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Fake Arm Disarm

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Hey, it's better than losing the real one.

"Your prosthetic arm just saved your life."
Slicer, Fullmetal Alchemist

This character has Artificial Limbs, Electronic Eyes or other prostheses, and while they don't have to be a full Cyborg — the rest of them can just be squishy human flesh — what they do have is far stronger, more durable and just plain better than their former body part (if it existed). There's only one problem: it keeps getting wrecked. Enemies shoot like there's a bullseye on it, falling rocks gravitate towards it and it falls off at the drop of a hat like the character is some Steampunk leper. Meanwhile, their natural appendages never suffer more than flesh wounds, despite being made of far less hardy stuff.

Often Fake Arm Disarms are used to temporarily bring a character down to normal in a way that preserves the status quo. Destroying the flesh-and-blood arm of a character would gravely injure them and provoke major Character Development, but a prosthesis can be broken or detached without endangering the character and fixed with relative ease after the fight. It's also a popular means of including some Bloodless Carnage and Amusing Injuries for similar reasons.

On the other hand, the character can also Invoke the trope in order to protect their less replaceable limbs by leaving the prosthesis behind as a decoy while they escape. May also come in handy during a Life-or-Limb Decision.

Frequently Justified, as realistic prostheses are usually weaker than the body parts they replace and detachable, making them easy to lose. Also, the strength of Artificial Limbs could make a character be more reckless with it, as dumber ones might not realize that if they tried lifting something really heavy with said fake arm without reinforcing practically every other part of the body the prosthetic would be ripped out. And a weaponized prosthesis would be an obvious target for enemies.

May follow an I Will Tear Your Arms Off threat. Compare to the bloodier An Arm and a Leg. For a list of tropes that are prone to these, see Artificial Limbs and Anatomy Arsenal.

Subtrope of Good Thing You Can Heal.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Berserk, Guts's iron prosthetic left hand and forearm invert the trope by being far more damage-resistant than the rest of his body, a fact which he often exploits. One example is a Deliberate Injury Gambit during his fight with Rosine's giant moth form, where he crosses his arms in front of him to defend against Rosine's diving attack with her sharp proboscis. He lets the proboscis skewer his flesh-and-blood right forearm while using the iron left forearm directly behind it to divert the point away from his head, so that his impaled right arm drags him with her into the sky. He couldn't land a hit on her before because she kept knocking him off his feet and zooming past before he could hit her back, but stuck to her like this he's able to shoot her with the Arm Cannon built into his prosthetic.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist:
    • Edward’s automail arm is destroyed or heavily damaged on five separate occasions. It is destroyed by Scar; it malfunctions while Ed fights Lust and Envy due to a missing screw from Winry’s rushed repairs; it is damaged and used as bait during his fight with Lan Fan; it is unable to function in the North due to the cold; and it is destroyed by Father after which he gets his real arm back. It's justified due to his tendency to parry attacks (and only parry attacks) with that arm, since it's so much more durable than his flesh-and-blood one. To say nothing of it being more replaceable, as Ed well knows. Losing his automail arm is an annoying inconvenience, but losing his flesh-and-blood arm would put him out of action for a year or more (as was the case when he lost his other arm and had to get it replaced with a prosthetic before the start of the story).
    • Also occurs when Scar fights the Silver Alchemist. After trading a few blows, Scar destroys the Silver Alchemist's pegleg with a Clean Cut, Single-Stroke Battle style.
  • Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex provides a few examples:
    • An assassin named Fem is hired by the South Seas Mafia to kill a multi-millionaire recluse. Section 9 stays one step ahead of her. While she monologues about the evils of capitalism, Motoko exploits it and sneaks up behind her. Before Fem can put up a proper defense with the shotgun built into her arm, Motoko twists her arm and breaks it off.
    • The Russian spy Cruzkowa has been doing her job for so long, that she's Crazy-Prepared for almost any situation. When Togusa grabs her left hand while she was running away, her arm came off. Batou has to tell Togusa to throw the damn thing away before the bomb inside exploded.
    • Batou enters hand to hand combat with Kuze later on in the 2nd season. The two are pretty evenly matched against each other, but Kuze gets the upper hand when Batou tries to swing a metal shaft at him, but gets knocked off balance. Kuze shoves the metal shaft into Batou's left shoulder, pinning him to the ground. Batou was ok, but he later remarked that it was annoying trying to get used to his replacement shoulder and arm.
  • Happens all the time in Ghost in the Shell: Arise. Pretty much every hand-to-hand fight Motoko gets into will involve at least one of these. For example, during the climactic Car Chase / battle of "Ghost Whispers", VV loses her right arm, Motoko loses her right arm, and Batou loses an arm and a leg.
  • Obito of Naruto has a right arm created from cloned Zetsu tissue and capable of regenerating after being destroyed. Said arm is destroyed on three occasions, once by an enemy attack, once by Obito himself after another enemy attack infected the arm with a deadly toxin and once when it was too weak when he punched a boulder.
  • In the Oriental and Sacred Place manga, Kasen tries to touch one of Reimu's Yin-Yang Orbs with her bandaged arm. Merely touching its surface destroys her fake arm, revealing there's nothing beneath the bandages but black mist.
  • Elfen Lied: Nana's artificial limbs have a bad habit of popping off. Bando also shatters one of his artificial arms when he fires a 50 caliber bullet one-handed.
  • Happens to Kasen near the end of Oriental Sacred Place where she finds one of Reimu's Yin-Yang orb and ends up touching it with her artificial arm. The orb responds violently and causes her arm to explode into a mess of tatters and black mist.
  • In the first The Garden of Sinners movie, Shiki's left arm gets possessed and she ends up cutting it off, revealing it to be artificial. In the third movie we see how she got it.
  • In the climactic chapter of Tsubasa -RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE-, Kurogane's fake arm gets shattered while he's attempting an attack on the Big Bad. Earlier in the story we actually saw him lose the original by cutting it off himself to save Fay from a closing dimension, and it was not pretty.
  • Happens a couple times to Joseph Joestar in JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders. His prosthetic hand gets destroyed in the fight against the Empress stand, then sliced off at the start of the High Priestess fight.
  • Several examples among the Yato in Gintama: lampshaded by Abuto during the Shogun Assassination Arc when Momochi's puppet blows up while he's holding it, destroying his prosthetic arm ("What do all of you have against my left arm?!") and Umibozu loses his at the start of his fight with Utsuro during the Battle on Rakuyo Arc.
  • Averted by Private Nikaidou in Golden Kamuy, who constantly loses new body parts throughout the series while his prosthetics stay in fairly good shape.

    Comic Books 
  • Invoked and exploited by Herr Starr in Preacher. In a confrontation with the hyper competent bodyguard of a man that Starr needs to kill, Starr pretends that he's trying to kick the bodyguard with his artificial leg. The bodyguard (not aware that Starr has a prosthetic as Starr only recently lost his real leg) contemptuously grabs the "kick" in the air, only for the prosthetic leg to pop off in his hand. He stares at it in shock just long enough for Starr to shoot him.
  • In the Warhammer 40,000 comic Deff Skwadron, Killboy has had to replace his limbs 35 times after crashing after each of his 35 missions.
  • Robin (1993): Johnny replaces his missing hand with a hook, which Tim then targets in their next fight as it makes a dangerous weapon when attached to a Torture Technician.

    Fan Works 
  • During the Final Battle of the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fic Loved and Lost, Commander Hildread attempts to strike Twilight Sparkle with her metallic, razor-sharp wing. Shining Armor engulfs his sister with a force field, and Hildread's wing shatters upon striking it.
  • This proves crucial in the Star Wars fic Fire and Ice; during Anakin's duel with Palpatine, he wins by deliberately dropping his guard so that Palpatine will cut off his right hand. Anakin correctly guessed that Palpatine will forget that Anakin already lost that hand to Dooku in the heat of the battle due to his arrogance leading to him assuming that Anakin just made a mistake, leading to Palpatine dropping his guard in the assumption that he's just inflicted a crippling injury when in reality Anakin is now prepared to kill Palpatine by transferring his lightsaber to his other hand.

    Film — Animated 
  • In Treasure Planet, Jim stabs and impairs Silver’s mechanical leg. Silver is next seen using his mechanical arm as a crutch, in a nod to the 1950 version of Treasure Island.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • In the film version of The Fugitive, the legendary One-Armed Man is exposed when Richard Kimble wrestles with him after his wife's murder and pops his artificial arm partially off.
  • In Happy Gilmore, Chubbs has a prosthetic hand. Happy accidentally knocks it off, and Chubbs tells him not to worry, as it's real sturdy - only for it to promptly get run over by a semi truck and crushed to bits. He later glues it back together.
  • Downplayed in I, Robot, where Spooner’s robotic arm doesn’t get hurt aside from superficial damage to its artificial “flesh”, which is easier to replace than biological skin grafts would have been. However The Reveal of it being robotic is used for In-Universe Dramatic Irony.
  • In the film Licence to Kill Bond's CIA friend Felix Leiter gets tossed into a shark tank, where the sharks rip off his (prosthetic) arm and leg. To reconcile this with the original novel Live and Let Die where the arm and leg were biological, John Gardner, who wrote the Novelization of Licence to Kill, wrote that Felix's prosthetic arm & leg get ripped off by sharks without the bad guys (who tossed him into the shark tank) noticing.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Captain America: Civil War: Bucky Barnes, aka the Winter Soldier, attempts to rip Iron Man's arc reactor out using his metal arm. Unfortunately for him, Iron Man fires a beam out of said reactor that promptly disintegrates said arm.
    • Black Panther: When T'Challa captures Ulysses Klaue at the end of the car chase in South Korea, he yanks off Klaue's prosthetic left arm, which contains a sonic cannon.
  • Mad Max: Fury Road. Furiosa's mechanical arm gets forcibly yanked off a couple of times, and she's in visible pain as a result.
  • Spy Hard: Big Bad General Rancor has two robotic limbs with various weapons. During the climactic battle with Dick Steele, he looses both and is forced to flee from Steele.
  • Star Wars: In Return of the Jedi, when Darth Vader goads Luke into revealing himself in the Emperor's throne room, he is unprepared for the sheer ferocity of Luke's assault and loses his hand for his trouble. Luke is left staring at the burnt wires and metal of the cowering Vader's wrist and, recalling his own prosthetic hand, realise that his rage is pushing him down the same path Vader took.
  • Young Frankenstein: Played for laughs with Inspector Kemp, who loses his wooden arm when the monster accidentally pulls it off in the climax.
    [Holds and regards his arm for a second, then dramatically points to the door with it] "To the lumberyard!"

  • In the original novel Live and Let Die Bond's CIA friend Felix Leiter gets his (biological) arm and leg eaten by sharks, but this isn't what happened in the film Licence to Kill - the arm and leg were prosthetic in that adaptation. To reconcile the discrepancy, John Gardner, who wrote the Novelization of Licence to Kill, wrote that Felix's prosthetic arm & leg get ripped off by sharks without the bad guys (who tossed him into the shark tank) noticing.
  • In Shadow of her Sins Sallivera's prosthetic eye is torn out by Bloody Margo. Later she claims that "The second time around the novelty wears off."
  • The Reynard Cycle: Reynard loses his Blade Below the Shoulder during the climax of Defender of the Crown. It's shattered by the same person who lopped off his hand.
  • In Michael Moorcock's Eternal Champion sagas, the champion Corum is tortured and loses an eye and a hand, which are later replaced with artificial versions formerly belonging to a mysterious God of great power. When the god finally turns up to reclaim his lost arm and eye, Corum endures the pain of their forcible removal, and is left in shocked weakened agony (Just in time for his showdown with the human sadist who removed the original items.)
  • Happens in part one of The Garden of Sinners: Shiki's arm is mutilated by the poltergeist but is revealed to be a prosthetic made by Touko. Because of the story's Anachronic Order, we learn how she got the prosthetic in later installments.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Angel smashes Lindsey’s prosthetic hand after a fight, telling him to be thankful he only broke the fake one.
  • Arrested Development gives us J. Walter Weatherman, a one-armed man who invokes this trope when he gets involved in George Sr.’s plans to teach his kids a lesson by having his fake arm torn off in order to demonstrate what happens as a result of yelling and fighting.
  • On Friends, Joey tells Monica and Phoebe about the time he accidentally threw the prosthetic leg of a woman he was dating into a fireplace when he thought it was a log, then ran out of her house before she woke up.
  • One of the people on Earl’s list in My Name Is Earl is a woman with a prosthetic leg that Earl destroyed. She appears chasing Earl, hopping on her one good leg, as a Running Gag throughout the series.
  • The Falcon and the Winter Soldier shows Bucky Barnes and Sam Wilson trying to fight off some of the Dora Milaje that had come to arrest Helmut Zemo for his part in killing the late King T'Chaka in Captain America: Civil War. In the process as Bucky is fighting second-in-command Ayo, she unveils a secret failsafe the Wakandans had put into the vibranium arm they gave Bucky in Avengers: Infinity War and literally disarms him. He's luckily able to reattach it, but tells Sam that he wasn't even aware it could be removed.

  • In Red vs. Blue Season 10, Episode 9 (Fighting Fire), Agent Maine throws his bladed grenade-launcher at an Insurrectionist, cutting off his mechanical arm—and nothing else. ("Ow, my robot arm!")

    Professional Wrestling 
  • One-legged wrestler Zack Gowen made his WWE debut as a fan whom a Heel wrestler pulled into the ring and tried to give a leglock: Gowen's leg came off!

    Tabletop Games 
  • A premade character in the Serenity Role Playing Game has a fancy (and expensive) Newtech electronic prosthetic arm to replace the one he lost in the Unification War. Damaging it is a major Berserk Button for him, and he makes sure to have a spare.
  • Shadowrun
    • Several supplements have rules for damaging the cyberware that characters implant into their bodies, including the Street Samurai Catalog, Shadowtech and Cybertechnology. Since Player Characters tend to get into combat a lot, those with cyberware regularly take serious damage to it using these rules.
    • In the 2nd edition sourcebook Cybertechnology, one character mentions that his cybernetic arm got damaged significantly more often than his flesh arm, due to being less careful with it. He also mentions that this meant he had to spend a small fortune over the years replacing the skin on it.
  • In the Warhammer 40,000, Chapter Master Sarpedon of the Soul Drinkers chapter has eight arachnid legs as a result of warp exposure. One of these was torn off, replaced by a bionic one that keeps getting destroyed.

    Video Games 

    Web Animation 
  • In RWBY, Yang loses her prosthetic arm twice. The first time was shits and giggles, detaching it while arm wrestling Nora and causing her to freak out. The other time, Mercury grabs her by the arm and she's forced to detach it, going to face her mother with just one arm.
  • In the season one finale of Meta Runner, Lucks shoots off Masa's Meta Runner arm with his revolver.

  • Ariel in Angel Down does this on purpose to shield herself while charging a Hellhound
  • In the webcomic Exterminatus Now, Lothar Hex has a bionic arm, legs and eye. His arm is ripped off by Blasphemy at one point, and Rogue chops off his bionic limbs later when they are possessed by a Fernex demon.
  • Girl Genius:
    • The very first time Martellus leaves his fortress after getting a mechanical hand it gets damaged in a fight with Gil and then chopped off by DuPree.
    • Dimo's prosthetic hand is sliced by an extradimensional horror, but it seems repaired by his next appearance on screen.
  • Questionable Content: Trading a Crushing Handshake with Clinton, Elliot misjudges his own strength and the durability of Clinton's artificial hand, literally crushing it. Clinton removes it until he can get it repaired.

    Western Animation 
  • In the Bugs Bunny cartoon "Bunny Hugged", The Crusher offers Bugs a handshake after the match. Despite the audience's warnings, Bugs shakes his hand back, only for the Crusher to grab the arm and bite it. Bugs being one step ahead, he actually gave Crusher a dynamite stick with a glove, which blows up in his face.
  • Dragons: Riders of Berk: One of the Running Gags of the series is Hiccup's peg leg being detached, whether by accident or to use it as tool or weapon. In the episode "Zippleback Experience" he has to use several spare legs to replace the broken ones:
    Ruffnut [After Hiccup tells the twin their dragon broke his first spare leg]: So if my calculations are correct, and they usually are...
    Tuffnut: ... that would mean, that our dear Hiccup is on his...
    Tuffnut And Ruffnut [together]: ... LAST LEG! "[Laugh]"
  • In the Mickey Mouse short "Mickey's Rival", Mortimer Mouse shakes hands with Mickey with a fake hand as a prank. It comes off in Mickey's hand, and for additional humiliation, the hand is spring loaded, punching him in the face.
  • In Roughnecks: Starship Troopers Chronicles, Lt. Raczak’s prosthetic arm is torn off several times and is once dipped in acid.
  • In The Simpsons episode “Who Shot Mr. Burns, Part II,” Smithers remembers shooting Jasper while drunk. After noting that nobody reported the shooting, the police check on Jasper and discover that Smithers shot him in his wooden leg: Jasper never even noticed.
  • In Star Wars: Clone Wars, Anakin infiltrates a Seperatist compound on Nelvaan that has been performing horrifying experiments on the native population. First he was specifically chosen by the Nelvaanian shaman because he had a fake hand. Then the people who had been corrupted by the experiments tasked him to destroy the facility. Anakin does this by sticking his artificial hand in an energy sphere and stealing a critical component, but loses his robot hand in the process. The Nelvaanians see Anakin's mechanical stump as a symbol of their own freedom and respond by tearing off the arm cannons that the Separatists placed on them and cheer Anakin triumphantly.
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars:
    • General Grievous, being a cyborg who has replaced the vast majority of his body, including all of his limbs, with cybernetics, is a frequent victim of this trope.
    • "Crisis on Naboo": When Anakin fights with Dooku in a dining room on Naboo as Palpatine looks on, at one point, Dooku sends several pieces of silverware and cutlery flying at him with the force. Two forks end up lodged in his mechanical hand, which he promptly removes with an audible electrical sound.
  • In the Teen Titans episode "Final Exam", Gizmo removes Cyborg's right arm in the first battle for Titans Tower. Cyborg later gains remote control over the arm to help the Titans take back their Tower, but in the moment it's a setback.
    Cyborg: In case you haven't noticed, I just became left handed!


Video Example(s):


Ayo Disarms Bucky

Ayo uses a failsafe in Bucky's arm, much to his surprise.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (8 votes)

Example of:

Main / FakeArmDisarm

Media sources: