Follow TV Tropes


Doomed Upgrade

Go To

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 Cue much discussion of how outdated the Cool Ship has become in the face of recent events, often with flashbacks, and laments from the cast that the new design just doesn't have the "soul" of the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.



    open/close all folders 

    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 (somehwhat) 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.

    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.
  • 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 is such an odd deal. In the Super Robot Wars Alpha continuity, the main character and his/her love interest were meant to get the Grungust Type-3 partway through the first game, but the villains are able to find and destroy it and its parts go into RyuOhKi and KouOhKi, the machines who become RyuKouOh and its alternate form KouRyuOh. In Alpha 2, the second Type-3 goes into fixing RyuOhKi, turning it into RyuJinKi while the third is given to Sangar Zombolt, which only makes it through half his game before he swaps it for the DyGenGar. In the ''Super Robot Wars Original Generation=] continuity, while Sangar's history with the Type-3 is the same, the previous ones isn't - the two love interests, Bullet and Kusuha, start out with a double seater Type-3, but it is damaged and absorbed into the two god machines. While Kusuha goes back to the previous Type-2 afterwards, Bullet gets and keeps the last Type-3.
    • 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. This is avoided and discontinued in Ryusei Date's route, and Road Cone-ed away in the sequel.
  • 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.


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: