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Junk Rare

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The gold symbol on the middle-right says it's a rare card. The text says the developers are laughing at you.
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There are the awesome, powerful rare cards that you're eagerly praying to see when you crack open a booster pack...and then there are these. A Junk Rare is weak, narrow, useless, or otherwise undesirable, and to make matters worse, it's rare, meaning that even if you wanted to get rid of it, you can't because there's always the possibility that you'll never obtain another copy of that card. So much for Power Equals Rarity.

Naturally, one player's Awesome, but Impractical is another player's Who Cares How Impractical It Is, It's Awesome! And one should never underestimate the power of Narm Charm. And 100% Completion. It's also possible that someone may even find a use for it and it turns out it's not as bad as once thought. If it gains enough notoriety, it ensures that it'll never leave the players minds.

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This is not exclusive to Collectible Card GamesRandom Drops can qualify as well, and when they do they are often also Vendor Trash.

May be Awesome, but Impractical, Cool, but Inefficient, or a Useless Useful Spell. If it's only available through a special promotion, it's a Promotional Powerless Piece of Garbage. Not to be confused with Commonplace Rare, which is when something that would be worthless junk in real life is useful and difficult to obtain in a game.


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Examples:

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    Tabletop Games 
  • Magic: The Gathering has a lot of these, usually on purpose. Mark Rosewater, the game's head designer, wrote lengthy defenses of the practice titled "When Cards Go Bad" (about how "bad" cards get made, regardless of rarity), "Rare, but Well Done", and "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly Truth"; in which he discusses in great detail why "bad" cards can be designated rare:
    • First of all, maybe they're not objectively "bad", they're just not for you. Magic has a lot of demographics to cater to, so not all cards will be a good match for everyone. Some people even like "bad" cards for the puzzle of trying to make them work — and sometimes they succeed and prove they were never "bad" after all. (Example: Necropotence was considered a useless card until a couple of players realized that one card is worth a lot more than one life, and the only life that counts is your last one. Necropotence is banned in most formats as it broke the Meta.)
    • Cards that are complicated in some way (like weird rules interactions or even just a Wall of Text) are rare in order to avoid overwhelming beginner players with advanced concepts. The creators eventually instituted design rules to specifically cut down on how much complexity can appear on common cards in order to keep them newbie-friendly.
    • Big, impressive, and/or unique creatures and spells are rare in order to keep them special.
    • If a card is too niche or too powerful for game formats with more limited card pools, then they're made rare to limit the disruption. Ironically, that means that rare cards are more likely to be "not for you", since they don't want to put such cards at lower rarities where they'll annoy more people.
    • Just logistics. If there are too many uncommons in a set, some cards have to be bumped up to rare. Or if some cards of a cycle have to be rare, then the remaining ones should be rare too.
    • And the designers can't just stick all the "good" cards in rare; they want to avoid Power Equals Rarity and have some of the good stuff available in common and uncommon as well.
  • The Star Wars Customizable Card Game has Epic Events, which typically require not only that you use associated cards, but your opponent use associated cards; for instance, Attack Run depends on your opponent using the Death Star and you having Death Star: Trench and Proton Torpedoes. All are rare.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!:
    • Gate Guardian. Useless unless you also have Sanga of the Thunder, Suijin and Kazejin (which are themselves pretty rare) and have them all on the field at the same time. And if you actually manage to do that, due to the aforementioned monsters' effects it's far more sensible to keep them on the field rather than waste them to summon Gate Guardian.
    • Pretty much any card that requires another card to play. This can be worse if the "summoning" card is a rare in of itself. Venominion and Venominaga are good examples, with one being Ultra Rare and the other being Secret Rare. Venominaga however can only be played with Venominion's ability (with almost no exception), so even if you do score this extremely-rare card, there's no way you can play it unless you shell out the money for the other, or get lucky with the pack again.
      • Archetype boss monsters in general fell into this, especially during the GX era, where Awesome, but Impractical was pretty much the norm. Volcanic Doomfire, Ultra Rare (one per 24 packs) cover card for Force of the Breaker, requires a card that requires another card that are both only useful with a bunch of other cards, leading to it being played rarely. The two most commonly-used cards from that set on its release were easily Gravekeeper's Commandant (Rare, meaning one per pack) and Raiza the Storm Monarch (Super Rare, one per five packs). Raiza and Commandant actually cost more than Doomfire on the aftermarket.
    • There is a "Short Print" rarity of card (or "Normal Rare" in Japan) where, even if the cards don't appear to be Rare, they are very hard to find. Often, Short Print cards are worse than your ordinary Commons. Just see for yourself.
    • Probably the earliest examples of Junk Rare are Celtic Guardian and Mystical Elf in Legend of Blue-Eyes White Dragon. Both are Super Rare - the same rarity as powerful Spells like Raigeki, Dark Hole, and Swords of Revealing Light - but they have lower stats than Commons like Uraby and Skull Red Bird and Rares like Giant Soldier of Stone and Aqua Madoor. On top of that, they were later made available in the starter decks. (This is an odd bit of The Artifact; LOB is a combination of several sets, and Guardian and Elf had been released in some of the earliest sets, where they were strong enough to justify their rarity. They were later packed in with stronger cards from later sets, and their rarities still hadn't changed.)
    • The most infamously bad rare card to date is a card called "Fusionist". While all fusion monsters were Rare at the time, Fusionist stands out as not only is it weak (even for a fusion monster at the time) and is a Rare, but it actually has lower stats than Mystical Sheep #2, one of its component parts. And Mystical Sheep #2 has bad stats to begin with! Its only use is being an Instant Fusion target in Rank 3-focused decks.
    • The worst Secret Rare of all time is likely Return Zombie, released at Secret Rare in Premium Pack 6 (admittedly, the pack had shifted rarities, but still). Its effect is to return itself to the hand by paying LP, but only during your Standby Phase and only if you have no cards in your hand. As the Standby Phase happens right after the Draw Phase (where you draw a card), there are only two situations where this card can activate: either your Draw Phase was blocked somehow (i.e. your own Reckless Greed or your opponent's Time Seal), or the card was activated or discarded during your Draw Phase (i.e. it was a quick effect activating in the hand, or your opponent triggered Drop Off). These situations are ridiculously rare, most of the cards capable of causing them reliably are banned, and even in those situations, Return Zombie's stats are too bad for it to really do anything other than maybe block one attack.
    • Sealmaster Meisei from Ancient Sanctuary. A Normal Monster with 1100 ATK whose gimmick relies on two floodgate cards that contradict each other. It is simply insulting to see cards get this kind of rarity in sets released much later despite its potential support.
    • Dark Rabbit took about a decade to be printed in the TCG, and it appeared as a rare in a 5D's-era booster pack. It's an 1100 ATK/1500 DEF monster with no effect, which appeared in one episode of the series. Pegasus fans, rejoice?
    • The Poker Knights were reprinted in the middle of the GX era in the Elemental Energy set. They are mildly prominent in the anime, but that doesn't justify a set of cards whose best play is, by spending your Normal Summon for two turns to summon a pair of mediocre Level 4s, summoning one slightly stronger Level 5 (with stats equal to common Level 4s like Insect Knight) being printed as rare.
    • Cards that saw even remotely limited release in Japan tend to be packed as Secret Rare (the highest rarity) in American sets, regardless of how good they are. Gil Garth, a completely unremarkable vanilla beater, was a Secret Rare in a late-GX era set, pretty much solely because it'd been a promo in Japan.
    • The two main Xyz Change cards to appear in Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL, Utopia Ray and Shark Drake Veiss, were both printed at Ultra Rare and served as the cover cards for their respective sets. They are at least fairly easy to summon in dedicated Xyz builds, and both boast fairly powerful effects... that can only be used when you're at 1000 LP or under, in a game where you start with 8000. They're clearly meant to be "comeback" cards, but most of the time in Yu-Gi-Oh, if your opponent starts taking serious chunks out of your LP, that means they're in the process of bringing your LP to 0, not 1000. Neither card has the firepower to win a duel by themselves, so most of the time, the only way to use their effects is to get your LP to a hilariously low value on purpose... at which point you are now vulnerable to your opponent Cherry Tapping you on their next turn. (Bonus points: Veiss was the cover card of the set that introduced Gagaga Cowboy, which was pretty much an instant loss to any player with 800 or less LP, making Veiss-fueled comebacks even less feasible.)
    • One of the rarest cards to ever hit mass retail is Ten Thousand Dragon, a card created to commemorate its status as the ten thousandth card ever released. It was released in Starfoil Rare (one copy per two cases, each one of which contains 288 booster packs), and it wasn't even the only card in its set released at that rarity. Unlike most cards released at that rarity, it wasn't printed at anything lower, either, so the high-rarity version is the only option. Low bids on eBay go for around 1500 dollars. So what does it do? Well, you summon it by tributing monsters whose combined ATK and DEF equals 10,000 or more, and its stats become 10,000 upon being summoned. While this is a rather absurdly high value, the card has no other effects or protection and is nigh-on guaranteed to not survive the next turn (or even the same turn), there are many easier ways to bring a monster up to a similarly high value with far less risk or investment, and its summoning condition requires giving up monsters with high stats anyway.
  • In Pokémon:
    • Evolved (Stage 1 and Stage 2) Pokémon are mostly rare, and require basic Pokémon first. (You can get around using a Stage 1 with Pokémon Breeder (also Rare), but you still need the common basic Pokémon.) This was initially averted, as most basic Pokémon used to be rather weak, forcing players to evolve, but the introduction of EX Pokémon basically turned evolved Pokémon into Artifacts.
    • Another example would be the super Awesome, but Impractical legends, and some rares are actually extremely weak and nigh unplayable, like early Magneton, Pidgeot, etc.
    • Rarity seems to be more related to the Pokémon featured than the potential for playability. There have been instances in every tournament season up to the present (2010-11) of a player doing well with a deck using nothing above Uncommon, the second-lowest rarity, though such decks have never moved beyond the national level. There was one time a World Championship winner's deck used only 4 Rares out of 60 cards per deck. (There were at least three rarities above Rare at that time. And if you're curious, it was the Lunatone-Solrock deck.)
    • The game's creators had fun with this when they introduced secret rare XY-Evolutions Imakuni's Doduo. It's power involves throwing the card across the room when retreating it, and the attack requires singing. And oh yeah: At the bottom is the red text, "This card cannot be used at official tournaments."
  • In the early days of Heroclix, this is applied to uniques like Juggernaut without the helmet and original-costume Cyclops. Adding keywords didn't help these guys much. And the newer sets have gems like Spider-Man villain The Spot, Mr. Miracle & Oberon duo, and Queen of Fables.
  • The Star Trek: Collectible Card Game has a bit of a Running Gag with cards concerning Mot the Barber, the blue-skinned Bolian in charge of taming Picard's wild head of hair. Mot himself is a Red Shirt; Mot's Advice is barely useful. Barber Pole? It literally does nothing. And, just to make it more fun, all these cards are uncommon, not rare. (The final(ish) set for the game has a card, In for a Trim, that makes use of these cards.)
  • This happens due to random assignment tables in BattleTech: just because you got assigned an extremely rare 'Mech is no indicator of its usefulness or battlefield prowess. The Ostscout, for instance, is one of the rarest 'Mechs in the game, but is a Fragile Speedster that carries almost no effective weaponry or armor and is relegated to a passive reconaissance role at best. This extended to the rarity system in the Battletech CCG, where it was possible for the rare card in a booster to be a Lightning Bruiser such as the Ryoken B...or a nearly pointless Joke Character like the Baboon. This gets even worse if the random table includes things like prototypes or primitive tech—it's possible to get assigned the very first 'Mech design ever built that way. Hope you like having a slow, inefficient, underarmed museum piece!
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • Thanks to random loot rolls, it's possible to end up with magical equipment that nobody in the party can get much use of. Of particular note is enhancement bonuses on weapons and armor, as it can either show up on weapons nobody in the party uses or on lower tier armor (effectively making it the same as the tier above but worth significantly more if sold).
    • The Talisman of the Sphere is one of the rarest items in the entire game, being an artifact that cannot be bought, crafted, or duplicated. Its only power is that it enables the user to more easily control a Sphere of Annihilation, which is incredibly powerful but is no less rare than the Talisman. So if you don't have a Sphere of Annihilation, then the Talisman is essentially worthless—and given how potentially problematic a Sphere is, it's not likely your DM will simply hand you one.

    Video Games 
  • In RuneScape:
    • It's possible, but extremely rare, to randomly receive 100 silver ore as a drop from most monsters with drop tables. Otherwise, silver ore is a common item, and even a hundred of them are only worth a few thousand gold in total. The dragon spear is obtained through a similar system (an extremely rare drop from the same wide variety of enemies) and is very close to completely worthless.
    • Clue scrolls occasionally reward the player with rare and valuable items...and other times, you get a handful of mundane colored firelighters.
    • In the Old School version, three tough bosses can drop jars filled with dirt, sand, and swamp muck. The bosses have an incredible low chance of dropping them (dirt is 1/1,000, sand is 1/2,000, and swamp has a 1/3,000 chance). The three jars are filled with mundane substances and have no known uses, but are still valuable because of their rarity.
      • The construction update would later give a use to these jars (as well as other jars introduced for other bosses): they're used to create boss statues in your house's achievement gallery. You need to have killed said boss at least once to erect a stature and they don't do anything outside of looking cool and serving as displayable proof that you defeated the boss. The fact that you can just buy the jars means you don't even need to grind the bosses to get these displays either; just kill a boss once and buy its jar off of someone.
  • Anchors are the rarest items in Super Mario Bros. 3: every other world has a level where collecting an untold number of coins spawns a White Mushroom House that gives you an anchor. All the anchor does is stop the airship from changing its place on the map if you die. The airship moving can only really hinder your progress if you skipped stages after getting a Game Over in the current world. A rare glitch in World 5 (fixed in Super Mario All-Stars and Super Mario Advance 4) can make the airship fly to an unreachable square, so it's probably most useful there.
  • In Luigi's Mansion, Red Diamonds are tied with Gold Diamonds as the rarest treasure in the game, with only two found, and one of them is literally King Boo’s crown. However, unlike the incredibly valuable Blue and Gold Diamonds (2,000,000G and a whopping 20,000,000G [the game’s highest] respectively), Red Diamonds fall straight-up flat as they are just worth 5,000G, same as a coin no less!
  • Pokémon:
    • There are plenty of rare Mons without much going for them in-battle: Tangela and Lickitung are this in the first generation, and subsequent games follow in their footsteps with such duds as Qwilfish and Sudowoodo. However, Chimecho takes the cake here: In its debut games, it is located in a small area of a story location well off the beaten path, only has a 2% chance of appearing there, has a catch rate lower than some Legendary Pokémon, and isn't used by any trainer in the game, so you can't use the Pokédex to find it. If you somehow get lucky enough to find and catch it, you'll discover that it's one of the weakest Psychic-types ever introduced, with mediocre stats and a terrible movepool.
    • Supposedly, Farfetch'd is a deliberate example of a rare junk. In Pokémon Red and Blue it can only be gotten by trading a more-useful Spearow (who are thankfully common as all get out). While fine at lower levels, it isn't an especially useful Pokémon once it levels up more. It's a reference and parallel to a Japanese phrase "a duck comes bearing spring onions." Or a different interpretation which basically translates into "there's a sucker born every minute" — much like how a more useful mon has to be traded for it in the first generation.
    • The Generation 1 games had many Pokémon that were hard to find and get or limited to a single obtainable mon per file, but because of Gen 1's notoriously terrible balancing, just ended up being useless. Scyther and Pinsir, Aerodactyl, Hitmonchan, Ditto, Magmar, and Marowak were all such Pokémon that were at least usable by the Gen 3 remakes (or in Ditto's case, gained a very valuable niche for breeding purposes), but in Gen 1 were useless to battle with and not remotely worth the effort of getting them beyond filling up your Pokédex.
    • Perhaps the hardest Pokémon to obtain normally in the Generation 1 games is Porygon. It can only be obtained from the Game Corner, and requires 6500 coins in Blue and a whopping 9999 coins in Red and Yellow. You'll either be grinding at the slot machine for hours on end, or trying to buy coins with your own money (which is going to be either 130,000 or 200,000 of the ingame currency). For all that effort, its highest stat is a mediocre 75 Special, it can't evolve, and its only noteworthy moves are Conversion (changes its type to match the opponent, which is very situational) and Recover (actually a decent healing move, but Porygon doesn't have the defenses to tank well). Later generations would throw it a major bone in the form of two different evolved forms.
    • The most notorious example of a rare yet useless Pokémon spanning the series is Phione. Phione is technically a Mythical Pokémon, with the only way of obtaining it being through an arcane method, which requires getting a Manaphy (another mythical Pokémon that could only be obtained legitimately through the Pokémon Ranger game back in Gen 4 and in events in later Gens), and breeding it with a Ditto (when normally you can't breed legendary/mythical Pokémon at all, even those with genders). If you actually went through the trouble of getting a Manaphy and just somehow thought to try breeding it with a Ditto, your reward would be a Phione... which is a drastically weaker Pokémon with a more limited movepool (including losing Tail Glow, the main move that made Manaphy so good), and despite being bred from it Phione does not evolve into Manaphy nor anything else. With all its stats being a painfully mediocre 80 and lacking Tail Glow or anything else to give it real distinguished utility, Phione is a blatant Master of None that is good at absolutely nothing and serves no purpose other than blatant Pokédex filler.
    • Many of the new arrivals of Pokémon Gold and Silver are weirdly hard to find, but also not particularly good. Dunsparce is by far the most famous, with a completely mediocre statline and typing... and is found in one cave in the whole game with a 1% encounter rate. Its rarity is more or less for the Tsuchinoko joke.
    • Most baby Pokémon are also this in the earlier generations. Many of them require you to capture and breed their evolved form(s), sometimes after obtaining a rare item, and then carry an egg around in one of your party slots until it hatches, for a Pokémon that is ultimately weaker than the one you started with due to being unevolved and baby Pokémon often having pitiful stats. Even raised up baby Pokémon are often worthless, as statistically there's no difference between a Raichu that started as a Pikachu and a Raichu that started as a Pichu. However, some Pokémon do have moves they can only learn in their baby forms (Wobbuffet, for example, can only learn Encore as a Wynaut) so there is some occasional use for them. Some appear in the wild like regular Pokémon in later games, though, and starting in Gen 6 baby Pokémon will always have at least three max IVs, making it worth your effort to try getting a Pokémon in its baby form, as unless you're breeding Pokémon with multiple maxed IVs already, it's extremely unlikely you'll find a non-baby Pokémon with multiple max IVs.
    • A set of berries in Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire are extremely rare, only being obtainable through e-Reader cards. Some of these match consumable items already in the game. Being berries, however, they are easily renewed, so it offers some edge, at least. Some of these, however, match other berry effects.
    • Pokémon X and Y has not one, but two event-exclusive moves that do nothing when used: Celebrate and Hold Hands. The latter doesn't even work in Single Battles! Subverted from Pokémon Sun and Moon and on, where converting these moves with a Z-crystal will boost all of their stats (except for Accuracy and Evasion).
    • In general, any shiny Pokémon that is useless in battle. Shiny Luvdisc sure looks pretty, but it will end up in a PC box immediately after anyway, with how unsalvageably bad Luvdisc is. Then even with Pokémon that can be viable, unless meticulously bred, a shiny one will probably have an unfitting nature and/or not good IVs that makes it not optimal for actual battling or even useless; that shiny Sneasel sure is cute, but it has a Quiet nature reducing its most valuable asset in its Speed while raising its nearly non-existent Special Attack? Into the PC it immediately goes to only ever be gawked at for eternity. Starting in Gen 7, however, Hyper Training was introduced, where in exchange for a Bottle Cap, you can make any of a Pokémon's IVs function effectively at the max of 31 and for a Gold Bottle Cap make all their IVs be effectively maxed, and starting in Gen 8, there are Mints that can change which stats get increased and decreased by nature to any corresponding nature you want, so now you do have a workaround to salvage the battle usefulness of any shiny that got an undesirable nature and/or IVs, at least for postgame and PVP usage.
      • In the Gen 2 games where shinies were introduced, shininess was determined by a pokemon having a specific spread of DVs (the equivalent of IVs in the first two Gens), which would be having a 10 DV in their Defense, Speed, and Special stats, a 0 or 8 DV in their HP stat, while only their Attack DV can reach the max of 15. This specific spread of DVs that would range from average to above-average and natures not being a thing yet means any shiny you get won't be outright awful, so they'll always be more than serviceable for single-player usage. However this spread of DVs is substantially weaker than a pokemon with perfect DVs, making them worthless for serious competitive PVP, and even if you're playing less serious PVP where you don't have pokemon with perfect DVs, it's still trivial to get pokemon with better DVs than what shinies are ever capable of having, making using shinies still objectively disadvantagous.
    • To battle Regigigas, one must obtain the three Legendary titans, which can be painstakingly difficult depending on the game and/or generation (from trading the other version’s exclusive to having to transfer the whole trio from the previous gen). After adding them to the party, Regigigas can be confronted and, with some luck and effort, caught. However, you will soon realize you just obtained quite possibly the worst Legendary Pokémon ever, thanks to its Slow Start ability that cripples it for the first five turns of the battle, rendering Regigigas mostly useless both in-game and competitively. It's especially underwhelming in Platinum, where it's found at level 1.
    • In Pokémon GO, the player hatches Pokémon eggs by walking 2, 5, or 10 kilometers while playing the game. Eevee, while far from being a Com Mon, is one of the more common Pokémon to find in the world... and can hatch from the 10 km egg, which otherwise yields the rarest Pokémon. As a result from many players' frustration, this was eventually changed so it hatched from the shorter-distance, more common 5 km eggs instead.
      • Eevee at least could be evolved into a range of straightforward and fairly powerful Pokémon (4 of which have over 3000 CP and the other 3 is at least 2000 CP). Unown is the rarest Pokémon in the game - it is common to play for years without ever seeing a single one - and is completely useless, with a max CP of 1185 and a nearly worst-possible moveset.
      • Klink would later pick up Eevee's slack, becoming one of the most common Pokémon in the 10k egg-pool when added to the game. Unlike Eevee, it's generally agreed to not be particularly useful in the game, even when evolved all the way to Klinklang, and is already extremely common in Raids on top of that.
    • Another example from Pokémon GO is the exclusive Snorlax move from the Sleeping Snorlax event used to advertise Pokémon Sleep: Yawn, a Fast Move that does absolutely nothing and is only in the game in the first place to counterbalance Slaking's immense stats.
    • In Pokémon Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum, an NPC tells the player that there is a rare Pokémon hiding in the pond of the Resort Area. It's a Level 100 Magikarp. Sure, the odds of finding it are small, and it can be exciting to catch a wild Pokémon that is at the highest possible level, but unfortunately Magikarp is one of the weakest Mons in existence, and since it is already maxed out, evolving it into the far more useful Gyarados is impossible.
    • In some cases, Pokémon with Hidden Abilities can be this. Depending on the game you’re playing, getting a Pokémon with one can be relatively easy or a long, hard and tedious task note , but generally, the results are worth it since most of those abilities are more suitable for competitive battles. However, like the useless shinies mentioned above, it depends on the Pokémon species, as there are species that have hidden abilities that are worse than their regular ones, like Araquanid who, instead of an ability that boosts its Water attacks, makes it resistant to Fire, and grants it immunity to burn status, it gets one that makes it immune to a type that it's already resistant against. Other more evident examples are Audino with Klutz and Durant with Truant note . And since it's not possible to exchange a normal ability for a hidden one, the reverse is also true. If you found a Pokémon with a worthless hidden ability, it's stuck with it. This is especially painful if it happens to also be a shiny. Even the Ability Patch introduced in Sword and Shield can only change a regular ability to a hidden ability.
  • World of Warcraft:
    • Back in the days of vanilla World of Warcraft, Molten Core's Sulfuron Harbinger encounter occasionally ended in disappointment when one of the items dropped was Shadowstrike. Sure, it had the gimmick of transforming into Thunderstrike and back. But it was a Polearm (so Priests, Mages, Warlocks, and Rogues couldn't use it) with inferior DPS to other two-handers (so Warriors and Paladins didn't want it) and no stat bonuses (so Hunters, Druids, and Shamans didn't want it either). No surprise that its nickname became "Vendorstrike", and later "Nexusstrike," as it became a reliable source of Nexus Crystals from disenchanting.
    • Thori'dal, the Stars' Fury, the legendary bow that had a very low chance to drop from Kil'jaeden, the final boss of the Burning Crusade expansion. While by no means a bad weapon, its main gimmick was that it created its own ammo. However, this wasn't that useful since you could buy Timeless Arrows, the best ammo in the game, for fairly cheap and in large quantities, and Timeless Arrows + The Golden Bow of Quel'thalas, an epic bow that was far easier to get, ended up doing comparative damage to Thori'dal. Near the end of the expansion, changes to how Steady Shot worked with weapon and arrow damage actually made the Golden Bow a stronger weapon for Hunters, making Thori'dal an unnecessarily rare weapon for something that's not even really an upgrade.
  • Several named weapons in Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas have unique appearances, occasionally special effects, and are slightly better than their baseline counterparts, but are underpowered compared to most regular weapons. You'll be happy to claim Pacer's straight razor "Figaro", but you won't be fighting any serious battles with it. There are also a number of very rare yet worthless Vendor Trash items, such as the Rake.
    • The original Fallout has the 9mm Mauser, which can only be found by looting Gizmo's body. It also requires unique ammo, which can also only be found by looting Gizmo. If you wield it in battle, you'll find it has a 20% boost to accuracy... and that's it. It's outdamaged by the starting pistol, and struggles to injure any enemy wearing more armor than a leather jacket.
  • Beets in Kingdom of Loathing no longer drop, and when they did it was only on ultra-rare occasions when resting. As a result, in the player economy a beet costs upwards of about two hundred million meat. This is in spite of the fact that the beet does absolutely nothing: it has no auto-sell value, it can't be traded to an NPC for anything, and you can't eat it, cook with it, or make cocktails with it.
  • Team Fortress 2 suffers this due to the Crate Lottery. Within the game there are crates that contain items of various quality. It's already a lottery when you gamble with the crates for a valuable strange weapon or an unusual hat. To further increase the drama, there is a second subset of crates called Salvaged Crates. Within those is where junk status truly begins. The Salvaged Crate offers a chance at weapons that may or may not ever see a release in a regular crate or you can get a strange version of a weapon nobody really wants or use.
  • Any game with a loot system, such as the Diablo, Torchlight, and Borderlands series, will fall into this sooner or later thanks to the Random Number God. Particularly noticeable in Borderlands, where quests will often reward you with unique, named guns which statistically are nothing more than Vendor Trash.
    • Diablo III had this happen to whole classes of loot. The broken gray class of loot is rarer than the common white class, and after about two years of patches, blue magic items tend to appear more often than so-called common ones at most levels.
  • The Goblin, Bomb and Mind Flayer summons in Final Fantasy IV and its sequel are dropped with 1/64 odds from the named monsters and are woefully underpowered. They're slightly more useful in the DS version and After Years, where they do more damage and cost less MP to use than equivalent black magic spells, and unlike the spell Break which can and often will miss, Cockatrice always works on an any enemy that's not immune to being turned to stone. The original American SNES release also inadvertently made the Red Fang item, here translated as FireBomb, into one. Most areas of the game where they were available in the Japanese version, including random drops from monsters, had them Dummied Out. However, due to an oversight, they were still a Rare Random Drop from Red Dragons. These are only found in the final dungeon, and given how powerful a player will be at this point in the game, there's absolutely no use for them.
  • Omega Mk. XII on Final Fantasy XII has an insanely low chance of dropping a Mythril Sword. The most basic sword on the game which you start with. It's also the only place in the game to get a second one as no shops sell them.
  • Final Fantasy XI's Voidwatch has absolutely abysmal drop rates for gear - as in .01% or lower (thankfully each player receives their own loot, so there's no fighting over such rare drops). Most of the bosses with the good stuff have two such rare drops, and both are usually good in their own right. However, depending on what jobs a person has leveled (or plans to level), it's not uncommon for one of the two items to be "junk". A notable example is one boss which drops one of the best mage robes in the game - sought after by all casters. His second drop is a bullet that is quite good, but only for a single job (out of 20), the Corsair. By the time you get your fifth.01% bullet to drop and still haven't gotten the robe, you're ready to go on a murderous rampage against the RNGods.
    • Many drops from Notorious Monsters count. Many rare drops from them are inferior to items which can be crafted and many have a better common drop than their rare drop. One example being Bu'Ghi Howlblade who has a roughly 97% chance of dropping the best low level shield on the game and a roughly 3% chance of dropping a mediocre neck piece.
  • Final Fantasy XIV:
    • Aetherial grade gear, found in chests inside dungeons or as rare rewards from guildleves. This equipment is equal to a crafted high-quality item of the same item level, but with random stat bonuses as if it were already filled with a materia, where normal crafted gear instead had empty materia slots. But the stat bonus is random: caster equipment can come with strength, or tank equipment that adds piety, or anything that has a lot of skill speed or spell speed. Worse, these items can not be traded, and thus it's more common than not for a guildleve Aetherial drop to be unusable by one's current class, and either vastly under- or overlevelled for the player's compatible classes. They can at least be converted into materia, equipped at a lower level than their normal equivalents, or traded in at the Grand Company for Company Seals, though.
    • Some individual pieces are rare, high-level, and still not worth finding or buying, for mechanical reasons. The primacy of weapon damage and lack of good off-hand items meant that the Allagan Sceptre, a Black Mage one-handed weapon, was less useful than its two-handed equivalent until patch 2.1 powered it up.
  • KanColle: Quite a few rare (gold/rainbow background) ships are outclassed by its more common (blue/silver background) counterparts. This is most apparent in the Destroyer class, where the strongest ships in that particular class are almost all common drops with second remodels.
  • Smashy Road: Wanted has four tiers named common, rare, epic, and legendary. The epic tier has almost, if not all, of the worst cars in the game.
  • Animal Crossing has many items that can be this: Depending on your perspective, many clothing items or furniture items can be this if it isn't something you want to have in your house or museum but you can't get rid of it because it can't be found in stores or ordered through the store kiosk and can only be obtained on a single day of the year, or a single playthrough with a given player character.
    • The best example of this is the Sloppy furniture series. All the items appear disheveled and messy and look like something that's ready to be thrown out. However, these items are only available if a villager decides to put them up for sale in Re-tail. Which only happens once in a blue moon. People are willing to pay millions of bells to get their hands on a whole set.
  • Cookie Clicker has one in the collection of eggs found when Easter is triggered - it's called "egg" (quotes and all), and all it does it improve production by +9 cookies per second (when even mid-game purchases on the same scale give hundreds of thousands for a single purchase). Without multipliers, depending on when it's bought, it could take months to pay for itself. And unlocking it is a 1% chance on every golden cookie click. Oh, and it has to unlock (though thankfully not be purchased) for an achievement. Though the absurdity of it all did make it into a fanbase inside-joke...
  • Realm Grinder: Most of the Lore Artifacts give no upgrade whatsoever and often have a small, specific and hidden chance to dig up.
  • Plants vs. Zombies: Heroes: Any "Super-Rare", "Event", or "Legendary" cards that aren't good in play would qualify.
    • Doubled Mint. Legendary card, and hypothetically capable of having the highest stats in the game. But due to this, the chances anybody will let it survive even one turn are nonexistent, and thus it's entirely negated.
    • Gargantuar's Feast. A Legendary trick that summons 3 random, hard-hitting Gargantuars that the Plant Hero can't do anything about would be cool. But the fact that it's so expensive (12 brains) that you'll hardly ever get a chance to play it. In order to be viable, you basically need to combo it with an Event card, Gargologist, which means using a low-tier Tier-Induced Scrappy.
    • Interdimensional Zombie. Its special, Legendary-worthy ability? When you play a Science zombie, it transforms into a random zombie that costs 3 brains. Its low cost and above-average health do nothing to help the fact that it's a Rare in a Legendary's clothing.
  • Terraria:
    • The pre 1.3 Enchanted Sword was a rare sword with the ability to fire damaging energy beams with each swing. It is one of the rarest items in the entire game. The game has a small chance of spawning the Enchanted Sword somewhere underground in a destructible background stone when you first generate a world. There is no indication that the sword has spawned and since it's in a random spot underground you could potentially spend a thousand hours in a world with an Enchanted Sword and never know it's there. Even then, there is only a 1/3 chance that the sword in the background stone is the real deal - the other 2/3 are wooden swords that don't even drop upon destroying the stone. On the off chance that luck is in your favor, and you finally somehow manage to find an Enchanted Sword... you'll find that it isn't exactly groundbreaking, especially in comparison to the plethora of much more common, much more powerful items you can find even before Hardmode. It deals only one point of damage more than the Light's Bane, a low tier, fast-but-weak archetype of weapon. The ability to fire energy beams isn't all that special, even pre-Hardmode. The Ice Blade, another pre-Hardmode weapon, does the same thing, is almost as damaging, and is far easier to acquire. Made significantly less junky and rare as of 1.3, where, in addition to the usual stone generations, very obvious Enchanted Sword shrines can spawn (structures with a vertical, one-tile beacon of negative space that stretches extremely far up, sometimes even visible from the surface) that are common enough to reliably find at least two or three with ease in a large world. The Enchanted Sword has also been buffed to now be faster than the aforementioned Light's Bane and stronger than the Blood Butcherer, a mid-tier, slow-but-strong weapon, with its sword beam now doing it much more of a favor with the increased damage, ultimately bringing its newfound power much more in line with its lowered, more justified rarity. Additionally, 1.3 also brought the Arkhalis, which has a 1/10 chance to spawn in place of a real Enchanted Sword, seemingly bringing the entire Enchanted Sword category out of infamy for good. Not to mention that it's required to craft the endgame Zenith.
    • The Slime Staff has the lowest drop rate of any enemy-dropped item: only a 1 in 10,000 chance, and even Pinky only has a 1% chance to drop it, the highest out of all Slime enemies. This makes it potentially the rarest of any of the summon weapons, on top of being the weakest with a mere 8 damage and no ranged ability. However, combining this weapon with the Greedy Ring's effectsnote  and a specially-structured arena can turn it into a very profitable cash cow that nets dozens—if not hundreds—of gold coins in a few minutes, so it's not completely valueless.
    • The Coin Gun is the rarest drop in a pirate invasion, having a 0.25% chance to drop from the Flying Dutchman Ship (Meaning one in every 400 ships has one), a 0.05% chance to drop from Captains, and a 0.0125% chance to drop from anything else. It has a very high damage stat, but you need coins to use it. It has a power of 200... When using platinum coins. Unless you have a good money farm, it's very hard to get this weapon to its peak damage.
  • Some Servants in Fate/Grand Order can fall behind their comrades due to their skill-set or stats not living up to their rarity status, but the majority are still decent. When it comes to truly Junk Rare status, these Servants take it to an art form:
    • Stheno is a 4* Assassin with poor stats, poor skills, and a single-target debuff Noble Phantasm that is contingent on the target being male (it does have a instant death chance, but again that's dependent on the target being male and enemies tend to have high resistance to instant death anyways). Two Rank Up Quests added later did give Stheno a useful ATK Up skill for party support and a buff removal that works regardless of gender, but that's all she's got.
    • Angra Mainyu is the rarest thing that can be summoned in the gamenote  as well as being the game's only 0* Servant, and he's a self-admitted Joke Character. His stats are in line with the common 2* Servant, his skills don't provide much survivability (in fact, his most useful one also kills him after a few turns), and his Noble Phantasm is an unblockable Attack Reflector that requires him to both survive the enemy's attack while also being dealt enough damage to actually do anything useful. His Bond Craft Essence gives him the ability to revive from the dead once during a fight, but one can't help but feel like they're just putting him through more torture. This isn't a bad thing however, as he really does suck that bad in-story as well and it only contributes to his popularity.
    • Despite being a 4*, Artoria Lily was added to the normally 3*-and-under Friend Point gacha in 2020, with a 0.05% appearance rate. While this seems like a godsend to a lucky player, the reason Lily got added in the first place was that she's considered the worst 4* by a wide margin—she was deliberately undertuned statwise due to being initially given away for free as a Pre-Order Bonus, and even in comparison to her free peers, her skillset is completely unremarkable and her costs to upgrade and use are higher than the 3* Servants. And even if you do want Lily, the Saber Wars event and its rerun let you get your hands on five free copies of her anyway, so someone playing since launch would have eleven Lilies already! The only real use these Lilies have is that they can be a source of Rare Prisms, which require the player to get rid of four-stars: normally a serious sacrifice, not an issue when it's a character you can theoretically get any number of times.
  • In Fire Emblem Heroes, you must spend Orbs to roll for new characters. The best units are 5* rarity and only have a 6-8% chance of showing up at base, and while every five summons increases the chance by .5%, it resets when you pull a 5*. This means that if you pull a worthless 5*, all of that pity percentage is wasted. While the 4/10/2018 update alleviated this by moving most of the crummier 5* units to the 3*/4* pool, Mist: Helpful Sister is still unequivocally the most useless 5* pull due to her mediocre stat spread and lack of good skills in her base kit.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • Morrowind:
      • There is only a single "muffin" on the entire island of Vvardenfell. It belongs to someone else, necessitating a crime (murder or pickpocketing) to acquire it. If you do, you'll quickly find that it has the exact same qualities of any bog-standard loaf of bread on the island, useless save for showing off in your stronghold.
      • The Tribunal expansion adds three artifacts with dubious enchantments that are primarily meant to be donated to the Mournhold Museum Of Artifacts, since you need to donate two items to progress with the main questline. These are The Robe of the Lich (which drains 600 health upon equipping it), The Mace of Slurring (which damages the target's Speechcraft), and the BiPolar Blade (which is enchanted to both rally and demoralize its target at the same time). While the enchantment is certainly "junky", the BiPolar Blade still has base damage on par with the game's other legendary two-handed swords, making it something of a Lethal Joke Item. Better still, it is acquired at the end of a Matchmaker Quest which requires no combat, allowing a low-level player to pick it up very early in the game. Compare that to some of the other legendary two-handed swords like Chrysamere and The Iceblade of the Monarch, which must be won from tough foes near the end of lengthy faction questlines.
      • Meteor slime can only be found in one spot in the game, by clicking on Charles the Plant in Jobasha's bookshop in Vivec. (The names of both the item and the plant are a Shout-Out to Maniac Mansion.) However, it has the exact same properties as scrib jelly, a common ingredient.
    • In Skyrim, there exists a rare random encounter where the player can meet a chef-in-training named Balbus whose dream is to study under a reclusive master chef known only as the Gourmet. There is also a quest in one of the faction storylines in which the player has the opportunity to hunt down and murder the Gourmet himself, and steal a document from his corpse in order to impersonate him. If the player has completed this quest and has the Gourmet's document on their person at the same time they happen to encounter Balbus, they can pretend to be the Gourmet again, and a starstruck Balbus will give the player a handful of rare ingredients he's gathered... and a fork. It's called 'Balbus' Fork'. Its model resembles every other fork in the world. It has zero monetary value and zero weight. You can't trade it anywhere for anything, you don't get any bonuses for having it, and it's not even the wieldable variant of the basic fork. The only thing it's good for is to show off that you managed to arrange the above circumstances.
  • The LEGO Adaptation Game series has this in the form of the Expensive Generic/Joke Character. For the sake of 100% Completion, you'll occasionally spend all your studs or go on a difficult sidequest or both for a character who has no abilities or at least has no abilities that you didn't already have from a basic character. Some examples are Saruman and the Witch-King in LEGO The Lord of the Rings and the Emperor in LEGO Star Wars.
  • Mew in the Super Smash Bros. series is the rarest Pokémon you can get when throwing a Poké Ball, but all it does when summoned is fly away, not doing anything to help in battle. In most games, at least, summoning it would net you trivial rewards such as a notification, a bonus in 64 and Melee, a CD in Brawl, or any random collectible in 3DS/Wii U, meaning Mew holds some value. Ultimate, however, delegates all of its major collectible items to shops only, bonuses weren't brought back, and the "you found Mew" notification is conspicuously absent, making the New Species Pokémon on par with Goldeen in terms of usefulness despite its rarity. Celebi and Jirachi serve similar functions, though only Mew has physically appeared in every game.
  • Azur Lane has a few, with most of them being either early batches of Super Rare (SSR in JP) that are designed when the developers aren't that experienced with unit design yet like San Diego (crazy high AA, bad at everything else), Warspite (high firepower but extremely poor sole skill otherwise), Prinz Eugen (Stone Wall with very limited firepower for a heavy cruiser), although San Diego and Warspite received retrofits that massively buffed them. Also, prior to Kizuna AI collaboration event, all non-World of Warships collaboration Super Rare ships (an in case of WOWS collaboration ship, Izumo) are also considered to be mostly underpowered.
  • Demon's Souls has Pure Sharpstone, Pure Cloudstone, and the Gargoyle Crossbow. The Pure Sharpstone and Pure Cloudstone, of which there exists one guaranteed sample each in the game while any more must be obtained from Crystal Lizards which have a strictly finite number of spawns (for Sharpstone) or Storm Beasts which are awkward to kill such that they fall where you can reach their item (for Cloudstone), suffer from the same problem, that being that they're used for the final upgrade of upgrade paths that are generally not good, as Sharpstone-upgraded weapons are defined by having decent base damage, but less than stellar stat scaling which is where most of a weapon's damage can come from at even decent Strength/Dexterity/Magic/Faith. Its "sibling" stone, Hardstone, which does the same thing but for different weapons and has the same availability (the guaranteed Pure Hardstone and Pure Sharpstone are found together, and any Crystal Lizard that can drop Pure Sharpstone can also drop Pure Hardstone instead), skirts around its Pure stone being useless as it is also used for improving shields, which when upgradable with Hardstone (as opposed to Colorless Demon's Souls, a decidedly not useless yet still painfully rare item) only have one alternative upgrade path, that being Cloudstone. The problem with Cloudstone is that it increases the shield's magic resistance, but not its ability to reduce the amount of stamina lost when blocking attacks. Shields upgraded all the way with Cloudstone get 70% magic resistance, but there also exist the unique Dark Silver Shield (which is upgraded with the aforementioned Colorless Demon's Souls) that has 100% magic resistance out of the box, the same stat requirements and weight as a standard Knight's Shield, and does decrease the stamina lost from blocking when upgraded. To put it into perspective, a Knight's Shield fully upgraded with Cloudstone has 70 Magic Resistance and 57 Guard Power, while the Dark Silver Shield has 100 Magic Resistance and 65 Guard Power when fully upgraded. The Gargoyle Crossbow, on the other hand, is awful for a completely different reason, that being that Crossbows in general (all three of them) are garbage. They have lousy damage due to being impossible to upgrade and cannot be aimed accurately in the same way that a bow can. As for the Gargoyle Crossbow specifically, it defines itself by scaling with Magic and doing magic damage with each bolt fired, but both the scaling and final damage are easily overstepped by a decent bow. Unlike Pure Sharpstone and Pure Cloudstone however, it can only be obtained as a rather rare drop from an enemy of which only three exists in the game, with the third being so far away from the other two that it's much faster to just reload the area after taking the first two out. Not only that, but they have awkward collision and appear over thin bridges, so if you kill them in the wrong way they may fall off the bridge before you can loot them, ending up down where you have to traverse half the area to reach them or out of the map entirely. Worse still is that if you've made enough progress in the stage the bridges get permanently cluttered with more enemies, making it that much more difficult to reach the ones who drop the crossbow.
  • Minecraft: The rarest possible item from fishing (not counting combinations of enchantments) is a set of 10 ink sacs. This happens about 0.1% of the time, and is less likely to happen if you're using typical fishing-rod enchantments, because it's literally from the "junk" category. And junk it certainly is—ink sacs are only used to create black dye, which isn't worthless if you have a fondness for black things, but it's much easier to get 10 ink sacs by killing a few squid, found in ridiculous numbers in almost any body of water. In second place for garbage fishing rares is the unenchanted fishing rod—significantly less common than enchanted ones, to the point that many players may not even know it's possible to fish up a magicless rod.
  • Warframe features the Machete and Snipetron, two low-level weapons that were available through the market early on in Warframe's history, but were removed from it, with their blueprints being available respectively as a rare Daily Tribute offering and as a potential reward during an event occuring once every few months. The Machete is a plain blade weapon with unimpressive stats, while Snipetron is a Sniper Rifle that can hold only 4 shots before having to reload over 3.5 seconds (while most other primary weapons, including its Vandal variant, can reload in 2); siding with the Corpus during much more common invasion missions may reward you with Snipetron Vandal, which is generally an improvement over the standard Snipetron.
  • Hades features a fishing mechanic which can be added in where fish caught can be exchanged for resources Zagreus can use to upgrade the Underworld, his weapons, and Nyx's mirror. The rarest fish in the game is the Voidskate, which can only be caught in Chaos' realm. It's incredibly rare for a fishing point to even spawn in Chaos' realm in the first place, making getting this specific fish even harder to come by. You'd think for its rarity, it'd boast the best reward to compensate for it—instead, you're given 500 Darkness. While useful for upgrading Nyx's mirror, by the time you've managed to obtain it, you're probably well into the postgame and have already upgraded everything in the Mirror that has a gameplay effect, leaving only Cosmetic Awards. As a consolation, Darkness has the deepest and least fungible sinks for those cosmetic awards, making the Voidskate desirable for collecting them, but even then, the reward still comes up short relative to its rarity.
  • In Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade, Karla is a character whose recruitment requirements are so wonky and obscure that many blind players never even learn she exists. Recruiting her requires you to a) be playing Hector Mode, which can only be done on at least your third playthrough, b) have Bartre, a seriously mediocre axe fighter with the worst base Speed in the game, survive to Chapter 31x, which is basically the end of the game, c) train Bartre to at least level 10, promote him, and then keep training him until he gets to level 5 of his new class, d) bring him to Chapter 31x (at which point there are only three real chapters left in the entire game), e) have him engage Karla in battle while armed, and f) have both survive that round of combat. So with all that in mind, Karla should be an amazing character, right? Wrong: she's a swordmaster (arguably the worst melee combat class in the game) who has abysmal damage output and range, dies in two hits to many enemies, has mediocre-at-best growth rates and no time to train her, and despite being designed as a Fragile Speedster, is actually slow enough that she not only fails to double the endgame bosses, but can be doubled by some of them in return.
  • In Monster Hunter: World the highest tier of appraisal weapon from Kulve Taroth are the Kjarr weapons, of which there are 95. Some are the absolute best elemental weapon in their class while others are complete junk, but all of them are equally difficult to obtain due to the limits on acquiring appraisal weapons.
  • Pretty much every bad or mediocre item in The Binding of Isaac can be seen as this, as there are so many items in the game (716 as of the Repentance DLC) that the chance of coming across a specific item is usually very low.
    • In particular, items that are exclusive to secret rooms can be this, as secret rooms have a very small chance of containing an item in the first place. And some of these items aren't just useless, they're actually detrimental to the point of ruining your run. For example, there's Wavy Cap, (a joke item that distorts your screen when used and makes it very hard to dodge), MissingNo (rerolls all your items at the start of each floor, making the game a Luck-Based Mission, and if it runs out of items to give you it turns all of them into HP), and worst of all, TMTRAINER (turns every future item into a 'glitched item' with random effects. Plot-critical items aren't immune to this, so if you pick it up early enough it can intentionally softlock your run).
    • There's also Delirious, an angel-room exclusive item which, prior to Repentance, was one of the only items with a decreased item pool weight, making it extremely rare. It's a pretty mediocre item which summons a friendly boss to fight for you for the current room. Its long charge time means that it's only practical to use it against other bosses, where it has a good chance to summon a boss which is several floors weaker than the one you're fighting, which does pitiful damage and then dies. Despite this, many players have hunted for hours for it because picking it up was required for 100% completion.
  • In Dragon Quest VIII, on a small island in the southwest corner of the world, which doesn't even appear on the world map, the player can find the one-of-a-kind Platinum Sword. It is inferior statistically to the Dream Sword which one can buy at Neos, which the player is almost certain to sail past on their way to the unmarked island, and lacks any form of special effect.

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