Follow TV Tropes


Guns Are Worthless

Go To
Yeah, a freakin' hairclip is more powerful than the Gatling gun.

"The gun won't help you."
Raizo, Ninja Assassin

Firearms are the best personal weapons humanity has developed to date. Their cost-efficiency, lethality, range, and passable ease of use is unmatched.

However, such ruthless efficiency doesn't usually serve fictional plots very well. For the sake of drama, if a hero's access to guns is unavoidable in a fictional milieu, writers will tend to use the plot to defang their effectiveness. Perhaps the enemy is supernatural or has an alien physiology, and thus resistant to projectile weapons. Perhaps your shots always miss because the enemy is just too fast or nimble. Perhaps they have superior technology, either in shielding, wielding even better projectile weapons than the protagonists, or both. Perhaps there's an ammo shortage, making every firing precious. Perhaps the heroes simply aren't trained in effective gun use. Perhaps said enemy is magically shielded and just can sip a drink as you waste bullets. Perhaps it's a mental enemy. Other than shooting yourself in the head, guns do not help here. Whatever the method, there will be some reason why the problem can't be solved with a few judicious headshots. For these reasons, this trope is especially ubiquitous in the sci-fi, fantasy, and horror genres.

In games, especially in settings where firearms would be Game Breakers but the "neato" factor is too great to ignore, this trope is often reflected in a reduction of firearm effectiveness and power compared to "standard" melee weapons, sometimes to the point where bludgeoning an enemy with a gun will do significantly more damage than actually shooting them with it. For context, even a 16th century musket had some thirty times the kinetic energy of a longbow arrow or sword stroke, a massive disparity in firepower that is almost never represented in fiction. Again, ammunition also tends to be used as a limiting factor; a matchlock musket takes 30 to 60 seconds to reload, and a flintlock 15 to 20 seconds, while a sword or polearm never needs to be reloaded (at worst, they need the occasional sharpening). Or, the designers can make a preference for melee weapons a matter of practicality, as in "hack and slash" games, where being able to attack many foes around you in one quick motion would often be better than being able to only fire at a single enemy in front. It doesn't help that many games fail to model the possibility of overpenetration and One-Hit Polykill on the guns' end.

Compare Arbitrary Gun Power, Never Bring A Knife To A Fistfight, and contrast Firearms Are Cowardly, The Gunslinger, The Lethal Connotation of Guns and Others, and Muggles Do It Better. See also Elegant Weapon for a More Civilized Age. Usually used to justify Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • Attack on Titan plays with this. While huge cannons rip through Titans easily due to Titans being Made of Plasticine, the Titan's Healing Factor doesn't let it keep them down for more than a few minutes, and while the have more than enough power to blow away the back of the Titans' necks, they're too heavy and inaccurate to do so outside of a lucky hit. However it is somewhat downplayed in that cannons are used effectively to slow down Titans and give civilians time to evacuate. Also, high-explosive shells are used to wipe out Titans in during the end of the Battle of Trost. And when Titans are sighted within Wall Rose, the Garrison used cannons to bring down Titans and let elite soldiers like Rico finish them off. Rifles, on the other hand, while light and accurate enough to hit the weak point, do not have enough power behind them to deal the fatal blow needed. As with cannons, however, they have shown to be useful in supporting those with 3DMG, and dealing damage to Titan's weaker parts, such as the eyes.
    • It should also be mentioned that ballistic technology in this series is fairly archaic; probably about an 18th-to-early-19th century level (think Flintlock muskets and Smoothbore Cannons). Later revealed that the Central Branch of the Military Police has been suppressing technological development among the general populace as a means to maintain order within the walls. But they've got no qualms about using it themselves; their hit-squads are armed with revolvers and shell-cased bullets.
    • Played straight with the Armored Titan whose armor plating is so strong that cannon shots do nothing to slow it down.
    • The outside world averts this, though, especially after the 3-year Time Skip. The Union's field guns with armor piercing ammo managed to put some hurt into Armored Titan, they have access railway-mounted anti-Titan artillery, and their warships' guns ripped apart Armored Titan when he tried to shield Beast Titan.
  • The apostles in Berserk are doing a lot of damage, so firearms can not do much against them. However, it should also be emphasized that the firearms there are still rather primitive.
  • The Black★Rock Shooter TV anime. Characters routinely shrug off getting hit by dozens of bullets. Sure, everyone is Made of Iron, but melee attacks are shown to hurt, and even kill.
  • The chiropterans in Blood+ need not be afraid of firearms. They regenerate so fast that each bullet wound disappears after a few seconds. In addition, their bodies are also massive enough to be able to take multiple hits without harming them significantly.
  • There are two examples in Brynhildr in the Darkness. Kuroneko can use her "magic" to destroy bullets shot at her in flight. However, she needs to know that she is shot at and be in a fight. A surprisingly fired shot has the same effect as of an ordinary person.
    • Hatsuna can regenerate quickly. No matter how often she is shot at, she regenerates again.
  • Very much played straight in Dragon Ball. In fact, this trope was used as early as the first chapter, where Goku cries out in annoyance from all the bullets shot at him by Bulma.
    • Nastily averted in Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection 'F', where Goku in his Super Saiyan Blue form is grievously wounded by Sorbet with a regular ray gun. Word of God states that this was due to Goku letting his guard down.
  • The anime Elfen Lied has the diclonius, which have such strong telekinetic powers, in the form of invisible arms, that they can effortlessly fend off bullets from pistols. However, the diclonius are different in strength, and there are some that are not so powerful as to be bulletproof.
    • Ultimately, however, it is inverted by the fact that most diclonius are still powerless against armor-piercing ammunition.
  • Fist of the North Star:
    • Guns are useless for the simple reason that there's no ammo left. Jagi carries a shotgun for the intimidation value, but he prefers Pistol-Whipping with it rather than shooting — he may not actually have shells. In fact, he manages to pull the trigger once. It misfires.
    • Played completely straight in an earlier arc, where Jackal takes a headshot, while running full tilt on a motorcycle, no less, which does little more than infuriate him.
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist, while guns can be effective on humans, they're utterly useless against the Homunculi. Most of the Homunculi have a Healing Factor from their Philospopher's Stones, and healing a headshot takes less effort than healing being blown apart, sliced in half or incinerated. Apart from that, Greed can harden his skin, Sloth is strong enough that tank shells are little more than an annoyance, and Wrath is fast and skilled enough to dodge gunfire. Riza Hawkye, a skilled sniper, gets annoyed when Ed warns her that her guns are useless against the "immortal army" of mannequin soldiers with Philosopher's Stones inside them, lamenting that it's an all too common situation for her.
  • Hellsing:
    • Guns are used by many characters in the series but can seem ineffective, mostly because they're being used against vampires, who are all but immune to normal bullets or, more specifically, against Alucard, who has an extremely powerful Healing Factor. Weapons loaded with silver or blessed ammunition have more effect. Speaking generally, except for Anderson (whose blades are silver and blessed), Walter and Alhambra (all of whom were defeated by the gun-welding Alucard), any character who does not fight using guns might as well not bother.
    • Averted by Alucard's pair of absolutely massive handguns, which are devastatingly effective against more or less anything. Justified, as one is loaded with .454 Casull rounds made from melted-down silver crosses, and the other weighs sixteen kilograms and fires explosive rounds that can demolish walls.
  • This could explain why many Nations in Hetalia: Axis Powers seem to prefer melee over firearms (with the likes of Switzerland more of the exception). Especially since they could apparently withstand headshots with little to no permanent side-effects.
  • Inuyasha:
    • Several soldiers try to kill an undead warrior named Jakotsu with their arquebuses. However, because he is an undead, the arquebus has no real effect on him, and he kills all the soldiers instead.
    • In one episode of the anime, a princess is in love with Sesshomaru. When her father learns about it, he goes with his soldiers to shoot Sesshomaru with arquebus. Although Sesshomaru was severely injured from an earlier battle, he is still able to fend off the bullets effortlessly with just one attack.
    • This is a fan theory with the youkai. In the anime you could only destroy youkai if you destroyed their "magic". Ordinary human weapons have not been able to do much against them.
  • In Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka, guns aren't worthless per se, but have a number of limitations in that magical beings are protected by shields, plus Disbeasts are just made differently and made tougher by magic (a Halloween class is stated to need multiple hits from 120 mm kinetic penetrators to be taken down without magic, and a Vorhees-class, seven times weaker, needs an RPG to be killed). That said, guns combined with magic are much more effective: if a Vorhees-class Disbeast has its shield destroyed by a Magical Girl a normal assault rifle can quickly take it out, especially if loaded with incendiary or explosive bullets, orichalcum-tipped .50 BMG rounds can harm Halloween-class beasts, and Magical Girls are prone to use guns that fire bullets infused with their magic.
  • Played with in My Hero Academia with the character of Mustard. Given the prevalence of heroes with any number of abilities able to stop a bullet, the use of this trope would be justified, so it’s more than a mild surprise when the junior member of the League just flat out shoots Tetsutetsu and Kendo. He only aims for their gas masks, but considering his quirk, it’s enough to give him the edge.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion:
    • Occasionally, Evangelions fight the angels with firearms, ranging from pistols to multi-shot bazookas and really huge sniper rifles. The shell casings from the Evangelions' weapons can crush cars, but the actual rounds do nearly nothing against the Angels. The Evas' Progressive Knives have killed more Angels than the skyscraper-sized rifles.
    • Shinji uses a rifle to great effect against Matariel, and the positron cannon works extremely well... but requires all the electricity in Japan to fire. This makes some sense as close range is required to dissolve an angel's AT Field.
  • One Piece:
    • The manga is an odd case where guns aren't worthless, in and of themselves. The times we see bullets actually connect they DO cause damage. The problem is that everyone in the series that gets guns used against them can either power through the injury, Dodge the Bullet, or are just flat out Immune to Bullets by virtue of a Devil Fruit power or other factor. Just as frequently, the bullets just whiz by them, even when they appear to be going right through them.
    • Played with in regards with a Fishman pirate named Fisher Tiger, who died after getting shot repeatedly. The character was able to withstand the bullet wounds themselves just fine but eventually succumbed to blood loss.
    • There are some characters that manage to make more or less regular bullet-firing guns work as very effective weapons, for instance Van Auger and several members of the Red-Hair Pirates. So it's not that guns specifically are poor weapons, just that personal strength is more important than weapon strength and guns aren't an especially common weapon of choice.
    • Donquixote Rocinante dies this way, from a combination of blood loss from multiple shots to the back coupled with later being shot point blank by his brother Doflamingo.
  • Averted in Puella Magi Madoka Magica. Homura fights exclusively with non-magical guns and explosives, and is easily the most effective witch-killer. Though it still isn't enough to single-handedly beat Walpurgisnacht. Mami's magical guns are also very powerful. Sayaka does pretty well with just swords, but she mentions how dangerous it is to be so close to her opponent, especially when Homura is setting off bombs in its face. Fridge Brilliance suggests that Walpurgisnacht is just flat-out immune to non-magical attacks, which is why she doesn't have to hide inside a barrier like other witches. The idea that Homura simply had absolutely no chance of winning no matter what she did is rather in-theme for the series.
  • Rave Master: Ellie wields two guns with exploding ammo. They win her all of one fight and are only of notable aid once. They hammer this home by having the Big Bad catch one of her bullets in his teeth when fired from too short a range to dodge.
  • Saint Seiya: Justified in the anime adaptation. While guns can harm the weaker Cosmo users and even some that aren't weaker (indeed at one point a soldier from the Sanctuary, who knows exactly what a Saint can do, tries to shoot Seiya from behind with an assault rifle) as long as they don't hit their armor, most Cosmo users are way too fast to be hit (in the incident above Seiya easily dodged the burst and punched his attacker out), and Saints, Mariners, God Warriors and Specters hit way harder anyway.
  • In Shiki, firearms are ineffective in vampires because they are undead and can regenerate quickly. Unfortunately, the villagers quickly find out how to effectively fight the vampires. A shotgun to the head though tend to do the trick.
  • In the first chapter of his titular series, Toriko tells his sidekick Komatsu that the beast they're hunting, or anything else in the hunting ground, can't be harmed by a gun.
  • Tower of God — Despite Levin being very successful with his rifle on the first few floors, almost nobody uses them and much rather prefers throwing spears as ranged weapons. The reasoning goes as follows: Air surrogate and Applied Phlebotinum Shinsu has weird physical properties… such as getting denser and more viscose the higher you climb the Tower. Living beings can adapt to these change, build a natural resistance against Shinsu and get stronger, so that their spears are more powerful. It needs to be mentioned that people get REALLY powerful while climbing the Tower. The power of guns, however, is limited, also they are quite expensive. And then there is that idiot that showed up for a death match with a literal marble shooter.
    • Becomes more of a Subverted trope as the series goes on, since while the your gun doesn't get stronger as you climb, you can buy better guns (and other weapons in general) on higher floors. One of Aka William's teammates uses a gun without a problem, and during a fight, Ranker Lero Ro shows that shinsu-boost skills work on guns that fire shinsu. Reaches its natural conclusion with High Ranker Lo Po Bia Lefav, whose sniper-rifle can one-shot even other, way more powerful High-Rankers... at the cost of only being able to fire two shots per day.note 

    Comic Books 
  • This trope is a given in the vast majority of Superhero comics, where many super-powered characters can often use their abilities to avoid being hit, can fight back with much more effective weapons and powers or are just plain Immune to Bullets. Shooting Superman is the frequent result, and nine out of every ten attempts by ordinary criminals to attack superheroes and ordinary police officers and security guards to attack supervillains end up with the Muggles getting their asses kicked.
  • Ascendant Star Spangled Squadron: Nearly everything is worthless against Manticore. Hell, they drop a missile on him and it just knocks him out for an hour.
  • Batman, Robin, Nightwing, Batgirl... are able to dodge bullets. They also all include some form of bulletproof vest in their costume.
  • The Flash has been known to dodge a bullet AFTER it had already made contact with the back of his neck.
  • The Incredible Hulk: The Hulk is impervious to most forms of damage, including gunfire.
  • Spider-Man technically can be hurt or killed with bullets (he does have some amount of Super Toughness and Healing Factor, just not to the point they won't hurt him at all), but his Spider-Sense and Super Reflexes allow him to detect anyone shooting at him and easily dodge, making it near impossible to hit him.
  • Shoot Superman or any member of his Kryptonian family and you will not be doing much more than throwing beer cans at them.

    Fan Works 
  • Blazin' Gears has Mr. Black tell Noel that guns have become a lot less useful with Ars Magus barriers around.
  • Averted in A Dead World. While Alex might not need them, Cain and Arcade do, and so does everyone else. Arcade even has a plasma pistol and is a good shot with it.
  • In Power Girl story A Force of Four, the four alien criminals are completely impervious to gunfire.
  • Half-Life: Full Life Consequences: "I have to kill fast and bullets too slow!"
  • In Hellsister Trilogy, after checking Supergirl's identity, a cop bitterly states that their weapons wouldn't have saved them if she had been her Evil Twin.
  • The Night Unfurls: Notably averted in a fantasy setting where the Hunters' firearms are used alongside swords and spears. In Bloodborne, guns are practically peashooters. In this fanfic, they hit like a friggin truck. The only downside of these guns is that they have to be reloaded every time a bullet is fired (because they are different from modern ones in Real Life). Since the gun users often fight in close-quarters combat, they have to rely on their melee weapons just as much.
  • No Chance for Fate: Averted in this Sailor Moon and Ranma ˝ crossover. Guns are exactly as deadly to all human life as you would expect it to be. As for non-human life, it does take a bigger caliber to make them just as deadly.
  • Nobody Dies: Averted by some heavy weapons, but largely played straight for conventional weapons such as EVA rifles or Unit 05 and Jet Alone Prime's weapon batteries, which are usually about as effective as Five Rounds Rapid.
  • Zig-zagged in Perfection Is Overrated. It is pointed out that guns have comparatively less power than the Himes' abilities. On the other hand, when faced with a SUE who has the ability to drastically reduce the effectiveness of everyone else's powers, and completely cut off one person's power, Natsuki obtains a pistol and kills the SUE in one shot. Then double subverted when Natsuki tries to kill the Avatar with the same gun, only for him to make all the bullets disappear, but he points out that nothing she could bring to bear would have any effect on him anyway.
  • Rise of the Minisukas: Since the Pallet Rifle proves to be utterly useless (Shinji cannot recall even one instance where she was effective against their giant alien enemies), Shinji is given a katana and an electromagnetic crossbow (the latter killing his target with one shot during his next deployment).
  • Slayers Trilogy: Averted. Mirror Lina's rifle has enough power behind it to punch through the shield component of Lina's Raywing spell. This is in spite of the gun in question being roughly equivalent to a blunderbuss.
  • Superman of 2499: The Great Confrontation: Adam Kent wears a full-body black disguise to make deals with Metropolis' crime families, but he gives away he is a metahuman when he lets their goons fire at him and their weapons fail to hurt him.
  • In the story of lard beepus, this is the case for when the Great Forest Bandit tries to use a gun, but according to Launch her own gun can blow up a planet, so she handily averts it.
  • In the backstory of Xendra, the Watchers Council made one with Wolfram and Hart a thousand years ago, during the collapse of the Western Roman Empire, and one of the caveats is enforced technology levels that make firearms worthless.
  • Zig-zagged in the Naruto/ Assassin's Creed crossover Shinobi's Creed. Guns fire is shown to be extreamly painfull to leathal. However they are using Renaissance era firearms that are to slow and inacurate to use against ninja
  • Zig-zagged in Zeppo: Halo. According to Faith's Watcher, guns are mostly useless against vampires (unless using specialty rounds) but are considered the best weapon for killing demons.
  • Subverted in Fall of Liberty. Guns are only useless if you don't aim for the head.
  • Crossover story The Vampire of Steel plays with this. A couple of vampires nearly gun Buffy the Vampire Slayer'' down, but their guns are useless when Supergirl barges in their lair.
  • The Multiverser Saga: Against enemies such as the Antiversers, the Multiversers tend to favour melee/ability-based combat over guns because they know a firefight won't get either side anywhere.
  • Reinforced in Superwomen of Eva 2: Lone Heir of Krypton when it is stated that not even Kryptonite bullets would harm Asuka because they are too fragile to survive the stress of being fired out of a fire weapon.
  • Played with in crossover fanfiction Vanishing Act:
    • While guns in the real world are very much as effective as it should be (unless there is a sufficiently fast Stand), they're outclassed by Personas/Stands in the Metaverse. On the other hand, if you weaken the target's cognition...
    • On the other side of the subversion coin, Naoto uses a gun to drive off Lars Gunsche.
    • Again subverted: Mista uses his revolver to kill some of Yaldabaoth's angels in an omake. While Sex Pistols may make the bullets hit harder and more accurately, it's still a normal gun he uses to shoot them.
  • In Kara of Rokyn, Lex Luthor manages to transfer Superman's powers to villains Starfire -nothing to do with the Teen Titan member- and Cyber, and it's stated that thermonuclear weapons would not even scratch them.
  • Played with in The Moon's Flash Princess: on one hand, normal guns are barely useful only on extremely weak "mook" youma, as it takes an entire magazine from a Type 64 battle rifle to kill one; on the other, a far more advanced and powerful pulser can one-shot weak youma and stagger stronger ones... But there's currently only one, and only one person qualified to use them, on the whole planet.
  • Played with in Wilhuff Tarkin, Hero of the Rebellion: when Tarkin, Rivoche and Luke try and scare off a coalition of Tusken tribes Rivoche opens fire with a blaster rifle so powerful it utterly disintegrates human-sized targets, but A'sharad Hett is able to deflect the shots in the sky... But when he's shot by Luke's slugthrower (basically, a normal firearm) the bullet gets through melted and sets his clothes on fire, allowing Rivoche to shoot him. Even then it takes three hits to disintegrate him.
  • In Chapter 23 of Pokémon Reset Bloodlines, when Belladonna reaches the door to the Power Plant's control room, she finds two guards who threaten her with their weapons. When she refuses to back off, they fire upon her, she blocks the bullets creating a Sludge Wave wall, and then she kills one of them spitting toxic fluid in his face. Her inner monologue reveals that she firmly believes in this trope:
    "She was quite used to guns. They didn't make her flinch. They were silly toys anyway, weapons of the powerless to try and pretend to be powerful. If you weren't a Bloodliner, train a Pokémon. A gun didn't make you look like anything but unsightly."

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Big Trouble in Little China: Jack Burton's stolen TEC-9 proves fairly effective against the bad guy's Mooks early on in the film, but when he confronts one of Lo Pan's Co-Dragons in the grand melee near the end, Thunder simply grabs his gun and smashes it.
  • Toyed with in the Blade Trilogy; normal guns will hurt a vampire, maybe even knock it off its feet, but then it'll be back up, complaining about the pain and biting your throat out. Now, if your gun happens to fire silver bullets or launch stakes, you'll have a pile of ashes that used to be a vampire.
  • Dark Was the Night: The creature endures multiple shots from a pistol, one with a shotgun, and possibly one from a hunting rifle, only to recover and quickly begin attacking again. Ultimately, it is a hunting knife in the belly that kills it.
  • G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra has much of it, at least for real life weaponry rather than the more fantastic ones used by the Joes and the Cobras - That Scifi Guy's review showed incredible disbelief that the villains' aircraft could effectively No-Sell anti-tank weaponry.
  • There are several examples in the first movie of Hellboy. Kroenen is an undead, so the bullets do not do much damage to his body. And the demon Sammael is way too fast for human shooters, and can regenerate quickly.
    • Ultimately, it is inverted by the fact that Hellboy also uses a pistol, but a rather large one firing special bullets made specifically to fight demons.
  • For the most part in the Jurassic Park movies, dinosaurs are either impervious or just plain lucky when it comes to firearms.
    • In Jurassic Park, Alan Grant's SPAS-12 loaded with slugs proved unable to even hit Velociraptors behind glass, and the weapon suffered a stovepipe jam in the end.
    • In The Lost World: Jurassic Park, the hunters pretty much killed nothing with their automatic rifles, and Ronald Tembo's double rifle was unable to take down a T. rex, because good guy Nick stole the bullets.
    • The mercenaries in Jurassic Park III open fire with Barrett M82s into the jungle, but drop them and run when confronted by a Spinosaurus.
    • The leading character Owen Grady in Jurassic World uses a formidable .45-70 lever-action rifle, but it could not even tickle the Indominus rex during the last battle.
    • It's zigzagged in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. Blue is successfully shot and badly wounded by a mercenary, but he only got the opportunity to do so at point blank range because she was currently mauling him. The Indoraptor later shrugs off direct shots from an assault rifle, though darts can penetrate its hide.
    • Jurassic World Dominion plays this straight again to a silly degree. The French intelligence workers infiltrating the dinosaur black market are nearly all immediately killed by the trained Atrociraptor pack because they seem to completely forget they're all holding guns in their hands that they could use to shoot the dinosaurs. This is especially egregious when Barry is trapped in the cabin of an abandoned boat and chooses to try and shoot the locked sunroof open rather than shoot into the open mouth of the dinosaur clawing its way in only about a foot in front of him. This is also used on a story-wide scale; despite all the dinosaurs running loose around the world and causing all sorts of mayhem, the movie never once brings up the idea of people just shooting the dinosaurs.
  • Averted Trope in King Kong (2005), where the humans' firearms are the only thing that keep them alive on Skull Island and prove effective against everything other than Kong himself.
  • The "dishonorable" guns prove inadequate against the "honorable" samurai during the first battle in The Last Samurai. The first battle was justified since the soldiers at that point were barely-trained rookies fighting with slow, muzzle-loading guns in a forest with poor lighting. The climactic battle in the movie, however, has better trained and equipped soldiers (with bolt-action rifles) up against the Samurai, and Algren and Katsumoto have to lure the soldiers into a close-quarters confrontation to stand a chance, and even though the initial skirmish ends in the Samurai's favor, their numbers are severely depleted. Then their final charge is only completely wiped out by Gatling guns.
  • Played with in The Matrix.
    • Firearms are very, very useful when it comes to dealing with ordinary humans inhabiting the eponymous virtual reality like policemen or soldiers. However, they are definitely less efficient when wielded by the latter against the resistance fighters — who, being aware that they are in virtual world, can bend its rules and accomplish feats impossible for normal human (during famous scene with shootout in the lobby, an entire platoon of soldiers fired at Neo and Trinity from assault rifles and shotguns for three minutes straight and failed to score a single hit).
    • When it comes to Agents, their superhuman speed makes firearms pretty much useless against them in most situations, as they simply dodge all the bullets fired at them. Still, they can be hit in right circumstances, such as shooting them point-blank (thus giving them zero time to dodge) or spraying so many bullets that it's impossible to evade them all (for example, by unleashing a Gatling gun on them).
  • Mostly true in Ninja Assassin, at least until the Final Battle, when Europol commandos arrive en masse with spotlights, body armor (mostly useless), and heavy artillery. Apparently, shooting a ninja lord in the back several times does absolutely nothing. The armor being useless is justified in that non-ballistic weapons like knives (and by extension, swords, shuriken, arrows, etc.) tend to go right through Kevlar weave. The ninjas' advantage of speed and hiding in the shadows is negated by spotlights and filling the area with lead.
  • Partly played straight in The One, as Yulaw's Super Speed abilities mean he can easily dodge bullets or block them with an object. When Jason Statham's character Funch shows his futuristic gun (actually, from a more advanced alternate reality) which he plans to use against Yulaw, Yulaw's good double Gabe tells him that guns haven't really worked on Yulaw before. Funch explains that his orders up until now were to take Yulaw alive. Now he doesn't care about orders. Naturally, in the end, Funch's gun proves nearly useless, and only Gabe is able to stop Yulaw with hand-to-hand combat.
  • The monster in The Relic is too fast for the shooters to get hit. And it's also massive enough that single hits can not do much damage. Ultimately, it is killed with a big explosion.
    • In the book it is inverted, because it is simply shot.
  • In both the comics and the movie, Spawn uses guns against some his adversaries (Overtkill in the comic, Violator in the movie). While Overtkill is easily defeated, Violator just shrugs off bullets. Cogliostro points this out later on, even saying "guns are useless", and shows Spawn how to use his own powers properly.
  • Species II shows several alien hybrids. These can regenerate so quickly that any firearms-related injury will not last long.
  • The effectiveness of ranged weapons in Star Wars vary depending on the target and the kind of weapon:
    • Against most of the universe, the commonality and power of blasters makes guns very useful to have at your side, since the only defense against them is some good armor (that may well fail against the stronger blaster pistols and rifles. Heavier mounted weapons are too powerful even for the strongest body armor) or solid cover.
    • Against Jedi, Sith and other Force users, blasters are almost worthless, as such individuals can deflect blaster bolts with their lightsabers (and even send them back at the shooter), or, in some cases just plain block them bare-handed. It takes a lot of blasters or a few fast-firing ones to overwhelm a Force user via More Dakka, or a stupidly powerful one only ever useful against Force users to push away the lightsaber through sheer kinetic energy (as Jango Fett does on-screen). So blasters are useless unless present in large amounts or are made with Force users in mind.
      • Hutts are also extremely resistant to blasters due their biology: being quite large, covered by a natural exoskeleton, and having large layers of blubber and muscles, most blasters just can't penetrate enough to cause a lethal wound. To kill a Hutt it takes extremely powerful blasters... Or ones made specifically to do the job, as happens in Star Wars: The Clone Wars when Sy Snootles assassinates Ziro the Hutt on Jabba's orders.
    • The much rarer real guns, called "slugthrowers" in-universe, are an excellent anti-Force user weapon: they can sense them, but the lightsaber can't deflect it as they can a blaster bolt. Lightsabers cut through stuff by melting it apart, and while a bullet would also be melted by a lightsaber that wouldn't make it any less aimed at your face. Instead of a blocked bullet, you get a superheated blob of liquid metal, retaining the same amount of kinetic energy, that probably still hits hard enough to get into your flesh. Where it's still liquid metal. Really, it's just a bad idea.
    • Slugthrowers are worthless against Mooks: soldiers such as Stormtroopers wear body armour that can easily shrug off bullets even from heavy machine guns without injury to the wearer, making slugthrowers completely ineffective against such opponents unless they're both large-calibre and use explosive rounds (and it takes lots of explosive, hence the necessity for large calibre weapons). After all, there's a reason blasters are the most common weapon of choice, and even Force users can wear bulletproof armour.
    • Finally, bowcasters (a strange mating of blaster and crossbow technology) are effective against almost anyone: they fire a large shell coated in blaster energy, allowing them to penetrate bulletproof armour before exploding with enough strength to kill the target even without penetrating, and against Jedi it's still a powerful explosive shell with enough power to destroy speeder bikes that sends out a powerful shockwave and high-velocity fragments that can penetrate bulletproof armour. We see it in action in The Force Awakens: Stormtroopers in bulletproof armour are sent flying with their armour shattered when killed by Chewbacca's bowcaster, and Kylo Ren, an armored Force user, is heavily wounded by a near miss.
  • In Terminator simple firearms are not completely useless, but the combat robots are so heavily armored that you can defeat them only with heavy guns.
  • The first Tremors movie goes back and forth on this: survivalists Bert and Heather do gun down one Graboid with their arsenal when it smashes through the wall into their basement "rec room", but the rest of the time, the creatures are burrowing through the ground, and even powerful guns can't get enough penetration to do any damage.
  • In V for Vendetta, V is a terrorist Warrior Poet defeats firearms police with nothing but knives and hand-to-hand combat. In his Last Stand, he kills thirteen men in three seconds (it's all in slo-mo) after they pumped dozens of rounds into him. He succumbs to the wounds after he has killed them all, leaving his protégé Evey to finish his mission.
    Creedy: We've swept this whole place. You've got nothing. Nothing but your bloody knives and your karate gimmicks. We have guns!
    V:, No, what you have are bullets, and the hope that when your guns are empty, I'm no longer standing, because if I am... you'll all be dead before you've reloaded.
    Creedy: That's impossible! Kill him.
    [the police riddle V with dozens of rounds, but he is still standing]
    V: Ahhh... Ahh... My turn.
  • In Yojimbo, the unnamed hero defends himself from a gangster with a six-shooter pistol by throwing a sharpened spade into the gangster's arm as he tried to aim it.

  • In Alcatraz Series, guns are not particularly effective against Smedry Talents, while daggers are. Justified, in that the more parts of the weapon that are there to be affected by a Talent, the more likely it's going to break on you.
  • Animorphs has some characters that turn into big animals like elephants and rhinos because they can withstand a few hits without it immediately affecting them.
  • In Roger Zelazny's The Chronicles of Amber, it's not so much that guns don't work as gunpowder doesn't ignite in Amber. Corwin gets around this by finding a powder which does ignite, after which the weapons work just fine.
  • Clockpunk in "Clockpunk and the Vitalizer" has what's basically a BB gun; it's non-lethal and doesn't do much more than irritate The Vitalizer whenever she shoots him. Halfway through the story, she doesn't even bring it with her when they meet again.
  • Guns are notoriously unreliable weapons in the world of The Coldfire Trilogy because the Background Magic Field has Your Mind Makes It Real qualities even for muggles. Attempt any technological procedure too complex for the naked eye to follow every step (like say, firing a gun) and your doubts and fears will infect the process and have a high chance of causing something to go wrong. Consequently, most people in this world go for simpler weapons and only use guns if they've been heavily enchanted to work right. The exception is Gerald Tarrant, who always carries a perfectly mundane pistol as a show of self-confidence and power, since it means that his will is so strong and disciplined he can use it without fear.
  • In The Dresden Files novel Proven Guilty, Harry advises against bringing guns on their expedition into Faerie because there are parts of Faerie where gunpowder is inert. Murphy and Thomas both bring guns into Faerie anyway and also carry melee weapons as well, and it turns out that firearms work just fine around Arctis Tor.
    • For the most part though, this trope is averted. This is because of two main reasons. First several types of magic and creatures, like Faeries, are severely weak to iron, which is found in steel. Second in most cases a physical object has more power than magic (unless the magic is meant to block physical attacks) and any physical object breaking a Wizard or Warlock's magic circle stops the magic. Even characters with very powerful supernatural abilities will often carry guns and use them to good effect, and the main character points out that in some situations a gun is actually better than magic.
      • There's also a more pragmatic reason: the very first Law of Magic is that Thou Shalt Not Kill a mortal with magic, and doing so earns you the wrath of the Wardens, relentless wizard "cops" who enforce the Laws with Anti-Magic Cool Swords. Of course, as long as you're not killing with magic, the Wardens don't give a crap; hence guns.
    • Wizards on Harry's level and above have what is called a Death Curse, used in the last moments of life and drawing all their power into one strike is something even the youngest Queens of Faerie are wary of dealing with. One hitman named Kincaid, who Harry has a business relationship with, tells Harry if he reneges on paying Kincaid's bill, he will avoid the Death Curse by sniping Harry from over 1000 yards away. Such a swift and unexpected death would make it impossible to cast his Death Curse back.
    • The RPG goes on at some length about how guns will get the attention of even the supernaturals when they're brought out. While it might not have the flash of a fireball, or the power of a troll's fists, the description notes that few things convey the idea that someone is deadly serious like pulling out a gun.
    • It is also because guns are so effective, drawing mortal forces, like the cops or military, is considered a Nuclear Option to the supernatural world. A clueless mortal with a pistol is an annoyance to, say, a Red Court vampire... But a squad of Army Rangers with assault rifles, machine-guns and grenades, who know what they're upp against and have time to plan, would quite likely kill the vampire and walk away without casualties.
  • Dune goes out of its way to make ranged weapons useless through personal shields, which make the wearer immune to all damage (except lasers, but that ends with both laser and shield going nuclear)—except, in order to allow air through, the shields have to be set to allow anything moving below a certain speed threshold to pass through. This means that soldiers and assassins are trained to slow their strike at the precise moment just enough to get through the shield. note 
    • Averted in the open desert on the planet Arrakis (Dune) itself, however: shields are one of the surest ways to call a sandworm. Consequently, the Fremen do not wear shields, and battles in the desert use traditional artillery and firearms.
  • The Emberverse book series of S. M. Stirling has the Alien Space Bats alter the laws of physics to render gunpowder functionally inert and thus tipping the balance of power towards anybody who'd spent any meaningful amount of time at a Renaissance fair.
  • How effective guns are overall in the Harry Potter series is never really established, but in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone Vernon Dursley tries to scare Hagrid off with a shotgun. In this showdown, Vernon is standing close enough for Hagrid to reach over and tie the gun's barrel in a knot. (In the movie version, Hagrid just bends the barrel so it's pointing up). Moral? Guns are worthless if your target is near and strong enough to bend metal.
  • In the world of Hell's Kitchen Sink guns are mostly useless against supernatural beings. Especially the divine kind, as the act of killing a god has to take effort. Guns are a way to kill in an easy way, which is why they don't work.
  • The Infernal Devices: So it's best to just bring your seraph blade with you. Although a few times, guns did come in handy... they just aren't magic.
  • In Edgar Rice Burroughs's John Carter of Mars novels the Martians have absurdly powerful firearms, but a nearly unbreakable cultural taboo against fighting a foe with "unequal weapons." So when an army of troops with radium rifles face swordsman John Carter, they instantly draw their own blades instead of gunning him down.
  • Journey to Chaos: Everyone (Except Eric) has no respect for guns because their projectiles can't kill anyone. The only exception is in Ceiha, because the "fantasy" part of Fantasy Gun Control does not apply there.
  • In the A Lord from Planet Earth trilogy, guns, as well as all forms of explosive, nuclear, and energy weapons, are generally disabled through the use of neutralizing fields. Somehow, the field generators are able to prevent the chemical reactions that cause a gun to go off from occurring. This leaves only one form of combat (apparently, nobody in that Verse believes in unarmed combat) — sword-fighting. The swords almost exclusively used in combat are Absurdly Sharp Blades, which requires a different style of sword-fighting than with normal bladed weapons.
    • In the second novel, the protagonist creates a gun that works despite the use of neutralizing fields. It uses compressed air to launch a small disc whose edges are also Absurdly Sharp Blades. These projectiles also act as hollow-point bullets and bounce around in the target's body, shredding his organs.
    • Since air guns work fine, one wonders why nobody is using bows and crossbows, with ammo tipped with an Absurdly Sharp Blade.
  • The German SF series Maddrax plays in a world in which the animals have mutated into huge monsters. And many of them are so big and massive that firearms are effective only in large quantities. And a few are even completely immune to pistol bullets.
    • Cyborgs and androids are generally made of metal, so firearms do not have much of an impact.
  • Martín Fierro: in song III, Fierro, a Gaucho recruited to fight the Indians at the frontier, complains that the Colonel did not give firearms to the new recruits, claiming they'd get them when the Indians attack. When the Indians attack, the army gives the soldiers spears, because firearms are useless without ammunition. Then a sergeant tells Fierro that the Argentinian army is invoking this trope because they really have ammunition, but they sell it to hunt ostrichs.
  • In Men at Arms, this trope is subverted by the gonne, a Discworld rifle. It's so deadly and terrifying that upon its invention the Assassins take it and lock it away because it makes killing way too easy and Vetinari orders it destroyed because it's so damn scary. The only person to survive a direct hit from it is Detritus, and that's because he's basically a living rock. It helps that due to Leonard of Quirm's particular genius the first gun came out not inaccurate and slow, but deadly from long distances and with an efficient loading mechanism. The gonne itself had other plans, though.
  • In The Mortal Instruments, shadowhunters generally never fight with firearms because those who hunt them are immune to them. The only exception are werewolves, but silver munition is necessary for them.
  • In Percy Jackson and the Olympians basically anything magical in natures (gods, monsters and so on) can only be harmed with magic or magical weapons. As a result demigods basically have to have weapons made from special metals, Celestial Bronze, Imperial Gold or Stygian Iron. Notably the first two are actually ONLY capable of hurting magical beings, leaving mortals totally unharmed (Stygian Iron affects both). In general such weapons will take the form of swords, spears and so on, although it is entirely possible to make bullets from these metals, and in one book Annabeth's father does exactly that. However, as noted in The Trials of Apollo, it's impractical on a large scale because bullets made of magical metals (which are also quite rare) vanish after a single use, while melee weapons can be used indefinitely.
  • L.E. Modesitt, Jr.'s The Saga of Recluce novels have fairly good reasons why any weapon using gunpowder is useless. Chaos mages can set off gunpowder from a distance (typically somewhere outside the maximum effective range of the average firearm), or else make themselves invisible so as to get close enough otherwise. It isn't until late in the series chronology that we see firearms deployed to any great effect by any considerable force, and then it's essentially because shell casings have been invented (the shells prevent a chaos mage from tampering with the powder). Until this happens, arrows (particularly iron arrows, because chaos mages have a rough time with iron) are nearly the only reliable projectile weapons in the series.
  • The Trigger invokes an accidental invention of a device that sets off all explosives within its radius, allowing for creating zones where it is impossible to bring in guns and where incoming explosives would blow up before reaching the target at the center. Criminals quickly find ways to exploit this behavior, so further scientific developments create a field where the explosive reactions cannot happen at all. Criminals proceed to use conventional missile weapons. Then, the scientists realize that they've been misunderstanding how the device works the entire time, and it can be used to prevent any specific chemical reaction including the metabolism of a target with specific DNA. The book closes on their horror at realizing they've created the ultimate murder weapon.
  • Wraith Knight: Firearms exist but magic is so prevalent that they're not noticeably better than enhanced arrows or bolts which can be outfitted with runes to create explosions. Also, barriers (magical shields) exist so guns are not nearly as effective as they are in our world.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Discussed in the Angel episode "Inside Out" by the demon Skip. He's the worst example yet, as he's a demon with a metallic hide... but once his horn is lopped off, Wesley opens fire on the gaping hole. Whoops.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer is a definite example of this. One episode even has Buffy picking up a gun and saying "These things. Never useful."
    • That's about fighting vampires, 'cause bullets hurt but don't kill them. Against Buffy herself... There is an early episode where Buffy was HELPLESS against a gun-wielding vampire, and survived only because Angel, shot early by the same vampire, rose and staked the attacker. In another episode, Buffy faced a powerful demon named The Judge that no weapon forged could destroy. Her usual arsenal of blade weapons wouldn't harm him; she eventually blows him up with a rocket launcher.
    • Supplemental material suggests that a number of factors, such as vampires getting the idea to use guns and the noise they make, make guns a somewhat unwise choice in hurting vampires. One Angel episode suggests vampires are quite apt at dodging bullets, as Wesley tried to gun down Angelus. He may have been missing intentionally because at the time he was attempting a Batman Gambit, but he would also know that it wouldn't kill him and Angelus could quite likely have been captured after a shotgun slowed him down.
    • By Season 10, some of this has gone out the window where some Slayers have gone full commando and effortlessly gun down superpowered vamps with headshots.
    • Most demons can certainly be killed with firearms, but it is believed that they can endure more munition than ordinary humans. However, there are a number of powerful demons, such as Illyria, who are completely immune to firearms.
  • Doctor Who:
    • In "Robot", as UNIT fires uselessly at a super-robot, the Brigadier says "Just once, it'd be nice to be up against something that isn't immune to bullets." Over time they adapt by developing specialized bullets designed to combat just about any conceivable threat they may encounter. The Seventh Doctor serial "Battlefield" has the Brigadier putting silver bullets to good use.
    • "The Sontaran Stratagem"/"The Poison Sky": The Sontarans use a "cordolane" signal to disable UNIT's guns by causing the copper shells of the bullets to expand, rendering them useless. So UNIT gets out some special bullets without copper jackets and deliver a curb-stomping.
  • In Earth: Final Conflict, it's eventually revealed that the Taelons, being Energy Beings, cannot be hurt by bullets (which begs the question of why Da'an seemed afraid of the sniper in the pilot). In the final season, the Atavus, their more savage ancestors, are part-energy and are likewise unhurt by ballistic weaponry. Only energy weapons can hurt them, and it typically takes several shots from those (unless they're low on energy). But it's not until the Grand Finale that humans come up with Hand Cannons powerful enough to One-Hit Kill an Atavus.
  • Shows up in some of the Kamen Rider series. Especially the ones where the hero is allies with the police, like Kamen Rider Kuuga, Kamen Rider Agito and Kamen Rider Wizard. Wizard even took it so far that hitting a mook with traffic cone had more effect than the gun one of the officers was carrying.
    • Kuuga plays with this in that guns start out worthless against the Grongi, but when they get an intact Grongi corpse to study, the police are able to develop highly effective Depleted Phlebotinum Shells.
    • The Fangire Buster is a gun used by non-Kamen Rider combatants against Fangire in Kamen Rider Kiva, but is never shown to be as effective against Fangires compared to the mostly melee based Kamen Riders.
  • In Stargate SG-1, the Replicators are initially able to be hurt by regular guns, but not by energy weapons, since they can absorb any kind of energy (except kinetic), although staff blasts are effective too, since they also carry kinetic energy, but it takes skill to hit a Replicator with one. Unfortunately, when the Replicators start creating humanoid versions of themselves, they turn out to be immune to gunfire, since they're actually made up of tiny Replicator pieces, which can be replenished faster than any gun can shoot. The bullets just go through them with no visible effect. The Asurans, their Pegasus Galaxy cousins, are the same way, except they only have humanoid forms.
  • Star Trek
    • Possibly averted in that the Borg can adapt to energy weapons, but are seemingly vulnerable to bullets and blades. Ranged weapons in general in later Treks don't pack the punch you'd expect them to. Whether it's energy weapons or actual bullets, Plot Armor is in full effect.
    • Star Trek: Picard: Energy weapons are useless against the Qowat Milat because those who have undergone the order's training can dodge multiple projectiles, as Elnor does in "Nepenthe" when he confronts Narissa and her minions. With his Super Reflexes and his tan qalanq, he can turn any firefight into a Never Bring a Gun to a Knife Fight situation, and his rivals end up as bloodied corpses before they even lay a scratch on him. In Season 1, the only time Elnor is vulnerable is in "Broken Pieces", when the Romulan soldiers have finally learned that this trope applies to him, so they ditch their disruptors and engage in hand-to-hand combat after they temporarily blind him with a flashbang grenade, which disorientates Elnor to the point where his speed advantage is negated.
    • Star Trek: Voyager playing this trope completely straight was especially ridiculous during the period where it's run overlapped with that of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, which averted it entirely. On Deep Space Nine most people die and even major characters lose limbs when hit; meanwhile on Voyager phasers were occasionally shown to do so little damage that they were more deadly as clubs (including normal humanoid mooks taking direct center of mass hits and not even slowing).
  • Played very straight in Stranger Things.
    • Close-range assault rifle fire seems to do no damage at all to either the demigorgon or the demidogs. But somehow a nail-studded baseball bat wielded by a teenager is highly effective.
    • Averted in the Season 2 finale, when Hopper fends off the demidogs while Eleven closes the gate. Although maybe those bullets were just knocking the demidogs down and not actually wounding them.
    • Played straight again in Season 3, where the shotgun that Nancy wields against the Mind Flayer seems to do very little, if anything at all.
  • A frequent problem on Supernatural, as the characters often face supernatural enemies who are Immune to Bullets or at least quite resistant to them, such as angels and demons. When the heroes go up against monsters who are affected by bullets, the type of ammo generally matters — often silver is required to kill the Monster of the Week, although occasionally the requirement will be different, like blessed iron or something. One MacGuffin of the series is the Colt, a special gun with special bullets (at first) which is apparently able to kill anything (with the exception of Lucifer and four other beings), and it is the only projectile weapon the heroes acquire that's that effective. Strangely, a demon actually invented an angel-killing gun at one point... fired it twice, and then promptly forgot about it.
  • Guns are useless in The Vampire Diaries as well… unless they're fitted with wooden bullets, which pretty much completely disable a vampire. And yes, both wooden bullets and silver bullets are possible IRL, just less effective than the usual lead. Wooden bullets will have very short range, and silver bullets have poor accuracy since silver is a much harder metal than either lead or copper and thus does a poor job of engaging the barrel's rifling.note 
  • Wonder Woman: One of the staples of every show is when Wonder Woman gets shot at and deflects the bullets with her bracelets. Notable moments include:
    • In "The New, Original Wonder Woman", talent agent Ashley Norman (played by the legendary Red Buttons) is the master of ceremonies for Wonder Woman's bullets and bracelets show where she deflects every bullet fired at her from a tommy gun. When Wonder Woman discovers that he's also a Nazi spy and breaks down the door of his hideout, he knows from experience that his gang's guns aren't going to help against her. His expression as he uselessly unloads his pistol at her is priceless!
    • In "The Feminum Mystique", Queen Hippolyta (played by Carolyn Jones) holds a bracelet and informs invading Nazi Captain Radl of his predicament.
      Queen Hippolyta: Go ahead. Shoot. That's what you came here for, isn't it? But you know what will happen.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Ascendant RPG: Stack a moderate amount of damage reduction and you'll be unable to be touched by anything other than fellow Ascendants.
  • In the Buffy the Vampire Slayer RPG, guns do only one-fifth damage to vampires, in line with TV show continuity. Similarly, guns are still perfectly effective on humans and most demons.
  • Call of Cthulhu: A Tommy SMG or a 12-gauge shotgun will reliably mince human cultists and low-level Mythos monsters like ghouls and Deep Ones, but larger entities like shoggoths, star vampires, dholes and Cthonians will shrug off firepower and slaughter the players several times over unless they happen to be marvelously well-equipped and lucky. Nothing you could possibly lift is high-caliber enough to even scratch Cthulhu himself, and not even artillery pieces will deter him for long. Cthugha meanwhile is a sentient ball of intense fire, and flying soon-to-be-molten metal blobs don't do much to him besides tickle. And of course, the human cultists can use all the same weapons and equipment the human player characters can (and also have roughly the same stats).
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • 3.5 falls squarely into this. While most settings don't really use them, the Dungeon Master's guide has rules for some modern weapons. Notably, they're treated as being harder to master than standard medieval weapons (exotic rather than simple, suggesting the difficulty is due to lack of familiarity), they don't do much if any more base damage than standard projectiles (and can't be modded to factor in ability score modifiers, but also don't suffer penalties for low strength), and there aren't any special rules for how they interact with armor or shields suggesting that they don't penetrate (which goes down to how abstract Armor Class works in the first place). They can still be enchanted, though.
      • This is due to the fact that characters gain hit points as they progress while weapon damage remains constant. This means that an experienced SWAT member is way more bulletproof (or can dodge more) than a rookie beat cop (who can die after one lucky shot from a 9mm pistol).
    • When players try and homebrew firearms, they either make them even weaker (taking minutes to reload in a game where a round is six seconds) or make them an absolute Game-Breaker that ignores all armor, magical or otherwise, and always hits for massive damage.
    • Of course, there are enemies in D&D that are simply immune to bullets for one reason or another. They'll pass straight through Oozes or other liquid creatures without doing anything, they're another physical attack for spirits to ignore, and against gigantic things like titans and the Tarrasque, you may as well be throwing pebbles.
    • 5th edition zigzags this: The Dungeon Master's Guide contains statistics for renaissance, modern and futuristic firearms, each more powerful than the last.
      • Renaissance firearms are essentially more powerful, shorter ranged and more expensive crossbows mechanically with no feat support until the release of Tasha's Cauldron of Everything. By default, their loading property means that they can only be fired once per action, no matter how many attacks you can normally make in a turn. This is a problem for most classes that use weapons because a large portion of their effectiveness comes from their ability to make many attacks in a turn. Pick up the Gunner feat however, not only is the loading property is ignored allowing for extra attacks but they are able to be fired in melee range without penalty, making gunners capable of dealing high damage to any foe within their range. As such, renaissance firearms are not worthless as long as they are in the right hands.
      • Modern and futuristic firearms are much more effective. They do much more damage, can be used with extra attacks without the need of the Gunner feat (making all other ranged weapons obsolete) and some get an Area of Effect attack (spraying an area with bullets that requires a Dexterity save instead of high armor class). There are no listed prices for these firearms or their ammunition as it is expected that the players will not have easy access to such powerful weapons.
      • The Artificer class can cast spells via the weapon (which can be a gun), enchant weapons (including giving them Bottomless Magazines) and the Artillerist subclass can summon magical cannons.
  • A deliberate stylistic choice in Burn Legend from Shards of the Exalted Dream. Because BL is about martial arts, firearms are incredibly weak and interact poorly with your ki, rendering you unable to use martial arts beyond Basic techniques while you hold them...and, if you take a hit while wielding a gun, you automatically lose a health stock. To make matters worse for gun-toting mooks, range is divided quite neatly into "near" and "distant", and the main projectile-trumping techniques, Aerial moves, are a) available to everyone and b) allow you to move from distant to near. The net result is that no-one in their right mind picks up a gun. Ever.
  • Feng Shui: Guns are funny things. Because of the rules, a single bullet can put down a mook with little problem, but named heroes and villains alike get the benefit of Almost Lethal Weapons when dealing with guns — against named characters, your average pistol is only going to cause as much damage as a kung fu warrior's punch or kick, and when fighting a high-Toughness character like a Big Bruiser, something like a dinky .38 snub revolver isn't going to do much to him except piss him off unless it's a signature weapon. Still, heroes and villains alike in the Heroic Bloodshed movies that the gun rules try to emulate are known for taking serious amounts of punishment, sometimes to Normally, I Would Be Dead Now levels, so this is reflective of genre: It is explicitly stated that the game tries to capture the atmosphere of Hong Kong action movies and doesn't even try to imitate reality.
  • In Nomine deliberately downplays the effectiveness of guns as compared to blades, hand-to-hand, and supernatural powers, because it's more thematically appropriate to a game involving angels and demons. Still, many characters will carry a gun anyway.
  • Ironclaw and its expansion Jadeclaw allow characters to purchase and use firearms. While a gun in Ironclaw is appropriately powerful, it's also ridiculously expensive, horribly inaccurate, slow to reload, and requires a reliability roll with each shot. If the roll fails, guns suffer from the unnerving tendency to fail in the worst possible way at the worst possible time, such as a dud fuse not firing or, even worse, a spontaneous powder explosion. With such issues only applying to firearm weapons, this means bows and melee weapons are much more practical to their users and much less likely to cause them to accidentally kill themselves.
  • Played unbelievably straight in Mind's Eye Theater's LARP rules, to the point where grappling is more effective than shooting someone in the face.
    • Extremely debatable depending on what game you are playing and what ammunition is in the gun - in fact, in many cases, this is entirely inaccurate. For Garou, a Combat Shotgun loaded with silver ammunition can unload four aggravated wound levels per attack against werewolves because of the bonus damage effect of both shotguns and fully automatic weapons, plus you can hit basically everything in a room with it at once. Put that in the hands of a Glass Walker armed with magical knickknacks or Gifts that give him unlimited ammunition and watch him expend Rage to turn entire packs of Black Spiral Dancers into salsa. That's not even bringing up chainguns...
  • Mutants & Masterminds exhibits this, much to the frustration of many of the players. Standard guns top out a 2-5 ranks of damage, equivalent to a good hard punch by a very well-trained baseline human. Most PC heroes begin at a 10 Toughness bonus, meaning that, when hit by an assault rifle, they're going to avoid any injury half of the time. The addition of Impervious removes the save entirely. Which is actually justified by the Four-Color superhero setting (and characters) assumed by default. When your Player Characters are essentially expys of the Justice League or The Avengers, most of them are gonna be unfazed by a street-thug's gat, or even a soldier's assault rifle. On the other hand, the more down-to-earth, human characters in supplements like Agents of Freedom (characters at power-level 5) have a mere 3 to 5 Toughness save, so guns are not useless against them.
  • Pathfinder addresses most of these in the Ultimate Combat supplement. "Early" firearms (roughly equivalent to 16th-18th century real-world firearms) are rare, expensive, require an Exotic Weapon Proficiency, slow, prone to misfires, and have much poorer range compared to bows and crossbows. However they inflict significant damage and basically ignore armour (but not other defenses) at short range. "Advanced" firearms (roughly 19th-century equivalent) are reliable, faster, still do good damage, have better range, and ignore armour at much longer distances.
    • They are also more popular in regions such as the Mana Wastes, where magic is less reliable. While guns can be enchanted like any other weapon, they lose some of their inherent appeal in a world where a magic wand can do most of the same things, and be less prone to exploding.
  • Averted in Psionics: The Next Stage in Human Evolution. Guns do substantial damage, even to espers.
  • Played straight in Scion where guns can are significantly less effective on the demi-gods characters than they are on mortals. Also, a gun will kill a mortal human but the game presents so many more effective ways to do so, like crossbows, which have a range and accuracy rating superior to a 9mm.
    • Guns are also the only weapons whose damage output isn't linked to a character's Attributes, so a gun fired by a God of War does exactly the same amount of damage as the same gun fired by a street punk. This makes guns severely underpowered compared to melee weapons or archery, once the PCs start accumulating dots in Epic Strength and Epic Dexterity.
  • Shadowrun has a blanket rule on the effectiveness of guns and explosives against supernatural entities—magical beasts and ghosts exist literally because Your Mind Makes It Real, thus only an attack that carries the wielder's intent can harm one — Good Old Fisticuffs, melee weapons, arrows, thrown objects or, of course, Magic and Powers. And a Cyborg will have a lot of trouble with them because Cybernetics Eat Your Soul. In other words, though it is a Cyberpunk game and every party must include at least one Street Samurai, Rigger and Decker, you also need at least one Wizboy because "Magic Must Defeat Magic!"
    • Outside of spirits, however, the trope is inverted. While it is, technically speaking, almost impossible to actually One-Hit Kill anyone in Shadowrun with a firearm, two to three good hits with a bullet usually does the job. Any player who thinks a "Street Samurai" is obligated to go into battle with nothing but a katana and the spirit of the warrior is bound to end up a punctured red mess on the pavement: In nine times out of ten (the tenth usually being a mage) firearms are generally the quickest and easiest way to go when you want someone dead.
    • As of 5th edition this is even backpedalled a little for spirits. Spirits do have "immunity to normal weapons" but if you want to check what that means in game terms then after running down the references (it is not a well organised book) you'll find that nonmagical weapons can hurt spirits, the spirits just get hardened armour (which is better than normal armour) against them. Crunching the numbers it turns out that, assuming average rolls on both sides, a good assault rifle used by a well trained shooter (specifically a shooter the 6 ranks which is the cap at character creation) could be expected to wound a force 6 spirit (the maximum a starting mage is likely to risk summoning). This is assuming the gunman is sensible enough to fire full auto and goes for 1 hit, the optimum tactic for this situation as it gives the spirit such a hefty penalty they can't make a defence roll and guarantees the shooter will roll enough successes (a five or six on one of the dice they roll) to increase the damage a little. However this tactic does mean the shooter will want to spend their next action settling their gun as recoil penalties in shadowrun are cumulative. So the bottom line is a squad of well trained and well equipped soldiers could take down an average type spirit. The amount of hardened armour spirits get does increase rapidly with force however, high force spirits are unlikely to be even scratched by anything short of very heavy weaponry.
  • Played with in SLA Industries, in which guns do massive amounts of damage, and are often the only way to penetrate the better armour suits in the game — but the 'bullet tax' levied by the government even on its own operatives (who are expected to lease all their equipment from said government) means that buying even one clip of ammunition often costs more than the players will earn in several missions.
  • In Spirit of the Century guns, fists, and melee weapons do all the same amount of damage. Because it's a Pulp World it's assumed that someone with a 3 in Guns is just as lethal with those guns as someone with a 3 in Fists.
    • Guns do retain an edge in range, for which the Fists skill notionally compensates by not needing a gun in the first place — genre-appropriately, it's expected that characters will be deprived of their weapons or at least opportunities to casually use them at least some of the time. And of course most pulp-style combat scenarios will be spending at least some amount of time at fisticuff range in any event.
  • Both Vampire: The Masquerade and Vampire: The Requiem rely on this. As vampires don't really have working circulatory systems, and everything else is functional solely because of The Power of Blood, guns will, for the most part, do bashing damage rather than lethal (comparative with being hit with a sledgehammer). Enough bullets will still screw them up (as will headshots, in some cases), but as guns mainly do damage by causing bleedout, vampires don't really have much to worry about. Averted when shooting at mortals, however. Guns do lethal damage to living targets, which most mortals cannot soak (try to ignore damage from), and deal more damage — and faster — than all but the most optimized melee builds. One to three hits from even the weakest pistol in the game will kill or incapacitate a human.
  • Warhammer 40,000 does this to a degree. While guns are still very effective weapons, they did want a way to use their chainswords, power swords, etc, and so despite guns being effective in Warhammer 40,000, somehow melee charges manage to be effective as well. Short-Range Long-Range Weapon resulted, to the n-th degree.
    • Helps that most close combat troopers are either a) Made of Iron, b) can get into combat fast, c) the units just has so many troops they can take a few hits or a combination of the three.
    • Generally, a unit is considered a close combat troop if 1.) it has a movement modifier and 2.) if it has more than 1 attack (either by a innate stat boost, close combat weapons, some special rule, or all of the above). The ability to negate enemy toughness, weapon skill and/or armor are also indicators of a good close combat troop (although there are instances where a unit does indeed have poison or power weapons, but lack the necessary numbers or attacks to actually use them).
    • The new edition changed the rules so that melee fighters can no longer jump straight from combat to combat with no chance to shoot them. This made shooty armies much more powerful, as previously small groups of elite melee units could easily roll up an entire flank of Guards or Firewarriors if they got into close combat.
    • This is also partly why Kroot are considered inferior close combat troops. They lack the Made of Iron-ness of other dedicated close combat troops (having literally no armor and mediocre toughness) combined with crappy close combat weapons that can't deal with other Made of Iron troops. The only reason they're still being used is because they're the only troops in the Tau Army that actually has any close combat prowess (which is not saying much).
    • In the modern world, personal armour is generally inferior to offensive weaponry - 40k is the other way round.
    • In-universe, the description given for the Lasgun states that it can take off limbs and cause fatal burns against most conventional targets (i.e: other humans) and its destructive force is comparable to that of a modern-day AK-47. The Bolt Pistol, standard sidearm to any Space Marine, is a one-handed RPG launcher. The problem is though, the targets are usually monsters with shells thicker than most structurally sound bunkers, supersoldiers clad in power armor surrounded by a forcefield/daemonic energies, undead skeletal machines that can regenerate their steel, and Eldritch Abominations that defy reality with every breath.
    • In Necromunda (a squad-sized game derived from the WH40K rules), close combat has a slight edge because when you take someone down with a sword, they stay down. Victims of gunfire may suddenly realise that it was Only a Flesh Wound, and make a partial recovery during the game or after the end. People taken out in close combat have a larger chance of developing long term injuries rather than making a full recovery.
  • Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay zigzags this trope, depending somewhat on edition and campaign setting. Generally speaking, guns are the most damaging ranged weapon available to player characters, have a much higher Critical Hit rate and are also Armour Piercing, but they take a long time to reload, are inaccurate, noisy, prone to misfires and above all very rare and expensive for private citizens to acquire. Unless you start the game with a gun-wielding career like Soldier (your career is randomly generated), odds are good you'll go through an entire campaign without ever seeing one. Bows and crossbows, by contrast, are abundant and easy to purchase after an adventure or two.
  • Warhammer Fantasy: Averted, for the most part: Guns are still slow to fire and load as any pre-cartridge firearms would be, but are quite powerful. Case in point, their per-shot damage is advantageous enough vis-a-vis their slow firing rates that the tabletop game models a musketeer model's attack (e.g. Empire handgunners) as 1 Strength 4 hit per round, whereas longbows, javelins, and most melee weapons have their attacks modeled as 1 Strength 3 hit per round. All firearms also get the Armour Piercing special rue, basically making them function with an extra Strength point against armoured foes. Meanwhile cannons may as well be railguns on the tabletop, capable of felling a Physical God from half a mile away with a couple good hits. Their effectiveness extends to the fluff - just ask Great Dragon Araugnir, who was decapitated by a single shot from a culverin. Or the greater daemon/minor god Skarbrand, who was reduced to chunks of gore by field cannon batteries. As a result guns are a mainstay in the armies of the Empire and most of the minor human factions, as well as the Skaven, Dwarfs, and Ogres
    • Ranged weapons are seen as unchivalrous by Bretonnian knights (even their feudal armies limit themselves to longbows and trebuchets), and the use of guns is forbidden on Bretonnian soil. The Bretonnian navy, on the other hand, is one of the most powerful in the world due to their enthusiastic adoption of cannons. There's also references to the use of bombards in sieges; presumably these are in disputed or foreign lands, allowing the same Loophole Abuse that lets them get away with arming their ships.
    • Dwarf guns could be considerably more powerful than the 16th-17th century level they average out at, but dwarves are so inherently distrustful of change that they won't use anything that hasn't been tested for hundreds of years before it's proven to work (and there are even some dwarves who hold guns to be a newfangled invention that will never catch on, preferring crossbows instead). Chaos Dwarf guns are even more powerful, but as Haunted Technology they tend to backfire on their owners, so they prefer to sell their creations.

    Video Games 
  • Alien: Isolation sets itself apart from every other Alien franchise video game by being a survival-horror game with an emphasis on avoiding combat as much as possible. There are guns, and they can kill, but you will quickly learn that using them often carries more risk than reward. While organizations like the Colonial Marines are equipped with automatic and heavy weapons that are specifically designed to take out light-armored enemies, Sevastapol is a civilian-owned facility and its marshals use weapons and ammunition with the lowest possible risk of causing a hull breach, which is unfortunately exactly the kind of firepower needed to kill a xenomorph. At best, Ripley gets a 6-cylinder revolver, a 4-shell shotgun, and a jury-rigged bolt gun- none of which deal any damage to the xenomorph (who will kill you the moment it touches you), and all of which will alert it to your presence. There are only 2 uses for the guns- killing hostile civilians and destroying hostile Working Joes. In either case, distracting them is better, while sneaking past them is the best option. At best, the flamethrower shines as the only weapon (besides explosives) that will scare the xenomorph off... as long as you have fuel.
  • Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura notably had firearms be severely underpowered compared to melee weaponry. This was especially odd given that the background mentioned a war between two of the kingdoms of Arcanum in which the elite knights of the more backward one had been easily slaughtered by volley fire from poorly trained Tarantian conscripts.
    • Guns do have advantages over tech melee weapons, such as range and higher accuracy for more damaging criticals. But thrown weapons of either tech or magick have major advantages over guns; they're faster, magick doesn't cause them to fail and the uberweapon for the type becomes available much earlier in the game. The Aerial Decapitator does make guns look worthless.
    • Additionally the game suffered from a bug causing damage being calculated per shot, not per bullet. This caused mechanized rifles to consume several bullets per 'burst' but still dealing the damage only slightly higher than damage of a simple pistol.
    • However the elite knights were slaughtered by huge volleys, one on one an elite warrior is better than a lone soldier with a gun, or rifle; unless that soldier has exceptional gear, armour and the like, it's the peasant armies that beat the few knights.
  • BlazBlue's Noel Vermillion is the only gun-user among the player characters, and while she's not low-tier, she doesn't exactly do killer damage easily. Her guns can't even reach across the whole screen except with the Distortion Drives.
    • Somewhat averted as Noel's guns in-story are Nox Nyctores class weapons; one of ten of the most powerful weapons in the lore. They are also not ordinary guns and are designed to be close/melee ranged. In-story, these guns have the ability to shoot targets behind walls and barriers, although this isn't really executed in game.
    • In addition, characters in the BlazBlue universe do not use regular guns or gunpowder. The in-story explanation being that conventional weapons had no effect on the Black Beast, and the only way to damage the beast was through seither-powered Ars Armagus (which essentially allowed mankind to use Magic). Since seither came from the Black Beast, concentrations were highest in proximity to the beast and allowed for more efficient usage of Armagus. This lead to weapons being designed for close- or melee-ranged, and after the Dark War, the population just continued to use Ars.
  • Mostly played straight in Bloodborne. Firearm damage is pathetic compared to melee, with most guns taking several shots to kill basic Huntsmen enemies you can dispatch with a couple of swings of an axe or cleaver from the very beginning of the game. However, they have the unique ability to stun enemies if the shot is timed correctly, which can get you out of a sticky situation and give an opening for a high-damage counterattack. The backstory justifies this by stating the guns the player uses have specialized ammo named Quicksilver Bullets, a mixture of mercury and magic blood. They do less damage by default than normal bullets but can fit any Hunter-deigned gun or be used as a medium for magic. The flavor text explains that the the Beasts that make up the majority of in-game enemies are so tough and strong that man-portable firearms are of little use against them, making super-strong, super-fast Hunters swinging melee weapons an overall better option (it's not like one of them would get more mileage out of a regular percussion cap rifle than anyone else; a giant axe is a different story). It can be subverted however, if you level up the "Bloodtinge" stat high enough; certain guns can down bosses ruthlessly and efficiently.
    • Conversely, firearms used by enemies are quite damaging against the player character. Justified in that not only do monsters tend to be much tougher than even the Empowered Badass Normal player character, but one would also expect a more far gone hunter to have a high bloodtinge.
    • Averted by the only two firearms that actually take advantage of the fact that the Hunters are super-strongthe Gatling Gun and the Cannon. The former does about as much damage as other firearms like the Rifle Spear and Hunter Pistol per shot, but with a much higher rate of fire and capacity.note  The latter is basically a light field gun that fires explosive shells; it doesn't gain much from a high bloodtinge stat, but its base damage is so high that it can kill most enemies in a single hit (and take out small clustered groups) and, with the help of a Critical Attack multiplier or Bone Marrow Ash, take out even bosses in just two or three shots. Both weapons are prevented from being Game Breakers because they're both Too Awesome to Use; even with min-maxed stats, you can only carry enough ammo to fire the Cannon three times or the Gatling Gun for a few seconds, without resupplying.
  • In A Blurred Line, Agency Guards are equipped with assault rifles with added laser sights. Yet, when they’re first fought, they still deal roughly the same damage per turn as what Talan and Arden can inflict with a wrench and a knife, respectively. Similarly, Upgraded Walker robots appear to carry twin gatling guns on their back, yet they still inflict barely twice the damage that regular Security Walkers do. For reference, if Talan is Level 8 and decked out in appropriate gear, that’s 6 damage versus 3, with full health being 79. Oh, and Red Wylden, a monster on the other side of the river, will inflict around 9 with regular two-handed swords.
  • Several of the newer Castlevania games have guns (one with silver bullets!) but they are generally 75% as strong as the weapons you already have at that point. To rub it in, the bullets only go about five steps forward before vanishing!
    • In Castlevania: Circle of the Moon the character can get a gun as a special attack that deals double the damage of the normal attack, however it's incredibly slow to load.
    • In Order of Ecclesia, there's Albus, who is quite effective with his gun, firing both regular shots, a light/dark spiralling shot and a giant ball of darkness the game describes as using the power of spite!
      • In Hard Mode, he can even shoot Ignis, Grando, and Fulgur out of his gun. In other words, he can use magic fireballs, icicles, and ball lightning as bullets. Not so worthless now, is it? And yet, one of his best attacks is a flaming kick.
    • Symphony of the Night subverts this trope with the skeletal 'Bone Musket' enemy. They appear in groups of three and stagger while they're reloading to lay down about one shot every two seconds, and they really hurt! About the only advantage you have is that most of the time you're above or below them, and they can only shoot straight ahead. Not surprisingly, the highly powerful Shield Rod is guarded by a group of Bone Muskets inside a thin corridor.
    • In Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow a high tech rifle was the Bragging Rights Reward.
      • There was also the pistol, which could be useful if not for the fact that you could get Claiomh Solais at the same time, if not a little earlier.
    • In Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow guns are fine weapons (and actually gain quite a rate of fire with a Lag Cancel), but there are only 2 in the game (outside of the rocket launcher) and they quickly get outclassed by the (still progressing) melee and throwing weapons.
  • Depending on your choice of weapon, guns in Cataclysm can do lots of damage, be used reasonably effectively by starting characters, mount a large number of Gun Accessories, be capable of automatic fire, shoot clear out to the edge of your character's range of vision, and can be used with magazines to reload lots of ammo at once. You will need this power, because zombies are attracted to loud noises and guns are so loud that using one will cause all the undead across multiple city blocks to come looking for whoever's ringing that dinner bell. Most players would rather use melee or stick to quiet ranged weapons like crossbows, which have their own drawbacks but at least won't bring a horde down on your head. That being said, new players are still advised to carry a gun in case they get cornered by powerful enemies, and later on a well-prepared player who can plan around the noise drawback can use guns to kills things at a rate other weapons can't match.
  • Present in Chrono Trigger. Lucca's guns are basically your standard "magic user weapon", which deal damage just high enough to be occasionally useful, but far less than the guys with swords. To make things worse, as a projectile weapon it's boosted by the Hit/Accuracy stat, rather than the Power/Strength stat. Not only are there far more accessories that boost Power/Strength, but there are no Tabs/Capsules that boost Hit/Accuracy as well. Plus, for comparison, Chrono has about 70 base Power/Strength by the end of the game (at about level 48 or so). Lucca has only 49 Hit/Accuracy at level 99.
    • Guns use the attack stat and are thus more powerful in Chrono Cross, but they are still no more powerful than other weapons of their rank.
  • Due to various gameplay balance concepts, the developers of City of Heroes made ranged attacks somewhat weaker than melee attacks. This has the upshot of player characters with range preferring to get shot for less damage than being punched. Powers such as Rise To The Challenge, however, offer a defensive bonus based on the number of enemies within melee range. This makes the character more vulnerable to groups of gunfighters, since they tend to be spread out, although bowmen are just as deadly.
  • Cryostasis plays this straight by giving you less-than-impressive guns—the first one you get is a bolt-action Mosin-Nagant that appears to have been made in the 1800s. The one and only submachine gun is necessary against a few bosses, but a lot of the time it's more effective to just hit monsters with a lock and chain.
  • In Darksiders War gets a Hand Cannon that is a four barrelled, repeating revolver custom made by an Ultimate Blacksmith, with infinite ammo, and named Mercy. It takes about twenty shots from it to down most mooks that can be Action Command auto killed with a single button. While functionally pointless against even average mooks, it comes in so handy when fighting flying demons, or picking off/wearing down creatures when on horseback while you charge in to hit them with your sword.
  • Averted in DC Universe Online with dual pistols and rifles, which are just as effective as other ranged weapons but aren't as good for close-range combat as proper melee weapons.
  • Played With in Deadly Premonition. Guns will do less damage per round than a melee weapon per strike, and the reload animation can give foes time to close the distance while a melee weapon can just keep swinging. However, this is balanced by the fact that ammunition can be bought and guns can take out foes from a distance while melee weapons are breakable and require getting in close range (and woe betide to you if your weapon breaks while in reach of your enemy, the majority of which are close-range attackers themselves). Of course, then there are the weapons which have unlimited ammunition or are unbreakable, but those are only available from side-quests.
  • Subverted in Defense Of The Ancients: All-Stars: The only gunslinger, the Dwarven Sniper, is for various good reasons considered a low-tier character. However, none of these are innately because he uses a gun.
  • Guns in Devil May Cry do pathetic amounts of damage, and aside from a few special attacks (and cut scenes), are generally pretty useless. That being said, the game's Stylish Rank mechanic will encourage players to make use of them anyway since doing the exact same damage-efficient thing every time doesn't increase the Rank.
    • Apart from extending combos. A cushion of handgun bullets might not have the raw DPS of a sword, but if the enemy is in the air then they're not hitting you. Shotguns deal fantastic knockback and have a great chance of interrupting an enemy's attack. Simply, melee weapons will deal great damage, but the firearms have utility.
    • Most titles also feature an enemy type or two whose defenses favour melee attacks, such as the Bloodgoyles in Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening who are intangible and immune to attack until you use Ebony and Ivory to fill them with lead. There's also the Hell Wraths from 3, which explode when they take damage and are best handled at range, and the Blitzes from Devil May Cry 4, which need their lightning aura shot off before you can melee them.
    • The ranking system also doesn't favour gun attacks as it rates you for speed of victory and combo variety, whereas guns tend to lack power and versatility compared to melee attacks. Using the Gunslinger style gives guns more options, but that choosing that means you aren't using a different style to enhance your dodging, blocking or melee attacks.
    • Not to mention the bullets fired upon the main badass Half-Demons such as Dante and Vergil which might as well as be hot air. Lady ungratefully shoots Dante twice in the face after he gives her an Unwanted Rescue and it doesn’t do more than annoy him (although he is effected by the recoil). Dante in his fight with Vergil unloads an entire clip on his brother, who just Rule of Cool sweeps them of the air by rotating his katana before lining them up and smacking them back at Dante.
  • In Devil Survivor, the characters' Hit Points and stats are justified by the harmonizer tech in their demon summoning PDAs, which allows Puny Earthlings to 'roll with it' when attacked by a demon and avoid getting instant-pulped. For some reason this also works against human guns, who are a very rare enemy-only physical attack that is quite underwhelming. Although they do deal triple damage to humans, that triple damage still usually isn't enough to simulate the Real Life effects of burst-firing an assault rifle point blank at an unarmoured teenager with intent to kill.
  • Averted in Dex, where shooting someone from even a basic pistol kills them in seconds, as opposed to realistically longer and fairer melee. Bullets will run out, however, and new clips cost money, so Dex’ll often have to fight with her fists regardless. On the flip side, Dex can be killed quite swiftly by the gun-wielding enemies, too, especially in the early game. Getting the Ballistic Dermal Layer augmentation (which halves the ranged weapon damage) will soon become a priority.
  • Certain enemies in Digital Devil Saga are in fact weak to firearms, but using them requires wasting a turn to switch back to human form (unless you're ambushed, whereas the battle starts with your characters in human form) along with the loss of all skills you'd be able to use while transformed. It is averted in the sense that firearms are the only option available as a human.
  • In Disgaea guns are a 'trick' weapon, with its primary bonus being that it damages based on your HIT stat and drops speed, making them the primary weapon against dodging enemies. They fall behind axes, swords and possibly also bows in damage, and have a range of 4 to 5 — the same as the movement range for most offensive melee-classes.
    • They also have no area-of-effect attacks, which makes them pretty bad for Level Grinding in Cave of Ordeals 3, and since they're based on Hit rather than Atk you can't as easily swap them for a sword. On the magic side, there is no spell for increasing Hit, while there is one for Atk.
    • They were also nerfed in the second game, in which they can only fire in a straight line (the four cardinal directions)
      • The third game is where they got changed up, now running off of HIT and SPD. Many of their skills were now Area of Effect, making grinding much less of a chore. The fourth game gave them an exclusive evility that expanded their range, giving them attack range like a bow. (Said evility is in the fifth game as well.)
  • In Dungeon Siege your dungeon crawls take you to a lair of goblins that use gatling guns, flamethrowers and grenade launchers, and also drop these weapons for the player. They are acceptable, but when you move on in the story, the enemies will be dropping bows again, which will invariably be stronger, in terms of range and damage. However, guns have special abilities that bows and crossbows simply do not have. The Gatling gun and Flamethrower both can hit/pierce multiple enemies and containers; useful for crowd control. The grenade launcher deals lots of area damage, and its projectile has physics in the normally static game (it will bounce until detonation, can be exploited for distance). Also, the grenade itself sheds light; which can be used for scouting dark corridors (particularly the Pit of Despair dungeon).
  • Averted in Elona. Guns deal good damage at range and have infinite ammo. Compared to archery, bows and crossbows have slightly longer range (about one to three squares depending on weapon type), but guns hit harder and it's not hard to get into effective range. In general, they're a perfectly fine weapon choice that can take you all the way through the game.
  • Eternal Darkness: in the levels set from World War I onwards, guns do considerable damage; however, bladed weapons have the advantage of allowing the player to hack the heads and limbs off zombies and, being a horror game, have no ammo concerns.
    • The first time you can actually use a rifle on a boss, it laughs at you:
      Black Guardian: "The tools of your puerile civilization are of no use against the Power of the Planes."
    • Then it ends up averted in the next to last level where the game drops an OICW on you along with enough ammo and grenades to spam everything.
  • In the Fallout series of games, having a low skill in guns makes them utterly worthless weapons, subject to low damage, poor aiming and frustratingly common jamming problems. Of course, the majority of guns in the setting are also decades or centuries old, which perhaps explains their lackluster effectiveness. Guns are certainly not useless in Fallout Tactics but your squad mates often make them so. It's frustrating to arrive back from scouting just in time to watch your machine-pistol toting allies being bludgeoned to death by a man with a chair leg. Fallout 3 and especially 4 greatly tone it down; There are several perks to help you deal more damage to enemies with different kinds of guns, but the newer games implement enough First-Person Shooter elements that player skill can make up for poor numerical accuracy.
  • In Fell Seal: Arbiter's Mark, guns do less damage than bows or crossbows and are among the weakest weapons in the game. To compensate for this, they have the greatest range of any weapon type: the game’s best gun can hit targets from 10 tiles away, twice as far as the best bow or crossbow.
  • Final Fantasy is, as always, the seminal example.
    • To start us off: Barret from Final Fantasy VII has a gun stuck on his arm that can practically shoot cannon balls, and Vincent uses pistols as his weapon of choice, but they only cause as much damage as Tifa's fists or Cloud's oversized sword.
      • It's even worse for the enemies; their guns are lucky to do a tenth of the damage that Cloud's detached helicopter rotor does.
      • The very first enemy you meet in the game punches for more damage than when they shoot you.
    • In Advent Children, Cloud gets shot at point blank range directly between his eyes. It breaks his sunglasses and gives him a tiny scratch. Then, at the end he gets shot in the back and is seriously wounded, but only because Yazoo and Loz upgraded their weapons with loads of materia.
    • Downplayed in the Final Fantasy VII Remake, as Barret can use his power shot more frequently, and Rufus has professional Gun Kata training and laser ammunition that make his boss fight nearly impossible to do without getting thoroughly wounded multiple times.
    • Both played straight and averted by Final Fantasy VIII. Though the game itself states that melee weapons deal more damage than guns, it also points out that modern technology allows for greater weapons yields than magic. Also, Irvine, the gun-wielding party member, is capable of doing incredible damage with his rifle, and the specialist ammunition he carries can amplify that damage to ridiculous levels, and Laguna, who carries a machine gun, does most of his damage through the use of raw firepower and grenades.
    • In Final Fantasy X-2 the Gunner's rapid shot technique is one of the weakest in the game until combined with the catnip accessory, whereupon it becomes one of the two most powerful attacks in the game. The rapid shot technique is also useful in starting up a combo, giving a boost to damage for a follow up attack.
    • Final Fantasy XI makes use of the first generation of handheld firearms such as flintlocks and blunderbusses, fitting their real-life counterparts in use delay, but not so much their effectiveness against small rabbits at close range, although these bunnies can destroy anyone, so it's not that bad.
    • Final Fantasy XII uses guns, but they have low attack power compared to swords or other weapons for balance reasons. The quirk here is that guns ignore defense, so a weak character can do a decent amount of damage to enemies if you get guns early in the game and you can do even more damage if you use elemental bullets on enemies that are weak to it. By the halfway point to the end of the game, your other characters will be strong enough to outclass gunners and attack faster since guns have a slow wait time. Not only that, but most enemies and bosses by this point will have a passive resistance to guns, making gunners do only a few hundred points in damage compared to the 2000 damage they were doing earlier in the game.
    • This trope is all over the place in Final Fantasy XIII. One of your party members, Sazh, uses guns and has the weakest stats, but compensates for it by being able to hit twice on every attack AND having better bonuses on his crafted weapons. His Blitz attack is a textbook example of More Dakka. Late in the game there are human mooks carrying bazookas that are potential game-enders if they are not dealt with first.
    • For balance purposes; guns have the highest range in the Tactics series but are also very weak. (After all what'd be the point of having melee weapons at all if you can just slaughter enemies before you even get in their range?) However, you can actually use abilities that have weapon range with them — Gunners and Cannoneers with Ultima. OUCH.
    • Guns in Tactics have just about the best attack range in the game, but rarely do as much damage as a solid sword... unless you find one of the rare varieties that shoot magic at the enemies instead of bullets, anyway.
    • Played straight in Final Fantasy Tactics A2. Guns do have long range, but the strongest gun has an attack of 35, as compared to mid 50s for other ranged weapons, about 60-80 for melee weapons that are actually intended to be used as such, and a whooping 92 for the strongest weapon (Knightswords). Even staves and rods are stronger than guns for heaven's sake. Add in that Fusiliers have terrible growths across the board...
      • But if you add in that Fusiliers learn loads of attacks that cost no MP and have decent chances of causing Status Effects while still causing regular damage to their enormous range then you still have a great supporting unit.
      • If you give Gunners/Fusiliers Onslaught as their secondary ability set, they can use Ultima at a ridiculous range, and if you have them level up as Moogle Knights they'll have much better attack (somehow).
    • This is averted in Final Fantasy XIV where guns are exactly as effective as you'd think in a setting that holds somewhat close to reality, mostly held away by Fantasy Gun Control. Admiral Merlwyb is a crack shot with her dual pistols, and her bullets are treated as a One-Hit Kill when we see her fight, and if a boss uses a gun odds are it will be attached to one of their deadliest attacks (Captain Madison for example, will focus on a party member and shoot them until he takes enough damage or they die). Player Machinists are also expert marksmen with a slight tinting of The Engineer, though their bullets are mentioned to be ether compressed into physical form by their tool kits to justify Bottomless Magazines.
    • Guns in Final Fantasy XV generally do less damage than swords and lances and always do less damage than greatswords. They also do pitiful damage at range (sometimes just 1 or 0 damage), so it counterbalances their advantage there. They are also the only primary weapon type without a corresponding Royal Arm.
  • Fist of the North Star: Ken's Rage has Jagi and his dual Sawn Off Shotguns. Actually firing them is nearly pointless — their range is short, their spread is wide, and damage is distributed between each pellet he fires, so they basically can hit a lot of people but don't really do much in the way of killing them. Even his bazooka still takes several blasts to kill someone. Conversely, Kenshiro, Toki, and Raoh, the Hokuto siblings who exclusively use martial arts, can reduce the average mook to Ludicrous Gibs just by looking at them funny. The same also applies to the setting's Automatic Crossbows, with a dozen bolts being substantially less damaging than a punch in the face.
  • Averted in Greedfall, where guns are Game Breakers that can easily decimate most foes. While normally limited by the necessity for ammo, by investing into the Science skill tree (which can be boosted by equipment) it becomes very easy to make bullets in the hundreds.
  • Infinity Blade: Guns do NOT work in a setting where the average mook can take fifty blows to the head before dying (genetically enhanced supersoldier or giant robot, take your pick), and magic (which is advanced teleporter technology) is way more effective at vaporizing an enemy's advanced armor plating. Effectively, the tiny force of a gun would be the equivalent of dealing scratch damage multiple times as the titan closes the distance and crushes their opponent in a single blow. As a result, gun technology has stagnated and is expensive to craft, while robots and rocket science have progressed slowly. Isa does carry a crossbow that shoots plasma bolts, but her cheap shots just do a little scratch damage.
  • Zig-zagged in Iron Gaia. The basic Security Guards appear to be equipped with guns, yet they still inflict less damage then Carter does with a Scalpel and the Rover with a Maintenance Laser. Firearm-wielding Replicant Soldiers and Captains will also inflict damage roughly comparable to Carter's melee attacks. However, a boss-level sword-equipped Sigmoid is significantly weaker than rank Hover-Gunner Droids: they easily inflict 18-24 damage with bursts of gunfire and 40 with missiles, while he’s lucky to get 9 damage per attack.
  • Jade Empire zig-zags this trope in Mirabelle, a 16th century flintlock you can get from a Side Quest. Mirabelle is far more effective against most supernatural foes than it has any business being (just how effective would a lead ball be against a solid-stone golem anyway?), deals more damage per attack than any weapon, martial style or magic in the game, and allows you to stun-lock human foes due to Blown Across the Room. Still, it takes a distressing amount of musket balls to take down even basic human mooks; certainly more than Ser Roderick uses to reduce an opponent to Ludicrous Gibs during his Establishing Character Moment.
  • Though not for lack of trying, no dinosaurs are ever killed with guns in Jurassic Park: The Game. The only firearm-related fatalities in the whole game are Bravo Team, after Vargas starts hallucinating due to a venomous bite and begins shooting at his own men. Oscar averts this, however, by shooting Vargas in the shoulder, incapacitating him without killing him.
    • A weird aversion occurs in the second episode. A Herrerasaurus lands on the coaster car in front of Jess. Nima draws her gun and tells Gerry to get down. She then shoots a bit of scaffolding overhead, which falls and knocks the dinosaur off. Why she doesn't just shoot the dinosaur, which would be quicker, more helpful, a lot easier than shooting a rope, and safer than risking hitting everyone with the scaffolding, is never explained, but the most likely explanation is that she didn't want to risk shooting Jess.
  • While we see very few guns in Kingdom Hearts (Port Royal even replaces them with crossbows), Clayton has a shotgun that he uses to hunt 500 pound gorillas, which nevertheless deals comparatively little damage to an unarmoured fourteen-year-old.
  • Knights of the Old Republic is the virtual epitome of this trope; blasters are piss-weak and have barely more range than your arm (and level design often fails to give ranges higher than your elbow half the time).note  This all the more insulting because ranged weapons are actually highly useful in the Star Wars d20 ruleset the game is supposedly based on. The lesson? Much like the prequel trilogy, it's all about the lightsabers, baby.
    • The relative uselessness of blasters and the prevalence of melee weapons is explained by the recent proliferation of personal shields — which kind of falls flat given that there's no Gameplay and Story Segregation about this; if an enemy has a personal shield, they will actually use it. And most of them are damn near useless anyway, only protecting you from about two rounds' worth of attacks per charge.
    • For that matter, lightsabers in KOTOR are ridiculously weak compared to what's seen in the movies and other non-game media. "Realistic" lightsabers should not bounce off your enemies like a nerf bat, and allow you to cut through that pesky Insurmountable Waist-Height Fence.
    • While this trope is usually played straight, it is possible to make a highly effective blaster scoundrel Jedi by focusing on maximizing your number of attacks and using force powers to stun enemies for sneak attacks.
    • Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords, on the other hand, introduces powerful weapon upgrades and character combat feats that make long-range weapons perfectly comfortable for finishing the whole game with, enough that the Let's Play by Scorchy did play the whole game giving the PC nothing but dual pistols as soon as they were available. In fact, one of the most fun things to do is to recruit Mira on Nar Shaddaa, build her a nice rifle at the workbench, develop her into a good gunslinger character with good Force abilities for that kind of a thing, and go nuts. You can park your other team members, including yourself aka the almighty PC, somewhere safe, and knock yourself out cleaning up the two major gangs in the area in solo mode, at the hardest difficulty level.
    • Averted in The Old Republic: Troopers, Smugglers, Imperial Agents and Bounty Hunters all use guns, and they hit just as hard as melee weapons, even lightsabers. In fact, Troopers using Mortar Barrage and Bounty Hunters using Death From Above can inflict more damage in five seconds than most classes in a minute.
  • In La-Mulana, the pistol is very powerful, but ammunition is the most expensive purchase in the game, the pistol needs to be reloaded whereas all other subweapons have no need for reloads, and the character can only carry at most 24 bullets.
  • The Legend of Tian-ding has enemies with either melee weapons, or firearms. Mooks with guns actually deals less damage than enemies using knives or sticks, their only advantage being their range. And while you can steal firearms from enemies, it turns out their firing speed is pathetic and you're better off using your trusty knife and sash.
  • Utterly averted in Live A Live. The Sundown Kid, the party member from the Old West, uses a gun (specifically, a Colt Peacemaker to start with; his Infinity +1 Sword is a .44 Magnum). His attacks have little to no charge time, have extremely good range, and deal high damage. His strongest attack, while it has a long charge time and limited range, makes up for this with 999 damage every time if all of the bullets hit. The boss of his chapter could also deal 999 damage with his strongest attack, and he uses a Gatling gun. Guns aren't just worthwhile, they're dangerous.
  • In Lost Odyssey, Sed's rifle does less damage than the other character's swords. Even Tolten's sword, the weak pretty boy. Even Mack's fists, and he's 10 years old! Though, on the plus side, he never misses and he can shoot through the barrier to the enemy's back row with no penalty.
  • In Mad Max (2015), Max's sawed-off shotgun is his most effective weapon by far. The problem is that it's Too Awesome to Use because it's nearly impossible to find any shells for it, the ammunition manufacturing industry having collapsed with the rest of Australia After the End.
  • Manhunt, being both a stealth and Survival Horror game, discourages using guns initially - they're loud enough to draw attention, ammunition is scarce, and they can't be used for executions. Later on in the game this changes, and gunplay is actively encouraged if not required.
  • Another MMORPG example is MapleStory, whose Gunslinger class — one of the two Second Job options for a Pirate — carries flintlock pistols that never need to be reloaded, have a range of about 6 feet, and are pathetically weak (at least initially). The Gunslinger is considered so weak by most players that the other job branch for Pirate, the Brawler, who wields increasingly elaborate BRASS KNUCKLES, is the more popular choice by a landslide.
    • Arguably averted in later levels, as the Gunslinger is a Magikarp Power class that becomes one of the highest damaging classes in the game. The "arguably" part comes from the fact that a lot of that damage comes from summoning a personal battleship, but the gun's stats still factor in.
  • In Mass Effect 2, Shepard's punches deal more damage than bullets from the wimpy starting weapons. However, it should be noted that the guns are in no way weak (the usual level's design alone will make it difficult to safely get next to any enemy that is shooting you themselves), and Shepard is at that point essentially an indestructible cyborg and the DLC weapons and more powerful guns you find later in the game thoroughly avert this.
  • Inverted in Mass Effect: Andromeda. Contrary to most of its predecessor titles, damage-focused powers in ME:A are almost completely useless even on low difficulty settings while guns start out as very powerful against anything and only get better from there. Trying to beat the game with a power-heavy built and no rebalancing mods installed is a nightmare. Playing it like any generic third-person shooter is a cakewalk.
  • In The Matrix: Path of Neo, guns are useless against agents, so Neo is forced to take a more hands on approach with them. Unless said gun is a grenade launcher. Or the Gatling Gun. Or the send-them-flying-with-a-kick-then-shoot-them-in-the-air combo.
  • Medieval II: Total War plays this trope relatively realistically. Early firearms, such as arquebuses, are good for little more than scattering poor-morale peasants at an arm's length, but late-game musketmen will fell their worth in knights before the latter can get anywhere within melee range.
    • Even the latest-game musketmen get vastly outranged by archers, though, resulting in unobservant or unlucky players seeing their fancy-pants musket army getting shredded by a few longbows or American tribesmen doing hit-and-run tactics (also true in Empire: Total War). While having some historical basis, Total War gives this trope a corollary of Guns Are Worthless when the enemy has bows and arrows.
    • Played even more straight in the original Shogun: Total War. Guns could not be obtained until pretty late in the game, the troops took a long time to set them up, they were useless at close quarters and they were completely inoperable if it rained as this caused the powder to get wet. If your opponent attacked you then they got to choose the weather conditions, and would inevitably end up with a rainy option to cripple your gunners. If you attacked an opponent then they would get to choose their initial position, normally picking a tall hill to force gunners to get fairly close so that they could easily be charged or peppered with arrows before they were ready.
      • In Total War: Shogun 2, matchlock-armed footsoldiers are fairly effective, though the technology requirement generally makes them strategically superfluous to most clans and the one gunner cavalry unit has to go through a very long reload time before they can fire at anything. The Otomo clan's Donderbuss Cavalry does not have this limitation, although the Otomo in general practically have disagreeing with this trope's name as their hat — if the Otomo somehow manage to hold off the two clans they start at war with, as well as the aggressive and expansionist Shimazu, then their armies and ships bristling with matchlocks become a formidable force indeed.
  • Subverted in Mega Man Battle Network. Swords do deal much more damage to enemies compared to guns. The first sword chips you get essentially allows you to One-Hit Kill most enemies you encounter up to around the midgame. However, the grid system the series' combat operates on balances this out, since sword chips have a range of one square ahead of you, while guns effectively have unlimited range, so sword chips vs. gun chips are a question of whether you're willing to learn an enemy's pattern and wait for them to get to the front row or hammer away at them at your leisure.
  • For a series that mostly stars Solid Snake and his father Big Boss, two soldiers with relatively conventional and realistic combat methods (although their level of skill and some of their battle posing is admittedly anime-esque at times), the fact that any of the bosses in Metal Gear that don't use firearms aren't immediately dismantled by a shot to the face is just a little odd. And don't think it's just the Cyborg Ninjas and their high-frequency blades (although that's certainly part of it), because there were several soldiers that went without conventional weaponry before Gray Fox's time.
    • The original Metal Gear featured Dirty Duck, perhaps the stupidest Metal Gear villain of all time, whose choice weapon was boomerangs, which may have been at least thematically justifiable if his codename weren't Dirty fucking Duck.
    • The Game Boy Color spin-off Metal Gear: Ghost Babel features yet another boomerang-armed boss, Slasher Hawk, who gets away with it because, well, not only is his codename radical, his weapon of choice is at least somewhat justified by his Australian nationality.
    • Back in 1964, and before then in World War II, The Pain from Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater apparently figured that controlling bees traveling at the speed of bullets was a better idea than using actual bullets. And he was completely right.
    • Gray Fox in Metal Gear Solid, Olga Gurlukovich in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty and Raiden in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots are not only Immune to Bullets thanks to their armored exoskeletons, they also have the options of either dodging or deflecting the bullets with their blades depending on whichever they feel would be cooler at the moment. The Black Ninja from Metal Gear 2 gets a special shoutout for also being fairly capable despite lacking these advantages.
    • Fortune from MGS2 just stands there and lets the bullets swerve around her.
    • By the time of Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance (2018 to be exact), the inefficiency of guns compared to high-frequency blades, magical powers and bullet-speed bees is finally internally justified and discussed, where it is explained that the absurd power and durability of CNT (carbon nanotube) muscle fibers have made small arms effectively worthless against modern cyborgs (each bullet doing less than 1% damage to your character in-game), "packing the power of a jackhammer into every limb". This is made particularly obvious at one point where some cyborg Dirty Cops confront Raiden and decide that "deadly force is authorized" to deal with him, before putting away their guns in exchange for telescoping batons.
  • Mission: Impossible (Konami): Out of your three agents, Max is the only one using a gun. While it naturally has much greater range compared to Grant's fists and Nicholas' boomerangs, all three weapons deal the exact same amount of damage to enemies. Both Grant and Nicholas can also hit multiple enemies at once in the right scenario, while Max's rifle is only ever capable of hitting one target at a time.
  • Gun based characters from Mortal Kombat, particularly Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3's Stryker and later, more such characters, subvert this somewhat. Due to the game's balance, while guns can be beaten, they are surprisingly effective at chip and regular hit damage in MOST matches, and PROBABLY because they're superior to pretty much any other projectile attack in the game and have low or no startup and cooldown. Stryker was infamous for this, as his "shoot gun" attack (in both UMK 3 and MK 9) was so good that it's possible to win entire matches using only shoot gun, and take no damage.
  • Completely averted in Beat 'em Up Mother Russia Bleeds, where guns are extremely powerful and can take down most enemies in 1 or 2 shots, the downsides being their relative rarity compared to melee weapons, their tendency to cause enemies heads to explode, which prevents players from extracting Nekro from them, and the fact that there's nothing stopping your enemies from picking up any guns found on the floor and using them against you to only slightly-less effect.
  • Justified in NanoBreaker; the Orgamechs are powered by nanomachines and absorbs metal, and your Laser Blade is the only weapon that can harm them. In the opening FMV, the police and military's attempt to suppress the Orgamech infestation hits a snag when their bullets are harmlessly absorbed into the monsters, who then kills or infects everyone else.
  • New Legends grants you firearms alongside melee weapons, but more often than not guns are depicted to be slow, sluggish, requires you to remain still while you aim (allowing enemies to outflank you) and their damage is hardly greater than bladed weapons. They do work when you try sneaking upon enemies from a distance, though.
  • Nioh: While bows and guns have their uses against mooks, especially if you take the time to line up a headshot against an unaware guard, they are generally secondary to melee and magic against demons and bosses, dealing scratch damage and requiring long periods between shots, even with William's supernatural reloading skills. Sadly, there aren't many forms of magical ammo.
  • In Nostalgia (Red Entertainment), guns do less damage than swords, only compensated by higher accuracy.
    • Pad's "Dead Shot" skill turns out to be your best weapon against the ridiculously strong mobs in the bonus dungeons, since they have huge amounts of HP but no instant death immunity.
  • Painkiller: inverted oh so beautifully for you, played straight for the enemies. Most notably, the mobsters in City on Water switch out their tommy guns for nailguns when they reappear in The Docks, and the nails do at least 4 times more damage. Their Elite Mook friends the Skulls use huge shotguns that can actually do hefty damage the one time they actually hit you.
  • Persona:
    • In the original Persona, all characters could equip a firearm in addition to their usual non-gun weapon. Certain enemies are weak to firearms, but outside of that they aren't treated any differently from the other weapons. Though they're actually incredibly useful despite their unimpressive attack power due to things like charm bullets. A decent chance to cause charm on every hit with a gun that hits six or more times can cripple a lot of enemies very quickly.note 
    • In Persona 3 guns that appear in cutscenes are treated realistically and even kill party members with one or two shots. Aegis and Takaya both use guns in combat, however, where their damage is rather mediocre (all things considered) standard attacks that deal about as much damage as the assorted swords, bows, and boxing gloves the rest of the party use and have no improved range to speak of. (of course, the last part can be forgiven due to the fact that combat mechanics don't take range into question.) Heck, one boss character (Jin) throws grenades at people that hardly do any damage. Aside from that, the main characters use gun-shaped Evokers to call their Persona out in a way all-too-reminiscent of suicide, so while it is debatable whether they count as guns or not, they are still vital for your success.
    • Persona 4 carries on this fine tradition in-game: Naoto and Adachi both use guns, and neither are particularly dangerous physically.
    • Firearms return as a separate option in Persona 5. Here, each team-member has their own gun-class weapon (ranging from modern pistols, revolvers and shotguns to slingshots, assault rifles and grenade launchers), and they can be used to exploit enemy weaknesses. They are explicitly stated to have higher attack strength than melee weapons, but at the cost of limited ammo. There are also Gun-type physical skills, and two of the game's confidants center around gun-based benefits; the Hanged Man lets you customize them to make them stronger, more accurate, both, or one at the expense of the other, while Tower Confidant Link will make your gun-usage much more efficient, giving you extra ammo, a maneuver to down any foe, and eventually the ability to ignore Gun-resistances on enemy foes.
  • Downplayed in Pillars of Eternity. Firearms are still at the wheel-lock stage in Eora, but they penetrate damage reduction on every shot and have the highest base damage of any weapon in the game. They're still really not as effective as they ought to be.
  • Pirates Vikings and Knights: While the Pirates' guns are not totally worthless, they're generally far less effective than the melee weapons. The guns are best used as an opening attack or for a Tactical Withdrawal. The notable exception to this is the Sharpshooter's long rifle.
  • [PROTOTYPE] played this trope in a rather realistic way. Guns are actually very powerful against what you'd expect them to work on. Walkers, the basic mutated humans that you face in droves, usually die after a few rounds to the face, same with the soldiers. Problem is, over time you get giant mutants that are more than capable of shrugging off small arms fire, which quickly makes guns useless in favor of your powers. Cannons and missiles, on the other hand, are effective all the way to the end, especially when Thermobaric weapons are involved, not to mention how insanely effective helicopters are in general.
    • Played straight in regards to the enemies, though. The most powerful enemies the military can deploy against Mercer are essentially huge wrestlers, and sure enough their wrestling moves do more damage to Mercer than tank shells and stinger missiles (and by quite a margin, too). In [PROTOTYPE 2] an early-game upgrade gives Heller a shield that makes him completely invulnerable against military weapons — only boss-tier Infected enemies with powerful melee attacks can bust through it — and a later upgrade makes it so anything smaller than an autocannon round simply bounces off his chest even without the shield deployed.
  • The Gunslinger class in the MMORPG Ragnarok Online is, for the most part, arguably one of the weakest classes in the game unless extensive care is taken to ensure they do decent damage, and even at that they still tend to fall far behind other classes (notably the Sniper).
  • Played with throughout the Resident Evil, while weaker firearms will take a lot bullets to take down even the garden variety zombie (especially in the remakes of RE1, RE2 and RE3) but powerful guns fully equipped with More Dakka, high caliber rounds and explosives will shred zombies and B.O.Ws to pieces. When it comes to bosses though such as the Tyrant, Mr X, Nemesis, Saddler, Ustanak, Jack Baker, Eveline, Lady Dimitrescu and Mother Miranda etc; special weapons such as RPGS, super magnums and a Godzilla Threshold that Attack Its Weak Point are required. In Nemesis’ case it’s hinted that it took a missile nuking Raccoon City to dust make sure he was Deader than Dead.
    • Shooting at Big Bad Wesker played this straight while also subverting it a bit. He’s so fast that Chris, Jill and Sheva can’t even clip him with automatic weapons, but in the boss battle with him you can knock him down with a sniper rifle shot to the head when he isn’t expecting it. Except in the nature of this trope Wesker will get up again and start dodging your rounds again. Even RPG rockets exploding in his hands don’t do more than stagger him, RPG rockets do kill him in the ending although the molten lava in the volcano appeared to be doing most of the work.
  • Played so straight in Rogue Galaxy that weapons like gatling guns, grenade launchers and missiles are comparable to pistols or weaker. None of which are more powerful than swords or a kick to the face, of course. The machine gun-toting mobsters you fight a couple of times are probably the least threatening enemies in the game.
    • Surprisingly both played straight and averted by the game's resident That One Boss - he'll tear you apart with his pistols, but it would take forever to try and drop him with your own gun; you need to block his bullets to survive long enough to get into melee range.
  • In the Sam & Max games, both Sam and Max have guns you can use at any time, but they are useless as weapons. The guns are used more like remote controls to hit buttons, bells etc., that you are physically unable to reach. This becomes a running gag through the series.
  • In the Samurai Warriors and Warriors Orochi games, it depends on the particular game; Saika Magoichi in Samurai Warriors uses this instead of a bow for his first-person shooting, it in fact being needed to unlock part of his story and final weapon, while Ishikawa Goemon uses a back-mounted cannon. In Samurai Warriors 2 the first-person aspect is gone, but Magoichi, Tokugawa Ieyasu and Date Masamune have on-command shots — individually little damage and hard to aim but semiautomatic, able to interrupt enemies, and eventually able to go through enemies (potentially hitting other enemies). In Warriors Orochi the on-command shots are traded for Magoichi's close-range "shotgun" blast attack, Ieyasu's energy beam (which doesn't really subvert the trope by not being a 'proper' shot), and Masamune's pair of attacks where he goes airborne and fires a barrage all around. Unfortunately, these (like all on-command projectiles) are nerfed in Warriors Orochi by losing the ability to interrupt or knock down enemies, so in that game the trope is partly played straight. However, in all of these games and their spin-offs the shots that are part of the characters' normal, charge, and Musou attacks depend on the character's level and (ranged) attack power.
    • The rifles wielded by common mooks in Samurai Warriors and even in Warriors Orochi fire slowly and do negligible damage. However, their shots will knock you down/off your horse if they hit you, and have a long near-infinite range, making them very annoying enemies if nothing else. They also will always inflict a guard break with their shots.
  • In Sengoku Basara, arquebusier-wielding Mooks are frequent enemies; their bullets are visible, travel slow enough to dodge or even parry, and deal only slightly more damage than a mook sword. Magoichi and Nouhime are both gun users, and their guns are no more fatal than the assorted swords, bows, hammers, spears, rocks, fists and associated whatnots everyone else uses (they do have a range advantage though). Their bullets are also visible to the eye and dodge/blockable by enemies (except Magoichi's shotgun, which is practically a melee weapon anyway).
  • Averted in Silent Hill as guns the protagonists use especially More Dakka will take down all sorts of nightmare creatures, including a few Eldritch Abominations dark gods. Played straight with Pyramid Head who is not effected by any of the bullets James fires upon him, only getting startled off by a handgun in his debut cutscene. Perfectly justified he’s psychological manifestation of James’s guilt and self-hatred for killing his wife and only “dies” when James accepts his guilt.
  • Skies of Arcadia. Most gun-wielding enemies are not a serious threat, and while Gilder, the resident Badass Longcoat gunslinger in your party, is a powerful fighter, he is not the most powerful — both Vyse, who uses swords, and Drachma, who uses a mechanical arm, are more powerful physically. Mind you, Skies of Arcadia's handguns are of the flintlock kind.
  • Downplayed in Sniper Elite 5: every gun can perform One Hit Kills, but the game rewards sneakiness, and suppressed pistols require headshots. In close quarters combat, it's usually a lot easier to just rush enemies and silently punch or stab them than to shoot them. Punching enemies also knocks them out, which offers more XP than killing them.
  • Played straight with pistols in Sore Losers. Alexis, who starts the game dual-wielding pistols, deals less damage than either Markus or David would with two Switchblades, and the gap only grows bigger when you obtain upgraded pistols and melee weapons. Downplayed with assault rifles: while they deal less damage then melee weapons of similar tier, they compensate for that due to attacking all enemies at once.
  • Played straight in gameplay, averted in story in the Soul Series. The one firearm available for use in fights (Cervantes' pistol-sword) deals decent damage with its most powerful attack... but it is very telegraphed and easily dodged by simply sidestepping. Ezio's pistol in V is similarly powerful but it takes a full second to fire, though he can cancel it. In story, Mitsurugi's early character arc is all about finding Soul Edge to make guns worthless - the setting is the tail-end of the 16th Century and their introduction to European and Asian warfare is rendering swords and other traditional weapons obsolete. In the end though Mitsurugi does not need the cursed weapon; by III, he has honed his swordsman skills to the extent that opponents with guns do not concern him any more, and the intro scene of II suggests he can block bullets with his katana.
  • Star Ocean: The Last Hope at least tries to explain this. Soldiers realistically use railguns to try to kill the giant bugs that attack them, but apparently the eletromagnetic signature emitted by the railgun when fired allows the bugs to block the shots with some kind of shield. Protagonist Edge only gives up on his railgun when he drops it, and then grabs the first weapon he can, which just happens to be a sword-like cutting tool, which, of course, works perfectly. It does not at any point however explain how every single example of wildlife on every planet in the universe except Earth somehow evolved with the ability to generate these shields.
    • Further explained in that Edge's special ability makes it harder for him to use a gun; it causes him to lead his shots too much and miss more often than not.
    • Fridge Brilliance: Star Ocean's setting is an MMORPG that somehow came to life. The game designers in charge of the Star Ocean universe are mocking the use of guns to make players use medieval / abnormal weapons. Which includes plasma cannons.
  • The Howling Voice Guild in the Suikoden series uses guns when everyone else is using swords and magic. Cathari, a member of the Howling Voice Guild in Suikoden V subverts this trope in two ways: she is one of the best physical damage dealers in the game, and she lampshades it in the following exchange:
    Cathari: You think guns are scary? Elven arrows are worse by a long shot, if you ask me.
    Urda: How can you say that?
    Cathari: There's only a handful of guns in the world, let alone on the battlefield, so they haven't killed many people. Now, how many people do you think have died from arrow fire? Hundreds? Thousands? Is that not horrible?
    Urda: You're just splitting hairs!
    Cathari: Then tell me. What about guns makes them "horrible" to you?
    Urda: Wh-What about them? They make inexplicable sounds and belch fire and shoot iron bullets! What could be worse?
    Cathari: Technically, it's lead, not iron. But, basically, she's right.
    Hazuki: Wait — pardon?
    Cathari: Simply put, guns are "inexplicable." They're an unknown. People fear that, especially in a weapon.
    Hazuki: You're saying guns are merely a... bluff tactic?
    Cathari: Pretty much, so far. Guns are still under development. They don't fire as quickly as arrows, or as accurately... Once you know that, they're not all that difficult to deal with.
  • Usually, Team Fortress 2 is pretty much packed with guns; there are, however, two exceptions. The Demoman can choose to go "Demoknight", where he discards his grenade launcher for some shoes, his sticky bomb launcher for a shield and uses one of his many swords as his melee. This can be surprisingly effective. Similarly, the Sniper can discard his sniper rifle in favour of the Huntsman, a set of bow and arrows. If you're good, the Huntsman can be devastating.
  • In the latest Tekken game you can equip a character with various firearms that are actually useable during a fight. The input to use them is a little tricky to get the timing down, and while they provide a nice ranged attack they don't do much damage at all.
  • On the subject of the guns in Too Human:
    Yahtzee: Baldur, it seems, buys his guns from the same shop as Dante, where the only available ammo is peas and bits of tissue paper.
  • Valkyria Chronicles II has a bit of this. While most classes of soldiers use guns or rocket launchers that are usually pretty effective against each other, the Tech superclass uses melee weapons and a shield that can deflect essentially all gunfire minus a couple of late-game/DLC weapons (shooting them from behind, where their shield doesn't cover, is a lot more effective). The Fencer/Fencer Elite specializations of the Tech class, which wield BFSes, can take out almost any infantry unit in one swing while classes that use guns would take several shots to accomplish the same thing (most classes can fire more than one shot per command point, but it could still take multiple CP to take out a high-defense or crouched target). Fencers have very low movement to compensate for their tank-like defense and virtually-guaranteed One-Hit KOs, however, so they aren't completely broken.
  • Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines — it's even lampshaded in the tutorial. Justified when firing at vampires (who are essentially walking balls of dust — the bullets have very little actual tissue to rupture or tear apart), not so much when dealing with juicebags. Your character's fists are usually more effective against mortals for the first half of the game, even if you play a low-physical stat clan like Tremere or Ventrue. Guns are the most effective weapon if you can get your firearms to 10 and start wielding a Desert Eagle, Uzi, or Steyr AUG as your primary weapon, but that means that you have to get world-class aiming skills and military hardware before you start to get realistic performance from your firearms.
    • To top it off, the scope drift at low to moderate levels is truly terrible. Your sight drifts beyond even a 45 degree cone when trying to look straight ahead.
    • This is of course carried over from Vampire: The Masquerade, where bullets only do bashing damage to vampires since, being dead, they don't experience the same tissue trauma as mortals. Bladed weapons still do lethal damage, however, because they can take a huge chunk out of the vampire.
    • A lot more extreme in Vampire: The Masquerade – Redemption. Upon coming into the modern world, you'll find that a medieval sword is going to be a hell of a lot more effective than any weapon short of a rocket launcher, killing many a vampire opponent with a single strike. Somewhat justified in that a) body armor in the modern world is specifically designed to protect against guns rather than blades, and b) your characters are super-strong vampires and so absurdly fast that their opponents can fire at most one shot before you've closed in on them. That doesn't excuse the fact that one of the best weapons in the game is a unique dagger you get about two-thirds of the way through the medieval era. If you hang on to it for the first dungeon of the modern age, you'll have no problem taking apart the vampire hunter cult.
  • Vector Thrust is a weird example of this trope as aircraft cannon are designed to be inferior to missiles and bombs. However, the guns are so worthless you'd be better off trying to pull back to minimum missile range when you draw in close, because they deal Scratch Damage, have a retarded aiming reticule that lies to you and overheat if fired continuously for more than a few seconds. A recent update really upped the damage on them, but good luck hitting anything with them. Hey, at least you can rest easy knowing that the AI can't hit you either at close range.
  • In the Warcraft series, Guns are largely equal to Bows and other ranged weapons. They aren't as powerful as melee weapons, but can attack from a long distance away, possibly protected by a cliff or other obstacles.
    • In World of Warcraft, guns are exactly as useful as crossbows and bows. Which is to say, incredibly useful for hunters, practically harmless in the hands of anyone else.
      • However several classes were able to make use of them for stat boosts, if nothing else, at least until the third weapon slot was removed in Mists of Pandaria.
  • Averted in Wild ARMs where the protagonists' guns are incredibly powerful and feared. Combat-wise, Rudy's ARM tends to deal the most damage, although Jack, who uses a regular sword, does comparable damage. Whether this is because Jack is a Badass Normal or the power of an ARM is an Informed Ability is left up to the discretion of the player.
  • In the Wizardry series, Umpani has some firearms, which the PC can obtain and use, even as a secondary weapon. Guns do considerable damage, but unlike other ranged weapons have no Abnormal Ammo. And you need to spend actions to manually reload them after every shot — a valid requirement, but somehow isn't applied to any crossbows — so in average you get half of that damage and it sucks.
    • The Umpani flamethrower and rocket launcher from Wizardry 8, on the other hand, are quite useful in the right situations, and one of the two main gimmicks of the player Gadgeteer class is their self-built Omnigun, which starts out as a pathetic sling-equivalent, and ends being able to fire just about anything you stick into it, including swords, to great effect.
  • Zig-Zagged in World of Horror: Guns are among the best weapons you can find... provided you've also got bullets. Ammo can be difficult to obtain, and you're not always going to find it with the gun. Running out in the middle of a fight doesn't leave you completely hosed, as you can hit opponents with the gun itself... but they're more awkward to use that way than proper melee weapons are.
  • With a few exceptions, guns in the first Yakuza game are useless. When used against Kazuma, they serve only to interrupt his combat animations and chip off his health from a distance, doing a pittance of damage while other enemies lay into him with deadlier tables or golf clubs. When Kazuma gets his hands on one dropped by a mook, it fires only one shot and will take off a quarter of the mook's health, if he is lucky enough to hit him in the first place. Truth in Television, as the rarity of guns in Japan means that most are old and poorly maintained.
    • Averted in Kiwami. Getting shot will immediately knock Kazuma down, leaving him vulnerable to follow-up attacks. Guns are scattered around certain areas, hold several shots, and are great at crowd control. Understandable, given that the places where you can find guns are controlled by organized criminals.

  • Adventurers! subverts it in two major ways: main character Tesla is an incredibly effective gunslinger (and user of anachronistic projectile weaponry in general), and, more pointedly, Cody wields a gun forged by god-like beings. The characters assume it will be ineffective, being a gun in an RPG setting, until he casually points it at a rock and deals 9999 damage (!). It's also enough to compensate for nonsensical dialogue, apparently.
    • Parodied in this comic, when the main characters are being mugged by a gun wielding thief.
  • The Adventures of Dr. McNinja: Dan and Sean get on Gordito's case about how guns are the weapons of cowards, but he still manages to kick ass with them. It's often played straight, though; guns are completely ineffective against ninjas, who will invariably dodge all the bullets.
  • I Log In Alone: Justified since In dungeons, modern weaponry doesn't work. Even modern armor is useless in dungeons. The only weapons that work are weapons spawned by the altars or given by gods.
  • Trevor (2020): Justified example; It’s not that there’s anything wrong with the guns themselves, it’s just that Trevor is Immune to Bullets.

    Web Original 
  • Heavily averted in Critical Role. Percy's homebrew Gunslinger sub-class shows immense power in straight combat. His weapons have amazing range, and put out some of the highest damage rolls comparable to high level magic users. It even serves as a major plot point for his character, as he is basically the inventor of firearms in this universe, and he is fully aware of their unreal destructive capabilities. Combined with his shadowy demonic possession which inspired him to make guns in the first place, and his vengeful hatred towards his Foil Dr. Ripley (who wants to become the fantasy equivalent of a black market arms dealer), it's no wonder he feels the way he does about guns.
  • RWBY: Despite most of the cast's weapons being melee-gun hybrids, the gun parts typically do little damage to their targets in high-stakes fights. Any Grimm tougher than Mook level can easily tank gunfire, while humans and Faunuses need to have their Aura depleted before they can be seriously hurt. As a result, most major battles revolve around melee attacks, which are typically more efficient at cutting through Grimm and Aura alike. Use of ranged weapons is generally limited to enhancing the wielders' movement via Recoil Boosts. Against weak Grimm or human(oid)s that are out of Aura, however, they can be much more deadly, as both Councilman Sleet and Jacques Schnee can attest.
  • Rule 16 of the Freedom Fighters: Encyclopedic knowledge of firearms means nothing in a world where all the guns are permanently set to "bitchslap".
  • This blog entry goes into some detail regarding the usefulness of conventional weaponry against typical fictional threats (zombies, dinosaurs, Cthulhu, etc.).
  • Suburban Knights: Multiple times guns are fired at close range into large groups of people, sometimes even with bullet animations bouncing off people, to no effect whatsoever.

    Western Animation 
  • Jackie Chan Adventures: Uncle keeps repeating to anybody who tries to use anything other than spells (or magically-enhanced martial arts) that "magic must be stopped by magic!", and he is unfortunately very correct: unless it's magic, not even something as virtually overkill as hitting monsters with trucks or multiton avalanches do more than annoy them. By the time of the first season finale, he only needs to repeat it to a dozen Section 13 agents carrying rocket launchers to make them all put that firepower away and let Team Chan save the day by their lonesome.
  • Looney Tunes: In "The Daffy Duckaroo," Daffy is being chased by Indians. He points his index finger at the Indians and makes a popping/spitting noise.
    Daffy: (to us) We don't use any real ammunition, folks. We save all that for the Army!
  • A number of foes in Samurai Jack have attempted to use guns on him. None have even managed to put a scratch on him, as he moves so quickly he can dodge their bullets and get up close enough to strike with his sword. This includes a hillbilly sheriff who tried a gatling gun. The only enemies who have ever inflicted serious damage to Jack are all either blade wielders or hand-to-hand combatants. This trope is best exemplified in "Robo Samurai vs. Mondo-Bot," where Mondo-Bot, having exhausted all of its projectiles to no effect, resorts to an old-fashioned sword and suddenly puts up a challenge for Jack.
    • This was finally averted in "The Good, The Bad, and The Beautiful". The Clenches, an estranged team of western-themed bounty hunters, have Jack on the ropes for the entire episode. He can barely defend himself, let alone fight back, and The Clenches would have won had Josephine not pulled a You Have Outlived Your Usefulness on Zeke.
    • The Scotsman's leg gun has also been shown to be extremely effective.
  • One Simpsons parody of Tom Sawyer had Bart and Nelson end up in the middle of a shootout using Derringer pocket-pistols. Every bullet just bounces off everyone involved. "Them Derringer bullets are weak." "Powerful weak!"

    Real Life 
  • In general, this has not been the case since firearms were created in their recognizable form (used by a single man with a trigger). The matchlock arquebus was finnicky, could only fire 1-2 shots per minute, and required a highly trained and well-paid soldier to use and maintain. This as opposed to a good archer who could lose 6 arrows per minute, or a crossbow that could manage 1-3 (depending on type), for cheaper wages, all without the risk of blowing themselves up. The main reason these early guns were used regardless is simple: compared to muscle-powered weapons, guns are incredibly powerful. Where a longbow arrow might hit 80 joules of kinetic energy and a crossbow bolt 100-200 joules, even an early arquebus packed about 1,600 joules (that is, twenty times the longbow and ten times the crossbow). Not only did this enable even 15th century matchlocks to blast right through armor that could reliably stop arrows except at extremely close range (like padded jacks, mail, and munitions plate), but they inflicted horrific wounds; contemporary accounts are clear that arrows wound while guns kill. Proponents of the bow argued that it was still worth using alongside guns because it was easier to find archers than gunmen, but they eventually lost the argument and bows were phased out by every country that could produce sufficient firearms (melee weapons, though, stayed in use as long as matchlocks couldn't be universally replaced by flintlocks or caplocks with socket bayonets). The disparity grew even starker as manufacturing, metallurgy, and powder quality all improved; the iconic "Brown Bess" for example could fire 3-5 shots per minute at 3,000-4,000 joules per shot.
    • The earliest man-portable firearms, "handgonnes", were inaccurate, took about a minute to reload, usually needed two people to operate, and could explode in your face. In spite of all that, their shock and power still gave them some use in defense; the Hussites made good use of them in their war wagons, as did the Ming Chinese.
    • The inaccuracy of smoothbore muskets has also been severely exaggerated. Contemporary sources consistently report that hitting a man-sized target at 80-100 yards was expected for an average soldier (for example, Colonel George Hanger notes this figure in "To all Sportsmen"). A very common argument in favor of the musket was that its range was greater than that of the bow, and the abnormal range and lethality of firearms were specifically noted as their most intimidating qualities by the bow-using Koreans in the Imjin War.
  • The American Civil War-era general John Sedgewick claimed that rifled muskets “couldn't hit an elephant at this distance,” seconds before he took a shot to the head.
    • The difference lay between smoothbore muskets and rifled muskets (early rifles). Rifles are so-named for having rifled barrels - that is to say, there is a texture inside the barrel which introduces a spin onto the bullet as it is fired. The net result is a stabilized bullet which flies a lot straighter. High-quality rifles of the time were quite accurate weapons in the hands of skilled marksmen, while smoothbore muskets were not. Rifles had only seen limited use before the 19th century because it was a pain to shove a sphere down a grooved barrel, limiting their firing rates to 1 shot per minute; this was changed by the introduction of the Minie ball, which allowed rifles to reload as fast as smoothbores with no loss in lethality. Experiments at the time found that the smoothbore muskets used by soldiers would only strike a target at typical combat ranges roughly 40% of the time. It is commonly claimed that the Civil War was fought using outdated tactics with more advanced weaponry, but the reality is that due to the nature of command and communications at the time, fighting in large line formations was often the only practical way to conduct an organized battle. In situations where other tactics were available for use, fighting changed considerably; some of the later battles in the Civil War featured early Trench Warfare. Additionally, over the course of the Civil War, increasingly sophisticated weapons became more and more affordable. The reason that muskets were used was not because they couldn't build anything better - repeating rifles were invented prior to the American Civil War, more than 200 years prior - but because such weapons were too expensive (and broke too easily) to supply all their soldiers with one.
    • This was compounded by the fact that the experiments that were conducted happened before the American Civil War, and that rifled muskets became universally issued shortly after due to the Minnié Ball making mass use of rifled muskets more practical for battlefield use by the regular soldier and regiments of both sides replaced their smoothbores as soon as the rifled muskets became available to them from their respective Ordinance Corps.
  • Back in the day, the bayonet was there because sometimes charging something was preferable to a long reload. As guns became less and less worthless, a bayonet was actually more useful as a tool than anything, further showing how far gun tech has come. The bayonet was developed primarily to allow musketeers to defend themselves against cavalry, allowing armies to dispense with the pikemen who had previously been charged with this task.
    • "Bullets are fools, but the bayonet is a fine chap" - General Aleksandr Suvorov (1729-1800). Suvorov favoured all-out bayonet charges over stationary shooting because he understood that any fool can take someone taking potshots at him forever, but a thousand men screaming bloody murder as they power-walk towards you with eight inches of razor-sharp steel and a mind to use it is fucking terrifying.
    • Bayonet charges are still used by some armies to great effect. It turns out that sending in a horde of mad Scotsmen wielding blades on sticks is still an effective tactic.
  • In nation-states that have heavy gun control, such as the United Kingdom or Japan, criminals will often commit violent acts with whatever else they have available. Knives, stones and bricks, hammers, Molotov Cocktails, bows and crossbows and bare fists will often be used in lieu of firearms. Most firearms available to these criminals are thus likely to be expensive, lacking in stopping power, low capacity, old and poorly maintained due to an inability to get the required parts, and actually getting one generally requires you to associate with shifty, paranoid, dangerous, and quite possibly unstable people who very well may just make you disappear if you give them any reason to believe that you're not who you say you are thanks to the serious consequences that smuggling tends to have in those countries.
    • Crime committed with a gun tends also to attract much more attention, since it is rare, thus making it more probable to be caught. And having a gun allows the police to act more freely with their own - yes, the typical pair of British coppers walking around town are unarmed. But threatening one with a gun is an automatic gaol sentence, and wounding or killing one is liable to get you put away forever. Moreover their police district's Armed Response Team is, you guessed it, like something straight out of America and it's a pretty small country - fleeing a district is virtually impossible with even a basic cordon. In short, guns aren't worthless in states that regulate and restrict their use, but the governments of such states do their best to ensure that they're way more trouble than they're worth.
  • Ironically, Miyamoto Musashi—the archetype of many sword users in fiction who often disdain guns—did not hold to this trope. He believed that the gun had no equal on the battlefield. He did believe that it was useless in close quarters and that it was less than the bow when it came to accuracy and rate of fire, but that was because the guns of his time were the earlier models mentioned above. He emphasized that the sheer power of a musket ball was absolutely unrivaled in its ability to cause damage (keep in mind that thick padded cloth was effective anti-arrow protection for pretty much all of history, and arrows almost always caused much smaller wounds than bullets). Being that he was a famous Combat Pragmatist, those who have actually studied his writings believe that he would have greatly approved of modern efficient firearms.
    • Musashi was a great proponent of a musket because he himself probably had a lot of experience wielding one. He was for much of his career a ronin of unclear origin, and while he definitely fought in the Battle of Sekigahara, it was probably on the wrong side (which would explain the whole ronin thing). All these things considered, his original career was likely that of an ashigaru arquebusier, before he turned himself to the way of sword.
  • The inaccuracy of a smoothbore musket was more because the musket ball was smaller than the barrel so it could be loaded without having to resort to a hammer. It was also a sphere, so it would not properly sit on the powder and would bounce down the barrel and would be going in the same relative direction it was as its last bounce. Once the conical bullet was developed with a lead skirt to catch rifling upon expansion in the 19th Century, accuracy from the bullet was less of a problem.
    • On top of this, muskets could be fired with well fitting balls. But when shot in succession under battlefield conditions, soot from the black powder would build up in the barrel, preventing new balls from being dropped in the barrel, or jamming or even exploding the gun upon it being fired. The generals of the time chose to value the ability to reload over a single accurate shot.
    • Exactly. The accuracy of a smoothbore musket is highly dependent on how it gets loaded. Most "Regiments of the Line" valued high rate of fire, and as such, called for drill that valued reload speed over accuracy. They would use musket balls much smaller than the bore of the musket, slam the ball down onto the powder, and didn't use any patching in between the ball and the bore. This would lead to the musketball having awful accuracy, "bouncing" off in a random direction when fired. When loaded with a tight-fitting ball, gently pushed onto the powder, with a tight-fitting patch, smoothbore muskets can be highly (for the standards of a smoothbore firearm, that is.) accurate out to 100 meters, depending on the standard of the shooter. However, it could take upwards of a minute to load a musket in this fashion, not very conductive to battlefield use.
    • Furthermore, it wasn't aimed fire by any reasonable modern standard outside of the first shot fired by each line, which was often more carefully loaded. The first round of fire from each line was often the most lethal for this reason. There would a marked decrease in lethality due to having to load quickly, and then firing. Add in the smoke which rapidly begins to fill the battlefield which rapidly kills visibility, and the accuracy goes to hell quickly. The side that got the first round of shots off often had an early advantage so long as they didn't fire too early.

Alternative Title(s): Guns Are Useless