Usually involving situations with Shock and Awe, an improvised lightning rod is a useful tool in amplifying or drawing in electricity. Maybe an enemy is too fast or too tough to hit with electricity, so a lightning rod, whether jammed into or an actual feature of the target, can be aimed at for more accurate attacks. In other situations, placing such a rod can protect one from electric attacks as they are drawn into the rod.
In non-combat scenarios, a great surge of electricity is needed, so that's where the improvised lightning rod comes in to hopefully charge whatever device or being needs a jolt. This is often done in time periods prior to the widespread availability of modern electricity, especially involving time-traveling.
See also Umbrellas Are Lightning Rods.
- Knight's & Magic: in the anime, Ernesti defeats the Demon Beast Behemoth by using an electric attack on a sword impaled in its eye, which goes through its nerves and eventually to its brain.
- Used in the Tear Jerker ending of Movement 1 in the unfinished Legend of the Forest by Osamu Tezuka.
- In the episode "Riddle Me This", Ash instructs his Pikachu to "Aim for the horn" on Blaine's Rhydon as it would otherwise No-Sell Pikachu's electric attacks, thus allowing Pikachu to defeat Rhydon. Ironically, Rhydon would later have access to the "Lightningrod" ability in the games (see Video Game section).
- Grass types, which are only resistant to electricity in the games, sometimes use a strategy of digging roots or vines into the ground to disperse electric attacks.
- Gym Leader Winona, when battling Ash, has her Pelipper (who is a Flying/Water-type, and thus doubly weak against electric attack) nullify Pikachu's Thunderbolt by jabbing a Steel Wing against the ground, dispersing the attack.
- In the French comic Rahan, the eponymous caveman once defeats a Tyrannosaurus rex throwback by planting an iron spear into the dinosaur's head during a thunderstorm, thus attracting lightning and frying the T. rex. This scene is also present in the Animated Adaptation, including the opening credits.
- In The Smurfs comic book story "The Weather-Smurfing Machine" (and its Animated Adaptation counterpart "Foul Weather Smurf"), the Smurfs put an end to the out-of-control Weather-Control Machine by flying a kite attached to the machine straight into a lightning storm.
- Transformers: In IDW's Infestation, a group of Autobots and humans, including Nikola Tesla, attempt to revive Optimus Prime using a kite and a lightning storm.
- Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines: "Hi Spy" (Gold Key Hanna-Barbera Fun-In #3) has Dick Dastardly sending Muttley on a mission to see what sends fear into Yankee Doodle Pigeon. Muttley reports back that the pigeon is afraid of lightning, so the Vulture Squadron gathers up storm clouds as a weapon. However, the pigeon's flight helmet is kitted with a lightning rod, rendering him safe while the lightning trashes the Squadron's planes. Cue Muttley being relieved of his medals.
- In Pokémon Reset Bloodlines, following the example from the anime above, Ash develops a strategy to disperse Electric-type attacks by having his Pokémon jab to the ground with a physical Steel-type attack.
- In The Brave Little Toaster, Lampy uses himself as a lightning rod to recharge the battery the appliances are using to keep alive.
- In The Avengers, Thor uses the Chrysler building as a makeshift lightning rod to attack the Chitauri aliens and Leviathians as they're bottlenecked through the dimensional rip.
- In Back to the Future Doc Brown uses the Clock Tower as a lightning rod to gain the 1.21 gigawatts of electricity the DeLorean needs to get back to the future.
- In The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Gandalf uses a lightning strike to charge up his sword before stabbing the Balrog with it during their duel on the mountaintop.
- In Terry Pratchett's Discworld novel Pyramids, Pteppicymon the Twenty-Third, last Pharaoh of Djelibeybi, climbs the malfunctioning Great Pyramid whose power has awoken several thousand deceased monarchs and allowed the gods to walk the earth. Using an Assassin throwing knife as a desperate lightning conductor, he earths the cosmic forces that have run rampant and allowed all this chaos to happen. He inhumes the full Set, as it were.
- Come Tumbling Down: Jack holds her glasses up in a thunderstorm to call down a lightning strike and reverse her "Freaky Friday" Flip with Jill, which had been inflicted by a lightning-powered engine. Justified because they're in a Magical Land where certain dramatic conventions are literally laws of nature.
- Doctor Who: The Doctor uses himself as an improvised lightning rod for a lightning and cosmic ray strike in "Evolution of the Daleks".
- Highlander uses the Eiffel Tower as one, with Duncan figuring out that he can kill his opponent and the Quickening will travel through the tower to fry the villain's computer before it releases the info on the immortals the villain was using to try to force Duncan to surrender.
- In Raumschiff GameStar, when the crew of the eponymous starship is stuck in The Middle Ages, they obtain the energy necessary for their time jump back to modernity by catching a lightning with a flying kite (and redirecting it to the ship with a frying pan).
- Stargate SG-1: In "The Torment of Tantalus", SG-1 ends up trapped in an alien castle with a broken dialing device, rendering them unable to get home. They end up sticking a metal diving helmet on the roof and wiring it to the gate, drawing lightning into the gate and allowing them to dial out by rotating the ring manually.
- Azure Striker Gunvolt: It's a core to Gunvolt's gameplay; his gun is a special gun that fires small darts that deal weak damage, but their real purpose is to act as lightning rods for his lightning powers.
- In Chrono Trigger, Crono and Frog have a combination attack called Spire, in which Frog leaps at the enemy and impales them with his broadsword, then Crono hits the sword with a lightning spell.
- In Day of the Tentacle, Hoagie is trapped in colonial times and needs a super-battery to power his time machine. He must help Benjamin Franklin perform his legendary kite experiment, hiding the battery in the kite so that lightning strikes the kite and charges the battery.
- Deponia: In Chaos on Deponia, Rufus uses Goal as one so that lightning will strike her instead of him as he climbs a tower. Lightning does strike her, but she escapes unharmed.
- The Legend of Zelda:
- In The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, to effectively fight Demise, you need to use the Master Sword as a lightning rod.
- The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild: During a thunderstorm, lightning becomes attracted to metal. Wear a metal suit of armor? Link will (eventually) have sparks shooting off of his armor and get struck by lightning, taking damage. However, this also applies to metal weaponry. Since you get a few seconds of prep time before getting struck, a smart player may decide to whip out a metal weapon, use it long enough for lightning to try to strike it, and then toss it towards an enemy setting the unfortunate sap to be electrocuted. There's also a hidden shrine that requires Link to get lightning to zap the rock it's buried under to access.
- Mega Man X4: One of Colonel's attacks is him pointing his sword to the sky, causing it to be struck by lightning; then he does a Sword Plant that spreads the electricity across the ground.
- Mega Man X8: The Crystal Wall weapon is effective against Gigavolt Man-o-war not just because it deals high damage to him, but it can also act as this to avoid his Desperation Attack - raining volleys of powerful lightning from above; set up one wall and his lightning will strike only the wall.
- Russian Glowcap mushrooms in Metal Gear Solid 3 can be used to draw Volgin's lightning bolts if you throw them into the battlefield during his boss fight. They can only take one hit before being destroyed, though.
- Generation III of the Pokémon games introduced an ability literally called "Lightningrod" that causes single-target electric-type attacks to automatically target the Pokemon with the ability. Most such Pokemon are already electric-type (which resist such attacks) or ground-type (which are completely immune). Generation V would add an immunity as well as an increase in Special Attack for every time the Pokemon is hit with an Electric attack. Appropriately, other Pokémon gained access to this ability and benefit from the immunity, such as Seaking, Mega Sceptile and Alolan Marowak.
- Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice has Sekiro use himself as one after learning a technique that allows him to redirect the lightning charge with a sword swipe.
- During the fight with Behemoth in Worm, Golem formed giant metal hands to redirect Behemoth's lightning bolts. This is only partially effective, since Behemoth can alter electrical conductivity.
- Inversion: In an episode of The Transformers, the Autobots have to stop a plot by Decepticons but there's a lightning storm going on, and if a bolt hits a Transformer, something very bad happens. So the Transformers go into battle riding on other Transformers who are in their Vehicle modes; the rubber of their tires on the road isolates the Transformers riding on top so they're safe.
- Benjamin Franklin invented the lightning rod after his famous "kite" experiment. Which didn't actually involve the kite and wet string getting struck by lightning, he wouldn't have survived, instead it just passed through a stormcloud and picked up static. He also grounded himself and stood under a roof to keep dry.