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Impossible Item Drop

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"You're a squirrel that somehow has money, and sometimes swords and shields."

Plenty of enemies in games drop items when they are defeated.

Sometimes, this can present a bit of Fridge Logic as to why the enemies have those items. What exactly are those slugs doing with a sword and tunic? And how do monsters have ammo for your weapons (which they obviously never use), but not ammo for weapons you haven't found yet? Furthermore, monsters will tend to drop items associated with their specific abilities. For example, a monster with a petrifying gaze will commonly drop a de-petrification potion, implying that the monsters are actually made of the stuff, in convenient, easy-to-use form.

A potential way to explain this is that killing these monsters is obviously the popular thing to do and somehow they aren't all extinct. Maybe that's because some people aren't as good at it and got eaten along with their stuff. Perhaps they just didn't use that de-petrification potion in time. This doesn't explain how an enemy could have some items that should be readily visible, like in the page image. At other times, it makes no sense that they weren't using that deadly Randomly Drops Infinity -1 Sword before they died.

Sometimes Loot Command may avert (or, rarely, justify/enable) this trope.

Money Spider is a subtrope for the specific case of animals dropping money. Contrast Unusable Enemy Equipment, where your enemy is carrying weapons that you can't pick up when he's dead. Also see Random Drop.


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    Action Adventure 
  • In the Legend of Zelda series, most enemies (and random objects like pots or bushes) drop rupees, arrows, bombs, magic potion vials, and hearts at random. Even better, whenever you get a new item that consumes a resource, that resource suddenly starts appearing everywhere in spite of its not showing up before (ie: when you get the bow, arrows suddenly start showing up).
    • As a justification, The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap states that tiny little people called Minish hide useful items in random places in order to make life easier.
    • In The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, there's no bomb bag, and bombs start dropping from pots or random monsters as soon as you leave the Sanctuary. Arrows, too, though they're useless until you get the bow.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword also uses this, sometimes merging with 20 Bear Asses.
    • This is mostly averted in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, where enemies and inanimate objects no longer drop random items like hearts or rupees. Instead, they drop items you'd expect them to have. Enemies drop the weapons they were using and body parts, while cutting grass can reveal bugs or lizards. The only enemies that drop rupees are Yiga Clan members (they're human, so presumably the rupees are their pocket change) and Treasure Octorocks (octorocks that disguise themselves as treasure chests). Moldugas also drop several treasure chests upon death, but they're large enough that they could conceivably have eaten those chests at some point.
  • If it can be killed in Cave Story, it will either drop experience crystals, hearts, or (if you have the missile launcher) rockets.
  • Starting with Symphony of the Night, even small, weak enemies in many Castlevania titles will drop weapons, armor, and foods that shouldn't even exist in the depicted time period. For instance, one Infinity +1 Sword in Symphony is dropped by the Shmoo monster, which is basically just a bloody, flying burlap sack with a face.
  • Considering that one of Monster Hunter's trademarks is using monster drops, some of which have torturously-low drop rates, to create new weapons and armor, this is one case where Tropes Are Not Bad and Rule of Fun trumps realism:
    • You can carve more than one Crooked Horn from the horn you just broke off Ceadeus.
    • Rhenoplos Bone is a drop you'd expect to be exclusively carried by Rhenoplos; however, it can be carved from other herbivores as well, particularly Slagtoths and Apceros.
    • Similar to Ceadeus's Croked Horns, it's possible to carve more than one Plesioth Head from the clearly-one-headed Plesioth you just killed.

    First Person Shooter 
  • In Borderlands, it's not an uncommon occurrence to blow up an unarmed midget, only to see him cough up a rocket launcher that's larger than he is.
    • In the case of most Pandora wildlife, they really do eat guns. Skags in particular are said to eat absolutely anything, only to puke up the stuff they can't digest later (which is why you can find guns and other gear in skag waste piles).
    • Occasionally, freshly spawned (that is, a queen Spiderant just birthed them) Spiderantlings will hork out a sniper rifle longer than they are upon death, being impossible in both a physical (how did it fit inside it?) and temporal (where did it even come from in the two minutes it's been alive?) sense.

  • In the World of Warcraft MMORPG, most non-humanoid opponents drop items instead of money. While there is some attempt to make the items dropped match the creatures in question, it is often forced, such as making the bodies of most types of carnivorous animals - including things such as harpies and giant spiders - edible delicacies and/or requisite components for items the players can make or trade for. These are often also Plot Coupons for one or more quests as well. Even so, it is not unusual for a deceased opponent to leave behind something that makes no sense at all for them to have had.
    • Raid boss class enemies, however, typically hoard both gold and 2 to 6 pieces of equipment (out of a total loot table of 8-12 specific items), regardless of what they are. Sometimes the equipment is mildly appropriate, such as a weapon the enemy was seen to use, a dragon's jawbone one may wear as a helmet, or something thematically linked to the enemy's lore. Most items, however, have no reason whatsoever to be upon this particular boss. One may wonder why exactly does Ragnaros, a massive fire elemental lord who has no legsnote , have a vast collection of pants for every class in the game... Or not...
    • Items themselves also come up in improbable locations. One is left wondering not only how the item fit into the animal, but how the animal managed to kill and eat somebody who was using what is sometimes very good equipment, and why, if it did, it lost to you with your inferior equipment.
    • For another example, nagas, snake-bodied merpeople, are considered humanoids, and drop humanoid-based loot sets, which generally include pants.
    • The most notable example, though, are the crafting recipes. Not only why would this wolf have eaten a tunic pattern, but how is it still readable after sitting in stomach acid for a day or two?
      • And how did that fish know to eat only the recipes it was an ingredient for?
    • It's also sometimes goes backwards with an impossible drop for all the wrong reasons, such as all those basalisk wandering the Blasted Lands without a brain, or those raptors without claws or teeth...
      • With a bit of thinking, this can sometimes make sense. There are quests which are essentially about the player getting some stuff so the quest-giver can make a potion with it, make boots out of it, or cook it or something like that. Stabbing a basilisk through its brain with a poisoned knife, or burning it, or doing otherwise nasty things to it makes it unfit for cooking (not that there is a logical connection between using poison and getting edible things).
      • Worse is that sometimes quest items drop for all the party members. This might make sense if it's about claws from four-legged best for four players (not that a single player can take all four claws at once), and even a raptor might be carrying multiple heads of its kind for whatever reason, but it becomes truly impossible when a named NPC drops its head five times, with it being shown having only one.note 
  • Averted in the non-interactive "game" Progress Quest which has most monsters drop items specific to the monster. Some monsters and any (simulated) wandering adventurers you run across drop special items conforming to the template adjective concrete noun of noun, usually abstract. When your character's Encumbrance capacity is reached, he heads to the market to sell it all off and buy weapons and armor.
  • In the MMORPG Dream Of Mirror Online no enemy will ever inexplicably drop gold, but will often drop items whose sole purpose is to be sold at a set price to NPCs. Some of those drops are even more inexplicable than the gold they replace however... Like pigs carrying carved wooden sculptures of bears, birds with perfume, and eventually male human wizards who drop ladies underwear.
  • EverQuest II features loot that drops in the form of treasure chests. The type of chest that drops determines the value of the treasure. There are small wooden chests, normal treasure chests, Ornate chests, and the absolutely gigantic Exquisite Chests (which are larger than the majority of the smaller player races, who stand between 2 and 4 feet tall.) Monsters in the game can be as tiny as will-o-wisps or Brownies, which only stand about 2 inches off the ground. At that size, even a small chest will completely crush the corpse of the monster you just killed. How a 2 inch tall Brownie can carry around a small bank vault like a Exquisite Chest is anyone's guess.
  • Everquest is no stranger to this trope either, with some interesting twists. For example, pickpocketing a foe allows a rogue to take an item off the creature's loot table, leading to such bizarre occurrences as pickpocketing a Dwarf and stealing a watermelon from him (how did he not notice that?) or pickpocketing a goblin and stealing his brain.
  • Averted with Kingdom of Loathing, where monsters drop very... unusual items that make perfect sense for them to have. Of course, this is the game that decided to justify most monsters dropping money by using meat as the Global Currency.
    • Un-averted with the Pickpocket skill, which lets you steal a possible drop... like for instance the monster's skin. Word of God explanation: it just happened to be carrying around a skin belonging to a different monster of the same species. Eeeek.
    • It's possible to increase the improbability by combining adventuring in an area which has its own intrinsic monster loot (in other words, the drops still are found on monsters but are associated with the area rather than the monster) with a way to fight a monster - pulled into that specific area - which has no business being there and shouldn't be able to obtain and carry what you're getting off of it. But it's hard to make it clearly impossible.
    • The GameInformPowerDailyPro dungeon has randomly-generated drops, so you can get such illogical things as turtles dropping flaming swords. Lampshaded by the roasted chicken drop—"not the sort of food you would expect to find being carried around by some random monster"—a parody of the inexplicable roasted chickens/turkeys in Duke Nukem II.
  • All over the damn place in RuneScape. Some of the drops make sense, like many things drop bones, hides, the goblins drop goblin armor, etc. But then you have giant roaches that potentially drop ancient Dragonkin artifacts, dragons that have chocolate cakes, and the like. And that's before you take into account the Rare Drop Table, so you have situations where monsters like the abyssal demons can drop five hundred sharks (in banknote form).
    • Check our the drop table for harpy bug swarms. How does a swarm of tiny insects even carry any of the items that it can drop?
  • Ragnarok Online has this in spades. From cute little baby pigs that somehow drop heavy axes despite not even being capable of downing a first-class character to bird eggs dropping china platters. Surprisingly, the entire game averts Money Spider.
  • On one level, The Lord of the Rings Online averts this: weapons, armor, and cash only drop from sentient enemies (orcs, goblins, etc.) and animal enemies drop organic Vendor Trash and trophy/crafting materials. On a more detailed level, though, because all enemies use the same limited loot tables, this trope is sometimes upheld. Killing a level 45 bear will usually produce a hunk of Pure Black Fur - even if it's a polar bear killed at the ice bay of Forochel.
  • The Elder Scrolls Online falls victim to this now and again with rare item drops. Generally, beasts will drop hides, meat, and maybe some biological vendor trash, with gear and money limited to humanoids. This isn't a hard rule, though-what that mudcrab was doing with a two-handed iron waraxe, you'll never know.
  • Final Fantasy XIV averts this for the most part, many enemies never drop anything at all and the rest drop reasonable items such as skin and meat for animals, garlean materials for garlean soldiers and so on. Any useful equipment is found in Inexplicable Treasure Chests, although many of them appear out of nowhere after defeating a boss.

  • When Susan-oo killed the serpent Orochi; the legendary "Grass-cutting Sword" Kusanagi was found in its tail. (Some modern writers speculate that it was stuck in the Orochi from a previous hero's unsuccessful attempt at killing it; but this is never stated in the legend.)

    Real Time Strategy 
  • The enemies in Warhammer 40,000 Dawn of War 2 randomly drop various articles of Space Marine weaponry, armor, attribute-enhancing Purity Seals and other stuff. While it could be justified for the Orks, who are notable plunderers and looters, and even for the Eldar who might just happen to be carrying these things back to their base to study, but it is entirely confusing for the Tyranids, who have no need for such things and no means to carry them. And there is still a question of why and, most importantly, how would they lug around armor plates from a Mini-Mecha Dreadnought?
    • Tyranids eat literally everything, and have no internal digestive system — they instead leap into digestion pools created by Tyrannoforming so the Hive Fleet can reclaim the raw materials. Presumably, the items they drop are whatever made it through being eaten intact enough to salvage.
    • It was then Hand Waved as being "released from the Blood Raven vaults" as reward instead. But the question of how some of these items reached the chapter vaults in the first place led to the Bloody Magpies meme.
    • Mostly averted in the earlier Warhammer: Dark Omen. Your enemies are humanoids or, occasionally, huge monster spiders/scorpions, so if they drop a treasure chest or a potion now and then, it doesn't look too conspicuous. Moreover, if an enemy group carries an artifact (like a banner that invokes lighting bolts), they will actually have sense to use this artifact against you! And every enemy keeps their eyes open for some unattended goodies and will not hesitate to pocket them.
  • Many enemies in the Pikmin series are prone to this, particularly bosses, which drop the games' Macguffins. You can kind of understand why they might be carrying fruit in Pikmin 3, but God knows why they seem to have swallowed parts of Olimar's ship in the first game.

  • This trope is used by several different enemies in the Diablo series, but the most egregious example is the Swarms in the second game: swarms of insects able to, and quite likely to, drop items like pieces of armor.
  • Path of Exile, being a Spiritual Successor of Diablo II, also suffers from this. Humanoid enemies dropping weapons and armor is all well and good but then you have giant spiders or animated streamers of cloth that will drop sets of plate armor.
  • Nethack partly averts this; many dropped items are physically in the monster's inventory (or is the monster's corpse itself). If an orc swings at you with a long sword, he'll drop that same long sword when he dies. Some items are generated upon death, but the game checks the size of the item to prevent impossible situations like killer bees dropping plate mail. While usually unobtrusive, the death-drop mechanic is painfully obvious in fast-breeding enemies such as gremlins and black puddings. These enemies can rapidly reproduce themselves under certain circumstances, and each duplicate has an independent chance of leaving behind an extra item when it dies.

    Role Playing Games 
  • Whenever you cut the tail of dragons in Dark Souls, they automatically turn into magical swords and stuff into your pocket. Generally speaking, this trope is averted however for most enemies, since they drop what exactly they wield or their belongings.
  • The Narrator in The Bard's Tale comments on the ridiculousness of this in the early game when a wolf drops a sword. He says he'll skip all such passages from now on, and the bard complains that its his primary source of income. Averting this has less of an effect than in most games, since everything you find as treasure is instantly converted into cash in any case.
  • The monsters in Dungeon Siege drop money and items at random.
  • Everquest: Champions of Norrath on the PlayStation 2 features Fire Beetles, which only stand about half a foot tall, but can end up dropping longbows, swords, giant war mauls, and various forms of armor along with gold.
  • The RPG Mass Effect has a somewhat specific variation of this effect- since the game is completely devoid of standard Vendor Trash, all recovered items must take the form of weapons, armor, tools/implants, and upgrade modules for the aforementioned weapons and armor. This can lead to a seemingly odd proliferation of military-grade equipment in the world. While it is perfectly reasonable to recover a Scram Rail or High Explosive Rounds from a krogan mercenary, it is odd to recover assault rifles from apparently naked and weaponless cyber-zombies, and advanced ultra-tech materials from lost, 60's era Soviet lunar probes.
  • The Rune Factory series averts this, with monsters dropping items they might plausibly have, such as a Shrunken Head dropped from a Gnome chief.
  • Knights of the Old Republic featured enemies who would drop random weapons and armor. While this made sense, much like Mass Effect, there were peculiar instances. It was entirely possible for enemies roughly the size of a large dog to drop six-foot long, double-bladed swords.
    • The sequel had a semi-justified example in Cannocks, a creature said to eat literally anything.
  • Averted in Gothic where the drops make almost total sense. If a humanoid NPC has a weapon in his hand at the moment of his death, he'll drop it - the player can pick it up and then go through the body's inventory, picking and choosing the best loot. Non-human monsters don't initially have a visible inventory; the player has to learn specific hunting skills in order to, for example, skin wolves for their pelts (which can then be sold to traders).
  • In The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, it's not uncommon for mud crabs to be carrying cutlery around with them or for wolves to be carrying lockpicks.
  • Similarly averted in Spiderweb Software's Geneforge games; with one justified straight example. Monsters do not drop anything. Searching a monster's nest can turn up random items; ranging from useful equipment, to Vendor Trash, to worthless trash. (Monsters pretty much collect anything shiny — from shiny coins, to shiny swords, to shiny rocks — as well as useful things like clothing to pad their nests with.) Corpses of people can be looted for useful items and vendor trash. The only other locations to find stuff are storage chests and jars located in and around buildings and settlements; which randomly contain some combination of useful items, quest items, vendor trash, and actual trash. (The random chest popping up in the middle of nowhere is also avoided.)
    • The one straight example is the "thorn baton" short-range ranged weapon. Ammo for this weapon, thorns, literally grow on bushes scattered around settlements. Justified in that both the weapon and the ammo-growing-bushes have been bioengineered by the Shapers, a game faction whose hat is biotechnology.
      • "Turrets", bioengineered sentinel gun-creatures, also use thorn ammo, and drop it when killed.
  • In Titan Quest, everything dropped by monsters (except certain quest items and the enhancer items) is something that the monster that dropped it was using, this includes extremely powerful weapons and armor. Non humanoid monsters rarely, if ever, drop anything other than monster specific charm items.
  • Final Fantasy XII. The Humbaba monster drops a Beastlord Horn. Humbabas don't have horns.
    • In the Necrohol of Nabudis, the monster that drops the Maximillian armour is the wrong shape to wear it, and the monster that drops the Runeblade has no hands and kills its enemies by trampling them or casting spells.
  • Ultima VII and its sequel come so close to averting this. Deer you kill drop legs of meat, perfectly reasonable. But. . . the (normal, four legged) deer tend to drop five legs of meat apiece for no apparent reason whatsoever.
  • Only humanoid monsters in Cute Knight drop armor items, which makes sense. However, dresses are also classed as armor items, which raises some questions about what a goblin was doing with a nice party dress.
  • In Dragon Quest IX, in addition to randomly dropping items, it's also possible to steal items (often the same) from a monster, and there's an item that gives a chance of obtaining an extra item at the end of each battle. Thus you can steal the skin of a snake, take the one it was carrying in a chest, and take a third skin off its corpse.
  • Fallout4 has this due to having random items drop from almost all enemies now. So it's now possible for a pigeon-sized Blood Bug to be carrying 25 pounds of scientific equipment or a mole rat to drop a quad-barreled rocket launcher that's larger than it is.
  • Luxaren Allure lampshades it with the Egg of the King: "Alchemy ingredient. A strange item indeed, given that kings usually don't lay eggs."
  • Diablo and its sequels have this in spades, since loot is randomly generated. It's common for a diseased sewer rat to drop a full suit of plate armor or a succubus who's wearing nothing but a thong to somehow have a naganita longer than she is tall stashed on her body.
    • Diablo II featured clouds in insects dropping halberds.
  • Divinity: Original Sin 2 has the Lucky Charm skill, which gives you an additional chance to find rare, valuable items in any container (container contents are generated randomly upon being opened for the first time). The game has a very generous definition of "container", which boils down to anything which is not a dead body that can contain items. This leads to you watching your lucky looter drunkenly stumbling up to a small potion rack, rummaging around, and pulling out a legendary two-handed warhammer.

    Sandbox Game 
  • Creepers in Minecraft normally drop gunpowder, which makes sense, but if they're killed by a stray arrow from a skeleton, they drop a music record. Guaranteed. Zombie Pigmen may drop Golden Helmets, despite the fact that they are never seen with the helmets on.
    • Before chickens or rotten flesh were introduced, zombies used to drop feathers. Zombies now have a rare chance of dropping carrots, potatoes, or iron ingots, which makes a bit more sense if the zombie is an infected villager.
    • Fishing, in particular, can cause this - by simply casting out a fishing line and having enough luck (or an enchantment), the player can obtain things like saddles, rare bows and enchanted books.

    Stealth Based Game 
  • Assassin's Creed:
    • Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood does this. Sometimes it is reasonable, like guards holding crossbow bolts or bullets - Real Life soldiers do hold onto ammo - or Borgia messengers holding onto rare Vendor Trash that might well be what they are supposed to be transporting. However, when guards pack poison vials or the random pickpockets are also holding onto rare Vendor Trash, it gets less plausible.
    • It's even worse in Revelations, when bomb components are added. Why, exactly, would a halberd-wielding palace guard be carrying deadly poisonous datura powder?

    Survival Horror 
  • In Resident Evil 4, Leon's survival allowance comes from the fact that the enemies he kills conveniently drops ammunition for the weapons he's carrying at the moment. This leads to the absurdity of villagers from a rural backwater place in the middle of the woods dropping bullets for submachine pistols and light grenades and monks who dwell in an isolated castle leaving explosive darts specifically made for a special kind of mine thrower.
    • You can also find said items by breaking wooden barrels and decorative vessels.
    • The colmillos, parasite infected wolves, usually drop boxes of shotgun ammo upon death, which is supply for the most effective weapon in getting rid of them.
    • Even more absurd, killing crows results them in dropping grenades or pesetas.

    Tabletop RPG 
  • Parodied in GURPS: Creatures of the Night which includes a completely immobile plant monster that comes complete with a treasure trove full of things that are useful when trying to kill plant monsters. Why? Because it enjoys murdering adventurers and taking their stuff (which it then buries somehow).
  • Dungeons & Dragons usually attempts to justify monster treasure in their Monster Manuals; the more savage varieties of monster tend to have the gear of previous attempts at killing it strewn in their lair, while more intelligent ones like how it looks. The really dumb or bizarre monsters don't have treasure listed for them at all. There are also restrictions based on creature powers: a salamander that's permanently Wreathed in Flames won't have any flammable items like magic scrolls while a rust monster won't have any metal treasures.
    • Outright averted for intelligent foes in most editions; if the enemy has an item which is useless to them and they are smart, they'll look to trade or barter it for something useful. If they can use it, it's called gear and should be used against the players by the creature when that makes sense, like a dragon deciding to drink a couple of the potions from its hoard before engaging the heroes.

  • Spoofed by Penny Arcade in this comic.
  • Dragon Mango: Parodied; Mango receives a suit of fashion plate mail for swatting a mosquito, then wonders how killing a bug made armor appear. (Answer: it was a drop bug.) She later has to assure her mother that she didn't hack anyone for it.
  • Undertow came up with an interesting explanation on this page. The author's idea was the loot came out of the stomach of the monsters from unlucky adventurers they had eaten. Ew.
  • Made fun of in this Virtual Shackles. "What the fuck Darksiders. Why does everything I smash have a soul in it?"
  • This trope in action gave Ardam a Heroic B.S.O.D. in Adventurers!, when a small fly somehow dropped a piano.
    • Another similar instance has Drecker steal a huge sword off an enemy mook. Not the sword the mook was wielding, but another, much bigger and better. The mook complains that he would have used that sword (instead of his usual, which appears to be made of wood) if he'd known it was even there.
  • Dan and Mab's Furry Adventures has some of the characters go on a quest to "rescue" Alexsi from Biggs, but by the time they get there Alexsi was just leaving. Mab declares victory and calls dibs on the quest loot. Where the loot actually came from can be explained by Mab being a Cloud Cuckoolander with Reality Warping Powers.
  • Referenced in The Order of the Stick #1029. When you're an adventurer, even cleaning bathroom mold will yield a few coins and a potion!

    Web Original 

Alternative Title(s): Implausible Item Drop