A special kind of attack a character uses when they're in space and realize something: with gravity, this week's villain is a total badass who can take out all of the heroes singlehandedly, but turn the gravity off, and all of a sudden he's a flailing ninny helplessly floating around in the air. It would seem that in this situation knowing eighty forms of martial arts isn't that useful a skill.
While Artificial Gravity is usually assumed in a science fiction setting, this trope can be a handy way of reminding the audience that yes, technically we aren't supposed to have any. Granted, this trope is almost always invoked deliberately, and is typically used by those who control the local spaceship as opposed to those who are trying to invade it. If this attack was anything except a gimmick, the viewers would likely wonder why it isn't used more often considering how effective it is. Still, as gimmicks go, it's a pretty cool one. After all, where else can you see people fighting each other Isaac Newton style?
This technique is also a staple of Gravity Masters, who do not require the whole "being in space" to be able to pull it off. In this case, it's almost always an ability exclusive to villains, due to how game-breaking making your foes float uselessly in the air whenever you want (instead of situationally) is.
- In one chapter of the Astro Boy manga, Astro is fighting a Nigh Invulnerable alien giant robot attempting to terraform an island on Earth to match his masters' home planet. He defeats the robot by reminding it that it needs to change gravity, too— the robot alters the force of gravity on the island— and ends up flung out into space.
- Lang Rangler from JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stone Ocean has the ability to end the effects of gravity within a certain radius of himself. He himself is able to move more or less freely thanks to suction-cup-like fingertips, and the Stand that gives him the former abilitynote has the power to shoot objects out of its wrists like bullets.
- Ochaco Uraraka from My Hero Academia has this as her power (called "Zero Gravity"). She can make people and objects helplessly float by simply touching them with her fingertips, removing the effects of gravity from them. A Twitter sketch from the author lampshaded this by showing her curbstomping an arc's main threat through this.
- Shakara: When the Teknosaurs lure Shakara into a trap, he deactivates the Artificial Gravity on the ship to kill them one by one in a zero gravity frenzy.
- In Sillage, while performing a mission on an alien world, Navis tumbles off a cliff during a struggle with a native. They are saved from death by an anti-gravity field generated by the local plebotinium, and she quickly overpowers her opponent since she is trained in zero-gravity fighting and he is not.
- Variation in the classic 1970s Superman story "Who took the Super out of Superman?" Clark has lost his powers, but finds himself as Clark Kent having to track down a gang. He brings along an anti-gravity device and handily takes them all down because as Superman he's experienced in zero gravity and they are not.
- At the conclusion of the second Thanos war, Spider-Man and The Thing are wiping the floor with Thanos's henchmen. Thanos turns the tide by announcing "stage zero environment" and turning off the gravity.
- Used in The Transformers comic. When a corrupted matrix-posessed decepticon leader enters the autobot ship in one of their shuttles and starts demolishing the autobots, one of the heroes turns off the gravity and opens the airlock, allowing a single harpoon shot to push the monster out into space.
- In their debut issue, the second team of X-Men defeat the living island of Krakoa by freeing magnetism-controller Polaris from its clutches and combining their powers to supercharge her until she's able to cancel the force of gravity on the island, sending it into space.
- In the Firefly fanfic Forward, the crew take advantage of this when the ship suffers a malfunction that wipes out their artificial gravity systems and are being chased by Reavers. They rig the cargo doors on the belly of the ship to be partially open, luring the Reaver ship into docking at that point and boarding. The Reavers leap out into the cargo bay, but unexpectedly go from a ship with gravity to a ship without one, and their momentum leads to them flailing about helplessly in the cargo bay while the crew shoots them.
- In Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality, Harry has to participate into an underwater battle. He has read Ender's Game. Underwater is not quite the same as no-gravity, but someone who's "experienced" in the latter may successfully adapt quite a few tactics into the former, especially against an entirely unprepared opponent.
- Treasure Planet: During Jim and Scroop's fight on the Legacy, the gravity is turned off. Since the ship is completely open-topped, Scroop goes flying out into space.
- Part of Rocket's plan of escaping the Kyln in Guardians of the Galaxy involves disabling the artificial gravity everywhere in the prison but the watchtower in the center, which the heroes have broken into. Cue Kyln guards with rocket launchers flailing helplessly.
- Moonraker. Drax's space station has artificial gravity due to rotationnote . As the NASA shuttle with the Marines aboard is about to be lasered, Bond pushes a button that fires the station's thrusters and stops its rotation. The station goes to zero G and everybody floats into the air as Bond and his allies escape.
- In Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, Chancellor Gorkon's assassins start by firing a torpedo that disables the gravity on his ship. They can get around because they're wearing suits with magnetic boots; everyone else on the ship is considerably more impaired.
- In Star Trek: First Contact during the fight on the deflector dish, at one point Picard deactivates his magnetic boots in order to float over the heads of several Borg.
- In the Blood of Kerensky trilogy, one of Phelan Kell's fights in his bloodname Trial turns out to be unarmed combat against an Elemental (a genetically engineered giant battle armor trooper). Since he gets to choose where to fight and they're in space at the time, he picks an empty hangar under zero-G conditions to level the playing field and ultimately wins by managing to cling to his opponent's back long enough to subdue him (while still collecting his share of bruises along the way).
- The Dresden Files:
- In Small Favor, Ivy the Archive traps Magog in a gravity- and friction-less sphere, leaving him floating helplessly above the ground. Being an unstoppable juggernaut is not much good when you can't touch the ground, as it turns out.
- In Changes, Harry uses a specialized form of earth magic to temporarily create this. His main goal is the extremely crushing, localized gravity that results when the spell ends. It works very well.
- Harry uses a similar tactic against Cait Sith in Cold Days, when the latter rebounds from jumping on him, Harry uses that split second of simple physics to magically shove him out a window.
- Sort of subverted in Ender's Game. The characters learn special tactics for fighting in zero gravity.
- In Daniel Keys Moran's The Long Run, Trent is being chased through PeaceForcer Heaven, a zero gravity environment in near earth orbit. Everybody is wearing velcro boots to get around. At one point he is chased into a large room by Melissa DuBois. He surprises her, and strands her in the center of the room far away from any handhold she can use to get to the door or any communication equipment. She is incredibly frustrated at being stuck, until he tells her to throw her clothes away in one direction which will (Newton's Third Law) push her gently in the other direction. She immediately starts stripping down, and Trent regretfully has to leave the room before she finishes the job.
- Isaac Asimov's Lucky Starr and the Big Sun of Mercury: Inverted when Urteil and Bigman were fighting in Mercury-normal gravity. During their fight, Bigman tossed him up in the air, and someone tried to murder Urteil by turning on the Earth-like pseudogravity at the peak of the arc.
- In Warren Ellis's Ocean, the protagonist uses not only antigravity but also inverted and perpendicular gravity.
- Inverted in Sergey Lukyanenko's Star Shadow. When Colonel Danilov decides to take the Geometer scoutship back to Earth over Pyotr's objections, Danilov tries to fight him for it. Being a war vet and an experienced cosmonaut, trained in zero-g fighting, he forgets that the Geometer ship has Artificial Gravity and tries to fight as if he's in zero-g (he strikes and gently pushes off the floor to float to the ceiling). Pyotr, having gotten used to the Geometer ship, fights as if he's on solid ground and wins. Then Danilov's partner hits him with a Stun Gun.
- The same trick is used in an early Andromeda episode. A group of teenagers obsessed with killing all Nietzscheans and Magog have taken over the bridge of the Andromeda Ascendant. Harper has just finished building an android body for Rommie, the ship's avatar. Suddenly, everyone on the bridge collapses and is unable to move. Rommie (in all her naked glory) walks out on the bridge and explains to the teens that she is God aboard the ship and can adjust Artificial Gravity as she sees fit. The only ones who can move are Tyr (being a Nietzschean) and Dylan (half-Heavy Worlder).
- Doctor Who:
- "Flesh and Stone" is mostly set in a crashed, now-tipped-on-its-front spaceship where the Doctor and friends are trying to outrun what is effectively an army of Weeping Angels (the pseudo-moving statues that first appeared in "Blink") and deal with a crack in time that erases its victims. The Angels ultimately defeat themselves by draining the ship of all its power, causing the gravity to fail so they all fall into the crack and, as such, never existed in the first place.
- "The Doctor's Wife": The extra-universal entity House (no, not THAT House) takes over the TARDIS and begins toying with Rory and Amy; one such method of doing so involves turning off the ship's gravity relocator, turning many of the corridors into horrendously deep pits...
- Firefly uses a variation of this trope. Rather than turning the ship's Anti Gravity systems off, Mal and River trick a villain into going outside the ship into the Zero-G environment of outer space. One well-placed punch is enough to send him flying endlessly into space with no way of getting back.
- Referenced on the Stargate SG-1 episode "Wormhole X-treme", when the show-within-a-show's producers are trying to scale back the special effects budget, and are stuck on a scene where the hero is supposed to become weightless and float past an alien guard. O'Neill, as their military advisor, asks "Why doesn't he just... shoot him?"
- Star Trek:
- An episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine deals with a character who comes from a planet with very little gravity who must get around in a wheelchair, because medical treatment to acclimate her to normal gravity would make it impossible for her to return to her homeworld for extended periods. In the climax, she's able to save a captured shuttle crew by turning off the gravity and kicking the hostage-takers' asses in zero-g.
- Star Trek: Enterprise presents the opposite approach to this trope, in an episode where a dangerous alien is defeated by increasing the gravity over the deck plates it is walking on. This causes the reptilian biped to heave onto the floor and remain trapped there for a few seconds before it is shot to death.
- In early editions of Dungeons & Dragons, the levitation spell can also be used against enemies. Without contact to the ground or anything in reach to grasp, they float more or less helplessly in midair.
- GURPS has plenty of rules available determining the exact effects of zero-gee on virtually any aspect it can think of. The penalties applied generally means that anyone not used to moving in it will become a flailing pile of mess; Martial Arts even has a special zero-gee fighting style, complete with an in-universe cinematic equivalent where the practitioners replace their legs with extra arms to enhance their fighting capability.
- Academy of Superheroes: A rare case of the antagonist using this on himself. The hero, a Gravity Master, pins him to an asteroid that's heading for Earth and leaves him to die. Fortunately for him, the villain was The Smart Guy of his team and an electrokinetic.
- Pay Me, Bug!:
- Part of the drill for repelling boarders on the Fool's Errand is to switch the gravity on and off at predetermined intervals. Since the boarders wouldn't know the schedule, they wouldn't be prepared for the sudden shifts.
- A more mundane example is that, because the Fool's Errand uses older gravity technology, they can't have the artificial gravity on at all while they're in tach. Well, they can, but it's dangerous.
- The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes!: One of Graviton's tactics.
- In one episode of Darkwing Duck, Negaduck negates the Super Strength of the duck-turned-dinosaur Stegmutt by putting him in a chamber with no gravity in it. Justified since Stegmutt can't even figure out how to fight a villain on his own.
- In the Futurama episode "Love and Rockets", when the Planet Express ship's central computer goes crazy, it shuts off both the gravity and the oxygen on the ship to prevent Fry and Leela from thwarting her.
- Justice League Unlimited features a fight between Mister Terrific and The Flash who's had a "Freaky Friday" Flip with Lex Luthor. As Mister Terrific's only superpower is that he's really smart, this proves problematic, and he evens the fights by turning off the Watchtower's Artificial Gravity. Flash Luthor is non-plussed, and uses his Super Speed to turn his arms into propellers. Mr. Terrific responds by turning the Artificial Gravity back on, causing Flash Luthor to plummet painfully to the ground, getting knocked out in the process.
- Kim Possible: Kim pulls this on Monkey Fist and his army of monkey ninjas while on a space station.
- Star Trek: The Animated Series: In "The Jihad", Kirk and Spock join a team of alien specialists to retrieve The Soul of Skor, an artifact stolen from an avian race called the Skor, to prevent the Skor from attacking the galaxy in retribution. A Skor member, Tchar, turns out to be The Mole, having stolen the Soul to bring about a Skor jihad. He then shut off the gravity in the temple, believing that, as a flyer, this would give him an edge over the others in combat. Unfortunately for him...
Kirk: Spock, how long since you worked out in null-gravity combat exercises?
Spock: Last week, with you, Captain. [cue Oh, Crap! look on Tchar's face]
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars: In "Cargo of Doom", Cad Bane uses this trick to help even the odds in a fight against Anakin, Ahsoka and their clone troopers.
- Star Wars Rebels:
- "Spark of Rebellion": Sabine and Chopper shut off the gravity on an Imperial transport to trip up the stormtroopers on board.
- "Stealth Strike": Chopper turns off the gravity in the control room for the Interdictor's gravity wells as a distraction while he sabotages them — without telling Ezra what he's about to do.
- The Autobots shut off the gravity in their ship to give themselves a fighting chance when they first battled Megatron in Transformers Animated.