Follow TV Tropes

Following

Not the Intended Use

Go To

Question: Can we use "Go Up A Level" cards on other players to make them fight a monster that would otherwise ignore them?
Answer: We want to say no, but that's just such a Munchkin thing to do that we have to allow it.
Munchkin FAQ

The aversion of the control the developers have on the players. Basically, the player finds ways to play the game that the developers and designers did not intend.

Usually a Game-Breaker, it often leads to Gameplay Derailment, but not always: in some cases, it can become an Ascended Glitch, or is considered "fair" in some way, for example if the intended use is at least just as useful, and there is some limit on how frequently you can use the unintended mechanic (like in the Time Outs in Sports example below).

Advertisement:

In Tabletop Games, the discovery of a Game-Breaker via Not The Intended Use usually leads to the Obvious Rule Patch, especially in tournament-level play.

Often used by speed runners and other Challenge Gamers. When it's an actual software glitch that's exploited, it belongs under Good Bad Bugs.

Subtrope of Emergent Gameplay. See also: Weaponized Exhaust, Recoil Boost. Contrast Useless Useful Spell and Mundane Utility. Also contrast Fake Difficulty, caused by control or other design problems. When an element is intentionally fudged in the player's favor, it's an Anti-Frustration Feature.

Even though this trope is most prominent in video games, it can appear in other works as shown below.


Advertisement:

Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Advertising 
  • A Captain Morgan "designate a driver" commercial has two drunk guys going to the pizza place right across from the bar, ordering pizza for delivery, and riding home with the delivery guy to avoid driving drunk.
  • A Polish ad for a certain type of washing machine shows a salesman going to India to see why their machines are doing so well. The owner of a Lhassi parlor (smoothie bar) showed him that he was using the machine to mix his drinks in, and he could make ten times the smoothies he used to with a blender.

    Anime and Manga 
  • Fate/kaleid liner PRISMA☆ILLYA: Counter Guardians are entities meant to protect humanity. After gaining the power of one through the Archer Card, Shirou decides to use it for the sake of saving a single person, knowing very well that his actions are detrimental to humanity and go against the purpose of what said-power was intended for.
  • Overlord (2012):
    • Part of the fun is seeing typical fantasy spells used in creative ways. One early example is Ainz providing two Summon Goblin Army scrolls to a village he'd taken a shine to, to protect them from attacks once he left. Once he was gone, the girl he provided them to used them while there were no enemies around at all... and had the army teach the villagers to defend themselves and assist in designing and building fortifications.
    • After the incident with Shalltear being brainwashed by unidentified forces with a World Item, Ainz orders his followers to have a World Item equipped whenever they leave Nazarick. Not so much for their effects, which are extremely varied, but simply because having a World Item makes you immune to other items on that level.
    • In the New World, Death Knights can destroy a city singlehandedly. They've yet to demonstrate such a feat, but Ainz uses them to impress visitors (the Empire has one chained underground and their best mage can't control it) by having half a dozen act as waiters when refreshments are brought out to visiting diplomats.
    • Slimes are able to dissolve just about anything they wrap themselves around. Ainz uses one to keep his skeleton (he's a lich) clean.
  • Sword Art Online has Outside System Skills, abilities that weren't programmed into the game that players created for themselves. The most well-known and oft-used of these is "Switch", where one player attacks with a Sword Skill, then an ally attacks the offset opponent with a Sword Skill of their own while the first attacker recovers.
  • Goblin Slayer:
    • In chapter 4, Goblin Slayer uses the Priestess' protection spell to prevent a bunch of goblins from escaping the massive fire Goblin Slayer started. The Priestess herself is disturbed by the tactic.
    • He also uses a Gate Scroll as a weapon, by making the location of the Gate the bottom of the ocean, effectively turning it into a very large water knife.
    • In Vol. 2, rather than escaping a goblin horde by using a newly-discovered teleportation mirror leading to goodness-knows-where, he has his team lift it up like an umbrella while he collapses the ceiling. The rubble is absorbed by the mirror and buries everything else, leaving them the only survivors.
      Goblin Slayer: The imagination is a weapon. Those who fail to use it, die first.
    • The Priestess herself does this unintentionally in Vol. 7. Pinned by a goblin shaman, she instinctively uses her miracle "Purify Water", a divine magic spell meant to purge contamination from liquid so it can be drunk safely, on its blood. The goblin dies in hideous pain in an instant. Deconstructed in that the next time that she sleeps, her goddess appears to her in a vision saying that if she ever uses the spell in that manner again, she will be stripped of her ability to cast miracles permanently.
  • Hunter × Hunter:
    • The ability Sun & Moon: Paired Destruction places a sun marker or a moon marker on surfaces, and if a sun marker and a moon marker touch, the surfaces will explode. The original user, an old chief in Meteor City, uses it to explode things, but Chrollo, its second user, realizes that because these surfaces cannot be destroyed as long as a marker remains on them, that renders objects with markers indestructible, an effect he uses much more frequently than its intended incendiary purposes.
    • Neferpitou (Pitou for short) has Doctor Blythe, a Healing Shiv she can summon and un-summon at will. However, it cannot be moved from the location she summons it, and she's tethered to it with an unbreakable string of aura. These traits are supposed to be a weakness, as they hinder Pitou's movements and her ability to fight until she recalls it back. A while later, Pitou is flung far away fighting Netero, and she realizes she can summon Doctor Blythe as an anchor, preventing her from careening away any further, using the aura string's elasticity to slingshot herself back into battle as she un-summons it.
    • The Greed Island spell card called Accompany is, as its name suggests, supposed to allow the caster and his or her group to travel together to a specific location or a specific person, but as a case of Exact Words, the Greed Island players soon discover that Accompany will indiscriminately transport everyone within a certain distance, friend or foe. To this end, Genthru and his party hoard Accompany cards and use them to stalk and pursue whomever they intend to kill, preventing them from retreating or escaping. Gon, Killua and Bisuke all take advantage of this later by tricking Genthru into thinking they had less Accompany cards than they really had, so once they ran out, the group used their own Accompany cards to split up Genthru's group, forcing them into one-on-one fights.
  • Izetta: The Last Witch has the titular witch sent out to sink the Drachenfels, a Germanian aircraft carrier, using four telekinetically-wielded heavy torpedoes. The original plan, which requires all four torpedoes to detonate beneath the ship simultaneously, is ruined when pursuing aircraft manage to destroy two of them. Izetta exploits the versatility of her telekinesis by using the remaining two as improvised smart missiles; one arcs over to destroy the ship's plane elevator, and the other flies into the hole and seeks out the fuel line. Ship sunk.
  • After War Gundam X: the Satellite Cannon, an army-killing superweapon, gets used in unorthodox manners a couple of times. Once it's used as a makeshift booster engine to escape an exploding nuclear powerplant. Another time, Garrod flees the area as soon as the microwaves that power the weapon begin transmitting... so rather than get absorbed by his Mobile Suit, the microwaves hit the surface of a lake, causing an enormous steam explosion.
  • BOFURI: I Don't Want to Get Hurt, so I'll Max Out My Defense: Maple tends to innovate this with her skills, such as using Cover Move as a movement skill to keep up with Sally or using her Venom Capsule trap on herself to neutralize fall damage down a cliff.
  • No Game No Life: Any games played are enforced by a Magically Binding Contract to ensure the stakes are adhered to. When Sora hears there might be a saboteur giving false reports among the kingdom's advisers, he orders them all to play a game of rock-paper-scissors and lose, with the stakes being that the loser can't falsify reports.

    Card Games 
  • Dominion has the Chapel card which was intended to remove hurtful curse cards from your deck. However people realized it could also be used to streamline your deck by removing your low-value starting cards. Many more recent deckbuilding games have this as the primary or second function of removing cards from your deck, so removing weak cards is now expected. Some games like Ascension don't even have any harmful cards to remove.
  • The Yu-Gi-Oh! card game has more than a few instances of this:
    • Barrel Behind the Door was initially meant to bounce back damage done to you by effects. It works just as well bouncing non-cost damage from your cards to your opponent. It was even released in the same set as Ring of Destruction, a card that does massive amounts of damage to you and your opponent; the Ring/Barrel combo swiftly became one of the most popular in the game.
    • Using Doomcaliber Knight's ability to negate your own effect, which destroys him... so you can summon a quite powerful Meklord Emperor.
    • Gate Guardian is a high-ATK monster that's incredibly hard to get out... but you don't need to get him on the field to fuse him with a card released much later, UFOroid, to form an even stronger UFOroid Fighter, or discard him to pump up the ATK of Zubaba General for a monster with nearly 6000 ATK.
    • Royal Oppression was designed to be used as an anti-meta card to cripple meta decks reliant on special summoning. But then players began to realize that they could swarm the field with big monsters and then activate it during the opponent's turn to lock them out from their own special summons. This ultimately resulted in it getting banned.
    • There are quite a few cards that operate at the cost of letting your opponent draw cards. Since you instantly lose if your deck runs dry some savvy players built decks entirely out of these cards, using their intended effects as defense while they bled their opponent of all his resources.
    • Divine Sword - Phoenix Blade is a subpar Equip Card, exclusive to Warriors, that provides a miniscule ATK boost. However, it was also a staple in one of the most popular Decks of its day, Diamond Dude Turbo, for its secondary effect of "remove two Warriors in your Graveyard from play to add this card back to your hand." Players would use Phoenix Blade's secondary effect over and over, use it as a discard fodder, and then activate Dimension Fusion to resummon all the cards they removed.
    • Which players are the biggest users of Toon Table of Contents, a card that lets you search out any card with "Toon" in its name? If you guessed Toon players, you'd be wrong - Toon Table of Contents is used in nearly all modern Exodia Decks. This is because you can use Toon Table of Contents to search out copies of itself, and there's no limit to how often it can be used. That translates to three cards removed from your Deck, and three Spell Counters on Royal Magical Library... and you can then either search out Toon World for a fourth counter, or Blue-Eyes Toon Dragon to discard for Trade-In. Toon Table of Contents is actually straight-up better than Gather Your Mind, a card where this use is the intended use. Sky Striker decks, which rely on having at least 3 Spell Cards in the Graveyard to make full use of their Spell Cards, also tech in copies of Toon Table of Contents as a quick and easy way to get those requisite Spells into the Graveyard.
    • This is what got Self-Destruct Button (a card that forces the Duel to a draw if your opponent has 7000 more LP than you) banned. Instead of using it as a last-resort Taking You with Me, players would fill their decks with cards that gave your opponent LP, then activate Self-Destruct Button at the first possible opportunity.
    • Last Turn is meant to be an extreme last-resort gamble: it can only be used when your LP are 1000 or less. It picks a monster on your side of the field, then sends everything else to the Graveyard, then your opponent Summons something from their Deck and attacks, with the survivor winning the Duel. The gamble involved was the risk that your opponent could Summon something stronger. However, Last Turn ignored the possibility of cards that could stop the Special Summon in some manner (see Jowgen the Spiritualist, Vanity's Fiend, Last Warrior from Another Planet) and the existence of cards that could pay massive amounts of LP (Wall of Revealing Light, Inspection, Backs to the Wall). If the opponent couldn't Summon a monster for Last Turn, you won by default. The resulting "Last Turn OTK" sent Last Turn to the banlist.
    • Lyrilusc - Independent Nightingale is intended to be Magikarp Power - its effects are dependent on its level, and its level is dependent on the monsters used to summon it. If you work your butt off, you can fuse together the proper monsters to make its level 5 or 6... or you could just summon it with Instant Fusion and Tribute it for The Tyrant Neptune, which absorbs the effects of its Tributes and is Level 10 normally. For just two cards and 1000 LP, you could have a 6000-ATK monster that's unaffected by card effects and can inflict 5000 damage every turn. The combo was deadly enough that Tyrant Neptune was banned before Nightingale was even released in America.
    • This hit no less than two of the main Guardian equips, originally designed to provide small boosts and make summoning their Guardians possible. Butterfly Dagger - Elma returns itself to the hand when destroyed, with the intent being to keep the opponent from destroying it. As it turned out, it also comboed with Gearfreed the Iron Knight, which destroys anything equipped to it, and could therefore be looped infinitely in combination with cards like Magical Marionette or Royal Magical Library to build up infinite Spell Counters. Rod of Silence - Kay'est has the secondary effect of destroying Spells that target the equipped monster, obviously meant for protection. Instead, people ran it in Vylons, where thanks to Vylon Element, which summons a Vylon Tuner whenever one of their equips is destroyed, and the standard Vylon equips, which search out more of themselves when destroyed, they could rapidly swarm the field with Tuners and usually summon Omega on the first turn.
    • The Destiny Hero archetype was intended to be played as its own set of cards, with a focus on Standby Phase effects, stalling, and building up tribute fodder for powerful boss monsters. Instead, many players realized that they worked much better as a draw engine, combining the effects of Destiny Draw, Malicious, Diamond Dude, and Disk Commander, along with the search power of Elemental Hero Stratos to shore up on their own strategies. This particular case as big enough, that the Destiny Hero engine in its various forms have been the core strategy of multiple deck that is considered a Tier 0 Game-Breaker.
    • Kaiju monsters have the ability to tribute your opponent's monster to summon them to your opponent's field, and so long as there's a kaiju on their field, you can summon one to your side of the field without cost. They were supposed to be a deck of their own. Instead, the weakest among them are used as a form of Loophole Abuse to get rid of normally Nigh Invulnerable monsters, since tributing is exempt from the invulnerability such monsters possess, and very few monsters specifically disallow tributing them. A later support card meant to bolster the deck actually made this use better. In a similar category is the Winged Dragon of Ra - Sphere Mode, a support card for the Winged Dragon of Ra. The card's intended use is to tribute it to summon Winged Dragon of Ra, letting you get it on the field with 4000 ATK/DEF instead of relying on its life point conversion effect. However, Sphere Mode lets you tribute three monsters on either side of the field, meaning you can completely break an opponent's setup in return for giving them only one card, and since no one plays Winged Dragon of Ra, they can't exploit its tribute effect.
    • A particular breakout example in the competitive scene is the Gem-Knight archetype's own Brilliant Fusion, a Continuous Spell that can Fusion Summon a Gem-Knight Fusion monster by sending the corresponding material from the main deck. Intended as a Gem Knight support, it gained notoriety for its ability to Fusion Summon Gem-Knight Seraphinite by sending a Gem-Knight and a Light monster from the deck. This combo gives you an extra normal summon, puts a monster on the field as a fodder for other summons, and mills 1 Light attribute monster of choice to set up further combos, while also thinning the deck by 2. Brilliant Fusion is so popular as a deck engine that at one point, Gem-Knight Garnet, a completely ordinary 1900 vanilla, fetched quite a price on the secondary market entirely because it was the highest ATK Normal-summonable Gem-Knight monster. The Brilliant Fusion engine even birthed a new term amongst the fanbase: a "Garnet" is a card that is a mandatory engine requirement, yet is completely useless while in the hand.
    • Wetlands is a Field Spell that gives a fairly hefty 1200 ATK boost to level 2 or lower Aqua/Water-type monsters. Given its time of release and theming, it's not hard to assume it was meant to be used in Frog decks, which generally fit the bill and have very poor stats, meaning they'd appreciate the boost. However, Frog statlines are so poor all-around that they couldn't really make use of it (only Swap Frog and the rarely-used Submarine Frog have tolerable beater stats with it active), and preferred making use of other engines such as Tributes or Xyz when they wanted more firepower. Instead, it found its home in Ice Barrier decks (which frequently used it to power up Prior, Dewdark, and Cryomancer and bolster their lacking offense) and the rather silly Slime Token Beatdown (which comboed it with Token Stampede to churn out 2700 beaters).
    • Probably the silliest case of "archetype card that nobody uses in its archetype" is M-X-Saber Invoker. It was designed to try and ease X-Sabers, normally a powerhouse Synchro deck, into the Xyz era. To that end, it was a Rank 3 with the ability to Summon a Level 4 EARTH Warrior or Beast-Warrior from the deck, seemingly meant to support the swarm-happy playstyle that X-Sabers were known for. However, X-Saber players looked at their roster and realized that only four X-Sabers fit the criteria, only one of them was actually good, and that one couldn't use its effect if summoned by Invoker, so they mostly ignored it. As it turned out, though, a lot of Decks could make Invoker easily and had a monster that did meet the qualifications and they wanted out quickly, including Wind-Ups, Madolches, Six Samurai, Zoodiacs, Goukis, and even certain FTK builds. Invoker actually got banned in the TCG because pretty much any deck that wasn't its own archetype could get some mileage out of it.
  • Munchkin allows you to use "Go Up A Level" cards on your opponent in order to force them to fight/run away from a monster that would ignore them if they were just one level lower. The creators of the game were asked if the cards could be used that way—while that hadn't been the intent, the creators responded it was such a Munchkinly thing to do, they just couldn't say no.
  • Pokémon Trading Card Game:
    • Claydol's "Cosmic Power" is meant to draw cards from the deck, but its secondary effect, putting 2 cards back to the bottom of the deck, can also be used to prevent a player from running out of cards in one's deck and thus avert a loss by decking out. It is also very useful for setting aside cards you don't need: Since they're placed at the bottom of the deck without shuffling it, they're moved as far away from play as possible.
    • The trainer card Gamble can be used the same way, though somewhat more risky. You shuffle your hand into your deck and flip a coin. Draw 7 for heads, 1 for tails.
    • The Mysterious Fossil card was intended to be used as the fossils in the original Game Boy games, as a method of acquiring Kabuto, Omanyte, or Aerodactyl. However, the mechanic allowing it to be your Active Pokémon yet not permit a Prize draw when your opponent KO'd it meant that many players used it as a cheap wall while they set up their actual Pokémon. Future Fossil cards did not work this way.
    • The original "mulligan" mechanic - if you start the game with no usable Pokémon in your hand, you can reveal your hand, shuffle it back in, and draw a new one, at the cost of your opponent getting to draw two cards. The idea is to prevent players from auto-losing the game from "dead draws", without making consistency irrelevant. However, some players reasoned that if you only had one Pokémon in your deck, then you might be able to mulligan over and over, forcing the opponent to draw lots of cards and possibly deck out. This led to the Mulligan Mewtwo build, which consisted of 59 Psychic Energy and one Mewtwo (an otherwise rather useless card that could protect itself by discarding a Psychic Energy), which would mulligan a good dozen times before drawing Mewtwo and then use its protective effects to stall the opponent to death. The rules were subsequently changed such that mulliganing gives your opponent the option to draw two cards.
  • In Magic: The Gathering, many combo decks (and subsequently, card bannings or errata) come from this sort of behavior. Although one can debate over which examples qualify as "not intended" vs simply "not obvious"; the developers do fully intend for players to come up with card combinations they didn't see themselves and simply hope that they won't miss any that break the game, while in some cases they're aware of the unorthodox use and go ahead anyway. Examples include:
    • Dark Depths and Vampire Hexmage: The Hexmage was meant to remove beneficial counters from permanents and as a way for black to deal with planeswalkers. But with Dark Depths, you can remove all the counters to get a 20/20 flying indestructible creature on turn 3.
    • Cascade cards and Hypergenesis: You're supposed to suspend Hypergenesis, but cascade lets you search it out of your deck and cast it for free. This also works with other cards with no mana cost, such as Living End.
    • Grove of the Burnwillows and Punishing Fire: The Grove is supposed to be a dual land that fights against red and green's aggressive nature, but it lets you get back Punishing Fire instead.
    • Lion's Eye Diamond: Intended to be a bad Black Lotus, instead you can toss your hand into your graveyard as a beneficial effect for Yawgmoth's Will (often used while a tutor for Yawgmoth's Will (or Yawgmoth's Will itself) is on the stack, doubly stupid because you can then recast it from the graveyard and get more mana with no drawback whatsoever), dredge cards, or madness cards. Another extremely powerful trick with it is to use it while a draw-7 spell (which generally cause you to discard your hand and draw a new one) is on the stack, so that it again has no drawback, or while a reanimation spell which does not need to declare a target is being cast, so as to put the card in question into your graveyard for ready reanimation.
    • Wizards of the Coast is infamously bad at making a "bad" Black Lotus; Lotus Petal, a Black Lotus which only produced one mana instead of three, came out shortly thereafter, and was restricted shortly thereafter. When they made Lotus Bloom later on (a black lotus which took three turns to come into play), it yet again caused problems by allowing Dragonstorm decks (itself a previous Junk Rare, reprinted because it was theoretically a bad storm card due to costing too much mana) to get a bunch of extra spells cast on the fourth turn for free. Combined with Rite of Flame and Seething Song (attempts to create "fair" Dark Rituals), along with Gigadrowse, a card intended for limited but actually useful for tapping all of your opponent's lands during their endstep to prevent them from interfering with your plans (and nearly uncounterable due to its own ability to replicate itself into multiple spells), the deck created a rather terrifyingly powerful combo deck which regularly "went off" on turn four and instantly killed the opponent via Bogardan Hellkites.
    • Another "bad" Lotus attempt was Lotus Vale, which required you to sacrifice two lands in order to keep it with the end result of getting three mana out of one land. Unfortunately, how it was initially worded caused it to be able to tap for mana in response to its own sacrifice requirement, making it essentially a one-a-turn Black Lotus. This was errataed, however, and no longer works that way.
    • Illusions of Grandeur and Donate: Two quirky junk rares for casual players that combined to become one of the most famous kill conditions in the competitive Magic history. It didn't help that Illusions of Grandeur has the text "gain 20 life" on it, which, with Necropotence in play, reads an awful lot like "draw 20 cards".
    • Waylay: Meant as a way to get temporary blockers, but a rules change made it into "White Lightning," a way to get hasty attackers for a turn. It was errated to only work as intended.
    • Flash: Meant as a way to play creatures at times you're normally not allowed to, it does this by letting you put a creature card from your hand into play, but you have to sacrifice it unless you pay its mana cost reduced by 2 (where 2 is the cost of Flash itself). What this actually means is that for 2 mana you can get the "when this comes into play" and/or "when this dies" effect of an arbitrarily expensive creature, some of which are powerful enough to instantly win the game with the right support. It was errata'd the first time this abuse was discovered with Academy Rector, then un-errata'd due to a policy change to minimize the use of errata, and promptly banned or restricted in all the formats it was still legal in thanks to an instant-win combo with Protean Hulk.
    • Boomerang existed for years as a cheap and fairly versatile blue bounce spell; it seemed fair enough, so printing a worse version in Eye of Nowhere seemed safe enough. At the same time, the long-time classic Howling Mine was in print, a card which historically was sometimes used with artifact tapping abilities to give card advantage, but was typically viewed as a weak combo piece. Kami of the Crescent Moon was a generally worse Howling Mine, a weak creature which could blow low-powered creatures but which was fairly easily killed. While alone, some of these cards were alright, in concert, combined with more powerful delaying cards like Remand and Exhaustion, both of which also helped to keep the opponent's hand full without letting them actually play any spells, the deck would rather quickly bounce the opponent's lands back into their hand while preventing them from casting any spells, putting various card draw spells into play which would cause the opponent to draw so many cards that they had to discard the excess cards, something which almost never happens in tournament play. Worse still, Ebony Owl Netsuke and Sudden Impact had been printed as a means of punishing decks which took advantage of the Kamigawa block mechanic which encouraged players to keep their hands full, a nearly useless mechanic due to the fact that it meant that the player wasn't casting spells, and as such, spells designed to punish cards that no one ever used were pretty useless. But in this deck, it simply punished absolutely everyone for daring to sit down at the table. A very powerful deck, it was quite good at completely destroying control decks, but had absolutely no ability to win games against aggressive decks which played lots of cheap, powerful creatures and burn spells, which the deck only gave further fuel to.
    • Another example from the same time period was the Eminent Domain deck, so-named because it used Annex, Dream Leash, and Confiscate to steal their opponent's lands, Icy Manipulator to hold creatures at bay and tap down more lands, Stone Rain to destroy what lands it couldn't steal, and finally Wildfire to destroy all of the lands the opponent had left, along with whatever creatures they'd managed to play, while leaving them with excess lands due to their own stealing and artifact mana, which was untouched by the wildfire; if the opponent DID manage to cast some good creature, then they'd just steal it with Dream Leash or Confiscate themselves. While Wildfire was known to be a very powerful card, Annex had been thought of as a means of punishing players for playing certain kinds of lands, not as a means of allowing a player to steal their opponent's lands and cast a wildfire with a two-land advantage, possibly as early as turn four. The sheer number of permanent stealing spells made the deck extremely versatile, as it could steal anything the opponent used to fight with - lands if they needed mana to cast powerful cards, creatures if they were a threat, and even valuable artifacts - and set the world on fire with a huge advantage on its side. As a result, land-stealing spells became much harder to come by afterwards.
    • Even some of the official WotC staff have gotten in on this. Back before he became Rules Manager and thus devoted himself to curtailing this sort of madness (whether or not this is a good thing depends on your perspective), Mark Gottlieb ran the House of Cards, a weekly column devoted to creating insane decks and combos, the most infamous of which was turning a subpar creature-producing artifact into a repeatable board-clearing engine of destruction. He even paraphrases the trope's name when describing the combo!
    • Grindstone was an artifact from Tempest that discarded the top two cards from a player's library, and repeated the process if their colors matched. Because about a third of an average deck is lands, which have no colors to match against, it was considered a Junk Rare and quickly forgotten. Over ten years later, Shadowmoor came out and had a "color matters" sub theme, so they printed Painter's Servant, which made all cards in the game count as any of the five colors. When the two are played together, you can destroy your opponent's entire deck on turn 3.
    • For a more comical version, there's Humility (enchantment: all creatures are 1/1 with no effects) and Opalescence (all enchantments are creatures, keeping their effects). Intended use: leveling the playing field and giving you an extra hitter, respectively. Memetic use: making your opponent's head explode as he tries to figure out how they're supposed to interact with each other.
    • Most 'Return card from the graveyard' spells return the card in question to your hand. A few, though (eg. Bond of Revival or the activated ability of Gravewaker) return it straight to the battlefield instead, as an efficiency boost. A side effect of this is that doing so means you don't have to pay the card's mana cost. With the right set-up, you can effectively use the graveyard as a holding bay of cards whose mana cost you never intend to pay in the first place. For best result, Finale of Eternity has the potential to return every creature in your graveyard to the field at once.
    • One of the funnier cases was the Clone-killer strategy. There was a rule for a while that if two Legendary Creatures with the same name existed in play, both got destroyed. The intention of this rule was to stop people from packing their decks with nothing but the incredibly powerful Legendary Creatures, since you could only have one of a given Creature at a time. Players, though, realized that this meant a possible counter strategy to your opponent having a Legendary Creature was to play one of your own. Or, in a more general sense, you could play Clone, which turns into a copy of one of your opponent's cards, like their Legendary Creature, at which point they'd both die. Cheesy stuff like this caused Wizards to change the rule so that it only affected your side of the board.
  • Hearthstone has its share of quirky trick decks, but one of the most flamboyant is a masterclass in unintended use and effect queues:
    • Get Emperor Thaurissan on the table and keep him alive for multiple turns to discount the cards in your hand low enough for the massive combo that is to unfold.
    • Play Summoning Portal to further lower the cost of your minions.
    • Summon two Knife Jugglers, who will each hit a random enemy for 1 every time you summon another minion. This effect will hopefully clear out any possible remaining minions on your opponent's side.
    • Summon Sylvanas Windrunner. Play Shadow Bolt on her to reduce her from 5 to 1 health.
    • Play Treachery to switch Sylvanas Windrunner to your opponent's side.
    • optional: Play Illidan Stormrage, who will summon a weak minion whenever you cast a spell.
    • Play Lord Jaraxxus. Before his Battlecry plays out, his summoning will activate the effects on Illidan Stormrage and the Knife Jugglers, resulting in 4 separate random 1-damage shots between the enemy hero and Sylvanas Windrunner.
    • In good likelihood, Sylvanas Windrunner is destroyed and triggers her Deathrattle effect, taking one of your own minions and giving it to your opponent.
    • If RNG allows, Sylvanas' effect will target Lord Jaraxxus. His Battlecry still hasn't activated.
    • As Lord Jaraxxus switches sides, it is the turn for his Battlecry to activate. Since he's on your opponent's side, the Battlecry will affect them, not you. Your opponent's hero is destroyed and replaced by the hero version of Lord Jaraxxus with 15 health and a unique Power.
    • Play Sacrificial Pact, a spell which destroys a demon, on your opponent, who was just turned into a demon.
    • Enjoy your ludicrous monster trick-combo OTK.
Advertisement:

     Fan Works 
  • The Oversaturated World sidestory "Criffleball" has an example. Two of the positions in the titular sport are "Skrampers" (who can eliminate players on the other team by hitting them with the balls), and "Chargers" (who can pass the ball to members of their own team to try and score goals). Chargers are not allowed to hit the other team's players, this is called "splarching" and loses the team that commits it a point. One of the teams in the story has realized that if their players dive in front of balls passed by the other team's Chargers, it's still counted as splarching and the other team still loses points.

    Film 
  • Invoked In-Universe in Wreck-It Ralph. Vanellope's glitching can be exploited to pass other racers, which quickly makes her the most popular character after Turbo is defeated and she becomes a playable character.
  • In the Terminator series, the titular machines have detailed files on human anatomy to make them quick, effective, and efficient killers in almost any scenario. When reprogrammed to protect someone, however, these same files make the machine a fantastic field medic: the polar opposite of what these things are meant to do.

    Literature 
  • P.J. O'Rourke's The Bachelor Home Companion has a lengthy list of alternative uses for household utensils. (For instance, did you know that an upended steam iron can be used as a hotplate? Also, while a regular screwdriver makes a good tool for spreading putty, a Philips head screwdriver would be useless for that purpose: it should be used to punch holes in cans of beer when the pop top has broken off.)
  • In Sword Art Online:
    • Kirito has a unique skill <<Dual Blades>> from the game Sword Art Online. When he got out of the game and started playing another game called Alfheim Online, he lost the skill but managed to use it by chaining one-handed abilities with each of his hand, controlling both of his hands separately by using muscle memory and calculating his skill use timing with the skill cooldowns. It was not supposed to happen at all, but he does have the excuse of having the best reflexes in Sword Art Online (which is why he got the aforementioned unique ability) and had to learn how to fight efficiently due to being a solo player. He used the blade his character got during its creation in Gun Gale Online (another thing that was not supposed to happen) to deflect bullets shot by other characters with help of their own targeting markers. After returning to Alfheim Online, he started using his blades to deflect spells as well.
    • One character in Sword Art Online: Lost Song is nominally a Leprechaun character who can somehow also dual wield. It turns out that this ability is due to their races' natural ability to utilize any races' weapons temporarily for the purpose of crafting/strengthening them - and the ability is actually multi-wield - as in their OSS, Thousand Swords.
  • In the Star Trek novel The Kobayashi Maru, this is possibly the real point of "the ultimate test of character"; Everyone who has "beaten" the Kobayashi has been a Grade-A badass. The method they use pretty much defined their career. Kirk conned the system like the improvising madman he is, but most of his named crew have taken it as well.
    • Sulu went the diplomatic route and left the Kobayashi Maru to its fate, justifying it as a trap. The first to ever do it.
    • Chekov kept taking out enemy ships until his weapons were gone, then he kamikazed. Took out dozens before that point.
    • Nog "wins" the Kobayashi Maru by taking the simulation into this territory. While doing the test he is tasked with a Romulan ambush. The Romulans hail Nog, starting with the standard "you have entered the Neutral Zone, face the consequences" speech, but before they can finish, Nog says "Name your price". The simulation tries to emulate how Romulans might deal with haggling. However, Nog keeps haggling, taking it to the point where the simulation itself decides this it not the intended use and shuts itself down. Essentially, Nog weaponized the trope to crash the system.
    • Scotty just kept coming up with new engineering tricksnote  which mathematically should work, but doesn't in practice (kind of like the theory of igniting the Earth's atmosphere with a nuke - as Scotty knows full well since he was the one who tested it) and the system just kept escalating until the computer actually spawned more ships than actually existed in known space at that time, all warships equipped with offensive and defensive technology that hadn't even reached the prototype stage yet. And it still didn't even slow him down. At that point the examiners shut the damned thing down themselves, perhaps in fear that the simulator was about to go Terminator on them.
      At the time, he didn't know about the "unwinnable" part of the situation, and when he was debriefed he showed off a dozen or so more tricks he'd come up with while he was waiting. The examiners looked at everything he'd come up with and determined that the only way that the simulation could potentially beat Scotty would be if he spent several days of outwitting it before collapsing out of sheer exhaustion. Scotty then protested that if he had access to an actual engineering room, he could have beaten the simulation. The admiral in charge of the test, not amused by this cheeky solution, boots Scotty out of the command stream... and into pure engineering, which they both know is what he really wants anyway.
      ...Aaand there you have Montgomery Scott's career in Starfleet. Turns out they knew it all in advance.
      ...Which makes Johnathan Archer pretty much the biggest Jerkass ever in the reboot, throwing away Neo over losing his damn dog...
  • Star Carrier:
    • Terran Confederation Space Fighters are equipped with AMSO canisters, missiles packed full of granules of degenerate matter ("sand") that are used as anti-missile countermeasures. At the end of the first book a squadron led by Lieutenant Trevor Gray accelerates to near lightspeed before releasing them and rather thoroughly fucks up an incoming Turusch battlefleet. Gray acquires the callsign "Sandy" for this and is later described as having added a footnote to the manual. By book four, twenty years later, this has actually become a standard maneuver.
    • Also in book four, Gray's Suspiciously Similar Substitute Lt. Donald Gregory brings his fighter in an extreme close-range pass against a Slan warship (the narrator the sound of his fighter scraping the hull), allowing him to insert his drive singularity inside the ship. This destroys it from the inside out.
  • Creative use of technology is a hallmark of craftier characters in the BattleTech universe. For example, there's Kai Allard-Liao, who was forced into an unfair six-versus-one training fight due to the machinations of his cousin. The training exercise disables military communications, including contact with GPS satellites—as a result, he has no overhead map and no idea of where his foes are. However, the exercise programming didn't disable contact to civilian equipment... so he finds the frequencies for geographic survey satellites, which he promptly commands to look down at his area and report sources of low-level seismic activity. Turns out that Humongous Mecha footsteps register on the Richter scale, granting him instant improvised tracking of his opponents. Even his more honorbound trainers declare the move 'incredibly resourceful,' much to the fury of his notoriously unhinged aunt.
  • Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince: Fred and George invent a hat with a built-in Shield Charm that lets the wearer No-Sell most spells, the idea being to wear it and laugh at your friend's attempts to jinx you. Instead, it becomes one of their best-selling items as the Ministry, desperate for any kind of protection (having received a brutal awakening as to the return of Voldemort), has ordered half a thousand for its staff (it turns out very few people can do a Shield Charm by themselves).
  • Artemis Fowl has a mining laser quickly converted into a very illegal weapon by many street gangs.
  • The City And The Dungeon: One of the things the City trades to the outside world is pieces of the Dungeon that still function. Rich people often use Dungeon doors with an alarm trap on them as doorbells. Delvers have a strong dislike for this practice, as they have a deep and instinctive distrust for all traps.
  • In Star Wars Legends, Interdictor Star Destroyers are usually used to prevent enemy ships from escaping into hyperspace or pull them out of hyperspace. During The Thrawn Trilogy, Grand Admiral Thrawn uses Interdictors on his own ships' preplanned routes to let drop out of hyperspace with near-impossible precision.
  • A double example from the Vorkosigan Saga: Every ImpSec agent learns how to short-circuit their stunner's power pack to make an improvised grenade. At one point, Miles tosses one of these stunner-grenades into a lake when more traditional methods of fishing have failed.
  • In The Stormlight Archive, the Stormfather is a mighty spirit tasked with sending visions of the past to selected worthy individuals, with the intent of using the visions to provide guidance to defend against the Desolations. Dalinar, the recipient of these visions, figures out that they are interactive and he can explore them and see people and places from the world' mythological prehistory. He and his family start using these interactive visions as a valuable historical record and getting information on Lost Technology and ancient Magitek.
    • In addition, the Stormfather can send these visions to anyone who is currently inside a highstorm, or send them to Dalinar at any time thanks to their Nahel bond. Dalinar quickly realizes that he can combine these two effects to let him talk in-person to other monarchs, as well as giving them an idea of the stakes.

    Live Action TV 
  • The entire premise behind MacGyver (1985). Not only does he put together some creative devices with the tools at hand in ways most would not expect, he often doesn't even use the tools at hand in the logical fashion—in one instance, he is locked in a room and has a revolver, but as he Does Not Like Guns, he disassembles the bullets, puts the gunpowder into a hanky, sticks a primer in one side, puts the whole thing into a keyhole, and gives the primer a good hard rap with the butt of the gun, blowing out the deadbolt. It honestly would be so much easier to Shoot Out the Lock, but the man has his standards.
  • MythBusters does this to the point that during the "airplane on a conveyor belt" myth Jamie pauses for a moment when he realizes that for once they are using a commercial product (specifically a remote-control model airplane) in the way it was intended to be used.
  • In Dinosaurs, Baby likes hitting Earl over the head with a frying pan, until one breaks, and the Sinclairs try to use the frying pan's warranty to get a new one. The manufacturer denies the claim as the frying pan was meant for cooking, but the warranty didn't specify "cooking", it said the pan was guaranteed for "normal use", and in the Sinclair house, the "normal use" of a frying pan is Baby hitting Earl over the head with it.
  • In Big Brother, the Power of Veto is meant to give one of the nominees a chance to save themselves from eviction, or for an ally to save them without fear of immediate retaliation (since the Veto winner can’t be named as the replacement nominee). However, players quickly developed a strategy around it called the Backdoor, which involves the Head of Household nominating two pawns in the hopes that they themselves, one of their allies, or one of the nominees wins the Veto, at which point they remove one of the pawns and replace them with the HoH’s true target. The idea is to minimize the target’s chances of protecting themselves since there are only six participants in the Veto competition, two of which being the nominees (so nominating them outright would guarantee them the chance to save themselves). Furthermore, at least half of the competitors are guaranteed to use the Veto if won, meaning that there’s never any less than a 50% chance of success. The Backdoor strategy has become so ingrained into the metagame that even the producers have begun acknowledging it.
    • The short-lived dual-Head of Household / Battle of the Block system suffered from this horribly. The intent was to set up a showdown between two opposing alliances and their intended targets, with the winning set of nominees not only guaranteeing their own safety for the week but also dethroning the HoH who nominated them, leaving them vulnerable to being nominated themselves should the Power of Veto be used. However, more often than not two members of the same alliance would win both HoH slots, at which point they quickly discovered that by having one of the HoHs nominate two of their own alliance and the other nominating an ally and the alliance's target, and then having the ally in the latter pair intentionally throw the Battle of the Block competition, they could not only protect three alliance members, but also leave the entire opposing side exposed. This massive flaw played a major part in Derrick's ability to steamroll his way to the grand prize in season 16, and after a few more weeks in season 17 where it suffered similar abuse, the concept was dropped from the show altogether.
  • Good Eats takes, as a solemn oath, that the only thing you should have in a kitchen that only serves one purpose is the fire extinguisher. As a result, Alton Brown loves to use appliances for purposes the maker presumably did not intend... such as frying bacon on a waffle iron. In true Alton Brown fashion, he even eventually came up with an alternate use for the fire extinguisher — making ice cream.

    Music 
  • The most common way to play this trope in music is to use so-called "prepared instruments", which are basically normal musical instruments, construction of which have been altered temporarily or permanently. There is a huge variety of ways to do it, limited only by the performer's imagination. Here are some several ways to use a piano in a non-intended way:
    • Attaching tacks to piano mallets or dipping them into wood lacquer to make the tone of the piano more harsh and sounding a bit like old saloon piano.
    • Placing objects on piano strings so that they would buzz when the piano is played.
    • Putting a grand piano on its side and playing it by plucking its strings like a harp.
    • Amplifying strings and sending sound from other instrument into a piano, essentially turning it into a big resonator.
    • Playing separate strings with hairs from a violin bow or with an Ebow.
  • Musical instruments also allow for making interesting sound by playing them in an unconvential way. For example, the low-pitched cello was used to create the classic high-pitched "Psycho" Strings sound. This was done by bowing below the bridge instead of above it.
  • Making instruments by recycling ready-made objects is a staple of skiffle music, where guitars made from cigar boxes, basses made from washtubs and jugs and percussion made from washboards is a common occasion.
  • Scratching records in hip-hop. It originated when people were stopping their records by hands, and then someone decided to make this into a rhythmic instrument.
    • In a similar vein, the iconic overdriven guitar sound appeared only because someone turned the input volume way too high.
  • The Roland TB-303 was supposed to just play a preprogrammed repeating bass line. Then someone noticed what happened when you tweaked the filter knobs while it's playing, and the genre of Acid House was born.
  • Auto-Tune was originally intended to change the frequency of the singer's singing or musician's playing to the correct one. Then Mark Taylor and Brian Rawling noticed while working on Cher's "Believe" that if you set it on the most aggressive setting, it sounds unnatural, but kind of neat.
    • On a deeper level, the technology behind Auto-Tune wasn't originally developed for music production at all - it was to help oil drillers interpret seismograph data.
  • Circuit bending: the act of taking a device that makes sound (for example, a children's toy), modifying the hell out of it, and then using said device to make music.
    • Tom Morello is famous for this. For example, in "Bulls On Parade", he creates a turntable-like sound by rubbing the strings with one hand and alternating turned-up and muted pickups with the other, while in "Cochise", he makes a sound almost like a helicopter by striking the strings with a pencil.
  • Essentially the entire Chiptune genre, especially where it makes use of normally non-user-programmable consoles for which no musical "games" were released, or circuit bending techniques applied to consoles, computers and other electronic toys. Some particularly clever composer-programmers turn this Up to Eleven by coaxing listenable music out of systems that have no built in sound generation ability beyond that used to save data onto cassette tapes (usually a simple oscillator that by default can only produce two different tones of fixed duration), or even any audio signal generator at all.
  • The BBC Radiophonic Workshop frequently used oscillators, designed to generate test tones, to produce musical notes, often by harmonizing the outputs from several oscillators at once. Another favourite technique was to use non-musical items like chair springs or kitchen knives to make notes. The notes would then be pitched up or down by varying tape speeds and edited together into melodies.
  • In a lot of countries of the world, most notably in Russia, Britain, Turkey and Greece, usual spoons are commonly used in folk music for playing rhythms.
    • In Brazilian choro music, which is played by little instrumental ensembles, sometimes a plate and a knife is used for making a rhythm when a conventional instrument is not available.
  • Musical saws. Basically, a saw made of a very flexible metal that can make sound when you draw a bow across it, whose pitch can be changed by bending the blade. Nowadays, special saws are being made for this occasion, with no cutting edge and with a special kind of handle to bend it easily.

    Pinball 
  • Multiball modes are a magnet for this sort of player behavior:
    • The original purpose of a multiball mode was an additional source of points and some fast-paced excitement as a reward for progressing far into the rules. Nowadays, however, your typical competitive player uses multiball modes as insurance: Because nearly all multiballs start with a ball savernote , and the game allows the player to keep playing uninterrupted until every ball has drained, these players repurposed multiball modes as a means to make high-risk shots and ricochet shots. In addition, people soon realized, through savvy aim, you can trap every ball in a multiball on a raised flipper except one, then play that one ball normally and with no risk whatsoever, albeit without the use of one of the flippers. This is why tournament players tend to go straight for the multiball even when it's not worth much or anything at all: They're doing it for the temporary safety net.
    • Monster Bash's Frankenstein Multiball can also be used to make risky shots, but it has one other use: All other modes in Monster Bash are timed, and all timers are suspended when Any Multiball is going on. Thus, a common thing experienced players do is pick a mode they have problems completing within the time limit, then start Frankenstein Multiball and finish it during then.
    • Balls held in Capersville for a multiball can be jostled loose with a well-timed nudge. Usually, nudging the machine is used to influence the path of a ball or to dislodge a stuck ball, but it is not unheard of when playing Capersville against other people to nudge the machine to remove other players' progress towards multiball.
  • Scoops are holes in the playfield the ball can fall into, upon which a device pops the ball back out. The idea is to hold the ball in a safe location as something else is going on, such as calculating points, but players quickly discovered it was an easy way to regain control of the ball: If the ball is bouncing wildly and rapidly everywhere, try aiming for a scoop—because the machine will always spit the ball out at a fixed speed and in a fixed direction, you'll know where the ball will go next. This is key to playing well on machines like The Addams Family or The Twilight Zone, which have scoops angled such that you can then catch the ball with either flipper at the bottom.
  • Flippers have the obvious use of propelling the ball upwards at the player's discretion, but they can also be used to dislodge a ball stuck somewhere else. This is because the solenoids used to move a flipper are rather high-power and thus will shake the machine a little bit, and sometimes, the shaking caused by repeatedly moving a flipper is enough to get the ball unstuck. This is handy if nudging the machine has a high risk of a tilt penalty, though it can also cause problems in that some machines can have the tilt sensitivity turned up so high that the flipper shaking can trigger a tilt penalty. This technique cannot be used in Digital Pinball Tables though, due to the machine not physically shaking when using a flipper.
  • Watch recorded footage of Fun House, and chances are the player, when launching a ball, will always pick the "Power On" path beneath the bumpers. This is because this is the only one guaranteed to carry the ball safely to a flipper. Even if the ball somehow ends up falling into the right outlane, it will return harmlessly to the plunger (this being the only instance of a ball save-like feature in the game). All of the other ball launch options (including the intended Skill Shot behind Rudy) will send the ball somewhere that will likely cause it to go out of control quickly.
    • Similarly, in The Addams Family, a common tactic prior to starting multiball is to plunge the ball just shy of the Skill Shot and let it fall to the flippers. This is because the Power magnets activate once two balls have been locked, but they won't actually turn on until a switch hit has been registered on the third ball. Thus, this tactic allows players to get a free shot at starting multiball without running the risk of having an otherwise perfect shot being sent flying out of control at random. If the shot misses, the ball can even be safely drained so long as no switches get hit in the process.note 
  • In AC/DC, when the ball goes into the cannon, the intent is to fire the ball into the lit AC/DC drop target to score some sort of jackpot value. However, if the award isn't particularly high, most players will instead aim for the bell, since the bell advances progress towards the playfield multiplier and is a difficult shot to make from the flippers.

    Sports 
  • Time outs in several sports:
    • For instance, Basketball and Lacrosse. Intended to allow teams to meet and plan strategy. Can be used tactically to prevent a player from losing possession and restart play in a controlled manner. Only possible in "American" basketball. Can also be used to disrupt and interrupt the opponents' rhythm. Other countries (under FIBA rules) will only allow a time out when the time is already stopped.
    • American Football:
      • The most common use for a timeout is to stop the clock, and the second most common is to avoid a penalty for delay of game or too many men. It's far rarer for a timeout to be called to talk strategy on a critical play.
      • Somewhat less common is the use of a timeout to "ice the kicker". If your opponent is about to kick a field goal, some coaches believe that calling a time out just before the play starts will mess with the kicker's psyche enough to cause him to miss the field goal when he does eventually kick it. This is only done occasionally, however, because in most circumstances time outs are much more valuable for the above-mentioned unintended uses than for this one (if it is done, it's generally done at the end of a half, since the team in question probably won't get another chance to use it). Icing the kicker at the pro level generally does not work unless it is an incredibly long distance, and if mistimed, often just serves to give a free warm-up kick to the kicker; since there is usually no penalty on the kicker for kicking even if the whistle is blown, the kicker is often instructed to just follow through on the kick even if the play is blown dead.
      • An interesting use for a timeout was discovered on 12/8/13 in the game between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Detroit Lions. The Lions called timeout before an extra point attempt in order to clear snow out of the kicker's way. The kick got blocked anyway.
      • Delay of game infractions in American football are charged on the offense when they allow the play clock to run out without snapping the ball as a way to prevent a team in the lead to just sit on the ball for huge chunks of time. The penalty is five yards. There are some occasions, though, when a team will intentionally get flagged for delay of game because they want to back up five yards to give their punter more space to punt the ball deep in the "coffin corner" (as close to the opponent's goal line as possible without crossing it - a punted ball that touches the end zone is called as a touchback and the opponent will get the ball at their own 20-yard-line). It's less common now, as opponents have taken to declining the distance penalty.
    • Similary to icing the kicker in American football, a timeout will often throw off the server in volleyball. The practice is so widespread that in many matches, that's almost all it's used for.
    • Modern flat track Roller Derby, depending on whether or not the Head Referee lets you get away with it. Calling a time out when there is less than 30 seconds left on the period clock can allow you to sneak in one last final jam when the time out ends, which must then be played to its natural conclusion (up to two minutes) even if the period clock runs out.
  • Olympic fencing's flicks and whip-overs. Fencing weapons are nowhere near as stiff as swords for obvious reasons, so fencers have used these properties to deliver non-standard attacks that count in the rules of electric fencing but would make no sense if the weapons were real swords. Generally fencing can be viewed from both a traditionalist and competitive point of view, so the same fencer who flicks in a tournament might not in a casual bout. The sport's governing body, the FIE, has put a serious Nerf on flicks, but they remain viable.
  • The cages used in Mixed Martial Arts were merely meant to be a structure keeping the combatants in one area (rings have been used and still are, but due to the grappling nature of the sport, these are becoming less and less popular due to people falling out of them.). Fighters soon learned they could be used to stand up from the ground, holding your opponent against it do damage, etc. This is viewed as both good and bad, depending, but has become such an integral part of the sport many fighters train specifically for using the cage effectively from different positions.
    • Blatantly grabbing the fence is illegal however. This was established as a rule fairly early, as people were doing this to stop takedowns and get up from the ground more easily. Originally, the rules said nothing about grabbing with your toes however, and many fighters exploited this. The Unified Rules of MMA recently outlawed this practice.
    • The short-lived YAMMA organization experimented with a bowl type cage, which in theory would keep action moving better. What ended up happening in the one event they did was wrestlers found it great for backing people against the raised edges and taking them down more easily for some lay and pray.
  • In both the NFL and college, there is a system where a player can be kept for an extra year without counting against your roster (the IR system in the former, a medical redshirt in the latter). Many teams will play up an injury which is serious enough to keep a promising but raw player out most of the year in order to use these to gain an extra year of training. Both leagues have begun to push back against this practice, however.
  • In Association Football, the goalkeeper was initially little more than a player that would be stuck in the penalty area, hardly doing anything more than stop shots and crosses. Here come pioneers such as Hungarian goalkeeper Gyula Grosics and Argentine goalkeeper Amadeo Carrizo, who revolutionized the position by showing the attacking potential it had, especially when using their feet, such as pressing outside of the penalty area or using goal kicks as tools for swift counter-attacks. Nowadays, this coveted but still fairly rare role is called 'sweeper-keeper', with the likes of German goalkeeper Manuel Neuer being praised for their prowess at such a role. Similarly, some rules were introduced to force goalkeepers to use their feet more often, such as not being able to pick up a ball if it was delivered via a deliberate backpass.
    • Even rarer than that is goalkeepers being used for attacking set-pieces. José Luis Chilavert (from Paraguay) and Rogério Ceni (from Brazil) were noticeable threats at free kicks or penalties, and scored more goals than many outfield players. Their success lead to the appearance of more goalscoring goalkeepers, though they mostly limit themselves to penalties. On a similar vein, there are goalkeepers rushing to the opposing box to score a late goal, with mixed results.

    Toys 
  • Benzoyl peroxide is commonly marketed and used as a treatment for acne, but for toy collectors (particularly doll collectors), such peroxide creams, most especially the 10% Oxy variety, are recommended for removing ink and dye stains on Barbies and American Girl dolls.
    • In a similar vein, various branded "oxygen-releasing" stain removal powders (e.g. Vanish, or your local equivalent) in combination with a small amount of peroxide hair bleach and a good dose of sunlight makes up the homebrew "Retr0Brite" treatment for vintage electronics, light-coloured Air Jordan sneakers or other items contained in plastic cases that have gone yellow from age. One key feature being that it will whiten the yellow compounds formed from decomposing flame retardants in the plastic, but not significantly destroy any other colouring, decals or patterning in the material, as the use of pure bleach or repainting the case might.
  • SC Johnson's Future brand of acrylic floor polish (now marketed in the States as Pledge FloorCare Finish) also found a similarly unrelated niche amongst scale model hobbyists, which they use for coating windows and canopies for model aircraft and other vehicles.
  • For some reason, hobbyists have taken an interest in installing Linux or Android onto educational children's toys, particularly tablets or game consoles targeted at younger audiences. As long as it has a color LCD screen on it or connects to the TV, hobbyists want to see if it can run Linux or Android. If it already runs Android, hobbyists want to get rid of the kiddified UI and put in a more adult-oriented one.
    • This is primarily due to the fact that they are relatively cheaper than let's say a PlayStation 4 or some other console for the sole purpose of hacking or re-purposing. The LeapTV for one found a niche as it can be converted to a emulator or HTPC box in lieu of a Raspberry Pi.
    • The Nabi 2, for one, was an Android tablet marketed towards children with edutainment content serving as a family-friendly alternative to iPads. As it turns out, hobbyists bought and modified it as well due to it sharing more or less the same hardware as the Nexus 7 (save for the lower-resolution screen) for a tad less.
  • The IM-Me instant messaging device by Mattel's Girl-Tech was, as its name implies, intended as an appropriate and safe avenue for tween girls to communicate with each other, but as it was found to be using a Texas Instruments CC1110 sub-GHz RF chip and JTAG headers for easy reprogramming with the right tools, hackers basically turned a girly-girl electronic toy into a spectrum analyser or a (rather nefarious) garage door hacking tool.
  • Then there's the music scene. If toys are not outright circuit-bent, the sounds are sampled and used as part of the artist's music for one reason or another.
  • The Nimbus 2000, a piece of tie-in merchandise from the Harry Potter films. It's meant for kids to sit on and run around pretending to be little witches and wizards, with the vibration function meant to add realism. Teens and adult women found some, erm, more pleasurable use for the toy.
  • An enterprising inventor came up with a harmless, reusable putty made of flour, water, salt, boric acid, and mineral oil that was designed to remove coal dust and other stains from wallpaper. With the decline of coal furnaces and changing wallpaper material, the company that made it was on the verge of bankruptcy. But the sister in law of the inventor's nephew saved the company by bringing it to school for her students to play with. We now know it as Play-Doh.
  • Motors from Tamiya's Mini 4WD line of miniature race cars, namely the Hyper Dash and the infamousnote  Plasma Dash motors are sought after by a number of NERF Brand enthusiasts due to them being significantly faster than the stock type 140 motor that came with said guns. As to whether this sort of modification is legal or otherwise is anyone's guess...

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dominoes. They're meant for playing, yet people are more fascinated when they stack the tiles and let one tile topple the other.
  • Exalted: The Twilight Caste were originally conceived as The Smart Guy of the group, with their caste abilities inclining them toward sorcery, teaching, dealing with spirits and demons, solving crimes and building stuff. In an attempt to avert Squishy Wizard tropes, though, they were given the ability to use their sorcerous might to reduce a bit of incoming damage. In second edition (where their ability to do so was particularly powerful), players quickly realized this was an extremely efficient defensive tool and caused the Twilight's to become better warriors than the Dawn Caste who were designed for that role (and whose special ability is a bit of a let down).
  • Dungeons & Dragons and (to a lesser extent) Pathfinder players are notorious for exploiting these. Whole message boards are devoted to optimizing builds by using abilities in strange ways. Of course, the counter is always an attentive DM who puts their foot down and says "Rule Zero, you can't do that."
    • During a previous incarnation of Wizards of the Coast's forums, there were two optimization forums. One (Character Optimization) was dedicated to optimizing character builds. The other (Theoretical Optimization) was dedicated to outright insane but legal per the rules as written builds (in other words, CO was the board making things most DMs would let past, TO was the board making things no sane DM would ever let be used).
    • There is a spell called "Locate City". It locates the nearest city, within a radius of 10 miles per caster level. That number is its area of effect, not its range — so if you can finagle some damage onto it, you can create a Fantastic Nuke. Alternately, instead of damage, sneak in a Level Drain effect, and every level 1 commoner in a several-dozen-mile radius will instantly die in a Puff of Logic, and rise the next day as a wight to usher in the Zombie Apocalypse.
    • A tiny dagger, wielded by a tiny creature, deals 1d2 damage. There is an ability that lets you treat a natural 1 as a 2. There is another ability that lets you reroll and add any damage die that comes up its maximum number. Combine these, and you have the tiny dagger of infinite damage.
    • Tucker's Kobolds. Normal kobolds are 1st-level cannon fodder, with 1d4 HP. Tucker's Kobolds are devious strategic masters, capable of sending 12th-level parties fleeing for their lives in abject terror. They don't have buffed stats or anything, they're just that damn clever.
    • The "Peasant Railgun", involves an extremely sketchy comprehension of physics. The idea being that the last man in a line gives a spear to the man in front of him, a series of actions that takes 6 seconds according to game mechanics. Thus the spear ends up moving with a speed that increases the longer the line is (with speed equal to distance traveled divided by a time period of six seconds), and thus should be moving at supersonic speeds when it reaches the front of the line.
    • One thread was dedicated to necromancers using zombies to respond via yes/no actions... essentially, creating a giant computer.
    • Summon magic is, quite obviously, meant to summon a creature to fight on your behalf. In version 3.0, though, spellcasters tend to find it more useful to summon a whale directly above the enemy's head. 3.5 changed the rules so that you can only summon creatures into an environment capable of supporting them. Edition 5 removed this requirement, but replaced it with a more simple and foolproof one: summoned creatures and objects appear on the ground, in an unoccupied space (so no Tele-Frag exploits, either).
    • The 3.5 psionic power control body lets the user move another creature telekinetically like a puppet and force them to attack things. While intended as a way to disable enemies, some characters instead used it on themselves in order to make up for poor physical strength. What's more, since targets of control body aren't prevented from using Psychic Powers, it could be combined with solicit psicrystal (transfers control of one of your ongoing powers to your psicrystal) to effectively get double turns. Psionics Unleashed, a Pathfinder port of the 3.5 psionics rules by Dreamscarred Press, adds a rule that you can't use Control Body on yourself.
    • The Legacy Champion was intended to make use of the Weapon of Legacy rules, and since there were Weapons of Legacy for every class, it was designed to be usable for every class, advancing their class features at an 8/10 rate. However, since those rules turned out to be a Scrappy Mechanic, many players instead used the Legacy Champion to continue advancing the features of classes that weren't intended to be advanced past a certain point. For instance, the Hellfire Warlock's features are powerful, but level-dependent, and the class is only three levels long, but a Legacy Champion could keep advancing it far past that point, multiplying its power several times over.
    • The Acorn of Far Travel is magically linked to a specific tree and causes its holder to be treated as though they're standing under that tree's canopy. Useful for Dryads, who can't travel far from their bonded tree. Vastly more useful when linked to a tree on any one of the stranger Planes of The Multiverse, since it confers that Plane's fast healing, accelerated time, enhanced magic, and so on.
    • The Cube of Frost Resistance creates a 10-foot cube, in which the temperature is always 65 degrees Fahrenheit, and the only thing that degrades it is sufficient damaging cold. Which means, by Exact Words, it's much better used for infinite heat resistance. This was fixed in 3rd Edition.
    • The spell Passwall is a fairly mundane utility spell, creating a five-foot-by-eight-foot hole in a wooden or stone surface for creatures to go through—obviously, it's meant for Dungeon Bypass situations. However, it's frequently had other uses:
      • In a naval combat-focused campaign, this changes to "punch a hole the size of a small car in the ship's hull"; this got called out in the official 3rd edition book Stormwrack, which dealt with heavily aquatic campaigns.
      • In 5th edition, the spell is worded in a way that makes it clearly legal to cast it on the ground rather than a wall, creating a pit instead - including directly under an opponent.
    • The gnome quickrazor is an exotic weapon, more or less a short-handled knife worn on the wrist, where you wield it by drawing, attacking, and sheathing in a single motion. It was meant for casting-based characters who might want to attack but still have a hand free. Meanwhile, Iaijutsu Focus was introduced in a sourcebook as a way to simulate iaijutsu duels: attack a flat-footed opponent on the same turn you draw your weapon, and you deal extra damage, meant as a way to cut down an opponent in a single stroke. Canny players of the handful of classes that picked up the skill combined the two, Dual Wielding the quickrazors and getting Iaijutsu damage on every attack.
    • The Truly Immovable Rod. Immovable Rods are pretty simple: you put the rod somewhere, you activate it, and it stops moving, hanging if the air if that's where you put it, and not being able to be pushed anywhere else. One DM ruled that when the rod stopped, it really stopped... as the planet kept moving beneath it. The party eventually used a Truly Immovable Rod as a siege weapon, using the motion of the planet to essentially launch a castle at it at thousands of miles per hour.
    • Iron Heart Surge. It's intended to be anime-esque Heroic Willpower, but due to vague wording (it can remove any effect lasting one or more rounds) it can get a little ridiculous. Cloudkill hurting your party? Iron Heart Surge, the air's clear. Blizzard dealing cold damage? Iron Heart Surge, the weather's nice. Blinded by looking into the sun? Iron Heart Surge, there goes that star. Elemental Plane of Fire dealing fire damage? Iron Heart Surge, and Elemental Plane of what? Unintended pregnancy? Iron Heart Surge, for all your instant abortion needs.
    • The Bag of Holding is Exactly What It Says on the Tin. Players have also found a way to turn it into a Fantastic Nuke. See, when you drop Bag of Holding into a Portable Hole (or vice versa), you cause a minor Reality-Breaking Paradox that destroys everything within 10 miles. Make a device that keeps a portable hole and bag of holding apart until you want to trigger the effect, and there goes the surroundings.
    • The spell Dark Way essentially creates a small bridge out of shadowstuff, with the obvious application of using it to cross chasms or pits. Players realized that since the bridge in question is stated to be unbreakable, the caster can instead flip it sideways and attach its ends to walls (the spell specifically cites the bridge can be at any angle so long as both ends are anchored somewhere), turning it into a kind of instant barricade to either protect themselves or divide enemy forces. It's often seen for this reason as a budget alternative to spells like Wall of Force, since it comes online at a pretty low level.
    • While 4th Edition did address many problems, one the rules never stated that when teleporting, you have to appear in an unoccupied space, only that the space could not be occupied by another creature. This meant that in theory, one could teleport their enemies into a tree, since technically, the tree isn't a creature.
    • In 5th Edition, the Oathbreaker definitely qualifies. Since 5E doesn't have the alignment-requirements on certain classes that 3.5E did, it is possible to be an Evil Paladin devoted to serving an evil deity, who's hellbent on destroying the world, and by deciding to turn Good, you become an Oathbreaker, until you continue butchering innocent people and working towards bringing about the apocalypse. The real kicker is, that as an Evil Paladin working for a "Hell God", you have access to healing spells, protective buffs and powers that deal Radiant damage, while as a Good Oathbreaker trying to redeem yourself, you gain access to unholy powers and a slight bit of necromancy, including the ability to hurt other people just by touching them.
    • Also in 5e, the Simulacrum is meant to be a slightly weaker copy of yourself, for temporary extra firepower and a set of spare hands. A person can only have one simulacrum active at a time... unless you have Wish, and get the simulacrum to wish up another simulacrum (copying the original spell you cast), who wishes up yet another simulacrum, who in turn wishes up its own simulacrum, until you've got yourself a Clone Army.
  • In Spheres of Power, the Skilled Casting drawback ties your magic to a Perform, Profession, or Craft check. This is so you can do flavorful things, like Magic Music (via perform), or being able to control the weather because of how skilled a sailor you are (via Profession), or making runes to hold your magic(via Craft). However, ANY Perform, Profession or Craft check can be used, so you can declare your ability to summon lightning be tied to how well you can make cupcakes.
  • In BattleTech, battlemechs can carry friendly battlearmor into combat, at the cost of being unable to fire their torso-mounted weapons along with making the battlearmor easy targets. When the mechanic was first introduced, players quickly realized that you could just pile battlearmor onto your mech and use them as free armor, because the battlearmor would take hits that would otherwise damage the mech's torso. Later fixed in an Obvious Rule Patch.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • In-Universe: The massive suits of Tactical Dreadnought (aka, Terminator) Armor, which can resist a few shots from anti-tank weapons were at first used to protect people working on plasma reactors while the reactor was on.
    • Thanks to some poorly-thought-out mathematics, one player discovered that igniting the equivalent of a supertanker-ful of promethium (in other words, far less than the mighty refineries of the Imperium can contain) would result in a fireball that dwarfs the Sun. Cue the idea of using freighter ships loaded with the stuff on kamikaze runs.
      • A scaled-down version of this was actually done in one of the Ciaphas Cain books. Dumping a (relatively tiny) refinery tank's worth of promethium back down the mine and setting it off created an explosion that cracked a continent and rocked a starship in orbit.
  • According to the rules in a Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, one of the low-level spells was intended to make emergency, temporary torches: the object the spell was cast on would glow brightly for an hour before vanishing. Players figured a waiting period of an hour was a fair trade for permanently disappearing a boss.
  • The majority of the titular Numenera have been unburied so long After the End that nobody knows what they used to do at all and no instructions have survived. As a result, while the rulebook's equipment section speculates what the devices may have done, a long time ago, it is firmly said that the characters only care about what they can do for them now (such as, for example, a shield made for blast furnaces used in combat).
  • Beyblade tops are pretty fun to roll on the edges to see how far they'll roll. In particular, the Running Core and special Spin Tracks used with the Destroyer Dome Stadium were good for this. It led to a Spin-Off series, Bey Wheelz.
  • Due to how Ramming Always Works in Star Wars D20, one Escape Pod launched into an enemy ship does more damage than a very lucky salvo of proton torpedoes.

    Web Animation 
  • RWBY: In the Volume 6 finale, Ruby summons Jinn, not to ask a question, but to take advantage of the fact that Time Stands Still whenever Jinn appears. She apologizes to Jinn and says that she needed more time. Jinn accepts it this once because she's amused by Ruby's cleverness, but she warns Ruby that this will never be allowed to happen again.

    Web Comics 
  • This trope gets a nod in Schlock Mercenary, more specifically in Maxim 50
    50. If it only works in exactly the way the manufacturer intended, it is defective.

    Web Video 
  • Bon Appetit's "Every Way to Cook" videos tend to include attempts at this, leading to attempts like cooking an egg with a blowtorch or preparing a chicken breast with a clothes iron.
  • The Spiffing Brit uses this to his advantage in quite a few video games, achieving his goals by using creative exploits.
  • TierZoo, a video series that treats nature and wildlife like an MMO known as Outside and puts animals into in-universe Character Tiers, has an episode all about this called "Abusing the Game's Physics Engine. In it, several player builds (animal species) found ways to use skills in certain ways that the developers didn't intend to:
    • The Trap Jaw ant has fast and powerful snapping jaws that allow it to be great at combat, but the lack of jumping legs makes it have poor mobility. It can however snap its own jaws on the ground to propel itself into the air, not unlike a Rocket Jump.
    • Many beetles have a headbutt ability to push opponents off the tree branch they're on. The Click Beetle uses it without a target, and the force of this propels it into the air.
    • The Cuttlefish's color changing has a primary purpose in camouflage. It also uses this for hypnosis via rapidly undulating its color, causing other aquatic animals to "crash" by "messing with their graphics engine" and allowing the cuttlefish an easy meal.
    • Most Crustacean builds have a powerful pincer grab, but their abysmal intelligence means that most of them would be unable to develop ranged combat. Unless it's the Pistol Shrimp, who specced so much into grab power and speed that it can create a shockwave by targeting the water in front of it.

    Western Animation 
  • The Omnitrix in Ben 10 was intended to bring universal understanding, however those with less noble ideas only saw its potential as a weapon.
  • In Miraculous Ladybug, the butterfly Miraculous was made to temporarily empower ordinary civilians to aid against villains a la The Wonderful 101. Big Bad Hawk Moth uses it to inflict Demonic Possession on his victims and turn them into supervillains to wreak havoc in Paris.
  • In Sonic Sat AM, Chuck invented the Roboticizer to help treat injuries, replacing damaged flesh with cybernetic implants. Robotnik used it to turn the people of Mobotropolis into his robotic slaves. Chuck had feared this would happen; he abandoned the project after discovering it could remove people's free will, but made the mistake of not destroying his research. Robotnik proceeded to find the blueprints and make his own Roboticizer, gleefully embracing the horrific side effects.

    Real Life 
  • Under Australian consumer law, you are entitled to a refund or replacement if an item you purchased is not fit for its intended purpose. This obviously means the task it was originally designed for, but also, if you conveyed a different purpose to the person you bought it from, and it's not suitable for that purpose, you are still entitled to a refund/replacement.
  • Game engines such as Unity are obviously meant to be used for games, but they have also been utilised in non-gaming contexts, such as mobile device interfaces.
  • As is expected with the business model of product segmentation, Intel and AMD developed and released chipsets intended for different markets, from enthusiast or server-grade X-series, to the gamer-centric Z-series, all the way down to the lowly H-series chips and business-oriented B or Q-series chipsets on the Intel side, and the equivalent X, B and A-series chips for enthusiast, mainstream and entry-level markets on the AMD side (at least with Ryzen that is). The aforementioned cheapo or enterprise-grade chips are by and large made for the markets they serve, with Intel's B-series sporting features that gamers or the average home user would care little about. And yet for some reason these H or B-series chipsets wind up in gaming motherboards of all things, even if they don't support pro-level stuff like overclocking; a number of vendors did manage to weasel around the no-overclocking mandate though, despite efforts from Intel to curb unofficial overclocking support.note 
  • Cars have long come with a built-in cigarette lighter, intended to light cigarettes. The 12-volt socket the lighter plugs into was designed specifically for it — but inventors soon realized it could be used to power other convenient gadgets. Now, between the success of these gadgets and the decline of smoking, many cars come with several 12-volt sockets and no lighter at all!
  • Patent laws were meant to protect the creators and inventors from having their creative endeavors exploited and stolen, ensuring they would be compensated. Due to loopholes in the law, they do nothing to stop businesses from buying up patents and suing others for using it (at least in the U.S.), often under vague interpretations of use. Given that fighting lawsuits is more expensive than settling, entire companies have been set up to do just this (often called Patent Trolls).
    • An older "misuse" of patents: while owning a patent entitles you to protection from copying for some time, the documents typically must include relevant production details or chemical components, meaning once the patent expires anyone who wants to copy your product can do it pretty easily. Some companies, like the lubricant maker WD-40, have deliberately avoided filing for patents to keep their trade secrets, well, secret.
  • Military rules and regulations are prone to this, due to the military culture of following orders to the letter, often ignoring the spirit of it. These can be exploited by the common troop to get away with things, or by commanding officers looking to punish someone.
  • Speaking of, the military is all about this trope when it comes to deployments, since soldiers are limited in how much kit they can take and life in a F.O.B. or camp is considerably different than life at home. Closet organizers (the fabric ones that unfold like an accordion and hang from the hanger bar) make for a perfect cot-side shelf, baby-wipes are ideal for keeping at least somewhat clean when the provisions for a proper shower or washing are unavailable, shaving cream is the best way to remove cam-paint, the issued hydration pack (like what CamelBak makes) makes for a handy camp shower in a pinch, the list goes on and on.
  • Quite a few popular drugs started life as treatment for something else, but the side-effect was so interesting that it soon became almost exclusively known for the non-intended use:
    • Heroin, for example, was originally used to treat Morphine addiction. What happened right after that is obvious.
    • Of all drugs, Viagra and Cialis began this way. Created to treat pulmonary hypertension and angina pectoris, it turned out that the tissue responsible for erections responded in the same way as the original target for the drugs, so both drugs were rebranded and distributed as a drug for erectile dysfunction before being tested and approved for the intended use.
    • Rogaine (a topical treatment for baldness) was also originally developed to treat hypertension.
    • Most over-the-counter sleep aids use the active ingredient diphenhydramine, which is better known as Benadryl, an antihistamine that has drowsiness as a side-effect. So the companies just started marketing the side effect as a primary effect.
    • Of course, Benadryl was originally developed as an antipsychotic. Turns out that it also dries up your sinuses. (And makes you sleepy.)
    • Cough syrup works not by soothing your throat, but by shutting down the cough reflex in your brain. Taking it in excessive doses is psychoactive on par with illegal street drugs, but it's not illegal because there's no other known way to treat coughs, and it's downright nasty, the taste being enough to make people vomit from that alone. Though neither the taste nor its price, reportedly going for several thousand dollars per bottle in the black market at least, which led it to be hailed as a status symbol by some in the Hip-Hop community, kept some from ingesting lean or purple drank, a cocktail of codeine cough syrup mixed into Sprite with hard candy to further enhance the flavour.
    • As famously described in The Wolf of Wall Street, Qualuudes began their life as a sleep aid. However, users noticed that after taking them if they resisted the urge to sleep, it would have a very powerful psychoactive effect. The popularity of the secondary use eventually led to them being banned.
    • Spironolactone is an inexpensive diuretic treatment for high blood pressure and/or fluid buildup, but it also has the side effect of blocking masculizing hormones such as testosterone, leading to it being prescribed primarily to women. While it's still commonly used for its intended effect, the side effect has led to it being used by a large number of transgender women in order to deliberately block these hormones - and since trans women tend to have lower incomes than the general population, the drug being inexpensive makes it extremely efficient for this purpose.
    • Accutane was originally developed as a skin cancer treatment but was found to have the interesting side effect of completely eliminating acne at the same time. It is now the nuclear option for acne when all conventional treatments fails.
    • Some students take the stimulants used to treat ADHD to pull off all nighters and such, and this is practiced by both those who actually have the disorder and those who don't. Unfortunately, this is known to negatively affect those who actually need the stimulants to keep their lifes from falling apart, since A) if the misusers don't get their own (mis)diagnosis, they may steal the drug from someone who needs it, B) some doctors automatically assume that those who claim they think they have ADHD are lying and just want to get high, and C) while using them properly is not attractive to the media, their misuse certainly is, causing stigma around the medication and the disorder. At least one documentary has been under heavy scrutiny by those with the disorder for only discussing the negative side of stimulant medication, only giving a token "While useful to some" mention in favor of the potentially life-changing medication.
  • In a similar vein to drugs being used recreationally, certain non-drug substances have gained notoriety for being used far outside its intended purpose, such as rubber contact cements and roof sealants made from toluene, acetone found in nail polish remover, and nitrous oxide used as propellant in whipped cream. Such was the problem with the so-called "Rugby boys" in the Philippines that the local DEA mandated bitterants to be added to contact cement in order to discourage intentional misuse; though this didn't keep them kids from still huffing them, apparently.
  • AK-47 magazines make excellent bottle openers. So do the iron sights of several missile launchers. People have used them so much (damaging the magazine) that weapons such as the IMI Galil rifle included actual bottle openers as part of their decorations to prevent loss of combat efficiency.
  • Many products were originally sold for an entirely different purpose, only for consumers to find a much better use. One famous example are Kleenex Tissues: They were originally marketed as make-up removers until the company noticed the majority of people buying them were women and men using them to blow their noses instead.
    • Similarly, cotton swabs (AKA Q-tips) are theoretically intended for applying makeup or antiseptics. Everyone and their mother uses them to clean their ears out, even though the package says you're not supposed to.
  • USB ports, which were originally intended to allow peripherals to interface with computers, have the added feature of a 4.5V power line. There are AC adapters that completely ignore the data lines to provide power for charging or running portable devices, and they are fast becoming the standard for things like cars, and airplane and bus seats, where a low-voltage DC power supply is desired. You can now even buy receptacles with built-in USB ports specifically for charging your devices without an adapter right at home.
  • Graphics cards are designed to perform certain types of operations on lots of data very quickly. This means that if you have a problem that can be reduced to one of those operations and a lot of data to do it on, you can co-opt the graphics processor to do it. It turns out that certain kinds of physics computations fall into this category, so early "graphics workstations" were extremely popular with physics and chemistry departments for reasons the designers never expected. More recently, the heavy parallelized architecture in modern high-performance graphics cards make them ideal for applications that take advantage of parallel programming, such as machine learning or cryptocurrency mining.
    • Outside of PC graphics cards, video game consoles such as the Xbox contained powerful processors and were being sold at a loss to recoup the pricing in games. Predictably, people wanting raw processing power bought up the consoles to make use of that hardware for calculations. The US Air Force has one of the top 50 supercomputers in the world right now, capable of performing 500 trillion floating point operations per second (TFLOPS), making it the fastest interactive computer in the entire US Defense Department. It's made out of 1,760 PlayStation 3 consoles.
  • In the early days of skiing (and still sometimes on more rural areas), old cars had their drive wheels hooked up to rope pulleys. With another pulley mounted on the top of a slope, the wheels lifted from the ground, and the car in forward idle, a makeshift rope tow ski lift would be created.
  • Changing your web browser's user agent string, which among a few other minor details tells a website which browser you're using for the purposes of compatibility, isn't something an everyday web user would ever have to worry about. That is, until people realized they could use the old-style of Google (as well as other sites) which some people prefer by using a plugin to tell the site they're using a browser incompatible with the new style of Google.
  • You could go to the office store and buy a paper weight. But most people would simply use whatever happens to be nearby such as a mug or anything else that's both heavy and small enough.
    • Similarly, you can buy drinks coasters, but anything that's stable and won't stain will do the job.
    • Tickets, receipts, used envelopes, flyers and cardboard clothing tags all make adequate bookmarks.
  • As the name implies, the Fender Jazzmaster was a guitar designed with jazz music in mind. Ironically, it was largely ignored by jazz musicians and instead it quickly became a hit with Surf Rock guitarists. The guitar was popularized once again by a number of Alternative Rock bands and artists from The '80s onward.
  • Iron bombs are designed to hit ground targets—the only guidance they have is gravity, after all. However, a particularly creative USAF pilot found himself having to deal with enemy MiG fighters while in his relatively slow and somewhat ungainly F-105 fighter-bomber, and elected to fly higher than the enemy fighter and eject a rack of bombs he had been carrying. The MiG pilot hadn't expected that move for fairly obvious reasons, and may go down in history as one of a very few fighter craft to have been bombed in mid-flight.
    • This wasn't the first time iron bombs had been used that way, either. Faced with streams of very durable American B-17 and B-24 bombers flying over Germany, German interceptors would on occasion fly over the bomber stream and release bombs onto the bombers, easily destroying them if they hit. Regardless, the above feat is more impressive for being used on a jet fighter rather than a slow-moving propeller bomber.
  • Microsoft Excel may have been designed as an accounting and spreadsheet program, but it can be used to classify and organize all kinds of things. As just one example, historians may use Excel to organize, classify and summarize research materials. Taking it Up to Eleven, one Tumblr user's grandmother found a completely different use for it - designing knitting patterns.
    • Microsoft Excel may just be the software king of this trope, it has been used for everything from letter-writing (instead of Microsoft Word? Why? Because the grids make it easier to align the text!) to filing taxes (screw Quicken!) to even being used as a game engine!.
    • Speaking of games, Microsoft Excel has Flash support. What is written in Flash? Games. Work in an office that has computers rigged to not allow .exe files and game sites blocked? Swing by here or make your own, save it as "Meetings.xlsx", and play at work. Take that, Corporate America!
  • Microsoft PowerPoint is a software designed to create visual (and sometimes audio) aides for presentations. Some clever users, however, found that they could use the program's built-in hyperlink support and animation programming to create a fully-functional Turing machine.
    Commenter: Powerpoint can't run on Linux? Run Linux on Powerpoint then!
  • Duct Tape. From making things from scratch to curing warts, you can quite literally use it for anything.
  • Anti-materiel rifles are designed to be anti-materiel, i.e. effective at destroying military equipment. However, their high caliber and high precision also made them very effective at dispatching combatants from a very long range. Many of the longest recorded sniper kills are done with rifles that would have been considered anti-materiel rifles rather than general sniper rifles.
    • The predecessor of the Anti-materiel rifle was the Anti-tank rifle which itself was descended from the Elephant gun. During World War I, Britain and Germany employed Elephant guns from their African colonies to try and break up the stalemate. German snipers got a nasty surprise when the large protective plates they used to advance towards the allied lines (10mm thick steel that was virtually immune to all small-arms, including rifles) were being punched through by British counter-snipers. And when the Mark I tank began appearing, Germany deployed the Mauser 1918 T-Gewehr, the first dedicated Anti-tank rifle, to specifically counter it.
      • Similarly, a variety of early anti-tank weapons had soldiers find other uses of them, such as anti-tank rifles eventually becoming obsolete as World War II tanks improved but at times people made use of their massive rounds to shoot through walls if they couldn't shoot through tanks, the PIAT launcher had such a large explosion that some users attacked houses or bunkers with them (this possibility even ended up in the official manual a year after it was first produced) or even managed to jury rig it to fire it indirectly like a mortar. Weapon designers since have probably took note of this and modern anti-tank weaponry tends to also have a wide variety of different ammunition available for other non-anti-tank purposes. On the opposite end, early anti-tank "weapons" were usually improvising with weapons intended for other purposes, like desperate World War I mortar crews picking up their mortar to directly-fire on tanks close to them, or bundled charges from the Russians or Germans which took the grenades or explosive filler heads from their grenades and wrapped them around a single grenade to create a larger explosive when the main grenade goes off that could defeat early armored vehicles.
  • MRI scanners were originally produced out of the magnetic ring technology used in particle physics.
  • GIMPS, the Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search, is pretty much what it sounds like, if you read the acronym out of the gutter: a distributed computing project to find new Mersenne primes. This effort puts severe strain on a computer's hardware — making it popular for people looking to stress test said hardware, to the point that it now has alternate settings just for that purpose.
  • The Hitachi Magic Wand was designed and marketed as a back massager only for women to discover it could be used as a vibrator. It is now one of the most popular sex toys in the world, much to Hitachi's chagrin (which even tried to cease production since they did not want to be associated with sex toys only to be persuaded to continue to sell them with the company's name removed).
  • Tracer bullets have phosphorous burning at the base, allowing shooters to easily see where their bullets are landing. During World War I, the British found that the incendiary nature of tracers meant they could be easily repurposed to shoot down German zeppelins by igniting the hydrogen inside.
  • A desktop-based web filter has a button that allows the user to reconnect to the filter's network. However, there's a brief disconnection period before the reconnect, even if the filter was connected. This can lead to the user spam-clicking the "Reconnect" button to access the restricted sites!
  • Cyanoacrylate glue (aka "Super" or "Krazy" glue) makes for a pretty nice wood finish. It works best for small objects (pens, jewelry, etc), being tricky and having horrible fumes, but it bonds to most wood species, resists damage, polishes to a high gloss, and really brings out the grain.
    • It's also popular with piano technicians for its ability to shore up loose tuning pins. The glue reinforces the wood around the pin and adds enough friction that the pin will stay put after turning, thus extending the life of many an old piano.
    • It also gets used in forensic labs. Workers in a glue factory noticed that it adhered to skin oils, making fingerprints visible on surfaces where conventional methods of obtaining prints wouldn't work, like plastic bags and fabric. They shared this with forensic scientists working crime scenes. Now, they lock the object in a case, heat up some krazy glue, and wait for a bit. If there's a fingerprint, it'll show.
    • By sprinkling some baking soda (or other fine powder) on this glue freshly from the tube, one can turn it into a hard and easily treatable, but brittle polymer. This made it popular between luthiers, since it can be easily used to fill the cuts in a guitar bridge if they are too deep.
  • Likewise, a silicone substance that was used for making casts of teeth in a dentist's office got some use in a ballistics lab when trying to analyze a suspect gun that had been tampered with. The crook shoved a screwdriver in the barrel and twisted it to damage the interior to make it near-impossible to match to the bullet after the fact, but the screwdriver method didn't get all the way down the barrel. Using the dental mold, the lab was able to match the bullet to the undamaged part of the barrel.
  • When the makers of Dawn dishwashing soap put it on the market, they weren't expecting it to become the go-to product for saving wildlife from oil spills. But it cuts through grease and it's gentle on skin, making it ideal for getting toxic oil out of feathers and fur. When Dawn found this out, they started explicitly showing footage of the soap being used for its unintended purpose in their commercials, which helped them score a ton of positive PR points.
  • #4-8 x 7/8 inch plastic wall anchors are designed to be used in light construction work by preventing damage to drywall or wood when tightening screws. As it turns out, however, these little plastic anchors are also the perfect size to fit inside a .22 Long Rifle firearm's chamber, and many gun owners buy these anchors for use as snap caps so that they can safely dry fire their guns without damaging the firing pin. Many of the reviews for this product on the link above aren't even construction related, but are actually from gun owners attesting how great they work as snap caps note 
  • Scripts like Wordpress were originally intended to power blogs, but over time website developers used it for purposes beyond blogging, like online stores and portals, thanks to its extensive plugin system. Unfortunately, this is also its Achilles' Heel, as the script's immense popularity also made it a prime target for hackers. Don't be surprised if your Wordpress site has been peppered with spammy ads for phony Ray-Bans and "Canadian" pharmacies.
  • Subverted in the Ford Model T, in that whilst the Tin Lizzie is indeed intended to be used as an automobile, Henry Ford intentionally had the car be used for purposes beyond transport, since mechanisation and power tools were scarce back in the day, and Ford designed the Model T with rugged simplicity and flexibility in mind. Aftermarket companies produced tractor conversion kits for existing Model Ts in rural areas, and one minister even turned his car into a mobile church, complete with an organ.
  • The drawer underneath your oven was actually designed for warming buns or keeping baked goods hot. Of course, since the heat isn't an issue for baking trays and pans, most people only use it as a convenient place to store them. This usage is so popular that some ovens actually have storage in mind for the intended use of the drawer and insulate it from the heat.
  • House paints can be used by artists who either have a tight budget or are self-imposed. The argument is that while some artists such as Pablo Picasso and Jackson Pollock use house paint in their pieces, the problem of house paint is the lack of archival quality when applied on canvas, especially that most modern house paint uses water-based latex while the aforementioned artists use the more durable oil-based enamel. The intended use of house paint is brought back in the case of indoor murals.
  • Another modern substance was accidentally discovered by researchers trying to develop a rubber plant sap called chicle into a type of tyre. It turned out to be too malleable for use in tyres - but the researchers had gotten into the habit of chewing the stuff, much like the ancient Mayans and Aztecs who did the same thing with the stuff, which never seemed to wear down...
  • The .io top-level domain was meant for sites related to the British Indian Ocean Territory. Barely any of the sites with that TLD have anything to do with that region (which has a grand total of zero permanent inhabitants): it's most often used by tech startups as a pun on Input/Output, or Web Games trying to Follow the Leader after Agar.io kickstarted and named the .io Game genre.
  • Venom and poison produced by animals and plants is typically meant as a defensive mechanism to prevent or deter attackers, but certain animals are able to utilize the venoms and poisons of other organisms for their own purposes. Monarch butterfly larvae eat poisonous milkweed to render their bodies inedible to predators, some sea slugs hunt jellyfish and use the jellyfish's venomous tendrils to hunt other prey, and countless humans love eating plants that contain the toxic capsaicin because they like the taste of it. Psychoactive compounds are much the same—theoretically an animal unfortunate enough to eat the wrong mushroom will be horribly disoriented and never eat one again...or do it again, on purpose, for fun.
  • Bounce Fabric Softener sheets will repel gnats and mosquitoes. They contain Linalool and β-Citronellol purely for the scent, both of which also happen to repel flying insects.
  • The chat service Discord was originally created to be a lightweight program that could be used while playing videogames. As it turned out, it was lightweight enough that it could also fill the role of a general-purpose chat service, especially when compared to data-guzzlers like Skype. Nowadays, the majority of its users use it for that very purpose.
  • Youtube began life as a simple video sharing site for users to upload their own videos onto — at least, until people figured out "their own videos" could also mean copyrighted material that they happened to have a compatible video file of, as well as still-framed or lyric videos intended to show off the audio instead. While there still is a lot of user-generated videos on the site, a good chunk of them are more for collecting the same user's content on other user-generated content sites and compiling them on Youtube as backup.
  • The Coventry Climax engine, which went on to win three F1 World Championships, was designed out of a government-issue pump for fire engines. Various factors such as its unique arrangement of components and slightly improved air intake led to it performing very well, and it ran on a flatplane crankshaft which no-one else had realised yet was better than a crossplane one.
  • Virtual private networks, or VPNs, were originally developed so that people could have a way to securely access their workplaces' networks while working remotely (such as from home, from a coffee shop, or while on a business trip). They've also gained popularity amongst privacy- and security-minded users who want to be able to use the Internet for everyday purposes without fear of network administrators (especially on unsecured wifi networks, which are common at the aforementioned coffee shops), Internet service providers, or governments snooping on their activities and to get around those entities blocking access to specific websites and services (for example, if a website is blocked in the US, Americans can use a VPN based in Canada to view it). Naturally, some networks and websites will block the use of VPNs precisely because of those reasons.
  • In 2007 Clarks introduced a line of children's shoes with a hidden compartment containing a small toy inside the heel. While BBC News reported it as a term-time distraction, the Daisy and Jack Nano shoes could, at least in theory, be used for something even less savoury, e.g. hide small slips of paper containing answers and other contraband for the purposes of cheating in exams. One Twitter user even jokingly suggested hiding cannabis in the compartment, and wished for adult sizes be made for the purpose.note  They were fortunately discontinued by the company and replaced with the less-gimmicky Gloforms line, and when the "Dolly Babe" Mary Jane shoesnote  was pulled out under pressure from parents due to outrage over the name, Clarks did away with the mascots and other infantile gimmicks in favour of something more sedate and neutral.
  • On the subject of shoes, this is why some women (and to an extent men) with small feet are suggested to shop at the children's department as at least some companies do sell kids' shoes at sizes straddling between youth's and adult's sizes (around EU 33-39) but go for much cheaper than those specifically intended for adults. As long as the shoes don't look too childish or infantile-looking, that is.
  • Mag-Lite brand flashlights have been known to be used as makeshift batons by both police officers and criminals alike, such as the Hells Angels outlaw biker club. Indeed, there has been incidents involving said Angels bludgeoning their rivals with a Mag-Lite or some similarly hefty implement, especially if a brawl took place in an area where guns aren't allowed, such as casinos and other public places. Their use by law enforcement officers would eventually be discontinued in some jurisdictions though, after an incident in 2007 where a suspect was beaten to pulp by an officer using a Mag-Lite prompted the LAPD to issue smaller and lighter LED flashlights which cannot be used as a baton. That being said, simply flashing a Mag-Lite (or any other sufficiently powerful flashlight for that matter) at an assailant's face could be useful in a self-defense scenario anyway, so as long as you either escape from a disorientated perp who got blinded by the beam or manage to incapacitate him somewhat through other means.
  • The Willys MB Jeep was originally intended to be a rugged and reliable non-combat transport vehicle during World War II, having been an iconic fixture of the war, and was subject to various field modifications in ways far beyond the original designers intended, such as "a power plant, light source, improvised stove for field rations, or a hot water source for shaving", though given the conditions it was subjected to, it is to no surprise that troops would MacGyver their jeeps to their needs. And then there was a bunch of Filipinos who, faced with the fact that their transport infrastructure was utterly destroyed by the war, took those surplus Jeeps, modified and stretched them to accomodate several passengers, and decorated these ex-military vehicles in the most campy way imaginable, giving rise to the Jeepney. Japanese scale model firm Tamiya would later commemorate them in 2019 with the "Dyipne", a Mini 4WD kit inspired by the vehicle.
  • The MIM-104 Patriot, which entered service in 1981 as a Long-Range Anti-Air Missile, was being used in 1991 as an Anti-Ballistic Missile. This decision went terribly to the point that the Patriot's early reputation is still marred by controversy. For starters, the Patriot was strictly meant for destroying aircraft. But the Scud missiles they were intended to intercept were traveling at higher speeds than manned aircraft, often causing the Patriot to completely miss or detonate harmlessly behind the tail of the Scuds. Second, Ballistic Missile Defense was a completely unproven concept at the time which meant that the U.S. military was literally reaching blindly with absolutely no experience or guarantees of success which was not helped by the fact that the Patriot was also unproven in combat. And lastly, the Patriot's Radar System had defective software which led to phantom targets being detected and fired on or incoming tracks being detected and lost because, as a result of a flaw in the internal clock and 24-bit programming being incapable of handling very minute numbers like one-third, the radar looked in the wrong area. The defective software resulted in the Dhahran barracks being successfully hit by a Scud, killing 28 american soldiers, and still stands as a black mark on the Patriot's service record. Today, the Patriot is capable of fulfilling its role as an Anti-Ballistic Missile but only because of the lessons learned from its mistakes and failures.
  • A major patent in modern Wifi was reportedly developed out of a failed experiment in black hole research.

Alternative Title(s): Fake Skill

Top

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:

/

Media sources:

/

Report