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Not the Intended Use

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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. note  Does not apply to mechanics that are deliberately flexible in ways meant to cover things the creators/developers/etc. didn't necessarily think of, unless it either goes so far as to break intended mechanics or goes way beyond what any reasonable person could have expected. For example, a character creation tool making a character that plays well for gamers of all stripes probably wouldn't qualify. If, said character had graphics or stats that bugged the game, or initiate some form of Arbitrary Code Execution, then it almost certainly counts.

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. Can overlap with Good Bad Bugs, assuming that said bugs have some sort of gameplay benefit.

Subtrope of Emergent Gameplay. Can possibly overlap with Heart Is an Awesome Power and Lethal Harmless Powers. 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. Fun for Some is a variant of this trope where certain forms of media that were not created for entertainment is seen as such by some. Periphery Demographic is a related trope, which can be summed up as "Not The Intended Demographic (but it's popular with them anyway)." Unconventional Food Usage is a subtrope.

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

See also MacGyvering for using things other than what they were designed for, though that trope is more focused on putting together makeshift physical contraptions from seemingly random parts while this is generally more about less tangible things like game mechanics.

Example Subpages:

In-universe Examples:

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  • 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 & Manga 
  • 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.
  • Arifureta: From Commonplace to World's Strongest: Synergists are considered weak because their ability can only be used to transform objects. Hajime Nagumo learns how to use it offensively by transforming the terrain to create deadly traps.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Fate/Zero: Kiritsugu's Origin Bullets use his natural affinity for mending spells to wrongly mend whatever they damage. Shooting an object, they structurally weaken the object. Shooting a human, they inflict a Wound That Will Not Heal. Shooting a spell, they violently short out the Magic Circuits of the magus who cast it.
  • The titular character of Goblin Slayer lives and breathes this trope. He and his team will use anything at their disposal if it means achieving their goals, often using mundane items in frighteningly effective ways.
    • 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: Imagination is a weapon. Those who fail to use it are the first to die.
    • 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.
    • In Volume 8, the ship that the party is on is attacked by a Sea Serpent. One Water Walk spell later, and the monster is effectively beached out in the middle of the ocean, unable to submerge. It died very quickly after that.
  • High School D×D: Played for Laughs. Prior to issuing an Engagement Challenge at the climax of book two/anime season 1, Issei receives a flyer from Sirzechs with an invitation on one side allowing him to warp to Hell and issue the challenge, and a summoning circle for a Griffon on the other side, providing him with a dimension-hopping mount to get back. After Issei succeeds with said challenge as is romantically helping Rias onto the griffon's back to ride home with him, Sirzechs dryly mutters that the mount was meant as a panic button in case Issei lost and needed to flee for his life. He much prefers this application, though.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • In The Rising of the Shield Hero, Slave Crests function as a Magically-Binding Contract between master and slave. When applied to someone, they become physically incapable of disobeying their master's orders. If they try to disobey the order anyway, the crest gives the slave a magical electric shock until they do whatever it was that they were told to do. During a court trial, a Slave Crest can be applied to a witness with the judge as their master, who then orders the witness to "tell the truth". This would make the Slave Crest shock the witness if they lied in court. This application of a Slave Crest is how Malty's False Rape Accusation against Naofumi gets dismissed; Malty is such a Compulsive Liar that she can't help but lie in court, even after being told what the Crest would do and being shocked repeatedly from lying to the judge. Malty is eventually asked point-blank if Naofumi attempted to rape her; when Malty says that he did, she's zapped by the Slave Crest with such intensity that she's knocked flat on her back. Since it's clear that Malty is lying, the charges against Naofumi are dropped.
  • Sleepy Princess in the Demon Castle: It's a Running Gag that Princess Syalis will use pretty much anything she can get her hands on as a sleep aid, regardless of its intended purpose, up to and including the Demon Castle's legendary treasures. Specific cases include prying a gem with wind powers off of a legendary shield so she can use it to make an air mattress, reading an ancient grimore to try to bore herself to sleep (and then attempting to cast a sleep spell on herself, which fails due to there being No Self-Buffs), and using the setting's Infinity +1 Sword as a lamp.
  • 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.
    • 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.
  • Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online: In tournaments, corpses do not disappear immediately when a player dies, and stick around as "Immortal Objects". It's mostly intended to simulate real war better, letting players identify kills and so on. In the first Squad Jam tournament LLENN uses the corpses of her enemies for a Bulletproof Human Shield (helped by the fact that she's tiny and can hide behind them). In the second Squad Jam, Team SHINC takes it a step further and sacrifices their biggest team member so that she can act as cover for the rest.
  • As the name implies, the Gun Sniper of Zoids is a velociraptor mecha that can be a fixed sniping turret, with its tail as the rifle barrel. While most users in the franchise use the Zoid as such, one of the two users of the machine in Zoids: New Century, Leena Toros, just basically foregoes this feature in favor of arming the thing to the teeth with guns and missiles galore, befitting with her Trigger-Happy Alpha Strike style. Normally, the Wild Weasel weapons pack still allows the Gun Sniper to be a sniping machine, but her iteration just adds even more guns and missile pods, including two oversized gatling guns, each normally belong to the much larger and bulkier Red Horn, and those only usually use just one of those! Predictably, she's never shown using the Zoid's primary feature...but then again, given her, why would she?

    Asian Animation 
  • GG Bond: In the first episode of Season 12, GG Bond (well, moreso his friend Phoebe) helps a video store owner by saving his bag of records from being stolen by a thief, then discovers seconds later that he lets his dog play with them like frisbees. He wonders out loud if that's the reason he collects records at all.

    Comic Strips 
  • Pierce in Zits protects his borrowed pencils from germs by putting condoms over them.

    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.
  • Rosario Vampire: Brightest Darkness Act III: Tsukune's Holy Lock keeps cracking under the strain of containing his power and inner ghoul, despite being hyped up as being completely indestructible; when Felucia points out Rason told them it's not supposed to break and what a "piss poor job" it's doing with it, especially after Tsukune cracks six links in one day, Rason defensively points out that the Holy Lock was never actually made for the express purpose of keeping a ghoul sealed away, especially not one as powerful as Tsukune's, and that it's a miracle the lock has managed to repress it at all.
  • To Serve In Hell: The Cutie Un-Marking spell was invented to remove perceived inequalities between ponies. The resistance against Nightmare Moon discover that it has the much more useful effect of making un-marked ponies much more difficult to track using magic and unable to dream, which is useful when their enemy is a Dream Walker tyrant.
  • Fate Revelation Online: The marriage mechanic lets players share inventories. There are a number of possible exploits for that, but Hexi finds one that was definitely not intended: He marries a mindless NPC with a high Strength score and thus a high inventory, basically giving him a vastly expanded inventory. His friend points out that the system shouldn't have allowed the NPC to click "yes;" Hexi sheepishly admits that he used his mind control spell to force her. While everyone admits it's a clever exploitation of game mechanics, the girls all decide he's not allowed to talk to them any more.
  • One of the rules of the Deadly Game of Danganronpa Class Swap 2 is that, if there are two separate murders each with a different culprit, only the first one counts; the second murder doesn't get a class trial - and by extension, the second murderer doesn't get a chance to escape the island. The rule is meant to discourage potential murderers from collaborating with each other. However, one student realizes that the rule also means that the second murderer cannot be executed for the murder they personally committed. This results in Toko strangling Syo (who had become a Literal Split Personality) and getting away with it.
  • There's No Rule That Says A Wolf Can't Be A Jedi: The Low Altitude Assault Transport/carrier was designed to deploy ground vehicles, but since Swift is about the size of such a vehicle, and can use the Force to survive hard landings, he can jump out directly.
    Evens: I still say this isn't the proper use of a LAAT/c. We might get a nasty holocall from Rothana Heavy Engineering.
  • PokeRole with Critical Chaos: Sophie's Axew has the Rivalry ability, which makes him more competitive when facing against other male Pokemon. At one point the group take advantage of this to help them find a female Snorunt, thus allowing Sophie to train a Froslass.
  • The Files of Doctor Kaminko has "Hellgar", a highly toxic and corrosive chemical mixture that developed by Mossdeep Space Center for use as rocket fuel. It was repurposed as a highly effective incendiary weapon.

    Films — Animation 
  • 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.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Apollo 13 depicts one of the most famous real life examples. The Lunar Module used during the Apollo program was designed for the sole purpose of landing two people on the Moon and returning them to the Command Module afterwards. After the CSM Odyssey was crippled by an oxygen tank exploding, the three astronauts were forced to use the LM Aquarius as a lifeboat in order to get back to Earth safely. This involved several other, smaller instances of this trope, such as using the LM's descent engine to make course corrections and figuring out a way to use the square lithium hydroxide canisters of the CSM in the round CO₂ scrubbers of the LM.
    Gene Kranz: I don't care what anything was designed to do. I care about what it can do.
  • Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers: Michael Myers gets his hands on shotguns, but never fires them. Instead, he uses one to impale a girl and through a wall, too.
  • Early in Mission: Impossible (1996), Ethan is given explosive gum, which is designed to blow out locks he can't pick. Both times he uses it, it's to make something bigger explode to get out of a jam, first an aquarium and later a helicopter.
  • 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.

  • In Alan Mendelsohn, the Boy from Mars, using psychic powers to influence people's actions or move objects is described as being akin to discovering a car and believing that all it's good for is sitting in the front seat and listening to the radio. Although these kind of antics are what the boys first learned to do, the true purpose of psychic powers is to travel through dimensions.
  • Artemis Fowl:
    • A mining laser is quickly converted into a very illegal weapon by many street gangs.
    • Dwarves can suck in moisture through their skin, with their pores getting larger the more dehydrated they are. Mulch takes advantage of this by not drinking any water a few days before a heist so he can use his pores like suction cups.
  • 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.)
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The Dresden Files: In one book, Harry needs to produce a large sheet of ice on a lake surface, but he's more proficient in fire spells (to burn things) than ice spells. However, most spells of any type can use energy from the environment as fuel. So, he initiates a column of flame, and designs it to draw heat from the lake's surface, for a near-instantaneous ice sheet.
  • 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 decent Shield Charm by themselves).
  • In Ice Station Zebra, by Alistair MacLean, the submarine's captain gives orders to start up the diesel engine while deep underwater, which is very much not how that engine is meant to be used since it consumes a lot of air. He's using it to quickly purge the high levels of carbon monoxide that are poisoning the crew; the air can be replaced from storage tanks once everyone is safe.
  • InCryptid: Alice's Power Tattoos include contraception spells, but she has no intentions of having sex with anyone except Thomas, once she finds him (and is well-armed enough to make anyone who wants to try to force her think twice). Fortunately, they're also effective against parasites like Apraxis wasp larvae.
  • To go along with all the MacGyvering he has to do in order to stay alive on Mars all by himself, Mark Watney of The Martian repurposes a lot of equipment meant for the Ares missions for things they weren't meant to be used for, such as the radioactive thermal generator meant to power spacecraft as a space heater for his rover because the in-cabin heater drains a lot of battery power, unused liquid hydrazine from the Martian Ascent Vehicle to convert into water for his potato crop in his makeshift greenhouse, some of his crewmates' now-abandoned spacesuits (which don't fit him) as a cistern to hold said water, and the long-abandoned Pathfinder probe as a means of communication with NASA when the initial dust storm destroys the site's communication systems.
  • In the Magic: The Gathering novel Planeswalker, Urza made Xantcha swallow an artifact which can extrude a protective film over her body. He intended this solely to protect Xantcha from the dangers of planeswalking, so he could take her with him when he 'walks without her dying horribly. She discovered that she can also use this device to fly by forming the film into a large bubble, something which Urza views as a perversion of its intended purpose.
  • In Mistborn, the magic system of Feruchemy allows Feruchemists to store various personal attributes in "metalminds", then draw them out again later (be half as strong as you should be for an hour, then later become ten times as strong for three and a bit minutes). However, two of the attributes that a Feruchemist can store are weight and body heat, and being able to make yourself lighter or cool yourself down are quite useful effects in their own right.
  • Roadside Picnic: The artifacts found in the Zone have amazing properties, but the scientists working on them always wonder if they are using them the intended way, or if they have just found a way to use a TV as a lamp.
  • Saintess Summons Skeletons: The [Graveyard of the Righteous] skill makes an area of ground sprout skeletal arms that can seize Sofia's enemies and drag them underground. She eventually realises that the arms are not just pulling the target down, they're actually using a form of intangibility — meaning that she can have them drag her through any solid surface, up to the limit of the spell's range (a single cast lets her travel 150 meters per 100 skill levels). She still occasionally uses it in combat, but she primarily keeps it for the ability to travel long distances through the ground.
  • The Scholomance: Given how Galadriel Higgins gets any spell appropriate for a Terrifying Evil Sorceress imbedded indelibly in her brain at a glance, atop the Scholomance's preference for throwing such spells at her non-stop, she is obliged to do this a great deal.
    • Need a high-pressure environment to properly cast a Magic Mirror for a project? Some Roman composed a way to efficiently crush a pit full of sacrificial victims to paste and it works like a champ if your Latin's good.
    • Fellow student about to be swarmed/mauled/bitten in half/etc. by something reasonably organic? Petrify them, do something sufficiently terminal to the the thing(s) likely reeling back with broken whatevers, and remember to cast the counterspell before psychological trauma sets in overmuch.
    • Muscle-headed Boyfriend in battle with multi-story Invincible Horror as the building they are both in was cut loose into the Void Between the Worlds? Brute-force a puddle into another Magic Mirror and target the fellow with a Summon Other-Dimensional Servitor incantation (yes, the "heeding my word alone" cause would likely leave him sort of mind-slaved, but that is a Deal-With-Once-There-Is-A-Later problem).
  • 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.
  • In the Star Trek novel The Kobayashi Maru, this is possibly the real point of eponymous (and originally Trope Naming) Unwinnable Training Simulation. Everyone who has "beaten" the Kobayashi Maru test 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, programming a backdoor that allowed him to cheat (since the simulation cheats as well), 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.
    • Mackenzie Calhoun of the Star Trek: New Frontier books actually one ups Sulu by destroying the Kobayashi Maru and warping out immediately.
    • 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.
  • 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 them drop out of hyperspace with near-impossible precision.
  • The Stormlight Archive:
    • Shardblades and Shardplate are sacred weapons and armor, Lost Technology from the ancient Knights Radiant, the greatest killing tools a Proud Warrior Race could ever wish for. In The Way of Kings (2010), Dalinar uses his set to carve a latrine through solid rock, a task which is likely at least a little sacrilegious. Though that's by the standards of the Blood Knight Alethi. Syl mentions in a later book that her own original Radiant thousands of years ago often used his Blade to cut aqueducts for people. Since the Blades are in fact the bonded spren of the Knights, they don't have a problem with such mundane tasks any more than a soldier would have a problem with building bridges.
    • 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.
    • At the heart of every highstorm is the mythical "centerbeat," a moment where Time Stands Still. No physical changes can be made (so no using it to dodge a boulder), but the Stormfather typically uses this moment to exchange a few words with people stupid enough to go out completely exposed to his storms. In Rhythm of War, Dalinar uses the centerbeat to give Kaladin, in the midst of a Heroic BSoD, more time to snap out of it — specifically by Connecting him to his dead brother in the afterlife, who can give him some important advice.
  • Another Cosmere example: BioChromatic Breath in Warbreaker is extra Investiture grafted to someone's soul at birth. Breaths can be bestowed upon another, and vanish after death. Someone with more Breaths than usual gain additional abilities, such as perfect pitch, the ability to distinguish between hues, and the power to Awaken golems; receiving Breaths feels euphoric. Vasher killed Arsteel and Denth, both superior fighters, by giving them Breath in the middle of combat and striking before the high fades. He points out that nobody expects this tactic because any Breaths given are immediately destroyed.
  • 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.
  • Whateley Universe: With training and practice even the underpowered Underdogs learn that powers that seem worthless can still be used to devastating effect with enough cunning and ruthlessness.
    • Phase has the power over his body's dimensional density to "phase" through an object much like Marvel Comics' Kitty Pryde. If he becomes solid or super-dense within an object, he disintegrates the intersecting mass. Sure, it hurts to disintegrate concrete, but hearts and brains are made of squishier stuff. One of the only characters with the same variation of density warping is Tinsnip, a virtually unstoppable professional assassin.
    • Chaka's intelligence and creativity has allowed her to find uses for her Ki mastery that no one would have thought possible. Her Ki-boosted backrubs make sense. But, retraining her cranial and facial muscles on the fly, to allow her to talk with her jaw wired shut, was probably not in the ability's original write-up.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the [adult swim] sketch "The Salad Mixxxer", an inventor named Dip Dunham during the 1960s invented a kitchen appliance called "The Salad Mixxxer" that allows housewives to mix salads quickly and easily. Unfortunately, due to Phallus look of the devices and its vibrating feature, the housewives who were supposed to test it in their kitchen instead used the Salad Mixxxer as a sex toy with satisfying results. As a result, the Salad Mixxxer became a popular sex toy around the world for over fifty years with Dip himself being oblivious until the end of the sketch, where he is horrified when he discovers his invention isn't used for salads.
  • In a first season episode of Babylon 5, the space station's dock workers stage a strike which is illegal under their contract with the government due to anger with their terrible working conditions, shoddy equipment, and being dangerously overworked. A negotiator sent by the government barely even listens to their complaints before invoking the Rush Act, an Emergency Authority that allows the station's commander to use any military means necessary to end the strike. Commander Sinclair, rather than sending in troops to crush the strikers as the negotiator clearly hoped, instead diverts funds from the station's military budget to the civilian one so the dockworkers will get everything they need, a power he didn't have until the Rush Act was invoked. Sinclair's regular political contact, Senator Hidoshi, lampshades in a call later that this is obviously not the way that the law was intended to be used, and under normal circumstances the senate would never let Sinclair's decision stand, but there's no text in the law preventing it from being used this way, and because Sinclair's decision is massively popular with the general public, the senate is reluctantly going on along with it.
  • 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.
  • The entire premise behind MacGyver. 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 does at least avoid the risk of a ricochet, but that didn't appear to be his reason.
  • 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.
  • Count the number of competitors in the original series of Robot Wars who took electric wheelchairs, stripped them down to just the chassis and motors, and used them to power their destructive creations. Series 1 champion Roadblock was a prominent example, while at least three other competitors that series (The Demolisher, SAT-arn, and Psychosprout) were literally just off-the-shelf remote-control cars with bespoke shells mounted on top of them. In fact, the entire sport of robot combat stemmed from this: engineer Marc Thorpe saw a demonstration for remote-control vacuum cleaners, thought it would be cool to stick weapons on them and make them fight each other, and started building remote-controlled fighting robots.

    Puppet Shows 
  • 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.

    Visual Novels 
  • Fate/stay night: The Reinforcement spell makes objects or people stronger, but if it is done wrong, the object will shatter or the person will be horribly injured. When Shirou Emiya is kidnapped and tied up, he escapes by intentionally casting the spell wrong to destroy the ropes binding him.

    Web Animation 
  • RWBY: In the Volume 6 finale, Ruby activates the Relic of Knowledge to take advantage of the fact that Time Stands Still whenever Jinn manifests. She apologises for just buying time instead of having a question to ask; Jinn accepts the apology, but makes it clear she only manifested because she's amused by Ruby's cleverness, and to warn her that she will never again permit anyone to summon her if they lack the intent to ask a question.

    Web Comics 
  • In Aecast, the use of a shield staff as a combat weapon against the Shenmal. Itzel is extremely surprised when she tries to summon a shield to force one out of her way but instead disintegrates it.
  • Drive:
    • The Drive itself: The eponymous Drive (AKA Ring Drive, Cruz Drive, Singularity Drive; colloquially called "The Ring") uses gravity manipulation to enable Faster-Than-Light Travel, by generating a naked singularity to "pinch" space. However, its inventors (the Continuum of Makers) consider it a holy artefact, and hate the concept of copyright infringement to the point that they refuse to allow anyone to attempt to improve the design (fixing a nanosecond of lag took 29 generations and a heretic), while The Empire keeps it from being studied by anyone but the Royal Family to protect their power base. But whenever various factions within the empire manage to steal blueprints for the Drive, they (well, the ones who survive) chose to invent creative applications out of gravity manipulation instead (mostly because attempting to build an illegal FTL fleet would truly piss the Empire off):
      • The Ring can be used as a Planet Destroyer by pinching the space occupied by planets. The bigger the ring, the bigger the pinch, and the bigger the chunk squeezed off the world. The Empire has taken note of this, which is why it's illegal to jump out of FTL too close to a planet.
      • Two rings side-by-side make ships go very fast. Two rings intersecting each other make ten-thousand-strong battlefleets disappear. One character begins designing a cruise missile with one ring inside another as a warhead to capitalize on just how big a "boom!" that results.
      • The Veetans developed a Cloaking Device that works by using a side-effect of the Drive to put things Just One Second Out of Sync. This can cover entire planets, which allowed them to bluff their way into winning a war by threatening to Ret-Gone an entire race.
      • The Fillipods use its gravity manipulation effects to repair their homeworld by synchronizing 203 rings, and ge-e-e-ntly slotting the tectonic plate jimmied off of it back in.
      • The Empire's State Sec combined a ring and a directional radio antennae into an ansible network for their spy system.
    • Other:
      • The rhinn's Wind-Scream Rite is used to determine guilt for only the worst of crimes, and can only be described as "gang-Mind Rape" on the subject. Skitter asks for it in order to unlock his Repressed Memories.
      • In one guest strip, an imperial pilot stranded on an uncharted world accesses the restricted section of his crashed ship to act as a Distress Call. As mentioned above, the Empire takes the Drive's secrecy very seriously, and they come a-running. The pilot knew that he'd be executed for it, but the planet would be inducted into the imperium, which is what he (and his native friends) wanted.
  • This trope is discussed in Schlock Mercenary, more specifically in Maxim 50:
    50. If it only works in exactly the way the manufacturer intended, it is defective.
  • Vampire Husband:
    • In episode 10, Charles uses a home pull-up bar in a door frame to hang himself upside-down for naps, like a bat.
    • In episode 12, Charles goes shopping for a coffin to sleep in.

    Web Videos 
  • 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.
  • VG Myths: This is mentioned in "Hyrule Myths - Can You Kill Ganon with a Cucco?", talking about how in The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, the bug catching net was able to reflect Agahnim's magic attacks, and in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, the empty bottle can be used to reflect Ganondorf's energy balls back at him, then moving to Rod And Reel Repurposed:
    you could hit lasers back with bug nets, or bottles, or even try to fish the final boss to death
    Though it may look like a flying machine, this object is actually a minecart, designed to transport valuable materials. And believe it or not we're actually going to use it as detailed in the warranty.

    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. Fortunately, Ben found a middle ground: spread peace by fighting evil.
  • In one episode of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Flint finally invents something that's unambiguously beneficial. A horn that causes triple the amount of anything that goes in one end to come out the other, which he intends to be used to triple the amount of the towns sardine catch. The townspeople in a rare showing actually love his invention and everyone wants one to use right away... except they use it for everything "but" its obvious use. Not just the increase of sardines, the townsfolk we're the horns as shows. Use them as back scratchers, as buckets and just about every use you can think of, but not one of them uses its actual function to triple "anything". Except for the villain, who uses it for revenge.
  • Miraculous Ladybug
    • The butterfly Miraculous was made to temporarily empower ordinary civilians to aid against villains à 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.
    • Cat Noir cataclysm makes his right hand destroy the next thing it touches - because his right hand is also the hand where he wears his Miraculous ring, he's occasionally activated Cataclysm (or even threatened to) just to prevent his enemies from trying to take hold of his ring.
  • In Sonic the Hedgehog (SatAM), Chuck invented the Roboticizer to help treat injuries, replacing damaged flesh with cybernetic implants. 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 made his own Roboticizer, gleefully embracing the horrific side effects and using the roboticized animals as his slaves.
  • In the Spongebob Squarepants "Chocolate with Nuts", Spongebob addresses a billboard which describes "Kelp Chips" as "delicious", complaining that, at least to him, the most certainly are not. At which point Patrick chimes in, "Not the way I use them!"

Real life examples:

    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.
  • 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.
      • Granted, this one doesn't work anymore at all , because Jaraxxus hero is no longer considered a demon, plus Sac Pact cannot kill enemy demons anymore, only friendly ones.
    • Another infamous use is the "play Maxima Blastenheimer in a deck with very few minions other than C'thun". Due to the way C'thun determines its attack, as a hunter it was possible to use Blastenheimer to launch a fat ass C'thun and one shot your opponent after buffing C'thun once, due to the way it calculated buffs and could replicate them over and over if C'thun was forced out of the deck with Maxima. Fortunately, this one has been fixed.
  • 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. (If "By the way, you have no more cards ever besides the one in your hand" wasn't bad enough, an opponent attempting to draw a card from their now-empty deck causes them to instantly lose.)
    • 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 extra creatures, respectively. Memetic use: making Your Head A-Splode as you try to figure out how the cards interact with each other. (The rulings for each card include an entire paragraph about making sense of it.)
    • 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. This means you can deliberately dump Awesome, but Impractical creatures into your graveyard and then cheat them into play using such abilities. 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.
    • Some cards like Overflowing Insight say "target player draws [number] cards". These sorts of cards are intended to be used on the caster to draw more cards, or with a side benefit in multiplayer formats as a political tool, but if used on a player with less cards remaining in their library than the number that the spell draws that player loses the game. A similar effect occurs with cards like Sign in Blood. Typically the caster targets themselves to pay life for cards, but this sort of effect can also be used as a burn spell to deal damage to the opponent.
    • The Dredge keyword is, in theory, meant to make a card reusable in return for having a lower-than-average power level, by letting you send a number of cards from your library to the graveyard in order to return it from the graveyard to your hand instead of drawing a card whenever you would be allowed to do so. In practice, players really latched onto the "send a number of cards from your library to the graveyard" bit, often ignoring what the Dredge cards actually did and just using them to rapidly dump most of their deck so they can start popping off with various graveyard-based effects.
    • One particularly hilarious combination requires Grafdigger's Cage, which is a card that prevents your opponent from playing cards from anywhere but their hand, so no playing a card from the graveyard, or from exile, or from their library; what they have in hand is their only option. There are several enchantment cards that prevent you from drawing a card at the start of your turn, in exchange for being able to play from the top of your library, with the caveat that you play them on yourself. There are also cards that let you swap one of your permanents with an opponent's permanent. If you manage to get Grafdigger's Cage on the field, and swap the "skip your draw phase" card to your opponent's control (with a "target opponent discards their hand" for extra spite), your opponent will be unable to do...well, anything: they can't draw a card, and they can't play a card from anywhere other than their hand, where they can't get a card. There are ways around itnote , but most of the time, they will be unable to actually play Magic because of the interaction.
  • 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 one more card per mulligan. 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 more cards.

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The technology behind Auto-Tune was originally invented by an Exxon scientist to help oil drillers interpret seismic data. It was later found that the technology could be repurposed to correct a singer's pitch, and the now-famous Auto-Tune software was born. Then that technology found a new use once again when 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, kind of like a robot's voice. Since Auto-Tune, when used in its intended way, can be quite subtle and hard to notice, people now mostly associate it with the robot-voice effect.
  • 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 coax 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.
    • In one of the earliest widespread uses, Commodore 64 disk drives could be programmed to play simple tunes — not everyone using such programs was warned that they could trash the drives.
    • One of the most extreme examples of this is the Floppotron: an instrument that plays music from the buzzing of countless floppy disk drives, the clacking of hard disk drives, and the sound of an old printer, all playing in harmony.
    • An especially awesome example is the Zeusophone, in which the buzzing noise made by Tesla coils shooting lightning bolts is tuned to play everything from classical music to video game theme tunes. An especially Trope-y moment came when Masters of Lightning used a suit of armor as a Faraday cage, allowing "Dr. Zeus" to stand between two giant Tesla coils, holding a fluorescent tube in either hand like a sword, lightning engulfing him as Queen's "Princes of the Universe" played!
  • 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.
  • The Hammond organ was originally designed as a cheap, space-saving and easy-to-handle alternative to pipe organs for small churches. Then people started buying it as a home organ. Then, in The '50s, jazz musicians discovered it. Then, in The '60s, rock musicians took it over.
  • Vocoders were originally designed to encode speech. But then electronic music came along, especially Kraftwerk...
  • In The '70s, sampling was conceived as an easier-to-use digital alternative to tape loops for musique concrète and other experimental stuff. By the later '80s, it was torn between delivering the best piano preset from built-in ROM and racks full of samplers being not-so-expensive substitutes for digital hard disk recording.
    • Speaking of sampling, the E-mu SP-12 was created as a cheap and simple alternative to the Linn 9000, a drum machine with sample RAM that made it possible to sample your own drum sounds. The SP-1200 even did away with the sample ROM. Its most popular use, however, was for sampling entire bars off old funk records, looping them, not even bothering with chopping them up, and then rapping over the loops.
  • Up until the mid-'60s, guitar players took care not to crank their amps up too far so that they wouldn't distort. But then acts such as The Rolling Stones (Band), The Who and especially Jimi Hendrix came along. First they simply let distortion happen. Then they forced their amps into distortion.
    • Speaking of which, Lemmy Kilmister played his bass through a guitar amp — and distorted it. Motörhead never really needed a rhythm guitar player.
  • This is how Leyland Kirby created the Post-Awareness stages for his final album made under the name of The Caretaker, Everywhere at the end of time, having stated that he used a music program in a way it wasn't intended to generate the music. Although the exact program has never been revealed, fans have theorized that it is a sampling/sequencing program. He has also stated that he made the drones in the album using a different program for, once again, its unintended purpose. In the case of the drones, fans have theorized that they were made with convolution reverb and/or Zynaptiq's PITCHMAP.

  • 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 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 FunHouse (1990), 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. Also worth noting is that collecting the Song Jackpot resets its value, so from a strategy perspective, it may be worthwhile not to collect it in order to build it up higher.
  • All pinball machines made from The '80s and onward have a "three-switch rule," which resets the ball back to the plunger without any penalty if fewer than three switches, sensors that detect the ball's location, have been activated. This is one of pinball's Anti-Frustration Features in the event the ball goes straight to the drain without the player being able to do anything. However, there are some games where you can progress towards certain things by launching the ball, tripping the initial switch; hitting one thing, which has the second switch; then letting the ball drain. As only two switches have been tripped, the game puts the ball back on the plunger without any penalties. This loophole can be used to increase your score and progress in various games with zero risk, as long as you're patient enough. Modern pinball companies observe if players are doing this and will patch in exceptions to prevent people from playing in this way.

  • Timeouts in several sports:
    • For instance, basketball, water polo, 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 (i.e., the NBA, NCAA, and NFHS [high school] rule sets). Can also be used to disrupt and interrupt the opponents' rhythm. Other countries (which use FIBA rules) will only allow a timeout when the game clock is stopped. In water polo, the use of a timeout is even more powerful than in other sports, as it can be used thrice and basically resets the game to give advantage to whomever has possession. Using a timeout is an easy goal opportunity when used correctly.
    • 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 in the December 8, 2013 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.note  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.
    • Similarly 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 timeout when there is less than 30 seconds left on the period clock can allow you to sneak in one last final jam when the timeout ends, which must then be played to its natural conclusion (up to two minutes) even if the period clock runs out.
    • Volleyball has a variant where after using all timeouts, coaches will use their allowed video review just so the delay can break the serving adversary's momentum.
  • 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.
    • The NCAA redshirt rules now differ between football and all other sports. The so-called "medical redshirt", officially a "hardship waiver", is no longer available in football (as a general rule). However, a redshirt season is now available to any football player who participates in no more than four games in the team's regular season, regardless of the reason, as long as no previous redshirt season was taken. The "hardship waiver" remains in the NCAA bylaws for non-football sports. It is specifically available only to players who suffered a season-ending injury or illness, and further restricted to those who participated in no more than 30% of their team's regularly scheduled events, and did not participate after the midpoint of the season (as measured by events, not days). In very rare cases, a player may be granted a sixth season of eligibility if he or she missed huge parts (or all) of two seasons due to injury or illness.
  • In Association Football, the goalkeeper was initially little more than a player who 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 counterattacks. 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 deliberately kicked backpass. (If the keeper's team headed the ball into his or her own penalty area, the keeper remains free to pick it up.)
    • 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.
  • During the California droughts of the 1970s, shrewd local youths found a novel use for now-emptied swimming pools which were dried up in an effort to conserve water. These bowl-shaped pools were then turned into makeshift skate spots by those who'd sneak into such pools and shred their skateboards on those areas without the owner's permission.

  • 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.
  • Dental floss is intended to be used to clean one's teeth, but doll collectors found that it is also useful for repairing and modifying dolls with brushable hair. The hair in question generally comes out of tiny holes in the doll's head, and may need to be replaced due to damage or while trying to create a one-of-a-kind custom doll. Dental floss is thin and strong enough that a loop of it can be attached to a thin sewing needle and used to pull new hair through the holes without it getting stuck or breaking. It has also been used to sew coins onto belly-dancing outfits, due to its strength.
  • SC Johnson's Future brand of acrylic floor polish (also known as Pledge FloorCare Finish) found an unrelated niche amongst scale model hobbyists, which they use for coating windows and canopies for model aircraft and other vehicles.
  • Hobbyists have taken an interest in installing Linux or Android onto educational children's toys, particularly tablets or game consoles, primarily because they are often cheaper than the 'grown-up version'. The Nabi 2, for instance, was an Android tablet marketed towards children with edutainment content serving as a family-friendly alternative to iPads. As it turns out, it has more or less the same hardware as a Nexus 7note , the only major difference being a lower-resolution screen, for much cheaper. Cue tech-savvy folk seeing a way to save some bucks.
  • 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.
  • Toys with built-in speakers, such as talking dolls, are sometimes used in the music scene. Their audio clips can be incorporated into the artist's music, either by circuit-bending the toys, or simply sampling their sounds.
  • 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 a vibration function meant to add realism. Teens and adults found... other fun uses 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...
  • Various branded "oxygen-releasing" stain removal powders (such as Vanish) in combination with a small amount of peroxide hair bleach and a good dose of sunlight makes up the homebrew "Retr0Brite" treatment for vintage toys, 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.
  • The Hitachi Magic Wand is officially a back massager, but is almost universally known as a sex toy.
  • Kneadatite, also known as Green Stuff, is a waterproof putty that hardens with time and its primarily used for plumbing. This became a popular product used by scale modellers and sculptors as an alternative to oven bake clays as it doesn't require the use of an oven and certain clays can melt plastic miniatures on contact.

    Tabletop Games 
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Dominoes. They're meant for playing, yet people are more fascinated when they stack the tiles and let one tile topple the other. And they're definitely not meant for recreating works of art.
  • Dungeons & Dragons and Pathfinder players are notorious for exploiting loopholes in the rules and descriptions of magic. 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 overrules it.
    • 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.
    • Also in 3.5, 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. Fifth Edition 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 TeleFragging, 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 Obvious Rule Patch 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 sufficiently-damaging cold. Which means, by Exact Words, it's much better used for infinite heat resistance, allowing people to walk across lava or through deserts with no trouble at all. This was fixed in Third 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. Think the Hidden Blade from Assassin's Creed, and you've got the idea. 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 in 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. When you drop Bag of Holding into a Portable Hole (or vice versa), you cause a minor Reality-Breaking Paradox that destroys everything within ten miles. Make a device that keeps a Portable Hole and Bag of Holding apart until you want to trigger the effect, get the hell out of dodge with teleport, and watch the surroundings go up in smoke.
    • 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.
    • Dimension door used to create two portals in Third Edition. While it was supposed to allow quick travel between two places, it was more often used to Portal Cut things in half for a quick kill. Fourth Edition changed it to a simple short-range teleport spell, while also adding errata to prevent a Tele-Frag with the spell.
    • One sourcebook introduced a duo of spells: Embrace the Dark Chaos and Shun the Dark Chaos. The former spell takes one of your feats and permanently swaps it out with an Abyssal Heritor feat, a special category of feats introduced in the book that grant demon-themed abilities. The latter does the opposite, replacing an Abyssal Heritor feat that you currently have with a standard feat that you can qualify for. The intention of the two seems to be to let players access these feats without needing to rebuild their character, or to enable a Heel–Face Turn where a character rejects their demon-granted powers. However, players didn't take long to notice that using the two spells one after the other could let you replace a feat you didn't want with any other feat, in a game where it's easy to find yourself saddled with largely useless feats. For instance, elves start out with four weapon proficiency feats that many builds don't care much about; using the combo would essentially give an elf four feats for free.
    • Fourth Edition 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. Fifth Edition patched this so that the space you teleport into had to be totally unoccupied for it to work.
    • In Fifth Edition, the Oathbreaker has some interesting implications. In 5e, paladins don't have alignment restrictions, they just need to fulfill the terms of their Oath, and if they fail to do so, they become Oathbreakers and get new dark powers like causing fear and creating undead. Most Paladin oaths imply some sort of Good alignment, but the Oath of Conquest requires its adherents to be ruthless tyrants, so if you're a Conquest Paladin, being a Reasonable Authority Figure means breaking your oath (similar ligic can apply to several other subclasses too). So, if you start out as a Lawful Evil Conquest Paladin and have a Heel–Face Turn, you become an Oathbreaker and get access to all those creepy necromancy powers to use for good.
    • 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.
    • The infamous Coffeelock in 5e exploits the vagueness of multiclass interactions to create a character with nigh-unlimited spellslots. Essentially, a warlock/sorcerer multiclass uses the sorcerer's Flexible Casting to sacrifice warlock pact spell slots for sorcery points. Since warlocks regain pact slots on a short rest — unlike other casters, who need to take a long rest — and sorcery points both don't have a hard cap and don't reset until a long rest themselves, you can in theory take nothing but short rests and just gain a heap of sorcery points, which you can then convert back into spell slots as you need them. Though technically compliant with the rules as written (as there's technically no requirement for characters to sleep or trance), most people agree it's at least some kind of Loophole Abuse, and DMs will often impose rulings to make sure it can't be exploited, mostly commonly just by telling the player 'no, you don't get to just take eight short rests instead of one long rest, go to sleep.'
    • Hexblades are a notorious Game-Breaker when multiclassed with the paladin. For starters, the paladin's Aura of Protection grants a saving throw bonus to themselves and allies around them equal to its charisma modifier. And a hexblade lets any character use their charisma modifier for their weapon attacks, meaning they don't have to split their ability distribution. This means you can just put all your points in charisma to get an absolutely ludicrous buff to saving throws. Second, a warlock's Eldritch Smite invocation lets them use their warlock spell slots to create an effect like a paladin's Divine Smite. Thing is, there's nothing stopping a hexblade-paladin from using both types of smites on the same attack. By level 7, you can get an attack where you deal 10d8 damage, all before bonuses are applied. In addition, you can cast a smite spell (such as Wrathful or Branding Smite, which hexblades get as bonus spells) as a bonus action to stack more damage on top of that. The downside is this doesn't have as much sustainability as a pure paladin, as using up two or three pact slots for a single attack is a steep cost for one hit. But if you want to smite an enemy good with a single blow, the option is there.
  • 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).
  • Due to the rather terrible rule system in the notorious F.A.T.A.L., it's much more efficient to kill your enemies by rolling for the largest possible penis size (yes, that is a real stat here) in character creation and anally raping them, rather than fighting them directly with the combat system. Because while one could resist fighting, which also had extremely high chance of crippling your player no matter who the opponent was, there are no mechanics for resisting rape, and in the rulebook it states if there are no mechanics for it, you can't do it. With a large enough penis size stat, it's possible to instantly kill enemy by tearing their anus open.
  • 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).
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • In-Universe: The massive suits of Tactical Dreadnought (a.k.a., 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.
    • The Rhino APC was actually some kind of tractor-transport STC. However, its engine is built to be able to run off of almost every kind of fuel (from refined promethium to wood), it's incredibly simple to repair and maintain, it is cheap and simple to produce (as it was originally designed for colonists who may only have stone-age tech at their disposal) and the base vehicle is highly moddable. This resulted in it becoming the basis of many, many vehicles within the Imperium's armies.
    • In 8th edition if a non-synapse Tyranid Unit moved out of Synapse range, it would suffer "instinctive behavior", usually resulting in worse performance such as a penalty to their To Hit roll. On top of that, infantry units that moved and tried to fire a heavy weapon would also suffer a To Hit penalty cumulative with the above. This is normally bad, but enterprising players found that Biovores, who summoned a Spore Mine for free whenever they missed and are an infantry unit wielding a Heavy weapon, would benefit greatly from this as they could summon spore mines to form a living wall, blocking off enemies from objectives, choke points, and help from other units.
  • Tarot Cards were originally meant for playing the same vein as modern playing cards, but the Average Joe would less likely see it used in poker and more on the tables of fortunetellers.
  • 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.


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Alternative Title(s): Fake Skill


Bones Coffee Toothpaste

As an April Fool's Day video, Bones Coffee releases the "Bones Coffee Product Announcement!" where their coffee is being marketed as toothpaste. Extra points for it being the Mint-Chocolate flavored coffee.

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