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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, Myopic Architecture, "Open!" Says Me, Percussive Maintenance, Sequence Breaking, Steal the Surroundings, Unexpectedly Realistic Gameplay, Outside-the-Box Tactic, and Take a Third Option. Contrast We Have the Keys or There Was a Door, where violence is the complex solution. See also Impossible Task, in which this trope is often the only solution. If an authority figure berates you or even punishes you for this trope, see No Fair Cheating.

Example subpages:

Other examples:

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

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

    Comic Books 
  • 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.
  • Avengers: Back to Basics: The Desir bind Pepper Potts with Gleipnir, a magical chain that, as they gloat to Iron Man when he tries to slice through it with a laser, cannot be cut, broken, or melted in any way. Tony deals with it by using a rocket to destroy the stone slab that Pepper is chained to.
    Desir: All right. I should have seen that coming.
  • 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.
  • In one issue of Impulse, the Riddler 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.
  • 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...
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The Losers: The first act has the team tech Jensen having to copy the secure hard drives of Goliath, an oil company. When security finds out about the operation and exchange fire with his friends, he hacks the outer casing with an axe and pries the thing out whole.
  • Misfit City: When the girls find Captain Denby's chest is locked, and that there's no key, Macy decides to chop the padlock off with a sword.
  • Preacher:
    • The section that shows Herr Starr's background and turn to villainy includes a bit where, as part of his training in GSG 9, Starr is confronted by a sadistic unarmed combat instructor known for beating new recruits viciously. In front of the class, the instructor demands to know how Starr would defeat him in hand to hand combat as an obvious prelude to inflicting such a beating on Starr. Starr responds by shooting the instructor in the leg and saying that he never intends to be unarmed. GSG decided that it showed innovation, and it was one of the things that caught The Grail's eye.
    • And continuing this trend of lateral thinking, Starr is tasked by The Grail, as an initiation trial, to identify and assassinate a defector from their organization who is trying to spread the word about them and is currently confined in a mental hospital. Instead of finding some clever way to infiltrate the hospital as a patient, staff, or even visitor, and eliminating only his target, Starr simply blows up the hospital and everyone in it. This earns him admittance into The Grail and being appointed one of the highest ranks within the organization as it shows ruthless efficiency, a willingness to sacrifice innocents in service of the "Greater Good", and as an added bonus there's no chance in anybody taking an interest in the death of the "lone nut" as they might if only that guy died when it appears that his death is simply collateral damage in a terrorist attack. Even if somehow an investigation decided that the "terrorist attack" wasn't what it appeared and somebody destroyed the hospital to kill one person there, they'd have hundreds of patients and staff who might be the target, making it nigh impossible to solve.
  • In Super Sons, Robin plans on burning a hole through the roof of a warehouse in order to gain access. Superboy points out that the front door is open.
    Superboy: Hey genius, details.
  • Tintin "Explorers on the Moon": Being back on Earth, mission control Mr Baxter has to use rather creative methods to help the protagonists in space. But when rocket finally lands and the crew can't open the doors because they've already passed out from lack of oxygen, Baxter just elects to hack the rocket open with electric saws to get them out in time.
  • 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.
  • The Transformers: More than Meets the Eye: Towards the end, the Magnificence turns out to be a front for Eldritch Abominations, which start ranting about how they cannot be stopped and will return and consume everything, killing a few side characters with energy bolts in the process. So Nickel crushes the Magnificence into powder, which shuts 'em up real good.
    Nickel: They didn't see that coming.
  • 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.

    Comic Strips 

    Films — Animated 
  • During Gaston's Villain Song in Disney's Beauty and the Beast, the line "No one matches wits like Gaston!" is sung while Gaston is shown playing chess with someone... and throws the board and pieces into the air.
  • Fantastic Mr. Fox has a sequence where they need to choose who's going to jump over a fence with barbed wire, slide under tire spikes, etc., until one of them points out there's another path with no obstacles.
  • Globehunters: An Around The World In 80 Days Adventure: In the lab locker room, Eddie tries to break into Wilkins' locker by picking the padlock with one of his own hairs. Sasha, feeling Eddie's method is taking too lock, breaks the lock in half with her paw.
  • Kung Fu Panda: At one point during the battle with Tai Lung over the Dragon Scroll, Po throws a dozen woks on and around the scroll and rapidly shuffles them back and forth with a pair of bamboo stalks to force Tai Lung to find the right wok in a high-speed version of the Shell Game. Tai Lung isn't playing around though and just smashes all the woks aside in one swipe.
  • In The Last Unicorn, Schmendrick tries various spells to free the titular unicorn from its cage. After a few unsuccessful tries, he produces a set of keys he has stolen to open the cage.
  • Puss in Boots: The Last Wish: "Big" Jack Horner is a wicked Collector of the Strange who keeps many smuggled magical artifacts as a major part of his weapon/gadget arsenal, and his solution to overcoming any obstacle in his way is to simply use a lot of manpower and magical items.
    • One of the artifacts he found is Excalibur, which he wasn't able to remove from the stone it was lodged in (due to him not being worthy enough to hold it as a villain). He retorted to dig the stone out of the ground, and now wields the sword with the stone still attached as a bludgeoning weapon.
    • Although it's possible to get through the flowers in the Pocketful of Posies by taming them with kindness as shown by Perrito beforehand (which he did when Puss and Kitty also tried to dodge them without actually attacking them), the only solution Jack can think of is using his Baker's Dozen to cut the plants up. The result is that the posies fight and devour the bakers formidably due to their replicating capability; seeing the grim situation his henchmen are in, Jack improvises by using a phoenix as a flamethrower.
  • 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.
  • Toy Story 2:
    • The heroes are trying to rescue Woody with help of Utility Belt Buzz. When asked how they're going to get past a grate in order to attack who they think are evil toys torturing Woody, Utility Belt Buzz says, "Use Your Head!" Cut to Rex being used as a battering ram, screaming, "But I don't want to use my head!" before crashing through.
    • Earlier in the film, the actual Buzz owned by Andy gets stuck behind the automatic door of Al's Toy Barn. After a few attempts at trying to open the door himself, Buzz simply knocks over a nearby stack of board games and puzzles to get it to open.

  • In one of the tie-in books to anarchic TV comedy show The Goodies, a spoof children's 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 

  • 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).
    • 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.
    • 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).
  • Japanese Mythology: After marrying Suseri-hime, Okuninushi had to win over her father, the infamously ill-tempered storm god Susano'o. Several attempts on Okuninushi's life later, the couple realized it was fruitless and eloped... except Susano'o was starting to respect Okuninushi anyways. Him absconding with stolen goods proved that he was just as much of a troublemaker as he was, so Susano'o begrudgingly gives the couple his blessing in the end.

    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.
    • When the group comes across a password-locked computer, Lotus chooses to write a program to find the right password by brute force rather than searching for hints as to what the actual password is

    Web Animation 
  • 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".
  • 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.
  • 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!

    Web Original 
  • 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.
  • In one Cream Heroes video, Claire sets up a series of increasingly narrow bridges for her cats to cross, with a treat on the stools that hold them together as a reward. DD's response? Walk up to each stool and reach up for the treat without using the bridges. Claire even remarks it's a high IQ move from him.
  • 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.
  • 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!
  • 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.
  • Political satirist Jreg suggests nuking the entire Middle East as a way to solve the Arab–Israeli Conflict.
  • 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.
  • Happens multiple times in a Linus Tech Tips Tech Support Challenge live stream featuring Jayz Two Cents and Gamers Nexus' Steve Burke. Both are expected to diagnose and fix numerous defects with a pre-prepared PC, with deliberately introduced faults including disconnected or poorly-wired components in the case and severe performance issues caused by changes in the BIOS. Steve saves a significant amount of time on diagnosis by simply dismantling the computer and reassembling it on a test bench from scratch in a known-good configuration, then resetting the entire BIOS back to factory settings.
  • From YouTube lockpicking expert Lock Picking Lawyer:
    • While he usually will pick every lock just for the sake of it, if he can find a way to defeat the lock without picking, he will show that off (typically without even picking it normally, since ones with glaring weaknesses like this tend to be so cheap that they fall to proper picking in two seconds). One such tactic is shimming, where he slides a thin piece of metal inside to defeat the latch directly. Another is to simply remove the hinges and open the lid that way, or remove the back cover of the lock and access the internal mechanisms directly. He's also utilized considerably clever tactics like using a powerful magnet to flick the internal latch or a hook slid through an office building's door to pull the bar from the inside. Failing any of that, he's not above taking a hacksaw or bolt cutters to a lock. He's even managed to open locks with sticks, forks, and on one occasion, a LEGO man, without ever once actually "picking" them.
    • His wife is the same too. He once tried to get her interested in lockpicking by locking up her Ben and Jerry's ice cream with their official Pint Lock, which LPL describes as being trivially easy to open by feel, and leaving it in their freezer. When he returns, he shows that his wife had simply cut off the bottom of the container.
      LockPickingLawyer: So it seems that the lessons of the day come courtesy of Mrs. LockPickingLawyer, who reminds us all first, that security is only as good as its weakest link, and second, that no man should ever get between his wife and her ice cream.
    • He also discusses this tendency for locksmiths in this video: a viewer had to call a locksmith to help remove the lock from his bike after he lost the key, who became irate when asked if he could just pick the lock instead of completely destroying it, saying he was tired of people watching videos on YouTube and thinking locks can magically be picked open in 2 seconds and claiming LPL was the worst of the bunch, calling his videos "complete bullshit". After some back-and-forth, the viewer and locksmith agreed to let him send the destroyed lock to LPL, and if he could pick it open in less time than the 2 minutes and 14 seconds it took for the locksmith to cut it open, he would refund the $75 he charged for it. LPL found the most polite way possible to say that he's not surprised that the locksmith in question would look at a Kryptonite lock and immediately conclude it "couldn't be picked" simply because he himself lacked the tools and/or know-how to pick it, before getting it open in 28 seconds.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

    Real Life 
  • Airport security agents keep a set of bolt cutters, a large flathead screwdriver, and a mallet at each inspection station to force any locked bag open. The bolt cutters are nicknamed "the master key" because it will open any lock and render said lock unable to be reused (which may be a bug or a feature, depending on the nature of the lock that needs to be gone). TSA agents also carry actual master keys, designed to unlock suitcases with specific mass-produced locks, thus allowing them to get a closer look at what's inside without having to damage the luggage.
    • In the same vein, most locksmiths would sooner cut open a padlock or bike lock for a customer who lost/forgot their key rather than take the time to pick it open, with total disregard for the expense of the lock, adding insult to injury to the customer by rendering it completely unusable. This despite the fact that many such locks can be picked or "raked" open in seconds with simple lockpicking tools ("Master" brand locks, especially the No. 3, are notorious for this).
  • In the military, when opening a door in or around a combat zone that has not been previously entered, one must first check for booby traps, then carefully open the door, checking it for traps along the way. That is, unless there is any chance whatsoever of a hostile inside the room. In that case, you blow the hinges to hell with 12-gauge slugs or C4, then kick the door the rest of the way down. Incidentally, there is an under-slung shotgun attachment for the M16 and M4, known as the "Masterkey", marketed for this express purpose.
    • Additionally, rather than clearing a building full of hostiles, it's usually recommended to simply throw in a satchel charge, or call in an artillery/air strike from a safe distance. You could look for traps, blow the door, get shot at by ambushing hostiles, evacuate your wounded, send some other guys in, then do that all over again for every single room. But unless the enemy has hostages, or you need someone or something in that place intact, blowing it up without ever placing your foot in the door is much easier and safer.
    • Soldiers fighting in the Battle of Fallujah found that, instead of attacking an enemy building by clearing it with infantry, throwing a large enough block of C4 in the front door would kill everyone inside. Barring that, so long as the occupants don't have a clear line of fire at you through a window, simply blocking the door of an enemy bolthole can instantly turn a nigh-impregnable bunker into a prison. Come back every now and then to check if they're out of water or their toilets have overflowed. Either way, they'll most likely be ready to deal.
    • One particular Fallujah incident involved a three-story apartment block loaded with enemies and full of booby traps waiting to catch soldiers as they went inside, leaving the enemy safe to engage soldiers outside from the numerous upper-level windows and balconies. The enemy were not counting on a nearby tank simply firing its main gun through the walls... which set off all the booby-traps inside and completely destroyed the entire building.
    • If you must enter the building, but know that approaching the door is too dangerous, you can always just use explosives to invoke Dynamic Entry by blasting a man-sized hole in a wall to catch the enemy by surprise. Extensive use of this in urban warfare is known as "mouseholing". This too was used quite a bit in Operation: Iraqi Freedom.
    • This also applies to other walls and hedge rows as well, especially for tanks. It's common knowledge that the weakest parts of a tank's armor is the sides or rear, and the best thing for infantry to do is simply hide and wait for the tank to pass and then shoot an RPG up the tail pipe. However, any competent tank commander will simply use his tank as a 60-ton battering ram, and burst through any obstacles in his path, crushing any would-be ambushers in their path. Tanks fitted with dozer blades and mine plows are especially good for this, as the latter can give the semi-gratifying end to anti-tank troops by turning them into human hood ornaments. This method saves on ammo, which is also important.
  • In computer security, there are two ways to prevent a computer from being attacked and taken over via a network: (1) use some hideously complex Intrusion Detection Systems, firewalls, and meticulously written firewall rules; (2) don't plug the thing into the network.
    • A prime example of this was related in Kevin Mitnick's The Art Of Deception: in his younger days (when he was already a notorious hacker) he visited an IT conference where some company was demonstrating a network security solution. They were so convinced it was unbeatable that they dared people to hack it (specifically access the protected server via the public terminal in the showroom) and promised a cash prize to whoever did. The reps were so confident that they not only had the money bills pinned to their shirts, but also provided a list of usernames and passwords for privileged accounts (which were useless since the terminal was set up to only allow non-privileged accounts to log in). Mitnick won by...distracting the sales rep while his associate picked the lock to the server room and plugged the cable connected to the public terminal to a port that allowed privileged access (the port list was left in the cabinet), then logged in via the account provided by the devs. Which turned into a Humiliation Conga, since not only did the reps for some reason leave the program's source code saved in the server (which Mitnick then started printing), but the cash was most of the money the reps had, forcing them to stop by the bank.
    • Another way of cutting the knot is - assuming it's a singular tower or laptop holding the data one's after - pull all the plugs and just steal the entire damn thing. You can take all the time you need in the comfort of your own home to crack into it and get whatever files you're after.
    • One method of cracking passwords is the Brute Force Attack. This consists of an attacker using bots to submit an absurd amount of passwords or passphrases per second until they finally enter the correct password. While this is strong against passwords with just numbers or letters, it becomes impractical with passwords composed with case senstive letters and symbols. Additionally, the longer the password, the longer it takes exponentially for the BFA method to work.
  • During the last Hubble Space Telescope servicing mission, several bolts on the telescope were found to be vacuum-welded, meaning that support struts that had been needed when the observatory was first launched now formed a block to replacing the broken instruments. After two hours of deliberation, the following advice came from Mission Control: "Pull on them. If that doesn't work, pull harder".
  • Whoever was the first player of the Rubik's Cube that figured out how to pull it apart and rearrange the colors so it was "solved" proverbially cut the Gordian Rubik's Cube.note 
    • In the version with colored stickers, pulling them off and then rearranging them in the desired manner works just as well (at least as long as the sticky part holds up, or else, use glue).
  • According to Cognitive Psychology, compared with people with high attention spans who may try to come up with increasingly complex solutions, people with short attention spans are usually able to see simple answers to problems because they're able to notice their immediate surroundings.
  • A tortoise is a rather tricky creature to eat, due to its hard shell. When it retreats into it, it becomes Nigh Invulnerable, and most animals just can't pull out the meaty bits due to a lack of dexterity or due to the protective plates that come up to cover the holes for the tortoise's head, legs and tail. The eagle and the hyena get around this problem, the former by simply picking up and dropping the tortoise from high up over rocks, the latter by biting it with its incredible bite force.
    • Large alligators solve the problem by swallowing turtles whole, then digesting them shell and all.
    • The solution early humans discovered was simply to stick it in the fire or boil it with the shell, letting the heat break down the shell for them, then tearing open the softened shell.
  • In 1417, the city of Florence held a contest to decide which architect would be contracted to build the dome of Florence Cathedral. Filippo Brunelleschi, one of the contestants, challenged his rivals to stand an egg on a flat marble surface; if they couldn't do it and he could, they agreed to withdraw from the contest. When none of the others could manage it, Filippo took his egg, smashed one end of it and stood it on the smashed end, winning the contract.
  • Marvelman/Miracleman stayed out of print for over twenty years due to numerous legal battles over who held the rights. During a trial concerning several intellectual property disputes between Neil Gaiman and Todd McFarlane it came out in testimony that the editor of Warrior magazine never actually held the rights to the character; he only found that they were held by the state as part of a bankruptcy deal, so it was unlikely that anyone was going to sue them for publishing a new series. Therefore the rights which everyone was fighting over didn't even exist. Marvel went and bought the real rights to Marvelman and ended the legal battle.
    • It should be noted that this lawsuit started in the first place because of ownership disputes between McFarlane and characters that Gaiman had created for Spawn, particularly the character Angela. McFarlane hoped to use the Miracleman rights (which Gaiman had been spending years to try to re-acquire in full so he could finish the story) as a bargaining chip. Once it was revealed McFarlane was essentially bluffing with an empty hand, the judge awarded Gaiman the full rights to Angela, which he then promptly sold to Marvel as part of the Miracleman deal to be a new character in Thor. Needless to say, it's a safe bet Angela will never appear in a Spawn comic ever again.
  • Arturas Zuokas is a Lithuanian politician who, in 2011, was awarded an Ig Nobel Peace Prize for "demonstrating that the problem of illegally parked luxury cars can be solved by running over them with an armored car".
  • This rabbit, when faced with a fence made of sticks it can't jump over, puts one of the sticks in its mouth and jumps through the hole.
  • This toddler tries to fit a square peg in a round hole. When that fails, she takes off the lid and puts the peg in anyway.
  • Raccoons are one of a small number of animals that are able to pass a certain animal intelligence test: they can learn that putting pebbles in a container of water raises the water level, letting them reach a floating treat. Some raccoons, however, came up with another solution: climb on the container of water and make it fall over.
  • This math equation asks you to move a match in order to make the statement 5+7=2 true. A wise guy moved a match from the 7 to the equal sign which makes it read 5+1≠2, which is technically true.note 
  • Services that require appointments/reservations and which do not charge anything at the time of booking often charge a cancellation fee if you cancel too close to the date and time of your booking. Folks who want to cancel after fee applies and who aren't too concerned with doing ethical business can just either move their funds to another card or freeze their card (an option available with a growing number of banks and credit card providers) when requesting cancellation; tada, the transaction now declines, cheating the business out of the cancellation fee.
  • During WW2, German submarine pens, concrete protective bunkers that were a popular target for Allied bombers, grew progressively more sturdy until they were all but impenetrable to direct attack. The Allied solution was to use the mighty Tallboy and Grand Slam earthquake bombs, which rather than directly falling on top of the pen buried themselves deeply in the earth nearby and then exploded, creating a massive crater - a crater that when it inevitably collapsed would take the foundations of nearby structures with it, destroying them.
  • In 2002, a 79 year old Belgian pensioner named Louis Dethy rigged his house with 20 individual traps, such as rigged hidden shotguns and even exploding beer crates, in an attempt to get revenge on his hated estranged family. Dethy had a series of cryptic notes on how to get past his own traps but, after he slipped up and got himself killed by one of said traps anyway, it fell to police to disarm the remaining traps by deciphering his writings. The bomb squad successfully solved the riddles of and subsequently disabled 19 of the traps, but couldn't figure out the clue for the 20th one on the list. Their solution? Just bulldoze the whole house down.

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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