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Situational Hand Switch

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When characters are injured or partially incapacitated, they can be locked into using one part of their body, and are to use the other side of that body and ultimately utilize their non-dominant hand.

The most common manifestation of this trope is when a character injures their right arm forcing them to rely only on their left arm even if they're normally right-handed. Characters who lose both arms are restricted to use of their legs and feet. Although relatively rare, natural lefties who have lost the use of their left hand and are now forced to use their right side/right hand also count (as well as examples dealing with feet).

Another common variation of the trope to have a character use their non-dominant hand so that they can be more versatile in certain situations/events like combat training or for a competition of some sort.

While most prosthetic devices negate the trope, replacements like an Arm Cannon reinforces the problem. Not to be mistaken for I Am Not Left-Handed, which is when a character reveals they've been artificially restricting themselves in the conflict. If the now handicapped hero performs heroically with the non-dominant hand, then it is Heroic Ambidexterity.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Berserk: Guts is a right-handed swordsman who lost his left hand and got it replaced with an iron prosthetic. The prosthetic has a magnetic grip which enables him to use his BFS two-handed, but the prosthetic can’t wield the sword by itself because it lacks voluntary wrist and finger control. At the same time the prosthetic is a lot more resistant to damage, which is why some of Guts's moves involve switching his grip.
    • Upon getting a pouch of mini bombs which explode with surprising force, Guts develops a technique of throwing the bomb at his enemy and then taking cover from the blast behind his incredibly broad, heavy sword. At this moment he grips the sword handle with his iron hand because it will be exposed to the explosion, while using his right hand of normal flesh to brace the blade from behind.
    • During a duel with Serpico, Guts anticipates that Serpico is about to attack his right hand. Without Serpico noticing, Guts switches the position of his hands on the grip, so Serpico's blade bounces harmlessly off the iron hand instead.
  • In Black Cat, during Train's first fight with Creed, it comes up that Train used to be left-handed but is now ambidextrous, and usually holds his gun in his right hand for most jobs he takes. Against Creed, though, he switches to his left hand, even going as far as to let his right hand get cut off to be able to inflict a decisive blow against him.
  • Riffael Raffit of Count Cain had his right hand was injured badly enough after his suicide attempt in the hospital that he had to learn to use his left. After it heals, he remains left-handed. When his evil Split Personality regains control over his body, it's right-handed — and when good-Riff starts his Split-Personality Takeover, he shoots himself in the right arm to hamstring evil-Riff.
  • Barret in Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children suffered a gunshot wound that made his right arm unusable. It's likely he was right-handed before this wound. However, he might have simply gotten used to using his left by this point, as his gun-arm is now capable of assuming the form of a usable hand.
  • Edward Elric from Fullmetal Alchemist was originally right-handed, but writes with his left hand after he lost his right arm. Presumably, automail doesn't have the same kind of dexterity as a real arm and hand.
  • Naruto:
    • When Naruto is learning the Rasengan, he uses his left hand to form the chakra. During the fight with Kabuto, he has to use a Shadow Clone to mold the chakra for him because he used the left hand to stop Kabuto's attack.
    • Oddly enough, the same situation applies to Kabuto in the same fight. He is hit with an attack by Tsunade which causes the electrical signals in his body to go haywire. A command to a part of his body causes another part to respond.
  • Major: At the start of the second season, Goro reveals he suffered crippling injury in his right arm, leaving him unable to properly pitch. Due to this, he spent the last years training to become a southpaw and go back to play once he reached high school.
  • In My Hero Academia, Midoriya had a habit of breaking the bones in his arms because of the volatile nature of One For All in the early parts of the story. He's forced to eat and write with his other hand while his bones healed (with a lot of thanks given to Recovery Girl's Healing Hands).
  • One Piece: Shanks wears his sword on his right hip, indicating that he was left-handed before he lost his left arm.
  • Parasyte: After Migi, the alien parasite who is possessing Shinichi's right — and dominant — hand pulls a Heroic Sacrifice against Gotou, Shinichi is forced to use only his left hand for a few episodes. It's shown that he's rather awkward at doing basic tasks such as eating.
  • In ViVid Strike!, Rinne breaks Vivio's left leg partway through the match. To compensate, she reveals that she can switch to a Southpaw Style which has the added benefit of Rinne not being able to accurately read. (This is truth in television) The new stance and her Finishing Move helps her win.

    Comic Books 

    Films — Animation 
  • In Batman: Gotham by Gaslight, Jack the Ripper is left-handed, but his alter-ego Jim Gordon is right-handed; he explains that he was born left-handed, but the nuns at his school beat him until he learned to use his right hand.
    • Also while Jason, Dickie and Tim try to mug some civilians as part of the Outsider Gang, Jason deceivingly holds his knife in his right hand. But once Batman appears he shifts to his left.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In An Eye for an Eye (1966), Talion's gun hand is crippled, leading him to guide Wallace (who can shoot straight, but was blinded) using clock numbers as directions. But in the final showdown, Talion is forced to shoot with his off hand.
  • In Blade Runner, Roy Batty broke Rick Deckard's right ring and small fingers, forcing Deckard to use his left hand.
  • In Cinderella Man, Braddock is a boxer who breaks his regular hand. To make ends meet, he finds work on the docks where he uses his other arm and hand to handle heavy loads, and starts using this hand in the ring.
  • In the original Evil Dead films, Ash actually loses his right hand. Of course, Sam Raimi probably decided that Ash should lose his right and not his left hand because Bruce Campbell in Real Life is left-handed.
  • From The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, a bounty hunter who lost his right arm to Tuco at the beginning of the film learns to shoot with his left, which, after catching up to Tuco, he squanders by bragging about it instead of just killing him.
  • Shooter: the protagonist Bob, who's normally right handed, got his right shoulder wounded 1/3 into the movie, and has to resort to shooting with his left after that. Even after it's healed, his right shoulder becomes stiff, so he keeps using his left.
  • In Young Sheldon S4 E3, Sheldon breaks his right hand and makes a big deal out of having to do things with this left hand. He consults with Georgie, who's left-handed. Georgie says it's hard to cut with scissors, sometimes he gives the wrong hand to shake, and the gear shifter is on the driver's right. None of these are a problem for Sheldon, since Mary cuts papers for him, he doesn't like shaking hands and he doesn't drive.

  • In The Dark Tower, due to an unfortunate encounter with "lobstrosities" in The Drawing of the Three, Roland Deschain loses the index and middle fingers of his right hand. From that point forward he's strictly a left-handed shooter. The remaining members of his ka-tet inherit the use of his right-hand gun.
  • In the eleventh Diary of a Wimpy Kid book, Greg, who is right-handed, buys a French horn and learns the hard way that it's a left-handed instrument.
  • In the Emberverse novels, Rudi Mackenzie's right arm is wounded and has to learn to use his left arm as his sword arm. When practicing with youths in the Free Republic of Richland they complain that he has an unfair advantage as a southpaw. His mentor responds "Yah hey, if someone attacks you using different moves, or if they're a leftie you're just going to say you're taking your bat and ball and going home 'cause it ain't fair? Christ, Weiss, I've known you were a dumb little punk for years, but do you have to show it off in front of strangers?"
  • In Flanders' Book of Faith, a licensed book of The Simpsons, there's a man who was right-handed but lost his right arm in an accident so he learns to use left-handed tools.
  • Inverted in How to Be a Pirate. Hiccup, who has always been a very clumsy swordfighter despite trying very hard, has his right shoulder dislocated from being carried by a dragon in a hasty escape. Later, during a fight against the eventual series Big Bad, he's forced to use his left hand and suddenly becomes far more competent. This helps him to a) learn he is left-handed and b) hold up against a grown opponent, at least until a worse problem appears.
    • Played straight in How to Betray a Dragon's Hero when Hiccup's left arm is injured by a Vampire Spy-Dragon and he's forced to use his right against Snotlout.
  • Inheritance Cycle: In Eragon, the title character is forced to learn to swordfight with his left hand after he breaks his right wrist by Teirm.
  • Rogue Warrior - US Navy SEAL Richard Marcinko has half his squad carry their M16's left-handed as they have to walk single file through the jungle and rice fields of Vietnam.
  • In The Silmarillion, Maedhros learns to wield his sword with his left hand after a Life-or-Limb Decision. He becomes even more deadly afterwards (though this is probably for psychological reasons more than anything physical.)
  • A Song of Ice and Fire: Qhorin Halfhand and Jaime Lannister both lost their right hands (Qhorin lost several fingers, Jaime the entire hand) and were forced to learn to fight left-handed. Jaime's struggles to regain his swordsmanship post-amputation take on the flavor of Training from Hell.
  • In J. M. Barrie's original Peter Pan, Captain Hook was originally right-handed until Peter severed his right hand and threw it to the crocodile. He has since learned to use his sword left-handed and claw with the hook on his right hand. And yes, his actual birth name was Hook, having a Hook Hand later in life is coincidence.
  • Waltharius: Hagen in combat cuts off Walther's right hand at the wrist. Walther immediately draws his backup sword with his left hand and lands a blow on Hagen, disabling him and thus bringing the fight to a draw.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The cooking competition Cutthroat Kitchen occasionally implements situational southpaw sabotages, thereby forcing a chef to rely heavily—if not entirely—on their weaker handnote . These handicaps involve the following:
    • Greatly reduced finger mobility on the dominant hand, either as the result of having to wear a bulky oven mitt or having the hand taped closed.
    • The total inability to use a chef's dominant hand. This may be done by, say, tying the hand behind the chef's back or forcing them to hold an awkward item in it for the rest of the round.
    • A "Black and White" table which, unlike the hand-swap handicaps, requires the its user to perform the same action with both the left hand and right hand at the same time.
  • Once on NCIS, Gibbs takes a bullet to his right (dominant) hand. He has to shoot the bad guy with his left hand — and, being Gibbs, he succeeds.
  • The Prisoner (1967): Number 6 is normally right-handed. But in "The Schizoid Man", the Village staff use aversion therapy to force him into favoring his left hand, as part of a bizarre scheme to make him doubt his identity and think he's an agent sent to imitate Number 6. He eventually realizes what's happening, and he then uses aversion therapy on himself to regain his right-handedness.
  • Young Sheldon: In "Training Wheels and an Unleashed Chicken", Sheldon makes a big deal out of having to do things with this left hand. He consults with Georgie, who's left-handed. Georgie says it's hard to cut with scissors, sometimes he gives the wrong hand to shake, and the gear shifter is on the driver's right. None of these are a problem for Sheldon, since Mary cuts papers for him, he doesn't like shaking hands and he doesn't drive.

    Pro Wrestling 

    Video Games 
  • In Another Code, the eldest of the Edward brothers, Henry, used to be a painter. However, he lost his right arm (the dominant one) when he fought in World War II, and stopped painting for a while. He eventually managed to transfer his talent to his left hand, and manage to make a few new paintings, but unfortunately it didn't last.
  • In Dark Souls 1, Artorias is heavily implied to be left-handed, but his left arm is broken when you fight him. He'll still kick your ass with his weak arm.
  • In Labyrinth of Refrain: Coven of Dusk, your puppet soldiers can lose a limb after taking a critical hit. Until you are able to repair the puppet, it'll fight less effectively using its off-hand. Or, you can just go into the status menu and change the puppet's dominant hand, which can be done at anytime. Of course, if both arms are destroyed, this isn't an option.
  • An actual gameplay mechanic in Transformers: Fall of Cybertron; tapping the joystick makes your character switch shooting hands, which can be used to get a better angle on enemies or shoot around corners. Given all the characters are advanced robots, there's no apparent issues with hand dominance, assuming that's even a concept for them to begin with.
  • Dunban in Xenoblade Chronicles 1 lost the use of his right arm. But still being right-handed or not he kicks ass.

    Western Animation 
  • In the Season 3 episode of Elena of Avalor “Giant Steps”, Princess Elena gets her right arm injured in a fight, which results in her having a cast. For several episodes after that, she had to learn how to use her left hand for even basic things like eating, etc.
  • In an early episode of Teen Titans, Cyborg's right hand is detached, and captured by the Hive Five, who mount it on a wall as a trophy. As Cyborg is venting his frustration by listing all the horrible things that happened that day, he ends it with "I've just become left-handed!".
  • One episode of Samurai Jack has his hand get stuck in a magical orb, forcing him to wield his sword in his other hand to prevent it from getting stuck in said orb as well. Being Jack though he anticipated having to switch hands for whatever reason and knows a left-handed Reverse Grip sword technique. Naturally he cuts down his foe with no problems at all.

    Real Life 
  • One time after a stroke that left Frank Frazetta's right hand numb, he trained his left hand to do the work.
  • In some societies (including the US and Europe in the 19th century), left-handedness was considered unlucky or evil, and left-handed people were forced to learn to write with and use their right hand in formal schooling.
  • Ronald Reagan was naturally left-handed but became ambidextrous after being forced to learn to write with his right hand in school.
  • Law enforcement officers and soldiers practice shooting with their non-dominant hand to compensate for positioning in combat or if their dominant hand is injured.
  • Károly Takács won his second Olympic gold medal in the 25 metre rapid fire pistol event after switching to his left hand, his right one having been blasted during World War II by an accident with a grenade.
  • Jimi Hendrix: Actually contributed slightly to his sound. He frequently used a Fender Stratocaster, which has one of the pickups tilted. This gives each string a slightly different sound. As a lefty, however, Hendrix reversed the order of the strings, thereby reversing the order of the differences and giving his music a unique feel.