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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.



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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.

    Anime and Manga 
  • The Big O: In the last episode Roger lampshades this trope when he was unconscious underwater and Dorothy was unable to give him the oxygen. So she simply busts the oxygen tank to fill the cockpit with oxygen. Roger asks why she couldn't have been more gentle, such as using mouth to mouth (he wouldn't have asked that if he knew how small her internal tank was, apparently). She responds that the water displacement was quicker and far more effective by bursting the tank anyway.
  • Cardcaptor Sakura: When Sakura, Syaoran and Tomoyo are trapped inside The Maze. Even after using other Clow Cards to cheat their way out, the group doesn't manage to do anything, until they meet their teacher Kaho Mizuki. She shows she has a special bell that is the way out of the maze: it can destroy the walls and create a path out.
  • Hunter × Hunter:
    • To advance through part of the Hunter Exam, Gon is given the choice of two candles by his opponents, and they compete to keep theirs burning for the longest. After some I Know You Know I Know, Gon ends up with the much faster-burning candle, but just uses the bigger flame to freely move around without fear of his candle getting blown out by the wind and blows out the other one.
    • Later in the same arc, the group is confronted with two doors: one leads to a short path to the exit, but only allows three people from the group of five to pass, while the other has a long path (and will take too long for them to get to the exit in time, which will result in all of them failing the test) but will allow them all. Either some can make it, or no one? They take the third option.note  They entered the long and difficult path, then cut a hole in the wall, to sneak in the short and easy path. It takes a lot of effort, but it's faster than the long passage would have been.
    • Gon beats a guy who rotated super-fast to defend himself by ripping the floor out from under him.
    • Gon and Killua are locked in a room with Nobunaga, who, if they try to escape using the room's one door, will kill them instantly. They know for sure that there's no way that they can defeat Nobunaga, and he will not move from the door. How do they escape? They bash in the wall opposite the door with one hit, and then run like hell. He follows them, so they destroy half a dozen of walls, backtrack to the one before the last and simply use the door to exit the building while he is searching the last room.
  • In JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable, Okuyasu needed to quickly find out which of the two sailors is about to assassinate Joseph Joestar. However, he had little evidence and is rather dim-witted. His solution? Punch both and ask questions later. Thankfully he got the correct one on the first try.
  • Ryuko's battle with Inumuta during the Naturals Election in Kill la Kill ends with this, as Ryuko defeats an invisible Inumata not by sussing out his location but by transforming part of her suit into a giant flyswatter and hitting the whole arena at once, flattening him.
  • Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS has Nanoha's famous Dungeon Bypass to take out Quattro. So much for a ship full of super defenses, eh?
  • In a two-parter from the 1980s Astro Boy anime titled "The World's Strongest Robot", the mighty robot Pluto faces off against the German robot Gerhardt. Pluto's brute size and strength are useless against Gerhardt, as he is much smaller and nimbler. The massive horns on his head are too unwieldy to stab him, too, and the electric current they emit is rendered useless by the special alloy that composes Gerhardt's body. So what does Pluto do when Gerhardt grabs onto his horns to mock him? Tug on his horns and split Gerhardt down the middle. He then makes sure to bend his horns back into place.
  • In Mouse, one ancient challenge was to figure out how to untie this extremely hard knot. Alexander the Great solved it by simply cutting it. So to make the next one more challenging, they made the second knot out of metal chains.
  • In Phi Brain: Puzzle of God, Daimon Kaito is trapped in a Fool's Puzzle in the form of a burning tower. Ideally, he would use a maze of elevators to reach the top where the goal is, but the flames have risen high enough to block the route. His solution is to break off the door of one of the elevators so that he can jump off when it passes a floor that will let him take the route to the goal.
  • Durarara!!: How Shizuo solves every one of his problems. Tangled and complicated schemes involving mafia and set-ups and supernatural creatures? It must be time to beat Izaya's face in again. Problem solved.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!:
    • In one episode where the main characters are doing the Indy Escape. When they run out of places to... well, run, Honda/Tristan turns around and punches the boulder as it's about to crush them. It pops. Turns out it was a balloon with a speaker inside.
    • Also, the episode in which Kaiba literally crashes Pegasus' mainframe—he smashes it with a satellite. Subverted in the original Japanese version, where he takes over the satellite via a back door into its programming, and then uses it to hack the mainframe.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh!: Capsule Monsters, the gang gets trapped in a maze and struggle to navigate their way through — until Tristan acquires a monster (Shovel Crusher) that smashes its way through the walls.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V does this frequently, in order to make the characters actions more realistic. Emotional duelists usually use their fists first unless they're already engaged in a duel. The crazy possessed guy using card games to seal souls gets physically held down and away from his deck until he recovers. Duelists will research their opponent if the duel is pre-determined to build a deck specifically for the duel. The corrupt Security just call in for backup when the people they're trying to arrest beat them in a duel, and build road blocks to stop them from escaping.
  • Fate/Zero has a few examples. Ironically, of all characters, Alexander the Great, in spite of both being the Trope Namer and going around with the chariot that has the Gordian Knot, never does it:
    • Kayneth Archibald had rented most of a hotel and, for defense, filled it with magical traps, demons, gateways that open into other dimensions, and the likes. Kiritsugu just blew up the unprotected bottom floors and brought the whole thing down, with Kayneth still inside.
    • That was part of another attempt at this: Saber's arm had been wounded by Lancer with a cursed weapon, so they could have made a few attempts at fighting a powerful curse... Or just kill Lancer, who, as Kayneth's Servant, is always with him, thus dispelling the source of the curse with him. In the end the curse is dispelled during the battle with Caster, when Lancer, knowing that Saber is the only one who can stop the crazy Servant and his monster, breaks the cursed lance.
    • Rider's status as the Trope Namer IS alluded to a bit, during the hunt for Caster. While everybody else is using the standard "Look around, we'll find him eventually" method, Waver goes for what he calls a more basic approach: He collects water from the river running through the city, and tests it for excess mana. Waver says it's nothing special and a very basic technique that literally any Magus could do, but Rider tells him that often the simplest course of action is the best. Indeed, they do find Caster's lair, when nobody else managed it.
  • In the Dragon Recipe, a sword in the stone style contest is resolved when a girl checks to confirm that the rules are simply "Remove The Sword From The Stone". Her solution? She pulls out a hammer and chisel, then breaks open the stone.
  • In Naruto, during the Five Kage Meeting arc, Sasuke intends to kill Danzo for revenge. Sasuke gains the upper hand in their battle at one point. Danzo then takes one of Sasuke's teammates as a Human Shield hoping to stall Sasuke for long enough to activate his Mind Manipulation technique. However, without a moment of hesitation, Sasuke gets rid of the problem by piercing his lightning-based jutsu through both his teammate and Danzo.
  • In One Piece:
    • The Straw Hat Pirates get caught in the Seducing Woods, a forest whose living trees and other shrubbery rearrange themselves to trap visitors in the forest forever. The Straw Hats' ageed-upon solution to get out of this situation is to destroy as much of the foliage as they can, causing mass panic among the flora. It reaches the point where Kingbaum, the leader of the trees, submits to the Straw Hat Pirates as he doesn't want to die either. (In truth, the trees' sentience was artificially induced by putting souls into them; when destroyed, the souls simply return to whomever they originally belonged to.)
  • Dragon Ball:
    • Master Roshi/Jackie Chun pulls this off when Goku transforms into a Great Ape during the World Martial Arts Tournament. Yamcha tries to tell him he needs to cut off Goku's tail to change him back. Roshi opts for a more permanent solution by blowing up the moon itself.
    • The Namekian Dragon Balls were supposed to be gathered only by the worthy, with each village offering a different test to anyone who came looking for them. Frieza opts to just slaughter all the Namekians and take them by force. This bites him in the ass hard later on when he gets all seven Dragon Balls... and can't do anything with them. The dragon Porunga only understands Namekian, and Frieza's genocide of the Namekians means that there's no one left who speaks the language. The heroes ultimately manage to steal his wishes out from under him by virtue of saving Dende, who translated their wishes for them.
  • In Gundam Build Divers, Riku and Kyoya have initiated a massive Gunpla Battle for the fate of Sarah, who is threatening the Gunpla Battle Nexus Online game by existing, but the heroes may have a way to save her. Game Master, one of the administrators of the game, decides to solve all this by sticking to the original plan and deleting her while they're off fighting. Subverted in that Kyoya had used his Force Nest administration powers to prevent Game Master from going behind his back, cheesing off both men.
  • In Pretty Cure All Stars: Spring Carnival, the Smile Pretty Cure! team is caught up in a path filled with various traps. Cure Sunny is prepared to go through them before Cure Happy just smashes down the nearby wall and has them go through that instead.
  • The harem game that is central to Harem Royale - When the Game Ends - could be won by one of the girls successfully romancing Asunaro... or by one of the girls killing off all of the competition, so only she can be the winner. Serika points this out, then uses this to prove that the others can trust her (since if she wanted to kill them, she would have done so without telling them).

    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 
  • The first arc of The Losers has 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 infiltrating the hospital as a patient, staff, or even visitor, and eliminating only his target, Starr simply burns down 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 nobody is going to waste time investigating whether that lone nut was telling the truth after all, (as might happen if only that guy had died) when it appears that his death is simply collateral damage in a terrorist attack.
  • 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.

    Comic Strips 

  • 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.
  • A literal example in Story of the Century: once the Death Notes are discovered, the first and only thing Erin wants to do is destroy them and end the killings that way. Forget about proving that Light and Misa are Kira after all and screw that fake rule, let's just stop the killings altogether by destroying the murder weapons and getting their friends back! Unfortunately, L thinks differently on the matter.
  • 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.

    Film — 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.
  • 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, Buzz and his friends 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, 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.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • James Bond:
    • In GoldenEye, the villains make their getaway in a car into a crowded Russian street. Bond commandeers a tank and drives through a wall.
    • In Casino Royale (2006), Bond pursues a freerunning enemy who nimbly scales obstacles and slips through narrow gaps. Bond finds simpler but equally effective means of traversing obstacles, such as running straight through a plaster wall and, eventually, hopping into the driver's seat of a bulldozer.
  • A similar thing happens in Johnny English Reborn (a parody of spy movies and takes quite a few cues from James Bond). While chasing someone, the sequence goes as follows: Opponent climbs over a fence. Johnny opens the door. Opponent uses parkour. Johnny uses a ladder. Opponent jumps across a gap and onto a building. Johnny uses a crane carrying a load of bricks to send himself across. Opponent scales scaffolding to get down. Johnny uses the lift.
  • This is practically Indiana Jones' hat (well, other than the cool fedora).
    • Raiders of the Lost Ark:
      • When Indy sneaks into a Nazi U-boat base, he could continue sneaking around, staying out of sight. Or he could knock out a guard and steal the guard's clothes. Then, after finding that the guard's clothes are too small for him, he could bluff his way out of trouble when a larger superior officer mistakes him for the guard and begins lecturing him for his poor appearance, or he could knee the superior in the balls, knock the superior out too, then steal clothes that will actually fit.
      • Earlier in the film, Indy encounters a swordsman in Cairo who wants to fight him, complete with showing off some impressive sword skills. Undaunted, Indy just pulls out his gun and shoots the swordsman dead.
    • In the case from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade where Indy and his father are in a zeppelin looking to make their escape from Berlin. Suddenly Indy notices an SS officer looking for them. How exactly does one evade a search by a powerful faction in a confined yet public place with lots of witnesses and no place to hide? Well, you could knock out a member of the zeppelin's staff, disguise yourself in his clothes, hit the officer with a surprise attack and throw him out the window. Then, when the witnesses stare at you incredulously, simply point to the window and say "No ticket."
  • In Big Trouble in Little China, the heroes are trying to enter an elevator but the door is jammed. Jack Burton hauls out a knife and cuts through the wall to get in, which works because the wall is made of paper.
  • In Terminator 2: Judgment Day:
    • Miles Dyson starts to explain how to open the container holding the robot arm, but is interrupted by John breaking it.
    • When his keycard isn't working to open a door earlier in the scene, he is interrupted by Arnie blowing it up.
      Miles: My personal access code might still work... no good.
      Terminator: [hefts grenade launcher] Let me try mine.
    • When John Connor, in a phone box, asks the T-800 if he has a quarter for a phone. The Terminator smashes open the phone's money box, picks up a quarter, and hands it to John.
    • While the T-800 tears apart the steering column on a station wagon to turn the ignition cylinder by hand, John wiggles a set of spare keys he found by simply checking the visor.
      John: Are we learning yet?
  • The Fifth Element gives us the Korben Dallas method of negotiating a dangerous hostage situation:
    Korben: Anyone else wanna negotiate?
  • G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra:
    Breaker: What you'll have to do is rewire the laser panel's brain by—
    Snake Eyes stabs the panel
    Breaker: —or you could just stab it.
  • MacGruber sees the eponymous hero confronted with a nuclear missile that's about to launch. He looks at the complicated wiring, panics, and declares he doesn't know how to defuse it. His allies express their disappointment and the villain basically says "I Knew It!" which Mac replies that he wasn't finished. He does know how to rip out the guidance computer, the plutonium, and a couple of other critical parts. The missile will still explode, but it won't go anywhere before it does and it won't be nuclear.
  • In Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, Lara finds the old clock containing the Plot Coupon (conveniently in her own basement), and her Smart Guy tries to disassemble it carefully and slowly, keeping track of which screw goes where. Lara will have none of it and smashes the clock to pieces with a hammer.
  • In Werner Herzog's The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser, the title dolt confounds a doctor who asks him a version of the Knights and Knaves problem. Kaspar's response: "I would ask him if he is a tree-frog." It Makes Sense in Context.
  • Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. Sky Captain tries to figure out a way to get into Dr. Jennings' lab. Polly smashes the window, reaches in and unlocks the door.
    Polly: It's open.
  • Patton:
    • During the invasion of Sicily an entire column of troops is being held up by a couple of stubborn donkeys on a bridge. After his subordinates try to push, pull and cajole them out of the way, Patton steps up, delivers a bullet to each of their brains and has them tossed off the bridge.
    • In a non-violent method, he comes to a cross road with two caravans of vehicles trying to both get by at the same time. He pulls rank and stands in the cross road, ordering one vehicle from one group to go by, then one from the other group. All they needed was a traffic cop directing them but it took a general to do it.
  • In the Day Watch, Tamerlane spends a while examining the ways into the maze guarding the Chalk of Fate, before realizing it would be a lot easier to simply blast through the walls themselves to get to the middle.
  • In Red Frank has to break into a secret archive in the basement of CIA headquarters. He gets right to the door but it is protected by a state-of-the-art biometric system that he cannot break or subvert. However, it is not an actual vault but a converted file room so the walls around the door were built by a lowest bid government contractor. He simply smashes through the drywall around the door.
  • Near the end of I, Robot the enemy shuts a critical panel on the protagonists. Turns out that the panel isn't as tough as maverick cop Detective Spooner's mechanical arm. Said arm comes in use again soon after when they have to descend several stories to get to VIKI's core processor, because a mechanical arm isn't compromised by having its skin flayed off. Still hurts like hell though.
  • Jurassic Park III has one of the characters finding a row of vending machines, pulling out change and counting how much he needs. One of the other characters, remembering that they're on an abandoned island, simply walks up and kicks through the display window of the next vending machine and takes what he wants. Then the first guy tries it on his vending machine, and completely fails.
  • In Captain America: The First Avenger, one drill sergeant tells the recruits that if they can get a flag off the flagpole, they won't need to finish their run and can take a ride back to base. After everyone fails to climb up the flagpole, Steve Rogers takes out the screws at its base, causing it to fall over, removes the flag, and gives it to the sergeant. Despite his advantageous shortcut-taking when it comes to problem solving, he believes this is not how you solve a life-or-death dilemma and that someone claiming to be a real hero knows when you have to do it the hard way (whatever the consequence). This causes some friction when he confronts Tony Stark in The Avengers, who at the time believed this was the proper solution when you're in a bind. Almost having to sacrifice himself to a nuclear explosion and/or being trapped in the void of another dimension at the movie's climax is the breakthrough he needs to see things Steve's way. This trope is actually mentioned in dialogue in The Avengers aboard the Heli-carrier:
    Steve: You're not the guy to make the sacrifice play. To lay down on a wire and let the other guy crawl over you.
    Tony: I think I would just cut the wire.
    Steve: (smiles bitterly) Always a way out.
  • In Ever After, the servants are trying to get Danielle out of the cabinet her mother locked her up in. Feeling that it is useless to pick the lock, Da Vinci comes over, simply pulls the pins out of the door hinges and opens it that way. Da Vinci comically lampshades this.
    Servant: That was genius!
    Da Vinci: Yes. I will go down in history as a man who opened a door.
  • In The Bourne Identity, both Jason and Marie get in on this. Jason makes a complicated plan to get some information on one of his other identities from a hotel, but Marie simply walks up to the hotel manager, introduces herself as the personal assistant to "John Michael Kane", and asks for a photocopy of his hotel bill. Later, Marie and Jason are trying to get into Marie's cousin's house to hide. Marie starts looking for the spare key, but Jason rams the door open with his shoulder.
  • Played with in Blue Streak. Martin Lawrence's character is a professional jewel thief, trying to steal a large diamond under heavy security. Him and his apprentice get to the safe. The pro asks the rookie (in a quiz-like fashion) how to open the safe. The rookie starts rattling off the procedure. The pro stops him and tells him that step one is to check if the door is open. Naturally, he's just kidding. The safe is locked.
  • A rare non-violent example in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. In Kirk's backstory, it is revealed that he dealt with the infamous "no-win" scenario in Starfleet training by hacking the game so the Klingons would flee upon hearing his name, reasoning that he would be a starship captain of some reputation if he's been sent to investigate a distress signal in the Neutral Zone. He is given a citation for creative thinking.
  • This comes up again in the Star Trek (2009). However, in this timeline, he programs in a glitch that shuts down the enemy defenses and restores his ship's systems, technically "winning" but in a much less creative way than his original-universe counterpart.
  • Star Trek Into Darkness:
    • On the planetoid, McCoy's hand is stuck in a torpedo counting down to detonation. Carol tries to deactivate it and, failing that, rips out the control unit. Cue torpedo power down.
    • Carol Marcus valiantly stands up to her father, Admiral Marcus, stating that if he wants to destroy the Enterprise, he'll have to kill her too. His solution? Immediately transport her off the ''Enterprise'' to his ship.
  • In Saw I, two detectives manage to catch Jigsaw in his hideout. Jigsaw activates one of his traps to distract them so he can escape. The trap involves two drills closing in on some poor bastard's head, and the key needed to free him was on a janitor-sized key ring with dozens of others. After a few seconds of trial and error with the keys, one of the detectives gives up and shoots both of the drills to deactivate them.
  • Superman Returns: Superman's solution to Luthor's growing island of Kryptonite is to dive deep below the island carve out a mile deep layer of rock beneath it and boost the whole thing into space. The rock provided enough distance and protection for Superman to use his powers, at least until the Kryptonite crystals burrowed through it towards the end.
  • Under Siege 2: Dark Territory: Casey is informed by mad hacker Dane that he's too late to stop the Kill Sat from firing, and even if he wasn't, there's no way he'd get through his laptop's encryption program. Casey proceeds to get through the encryption program, the laptop, and Dane's chest via the expenditure of a few rounds of ammo.
  • In The Dark Knight, the plot is kicked off when the Gotham mob fails to anticipate this from Batman. Batman and the GCPD are closing in on the mob's money, so their accountant Lau flees the country, putting him out of the jurisdiction of the GCPD and securing the money. The Joker correctly warns that Batman doesn't give a rat's ass about jurisdiction because he's not a cop; sure enough, Batman simply flies over to China, beats Lau up, and drags him back to Gotham where the GCPD can detain him for interrogation. This scares the mob so badly they turn to Joker for help and things go downhill fast...
  • Subverted in The Crazies (1973). An official isn't happy about the slow response to the outbreak, and orders the military to get off their behind and send the first available member of the Trixie team into the quarantine zone. He happens to be the developer of the virus, and all this does is cut him off from his laboratory and computers, when all that was needed in the town was a lowly technician who could take blood samples.
  • In Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, No-Maj Jacob Kowalski and witch Queenie Goldstein come across a door that's magically locked and none of Queenie's spells can un-magic it — so Jacob simply kicks the door down.
  • In Disaster on the Coastliner, Mitchell suggests shooting the computer that has shut down all the safeguards preventing a crash, but Snyder tells him that will cause hundreds of other crashes.
  • Death Spa: Trying to get back into the computer room after the club catches fire, Michael tells Sgt. Stone that Catherine has used the computer to lock everything down. Stone replies "Fuck all this computer shit!", draws her gun, and proceeds to Shoot Out the Lock.
  • Sneakers: Marty is trying to break into a hotel room, only to discover the door has a keypad on it. He lets Crease and Mother, who are listening, what's going on. Mother digs up a book of instructions, at which point Crease reads them to Marty, and we see him listening, nodding his head, and saying variations of "Yeah, okay." Then, he kicks open the door.
    Marty: It worked.
  • In RoboCop 2, RoboCop is saddled with dozens upon dozens of directives when he's rebuilt by OCP, so many that he can't even work right. When one of the techs in the Detroit Police Department mentions that hitting him with a surge of electricity could erase the directives but kill him in the process, RoboCop pulls off the plug attached to him and heads for the precenct's fuse box and shoves his hands into it, hitting him with enough electricity to get rid of the directives.

  • 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. Mostly, they just feel cutting it was rather a cheap move. Later, Cohen (disguised as a god) 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.
  • 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 the 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.
  • 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.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 7 Days (1998): In "Head Case", Parker is running around with the president's therapist. During the episode they need to get a piece of mail out of the mailbox. The therapist starts reciting one of her calming exercises as she tries to figure out how to get into the mailbox. Frank just goes over to a nearby road construction crew and asks to borrow a sledgehammer.
  • The 10th Kingdom sees a pair of doors near the end, when Tony and Virginia are trying to sneak into the castle. The creature guarding the doors is a talking frog, and he presents a variation of the Knights and Knaves scenario where, of course, one door leads to a horrible death. Tony, by now fed up with the bizarre rules of life in a fairy tale universe, picks up the frog and tosses the protesting amphibian through one of the doors. Moments later there's a loud explosion from beyond the door, prompting Tony's remark that that one must have been the horrible death.
  • On All That, this was pretty much the M.O. of Kel Mitchell's Repair Man (Man man man man man...), who would "fix" problematic objects by simply destroying them completely. No more object, no more problem.
  • The Amazing Race:
    • In Season 11, Danny became frustrated while doing a Roadblock that involved finding and collecting old newspapers from locals in a Malaysian neighborhood, so he just went to a store and bought a bunch of papers to complete the task (though this would cause them further problems later in the race).
    • On Australia Season 1, when Nathan grew tired of digging through a mine cart full of salt, looking for a key, he just tipped the cart over and sifted through the scattered salt on the ground.
  • Angel:
    • Double-subverted in the episode "Double or Nothing". Gunn, having made a Deal with the Devil years ago, is required to give up his soul to the demon Jenoff as part of it. After failing a game for his own soul, Angel has Cordelia stake Jenoff's hand to the table and lops off his head... only for Jenoff to simply grow a new one; Gunn even points out to Angel that if killing Jenoff were that easy, he would have done it himself. Immediately afterwards, Angel asks if anyone else in the casino owes Jenoff anything, and everyone in the place, realizing they're better off with Jenoff dead, gang up on him en masse and tear him apart while Team Angel makes a break for it.
    • Happens again when the group fight the Beast - a nigh invulnerable demon - for the first time. Angel attacks it with his fists and a wooden stake to no avail, and one might expect Wesley being the ex watcher to whip out an enchanted blade or magical spell. Nope. Out come dual pistols. Then a shotgun. Unfortunately...
  • In an episode of The A-Team, Murdock must get into a locked clothing store for a disguise to pull off a scam and save the rest of the team. But his companion and episode guest star Boy George simply kicks the thing in.
    Boy George: Who needs honesty?
  • The Big Bang Theory:
    • Penny has to get Sheldon's Flash drive from inside a puzzle box. Sheldon starts instructing her over the phone on the convoluted procedure to open it; Penny interrupts him and asks if he has any emotional attachment to the box, and when Sheldon says no she simply smashes it open.
    • Similarly to the above example, another episode features Sheldon & Leonard try to perform the old "strong enough to open jars" routine so that Leonard's girlfriend Stephanie will be impressed with him. When Leonard finds himself unable to open the jar, he just breaks it open on the edge of the table and accidentally stabs his hand with one of the shards in the process.
    • In another episode, Howard tries using a robot hand to pleasure himself and it gets stuck. After Leonard and Rajesh run out of ideas of what to do, they take Howard to the Emergency Room. There, the Nurse suggests simply turning the hand off, and despite Howard's pleas not to do so, she turns it off, and the hand lets go.
    • In the Series Finale, the gang is heading down from Leonard and Penny's apartment to the airport for the Nobel Prize Ceremony, but they discover that they can't fit all of them and their luggage in the newly-repaired elevator. They resolve the issue by putting all of their luggage in the elevator then walking down the stairs so they can pick it up in the building's lobby.
  • One episode of Bones has an actual corpse inside a Halloween maze made out of hay-bales. After spending some time trying to make their way through the maze normally, Booth gets frustrated, asks the policeman standing next to the corpse to toss his flashlight in the air, and barrels his way through walls until he reaches it.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • In the episode "Fear Itself", Anya asks Giles if he can make a door to rescue the trapped Scoobies in the haunted house. He says "I can", and instead of a mystical spell, whips out a chainsaw and starts cutting. In the same episode, as Giles tries to figure how to stop the demon, mentions destroying its symbol ... is not the way to do it, and will bring forth the demon. By the time he finishes telling Buffy, she has already destroyed it, but the demon turns out to be only a few inches tall, so she easily kills it.
    • Buffy does this earlier in the series when fighting a demon called the Judge which is invulnerable to any weapon forged. Cue rocket launcher.
    • In "Entropy", Tara details all the things that need to be done to repair her and Willow's relationship, before offering her preferred solution.
      Tara: "There's so much to work through. Trust has to be built again, on both sides... you have to learn if you're even the same people you were, if you can fit in each other's lives. It's a long and important process and... can we just skip it? Can you just be kissing me now?"
  • In Burn Notice, Michael spends most of an episode trying to gather enough evidence to get a war criminal extradited to his home country. When the plan falls through, he simply kidnaps him and ships him back home in a crate.
  • In the "Countdown" episode of Castle, Castle and Beckett are faced with a just-about-to-detonate dirty bomb with no sign of the bomb squad. Castle's response to this tricky situation is to simply grab all the wires he can see and yank them under the reasoning that neither of them knows how to do it the "right" way, and if he's wrong, the bomb will just go off two seconds sooner. It works. He's smart enough to do it after kissing Beckett.
  • In Cobra Kai, Kreese challenges his students to kick a bonsai tree off the top of a tall log. After two students fail, Hawk simply kicks the log over, sending the bonsai tree crashing to the floor. Kreese praises him for thinking outside the box.
  • Colony: At one point during the second season premiere's long flashback to the day of the Arrival, the Hosts find themselves facing a building full of Retired Badass Special Forces guys. Rather than fight, they simply Colony Drop a giant rock on the whole building.
  • Doctor Who:
    • "School Reunion": Mickey urgently needs to break into the locked school, and asks K9 if he has any technology that can get them inside. K9 replies, "We are in a car." He has to repeat it twice more before Mickey realises he is answering the question and not just malfunctioning.
    • "The Poison Sky": While Donna and the Doctor are trying to fiddle with the Nobles' car, locked by alien technology, to get it open and free the trapped Wilfred, Sylvia comes out and smashes the windscreen open with an axe.
    • "Silence in the Library": The Doctor and Donna are trying to get through a stuck door in a hurry, but it turns out that the sonic screwdriver "doesn't do wood". So Donna kicks it open.
      The Doctor: Nice door skills, Donna.
      Donna: Yeah, well, you know. Boyfriends. Sometimes you need the element of surprise.
  • On an episode of ER, George Clooney's character is stopped while driving in a rainstorm to help a kid whose friend is stuck in a sewer. He tasks the kid with calling 911 from a nearby shop while he gets a jack and tools from his car to free the trapped child. In front of the shop he meets the kid again, who tells him he couldn't call because the shop is locked up. His response? He heaves the jack through the plate glass window.
  • The Expanse: In the first season finale, the Rocinante is stuck clamped in the Eros docking bay in the middle of a lockdown. After a couple attempts to break the codes to unlock the clamps, Alex simply guns the throttle to snap off the clamps, then jettisons the gunship's tanker camouflage that the remaining clamps are attached to.
  • Farscape: In one episode, a suicide bomber attaches herself to one of Moya's bulkheads, gloating about how brilliantly she outsmarted Moya's crew. Specifically, one of Moya's detachable bulkheads. Pilot promptly jettisons it, and her, into space.
  • In Firefly, the crew is very keen on this approach, especially Mal. In the pilot episode "Serenity", he defuses a hostage situation which he just walked into by shooting the captor in the head without even breaking stride.
    • And this ends up in one of the comics leaving him with a crazy with a mechanical eye (Mal failed to kill the guy, just took his eye) working with the Hands of Blue to kill Mal and capture Simon and River. Needless to say, they fail. Epically.
    • Or the episode "The Train Job", where a Crime Lord's Dragon refuses to take back money from Mal for a job they couldn't complete, instead telling them how he'll come after them until he kills them all. Rather than create a Recurring Boss, Mal kicks the guy into the turbines of his spaceship. When they bring the next mook over to the same spot and restart the process, the mook immediately agrees to do whatever Mal says.
  • Game of Thrones: How does Bronn, the Commander of the City Watch, keep peace and order and prevent widespread looting on the eve of a major siege by a hostile power? By having the boys round up all the known thieves and killing them, of course. Tyrion and Varys give each other a glorious look that says, "It can't really be that simple." But yes. Yes, it is.
  • Done on the Korean Game Show The Genius: In one game, 10 guests were brought in, and the players were told to find out as much as they could about them and given one hour to interact freely. They were then told to give 3 shortnote  statements and would earn a point for each statement that was true for exactly 5 out of the 10 guests according to the guests themselves. At this point, the players generally used statements like "My birthday is in an even month". Then the players were told they would be prompted for 5 more statements (still aiming for a 5/5 true/false split) after a 10-minute break, during which they could again interact freely with the guests. Cue the players frantically running around trying to get all the guests' birthdays, blood types, etc. But midway into the break, Hong Jinho stopped, went up to 5 random guests, rubbed the back of his hand against theirs, called them stupid and pretty, made a V-Sign at them, and told them his brother's name, much to the guests' bemusement. Then he provided statements like "Jinho told me his brother's name" and "Jinho rubbed the back of his hand against mine". He became the only player to earn a perfect score in Round 2 and won the game.
  • In a dream sequence on Gilligan's Island, someone tells the Skipper's character "Inspector Whatney", "Use your head, Inspector!" to defeat the vampire. The inspector head butts him. This works.
  • In one episode of House of Anubis Sibuna is trying to figure out how to get the crocodile bridge over the chasm in the tunnels. Fabian suggested a complex counterweight lever system. Immediately after, Amber suggested they merely picked the bridge up on it's side and drop it over the hole.
    • In another episode they are trying to get past a dead-end, and Alfie suggests to just smash the wall down with their shoulders. He doesn't smash the wall, but he does disarm the pendulums swinging over the chasm bridge and finds the way across.
  • Attempted and botched in one episode of Impractical Jokers. The Jokers pose as waiters in a restaurant, with the challenge being to see who can put the most mashed potatoes on customers’ plates (without permission) before they’re stopped. The person with the least loses. Q, thinking he’s smart, just dumps his entire supply of potatoes on a random person’s plate and walks away... at which point the others inform him that he actually misunderstood the instructions. The goal was to put the most scoops of potatoes on plates, not most potatoes in general. By dumping his bowl, Q left himself with a measly one scoop and thus made himself the loser by default.
  • Leverage: Eliot disables a security camera by throwing a rock at it. Unusually, the Magical Security Cam doesn't apply in a show that likes its Hollywood security systems, and the guards come to find out why the camera went out.
    • In "The Boiler Room Job", the team tries to do this to The Mark of the episode by having Hardison just straight up hack his accounts, since the Mark is an experienced con artist who knows every trick in the book. When he catches Hardison before he can even get started, the team is forced to create a long, elaborate con as a diversion to give Hardison time to execute the original plan and get the evidence to the FBI.
  • In The Mentalist, Patrick pulls a prank on Lisbon by putting her keys in a puzzle box he had trouble solving. She pulls a hammer out of her desk, bashes the lid in, and removes her keys.
    Patrick: You keep a hammer in your desk?
    Lisbon: You only think you know everything about me.
  • Murdoch Mysteries: Season 2 Episode 4, "Houdini Whodunit": Inspector Brackenreid, having witnessed the young Harry Houdini's multiple escape of police-issued bindings, takes great pleasure in the man's inability to free himself of the final set in the closer of the show. Houdini rightfully suspects the Inspector had them tampered with, and Brackenreid admits to having glue put in the locking mechanism to make the attempt all the harder.
  • Discussed on MythBusters, when they were testing the myth of whether or not it was possible to save a person from being hanged via shooting down the rope. They ultimately concluded that while it was technically possible (albeit not with just one shot, as the myth specified), given the accuracy and number of shots required, it'd probably make more sense to just shoot whoever was carrying out the hanging.
  • In one episode of NCIS, Abby's computer is being hacked by a person or system so fast and skilled that she can't stop them, even with super-nerd McGee's help. Gibbs' solution? Unplug the computer from the network, thereby (literally) disconnecting it from the hacker. In another episode, someone has set up an evil supercomputer, and when Abby and McGee are struggling to hack into it and shut it down before a countdown ends, Gibbs ends up just shooting the computer. Many times.
  • In The Orville, Claire's kids keep having inane arguments over a stupid video game of theirs that they refuse to share. Isaac tries to just ignore it, but when they start doing it while he's trying to locate a missing Claire, he decides to solve the argument in the most simple way he can; ripping it out of their hands and shooting it to pieces with his gun so they nothing to argue over. He then turns to them and flatly says "the game is never to be spoken of again" before continuing on his way.
  • A villainous example in the Person of Interest episode "All In". The Dirty Cop organization "HR" is trying to curry favor with the Russian mob by getting one of their enforcers, arrested in an earlier episode, acquitted. At first they try framing the organized crime detective leading the investigation as a Dirty Cop. After Detective Carter uses Forensic Accounting to reveal the frame-up, HR turns to shooting the detective, and the DA prosecuting the case for good measure.
  • On the first episode of Scorpion, Sylvester can only do math if all the chalk on the board is arranged by size. Paige cuts through this by sweeping all of the chalk into a garbage can and only letting him have one piece.
  • Sesame Street:
    • An episode had Mr. Hooper present Cookie Monster with a puzzle - make both of these plates (which contained cookies, naturally) look the same. After deliberating for a bit, Cookie Monster proceeded to eat all the cookies from both plates, thereby making both plates look the same (i.e. empty).
    • In his establishing character scene, Cookie Monster works out how to operate a rope-and-pulley system to lift a plastic cover off a plate of cookies, before deciding a better method would be to smash the cover to pieces.
  • It's safe to say this is somewhat of a Running Gag in the Stargate 'verse.
    • In the Stargate SG-1 episode "Full Circle", Carter, Jonas Quinn and the ascended Daniel are trying to find the Eye of Ra. They decipher where it is, but can't figure out how to open the compartment...until Carter, noting that they don't have much time, tells the other two to stand back, and shoots it open with her P90.
    • In an earlier episode, as Bra'tac is telling SG-1 of the convoluted series of tasks they have to do to destroy the shield generators, O'Neill busies himself with pulling the pins on a pair of frag grenades and dropping them down the hole.
    • O'Neill does this a lot. In fact one could almost describe cutting knots as his job on the team, just like Carter handles tech and Daniel handles talking and Teal'c handles asskicking.
    • Daniel, of all people, does this. After activating Merlin's library, Mitchell has to battle the Black Knight solid hologram guard outside. After unsuccessfully trying to turn it off, Daniel writes down everything he can and shoots the control crystals.
    • Done memorably by Ronon in the Stargate Atlantis episode "The Lost Tribe". Keller, clearly not knowing much about Ronon, starts rattling off the necessity of an elaborate series of computer commands to shut down systems and then lock the Wraith out. Ronon just starts blasting away at crystal trays until the right thing shuts down.
    • Keller's mind got Freaky Friday Flipped with a thief. When the team locates the Ancient phlebotinum that caused it, McKay starts trying to figure out how it works, but Ronon shoots it and the FFF reverses.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation: In the episode "The Arsenal of Freedom", the crew comes upon an ancient advanced weapon system that appears to have been left on demo mode. After it threatens the lives of both the away team and the Enterprise in orbit... Picard defeats it by telling the sales pitch hologram that he'd like to purchase it. This only partially works, as while the sales pitch hologram does shut off the drone on the surface, the one in orbit continues to function for some reason, forcing the Enterrpise to destroy it. At least it's the last one.
  • Star Trek: Voyager: In the episode "Dreadnought", Torres spends most of the episode trying and failing to circumvent the eponymous rogue missile's systems. As catastrophe draws near, her last-ditch solution to stop it is to break into the reactor core and shoot it until it explodes.
  • Star Trek: Picard: In "The Impossible Box", while discussing Narek's tan zhekran, Narissa mentions that if it was up to her, she'd just smash it to get the prize inside, rather than take the time to solve the puzzle.
  • Supernatural:
    • In one episode the only weapon that can kill the monster of the week is a sword trapped Excalibur-style inside a stone. Dean does at first try just pulling it out, confident that he's the brave knight the legend says can free the sword; when that doesn't work he switches to sticking explosives all over the rock. And manages to break the sword.
    • Killing an okami usually requires stabbing it seven times with a bamboo dagger blessed by a Shinto priest. Not being in possession of such a weapon, Bobby throws the okami into a wood-chipper. Ludicrous Gibs ensue.
    • Earlier, Dean killed a tiny fairy by stuffing it into a microwave.
  • That Mitchell and Webb Look plays this for laughs in the "Angel Summoner and BMX Bandit" sketches, in which the titular superhero team face a number of crises to which BMX Bandit always offers a lengthy, convoluted BMX-based solution, only for his somewhat more powerful colleague to respond that it would be a lot easier if he just summoned a horde of invincible angels to take care of the problem for them.
    "I ride in through that window using my BMX and spin my rear wheel, kicking some mud up into their faces. While they're distracted, I'll pop a wheelie, knocking the guns out of their hands, then you go in and untie the girl."
    "Or I could just summon a horde of angels to sort it out."
  • In one episode of Titus, Titus is trying to formally propose to his girlfriend in the emergency room while both their families are there after a Thanksgiving brawl. Unfortunately, her thieving ex-con older brother has stolen the ring; though tied to a chair by the police officers who dragged him in for treatment, he still refuses to give it up. Titus asks his dad for help:
    Ken: You know, I never hit my boys. Instead, I took years to destroy their self-esteem and mold them into upstanding citizens. With you, I don't have that kind of time. Flicks his cigarette lighter, starts moving it towards Michael's face until Michael relents
  • One Top Gear challenge had the team trying to take down housing with military vehicles. First they tried to use the crane, mine clearing spinner, and several other devices to pull the building down. Finally, they gave up and just used them as battering rams.
    • A Top Gear (US) challenge had the hosts trying to break into each other's cheap cars. Rutledge and Tanner try to pick the locks on the door. Adam takes a tire iron and smashes the window, then unlocks the door and drives off.
  • Torchwood: In "Meat", when the team tries to break into a warehouse, the following dialogue ensues:
    Ianto: Did you bring the alarm deactivator?
    [Owen shoots the alarm]
    Ianto: Well, that's one way of doing it.
  • The Netflix show Travelers, with much of the same creative team as Stargate, has a much darker take on this trope. Muggle Best Friend David is trapped in a locked room with a nuclear bomb that he has to disarm with no tools or training and only three minutes on the clock, with Voice with an Internet Connection Trevor guiding him. They do their best, but when they're only halfway through the procedure time runs out and the bomb makes a whirring sound as it begins to activate — only for Trevor's boss to shout at David to just grab the uranium core and throw it against the ground, shattering it before it can reach critical mass and saving the city. Why didn't they just do that in the first place?... Because, as everyone besides David knows, doing this has exposed him to a lethal blast of radiation and doomed him to an agonizing death over the next few hours.
  • Twin Peaks:
    • Sheriff Truman gives Agent Cooper Laura Palmer's diary, saying that they haven't found the key yet. Cooper simply breaks the lock with his hands.
    • In another episode, a character finds a metal puzzle-box which he is supposed to tortuously figure out how to open. He blasts it a few times with a handgun, which opens it right up.
  • Lampshaded in an episode of Unforgettable. Faced with an anarchist hacker about to wreck the financial system from his computer who likes to reference Greek myths, Carrie asks him if he's heard of the Gordian knot. After he answers with the Trope Namer, she puts a bullet through his laptop.
  • On Untold Stories of the E.R., a patient who desperately needs surgery can't be treated at the small clinic where he's diagnosed, but his insurance won't pay for the ambulance service to take him to a bigger hospital. Unable to cut through the red tape to arrange transport for their patient, the doctors hit upon a counterintuitive solution: they call 911, which the ambulance service is contractually obliged to respond to, even when the call comes from a hospital. The bill from the ambulance service went to the hospital, not the person.
  • Savino of Vegas needed to ensure his candidate for mayor came out on top of a televised debate against a far more experienced politician. They prepped a brilliant opening speech and then cut power to the broadcasting antenna so his opponent couldn't tear it apart.

  • 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.
    Black Mage: Okay. I seem to remember some dead old king guy who, when presented with a problem of unsolvable perplexity, would blaze a path to victory via stabbity means. Therefore!
    Black Mage: Okay, I have a theory. It's called: I never knew it was possible to care less about Time Travel. *cue Black Hadouken*
  • 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.
  • This Order of the Stick comic, providing a method around the 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, whips out an axe, and cuts the tree supporting it instead, upsetting the narrator.

    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.
  • Death Battle:
  • 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.
  • STO Forum: Versus thread (rp):
    • Eleya and Kang encounter some Bronze Age natives who are about to sacrifice a captive to appease Eleya or something (unclear where they got the idea, since Eleya told them she just wanted to trade for water). Kang's response is to stun the priestess with Eleya's rifle (he'd borrowed it).
    • How do you get around Borg adaptation? Do you do some kind of crazy technobabble? Not if you're Eleya. She jams her rifle through the shields (they don't work against solid objects) and then fires. (Note that the drone in question was distracted by trying to assimilate Kang at the time.)
  • 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.
  • Jreg suggests nuking the entire Middle East as a way to solve the Arab–Israeli Conflict.
  • YouTube lockpicking expert Lock Picking Lawyer once tried to get his wife 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 box.
    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 get between his wife and her ice cream.

    Western Animation 
  • Adventure Time:
    • In the episode "Mystery Dungeon", Ice King, Lemongrab, Tree Trunks, Shelby and NEPTR wake up in a dungeon not knowing how they got there, each ending up solving trials related to their expertise. It turns out Ice King was behind the whole thing. He kidnapped them all to help him get through and the last trial was meant for BMO to hack into an electronic door, but Ice King accidentally kidnapped the wrong robot. NEPTR being a robot programmed to throw pies, throws a pie at the door shorting it out.
    • Earlier episode "Dad's Dungeon" had a blink-and-you'll-miss-it one. The last challenge to get the demon sword required Finn and Jake to slay the Eldritch Abomination to get the key off its wrist. Finn instead breaks the chains around the sword and uses it to kill the monster.
  • During a story arc on Archer, Ray and Kreiger are attempting to disarm a missile filled with nerve gas. Unable to shut it off, Kreiger points out that the missile doesn't have any actual explosives in it and the only dangerous part is the nerve gas itself, so they just rip the nerve gas out and let the missile launch.
  • On The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes! Yellowjacket has to disarm a Kree bomb. He waits until the last moment, then he just shrinks the bomb so that all it blows up are a few molecules.
    Agent Brand: Why didn't you do that in the first place, why'd you wait?!
    Yellowjacket: (grins) I just wanted to see the look on your face.
  • Batman: The Animated Series: This is often how Riddler's complex puzzles and deathtraps are solved.
    • His debut episode involves a re-creation of a video game maze, which Batman bypasses by hacking the controls of the flying guardian; later, when faced with a robot minotaur, Bats orders the same guardian to ram it.
    • In "What is Reality?", he lures the heroes into a virtual reality simulation by trapping Commissioner Gordon's consciousness inside it. When they get to the center, they discover that their goal is inside a Baxter's box. Batman's solution? Turn his hands into hammers and break the damn thing, referencing an earlier comment by Robin:
      Robin: You're looking at the guy who solved the Baxter's box in 37 seconds. Of course this time, I don't have a hammer.
    • Another episode deals with Batman locked in a showroom while a bomb goes off in 10 seconds. Riddler is stumped as to how he survived. Simple, he hid in a nearby reinforced safe.
    • A non Riddler example in "Harley and Ivy" is initially subverted and then played straight. Harley expertly manages to bypass numerous security measures and begins to carefully cut open a glass case containing a massive diamond. However the alarm suddenly goes off and she sees Ivy running out of another room. At this point Harley says "Heck with it." and smashes the case with her gun.
  • In an episode of Biker Mice from Mars Vinnie finds himself trapped in the villain's giant robot which also contains a weather control device. Finding himself in the primary control room of the robot Vinnie says "Complex city. Ha, ha, ha this requires concentration and skill." beat "Oh well." He then promptly begins smashing the entire room.
  • Dragons: Race to the Edge: In "Eye of the Beholder Part 1", Hiccup and Toothless find a heavily bolted door on a deserted ship.
    Hiccup: Okay, here's the plan...(Toothless blows out the door with a plasma blast)...I like yours better.
  • On Duckman, a global conspiracy wants to brainwash Duckman in an attempt to kill Cornfed. Their plan called for a group of ninjas to trick Duckman into pursuing them to their headquarters, where he would be detained and brainwashed. However, Duckman being Duckman, he was barely even aware of the ninjas, much less that he was supposed to follow them. The ninjas huddle to discuss their options, but the leader opts for the direct approach: he takes out a bat, smacks Duckman in the head, and drags him back to their headquarters.
  • DuckTales:
    • In one episode, McDuck is thrown in prison with the Duck in the Iron Mask, and tells him "you have to Use Your Head to get out". Iron Mask then busts a hole in a wall with his helmet.
    • In the episode "The Magic Harp", Magica tries to open the safe where she keeps a plot-relevant scroll with a magic spell. When nothing happens, she groans, "Why do I bother?", picks up a sledgehammer, and uses that to get the scroll instead.
    • Later, in the movie Treasure of the Lost Lamp, while breaking into the money bin (now under Dijon's control), the boys fail to navigate their way through a Laser Hallway to the alarm panel. Thus unable to deactivate the alarms, they simply destroy the panel from across the room with their marbles.
  • In the Ducktales 2017 episode "Nothing Can Stop Della Duck!", the giant Gilded Man automaton attempts to pull the sword from the stone to use as a weapon. However, he's unable to, because, as Beakley exclaims, "only the one true king of England can wield that sword". The Gilded Man responds by simply ripping the entire stone out of the ground, sword still embedded, and then clobbering Beakley with it.
  • Ed, Edd n Eddy:
    • One episode begins with Edd attempting to time how fast it takes Ed to go through a maze with a box of Chunky Puffs at the exit. Ed simply smashes through every wall in the maze to get to the cereal.
      Edd: Not that you'd understand the geometry involved in such an endeavor, but... that isn't how you go through a maze!
    • In "Ed or Tails," the Eds end up in a race around a U-shaped course to get a jawbreaker. While Eddy and Edd are busy playing tricks on each other, Ed just hops (his shoes were tied together) in a straight path from the start to the finish. He's declared the winner.
  • In The Fairly OddParents episode "Operation F.U.N." when Timmy is tricked into wishing he, Chester and AJ were at a militaristic summer reform school, they have to cross an obstacle course before a rocket destroys the shed that Cosmo and Wanda are trapped in. The last part of the obstacle course is a rock climbing wall, which AJ points out they can simply walk around.
  • Futurama:
    • In "My Three Suns," Fry unwittingly drinks what turns out to be an alien emperor (his species can transform into liquid), making Fry, according to the rules of said empire, the new emperor. Unsurprisingly, the job is almost a guaranteed ticket to a rapid assassination, so Fry's friends try to save his life by getting him to cry out the old emperor. All their attempts to make him sad enough to cry fail, with Bender finally meeting with some success by telling him that Leela was brutally murdered by the palace guards, only for Leela—who's not in on the deception—to burst into the room before he's shed more than two tears' worth of liquid emperor. At this point, his friends completely give up on trying to get to him through his emotions and just beat him to a bloody pulp.
    • In "Hell Is Other Robots," Leela and Fry try to rescue Bender from a Physical Hell for robots, to which the Robot Devil informs them that they can win him back on the exact terms of the fiddle contest from "The Devil Went Down to Georgia," complete with the song's prize of a solid gold fiddle. Fry points out that a solid gold violin isn't very practical as an instrument since it would "weigh hundreds of pounds and sound crummy," but it's ideal for the exact task Leela uses it for when she loses the contest, namely whacking the Robot Devil over the head with it to give them all a moment to bolt.
  • Xanatos of Gargoyles attempts to do this towards the end of the City of Stone arc. In order to save the city, Xanatos and Goliath need to get a password for Demona. Demona is locked in combat with her Arch-Enemy, the Anti-Villain MacBeth. Goliath attempts to talk the two into stopping, and only succeeds in getting both of them to attack him. Out of patience, Xanatos tells Goliath "If they won't listen to reason, take them both down. We'll sort it out after", and shoots at both with a laser. It doesn't work because Xanatos somehow manages to miss them from about three feet away.
  • Generator Rex: The Providence Agents attack the EVO's at Abyssus (large enemy castle), and the EVO's use the terrain to their advantage, beating all the agents and the elite units, and freeing their captured Allies. Black Knight (the leader of Providence), just has her ships air lift the castle out of the territory, gas the place, and sends in even more troops.
  • Gravity Falls:
    • Gideon wants to get revenge on the Pines family by seizing control of the Mystery Shack. In "Little Dipper" he tries to trick Stan into signing away the shack with a false claim that he's won great riches and just needs to sign on the dotted line. Then when that fails, he uses a shrink ray to hold Dipper and Mabel hostage, and eventually tries to turn it on Stan. When that fails, Gideon summons a "dream demon" in "Dreamscaperers" and makes a deal with it to get the code for the safe Stan keeps the Mystery Shack's deed in from his mind. When that fails too, Gideon resorts to the much simpler plan of blowing up the safe with dynamite and stealing the deed himself, which works.
    • In "Dungeons, Dungeons, and More Dungeons", Mabel, Grenda, and Stan are on their way to save Dipper and the Author from an evil wizard. One of the wizard's ogre guards tries to distract them with a series of side-quests, but Grenda angrily clubs the guy over the head with an armchair and the party leaves him for dead.
  • The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy: "The Show That Dares Not Speak Its Name", a parody of Hellraiser, had an evil Rubik's cube which summoned a monster called Pinface when scrambled. The only way to get rid of Pinface is to solve the cube. Grim complains that it took him years to solve it, but Billy's dad happens to find the cube and solves it by taking the stickers off, thus banishing Pinface.
  • Iron Man: Armored Adventures: Tony's classmate Happy winds up in the armor and has to deal with a bomb about to go off. Tony doesn't know how to defuse the Happy just snaps it in half.
  • In one episode of Kaeloo, the main cast come across a barrier that allows Only the Pure of Heart to pass through it. The process of purifying bad thoughts is rather long, so Mr. Cat blasts it open with a bazooka.
  • In one Ludwig Von Drake cartoon, Drake explains his method of getting rid of an annoying but probably fixable experiment; he teleports it to who-knows-where with another annoying but probably fixable experiment.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • In part 1 of the second season premiere "The Return of Harmony", the new villain Discord sets out to corrupt the heroes while they find the Elements of Harmony. When he gets to Fluttershy, he tries to convinces her how her friends think she's helpless and it should make her mad. However, she openly admits her flaws and says that they try to help improve her. Frustrated at this unwanted outcome, Discord stops with the mind games and simply brainwashes her forcefully.
    • In the Daring Do story in "Read It and Weep", the eponymous Adventurer Archaeologist carefully approaches an artifact on a plinth inside an ancient tomb full of deadly traps... you know the drill. She sizes it up, apparently attempting to cleverly remove it without disturbing the plinth and triggering more traps... then just rolls her eyes, snatches the artifact and dashes out through all the newly triggered traps.
  • In the episode "Boone's Apprentice" of Penn Zero: Part-Time Hero, after Boone's apprentice ruins the potion meant to solve the episode's problem, Boone realizes that he should just embrace his usual Cloudcuckoolander persona. After taking a snack break, he proposes to just break the MacGuffin. Which works.
  • Phineas and Ferb:
    • One of the puzzles in "We Call it Maze" is to guess how many jelly beans are in a jar. The duo and Baljeet attempt to solve the problem mathematically, but Buford gets impatient and decides to just eat all the jellybeans, then type the number zero. It works.
      Baljeet: Okay, technically that was correct, but you did not show your work!
      Buford: I will in about twenty minutes.
    • Also used in "Phineas and Ferb and the Temple of Juatchadoon", when Phineas tries to figure out how to get a key out from under a glass dome, and Isabella suggests "Or, we could hit it with a rock!" Near the end of the cartoon, Phineas uses the same technique (complete with the same remark) to deactivate the magic talisman that powers the rampaging Corn Colossus.
    • Both subverted and played straight in "Knot My Problem", where the kids actually reconstruct a gigantic Gordian Knot and attempt to untie it, rather than cut it. While they do successfully untie it most of the way, the knot is dismantled when Candace, hit by Doofenshmirtz's Eat-It-All-inator, eats the ropes (made of licorice) used to create the knot. Another example from the same episode: Candace has spent the entire day trying to crack open Jeremy's old mini-safe. Buford opens it by slamming it against his head.
  • A Popeye cartoon ending where Olive Oyl is tied to a train track. After trying for a few seconds to untie her, Popeye simply decides to punch the train, which instantly stops and falls apart. It was so famous that it was repeated several times in several different episodes. In fact, most of the Popeye cartoons follow this trope.
  • The Powerpuff Girls:
    • Used in "Him Diddle Riddle". When Him gives the girls a "Train A is travelling..." problem with real trains that'll collide if they don't stop them, Blossom first tries to solve it with an abacus, then realizes, "We're superheroes! Let's just find the trains and stop them!" (Seeing as Him didn't object to them doing it that way, and was driving one of the trains, he may have expected them to do that.)
    • Movie example: The girls play an unintentionally destructive game of tag. Blossom and Bubbles hide on the top of a building dozens of blocks away from Buttercup. Buttercup snaps and tears through all those buildings to get to them.
    • In one episode we get an overly long scene of Mojo Jojo meticulously bypassing all the security measures in a museum to steal an artifact. After remembering there was another artifact he needed as well, he just smashes its glass covering, grabs it, and runs away.
  • In The Real Ghostbusters, the group find a locked chest. Ray asks for a hairpin to try and pick the lock. As he struggles to unlock the chest, Peter simply shoots the lock with a proton beam.
  • In one episode of She-Ra: Princess of Power, the villain traps the heroine in a maze; after wandering around for a while, she gets frustrated, and says, "That's it, from now on, I'm moving in a straight line!" and simply knocks the walls down to do so.
  • The Simpsons:
    • In "Duffless", Homer uses an ancient map to escape the plant so he can sneak away to a tour of the Duff brewery. He encounters a Giant Spider and consults the map, which says, "To escape the spider's curse, simply quote a Bible verse." When Homer can't think of any Bible verses, he throws a rock at it and knocks it out.
    • The "Treehouse of Horror XI" story "Scary Tales Can Come True" puts Bart and Lisa in Fairy Tale Land. When Bart comes across the Three Bears' porridge, he (of course) discovers that one is too hot and the other is too cold. He remarks "It doesn't take a genius to figure this out." and proceeds to pour the contents of one bowl into the other.
    • In "The Springfield Connection", when Marge wanted to join the police department, she took the same obstacle course as the rest of the aspirants. She starts struggling to climb over a wall...
      Wiggum: Women always have trouble with the wall...they never seem to find the door. [Pan to the other trainees going through the door in a single file]
  • In an episode of South Park, when Stan and Kyle try to destroy the Wall Mart by destroying its core, they see that the core is a mirror. The Wall Mart CEO goes on about the symbolism about how it is the citizens of the town that are fueling the Wall Mart, etc. Stan shrugs and says the guy told them to destroy the core, so Kyle shatters the mirror which destroys the Wall Mart.
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars: In "The Bad Batch", Tech of the titular squad attempts to hack open the back door of a Separatist base, only for the impatient Wrecker to brute-force the door open and tell him he was taking too long.
  • Star Wars Resistance: In "A Quick Salvage Run", Kaz, Neeku and a few of the pirates are salvaging hyperfuel from the wreckage of a First Order dreadnought, but the fuel is inside a canister with a complex lock, and the fuel's volatility makes it dangerous to get out. When they run out of time due to the arrival of a Star Destroyer, Kragan elects to smash the container free with his bare hands despite the risk of explosion.
  • In the Street Fighter animated series, Guile disarms a bomb with a Sonic Boom.
  • Tigtone: Since the series parodies adventure games, Tigtone often encounters puzzles, but he tends to solve them not the way they are intended to be solved. Instead of freeing the captive sun by following her instructions, he simply kills the captive sun and takes the loot she drops. When he has to recover some missing tools from a forest he burns the forest down to find them more quickly.
  • In the Transformers: Prime episode Legacy the Decepticons find the Star Sabre embedded in a mountain, when they can't remove the sword they use their ship to move the entire mountain. Naturally Optimus arrives before they can finish this and takes the Star Sabre himself.
  • In an early episode of The Venture Bros., the boys and some fake pirates are being harassed by the ghost of a former pilot named Major Tom. The boys contact Dr. Orpheus, the team sorceror, who tries to put Tom's soul to rest. It doesn't work. Plan B? Brock arrives and defeats the ghost by decapitating it with his fist.
  • In the beginning of one episode of Xiaolin Showdown, the four monks-in-training are tasked to get a stuffed toy dog at the end of an obstacle course. Clay, closer to Earth cowboy, upon noting that the course is shaped like a circle, with the start and finish right next to each other, simply turns around snatches the dog off its pedestal. This comes up several more times in the episode, where the moral is, "Simple solutions to complicated problems".

    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).
  • 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 M-16 and M-4, 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 Falujah 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.
  • 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.


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.

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Main / CuttingTheKnot

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Main / CuttingTheKnot