We have this brand new weapon that can turn the tide of the battle, drive back the Legion of Doom, save the day, and make the wielder look totally badass. All we need is to get it into the right hands!
But where are these aforementioned hands? No sign of 'em anywhere! All you've got is the local Butt-Monkey. Still, times are desperate; we really don't have a choice. Give it to them, and pray they don't do anything stupid! This typically ends in one of two ways:
- The idiot becomes a Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass, gets dangerous, puts a Spanner in the Works, and blows everyone away.
- They fail miserably. The viewer facepalms, and the Big Bad gives an Evil Laugh as he continues on his assault. This may result in the hero then taking up the sword from the fallen would-be hero, and then saving the day.
While the Sword is usually a weapon of some kind (typically a sword), it can be anything, from a secret power to a prototype vehicle to a legendary artifact, or even a TV Tropes account. All that matters is it's incredibly powerful and usually fairly dangerous or risky.
Compare to Falling into the Cockpit, in which a noob gets inside the weapon. Contrast With This Herring, where The Chosen One is generally worthy or potentially so, but starts with a weapon woefully inadequate to the task.
- In Dragon Ball Z, Goku attempts to use the Spirit Bomb against Vegeta early in the series. However, since it's so difficult to charge up, he gets interrupted. When someone else attacks Vegeta, Goku gives what's left of the energy to Krillin, who's significantly less powerful than Goku. When he throws the attack, Krillin misses. However, Gohan is able to reflect it back toward Vegeta, scoring a successful hit. Unfortunately, since much of the energy was lost earlier, the Spirit Bomb fails to finish off its intended target, though it still deals a lot of damage. In other words, the attack fails, then is passed on to the noob, then misses, then is bounced back by another noob, then hits, but still fails to deal the necessary damage.
- In Fairy Tail, Cana briefly gained Fairy Glitter, one of the three ultimate magics of her guild. However, she got it only because she found the place where it could be bestowed upon her before the others and in a time of need. It turned out that she was incapable of using it correctly and, in the end, she's defeated and she loses the magic some time later, since it was a short time loan. Later, during the Grand Magical Games she is lent Fairy Glitter again so she can win a contest. Cana is able to use it properly the second time, proving that she's become a better wizard since the previous attempt.
- In the second chapter of Rave Master Shiba is too injured to fight when Demon Card attacks the island. The enemy is too strong for Haru to fight bare handed, so Shiba lends Haru his sword. Haru hasn't the slightest idea how to use it.
- Happens at the very beginning of Bleach. Rukia is injured enough that she can't fight after having been chewed up and spit out by a Hollow. So she looks over at Ichigo, a fifteen-year-old boy who, luckily for him, has latent Spiritual Pressure and some kung-fu training. She decides to give him half of her powers in order to save his family, but he takes all of it. Having never handled a sword before in his life, he quickly dispatches the monster and saves the day. Later revelations shed some light on this and made Ichigo more of a Chosen One, but for a long time he was apparently just that good, and nobody really sat down and tried to figure out why.
- Kill la Kill: In the last few episodes, Iori has been working around the clock to remake the Goku uniforms of the Elite Four, the strongest fighters on his side. The first uniform he completes is actually the local Butt-Monkey Mako's uniform, which got shredded fifteen episodes and several months ago. When everyone demands to know why he gave her the upgrade first, he explains that while normally she's completely useless in a fight, when wearing her Fight Club Captain uniform, not only does she no longer need to be protected, she can actually help. The others can still fight without their uniforms.
- Sword Art Online gives us a rare hero-to-villain example: Kirito, after stripping Sugou/Oberon from his Game Master privileges, generates a Holy Sword Excalibur, the strongest weapon in the game and gives it to Sugou so they can fight one on one. Sugou is not even able to properly wield it, and Kirito effortlessly parries all of his strikes.
- Mundane and serious example in Gamaran Shura: it is eventually revealed that Sakakibara Sasuke, the Ax-Crazy wielder of the Divine Spear Beninuki from the Myojin Ryuu wasn't the rightful master of Beninuki, who belonged to his senpai Mashima Kitarou. However, he fell for Sasuke's beauty and ultimately decided to let his lover have the spear and the title. When Sasuke died, Kitarou blamed himself and swore to exterminate the Ogame Ryuu to avenge his beloved.
- In The Helm, the eponymous magic helmet accidentally ends up in the hands of a morbidly obese, emotionally fragile manchild; the real chosen one, a stunningly handsome man of herculean proportions with a Badass Mustache, shows up about five minutes too late to claim it.
- DC has Major Bummer, a serious slacker who accidentally receives superpowers.
- The New Universe: The Star Brand, one of the most powerful forces in all creation, has a habit of being given to noobs. In the original New Universe, it was given to Kenneth Connell, who repeatedly screwed up with it and tried to get rid of the damn thing (which didn't work). In the remake Newuniversal, it was given to a different Ken Connell, who was very drunk at the time, and unlike the others given powers during the White Event, he doesn't manage to acclimatise anywhere near as quickly. And in Jonathan Hickman's Avengers, a third Ken Connell is given a Star Brand... instead of the person who was supposed to get it, and as a result he causes a lot of damage and destruction before getting a handle on the brand's power.
- Green Lantern rings are entrusted only to the most worthy beings, those who can overcome great fear. But once, in a desperate emergency when only one ring was left, Ganthet had no time to be picky — he had to give it to the first competent-looking bearer he could find. This was Kyle Rayner, and he had to start from zero like no Green Lantern had before. Retcons (an occupational hazard for Green Lanterns) would later make Kyle's origin less random, but at the time, writer Ron Marz was very consciously invoking this trope.
- In Ghostbusters II, Louis Tully gets a hold of a proton pack and makes his way to the museum to assist the Ghostbusters. Surprisingly, he's able to wield the particle thrower pretty well for a first-timer, holding it steady even if he's having no effect whatsoever on the building's barrier of mood slime. And then, the combined assault of the positive mood slime on Vigo, the other Ghostbusters firing on Vigo's painting, and New York's singing weakens the shell enough for Louis' attack to finish the job and shatter it.
- The Lord of the Rings trilogy feature this trope as it was done (as an Unbuilt Trope) by Tolkien. See the explanation under Literature.
- Star Wars: The Force Awakens: After Rey rejects it, Finn, a former stormtrooper with no melee training (and unclear levels of Force ability) is given the lightsaber of Anakin Skywalker. He has mixed results, successfully stabbing one stormtrooper but then being defeated by another wielding an electrostaff. He does manage to put up a fight against a heavily injured Kylo Ren, but ultimately loses, at which point Rey takes the weapon as her own.
- In Power Rangers RPM, the just-barely competent Ziggy is tasked with transporting the Series Green Morpher, only to activate it and become Ranger Green himself. In fairness, he only did it in desperation when The Dragon was about to get her hands on it. Even so, the fact remains that he is perhaps the least capable fighter of any Ranger in the entire franchise.
- This was the whole premise of Mr. Terrific; Stanley Beamish, the 'weak & droopy daffodil', was the only man who could take the power pill.
- Zoey 101 does a "sports" subversion of this trope in the episode "Disc Golf." Zoey feeling guilty for benching Nicole as they can only have 5 players on their roster (and Nicole is terrible at the sport) fakes injuring her hand to allow Nicole sub in for her at the chance to win the game. Nicole still misses the first shot out of three and the other team offer to return the disc since she "practically won the game for them" but they instead flee the game (being teenage criminals by some coincidence) causing Zoey and her friends to win the game.
- In Skulduggery Pleasant, Valkyrie Cain manages to be semi-competent at Necromancy in the third book when given Solomon Wreath's cane. She still doesn't kill the Big Bad, but that's fine because even an army of super-skilled heroes couldn't.
- Later, Darquesse picks up Alternate Mevolent's god-killer sword in her fight against him. She quickly finds out she is completely incompetent at swordplay, and discards it.
- In the second of Jack Williamson's stories of the Legion of Space, the heroes fight their way to the heart of the world-ship of The Cometeers, finally capturing the one device that can harm their otherwise indestructible bodies. They then promptly hand it to the one person who has frozen up every previous time he has confronted the main villain, and has good reason to believe he is psychologically incapable of lifting a finger against him.
- In The Dresden Files, when the bearer of a Fae Mantle dies, their Mantle's next bearer is decided wholly by whoever is closest at the time. That person's sanity and pre-existing loyalties are not taken into account. This is a pity, because Mantles are Very Important to the Fae-Outsider war.
- Malazan Book of the Fallen.
- Newbie Captain Ganoes Paran becomes the Master of the Deck of Dragons, essentially gaining the power to decide who gets to be a power player among the gods and some other nifty tricks, but the closest he's ever gotten involved with sorcery before was sleeping with a mage. That mage, Tattersail, was supposed to become the Mistress of the Deck, but dies unexpectedly, so the power jumps ship to Paran as the one who'd been closest to her. He resists it so much it eats a hole in his guts, but eventually accepts the power and turns out to be both a competent and imaginative Master of the Deck.
- And later in the fifth volume, Midnight Tides, Rhulad Sengar gets his hands on the sword of the Crippled God. He is utterly incompetent in using its powers for the good, no matter how much he tries. Of course, it's subverted because the Crippled God intended for that to happen and deliberately staged it so that Rhulad would get it. Hannan Mosag, the one whom the sword was supposedly actually meant for, would have been quite competent and thus not as easily manipulated as Rhulad Sengar.
- This is an Unbuilt Trope which features heavily in The Lord of the Rings. The Artifact of Doom, the Ring of Power, is The Corruption, and its holder Frodo Baggins may be resourceful and brave, but he is essentially a young, well-off hobbit. Frodo has no experience at warfare, no magic, and indeed hobbits aren't terribly suited for great adventures and struggles anyway. They are three-foot high peaceful folk with a passion for food, small town life, and gossip. What Frodo does have is an incorruptible will and determination. At the Council of Elrond, leaders of the various peoples of Middle Earth debate what to do with the Ring. Gandalf, an ancient angel sent in the form of a legendary wizard to guide the free peoples of Middle Earth, Aragorn, the last descendant of a line of kings stretching back to the height of humanity's ascendance, Elrond, an elven loremaster and lord who has fought against the darkness for ages of Middle Earth, and any other number of badass heroes could be given the Ring of Power. However, its evil is too much for any of them to risk bearing. Frodo volunteers and is chosen over the great wizard, the king of men, the elven lords, the prince of Minas Tirith, and so on to bear the Ring in part because giving someone like Aragorn or Gandalf the Ring is too damn dangerous. Given the Ring of Power, someone like Gandalf would invariably be warped and either become like the Dark Lord or else become his thrall, but Frodo has a slim chance to resist its evil and see to the Ring's destruction.
- This is explored more fully when Frodo's gardener Samwise is tempted by the Ring. The Ring offers to make Samwise great and powerful, but Sam realizes his only need and due is his own garden and his own home to care for, so the Ring's lure - which had overpowered many strong-willed characters and sent Gandalf running - isn't able to overwhelm Samwise's common sense as well as his loyalty to Frodo. Samwise resists the Ring while in Mordor, where its power is strongest, while many others could not even when far from Mordor. Because Samwise is basically a noob who wants to live in peace, he passes a test a great warrior or masterful wizard never would have.
- Then comes the twist when Frodo fails at the very end of his mission and becomes corrupted by the Ring, claiming it for his own. No one, not even Frodo, could resist the Ring of Power after all, and Frodo's many trials have given him enough strength to make even the Dark Lord shudder when he finally becomes aware of Frodo and his claim on the Ring.
- Averted in The Merchant Princes Series. Mike Fleming is going undercover in the Gruinmarkt. He needs to pass as a noble so he is given a sword, but is warned not to use it "because we haven't got the five years it would take to get you to a basic level of competence".
- In Rise and Shine, super-gun Shine's dying former owner gives it to Rise, a small boy, because the latter happens to be the only person close enough at the time.
- In Fire Emblem: The Binding Blade, Roy and his allies gather several Divine Weapons, the strongest weapons on the continent... but they are ranked S, meaning that the ones obtained in the early game are unusable for many chapters.
- Played with as part of Poppy's lore in League of Legends, as her master had crafted a battle hammer to give to someone worthy of wielding it, passing it to her on his deathbed. Naturally, she continues his search, remaining oblivious to how effective she is with it.
- When Sin attacks Zanarkand at the start of Final Fantasy X, Tidus can only harmlessly swat away the Sinspawn drawing close to him before falling on his ass. Auron gives him a sword, but Tidus winds up losing his balance due to not being used to using a sword. He does kick ass with it immediately however.
- .hack//INFECTION has a variety in which the noob becomes The Unchosen One. Basically, Aura intended for Orca to get the Data Drain bracelet but Skeith defeated Orca and rendered him comatose, so she was forced to give Kite the bracelet instead.
- In Tower of God, Bam, who is horribly under-equipped, receives an incredibly powerful Empathic Weapon, the Black March, from Yuri, who just so happened to take a liking to him note . Funnily enough, Bam is a sort of chosen one, but he loses that sword before he takes on that role.
- In Darths & Droids, Luke Amidala is given the laser sword by Obi Wan Kenobi, however, he is always trying to avoid using his laser sword because he's afraid he is going to hurt himself. The same could be said with his ability to use the force, which he does not like to do. He is much more comfortable using blasters and other weapons, even against the insistence of the other players and even the DM. However, he eventually gets more comfortable with it and learns to use it effectively.
- In Noob, the healer Sparadrap is given an ovepowered staff by The Cracker who want to drive people of the game, expecting the epic failure variant to happen. Hilarity ensues as people thinks he's cheating, or faking being a noob, such as Player Killer Dark Avenger.
- Dragonball Z Abridged: Lampshaded when Goku hands over the Spirit Bomb to Krillin out of desperation:
Goku: It's our last hope.Krillin: And you're giving it to me?Goku: I'm kinda out of options.Krillin: [Gets the power] Holy crap, so this is what being important feels like!
- Epithet Erased: "Epithets" (This universe's version of quirks or Xanth "talents" have a Semantic Superpower factor. A sufficiently intelligent or creative type could make a Story-Breaker Power out of a mundane Epithet. And then you have someone like Sheriff Gorou, who's low intelligence and creativity scores rendered his "Bluster" Epithet as giving him the power to blow harder than normal people. Slightly harder.
- In DuckTales (1987), mild-mannered accountant Fenton Crackshell acquired his secret identity as Gizmo Duck when he unwittingly used the password that activated a nearby suit of robot armor Gyro Gearloose had intended for a more-competent user.
- The Trope Namer is the South Park episode "Make Love, Not Warcraft". The in-game Serial Killer that the main characters are trying to kill needs to be finished with the GM-only item The Sword of 1000 Truths, but to get it to the kids (who are the only ones capable of fighting the guy) they need to trust Stan's incompetent fourth-level Warrior father with the item. When this suggestion is proposed, the above quote is the response from one of the GMs. Randy fulfills his task of getting the Sword to Stan, but doesn't use it.
- Another funny moment is when Randy arrives in the nick of time to give the sword to Stan... but doesn't know how to give items.
- Ironically, this is something of an aversion: Randy not only doesn't use the sword, presumably it has a level requirement such that he CAN'T. Still fits the spirit of the trope, though, since he's incompetent not only as a wielder of the sword, but even as a courier.
- In Ben 10, the all-powerful Omnitrix, which allows its user to turn into any creature in the known universe... wasn't meant for Ben. It was actually meant for his grandfather Max, who is a skilled alien hunter. And in a What If? episode, it's discovered that Gwen would have been far more adept at using the device, having unlocked its full abilities in a single night, while it would take Ben years to consciously figure out the master control. The sequel series also drive the point home that while Ben isn't the worst choice as the wielder and is perfectly capable of saving the universe several times over, he is far from the best being for the job.