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"So fire beats water, underwater? That's like in Rock-Paper-Scissors having paper beat scissors!"


Unlike actual Rock–Paper–Scissors, type advantages are not the final say on who's going to win a given matchup in strategy games and RPGs — if a character (or unit) is strong enough, they can come out triumphant against somebody with even the most outlandish of inherent type advantages against them. This can be a potential Moment of Awesome for the character to defeat an expected Curb-Stomp Battle.

While usually limited to games (or occasionally to other forms of media based off of them), it still has an advantage over its more widely-used cousin, the Worf Effect: You don't need to waste any time establishing the talents of your victim. If you've got a fire user you want to demonstrate the power of, you can set them loose against even a handful of water-based mooks you had show up five seconds ago, and the effect is still achieved.


Often the reason people sometimes have cases of Elemental Ignorance, if they can win consistently in spite of their supposed disadvantage. Alternatively, if someone is a Poor, Predictable Rock and knows it, they can train specially to fend against the element that's supposed to counter them, diversifying their skills while remaining true to their art - and often providing a nasty shock for opponents who think they'll have an easy fight simply on the grounds of having the counter element.

Related to Elemental Tiers, where some elements are stronger than others regardless of advantages or disadvantages; I Am Not Left-Handed, where a character who had been losing reveals to have to been playing under a handicap; Cherry Tapping, where a character defeats another character with an intentionally weak or ill-suited weapon just to humiliate them; and Immunity Attrition, where the "rock's" alleged immunity to the "scissors" could be overwhelmed given enough exposure.


See also Man of Kryptonite and No-Sell.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • A non-advantage example: In the Bastard!! (1988) anime, Dark Schneider faces a fire elemental without an elementally advantageous spell, and so destroys it with a very powerful fire spell.
  • Berserk: Volume 31 offers an example that relies on an Indy Ploy and reckless courage rather than power superiority. Guts and Schierke are fighting Wizard General Daiba of the Kushan Empire in the harbor of Vritannis. Daiba is controlling the Kundalini, a magical serpent which generates a colossal coiling body made of water and manipulates water at will. It does its best to drown Guts with powerful waterspouts and currents, and also shoots a concentrated jet of water under such high pressure that it can Clean Cut a huge wooden ship in half. At the same time, Daiba is invulnerable as long as he hides inside the watery body of the Kundalini, which neither Guts' BFS nor Serpico's wind sword can cut through. Because the Wheel of Flame spirit that Schierke summoned before can't use its full power while the enemy is over water, they instead use its power to superheat the blade of Guts' sword. Guts launches himself at the Kundalini while using the sword's heat to vaporize the incoming water jet and cause its body to flash into steam on impact; Daiba and the serpent's physical body are left vulnerable as they fall out of the air, allowing Serpico to cut off the creature's head with Razor Wind. Thusly, fire beats water if you focus it in the right place.
  • Fairy Tail:
    • Natsu is able to withstand any of Totomaru's fire spells as he devours fire. Totomaru reacts by using a special fire that smells like garbage. During the same battle, Natsu manages to beat Totomaru's flame control out of sheer will.
    • Gray has occasionally fought enemies who will try to use fire against him, using the obvious logic that fire melts ice. However, Gray is Natsu's perennial rival and notes that the fires others use against him are never as strong as Natsu's, and so are barely worth noticing.
    • When Gray fights Juvia, at one point it looks like he gets the advantage thanks to the obvious logic that ice freezes water. However, Juvia ends up getting so mad (due to a misunderstanding) that her water body and spells start boiling, thus melting through his ice.
  • Fairy Tail: 100 Years Quest:
    • When fighting the berserk Water Dragon God Mercphobia, the dragon easily shrugs off Gray freezing his water and turns it back into liquid without much effort. Then the Fire Dragon God Ignia interrupts the battle and shows off that his flames are so intense that Mercphobia can't easily put them out. And then when Natsu reluctantly eats Ignia's flames, the resulting temporary Power-Up to his Dragon Force lets him blast through and turn Mercphobia's water attacks into harmless steam to defeat the Dragon God.
    • In the Wood Dragon God arc, the God Seed Metro uses his wood powers to absorb Juvia's water attacks and Juvia herself. Unfortunately for him, he underestimates Juvia's emotions just like Gray once did and ends up boiling from the inside when she gets worked up, weakening him enough for Gray to get Juvia back out and set up the finishing blow.
    • In the same arc, the God Seed Aldoron creates leaf and wood-based attacks resistant to flames to pummel Natsu around. It's only when Natsu closes the power gap by activating Dragon Force that he starts burning them again.
  • One Piece
    • Luffy, being a rubber man, is immune to God Eneru's electricity-based powers. However, Eneru finds ways to hurt Luffy anyway by applying electricity indirectly, culminating in his tossing Luffy overboard with a gigantic gold sphere attached to his wrist serving as an anchor. Luffy defeats Eneru as soon as he gets out of the mess, but Eneru did turn what should've been a Curb-Stomp Battle into one where he had the edge.
    • A far more straightforward example is his first battle with Kaido. Being rubber as mentioned, Luffy is also nearly impervious to blunt force trauma. Kaido's opening move is to smack Luffy with a huge club, channeling what appears to be lightning through it for good measure. Down goes Luffy.
  • This happens a lot throughout the Pokémon anime; as it's a Long Runner chock full of Elemental Rock–Paper–Scissors, this is perhaps unsurprising. It often involves a trainer being creative enough to not simply use a weaker move directly. This heavily becomes a Gameplay and Story Segregation once certain moves attack Pokemon who are immune to such attacks.
    • Ash's Pikachu is able to affect Ground-types with its electricity due to "sheer training", despite that this feat is virtually impossible to duplicate in the games. This was first shown during Ash's second gym battle against Brock, easily defeating Geodude with one electrical attack and damaging Onix. The same thing happens to a Geodude 2 generations later against Roxanne.
    • The early episode "School of Hard Knocks" has Misty defeat a schoolboy's Grass-type Weepinbell with her Water-type Starmie because hers is several levels higher, meaning the type advantage is irrelevant (even though Starmie’s Psychic type is also super effective against Weepinbell’s Poison type, meaning that Starmie and Weepinbell are tied when it comes to type advantage), much to his shock. Just to drive the point home, Misty's Starmie is subsequently beaten down by the resident Alpha Bitch's dual-type Rock/Ground Graveler. Ash then manages to uphold the Rule of Three by beating said Alpha Bitch's Ground-Type Cubone with his Pikachu.
    • Another early episode trainer, AJ, put his Sandshrew through Training from Hell to make it resist Water attacks despite being Ground-type.
    • In "The Bridge Bike Gang", Chopper curb-stomps Ash's Grass-type Bulbasaur with his Rock/Ground Golem. However, Ash's Fire-type Charmander defeats the Golem by igniting it with Fire Spin despite its own disadvantage against both Rock and Ground-types.
    • "PIKACHU! THE HORN!" Apparently, an Electric attack can be used to take out a Ground-type Pokemon, completely immune to electricity, as long as it's correctly aimed. It passes the real-world logic test but blatantly contradicts the games.
      • Pikachu later defeats another Rhydon by firing a Thunderbolt into its open mouth, which is clearly not protected from electricity.
    • While not a type advantage, Ash used his Pikachu to defeat Lt. Surge's Raichu, its evolved form. In their first match Raichu wiped the floor with Pikachu, but in their rematch Pikachu won by focusing on outmaneuvering the slower Raichu rather than fighting it directly. The theme of that episode was that technique trumps power.
    • Ash once set up his Squirtle against Blaine, the gym leader of Cinnabar Island's Ninetails. The Ninetails one-shot Ash's Squirtle using a basic Flamethrower.
    • In "The Mandarin Island Miss Match", Ash's Pikachu gets curb-stomped by Lorelei/Prima's Water-type Cloyster.
    • In the episode "Hot Matches!", Miki trained her Skarmory to be able to defeat Fire-types despite being a Steel-type.
    • In Ash and Gary's showdown at the end of the Johto arc, their last Pokemon were Ash's Fire-type Charizard and Gary's Water-type Blastoise. Charizard managed to win by getting in melee range, since Blastoise's water cannons couldn't aim that close to itself.
    • Ash's Taillow/Swellow, was able to take Electric-type attacks better than the average Flying-type. At the very least, it's treated In-Universe as an anomaly.
    • For some reason, the show producers forgot that Poison attacks do not harm Steel types. This has happened twice: Seviper smacks Forretress hard with Poison Tail AND Croagunk KO'ing Scizor with a Poison Jab.
    • Cynthia's Garchomp, full stop. During the battle with Paul, Paul chose Weavile to go against Garchomp since ice moves (Blizzard and Ice Beam) deal 4x Damage against Garchomp's Dragon/Ground. Combined with the giant level gap between Weavile and Garchomp's current level, Garchomp easily shrugged off Blizzard, followed by Garchomp doing one attack and easily defeating Weavile. Although Ice Beam and Blizzard come off Weavile’s poor special attack stat, so in-game this is reasonable.
    • Ash's Oshawott handles this in a more practical and visually consistent manner: he uses a shell to deflect Electric and Grass attacks, which would otherwise be devastating to a Water-type like him.
    • A common factor with Cilan's Pansage, who has faced Pokemon with weakness in check and won, most notably Chili's Pansear and Morana's Abomasnow.
    • Wild Joltik draining the electricity of a Pokeball that contained Stunfisk dry and worn out. This shouldn't be possible, given that Stunfisk is also a Ground-type, though it can also be presumed that Joltik was using Absorb, a Grass-type move.
    • James's Yamask is nost notably known for this, due to being a Ghost Type and using Ghost-Type attacks. Yamask used Night Shade on Minccino, which shouldn't work at all. The same goes for Minccino using swift on Yamask, though since it was combined by Pikachu's thunderbolt, it is presumed that the thunderbolt hit Yamask.
    • Iris' Dragonite takes a barrage of Ice attacks without flinching or showing any sign of damage. (To clarify, Dragonite's dual-typing of Dragon and Flying makes it doubly weak against Ice). What could be said about this is that Iris caught a Dragonite levels beyond what she can control.
    • Several of Ash's Pokémon know moves that allow them to counter some of their weaknesses. Notably, his Krookodile is weak against Fighting Pokémon but Ash taught it Aerial Ace specifically to work around this.
    • Because XY introduces the Fairy-type, all episodes prior to XY that contained Dragon-type attacks against the now-Fairy-type Pokémon becomes Early-Installment Weirdness.
    • The trend would continue in Sun and Moon, where we have a Crabrawler, a Fighting type, using the Water-type Bubble Beam to block an attack from the Grass/Flying Rowlet. And later in the same season, we have the Rock-type Rockruff handily beating a Ground-type Mudbray.
    • Offscreen in Sun and Moon, Turtonator's Mighty Glacier status is furthered when we learn Kiawe earned his Firium Z by pitting him against Olivia, the Rock-type Kahuna, and winning.
  • Pokémon Adventures: In the fifth chapter, when Red's Pikachu is able to take out Brock's Rock/Ground-type Onix with a well-placed Thundershock.
  • A Certain Scientific Railgun:
  • Fullmetal Alchemist: Colonel Mustang vs Lust. Lust breaks a water main and soaks Mustang, to prevent him from using his fire powers against her. Except that Mustang's power doesn't involve some classical elemental model of fire, he controls oxygen and hydrogen. Though getting him wet kept him from making a spark to ignite them, all he has to do is borrow his lieutenant's cigarette lighter to use all that water to make even more fire.
  • Early on, during the first fight between Recca and Tokiya in Flame of Recca, Tokiya's Ensui, which is a rapier made of water, easily extinguishes Recca's flame-based power. Later on however, Recca manages to quite literally increase the heat of his flame such that Tokiya's water blade boils and becomes steam, thereby defeating him.
  • Overlord:
    • Ainz/Momonga, the titular Overlord, is an undead skeletal lich, which means he has a boatload of resistances and racial abilities but also racial weaknesses, mainly holy magic and the fire element. It is established early on that his armor set provides him with a 100% Fire resistance to counter the latter. In his battle against a brainwashed Shalltear, he switches his armor to provide Holy resistance instead of Fire, knowing that Shalltear is a Holy Valkyrie. However, he bluffs her into thinking that he still has a 100% fire resistance and no Holy resistance to discourage her from using Fire spells. By the time he reveals the bluff, Shalltear is soundly out of mana.
    • Hell, his entire Momon schtick (going around as an armored Dual Wielding One-Handed Zweihänder|s warrior) is only possible thanks to his being so overleveled, having hit the level cap back in Yggdrassil. He's able to crush a human's spine with a single arm despite being, well, nominally a Squishy Wizard (though it's repeatedly noted that he has zero techniques).
  • In Hellsing, Alucard is far and away more powerful than any other vampire in the series, and none of the usual vampiric weaknesses do anything to him. Whether its holy blades, having his heart pierced, or his head removed, he just comes right back from it like it was nothing. At one point he calmly takes a plane over a body of water in broad daylight, just to show off how powerful he is (by contrast, Seras, a neophyte vampire who hasn't completely turned yet, must make the journey housed inside her coffin the whole way). It's eventually revealed a big part of this is because he has millions of souls stored inside his body that he uses to take the damage for him.
    Integra: You cut his head off? Is that all? [...] Cut off his head, pierce his heart? He is nothing like any vampire you've ever known!
  • In Magical Record Lyrical Nanoha Force, the antagonists are a group of criminals that have Anti-Magic abilities that require our heroes to use specialized equipment in order to fight them. The sole exception to this is Hayate, who threatens the group by using a powerful ice spell that could easily go through their defenses.She would've succeeded too, if the group's leader didn't arrive and shank her from behind.
  • That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime:
    • When Noir/soon-to-be-named Diablo is tasked by Rimuru to bring in High Wizard Razen, the wizard upon seeing Noir No-Sell a powerful magic spell summons a War Gnome, a Superior Spirit of Earth in the form of a large knight. Noir notes that on paper, relying on the Tactical Rock–Paper–Scissors between demons, spirits, and angels (Demons < Spirits < Angels < Demons) would be the correct choice. However, Razen made the mistake of assuming Noir is simply a Greater Demon (due to Noir intentionally masking his power) when summoning that Superior Spirit, when in reality Noir is not only an Archdemon, but a Primordial Demon. Noir casually destroys the spirit with one hand (even more insulting since magic is considered a demon's first weapon rather than physical attacks), and then bites through its core while lamenting it was a mindless brute too young and inexperienced to bode any threat to him.
    • A similar situation plays out during the war between Tempest and the Eastern Empire when Major General Farraga, in a last-ditch effort to defeat Ultima, the now-named Violet Primordial Demon serving Rimuru, joins his power with that of the fifty mages onboard their flagship to summon an Ifrit, a Superior Spirit of Flame and the same class as the spirit that was bonded to the Hero Shizue Izawa. Ultima mocks both Farraga and the Ifrit as being far too weak to bode any threat to her before freezing the latter solid and shattering it to pieces with the ease of breathing.

    Comic Books 
  • The Green Lantern Corps have repeatedly defeated Sinestro and his organization, despite the Green Lanterns being weak to the colour yellow and the Sinestro Corps' ability to generate yellow objects. (Though this is more about the emotional side of the spectrum: Yellow means Fear and Green means Willpower. If a Green Lantern's Willpower is stronger than their Fear, they circumvent the weakness the Green Lantern rings have against Yellow.)
  • Ghost Rider: The Ghost Rider manages to defeat water-based powers with his fiery abilities. Justified, as his Hellfire is supernatural and can't be put out by water.
  • The Flash has a Logical Weakness against cold-based attacks; coldness is down to molecules lacking movement, so freezing the Flash robs them of their speed. Captain Cold, his sister Golden Glider, and her partners Chilblaine have all weaponized this, but the Flash still often ends up on top. This is due to Barry Allen often outsmarting them, or in the case of his Legacy Character, Wally West, outfighting them using his determination and sheer power. In fact, despite Chillblaine being basically a Man of Kryptonite, Wally would treat him like a Joke Character because they were never very smart and usually, Glider only picked them (there was more than one) because she thought they were hot.

    Fan Works 
  • This happens on occasion in Ashes of the Past. As discussed in-story, for experienced trainers, the type chart is just another challenge to overcome.
    • It's established that Brine or using salt water in Water-type moves can neutralize Electric moves, by means of short-circuiting the electricity back into the user. And that's just one of the anti-Electric tactics with water that Misty has come up with.
    • Pikachu can shock Ground-types by means of sheer power. It's eventually established that it's a new Ability that Pikachu has which lowers the breakdown voltage into something that can be overcome, which Dexter dubs "Zappy" (like the "Scrappy" Ability that allows Normal and Fighting-type moves to hit Ghost-types).
  • Both played straight and discussed in Pokémon Reset Bloodlines. A sidestory has Falkner's father Walker say to a trainer that "a scissor can cut a rock if it's sharp enough", establishing that it takes more than type advantages to beat a Gym Leader, and some ways to counteract it are having dual-type Pokémon or teaching moves to counter their weaknesses. Another has Skyla's grandfather Miles teaching her about this; since a Gym Leader specializes in a specific type of Pokémon, he or she can have an idea of what the challengers might bring against them, and thus can prepare countermeasures to face it.
  • In the fangame Pokemon Prism, there are three attacks that fit this trope; Boilnote , Crystal Boltnote  and Steel Eaternote .
  • Son of the Sannin: During the Fourth Ninja War arc, Konan faces Edo Tensei Hanzo of the Salamander. Hanzo uses a fire jutsu, which she counters with her paper shurikens. She wins.

  • The One Who Eats Monsters: Ryn is a perfect ambush predator with her entire body designed for stealth and fast kills. For her power level, she's a Fragile Speedster, and her healing is specifically pointed out to be sub-par. The key phrase being for her power level. She never meets anyone who even approaches her power, allowing her to curb-stomp a regenerating Mighty Glacier Stone Wall in a direct fight.
  • The Zombie Knight: This can happen if a high-level servant gets into a fight with a servant that has a power that is particularly useful against theirs. For example, Harper had a lot more trouble with Conall and Tessa than expected because they used reflective barriers(Which his laser attacks couldn't penetrate) and destruction to keep him back. His response was to enter an absurdly powerful hyper-state, which let him kick everyone's butts, and move at lightspeed.

  • BIONICLE: After becoming a Toa Nuva, Kopaka shows his increase in power by freezing Tahu's flames solid (bear in mind that Tahu, along with the rest of their team, had also received a power boost at the same time). He later tries the same trick on Avak during the Voya Nui arc, but the latter's Tailor-Made Prison abilities prove stronger still.

    Video Games 
  • As Day9 likes to point out, in RTS games in general and Starcraft: Brood War in particular, although there are elements of Tactical Rock-Paper-Scissors present, this is countered by a player who can create a strong economy, and therefore field a larger army (even an army with a poor composition). In other words, paper beats rock, but three rocks will beat a single paper.
  • During the first level of Der Langrisser, a horseman commander named Laird takes on an army of spearmen, which normally wouldn't end well at all, but Laird is the right-hand man of the elite imperial general Leon, so that spearman squad is pretty much doomed unless you can end the battle early.
  • Pokémon:
    • In general gameplay, you can override type advantages by simply having a severely overleveled team, especially if the members have a varied gamut of attack types so they can hit everything for at least neutral damage.
    • An easy way is to have an ability or use a move that removes immunities. For instance, having a Pokémon with the Ability Scrappy or the move Foresight means that Normal-type and Fighting-type moves can hit Ghost-types, which are normally unaffected. Another way is to have an Ability or move that grants you an immunity to what would normally be a weakness. For example, several Pokémon that have Levitate, including the Koffing line, Solrock, Lunatone, and most famously the Tynamo line, are immune to Ground-type moves when their typings would normally make them weak against them.
    • Since Brock, the first Gym Leader of Generation 1, specializes in Rock types, it's a good move to choose Squirtle or Bulbasaur as the starter since the Pokémon you can catch beforehand are mostly Flying and Bug types. However, the remakes FireRed and LeafGreen make the unprecedented move of having Charmander naturally learn Metal Claw at level 13, with which it can easily take down Brock single-handedly as seen here.
      • Even without other types of moves, it is possible for a moderately powerful Fire-type to take down or at least cause considerable damage to a Rock-type with a strong Fire move, since most Rock-types, despite their natural resistance to Fire, have subpar Special Defense (When Sandstorm isn't pumping it up, which is purely situational and only increases special defense from generation 4 onwards) and most popular Fire attacks (like Fire Blast and Flamethrower) are Specially-based, leaving a solid dent on the Rock-Type and making it difficult to be effective later in the match. Many experienced and competitive players know this particular handicap and choose Water- and Dragon-Types as better defenders against Fire-Type Pokémon.
    • It's a very prevalent practice in the competitive base to equip a Pokémon with a move that specifically counters its most common counter. Players puzzled as to why their otherwise competent opponent switched to Houndoom against a Water-type quickly found out why: Houndoom probably has Sunny Day and Solar Beam. Sunny Day powers up Fire-type moves and weakens Water-type moves, mitigating Houndoom's Water weakness, and Solar Beam, which beats Water types handily but normally takes a turn to charge, can be fired off instantly in the harsh sunlight.
    • The Ability Tinted Lens centers around this. It doubles the power of any not-very-effective attack, raising it to the power of a neutral attack.
    • For all the fanfare the introduction of Fairy Type brought with it around the release of the Sixth Generation of Pokemon games, with there even existing official artwork of Sylveon trouncing Hydreigon, most Pokemon who bear the type still have a fundamental weakness which allows Dragon type Pokemon, the type they have a clear advantage over, to win. Many fairy types are dual-type, (most commonly grass and psychic), and in the case of Hydreigon, a Dark/Dragon type, Hydreigon's versatile moveset and impressive stats as a pseudo-legendary allow it to tank a good few super-effective moves whilst dishing out attacks such as Flamethrower or Fire Blast, both of which have the capacity to utterly devastate the opponent and clear them out of the way.
    • Normally, Ice-type moves are less effective against Water-types. However, Freeze Dry, a move introduced in Pokémon X and Y, is an Ice-type move that is super-effective against Water-types, thus being able to do massive (quadruple!) damage to Water/Dragon, Water/Flying, Water/Ground and Water/Grass types.
    • Durant, which was specifically designed to be Heatmor’s prey, will more often than not outclass Heatmor due to its superior Speed, high Attack, and the ability to learn Dig, which would spell doom for the defensively-lacking Heatmor.
    • Smogon's "Monotype" metagame is centered around this concept. Trainers can only use Pokémon of a common type. If you can't check your team's elemental weaknesses, you just locked yourself into Poor, Predictable Rock.
    • Then there's Inverse Battles, a mechanic introduced in Pokémon X and Y that takes this literally by turning weaknesses into resistances and resistances into weaknesses.
    • Primal Groudon in Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire. As it's now a Fire/Ground type, it would be 4× weak to Water... except that its Ability creates harsh sunlight that negates all Water-type moves in the battle, giving Groudon an immunity to what would otherwise deal massive damage to it.
    • Several of the gym leaders in the main story of the games, more and more as time goes on, incorporate this as part of their strategies, through the use of things like dual typings, certain moves, and Abilities.
      • A great example is Viola of the Santalune Gym in XY. She uses Bug Pokémon, so many players think they can probably sweep her with a Fire-type. Then she opens the battle with Surskit. Not only is it part Water-type, making it neutral to Fire-type moves, it can use Water Sport to weaken Fire-type moves even further, as well as Bubble to hit Fire Pokémon for super-effective damage. It doesn't end there though—her other Pokemon Vivillon has a move called Powder, which coats the opponent in a flammable powder that explodes and damages them when it uses a Fire-Type move, completely turning the tables on Fire-Types. Want to fry Vivillon with your Fennekin or Litleo? It can't if it kills itself in a suicidal explosion.
      • Elesa from Black and White is only marginally better in this regard. The gym she leads concentrates on Electric types, so you'll probably bring some Ground-type Pokémon against her. Thing is, two of her Pokémon are Emolga, which are part Flying, essentially No Selling ground attacks, and her Zebstrika may use Flame Charge to hit Excadrill, also a Steel-type for super-effectiveness. It does not help that the game actively encourages you to catch some Ground type mons to use against her gym (that said, her Emolga lacks ways to hit your Ground types hard and her Zebstrika is still weak to ground, so nothing a few well-placed coverage moves can't solve).
    • Salandit has the Ability Corrosion which lets it poison Steel- and Poison-types, both of which would normally be immune to the status. Note that this only allows it to poison Steel- and Poison-types via status moves such as Toxic, using Poison attacks like Sludge Bomb against Steel-types will still have no effect.
    • Flying types and Pokémon with Levitate are completely immune to Ground-type moves. However, one of Zygarde's secret arts is Thousand Arrows, an Anti-Air Ground-type move that can hit even these Pokémon. To add insult to injury, it also brings them down to the ground, rendering them vulnerable to other Ground-type attacks.
  • In EndWar, Helicopter beats Tanks, Tanks beats Transports, and Transports beat Helicopters. The first one can be defied by equipping your tanks with Anti-air missile. A well-timed special attack can also avert the usual result.
  • In Fire Emblem, winged units are weak to bows, but bow users usually can't attack at close rangenote , and winged units have a Move advantage. This tends to end poorly for bow users, and it's part of why exclusive bow users are a Tier-Induced Scrappy.
    • In Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn this dynamic is repeated with Thunder mages and Dracoknights. Thunder magic gets a large bonus against Dragons and Dracoknights, who also tend to weak against magic in general, but your Dracoknights' high mobility means they will almost always get the first hit, and Haar will almost always take them down in one fell blow, as can Jill at higher levels.
    • There's also times where a Pegasus/Falcon Knight will have evade high enough that the archers won't be able to hit her, literally avoiding her weakness and then counter-attacking with javelins that will hit the archers. This is unlikely though, as, while Pegasus Knights are quite fast, Archers are the most accurate class in the entire game.
    • The trinity of Lances, Axes, and Swords in general counts; while the combatants get bonuses or penalties to their damage and accuracy depending on whether or not their weapon trumps the other, a powerful enough character (like, say, Frederick) can go up against a weapon they're weak against and still win without much trouble. The General class is especially capable of this, which is why they're often bosses, and why they're called Generals.
    • Also, in The Binding Blade lances are so bad and swords so good a match between users of both has a good chance of ending better for the sword user, despite losing the Tactical Rock–Paper–Scissors. Lances got a much needed buff the next game and swords a slight Nerf.
    • Axes and fire magic have a similar problem in Genealogy of the Holy War due to their extremely high weight, and swords can sometimes beat lances due to weighing about a quarter as much.
    • There are also the "reaver" type weapons, which are specifically designed for this trope, reversing what the wielder is usually strong or weak against (so a swordsman with a Lancereaver is strong against lances but weak against axes).
    • Other weapons have more specific advantages. For example, a swordsman would be at a disadvantage against an armored Knight with a lance, but if said swordsman has an Armorslayer, the Knight will likely be at greater risk.
    • In the opening cutscene to Fire Emblem Fates, Ryoma, a swordmaster, is shown wiping the floor with a bunch of Nohrian lancers in rapid succession. Not only is Ryoma the crown prince of Hoshido and one of its strongest warriors, but he wields the divine blade Raijinto, whereas his opponents are Mooks.
      • In Fire Emblem Heroes, a B-slot skill called Cancel Affinity allows its user to negate weapon triangle advantages and reverse part of or all of the default one if the enemy uses Triangle Adept (amplifies the bonuses and penalties of the WTA by a certain percentage).
      • Furthermore, in the early days of Fire Emblem Heroes, Reinhardt was so OP that up until the he was ousted from the META, the first question asked by the community whenever a new green unit (who would have a Tactical Rock–Paper–Scissors advantage against him) was released was 'Can it survive Reinhardt'.
  • In Persona 3, after Chidori dies, Junpei gains a new persona and blasts Jin with a fire spell. Jin reflects fire everytime you have to fight him as a boss.
  • This can happen fairly often in Battle for Wesnoth, given how time-of-day, terrain, applications of mobility, and special abilities like charging or magical attacks can easily turn the tables as to what counters what. Simply selecting the correct unit types is not enough to ensure victory.
  • Spiral Knights often falls victim to this, as the strengths and weaknesses of most monsters are not modified by the environments that they spawn in or the elemental types that they appear to be. For example, a Silversap (an icy-looking Lumber) will still be susceptible to Freeze damage and Shock damage, or a Smoking Howlitzer can still be taken down with ease using an immolating weapon.
  • Yggdra Union has a weapon advantage triangle-inside another triangle, which can easily be rendered irrelevant with activation of various Cards (such as Oblivious Dawn, Revolution, Sanctuary, or Crusade). Knowledge of invoking this trope inside the game is practically necessary, since the Big Bad has a weapon that screws over the usual triangle.
  • Some of the unique units in Age of Empires II are designed especially to counter whatever their unit type gets countered by. For example:
    • There is a Byzantine Unique Unit called the Cataphract. Their extremely good armor combined with an attack bonus against Infantry means they actually have the advantage against Pikemen one-on-one, despite being cavalry. Paladins also beat unupgraded Pikemen one-one-one, though in this case it's a Pyrrhic Victory at best since the Paladin will still come out heavily weakened and they're much more valuable than Pikemen are.
    • Where infantry units usually get countered by archers, initially moving faster before Squires even gets researched and picking them off at a range where most infantry don't have high pierce armor, the Goths have the Huskarl. He moves really fast, has a high pierce armornote  and has a bonus against archers and buildings, including towers and castles.
    • The Forgotten brings us the Italians, which have two. Their Castle unique unit is the Genoese Crossbowman, with an attack bonus against cavalry. Their other unique unit is the Condotierro, an anti-gunpowder infantry unitnote  that civilizations on its team can train in their barracks.
  • In Age of Empires III, pikeman-type units are extra effective against melee cavalry units. However, war elephants and French curaissers are capable of crushing large numbers of pikemen due to having powerful splash-damage attacks (pikemen typically have little health) and absurd amounts of health.
  • Disgaea's elemental table can be totally ignored if your unit either has strong resistance, an ability that negates part of the elemental table, or you've just upgraded your unit to be such a Badass that elemental damage is otherwise unnecessary to worry about.
    • This also can be exploited with certain classes. The Mystic Beast, Warslug, and Dragon classes in Disgaea 2: Cursed Memories are immune to wind, water, and fire respectively. On a normal matchup with any other unit, a Fire Skull (for example) with +50% in his fire element will deal an additional 50% damage for what he deals in fire. If the target has a -50% fire, then it'll basically double the damage they'd receive... unless it was a dragon who could have an abysmal fire stat, but is ALWAYS immune to fire.
  • In Civilization V, spear-type units (Spearmen, Pikeman, Lancers) gain a hefty damage bonus against Mounted units (Horsemen, Knights, Cavalry, Lancers). This advantage is useful at similar tech levels, and completely meaningless in a match between Classical-era Spearmen and Industrial-era Cavalry.
  • In the Borderlands series, nothing really stops you from using a weapon of the "wrong" type to destroy a target resistant to it. Especially if you get a particularly strong elemental gun. The Helfire incendiary submachine gun, for example, laughs in the face of shielded armor, which compounds two elements that resist fire damage.
  • Bloons Super Monkey 2 has various weapon types (Darts, Boomerangs, Explosives, Fire/Lightning Magic, and Energy Tech), each of which are completely ineffective against a certain type of Bloon (Lead, Lead, Black, Ceramic and Glass respectively). Skill upgrades from Research can allow every Nth shot from a weapon type to affect its corresponding Bloon weakness, where the minimum for N is 7 (so every seventh Tech shot will harm a Glass Bloon, for example). If your Research and Weapon levels are high enough, even a Bloon type that's normally a weakness isn't as hard to defeat as they would have been without Research.
  • Ever Oasis uses a Rock-paper-scissors type for the other three races (Serkah, Lagora, and Drauk) in which they are all strong against certain types of monsters, encouraging you to swap them out on paper and giving them some form of balance since they can't change their weapons. However, Lagora attack the fastest out of all the three, so if their weapon attacks are resisted, they can just make up the difference by hitting them so fast that the damage adds up. As a result? It's very hard to drop a Lagora party member - a Drauk can do roughly the same damage (but with fewer hits) but they can't make up the difference like a Lagora can.
  • UFO: Aftermath features the Collapsible Machine Gun. The ammo type on it is Hard, so it's on paper good against armored targets but not so much against soft-tissued enemies, but the dakka it spews out is so high, it'll wreck everything in its path. The only drawback is that you need a very strong and agile soldier to handle the weight of both the gun and the Powered Armor (that collapsible guns demand to even be equipped) without being overburdened into a snail's speed.
  • In the Nintendo Wars series, attacking anti-air units with infantry or tanks with recons, which can only do scratch-damage at best to said anti-air or tank units, remains a valid tactic because it forces them to expend ammo. Used strategically you can cripple that unit's offensive power and either force your opponent to draw back to resupply or swoop in with a better unit and blow the now ammo-less offender away without being counterattacked. It also charges your CO Power meter which, again, can turn the tide of a battle if used strategically.
  • Fate/Grand Order
    • Assassins normally deal half damage to Casters while receiving double. Semiramis's second skill, Double Summon, changes it so she deals and receives neutral damage to Casters for three turns.
    • Assassins also take 1.5x damage from Alter Egos while dealing neutral damage. Kama's third skill, Mara-Papiyas, changes it so that she deals double damage to and receives half damage from Alter Egos for three turns.
    • Pretenders deal 0.5x damage from Casters while taking neutral damage from them. Hephaestion's skill, For He is Another Iskandar (Fake), changes it so that she deals double damage to and receives half damage from Casters for three turns.
  • Generally speaking, the Tactical Rock–Paper–Scissors of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate's spirit system means that fighting a shield spirit with an attack spirit is a pointless endeavor. Unless, that is, the power level of the attack spirit is a whole order of magnitude or two above that of the shield spirit.
  • Azure Striker Gunvolt Series
  • In the flash game Stormwinds, the Spread Machine Gun is intended to be balanced by having its spread of machine gun shots deal very weak damage that the Damage Reduction of enemy armor will mitigate. However, simply upgrading its damage twice will allow each shot to go over the armor's damage reduction threshold for Scratch Damage... at which point the Spread Machine Gun will ruin armored foes via Death of a Thousand Cuts. Pairing that with a few Damage Buffers just makes it overkill against any enemy.
  • Shin Megami Tensei is well-known for making elemental affinities a core part of the battle system; exploiting weaknesses can easily turn the tide of battle often through Extra Turns, and hitting an enemy who is immune to the element used can result in losing multiple or all turns. However, some games in the series have a passive skill called Pierce that allows physical attacks to ignore physical resistance, immunity, and abosrption, although those attacks can still be repelled. Shin Megami Tensei IV introduces piercing passives for elements besides physical. Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse introduces multiple ways to ignore elemental resistances, such as temporary piercing buffs that last until the end of the party's turn, attacks that naturally pierce resistances, and a late-game passive that allows all of the protagonist's attacks to ignore resistances; furthermore, the same game buffs elemental pierces to go through repels too.
  • Paper Mario: The Origami King has a "Paper Breaks Scissors" example where Paper Mario has to go up against a sentient pair of scissors, who can and will one-shot Mario if he so much as touches his exposed blades. Mario beats him by attacking the handles and dodging his lethal attack.
  • In Devil May Cry, the Frosts are elite ice demons created by Mundus to be his shock troops. Their ice is colder than absolute zero, and no ordinary flame from the mortal world can melt it, not even volcanic fire. Only Hellfire like the flames of Ifrit can significantly harm them.
  • Temtem: Koish with the Iridesence trait have their weaknesses and resistances reversed. Chromeon's Pigment Inverter trait has the opposite effect: it reverses the weaknesses and resistances of the Temtem it's attacking.

    Web Animation 

    Web Comics 
  • In The Order of the Stick, Vaarsuvius is able to almost defeat an enemy wizard who's tailored not just his spell preparation, but his entire build specifically to counter V's evoker blaster-caster tactics. V notes that Zz'dtri (the wizard in question) used his surprise round to disable Haley, the party's archer, instead of getting an easy shot on his nemesis, and subsequently deduces that his singular focus on countering casters has left him vulnerable to more mundane ranged fire. V then proceeds to dominate an enemy crossbowman and bring Zz'dtri down with a hail of bolts, though a careless mistake at the end of the fight prevents V from truly winning.
  • In Darken, the red dragon Garganon — a being of primal elemental flame who's Immune to Fire — is absolutely gobsmacked when Gort is able to burn him. Granted, Gort uses Hellfire and a set of powerful Amplifier Artifacts to do so.
  • Daughter of the Lilies: Cave elves are resistant to fire. Doesn't stop Thistle from frying one's face off when it's about to kill her friend.

    Western Animation 
  • The elements of Avatar: The Last Airbender don't have any kind of Elemental Rock–Paper–Scissors, and even advantages you might guess from the physical materials won't necessarily make a difference:
    • Despite Earthbenders controlling the most solid and dense element, Airbenders can make wind with enough force to stop even large boulders, and Firebenders can essentially blow up most of what Earthbenders can make.
    • Firebending can also evaporate or dissipate Waterbenders' attacks much of the time.
  • Green Lantern: The Animated Series: Invoked in one episode, when Guy Gardner and Hal Jordan get into a fight. Guy quips about making it a game of rock, paper, scissors and creates a construct shaped like a rock that he hurls at Hal. Hal responds by creating a construct shaped like a pair of scissors that cut the rock in half.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants: In "A Flea in Her Dome", when Sandy's treedome was invaded by fleas, she tried to keep them away from her, SpongeBob and Patrick by tying a flea collar around the three of them. However, the fleas were quickly multiplying and produced so many offspring that they were numerous enough to overwhelm them and simply eat the collar.

    Real Life 
  • This is the entire idea behind Wild Weasel missions and the aircraft designed and armed to fly them. Seeing as Surface-to-Air Missile sites are deployed far behind the front lines, ground forces can't take them out effectively. So what's the air force to do? Fight back. And the easiest way to spot an Anti-Air battery? Get them to shoot at you first.
  • The whole design Philosophy of the B-17 and B-29 is "Bomber beats Fighter". They do this by attaching a hell of a lot of guns on all sides of the aircraft, giving them the nickname "flying fortress". German pilots are more afraid of a B-17 than an enemy fighter, and since B-17s usually come in massive numbers for large-scale strategic bombing, there's usually more machine guns in a group of B-17s than there are in an usual Antiaircraft battery. Said guns are also usually closer to the fighters. There was even a brief experiment intended to exploit this with the YB-40, a modified B-17 which carried no actual bombs instead mounted even more machine guns. This proved to be a failure because the YB-40 wasn't fast enough to keep pace with B-17 formations, but the turrets designed for it were incorporated into the next model of standard B-17s. Of course, later advances in technology makes this strategy moot, but for a WWII era bomber, it is incredibly effective.
  • Tank armour compared to anti-tank weapons heavily depends on the strength of both the armour and the weapon in question. Anti-tank rifles in particular would be unable to penetrate the thinnest plating of a modern main battle tank.
  • The result of many interactions depend on the quality or quantity of the opposing forces. A breeze can blow out a candle but can spread a wildfire. Enough dirt will swallow water, enough water will wash away dirt.
  • In certain competitions, self imposed rules and exhibition games often give expert competitors disadvantages to see if they can still win, like winning with a low-tier character in a video game.
    • Golf has a handicap system in order to implement this. By keeping track of one's scores shot on different courses, the system can establish a handicap to compare to that of others in order to "give" strokes if you were to play a match with them. A 0 handicap player would, as a standard, give a 10 handicap player 10 strokes over an 18 hole round. Though the lower handicap player still arguably has the advantage, especially if they're playing stroke play, as he's probably more experienced and capable of dealing with nerves if the match is close late in the round, and also less likely to have a blow up hole and make a quadruple bogey or something. The advantage is reversed in match play, where the less capable golfer making a 10 on a hole will only cost him that one hole, and the strokes he's given are spread out among holes.
  • The "Off the Record" show (hosted by the GSL or Global StarCraft League) regularly pits top end pros against normal StarCraft players, but with absurd limitations (use only chopsticks to press the keyboard, peel 6 potatoes while playing, etc.). The pros still triumph most of the time...
  • Scissors can cut slate rock.
    • There are some rocks (notably obsidian) that can even cut paper!
    • And if you fold even common paper a certain number of times, then the resulting thick wad will be virtually impenetrable to anything that isn't as cutting as a laser, never mind to ordinary scissors. Not to mention the fibres that make up paper will dull a steel blade quite quickly, so scissors can be ruined if there's enough paper to cut.
  • Normally, water extinguishes fire. However, trying to extinguish oil-induced fire in an enclosed container with water will just create a nasty explosion.
    • Water would also be incapable of extinguishing even the smallest and dimmest of stars. Indeed, pouring water onto a star (assuming that it was possible to do that) would literally be "adding fuel to the fire" - that is, giving it a supply of extra material for nuclear fusion.


Video Example(s):


Demon vs Spirit

The demon who'll be named Diablo points out the tactical advantage spirits has against demons while showing that he's so powerful that it doesn't matter.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (9 votes)

Example of:

Main / ScissorsCutsRock

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