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Underequipped Charge

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Mine's bigger.

Cpt. Blackadder: Don't forget your stick, lieutenant.
Lt. George: Rather! Wouldn't want to face a machine gun without this!

When a character is so fearless or determined that, instead of fleeing, he attacks an overpowering enemy with a laughably underpowered weapon, such as charging a tank with a knife. This is often seen from soldiers (since they usually carry knives in addition to firearms), wherein upon facing an enemy way out of their league and possibly running out of ammo, they pull out their trusty melee Emergency Weapon. This trope is used to demonstrate that the character values whatever they are fighting for higher than their health and survival, since they are willing to bet both for it against overwhelming odds.

Of course, unless The Cavalry enters the fray in that very moment (which it often does), it might very well cue a Dying Moment of Awesome. In some cases, it may lead to an incredible victory instead.

Contrast Never Bring a Knife to a Gun Fight, Never Bring a Knife to a Fist Fight, and The Dog Bites Back. May be the mark of a Proud Warrior Race Guy or a Determinator of any kind. May take the form of Attack! Attack... Retreat! Retreat! if Played for Laughs. Compare No-Gear Level, when a game forces you to undertake a challenge under or unequipped, and can be done intentionally by gamers as a Self-Imposed Challenge.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Attack on Titan Mike Zacharias is stripped of his maneuver gear by the Beast Titan, but nonetheless makes a stand with nothing but his sword. This gets him killed, though it's unlikely things would have gone well for him whether or not he found his bravery.
  • In the Yuri Genre manga Fusoroi no Renri by Mikanuji, after Minami is kidnapped by her abusive delinquent ex-GF, her current girlfriend Iori — an ineffectual Office Lady — shows up at their doorstep, awkwardly holding a baseball bat, ready to get her ass kicked in an attempt to save Minami. Luckily for her, Minami manages to convince her ex to let her go and meets Iori outside.
  • Gundam:
    • In Mobile Suit Gundam: After losing the Big Zam, Dozle Zabi leaves the cockpit and starts firing a hand-held machinegun at the Gundam as a final act of defiance before the Big Zam explodes a few minutes later. It doesn't do anything whatsoever to the Gundam, but Amuro, a Newtype, senses Dozle's fighting spirit as a giant ghastly spectre and is deeply frightened by it.
    • In Mobile Suit Gundam MS IGLOO Lieutenant Ben Barberry is forced to stare down a huge Zaku II right after he managed to take down another one. Instead of running he decides to go down fighting by pulling his pistol and start shooting at it, knowing full well that he is not going to survive.

    Comic Books 
  • In one issue of the Samurai Jack IDW comics, Jack's sword gets broken, and all of its power goes away. Naturally, Aku exploits this, and swoops down on him as soon as he finds him — whereupon Jack, who up until this point was constantly on the run, accepts his fate and attacks Aku with his bare hands.

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Subverted in The Empire Strikes Back. After the Millennium Falcon loses its main rear deflector shield, Han Solo apparently chooses to invoke this trope when he turns the ship around to attack the much larger Star Destroyer that's been pursuing them. However, it's actually a feint, which he uses to secure a hiding spot on the Star Destroyer itself.
  • Godzilla: When the female MUTO catches up to an escaping Ford and disables his boat with her EMP, he aims a handgun at her.
  • In the Biopic Lafayette about the US Revolutionary War general of the same name, he rallies his troops (who, due to supply shortages, are only given six bullets per soldier) with the following short speech:
    Lafayette: You only have six cartridges, but I have only my sword! Follow me!
  • A little more than midway through The Last Samurai, Nobutada stays behind and to cover the retreat of his father Katsumoto and after running out of arrows, draws his swords and charges at his rifle-wielding enemies. He's repeatedly shot before he makes it close.
  • In Man of Steel, Colonel Hardy wastes his ammo shooting Faora, then proceeds to pull out a knife and charge her in melee, thus becoming the only human who earns her respect. Of course, Supes saves him just in time to avert his inevitable death at her hands.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Subverted in Iron Man: During the Battle of Gulmira, Iron Man is shot down by a Ten Rings tank. He sidesteps its second shot, then returns fire with an absurdly small arm-mounted rocket launcher. The rocket hits the tank with a tinny clang, there's a pause ... and then the tank is ripped apart by a gigantic explosion.
    • A variant appears in The Avengers (2012): Hearing that a quinjet is about to take off with orders to nuke Manhattan, Nick Fury races out on the Helicarrier's upper flight deck and shoots it down with a shoulder-fired missile. Then he sees a second quinjet taking off from the lower flight deck, drops the empty missile launcher and draws his sidearm, a ridiculously ordinary 9mm pistol, apparently with every intention of firing at the second quinjet.
    • Guardians of the Galaxy (2014): This is practically Drax's Signature Move: he routinely attacks much more powerful foes with just his pair of daggers.
    • Captain America: Civil War:
      • Tony Stark takes on the Winter Soldier with nothing but his sonic-stunner glove-thing for weaponry.
      • Seconds later, both Black Widow and Sharon Carter try to use Waif-Fu against the Winter Soldier, a Super-Soldier who is strong, fast, and durable enough to fight Captain America to a standstill. It does not go well for them.
    • Avengers: Infinity War: Throughout the movie, the heroes' determination coupled with desperation leads to acts that can be viewed as a demonstration of their extreme courage, extreme stupidity, or both:
      • After Thanos has beaten the crap out of the Hulk, a badly injured Thor charges at him with a short metal rod he has just picked up. Thanos barely notices his attack, and Ebony Maw immediately subdues Thor after that.
      • Having run out of options, Loki attacks the Mad Titan with an ordinary dagger. The scene with Thanos towering over him invokes David Versus Goliath imagery, except Goliath nonchalantly strangles David.
      • As Thanos slowly walks towards Vision and Wanda, Cap and Okoye can at least rely on their vibranium shield and spear, but Natasha rushes at him with a taser.
    • Avengers: Endgame: Captain America finds himself alone with a damaged shield and a broken shield-arm, facing Thanos and his entire army. He tightens the straps to his shield (setting the broken bone in the process) and marches forward anyway.
  • Pacific Rim: When an EMP blast completely disables the mecha Striker Eureka, the pilots Herc and Chuck Hansen decide to keep fighting until the bitter end. They climb out of the cockpit and shoot at the kaiju Leatherback with flare guns.
  • In Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, Captain Jack Sparrow, after being handcuffed to the ship the crew was abandoning by Elizabeth Swan, decided that he wouldn't be killed by the Kraken without a fight and choose to charge the behemoth with nothing but his cutlass. It didn't end well for him, but he returned from the dead in the sequel.
  • Predator:
  • Seen at the end of Saving Private Ryan, when lacking anything better to do facing a German tank, Captain Miller draws a pistol and starts shooting at it.
  • Carmen pulls a knife at a Brain Bug during the climax of Starship Troopers and actually manages to fend it off until Rico's squad arrives to extract her.
  • Near the end of When the Last Sword Is Drawn Yoshimura Kanichiro charges a company of musket-armed troops with only his katana and wakizashi. His last words before charging?
    Yoshimura Kanichiro: My honor compels me to fight!

  • The Charge of the Light Brigade, by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, an fictionalized account of an actual battle in which a small cavalry detachment attempted to make a break in a line of heavy artillery, with devastating results.
  • Ciaphas Cain: The title character once charged a daemon of Khorne with nothing but a rusty bayonet and a vial of holy water (presumably people were watching, forcing him into HERO OF THE IMPERIUM mode, or the alternative was worse). Also invoked, in that his reputation is such that (in his own words) when he asks something of someone, "they'd rather take on a Carnifex with a broken chair leg than feel they'd let me down".
  • Cradle Series: When the Li Grand Patriarch, an ascendant being from another world, arrives in Sacred Valley, he begins slaughtering the most powerful sacred artists in the valley with contemptuous ease. Lindon, one of the weakest sacred artists in Sacred Valley, decides to use his Anti-Magic technique in the hopes that someone else will be able to take advantage of the opening he causes. It does literally nothing, and the Li Grand Patriarch kills him with an Offhand Backhand; it's unclear if he even noticed Lindon's efforts. Luckily for Lindon, a goddess descends from the heavens, defeats the Grand Patriarch, and rewinds time so that he never attacked at all—but she is impressed with Lindon's bravery, so she lets him keep his memories. This event becomes the impetus for Lindon to leave the Valley and become far more powerful than he could ever have imagined.
  • The Lord of the Rings:
    • Sam attacks Shelob, the daughter of a monster even Sauron's former boss Morgoth had trouble handling, with Frodo's sword Sting. The book itself points out how outmatched he is, but Sam is so furious that she dared to lay a claw on his beloved master that he runs at her without even thinking about it. Against all odds, he wins, in no small part due to the fact that Sting is scary effective against big spiders.
    • The heroes describe the offensive against the Black Gate in similar terms. The Army of the West is outnumbered a hundred to one by the multiple armies of Mordor. After barely withstanding a siege by only one of these armies within one of the greatest fortresses in the world, going out to open battle was madness. This was deliberate, as the goal was to convince Sauron that Aragorn had the ring of power - which was the only conclusion Sauron was likely to draw from such a foolhardy attack.
  • Red Army, a 1989 novel about a hypothetical Warsaw Pact invasion of Western Europe, has a scene in which a bemused Soviet tank commander watches as a lone British soldier, armed only with a rifle, charges at a Russian armoured column.
  • The Silmarillion: After a crushing defeat at the Dagor Bragollach, Fingolfin the elf was so angry with Morgoth that he challenged the most powerful of the Valar (effectively archangels) to single combat. Although somewhat diminished, Morgoth was still far too great for any elf to beat and came ready to Drop the Hammer on his opponent. Even so, Fingolfin managed to inflict several wounds and leave Morgoth with a permanent limp before he died.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the season finale of Andromeda, Tyr and Harper are trapped in a room with Magog bearing down on them. Tyr fires his final shot at one then throws the gun at them and pulls out a large knife. He gives Harper one too, and together they prepare to face the Magog horde.
  • In the Blackadder episode "Born to be King", Richard IV is believed lost in battle after he charged a Turkish army, on his own, armed only with a small fruit knife. Between Conservation of Ninjutsu, Rule of Funny, and the fact that he's played by BRIAN BLESSED, he triumphed "thanks to his trusty fruit knife".
  • A main component of the comedy in Blackadder Goes Forth. The advances in firepower prior to World War I were not matched by advances in mobility, giving the defender the advantage. This made EVERY charge an unequipped one, and the futility of continual mass infantry going 'over the top' across No Man's Land only to be instantly mowed down by artillery shells and machine gun fire is not lost on the protagonist, although it very much is on those around him.
    Blackadder: Our battles are directed, sir?
    Melchett: Well of course they are, Blackadder. Directed according to the grand plan!
    Blackadder: Would that be the plan to continue with total slaughter until everyone's dead except Field Marshall Haig, Lady Haig, and their tortoise, Alan?
    Melchett: Great Scott! Even you know it!
  • Doctor Who: Captain Quell in "Mummy on the Orient Express" is attacked by the Foretold, an unkillable monster with no known weaknesses. Nevertheless, he shoots at it several times with his pistol, declaring that if he has to die, he won't do it while he still has bullets in his gun.
  • Most Supes in The Boys are Immune to Bullets, thus making the attempts of the titular boys to shoot them a case of Shooting Superman. Nevertheless, when attacked by Black Noir and Stormfront in the second season, they all unload their weapons, knowing full well it will have no effect but hoping it will either buy them some time or a least show they won't go down without trying to fight.

    Tabletop Games 
  • BattleTech: This can happen sometimes. The Draconis Combine had a habit of doing this during the Clan Invasion, sending poorly-equipped infantry charging at Clan battlemechs because their samurai culture demanded death before retreat. Unfortunately, not only do mechs have the Giant Foot of Stomping, the Clans had a new weapon system never observed in the Inner Sphere before: the A-Pod. Anti-personnel directional mines that are strapped to a mech's legs, these weapons are set off in response to infantry charges and reduce the chargers to Ludicrous Gibs.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • Chaos cultists will often happily charge enemy lines with barely any weapons or armor, as dying in battle may get them rewarded by their gods.
    • While this is a stereotype of the Imperial Guard due to inept/Chaos-worshipping leadership and bad logistics, Commander Kubrik Chenkov deliberately sends men to their deaths in overwhelming numbers, using them to clear minefields by walking through them, or storming fortresses with no tank or artillery support. Not only does this work, gaining Chenkov medal after medal, he has yet to be killed by his own tactics or his own men despite being at the frontline to execute any cowards who try to fall back.
    • In earlier editions it was usually impossible for weak units to hurt tougher ones, making this sort of behavior pointless. However, from 8th edition onwards there is always at least a slim possibility of damaging any target, meaning that a guardsman charging a super heavy tank with his bayonet is not necessarily a terrible idea.

    Video Games 
  • Subverted by a warrior or rogue Inquisitor in Dragon Age: Inquisition, who pulls a dagger at the nigh indestructible, magic-slinging Big Bad during the latter's attack on Haven. While it looks like the Inquisitor will charge next, they instead lunge sideways to activate a trebuchet they prepared earlier to fire at the mountainside and cause a landslide to bury the entire town.
  • In Grim Fandango, the Manny can aproach Domino (who is armed with a sproutella gun) with a tiny pick-axe, barely the size of his hand. Domino laughs.
  • Republic players in Star Wars: The Old Republic can meet Sergeant Jolis on Balmorra: a Sole Survivor of a fighter squadron who is now determined to come back and to retrieve his comrades' black boxes from the overwhelming Imperial presence — even though he basically needs instructions from his astromech droid on how to operate his blaster rifle properly.
  • In Act III of The Witcher, Geralt finds Carmen, the resident Hooker with a Heart of Gold, out in the swamps, mustering courage to cross them in an attempt to reach the druids' hideout. When Geralt points out that a frail city girl like her won't have a chance against the high-level monsters roaming the swamps, she says she's got a dagger and will make it somehow, because the druids may have a cure for her True Love's lycanthropy.


    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • In May 2004, during the early days of the war in Iraq, a detachment from the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders responded to a distress call from 8 British soldiers near Al Amara. But it was an ambush, and the 30 or so men were soon surrounded by more than 150 Iraqi militiamen. After three hours of fighting, their ammunition running low, the commander of the Scottish troops ordered his men to fix bayonets and charge the enemy positions. The Iraqis were completely taken by surprise; 28 were killed and the rest fled with the loss of only 2 Highlanders.
  • Cavalry charges in WWII:
  • Say what one may about the Soviets during the early stages of World War II, but it took brave men to charge head on towards the well-trained, well-armed, superior enemy forces.
  • The charge of the "Little Boys" in the Battle off Samar, October 26, 1944: Three US Navy destroyers and four destroyer-escorts charged headlong against the Japanese Center Force: five battleships including the biggest one ever built, six heavy cruisers, two light cruisers, and 11 destroyers. Incredibly, half the American ships survived.
    • The whole Leyte Gulf operation was this for the Japanese: basically the entire remaining Japanese Navy sailed against Allied naval forces that outnumbered them by at least two or three to one in every ship type and at least five to one in combat aircraft. It did not end well for the Japanese.


Video Example(s):


Yoshimura charges the Army

Late in the Boshin War, the samurai of the Shinsengumi are cornered by a musket company of the Imperial Army and commanded to withdraw or be destroyed. Yoshimura Kanichiro instead draws his wakizashi and charges into the guns with only his two swords, disappearing into the gunsmoke as Saitou Hajime, wounded in the leg, screams for him not to die. It was the last time Saitou ever saw him.

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