Follow TV Tropes


Mundane Solution

Go To
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!
Homer: He closed the door!

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.


Let's be absolutely sure the example you're about to post isn't actually a Weaksauce Weakness, please.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • In one of the episodes of the anime Birdy the Mighty, the space-babe informs the hero that the slime based shapeshifting horror can only be hurt by a chemical weapon, specifically a surfactant. The hero promptly runs home and grabs a bottle of dishsoap.
  • This is a common plot device in Haruhi Suzumiya, where Kyon repeatedly saves the world by doing very mundane things, like kissing Haruhi, convincing her to put a disclaimer at the end of her movie saying that all of the characters and events are fictional, or inviting the gang over to his house to do their summer homework.
  • The Mahou Sensei Negima! manga has a flashback showing the epic battle between Nagi (The Thousand Master) and Evangeline (an incredibly Little Miss Badass and vampire), who are two of the most powerful mages alive. After some suitably epic banter between the opponents, Nagi ends the battle before it even begins by catching Eva in a pit trap filled with onions and garlic. Game over.
    • Not to mention Chao's "secret weapon," which she didn't use in first place because she was afraid of the damage it could cause—a copy of her family tree. Against her ancestor's Unwanted Harem.
  • A Certain Magical Index:
    • A powerful fire mage is stopped by... a sprinkler system. At first, he scoffs at the lead for thinking that his fire summon could be put out with just a little water, and he's right about that—the real point was for the water to blur out the printed runes that were continuously allowing his fire to regenerate after being destroyed. With that ability disabled, the rest is easy. He learns from this: Next time he uses laminated rune cards.
    • GREMLIN's response to Touma's Anti-Magic that's been kicking the ass of every mage he goes up against: They bring guns. Nothing supernatural about guns, so Touma's Anti-Magic doesn't do anything against them, and without it he's just an ordinary guy.
  • This is why most of the cast of Fate/Zero hates Emiya Kiritsugu. Mages are typically very good at magical combat, but inexperienced in things like C-4 and sniper rifles. And that's before they discover the hard way that he also uses Origin Bullets as more or less the ultimate form of Anti-Magic at his disposal when the circumstances dictate soexplanation .
  • The Protodeviln of Macross 7 can only be harmed by The Power of Rock. One of their number, Gabil, gets a brainwave on how to deal with this: earplugs. This actually works for a while, but the humans just make their songs louder. Gabil then installs a noise canceller in his mech, which proves much more effective.
  • In the MegaMan NT Warrior anime, the heroes get tricked into using a battle chip that corrupts Roll and turns her against MegaMan. After some time struggling to hold her off, their resident chip expert comes around asking what the commotion is about. When they ask what to do next, he just calmly says to put in any new battle chip and the corrupt one will pop out just like any other.
  • Yusuke of Yu Yu Hakusho is able to beat a demon using Botan as a Human Shield by simply telling her to simply raise her arms, which made her slip out of the jacket the demon was holding her by and giving Yusuke an opening.
  • Subverted in Neon Genesis Evangelion: The bridge crew attempt to turn the Magi system off during Iruel's (a nano-virus-like angel) invasion of it. Iruel deactivates the command option before they attempt it. To solve the problem mundanely from there, they would need to physically destroy the computer - not a good option, considering the Magi controls all of NERV's operations, and the only person smart enough to reconstruct it is dead.
  • The Paper Sisters in R.O.D the TV at one point go up against a villain who uses sound waves to disrupt their Paper Master powers. Anita's solution? Throw a book at him. A normal, unpowered, really heavy book. It hits him in the face and knocks him right out.
  • In Naruto the whole point of the written part of the Chuunin Exam is for the student ninja to come up with elaborate and clever ways to cheat without getting caught, as a test of their information gathering skills. Sasuke is the only member of Team 7 to do it the intended way (he uses his Sharingan to copy every move someone else made). Naruto accidentally abuses a loophole in the rules (if you make it to the end of the test without being caught cheating and answer the final question- a Secret Test of Character- correctly, then you pass, regardless of whether or not your earlier answers were correct or if you even wrote down anything at all). Sakura doesn't cheat either- she's smart enough to be able to work out the solutions on her own without resorting to cheating.
  • In Yona of the Dawn, Shin-Ah is possessed and attacks his teammates using his paralysis ability. Zeno is immune to this ability and confronts him. How does the possessed Shin-Ah deal with him? He ties him up. More generally, Zeno's power only activate when he's injured to begin with. Tying him up or otherwise immobilizing him without hurting him is an extremely effective method of neutralizing him.

    Comic Books 
  • Superman shuts down Livewire by simply getting her wet enough so she ends up short-circuiting herself. Then there's the rubber suit he put on to prevent her from zapping him and Parasite from leeching his powers for a two-for-one deal.
    Livewire: Ooo, the Boy Scout brought protection!
  • In The Sandman: Endless Nights, the people in a castle bar Death from entering their home with a magic gate, rendering themselves immortal as long as they stay inside. After trying for about two hundred years to get in, Death (who is an attractive Perky Goth) asks an off-duty soldier for help. Not knowing who she is, but smitten and eager to impress the pretty girl asking him for help, he tears down the gate with brute force.
  • The Transformers Generation 1 comic had Scraplets - a sort of contagious "flesh-eating disease" which affects transformers. It was inevitably fatal, as well as completely uncurable, apart from some apocryphal records of a substance so rare that its very existence was doubted. Standard procedure for dealing with it was total quarantine followed by destroying the infected individuals. Oh, that nigh-mythical, incredibly rare cure? Water. Of course that cure only got the Scraplets off the infected, then shooting at it worked pretty well.
  • There's a The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck comic where villainess Magica DeSpell sprays Scrooge with a potion that causes his face to change to the face of whoever he looks at. Eventually Scrooge and company find that the solution is to simply wash the potion off with soap and water.
  • In Joker/Mask (a crossover of Batman with The Mask), The Joker is going on a rampage with the eponymous artifact, until Poison Ivy takes control of him with a pheromone spray to the face and forces him to do acts of Eco-terrorism instead. Lt. Kellaway convinces her that it would be better to seize the mask for herself rather than control its wearer. She orders Joker to remove it...but this frees him long enough to eliminate the spray with a simple squirt of water and re-don the mask.
    • Later on Kellaway disarms a nuclear bomb by simply unplugging it.
  • In Albedo: Erma Felna EDF, a city is threatened with a nuclear bomb with anti-tampering functions installed to prevent defusing it. With no time for a better solution, Erma suggests a better idea: shoot it with a carefully aimed rocket launcher and hose it down with fire foam regardless of what happens next to destroy the bomb's mechanism without detonating it. It works.
  • The 1978 Hanna-Barbera/Marvel special Laff-A-Lympics: The Man Who Stole Thursdays dealt with Dynomutt's arch-foe, Mr. Mastermind, using a super-computer to eliminate Thursdays from the timeline. Captain Caveman defeats Mastermind by simply unplugging the super-computer.
  • From a Blue Beetle comic, in a showdown with a highly advanced alien race:
    Negotiator: Reyes! You could not possibly have coordinated with this "Bat-Man"! We monitored every electronic frequency, every bandwidth you could use to reach him!
    Blue Beetle: I know. Scarab told me. That's why I sent a letter.
    Negotiator: A... letter?
    Blue Beetle: Pen. Paper. Loooooow-tech.
  • In an Iron Man story, Tony Stark successfully managed to wipe the knowledge of his being Iron Man from the brain of every person and every electronic database on Earth. Only in a subsequent encounter with Doctor Doom, he finds out Doom still remembers. When demanding to know what techno-wizardry Doom used to thwart him, Doom simply shows him the handwritten note with the information on it.
  • Wolverine once got around metal detectors in the Pentagon with a medical certificate stating he had metal implants due to war injuries. This is how he gets through metal detectors at airports as well.
  • In one story in the Mickey Mouse Comic Universe, Mickey and Goofy are helping the police with a sting operation to catch a gang of criminals. They wind up trapped inside the house by the crooks who have destroyed the pair's radio and cut the phone lines to prevent them sending the code word to police waiting outside, telling them to swoop in. When Goofy runs upstairs, they think he has gone crazy as there is nothing up there to help him, only for him to climb on to the roof and scream the code word at the top of his lungs.
  • Spider-Man:
    • The first time Spidey fought Sandman, Spidey sucked him up with a shop-vac.
    • In "The Heist", the Thieves' Guild have been stealing all the superheroes' equipment. Iron Man and Mr. Fantastic launch an advanced tracker drone to probe for unique energy signatures, , Doctor Strange scours the astral plane, and Jean Grey psychicly scans criminal hotspots. Spider-Man, who has found the stash with the aid of Black Cat, summons the other heroes by turning on Ms Marvel's smartphone to activate her Find My Phone app.
  • In one of the tie-ins to House Of M, Professor X reveals that he knows Magneto’s trusted lieutenants are his children. When Magneto asks if Charles has been reading his mind, Xavier explains that he easily figured it out as Polaris has his powers, Quicksilver looks just like him and Wanda looks like the portrait of Magneto’s lost love he keeps in his headquarters.
  • Ultimate Spider-Man: At one point, Spidey and Doctor Strange are talking about the Sanctum Sanctorum's many magical defences. Wong chimes in that they also have an expensive alarm system.
  • In Preacher, the titular character has the power of the "Word of God" which makes people obey his commands without question. The Ancient Conspiracy opposing him deals with this by sending assassins who don't understand English after him.
  • Batman: Most modern incarnations of Professor Hugo Strange have him deduce Batman's identity via Awesomeness by Analysis. His Pre-Crisis incarnation on the other hand? He just simply knocked out Batman and removed his cowl. Done.
  • After spending the whole chapter trying and failing to defeat Solomon Grundy with his power ring, ultimately Green Lantern defeated Grundy by fighting him bare-handed and throwing the implacable zombie in front of a freight train. Of course this only manages to keep Grundy from wreaking havoc until the following Monday, when he reforms with a tweaked personality and level of power and rises from Slaughter Swamp once more.
  • Atomic Robo: The B-plot of "The Ghost of Station X" concerns ex-Tesladyne scientists Martin and Louis being called in to investigate a literal building disappearing from Bletchley Park, both physically and digitally, as any records of the building's existence was wiped. After their investigation pulls up absolutely nothing, Martin eventually hits upon the solution: go down to all of the nearby harbors and just simply ask if anyone had been contracted to transport a building recently.

    Fan Works 
  • In I Am What I Am, Kakistos and his minions (who ordinarily require invitation to enter someone's home) enter Xander and Faith's apartment by bribing the landlord to give them a tour of the building.
  • In Sight Ukitake has been suffering from his illness for centuries with nothing from Soul Society able to cure it. With some medical knowledge, Ichigo is able to narrow down Ukitake's illness to being either pneumonia, tuberculosis or lung cancer and recommends him to get some modern medical treatment at the Kurosaki clinic.
  • In A Teacher's Glory, Orochimaru flees before the Reaper death Seal is used, leaving behind the resurrected First and Second Hokages with orders to continue fighting until they kill the Third. How do some ANBU and a genin get rid of them? With kinjutsu? With demonic chakra? With some complicated seal? They use the Academy-level Transformation technique to make it look like the Third Hokage is dead, allowing the First and Second to return to their rest.
  • In Xendra, the titular character suggests dealing with Acathla permanently by using power tools to cut off the portion of the sword sticking out of its body. That way, no one can ever remove the sword and unseal it again.
    • After Darla is resurrected as a human, but still dying of syphilis the only solution Angel's group can think of is to turn her. Xander points out that medicine has advanced massively in the four hundred years since Darla's original death and asks Willow what kind of drugs she'll need.
  • To get around the vampire need to be invited into her own house, Buffy in Buffy: The Vampire: Awakenings pretends she lost her key and asks her mother if Xander and Willow can stay the night, causing Joyce to invite them (and her) inside.
  • There's a Fullmetal Alchemist fanfic wherein a Kimblee-possessing-Havoc's-body stabs Mustang, rips off his gloves before he can use them, and leaves him on the floor to bleed out, casually mentioning that he's going to kill Hawkeye next. Robbed of alchemy, the injured Mustang simply pulls out his gun and shoots Kimblee in the legs. The gunfire immediately attracts attention, whereupon Kimblee is arrested and Mustang is taken to the hospital. The rest of the story is more about figuring out how to fix Havoc and Ishbal flashbacks.
  • In Living History there's a huge mystery about a "yellow arrow that screams" that will lead a group of time travelers to a magic grail they need to fight a horrible evil in their timeline. It's Xander who realizes that it's a book with a "screaming yellow" cover, specifically a book of maps. The time travelers are disappointed but Xander thinks it's hilarious.
  • Apparently, Xander and Giles prevented Buffy from walking to her death and freeing The Master in Builders by shooting her with a tranquilizer and hauling her away. Since The Master could only escape in a very short time frame, he fails to leave before the barrier locking him away is renewed.
  • According to CC in Second Time's the Charm, what Lelouch thought to be special Geass canceling contacts were ordinary contact lenses.
  • In Dust in the Night Xander suggests making capturing a Wraith easier by cutting off it's hands or covering them in super glue; either way would prevent it from feeding permanently or temporarily.
  • In Raptor Harry Potter keeps Voldemort from stealing the Philosopher's Stone by telling the Head Girl that the Weasley twins plan to let Fluffy out for some exercise. While the teachers refused to believe someone was going to steal the Stone, they easily believed the twins might pull a prank involving a cerberus and laid in wait for them.
    • The following year he prevents the Chamber of Secrets fiasco by accident when he's the one to get Riddle's diary. When it replies to him, Harry mails it to Arthur Weasley with a note about it, ending the whole thing before it started.
  • While the other professors are frustrated by Hermione's insistence on turning in essays at least twice as long as necessary in Princess of the Blacks, Professor Sinestra reveals she got Hermione to stop by threatening to give any such essays an automatic zero.
    • Voldemort bypasses the security on the anteroom to the Department of Mysteries not with some clever magic, but by using the Ministry crest on the ceiling to orient himself with the door he needs, having asked Rookwood in advance.
    • To hide that she now has the Resurrection Stone on her neck, Jen puts a pendant on the opposite side of her collar and simply turns it around.
  • Social Media is about how various villains from The A-Team would fail in modern times due to social media and technology, such as a fraudulent taxi company being ruined by Yelp or a someone using their phone to record a corrupt sheriff beating a local.
  • A number of Harry Potter stories that cover the Triwizard Tournament will have someone get around Dumbledore's Age Line using a simple method such as throwing a piece of parchment with their name in from beyond the line or paying someone else to enter their name for them.
  • When Harry, Hermione, and Ginny were investigating what happened on Halloween 1981 in The Accidental Bond, they noted a lot of issues with why Sirius (supposedly) betrayed the Potters. Harry's response to try and figure out the issues: Owl Sirius and ask him.
  • Shizune from Perfection is Overrated has this as her Logical Weakness. She's a nightmare to fight against since she can completely De-Power one person with her Silencing Sigil and reduce the effectiveness of everyone else's powers with her Silencing Aura (the effectiveness of which increases the more foes she faces). While this is highly effective, it only works against magical threats. Mundane dangers, say Natsuki with a handgun, are just as effective as they would be against anyone else.
  • Since she's an astral projection, Ryoko can't talk to Tenchi in The Flying Lady Or, No Need For Words. They eventually get around this by learning sign language.
  • In Destiny Is A Hazy Thing Shikamaru is stuck on a team with a sensei (Kakashi) who doesn't teach anything and whose negligence nearly got the entire team killed. However, he can't transfer to a new team without permission from his sensei or the Hokage (who supports Kakashi unquestioningly). What does he do? He fills out some paperwork to get himself sent back to the academy, which is remarkably easy because it's unheard of for anyone to want to go back.
  • Bulma deals with the various Z Fighters' employment/money problems in Bulma's Suggestion Box by hiring them. Since she's the richest person on earth and runs the world's largest company, she can easily find jobs for each of them.
    • In a later one-shot from the anthology, Goku accidentally stops Majin Buu's rampage far earlier than canon by promising to fight Fat Buu again, rather than Kid Buu at the end of the arc. Between that and killing Babidi, Buu ends up loyal to Goku for being a friend.
  • It's generally accepted in the Pokéumans Fan Verse that all Pokémon species have a Healing Factor and are Made of Iron compared to humans (otherwise how would they survive the average Pokémon battle?). However, it has been noted and exploited several times in the group that if super-powered attacks aren't finishing off your Pokémon opponent, you could always use bullets.
    • It has also been discussed in the group that Pokextinction could bump up their security by making access to their major labs reliant on information or skills that the average Teenage Hero will not possess.
    • How to Survive a Pokeumans Story and Things Not to Do In a Pokeumans Base posts also discuss various simple solutions to in-universe problems - and mostly why they are a terrible idea.
      We are not going to be able to simply buy Pokextinction out.
  • In chapter 7 of Star Vs the forces of Loud the sisters prepare to exact the prank they pulled on Lincoln in Sound Of Silence, only to find him helping Marco with his homework. When the girls ask how Lincoln knew to help Marco when he had the earplugs in, Marco tells them he just tapped Lincoln on the shoulder to get his attention, leaving the girls dumbstruck at the obvious solution.
  • Spike manages to hide his vampirism centuries in the future in More Things in Heaven and Earth by claiming to be from a race that has a severe allergy to a limited frequency of light and an apparent lack of circulation. Between that and claiming that blood tests violate his race's religion, he is not only a protected citizen but eventually gets a job on the Starship Enterprise.
  • In For Love of Magic Harry saves Dumbledore's life from the withering curse on his arm by first removing all other magic from said arm to make sure the curse won't spread further then cutting the arm off with an axe.
  • Aoshima's attempt to blackmail Belldandy in The Vain Rose's Garden is instantly destroyed when Sara, the adult film star he hired to act as Belldandy's body double for a fake sex tapenote , grabs the phone he recorded the tape and deletes it before resetting the phone to factory settings.
  • When Diarmuid becomes Waver Velvet's Servant in For Want Of A Relic, he begs to stay astralized since he fears to bewitch women into falling in love with him. Waver gives him sunglasses to cover his cursed birthmark. Lancer's reaction plain screams "why didn't I think about that?".
  • During the assault on Red Ribbon Army headquarters in Tales of the Monkey Queen, Blonde Launch keeps herself from sneezing and changing back mid-battle by wearing a dust mask over her nose and mouth.
  • As vampires that will burn if they go out in the sun, Inko and Izuku wear strong sunscreen and anti-UV clothing during the day in Bloodstained Heroes of Humanity.
  • In Customer Service, Xander gets a cursed TV with built in VCR designed to suck you into any movie you watch (and be returned afterwards) and compels you to watch a horror movie first. Xander notes that not only do most horror movie casts the combined IQ of a boiled carrot, but said movies are only about 90 minutes long, making it pretty easy to have sex with the slutty girl in every movie then find a place to hide until the movie ends.
    • Even the curse not killing him turns out to be part of a mundane solution to get rid of a witch/demon selling cursed items. If she thinks they don't work in Sunnydale, she'll simply close up shop and move.
  • Unlike canon, powerful monsters in Jaden's Harem: Return of the Supreme King rarely pose much threat unless they have an effect that makes them immune to traps, spells, and/or monster effects. More than once, an incredibly powerful monster is summoned then promptly taken out by a trap destroying it or returning it to the summoner's hand, and said cards invariably are difficult to resummon.
  • Xander's solution to a Zombie Apocalypse in Priorities is for the group to rent a tugboat and a barge and stock them with supplies before simply waiting things out at sea for the next several months. While it won't prevent or stop the apocalypse, it'll allow them to easily survive it as the zombies will have all decomposed or been consumed after a while.
  • In The (Questionable) Burdens of Leadership of a Troll Emperor, Naruto's secretary Kocho and Daniel's wife Sha're both manage to keep him from flirting with them by simply asking him not to, something that several other women never figured out.
  • Montmorency in Overlady stops an army of mercenaries that's about to attack her group by hiring them. Their former employer is quite put out that it works.
  • When charged to find a new wielder for the Helmet of Fate in A Subtle Knife, Edge decides to crowdsource the thing. When a disgruntled Zatara points appointing the new Doctor Fate could use a bit more dignity - the traditional package of a trial to select the most worthy magician - the youth retorts that job interviews are a tested and proved method.
  • How does Eri finally gain control over her powers so dangerous that professional heroes and doctors couldn't help her in Conversations with a Cryptid? All for One teaches her how to internalize a sense of time by grounding it to a TV schedule or important milestones in her life so she doesn't go too far back.
  • When he finds himself unable to break into Harry's quarters in Harry Potter: Junior Inquisitor, Moody simply waits invisibly outside until Harry comes back and knocks him out before ransacking the place.
  • While Watto is the only one in town with the ship parts Qui-gonn and the others need in Time and Sand, Luke manages to jury rig some similar parts that'll last long enough to get to Coruscant.
  • In Amazing Fantasy, the Prowler is holding Mount Lady hostage by pressing a button that would detonate a bomb attached to the Hero's neck if she were to ever release it. All Might solves this problem by snatching the detonator and keeping it pressed with duct tape. He then throws it into another prefecture, effectively disarming the bomb by placing the detonator far out of reach.
  • What If Series
    • In We're Taking Over, Natasha and Steve access the flash drive Nick Fury gave them despite the security alerting anyone to it's use by using a computer in a mall to slow their inevitable pursuers. Tony Stark accesses his by disabling a computer's wifi and leaving it physically separate from other servers.
      • Nick Fury's method of getting the flash drive to Tony Stark also counts: He sent it via Fed-Ex's overnight shipping and had the package marked urgent.
    • In Scapegoats Not Needed, Ultron is kept from launching nukes at anyone by the various nuclear powers physically removing components needed to launch after Rhodey makes a call to the UN about the situation.
  • In Stand Ins and Stunt Doubles, the Hulk is calmed down by the Avengers burning a massive amount of pot nearby then letting him pig out on cakes and pies while he's stoned.
  • In Black Flames dance in the Wind: Rise of Naruto, Sasuke struggled to utilize the transformation technique without any sound or smoke to hide his active Sharingan. In the middle of his practice, Genma hands Sasuke a pair of mirrored sunglasses to use instead.
  • Fallout: Equestria: The Alicorns have god-like magic, most famously teleportation and spherical shields that can hold up under gunfire indefinitely. Littlepip kills one by dropping a train on her, and another by distracting her (albeit with a magical item) and then shooting her once her shield is down. Plan A is always stealth—even Alicorns can't keep their shields up all the time.
  • In For Great Justice, Izuku determined Batman was Bruce Wayne by combining the fact he works predominantly in Gotham with the sheer expense of his gear, particularly the Batmobile and Batwing which would both cost millions of dollars.
  • In On the Bleeding Edge, Pepper neutralizes AIM months before their attacks start by buying the entire company, citing it's almost nonexistent profits and few employees.
  • In Between My Brother And Me Mors Omnibus, May is in a duel with Celina, with the latter Fusion Summoning Lunalight Cat Dancer (which cannot be destroyed in battle) and played a Spell Card called Lunar Eclipse (which makes her immune to and cannot be targeted by Spell or Trap Cards until the end of May's second turn). Instead of freaking out on how to destory the target, May, using a Vampire Deck, just summons Vampire Vamp (who, when Normal Summoned can take control of a monster the opponent controls and gain ATK equal to the brainwashed monster's own) to clear the field. Clearly, Celina didn't think about what to do if May used a monster effect.
  • In One Year On Probation, because the Metaverse does not exist, the heroes used investigations and evidence against each Arc Villain.
  • Similarily in Honor Among Thieves, the Phantom Thieves work alongside real-world investigation of their enemies that are made public. That way, for discretion against the Conspiracy, the breakdowns can be pinned on the outing of their crimes instead of their Treasures being stolen in the Metaverse.
  • In A Young Woman's Padawan Record, upon learning of Anakin's concern for his mother, Tanya's jedi master suggests buying her freedom so Anakin wouldn't potentially fall to the dark side if something happened to her.
  • Zigzagged in This Bites!: as in One Piece canon, the initial plan to make Franky join the Straw Hat Pirates is to blackmail him by stealing his speedos. Franky then thwarts this plan by revealing he bought a spare speedo ages ago, and gets offended when everyone else admits they thought he was too stupid to ever think of something so simple. Subverted when they just steal that one too.
  • At one point in The Peace Not Promised, Lily is trying to keep Severus from bleeding out after he cut off his own hand with Sectumsempra to keep himself from killing her while under the Imperius Curse, but the dark magic inflicted wound is proving resistant to her attempts to heal it with magic. Severus' father just makes a tourniquet to cut off blood flow to the area and performs a blood transfusion.
  • In Quoth the Raven, "Forevermore", when All For One realizes he won't be around forever even with all the longevity quirks he's stolen, he decides he needs an heir. His method? Use quirk registries to find a woman with a compatible quirk and bribe her to have his child.

    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 
  • 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.
  • 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.

  • Animorphs:
    • The Animorphs need to find out where a guy lives, so they start planning ways of tracking him, such as staking out his school or going back to the place where they last saw him and looking for clues. Cassie suggests they look him up in the phone book.
    • In book 20, the team needs to stop a timed e-mail from going out. Marco decides to get Ax to come with him in case the system is password protected... and then Tobias suggests that he just shut off the computer. (Of course, due to some incredibly bad luck, they can't do this in time to stop the e-mail anyway.)
    • At another point, the team discovers that the Yeerks have infiltrated a meeting of G8 leaders and plan to infest each one, putting the most powerful nations of the world under their control. After failing to stop it through subtle means, they simply acquire elephant and rhinoceros morphs and tear the place apart; thus, the banquet where the Yeerks planned to strike is cancelled.
  • The Belgariad: The main characters can't freely discuss their enemies because The Dragon Zedar can hear whenever his name is spoken. Their number includes several powerful sorcerers with various Protective Charms... but instead, they settle for getting a bunch of bards across the country to start re-telling stories about the bad guys, which both drowns out their conversations and drives Zedar to distraction.
  • CHERUB Series: In book 10, The General, the Cherubs take part in a military exercise where they role-play a small band of insurgents fighting a US army battalion. Rather than actually bothering to fight the soldiers, the Cherubs simply dump a strong laxative in the water supply and wait for it to incapacitate the entire US force, at which point they proclaim victory.
  • Most of the crafters in Codex Alera have weaknesses like this. Firecrafters have Elemental Baggage at their command, and they're useless when they're soaked; Windcrafters can be neutralized by burying them in dirt, watercrafters are useless if dehydrated and surrounded by fire, and earthcrafters can't do anything unless they're touching the ground. In addition, wind furies are damaged by salt, which is a problem if someone throws some at you when you're a mile up in the air. All of these get exploited at some point or another, whether in fights or to keep the crafters in question prisoner.
  • The Cosmere:
    • Mistborn: The Original Trilogy:
      • Mistborn can detect all metal sources in their presence and control them to terrifying effect, with the sole exception of any metal that they or other allomancers have swallowed to fuel their magic. Professional Mage Killers simply make do with wooden, ceramic, and obsidian equipment. Meanwhile, the Axe-Crazy Mistborn murderer Zane nearly kills Vin with a coin that she couldn't detect, leaving her puzzled at how he foiled her powers... until she sees him spit out another one, which infuriates her with how she overlooked such an obvious trick.
      • Atium lets a user see a few seconds into the future and gives them the reflexes to react appropriately, making them invincible unless their enemy uses Atium as well. When Vin runs out of Atium against someone with plenty left to spare, she sits very still and watches him closely. When she sees him start to react to an attack she hadn't done yet, she promptly moves in the opposite direction, confusing his future sight long enough to kill him.
      • It's also mentioned that it's theoretically possible to put someone using Atium in a situation that is impossible to escape from, rendering their future sight irrelevant. But since only full Mistborn can use Atium, they have eight other dangerous abilities to fall back on, making this very difficult to pull off. Elend encounters an Atium misting (someone with only a single power), which was thought to be impossible. Elend easily outmaneuvers him because even with future-sight, the man is just an untrained civilian.
    • Wax and Wayne:
      • Marasi and Wayne need to look at bank ledgers. Wayne concocts elaborate backstories for the both of them (a rich lord and his niece), complete with regular gripes and grumbles, so he can distract the employees while she sneaks in the back. Marasi just (truthfully) tells the manager that they're police, and the manager lets them through as soon as he confirms their identities.
      • How do you take down a criminal with a practically infinite Healing Factor? Other than healing and an inability to feel pain, he has no other special powers, so after the heroes kill the rest of his crew, they call in the local constabulary, who have the manpower to mob and immobilize him.
    • In Warbreaker, this overlaps with Dark Is Not Evil to explain the God-Emperor Susebron's colossal black palace. While it stands out to his citizens as a dark spot in a riotously colourful city, and to the rival Idrians as the home of a soul-eating undead tyrant, the simple fact of the matter is that his magic acts as a prism for all nearby colours, so basic black is the only option that doesn't constantly distract him with rainbows.
  • Very common in the Discworld novels:
    • Witches thrive on this trope. The primary example would be Magrat's magic wand in Witches Abroad: after all of her attempts at controlling it by focusing and hoping fail to achieve anything but turning things into pumpkins, Granny demonstrates that the rings she had dismissed as decorations were actually setting controls. Magrat has a great many ceremonial athames, covered in filigree and runes and whatnot. Eventually she learns that the most magical knife is the reeeeelly old breadknife that not only can perform all the magical rituals the athame can, but also cut bread.
    • In the early Rincewind book Sourcery, Tyke Bomb Coin, the eighth son of a wizard and thus a Sourcerer (a wizard squared, and the reason wizards aren't allowed to get any) not only wields unstoppable magical power greater than anyone else alive but causes a huge rush of magical power to every other wizard on the Disc. Result: impending replay of the hugely destructive Mage Wars. How does Rincewind, self-professed Dirty Coward and the worst wizard in the world, if not ever, handle this? He takes the kid on with a half-brick in a sock. It's so patently ridiculous that Coin, for the first time ever, ignores his psychotic late father's order to kill the potential threat, because Rincewind looks so utterly harmless and funny to Coin. The giggles stop when Rinso makes his Tear Jerker Heroic Sacrifice at the very end to save Coin from the monsters the boy had attracted from the Dungeon Dimension... still with half-brick sock in hand.
    • It's mentioned repeatedly throughout the books that being being a wizard or being a witch is all about not using magic even though you could and instead relying on mundane solutions, because the magical solution will eventually come with a price tag, and it'll be a bill you can't afford to pay. In Lords and Ladies Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg demonstrate — some young wannabe witches come to challenge them, and Granny says they could demonstrate their knowledge of Witchcraft by knocking her hat off her head. After a few fruitless minutes, Granny then tells Nanny to demonstrate — and she does, by tossing a stick. When the young witches protest that anyone could do that, Granny says, "Yes, but the point is, you didn't."
    • Granny doesn't always get it right; in Wyrd Sisters, she uses her most powerful Headology on the Duchess to make her see herself the way she really is, and is shocked when it has no effect. At which point Nanny Ogg hits the Duchess over the head with a cauldron. And in Lords and Ladies, she spends some time Borrowing to find out what's been happening while they were away, and learns that a group of girls are going up to the Dancers. Nanny, meanwhile, has learnt exactly who they are by just asking her son what's going on.
    • Who needs stakes, garlic, and other elaborate and exotic methods to dispose of a vampire, when you've got a nigh-unstoppable tomcat who eats anything furry, bats included?
    • Carrot's sword is utterly mundane and absolutely magic free, which makes it a rarity on the disc. It's also very, very good at cutting things.
    • Mustrum Ridcully's policy on magic staves : if it's immune to a few good whacks from six feet of solid oak (wielded by a man who boxes trolls and arm-wrestles orangutans for fun) there's a good chance it's immune to fireballs as well.
    • In Maskerade, throughout the book, Granny Weatherwax asks various people, 'If your house was on fire, what's the first thing you'd take out of it?' She uses this to psychologically profile them: one person, for example, responds with, 'Who started the fire?', with which she's able to deduce that he's a cop. Walter, the Cloud Cuckoolander, gives a simpler - and patently correct - answer: He'd take out the fire. In a later book, we see that this is how the Golems fight fire - they pick up burning objects (like the furniture), remove them from the building, then stamp the fire out.
    • In Moving Pictures, Victor needs to eliminate a Dungeon Thing that is manifesting through a movie screen. He ties it up with film strip, then (since magical attacks would only make it stronger) opts to set it on (mundane) fire.
    • In Witches Abroad, both Granny and her sister Lilith wind up trapped in a mirror dimension, surrounded by infinite reflections of themselves. Death tells them that they can escape when they determine which one is real. Lilith starts searching frantically, and as far as we know is still doing so. Granny points to herself and says "This one".
  • A Dragaeran saying: "No matter how subtle the wizard, a knife between the shoulderblades will seriously cramp his style."
  • In Dragon Bones, the heroes have to fight a mystical creature, a basilisk, and outsmart it by Ward blindfolding himself to avoid its gaze and distracting it, while Oreg uses magic to subdue it - they could kill it, but think it's too rare and beautiful to just kill it. Wizards and magical runes failed to have the desired effect. Oreg points out that the monster would, if they didn't take care of it, just die in the cold, as it is not used to the climate where it is at the moment. Nothing is magical enough to not be affected by a really cold winter.
  • The Dresden Files:
    • Harry Dresden frequently runs into foes who are resistant to his magic. One confrontation with a spell-proof ogre is resolved when Murphy cripples the ogre with a chainsaw and Harry drenches the ogre in gasoline and ignites it. Harry is also one of the few White Council wizards outside of the Wardens willing to use firearms and frequently uses his staff or blasting rod as a cudgel.
    • This was established as a key part of Harry's character as early as the second book, Fool Moon, when he'd run himself out of magic thanks to imprudent use of magical amphetamines, and still had a rather pissed-off lycanthrope alpha male to deal with... so he pulled a .38 revolver and shot the guy in the knee. It didn't really work all that well, seeing as lycanthropes have a Healing Factor, but it sure wiped the smug grin off the son of a bitch's face for a while.
    • Speaking of Harry, special mention should go to how he handles a cult of wannabes who keep harassing him in the short story Day Off. Their leader challenges him to a magical duel, but Harry doesn't even bother. He just scares them off by pointing his gun at them instead.
      • In fact, mundane weaponry is the accepted way for wizards to kill if it ever must come to that, as killing humans with magic carries not just the obvious moral and legal ramifications but also corrupts the soul. The Council's enforcers carry enchanted swords for this reason. And Harry in specific is already on thin ice with the Council thanks to killing his Evil Mentor with magic when he was a teenager; the fact that it was self-defense doesn't soften their opinion of him.
    • In Dead Beat, all of Harry's attempts to stop the plans of the Big Bad fail, so he resorts to finding the guy and hitting him with a stick. There's more complicated reasoning (basically involving disrupting concentration at a key moment), but even he points out that all of his magical ability is trumped by hitting a guy with a heavy stick.
    • A major lesson that Harry often reiterates (especially to his apprentice, Molly) is that knowledge and basic common sense are a lot more important than magic. For instance, on one occasion when Molly suggests using a tracking spell, Harry points out that a simple phone call would work just as well.
    • In Turn Coat, Morgan talks about how he once had to take on a skinwalker, an incredibly powerful demigod horror with a hefty resistance to magic. He knew he'd get pounded in a straight fight (not everyone can be Injun Joe, after all), so instead he lured it into following him to the middle of nowhere in Nevada. Specifically, a nuclear testing ground. He stepped into a portal to the Nevernever just as the bomb went off. Morgan 1, Eldritch Abomination From the Dawn of Time 0.
    • Also from Turn Coat, Dresden has Binder released from police custody so that he can follow him back to his more dangerous employers. However, he knows that Binder is smart enough to realize what he is doing, and that he will take precautions to ensure Dresden can't track him with magic. His solution? Hire a Muggle Private Investigator to tail him as he leaves the building. Binder being a Wizard himself, he expects Dresden to come after him through magical means and the possibility that he would have him followed mundanely doesn't occur to him.
    • Likewise, all the magic of the Summer Lady isn't enough to stop a swarm of dewdrop fairies armed with cheap hardware-store boxcutters.
    • The most efficient way to handle Black Court vampires? A paintball gun that fires projectiles filled with holy water.
    • In Skin Game, Harry circumvents Marcone's high-grade anti-magic security not by casting a flashy spell, but setting off Roman candles as a distraction.
  • In a case similar to the Wicked Witch of the West, in Patricia C. Wrede's Enchanted Forest Chronicles, wizards can be dissolved by soapy lemon water. It is found out that lemon juice is a necessary ingredient. (The wizards do come back eventually, though.) It turns out, however, that magically created soapy lemon water works just as well, so by the end of the series the protagonists have what amounts to an instant wizard-melting spell.
    • In a climactic battle in Calling on Dragons, the wizard Antorell manages to escape from the magician Telemain by throwing his sword at him. Telemain doesn't block it because he assumes anything a wizard throws at him would be magical. What he doesn't know is that Antorell is a terrible wizard and couldn't throw a potent spell if his life depended on it.
  • Gaea Trilogy: In Demon, the war against Gaia gets a boost when they discover that zombies are destroyed by a witch's recipe for love potion. It's hinted that Gaia, who by this time is batshit crazy and running the war as a game, built in this highly unlikely weakness as one of her private jokes and then forgot about it.
  • In The Golgotha Series, the climactic battle between Clay and Professor Zenith culminates in a Beam-O-War between their lightning-shooting superscience machines. Zenith's plan is to calculate and implement a precise series of complicated power modulations that will allow his machine to overwhelm Clay's. Clay's plan: while Zenith is busy with that, sneak up behind him and hit him with a wrench.
  • Neville shows a knack for practicality most wizards seem to lack in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix when his nose is broken and he can't properly cast spells so he deals with a Death Eater strangling Harry by jabbing a wand in his eye.
  • In the Heralds of Valdemar series, it is demonstrated several times that the easiest way to incapacitate a magic-user is to break his arms.
  • Honor Harrington: In Honor Among Enemies, Honor meets with a pirate warlord whose forces are holding a planet hostage. The pirate's crew make a point of scanning Honor and her armsmen to ensure they don't have any power sources on them strong enough to power the miniaturized railguns that everyone carries in this setting. Once this is done, Honor quickdraws a Colt M1911 and shoots the pirates dead. This was pretty much a Foregone Conclusion, as Honor's fondness for 20th century firearms was a Chekhov's Gun that she always kept in her hip pocket during this point in the series.
  • In The Infernal Devices, when Mrs. Dark in demon form inside a pentagram can't be touched by seraph blades infused with the divine energy of God, but a falling chandelier kills her just fine. Sort of.
  • At one point in Journey to the Center of the Earth the explorers have to find a way to carry their large supply of rope, blankets, clothing, and the like down a sheer vertical shaft. The solution? They just drop them.
  • In The Lord of the Rings, Gandalf tries to open the gate to Moria for many hours with spells, etc., until he realizes to actually do exactly what the inscription on the gate reads, which is to say the elvish word for "friend". Once Gandalf utters the words, the gate starts to open. After solving it he realizes it wasn't even supposed to be a puzzle. (In the film version, it's Frodo who comes up with the solution.)
    • Although both book and film show combat spells being used, the most potent magic in Middle Earth is relatively slow. As a result, even such powerful magic-users as Gandalf, Sauron, and Morgoth carry and use melee weapons.
  • At one point in Loyal Enemies, the heroes encounter a gate made of compressed snow that they don't know how to open. Gloom proposes that he'll just fly over the gate in dragon form and ask somebody on the other side to open. Subverted when he doesn't manage to take off, but double subverted when he accidentally shoots fire at the gate. And... well, let's repeat it: it's made of compressed snow. Additionally, as they're leaving again, Veres asks an elf what the correct way to open the gate would've been. The answer? Just knock.
  • In the Night Watch (Series), the oldest and most powerful Others (usually wizards) have been extremely powerful and nigh-omniscient for centuries. As a result, they often don't bother to keep up to date with modern (or any) technology. In one book, a team of wizards is tracking a vampire, and need to find out when the train he's on will leave the station. An elder wizard goes into a prophetic trance, reads the probability lines, and finds the correct time. That takes about five seconds longer than it took his subordinate to read the train schedule on the wall.
  • "Not Long Before the End" by Larry Niven features a duel between a wizard and a barbarian armed with a magic sword. The wizard manages to destroy the magic sword, at the cost of draining all the magic out of the immediate area, leaving him apparently defenseless. But he has a knife — not a magic knife, as it turns out, just an ordinary very sharp knife that doesn't need any magic to work.
  • Discussed Trope in Book Two of Ranger's Apprentice, where Will asks why he has to learn to fight with knives when he has a bow. Gilan responds that shooting someone with a bow is all very well... until your bowstring breaks (or it gets wet, or they're already too close, or whatever). Will then asks why he can't just run and hide. Gilan again calmly points out that he may be up against a cliff. Becomes a Brick Joke in Book 11, at which point Will actually is on a cliff facing an enemy who breaks his bow.
  • The Riftwar Cycle: In The King's Buccaneer, Nakor and Anthony confront the Lady Clovis, a very powerful sorceress. Nakor tricks her into erecting very powerful anti-magic defenses, at which point he defeats her by throwing pepper at her then hitting her with a bag of apples.
    • Elsewhere, Nakor has an empty bag that he can always pull an orange (or sometimes an apple) out of, thanks to a magical rift leading to a merchant's produce warehouse. In Into a Dark Realm, he goes to a place where his magic cannot possibly work and pulls yet another orange out of the bag, through the simple expedient of having stuffed the bag full of oranges before he left.
  • In Secret City, Santiaga has to somehow tame down a cloud of reality-warping energy about to explode on nuclear scale and level Moscow. He flushes it into a river. Water has rather large heat capacity.
  • In Shaman Blues, the villainess is assaulting the heroes with dozens of souped-up ghostly abominations and hides behind a veil protecting her from enemy magic. Feeling safe, she stays to watch, knowing that her enemies' magical aura is tied up fighting ghosts. One of the heroes shoots her a few times with her gun.
  • C. S. Lewis' The Space Trilogy: In Perelandra, Ransom finds himself tasked with preventing the eponymous planet from failing its Forbidden Fruit test, while a demonic presence with no physiological needs opposes him. The solution? Said demonic presence is only there because it piggybacked along on a human host, who can be physically killed. The mundanity of the solution is lampshaded, as it takes Ransom a while to accept that doing so would be a valid way of solving his predicament.
  • The Starfleet Survival Manual, a tie-in Fictional Document, briefly addresses the treatment protocol for people who overdose on anti-intoxicant medication designed for undercover cops but occasionally abused by people trying to cheat at drinking games: 15cc of pure ethanol at regular intervals until the anti-intoxicant wears off.
  • In the Star Wars: X-Wing Series book Rogue Squadron, the Rogues and their Y-Wing charges encounter an Imperial Lancer-class frigate, a small capital ship specifically designed to shred starfighter squadrons. Since it would make mincemeat of the Y-Wings before they got close enough for a torpedo lock, Corran Horn comes up with the idea of the bombers targeting his X-Wing with their missiles, which he then leads through the frigate's defensive fire to destroy it. Unfortunately one of the Y-Wings fires its torps too late to hit the frigate, so Corran frantically tries a High-Speed Missile Dodge, all while struggling with his stick, which he had his astromech set to randomly juking around to aid with evading the frigate's fire. Corran yells at his R2 unit to "cut it out!" which point the R2 cuts off the signal the Y-Wing's torps were following, causing them to safely self-destruct for want of a target.
  • In The Stoneheart Trilogy, the Walker needs two mirrors made of black obsidian for his plan, and a lot of the second book concerns his means of acquiring the second one. At the end of the second book, he comes across a solution he had not considered in centuries of searching - take one mirror and split it in half.
  • Wise magic-users will always look for this first in Tales of the Five Hundred Kingdoms. After all, their personal stores of magical energy are finite, and they can't always be sure where their next recharge will come from. If they use up their energy on Mundane Utility tasks that they could have done the regular way, they could be in real trouble if they get into a situation where magic is really necessary.
  • Victoria: The Victorians are almost always able to find a simple, low-tech solution to their high tech enemies, defeating bombing raids with hostages and human shields, thwarting electronic warfare by dispensing with all but a few computers used solely for hacking the enemy, defeating a naval blockade with speedboats armed with spar torpedoes and locating stealth bombers with ancient short-wave radar.
  • In Worm, Director Piggot of the PRT gets Crawler, a Combat Sadomasochist with Adaptive Ability, to stay in one place long enough to drop a planeload of bombs on him by the simple expedient of calling him and telling him that she is going to do so. Sure enough, Crawler can't resist the bait and stays in place long enough for the bomber to arrive, whereupon the Tinkertech payload turns him to glass.
  • In the S.D. Perry novelization of Resident Evil Jill encounters the same statue puzzle found in the game. In the game you have to push the statues over vents on the floor and then push the button to open the glass cover that protects the crest, and if you don't block the vents poisonous gas floods the room. In the book Jill considers all the other death traps she's encountered, wonders what ghastly thing could go wrong if she pushes the button, and instead busts the glass with the butt of her pistol.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Angel:
    • Subverted in the episode "Double or Nothing". In an attempt to prevent Gunn from being forced to give up his soul as part of his deal with Jenoff, Angel simply chops off his head. Jenoff not only survives, but grows a new head. Gunn even lampshades it, telling Angel that if killing Jenoff was that easy, he would have done it himself.
    • In "Sanctuary", Wolfram & Hart sends multiple assassins to kill Faith when she backs out of their deal to kill Angel for them. After every attempt fails, Lindsey turns to the law by going to Angel's Friend on the Force-turned-enemy Kate Lockley and tell her Angel is harboring Faith, a wanted murderer for her actions in Buffy Season 3. Angel only avoids jail time when Faith turns herself in.
    • While most Wolfram & Hart employees depend on assassins, mysticism, and demons to fight Angel, Gavin Park is able to cause a lot of trouble for our hero by being an Obstructive Bureaucrat. He even states in "Carpe Noctem" that they could easily put Angel Investigations out of business by simply informing the government of Angel's Undead Tax Exemption.
  • In an episode of the Animorphs TV adaptation, the kids go to a spot in the zoo (where Cassie's mom works) where the more dangerous animals are kept to get some battle morphs. Jake and Marco talk about different ways to get over the chain link fence with barbed wire on the top. Cassie just uses her mother's keys to unlock the door.
  • On Arrow, the team try to evacuate a building from a bomb and Felicity takes the computer to try and hack the system and set off the fire alarm. When she says she needs a few minutes to make this work, Thea just pulls the actual fire alarm.
  • On The Big Bang Theory, Sheldon starts to talk Penny through a complicated procedure to open a puzzle box to get the key within when she stops him and asks if the box has any sentimental value. When he replies that it's just a cheap novelty, she drops it on the floor and stomps on it.
    • When Howard has a robotic arm grasping his penis, he is taken to the hospital, where the nurse attending them simply reboots the computer controlling the arm to get it to let go.
  • On The Blacklist Aram hacks into the computer of a helicopter used by an eco-terrorist, babbling about how he can use it to reduce the air speed and affect the balance to cause the copter to go off course. An impatient Director Ressler asks why Aram doesn't just turn off the rotor and force the copter down.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • In "Helpless", Buffy had to fight a vampire without her powers. As a former psychotic mental patient, the aforementioned vampire depended on pills to function. She was able to defeat him by pouring holy water into a cup, which he then drank to help swallow said pills.
    • Recurring villain Ethan Rayne, an Evil Sorcerer, was gotten rid of when Riley had government agents arrest him in "A New Man".
    • In "Seeing Red", after numerous failed high-tech and/or magical schemes to kill Buffy, Warren just got a gun, went to the Summers house and started firing. Were it not for Willow, that would have been it; Buffy would be dead.
    • In "Innocence", the Judge was an hell of a foe: invulnerable to forged weapons, if cut to pieces he'll revive once reassembled, first time it took an army to cut him to pieces, and can burn anyone with humanity inside them with increasing range and power. Buffy blasted him to pieces with a bazooka, after which they dispersed the (very small) pieces around the world.
    • In "Him", the issue is a boy with a Letterman's jacket that makes any woman fall in love with him to a ridiculously fawning degree, to the point where they'd kill others or themselves over him. The solution? Spike and Xander mug him for the jacket and burn it when they get back to Buffy's house.
    • In "Fear Itself", a demon makes the front door to a frat house disappear, trapping most of the gang inside. Giles, who's outside with Anya, declares that they're going to have to create a door to get inside. He reaches into his bag making the audience assume he's going for spell components, instead he pulls out a chainsaw and proceeds to cut his way into the building.
  • A Wendigo on Charmed (1998) was killed when the sisters just shot it with a flare gun.
    • In another episode, the Monster of the Week is a succubus (who the authorities assume is just a serial killer) that is killed when an inspector just shoots her with a plain old handgun. Unfortunately, she Woke Up In The Morgue.
    • In "Sense and Sense-ability", Paige has her voice stolen by a crone. When she has to interrogate a demon about the crone's whereabouts she writes down her questions and gets frustrated when he doesn't answer. Phoebe then points out that he might not be able to read, which the demon confirms.
  • The very first episode of Chuck has the titular character disarming a complex laptop bomb with... wait for it... a virus-ridden porn site. So does the last episode.
  • Doctor Who:
    • In "The Pirate Planet", a machine is destroyed by hitting it with a spanner, albeit telekinetically.
    • "Father's Day": After Rose has saved Pete's life, Clock Roaches descend that threaten to wipe out the Earth. Pete eventually realizes that the Doctor is trying to save the day in the most complex way possible, one that ensures what Rose changed stays changed, and that the simplest way to fix everything back the way it was is for him to die in the car accident like he was supposed to.
    • Mickey tended to have simple solutions to problems. For instance, from "School Reunion": To get past a locked door, with coaxing from K9 he just rams it with a car; then to shut down the alien-influenced supercomputer, he pulls the power plug.
    • "The Idiot's Lantern": The Doctor manages to capture an electronic lifeform who essentially exists as a living television signal... on a Betamax tape. Also, the Expospeak Gag on how he will permanently eliminate her.
      The Doctor: I'll use my unrivaled knowledge of trans-temporal extirpation methods to neutralize the residual electronic pattern.
      Rose: You what?
      The Doctor: I'm gonna tape over it.
    • "The Poison Sky": UNIT is dealing with a foe that has disabled their weapons using a technobabble signal that causes the copper jackets to expand and stick there. So they just switch to steel-jacketed ammunition and go to town.
    • "The Vampires of Venice": The Doctor stops the villain's weather-control device by... flicking the switch. A rather small switch, at that.
    • "Day of the Moon": When a Silent makes the mistake of taunting an FBI agent by saying that they have no need of guns, the agent demonstrates the flaw in his logic by shooting him. America!
    • "The Day of the Doctor": The three Doctors have been placed in a cell, and spend a long time working out a complex method of using all their sonic screwdrivers to open the door by decomposing it. Just before they have the chance, however, Clara arrives and opens it manually — turns out it was unlocked.
    • "Extremis": The Doctor has to read a Tome of Eldritch Lore. Problem is, he was blinded in the previous episode. His initial solution is to use a fancy gadget that costs the health of his future selves in order to temporarily restore his eyesight, but for most of that time his vision is too blurry to read, and he's barely gotten past the title when he loses it again. So he ends up resorting to a laptop with a copy of the translation and a text-to-speech function.
  • Dynasty (2017)
    • Fallon has followed ex Liam to a ski resort. She details to her girlfriends her ridiculously complex plan to steer Liam's girlfriend away on a ski trip and find time to get alone with him to talk. When Kirby remarks how crazy this plan is, Fallon snaps "Can you do better?" Without hesitation, Kirby picks up the phone, calls the front desk and claims to be Liam's girlfriend double-checking their itinerary so Fallon knows exactly where Liam will be.
    • Sam is trying to find out who leaked a photo of Fallon and Liam kissing at a party to TMZ. He goes through various photos of the party for suspects and begins analyzing who was where and from what angle the photo was taken. Anders dryly offers to simply call TMZ and ask who sold them the photo.
  • Eureka. Every episode seems to end this way as the super-scientists are always going to complex ways to solve a problem (which, nine times out of ten, they themselves created). It's Sheriff Carter who suggests an idea so simple it never occurs to the geniuses and it works. It's implied that this is why the otherwise-law-abiding community needs a Sheriff: to keep them grounded in reality.
  • In Kamen Rider Drive, Kamen Rider Mach and Mashin Chaser's motorcycles can combine to form a mini-car called the Ride Crosser. While Mach can hijack Chaser's bike to use it, Chaser can do the same (and has done so before). So how does the team keep this from happening? They leave Mach's bike back at headquarters.
  • The Last Man on Earth episode "A Real Live Wire" has Phil and Todd set up solar panels, but forget to plug it in. After spending most of the episode trying to block the sun from the panels, Phill #2 simply turns the panels off.
  • While many of the cons on Leverage are very detailed and complex, quite often, they end up going to rather simple solutions. As Nate puts it, the more complex a plan is, the more can go wrong with it, while the simple cons are always the best.
    • In "The Boiler Room Job", the team's target is a master grifter from a family of con artists who can spot any scam coming a mile away. So the team just steals his money instead (distracting him with a series of increasingly elaborate cons that he's too smug to resist unraveling).
    • In "The Order 23 Job", part of the con requires Nate to pretend he's a doctor. Parker questions him about what he'll do if he's asked to deliver a baby. Nate replies he can just say he's not an obstetrician.
    • In "The Gold Job", Hardison's plan to take down a pair of fake gold dealers involves a cipher, treasure map inside a book, a watch, a Cantonese Bible, a cave-in and staging a death. To the surprise of no one (except Hardison), the marks get tired of jumping through all the various hoops and finally Rage Quit. Nate, however, takes them down via the quick and dirty backup plan of stealing their gold and making it look like the two did it themselves for insurance fraud.
  • NCIS:
    • In one episode Gibbs has to shutdown a computer server before it can upload secret data to the Internet. McGee tries to talk him through the complicated process of hacking the security. Gibbs simply unplugs all the power cables and when this does not work due to battery backups, he simply shoots every piece of electronic equipment he sees in the room.
    • In another episode, Abby and McGee are furiously typing away on a keyboard to stop a hacking attempt, when Gibbs simply unplugs the computer.
  • In the "Martial Arts" episode of Penn & Teller: Bullshit!, Penn points out that the costs involved in getting enough training to fight off a mugger means that it's cheaper and safer to just give them your money. For more serious situations where your life is in danger, Penn's advice is to just use a gun, since the legal consequences for beating down an attacker and shooting them are almost the same.
  • In one episode of Poirot, the great detective discovers a blackmailer's home address by...looking it up in the phonebook. Granted, he could have had an unlisted number.
  • A sketch on Saturday Night Live had a group of defeated former James Bond villains (mostly from the Roger Moore films) discussing how to deal with James. One points out that if you're close enough to try something like dropping a poisonous spider down his back, "Just shoot him!"
  • Cited on an episode of Scandal when Air Force Two is hacked and on a course for Washington. Mellie openly asks Jake if he's behind this as a way of removing Cyrus, who's on the plane. Jake calmly says that if he wanted to kill a man in his 60s who has a history of heart attacks, "it would just take two drops in his drink" rather than crashing a government plane with over two dozen people on board and the eyes of the world watching.
  • Sherlock:
    • In "The Empty Hearse", Sherlock doesn't know how to disarm a bomb, but does know that they must have an off-switch which he quickly finds and activates. Problem solved.
    • In "The Reichenbach Fall", Moriarty has developed an app that can hack anything from a prison to the Tower of London and Sherlock is out to stop him. During their big confrontation, Moriarty reveals there is no super hacking bug. He just bribed the right people to open those places up for him and he's frankly disappointed Sherlock actually fell for the ruse.
  • Sledge Hammer!: When an old-style cartoon bomb with a fizzing fuse is delivered to Captain Trunk, Trunk panics, and Sledge considers the only remedy is to smash the toughened-glass office window with a chair so as to throw the bomb out into the street. The disregarded Dori Doreau ineffectually tries to attract their attention as one panics and the other goes into macho mode, and eventually shrugs, simply reaching down to take the lit fuse and dunk it in a cup of coffee to extinguish it. Neither man notices this and she stands there, deadpan, letting them get on with it.
  • Smallville:
    • A de-powered Clark faces a foe who has Psycho Electro powers, but they've gotta be fed almost constantly (if he's zapping you with one hand, he's drawing power from a source with the other.) Clark stops him by shutting off the power.
    • Subverted in a later episode. Clark tries to stop the rampaging Metallo by triggering an EMP wave. It shuts him down, but he restarts in a few seconds. Clark then takes him out with his heat vision and super speed.
  • Stargate SG-1:
    • One episode has Carter, an Ascended Daniel, and Jonas Quinn trying to figure out how to open a secret chamber to find an artifact. Daniel and Jonas look around for clues until Carter, noting how they don't have much time, tells them to get out of the way and blasts the compartment open with her P90.
    • To disable some kind of Goa'uld technology, Teal'c says they need to remove specific crystals from the control panel... and then Jack blasts the lot of them with his P90, which does the trick anyway.
    • Daniel tries to figure out the complex sequence of panels to push to disarm a device, then finally gives up and just shoots the crystal tray.
    • From "The Serpent's Lair":
      Bra'tac: The field generators are far below. There—in the very bowels of the ship. We must climb down several decks through the length of the ship, then taking our weapons, we must...
      [Jack drops grenades down into the core]
      O'Neill: Grenades.
    • When Jack took command of the SGC, his first day on the job had a fast-growing plant start filling the corridors. When it was explained to him that any light source would fuel its growth, he calmly reached over and flicked the lights off. The scientist then had to hastily justify not using that technique since it would only slow the plant down, not stop it, and it's difficult to work in the dark.
    • This is generally humanity's big advantage over the Gou'ald. The Gou'ald love Awesome, but Impractical weapons and techology that add extra flair and intimidation value at the cost of usability: their armor is scary looking but the serpent helmets seriously restrict peripheral vision and the staff weapons are difficult to aim at long range and have slow firing rates. Humanity beats them by sticking with the Boring, but Practical approach to problem solving.
    • In Stargate Atlantis a piece of Lantean tech has swapped Dr. Keller's mind with a thief. Ronon solves the problem by shooting it.
  • The infamous Star Trek: Voyager episode "Threshold" has one. After Tom Paris gets back from a warp 10 flight, he's unconscious in Sick Bay. Janeway tells the Doctor to wake him up, and instead of the usual hypospray of stimulant, Doc leans down and shouts, "Wake up, Mr Paris!"
  • Supernatural:
    • The Okami can recover from almost any injury except being stabbed seven times with a ceremonial bamboo dagger that has been blessed by a Shinto priest... or, in a pinch, shoving it into a woodchipper does the trick too.
    • In Two Minutes to Midnight, Castiel is unable to teleport, due to finally losing the last of his angelic powers, and essentially becoming human. He still goes to help the Winchesters though, which leads to this exchange:
      Pestilence: How did you get here?
      Castiel: I took the bus.
    • In another episode, Bobby discovers that a good way to kill a Leviathan (albeit temporarily) is to... chop its head off.

    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.

    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.

    Video Games 
  • In the the third Criminal Case season, the team discovers that the pharmaceutical company, O.M. MediLab is secretly owned by SOMBRA, and is used by their main organization to create virus plagues and, later, sponsor provocative movements in order to spread chaos and terror. Despite their best efforts, The Bureau was unable to link the O.M. MediLab to any explicit crime, so how could our heroes stop them? Apparently, O.M. MediLab was guilty of numerous tax evasions, and Elliot was able to get the company shut down.
  • Deus Ex:
    • In the original, it is often possible to simply break down locked doors by hitting them hard enough with a melee weapon.
    • Due to the nature of the game, you have so many ways to complete an objective, some of them are so mundane and "obvious" that no one would think about it being possible. For example, in one mission, you have to get on a freighter, there is a ramp but you need a code to activate it. So you either need to hack the panel or find the databook (which may require hacking/lockpicking/searching). Actually, you don't need to do this, you don't even need the ramp. The freighter has a ladder.
      • This applies to most levels in the game. Since hacking/lockpicking used up consumable resources the developers always included at least one mundane way to complete the objective in order to prevent the player from getting stuck. Normally this involved shooting everyone in a frontal assault.
    • This trope is invoked in the game itself. When you need to get inside a cathedral and the doors are locked, Tracer Tong says you can just climb a certain place and go through the roof. "Never depend upon weapons and hi-tech when there is a simpler solution at hand".
    • In the 2011 prequel, there is a part where the protagonist, Adam Jensen, must face off against a force of mercenaries before a funicular (elevator) arrives to take him to a secret sublevel base. The player is given time to prepare before the assault, and the enemy doesn't even need to be wiped out, Adam just needs to survive long enough to take the elevator down. The entire situation can be resolved by blocking the two entrances with vending machines.
      • Alternatively, stay hidden behind obstacles (the mercenaries won't actually bother to check behind them), and then when the elevator arrives, run for it and push the button. They won't react quickly enough to kill you, and they can't follow you down the elevator. If you can turn invisible with the Cloak augmentation, you don't even have to worry about them shooting at you.
      • There are many ways to deal with auto turrets, you can use explosives, invisibility, hacking...Or you can just grab them and leave in a corner looking to the wall where they can't hit you.
      • If you need to get into a high place, you can buy a super jump augmentation. You can also search for a box or barrel and jump on it (for free) through...
  • The Big Bad of the GameCube Custom Robo, Rahu, was at first a shapeless, invisible force of destruction that sought to annihilate everything and adapt their abilities and traits to its own. At one point it comes across a Robo, which in those days was nothing more than a children's toy. When Rahu took on the power of the Robo, it took on its form and became tangible, allowing the humans to fight it and, eventually, seal it.
  • In the original Paper Mario 64 there was a chest in Shy Guy's Toy Box containing a badge that was guarded by Anti Guy, who would let you have the treasure if you gave him a Lemon Candy. This is generally easier than fighting him since he's ridiculously strong.
  • In the Dark Sun games by SSI, mages, clerics and psionics are incredibly powerful. While a few high-level spells exist specifically to shut down a spell-caster, with a relatively large chance of working, the easiest solution is to just hit them: the turn after being hit, they are completely unable to use anything magic or psionic (of course, this is also true for your characters).
  • This occurs at the end of the final boss battle in Portal 2. It turns out that the new physics-warping gels all wash off in minimal amounts of water. You knew that, because it was required to know for previous puzzles. The boss wasn't around for that part, and thus Wheatley lampshades how much easier it would have been for him to win if he'd known that ahead of time.
  • In I Wanna Be the Guy, Dracula can infamously kill the Kid in the cutscene leading to his boss fight. You can just skip the cutscene.
  • In World of Warcraft there's an Achievement for surviving a very long fall (without using a slow-fall effect), which is not lethal, but requires serious measurement. That or you can use invincibility such as a Paladin's Hand of Protect (Conveniently castable on others, so simply asking one for help will usually work.) and drop from any height that reaches the requirement. Also, druids and rogues of sufficiently high level have a passive ability that lowers their fall damage (the druid one normally works only in cat form, but there's a glyph that'll let it work in all forms; the rogue one always works, and has a glyph that will boost its effect).
    • A Good Bad Bug allowed Alliance players to gain the long-fall achievement during a Mists of Pandaria questline where one automatically parachuted out of a crashing aircraft. For some reason, the parachute didn't count as a slow-fall effect for purposes of the achievement.
    • Even easier, there's a quest in Swamp of Sorrows which nets you the achievement as a part of it, as you get shot out of a canon to a ship out in the water. It's part of the Bogpaddle part of the questline, called "In With a Bang."
  • In the Night Watch video game, you can kill enemy mooks with handguns (and, later in the game, semiautomatics) instead of using magic. It would just take longer. It comes in handy when your character uses up all the mana.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: All Star Battle is a fighting game revolving around people with psychic powers, vampires, and artificial sunlight-powered, vampire-killing martial artists. While Joseph Joestar is one of the last ones, his Heart Heat attack has him...pulling out a tommy gun and pumping his opponent full of lead (which is a Call-Back to the original series, where he does the same thing against a vampire, though to less effect.)
  • In Iji, the legendary alien warrior Iosa the Invincible has a unique shield, created by a freak accident, making her immune to all of the nanotech-based guns the aliens, and Iji, use. Iosa is happy to gloat about this. Iji defeats her by kicking her into a wall, then turning the shield off while she's stunned.
  • At the end of the first Simon the Sorcerer game, Sordid spends some time trying (and failing) to light through magic a lava pit that Simon has previously turned off. Eventually, Simon manages to light it by using a box of matches.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild features a colossal selection of puzzles to solve in Hyrule's numerous shrines. Many feature an elegant solution that can be ignored in favor of creative thinking and judicious use of Link's arsenal. Instead of using a gigantic rail to deliver remote bombs to the ceiling, a player can just shoot the ceiling with a bomb arrow. Rather than use carefully timed launching pads to shoot balls into targets, a player can simply carry the ball to the landing pad by using their ice power. However you get to the Spirit Orb, the result is the same.
  • PAYDAY: The Heist features this as an achievement. During the Slaughterhouse heist, an armored truck will get stuck in the roof of the titular slaughterhouse, either rear-end up or front-end up depending on whether or not it was shot by the players during the ambush at the beginning of the heist. If it lands rear-end up, the player can either shoot the wires keeping it afloat... or just wait a few minutes and let the wires snap on their own. (They don't snap if the truck lands front-end up.)
  • One of the recruitable citizens in Citizens of Earth has been trapped on the top floor of a building thanks to an Evil Elevator and taking said elevator is the only way to reach him. After he's recruited, how does the party escape the room and leave the building? By taking the perfectly-working door into the stairwell and walking down.
  • Star Wars: The Old Republic: One of the Consular's companions, Dr. Cedrax, is a Nay-Theist type who will disapprove of overt use of The Force, and almost always approve of clever, but mundane solutions to a given problem. A Jedi Mind Trick a guard to get in and he'll disapprove, but causing a distraction and sneaking in the back while a guard is distracted will meet his approval.
  • Undertale:
    • Jerry, implied to be The Friend Nobody Likes among other monsters, can be "defeated" effortlessly by ditching him. Not running, mind, but convincing the other monsters you're fighting to ditch him so you and they can continue the fight elsewhere.
      You and the other monsters ditch Jerry when it looks away! You and the other monsters celebrate Jerry's disappearance!
    • One of the ways to non-violently end a fight with the monster named Aaron is to simply tell him to go away. Aaron will sometimes do so without complaint.
      You tell Aaron to go away. Aaron agrees.
      YOU WON!
    • Even the bosses aren't immune. The monster Muffet only fights you because she's been duped into thinking you're an enemy to spiders. However if you bought something from the Spider Bake Sale in the ruins you can use it during the fight, showing her you helped the spiders out, and making her instantly realize you're not an enemy.
  • One Night at Flumpty's 2 has the Redman, who appears as a pop-up with a timer, a timer in which he will crash your laptop and kill you soon thereafter. How do you stop his advance? Simple — just click the cancel button.
  • During the third week of Fate/EXTRA, Alice traps you in a Reality Marble that erases your identity, starting with your name. You and your Servant figure out that remembering your name will free you from the Reality Marble, and when you ask Rin how to do that she suggests just writing it down.
  • Henry Stickmin Series:
    • In the 2nd game, Henry needs to leave prison. He can perform two variations of a daring escape... or he can call his lawyer, who gets him acquitted of all charges due to a Beyond the Impossible trick he pulled in the 1st game.
    • In the 4th game, Henry needs to take out a guard reading a document so he can steal it. He decides to scare the guy by holding a fake spider on a string in front of him. Instead, the guard smiles and says "Oh. Hello, Mr. Spider." Henry then decides to hit the guy over the head with the stick. It works.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles 2: Blades have Resurrective Immortality, but lose all their memories every time they reincarnate. Their inability to retain their memories and maintain any sort of society is one of the key parts of the plot. As shown by Brighid, there's an easy way for reincarnated Blades to remember their past: write a diary. Unfortunately, the shortcomings of said solution are just as mundane, in that it's hard to keep your journal safe when your Driver is dead and you're a motionless rock. She admits that she's rather privileged in that regard, being a treasured imperial heirloom that has entire chronicles written about her life.
  • Kingdom Hearts III: How do you deal with an otherworldly foe borne of darkness who can spawn terrifying, malicious monsters, feeds off negative emotions, and has come to take your friend's Heart? Grab him and chuck him through a door, of course!
    • More specifically, (since this takes place in the world of Monsters, Inc.) throw him into a door, then throw that door into another door, throw that door into another door again, chuck that door into another door for a fourth time, and for good measure, shred it!
  • Resident Evil and its remake have a number of these. How do you kill the giant shark? Drain the water. How do you kill the tentacled plant blocking you from the MacGuffin? Spray it with herbicide. Giant T-Virus infected hornets? Hit 'em with bug spray. How do you kill the massive bloodsucking arboreal abomination Plant 42? Spray it with a special herbicide. How do you make the special herbicide? You follow the instructions. If you're Chris who's too thick to follow the instructions? Ask Rebecca to do it for you.
  • Most horror games taking place in a haunted building use some kind of supernatural force to impede or outright remove the exit and keep the hero trapped inside. In Luigi's Mansion 3 however, the entrance to the hotel is simply boarded up and the garage door breaks if you try to open it, ensuring Luigi has no way out.
  • In String Tyrant you can get coated in magical growing clay that threatens to cover Mary. How do you get rid of it? Some magical potion or a spell? You wash it off with water. Still if you wait too long there won't be any Mary underneath all that clay.

    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.

  • 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.
  • 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 had Haley use a bow and arrow to solve the Knights and Knaves problem in strip 327.
    • 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.
      Vamp!Durkon: 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.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • In one episode of The Fairly OddParents, where Timmy, Chester, and AJ are sent to a military school, they have to run an obstacle course in 60 seconds, or their stuff (including Cosmo and Wanda) will be destroyed. When they get to a wall-climb, there's only 15 seconds left on the clock, not enough time to climb it and make it to the end. AJ presents a faster alternative - walking around the wall.
  • Family Guy: In "Guy Robot", Stewie builds a hyperintelligent robot friend who turns into a Jerkass and builds two robots of his own, and the three of them then enslave and torment Stewie. When he and Brian try to get rid of them, Stewie warns Brian that the robots are constantly evolving and won't be easy to defeat, only to see that Brian just sprayed them with a hose to short them out.
  • King of the Hill: Hank exemplifies this, as well as Boring, but Practical methods. Best shown in the episode "Naked Ambition," when his friends end up in an asylum after a series of misunderstandings. Dale's attempt to get Boomhauer out by swapping clothes with a patient gets him mistaken for one instead, and Boomhauer's later escape plan fails because Bill ratted it out. Hank sorts things out and gets them released simply by talking to the staff.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic
    • Played with in one episode. Doctor Whooves/Time Turner has an actual time machine, from centuries of tinkering, yet it's completely obsolete due to there being a magic spell for it. However, if it really is a certain time machine, it may be anything but "obsolete" by Equestrian standards.
    • In another, Twilight breaks into the Canterlot Library to retrieve a restricted spellbook. Only once she's most of the way in does it dawn on her that, as Celestia's personal student, she's already got full access to the library anyway, and can just walk in, with the guards more than happy to unlock the doors for her.
    • At one point in the second part of the pilot, Twilight is desperately searching her library for a book on the Elements of Harmony. Pinkie Pie finds it in seconds. How?
      Pinkie: It was under "E".
  • In the fourth segment of My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Holidays Unwrapped, the Equestria Girls are planning on giving out presents at the mall, with the presents in Sunset's storage locker. However, Sunset accidentally left the key to her locker at school, which is now closed for winter break. The girls come up with various schemes to try and break in to the school, but Twilight acts as the Only Sane Man by pointing out that breaking into a school is against the law. Twilight's solution to get around that problem? Call Principal Celestia and just ask her to let them in for a few minutes.
  • Rick and Morty: Rick functionally destroys the Galactic Federation by making their currency worthless, crashing their economy.
  • The Simpsons: During an attempt to ditch work Homer encounters a giant spider in a disused sector of the power plant, and his map says he can get rid of it by simply quoting a Bible verse. Homer quickly gives up and nails it with a rock, knocking it out instantly.
  • In South Park, when a lack of internet connectivity forces the townspeople to move to an internet refugee camp, Kyle fixes the problem the same way that we all would: he pulls the plug on the monolithic server and powers it up again until the flashing yellow light becomes solid green.
    • In another episode, Kyle tries to make up an overcomplicated plan to hijack the TV news signal to get the message out about Canadian freemium games targeting addicts, only for Cartman to tell him that he just posted it on Twitter and managed to get it trending.
  • The Spectacular Spider Man: During Tombstone and Spidey's first tête-à-tête confrontation, the crime boss offers Spider-Man a chance to work for him. Spider-Man refuses and calls him out to "finish this". Tombstone sighs, "Very well,"... and then calls the cops on Spidey.
  • Steven Universe: In "House Guest", there's a massive geode containing a storm that has cracked and has begun radiating energy. The solution? Seal the crack with duct tape.
  • In Thunder Cats 2011, Lion-O is undergoing a series of tests to prove his worthiness as Lord of the Thundercats. One of these is a wrestling match against Panthro, who's far stronger than him and a better fighter. After beating his head against the metaphorical brick wall for a while, Lion-O solves the puzzle by ordering Panthro to step out of the ring, which he does. But then, the entire purpose of the test was to teach him that not every problem can be solved with aggression.
  • In The Venture Bros., one of Doctor Venture's actual good inventions over the run of the show was an impenetrable force field. Unfortunately, he gets stuck on the inside with the president, a broken control switch and no way to get what was needed to fix it. Throughout the episode, the White House maid touted the cleaning power of club soda. It turns out to be the only thing that can break up the force field.
    "Child, a little club soda can get out anything."
  • Xiaolin Showdown:
    • In an early episode the Monks are tackling an obstacle course where they jump through hoops and swinging logs and such to retrieve a stuffed dog at the end of the circular track, back near the starting line. When it comes around to Clay's turn... he turns around and grabs the dog from the end of the track. As Clay says "I don't see the point of all that hoppin' around, so long as I got the dog." At the end of the same episode, he wins a "sparrow catching" Showdown by filling his hat with seeds to lure the bird. Simple solutions to complicated problems!
    • An evil mime has trapped the monks in an invisible prison. They spend most of the episode trying to blast their way out of prison.. then they get out by miming a door and opening it.
    • In the very first episode, several of Jack Spicer's robot minions are defeated by turning them off. Jack wonders aloud why he made the on/off switch so obvious.
    • Yet another episode has a When You Snatch the Pebble-style test, which Omi passes by asking nicely for the objective. Xiaolin Showdown is quite fond of this trope in general.

    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.
  • 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.

Video Example(s):


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.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (2 votes)

Example of:

Main / MundaneSolution

Media sources:

Main / MundaneSolution