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Cutting the Knot

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Nothing keeps me from my damn cheese.

"Ask any fighter: A hammer is just a really heavy set of lockpicks."

The Hero has only a limited amount of time to do something, be it rescue, transport, repair, or simply Outrun the Fireball. But he has a problem. A very complicated problem that would need time to solve, time the hero definitely doesn't have. After trying in vain to solve the problem the technical way, the hero Takes a Third Option: getting rid of the problem altogether, with violence. Smash it down, break it apart, run right through it, blow it up. Whatever he does, he "solves" the problem by causing so much damage that it's not his problem anymore.

If the hero ever does this, then he's Cutting the Knot.

When the smart character is trying to find a way around it and the dumb character resorts to violence, the dumb character is often Too Dumb to Fool. When The Leader tramples over objections to prevent Divided We Fall, this often comes into play. Often parodied, such as where the hero tries to destroy the problem, only to succeed in destroying everything but the problem. It can be stopped by Self-Destructing Security. Heroes who make a habit of doing this may boast that We Do the Impossible.


Compare with Debate and Switch (when done with a philosophical rather than physical problem), Dungeon Bypass, Murder Is the Best Solution, "Open!" Says Me, Percussive Maintenance, Sequence Breaking, Steal the Surroundings, Unexpectedly Realistic Gameplay, and Take a Third Option. Contrast We Have the Keys or There Was a Door, where violence is the complex solution. See also Impossible Task, in which this trope is often the only solution. If an authority figure berates you or even punishes you for this trope, see No Fair Cheating.


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  • Played for Laughs in this ad where a Pokémon battle ends before it even begins because the opponent's Scizor decides to just crush Ash's Pokeball before it can deploy his Pokémon.

    Card Games 
  • Notable Magic: The Gathering player Zvi Mowshowitz used the line "If brute force doesn't solve your problem, you're not using enough. Why not use more?" in a column on proper Magic strategy.
    • Even more so recently, because contrary to his original "famous" deck, Turbo Lands, his recent decks in the past season have all been super-aggressive aggro decks, with some of them winning on turn 3 or 4.
  • Sentinels of the Multiverse:
    • Apostate's deck is about tons of evil relics that he can sacrifice to preserve his life. Some teams can meticulously wipe the relics before killing him; others might prefer to just kick the shit out of Apostate until he runs out of stuff, since his deck protects his relics much better than it protects him.
    • Wager Master can be vulnerable to this. While some of his challenges make reducing his health an insta-loss, most don't, making beating him up quickly and mercilessly a sometimes-viable strategy...particularly if What Do You Really Know is out.

    Comic Books 
  • Avengers: Back to Basics: The Desir bind Pepper Potts with Gleipnir, a magical chain that, as they gloat to Iron Man when he tries to slice through it with a laser, cannot be cut, broken, or melted in any way. Tony deals with it by using a rocket to destroy the stone slab that Pepper is chained to.
    Desir: All right. I should have seen that coming.
  • The Losers: The first act has the team tech Jensen having to copy the secure hard drives of Goliath, an oil company. When security finds out about the operation and exchange fire with his friends, he hacks the outer casing with an axe and pries the thing out whole.
  • Misfit City: When the girls find Captain Denby's chest is locked, and that there's no key, Macy decides to chop the padlock off with a sword.
  • Watchmen features the Gordian Knot Lock Company (one of many companies owned by Ozymandias, who fancies himself a new Alexander the Great). Rorschach breaks the door down. Several times. This is actually a clue as to Ozymandias' endgame: the U.S. and Soviet Union are on the verge of nuclear war, and have been at each other's throats for so long that it has become impossible to untangle them from their conflict. So he plans to cut the knot by introducing a third side for them to unite themselves against—a genetically engineered monster that he teleports to New York, killing half the city. What's frightening is that—at least initially—it works.
  • In The Incredible Hercules the title character is presented with a game of dark elven chess that he must solve to pass the Test of Mind. He responds by referencing The Kobayashi Maru (Not The Kobayashi Maru, but Kirk's handling of it), saying that when faced with an impossible situation one should change the rules of the game, and knocks over the table. Princess Alfyse is delighted with his resourcefulness, and other things, while her adviser starts to point out that it's not an impossible situation, he just had to move the rook...
  • Batman often does this in Justice League.
    • In their initial fight, he loses to Prometheus because his foe downloaded the fighting abilities of several great martial artists (one of them was Batman himself). In the rematch, Batman wins because he switched that disc with another, containing the fighting skills of Professor Stephen Hawking.
      Huntress: Did I see you cheating?
      Batman: Winning.
    • In another JLA story, the league is fighting the General, who has some of the highest levels of invulnerability and regeneration in The DCU along with tremendous super strength and no Kryptonite Factor. Batman's solution was to hypnotize the General and lure him to a bulk matter teleporter. It would have worked if the League hadn't barged in at that moment. But they accomplish the same thing by knocking him around with brute force until he's on the teleporter pad.
  • In another issue of JLA, the team is facing a version of Amazo, the Power Copying android, who's been programmed to automatically duplicate the powers of all members of the League. They try to fight him conventionally, but Amazo's too powerful. They temporarily draft some new members to the League — so Amazo just copies their powers. Finally, the Atom jumps on Superman's shoulder and whispers an idea. Superman shouts, "Attention! The Justice League is hereby disbanded!" Amazo promptly collapses, powerless. The team re-formed once Amazo was safely in custody.
  • Whenever Batman battles The Riddler, he'll often beat his riddles using either this Trope or Take a Third Option, essentially bypassing various plans by winning in ways his enemy didn't expect. Notably, what usually drives Riddler crazy isn't that Batman is cheating, but rather that he (the Riddler) failed to anticipate the third option.
    • In Batman: Zero Year, this is lampshaded. The Riddler has Batman in a Death Trap, and he has to solve a series of riddles to save the city. For the third riddle, he says the answer is "a blade", and Nygma says no, the solutions to all the riddles were based on famous riddles of antiquity, and the answer to that one was "a knot" as in the Gordian Knot. Batman then reveals that Gordon has managed to stop the threat to the city, leaving him free to punch the Riddler; the solution to the Gordian Knot was a blade.
  • Speaking of the Riddler, in one issue of Impulse he challenges Impulse to find a bomb hidden in Manchester. Impulse promptly goes over the town with his superspeed and is back with the bomb even before the Riddler's done reading his clue.
  • Preacher:
    • The section that shows Herr Starr's background and turn to villainy includes a bit where, as part of his training in GSG 9, Starr is confronted by a sadistic unarmed combat instructor known for beating new recruits viciously. In front of the class, the instructor demands to know how Starr would defeat him in hand to hand combat as an obvious prelude to inflicting such a beating on Starr. Starr responds by shooting the instructor in the leg and saying that he never intends to be unarmed. GSG decided that it showed innovation, and it was one of the things that caught The Grail's eye.
    • And continuing this trend of lateral thinking, Starr is tasked by The Grail, as an initiation trial, to identify and assassinate a defector from their organization who is trying to spread the word about them and is currently confined in a mental hospital. Instead of finding some clever way to infiltrate the hospital as a patient, staff, or even visitor, and eliminating only his target, Starr simply blows up the hospital and everyone in it. This earns him admittance into The Grail and being appointed one of the highest ranks within the organization as it shows ruthless efficiency, a willingness to sacrifice innocents in service of the "Greater Good", and as an added bonus there's no chance in anybody taking an interest in the death of the "lone nut" as they might if only that guy died when it appears that his death is simply collateral damage in a terrorist attack. Even if somehow an investigation decided that the "terrorist attack" wasn't what it appeared and somebody destroyed the hospital to kill one person there, they'd have hundreds of patients and staff who might be the target, making it nigh impossible to solve.
  • In an issue of Jon Sable, Freelance, Sable and an archaeologist are looking for treasure in a Central American pyramid. It's one of those designed so that a beam of sunlight shining through a hole in the wall will reveal the lock - but it only works on one day of the year that's months away. Sable points out that the ancient builders hadn't anticipated modern electricity and duplicates the effect with his flashlight.
  • Deconstructed in Adventure Time Graphic Novels Volume 1: Playing With Fire, Flame Princess does this after getting fed up with the first Puzzle in the Dragon's Puzzle Dungeon and proceeds to blast her way through the dungeon until she ends up in a chamber with a water fall. Jake then proceeds to point out that just simply blasting your way out of a puzzle only creates a series of endless puzzle rooms till you take the time to solve them.
  • On one occasion, Thorgal's wife Aaricia is shown a ring tied to a frame with three cords, and challenged to cut them all with a single arrow. She walks over to the frame and cuts all the ropes with the head of the arrow he's holding in his hand.
  • In Super Sons, Robin plans on burning a hole through the roof of a werehouse in order to gain access. Superboy points out that the front door is open.
    Superboy: Hey genius, details.
  • The Dinobots in most iterations The Transformers prefer this, at least in their incarnations where they're actually smart enough to think of it. Like this gem from The Transformers: Salvation:
    Sludge: Who cares what's the right way or the wrong way- Dinobots just blast a hole and go our own way.
  • Tintin "Explorers on the Moon": Being back on Earth, mission control Mr Baxter has to use rather creative methods to help the protagonists in space. But when rocket finally lands and the crew can't open the doors because they've already passed out from lack of oxygen, Baxter just elects to hack the rocket open with electric saws to get them out in time.

    Comic Strips 

    Fan Works 
  • In the Jackie Chan Adventures fanfiction Queen of All Oni, when Left is faced with a giant stone barrier supposedly impervious to magic in his and Right's attempt to rescue Jade, he (being a bit of a Mad Bomber) just blows it up with dynamite.
  • Child of the Storm has Harry develop a proclivity for solving problems by blowing them up, blowing them up again, then setting the rubble on fire. This is not because he can't come up with more cunning solutions - he's a highly capable Guile Hero, temper notwithstanding - it's just that he prefers explosions. As he loftily puts it, they make an impression. For instance, rather than sneaking through a HYDRA base backed up by his friends, having been teleported in by Doctor Strange to try and find Tony, Steve, and Bruce (all imprisoned), his response is to blast a trail of destruction through the entire base until he gets to them - though, granted, he was in a very bad mood at the time.
  • In the Jackie Chan Adventures and Teen Titans crossover fanfiction A Shadow of the Titans, Jade, forced to attend the HIVE, is presented with the task of traversing Death Trap-ridden obstacle course and ringing a bell during a Physical Feats class. Upon noticing that the course is circular, she just turns around and rings the bell that's a few feet behind her.
    HIVE student: Can she do that?
    • As "Star Chan" Jade does this again later, during a fight with Evil Dick, who has just activated a Doomsday Device. No one can get past its force field or hack it in time to shut it down... and then Jade notes it's literally plugged into a power source. She pulls the plug, shutting the machine down and ending the problem immediately.
  • Code Geass: Paladins of Voltron: The minute Allura tries to bring up the similarities between herself and Lelouch, he simply uses his Geass to learn what, exactly, she's talking about.
  • Justice League of Equestria:
    • Mare of Steel: With only moments to stop a bomb Brainiac has planted in Cloudsdale and unable to think of anything else to do, Rainbow Dash/Supermare punches it, which destroys its firing mechanism. She's as surprised as anyone that it actually worked.
    • The Princess of Themyscira: Diana does this literally during the tournament to select an ambassador to the mortal realm as part of an intelligence test — her mother said to undo the knotted rope, not untie it.
    • In a Call-Back, this is also how she deals with Ares' master plan (using the Alicorn Amulet to open a portal to Tartarus and releasing the demons there) — she can't get close enough to the Amulet to remove it, and even if she could, she's not a unicorn and can't use it. So, she ends up throwing her tiara at it to destroy it, sealing the portal with Ares inside it.
  • The Immortal Game: During the Battle of the Everfree, Twilight Sparkle announces that the Mane Six need to get into Titan's Citadel in order to stop him. When Rainbow Dash asks her if she's going to use a spell to create an opening, Twilight responds by blasting a hole in the side of the building.
  • DEATH BATTLE! stories:
    • The match between Darth Maul vs General Grievous ends this way with the former breaking open a viewport on the Cool Starship they're fighting on, leading to both of them getting sucked into space. Grievous' cyborg body lets him survive; Maul isn't so lucky.
    • The same writer came with a similar reason as part of Booker Dewitt's victory in Jack vs Booker, with him using the Bucking Bronco vigor to suspend Jack in midair before killing him with a Hand Cannon. The writer notes that Booker had a number of ways he could easily end the fight, which is part of why he won.
  • In the Puella Magi Madoka Magica fic Persephone's Waltz, Homura gives up on trying to reason with Madoka and just kidnaps her.
  • Since a lot of events center around Sephiroth, a time-travelling Cloud tries to kill Sephiroth to prevent them from happening in the The Fifth Act.
    If he was going to change things, there was a person who needed to die.
    • At the end when both Cloud and Sephiroth are paralyzed by Jenova, Genesis shows up and impatiently fires off a few Fires, roasting Jenova.
      "Honestly. I'm not sure what I missed, but it wasn't even a moving target."
  • ARTICLE 2: Shane is being tested for intelligence and is challenged to retrieve what is in a glass box. There are several keys to try, but he discovers the lock shocks him when he touches it. He looks around the room and finds an oven mitt. The testers expect him to use it to protect his hand from the shock so he can safely test the keys, but he instead uses it to protect his hand so he can punch through the glass.
  • In Off the Line: Cloud uses a genderbending magic necklace to hide from bounty hunters. Bounty hunter try to get around this by killing any Viera woman they find because one of them is bound to be Cloud, right? Instead Vieras are getting together to kill bands of bounty hunter to protect themselves.
  • With This Ring: Comes up with OL around.
    • When the team are fighting Mister Twister and come to the conclusion that it's Red Tornado in disguise, OL uses his ring to confirm Red Tornado's location: in the base.
    • OL and the Team were fighting Ocean Master while he's holding Queen Mera hostage. OL's constructs don't work on Ocean Master due to his armor's magical nature. What does he do? Cut off Ocean Master's hands which were the only things that weren't protected.
  • In Holding Back The Sea, seeing that his Master Kariya is dying and could meet his end while the Grail War is still taking place, Berserker decides to go to Matou Manor, kills Zouken, floods the worm-infested basement and abducts Sakura, fulfilling Kariya's wish in less than an hour without the sacrifice of multiple Servants.
  • Twice now inThieves Can Be Heroes!:
    • The Phantom Thieves are wondering how they're ever going to cart out Kamoshida's Treasure, which is a massive crown as large as they are and several times as heavy. Cue Izuku pointing out that they could use their superhumanly large and strong Personas to do the heavy-lifting for them, particularly his own physically-inclined Persona, Carter. The rest of the Thieves all Facepalm for not thinking of that solution sooner.
    • Unlike in Persona 5, Madarame arrives home early before Morgana has finished picking the lock. Ann bites the lock off thanks to her Quirk.
  • Naruto lampshades the idea in Myoushuu no Fuuin with the idea of puzzle boxes, citing that only the rich use the things as anyone who tried it in the Red Light District would find it stolen or smashed open in seconds. During the first part of the Chunin Exams, applicants are discouraged from breaking open their puzzle boxes due to the massive point loss that'd come from doing so.
  • Edward in My Master Ed starts to plan out how to get Hohenheim away from the Dwarf in the Flask and worries about how to not get caught kidnapping him when Edward remembers his father is a slave right now, and it'd be a lot easier if he just bought him.
  • In The Stalking Zuko Series, Aang gets some of his friends to participate in an Air Nomad festival that involves various games, even though no one else is at all enthusiastic about it. During the week, Suki and Zuko, faced with a puzzle box as part of a challenge, stomp on the box, breaking it open and getting their marble. They also glue together the pieces of another puzzle rather than try to balance the pieces.
  • This trope is Quirrell's default mode of action in Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality. Whenever he is faced with a physical obstacle, he solves the problem either with Killing Curse or Fiendfyre. He can be extremely cunning when he needs to be, but he will generally choose the simplest possible solution.
  • After stealing the power stone in Balance, Ebony Maw uses it to blast the Nova Corps headquarters and all of their ships into rubble rather than engage in conventional warfare to steal the time stone from Doctor Strange.
  • In Neither a Bird nor a Plane, it's Deku!, Izuku is stuck floating uselessly in an anti-gravity chamber at USJ while the rest of the villains are attacking his classmates outside. After getting fed up with the situation and failing to get his flight to work in such a space, he apologizes to Thirteen before cutting the entire chamber in half with his Heat Vision, disabling the anti-gravity to get free.
  • In My Copy, Lilith is bound by the Chains of Cyttorak but gets free by simply ripping the unbreakable chains out of the much more fragile concrete wall.
  • Final Fantasy VII Another Side: When imprisoned in the Shinra tower, Zack is manacled to the wall with electronically controlled shackles. When the time comes to escape, Cissnei is all set to try some complicated hacking scheme to open them, then Kunsel comes in and sticks his sword into an electrical circuit, shorting out the manacles, which fall open.
  • Son of the Sannin: Naruto's entire generation of Genin was spared the pain of having to catch Tora the cat since Tamaki can just summon her no matter where she is. Team Tenzo doesn't have this luxury, since Tamaki has been promoted to Chunin and no longer has to go on D rank missions by the time they became Genin.
  • Monsters In Paradise: An Eevee who is staying with Reisen at Eientei has its thoughts wander towards its impending evolution. Since it doesn't know Reisen very well and doesn't have a strong bond with her, it can't evolve into Umbreon, and its thoughts reveal that its parents weren't clear with it on that subject anyway. Eevee gets around this issue by deliberately biting Reisen while they're moongazing, jump-starting its evolution with Reisen's wave manipulation abilities.
  • A Diplomatic Visit: Discussed in chapter 19 when Celestia recalls to herself when she's had advisors who suggested she do this via removing the officials who would stand in her way. She also recalls that she explicitly refused to do so and dismissed any advisor who suggested it, on the grounds that it would be the act of a tyrant and a dictator seeking to consolidate power, and she is neither.
  • Revan in So Not My Problem is a Comically Invincible Hero with a proclivity towards the Jedi Mind Trick. When asked to solve a murder case where both witnesses claim the other did it, he Force Persuades them into telling the truth to avoid wasting time cross-examining their statements.
  • In canon Miraculous Ladybug, Lucky Charm objects seem mundane at first, but there's always a way they can be used to defeat the Akuma of the week. In Scarlet Lady, this usually translates to beaning the Akuma in the head with whatever it is, as neither Chloe (the ladybug hero in this AU) nor Adrien are creative enough to use them in the ways Marinette canonically does.
  • In New Beginnings, several knots get sliced and diced. A few standouts:
  • In Mr & Mr PotterMalfoy and the Treasure Hunt of Doom Harry and Draco's sons set up a Knights and Knaves situation as part of the treasure hunt they designed. Instead of figuring out the right question to ask the appropriate statue, Draco blows the leg off one of them.
    Left statue: Aaaagh! He blew my leg off! The crazy git blew my leg off!
    Right statue: He didn't blow your leg off and I totally saw it coming!

    Films — Animated 
  • During Gaston's Villain Song in Disney's Beauty and the Beast, the line "No one matches wits like Gaston!" is sung while Gaston is shown playing chess with someone... and throws the board and pieces into the air.
  • Fantastic Mr. Fox has a sequence where they need to choose who's going to jump over a fence with barbed wire, slide under tire spikes, etc., until one of them points out there's another path with no obstacles.
  • Globehunters: An Around The World In 80 Days Adventure: In the lab locker room, Eddie tries to break into Wilkins' locker by picking the padlock with one of his own hairs. Sasha, feeling Eddie's method is taking too lock, breaks the lock in half with her paw.
  • In The Last Unicorn, Schmendrick tries various spells to free the unicorn. After a few unsuccessful tries he produces a set of keys he has stolen that will open the cage.
  • Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse has a scene where Miles and Peter have broken into Oscorp and are trying to hack into a computer to get some information, but the owner is such a mess that even her desktop is a huge slop of a mess with files upon files overlapping. Miles gets around this by just stealing the whole computer.
  • Superman: Doomsday: Superman's clone, when he was obedient to Luthor, would go into Luthor's red sunlit safe room and submit to beatings from Luthor with Kryptonite gloves. When the clone turns on Luthor, Luthor retreats to the safe room, puts on the gloves and dares the Superclone to attack. The clone instead closes the door from the outside and then rips the entire room out of the building with Luthor in it. Luthor was last seen in critical condition in a hospital at the end.
  • In Toy Story 2, Utility Belt!Buzz and company are trying to rescue Woody. When asked how they're going to get past a grate to attack who they think are evil toys torturing Woody, UB!Buzz says, "Use Your Head!" Cut to Rex being used as a battering ram, screaming, "But I don't want to use my head!" before crashing through.
    • Earlier in the film, the actual Buzz gets stuck behind the automatic doors of Al's Toy Barn. After a few attempts at trying to get the doors open himself, Buzz just simply knocks over a nearby stack of board games and puzzles to get them to open.

  • In one of the tie-in books to anarchic TV comedy show The Goodies, a spoof childrens' puzzle page sets the boys the problem of navigating a maze to a desirable prize at the other end. The problem is phrased as "Win the X by getting from point A to point B in the shortest route". Tim of course gets lost in the maze and whimpers. Graeme ignores the maze completely and walks right round the outside, arguing this is the quickest route from A to B. Bill purloins a JCB with an attachment for uprooting hedges and bulldozes straight through the middle. note 

  • Animorphs:
    • Suggested in book 20. The new boy in school has the Morphing Cube, and is going to sell it online; he has a timed e-mail set to go out that afternoon. Marco decides to bring Ax along to break into the system in case it's password-protected and swings by his and Tobias's living space to pick him up en route, but when he explains the situation to them, Tobias suggests he use this trope and just unhook the modem. Marco feels like an idiot for not thinking of the obvious solution himself. (Unfortunately, he can't get to the cord, either to the modem or the computer itself, in time.)
    • Books 20-22 involve a story arc where the main villains, a race of Puppeteer Parasite aliens, are trying to infiltrate a major conference attended by several heads of state with the intention of infesting the majority of the world's leaders at once. The main characters try the stealthy sabotage route, which does not work. In the end they end up turning into elephants and rhinos and doing so much damage to the hotel that they have to cancel the whole event.
  • Artemis Fowl:
    • Holly had to defeat a number of projected holographic opponents as part of her entrance exam to the LEP. Rather than fight with all of the holograms, she simply shot the projector. They had to pass her because she technically defeated every single opponent.
    • She also passed a different test by shooting Root with a paintball. He did say that doing so would let her pass automatically... but she shoots him in a situation which any sane person would consider inappropriate: he was about to fail her, and he asked if she could do something to change his mind.
  • Codex Alera: Juris Macto is a legal dual where the challenger takes on the defendant or the defendant's champion for some legal or honor based reason when one doesn't have time or wants to try taking it up in the courts. It has been used at least twice in the series by the heroes to deal with complex political issues.
    • In Captain's Fury Tavi has gained evidence that Senator Arnos is a corrupt and vile person with some bands of soldiers under his command raping and pillaging their fellow human settlements. As Tavi has learned he is the Princeps of the country and the hidden heir apparent, Tavi does have legal ways to stop him, but as they are currently in the middle of a battlefield against 7-10ft tall wolfmen working with some Alerans who want Arnos, his time options are limited, so he outright challenges the man to juris macto.
    • In Princeps' Fury Isana, Tavi's aunt, is sent on a mission by the First Lord to broker a peace agreement with the Ice Men of the North, so the Aleran soldiers who guard there can be dispatched to fight a more dangerous enemy. Isana makes more headway in her communications with them than any Aleran before. However, High Lord Raucus, who has been fighting these "monsters" for over 30 years and buried countless soldiers, doesn't believe peace is possible. When he tries a Decaptication Strike against the leaders of the Ice Men, Isana saves them from his fiery blast by using her water magic to control the snow (a trick no one had ever considered doing before). She then challenges him to juris macto for his cowardice and betrayal of the First Lord's word. She uses it as a chance to break through his emotional barriers by using her water magic's empathic powers, while setting it where the Ice Men can see and using their own more powerful water magic to sense her genuine intent and resolve. Though she has to get a sword to her gut and technically loses, Raucus realizes his errors and submits to Isana while the Ice Men agree to the peace until the other enemy is vanquished.
  • Discworld:
    • In The Last Hero, a bard tells Cohen the Barbarian and his band of old heroes about the Tsortean Knot, expecting them to be impressed. Most of them just feel cutting it was rather a cheap move, but Cohen at least has a chuckle picturing the scene. And later, disguised as a god, he is asked to prove his divinity by beating the god of Fate at a game of dice. Fate rolls a six, and Cohen is reminded "Gods play to win," so he's got to roll higher... on a six-sided die. (A god could roll a seven, of course.) He calls his shot: "That's a knotty one. Ye'll remember I said that, lad?" He then rolls the die... and cuts it in half with his sword on the way down, so that it lands showing a six and a one.note note 
    • In Interesting Times, the same Silver Horde barbarians take a shortcut through the Imperial Palace by cutting their way through its paper walls.
    • Another time, Granny Weatherwax challenges three prospective witches to knock her hat off. Two of them decline to attempt, one concentrates and fails to do anything. She then asks Nanny Ogg to demonstrate, who then throws a stick at her head.
      Girl: Any of us could have done that!
      Granny: But you didn't.
    • This is a running theme in that particular book; the younger witches think witchcraft is about magic, while the older ones know that witchcraft is about having the capacity to think sensibly for three seconds in a row. When the younger witches still complain, Granny gets frustrated and obliges them by using magic to blow up Nanny's hat.
  • Ender's Game: While Ender is still in his preliminary training to combat the bugger aliens, he enjoys whiling away his downtime on a computer game called "Freeplay". In one section of the game he encounters an evil giant who forces him to choose between two drinks; one of them is poison. After failing the test several times, Ender makes his character attack the giant and gouge his eyes out, allowing Ender to continue. The school's top brass takes this as a sign that Ender has what it takes to win the alien war.
    • Interesting to note is that killing the giant isn't supposed to even be an option. The game is intended as a way of psychologically profiling the students. Both glasses are poisoned, and the whole setup is intended as a way of checking for suicidal tendencies. The accepted "right" answer is to stop going back to the Giant's Drink after failing a few times. When Ender kills the giant, he pretty much goes off the rails, and the game starts inventing new areas more directly based on his mind.
    • This turns out to be very important, as Ender uses a similar method at the end of the book. Facing an enemy fleet several times larger than his own, with no hope of defeating them, Ender bypasses them with a tactic he devised earlier, and blows up the planet they're defending.
  • The Executioner. In #59 Crude Kill, the terrorist leader traps Mack Bolan in a room full of booby traps, all triggered via different means. Rather than play his game, Bolan cuts a hole in the wall with his fighting knife and gets out without bothering to defuse anything.
  • In the Dean Koontz novel The Face, Big Bad Corky Laputa is breaking into a secured area. The door is held in place with a chain latched with a massive padlock, one with an immensely thick metal clamp that bolt cutters will be useless against. Heck, Shoot Out the Lock might not even be an option! Corky ignores the lock completely and cuts the chain.
  • Fire's ability to invoke this trope is frequently mentioned as a reason for its appeal in Fahrenheit 451.
    If there wasn't a solution, well then now there was no problem, either.
  • Gentleman Bastard: Con Man Locke Lamore has been caught and poisoned by The Spymaster, an elderly woman who will only give him the antidote if he reveals his accomplices. Locke simply punches her in the face and chugs down the antidote.
  • In How Kazir Won His Wife, Kazir wants to marry the daughter of a king. The king, with one always-truthful daughter and one always lying daughter sets him a series of Knights and Knaves puzzles, ending with an impossible one: he must determine both the name and the marital status of one of the king's daughters, whose honesty he does not know, with a single yes/no question. One of the king's daughters elopes with Kazir.
  • In Humans, a safe cracker explains his favorite method of opening a small wall safe - break the safe out of the wall and take it home with you, where you'll have all the time you need to open it any way you prefer.
  • The Hunger Games:
    • Tributes are trapped in an arena where they must survive by killing all the other competitors. 24 years before the start of the series, Haymitch Abernathy spent his Game trying to find the edge of the arena, as if his survival plan was to escape the arena rather than win the game.
    • In the second book Catching Fire, this is how the rebels save the heroine and (some of) her allies — not by helping her win the game but by getting her to destroy the force field separating the arena from the outside world.
  • In a story in the If I Were An Evil Overlord anthology, when faced with an indestructible door, the empress orders her men to tear down the wall next to it.
  • In The Man Who Never Missed by Steve Perry, Emile Khadaji tests bouncer applicants to his bar by telling them to move a particular table, without telling them it's been bolted down to keep intoxicated patrons from weaponizing it (this particular table has slightly weaker bolts for the test). Sleel struggles a bit but breaks it loose, Gentle Giant Bork removes it easily. Then comes Dirisha Zuri, who was watching the first two from a hiding place. She smashes the tabletop free with a kick, then uses it to bludgeon the base free.
    Dirisha: It is moved.
    Emile: (laughing) And you're hired.
  • The Robert A. Heinlein short story "The Long Watch" has a nuclear weapon engineer on the moon locking himself in a bunker (with all the nuclear warheads) to stop a rebelling office from taking control of them in a coup attempt. His first thoughts are to defuse the "brain" circuits of each bomb, realizes he doesn't have enough time before those involved with the coup break into the bunker and ends up smashing the plutonium with a hammer.
    • Less of a gordian knot situation than a heroic sacrifice for anyone with solids chemistry experience: plutonium is an alpha emitter that oxidizes into a loose powder that can get everywhere. Smashing the plutonium wasn't the first option because, if you're standing around breathing the same air that's touching said plutonium, you've likely just sentenced yourself to a slow and painful death as your lungs fail (which can't even be stopped by removing yourself from the source of the powder).
    • True to the above, the nuclear engineer stops the coup but dies of radiation poisoning in the process.
  • In The Magician King Eliot explains that the keys he had to find were all guarded by a monster or a puzzle, but when they got to the beach entirely made out of keys, they couldn't figure out the answer. So instead they just spent a couple weeks testing keys 24 hours a day until they found the one that fit.
  • In Phule's Company, similar to the 8-bit Theater example but earlier, the Omega Squad learns soon after Phule takes over that the fastest way to get through an obstacle course leaves it needing to be rebuilt.
  • In The Princess Bride, Inigo and Fezzik inadvertently use this trope. They are trying to get through Humperdinck's sinister and booby-trapped Zoo of Death. The first staircase has a mighty snake that Fezzik must overpower. The second staircase is pitch-black with poisonous bats, requiring Inigo's superhuman sword skills to detect and skewer. The third and final staircase looks completely ordinary and harmless. However, by this point, Fezzik is so scared that he rams through the door at the bottom in a panic, not bothering to turn the knob. Then Inigo casually steps on a spider that emerges from the broken door. Neither of them realize that the spider (an incredibly poisonous and aggressive type that lived behind the doorknob) was the trap.
  • The novelization of the first Resident Evil title has a scene analogous to the "Armor Room" puzzle from the actual game. Instead of manipulating two statues to block the poison gas vents before pressing the button to unlock the crest kept under glass (as happens in the game), Jill simply uses the butt of her pistol to smash the case and grab the crest - an option that, sadly, is not available in the game itself.
  • The Riftwar Cycle Pug has a "Eureka!" Moment along these lines in Tsuranuanni, when he wants to build a house. Technically, he has the right to requisition goods and labor from any citizen of the Empire, who will then be reimbursed by the Imperial treasury, but to the craftsmen he needs to get his house built, getting money from the treasury is like squeezing Dr. Pepper from hand grenades, and Pug doesn't want to use his position to extort goods and services from poor craftsmen. He cuts the knot by requisitioning cash from a rich and smarmy moneylender, and leaves it to the moneylender to get his money back (the guy has the book-keeping skills and connections to possibly see some of that money reimbursed, and even if he can't get it back it's not like he'll starve or anything). Meanwhile, Pug builds his popularity by being the first Great One ever to pay for stuff with cash.
  • In Rivers of London, Nightingale and Gant discover two vampires sleeping in the cellar of a suburban family home. Rather than go through the lengthy and risky business with stakes and garlic and so forth, they toss white phosphorous grenades into the cellar and let the house burn to ashes along with all of its contents.
  • This is employed in the third book of A Series of Unfortunate Events, when, after all measures have failed to prove that Captain Sham is Count Olaf in a Paper-Thin Disguise, Sunny opts to simply chomp down on his fake peg leg until it cracks in half. The Lemony Narrator even describes it as such, recounting the legend of the Gordian Knot (and sarcastically noting that really, Alexander cheated, but Gordius couldn't exactly say no because then Alexander would just kill him).
  • Simon Ark: In one story a magician doing an escape trick is placed in a wardrobe that is chained and padlocked shut. To ensure no tampering with the padlock, a matchstick is snapped off in the keyhole and wax is poured over the top. When the wardrobe is opened the next day, the magician has been murdered and the lock is untampered with. Simon later explain the devastatingly simple method the killer used. The killer cut the lock off, then replaced it after the murder with an identical looking padlock: snapping off a matchstick in it and sealing it with wax to replicate the original. With the matchstick and wax, there is no way to verify that the original key actually fits the lock.
  • In The Stormlight Archive, Highprince Sadeas has been scheming and undermining the Kholin family nonstop throughout the first two novels, and maneuvering to take the throne, even in the face of the impending Desolation. At the end of the second book, Words of Radiance, he privately gloats to Adolin Kholin, heir to his rival's house, that he will continue to plot and scheme and undermine them all, and there's nothing that the Kholins can do about it openly, since they need Sadeas' house and armies. Since there are no witnesses, Adolin promptly stabs him in eye, killing Sadeas and ending his threat permanently.
  • Throughout The Story of the Youth Who Went Forth to Learn What Fear Was, the titular youth jumps into increasingly odd and dangerous situations so that he can learn how to fear, but never once feels afraid. Since the boy specifically wanted to learn to shudder, his wife the princess dumps icy river water on him, which makes him shudder from the cold.
  • Stranger Things: Darkness on the Edge of Town: On Jim's first night out with The Vipers, he's brought to an electronics store where the windows are barred up, and the door is padlocked. Martha W. solves the latter problem by smashing the lock off with a sledgehammer.
  • Temeraire: Throne of Jade begins with a Chinese embassy demanding the return of the Celestial they call Lung Tien Xiang and Captain Laurence's refusal to trick or manipulate the dragon he raised from a hatchling into leaving. When Admiral Lenton pointed out the difficulty of getting a 20 ton dragon that refuses to be parted from his handler to go anywhere to the head of the Chinese delegation.
    Prince Yongxing: Then plainly Captain Lawrence must come also; or will you now attempt to convince us that he cannot be sent?
    • This is part of a larger problem, that only members of the imperial family can be companion to a Celestial. They solve this by having the emperor adopt Lawrence. Lawrence even refers to the solution (via the narration) as severing the knot.
  • Tortall Universe:
    • In the second Song of the Lioness book, Alanna is also confronted with a door charmed against lockpicking. She puts both hands on it and shoves her magic into the lock, forcefully exploding the spell. Her cat Faithful compliments her on the technique.
    • In The Immortals, young dragon Kit's lockpicking spell fails on a magic lock, so she just uses a different spell to yank it out of the door.
    • Averted in Bloodhound, where Beka and Goodwin are given a briefcase charmed for protection before setting out to Port Caynn. The spell is on the whole case, "none of this spelled-the-buckle-so-cut-the-leather nonsense."
  • Wax and Wayne: In The Bands of Mourning, the crew needs to get past a heavily trapped hallway in a Temple of Doom. Since they have a Kandra with them, they send her first to trigger all the traps, which she can No-Sell. The only one that could actually hurt her is a deluge of acid, which harmlessly froze into a solid block years ago, since the temple is located in an icy mountain range.
  • Wet Desert: Tracking Down a Terrorist on the Colorado River: Greg cuts the rope of the Mastercraft boat when the dropping water levels in Lake Powell cause the rope it was attached to to become too tight and make loosening it difficult.
  • In Wolf Hall, Henry VIII has spent several years unsuccessfully trying to annul his marriage to Katharine of Aragon, and Cardinal Wolsey ends up dead for his inability to convince either Pope or cardinals to approve it. (The Pope was at that time effectively prisoner of Katharine's nephew, the Holy Roman Emperor, so there was no way he would do it.) Thomas Cromwell decides to fix the problem and advance Protestantism at the same time by cooking up some legalities that will allow Henry to declare himself head of the Church in England, thereby allowing him to annul his own marriage.
  • Discussed in Stephen King's novel Literature/Firestarter: At one point in the story, John Rainbird muses over a training class he took part in regarding safe cracking. The instructor, an ex-con who was quite skilled in the activity in question, told a story about a group of thieves who tried to break into a safe in order to get the valuables inside. After futile attempts to crack the combination, they cut the proverbial knot using explosives to blow the safe open. The explosives worked too well; the safe was indeed cracked open, but the contents inside were also destroyed. The lesson being, you only beat the safe when you can successfully retrieve what's inside.

  • Red vs. Blue:
    • In season 3, Church is implanted with ten megaton bomb which proceeds to destroy the present and send everyone into the future, except for himself who instead gets sent into the past (don't ask). After returning to the present, Church makes several attempts to disarm the bomb in his former self only to be constantly met with failure, including making several copies of himself. At one point, his plan is as follows:
      Church: And then I teleported back and just decided to kill everybody that I could see.
      Other Church: Why did you do that?
      Church: Well... seemed like fun... think I went a little nuts there for a while...
    • In season 8, Sarge uses his contingency plan when the team's attempt to bluff their way past the computer fails. The contingency plan being "shotgun to the face".
  • Discussed in Freeman's Mind Season 2, where Gordon claims doing this just makes you looks like a brute who was too stupid to solve the problem the intended way, and that if you truly wanted to show your superiority you would solve it the right way first and then cut it. In the exact same episode, he cuts two knots in his path while calling himself a problem-solving genius for doing so. Both methods he used were modded in and not possible to do in the normal game. Talk about not solving your problems the intended way!

    Myth and Legend 
  • The Ur-Example example of this trope would probably have to be Heracles (his legends date back to 600 BC, three hundred years before the trope naming legend, in which Alexander the Great figured heavily). When met with a lion whose skin could not be pierced with any blade or point, he bludgeoned it to death (or strangled it, depending on the translation). Later, when charged to wash out a massive set of stables in a very short time, he lifted up a river and washed them all out at once. Later still, he was told to go into the underworld to defeat and abduct Cerberus. Instead, he quite literally explains his situation to Hades and asks if he can borrow his dog for a while. Being one of the more decent gods, Hades basically said "just bring him back when you're done" (other versions have Hades also require Heracles overpower Cerberus without "shield or iron" to leave with him, though Heracles asking first remains doubtlessly easier and more straightforward than trying to steal away an unwilling Cerberus out of the underworld without Hades' permission).
    • When Heracles felt that he offended a friend by being rowdy during his wife's funeral that was kept secret from him, he decided that the best way to make it up was to go off and bring the lady back to life by wrestling Thanatos for her. Sure enough, before the end of the night, he came marching back to the house with the man’s wife in his arms.
  • The Trope Maker and Trope Namer was the mythical, impossibly complex Gordian Knot that, the oracles predicted, could only be untied by the future king of Asia. Alexander the Great tried in vain to untie it and then, when that didn't work, simply drew his sword and sliced it in two. Other versions of the story are the exact opposite of the trope, however, with Alexander finding a clever way to untie the knot without cutting it, like where he basically removes the main object that the knot was apparently wrapped around, thus loosening its entire structure; the equivalent of leveling a building by removing its foundation. By the ancient Greek definition of Asia, he did indeed conquer all of it. Alexander's unorthodox strategy was technically allowed thanks to the wording of the prophecy. The Greek word used for "untie", actually meant "loosen". As cutting the knot, or for that matter removing the object it was tied around, does indeed loosen it: the prophecy was technically fulfilled. But one must imagine facepalms all around.
  • In Norse legend, a man once gambled with a giant, and wagered his son. Predictably, the man lost, and the giant gave him a day to forfeit the boy, lest the giant simply kill him and his whole family. The man pleaded with Odin of the Aesir to save his son: Odin did this by hiding the boy from the giant by transforming him into a feather on the head of a swan. The giant caught the swan and in the middle of plucking it bald, the boy ran away. The man then went to a second Aesir, Hönir, to save his son, which he did by transforming the boy into a grain hidden in a field of wheat. The giant found the specific plant, and in the middle of counting out the individual seeds, the boy again escaped him. Finally, the man pleaded with Loki of the Aesir to save his son. Rather than rely on similar sorcerous gimmicks to trick the giant, Loki simply took the boy, and challenged the giant to come and get the boy if he still dared, whereupon the giant then promptly fell dead into the booby trap Loki set specifically for him (although in some versions, Loki did try it first by transforming the boy into an egg in the roe of a shad fish and only resorted to the trap when it failed).

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Ars Magica, this is part of the theme of House Tytalus, and part of the background has an apprentice to a mage challenged, as his final exam, to open a box which his master has spent a long time enchanting. After gearing up, and throwing every spell at it that he had, the apprentice kneels in front of his master, acknowledging that he was not ready to be a full mage. His master then walks over to the box and pulls the lid open. He hadn't locked it.

    Visual Novels 
  • In Higurashi: When They Cry for the first arcs people tend to take this approach because they feel the other options just aren't good enough. For example, in the third question arc,note  which is focused around Satoko, she's in a terrible situation. Numerous possibilities are gone through and discarded before a more direct approach is taken. Ultimately, though, Higurashi does not support this conclusion and it's one of the aesops you can pull out of the story that even if the other guy really has it coming and is a complete scumbag with no redeeming qualities, murder just isn't the answer.
  • Clover accidentally does this in the Laboratory level of Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors: while Junpei is trying to figure out the experiment that needs to be concluded for the doors to open, she ends up setting fire to the lab which causes the emergency program to unlock the doors.

  • In 8-Bit Theater, in a mystic castle, Fighter is subjected to the trial of sloth, wherein the trial monster attempts to get Fighter to overcome his reliance on stagnant sword skills, and instead use his brain in combat for once. Fighter promptly slaughters the monster, stating that his brain told him that it was faster that way.
  • In Gunnerkrigg Court, when Reynardine is trapped by a complex magitek binding Antimony can't figure out how to free him. Jones smashes the device.
    • Earlier in the comic Antimony orders Renard to open a glass case with lockpicks that she hid inside his body. Renard, who was never actually taught how to pick locks, proceeds to smash the case with the said picks.
  • The Order of the Stick
    • The comic weasels provides an alternate solution Knights and Knaves problem by having Haley shoot one of them in the foot. They even gave a disgruntled Smart Guy, who had been about to work the thing out logically, a nice Lampshade Hanging:
      Vaarsuvius: Gordium called. They have a knot that you may want to take a look at.
    • Beautifully inverted by the encounter with the hydra, which they defeated by decapitating it until it didn't have enough blood for all the heads it regenerated. The group outwitted the test of brawn and bullied their way through the test of brains, leaving the test of heart... a medical examination.
    • Xykon may be the patron saint of this trope. "And now I see that planning doesn't matter. Strategy doesn't matter. Only two things matter: Force in as great a concentration as you can muster, and style. And in a pinch, style can slide."
    • Vaarsuvius's solution to preventing Daimyo Kubota from weaseling out of his trial is to disintegrate him and scatter the ashes.
  • Adventurers! uses this a few times in order to subvert the usual RPG Puzzle.
  • In No Rest for the Wicked, Perrault propounds a scheme to get the owner of a castle with locked gates to let them through them. Red uses her ax on the gate.
  • Girl Genius:
    • Violence is a workable way to stop Lars from panicking. "I'm fine! Perfectly calm!" Of course, Jaegers (and DuPree, oh god, DuPree) tend to take this approach to everything.
    • Long ago, Robur Heterodyne had created a machine that summoned some Eldritch Abominations, which he believed had come to punish him for his sins (even if he wasn't sure which ones). His solution? Smash the machine. Have pie. Crisis over.
    • This is something of a family trait, as Agatha's solution to an out-of-control fencing robot is to chuck an oil-can at the off-switch, rather than try fencing. When it reactivates, she tries something even less conventional.
  • In this Looking for Group, Richard, while possessing a golem, is asked to undertake a perilous and tedious quest to free the mages caged in crystal by eventually getting three fangs from the "open mouth" of a twenty-headed dragon to smash a glowing crystal. Richard of course decides to take the easy way out and try to smash the crystal himself. Though it's not explicitly shown, he succeeded.
  • Supermegatopia: When Crushed and company are faced with navigating an evil-infested mansion (and risking a horrible death at the hands of the undead nasties sure to be lurking within) in order to destroy an ancient artifact, the intrepid heroine elects to simply torch the place and call it a day.
  • Goblins plays this one brilliantly. When Dies Horribly's party is forced to solve the riddle of the temple guardian, Noe, who will kill them horribly if they summon him more than three times (and homonyms such as "know" and "no", which are used frequently, will also summon him) but will answer any "yes or no" question for each of said three. K'seliss solves the problem in a beautifully direct fashion: intentionally summoning him three times, then ripping his throat out as soon as he teleports in during the last one, having used said questions to make Noe confirm that it would work.
    • Tempts Fate is challenged with a devilishly complicated riddle by a talking door, and the wrong answer will unleash horrible death. Tempts Fate elects not to answer at all, and just opens the door, which wasn't locked. After all, it never said he had to give a right answer either.
    • At one point, tempts is confronted with a series of armor piercing arrow launchers that will kill anything attempting to cross the room. He jumps into the air, activating his magic belt, and his metal skin deflects them. The Rant Golem picks up a bit of sand, which is the solution, and passes by completely unharmed. Oddly, he knew the solution ahead of time, and but was bored.
    • Confronted by an immensely-powerful demon whom an enemy sics on her group in the Maze of Many, Kin deals with it by asking the demon its name, with which she can banish it back to Hell. As it's not happy being subjugated by a mortal, and she convinces it to trust her with the information, Kin's plan works where combat would've failed.
  • Bob and George: Megaman points out the possible uses of the teleportation device.
  • Hyraxx opens a door.
  • Captain SNES: The Game Masta: A Superscope used to pick a tough lock. Alex's captor suggests that a MacGuffin Alex possessed at the time would've been the logical solution. Alex agrees (with hindsight) that he should've considered it.
  • xkcd:
    • This strip suggests a better method of dealing with heavily encrypted files.
    • This one deals with the mathematical Travelling Salesman Problem.
  • Schlock Mercenary:
    • We're also, later on, introduced to the concept of Lead Pipe Cryptanalysis. Funnily enough, the actual concept of "Rubber Hose Cryptoanalysis" does exist, and is even mentioned (and applied) a few times in the comic itself. It's just that Lt. Ebbirnoth's race is tough enough that a simple rubber hose won't do the trick.
    • Teraport Area Denial can be punched through by simply spending enough energy in the teraport. "Enough energy", however, is such a huge amount it's unavailable to nearly every entity in the galaxy, and the ones that have turned the galactic core into a giant power plant merely have it as a very, very costly option. The long-guns (think a mass-produced LOTA/Credomar cannon do use this method to fire through TAD, but the energy expended in firing one is already huge (to the point even fairly sizeable warships can only carry enough fuel for one shot) and the hole opened is tiny, just barely big enough for the beam to pass through.
  • Keychain of Creation had a fiendishly complicated lock, and a Lunar in her nine-foot-tall War Form with Super Strength.
  • In Commander Kitty, Fortiscue insists on hauling the hard drive carrying 45% of the galaxy's population on in a special case loaded on a hand cart. CK simply unplugs the phone book-sized hard drive and hands it off to Mr. Socks.
  • In Yamara, some young adventurers demonstrate how obsolete "kick-in-the-door" Dungeon Crawling is, by detonating explosives in a dungeon's entrance and then breaking out the shovels to recover the loot.
  • Homestuck: Hearts Boxcars's preferred method of safecracking is to pry the safe from the wall with his bare hands. When he comes upon a safe he can't open with this method (because it's too big) and which requires solving complex time manipulation riddles to open, his solution is to look for a lot of explosives.
  • This trope is parodied during a storyarc revolving around a dimensional breach in Exterminatus Now, when Rogue's temporary replacement Wildfire attempts to shut down the anomaly by destroying the machinery sustaining it, rather than the controlled, manual shutdown required. All this does is destabilize the breach, which does technically shut down the breach, but also destroys the entire facility, and nearly gets all the characters killed in the process.
  • In Skin Horse, when making their way through a VR Whimsyworld, Nick, Baron Mistycorn and Lovelace find themselves having to play a Game of Nim. So the Baron uses their recently acquired ability to duplicate objects to ... create a whole bunch of guns and point them at the puzzle setter, whose response is "Nice. Very Gordian."
  • Guilded Age: Frigg rescues kidnapped children. With her mace.
    • Frigg tops herself there when she applies this trope to chess.
  • In one of the playable sections for The Anomaly, the player controls Undyne, and at one point, she's confronted with a crate pushing puzzle. Her solution? Smash the crates to pieces while making a variety of video game and anime references.
  • In a comic tagged with @inkyrickshaw: "He who can lift the sword shall become king." And strength alone is not enough to pull the sword from the stone. Enough strength can, however, allow you to lift the stone along with the sword — and make you intimidating enough that no-one will argue about the method.
  • DM of the Rings parodies the habit of players to do this rather than actually engage with the DM's puzzles. When confronted with a door requiring a fairly easy-to-determine password, the players then suggest countless ways to try to break the door down, and are drawing up schematics for a battering ram when the DM just gives up and has Gandalf give the password.
  • Learning with Manga! FGO: The heroes confront an imposter disguised as Altria. Mash puts on a Sherlock Holmes outfit and looks like she's about to deduce her identity... then decides that would take too long and they should just pull her mask off.
  • In Prezleek Comics, a RuneScape parody comic, Prez is blocked by a cobweb in the Wilderness. Normally, you're required to cut through the web with your knife, which may take a few tries. Prez gets frustrated after failing to cut the web and uses his axe to cut the tree supporting it instead, annoying the narrator.
    • To achieve the Guildmaster rank in the Archaeology skill, you have to open a locked case containing the previous Guildmaster's mattock, normally by finding and restoring the correct key. Prez smashed the case instead.

    Web Original 
  • In the Strong Bad Email "virus", Strong Bad's computer starts leaking viruses into reality. The technician enlisted to fix the problem is Bubs, who fixes the problem by taking a shotgun to the computer.
    Bubs: It's in a better place, Strong Bad... or rather, it's in the same place, but now it's got a big hole in it!
  • Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog: Captain Hammer, when faced with a complex electronic device controlling a van, punches it so it breaks. This just stops Dr Horrible from controlling it, leaving a fast moving, out of control van that almost kills someone before Horrible can stop it. Not that Hammer even notices.
  • When confronting the Temple of All Dooms in JourneyQuest Glorion seems intent on traversing the whole dungeon this way.
  • Likewise, in The Gamers: Humans & Households, the party has to enter a house in the suburbs. A note on the door says that the key is in the mailbox. However, the party believes the mailbox to be trapped, and thus don't dare to open it, since nobody has any ranks in Criminal (which they apparently need to disarm a trap). What do they do? Take the mailbox off the railing, throw through the window next to the door and climb inside and unlock the door from the inside.
  • Whateley Universe example: in "Boston Brawl 2", the Necromancer creates a horrific rip in time-space that the mages try to magically repair. Instead, Bladedancer just slices through it with Destiny's Wave.
  • Linkara shows how he deals with Soup Cans in his Silent Hill reviews:
    • Silent Hill: Dying Inside alternate ending: His door is covered with unbreakable chains (as per Silent Hill 4)? Yeah, well, the wall they're attached to is plasterboard—he just rips them loose.
    • Silent Hill: Dead/Alive: There's a paper bag in front of his door that can't be moved without "something needlessly complex and crafted from several parts"? Screw that, he's just going to shoot it.
    • By the point of Silent Hill: The Grinning Man, the soup cans have gotten wise. Linkara finds boxes blocking his door and threatens to turn them to ashes if they don't move—and they promptly fall over, out of the way.
  • The Mario Party TV group's approach to M.P.I.Q. in Mario Party 3 is to mash the buzzer and choose a correct-sounding answer rather than let their fellow players out-buzz them after reading the question.
  • In the Piano Guys and Lindsey Stirling spoof of Mission: Impossible, after Lindsey bends over backwards to get through the Laser Hallway, Steve merely punches in the code to turn the lasers off and walks through.
  • Ultra Fast Pony. The episode "Faith to Faith" (parodying the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "The Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000") manages to end the central conflict of the episode before it even begins. In the MLP:FIM version, the Apple family gets into a cider-making competition with the Flim Flam Brothers, a match which very nearly costs them their farm. In UFP's version, Applejack calls the proposed cider-making competition a stupid idea, and tells Flim and Flam to piss off. Which they do.
  • In the Yogscast video Cracking the Case - Invisible Inc Challenge when they are unable to unlock the case they try to do this, first using bolt cutters and various power tools and when that fails Kim flattens the case with a tank, which has the side effect of destroying everything in the case and this was just after the rest of the Yogscast had made progress with the lockpicks.
    • Sjin's 'Facing Worlds' PVP map included a number of complex obstacles and hazards which players had to avoid while crossing the map - and jetpacks, meaning all the participants simply flew from one side to the other with only their opponents to hinder them. They removed the jetpacks for the second round.
  • This trope is actually deconstructed in RWBY. While training Yang in combat with her new robotic arm, her father Taiyang points out that this has been Yang's default method - trigger her Semblance and beat the ever-living shit out of her opponent. He compares this to a temper tantrum, especially if she's doing this after being insulted. He proceeds to teach her that sometimes, the best thing to do is not to barrel through, but to sidestep it. She becomes a much smarter fighter as a result.
  • Mr. Welch essentially has the same relationship with GMs' carefully constructed plots that a weedwacker has with grass.
    367. No using excessive firepower to force the plot along.
    38. When investigating evil cultists not allowed to just torch the decrepit mansion from the outside.
    400. Check the door means to listen at it, not put several rounds through it.
    580. A sledgehammer does not give any bonus to my search for secret doors roll.
    608. The answer to 'who's got point?' is not the fireball.
    694. Search the old castle means enter it, not level it with artillery and dig through the rubble.
    840. Even if it would have immediately solved the last six adventures, I won't throw dynamite in every well I come across.
    1071. I will go take out the villain’s dungeon the old fashioned way, and not use magic to reroute a river into it instead.
    1019. Even if we have more ammo than fuel, I still have to cut down the tree with the chainsaw, not the HMG.
    1267. The lockpicking kit must be more than a sawed off shotgun.
    360. I must remind the GM that my Blessed can Raise Dead before he runs another murder mystery again.
    1439. If the top floor is too well defended, can't just blow off the next to top floor.
    1843. Can't land the drop pod on the villain.
    1845. I will use the security skill to open the door, even if it's easier to just rip it off its hinges.
  • The Anglo/American – Nazi War presents an Alternate History where the Nazis manage to win the battle for Stalingrad which results in a series of events that lead to German victory in the east, and stalemate and ceasefire in the west. When hostilities between the Nazi pan-European empire and the Allies are re-commenced in 1954, the Allies, having learned the lesson of the urban meatgrinder of Stalingrad, simply bomb every city to rubble whenever the Germans want to stand and fight in it. There's not much left of urban Europe when they finish.
  • Political satirist Jreg suggests nuking the entire Middle East as a way to solve the Arab–Israeli Conflict.
  • From YouTube lockpicking expert Lock Picking Lawyer:
    • While he usually will pick every lock just for the sake of it, if he can find a way to defeat the lock without picking, he will show that off (typically without even picking it normally, since ones with glaring weaknesses like this tend to be so cheap that they fall to proper picking in two seconds). One such tactic is shimming, where he slides a thin piece of metal inside to defeat the latch directly. Another is to simply remove the hinges and open the lid that way, or remove the back cover of the lock and access the internal mechanisms directly. He's also utilized considerably clever tactics like using a powerful magnet to flick the internal latch or a hook slid through an office building's door to pull the bar from the inside. Failing any of that, he's not above taking a hacksaw or bolt cutters to a lock. He's even managed to open locks with sticks, forks, and on one occasion, a LEGO man, without ever once actually "picking" them.
    • His wife is the same too. He once tried to get her interested in lockpicking by locking up her Ben and Jerry's ice cream with their official Pint Lock, which LPL describes as being trivially easy to open by feel, and leaving it in their freezer. When he returns, he shows that his wife had simply cut off the bottom of the container.
    LockPickingLawyer: So it seems that the lessons of the day come courtesy of Mrs. LockPickingLawyer, who reminds us all first, that security is only as good as its weakest link, and second, that no man should ever get between his wife and her ice cream.
    • He also discusses this tendency for locksmiths in this video: a viewer had to call a locksmith to help remove the lock from his bike after he lost the key, who became irate when asked if he could just pick the lock instead of completely destroying it, saying he was tired of people watching videos on YouTube and thinking locks can magically be picked open in 2 seconds and claiming LPL was the worst of the bunch, calling his videos "complete bullshit". After some back-and-forth, the viewer and locksmith agreed to let him send the destroyed lock to LPL, and if he could pick it open in less time than the 2 minutes and 14 seconds it took for the locksmith to cut it open, he would refund the $75 he charged for it. LPL found the most polite way possible to say that he's not surprised that the locksmith in question would look at a Kryptonite lock and immediately conclude it "couldn't be picked" simply because he himself lacked the tools and/or know-how to pick it, before getting it open in 28 seconds.
  • Happens multiple times in a Linus Tech Tips Tech Support Challenge live stream featuring Jayz Two Cents and Gamers Nexus' Steve Burke. Both are expected to diagnose and fix numerous defects with a pre-prepared PC, with deliberately introduced faults including disconnected or poorly-wired components in the case and severe performance issues caused by changes in the BIOS. Steve saves a significant amount of time on diagnosis by simply dismantling the computer and reassembling it on a test bench from scratch in a known-good configuration, then resetting the entire BIOS back to factory settings.

    Real Life 
  • Airport security agents keep a set of bolt cutters, a large flathead screwdriver, and a mallet at each inspection station to force any locked bag open. The bolt cutters are nicknamed "the master key" because it will open any lock and render said lock unable to be reused (which may be a bug or a feature, depending on the nature of the lock that needs to be gone). TSA agents also carry actual master keys, designed to unlock suitcases with specific mass-produced locks, thus allowing them to get a closer look at what's inside without having to damage the luggage.
    • In the same vein, most locksmiths would sooner cut open a padlock or bike lock for a customer who lost/forgot their key rather than take the time to pick it open, with total disregard for the expense of the lock, adding insult to injury to the customer by rendering it completely unusable. This despite the fact that many such locks can be picked or "raked" open in seconds with simple lockpicking tools ("Master" brand locks, especially the No. 3, are notorious for this).
  • In the military, when opening a door in or around a combat zone that has not been previously entered, one must first check for booby traps, then carefully open the door, checking it for traps along the way. That is, unless there is any chance whatsoever of a hostile inside the room. In that case, you blow the hinges to hell with 12-gauge slugs or C4, then kick the door the rest of the way down. Incidentally, there is an under-slung shotgun attachment for the M16 and M4, known as the "Masterkey", marketed for this express purpose.
    • Additionally, rather than clearing a building full of hostiles, it's usually recommended to simply throw in a satchel charge, or call in an artillery/air strike from a safe distance. You could look for traps, blow the door, get shot at by ambushing hostiles, evacuate your wounded, send some other guys in, then do that all over again for every single room. But unless the enemy has hostages, or you need someone or something in that place intact, blowing it up without ever placing your foot in the door is much easier and safer.
    • Soldiers fighting in the Battle of Fallujah found that, instead of attacking an enemy building by clearing it with infantry, throwing a large enough block of C4 in the front door would kill everyone inside. Barring that, so long as the occupants don't have a clear line of fire at you through a window, simply blocking the door of an enemy bolthole can instantly turn a nigh-impregnable bunker into a prison. Come back every now and then to check if they're out of water or their toilets have overflowed. Either way, they'll most likely be ready to deal.
    • One particular Fallujah incident involved a three-story apartment block loaded with enemies and full of booby traps waiting to catch soldiers as they went inside, leaving the enemy safe to engage soldiers outside from the numerous upper-level windows and balconies. The enemy were not counting on a nearby tank simply firing its main gun through the walls... which set off all the booby-traps inside and completely destroyed the entire building.
    • If you must enter the building, but know that approaching the door is too dangerous, you can always just use explosives to invoke Dynamic Entry by blasting a man-sized hole in a wall to catch the enemy by surprise. Extensive use of this in urban warfare is known as "mouseholing". This too was used quite a bit in Operation: Iraqi Freedom.
    • This also applies to other walls and hedge rows as well, especially for tanks. It's common knowledge that the weakest parts of a tank's armor is the sides or rear, and the best thing for infantry to do is simply hide and wait for the tank to pass and then shoot an RPG up the tail pipe. However, any competent tank commander will simply use his tank as a 60-ton battering ram, and burst through any obstacles in his path, crushing any would-be ambushers in their path. Tanks fitted with dozer blades and mine plows are especially good for this, as the latter can give the semi-gratifying end to anti-tank troops by turning them into human hood ornaments. This method saves on ammo, which is also important.
  • In computer security, there are two ways to prevent a computer from being attacked and taken over via a network: (1) use some hideously complex Intrusion Detection Systems, firewalls, and meticulously written firewall rules; (2) don't plug the thing into the network.
    • A prime example of this was related in Kevin Mitnick's The Art Of Deception: in his younger days (when he was already a notorious hacker) he visited an IT conference where some company was demonstrating a network security solution. They were so convinced it was unbeatable that they dared people to hack it (specifically access the protected server via the public terminal in the showroom) and promised a cash prize to whoever did. The reps were so confident that they not only had the money bills pinned to their shirts, but also provided a list of usernames and passwords for privileged accounts (which were useless since the terminal was set up to only allow non-privileged accounts to log in). Mitnick won by...distracting the sales rep while his associate picked the lock to the server room and plugged the cable connected to the public terminal to a port that allowed privileged access (the port list was left in the cabinet), then logged in via the account provided by the devs. Which turned into a Humiliation Conga, since not only did the reps for some reason leave the program's source code saved in the server (which Mitnick then started printing), but the cash was most of the money the reps had, forcing them to stop by the bank.
    • Another way of cutting the knot is - assuming it's a singular tower or laptop holding the data one's after - pull all the plugs and just steal the entire damn thing. You can take all the time you need in the comfort of your own home to crack into it and get whatever files you're after.
    • One method of cracking passwords is the Brute Force Attack. This consists of an attacker using bots to submit an absurd amount of passwords or passphrases per second until they finally enter the correct password. While this is strong against passwords with just numbers or letters, it becomes impractical with passwords composed with case senstive letters and symbols. Additionally, the longer the password, the longer it takes exponentially for the BFA method to work.
  • During the last Hubble Space Telescope servicing mission, several bolts on the telescope were found to be vacuum-welded, meaning that support struts that had been needed when the observatory was first launched now formed a block to replacing the broken instruments. After two hours of deliberation, the following advice came from Mission Control: "Pull on them. If that doesn't work, pull harder".
  • Whoever was the first player of the Rubik's Cube that figured out how to pull it apart and rearrange the colors so it was "solved" proverbially cut the Gordian Rubik's Cube.note 
    • In the version with colored stickers, pulling them off and then rearranging them in the desired manner works just as well (at least as long as the sticky part holds up, or else, use glue).
  • According to Cognitive Psychology, compared with people with high attention spans who may try to come up with increasingly complex solutions, people with short attention spans are usually able to see simple answers to problems because they're able to notice their immediate surroundings.
  • A tortoise is a rather tricky creature to eat, due to its hard shell. When it retreats into it, it becomes Nigh Invulnerable, and most animals just can't pull out the meaty bits due to a lack of dexterity or due to the protective plates that come up to cover the holes for the tortoise's head, legs and tail. The eagle and the hyena get around this problem, the former by simply picking up and dropping the tortoise from high up over rocks, the latter by biting it with its incredible bite force.
    • Large alligators solve the problem by swallowing turtles whole, then digesting them shell and all.
    • The solution early humans discovered was simply to stick it in the fire or boil it with the shell, letting the heat break down the shell for them, then tearing open the softened shell.
  • In 1417, the city of Florence held a contest to decide which architect would be contracted to build the dome of Florence Cathedral. Filippo Brunelleschi, one of the contestants, challenged his rivals to stand an egg on a flat marble surface; if they couldn't do it and he could, they agreed to withdraw from the contest. When none of the others could manage it, Filippo took his egg, smashed one end of it and stood it on the smashed end, winning the contract.
  • Marvelman/Miracleman stayed out of print for over twenty years due to numerous legal battles over who held the rights. During a trial concerning several intellectual property disputes between Neil Gaiman and Todd McFarlane it came out in testimony that the editor of Warrior magazine never actually held the rights to the character; he only found that they were held by the state as part of a bankruptcy deal, so it was unlikely that anyone was going to sue them for publishing a new series. Therefore the rights which everyone was fighting over didn't even exist. Marvel went and bought the real rights to Marvelman and ended the legal battle.
    • It should be noted that this lawsuit started in the first place because of ownership disputes between McFarlane and characters that Gaiman had created for Spawn, particularly the character Angela. McFarlane hoped to use the Miracleman rights (which Gaiman had been spending years to try to re-acquire in full so he could finish the story) as a bargaining chip. Once it was revealed McFarlane was essentially bluffing with an empty hand, the judge awarded Gaiman the full rights to Angela, which he then promptly sold to Marvel as part of the Miracleman deal to be a new character in Thor. Needless to say, it's a safe bet Angela will never appear in a Spawn comic ever again.
  • Arturas Zuokas is a Lithuanian politician who, in 2011, was awarded an Ig Nobel Peace Prize for "demonstrating that the problem of illegally parked luxury cars can be solved by running over them with an armored car".
  • This rabbit, when faced with a fence made of sticks it can't jump over, puts one of the sticks in its mouth and jumps through the hole.
  • This toddler tries to fit a square peg in a round hole. When that fails, she takes off the lid and puts the peg in anyway.
  • Raccoons are one of a small number of animals that are able to pass a certain animal intelligence test: they can learn that putting pebbles in a container of water raises the water level, letting them reach a floating treat. Some raccoons, however, came up with another solution: climb on the container of water and make it fall over.
  • This math equation asks you to move a match in order to make the statement 5+7=2 true. A wise guy moved a match from the 7 to the equal sign which makes it read 5+1≠2, which is technically true.note 
  • Services that require appointments/reservations and which do not charge anything at the time of booking often charge a cancellation fee if you cancel too close to the date and time of your booking. Folks who want to cancel after fee applies and who aren't too concerned with doing ethical business can just either move their funds to another card or freeze their card (an option available with a growing number of banks and credit card providers) when requesting cancellation; tada, the transaction now declines, cheating the business out of the cancellation fee.
  • During WW 2, German submarine pens, concrete protective bunkers that were a popular target for Allied bombers, grew progressively more sturdy until they were all but impenetrable to direct attack. The Allied solution was to use the mighty Tallboy and Grand Slam earthquake bombs, which rather than directly falling on top of the pen buried themselves deeply in the earth nearby and then exploded, creating a massive crater - a crater that when it inevitably collapsed would take the foundations of nearby structures with it, destroying them.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Cutting The Gordian Knot, Gordian Knot


Keep Alex Dry (Taskmaster)

"Team Funk" finds a simple way to protect Alex from getting wet from a shower.

How well does it match the trope?

4.85 (26 votes)

Example of:

Main / CuttingTheKnot

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