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The game you're playing allows you to swap equipment in slots on party members. There're some slots the game won't allow players to empty. There are three categories of this trope:

  • Defaults: A character comes with an item that can't be removed (sometimes because the character isn't allowed to equip other items on that particular slot); for example, a fisticuffs brawler may have their Weapon slot described as "Hard Fists" simply to keep that slot occupied and remind the player that they are not actually weaponless in battle.
  • Un-Unequipables: You can equip the item but subsequently can't remove it (a common property of cursed items).
  • Swappables: You may reequip the slot with whatever you choose, but you do have to equip it with something; you can't leave it empty.

Some games with a Guest-Star Party Member have all their equipment fall under this trope to avert So Long, and Thanks for All the Gear. If so, it will fall under "Defaults".

Often related to Clingy Costume and Clingy MacGuffin.


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    Action Adventure Games 
  • In Magicland Dizzy, you pull Excalibur from the stone by picking up some 'sticky stuff' that allows you to get a good enough grip. It's then permanently attached to your hand (taking up inventory space) for the remainder of the game.

    Action RPG 
  • Demon's Souls gives you a bunch of items that remain bound to you during the whole game: the Augite of Souls (a glowy rock that frequently serves as your only source of light), Nexial Binding (a bangle you can use at any time to escape a level at the cost of all your souls/money), Blue Eye Stone (used to enter another player's world as an allied Blue Phantom), Black Eye Stone (used to invade another player's world and hunt them down as a Black Phantom), and after you fulfill the right conditions, the Red Eye Stone (used to enter a duel with another player).
  • Dark Souls plays this very subtly. It allows you to drop pretty much every piece of equipment, and the items may get lost again if you don't pick them up... except the Orange Charred Ring and the Covenant of Artorias ring, which are required to reach two of the four key bosses throughout the game, and are instead placed in the initially conspicuously empty chest at the Firelink Shrine in case you lose them. On the other hand, they are also the only equipment pieces not transferred to the New Game Plus.
  • This happens in Heroes Of Ruin for the 3DS. You can swap out your equipment, but once you put something onto your character, you can't remove it.
  • Kingdom Hearts:
    • In Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts II, Sora and company cannot unequip their main weapons, although the Trio can change their weapon to another of the same type. Sora always has to have his Keyblade equipped; Donald and Goofy: their respective Stave and Shield, and any World Partner comes default with a weapon that can't even be switched out for another.
    • The same goes for Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep, in which Terra, Ventus and Aqua can switch out Keyblades, but cannot unequip them leaving them with nothing. In the case of the keyblade wielders, this is justified; the keyblade is usually the only weapon available to them, and their "weapon slot" is actually just a keychain used to modify the keyblade's attributes. In a more meta sense, the Keyblades themselves are also Clingy MacGuffins.
  • Monster Hunter will let you run around with no armor whatsoever, but you're never allowed to be weaponless. You can go hunting without armor—you'll just be a Glass Cannon at best—but there would be no point in having no weapons equipped.
  • In Ravensword: Shadowlands, every quest item you acquire remains in your inventory for the rest of the game and cannot be sold or dropped, even after they've long served their purpose.
  • Subverted in Valkyrie Profile. Lenneth's Nibelungen Ring has all the usual signs that it can't be removed, but it really can be and not wearing it at certain points in the game is necessary to get the best ending.

    Eastern RPG 
  • In Chrono Trigger, you cannot completely unequip any equipment slot on any character - they're all filled by default, and all you can do is swap them (with the slight exception of your time on the Blackbird, where the slots temporarily empty for everything except Ayla's weapon).
    • The same applies to weapons and basic armor in Chrono Cross, but nothing else.
  • In Cognitive Dissonance, several party members start with items that can't be unequipped.
  • Dragon Quest:
    • The series has cursed weapons that can only be removed with special methods once equipped. The moment you equip them, you'll hear an ominous tune play, which has become a sort of staple in the series.
    • Dragon Quest IV: Averted by Psaro as a party member. He is fully capable of using cursed weapons and armor with no penalty.
    • Dragon Quest VIII: Averted with the main character, who is immune to curses (because he's under the effects of a curse already). This means he treats cursed equipment as though it weren't cursed.
  • In Eternal Sonata, you can't unequip the Weapons or Armor slot, only swap.
  • Occurs in the later Final Fantasy games.
    • In Final Fantasy IX you cannot have your weapon slot be empty, though you may change weapons around and run around "naked" except for your dagger/staff/racket/spear whatever.
    • In Final Fantasy VII, Final Fantasy X, and Final Fantasy XIII you can't have either your Weapon or armor slot be empty.
    • In Final Fantasy VIII, each character only has one weapon, which can be upgraded (or downgraded), but can't be unequipped.
    • in Final Fantasy XIV the weapon or tool you have equipped defines your character's class and you can't be "classless".
  • Golden Sun has cursed weapons that are very powerful, but have the annoying side effect of causing paralysis when fighting. Once equipped, you can't take them off unless you visit a priest to remove the curse from the character. The weapon will still be cursed though.
    • Though you can equip a special ring to remove the paralysis effect, making it a powerful weapon you probably won't want to remove anyway.
  • In Live A Live, the weapon/left hand slot of a character cannot be emptied once it has been filled.
  • The Lufia series has cursed items, which after being equipped cannot be removed until you pay a priest to remove the item for you.
  • Koromaru can't equip footwear in Persona 3. This is largely because he's a dog. His "shoes" equipment slot is permanently occupied by an unremovable "item" called "Bare Paws".
  • In Pokémon, key items can't be tossed or sold once obtained. Trying to toss gets you a "That's too important to throw away", which is annoying in the early games, which limit your space severely, with items whose purpose has already been fulfilled, like the SS Anne ticket in Gen I after you finish with the ship.
    • At least one slot in your party MUST be filled at all times. It can be any Pokemon, but if you try to deposit that last one in the PC, you'll get a "That's your last Pokemon" message and be stopped from doing it.
  • Ruina: Fairy Tale of the Forgotten Ruins: Some powerful pieces of equipment are cursed so that if the player tries to remove them from the wearer, an event is triggered after the player exits the menu, which causes the equipment to go back on the previous wearer. While Ada can remove most cursed equipment by destroying them, she cannot do so for the elemental gems that only the protagonist can equip. Those require the player to activate the fountain at the bottom of the Cemetery.
  • Occurs several times in the SaGa series:
    • In Final Fantasy Legend II and Final Fantasy Legend III, the equipment of Guest Star Party Members is stuck, including any gear they equip in empty slots.
      • In Final Fantasy Legend II, robots permanently have a 'O-Pa/Po' (Resistance to paralysis/poison) "equipped" that they cannot get rid of.
    • Mystics in SaGa Frontier all have some form of armor permanently equipped, usually "Mystic Mail", although Mesarthiim and Dr. Nusakan have a "Mellow Ring" and "Mystic Shirt" respectively. Depending on their body type, Mecs have one to four pieces of equipment that can't be unequipped, ranging from laser cannons to missile launchers to medkits.
    • In SaGa Frontier 2, some characters are stuck with unequippable weapons, the most notorious examples being Gustave always having his steel sword (though hopefully upgrades as the story goes on); Gustaf (who inherits Gustave's sword, which is pretty much an Infinity -1 Sword at this point); and Firebrand (who wields a weaker sword). With both weapon slots occupied, Gustaf can't equip the Infinity +1 Sword (or any other weapon for that matter) preventing him from achieving Game-Breaker status.
    • Romancing SaGa: Minstrel Song features this: certain recruitable characters have equipment that can't be removed. These include The Minstrel, Diana, Prince Niedhart and the various Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep" "generic" mercenaries. This prevents the player from pulling a reverse So Long, and Thanks for All the Gear on them, and can also hinder attempts to outfit them with the best equipment.
    • Romancing SaGa 3 also has a fair number of characters with unremoveable items: the assassin-type character can't remove his secondary weapon (although he gains an upgrade for it late in the game), the snowman can't remove the crystal that keeps him from melting outside of his homeworld, the vampire can't remove his cloak (although it's not like you'd want to because it's one of the best armors in the game and any armors that share its name are vastly weaker), the bard can't remove his lute, the crippled swordsman can't remove his prosthetic arm, and so forth.
    • In Unlimited Saga, Kurt and Michelle have cursed gauntlets that can't be removed, only upgraded through the game's distinctive Character Customization.
  • Star Ocean had accessories that couldn't be removed from Phia and Ioshua.
  • In the Suikoden series, the True Runes can't be moved or removed from their bearers. The same goes for certain other characters with "special" Runes, whether or not said Runes are actually unique and plot-relevant.
    • Furthermore, some characters actually have armor pieces which cannot be removed or upgraded, usually owing to the person's profession (such as Mina's Toe Shoes, as she's a dancer). However, these excuses aren't always justified: while Mina's example can be forgiven, Luc's locked-in Guard Robe (one of the weakest armour pieces in a game with multiple stronger pieces of robed armour) is not, especially given that it all but guarantees that he'll die if an enemy so much as breathes in his direction.
  • Sword of Paladin: All equipment is locked except for Skill Gems and Ornaments, meaning each character really only gets two slots to customize. However, story progress will result in equipment upgrades or downgrades for the major party members. The unchangeable gear is designed to maintain relative power levels in a way that's consistent with the story. While Skill Gems, Ornaments, and leveling can help a weak character become stronger, the locked equipment means they Can't Catch Up with canonically stronger characters.
  • Happens in Tales of the Abyss with Guest-Star Party Member Asch. He comes pre-equipped with "Maestro" equipment, basically his uniform as God-General, that refused to be removed unless you use cheat devices. When you first get him, his equipment is top-notch and his accessory very useful, but the next time you can actually control him the rest of your party has clearly outclassed him.
  • In Tales of Phantasia, Chester and Arche can't be stripped of any weapon they are currently in possession of. This is justified as Chester is an Archer not trained for melee combat and Arche uses flying broomsticks without which she wouldn't have much advantage in battle.
  • In Virtual Hydlide, armor has the ability to be "cursed", making it unremovable without creative use of magical items.
  • The Wild ARMs games generally let you upgrade your characters ARMs (or change their ammunition), but the ARMs themselves are character-specific and can't be unequipped.
  • Gear weapons in Xenogears.
  • Melia's starting hat in Xenoblade Chronicles 1. It can't be removed until after a certain story event unless you're on a New Game Plus.
    • Shulk is also stuck with the Monado for the duration of the game and can't equip any other swords, though at least the Monado gets upgraded throughout the game to keep its damage viable. Very late in the game, due to story events, you do get the ability to craft imitation Monados which he is free to change between. Most of which however require items dropped from Post-Game level enemies.

    First-Person Shooter 
  • The original Call of Duty and its expansion have a form of this - pistols are considered separate from the normal two-weapon limit, and like with the other two weapon slots you can't drop one unless you find a different one to replace it with. However, after the first game's American campaign, you don't always have one to start with (this combined with their general low damage past point-blank range is probably why CoD2 and later dropped the dedicated pistol slot).
    • The James Bond video games published by Activision, the same publisher behind CoD, have kept this idea going: Bond usually has the CoD-style two-weapon limit, but also a third slot dedicated to, if not pistols in general, just his trademark Walther P99.
  • In Left 4 Dead, server mods aside, your secondary weapon slot will always be filled. You start with a pistol with infinite ammo, and you can get a second pistol, a magnum, or a melee weapon, but you'll always have at least one weapon on hand. Some campaigns even force you to progress with just the secondary for a while before you find any primaries.
  • PAYDAY: The Heist allows you to carry a primary weapon (rifles, a shotgun, and a grenade launcher), a secondary weapon (submachine guns and a compact shotgun), and a sidearm. You cannot swap any of your weapons out for one dropped by an enemy.
    • PAYDAY 2 uses the same formula, but players can instead only use a primary gun (usually assault rifles or other heavy weaponry) and a secondary gun (pistols and submachine guns). You can never play without one of the two.

  • In World of Warcraft, you cannot un-equip the backpack you start with, ever. Which is annoying, as there are a few easily attainable alternatives readily available with 4-6 slots more.note 
  • in Lost Souls (MUD), some cursed items display sticky behavior. Hijinks ensue when players decide it is more cost effective to have their buddy hack off the hand with the cursed ring on it, then reattach the limb, than to get a remove curse spell cast on them.

  • Hilariously, in Ancient Domains of Mystery for some time it was possible for gold coins to be cursed. So if you decided to fool around and equip a coin as a weapon... you might have found out it was impossible to un-equip, and you were forced to walk around beating up monsters with a single coin.
  • NetHack, Angband and many other Roguelikes use the same mechanic; you can't remove a cursed item once equipped without removing the curse first. This is especially bad if the item in question is a two-handed weapon (leaving no hands available to use other items) or an Amulet of Strangulation.

    Real Time Strategy 
  • Justified in Warcraft 3 which has several (plot-important) items that can't be dropped; if you could drop them, you would lose them for the rest of the game.

    Simulation Game 
  • Some Harvest Moon games have cursed tools that can't be removed when held. Very annoying if you accidentally equip them with the switch tools button shortcut.

  • Civilization V: Capital cities cannot be razed. Even if the original owner is defeated entirely, the city is there to stay for the entire game. This includes city state cities, and serves some purpose in that this allows players to liberate both major civs and city states, which is especially useful for a diplomatic victory. On the other hand, its impossible to get rid of such cities if you wanted to build another one in a better location nearby.
  • In Jagged Alliance the biker mercenary Nails refuses to take off his leather jacket in favor of proper body armor, which makes him something of a Joke Characternote , but he can be persuaded to upgrade it for another leather jacket with Kevlar reinforcement if you can prevent him from getting shot full of holes first. He also doesn't seem to mind shoving a trauma plate underneath it, at least in the V1.13 Game Mod, which helps slightly.

    Survival Horror 
  • The cellphone in Cry of Fear is one of your two starting items. It cannot be dropped, as it is a plot-essential item for most of the game. After a train crash in the last quarter of the game, you lose the cellphone.
  • Several of the classic Resident Evil titles had an extra inventory space to accommodate a "personal" item for the character to help make progress; usually a cigarette lighter for the male character and a lockpick for the female. The space could not be used to stash regular inventory, but would sometimes temporarily hold another item for plot-critical reasons. The knives your characters pack in newer games fit more under Emergency Weapon, since they don't appear in the inventory to take up space to begin with.
  • In ZombiU, your starting weapons (Cricket Bat and Browning Hi-Power pistol) are permanent fixtures in your very limited inventory space. This often means that superior weapons, such as the two melee weapons added in the PS4, Xbox One, and PC Updated Re-release, and a suppressed SIG-Sauer P226 pistol you can find early on (and can share ammo with the Browning HP), are themselves effectively permanent fixtures of your hideout's stash inventory.

    Tabletop Game 
  • Dungeons & Dragons features cursed magical items that once equipped, will re-appear in the relevant slot and force the user to use it even if it has been physically destroyed. Usually requires a specific spell or combination of spells just to allow the item to be unequipped and thrown away. Probably the Trope Codifier.
  • In Cardfight!! Vanguard, you start with a grade 0 vanguard, and must always have one for the duration of the game. Since not having one would be a Game-Breaking Bug (you couldn't take any more damage, for one), in the unlikely event that you don't have one, there is a series of steps you must go through, ending with game loss if there is absolutely no card you can use.

    Third-Person Shooter 
  • Red Faction: Guerrilla: Mason's sledgehammer is a default that can't be exchanged for a another weapon. On the other hand, it's the single most versatile weapon in the game.

    Turn Based Strategy 
  • Certain items in the Fire Emblem series cannot be removed from their bearers' inventories.
    • In Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon & the Blade of Light, Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem, and their remakes, Marth cannot remove the Fire Emblem/Binding Shield from his inventory after he acquires it.
    • In Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War, you can never sell off the Crusader Weapons. For the most part there's no reason you would want to, but this does force you to use a glitch if you want to transfer the Balmung from Shanan to a Chulainn-fathered Larcei or Ulster.
    • Done quite a lot in Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn.
      • Ike's Ragnell, Elincia's Amitinote , Sanaki's Rudol Gem, and all laguz weapons are locked to their wielder's inventories.
      • Alondite is a subversion; it is locked to the Black Knight during his time as a Guest-Star Party Member, but you eventually get the item back late in the game and it can be given to any suitable wielder.
      • Many bosses have their weapons locked to their inventories to prevent you from using the Disarm skill and a thief to steal them and leave them helpless.
    • In Fire Emblem Fates, Ganglari is stuck with Corrin while it is in your possession, and Draconic Rage is stuck with Corrin during their Roaring Rampage of Revenge in chapter 5. In addition, the four amiibo units cannot trade away their respective weapons.
  • The Last Remnant gives a little control over party member equipment. You can get them to request certain pieces if it matches their equipment focus and will upgrade their weapons over time, but there is no way to manually change their stuff.
  • Mewgenics: Along with Cursed Items, your cats can also be infected by parasites: they take up an inventory slot stopping you from equipping anything there, and offer a minor bonus along with a major disadvantage (like reducing maximum health, but spawing allied maggots when you get hit.) They can be obtained by performing unhygenic actions like eating poop and participating in a cat orgy.
  • XCOM: Enemy Unknown has this at the end: The Volunteer is unable to take the Psi Armor off.

    Western RPG 
  • Albion applies this for all plot-important items. Unfortunately the dev team neglected to consider that "King Tharnos's Permit" allows you to deal with a Broken Bridge either through directly using it, or through selecting a relevant conversational option. Only if you use it directly will it be removed from your inventory—otherwise, it stays with you forever. At least it doesn't weigh much. Albion also features the conventional cursed items, which reduce one of your stats and can't be unequipped (except by paying a healer to remove the curse, which destroys the cursed item).
  • Used for flavor in Baldur's Gate: Minsc won't allow Boo to be removed from one of his potion slots.
    • Imoen also starts Baldur's Gate 2 with a belt which cannot be removed and has flavor text saying she's been stuck with it as long as she's been in the dungeon. It provides a few hidden immunities to ensure she survives to reach the exit and trigger the plot, and it's gone when you get her back later.
    • And Edwin has a non-removable amulet that's there because the devs wanted him to be really good at spellcasting but the engine doesn't allow for someone to just be given extra spell slots.
    • Nalia has a ring that cannot be removed from her right hand. This ring gives her resistance to fire, a boost to her saves, and a boost to her armor class.
    • The games also include a handful of "cursed" items, that are of the "un-unequipable" variety.
  • Divinity: Original Sin II: Justified with the Power Nullifier collars that the Divine Order uses on its prisoners. The Player Character starts the game with one, as does every other Sourcerer on the penal colony, and can only get it removed by completing certain Sidequests or completing Act I.
  • The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion won't allow you to drop quest items. This is to prevent you from making a quest Unwinnable by losing quest-essential items. Also, said items are weightless. Unfortunately many items will not properly have the "undroppable" tag removed long after they are no longer needed and at least once (Molag Bal's quest) an item that needs to be dropped to complete a quest may get flagged as undroppable. Most of these are unfixed as of the last official patch, requiring fan-made patches to fix (and if you are on a console, well, sucks to be you).
  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim also has quest items that cannot be dropped short of a console command. However, sometimes these items are common ones that you can accumulate many of. This can easily lead to a player with 200 Giant Toes clogging up their inventory and no way to get rid of them without looking up the completely irrelevant quest that flagged it in the first place Thankfully, the flag that makes an item undroppable also makes it weightless, even if it has an advertised weight.
  • Fallout: New Vegas: There is a side quest to photograph some landmarks, and you are given a camera. A bug means that you cannot drop the camera when the quest is completed.
  • Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords: Mandalore's armor cannot be unequipped, though it can be upgraded. This is justified in-story as his armor includes life-support systems - Mandalorians may be tough, but a lifetime of fighting still takes its toll, and the guy's pushing sixty at this point.
  • In Planescape: Torment, The Nameless One can equip and unequip armor normally, and the body armour of everyone other than the Nameless One, Annah and Grace is stuck. Some characters have items that can't be replaced, like Dak'kon's Zerth Blade, Vhailor's helm, and Fall From Grace's journal. Other characters have equipment slots that can't be emptied, but can have other items swapped into them, like Annah's daggers, Nordom's crossbows, The Nameless One's Eye and Morte's teeth and Annah and Grace's body armour. Most even have voiced lines if you attempt to try.
  • The player character receives Starter Equipment in AdventureQuest that can be switched out but not removed, whereas the player can buy/sell all other equipment in the inventory. For Adventurers, their "no-drop" equipment is lacking and takes up precious inventory space, while Guardians can customize their equipment to be more useful.
  • Fable: Inventory items can't be dropped, only sold or otherwise used, so the player character is stuck with some non-consumable and non-salable items, like his first weapon (a stick). Fortunately, it's a bottomless Hyperspace Arsenal with no encumbrance penalties.
  • LISA: Certain party members will have an equipment slot permanently filled with an item, with it varying from party member to party member. For example, Garth has his pencil take up his weapon slot, Sonny has his dead dog Harvey as a permanent helmet, and Buckets’s helmet slot is always taken by his bucket. If Brad chooses to let Buzzo cut both of his arms off, his weapon slot is also locked to have nothing inside it. That being said, if a party member with a locked slot gets hit with a fatal attack, the locked gear is still given to you after their passing.
  • Pathfinder: Kingmaker: Amiri's fourth weapon slot is permanently filled by her Ginormous Sword, but she can equip and use other weapons in the other three slots. Being her Iconic Item she will refuse to put the sword away and will yell at the player if you try.
  • Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous: Camellia Gwerm has a necklace that cannot be removed from her inventory. It hides her alignment, but Camellia's true nature becomes an immediate interface spoiler upon trying to use any alignment-restricted equipment with her or attempting to level her up in a conflicting alignment-locked class.
  • ''Shadowrun SEGA: Runners who have the shaman class always have one of their inventory slots taken by a totem of their spirit animal.

    Non-Video Game Examples 
  • There's a Vocaloid song about the singer being stuck with "cursed glasses" she can't unequip, which is a problem because she has 20/20 vision normally and with the glasses on she can't see.