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Doomed Upgrade

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The highly advanced, upgraded, and generally shiny successor to/replacement for the heroes' Cool Ship or Humongous Mecha. Cue much discussion of how outdated the Cool Ship has become in the face of recent events, often with flashbacks, and laments from the cast that the new design just doesn't have the "soul" of the old one. Sometimes given to the Hero of Another Story, usually as a way of writing him out.


Almost always sabotaged, stolen, hijacked, used as a testbed for the psychotic AI, or casually annhilated to show off the villain's latest superweapon, because Status Quo Is God. No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup, either, so don't expect them to try making another one. If none of these happens, you've got a Mid-Season Upgrade.

We Want Our Jerk Back! is a similar effect applied to characters. Contrast So Last Season and Next Tier Power-Up, which is what happens when this actually sticks. See also Sucksessor.



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    Anime & Manga 
  • There were, like, three of these that got blown up in Martian Successor Nadesico. The Shakuyaku was a partial subversion of the No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup corollary, as the crew of the Nadesico did scavenge its upgraded Wave-Motion Gun for their own upgrade.
  • The "Andromeda" in Uchuu Senkan Yamato, AKA Starblazers.
  • Commonly averted in most Gundam series in favor of the Mid-Season Upgrade. However, Mobile Suit Gundam 0080: War in the Pocket is an entire side story about one exception.
    • The Full Armor Gundam upgrade for Amuro's gundam in the manga, the unit gotten destroyed while fighting the Zakurello
    • A good aversion might be the Gouf, made famous by Ranba Ral. In its initial appearance it was treated as a major threat, to the point Amuro had nightmares about it. After its destruction, the White Base and Amuro go back to battling run-of-the-mill Zakus, but as the series goes on they run into elite pilots equipped with Goufs (the Zeon brass apparently impressed enough with its performance to continue production).
    • Despite what many may think, the Full Armor Double Zeta Gundam of Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ only lasted one episode and didn't even make it through that episode.
  • Jet Alone in Neon Genesis Evangelion. Sabotaged by NERV because they explicitly didn't want the Evangelions to become obsolete. (Or for the governments of the world to believe the Evangelions were obsolete, which could possibly have doomed humanity. Or at the very least, doomed humanity in a way other than how The Omniscient Council of Vagueness wanted it to be doomed.)
    • The Evas themselves played this trope straight, the only exception being that every Eva was better than 00. But seriously, all three Production Model Eva (02 through 04) are destroyed, one before ever seeing combat, and the Mass Production Model Evangelions (05 through 13) are nearly torn apart by a Production Model in a nine on one fight, and ultimately only beat it with a weapon that can basically kill anything. Meanwhile, Evangelion Unit-01, after its Mid-Season Upgrade, is basically unbeatable.
    • Averted (somewhat) in Rebuild of Evangelion, where Unit 02 was going to be phased out in place of Unit 03, Unit 05 was a provisional unit that got used at the start of 2.0 and Unit 06 gets used in The Stinger when Kaworu uses it and impales Unit 01 to stop third impact.
  • In Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, the Grapearls were designed to replace the Gunmen, and were touted as being much more advanced, to the point where every Humongous Mecha except Gurren Lagann itself was decommissioned. Too bad that it turned out that the Gunmen were designed specifically to fight the anti-Spirals, and the Grapearls are pretty much worthless for that purpose (unless they're properly upgraded). Luckily, the Gunmen were not scrapped as planned.
  • Inverted in Dominion Tank Police, where chief Britain devotes a lot of time in the first episode to celebrating his wonderful and unique tank, the pride of the fleet...only to see it totalled. The parts were used to build a smaller tank, which was actually useful for the rest of the series.
  • Patlabor had the amazing Type Zero, successor to the regular Type 98 used by the main characters. Its fates are different in different versions of the story, they differ quite substantially, yet almost all of them are doomed upgrades. The only actual normal upgrade was in the TV series, which it became the newest model, not replacing the Type 98 Ingram the main characters in Team 2, but the Type 97 Python of Team 1, yet the story pretty much led straight to the 1st movie, see below.
    • In the manga(Canon), the AVR-0 Zero was secretly developed after the Griffon, and was deployed immature due to circumstances unforeseen, and the pilot controls her Ingram more or less by instinct and is highly unfamiliar to the highly assisted super powered Type Zero, making her unable to fully utilize its true power, and failed to protect the command vehicle that supported the sophisticate systems which was taken as hostage.(but still managed to dodge all attacks from Griffon, even when Griffon used its super mode, B mode.
    • In the first movie, the AV-X0 became an unstoppable berserker machine during its first appearance thanks to a computer virus against the new operating system, the HOS. However, later shows revealed that it did in fact become a mainstay once the problems were ironed out.
    • In the 2nd OVA The New Files(P-series) version, AV-0, its Neuron Network System was supposed to be helping the pilot to give better controls and prevent the mecha from destroying civilian vehicles and buildings, but it became a fatal bug since the system stops the mecha before it will hit something, rendering it impossible to fight against aggressive opponents.(In the TV series, the same thing happened to the SRX-70 Saturn)
    • Also in Patlabor, 2nd movie, the AV-2 Valiant (Type 2) was the upgrade for Team 2, replacing the Type 98 Ingram, where the Ingrams were already transported back to the Factory as testing machines, the Type-2s where destroyed very early in the movie, and team 2 had to sneak into the factory to get back the 3 Ingrams.
  • Aldnoah.Zero: Inaho doesn't have a beef against the season 2 standard models. It's just that he already mastered the orange kataphrakt and needs to focus on strategy rather than firepower.
    • Additionally, the season 2 standard model's only real improvement over the orange ones is that they have better armor, which comes at the cost of speed. Since just about every martian kataphrakt has armaments that they will One-Hit Kill any terran kataphrakt, regardless of armor, speed is more important here.
  • Both Getter Robo and Mazinger Z had female counterparts for its titular robot, Getter-Q (Queen) and Minvera X respectively. While Dr. Hell had stolen the plans of and built Minerva X using inferior materials due to the fact he didn't have the right metal, Getter-Q was meant to fight alongside Getter-1. Minerva X was shut down while Getter-Q was destroyed by Getter-1 when it was hijacked. Neither Professor Saotome nor Professor Yumi thought to rebuild them, better in Minerva's case.
  • The anime of Chousoku Henkei Gyrozetter has this happen to the protagonist with upgrading to Raibird Hyper Spec, twice. The first time he only gets to use the Hyper Spec armor for one fight against his rival before needing to sacrifice it to escape a trap, after which he opts to improve his piloting skills instead of relying on the armor's power. When it does get rebuilt well over a dozen episodes later, a villain immediately takes advantage of how overly elaborate its Finishing Move is to gut it with a spear, leading into the actual Mid-Season Upgrade.

    Comic Books 
  • In a storyline of Doom Patrol ("Soul of a New Machine"), Robotman gets his brain placed into a much more advanced body that enables him to feel and has advanced. Sadly the body is sufficiently intelligent to decide that it doesn't like being controlled and sets itself to self-destruct if a brain gets put in. Then a villainous Brain in a Jar hijacks it and, after kissing an intelligent gorilla, it explodes.

  • Various installments from Star Wars Legends have tried to replace the Rebellion and Empire's iconic X-Wing and TIE Fighter, but have run up against in-universe symbolism and out-of-universe attachment to the starfighters.
    • Dark Empire introduced the E-Wing to replace the New Republic's "venerable" X-Wing, which at least became a go-to starfighter for authors who wanted to talk about something other than the four Rebel fighters from the films. One change that stuck was the StealthX, a late-model X-Wing derivative used by Jedi pilots during the New Jedi Order era. The StealthX builds on the original's "every expensive feature you can jam into it, and aiming for carrier-independence" tradition, upgrading further in directions only - but very - useful to a pilot who doesn't need active sensors or guided weapons to fight. Being able to share the common X-Wing chassis is probably the only way something this exotic could have been designed, much less in production and service.
    • The Empire eventually realized the limitations of the TIE Fighter and TIE Interceptor, and tried to develop more advanced fighters to replace them, such as the TIE Advanced/Avenger based on Darth Vader's Ace Custom from A New Hope, and the fearsome TIE Defender. But a variety of factors kept them from becoming commonplace, from the difficulty involved in replacing a ship class in use throughout the galaxy, to traitorous admirals such as Harkov and Zaarin swiping much of the supply. It's also hard to produce and maintain such advanced ships when you're steadily losing territory to your enemy, so by the Hand of Thrawn duology the Imperials have been reduced to purchasing Preybird fighters from third-party arms dealers because their remaining shipyards can't keep up with demand. And finally, from a propaganda standpoint it was difficult for the Empire to admit that the rebels' use of starfighters with deflector shields was superior to its policy of quantity over quality.

    Film (Live-Action) 
  • Star Trek:
    • The USS Excelsior, which was originally created with the intent of moving the crew from the Enterprise to the new fancy ship, until Gene Roddenberry vetoed it. So instead of that, the Excelsior was amusingly sabotaged by Scotty and otherwise looked really wimpy compared to the already pretty-busted-up Enterprise in Star Trek III.
    • The USS Excelsior did go on to be Sulu's own cool ship in Star Trek VI (it often being suggested that the "Great Experiment"'s attempt at transwarp never worked, and that when Sulu got command, it had been refitted with conventional warp engine technology), and the briefly seen Enterprise-B in Star Trek: Generations was an Excelsior-class vessel.
    • By the time Generations was made, the Excelsior-class had become depicted as the venerable workhorse of Starfleet in the 24th century, due to numerous appearances of the ship model throughout TNG and DS9. The Enterprise-B modifications would even be reused on DS9 for the Lakota (which managed to hold its own against the Defiant, if even for a short while). So even if it didn't become the new Cool Ship of the franchise, Starfleet (and more importantly, the guys who went to the trouble of making the big expensive model only to get hit with Executive Meddling) really got major mileage out of the design.
    • Another Star Trek example was the M-5 computer which would have allowed the Enterprise to drop 90% of its crew, if it hadn't been psychotic, that is.
  • Used as a joke with a Five-Second Foreshadowing in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. When Finn and Rey (thus far, the new and only heroes encountered) are fleeing from 1st Order fighters, they dismiss an offscreen "garbage" ship and try to get to a shiny Quad Jumper. It's immediately destroyed, prompting Rey to admit that "the garbage will do". The "garbage" being, of course, the Millenium Falcon.

    Live-Action TV 
  • For a while Sentai shows would often destroy the Midseason Upgrade mecha during the final battle causing the team to have fall back on their original mecha to finish the job and/or for the team up special with the next years team where they would often fight alongside that teams Midseason Upgrade thus forshadowing its destruction as well. This tradition was stopped eventually though.
  • Kamen Rider shows usually give one of these to an Arc Villain to pump up their threat level right before the heroes get a major upgrade:
    • Kamen Rider Double has Saeko Sonozaki trade her old powers for the Nazca Dopant powers, which gain a major upgrade in her hands that let her easily manhandle the heroes. The upgrade is almost instantly overshadowed by her rival sister Wakana unlocking her Claydoll Dopant's full potential, which stomps Saeko hard enough to send her into hiding for most of the rest of the series.
    • Kamen Rider OOO takes an unusually long amount of time to doom the upgrade, as once the purple Core Medals are introduced, they become Eiji's go-to option for the majority of the show's remaining runtime due to how effective they are. Since the purple Medals are an Artifact of Doom, as part of defeating the final boss he deliberately destroys the upgrade as well and switches back to his old powers, something that actually sticks in the post-show movies.
    • Kamen Rider Wizard has Phoenix undergo a number of resurrections that make him more and more powerful, eventually gaining the ability to revive nearly instantly. This final upgrade lasts only an episode before he gets kicked into the sun by Wizard's new All Dragon Style, consigning Phoenix to billions of years of reviving and instantly dying again.
    • Kamen Rider Gaim has Redyue power up into a stronger form using some of the fruit of the Helheim Forest, which raises his threat level enough to handle most of the cast at once but swiftly gets taken down by Gaim's Kiwami Arms. A number of the Gaim Gaiden post-series movies take place during or before the show, and explain any new powerups the characters get during the movie as either falling apart after use or having some other drawback that leads them to be promptly discarded.
    • Kamen Rider Ghost has the main character receive the shiny new Grateful form, only for it to immediately meet new opponents that have the ability to cripple its power source at will, making it useless. While he sometimes manages to use it anyway, for the most part he just sticks to using his old powers.
    • Kamen Rider Ex-Aid has Graphite absorb the Proto Gashat of the video game he's from to gain a black-colored form with additional powers, right before the main quartet finally manage to achieve Teeth-Clenched Teamwork and get an upgrade that requires them all to work together. Taiga's attempt at using the power of Kamen Rider Cronus for himself is less fatal to him, but falls apart before he can actually put it to good use and leads him to switch back to his old powers.
    • Kamen Rider Build has the Hokuto Three Crows power themselves up with the Hazard Trigger to gain more powerful forms. One of them dies almost immediately when Build gets the Trigger and discovers to his horror that it's a berserker system in his hands, while the other two only last a few more episodes each before being killed off as well.
    • Kamen Rider Saber has Legiel use a Dangerous Forbidden Technique to get an upgrade that permanently locks him into his monster form, and promptly gets stomped by Saber's new Elemental Dragon.
  • In Battlestar Galactica, the Battlestar Pegasus was shiny, new, twice as large as Galactica with half the crew, Viper construction facilities, and some monstrously big guns. Taken from us far too soon.

    Video Games 
  • The Grungust Type-3 from Super Robot Wars exists as a running gag version of this trope. Allegedly the most powerful and advanced of the Grungust line of super robots, it gets built over and over again only to be damaged beyond repair and either traded in for a more powerful unique robot like Dygenguar, or absorbed as spare parts for the god machine RyuKouOh. This happens five times across the first three games in which the Type-3 appears. It's not until Original Generation Gaiden that the player finally receives a Type-3 that they get to keep, at which point every other member of the Grungust line gets upgrades to leave it in the dust.
    • Also, in Kyosuke Nanbu's route in the first Original Generation game, the SRX Team finally gets to combine into the titular SRX, only to suffer so much damage that they're unable to do it again for the rest of the game. Ryusei Date's route, where the SRX Team are the stars of the show, lets them keep the SRX for the rest of the game, and it's their route that gets taken as the canon one.
  • In the X-Universe series, the Albion Pride is a next generation hybrid fighter-corvette, utilizing a powerful and highly adaptable system for its weaponry, shielding, and armor. However, rapidly ballooning manufacturing costs prevented it from entering serial production, and the only known prototype was presumed destroyed in a fight against the Plutarch Mining Corporation just before the shutdown of the Portal Network. 20 years later in X Rebirth, the protagonist reactivates it, and it's everything it was hyped up to be once repaired; it can crush the life out of brand new fighters, and is agile enough get right up on capital ships and cripple them by sniping out their subsystem.

    Western Animation 
  • Dexter's Laboratory:
    • One with Dexter's first giant robot and a new one he built to replace it. The problem was that he gave it artificial intelligence, and well, we know where that leads
    • A similar thing happened when Dexter tried to build a replacement for Blue Falcon's companion, Dynomutt Dog Wonder.
  • In Transformers: Animated, when Prowl borrowed Lockdown's "trophies," taking on a bulkier samurai-themed form (it all becomes a sidecar in his bike mode) capable of taking on Starscream singlehandedly, you knew he wasn't keeping it. Turns out there were two Starscreams, and both were fakes, and rigged to blow. Prowl has to use some of his new gear to bind them together, and his new jets to send them high enough above the city to avoid wiping it out when the bombs went.
    • It then subverts this as he later gets a replica of the armor which he apparently keeps.
    • Earlier Bumblebee did something similar with rocket-boosters that made him Too Fast to Stop. Since the model of rocket-boosters are made by Sumdac Industries, owned by the father of Sari Sumdac (token human friend), he got identical copies later and could control them somehow.
  • In SWAT Kats The Blue Max was essentially the military's answer to the Turbocat. It was stolen by a ghost fighter pilot, and eventually shot down by Mayor Manx, that being the only way to defeat the villain.