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Homer: Or what? You'll release the dogs, or the bees? Or the dogs with bees in their mouths and when they bark, they shoot bees at you? Well, go ahead! Do your worst!
(beat)
Homer: He locked the door!
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A very exotic device or problem, against which all manner of intricate, powerful devices or strategies fail, is counteracted by something incredibly simple and mundane. It can't be solved by their conventional solutions of More Dakka, Attack! Attack! Attack!, diplomacy, or other Rule of Cool applications. Applied Phlebotinum, it seems, often turns out to have a weakness to some household product.

Supernatural beings in both Eastern and Western mythology have a tendency for strange weaknesses, like a demon's obsessive-compulsive need to count dropped grains of rice or a vampire's vulnerability to garlic and sunlight.

Can be preceded by someone Stating the Simple Solution, followed by a Face Palm and/or a Glad I Thought of It moment.

Compare Logical Weakness, where the weakness isn't necessarily obvious or mundane but makes perfect sense with a little thought, and Cutting the Knot. Contrast with Mundane Utility, where something exotic is used to solve something mundane, and Weaksauce Weakness, where a no less powerful individual gets strange weaknesses or power. Many things that are Boring, but Practical are usually (though not always) one of these. Related to Muggles Do It Better. See Combat Pragmatism for when this concept is applied to fighting.

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Examples:

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    Film — Animated 
  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame: When Quasimodo and Phoebus search for the entrance to the Court of Miracles they come across a gravestone marker serving as the secret entrance. Phoebus notices some writing on it and deduces they have to translate it in order to open the path. Quasimodo simply shoves aside the stone lid covering the hidden staircase.
  • In Thomas and the Magic Railroad, Mr. Conductor scares off the evil Diesel by threatening him with... sugar. Pouring sugar into a diesel's gas tank will cause it to mix with the gas inside, eventually causing the diesel to explode.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • 28 Days Later: The "answer to infection" that the mysterious radio broadcast is talking about turns out to be one of these: Victims of the Rage virus are Technically Living Zombies who don't eat other humans, or seemingly even have enough intellect left to remember they need to eat at all much less operate a tin opener, so all the uninfected survivors have to do is bunker up somewhere and wait for them to starve. Pity the Army officer running the safe zone had suffered drastic Sanity Slippage by the time the main characters arrived.
  • Beware! Children at Play ends with all the adults just ganging up on the feral children and massacring them, primarily via shooting.
  • In The Bourne Identity Jason gives Marie an extremely difficult and convoluted scheme to follow in order to get their hands on "John Michael Kane's" bill from a hotel, which involves counting her steps, doing headcounts, subtle signals, the works. Rather than do any of that, she simply goes to the receptionist and claims to be Kane's secretary. It works flawlessly, and Jason is simultaneously impressed, surprised it worked, and disappointed his plan wasn't put to use.
  • In Casper, the bully ghosts are sucked up by a vacuum cleaner.
  • In Die Hard with a Vengeance, Zeus could hotwire the car since as an electrician he knows how - or just stick his pocketknife in the ignition and turn.
  • In the Australian comedy The Dish, the crew of the Australian radio telescope which is supposed to relay the footage from Apollo 11 around the world accidentally loses track of the ship. After hours of panicked mathematical computations, the crew realizes that all they have to do is point the dish at the Moon.
  • In Executive Decision, a bomb is "defused" by the simple expedient of thrusting a plastic swizzle-stick between two electrical contacts, thus preventing the detonator from firing.
  • Fantastic Beasts:
    • In the first movie the witch Queenie and the Muggle Jacob encounter a door that has been charmed to resist all of Queenie's unlocking spells. Fortunately, Jacob has a key in the shape of his boot.
    • In the second movie, the gang comes across a man named Yusuf who has a magical parasite in his eye. What spell does Newt use to get it out? The “pull it out with a pair of tweezers” one.
  • James Bond:
    • In Casino Royale (2006), Bond chases a crook who uses acrobatic Le Parkour to navigate obstacles quickly. Bond doesn't have these kinds of skills, so he uses ingeniously mundane solutions, such as simply smashing through a wall instead of bounding over it.
    • In Goldfinger, Bond is shackled to an atomic bomb that is counting down. With no time or skills to disarm it, he's about to start yanking wires — when someone comes in and flips the "Off" switch.
    • In Goldeneye, Boris fails to stop Natalya from accessing the Janus mainframe and begin tracking it down. He proceeds to frantically tear out circuits until the connection snaps.
  • Johnny English Reborn parodies the classic spy film on foot chase scene with this (and is quite reminiscent of the Casino Royale (2006) scene mentioned above). While the Vortex agent uses quick parkour movements and dramatic acrobatics to escape, English nonchalantly uses the stairs, elevator, shimmies through a gap on a roof and opens a fence door that the agent leaped over to keep up, and catches him in the end. This is thanks to Johnny's training in the mountains, which taught him to seek a more direct path.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • In Captain America: The First Avenger, the drill sergeant announces that the first person to bring him the flag will get a ride back to base. All the men try to climb the flag pole and all fail. This is when the drill sergeant says that no one has gotten that flag in 17 years. While he calls everyone to fall back into formation, Rogers walks up to the flag pole and proceeds to pull the cotter pin, pull the main pin, and let the pole fall down to ground level. Rogers then retrieves the flag, hands it to the drill sergeant, and thanks him before climbing into the jeep.
    • The Avengers (2012):
      • After the Helicarrier is damaged by an explosion, Nick Fury orders the helmsman to steer them south and get them over water before they lose another engine. When the helmsman tells him that the explosion knocked out their navigation system and they're attempting to reboot it, Fury asks him if the sun is coming up. The helmsman hesitantly responds that it is, so Fury tells him, "Then put it on the LEFT!"
      • Steve mocks Tony about how he's not the sort of man to lie down on a wire so his fellow soldier can get over it. Tony says that he'd rather just cut the wire.
  • The Prestige centers on the rivalry between two magicians, who each perform the show-stopping trick of transporting themselves across the stage. One of them gets Nikola Tesla to build him a machine that creates a clone on the other side of the theatre and drowns the original, the other simply steps into a cabinet on one end of the stage, while his secret twin brother hides in the other.
  • Red: When Frank and Sarah break into the CIA headquarters building, they need to get through a door with an electronic lock that Frank says is completely immune to being picked or hacked. He punches a hole through the cheap drywall the door is mounted in and opens it from the other side.
  • Terminator 2: Judgment Day: You can hotwire a car - or just check to see if the key is in the vanity mirror. It returns in T3, becoming both a running gag and a paradox: how did the Terminator in T3 remember the trick learned by the Terminator in T2?
  • In Under Siege 2: Dark Territory, Dane gloats that the hero has no chance of being able to break his "encrypted programming" and this is the only way to turn his system off. Turns out that just shooting Dane's laptop worked fine, too.
  • In X-Men: Days of Future Past, they need to find Quicksilver fast, but Charles makes it clear that Cerebro is out of the question. So they use a phonebook instead.

    Mythology and Urban Legends 
  • Older Than Feudalism: In Greek Mythology, King Gordias tied a cart to the gate of Persepolis with a knot that nobody could untie; prophecy said that whoever did untie this would become ruler of Persia. Alexander the Great is said to have solved the puzzle by cutting through the knot with his sword. (Another account features Alexander merely removing the pin that held the knot and then untangling a little rope. A more thorough, yet no less mundane, solution suggests he fished out one or both ends of the rope and undid the knot correctly.)
  • Heracles found a few mundane solutions to some of his Twelve Labors. The most mundane is needing to present Cerberus, the guardian beast of the Underworld. Rather than risk fighting Cerberus, Heracles just asked Hades "Hey, can I borrow Cerberus for a while?" Hades, being a rather decent fellow, replied something to the effect of "Sure, just bring him back when you're done." (Some versions of the myth state that Heracles still had to fight and subdue Cerberus even with Hades' permission, since Cerberus would not recognize Heracles as his master. But by asking permission first Heracles did not incur Hades' wrath on top of that.)
  • According to Japanese urban legend, if Kuchisake-onna approaches and asks if you think she's pretty, answering no will get you slashed to pieces in a violent rage. Answering yes will get you slashed to pieces because the word she uses for "pretty" (kirei) is a near-homophone of a word meaning "to cut" (kire), and Japanese bogeymen are fueled by bad puns. Giving a neutral answer like "you're so-so" (or asking her how she thinks YOU look) will confuse her into letting you go. Kuchisake-onna can also be bribed with candy. Or, in most recent versions of the story, you can excuse yourself and claim you're too busy to chat with her.
  • There is an urban legend that the Soviet Union space program responded to the expense and effort of the invention of the Fisher Space Pen by using pencils. Although this story is not actually true (after the Apollo 1 disaster, NASA decided pencils were too flammable for the high-oxygen atmosphere of a space capsule), it does point to a general principle of Russian engineering: smart people, dumb machine. That is, the critical point is to make sure that above all, the device works and to trust the user and maintenance crew with the rest; as a result, a Russian car (especially Soviet-era) might be overall a piece of garbage with about as much comfort as a gokart with no suspension, but it's guaranteed to start and run in the winter. (On the other hand, you do wind up paying a price in terms of safety and steeper learning curves, but the Soviets obviously thought the tradeoffs were worth it.)
    • Another reason pencils aren't used is because they work by transferring graphite onto other surfaces and require sharpening. Even if a mechanical pencil is used, graphite dust would still be floating around and risk coming into contact with circuitboards. Not a situation you ever want to happen.
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    Tabletop Games 
  • Ars Magica:
    • Many mages and supernatural beings have innate Anti-Magic, which protects against everything from spells to magically honed blades. As such, savvy mages keep some conventionally armed Mooks around for backup, since they require much more specific defensive measures.
    • One Tytalus House apprentice was challenged by his master to open a specially designed chest. It shrugged off every spell he could think of until he finally admitted defeat, whereupon the master walked over and opened it: the chest was unlocked.
  • In d20 Modern, there are classes of monsters that are tougher than the standard monster manual fare; to balance the fact that they are functionally invulnerable, they also have a table of unusual Weaksauce Weaknesses, ranging from 'the laughter of children' to 'Elvis memorabilia'.
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • Countering a spellcaster's magic can involve identifying a spell while it's being cast and using some magic with an equal and/or opposite effect to negate it, the ubiquitous counterspell, or even high-level stuff to produce an Anti-Magic field to shut down the rival spellcaster entirely. Or, if the edition allows, you can get up in the mage's face and thump them whenever they start to cast a spell, disrupting their concentration with some well-timed violence.
    • Magical disguises, whether illusory or polymorphic, can be defeated by anything from a lowly detect magic to the high-level spell true seeing. A change of costume, bit of stage make-up, and some acting ability, on the other hand, can be every bit as effective, without any magical aura to give it away.
    • Magical invisibility can be foiled by various detection spells — or by someone throwing a sack of flour into one's general vicinity. For those not carrying flour, the spell Glitterdust is often used this way.
    • The magic supplement Complete Arcane has plenty of these suggestions (as an alternative to a magical Lensman Arms Race). A trained dog is great against invisibility, disguises both magical and non, and can grapple the mage to keep him from casting spells. If you don't have a dog, a stack of pots behind a door is a cheap and easy warning system.
  • In Pathfinder a lot of the most powerful defensive spells work by creating distracting or distorting illusions. The more powerful combinations can be largely mitigated by the opponent closing their eyes.
  • Rifts has a little fun with the concept of fae weaknesses. Among the ways to protect yourself from Faerie Folk is to turn your clothes inside-out or backwards when traveling through their territory, or by tying colorful ribbons all over you and your gear. But this is less a matter of them being unable to approach you as it is them being too busy laughing to trouble you.
    • As well, the vampires race that has conquered all of Mexico is so vulnerable to running water and crosses that Super Soakers and floodlights with crosses painted on them (which create big cross-shaped shadows) are some of the best weapons against them. They're also vulnerable to Wood to a much lesser extent, so while it can't kill a vampire, a baseball bat is still a good option to defend yourself.
  • In Mage: The Ascension, magic is indeed impressive given enough prep time, but mages taken by surprise tend to be in big trouble, being simple humans with none of the unique physical powers most other supernatural creatures have (vampires, werewolves, demons). That's why having a gun, sword or baseball bat with you always pays off.
  • Mage: The Awakening reduced the time needed to cast some impressive spells, but keeping a normal weapon around was helpful. Even more so if it was enchanted or enhanced-or both. A really good Mage could even have a kickass sword that made Paradoxes he triggered weaker if he used it while spellcasting.

    Web Animation 
  • RWBY: In "Downfall", Blake gathers a citizen army to oppose Adam and the White Fang's plan to wipe out Haven Academy. Her father organizes training for the citizens, who don't necessarily know how to fight, for the two weeks of their journey to Haven. However, when they confront Adam at Haven, the Menagerie citizens don't have to do very much beyond make a symbolic stand against Adam and his men. The reason why is because Blake's mother turns up with the Mistral police force, surrounding the villains with an army of airships containing armed and properly trained law enforcers. It's the arrival of the police force, not the Menagerie citizens, that forces the villains to abandon Haven and flee.

    Webcomics 
  • Given the profusion of Mad Scientists in Girl Genius, it's hardly surprising that it has several examples:
    • Gil attempting to catch Zeetha with a cage clank. Said clank missed, and went on a rampage trying to catch something. After everybody else failed to defeat it using various means, Krosp checks with Gil to be sure that the clank will not hurt whatever it catches, then tosses a little girl into the robot and lets it capture her. Having achieved its objective, the bot promptly settles down and simply sits there, with the little girl happily inside.
      Little girl: Yay! Hey Mamma! I'm inna show!
    • Also, when everyone is trying to kill/cure Agatha, Gil, and Tarvek, one of the machines goes haywire, and the Sparks start screaming about how everything is going to blow up, and "NO FORCE ON EARTH CAN STOP IT!" Then, the machine spontaneously stops. Cue everyone looking at Von Zinzer, holding the power plug.
    • A few pages later, the group needs to travel to a lower level of Castle Heterodyne, and of course the stairs are ruined. The Sparks gleefully start suggesting surgically grafting wings or building flying machines... Von Zinzer points out a nearby winch and immediately is subjected to several bitter glares for "taking the joy out of it".
  • In The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob!, after the Space Pirates of Ipecac have gone to a great deal of trouble to steal some Unobtainium called borfomite on a distant planet, they realize they have to combine it with plain Earth caramel to make it power their BFG. This is far from the only example, as part of Bob's shtick is his knack for hitting upon simple solutions to bizarre problems.
  • The Order of the Stick:
    • Haley cuts the knot by using a bow and arrow to solve the Knights and Knaves problem in #strip 327.
    • When seeking the Oracle, the Order is subjected to a "test of heart"... a medical screening.
    • The IIFC notes the most dangerous obstacle invisible characters have to deal with: a closed door.
    • When a storm hits the airship the Order is on Belkar begins ranting about how its not the real Durkon, and Thor won't help him, along with Durkon's spirit... and the spirit possessing Durkon uses Control Weather.
      High Priest of Hel: What? It's on the standard cleric spell list. Geez.
  • When the clue hammers in El Goonish Shive were shut down, Susan was suddenly deprived of her habitual method of dealing with inappropriate comments. Enter Catalina Bobcat with a toy hammer...
    Nerd boys: Ow! The plastic, it hurts!
  • xkcd tells us how to beat cryptography in the kneecap.
    • Also known as rubber-hose cryptanalysis. For obvious reasons, this method is unfit for gathering court-admissible evidence.
  • Bigger Than Cheeses mocked the difference between the way Hollywood stops hackers, and the way you should stop them. note 
  • In The Adventures of Dr. McNinja, Gordito dealt with Victor, an obvious villain claiming to be a plumber, by hiring another plumber and firing Victor.
    • Later, King Radical is trying to generate radical energy in order to summon the residents of his world into the other one which has them forcibly replace the boring original residents. He is about to give up, however, because even making a giant robot out of the town's buildings only made a little energy and he can't possibly top that. One of his minions then suggests he have the robot DO something, which starts producing a lot of radical energy.
    • The entire plot is defeated by Gordito turning off the robots power source and breaking the ignition key.
  • Manly Guys Doing Manly Things are infected with a virus that transforms them into Bishounen. Commander Badass goes on a long elaborate hunt for the mastermind of this plot and battles him to the death, to no avail. In the meantime, Canadian Guy... goes to the doctor, and is cured before Commander Badass returns.
  • Stand Still, Stay Silent: Sigrun decides she wants to get the walking part of the crew's journey going right after Tuuri is buried, but Lalli refuses to leave. Sigrun quickly figures out he may have a few tasks to take care of in regards to what has just happened, but has no clue as to what they are and how long they will take. As Sigrun and Emil try to find out a way to ask Lalli what he needs to do with a Language Barrier in the way, Mikkel gets the idea of simply showing Lalli his pocket watch and letting him point at the time at which he'll be ready to leave on it.
  • Kill Six Billion Demons:
    • When a devil gets pissed at Allison and breaks the mask that binds him, he begins to turn into an uncontrollable Eldritch Abomination. Three devil-binders who are standing nearby prepare their most powerful spells to fight him, but they doubt they'll have much luck. Meanwhile, Allison just grabs another mask and slaps it on the devil, allowing her to re-bind him in a weaker form without too much trouble.
    • The demiurge Mottom can kill with a word. Cio slaps a piece of paper over her mouth (and then a lot more to be sure), silencing her.
  • In the Skin Horse storyline "Railway Children", Violet Bee, the representative of Skin-Horse's private sector enemies Anasigma, says that the team needs her because, as a state-of-the-art humanoid drone, the mind of her user is outside the mind-altering villain's area of effect. Dr Lee responds by calling Nick on her smartphone and asking him to patch into the camera.
  • In this Awkward Zombie strip, the Timefall, an otherworldly rain that rapidly ages anything that comes into direct contact with it, can be shielded with a single-use supermarket plastic bag.
  • Bad Machinery: In "The Case of the Forked Road", some delinquents use a portal in the school science room to go back in time and cause a devastating train derailment that alters the timeline. Shauna, Charlotte, and Mildred try to fix things, but every attempt to stop the boys by themselves fails. Eventually Shauna decides to just tell the train company that some boys sabotaged the tracks, and the engineers immediately change the train's route to bypass the boys' tampering.

    Web Original 

    Real Life 
  • The doll. One of the oldest and most universal toys ever conceived, it doesn't seem nearly as spectacular an innovation as discovering fire or crafting the stone ax, yet it revolutionized child care by giving young children something to safely try out social interactions with. Compare that to other social primates, in which subadult females can only practice infant care by stealing actual infants away from their mothers - a risky situation for baby and young female, alike - and youngsters of both sexes are smacked around by their elders if they commit a faux pas. Plus, learning to regard dolls as substitute-playmates gave the human imagination a jump-start.
  • One recommended method for disarming a nuclear bomb is by shooting it. Nuclear weapons are very complex devices that need to go off perfectly to trigger a nuclear reaction, and triggering one of the blast plates even a split-second too early will prevent it from going nuclear.
    • Being as far away as reasonably possible is considered a good idea as a botched implosion will cause a jet of highly radioactive material to go somewhere. Also note that if its hydrogen bomb (like almost everything is now a days) it will also have a secondary that probably go off and be able to level a city block or so. So yah stay back.
  • Similarly, one of the most tried and true methods of disarming a bomb or IED is to just make sure everyone is clear of the blast radius and then just setting it off. There is even specialized equipment for this: robots that set off the bombs ("This is some serious bullshit!") and dummy "vehicles" that drive over victim-initiated IEDs and trigger them before any actual vehicles reach them.
  • There are stories of how criminals have committed grand plans with minimal effort.
    • A fast food restaurant had an ATM inside their location. A group of men in dark blue coveralls came in, told management there was an issue with the ATM, and wheeled it on a hand truck. It wasn't until the store later called the bank to ask when a new ATM would be sent that they found out it was a robbery. No one paid enough attention to give a description, and the coveralls were unmarked.
    • An urban legend has that a man would take money at a zoo parking lot. He worked every day for several decades, and everyone loved him. He announced his retirement and left. The zoo called the county to find out when they were going to send a new parking attendant. The county doesn't charge for parking there.
    • A bank robber knew that he wouldn't have a lot of time to escape before police arrived, but he also knew a river was only a few minutes run away. So, he had stashed an inflatable raft there. All the police found was his discarded clothes and dozens of people drifting down the river.
    • Albert Spaggiari wanted to break in the vault of the Société Générale bank in Nice, a vault known for its door being so invulnerable it didn't even have alarms and professionals refused to hear his plan out as soon as he mentioned the target — but Spaggiari knew the vault was close to Nice's Absurdly Spacious Sewer, from which he and some friends of his dug a tunnel. For obvious reasons, bank vaults now have alarms and other defenses against tunnels.
      • Later the police managed to arrest Spaggiari, who in prison wrote down the heist plan in a code. The judge called him to his office to decode it... and Spaggiari used the chance to jump out of the window and steal a bike. It is believed he died in Italy years later of throat cancer, the police never being able to track him down again.
  • One urban legend in computer security goes as such: a computer security expert is very confident in his company's net security, and challenges a hacker friend of his to try to break into their server and steal a file. The hacker friend does so within ten minutes: by dressing as a janitor, walking right into the server room, physically stealing the actual server, and then walking out the door with it. The lesson: you can have the most robust network security protocols in the world, but it won't mean anything if the attacker is able to get physical access to your computers.
    • Not entirely an urban legend, Kevin Mitnick did something very similar at a trade show. In this case he had a friend distract the attendants at a booth while he picked the lock on their server cabinet and re-routed some cables, thus giving the terminals on the trade show floor direct access to the "un-hackable" server.
  • A problem many stores face is customers either stealing or simply not properly returning their shopping carts. Some stores starting installing a lock on their carts that locks them together and can only be undone by inserting a coin. (Initially a quarter, but as inflation made them less valuable the denomination has risen.) The coin would be returned if a customer put the cart back in the right place; if they just left their cart in a random spot, the coin would be gone. Suddenly, people started making sure to return their carts much more often.
    • An abandoned cart for a store like Aldi, may be done on purpose; some folks will find a cart with a coin left by the front of the store. Customers who forgot a quarter can use that cart, and an unwritten rule is to either give the cart to another customer coming in, or leave it by the door for the next person.
 
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How to Open a Hotel Safe

Bronconius brags that Bob will never get Tina's doll from the hotel safe because the code to the safe is an obscure references to "The Equestranaut" that only a true fan will know. Bob bypasses this by calling the hotel front desk and having security unlock the safe.

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