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Disadvantageous Disintegration

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"Commander! You may want to instruct your men to exercise restraint when using explosives... while certainly effective at killing aliens, they also destroy the artifacts we're hoping to recover from ze bodies. Just something to consider."
Dr. Moira Vahlen, XCOM: Enemy Unknown

In games, sometimes you may be hesitant to use all the amazing powers at your disposal. You have a power, spell or weapon which reduces your foe to small shards, constituent atoms, or even nothing at all. Alternatively, there could be Literally Shattered Lives. It's a deadly ability; and one you have to be careful using, as you can't recover whatever your victim opponent was carrying. If you'd just whacked them with a sword, you'd have been able to take those nice boots they were wearing, or that shiny magical chainmail. Sometimes, it also denies you the Experience Points for the kill.

This trope covers those effects which are not used as much as they could be because of the wider economic disadvantage that they place upon the player; sure you've won this fight, but you could have gained more. Often the resistance to use such powers is representative of a psychological barrier against unnecessary waste of resources; and the over-use on important enemies can result in a Pyrrhic Victory.

This is often a One-Hit Kill, which makes it Awesome, but Impractical - very useful, but you're still hesitant to use it because of the wider impact. Contrast Loot-Making Attack.


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  • In Star Blazers / Space Battleship Yamato, the Wave Motion Gun is a tremendously powerful weapon, but it turns out there are rather a lot of situations where you don't want to shoot off a gun that can vaporize a continent.

    Audio Games 
  • Shades Of Doom allows you to either use a bio-disruptor mine or a blast mine on an enemy. Using the bio-disruptor will leave the enemy's inventory intact.

    Fan Fiction 
  • In The Weaver Option Taylor's forces kill or capture a large number of high value bounties during Operations Caribbean and Pearl Harbor. Of the bounties, Admiral Tanaka's body is destroyed by a near-direct hit with an explosive round while Prince Corsair Moonblitz and his entire fleet are vaporized by an Exterminatus-level weapon. The lack of proof means the Adeptus Almitas rewards less than half of Tanaka's bounty and less than one percent of Moonblitz's.

  • Out of fear of this, Star Chaser The Legend Of Orin has the guards of the mines use energy whips rather than blasters, even though this puts them at a disadvantage against the slaves whose powerful energy drills can be used as effective projectile weapons, out of fear of a stray blaster shot hitting the volatile Power Crystals the slaves are mining. One foolish guard sets off a massive explosion that effectively allows Orin to escape by accidentally shooting them.

  • Chrysalis (RinoZ): Anthony's fearsome "gravity bomb" spell crushes the target into a tiny ball. Unfortunately, it's extremely difficult to eat the super-compressed results, and moreover, they probably include parts of the environment — rocks, sticks, mud, etc. Even Tiny the Big Eater and Crinis the shadow monster decide it's not worth the effort to get any biomass out of it. This is a particular concern because the kind of enemies that he would use a gravity bomb on are likely to be powerful, highly evolved specimens, meaning that their biomass would be especially rich and valuable.
  • Remember that bit in The Empire Strikes Back when Darth Vader told Boba Fett "No disintegrations" in a very particular fashion? Remember how annoyed Fett sounded with his reply? The book From a Certain Point of View finally reveals what that was all about. Two rebel spies Boba was hunting down attacked him with disruptors, but he was prepared for that and used a counter-weapon that reduced them to ashes. Sadly, because there weren't any bodies left for Vader to identify the bounties with, Fett had to forfeit the reward money.
  • So I'm a Spider, So What?: When Kumo finally manages to cast Abyss magic, she quickly decides that it's Awesome, but Impractical because she doesn't get any experience from all the monsters it kills. This is because their souls are removed from the System. She also tends to avoid Decay magic and skills, because they don't leave a body for her to eat, instead turning the target directly into compost.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In First Wave, the Gua evaporate after being killed, leaving no evidence for human authorities to find. An episode involves a would-be witch who finds an old spell book that includes a recipe for a poison that is harmless to humans but kills Gua. Naturally, the Gua freak out, and a Gua lawyer steals those pages and keeps them on his person. After he is killed, the pages evaporate along with him.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Spells like Disintegrate, fireball and acidic blast in 2nd edition Dungeons & Dragons may do amazing damage or even be a One-Hit Kill if a save is failed, but they have a chance to destroy most or all of the target's equipment; equipment that is potentially useful or valuable.
    • The Game Master is supposed to roll for each item on the item saving throw table to determine if it survives. The same is true when your character is hit by a fireball: not only do you have to roll a saving throw for your character, but all your items and even any familiars you might have (which is why familiars get Evasion abilities so early). Of course, most GMs don't bother with this too often (or enforce it strictly) but it is in the rules.
    • But averted in 3rd Edition, where the Disintegrate spell explicitly states that the target's gear is conveniently unaffected.
    • We still have Mordenkainen's disjunction, which destroys the magic on a character's equipment. Permanently. Players don't use it, mostly because they then have to recalculate all the relevant stats, but even if they're willing to do all that work, it still robs them of valuable loot after the battle finishes — and if any of that loot happens to be an artifact of the gods, they've just stumbled into some serious divine trouble, possibly up to losing all spellcasting ability, forever. DMs don't use it because it gets them branded a Killer Game Master. It probably wouldn't be used at all if it weren't for Wizards of the Coast insistently putting it on certain villains, including an encounter that has the spell eight levels early. Pathfinder fixes most of this by making it suppress the powers instead.
    • Older editions noted certain monsters, especially those which prized looting dead PCs, tended to hold back those powers which might destroy valuable goods. A red dragon might be very hesitant to destroy all that wonderful treasure PC's carry with his fiery breath if he can help it. Fridge Logic dictates other creatures should consider the possible collateral damage of their powers as well.
    • Also the reason why the Improved Sunder feat is so disliked. Every weapon destroyed puts you one step further behind the Wealth-by-Level guidelines.
  • Paranoia. An attack that does "Vaporized" damage destroys the target's gear as well as the target, as well as prompting a round of applause from the table for actually managing to fail that hard.
  • In Nomine Satanis / Magna Veritas specifies that any killed angel or demon immediately disappears with all loot... except plot-critical stuff.
  • Magic: The Gathering: This is the reason that a Reanimator deck should avoid effects that Exile their opponent's creatures, including the eponymous Disintegration.

    Video Games 
  • In Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura, the Disintegrate power destroys all loot the unfortunate target was carrying.
    • On the other hand, by the time you are able to use it regularly, loot is not a major problem. Plus the dozens of enemies that don't carry anything (and in fact may damage your weapon if you attack them with it).
  • In the Baldur's Gate series and Icewind Dale there are several spells which are a One-Hit Kill if a save is failed, but remove the possibility of recovering enemy equipment if used:
    • Disintegrate, for example. However, burning the enemy to a husk with multiple fireballs and acidic blasts happily leaves everything intact.
    • Flesh to Stone, or another Petrification power will turn your enemy and all their equipment into a statue, which can then be shattered.
    • The 'Imprisonment' spell removes a single enemy from the game indefinitely with no save (except that bosses are immune) until the 'Freedom' spell is cast on the area. Since 'Freedom' is a level 9 spell and most players will, at best, be reluctant to spend 9th level spell slots on it, it makes 'Imprisonment' a classic example of this trope.
  • In Crusader: No Remorse/No Regret, your favorite weapon would probably be the auto shotgun or the laser rifle instead of the UV gun or Cryo gun for this reason alone.
  • Endless Sky has this twofold. Not only will destroying a ship obviously prevent you from plundering or capturing it, but it's also possible to take flight-critical systems from a ship such that, if you then decide to capture it, it won't be able to leave the system with you or possibly even move at all. And there is no way to replace the flight-critical systems you just took unless you're lucky enough to be in a friendly system with an outfitter. The only way to deal with this is to disown the ship, removing it from the game without even giving you a payout like selling it would.
  • The Sweet Half-Life mod employs an added game mechanic. If you happen to gib an enemy, which was supposed to drop their weapon, using explosives, they won't drop anything implying that the item was destroyed by the blast.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • In most entries, the use of the "banish" spell gives you no rewards, or at the very least, no experience.
    • The manner you defeat enemies in Final Fantasy VI typically doesn't matter, even if it's X-Zone, which sends the target to another dimension. There are only two exceptions:
      • The first is Doomgaze. Vanish+Doom/X-Zone will kill him fine, but using X-Zone breaks the script that awards the Bahamut magicite.
      • The second is Wrexsoul, the boss of Cyan's sidequest. He can be easily killed by casting X-Zone on both of his assistants, but if you do this, Wrexsoul himself isn't considered defeated, and thus you miss out on the rather powerful item he would otherwise leave behind.
    • Averted in Final Fantasy VIII because of how mechanics intersect. The "Card" ability lets you transform the enemy to a Triple Triad playing card, gaining you no EXP. However, the game features Dynamic Difficulty and scales the enemy levels to your party's, so staying at the base level is beneficial... especially since Carding an enemy still gives you AP, which levels up your Guardian Forces, the true keys to your party's strength.
    • This is why the Knight's "Break [Item]" skills in Final Fantasy Tactics are often considered Useless Useful Skills: any weapon or armor you'd want to break is probably worth stealing with a Thief instead, even at a much smaller success rate. And by the time your own gear is good enough that you don't need to steal from enemies anymore, you're probably also strong enough to defeat the enemy without destroying their equipment first. Meliadoul in particular get hit pretty hard with this: her unique abilities have the break effect in addition to dealing damage, so if she's up against an enemy with gear you want to steal (or in earlier versions, enemies with no gear to break), you're stuck with her normal attack.
  • BioShock:
    • This is what makes the Winter Blast plasmid Awesome, but Impractical in the first BioShock. Along with other 'cold' based effects, it freezes an enemy in place without hurting it... but a killing blow will shatter them, leaving no body to loot. This can actually make the game Unintentionally Unwinnable: if you kill the first person whose corpse Cohen wants a picture of this way, you'll have nothing to take a picture of, preventing the game from advancing. For some reason the others have their body immune to such destruction.
    • In BioShock 2, Winter Blast 2's Charged Attack and Winter Blast 3 in general avoids this disadvantage to an extent. You do get a lockbox, but you can't loot the original body, which would leave a lockbox after being looted if killed in any other way.
    • If a Nitro Splicer blows themselves up, they will destroy their loot as well.
    • You can easily throw enemies into bottomless pits in Bioshock Infinite but you still won't have a body to loot.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • Morrowind and Oblivion have the "Disintegrate" Armor and Weapon spell effects. When used, they reduce the condition of the target's equipped Armor or Weapon, respectively. However, this is rather disadvantageous if you want to loot those items to use or sell. (While the item cannot be totally destroyed this way, you will need to pay to have it repaired or a high Armorer skill to repair it yourself.) In Morrowind, with a little creativity, the spell can be made useful and thus, this trope averted. Combining it in a custom spell with a non-hostile spell (like a healing spell) will allow you to cast it on NPCs without aggro'ing them. Cast it until their weapon and/or armor pieces hit zero condition. They will unequip the items at that point, allowing you to pickpocket them. You'll need to repair them before you can use them, but it allows you to get rare/unique equipment without having to kill.
    • In Oblivion, it is also possible to perform a move that knocks an enemy's weapon out of their hand and into an area that is hard to get to, like a Dremora's mace falling from the top of a Sigil Tower to the ground far below it, or into lava, or another similar hazard.
    • Skyrim:
      • Averted in that, while disintegration is available via a certain perk, Skyrim shares the same "sift through the ashes" mechanic of the Bethesda Fallout games, so you can still loot a disintegrated enemy's items.
      • Played straight in that disintegrated enemies cannot be reanimated to fight on your side. If you want to reanimate a particular enemy to fight on your side, you need to make sure not to disintegrate them. Further, most enemies who have been reanimated will collapse into a pile of ash when they are killed again. This is to prevent them from being reanimated over and over again. (Though there are certain enemies who, for quest-related purposes and/or due to bugs, will never disintegrate. These are naturally favored reanimations for Necromancer-style Player Characters.) Further, this can be used against enemy Necromancers and Vampires who reanimate dead themselves. Disintegrate all of the corpses around them, and they'll be a much easier fight.
      • Another related area of concern is that you need to be careful when directing offensive [[Language of Magic Thu'um shouts. Anything within their area of effect can be sent flying away, which make searching for smaller loot like potions, gold coins, all manner of gems, and keys much harder if you've shouted it under furniture, into small unreachable crevices, or off the side of a cliff hundreds of feet below. These shouts will also set off traps (although you can use that to hilarious effect against opponents), and of course carry the same subtlety as a magical airhorn that actually causes echoing sonic booms, which makes it much less useful when you are forced to or need to hit one person and you're trying not to get the attention of many heavily armed others several rooms over.
  • Diablo II: Freezing your enemies and then shattering them is nice unless you are a necromancer, who needs intact corpses to fuel some of his spells.
  • Red Faction: Guerrilla: The nanorifle is an extremely fast and effective weapon, great for killing EDF soldiers. However, the nanites often digest their guns as well. On occasion, this can lead to running out of ammo.
  • Deus Ex
    • heavy weapons such as a GEP gun will gib your opposition... along with everything they are carrying. Others such as the Plasma Rifle or the flamer can also cause fires. Which can be very inconvenient if you're near anything flammable.
    • Averted in The Nameless Mod; the equipment of people that get blown up is merely blown to random corners of the room as opposed to being destroyed.
  • Klingon Honor Guard has weapons that disintegrate on alt-fire, killing the target but preventing you looting their ammo clips. However, disintegration can sometimes be advantageous; sometimes enemies play dead, but playing dead after being hit by something that disintegrates you if it's deadly is not convincing.
  • Marathon: A particular enemy type drops its gun when killed. Sometimes. Killing it with grenades or the flamethrower (or the alien weapon in the sequels) results in a "hard death", and leaves you with a pool of useless yellow giblets.
  • Blood Omen has the Flame Sword, which incinerates enemies, leaving Kain unable to drink their blood. Similarly, the Soul Reaver sword and Flay item dismember the enemy, the Implode item pulps them, and the Font of Putrescence melts them, all of which makes them useless for feeding.
  • Fallout
    • Sometimes occurs as a bug in Fallout 2; if you kill an enemy with a pulse rifle, it disintegrates into a pile of dust and his equipment is dropped, but the equipment sprites are hidden behind the pile of dust sprite, and thus you cannot click them to pick the equipment up.
    • Blatantly ignored in Fallout 3. There are a host of weapons that will pulverize, incinerate, vaporize, or otherwise reduce your targets to very small particles (such as energy weapons, explosives, and the Bloody Mess perk), and yet you can still search the ash or goo pile and find all of their items intact. Even Organ Drops can be retrieved this way, creating the odd scenario of reaching into a pile of fine ash and pulling out a perfectly edible steak (not even a cooked one...) If the foe was gibbed into thousands of pieces, simply find one of the gibs (no matter how small) and search it. It'll all be there. Also inverted, however, in the fact that the enemies' weapons have hitboxes of their own, and can be damaged intentionally or accidentally. This can be a blessing (for disarming powerful foes) or a curse (when a pricey salvage piece gets ruined).
    • Fallout: New Vegas:
      • In one mission you are hired as a bounty hunter to hunt down three criminals and bring their heads as proof that they're dead. You're explicitly warned not to kill them with headshots (or for that matter, any attack that can disintegrate or gib them); doing so results in an unrecognisable, mangled head, which earns you a smaller bounty. This can be annoying if you have already given yourself the Bloody Mess perk which pretty much guarantees that any kill will result in a damaged head.
      • Equally annoying is the Meltdown perk, which causes enemies killed by energy weapons to explode violently. Well and good for single enemies. The explosion counts as an energy weapon, and will chain react. Killing a flunky and then vaporizing the boss? Completely possible.
    • Fallout 4 plays this trope straight if you detonate a Super Mutant Suicider's mini-nuke by shooting their right arm; not only will it make the nuke unavailable to you, but it will cancel out any experience otherwise earned by directly killing it or other enemies taken out by the explosion.
  • The Disintegrator Ray and Ion Detonators in the first Destroy All Humans!, which were powerful but had the drawback of completely disintegrating humans, leaving you unable to harvest their brains.
  • Among Dwarf Fortress players, destroying gear is generally regarded as the only possible disadvantage to killing invaders (or elves) with magma - any non-metallic objects they're carrying get destroyed. This is sometimes seen as an advantage later in the game, to destroy Shop Fodder while leaving valuable metal weapons and armour (which can then be reclaimed at a smelter by melting them down). Draw-bridge brought down on enemies (AKA the Dwarven Atom Smasher), however, does erase all equipment, even the stuff you might actually want to keep. The same occurred when dropping them in a chasm back when they were Bottomless Pits.
  • In Rage (2011), gibbing enemies with explosive weapons will prevent the player from taking whatever stuff they may have had on them.
  • In Breath of Fire II, you can go hunting for meat with Katt, who gets a quick short-range attack, or Bow, who gets a slower long-range attack. Or Bleu, who immediately reduces all the animals on the screen to near-worthless Charcoal.
  • In Rome: Total War: Barbarian Invasion one could form a horde, essentially an ungodly huge, free army, but if one didn't time things just right one went immediately into debt upon conquering a new homeland.
  • In NetHack turning enemies to stone with a living or dead cockatrice is a powerful tactic. While the statues of petrified monsters can be destroyed in order to retrieve the items they were wearing or carrying, because the game is balanced around the idea of you eating the corpses of your fallen enemies, without them you may starve to death later in the dungeon.
  • In some Angband variants, there are spells that cause "disintegration," meaning they will vaporize any walls or non-artifact items on the floor within their area of effect (enemies will only be vaporized if they take lethal damage from it, but since corpses are generally a non-issue in Angband, this doesn't matter). So it may not be a good idea to use this spell multiple times against a cluster of enemies who drop good items, since all the items will vanish in the crossfire. Also, spells that do sound damage will explode any potions on the floor (and sometimes ones in your inventory) and cause their effects to spill out over a small area. This can include healing enemies who are close enough to a healing potion that explodes!
    • The Destruction spell wreaks a large circle of dungeon around the player. It'll remove all enemies around you as well as all of the loot.
  • One of the 'power-ups' in the online game Alphabounce (also downloadable on DSiWare) causes your drill balls to freeze any blocks they come into contact with, the next hit completely shattering them. Aside from certain circumstances, however, this is an example of Power-Up Letdown, in that any blocks destroyed in this way won't yield any power-ups, and minerals hit won't be added to your fund count.
  • In Spelunky, triggering a boulder trap is one the cheapest ways to kill the shopkeeper, but you won't get any gold from him as a punishment. Not that you need it anymore, since every future shopkeeper'll be gunning for you anyway....
  • Tactics Ogre contains a fairly obscure instance (obscure because it requires not one but two "secrets", getting a secret character with buffed stats and spells): the Nova+ spell which comes equipped with Deneb (buffed version) instakills any enemy unit, similar to the way Exorcism instantly destroys the undead. The downside is that like Exorcism it causes the enemy to give no loot or stat bonus card.
  • Gauntlet: Dark Legacy has magic. Although not without their usefulness, it is not recommended to launch a blast of magic or shoot a bottle of it on the field when nearby crates or chests, as in addition to destroying nearby monsters, they can also destroy whatever other loot is nearby, including food, treasure, dungeon keys and other valuable power ups. Doing so even has the game tell you outright what a bad move it was.
  • Minecraft:
    • There are certain environmental features like cacti and lava that immediately damage any player or mob that comes into contact with them. They'll also destroy any dropped items they touch. As a result, they can be used to make crude traps, although if you want to collect loot, you'd be better off with a trap that's somewhat harder to pull off, killing your target with arrows, drowning them in water, or dropping them a really long distance.
    • One of, if not the most, effective means of defending a village from an Illager raid is lava traps. Lava pits for them to fall into or be pushed into, and even redstone traps that drop them into lava or pour lava on top of them, can take even their Ravagers out in a single shot. The trade-off is the lava destroys the items they are carrying, and Illagers drop really good stuff: Iron gear, enchanted books, emeralds, crossbows, potions, and the much-desired Totem of Undying.
  • Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn has the Corruption ability that reduces the durability of enemy's weapon equal to the level of the player's unit. However this includes weapons that would be dropped.
  • Gravity Man's weapon in Mega Man 5, the Gravity Hold, sends the enemies it defeats careening up into the sky instead of blowing them up, and it sends any loot they might be carrying with them. This, the weapon's overall weakness, and that it can only be used 7 times on one energy bar that is difficult to keep topped up because of this, is the driving reason why this weapon is seen as one of the worst in the entire series.
  • Mega Man ZX had a milder variant: Bosses still always drop their weapon like in the other Mega Man games, but the more you hit a boss's weak spot during the battle, the more damaged the weapon will be when you get it and the less energy it will be able to store, forcing you to spend more resources repairing it.
  • Mega Man Powered Up allows you to play as the Robot Masters if you defeat them using only the Mega Buster. Their weaknesses damage their bodies beyond repair, while the Mega Buster leaves them still enough intact that Dr. Light can repair them and remove Dr. Wily's reprogramming.
  • Averted in Kingdom of Loathing with the He-Boulder's yellow ray, which disintegrates the enemy and causes it to drop all the normal items that it can. Played straight with the Fairy Worn Boots which squish the enemy into paste, preventing all item drops and experience gains. The paste is quite useful at least.
  • Much like in the Final Fantasy example, using the Banish skill in Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep will not award you with any experience.
    • However, this is averted in Chain of Memories, where Lexaus's card will occasionally destroy enemies instantly on the combo finisher, but leave all of their delicious experience intact.
  • The vampire Flandre Scarlet from Touhou Project has the power to destroy anything, but when she tries to use it to obtain prey, she blows the victim up without leaving any blood. Unlike most examples, she's not a playable character; the trope, not apparent in the game itself, is referenced in her official profile.
  • Using explosives to kill an enemy in XCOM: Enemy Unknown will destroy everything except the corpse, and trigger a request from your chief scientist to be more careful. However, the weapon fragments gained from killing an enemy are common enough that this is generally an acceptable price to pay to get out of a tight spot.
    • On the other hand, capturing intact alien equipment requires you to stun the owner and take them alive . . . and explosions will kill a stunned alien just as easily as an active one. Watching an enemy grenade kill your hard-earned Muton captive and vaporize his plasma rifle is not pleasant.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • In Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, the prosaically-named "Spell" magic turns every enemy on screen into a Bot. However, that means you get no more than the small amount of XP that killing a Bot normally gets you. If you want the rewards that come of defeating a monster the hard way, you'll have to, well, do it the hard way.
    • In The Legend of Zelda: Oracle Games, shooting a Gale Seed at an enemy with the Slingshot or Seed Shooter creates a whirlwind that blows the enemy away instantly, but enemies defeated in this way don't drop hearts, rupees or ammo. They are, however, very useful against a specific type of enemy you normally can only kill by pushing into a pit (which would prevent it from dropping anything anyway).
    • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild has Ancient Arrows, which instantly vaporize any non-boss organic enemy (including Lynels). However this leaves absolutely nothing behind, preventing you from recovering their weapons or any potentially useful monster parts.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom has Ancient Blades, which function identically to Breath of the Wild's Ancient Arrows when Fused to a weapon or arrow, complete with the same drawback of not leaving any drops.
  • In any game in the Xenoblade Chronicles series, it's possible to abuse Blowback skills to knock enemies into Bottomless Pits (Topple on flying enemies works just as well). Enemies defeated this way, even Unique Monsters, do count as killed, although you obviously won't get any loot drops from them. So while you can kill a lot of high-level enemies before you're supposed to, you won't be getting their gear drops early. This is averted in Xenoblade Chronicles X (which has a lot of high-altitude or above-water battles when Skell combat is involved), where all of the enemies' loot drops are given to you in a menu at the end of each battle.
  • In the Atelier Iris trilogy of the Atelier Series, there are turn-to-sweet skills (toys in the second game and you need to use an item instead of a skill) that turns the enemies into sweets, instantly killing it but at the expense of Experience Points, money, and normally dropped items. However, this is also the only way to obtain sweets-type items, so it's still useful.
    • The equivalent skills in the Mana Khemia games are only successful if used for the killing blow, but otherwise work the same way.
  • In Red Dead Redemption you are given the Blunderbuss in the Zombie DLC which uses parts of zombies to use as ammo, however using the gun turns the zombies into fine pink mist and therefore unlootable for more ammo.
  • In Resident Evil 5, delivering the killing blow to Uroboros using the furnace will destroy the treasure it otherwise drops. You can still use it to weaken the boss, which is required if you don't have the big guns from later in the game.
  • Mortars, grenade launchers and other heavy artillery can damage or destroy items being carried by enemy Mooks (or the player's team for that matter!) in Jagged Alliance 2, though by the time your side gets hold of that kind of firepower it's only a minor inconvenience. These weapons can also sometimes cause grenades and other explosives to detonate, potentially causing a chain reaction that turns into a One Hit Poly Kill.
  • Gibbing or vaporizing an enemy in FEAR destroys their weapon and ammo.
  • Borderlands and later Borderlands 2 has the ability to overkill an enemy by dealing substantially more damage to them than they can stand. This usually requires an absurdly powerful gun and a solid headshot, or a decent rocket launcher. Overkilled enemies are reduced to Ludicrous Gibs (or, in the earlier game, blown in half and left as only a pair of legs) and are substantially less likely to drop loot on death such as cash, health, or their gear because they basically ceased to exist in a spectacularly abrupt fashion—chances are good their loot wasn't any sturdier and suffered the same fate. This only applies to generic enemies like bandits, however—named opponents and quest targets are usually exempt.
  • Total Annihilation's Commander unit features the D-Gun which will One-Hit Kill any unit or structure, but will not leave any wreckage behind (which can be salvaged for Metal, one of the game's two resources).
  • Similar to the above, in Earthsiege 2 any mechs destroyed during a mission would be salvaged. The salvage could provide additional weapons and materials used both to build new mechs and repair damaged ones. The Plasma Cannon was a powerful weapon capable of destroying most mechs with a single shot, but this drastically reduced the recovered salvage.
  • Gibbing low-level enemies in Quake is quite entertaining; however, if you're strapped for ammo, doing so probably is inadvisable, as the ammo backpacks that Grunts, Enforcers and Ogres drop do not appear of they're gibbed.
  • Mass Effect has two examples. In the Mass Effect 3 Multiplayer, killing an enemy with your limited-use rocket launcher could save the team's bacon, but you only received half as many points. Points in the multiplayer were purely a matter of prestige and achievements, so the disadvantage was minor. In Mass Effect: Andromeda, where enemy corpses drop loot in single player, combos like Pull (levitating an enemy) and Throwing them off the map can be an instant kill, but then it's hard to loot a corpse that doesn't exist. Likewise, powers that send enemies flying away can be great crowd control or kills, but you might miss out on drops.
  • The Disruptor Rifle in Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast and Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy avoids the worst effects. Its fully charged shots disintegrate most non-Force User enemies, but you won't be able to take their weapons if you do so. However, any Supply or Security Keys - the latter usually required for progress in missions - they were carrying will remain intact and drop where they once stood, avoiding cases of Unintentionally Unwinnable.
  • Downplayed in Far Cry 5. The Magnopulser is the only weapon in the game that can actually destroy an organic target completely. This naturally makes it impossible to loot the corpse for cash, ammo and crafting components, but the gun's very short range and the small amount of loot the average mook carries makes the loss little more than a minor inconvenience.
  • Zigzagged with the Pentagram in Vampire Survivors. When you first get it, it wipes out everything on the screen that isn't you, including experience gems and even treasure chests. Since every weapon in the game automatically attacks as soon as its cooldown is over, this can lead to some very frustrating situations where it triggers when lots of valuable loot is on the screen. Fortunately, as the weapon levels up, it gains a gradually increasing chance of leaving the items intact. At its final level of enhancement, the Pentagram evolves into the Gorgeous Moon, which actually inverts the trope into a Loot-Making Attack whilst losing none of its destructive power.

    Western Animation 
  • Hilariously averted in the classic Looney Tunes short Duck Dodgers in the 24½th Century. Daffy attempts to take a shot from a disintegrating gun with his disintegration-proof vest. Daffy gets disintegrated; the vest, naturally, is just fine.

    Real Life 
  • They don't call atomic bombs weapons of mass destruction for nothing.
    • Though several militaries have taken this trope into account before, and there are several weapons (and tactics) that are designed to leave property intact while killing living things. Killing stuff is one thing, but killing things efficiently...