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Poor, Predictable Rock

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Lisa's Brain: Poor predictable Bart; always takes Rock.
Bart's Brain: Good ol' Rock, nothing beats that!

Curious tendency observed in Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors universes, where one element will beat another. (Water beats Fire, Fire beats Ice, etc.) These universes often have someone who will completely devote themself to a particular element. Sometimes they will have entire cultures with that devotion.

...Which also means that they have some very obvious weaknesses. Curiously, usually only the heroes get the idea of diversifying their elements. Either that, or the one-element specialists are fully aware of their situation and develop various tricks and techniques that allow them to defend, to varying degrees, against those elements which counter theirs — so that Scissors Cuts Rock. In some settings, this could even be seen as a kind of Min-Maxing — specializing in one element to the point where you can just brute-force your way past a more generalist opponent, at the potential cost of losing hard to other specialists who counter your element.

Interestingly in actual Rock–Paper–Scissors, throwing the same hand every time is a valid tactic against an inexpert opponent — basically, nobody expects a player to play the same hand twice in a row. Also, rock is statistically the most used play, particularly among beginners.

Compare Crippling Overspecialization and When All You Have Is a Hammer…. This trope has nothing to do with mediocre lifeless chart-orientated AOR music. See also Complacent Gaming Syndrome.

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    Anime and Manga 
  • With a very few exceptions (the most important characters), everyone in Yu-Gi-Oh! uses a themed deck: fairy tale monsters, insects, robots, penguins, fairies, cartoons, in spite of the fact that these themed decks always prove useless against a deck with the appropriately dominating theme, and many of these themes are pretty much worthless. To be fair, the game itself is designed such that it's difficult for an unthemed deck to provide a full hand of usable cards at any given time.
    • Played VERY straight in the battle between Pegasus and Kaiba in Duelist Kingdom. Pegasus took advantage of the fact that Kaiba was famous for his Blue-Eyes White Dragon by using Dragon Capture Jar and Dragon Piper. The second is that he also knew that Kaiba's entire deck is built with overly powerful monsters so his reversal of the Crush Card Virus essentially blasted Kaiba's entire strategy to pieces. Even without his Mind Scan, it's clear that Pegasus already hard the cards to deal with Kaiba's deck.
    • Happens again in Yu-Gi-Oh! The Movie: Pyramid of Light, but this time it's Kaiba who beats Pegasus with this trope in mind. Having learned Pegasus still relies heavily on his Toons, he also took advantage of how Toon Monsters require Toon World to be active on the field. In quickly aiming to destroy Toon World, he tore apart Pegasus's strategy in a matter of turns.
    • The Battle City duel between Yami Yugi and Kaiba has them predicting each other's move multiple times because they have known each other so well, but Kaiba has been predictable way too many times, seen as the vast number of times Yami Yugi has been prepared to counter Kaiba's numerous tactics, ultimately winning the duel.
    • During the duel between Yami Yugi and Yami Marik, Yami Marik uses the strategy to revive Ra so many times, that Yugi and Yami Yugi have divised a plan to not only get rid of Ra, but also defeat him without risking the life of the less evil Marik. They take advantage of Ra's One-Turn Kill ability which fuses Yami Marik with Ra, so removing Ra alongside Yami Marik from the field allows the normal Marik to reclaim control of his body.
    • Yugi and Yami Yugi's Ceremonial Duel is also this. Since they shared the same body for so long, they are Crazy-Prepared for whatever specific situation they are in. With Yugi having a combo to destroy the Sangenshin; Yami Yugi already having prepared to continue the duel without his Sangenshin; Yugi predicting that Yami Yugi would use Revival of the Dead (Monster Reborn), etc.
    • Also, unlike Pokémon, there are no built-in weaknesses to certain types. A card with a FIRE Attribute isn't automatically weak to one with a WATER Attribute, for example.
      • The anime and manga are spectacularly inconsistent about this. The Duel Kingdom arc in particular runs on the Rule of Cool and Rule of Drama: theme decks are often bizarrely overpowered and elemental weaknesses and consistencies pop up and disappear from moment to moment. This is because the manga was produced before Defictionalisation turned Duel Monsters into an actual card game that required actual rules, and the anime was based on the manga. By the time the Battle City arc was published, the game had become widespread and "expert rules" (a halfway compromise between the actual game rules and the Rule of Cool loose interpretation used before) were introduced to the story. The video games, however, take monster Attributes and make them into a several-network game of Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors.
    • Yu-Gi-Oh! GX: Misawa tries to shut-down Judai's Fusion strategy by prohibiting him from playing the card Fusion (Polymerization), even though Judai has other cards to perform Fusion Summons. It's not enough, thanks to Judai's plot device cards, he wins without Fusions.
      • Similarly in season 4, a younger student named Sorano tries to counter Judai's Fusion strategy with Horus the Black Flame Dragon LV8 which negates and destroys all of Judai's Spell Cards. However, Judai's deck evolved so much since season 1 that he doesn't need Spell Cards to use Fusion Monsters anymore. So, he beats Horus up with good old Neos.
    • Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds: Team New World uses Machine Emperors (Meklords), an archetype that absorb Synchro Monsters, a type of monsters that almost everyone in 5D's uses, and the Machine Emperors are hard to counter.
      • Subverted with Aporia vs Z-One. Aporia is aware of Z-One's so-called ace monster (a Time God (Timelord)), and thus divised a strategy to win the duel without dealing against said ace monster in a battle. He fails miserably because Z-One's "ace monster" is not his ace monster at all and he has nine other Time Gods that are very similar to it, just with one different effect for each of them, while his eleventh Time God and true ace monster Sephylon is much more powerful than the ten Time Gods serving under it.
    • Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL:
      • Kaito being a Number Hunter, his Galaxy-Eyes monsters are designed to counter Xyz Monsters, a type of monster that literally everyone (barring one old retro man) has in their Extra Decks, even robots do.
      • Shark is also shown to use counter strategies against opponents he has played before or against other Number users. It occasionally backfires because of him anticipating something he couldn't have foreseen or other factors. For example, in his final duel with Yuma, Shark/Nasch is prepared to counter Yuma's signature combo (Hope + Double Up Chance), but Yuma ends up negating his own game-winning move, which results in Nasch losing at the end of the turn because Nasch's card to counter Yuma's combo backfires at him.
    • Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V: Some characters use decks to counter specific Special Summoning methods or to counter against Special Summon decks in general.
      • Yuya in particularly has monsters that work well against high-Level monsters, something that most duelist have in their decks. But what if they don't have them on the field? He just increases their Levels or give them Levels in the first place (Xyz Monsters do not have Levels).
  • Subverted in Bastard!! (1988) where a fire djinn laughs that Dark Schneider, a Fire Wizard, can't beat him since he only has fire spells. Dark Schneider uses a spell hotter than the sun to extinguish him.
  • One of Rurouni Kenshin's Big Bads uses this to his advantage. Once Shishio is hit with an attack, he knows how to perfectly counter it. While Kenshin has a variety of different sword techniques to compensate for this, it sucks for Saito Hajime since all of his special moves are variants of the same basic attack. And when he attacked Shishio with it, he hit the only armored part, negating the attack.
    • It should be pointed out that Shishio learns from each battle and takes steps to counter every way he is attacked. Saito's sword thrust to the head failed because Shishio has been attacked by a stab to the forehead before, which is why he has the metal headband.
  • Played for drama to hell and back (and back to Hell again) in Kaiji, where the first arc revolves around the titular character's ability to manipulate a high-stakes game of rock-paper-scissors (a variant that uses one-use playing cards to represent each hand sign). He ends up buying 30 rock cards in order to beat other players who have scissors. Then, another player named Kitami buys dozens of paper cards in response. After a fierce battle, Kaiji takes Kitami's cards and totals about 30 rocks and 30 papers. Later still, he is forced to re-shuffle his entire deck with the rest of the players... and in the end, his cards end up not being relevant to his final strategy.
  • In the billiards (you know, pool) manga Breakshot, practically every opposing player has one major strength and sticks to it 90% of the time. Jimmy and Oki's masse shots, Aono's center shots, Ryoji's shotgun shot (which, as it happens, is actually prety unpredictable in its effect, but he's still guaranteed to use it), Jeffrey's miracle shot, and main character Chinmi himself is inordinately fond of jump shots.
    • Hell, eventually, Chinmi is goaded into relying much much more on jump shots by his mentor to increase his level of skill by mastering the secret jump technique perfected by Douglas Mood, who won 60 straight games using only jump shots.
  • Eyeshield 21 plays this straight most of the time; most opposing teams have one or two defining strengths and rely almost entirely on them. The Sphinx' Pyramid Line, the Poseidons' height advantage, the Aliens' Shuttle Pass, etc. In many cases, however, these strengths are so formidable that they can usually win anyway.
    • Its also not played as straight as it could be, as though most teams had their aces into a specialization, they generally had a pretty effective general team to back it up (Hakkashuko, Shinryujii, Amino, Aliens) or had their specialization be so broad it didn't much matter they were specialized (White knights focusing on defence, 1/2 the game or Sebiuu/Daimon's focus on Offence, the other half). Only the Bando Spiders really played it straight, and even then they had more than just their kicks, and the reason for being so specialized was highly justified.
  • In Inuyasha, Miroku's main source of attack is his exceedingly powerful Wind Tunnel. Unfortunately for him pretty much everyone else knows this, and also knows that he can't use it on demon wasps without getting poisoned by them. So he can frequently be shut out of a fight simply by having a foe bring a nest of demon wasps, rendering him unable to do anything besides hit enemies with his staff (not a viable long-term strategy against demons).
  • Hiromu Nishiki in the soccer manga Meister. On a team notorious for players with one spectacular talent and not much else, from Ryuho's expert dribbling to Koori's defensive power, Nishiki stands out. Once a rising star in the youth soccer world, he fell into obscurity after he adamantly refused to play defense in any way shape or form; the way he sees it, he's a natural born striker, and strikers just don't defend. Ever.
  • In Love Hina, Naru always picks scissors in games of Rock-Paper-Scissors.
  • In Hunter × Hunter, Gon's special attack is explicitly based on Rock-Paper-Scissors, with his "Rock" attack being by far his strongest, and the only one capable of ending fights against stronger enemies. And stronger enemies will catch on to that pretty fast. Winning when your opponent knows you have to throw Rock to win? That takes talent.
  • Dragon Ball: During the finale of the 21st Tenkaichi Budokai, Goku attempts to use his Rock-Paper-Scissors technique on Jackie Chun. Since Jackie Chun is familiar with the technique, he knows how to block each attack, which is also telegraphed by the name of the attacks. So Goku uses it again...but he purposely says the wrong attack name to catch Jackie Chun off-guard and hits him with "Rock" while shouting "Paper".
  • Naruto:
  • In Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water, one of the characters always picks scissors as well. He learns to use rock and paper as well after throwing a literal giant rock at the scissor of a Giant Enemy Crab.
  • In Beelzebub the group on main characters decide to choose their leader through RPS. The eponymous Beelzebub instantly wins with paper since everybody else used rock.
  • In Doraemon, Doraemon, due to having Fingerless Hands, can only play rock in "rock, paper, scissors".
  • Bleach: During Ichigo's battle with Renji in Soul Society, Ichigo eventually figures out that Renji's Zabimaru has a specific attack pattern that ends up leaving him open to an attack. When Ichigo attempts to exploit this weakness, Renji simply steps aside and counters Ichigo's counter strategy. Renji is fully aware of Zabimaru's weakness, so he improved his footwork to nullify it.
  • Done literally in Kinnikuman. One of the Choujin Olympic events is a game of Rock-Paper-Scissors. Kinnikuman gets paired up against Kani Basenote . Having crab pincers for hands, Kani Base can only choose scissors, so Kinnikuman easily wins choosing rock. Kani Base then returns at the next Olympics, having one of his pincers replaced with a human-like hand. However, the hand doesn't actually move, leaving it stuck choosing paper. Kinnikuman again wins easily by choosing scissors.
  • Subverted hard in Pokémon Journeys: The Series. When going up against a team of Pokémon poachers trying to capture the legendary Pokémon Suicune, Goh goes into the battle armed with a newly caught Drowzee specifically to exploit its type advantage against the poachers' stable of all Poison-type creatures. This goes as planned until the leader of the poachers turns this on its head by revealing he had a Houndoom (part-Dark-type and thus completely immune to the Psychic-type Drowzee), which goes to town on the poor Drowzee until Ash arrives on the scene with his Pikachu and Lucario to back Goh up.

    Card Games 
  • In Magic: The Gathering:
    • This is built right into the game's mechanics. Each of the five colors lends itself well to a few specific strategies, but also has weaknesses that cause it to fall into this trope. This can be resolved by adding more colors to the deck to cover the weaknesses, but this can make it hard to play spells reliably. To note:
      • White is often considered to be the most "balanced" color, giving it some Jack of All Trades attributes but also ventures into Master of None territory. Their strengths include removal (temporarily on the low end of the scale, full blown exile at the highest), damage prevention, life gain, many forms of protection, small Boring, but Practical/Badass Normal creatures, and means of empowering those creatures with abilities such as First-Strike and Vigilance. However, White struggles with card draw, is lacking in large creatures, and their offense spells typically include caveats (ex. destroy attacking creature, exile tapped creature, etc.)
      • Blue is something of a Magikarp Power among the colors, being slow to start but finishing incredibly strong thanks to their strong control/combo potential, while being prone to Crippling Overspecialization if their combos are disrupted or their defenses circumvented. Their strengths include card draw, counterspells, attacking the opponent's hand and deck with discards, "bounce" effects (returning cards to hand), taking control of/redirecting opponent spells, and generally anything else related to "trickery". Creatures are their largest weakness, with Blue decks rarely running creatures due to their combat potential alone and instead selecting them based off of their synergistic effects. One creature caveat is that Blue tends to have quite a few "Flying" creatures, which overcome their relative weakness thanks to creatures without Flying or Reach being unable to target or block them.
      • Black, like White above, is considered a very balanced color due to the sheer breadth of what they can do. However, Black is rarely as efficient as those other colors in accomplishing these things. To make up for this, they can pay in life, sacrifices, and discards. Their two biggest niches are necromancy, being the color most easily able to interact with the graveyard, and pure creature destruction, which feeds back into necromancy.
      • Red is the most offensively oriented color, with elements of being a Glass Cannon. Their strengths include direct damage, aggressive creatures which hit hard and fast, and, unusually, luck, being the color with the most coin-flip, dice roll, random chance cards with a variety of effects depending on the outcome. On the flip side of Blue, Red tends to be strongest early in the game and falls behind as the game drags on while the other colors gain synergistic momentum. Protection, life gain, and interaction other than pure destruction are largely unheard of in Red.
      • Green is the color of creatures, from weenies and tokens all the way up to huge stompy behemoths. Like White, Green also has many means to power up these creatures, though rather than new abilities, Green power-ups tend to take the form of raw Power and Toughness increases. Further, Green is the color with the most options for additional permanent mana generation, including of other colors of mana. They also have the most anti-air options, and are quite good at artifact destruction. In terms of weaknesses, they have almost no creature destruction or removal beyond using their own creatures in direct combat, and very little means of protecting themselves from such effects when used by an opponent.
    • Tournament Magic is heavily based on rock-paper-scissors. Decks frequently fall into one of three categories: aggressive, combination, or control (aggro, combo, and control). Sometimes decks can play as either of two roles, but not as well as a deck truly dedicated to that role. The three roles fall into a rock-paper-scissors scenario: Aggro decks play multiple redundant threats to keep the pressure on and overwhelm Control decks. Combo decks use cards that are individually relatively weak but synergize to create powerful effects that can overcome even the strong threats from an Aggro deck. Control decks focus on defense foremost and use card-removal effects to dismantle combos — if a Control deck removes one part of a three-card combo, it cripples the whole combo, while removing one of three Aggro deck cards will leave the other two to continue attacking. In tournament play, matches last for three-rounds and each player is allowed to have a side deck of 15 cards which they can use to tweak their deck to counter whatever strategies the opponent is using, helping to avert this.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! also has something like that, with Meta, Anti-Meta, and other. Meta is the best deck at the moment. it can beat any other deck except for Anti-Meta, which is designed to counter it... which because it relies on you opponents to use a certain strategy, a deck not using that strategy can beat them.
  • A Cyclic Trope for the Pokémon Trading Card Game. Just like with Magic, having a deck be one or two Energy types (the equivalent of colors) makes a deck easy to use. However, how easy it is to use a deck with three or more Energy types varies over time, depending on whether or not there are recently-released cards designed to facilitate this, such as Energy Search or Rainbow Energy. (The card game's tournament rotation allows only the past several sets to be used in tournaments, banning all cards released before a certain date.)

    Fan Works 
  • I am not Done (MHA): In the Tournament Arc, Izuku knows very well that Bakugou is about his explosions and getting up close and personal so he can set them off in his opponent's face and plans accordingly. Bakugou gets especially brutal after Izuku sprays him with water to remove the advantage of his nitro sweat and punches him while giving him a "The Reason You Suck" Speech (an ironic example of the Heroic Second Wind) and costs Izuku an eye.
  • Both averted and exploited by Gym Leaders in Pokémon Reset Bloodlines. Despite being specialists, they always try to have coverage with moves that can counter their natural weaknesses or having dual-type Pokémon for more variety. Also, since challengers more often than not will try to use type advantages against them, they can have a good idea of what kind of Pokémon to expect and develop countermeasures.
  • Averted and exploited similar to the example above, Gym Leaders in Pokémon Reborn not only use specific moves and dual-types to counter types with advantages against their chosen type, but even go so far as to battle in specialized arenas that will render glaring weaknesses hampered (for instance, a Burning Field causing water type attacks to deal half damage while powering up fire types).
  • After learning Sage Mode in Son of the Sannin, Naruto's entire fighting style begins to revolve around it, which becomes a serious problem when his enemies take out his clones before they can gather the necessary nature energy and leave him with nothing substantial to fall back on. His situational awareness in battle also atrophied because he relied on Sage Mode's sensory abilities.
  • The Weaver Option:
    • A Sons of Horus warband lands on Cadia but the defending Warmaster is largely unconcerned. While extremely dangerous in combat, tactically they are easy to predict as they will always start an attack with a decapitation strike on the enemy leadership. He is able to counter their assault and forces the warband to flee Cadia.
    • During the battle of Macragge, the defending Ultramarine forces find themselves suffering heavily due to their strict adherence to the Codex Astartes. The Chaos forces know all of the prescribed tactics their enemies will use and are able to adapt their own tactics to earn devastating victories.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Bio-Dome has the main characters; Bud and Doyle. The two constantly have rock-paper-scissors battles between each other, and every time, Doyle uses rock. Naturally, Bud beats him constantly. Bud even notes it in their first scene together.
    Bud: Paper covers rock! You lose, Buckwheat! (makes sounds of an angry cat, complete with moving claws)

  • When Ax was hit with an alien disease (which affected the human Animorphs too, but only gave them the flu), Erek played some Rock/Paper/Scissors with him to pass the time. He understood why scissors beat paper and why rock beat scissors, but not why paper beat rock. That's why he ended up owing Erek a million and four dollars.
  • The magic users of Eric Nylund's A Pawn's Dream all specialize in an elemental pair (the main character is a Life/Death magician, for example). They can use other elements, but they're not as proficient. (However while all specialise, there is no Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors in play, so this is not in fact a significant weakness.)
  • In Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy, one of the villain's Mooks has made himself magically immune to fire. The result is that he's very vulnerable to water, with Squick-y results.
  • In Gone, Sam does paper and loses, so he has to be the first to go into the nuclear plant.
    Quinn: Dude. Paper? Come on. Everyone knows you go with scissors on the first round.
  • In The Dresden Files, a common weakness of more ancient beings is that while they're vastly more powerful than Harry, they're also very set in their ways and inflexible when it comes to combat strategy. When Harry duels Arianna Ortega in Changes, after successfully fending off her first attack he's surprised when she does the same exact thing again. He figures this is because Arianna is only used to fighting in brawls where she can go all out with her vampiric strength rather than having to rely purely on magic. As a wizard Harry is used to having to use his magic flexibly to counter all kinds of situations and can take advantage of her weakness.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In an episode of That '70s Show, Hyde and Fez settle something with best-two-out-of-three rock-paper-scissors, but since Fez has never played before, much of the humor is derived from Fez not understanding the whole point of the game (that each option can be beaten by another option) and announcing what he will play each time. First he plays rock, because "nothing beats rock", and then, when beaten with paper, plays paper, because "nothing beats paper".
  • Lampshaded & Justified with Little Pete's enemy Paper Cut, who, as one might guess, always throws paper...and attacks anyone who throws scissors with deadly homemade origami.
  • Taken to new heights in The Big Bang Theory with Rock Paper Scissors Lizard Spock; being the nerds they are, they always pick Spock. At one point Raj even points out "One of us needs to stop picking Spock." How do they decide? Rock Paper Scissors Lizard Spock! Guess where that goes...
    • Worth noting is that the entire reason Rock Paper Scissors Lizard Spock exists is because of this trope; Sheldon pulled out a statistic about how players familiar with each other will keep choosing the same options, either tying or disrupting the game and that the much more complicated RPSLS will fix the problem by allowing more options.note  As you can see above, it doesn't quite work out that way.
  • Arrested Development had an episode with a Running Gag about Michael and Gob playing rock-paper-scissors. Michael always picks rock.
  • Apparently, Dean from Supernatural always chooses "scissors".
  • In an episode of Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Jake and Rosa play rock-paper-scissors to decide who has to talk to a murder victim's mother. Rosa wins, explaining that Jake always chooses paper. Jake denies this, then picks paper eight more times in a row.
    Jake: God, this "reverse psychology" is a bust!
  • Leverage: Hardison has a tell.
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000: During one host segment from "The Beatniks", Joel takes advantage of the fact that both Crow and Servo have inanimate arms and hands to constantly defeat them at Rock Paper Scissors. Joel then learns the hard way that "Gypsy crushes Joel."
  • Reba sees Van constantly pick Rock.
  • Cowboy Bebop (2021): In "Darkside Tango", Spike plays Rock–Paper–Scissors with Faye, but she prefers variations like Hunter-Bear-Ninja and Foot-Cockroach-Atomic Bomb. Spike insists they do the old school version, and wins because by this time he's worked out that Faye always picks the last of the three.
  • Kamen Rider Saber's Durendal wields the power to stop time in short bursts, an ability that should grant him a major advantage over everyone else even with its limitations. The problem is, he relies way too much on the classic No, I Am Behind You trick. After a few appearances, the other characters start countering him simply by getting ready to attack behind them as soon as they see him about to use his power, and he keeps falling for it.
  • During a space battle in The Expanse, Bobbie quickly notices that the ship pursuing the Rocinante keeps dodging in the same direction to avoid its railgun shots. She speculates that the pilot is new, since a more experienced one would vary their directions. She demonstrates why by spraying a burst of PDC fire in a seemingly random direction, then timing a railgun shot so the pursuer dodges right into the burst and gets taken out of the game.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Most psionic attacks used by Psychic Warriors in Dungeons & Dragons do acid damage. Then the subversion kicks in when you realize very few enemies are acid resistant.
    • Some canny DMs, to avert this trope, will feed the player characters misinformation about dragons they'll be facing by abusing subversions of Color-Coded for Your Convenience. Some versions:
      • Player characters learn of a red dragon, stock up on anti-red-dragon equipment and raid the lair... only to learn that the townspeople are all red-green color blind (green dragons have an entirely different set of weaknesses and strengths, and spit deadly gas rather than fire).
      • Player characters learn of a white dragon, stock up on anti-white-dragon supplies and raid the lair... only to learn that the dragon is actually an albino specimen of another colored dragon. Or they hear that the dragon is black (acid) and it turns out to be melanistic.
      • Player characters learn of a white dragon, stock up and raid the lair... and it turns out to be a wight dragon of another color.
      • And even discounting the DM relying on incredibly aweful puns or co-incidences, every Dungeons & Dragons true dragon from 3.0 (possibly earlier) onwards has had some limited form of Voluntary Shapeshifting, and thus could disguise themselves as another type of dragon.
      • Also, the Draconomicon includes dragon feats that let them swap the type of their breath weapon.
  • In the fangame Pokémon Tabletop Adventures, the Advanced Class Elemental Expert embodies this trope of specialization like the gym leaders from the games, but there is a payoff. First the Pokemon of that type that they own gain an experience bonus (which stacks with the experience bonus from their base class), meaning that their mon level at a very fast pace. They also gain bonuses to finding and catching that type of mon, so they can more easily gain the benefits of this class. Finally, attacks of that type deal bonus damage even if their mon isn't that type.
    • More experienced players will augment their team with a counter to their main types counter. For example a Steel Expert would pack a water type to counter fire, and a Bronzong with psychic moves to counter fighting types. Dark Experts will have a psychic to counter fighting, and a fire to counter steel and bug.

    Video Games 
  • Sometimes averted, sometimes played straight in Heroes of Mana. Sometimes you will face almost whole levels of enemies who use only one type, or two types that don't complement. But there are some notable exceptions: The ninjas you fight are all Ground-type units, weak against Heavy units, so they back themselves up with Flying monsters (weak against missile, which is weak against ground...). Although on one level, they send out hordes of flying units and keep them separate from their main units, giving missile units a very easy time.
    • Also on one late game level, 4 MacGuffins spew out units belonging to each of the four types. They can only be harmed by units that would be strong against them (ex: the flying mirror can only be harmed by missile attacks), but the other mirrors will send out monsters to attack those units, giving you a hard time.
  • Several raid bosses in World of Warcraft suffer from this, to the point that the encounter can be trivialized by amassing the appropriate resistance stat, even though this usually makes your other stats suffer (most resistance gear offers little to nothing in terms of offensive stats). Early raids were infamous for having an obsession with fire-based encounters (entire Molten Core, the dragon Onyxia and a good portion of Blackwing Lair (mostly dragons)), but it got more varied later on. There is even a holy-based encounter, to which there is no easy counter because holy resistance does not exist.
    • Also, a lot of players build their character towards using exclusively one form of magic, particularly mages. To be fair to them, it's often the only way to get a character that works. Realizing that this makes certain builds useless against some enemies, the designers introduced spell penetration that lowers resistance, and spells like the Frostfire bolt that deal multiple forms of damage to alleviate the problem. Somewhat.
    • Wrath of The Lich King threw this problem out the window. There are no bosses that are immune to certain types of damage - thus making double-typed attacks irrelevant (Frostfire was only useful because it could benefit from talents in two different trees). There is only one type of gatherable resist gear - frost resist. Only a handful of bosses in the expansion seriously use that type and it's not really needed even on them. The only thing you can do with that gear is to stomp frostmages in duels.
      • The frost resistance gear was created for one boss - Sapphiron in Naxxramas, who has a frost-based damage aura (and later Sindragosa, also an undead blue dragon of great power resurrected by Arthas). Blizzard's Monty Haul attitude towards powerful gear (and an achievement for doing the encounter without resistance gear) ensured most players just healed through it.
    • Since Mists of Pandaria resistance is removed from game to avoid all the problems listed above (i.e. enemies practically immune against some specific player class or need to obtain and store separate enocunter-specific gear sets). There are still some vestigial parts of in game engine, but all enemies have 0% resistance and it was removed from all gear.
    • Some of the opponents in the pet-battle minigame have this problem. The elemental "Spirit Tamers", for example, have very strong pets—but in some cases, those pets all use the same kind of attacks (e.g. the air elemental's pets all use "flying" attacks). This lets you field an entire team that's resistant to the attack, making the fight much easier.
  • Initially, the bosses in the Dinosaur King DS game embody this trope, having teams of the same dinosaur type. Later, though, they add a dinosaur of a different type into their teams - usually of a type which is strong against the type you would normally use against them-for example, a Wind boss has a Water dinosaur, which is strong against the Fire dinosaur/s that you took along on account of their strength against Wind dinosaurs.
  • The villains of Magi-Nation (the video game mind you) always use Core (shadow) Dream creatures, and said creatures are always the sole monsters in any of the Shadow Geysers, the Shadow Hold, or the Core itself. And since this game uses not-quite-random encounters anywhere where you won't encounter Core creatures, you can go nearly the whole game without fighting anything but them, except for two occasions. The first creature type you find, Naroom (leaf) is strong against Core types while being weak against them in turn though, so it may be a decent idea to bolster your creatures with Fire, Earth, Air or Water elements later on. Those types, meanwhile, have their own rock paper scissors, and since you'll need to grind like crazy between Shadow Geysers, you may want to have an advantage against the locals.
  • Played literally straight with most of the early opponents in the Pet Rock sidequest in OMORI, which is basically a series of rock-paper-scissor battles where the beginning opponents will either always use or heavily favor one of the three signs. Played even more literally with Kel, the tutorial opponent, who always picks Rock.
  • Entertainingly enough, on the Korean professional Starcraft scene there is a player who calls himself Rock. And he always builds Carriers (which are, surprisingly, basically aircraft carriers IN SPACE! and With Aliens), and 80% of the time he loses because his opponent knows he'll do this. The rest of the time he wins because he really is that good with the units.
  • A rare example where the villain takes advantage of this occurs in Advance Wars 2: one mission involves Hawke correctly anticipating that air specialist Eagle will send a massive air force against his island fortress, so he does the logical thing and surrounds it with a ton of anti-air units. Thus, the player is faced with the tough challenge of destroying his army despite having a significant weakness against it (not to mention Hawke's CO power, which damages all of your units at once while simultaneously healing all of his).
    • In another mission, he tries to do this again by staging an offensive next to a volcano, which air units can't even get close to. However, he didn't count on vehicular specialist Jess entering the fray.
    • The game tends to suffer this in multiplayer, specifically due to the many specialized Commanding Officers. Picking the Close-Range Combatant Max immediately signals to your opponent that all your attacks will be done with strong direct-damage units, and that you will not be able to match them in a long-range fight since Max's artillery has half the range of normal long-ranged units. Picking aircraft-specialist Eagle on any map with an airport tells the opponent to do what Hawke did in Advance Wars 2 and get tons of anti-air units, etc. etc.
  • Diablo 2 characters also do this, for much the same reasons as World of Warcraft. Namely, specializing is the only way to get a character doing enough damage at the higher difficulties. As might be expected this is bad news for, for example, a sorceress who uses only fire spells who meets an enemy that is immune to fire.
  • Dofus's leveling system is similar to Diablo 2's and encourages specialization in a single element. Some classes are lucky enough to have damaging summons in unusual elements (The strength of summons is based of a characters level, not his stat). The prime example are Xelors and Sadidas, who get a suicide bomber summon that does damage opposed to the most commonly chosen element for the class (Xelors are usually fire, their summon does water - and has an inordinately large move range making it perfect as a counter to archers, Sadidas are usually earth, their summon does air). All classes have weaknesses, though. Feca characters are catastrophically weak to unbewitchment spells due to their shields being dispellable, Cra archers have severe difficulty fighting at close range, etc.
  • Strangely, and clearly unintentionally, averted in free MMORPG Mabinogi. Most, though far from all, monsters are attuned to a particular element. Weapons and armour can be enchanged with elements as well. Wearing/wielding equipment imbued with an element reduces the amount of damage taken from a monster attuned to that element; however, it also reduces the amount of damage done to said monster as well. This applies to both attack and defense, regardless of the equipment; so wielding a "fire" sword both reduces damage done to a "fire" monster, and reduces the damage taken. Likewise, it would also increase both the damage done to, and received from, an ice-attuned monster. This would appear to negate any usefulness of the element attributes; but there are only 3 elements, and the attributes are unevenly applied; so some utility is possible, although tricky to use effectively.
  • In the newer Persona games, the protagonist is the only one who can switch Personae. Everyone else is stuck with one, and until you can evolve their persona (and sometimes even afterwards), they're limited to a few elements and typically have a weakness that reflects that. Chie for instance, specializes in Ice attacks until you get Teddie, in which case she switches to physical, and has a weakness toward fire until you Max her Social Link. The game is aware of this, so whenever you're forced to have a character in your party (more common in Persona 3, but not unheard of in the early parts of 4) the boss will always have an attack of that type.
    • Of course, in the battle with Margaret in Persona 4, a skilled Soloist can take advantage of this to get free heals!
  • Veterans of the Final Fantasy series know that certain types of enemies are vulnerable to specific elemental attacks. Watery or aquatic enemies are vulnerable to Lightning, cold-based enemies are weak against Fire, reptiles and fiery monsters are weak against Ice, undead and demons are typically vulnerable to Holy (and sometimes Fire), flying enemies suffer from Wind attacks, and machines or electricity-based enemies are weak against Water. Earth and Dark attacks are an exception — the number of enemies in the entire series that are vulnerable to Earth-based attacks can be counted on one hand, while Dark isn't much better off.
    • Which is a good thing, since spells or weapons with those particular elements are notoriously difficult to come by. However, the reverse is also true: enemies weak to Earth and Dark are very few and far between, but very few enemies are also strong against Earth and Dark, meaning that those elements are useful against enemies with otherwise powerful elemental defenses.
      • Unfortunately, enemies that are considered flying (which sometimes includes enemies you wouldn't expect) are generally immune to Earth damage, meaning Earth tends to be one of the least useful elements.
    • On top of this, most Random Encounters would have the one enemy of one type fought with four copies of the said enemy, making it a lot easier to kill them if they had a weakness. For example, the common Bomb enemy is a fire based monster weak to ice or water (depending on the game) so if you had a strong spell to exploit their weakness with and the ability to make the spell hit all enemies, you were good to go.
  • Treasure of the Rudra uses this trope constantly; almost every enemy focuses on one element, even though it's trivial to become immune to one and such immunity requires becoming vulnerable to its opposite. Subverted with the final boss. Wind/Lightning are opposing elements, so protecting yourself from one makes you weak against the other; the final bosses' first form is purely wind-element. Guess what element her final form (which you have no chance to change equipment before fighting) uses for her ultimate attack?
  • Surprisingly, the only real example in Mega Man Battle Network is the side game Battle Chip Challenge. In the regular series, most Navi bosses don't use the same chips you do, possessing their own unique attacks — and those who do use chips choose them at random. But in BCC, everybody's using the same pool of chips, and elemental bosses heavily favor chips of their own element. (This is also the only BN game with a same-type attack bonus à la Pokémon.)
  • In Golden Sun, there are entire societies that have one of the 4 prime elements as their standard power. This isn't a choice of the characters, more something they have to deal with. But as a result, the Big Bads of the first two games are Proxians, who are all Mars (fire) adepts, and hence weak to Mercury (water) adepts. This becomes a plot point when the first game's party is able to beat their vastly stronger opponent simply because they were on top of Mercury Lighthouse, which weakened fire's power and boosted water's.
  • With some exceptions, enemies in the Disgaea series have a +50% strength against one of the three elements (cold, fire, wind) and a -50% weakness to another, shown visibly, so you know who to attack with which spell for maximum damage. Additionally, some maps featured enemies with the exact same weakness - Salamander's Breath was a playground for your blue mages, for instance.
    • One map in Disgaea 2 features a group of high-level mages standing on "reverse damage" geo panels. They are utterly defenseless against your healers.
    • One of the aversions is when certain monster-types, dragons (fire), wind sabers (wind), and warslug (ice/water), have their weak element the same as the element they absorb, making their only "weakness" the neutral of the three elements or the "Star Element."
  • Appears in Chrono Cross when you think too hard about it. All of the guards in Viper Manor except two of the top three are Yellow-innate. This is because they're (almost) all members of a small pool of "monsters" and "monsters" of the same type always have the same innate. However, they're all human, and humans throughout the game have all sorts of different innates, so it really makes you question Viper's hiring policy. Even certain plot characters among his guard force (Solt, Peppor, Ketchop, Zoah, and even Viper himself) are Yellow-innate for some reason. It's just begging for a task force trying to break in (say, Serge and Kid) to load up on Green elements and storm on in. Only Karsh (Green), Marcy (Blue), and Lynx (Black) seem to get away from this trope at all.
  • In MARDEK powerful highly elementally aligned monsters have a spell, Inversion (of that element), which deals damage to the party based on how much elemental resistance they have to that element. Come in with 110% resistance to fire? Then Inversion: Fire does 110% of your health as damage. Due to this, it's best to apply a moderate degree of elemental resistance in these battles. Also played straight with the Security Demon and Animus, both of which are almost unbeatable normally, but can be beaten with a particular trick that neutralizes much of their power.
  • In Age of Empires II units tend to be strong against some types and weak against others (cavalry are good against archers but weak against pikemen) and certain factions may be better at some types of units than others, especially taking into account what their unique units are. Amusingly enough, at one point in the development, a bug in the AI of the enemies of the third Joan of Arc mission caused the AI to keep building rams until they had an army that, while unable to fight well against player units, destroyed the player's town.
  • When Scout loses Rock-Paper-Scissors in Team Fortress 2, one of his lines can be "Wait, wait, something beats rock?"
  • Religious Idle: Subverted. The RPS contest between you and the Bhikkhu has you throw rock three times. For the first time Bhikkhu picks paper making the match 1-0 for him, then he picks scissors making it 1-1, then you ultimately decide whether you should stick with rock and you do. Seeing as your opponent goes with scissors again, it's a 2-1 victory for you.
  • Yakuza Kiwami has a minigame that's an arcade game based around Rock-Paper-Siscors. Your tutorial opponent tells you exactly what moves he's going to use so you can get a feel for the game. Your first actual opponent only ever uses the rock move.
  • This is sadly what makes the Dwarfs bottom-tier in Total War: Warhammer multiplayer. Their entire unit roster nearly exclusively focuses on heavy infantry and artillery - they have no cavalry to speak of, limited magic and even their missile troops are heavily-armoured. So, the moment the opponent sees the player is picking Dwarfs, they will spam units that have an Armour Piercing Attack as a matter of course. Quite insultingly, the lack of mobility outside of a few key flying units also means that Dwarfs are hideously vulnerable to artillery themselves.

    Visual Novels 
  • The January story for Harvest December has main character Mizuho Touyama realize the only realistic way of winning against a god is in a game of chance, so she chooses Rock-Paper-Scissors. Naturally, one of them picks rock.

  • Exploited in a strip of the Adventurers! webcomic, in which the predictable enemy (the Ice Dragon of Ice Cave) paints himself red and convinces the party he's a Fire Dragon, and they give up in disgust (as they've spent all their resources on fire-based equipment.)
  • Spoofed in Nodwick after the party trashes a fire sorceress with bright red robes calling herself princess of flame or some such. After a remark by Nodwick that she couldn't have made her weakness any more obvious if she tried, his party members visit the next villain's tailor ahead of time to hear about the wonderful snow-white dress he made for her.
  • unOrdinary: After the Volcan fight, Blyke starts to get cold feet thinking that he might not be cut out to be Wellston's next King due to his energy beam ability being incredibly predictable compared to what Sera, Arlo, Remi and even Isen can pull off with their more versitile powers. Especially since he has to be careful aiming it when using enough power to fight stronger foes to avoid killing whomever he's fighting.

    Web Original 
  • Web game example: The USA Rock Paper Scissors League (!) has a politically themed Flash game on its website: Barack Paper Scissors. In the game, the player takes the part of Democratic US presidential candidate Barack Obama and plays Rock Paper Scissors against a number of other political opponents. The first opponent the player faces is former US President George W. Bush, who always chooses Rock.

  • Iron Kingdoms: The related fantasy miniatures games Warmachine and Hordes have "tier lists", which give the player small bonuses if their army consists only of certain units. These small bonuses are not enough to counter the fact that an army built without those restrictions is far more competitive.
  • Warhammer 40,000 used to have this in the form of Armoured Companies and the Chaos Space Marines "Books of Chaos". Armoured Companies are made up solely of tanks, making them all but impervious to anti-infantry weapons and, in most cases, close combat. However because it's all tanks, only a handful of anti-tank weapons are needed to utterly cripple the entire army. Chaos Space Marines had the "Books of Chaos" and "Legion Rules" which allowed you to modify your force organisation chart to gain benefits, at the cost of losing the ability to use certain units. A World Eaters Army was horrendous in the close combat phase, but only had pistols to use during the shooting phase and, apart from the then-expensive rhinos, couldn't move that fast.
    • Certain armies chose to forego one skill in favour of another. Tau have almost no close combat skills but have access to some of the (then) best ranged weapons in the game. Dark Eldar traded durability for high damage output and Tyranids had no tanks and few powerful ranged weapons in favour of a vast array of powerful close combat beasts and biomorphs. For most of these armies if you can survive the phase they dominate in, you can easily decimate their armies (most painfully obvious for the Dark Eldar and Tau, as almost any damage can cripple your army).
    • Even with the disadvantages like losing the ability to pump out high levels of anti-infantry firepower by removing More Dakka weapons like Heavy Bolters or Scatter Lasers, gearing an army towards killing Space Marines by filling it with plasma guns, melta guns, lascannons and high armour penetration weapons will never go out of fashion simply because the majority of opponents will have Space Marine armies anyway, and for those that aren't Space Marines, all those lascannons and high AP weapons will make mincemeat out of their elite troops & vehicles leaving your elite & regular troopers facing up against their regular quality ones.

    Western Animation 
  • Each of the planets in Shadow Raiders suffers from this. Justified for the actual people, in that their respective cultures are forced to be that way because their entire planet is that way. Also notable in that each group of people recognizes their own weaknesses and lack of other resources, forcing them to raid their neighbouring planets - the pilot episode involves the Rock people making a water run on Planet Ice.
    • Planet Bone seems to be the only one who is autonomous, as their one and only weakness is apparently the stupidity of their ruling class (they seem to have little need for Fire and Rock's resources, and produces their own food). Unsurprisingly, their leader tries to betray the alliance not once, but twice.
  • In King of the Hill "A Man Without A Country Club", Hank makes his decision for which one of his friends gets to come with him to Nine Rivers by having them pick a number between 1 and 10. Dale immediately says "3", to which Hank admits he is right. Dale admits that he knew it because Hank always picks 3... unless he picks 5.
  • On SpongeBob SquarePants, SpongeBob and Patrick are playing rock-paper-scissors with bubbles; after a while, SpongeBob realizes that Patrick always picks paper.
  • And of course, The Simpsons gives us the page quote.
  • On Robot and Monster, Robot had this history because of his design. Whereas his obnoxious brother Gart had four-fingered hands, Robot only had clamps, so he had no choice but to always use scissors and constantly lose. In the featured episode ("Between Brothers"), Robot has to beat Gart at the game in order to win back his apartment, so he invents a device that allows him to do an extra move (i.e. literally place a piece of paper on the rock fist that Gart used).

    Real Life 
  • People actually tend to pick rock more often in Rock–Paper–Scissors, most likely due to poor reaction time and the fact that, when playing, the hand is already in a fist.


Video Example(s):


Gypsy Crushes Joel

When Joel cruelly dominated Crow and Tom in Rock Paper Scissors, Gypsy tackles him in retaliation.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (24 votes)

Example of:

Main / PoorPredictableRock

Media sources: