Follow TV Tropes


Five Rounds Rapid

Go To
Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart: Jenkins?
Jenkins: Sir!
Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart: Chap with the wings, there. Five rounds rapid.

It appears most good guys have Genre Blindness. When military personnel or the police encounter the Monster of the Week, they invariably attack it with small arms fire. Unfortunately, this never works. The monster is always Immune to Bullets. Thus, our heroes get an opportunity to save the day with some Applied Phlebotinum or Stock Superpowers.

An important part of this trope is that, in almost all cases, the good guys will only ever use small arms fire instead of escalating. Rockets, tanks, air support, artillery all the things the military is known for are rarely involved, even if the monster is gigantic. Not only are they more expensive for the producers to incorporate in to the film/show, in most cases, they might actually work, thereby stealing the thunder of the heroes of the story. Even if they do get used, they still probably won't work.

If the monster in question is absurdly slow moving, expect the soldiers to remember what their mommy told them about how you Do Not Run with a Gun. If, after they discover their guns are useless, the good guys still won't stop wasting ammo shooting the baddie, it's I Will Fight Some More Forever.

Very often in instances of this trope, a Technical Pacifist will urge the army/police/whomever to try and understand the monster before trying to kill it. Depending on the attitude of the series, they may either be considered a naive idiot or a paragon of virtue.

If the army just wants to Nuke 'em, the heroes' job will be to find a solution with less collateral damage before it's too late.

Named for a line in the Doctor Who episode "The Dæmons", where Brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart orders a UNIT soldier to shoot the Monster of the Week five times, quickly.

Compare with Shooting Superman and Giant Equals Invincible. Contrast with Death of a Thousand Cuts, which is when a relatively small weapon is used exclusively (and extensively) against a large target and succeeds. See also Underequipped Charge, and More Dakka, which is often more than just five rounds, and may or may not produce better results.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • Inverted in Assassination Classroom; Irina and her men tries to kill Koro-sensei by using machine guns instead of airsoft guns. It doesn't work, since Koro-sensei's body dissolves lead but is blown to chunks by airsoft bullets made of a special material.
  • The military police in The Big O arrive just before Roger and Big O every time a giant monster or robot attacks Paradigm City and fire a massive barrage that does absolutely nothing. But they have to try each time, or else they'd have to admit they need his help.
  • In the Elfen Lied anime, security guards would just stand and shoot at Lucy with their MP5's till they either run out of ammo or get ripped to shreds. It wasn't until later they started using high caliber/armor piercing rounds against them even though a flashback shows they've known for years regular ammo doesn't work on a Diclonius. They might have been hoping that the combined assault would get through a hole in her vector defense, but it still is a suicidal action.
  • Lampshaded in Fullmetal Alchemist. Late in the series, Hawkeye, who specializes in firearms, expresses frustration as she runs into more and more enemies that are immune to bullets. The army does possess tanks and artillery, but they are rare or hardly used, since it is assumed that State Alchemists will do all the heavy lifting (they do).
    Hawkeye: They [guns] don't work on anything these days...
    • Averted though in the first battle with Sloth. After he makes the terrible mistake of accidentally burrowing into the Badass Army's base, they proceed to rapidly evolve their response to him, starting with guns, then a bazooka, then tank rounds. When that doesn't work, they douse him with chemicals, ram him with several Tanks, and knock him out of the base, the chemicals combined with the frigid weather freezing him near instantly. In the end, Sloth is defeated without an ounce of alchemy being used on him.
  • Played for laughs in Getter Robo Go, where the team has decided to steal the Getter so that they can act in defiance of government orders. As it turns out, pretty much the entire base staff agrees to go along with the plan, sending in a fake report that the Getter was stolen by a Renegade Splinter Faction and they did all they could to stop it. To make it look convincing, Hayato sends out a security team, and upon seeing the Getter take off, they all shout about it being stolen by rebels and fire at it with their assault rifles—which, needless to say, does absolutely nothing to a twenty-meter giant robot. The other soldiers look on in utter befuddlement.
  • Happens way too often in Gravion Zwei. The Military will ignore all requests to kindly sit the fuck down and let the giant robot handle it. The Gravion itself partially follows this trope, for some reason they always try the tiny machine guns first, when even in a real robot show, that weapon would do jack shit.
  • In the Gundam metaseries, essentially every universe has some form of tanks, MLRS, and other modern artillery weapons. They are never useful against mobile suits unless a named character is at the controls. One such example comes in Gundam SEED CE73 Stargazer where Retired Badass Edmond Du Clos takes down a GINN with a tank (though he dies in the process).
    • UC Gundam sidestories tend to avert this: notably, in The 08th MS Team, a group of Zeon tanks uses clever tactics to defeat a Gundam in combat (though they don't manage to actually destroy it). And then there's MS IGLOO 2, which is pretty much all about the Earth Federation forces somewhat successfully battling Zakus with weapons like missile launchers and tanks. Though all of them do die in the process.
    • In a sense, Gundam has another example with vulcans/CIWS. About half the mobile suits ever made have them, but all they're good for are missile defense and occasional lucky shots to enemy cameras, and even then they aren't used all that often.
      • Vulcans are extremely useful as anti-personnel weapons (Amuro used them that way a couple of times). Of course, they are rarely used that way since showing the hero pulping enemy soldiers with vulcans would look really bad, and might raise the show's rating too high (though Stargazer does show Alliance mobile suits using foot-mounted CIWS for exactly this, complete with graphic detail).
    • A good example comes from the second episode of the original series. Char sees the new Gundam mobile suit destroy some Zaku's and sorties in his own machine to take it out. He effortlessly dodges its attacks and hits it with a burst of machine gun fire. From his facial expression, he was obviously expecting that salvo to take it down; he looks very surprised when the Gundam isn't even scratched. To his credit, he switches tactics from this point on, trying to take out the Gundam with physical attacks from his superheated battleaxe (which can get through the Gundam's armor), only using the guns to distract and intimidate Amuro.
  • The small arms part is averted with a vengeance in Neon Genesis Evangelion: The first episode starts with the army opens fire with the heaviest conventional weapons in their arsenal at the Angel from the get-go, and the Humongous Mecha are not called in until after the trust-us-it's-not-a-nuke fails to stop the attacker.
    • Invariably, however, they will still unload all sorts of ordnance on the Angel of the Week before the EVA's are called in, long after the Angels are shown to be invulnerable to such attacks. Commented on in Rebuild:
      Ritsuko: A waste of the taxpayers' money.
      Misato: I guess the military types just won't be satisfied until they've fired all their bullets.
    • To be fair, the missiles and such serve an actual purpose at one point in 1.0: at the beginning of Operation Yashima, they are used to distract the Sixth Angel while Shinji gets ready to fire the positron rifle.
      • They also use conventional weapons to test Ramiel's defenses while preparing the plan to defeat it.
  • One Piece:
    • Marines consistently fire their round musket-ball like projectiles at Luffy, even though it is proven time and again that it doesn't work. In fact, Luffy often turns their bullets back on them, using the elasticity of his body to rebound the bullets toward their origin.
    • Even more so when they fire on Logia-type Devil Fruit Eaters, who are known to be invulnerable to conventional weaponry as even the Marine's own ADMIRALS employ this type of Devil Fruit.
  • Both played straight and averted in the manga Parasyte. The creatures are tough enough to completely ignore bullets, but that doesn't stop a few police from opening fire and getting butchered. The main character takes them on by knowing their weaknesses, though, and the government soon learns their weaknesses and kills them off by the dozens with high-powered shotgun ammunition. Quickly Double Subverted by introducing a super-parasite that ignores THAT ammunition and massacres an entire platoon.
  • Subverted in Those Who Hunt Elves. Our heroes are summoned to defeat the dragon because they have a tank. Dragons don't stand up very well to ammunition designed to take out other tanks and fortifications.

    Comic Books 
  • The Punisher has had problems with this trope on occasion, especially in the 80s and 90s during team-ups where he found himself up against superpowered foes who weren't vulnerable to bullets or rocket-propelled grenades unlike the normal humans he typically fought. After a few instances of this, he started averting this trope by keeping stashes of energy weapons and other super-gear that he could use in case of emergencies.
  • In Supergirl story arc Bizarrogirl, Gangbuster attempts this against an out-of-control Bizarro. It does not go well.
    Gangbuster: Tried to... get her away from everybody... Turns out she's not vulnerable... to bullets...

     Fan Works 
  • Saruman of Many Devices: Invoked verbatim by Lurtz when facing the Balrog. Justified since he was mostly just keeping up the troops' morale while preparing his real plan, although the impacts did actually provide some informative feedback on the Balrog's structure (a physical shell that can be broken, surrounding a magical core that apparently can't).
  • The Secret Return of Alex Mack: Played straight when Italian soldiers continue to shoot the silicate monsters after being told, and seeing for themselves, that bullets don't work. Terawatt finds herself wondering if there's actually a military rule requiring them to keep shooting.
  • Left Beyond: Invoked when the multinational force trying to stop Armageddon at Petra fires ranging shots at the Archangel Michael. Subverted in that nobody expected the bullets to do anything to Michael; the idea was to see if their trajectory would be distorted, before committing heavier artillery.

    Film Animation 
  • Subverted in Monsters vs. Aliens. At first it looks like the US military is trying to attack the enormous alien robot with just a few infantrymen with small arms. Then the camera pulls back and you see them throwing everything they've got at it. Tanks, attack helicopters, jet fighters, the works. To cap it off, even after all that, the President fires a few rounds at the robot just for show.
  • Initially averted, then played straighter in The Iron Giant, where the U.S. military immediately deploys tanks once they learn about the giant. It doesn't work at all, and the military quickly start fleeing, but they do keep trying to shoot at the giant with whatever they've got left - in the General's case, his pistol.

    Film Live-Action 
  • In Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, the humans continue using their police and security force armed with rifles and shotguns, bringing these out into the open face to face with the apes regardless of how dire things get, never choosing to mow down the apes with automatic fire from a distance or pick them off from out of range of the apes' attacks, which involved primarily stone age tactics mixed with untrained use of captured small-arms.
  • Most Godzilla movies and Kaiju movies in general feature at least one scene where the army rolls in with tanks, infantry, bombers, and the kitchen sink, and rarely ever even scratches the monster they're trying to take out. The conventional military arms are just a courtesy before they roll out the special anti-monster laser tanks, giant robot, etc. As part of its Early-Installment Weirdness, the original film Gojira has Godzilla driven off by an air strike.
    • Godzilla vs. Megaguirus has an opening scene where soldiers go up against Godzilla with rocket launchers. Essentially, they're using weapons designed to take out tanks against a creature that habitually takes out tanks by the dozens during each of his rampages.
    • In Godzilla (2014), when Godzilla makes landfall in Honolulu, SWAT members and soldiers alike attempt to shoot both the MUTO and Godzilla alike. Amusingly, when Godzilla shows up, the SWAT members run dry... then look at each other and decide not to reload, for obvious reasons.
      • In the sequel, Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019), when "Monster Zero" (Ghidorah) awakens in the Antarctic, Monarch's troops unload their assault rifles on him. He just looks curiously at them before disintegrating them with his Gravity Beams.
    • Shin Godzilla has the US military, UN forces, and the JSDF try to stop Godzilla by using everything they got (leading to a few scene-for-scene remakes of Neon Genesis Evangelion) and actually get a good hit into him before he completely wipes them out with his atomic barrage. All of this as "Who Will Know (Tragedy)" plays over it.
  • In the British kaiju film Gorgo the military is particularly bad about this. At the beginning, when the monster is still in the ocean, they actually do use some pretty heavy duty weapons on it (with use of Stock Footage to keep costs down), like battleship cannons, bombs, and rockets. These have no effect. When the monster comes ashore they use tanks and machine guns on it, even though these are far less powerful than the naval and air weapons that had already been proven useless.
  • High Plains Invaders: When the first Bug appears in town, the townsfolk continue to fire small arms long after it should have been obvious that it was bulletproof. The heroes have better luck when they escalate to dynamite. However, they have a limited supply of dynamite and continue to use small arms, mostly as a means of getting the attention of various Bugs.
  • Independence Day follows this trope on a larger scale when the human resistance limits itself to air-to-air missiles when firing on the miles-wide alien saucer ship. The one time they scale up to a nuke, the nuke has no visible effect on the aliens, and they call off the attack. Ultimately subverted in the end after the heroes inject a virus into the orbiting mothership (and then blow said mothership up) which disables the aliens' shields—after that point, the humans' weapons have a much better effect on the alien ships, though the saucer ships still require an attack on its weak point (the underside-mounted Wave-Motion Gun) to take it down for good.
  • In Jurassic World, the Asset Containment Unit and InGen Security troopers are mostly equipped with assault rifles and shotguns which seem rather inadequate for killing 40 foot long genetically engineered monsters, and barely cause any damage to the I. Rex. The M134 minigun and an AT4 missile launcher might have taken her out if they hadn't missed in the chaotic combat conditions, and it seems like the disaster could have been mitigated if management had had the foresight to stock more of those big guns and explosive weapons. Justified in that, at least at first, they weren't trying to kill the Indominus, they were trying to recapture it, and it's strongly suggested that ACU has gotten very good at their job of recapturing any escaped dinosaur on the island.
    • The original park had a similarly equipped security force, with shotguns and assault rifles only, the latter of which aren't even taken out of their storage racks after the prologue. Averted to at least some degree in the book though (see below).
  • Peter Jackson deliberately set his remake of King Kong (2005) in the thirties to partially avert this trope. He was well aware modern day aircraft are heavily armed enough to kill Kong with one shot while lightly armed biplanes allowed for a drawn out climax with more dramatic tension. The fact that he's a fan of old planes as well as the original movie probably helped as well.
  • In Man of Steel, the various soldiers try attacking the Kryptonians with small arms fire, and continue doing so even after they've realized the need to call in heavy artillery. Later on some of them use grenade launchers, to similarly useless effect. But it's not like they had any alternative.
    • Averted with the A-10's GAU-8 cannon and Maverick missiles... which stun a Kryptonian warrior and knock Faora unconscious respectively. Seems that even Kryptonians can learn to fear an angry Warthog.
  • Justified in The Meg. When the megalodon starts pursuing their boat, Jack Morris calls in a helicopter from which a crewman opens fire on the giant shark with an assault rifle. When Jaxx scoffs at this, Morris points out it was all he could arrange at short notice, and the gunfire does succeed in making the Meg turn away. When Morris goes after the Meg later, he has the helicopter drop packs of radio-detonated C4 explosive as improvised depth charges.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • In Iron Man when Iron Monger powers up in the midst of them, the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents immediately all start shooting at it with their sidearms. Needless to say, they get owned in short order.
    • In The Incredible Hulk, Ross' special forces keep attacking the titular hero with little more than rifles, machine guns, and grenade launchers, long after he's proven to be Immune to Bullets (riflemen also engage Abomination towards the end of the film). Going by the fact that the grenade launchers at least hurt him, and the shrapnel from a helicopter crash actually causes him to bleed, heavier weapons would presumably work, but they're never tried. Even when they bring in a gunship, it only opens fire with 7.62mm miniguns, and seems to lack the rocket pods and anti-tank guided missiles it would normally have. The lack of weapons that would actually kill him could be potentially justified by the fact that Ross is explicitly trying to take the Hulk alive, but that doesn't justify sending riflemen after him... three separate times. As for the Abomination, he was in the middle of Harlem, so leveling the block with airstrikes/artillery to take him down probably wasn't an option.
    • In Avengers: Infinity War, the united Wakandan army forms a defense against Thanos' forces using nothing but infantry and a few enhanced individuals. This is despite the fact that Black Panther showed they had a full airforce backed up by war rhinos. They change tactics in Avengers: Endgame, and bring their air support to the final battle, which helps even the playing field.
  • When he firsts encounters Imhotep in The Mummy, Rick shoots the undead monster with a shotgun, before fleeing the room. Ardeth says it can't be killed by mortal weapons, but Rick insists, "I got him." During his next "fight" with Imhotep, he unloads on him with a pair of revolvers to similar effect only for the mummy to flee the scene when he's terrified by a cat. Rick learns his lesson by the next time Imhotep shows up and uses the cat instead of a gun.
  • In RoboCop (1987), Robocop launches an assault into a drug warehouse. All of the drug dealers shoot at him with small arms, doing precisely nothing. He simply picks them off one by one as they fire uselessly at him.
  • In RoboCop 2, the police have the same problem with the new, evil robot. Robocop must use an inventive solution to defeat it.
  • In the Starship Troopers movie, the Mobile Infantry seems to have forgotten everything we've learned about combined arms warfare. The MI's only tactic is to attack in massed numbers using small arms and the occasional nuke. At no point in the movie is there any evidence of artillery or close air support, tanks or armored personnel carriers, special weapons squads with mortars or heavy machine guns. Nor do the ships seem to possess the capability of the orbital equivalent of shore bombardment, despite the fact that one scene has several bombers do a strafing run on the surface (which it's implied they could do at will if they weren't Jerk Asses). We get the barest of a glimpse of such things in a flashforward near the end, where a trooper has what is functionally a grenade launcher. They do use a rocket launcher against two gigantic plasma bugs in the first major battle and later on a 'mini-nuke' against a swarm of Arachnid soldiers emerging from a cave... then never use either weapon again, even when faced with thousands of the things attacking at once.
  • In Transformers (2007), a shower of small arms fire from a squad of US soldiers and two A-10 Thunderbolts does little more than distract Scorponok... long enough for an AC-130 Spectre to show up and truly fill him full of holes.
  • Averted in Tremors. Burt and Heather Gummer actually are able to kill the second Graboid with overwhelming small arms fire.
    Burt: Broke into the wrong goddamn rec room, didn't ya!
  • In The Tomorrow War has barely trained civilian conscripts being sent to the future to fight deadly alien creatures with few weaknesses with nothing more impressive than assault rifles. While it's possible to kill one of these creatures with bullets, it takes a lot of skill to hit them in one of the two vulnerable spots, and the conscripts have, at best, a week's worth of military training.

  • Dora Wilk tries to do this to an enemy witch in one of the short stories, regardless of the fact that Viola is Immune to Bullets - mostly because Dora has nothing but her service pistol with her.
  • The Dresden Files: This is frequently used, though the level of results vary. Many monsters or bad guys (such as Nicodemus) are completely Immune to Bullets, but just as many, particularly the iron-vulnerable fae, find out humanity's come a long way since the Middle Ages. Special mention goes to Gentleman Johnny Marcone at the end of White Night, whose squad of elite mercenaries armed with assault weaponry shoot the regenerating uber-ghouls to shreds (although they do need an explosion to be completely disposed of, since they heal from pretty much anything). In the short story "Even Hand", Marcone and his bodyguard Hendricks prove that a pair of illegally modified automatic shotguns beats a small army of Fomor monsters.
  • Completely and totally subverted in Everworld: Mystify the Magician, in which a warband of white supremacists (the "Sennites") armed with small arms and hand grenades (not to mention a very healthy dose of ammunition) are brought into Everworld. The Bronze/Iron Age civilizations of Everworld prove little match for the modern weapons and sheer ruthlessness of the Sennites, despite the fact that said civilizations have the assistance of mythological gods, magic, and mystical creatures. The Sennites manage to slay a dragon and a Celtic giant relatively easily. They also succeed in slaughtering an entire troop of the Fianna, an elite order of renowned Celtic warriors before besieging and eventually conquering their fortified town. They then hold that town against Loki's grand army, killing Fenrir in the process. The protagonists in the series fear that even without the guidance and limited magical assistance of their witch leader, the Sennites are still one of the most dangerous forces in all of Everworld, even in the face of aliens and gods.
  • Averted as this was the solution. The Jules de Grandin stories were perhaps most famous for having de Grandin gun down a werewolf without any silver bullets in "The Blood-flower". This was one of the earliest incidences where modern technology could defeat a supernatural being on its own. Interestingly, unlike the usual way this plays out, de Grandin didn't use a BFG of any kind. Instead he had his little automatic pistol with him and he fired 8 rounds into the werewolf in a tight pattern, leaving a hole "big enough to walk through" when all the bullets hit. To be fair, the werewolf was a skinny old man and he gained his lycanthropy through experimenting with blood-flowers, rather than curse or Deal with the Devil.
  • Despite Hammond's Does Not Like Guns attitude, Jurassic Park at least partially averts this, as Muldoon has access to a launcher which can fire either dinosaur-scale tranquilizer projectiles or antitank-type warheads, though Executive Meddling meant that there was only one launcher on the island instead of the three he tried to order. Additionally, late in the novel the surviving protagonists discover a bunker containing nerve gas canisters. The biggest aversion, however, comes when the Costa Rican military intervenes, as aside from picking up survivors they make no attempt to land, instead bombing the entire island with napalm.
  • Internally conversed by Peter in My Teacher Flunked the Planet; when the police discover Big Julie in the house, Peter muses that in a bad sci-fi movie, they'd be back in a few minutes with a few men and some guns, following this trope. As the town already knew that aliens existed, though, they were likely going to be coming back with a heck of a lot more firepower than that. The only good news is that it would take the police some time to get that firepower ready, which gives Peter and the other team members enough time to evacuate. Just enough, as it turns out.
  • Played straight with the Dead in Garth Nix's Old Kingdom books. When firearms even work, they can only damage the bodies of the Dead; it takes Charter Magic to harm their spirits, and a necromancer (or Abhorsen)'s bells to send them back into Death. White phosphorus grenades are about the only conventional weapon that do any real damage, and even those stop working if the wind's blowing too hard from the north.
  • John Ringo regularly averts, subverts, and otherwise plays this trope in his books, which probably isn't surprising given that he writes a lot of military fiction, and served in the 82nd Airborne before becoming an author.
  • Averted in E.E. Cumming's series of novels titled The Vampire Earth. While the reapers are immune to most small arms fire, heavier rounds push them around and fifty caliber bullets can actually pierce their cloaks. Unfortunately the series is set After the End so any weapons heavier than bolt-action rifles are exceptionally rare.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • The words, albeit not the spirit, are quoted (almost certainly as a shout out) in the Horus Heresy novel Fallen Angels - faced with an enormous mob of zombies, a squad of Dark Angels loads up their weapons, and beings doing a pattern of 'One step back, Five Rounds Rapid' until they run out of ammunition and are forced to go hand-to-hand.
    • In Grey Knights, Alaric becomes aware that bolter shells, armour-piercing and explosive as they are, aren't going to do much good against the reanimated body of Saint Evisser. Before him, Grand Master Mandulis recognised that bolter shells also wouldn't do any good against the true body of Ghargatuloth.
    • Played straight in Sandy Mitchell's Ciaphas Cain novel The Traitor's Hand, where the sergeant commanding a squad of Valhallan soldiers orders his men to fire on a World Eaters Chaos Space Marine, shouting "Big red thing, five rounds rapid!" It's implied that if the squad had all managed to connect they probably would have killed the Marine, but he's a Marine and thus leaps directly over the two meter tall Cain at a speed the Guardsmen are unprepared for. Other instances of lasgun fire against Marines tend to play it straighter. This trope is subverted with Cain's aide Jurgen, who always carries an anti-tank Melta along with his lasrifle, a practical choice considering how often his boss ends up in over his head.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Parodied in "Innocence" with a supposedly invulnerable demon, who with his final words reminds Buffy that he cannot be killed by any weapon forged by man. But that was a thousand years ago and a rocket launcher does the job perfectly fine.note 
    • Similarly, in the Season 3 finale, they take out the recently powered-up Big Bad by packing the school library with ANFO.
  • Doctor Who:
    • UNIT actually destroys several Cybermen with bazookas and grenades in their first encounter with them back in "The Invasion". ("Attack of the Cybermen" went one better by having a Cyberman killed by repeated shots from a handgun.) Another massive subversion is the Zygons, who appear to have no immunity to bullets whatsoever and are killed or injured every time they get shot.
    • A particularly hilarious example is in the second Ice Warriors serial, "The Seeds of Death". Despite being set centuries into Earth's future, apparently the only gun used by security forces are turn of the 20th century broomhandle Mauser pistols. Sure, the Ice Warriors are Immune to Bullets, but that's not even trying. In the last episode, one character does suggest arming the guards with flamethrowers instead, but (presumably for reasons of budget) the Doctor saves the day before this happens.
    • Named after the following Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart quote from "The Dæmons", spoken as the Brig reacts cheerfully unfazed to a stone gargoyle which is running around, disintegrating his Redshirts: "Jenkins! Chap with wings there, five rounds rapid." (It is also the title of the first autobiography of Nicholas Courtney, who played that role.) This partly avoids the trope, since bazookas and a grenade are also used against the monster, which break it apart. But it reforms.
    • The Brigadier calls for tank support in "Robot", but the titular menace disintegrates the first tank before it can get into firing position.
      • The Brigadier later tried shooting it with the Robot's disintegrator, but the energy used enabled it to grow into a giant instead. At least the Brigadier is man enough to admit he made a mistake to the Doctor.
      • He even lampshades his own trope, naming another trope in the process: "You know just once I'd like to meet an alien menace that wasn't Immune to Bullets."
    • Averted in "Battlefield", where it is revealed UNIT has invested in specialized rounds for different alien threats, which work just fine. The new series adds 'rad-steel' rounds for counteracting anti-bullet fields. It's probably a subversion in the sense that said bullets are only deployed after normal bullets fail. On top of that, guess who gets to put the fatal Five Rounds into the Big Bad?
    • Lampshaded in the Doctor Who New Adventures novel No Future, in which the villain (who is not Immune to Bullets) is standing next to Paul McCartney. The Brigadier promptly orders "Chap with 'Wings', five rounds rapid!".
      • In The Scarifyers: The Nazad Conspiracy, an audio starring Nicholas Courtney, his character Inspector Lionheart utters the line "Sergeant, chap with fangs there, five rounds rapid!"
    • Double subverted in the Ninth Doctor's final story, "The Parting of the Ways", where Captain Jack Harkness gives a group of volunteers under his command "bastic" bullets he is convinced will "blow a Dalek wide open". However, he fails to take into account the Daleks' new bullet-dissipating forcefields, which render the rounds useless. Bitterly lampshaded when a minor character despairingly declares "They're not working!" moments before she gets exterminated. A Dalek is, however, blinded by the bullets when the defenders concentrate their fire.
    • Notably, in "Doomsday", British military forces are seen to deploy a rocket launcher against attacking Cybermen after small arms fail.
    • In what may be a television first, in "The Runaway Bride", a foe of the Tenth Doctor's attempts to lift off from London without enough power to activate her energy shield defenses and is taken out by fire from several British Army tanks! Even TV series set in World War II (Combat and Rat Patrol, for example) traditionally avoid spending money on tanks.
    • Played straight in "The Poison Sky", where the Doctor's frantic pleas to UNIT to listen to him when he says no matter how many troops are deployed, guns will not work against Sontarans (due to their sonic waves that cause copper to expand, jamming traditional bullets in their chambers) fall upon deaf ears and the Doctor and UNIT command wind up being forced to listen to their troops being slaughtered over the comm system. The Doctor is less than impressed.
      • Later subverted when UNIT switches out bullets for ones that won't be affected by the sonic waves, which allows UNIT to slaughter them.
    • Lampshaded in the Easter special "Planet of the Dead", when Captain Magambo is heard to shout "I don't believe it! Guns that work!" as rocket launchers tear apart aliens.
    • Brought back once again in "The Zygon Inversion", when the Brigadier's daughter is asked how she got away from a Zygon attack, and namedrops the trope.
    • "Resolution": The soldiers, from the regular army, confronting the "unknown drone" (actually a Dalek recon scout in Improvised Armour) try to use small-arms fire against it, with the usual lack of success. They then escalate to a tank, which doesn't work any better.
  • In the Lost episode "The Shape of Things to Come", at least one of the ex-military mercenaries fires at the monster, which is composed of thick black smoke. Naturally, it doesn't do much except get the guy killed.
  • In Power Rangers Time Force, a for-hire defense force called the Silver Guardians often arrives before the Rangers do. Invariably, they are able to dispense with some of the Mecha-Mooks but the Monster of the Week and/or The Dragon (whichever is present) are another story entirely and the Guardians are having the daylights bashed out them by the time the Rangers arrive. And they return again the next week with the same weapons and tactics, still not having learned their lesson.
    • Let's not forget that, like much Sentai, Shōnen, and Monster of the Week stuff, ALL Power Rangers shows focus on the rangers going through their own private counterpart to the Sorting Algorithm of Evil. See that monster? Think you can actually just defeat it with a punch? Why not just whip out the combined 'Zord and stomp it into jelly to start with? Because then the show would be over before the first commercial break. A Hand Wave in the first episode of the first Power Rangers series mentions that they're not supposed to fight unless provoked, and not to escalate a confrontation unless absolutely necessary. To be fair, the Power Rangers aren't really a military force in the strictest sense.
      • There's a logic to this. First of all, think about the scale of the Rangers' mecha. How long do you think the people of Random City A would put up with the Rangers if they called out a skyscraper-crushing giant robot to step on a human-sized monster like a grape? Secondly, if the villains saw that the Rangers were going to bust out the heavy artillery straight away, they'd feel compelled to escalate their own attacks...
  • In Star Trek, The Borg shields adapt to normal phasers and other energy weapons, but prove ineffective against bullets. Sometimes it seems the Federation could have quickly ended the Borg threat by replicating a few million tommy-guns, or designing other impact weapons, they instead concentrated on randomized versions of their Ray Gun technology. Though in the live-action works, not only have we never seen Borg being attacked by bullets for more than two drones worth of casualties, which is slightly less than the average number of Borg casualties before Borg adapt, but the bullets themselves were forcefields generated in a holodeck. We have, admittedly, seen Borg drones successfully taken out by simple kinetic impactnote  for multiple drones' worth of casualties across multiple seasons, which would support the idea of bullets also continuing to work as they use the same basic damage mechanism (ram physical object into Borg drone really really hard).
    • The novels of the Star Trek expanded universe (particularly Star Trek: Destiny) actually give Starfleet guns made around the same concept of Picard's idea. One character even refers to them as 'old technology given new life' as he sprays down a few dozen Borg drones.
      • This concept carries over to Star Trek Online, where ground weapons that deal Physical or Kinetic damage - such as the TR-116B Sniper Rifle and the Replica Thompson Submachine Gun - are highly effective against the Borg (with the latter being particularly effective against groups of Borg drones).
    • Hand-to-hand combat wavers from work-to-work. In Unimatrix Zero, bat'leths were quite effective, but that was a simulated world. Species 8472 tear apart Borg drones left and right, while Worf and Data in First Contact do quite well, though Data was eventually neutralized when the Borg shunted him behind a forcefield. Meanwhile, earlier in the movie, a random Red Shirt tries to rifle butt a drone, and the drone shrugs off the assault and throws the Red Shirt into a wall. Borg seem to rely on armor in hand-to-hand combat instead of shielding.

  • Averted in the web RP Insane Cafe: The Curse of the Haunted Hotel. When the characters have to fight a huge demon, they use everything from small arms to Molotov cocktails to anti-tank rockets. And it works.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In this video, Lindybeige discusses the tendency for players to unthinkingly conform to this trope in fantasy RPGs like Dungeons & Dragons, using small weapons like swords, axes, maces, etc. (all of which are designed for fighting human opponents) against huge fantasy creatures like dragons. He describes an RPG scenario where the players tried and failed to use this standard method against a house-sized monster, only to be shown up later by a unit of NPCs besting the creature using more effective specialised group tactics. Of course, the player characters will usually be using magical weapons to fight said monsters, which are more effective (and might even be enchanted to be especially effective against creatures of that type), and it's quite rare for the party to be allowed access to siege weapons like catapults or ballistas.
  • An available character option on Doctor Who Adventures In Time And Space has this name (appropriately enough it's within its UNIT sourcebook), which allows the character to skip the standard order of the game's initiative (people who talk always go first, people who fight always go very last), allowing for a very literal use of Talk to the Fist.
  • A possible character-option purchasable order for soldiers on Only War has the trope name. It does exactly what you would expect.
  • Played with, intentionally or not, in Pathfinder. The firearms in the book Ultimate Combat target touch AC, and many iconic monsters, including dragons and giants, have awful touch AC. In other words, guns are extremely effective (or at least extremely accurate) against them where swords, axes, hammers and bows may not be. On the other hand, the guns (old school black powder and flint) are expensive, don't do that much damage, and can blow your hand off if you're unlucky, so there's always that. Even so, for a well trained Gunslinger (lvl 7 or higher) Five Rounds Rapid becomes the tactic of choice against the big, lumbering foes who tend to shrug off more 'conventional' weapons.
    • To be honest, a trained gunslinger can be a terriffic foe for even the biggest threats, since they can buy enchanted ammo (or make it themselves) for a relatively low price, and have some bullets specially crafted to destroy a dragon, a giant, or even Cthulhu-Slaying ammo! The fighter would need to carry thousands of weapons (An anti-plant axe, anti-undead sword, anti-giants spear...) and enchant each one.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • A standard tactic for the Eldar Dire Avengers used to be steadily retreating while pouring a hail of small-arms fire into the enemy (primarily because Dire Avengers don't have anything else). It worked very well against most infantry, mostly due to the sheer volume of fire a Dire Avenger squad can get into the air (which would make this more like several billion rounds rapid). And then the new rules came along and made basic infantry fast enough to catch the Dire Avengers, rendering this strategy totally obsolete, only for 6th edition to make it viable again (more so, anyway), by allowing Dire Avengers to shoot and run in the same shooting phase (normally an either/or choice), and a variant of the Rending special rule allowing them to wound even the toughest monstrous creatures.
    • Necron gauss weapons are also quite capable of pulling this off. Sure, it might take a squad of warriors 40 shots to bring down a Land Raider, but that's a) 1 round of shooting for a full strength warrior unit within 12", and b) infinitely fewer shots than you're going to need with any other basic weapon.
    • This is also the sadly-default strategy whenever heavy weapons/support gets taken out. "You now have forty Imperial Guard soldiers with flashlights and t-shirts against three daemon-possessed main battle tanks." "Welp, let's see how many 6's I can roll out of these eighty shots to try and chip away at them... What do you mean just surrender? I still have soldiers left!" However, for the most part this is more of a Downplayed Trope than Memetic Mutation might have you believe. One lasgun might not do much to a Chaos Marine in full Power Armour, but the concentrated fire of forty of them is another matter...
  • BattleTech:
    • Infantry squads armed with standard rifles aren't exactly a good choice to take on an assault mech, but they can potentially be a serious threat to light mechs. The game's rules mean that even infantry rifles can, if massed, damage heavy units. However, if an infantry squad falls below a certain number due to casualties then it will be unable to inflict any damage at all.
    • Rifle Cannons are a weapon system (basically modern tank cannons) that are almost completely ineffective against Battlemech armor. However, they're obsolete and aside from a few extremely low-tech planets that can't produce anything better, nobody in the Battletech universe actually builds them.

    Video Games 
  • Metal Gear:
    • A handful of marines at the end of the Tanker chapter in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, lacking any stronger firepower since they're in the hold of a cargo ship, make a feeble attempt to stop Metal Gear RAY from getting away by firing at it with their rifles. One of them opens fire with just a handgun, at which point his buddy pushes him aside and makes a more sensible attempt to damage RAY with a grenade launcher.
    • Subverted in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. When Sahelanthropus is awakened for a second time and turned against Skull Face, his XOF troops initially attack it with small arms but eventually call in a platoon of tanks and attack helicopters to try and stop it.
  • In [PROTOTYPE] only a handful of soldiers in any group will be carrying any kind of explosive, even though the game is absolutely filled with monsters (including the player character) who are barely scratched by bullets. No matter how obviously worthless bullets are against a given enemy, squads of troops will be unable to resist charging them with rifles.
  • Tanks in Red Orchestra aren't particularly fussed by small arms, not that it stops players taking potshots at the hull. There's a reason for that: sometimes they'll hit a crew member looking through a vision slit.
  • Sonic Adventure: Occurs at the beginning as police attack Chaos 0. Their bullets bounce right off his watery body, after which they immediately retreat. Fortunately, Sonic happens to be there.

  • Lampshaded with the E1s (Reverse-engineered Mega Man-style units used by the government) versus Spike Man in MS Paint Masterpieces.
    E1:Targets sustain no damage from shot. Calculating...
    E1:Conclusion: cannot retreat. Keep firing out of spite.

    Web Original 
  • Averted in the Internet novel The Salvation War where human weaponry proves devastatingly effective and it's the demons who are stuck with the pathetically outmoded and virtually useless weapons. Every time the demons try one of their "classic" weapons, it fails miserably and the humans hit back with something unimaginably more lethal. For instance, demonic lightning bolts are countered by massed salvoes from multiple-launch rocket batteries, brimstone is countered by Sarin nerve gas. Though early on humanity does find out that standard 5.56mm isn't very good at stopping demons and has to adapt to using larger calibers.
  • Played with in the SCP Foundation. Most of the SCPs are fought with mundane, albeit powerful weapons: for example, SCP-076 is contained with what's heavily implied to be a Phalanx CIWS (basically, a computer-guided 20mm Gatling gun used to shoot down anti-ship missiles), and it's working so far. However, the fact that SCP-096 appears to be immune to everything up to AT4 antitank missiles doesn't stop them from chasing it down and trying to kill it with a sniper rifle when things go wrong.

    Western Animation 
  • In Generator Rex, Providence takes down EVOs by shooting at them with guns from regular Providence grunts. And, sometimes, heavier weaponry. It is implied several times that they are good at what they do. They seem limited when Rex usually has to come in and save everybody.
  • This tends to be the Enforcers' solution to whatever the problem is in SWAT Kats: The Radical Squadron.
  • Captain Fanzone's attempting approach to fighting Professor Sumdac's roach monster in the pilot episode of Transformers: Animated. When bullets don't work, he tries rockets. The monster just absorbs them. Luckily, they are soon saved by alien shipwreck survivors the Autobots.