? competition in 1998, the winner was Jesse Camp, who won the viewer votes with his energetic personality and punk rock aesthetic. However, MTV also hired the second-place winner, the more conventional and laid back Dave Holmes. Holmes may have seemed boring compared to Camp, but the executives saw him as more professional on camera, plus he was knowledgeable about a wide range of music whereas Camp only really lit up when talking about punk or heavy metal. As a result, Holmes stayed with MTV for 4 years and continues to work as a media personality, whereas Camp was only kept on for one contractually-obligated year and faded to obscurity after his album flopped.

  • In Panopticon Quest, Jamelia considers this the ultimate form of magic to carry out and pushes the rest of the Construct to do it this way. So far, there has been magic pep-talks, magic disruptive phone calls, and magic use of a flare to blind vampires.
  • The main character of Polyhistor Academy, Mikelle's most used abilities are... Invisibility and Memory Enhancement, two of his most basic abilities.

  • The sport of Billiards was killed by its professionals getting too good at it in a very boring way. This is English Billiards, a game involving three balls with points scored by potting, or having the cue ball going in-off, or hitting both other balls with the cue ball for a "cannon". It was a significant professional sport in the 1800s and early 1900s. But then the best professionals got so good that they could play basically forever in a very boring way. The culmination was a break of 499,135 points which took five weeks to make, but consisted of the same shot being made hundreds of thousands of times, to perfection. While attempts were made to save the game with rule changes, it was supplanted as a professional sport in the UK and some other countries by Snooker. To see how exciting outstanding billiards is, here is a video of an excellent player making a series of "nursery cannons". Of course English Billiards can be exciting: this was the game played in Billiards rooms in a thousand murder mysteries and in Clue/Cluedo.
  • The simplest version of Carom Billiards in the USA was played professionally for only 6 years before the players killed it by being too good at being boring.
  • Hand-to-hand fighting.
    • Certainly martial arts styles like Tae Kwon Do and Capoeira seem very visually appealing, with all the fancy flips, cartwheels and jump kicks, but even these flashier ones usually cut the crap in serious situations.
    • In most competitive martial arts sparring, 95% of the points are scored with the most basic moves.
    • In Mixed Martial Arts, basics have dominated, and coaches will often chastise their fighter if they try to go crazy. Exotic submissions and acrobatic striking moves rarely work, though some fighters have developed reputations for the efficacy of their flashier moves.
    • Arguably the two most effective martial arts are traditional western styles that the average person probably doesn't even associate with the term "martial arts".
      • Wrestling. It's not for nothing that the vast majority of UFC heavyweight champions have had wrestling as their main martial art. Grappling arts overall are often regarded as this trope in MMA fights. Fighters often manage to simply control their opponents for the duration of the fight en route to a safe decision victory or put them in a submission rather than take a chance with more exciting offensive moves for a stoppage.
      • Boxing. It only uses the closed fist to attack, and with only four basic attacks (jab, cross, hook, uppercut). Using only the hands to attack allows boxers to support the fists with the entire body, making them more powerful, and also to use the legs to move better and avoid taking damage by simply dodging. Martial artists from other styles, and even entire martial arts, have included boxing-style punches and derivative footwork precisely because they're just that effective.
  • The neutral zone trap in hockey. Essentially, it's a very heavy defensive strategy that prevents the attacking team from getting close to the net by pinning them in the neutral zone with no way to get around the defense. Critics complain it is extremely boring to watch (neither team really gets a lot of scoring chances as a result), but if done effectively it is very difficult to beat. In response to criticisms of this strategy during its heyday in the late 90s and early 00s, the NHL made several rule changes to open up the game — it made obstruction penalties a point of emphasis for officials, introduced a restricted area behind the goal where goaltenders cannot play the puck, and changed the "offside pass" or "two-line pass" rule so that the center line is no longer relevant in the rule's enforcement. While the trap still exists in today's NHL, it's been greatly modified to reflect these changes.
  • In Roller Derby, the four-wall and passive offense. It can be excruciatingly boring to watch a jammer grind fruitlessly away at four blockers in a flat or braced wall formation, but it's also the most effective defense in the game.
  • Baseball
    • The majority of runs are scored as a result of "boring" things like walks and singles. Home runs are great when they happen, but even the most prolific home run hitters can hit a home run only about once every thirteen plate appearances on average.
    • Walking in itself could be considered this. For most of baseball's history, no one paid much attention to the ability to draw walks, and batting average, which did not take walks into account, was by far the most widely-used statistic to measure offensive output. With the rise of sabermetrics, or objective statistical analysis, in the 21st century, the value of the base on balls has since come to be recognized, to the point where it's no longer an undervalued skill.
    • A pitcher that rings up a lot of strikeouts is great to watch, but since strikeouts take at least three pitches, many hard-throwing strikeout artists tend to be less physically durable over the course of a season than a pitcher who's better at getting batters to hit groundouts and popouts (of course, the best pitchers tend to be strikeout artists who are also good at inducing weak contact).
  • American Football: Big passes and fancy trick plays are crowd-pleasers. But teams can often get even more mileage out of quick passes to the center of the field. It's not difficult to get 5 or 6 yards minimum per pass this way, and if you have a good tight end or receiving tailback, or a wideout that runs a lot of short patterns to the middle, they can rack up yardage while the big-play players are given more coverage. A team who can get consistent gains on boring runs up the middle will quickly wear out the opposing defense, which will leave their opponent helpless to stop either their running or their passing attacks in the late stages of the game. This is why there were so many Super Bowl routs from the mid-'80s to '90s: the AFC teams, with their flashy passing attacks led by quarterbacks from the 1983 draft class and their light 3-4 defenses, were physically dominated by the power running games and smash-mouth defenses of NFC teams of the time.
    • Vince Lombardi built most of his career on a single play- the Power Sweep. While not the only play in his book of course, it was the most practiced, and John Madden once related a story where, visiting a seminar by Lombardi, the coach spent the entire 8-hour seminar talking about that one play.
    • On defense, the concept of the two-deep zone. While it does have some drawbacks, such as being vulnerable to the run, it is very effective at preventing long passing plays by an offense. It also has the advantage of being simpler to execute than other styles of defense.
    • Special teams, the occasional big return and frequent game-winning field goals aside, are pretty boring to watch. They're also incredibly important, as good special teams make life much easier for both the offense and defense by reducing the distance to travel and increasing the space to work with, respectively. It also helps that special-teamers are really cheap compared to the rest of an NFL team, in both cap space and draft capital.
      • Know also that because of their longevity (kickers rarely take hits and therefore dominate the oldest players lists), placekickers are 49 of the top 50 scorers in NFL history. A good kicker can last decades. To put it another way, the average NFL career is 3.5 years. Of current NFL starting kickers (as of November 2018), their average career is just shy of 8 years.
  • Basketball:
    • Two of the most reliable sources of points are layups and free throws.
    • In recent years, as the NBA has gotten into the same "moneyball" trends as the MLB, this has been turned around on its head. Mid-range jump shotsnote  are being deemphasized in favor of close-in-play (higher scoring percentage and a high likelihood of being fouled) and three-pointers (the probability of an offensive rebound is better, and the chance of the extra point is statistically enough to make it worthwhile rather than pushing inside the line).
    • The shot clock was introduced largely to eliminate the viability of boring "four corners offense", which consisted mostly of passing the ball around without even trying to get a shot for as much as five minutes at a time.
  • Association Football:
    • The sport suffered from an overdose of Boring but Practical heavy defensive tactics during the early 2000's.
    • The catenaccio or counter-attacking family of tactics falls under a similar category. The aim is for the team to defend with as many as 10 men, whilst only one or two players remain in attacking positions, hoping to get to a loose ball and create an opportunity from it. Due to the difficulty of attacking a team that is defending with many players (especially when done well, like Inter in the 50s/60s) added to the lack of attacks created by a team using this technique, many pundits now call this "anti-football". It is however extremely effective in levelling chances between teams of different level, so most teams that expect to lose a game will play in this fashion.
    • In football, heavy defense tactics (known by fans as "Parking the (team) bus") are meant to frustrate the opponent team by preventing it from scoring in any way possible. This goads the opponents into attacking your goal more desperately, while you wait for a "lucky break" for a surprise attack on their weakened defenses. At this point, the heavy-defenders then usually go into an even heavier defensive to protect this advantage in score, making it even less likely to see more goals later in the game. The result, for everyone but the diehard fans of the defensive team, is that the majority of the game is itself extremely frustrating and usually promises a very small final score (1-0 and such). The period culminated in the 2002 World Cup, where the German team made extremely effective use of this technique for the majority of the tournament, winning the first three elimination rounds at exactly 1-0 each. However, this was subverted when they lost the final to the Brazilians, against whom defensive tactics don't usually work.
    • Boring but Practical came back with Greece's performance two years later, at the UEFA Euro 2004, winning the whole tournament in the process.
    • Also, Chelsea beat the flashy and seemingly unbeatable Barcelona in the 2012 UEFA Champions League with this extreme defense (at times, 9 or 10 players would be next to the goal...).
    • Italian football is mainly based on this. The above-mentioned catenaccio? An Italian tactic (whose name is the Italian word for "security bolt"). Inter, that in the 50s and 60s was mostly known for pulling the catenaccio well? One of the big four of Italian football. The reason for the success of Juventus (the dominant team since the late 90s), ChievoVerona in its first few seasons in Serie A, and the Italian national team? Excellent teamwork. In fact, the Italian national team is often hated by international fans for being boring, but is one of the best teams in history, and has won the World Cup four times.
  • In Handball the penalty for "passive play" (i.e. not developing enough of a drive towards the goal) was introduced to kill the incredibly boring but incredibly promising strategy of sitting on the ball and just throwing it around for as long as possible. Unlike similar rules in American sports, it's not based on any measurable thing but instead the referee just lifts their hand as a warning and a couple of seconds later (unless an attempt to score a goal is made) issues the penalty, which always includes the forfeiture of ball possession. Given that the definitions involved are rather subjective, the referee's decisions can be controversial.
  • In tennis, a strong serve is this. Serving balls so fast that points end almost immediately without your opponent even being able to get their racquet on the ball makes for more boring viewing than flashy trick shots or long rallies, but it works.

    Tabletop Games 
  • BattleTech has two examples that stand out.
    • First, there's the medium laser — modest range and damage, but lightweight, compact, heat-efficient and can fire all day long without running out of ammo, which makes it a great weapon for light 'Mechs that can't carry much in the way of weapons tonnage anyway and a great backup weapon for the big guns on heavier designs. It's just perhaps the most ubiquitous 'Mech weapon out there, period.
    • And second, one of the most basic items of the 'modern' era: the double heat sink. It's perfectly boring — all it does is funnel heat (one of the main limiting factors on how many weapons you can safely use in one turn) out of your 'Mech or other eligible unit at twice the rate of the plain old single heat sink for the same one-ton weight. However, because using DHSs on a design also doubles the base heat dissipation capacity it gets for free with its fusion engine before explicitly installing extra sinks and because the game was not originally balanced with this in mind, this item arguably ends up edging right into Game-Breaker territory; single heat sinks certainly have generally fallen out of favor as a consequence except on units that explicitly cannot use doubles, or for background flavor reasons.
      • In theory, what's supposed to keep double heat sinks in check is their increased bulk (two or three times the internal space of singles depending on model). What this means in practice is that at the absolute worst they take up a grand 50% more room for the same heat capacity — and further quirks of the construction rules actually leave them frequently the more compact solution after all. (This also applies only to 'Mechs; other units that can use double heat sinks just don't assign space to heat sinks in construction at all and so completely ignore this supposed drawback anyway.)
    • When it comes to BattleMechs, the Stalker embraces this trope.
    Triad Technologies marketing campaign: It's not flashy. It's not the cutting edge. It just keeps coming.
  • Dungeons & Dragons
    • Magic Missile is one of the most basic arcane spells, as well as one of the most practical. The damage it deals is sub-par — at its basic level, the spell is three darts of 1d4 + 1 force damage each. As a tradeoff, Magic Missile always hits. It ignores damage resistances and elemental resistances, ignores incorporeality, and does not allow a saving throw to reduce or negate its effects. The only things that can stop Magic Missile are spell resistance/immunity (uncommon at low-mid levels), a specific spell (Shield) or a specific consumable item (Brooch of Shielding). And as a 1st level spell, you'll always have plenty of spell slots available for it, and it becomes prime material for metamagic feats later in the game. In 4th Edition, Magic Missile is one of the few wizard powers that count as a ranged basic attack, meaning it gets bonuses from a lot of equipment and can be used for extra attacks granted by certain leader classes.
    • The humble Grease spell covers a 10-foot-by-10-foot section of the floor with slippery liquid. It's much less flashy than other 1st-level spells and harmless in and of itself, but the ability to make your enemies trip over themselves is invaluable in combat situations. And in 5th edition it doesn't require concentration, allowing you to set down a grease slick (or three) while maintaining concentration on other spells.
    • In 4th Edition, all classes have "at-will" powers (Magic Missile being one), which are all examples of this trope — they can be used as many times as desired without using a spell slot, where the flashier, more powerful abilities can only be used occasionally. As such, boosting the power of these abilities is a boring but practical way to make your character stronger.
    • For a 3rd Edition wizard, many of the most powerful spells are not flashy direct-damage spells like Fireball or Lightning Bolt, but spells that weaken the enemy, like Ray of Enfeeblement or Web, which can turn a potentially deadly fight into a cakewalk.
    • The 3rd Edition cleric lacks the finesse of the Rogue, the combat prowess of the Fighter, and the impressive offensive magic light show of the Wizard. Furthermore, it is expected to fill the thankless, inglorious task of healing and supporting the party. Most of the glory is vicarious, by allowing the party members to survive and do better at their respective jobs, but a party without a cleric is virtually hamstrung.
    • "Utility spells" such as Water Breathing, Rope Trick, and Stone to Mud aren't much use in combat, but they can save the party's life in a pinch and provide other extremely useful benefits outside of combat. Basic spells such as Light and Detect Magic are vital even at the highest levels.
    • The most important magic items in 3.5 are the ones that increases your stats. They take precedence over anything else that uses the same slot. Also, items that do cool or unusual things are often priced too high to be useful by the time you can get them.
    • In 3.X edition, playing as an ordinary human rather than an exotic fantasy race might sound boring, but it provides the best all-around game benefits: a bonus feat (giving you a jump-start on later, powerful feats), an extra skill point each level (which has more of an effect on skills than a one-time stat bonus) and allows more freedom from penalties while multiclassing (freeing up the player to create a more impressive character build).
    • Also in 3.X, the Improved Initiative feat is valuable to almost every Character Class for the simple reason that it boosts your chances of acting before your enemy in combat. The Alert feat in 5th Edition performs the same function, with the added bonus that you also cannot be surprised.
    • While they rarely are "boring", the Bard is actually one of the most practical characters in the game. They may not be able to fight as well as the Fighter or do damage like the Barbarian, but they are up there near the top. They may not have the ultra-powerful or flashy spells of the Wizard, Sorcerer, or Druid, but their spells are a much wider variety. They can cast both offensively and defensively, and they can heal as well. They have the second-most skill knowledge behind the Rogue, and their high Charisma score means the Game-Breaker skills of Bluff, Intimidate, and Diplomacy are going to have excellent bonuses. They also get abilities like Hideous Laughter and Uncontrollable Dance which incapacitate an enemy if they succeed, allowing everyone else to wail on them.
    • In D&D 5th edition, at level 2, the Rogue gets access to a class feature called Cunning Action, allowing them to use a bonus action to Dash, Disengage or Hide. Sounds lame, until you realize it lets you outrun many enemies, move to tactically advantageous positions (like, say, flanking) much more easily, as well as enabling Hit-and-Run Tactics against a group of enemy (standard action, shoot a bow. Move action, break line of sight. Bonus action, find a new sniping spot or Hide to gain advantage for sneak attack next turn).
    • Also from 5E, the Champion Fighter subclass, which is a throwback to the "classic" Fighters of past editions. No magic, no fiddly skills, just a big block of stats with a ton of passive bonuses to make for a deadly combatant and exceptional physical skills. Champions can get an expanded critical hit range, an additional fighting style and some really impressive damage output when you combine with their extra attacks and their Action Surge ability. And they get Regenerating Health when below half their maximum HP too.
    • Circle of the Land Druids don't get some of the fancy abilities of other Druid Subclasses, but what they do get is eight free spell preparations, many of which aren't on their normal spell list and fill missing slots in that list, the ability to recover spell slots on short rest, and passive defensive abilities. A Land Druid won't be using a flaming entity to burn enemies to ashes like Circle of Wildfire or turning into high level creatures to maul foes like Moon Druids, but at their capstone level of 14, they can waltz through difficult terrain no problem, are immune to poison (one of the most common damage types in the game), disease, and the Charmed and Frightened condition from Fey and Elementals, have advantage against spells like Entangle, and can potentially force beasts and sapient plants to miss an attack or have to target something else altogether while having a lot more versatility with their spell casting, most of which are passive buffs they don't have to worry about. Depending on the campaign, these buffs can be extremely useful and pracical.
    • There are a few Feats in 5E that definitely qualify. Alert gives a big boost to your Initiative and so you always have a good chance to go first when combat starts, it helps protect you from sneak attacks, and you can't be surprised. Observant gives you a big boost to passive Perception and Investigation, so you'll hardly ever miss any loot, traps, hidden enemies, or important clues. Tough gives you +2 HP with every level up. None of them do anything really flashy, but they definitely will save your bacon when it matters, especially early on when player characters are quite easily killed, especially the Squishy Wizard. Even more boring but even more practical? Foregoing Feats at all and just taking the Ability Score Increase. Two permanent, non-situational +1's to the core stats isn't as flashy as a new toy to play with, but increasing the number of successful ability checks over dozens (if not hundreds) of die rolls? Nothing beats it mathematically.
    • Possibly the definition of this trope is the Resilient Feat. It gives you +1 to a stat and Proficiency in that stat's saving throw. Nothing fancy, but your saving throws in a certain stat going up as you level up can be very useful. This is especially useful if you class encourages you to make that stat your Dump Stat, such as a Barbarian taking Resilient in Intelligence.
    • The Human race. "Why play a human in a fantasy game?" is a question you will hear a lot, but depending on what version you play, you can get a +1 to every core stat (standard human) or a +1 to any two core stats, a free skill proficiency, and a free feat (variant human). Variant human is considered a top tier race pick for any class, one of the rare occassions that the Jack-of-All-Stats is high on a game's tier list.
    • From 3.X, the Feat Power Attack. Take a -X Attack penalty, to get +X Damage bonus to melee attacks. However, with two-handed weapons, the damage bonus is doubled. This stacks on top of the x1.5 Strength bonus damage already given for wielding a non-light weapon with two hands. Practically, the most important feat any serious two-handed melee weapon user can pick up, as that damage quickly adds up, regardless if you're a very basic, core standard Fighter, or a Tome of Battle Warblade. It's also a gateway feat to a number of other important and useful combat feats, and a number of Prestige Classes. And it is almost always one of the very first feats anyone picks up on any melee specialist classes.
    • Speaking of Tome of Battle, the Warblade's exclusive Martial Discipline, Iron Heart. There is nothing extremely flashy about it, just simply normal basics of sword fighting and will-power trained until it hits Badass Normal levels. Why worry about what a foe may or may not be immune to, when you can just simply hit'em really hard with one attack, or wipe out a horde of enemies with maneuvers that are flat out better than a similar Feat which requires other feats to even use. Or even just simply parry the enemy's attack.
    • The "Horizon Tripper" build — Barbarian/Fighter/Ranger/Horizon Walker. As "optimized" builds go, it's not much more than a well-traveled guy with a pole weapon and a short-ranged teleport, and its craziest maneuver is simply tripping someone. But it's effective at basically all levels, has a decent amount of skill points to make it useful out of combat, and is unusually mobile for a combat character. And being made exclusively from core material and fairly basic in its lore, there's very few Dungeon Masters who wouldn't allow it.
    • Human Fighter is the most popular race/class in 5th edition, for good reason. As mentioned earlier, variant human is the single most versatile race in the game, thanks to having its stat bonuses not be locked to specific ability scores and getting a free feat, and figher, even without the Champion subclass, is extremely newbie-friendly and easy to outfit as you want. Even before getting into subclasses at level 3, a fighter can be designed for any style you'd want, ranging from ranged fighter, to dual-wielding, to sword-and-shield, to heavy weapons, to tanking, to grappling, etc. With subclasses you can also be a Magic Knight.
    • In general, having a character carry an Emergency Weapon, for those times when a wizard's magic spells do nothing, or can't be used, or when that sneaky rogue finds out that skeletons don't die easily to being backstabbed. In such cases, a wizard might want to use a crossbow, or perhaps some other Ranged Emergency Weapon, and rogues might want to grab a club to break that skeleton's bones. Even if a character lacks proficiency, having any backup weapon is better than relying upon their fists alone, unless they are a monk, have an inborn unarmed attack, picked up the Tavern Brawler feat, or took on the Unarmed Fighting Style.
    • A mule as a Beast of Burdon. In 5e, a mule costs 8 gold, and has a Carrying Capacity of 420 pounds, averaging out to 1 gold per 52.5 pounds, making it rather affordable to buy for most low-level, and cash-strapped, parties — in fact, most parties could get at least two mules, possibly more, depending on cost of feed of course. Also, with the release of Tasha's, it's possible to apply the Warrior Sidekick class to the mules, or any other CR 1/2 or lower mount, and make them decently effective tanks for the party, which is useful for a party full of spellcasters and others with low health and armor class and no dedicated tanks. In short, that mule can become one heck of a Bad Ass.
    • In general, a race that can move its stat bonuses around. This allows them to be useful in multiple classes, possibly all of them, and not just those of a certain category, like martial, support, or spellcaster. For 5e, such flexible races include Changelings, Custom Lineage, most Half-Elf variants, Humans (especially Variant Human), Simic Hybrid, Feral Tiefling variant, Warforged, and a number of Unearthed Arcana races that have been put out since the release of Tasha's, which has the Custom Origins feature, which allows the player to move the character's stat bonuses around, with the Dungeon Master's permission of course.
    • Sidekick Classes as printed in Tasha's. They are a simple way to beef up a lower CR creature, so that it can either be a better ally for a higher-leveled party to help them fight a dragon, or conversly, be a more dangerous threat when the setting dictates that a dragon wouldn't go after a thief that robbed a store in a city, but a well-trained guard would.
    • Since Tasha's, a number of new, and reworked, races that have natural-born spells, due to their race, have the ability to pick which mental stat the spells are run off of. This is useful if one wants to play as a Spellcaster, so that their natural spells can use the same modifiers as their class ones. Even for Martial characters, this is useful - depending on the build, at least one of the mental stats will be a 12, using Standard Array, which could be what the natural spells are run off of.
  • In Exalted 2e, the most cost effective charms are the excellencies — they either add dice, add successes or allow you to re-roll. No flashy attack flurries, no golden beams of magic light.
    • Oh, it gets even better. Whereas the first few excellencies cost motes (Mana) on a per-use basis, several Exalt types have an excellency which allows them to commit motes and then use the earlier excellencies at reduced cost (or no cost at all) for the rest of the scene. End result? Basic multi-action attack flurries boosted by free excellencies are one of the most efficient means of dealing damage in the game.
      • And then even better: Solars have a Charm which allows Excellencies to not count as Charms. Considering you can only use one Charm per turn without a combo, this allows you to augment your defenses no matter what (even if it cannot be used alongside the cost-reducing Charm above).
    • Perfect Defenses. They're cheap, only serve to negate one attack, but they're needed to survive attacks being enhanced by other Boring, but Practical charms.
  • Iron Kingdoms: Major Haley has the Telekinesis ability which enables her to... move an enemy figure two inches and turn it. It sounds like a letdown, compared to the flashy attacks other warcasters get. However, use it on one of the enemy's elite melee infantry and suddenly that unit cannot use combined melee attacks, cannot charge you, is open to be charged from the rear by your melee troops and the enemy's front line suddenly has a huge gaping hole in it, which you, with a bit of luck, can shoot at the enemy's support units through.
    • In the fluff, the "Iron Kingdoms"-'verse is full of advanced Magitek, but most of the nations are pushing their advanced research away from magitek and towards regular tech. Regular technology is far less impressive than the magic-infused Mechanika, but far less finicky and can be used without having to keep a rare and fickle mage happy.
    • Similarly, the ubiquitous warjacks found throughout the setting are nowhere near as powerful and impressive as the Colossi the Iron Kingdoms fielded in the war against the Orgoth, but far more flexible, less resource-intensive, and can be used for non-combat purposes in a pinch.
    • The warjacks themselves were victims of the trope in the early editions of the wargame, Warmachine. Slow, not particularly accurate, easy to disable, and requiring the commander to allocate Focus (mana) in order to bring out their full potential when it was far more beneficial for that commander to keep the Focus for themselves. Anything that a 'jack could do, a squad of infantry could do better, leading to the early editions being derisively referred to as "Infantrymachine".
  • An in-universe example are the Crab Clan from Legend of the Five Rings. The Crab don't have the elegance and duelling skill of the Crane, the cunning of the Scorpion or the magical skill of the Phoenix. What they do have is a keen understanding of siege warfare, a healthy dose of blunt pragmatism and a lot of very muscular men with big hammers and axes. On the rare occasions that they're able to dedicate their full resources to fighting other Clans instead of the Shadowlands they tend to win handily.
  • While the Lord of the Rings TCG usually averted this, with most cards being a part of a complicated Awesome, but Impractical combo, the Goblin Runner card is the epitome of this trope. A simple Strength 5 (barely stronger than a Hobbit) Goblin with no special abilities...but he costs 1 from Shadow Pool to play and you can add 2 to the Shadow Pool when you play him. This means you can build up your Shadow Pool when you play them, so many early decks, especially Moria decks, built their strategy around them.
  • In Mage: The Ascension, the core rulebook highlights how every single tradition has developed a simple "heal my injuries" technique. Some magi blast foes with arcane bolts, some call forth ancient spirits, some invent sapient computers, but everybody finds some way to close their wounds quickly.
  • In Magic: The Gathering, some of the best cards in the game have completely generic effects, but for cheap.
    • Sadly, the cards linked above are also banned from most tournament formats, possibly for exactly that same reason.
      • What do you think is the rarest, most expensive, and widely accepted as best card in the game? Some stompy behemoth that ends the game in one turn? Some spell that gives you an instantaneous win? Nope: It's a card that gives you three free mana. Once. That's about it. Many new players have likely traded it away back in the day for some giant creature that later became obsolete, without ever realizing just how much of an advantage Black Lotus can give early game. Zvi Mowshowitz, a tournament player, designer for Wizards of the Coast, and eventual Magic Hall of Famer, once said there was not a deck that could be built that could not be improved by adding a Black Lotus to it.
    • The early metagame had long been dominated by big flashy spells ("Mono Red Burn", "Blue Eater", etc.) and powerful creatures (Dragons, Angels, Demons, etc.). Then, in 1996, Tom Champheng won a world championship using what he called his "White Weenie" deck. The idea was to build a deck focusing on cheap, easy to summon creatures that most serious players ignored, known as "Weenies." The strategy is that a big, flashy spell which takes a long time to set up is no good if that player has already been defeated by a Zerg Rush of weenies. A few nearly one-sided tournaments later, the "weenie" archetype that we (Magic players) all know and love was born.
    • Blue Deck Eaters, especially those with lots of counterspells. No, you don't hit enemies with massive monsters or blast him with uber-powerful spells. All you basically say is "No, you don't cast that" when you counter his spells, and "No, you can't have those" when you force him to discard. It's not flashy, but once it starts working, it will defeat most any deck out there, except those specifically made to counter that mechanism.
    • Blue-White control decks takes this trope to its most literal meaning. With a slew of cheap blue counterspells and white removal, you effectively render your opponent impotent throughout the entire match while either digging up your own combo or pinging him with consistent yet hard to remove damage. As expected, when your opponent has to face the likes of Render Silent and Silence every single turn, it gets hilariously annoying and boring for them, especially if you just wiped the field (so they don't have any existing stuff to use either).
    • Token strategies center around this. "Dies to removal" is a common complaint about creatures, and token creatures are no exception. However, unlike regular creatures, tokens are, more often than not, designed to just keep coming. And coming. And coming. They seldom have any abilties, and seldom more anything more complex than flying, but when you have an army well into the triple digits, the fact that it's a bunch of 1/1 saprolings is hardly relevant. And we didn't even mention empowering this horde...
    • This even applies to basic lands. Lands give you the mana to cast other spells, and are the most reliable way to get mana. Each basic land gives you one mana of its color and can be used as soon as it's played. There are many varieties of lands that give you life, damage your opponent, or give you a choice of different mana types. They almost always have some disadvantage, however, like costing life to play, only giving colorless mana, or not being usable on the turn they enter the field.
    • Solemn Simulacrum may be a little frail for its cost, but it lets you get a land into play to accelerate your mana base. And when it dies, you draw a card, effectively replacing itself when it's used as a chump blocker. Clone or reanimate it, and you can get a lot of additional card advantage from it. Plus, it's colorless so it can go in any deck, supplementing colors that normally don't have good access to ramp and/or card draw.
    • One of the best legendaries in the game appeared in Champions of Kamigawa set. A vanilla 2/2 creature normally wouldn't be all that impressive — except this one only costs one white mana to play.
    • There are exactly three cards banned in every single format they're available in, even in formats where the Power Nine are allowed to be played. What kind of horrific, unspeakable powers do these cards have? Chaos Orb and Falling Star simply destroy creatures, while Shahrazad makes everyone play a subgame of Magic note . However, all three cards were so horrible to play against that they're one of the few cards that don't involve ante or have the "Conspiracy" card type and yet are banned in all formats.
    • Unsummon and similar cards removes a creature from the game for only one mana, but your opponent can still use that card later. If you use it on a creature with high mana cost, your opponent will have to spend all that mana again, and if you use it on a creature with loads of counters, you've reset them to their base power and toughness.
  • The dodge technique in Psionics: The Next Stage in Human Evolution. It isn't as flashy as a lot of the other techniques, but it automatically succeeds against attempted TK Grabs and is useful against more mundane attacks as well.
  • In Rocket Age traditional fire arms are still the norm since most people can't afford or acquire advanced RAY weapons.
  • Rolemaster has the spell Shockbolt. It's not a very powerful attack spell, as attack spells go, but it has a few advantages over some others. Because it's a low level spell, it doesn't take much magic to use. It's available to two of the three groups of magic types on base spell lists, and to some others on special spell lists, so most spellcasters can cast it. The actual attack is a sort of electrically charged light, so it works better against a target with metal armor. In this system, you're as likely to kill something with a critical hit as by sheer damage, and shockbolt does criticals against metal-armored targets rather better than against targets protected with leather or cloth armor. The effect is so pronounced that metal armor is generally not much valued because this single spell makes metal armor a liability.
  • Legacy in Sentinels of the Multiverse. He rarely attacks and has a very straightforward deck. He's considered one of the best heroes because what his very straightforward deck does is tank damage and heal and buff allies to considerable degrees. Tempest's base power (which deals one point of projectile damage to all opponents) becomes terrifying when he's getting +2 to it from Legacy's ongoing effects and power use, enabling him to sweep, for example, several of Grand Warlord Voss' Gene-Bound troops off the board in one hail of death.
    • Expatriette is a very straightforward hero to play, and she doesn't have many ways to create wild combinations like, say, the Wraith or Absolute Zero can. However, she also comes online very quickly. Wraith has a higher power ceiling, but to get to it, she needs to build up her gear. Expatriette with her shotgun or assault rifle can start raising hell immediately, and do it fairly effectively.
  • A lot of the stuff in Traveller is like this. Three thousand years in the future and they are still fighting with rifles. Most commerce is carried, not on Cool Starships, but on great big hulking Megacorporate abominations that fly unadventurously on scheduled routes. The Imperium is ruled, not by a mysterious Ancient Conspiracy, but by a caste of the decendants of successful industrialists and soldiers. And so on.
  • In Trinity, Clairvoyants ('Clears') don't get to throw bolts of lightning, conjure fire with their minds or teleport an enemy into a dozen different directions at once. Their 'flashier' abilities (like precognition) are depressingly unreliable. They have one major edge, though: They can easily find out where exactly somebody or something is. Combine that with, for example, some knowledge of ballistics and a mortar and you have a very, very frightening combo.
  • Warhammer 40,000: The armies offer loads of appealing units to select, be they super soldiers encased in powered armor that can punch holes in tanks and survive being stepped on by mecha, battlesuits unleashing volleys of plasma fire while darting in and out of cover, tanks the size of bunkers that can annihilate entire squads in a single shot, genetically-engineered warbeasts that spit fire and toss around enemy armor like toys, speed-crazed alien brutes on crude motorcycles loaded with guns, teleporting shock troops firing monofilament threads, and so forth. But at the end of the battle none of these units will matter unless you have some humble Troops choices, the rank-and-file of your army, to hold mission objectives.
    • However, the above-mentioned speed-crazed alien brutes can take motorcycles as troops choices simply by taking a cheap special character.
    • For that matter, the average Guardsman's lasrifle. Compared to everyone else's standard firearm, it's so weak that they're commonly nicknamed "flashlights". Compared to everyone else's standard firearm, it's also the most practical gun humanity has ever invented. Extremely low maintenance and can be recharged anywhere, and is completely idiot-proof so as not to confuse conscripts from some of the less advanced Imperium worlds. And while weak comparatively it still kills humans and 'nids just fine, not to mention cheap enough to be shipped out by the hundred thousand.
      • This is also why the Commissar Ciaphas Cain (HERO OF THE IMPERIUM) prefers the bog-standard laspistol over the much more potent hellpistol or bolt pistol. Hellpistols are souped-up laspistols capable of punching through Power Armour. But to provide that extra power, they have to be connected by cables to a heavier external power pack. A bolt pistol fires .50 calibre explosive shells that can stop a raging Ork dead in its tracks, but also take up so much space in a magazine that ammunition is hugely limited. Plus, it is far heavier than a laspistol and Cain worries that the increased weight of a boltpistol will throw off his aim at a crucial moment and get him killed.
    • The bog-standard model of the Leman Russ Main Battle Tank, both in-'verse and on the tabletop. It lacks the flash of the more specialized models of the same chassis, and the sheer power of super-heavies like the Baneblade, but they're cheap, plentiful and can perform well (if not excel) in almost any role.
    • Missile launchers and autocannons are by far the most versatile Heavy Weapon available to human armies — hardly flashy, like Plasma Cannons or Lascannons, but they have good anti-infantry capability (frag missiles for the ML and a high fire-rate for the AC) and can kill anything up to Armor: 13.
    • A meta-example is the heavy stubber, which is the M2 heavy machine gun in all but name. When a weapon that uses gunpowder to throw solid projectiles doesn't need updating for forty thousand years, you know it's practical.
      • In the same vein, the Earthshaker cannon is nothing but a simple gun-howitzer using bagged charges, an invention that predates the M2 by almost twenty years. It's one of the Imperial Guard's most formidable weapons. Indeed, most Imperial Guard implements of war can be considered boring but practical: in a universe with spider-tanks, hover-tanks and cathedrals on treads, whatever grace or technological sophistication that the Guard lacks can be more than made up for by sheer weight of numbers and raw reliability.
    • Indeed, for most armies in any of the Games Workshop big games (Warhammer, Warhammer 40,000, and Lord of the Rings), it's generally a good idea to cross off the most expensive units in their force from attempts to build serious armies. The reason is fairly simple; any extremely powerful unit is going to take up a lot of the points an army gets, leaving the rest of the army weaker. It'll get blasted by canonballs, a hero killer, or tanks because it is such a big investment on your part, leaving your force crippled. Even if your opponent doesn't have a powerful answer to kill that behemoth, he maybe can tie it up so it doesn't damage anything important while the rest his army crushes your force. For example, one solution to facing a dragon in LotR is to feed it a mook every turn; sure, the mook is doomed, but the dragon is likely impotent to do anything else and cost so many points the rest of your army can sweep the enemy with little trouble. Likewise, if a new player insists on a huge squad of assault terminators you can't kill, skating around them will mean that incredibly expensive unit does too little damage to justify its massive cost. Boring but practical wins cutthroat games.
    • By far the most efficient way for Imperial Guard players to defeat monstrous creatures, especially Tyranids, is to ring them with conscripts, shoot the rest of the army around them, then, once everything is well under control, maybe charge them with a command squad and try to get a force weapon and a couple of powerfists in contact with them.
    • Another Imperial Guard example: the army's Elite choices (as in, Ratling snipers, Ogryns, Stormtroopers, Psykers and Sly Marbo) are generally considered to be too ineffectual for their points costs. Hence, most Guard players who aren't playing for fun prefer leaving them behind in favour of simply bringing more Guardsmen.
    • The theoretical concept of "Mathhammer" is built on this, usually comparing several types of units within a certain points limit in the scenarios they were built for and seeing which one is more cost efficient. This usually means that most players would build their army not with the best units in the codex, but with the cheapest ones that can pack some sort of heavy firepower (such as the Meltavets, who dies faster than any other anti-tank squad, but can kill way more in the small time frame that they're alive, at least statistically).
    • Again from the Imperial Guard: the Chimera troop transport. It's just a vehicle with thin armour, some medium weapons more suited for anti-infantry job, and the ability to carry ten Guardsmen. It's also very cheap and even more reliable and easy to repair, and its chassis is versatile enough to be adapted as a number of vehicles ranging from a humble tractor/supply truck to a mobile ICBM launcher.
    • Arkhan Land has discovered three vehicle designs which are currently in use by the Imperium. Two of them are the Land Raider and the Land Speeder, a tank and a recon unit, respectively. However, there is a third vehicle, one not as common in the tabletop, yet often considered much more important for the Imperium... the Land Crawler, a cheap utility vehicle used as a transport, a tractor, a vehicle to clear the field... and, if needed, you can use it tow artillery, or replace the engine and slap on a few stubbers to make an excellent recon vehicle.
    • The ubiquitous Rhino chassis is this both in and out of universe. Its simple form makes it highly adaptable, with almost every space marine ground tank (besides the famous Land Raider) being based around its chassis. This simplicity also allows it to be mass produced on the cheap and allows even the modest crew to make battlefield repairs (something no other tank in the game is capable of). In terms of practicality, it can transport 10 superhuman soldiers clad in power armor with no difficulty AND can run off any type of fuel from exotic promethium to wood. All of this translates into the game as a generic transport, with a decent (and, due to a rule wording, indestructible) gun and transport capacity for a very low point cost (35, compared to an individual Space Marine at 14 points apiece). Its size and bulk also makes it good for impromptu cover, as most commanders will rush the Rhino up, turn it sideways, and have the troops disembark on the other side, effectively shielding them for a turn from enemy gunfire. Its derivative tanks are also very practical, being able to bring twice the amount of ordinance to bear for half the cost of other equivalent tanks.note  Their only real downside is that even the most heavily armored Rhino Tank would be considered, at best, a "medium" tank, and the majority of them can be taken down with relatively few shots from anti-tank weapons, especially when flanked. However, their cheap cost means you can simply spam them to make up for this.
    • In the same vein as the Rhino, the Predator MTB (which is based off of the rhino chassis) is overshadowed by the insane durability of the Land Raider, the demolisher cannon of the Vindicator, the anti-air array of the Hunter and Stalkers, and the sheer dakka of the Thunderfire Cannon. However, if you need a job done, no other tank in the space marine arsenal can do it better or cheaper. Armed with either 3 sets of Lascannons, an autocannon and 2 heavy bolters, or a combination thereof, the Predator can bring a lot of firepower for a pittance of a cost, and with the 7th Edition Marine Codex allowing for vehicle squadrons you can bring up to nine Predators to a battle.
    • Every Space Marine Chapter has its own specialization. The Space Wolves are tough melee fighters, the Raven Guard are masters of guerilla warfare and rapid assault, the Salamanders love flamethrowers, and the Ultramarines... have a thing for logistics. Guess which one is the one with the 500-world empire?
    • Captain Lysander of the Imperial Fists. A pretty good close combat character, but that's not why you take him. Instead, you take him for his ability of "Bolter Drill", which allows his fellow Space marines re-roll missed Bolter shots. This applies to ANY bolter type weapon, including the Heavy Bolter, and Bolt Pistol. Boring as hell, but damn effective at wiping a field of enemy infantry quickly when you suddenly have a lot more chances to wound the enemy.
    • The Tau, one of the most technologically advanced races of the game, tend to focus their battle strategy around Battlesuits. Their Shas'O Commanders are often given the most advanced Battlesuit tech the Tau Empire has to offer. And yet, two of of the best HQ choices are the extremely cheap points cost wise Ethereal, and Cadre Fireblade. The Etheral has little combat ability, and while they can fight in Close Combat, you really don't want to have them anywhere near it. The Fireblade wears the same Combat armor as the regular Fire Warriors, and carries a Pulse rifle, and both may have two drones with them (Likely shield drones for extra survivability). Both have buffs that are given, to units they are near to, or with. Namely, the Ethereal's Storm of Fire buff, and the Fireblade's Volley Fire. When their per-requisite conditions are met grant an additional shot to Pulse Rifles, and Pulse Carbines, to any unit they are close to, or joined respectively. For way less points than every other unit option available for the Tau, these two HQ choices suddenly turn your Firewarriors and Pathfinders and into terrors of the battlefield, shredding apart infantry with massed amounts of fire from their basic weapons.
      • Taken to the extreme with the special character Aun'Va. He's gone from the worst Special character in the entire game from his previous incarnation, to almost a "Must-Have" unit in any non-Farsight Enclave rules using Tau army. He can invoke an additional power, which means you can leave Storm of Fire always active, and then one of the three other Elemental Invocations make surrounding infantry units tougher, less likely to run, or more aggressively mobile. And thanks to his Paradox of Duality, he put's the normal strategy of using High Strength, Armor Piercing weapons on its head, making it likely to fail when fired at him. Combined with clever use of cover, this will frustrate enemies trying to eliminate this huge morale booster to the Tau. Not bad for a choice, where it's very likely that when used correctly, will never earn a kill on its own.
    • The Adeptus Mechanicus Skitarii soldiers, best described as the Imperial Guard crossed with the Borg have a fairly diverse army list, with spider-tanks, chicken-walkers jousting with taser-lances, spindly mech-assassins with brain-destroying weaponry and gargantuan combat robots, but the undisputed best unit in the army is the Skitarii Vanguard. A basic trooper in a red robe and sealed armour, they're churned out and discarded in the tens of thousands, and yet are considered some of the best infantry in the game thanks to cheap cost, ease of use, surprisingly powerful basic guns and access to good anti-tank weaponry and accuracy buffs. Armed with a couple of Arc Rifles per squad, there's almost nothing in the game they can't hurt, and you need do nothing more than point them at the nearest enemy and forget about them. Unless limited by army slots, it's a rare Skitarii player that doesn't field at least three squads of these guys.
    • Lorewise, this is one of the main reasons why the Imperial Knights exist, insofar as super-heavy walkers can be considered boring. Compared to the Titans, they are smaller (the largest Knight is nearly as large as the smallest Titan) and more mundane in terms of firepower and control. They are also possible to mass-produce, can be used by a single operator, and are small enough to be more tactically flexible in what term of role they can play (and to actually be used in normal-scale Warhammer 40k).
  • Warhammer:
    • The Dark Elf army has two major close combat core choices: Warriors, which are just basic soldiers with spears and shields, and Corsairs, which are kickass Dark Elf pirates with two swords (or a sword and a crossbow pistol), wearing cloaks made of dragon skin. Unfortunately, Warriors are much cheaper and roughly equally effective, meaning that there's no logical reason to take Corsairs over them. It doesn't hurt that Dark Elf Warriors are among the most effective for their points basic infantry in the game. This is less true under the 8th edition Army Book, with Corsairs getting more durable and basic Warriors (sorry, Dreadspears) getting more expensive. But it's still... mostly true.
    • In-universe, while most of Clan Skryre's reputation comes from its creation of deadly and dramatic weaponry, the clan also produces a considerable quantity of more mundane technology that plays an extremely important role in keeping the Under-Empire running, such as mass transit systems, long-range communications and drilling and mining equipment.
    • The tiny little cantrip "Unbind Monster" in Storm of Magic can sledgehammer your enemy by turning all their bound monsters into corpses, idiots, and/or rampaging, uncontrolled killing machines that attack the nearest target. Back this up with the equally minor "Wizard's Duel", to push enemy casters off their fulcrums, and victory is in your grasp.
    • While there are a lot of fancy arcane items (both "generic" and army specific) for your wizards to pick through, none is more useful than the humble dispel scroll, which automatically dispels one spell per game.
  • The Witcher: Game of Imagination based entire combat mechanics on this trope, bordering on extreme Combat Pragmatism when it comes to dirty tricks that can used against enemies. Also:
    • Shields are one of the most overlooked gear in the game, since they don't look impressive at all. Yet they prove absurdly powerful and useful bonuses to defense and can be used for attacks too, dealing damage on par with regular weapons.
    • Cavalry? Charging mob? Some giant monster? Just take a steady grab of few pikes or other polearms.
    • Plate armour. Unlike other tabletop RPGs, The Witcher doesn't add any arbitrary drawbacksnote  other than the price itself, which isn't that high anyway. If it is combined with a shield, you are untouchable by anything short of dragons and high-end spells.
    • Applying good ol' Groin Attack can completely take male enemies off-guard. If they fail a check against it, they lose their turn. And said check can be pretty hard to pass.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!'s metagame is faced with a similar situation. Finally summoned your almighty Dragon Master Knight? Or maybe Elemental Hero Divine Neos? Too bad, they're just as vulnerable to traps like Mirror Force as Kuriboh is. Unless you're summoning something that is immune or can shut down traps, it's usually much better to go with something simple, like Cyber Dragon, whose effect is simply: "Summon for free if you don't have any monsters out and your opponent does".
    • For example, the most effective tactics at one point of the game are to manage your card advantage, and abuse advantageous monsters like the Disc Commander, Monarch and LADD. A very boring yet highly effective strategy.
      • A simple example of this is Lightning Vortex versus Smashing Ground. Smashing Ground destroys the highest-DEF monster on your opponent's field, while Lightning Vortex destroys all face-up monsters on your opponent's field but requires you to discard a card. Smashing Ground is a +0, since you used one card (Smashing Ground) to take out one card (the opponent's monster), while Lightning Vortex varies from a -1 to a +3, since you used two cards (Lightning Vortex and the discarded card) to take out one to five cards (the opponent's monsters). Smashing Ground is considered a better card than Lightning Vortex, because it's much more likely for your opponent to have one or two monsters than four or five, so Lightning Vortex will usually just break even.
      • The Gadgets deck, at their first peak of popularity, embodied the significance of card advantage. Because the Gadgets search each other out on Summon, you will consistently have a stream of monsters to beat on the opponent's LP, while using spot removal to get rid of cards you can't surmount. While the Gadgets themselves didn't have very impressive stats, the massive amount of removal ensures the opponent will run out of resources before you do.
    • This has changed to a degree since the introduction of Synchro Monsters. Shooting Star Dragon for instance, is possible but difficult to summon, but amazing when you do. Same goes for Red Nova Dragon. Also, Synchros have higher ATK than the stars of previous metas, so managing to summon that Dragon Master Knight might actually do you a tiny scrap of good.
    • Nowadays, there's a notable amount of decks where the strategy revolves around summoning a big flashy monster every single turn effectively.
    • Mystical Space Typhoon has one of the simplest effects in the game. It was released in 2002, and still sees plenty of use to this day.
    • Pot of Greed's effect is three simple words: "draw two cards". This may not sound like much, until you realize that this means that it effectively puts an extra card in your hand with absolutely no cost or drawback. On top of giving you more options in your hand, it also makes effectively makes your deck smaller, increasing your odds of drawing that one card that you really need right now. Literally every single deck would benefit from having Pot of Greed (and suffer from not having it), and there are very few situations where you don't want to play it immediately after drawing it. It's considered one of Yu-Gi-Oh!'s most infamous Game Breakers as a result, and it's banned or restricted in every official banlist. Not bad for a three-word card.
    • Compulsory Evacuation Device lets you return a monster to its owner's hand. No activation requirements means you can pop it at any time to disrupt a combo, and the fact that it doesn't destroy circumvents destruction immunity or effects that trigger on destruction. It's especially punishing for monsters that require investment to bring out, like anything that's summoned from the Extra Deck.
    • The Rank 4 Toolbox strategy qualifies. Fill your deck with only level 4 monsters that can summon themselves or each other, and fill your Extra Deck with only Rank 4 Xyz monsters, with a variety of effects. Any two of you monsters can summon any one of your Xyz monsters, and you can pick whichever one best suits the situation.

    Theme Parks 

    Visual Novels 
  • The Danganronpa series typically runs on insanely complex murders, but some of them are fairly straightforward (mostly in the first game).
    • In Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc:
      • The first murder boils down to "break into victim's hiding place, stab victim, dispose of evidence", with the culprit being caught because they weren't thorough enough (in part because the killer wasn't planning to kill anyone, at least before going back to break through the door to the bathroom). Most of the complications of the case come from figuring out the victim's complicated scheme to lure the killer into a trap, kill them, and pin it all on the Player Character.
      • The second murder (which is technically a manslaughter) boils down to "smack victim over head with blunt object, dispose of evidence, run away", and most of the complications of the case come when an unrelated third party discovers the crime scene early and tampers with it for their own amusement.
      • The fourth murder boils down to "lock self in room to eliminate everyone else as suspects, drink poison", and most of the complications of the case come when Monokuma tampers with the victim's suicide note and a distraught Aoi tries to get everyone killed, including herself, because of it.
    • In Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony, the culprit of Chapter 6 murders Rantaro by simply getting the drop on him, smacking him over the head with a blunt object, running away, and letting Kaede's own death trap do all the work in both framing her and tricking her into believing that she was the killer.
    • Earlier on, one of Chapter 3's murders involved the use of a complicated deathtrap, and the other one boiled down to 'bonk victim on head to knock them out, move victim elsewhere, stab victim'. It's the deathtrap one that ends up leaving the most evidence pointing to the culprit, while the other murder was basically unsolvable.
  • Fate/stay night, where generally massively destructive attacks rule supreme, and where the main heroine has a Sword Beam that can wipe out a city you have fake Assassin and (to a lesser degree) Lancer. Both their Noble Phantasms (read weapons and special attacks) do one thing: attack one, and only one person infront of them. Nothing else, not even environmental damage. Not very much compared to Saber's speed-of-light Wave Motion Sword, Archer's Field of Blades, Rider's 430kmph Pegasus, Caster's over-the-top Beam Spam, Berserker's stockpile of 12 lives, and immunity to all attacks below building-buster levels and Gilgamesh's Reality ripping, world-destroying sword or his rain of legendary weaponry. HOWEVER, Lancer's Noble Phantasm uses so little mana that he can fire it off 7 times in quick succession without draining himself completely, as opposed to most of the other attacks mentioned above. And though his attack isn't flashy or earth shattering, it will probably kill you in one shot. And Assassin's attack doesn't even use mana at all. It's just a very good sword technique that's undodgeable and instakill if he manages to set it up. It's not flashy, nor is it No Kill Like Overkill, and it's not even really magical, but it damn well works.
  • In Shinrai: Broken Beyond Despair, what strategy does a ten-year-old Raiko use to save Kamen from being falsely accused of shoplifting? She asks the store owner to review the security camera footage, thereby showing that the accused had been tricked into smuggling the merchandise through the shoplifting detectors as a guinea pig for the real culprits, who'd been planning a theft of their own.
  • Exploited in Super Danganronpa Another 2 by the killer of Chapter 5: unlike Junko (who used a pre-killed corpse and presented it as recently deceased), Nagito (who engineered their own elaborate suicide culminating with one of the others unknowningly poisoning them) and Kaito (who crushed the victim into unrecognizability and then pretended to be them), Mikado simply poisons Teruya's food. And what happens? He successfully manages to Frame-Up Iroha, subjecting everyone else to a mass execution.

    Web Animation 
  • In Dead Fantasy, all the Final Fantasy girls use magic and fantastic powers while the Dead or Alive girls use ninjitsu arts and other powers they don't have in their home series. Hitomi demonstrates no powers at all beyond Super Strength, but she knows two fighting styles: Karate and Wing Chun. In Part 3, she turns Tifa into a human gumball machine despite being magically blinded. One of the most skilled and impressive fighters in the series.
    • This is also how Hayate wins against Tifa in the end. Rather than facing her one-on-one or in a two-on-one with Hitomi, Hayate opts instead to send an entire clan of ninjas after her. Even with Conservation of Ninjutsu in full effect Tifa is easily overhelmed by the sheer amount of them and as the fight drags on they're able to tag hits on her repeatedly until she's adequately burned out for Hayate to deliver a finishing blow.
  • Whenever Kitten, Captain-General of Adeptus Custodes, plays a game in If the Emperor Had a Text-to-Speech Device, he wins against powerful, scheming opponents by sticking to boring tactics.
    • When playing Yu-Gi-Oh against the Emperor, the Emperor used a bunch of banned, overpowered cards to create the ultimate monster that couldn't be destroyed with trap or spell cards. Kitten used a spell card to send the monster back to the Emperor's hand, and then hitting him with a weak monster, winning the game.
    • Kitten's Stellaris strategy is to focus on infrastructure, keeping his empire happy and prosperous, while staying out of the galaxy-wide wars and backstabbings. By the end of the game, his empire is the only one that hasn't suffered from the Triple Crisis, because it's rich enough to fend off any threats almost immediately.
  • JoCat mocks the commonly-used Human Fighter character in his Crap Guide to D&D series. The example character he uses to demonstrate is even named "John Fighter-Man". However he does this all while pointing out how infuriatingly good the character archetype is, in terms of combat and in terms of being newbie-friendly.
  • Red vs. Blue: Project Freelancer was a programme that trained only the best of the best. Agent Washington was surrounded by Freelancers with awesome armor enhancements (super speed, active camo, time distortion, and more) and AI to help run them to their fullest. What does Wash have? An assault rifle and a bio-scanner. He refuses to use an AI after a tragic incident with the Epsilon AI, but his name was always in the top ten of the leaderboard; once he became the sixth best agent in the project, he never dropped lower, simply thanks to him being stable and reliable. Who needs epic gadgets when you can have a guy who won't screw over the mission out of carelessness or pride? It's even reflected by his icon on the leaderboard; Wash is represented not by a unique skill such as sniping (Wyoming) or brute strength (Maine) but by a battle rifle. Any Halo fan will recognize the implication: the battle rifle is efficient, reliable, and effective. Wash might not have the flamboyance of his peers, but he also doesn't suffer from their tactical flaws either.
  • RWBY:
    • Most characters have Impossibly Cool Weapons such as a scythe combined with a sniper rifle, a katana with a Variable-Length Chain and a gun, and shotgun gauntlets. Jaune Arc's weapon, Crocea Mors, is just a normal sword and shield. But still, they're very durable and dependable, even if they aren't as flashy as the other character's weapons. In Volume 4, he gives Crocea Mors an upgrade that lets him combine the sword and shield into a greatsword, symbolizing his Taking A Level In Badass. Later on in the Atlas arc it gets another upgrade, able to use Dust to punt targets backwards or create a hard-light barrier that lets it function as a larger shield, hang-glider or parachute. Still not particularly flashy, but it remains versatile and practical.
    • Ironwood's weapon of choice is a simple revolver called Due Process. Yep. Only in the deranged world of RWBY would a Hand Cannon be relatively mundane, but then Ironwood doesn't need a melee weapon anyway, as the entire right side of his body is cybernetic and he can casually throw a Beowolf Alpha around like a ragdoll.
    • Maria tells Ruby that she calls her Semblance 'Preflexes'; it's a form of precognition that manifests as her being able to use reflexes just before something happens, rather than relying solely on reflexes in response to something happening. The elite Huntsmen and students have exceptional reflexes anyway; while Preflexes doesn't sound like it offers much extra, Maria cites it as one of the reasons she became a legendary fighter.She states that her Semblance and training were more important than the much cooler power of her silver eyes and advises Ruby to develop the same mentality about her own abilities. In Volume 8, she has to fight Dark Action Girl Neopolitan who has curbstomped nearly every opponent she’s fought, and Maria’s plain blocks and strikes cut right through Neo’s flashy Dance Battler techniques.
    • Semblances are single, unique superpowers every Huntsman has the potential to unlock. Examples include Ruby's Super Speed, Glynda's Telekinesis, Pyrrha's Polarity. Semblances are often cool, flashy abilities, but some people have abilities that don't seem as visible or interesting on the surface.
      • Ren's Semblance is called Tranquility: he can dampen the negative emotions of himself and others. Not only does this allow anyone affected by his Semblance to act calmly even in stressful situations, but it renders him or others invisible to the Creatures of Grimm, which hunt humans by sensing negative emotions.
      • Hazel's Semblance is called Numbing Agent, and it allows him to ignore pain. That's it. It doesn't give him any actual resistance to damage, but it makes him very hard to take down in a fight. It enables him to directly inject Dust into his body in quantities that are normally too large to handle because his Semblance makes it possible. This allows him to hulk out and supplement his punches with elemental effects such as lightning or fire.
      • Jaune's Semblance is Aura Amplification. He first uses it by accident when Cardin tries to punch him; it heals Jaune's injuries and leaves Cardin with a sore fist. He later learns he can pour his Aura into other people. Not only can this restore their Aura reserves, it amplifies an Aura's natural Healing Factor and can bring a person back from the brink of death. It also massively boosts a person's Semblance, which is the manifestation of their Aura. Ren can normally only mask the emotions of a handful of people from the Creatures of Grimm but Jaune boosts him so much he can mask an entire train full of people from the Grimm.

  • Bugged Run: Chrys and her Butterfree beat Brock in their rematch by stacking defense bonuses from Harden while fighting Geodude until Butterfree can survive Onyx's Rock Tomb.
  • Clan of the Cats: Just how dangerous can a portal sorcerer be? The correct answer: Very.
    Sorceror: You can add volcanoes to the list of things that can kill vampires.
  • El Goonish Shive: Out of all the aberrations who try to kill Raven at the mall, the one that comes closest doesn't make use of an impressive monstrous form or magical attacks but rather a completely mundane handgun.
  • Girl Genius: Moloch is easily one of the most rational people in the strip, being an Only Sane Man of course, and a bit of The Engineer. His ideas are typically very un-flashy, but they get the job done. Much to the ire of the sparks and mad scientists that surround him. Amusingly enough, while everyone in-universe finds him boring, the fact that he seems to sane and different from half the cast makes him anything but boring to the readers, if only for the reactions he gathers from the Sparks:
    Moloch: Why don't we just move this winch? There should be enough cable. And it looks strong enough that we could lower everybody on a platform.
    (group death glare)
    Moloch: ...and then, at the bottom, it could unfold into a... a giant caterpillar or... something...
    Mittelmind: No, no. You've already taken all the joy out of it.
  • Homestuck: Characters store items in "fetch modi", things based off of video game inventories which are treated as both abstract concepts and physical objects. There are numerous kinds of fetch modus, each of which imposes specific limitations on how and when objects can be placed into and retrieved from them; for instance, the "stack" modus only allows the user to retrieve the item on its topmost card, and "buries" other objects further down the more things are put into it while violently ejecting whatever's at its bottom when it runs out of room. They can also be mixed and matched to produce very complicated and abstruse systems. The array modus is by far the most conventient, allowing the user to store and retrieve items with no catches... and this is exactly why John refuses to use it, since he thinks it's boring.
    "The ARRAY MODUS allows you to store and retrieve any item from any card at any time. It seems exceptionally serviceable, albeit difficult to weaponize. BOOOOOOOORING."
  • Kill Six Billion Demons: The Master Swordsman Meti eventually realized that Charles Atlas Superpowers and flash were redundant, and that the essence of any fight comes down to Cutting Down Your Opponent. She then made this the centre of her entire style, training in nothing but Cutting things. As it turns out, in a universe running on Enlightenment Superpowers, coming to understand the essence of Cutting made Meti tremendously powerful. According to the author she'd be able to school any member of the cast if she hadn't been long dead, and her apprentice Maya at one point Cuts a building in half (and the borders of the comic itself) using nothing but a sword hilt.
  • Misfile: Vashiel is an angel of punishment, so he gets a BFS that flames and can smite evildoers in a second. His brother, Rumisiel, is a filer, so he gets a multi-filing tool, with a recorder, web access, and other things like that. Guess which one comes in handy?
  • One-Punch Man: Saitama is a superhero with the flash and style of a roll of toilet paper, and he doesn't know martial arts. However, he's so overwhelmingly strong that he has destroyed every single opponent he has ever faced with (you guessed it) one punch. What's worse is he agrees he's boring: he was an ordinary Japanese salaryman who wanted to be the greatest superhero in the world out of a hidden Blood Knight spark, trained until he became just that, and then realised how boring and depressing it all was because every fight was over in a minute.
  • The Order of the Stick:
    • The Magic Missile spell. Redcloak convinces Xykon to use it against the ghost of Soon Kim, because even though it's a mere 1st-level spell, it does Force damage, which ignores the incorporeality of ghosts.
    • Xykon's spellcasting style is all about practicality over flash, at least when he's serious. Up against a wizard with dozens of different types of magic? Why engage in a drawn-out battle of spell and counter-spell when you can just spam Energy Drain until he has no power left, and finish him at your leisure? He may enjoy being stylish and looking cool, but Xykon understands that that has to take a backseat to practicality when the chips are down.
      Xykon: All you need is power, in as great a concentration as you can muster, and style. And in a pinch, style can slide.
    • Xykon ironically finds himself on the other side of this trope when Vaarsuvius attacks him, having soul-bonded himself with three powerful evil sorcerers, only for Xykon to end up wiping the floor with him. Xykon delivers a very cutting "The Reason You Suck" Speech on the importance of this very trope. But in his eagerness to teach Vaarsuvius a lesson, he forgets his own moral and begins to start getting a bit extravagant with the torture, enabling Vaarsuvius (who was paying attention) to not only escape but inflict a serious setback on Xykonnote  in the process with nothing more than a second-level invisibility spell.
    • Recurring enemy Thog is noted for this, and is the only traditionally 'optimized' character. His race (half-orc), class (Barbarian with a dip into Fighter for the bonus feat), and ability distribution (dump intelligence and maximize strength) are all dedicated to making him very good at "hit things until they die".
      Thog: Thog's elegant in thog's simplicity.
  • Sequential Art: When the cast tried a tabletop wargame, Scarlet could do only The Loonie part, so Kat called her "sisters" to play with Mad Scientist Hive Mind. Two strips later it occured to Pip that Think Tank accumulates mana, so he attacked before they can cast uber-spell wiping out his whole army. In the next strip, he lost. They simply disabled his leader, for just long enough to let their allies win the war. The main reason this tactic worked was because Pip dedicated his entire attack force to stop the sister's plan, believing that whatever they had planned would be more dangerous than what the other two players were doing.
  • Sleepless Domain: The magical girl Heartful Punch's special powers include sensing monsters and enhanced blows, with some largely-cosmetic Heart Beat-Down flavor. Sure, her abilities might not be as flashy or complex as some of the other magical girls' tricks, but they make her very effective in hunting down monsters. There's a reason she's become one of the City's top magical girls as a solo, when teams of 2-5 girls are the norm.
  • Unsounded: Duane's combat spellcasting gets mocked for being textbook-perfect core technique, often as basic as borrowing Solidity or Contours from nearby objects for striking or slashing attacks. Not only is this just as lethal as flashier attacks and with less chance of Magic Misfire, but he's a phenomenal spellwright who can both break out the big guns if needed and use those basic spells very, very effectively.
  • Weak Hero: It's noted that Jake's fighting style isn't particularly interesting or unorthodox (unlike the protagonist, a vaunted Combat Pragmatist, or the other antagonists, who are noted for their cunning, bloodthirstiness, or accuracy). However, he's so talented at what he does that he still manages to become the second-greatest fighter in the series, beating out only by the Invincible Villain Donald.
  • xkcd: Parodied in this strip, when MacGyver uses a gun.
  • Yokoka's Quest: In a setting where people throw fireballs, conjure lightning, place curses, and perform other impressive magic feats, the only spell that Yokoka has learned is one that lets her see in the dark.

    Web Original 
  • Maddox, the author of The Best Page in the Universe, uses this as his rationale behind using a simple design consisting of a black background with white or light grey text in a large and basic font.
  • Pretty much half the party's accomplishments in Critical Role rely on the Rule of Cool, but the other half come down to good old efficient stabbing. Vax, Vex and Grog have done the majority of the damage as of Episode 56, and they mostly rely on straightforward attacks with daggers, bows, and two-handed weapons respectively (Vex has a little bit of magic, but it's nowhere near as flashy as Keyleth or Scanlan's). Even Percy — the runner-up damage dealer to those three — prefers to use his handgun rather than his flashier gadgets, because it can fire more shots before reloading and has a much lower chance of breaking or exploding. Of course, these tactics are only boring on paper: Matt's narration makes even simple stabbing seem insanely cool.
  • Hamster's Paradise: The badgebears are an unspecialized group of carnohams that resemble badgers, as the name suggest, which doesn't make them stand out when compared to some of the other, more unusual fauna of the Temperocene but this flexibility combined with their omnivorous diet has allowed them to become one of the more successful animals on, the western hemisphere of the era, with the more carnivorous members of this genus becoming the top predators of the continent of Gestaltia.
  • Nameberry's new layout. While it was received poorly by its users for lacking the colors of the original layout, the old layout wasn’t working well at all from site management and SEO perspective. Page speed was extremely slow and there were lots of different applications servicing different parts of the site, which meant lots of updating and cross-checking.
  • Tom Scott's video on teleportation details why using your powers to fight crime is far less useful than less interesting uses. If you can teleport into space, you can make the cost of putting satellites etc.note  in space to be nothing more than your time. If you create portals, you can just put something "large, heavy, and magnetic" between two portals to create an infinite loop. Coil some wire around said loop and you've generated infinite free electricity. Far less "awesome" than fighting crime (or causing it) but it'd save millions of lives and likely make you the richest person in the world.
  • $1 pledges on Patreon. While they're obviously not as "wow!" as pledges in the double digits let alone triple, they're a lot more stable than bigger pledges. A big fan could be donating $50 a month, but if they have unexpected life developments that force them to scale back their pledges, the creators they're supporting may find themselves having to readjust for the abrupt drop in income. $1 pledges are less likely to be canceled for the same reason; fifty $1 pledges are a more reliable source of income than a single $50 pledge.
  • Mahu: In "Second Chance" the humble corvette of the Galactic Commonwealth is considered to be this. Most captains of these ships are junior officers wishing to later command far larger and flashier ships of the line. However, the corvettes also happen to be the fastest and most agile ships in the fleet, able to work in well-organized squadrons to surround and destroy far larger and more expensive enemy ships.
  • Serina: While some of the creatures of the titular terraformed moon have developed bizarre bodies and behaviors many of the more abundant species have stuck to more basic lifestyles.
    • By the time of the Ultimocene egg eating molodontsnote  have severely diminished ground dwelling bird species. Some get around them by more exotic methods of reproduction like laying fish-like eggs in the water or developing variations of live birth, the sparrowgulls and tentacle birds both simply carry their eggs to a safer location. This has allowed them both to become the most successful birds of this time period with the tentacle birds in particular managing to the only remaining ground bird megafauna that lay hard shelled eggs.
    • Small perching birds that are similar to the original founding canaries manage to persist all throughout the moon's history while many more impressive species die out due to the high versatility and low biological cost such a body type allows. It's compared to modern lizards resembling early reptiles and modern rodents and opossums being similar to primitive mammals as those largely unremarkable builds are also highly adaptable and have managed to persist ever since they first appeared.
  • Springhole: When talking about gadgets and weapons, Syera emphasizes that simple designs without frivolous decorations or extra settings tend to work better than their fancier counterparts.
  • Democracy mode in Twitch Plays Pokémon. Whereas Anarchy mode processes every command (causing the character to behave... erratically to say the least), Democracy filters the commands inputted every few seconds and chooses the most popular one, this usually results in something like a regular game of Pokémon, only ten times slower. The majority of Twitch players loathe Democracy, but sometimes it's crucial for progress during puzzle sections where a single wrong movement can send the character right back to the start.

    Western Animation 
  • Near the beginning of Avatar: The Last Airbender Zuko rages at Iroh over the latter's training focusing on basic firebending. Later, we see that Zuko's mastery of the most basic part of firebending, control of one's breathing, gives him a resilience to cold that other firebenders can't match, to the point that he is able to resist the effects of a specially designed anti-firebending prison cell and even survive swimming through ice channels at the North Pole.
    • This is shown spectacularly in the last Agni Kai of the series. Azula comes out of the gate using all her fancy firebending, using flips, spin kicks, propelling herself around like a miniature rocket. Zuko... Stands still, controls his breathing, and uses the same moves he used against Commander Zhao in the third episode complemented by the defensive techniques of the Dragon Dance. By the end, Azula is completely out of breath, while Zuko is still fresh.
  • In The Batman, how does DAVE find out Batman's secret identity? By going through public records to find a male within Batman's probable age range with the wealth to fund his exploits and the motive to fight crime.
  • Batman Beyond: In the episode "Shriek," Powers turns down Walter Shreeve's sonic weapon for this reason, despite being impressed that it can destroy entire buildings. As he points out, for regular tasks like demolition, conventional tools like dynamite are just as effective and cheaper, and the Awesome, but Impractical nature of the device itself means mass-producing it will be too expensive.
  • Darkwing Duck: Darkwarrior Duck, rather than use a flashy or dramatic way to defeat Megavolt and Quackerjack, just beats them with... a garden hose. No overkill missile launchers, no gas guns (he doesn't even use them anymore), just a garden hose. (Especially effective against Megavolt; for the Liquidator, however, it would have been fuel.)
  • In the episode of Doug that involved a kite-flying contest, Doug's father presents to him the Funnie V... which looks like an ordinary kite, while all the other father-son pairs have cool, flashy kites. Towards the end of the episode, Doug finds out that the Funnie V's simplistic design allows it to perform stunts and all the other kites ended up having flaws that crippled them (such as being too heavy or its dark colors making it hard to find after it crashed).
  • Scrooge McDuck embodies this trope in the rebooted DuckTales. In the pilot he plots a course with a submarine that will avoid any threats even if it's not the most direct route, and deduces a way to deal with Atlantean deathtraps that is simple and safe, as opposed to the reckless Dewey who changes the route of the sub to a quick but dangerous one, and blunders through the traps.
    • Scrooge is this in his business dealings as well; work hard, be smart, stay honest. He rejects Glomgold's elaborate schemes against Mark Beaks because even though they both can't stand him, Scrooge would rather simply ignore him and concentrate on his own success than focus on destroying a rival.
      • In the third episode Scrooge is seen to do this in a psychological manner. When his Board wants to cut spending and suggests firing some of his employees, Scrooge goes on long impassioned speeches to defend them. This does next to nothing to sway their minds and when one of Gyro's inventions crashes through the wall Scrooge decides to skip the theatrics and essentially scare the Board into dropping the matter by confirming that the ones they want to fire are completely crazy and almost certain to come after them for revenge. That single declaration gets them to quickly decide it's in their best interest to keep Scrooge's workers hired and as far away from them as possible.
    • In "Scrooge McDuck the Outlaw!", when an adventure results in a western town experiencing a gold rush, Scrooge decides to stop focusing on getting the gold himself, and instead sets up a business supplying the other prospectors with equipment, thus securing a tidy profit.
  • Most of the 31st-century tech in Futurama tends toward Cool, but Inefficient, but the episode "2D Blacktop" has Leela replacing the dangerous Planet Express ship with a safer and more practical model that's treated as the futuristic equivalent of a soccer mom's minivan. It has some nice tech inside (such as a solidifying foamlike spray that can be used to incapacitate anyone who's irritating the driver), but it's essentially a flying gray cube with sliding doors and no windows, making deliveries a lot less exciting.
    Leela: Good news, everyone! Our safe new ship has arrived, and it's gonna knock your socks on, where they belong! Ta-da! (Unveils ship.)
    Bender: ...Is it inside that box?
    Leela: No! That's the ship! The boxy shape keeps it from going too fast.
  • In Gargoyles, Xanatos's personal assistant/secretary Owen Bennett became so impressed with his boss's genius and wealth that he revealed his true identity as Puck, one of the Children of Oberon with amazing Reality Warper powers. Puck offered Xanatos a choice: he would either grant Xanatos one magical wish, or provide dedicated, loyal, hyper-competent service as Owen for as long as the billionaire lived. After considering his options, Xanatos opted for the latter, reasoning that no amount of magic could possibly make up for an extremely skilled employee who could never quit, didn't need a salary, and followed his orders with utmost care. Being Xanatos, he also likely realized that Puck, as the trickster of Euro-American mythology, would have likely had some fun with whatever he wished for. In a bit of Sweet and Sour Grapes, it's also heavily implied that Xanatos's intelligent decision only further endeared Puck to him and made him stick with the deal in the first place.
  • Glitch Techs: Bergy focuses more on dealing with low level glitches than boss level glitches like Mitch does. It’s not as exciting as fighting bosses but it is a lot safer and with how many low level glitches are ignored by other Glitch Techs, Bergy is able to grind just as much XP as anyone else at the store.
  • In Home: Adventures with Tip & Oh, Tip and Oh play a virtual reality video game and Oh is given the shape-shifter class, but he has such a poor imagination, he only shape shifts into the most straight forward and practical thing to resolve the task at hand; Tip suggests Oh shape shifts into a giant dinosaur with a tractor for a face to dig a hole, Oh transforms into a shovel. Tip suggests Oh become a shooting star to illuminate a dark hall, Oh becomes a flashlight.
  • Justice League: How Green Lantern John Stewart tends to use his powers in earlier episodes (somewhat justified by the fact that he's a military man). Katma Tui calls him out on it in Season 2, and from then on he gets somewhat more creative with his constructs.
    • Ironically when John was turned into an 8-year-old, he has too much of an overactive imagination that he has difficulty coming up with anything.
  • Hank Hill from King of the Hill embodies this trope. One specific moment is in the episode "Naked Ambition," when his friends end up in an asylum after a series of misunderstandings. Dale's attempt to get Boomhauer out by swapping clothes with a patient gets him mistaken for one instead, and Boomhauer's later escape plan fails because Bill ratted it out. They rely on Hank, who simply talks to the staff and sorts things out.
    • In "Phish And Wildlife," Hank and Bobby's camping trip is being ruined by an army of hippies who keep taking their equipment. When Hank tells the park ranger he knows how to get rid of them, the ranger wants to start a fight with a fire hose and riot gear. Hank sensibly tells him to turn off the park services (running water and restrooms) instead, forcing the hippies out when they refuse to learn to survive on their own.
  • In The Legend of Korra, Eska and Desna's waterbending comes off as this. Whereas their relatives tend to use fancy techniques like water sprouts, ice drills, huge waves and ice sculptures, those two stick to water streams and 'small' ice bolts to attack, and water-skating for high-speed movement.
  • In Miraculous Ladybug, Akumatized villains can have all sorts of crazy powers, like time manipulation, Power of the Storm, People Puppets, and mass brainwashing. But a lot of the ones who come closest to winning are those with pretty straightforward powers, like Vanisher (invisibility), Chameleon (takes the form and abilities of someone else), Troublemaker (intangibility), and Silencer (steals voices — more problematic than it sounds, given that the heroes' powers are voice-activated), who were just really good at using them.
  • In My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic we have Twilight Sparkle and Rarity with their flashy unicorn magic, Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash with the ability to fly, and Pinkie Pie with her Cartoon Physics and borderline Reality Warping. Then we have Applejack who just has her lasso, raw physical power and a nice hat, and gets the job done all the same and is every bit as badass as the others. (Also see the Food and Drink folder in the Real Life section; she gets a lot of mileage out of her signature fruit, too.)
    • Earth ponies as a whole embody this. Their innate magic is a connection with nature, along with higher physical strength and stamina than the other two races. Not flashy like a unicorn's magic or a pegasus' flight, but the series has made it very clear that said connection with nature is the most important trait in a world where the frost is painted on the windows. Life without a unicorn's magic would be inconvenient, life without a pegasus' ability to control weather would be difficult but possible, while life without the ability to effectively produce food wouldn't last long.
    • Evil-wise, there's King Sombra. He's a Flat Character in a Rogues Gallery filled with Evil Is Hammy-types. The "Practical" part is that he's No-Nonsense Nemesis who averts the Villain Ball by setting multiple traps and failsafes. It's not flashy or hammy, but it incapacitated the one person who managed to get through them all.
    • Starlight Glimmer, before her Heel–Face Turn. The only spell she had aside from basic unicorn magic was one that robs a pony of their cutie mark. Not as flashy as shapeshifting, reality warping, or the flashy Dragon Ball Z battle with Lord Tirek. But it has the nasty effect of power nullifying. In a world where everything is routed in magic, this renders anyone hit with that spell entirely helpless. Combined with Glimmer's mind games and brainwashing (the mundane non-magic kind), it got her closer to complete and utter victory than any other villain has gotten.
    • Cozy Glow has no magic powers whatsoever: she's just an intelligent manipulator who knows how to use tools provided to her. Cozy Glow twists what she learned at the School of Friendship, taking advantage of other character's faults and lapses in judgment, and knowing exactly how these characters were going to behave to execute her plans. She came close to a decisive victory, all while utilizing The Power of Friendship against the heroes. She even points out the effectiveness of this mentality to Princess Celestia and Princess Luna, pointing out that the reason they've gotten their butts handed to them by a weaker Monster of the Week many times throughout the show is that they take their immense power for granted and end up being Awesome, but Impractical.
  • In the Phineas and Ferb episode "Norm Unleashed", Doofenshmirtz is called in for jury duty and leaves his robot Norm in charge of plotting that day's evil scheme to take over the Tri-State Area. Rather than build some over elaborate and easily defeated -Inator like his boss, Norm upgrades himself with a variety of guns, rockets, and other forms of weaponry to take the Tri-State Area by force (and would have succeeded had not Doof mistook his efforts for goofing off, distracting Norm long enough for Perry to get in close and shut him down).
  • In the The Powerpuff Girls (1998) episode, "Three Girls and a Monster", Blossom and Buttercup spend the episode arguing over which works better, Blossom's formulated attack plan or Buttercup's direct attacks. But neither work against a monster with Nigh-Invulnerability, and continue arguing over it, until Bubbles, fed up with her sisters arguing, does her own way, by flying up to the monster politely asking him to stop destroying Townsville and just leave. The monster actually agrees and returns to the ocean, where it belongs.
  • In Rick and Morty, Rick's plan to toppling the galactic federation is rather mundane yet effective. Does he set their nukes to target each other? Does he reprogram their portals to disintegrate their space fleets? Nope. He simply reduces the value of their currency to zero.
    • Discussed in 'Pickle Rick', when Rick finally winds up at the therapist's office and she plainly tells him that the key to actual self-improvement and fixing his issues is, quite plainly, work — work that he'd find too tedious and boring to actually commit to, but would honestly be the best way forward. She ends her session by remarking that Rick is simply someone who'd rather get himself killed than be bored.
  • In Rocket Power there's an episode with a sand castle contest. While the 2nd and 3rd place winners made very elaborate and fancy creations, the winner was a little girl who made a castle out of an upside-down bucket outline. While not as flashy as the Rockets' creation, the judges point out that she was the only one who made an actual CASTLE in a sand castle contest, while the others were more concerned with just having something elaborate.
  • Samurai Jack: Despite his vast empire and armies of robots and bounty hunters, Aku has no issue with these kind of tactics.
    • While Aku does possess actual skill in his powers and shapeshifting, averting the Unskilled, but Strong trope, Aku generally just breezes by any direct confrontation without putting any real effort into things. Since he's almost impossible to actually hurt, there's no reason for him to do more than the bare minimum in combat unless he's fighting Jack.
    • The beetle drones that Aku uses to subjugate the populace are helpless against stronger resistances to his reign, like Jack or the Scotsman, but given they can handle the majority of the world's populace with ease, there's really no reason to stop using them.
    • Between Seasons 4 and 5, Aku decided to stop trying to kill Jack directly and let time take care of his rival by just waiting for him to die of old age. This would have gotten rid of Jack with no effort for Aku, and only failed because of something neither party could foresee.
    • In XCVI he assumes the form of a giant black ball, easily the most mundane of all the forms he has assumed throughout the series. However, when using it against the army attacking his tower, it also turns out to be viciously effective, with him literally steamrolling hundreds, if not thousands, of soldiers in a matter of seconds.
    • In the final episode "CI", after getting beaten up by the Robo-Samurai, Aku hits his breaking point and transforms into a giant dark cloud and begins raining down spikes on all of Jack's allies during their rescue attempt. It's another of the most mundane and simplest forms he's used, but it's deadly effective as he kills nearly everyone save for the 300 warriors (who blocked with their shields) and the Scotsman's daughters, who are protected by the Scotsman's bagpipes.
    • Also in Episode CI, Aku can't decide which elaborately formed blade he wants to use to publicly execute Jack and asks Ashi to do it for him, and ends up lampshading this trope when she forms a simple lance.
      Aku: The simplest solution is the usually best one."
  • In Star Trek: Lower Decks, the USS Cerritos specializes in what's called "Second Contact." It's not as glamorous as First Contact, but it's where the important bureucratic work gets done. In addition, Cerritos and her fellow California-class ships aren't very flashy, but they can easily be customized for a variety of missions.
  • In Star vs. the Forces of Evil, Ludo's only magical attack after obtaining his wand is a powerful green blast. It doesn't do anything magical, but remains destructive and dangerous. Later, he learns a proper magic spell, but only the one — and it's Levitato, an extremely basic spell that lifts things off the ground. In contrast with Star's huge and flashy spells, however, Ludo gets very creative and skilled with that one spell, allowing him to become a much bigger threat with that alone.
  • Star Wars Rebels:
    • Much of the plot of the series is about Lothal, Ezra's homeworld, being used as a base for production of a new Imperial weapon. It's heavily implied to be the Death Star (or at least part of it), and the heroes skirt the edges of that project several times. But in the end, it's Grand Admiral Thrawn's new TIE Defender — a faster, tougher version of the same basic TIE fighter that the Empire already produces by the millions (it's approximately as superior to Rebel ships as they are to the existing TIE fighters). Furthermore, because Thrawn invests in things like proper production lines and division of labor, when the heroes destroy the Super Prototype he loses nothing and can just move forward exactly as planned. In fact, the fighters are so effective compared to cost in the new canon that, combined with the influx of defectors as a result of the Death Star, had the TIE Defender project been funded over the Death Star, the Rebellion likely would have lost.
    • This also extends to Thrawn's tactics, shunning the overly-elaborate glory-seeking tactics of other Imperials, in favor of things like proper formations and maneuvers. He is so effective at implementing these that were it not for his superiors' obsession with sadistic fear tactics, his subordinates irritation with the basics or sheer stupidity, or outside forces he had no ability to anticipate, he would have smothered the Rebellion in its crib.
  • Star Wars: The Bad Batch: Compared to the rest of the Bad Batch, Tech's Super Intelligence is the least flashy of them all and his combat capabilities don't stand out much from other highly-skilled clones. However, his large deposit of technology and knowledge, even the most mundane bits, can be incredibly useful in the right situations, whether it be decrypting, hacking, making measurements on the fly for the other Batchers, translating alien languages, or recording animal cries.
  • When Gwen is asked how she will use the $100,000 cash prize of Total Drama's first season, she says she will use it to go traveling and then to a university to study art history. Chris is unimpressed, and pronounces her plan "really sweet. Boring, but sweet."
  • The Venture Bros.: Brock Sampson and his knife. It's all the weapon he needs.
    • In a fairly memorable sequence, Red Death talks about the virtues of leaving someone Chained to a Railway. It may be a Dead Horse Trope, but as deathtraps go, it's "simple, inexpensive, personal and deadly." On top of that, it also induces quite a bit of horror in the victim, since it leaves just enough wiggle room for them to maybe escape, and allows them to hear the train coming.
  • Xiaolin Showdown:
    • In the episode "Like A Rock!," Master Fong sets up a circular obstacle course for the monks, tasking them to retrieve a stuffed dog at the end. Omi (and, by implication, Raimundo and Kimiko) goes through the paces of the test, dodging and weaving through all of the traps. When it's Clay's turn, though, he walks to the starting line, takes a deep breath...and promptly turns around, walks to the back of the course (it's a circle, so the finish line is just behind the start) and picks up the toy. As he points out, Master Fong specifically told them to "get the dog" — he didn't say "do the course." This was the point of the whole course, and Master Fong praises Clay for solving it. The whole opening thus sets up the Aesop for the rest of the episode — staying calm, assessing a situation, and using strategy is better for solving problems than flashy tricks or panicking.
    • In the same episode, the other monks learn that lesson when rivals Jack Spicer and Wuya recruit "Le Mime," an evil mime with the power to create invisible constructs out of whatever he pretends exists. Le Mime traps Raimundo, Kimiko, and Omi in one of his invisible boxes, and all of their brute force and strength can't set them free...until they realize that since the clown's power relies on their imagining what he's mimed, picturing the box as having an openable door immediately lets them out.
    • And in a third demonstration, the Xiaolin Showdown in "Like A Rock" occurs between Jack and Clay. Jack sets the challenge — the first of the two to catch a robin will win. While the teen inventor tries to snag it with both his jet-pack and Third Arm Sash (which functions like a third arm for the wearer), Clay calmly walks over to a field of flowers and starts plucking seeds and puts them into his hat. Jack ends up failing miserably — there's no way a human can outfly a bird — while Clay wins by holding out the hat and letting the bird land on it to eat. It's not particularly fancy, but it works.
    • Fourth but by no means least is when Clay is confronted by the mime, and sees that the mime is mimicking every move he makes, blocking the way forward. Clay's response? Tricking the mime into punching himself in the face... by punching himself in the face. Clay, being tougher, is still standing. The smaller, weaker, less durable mime? Flat on his back, out cold.

Alternative Title(s): Boring Yet Practical