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Informed Power

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In many movies, the Big Bad would show off a weapon that he claims to have the potential to destroy the world. However, as the film goes on, the weapon may be charged or activated, but we never see its full potential. Many actionized family movies fall under this trope, simply due to Scenery Gorn and Monumental Damage being a tad too offensive for the Moral Guardians. While in some cases, it may be partly justified (The Hero stops the villain before activating it), other times, the villain for some reason deliberately avoids aiming his weapon at buildings, skyscrapers or etc. While some Scenery Gorn may be added in, we never see its full destructive potential, unless some Fanon adds a customised clip in. However, budget constraints from majority of the work's budget deticated to other stuff would also cause this.

A subtrope of Informed Ability. Sometimes overlaps with MacGuffin. See also: Battle Discretion Shot.


Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Bleach: In the Final Battle, Aizen — under the effects of the Hogyoku — uses the full power of Hado#: Kuroshitsugi on Ichigo, enveloping him in a tower of darkness. According to Aizen, it exerts so much gravity it can warp time and space. So, it should reduce Ichigo to nothing, Deader Than Dead, or something similar. But no more than five seconds later, Ichigo literally backhands his way out of the spell like he's merely swatting a fly. So, no. We never actually see the "full power".
  • One-Punch Man has a heroic variation: The most effort Saitama has ever put in a battle is during the Boros arc, where the alien conqueror is strong enough to swat him to the Moon, outstripping all opposition seen thus far. After Saitama returns, Boros goes all-out, but is still easily defeated. His last words confirm that Saitama was nowhere near using his full might (and this is someone who can dig out canyons just from the air displaced by his punches, during a training bout).
  • The Evil Malamar of the Pokémon anime revealed a plan to take over the planet by redesigning it with a device that would make it only hospitable to their species. The device was rather handily destroyed before it could do any damage, though beforehand the Malamar had a video diagram handy to demonstrate how the device would convert the world into an inhabitable toxic sphere. The heroes are traumatised by the time the presentation is over.
  • The Overdrive from Rave Master, an immensely powerful burst of magical energy said to have destroyed a tenth of the planet. However, it only was used once in the backstory and the one attempt to re-initiate it fell flat. It did still have some serious punch, turning the continent it was used on into a wasteland with permanently unstable weather, but it wasn't near enough to cover a tenth of the planet. This was later explained in-universe as being a gross exaggeration of its strength, since a burst strong enough to do that would have knocked the planet out of the sun's orbit and killed all life as a result.

    Comic Books 
  • Deadpool: One comic has Deadpool face Spider-Man in a Yo Momma joke battle. As Deadpool is about to reveal the single most destructive one he refers to as Yo Mamageddon that killed at least three people (it apparently doesn't work as well in Hebrew where the listeners just bite off their own tongues), he... suddenly ends the match, claiming he was just being paid to distract Spider-Man for a few minutes.

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows: When Krang had assembled his weapon above New York City, it was mentioned that it can cause massive extinction and destruction, but we never get to see it in action, since the Turtles had disabled it before its activation. Before that, we also see its pieces fly and brush against skyscrapers, but it's never shown shredding apart the NYC skyline.
  • Played for laughs in Iron Man 2 with the Hammertech "Ex-Wife" missile. Justin Hammer sells it as an armor-piercing missile the size of your hand that can bust any tank and shatter an entire bunker. When the time comes for War Machine to use it against Vanko, it gets a dramatic activation and power up, fires, and then... harmlessly bounces off Vanko's armor.

    Video Games 
  • Starcraft: While some Protoss vessels are able to crack planets in two, they never exhibit such an ability in-game. Starcraft II does feature a level where a Mothership repeatedly fires a giant laser at the planet, but it's a very precise one intended to surgically destroy infected Terran settlements.
  • Undertale: When the Fallen Child destroys the universe, all we see are a set of 9s, completely avoiding worldwide cityscape destruction in the process.
  • Semi-averted in Warcraft III, where Archimonde shows why he's in charge of the Burning Legion by summoning a scale model of Dalaran from dust, then crushing one tower in his hand. The actual building is then shown falling apart. Archimonde then swipes through the entire model like a kid in a sandbox, but this time the damage is offscreen.
  • The individual Triforce pieces in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time aren't nearly as powerful as they're cracked up to be. Likely the reason Ganondorf is so hell-bent on getting the other two. Power comes the closest to averting this, but it still seems to only slightly amplify the powers Ganondorf already had. Sure he can resurrect ancient beasts, lay down curses, command monsters, and shoot Frickin' Laser Beams, but he's shown doing that absolutely fine even before he's had 7 years to practice with the Triforce piece. Wisdom and Courage don't appear to do jack all: Princess Zelda is bright but not to an unreasonable degree (and she very stupidly lets herself get caught toward the end) with the power of Wisdom, and Link was already brave enough as a child to charge head-on into monster-infested dungeons and even challenge the self-proclaimed King of Evil with nothing but a short sword and a wooden shield before he got his hands on Courage. Later games would address this by showing Power grants godly power like immortality, Wisdom bestows divine-level knowledge of magic, and Courage protects against evil magic and is theorized to grant expertise with any weapon or tool.

    Western Animation 
  • Frequently throughout The Dreamstone it was claimed that if the Big Bad Zordrak ever got his hands on the title artefact, then all happiness and life would wither and die. Despite this, whenever Zordrak got his hands on the stone the worst damage he did was ruin a few dreams. Later episodes added a far more fearsome plan to corrupt the stone and take over the universe, though naturally Zordrak never had his hands on the stone long enough to even try.
  • The Adventures of Tintin: In "The Calculus Affair", the bad guys show New York skyscrapers cracking and crumbling in a few seconds before revealing that it was only a model, but that they're working on a full-sized version. Calculus is retrieved before this can happen, although whether they could have gotten him to cooperate is unlikely.

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