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Useless Item

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The programmers or writers come up with an element for the hero to use. It's all cool, but they forget to make (or Dummied Out) any enemies that are affected by that element in any way. Or they put an item in that cures a specific one of the Status Effects, but forgot to put any enemies who can inflict said status. Maybe the item is The Artifact from a previous game where it did have a use, and was left in for the sake of completeness or because the devs forgot to remove it. You might be able to sell it for a little bit, but it won't be worth as much as Shop Fodder that exists for that purpose.

Compare/contrast Useless Useful Spell, Joke Item, Cosmetic Award, and Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors. See also Antidote Effect, where it's strategic concerns that make something useless rather than programming ones.

To be clear: This trope is for things that do have an effect, but the developers forgot to add (or intentionally omitted, for parody examples) any situations where it can be used, or things that were meant to have a use, but are bugged and don't work. Literally and intentionally useless items go under Joke Item or Red Herring.


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    Video Games 
  • Epic Battle Fantasy 5 has the Rubber Boots, which allow you to walk on acidic tiles. Said tiles were cut from the final game. Equip Remix would give it a use of sorts, by requiring it to forge the Space Ace to level 5. Lampshaded by the flavour text:
    "Allows the party to walk on acidic tiles. But there aren't any of those in the game at the moment."
  • Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals:
    • The Sea Ring is strong against Sea Creatures, but the programmers didn't flag any monsters as "Sea Creatures".
    • There is a Capsule monster with "Soil" attacks. There are no monsters with the Soil flag set.
  • Pokémon
    • The "Ghost" and "Dragon" Pokémon types during Pokémon Red and Blue were this with respect to attacking in the Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors:
      • "Ghost"-type Pokémon are supposedly strong against Psychic types, but there were only three Ghost-type moves available in the first generation: Confuse Ray, which is a status attack, Night Shade, which only inflicts fixed damage, and Lick, which not only has an awful base power of 20, but is completely ineffective against Psychics due to a glitch in the Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors chart. Worse, the Gastly line, the only Ghost-type Pokémon in the first generation, are also part Poison, making them vulnerable to Psychic attacks themselves. Finally, the strongest first-generation Pokémon (Mewtwo) is also a Psychic, making the Psychic elemental type an overall Game-Breaker.
      • "Dragon"-type Pokémon are supposedly strong against other Dragons, but the sole Dragon-type move in the first generation, Dragon Rage, inflicts fixed damage, ignoring elemental type bonuses. This makes it almost useless against the sole Dragon-themed trainer in the game.
    • There are some other items that were useless in the first generation. The Dire Hit item, which is supposed to boost the chance of critical hits, is bugged and worse than useless in the first generation; using it will prohibit your Pokémon from getting critical hits on anything faster than it (Focus Energy has the same problem).
    • The Dragon Fang in Pokémon Gold and Silver says it boosts the power of Dragon-type moves for Pokémon who hold it, but it actually does nothing because its effect was mistakenly given to the Dragon Scale (Seadra's evolution item) instead. This is fixed starting with Pokémon Stadium 2.
    • The Moon Ball in Gold/Silver/Crystal is supposed to be good at catching Pokémon that evolve with a Moon Stone. Since only a select few species evolve this way, this alone makes it too absurdly specific to be useful. What really makes it useless is that the developers goofed and instead made it have a higher catch rate on Pokémon that evolve with a Burn Heal (read: no Pokémon), essentially making it a glorified Poké Ball. The remakes fixed this.
    • Starting in FireRed and LeafGreen, key items from earlier games are, for whatever reason, programmed into every game, complete with icon, name, and description. They're all Dummied Out, and if you hack them in, most of them do absolutely nothing anyway, since they're meant to advance a different plot from the one you're currently in.
    • The Ability Run Away, which guarantees escape from wild Pokémon, is completely useless in Pokémon Colosseum and its sequel Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness, since the former lacks wild Pokémon entirely and the latter only has them if you lure them to Poké Spots with Poké Snacks. What really makes it useless is that in those games, the "Run" menu option is replaced with "Call".
    • The move Teleport always fails in Colosseum, as its only in-battle use is escaping wild Pokémon, and no moves can be used outside of battle.
    • The Illuminate and Stench abilities, which either increase or decrease the encounter rates for wild Pokémon, are also useless in Colosseum and XD for the same reasons as the Run Away ability.
    • Since the Call command can always awaken a sleeping Pokémon and raises the accuracy of an awake Pokémon, Awakenings and X Accuracy are completely redundant in Colosseum and XD.
  • The original NES version of Final Fantasy suffers from numerous internal bugs that include rendering certain spells (LOCK and XFER, for example) absolutely useless, and ignoring attack bonuses for weapons that were intended to be elemental or monster-specific (Giant Sword vs. giants, Were Sword vs. werebeasts, etc.).
  • Final Fantasy Adventure has an item that cures the "Moogle" status—but the player can't use items as a Moogle, which renders the cure useless.
  • Final Fantasy VI:
    • In the original SNES version, the Goggles item prevents the Blind status effect, which does exist, and there are enemies that use it, but due to a glitch the effect does nothing to you at all. The only thing the blind effect does is prevent Strago from learning lores cast in battle. One might say The Goggles Do Nothing.
    • In the original release, Physical Evasion is bugged and does nothing, while the Magic Evasion stat is used for both physical and magical attacks. As a result, a lot of items that only increase physical evasion, like most shields, are useless.
  • In the SNES North American release of Final Fantasy IV, Fire Bombs (otherwise known as Red Fangs). Originally seen in the opening, when Cecil uses one to dispose of enemies in a cutscene, most enemies that would drop them had them removed from the drop list during localization. The one exception were Red Dragons. However, they only exist in the final dungeon, and all of the characters can greatly outstrip the Fire Bombs in damage by that time. Averted in other releases, where they appear earlier in the game when they're much more useful.
  • Final Fantasy Mystic Quest is full of abandoned elements and abandoned elemental resistances, including Guest characters strong against elements they can never encounter during their tenure. The player even earns the Mystic Ring, which protects them against the (essentially nonfunctional) Silence status effect, though it can't be considered completely "useless" thanks to a pitiful +2 defence.
  • Baldur's Gate II has the Arrows of Slaying. Their magical effect is to instantly kill any ogre mage upon touch. In the first game, they could have some limited utility. But in the sequel, there aren't even ogre mages, except one which you aren't even supposed to fight unless you decide to go Lawful Stupid or embrace a murder spree For the Lulz killing route - and by this time you are so strong that you can easily dispose of him and his mates anyway without bothering of the gear you use. Still, they have a THAC0 of -15 which in the first game means an almost virtually guaranteed hit, becoming at least a bit useful as normal arrows against other enemies if you don't find better ammo... but in the sequel, common enemies that could be affected by these arrows can be easily dealt without, furthermore they are too scarce to be wasted on common enemies anyway, and tougher enemies are often immune to arrows without better enchantments. You can sell them for some decent money, but by the time you get them, you are probably swimming in gold.
  • Parodied in Kingdom of Loathing: there are boots in the game that offer "slight cute resistance". There's nothing that deals "cute" damage in the game, and since the "cute" element only ever comes up during a Fifth Element parody set in the distant future (for which the boots in question are a reward), there probably never will be.
  • In the early stages of Ragnarok Online, functions existed to cause or deter status damages like poison. The catch was that these statuses did not yet exist in the game.
  • World of Warcraft:
    • There is a troll vendor in Shattrath City who sells you various trinkets that are supposedly good at repelling certain mobs, none of which exist.
    • Griftah actually sells a whole variety of items, most of which do exactly what they claim to, but are nonetheless completely useless - because they're charms that give you 'powers' that you, as a PC, already have, such as being healed by eating food. However, one item he sells that has no use listed in its tooltip is a part you'll need to build a really cool device.
  • Castlevania: Symphony of the Night has plenty of weapons with obscure bonuses, one of which (the Were-Bane) gives bonuses against Were-Beasts. Unfortunately, there's only one Were creature in the game, the Werewolf; and although a mini-boss originally, by the time you get this weapon, it's encountered as just as a random grunt in one specific area. It's not much of a challenge at this point as you're now a much higher level, and there's plenty of weapons with much higher base damage that eclipse the bonus you'd get anyway. On top of this, the sword is glitched and does absolutely zero extra damage to them anyway! Mind you, the sword isn't completely useless, as its QCF+Attack move is a flurry of thrusts in the same vein as the Rapier's, and Were-Bane is stronger than the Rapier. It makes for a good off-hand weapon if you decide to forego two-handed weapons and shields.
  • Fable (the 1996 point and click adventure, not the newer action RPG series) is absolutely chock full of items that are never used. Whether their uses were Dummied Out or they were never intended to be used and serve only as red herrings is unknown.
  • Secret of Evermore:
    • The Magic Gourd literally has no effect on anything. Even the programmers couldn't remember what it was supposed to do.
    • Similarly, the Silver Sheath does actually have the effect of increasing the attack of all sword-type items, but due to a glitch it is always considered active even when not in the player's inventory, making the sheath useless by-proxy.
  • Cosmic Fantasy 2 does not contain status ailments, but has a full selection of remedies and accessories that cure and prevent such ailments, which are all are a waste of inventory space.
  • La Corda d'Oro Starlight Orchestra has a Tech Tree mechanic where every node has to be unlocked using Rare Candy that corresponds to the character's home region. That's all nice and good, but the materials from Tokyo are literally unusable – no playable characters are from Tokyo.
  • The Biscuiteer mastery in League of Legends gives you a (useful) consumable and a "Poro-Snax" cookie if you are playing on the Howling Abyss map. This cookie is used to feed poros, critters that have no other impact on the game, making them follow you while emitting hearts. Intended as a joke that does not affect gameplay, it ended up affecting gameplay... there is a poro at the stealth bush in the middle of the map which would normally run away from players in the bush, giving away their position. Feeding the poro a Snax prevents this, and the enemy just might facecheck the bush thinking it's empty.
  • The Tingle Bottle in The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD has become entirely useless as of the November 7, 2017 discontinuation of the Miiverse features. Making this particularly frustrating is that it replaced the Tingle Tuner which, while not overly useful, did perform a myriad of handy features like a waypoint function and the option to buy restorative potions and supplies.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess has Green Chu Jelly in the Wii and HD versions, which can only be obtained if a Blue and Yellow Chu combine, which can only happen in the Cave of Ordeals. It was most likely left in by mistake from when the game had a magic meter, and not only has no effect, but doesn't even have a description in the original version. The Wii U HD version adds text stating it has no effect.
  • Sleep-reducing items in Spiral Knights used to be useless because all enemies that inflicted the Sleep status were removed. They have since been re-implemented, however.
  • In Batman: Dark Tomorrow, two items that can be found in the game are "Weapons Crate 1" and "Weapons Crate 3". A Weapons Crate 2 has never been found, and although the weapons crates are stated to "increase weapon power," neither item has any impact on the game.
  • Superman 64 has X-Ray Vision; the superpower that does absolutely nothing. It can only be found in one level.
  • Parodied in Evoland during the Diablo portion of the game. You pick up a massive amount of gear (one for each of your newly acquired equipment slots), but all of them grant useless bonuses to non-existent stats or damage to enemies that don't exist. One item gives you a ".000001% chance of finding something useful."
  • Done for character reasons in the Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance bonus story "External Gazer". Snake starts the game with a bunch of useless junk in his inventory - Cigarettes, a Shaver, a Cellphone, Cold Medicine and a Wet Box. None of these have any purpose in that storyline (the Cigarettes can be smoked, sapping your health, but none of the situations in which this is useful are there) and are presumably supposed to just be junk he had in his pockets at the time of this ridiculous mission he is not taking seriously.
  • In Team Fortress 2, the #86 Mann Co. Supply Crate doesn't expire, but the key used to open it eventually stopped being sold, essentially turning the crate into just something to take up inventory space.
  • Blood II: The Chosen has The Eye, which works as a remote camera. However, singleplayer enemies don't do patrols to justify you dropping it in an enemy route, and Bloodbath multiplayer is so fast-paced, stopping yourself to look around with it is at best useless and at worst suicidal. You can't even use it to scout out a new area; the player character drops it literally 30 centimeters in front of him/her upon use.
  • Golden Sun: In Vault, a woman at the inn will give you a leftover bone if you ask for it, which you can then give to a dog who'll show you the entrance to a Bonus Dungeon. You can keep getting bones, but there is no further use for them, and they can't be dropped or sold.
  • Tomb Raider has the compass, which has no use whatsoever since the levels are mostly linear and are impossible to get lost in. Later games removed the item, but it comes back as UI element instead of an item in Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation where its only use is to help trigger cheat codes.
  • Undertale has Real Knife and the Locket, which up your ATTACK and DEFENCE by 99 each. Not only are they only obtained towards the end of the Genocide Route, but when you do get them, the only enemy left in the game that can be fought at all, Sans, has 1 HP, 1 ATK, and 1 DEF (the fight also changes the rules so stats ultimately don't matter), thus making the boosts given by the items completely useless. Unlike most other examples of this trope, this is very deliberate: hopefully being an Omnicidal Maniac who genocided the entire Underground was worth it for a couple of items that grant only cosmetic numerical bonuses, You Bastard!
  • Hospitals in the SNES version of SimCity are one of the few things in the game which have no effect on anything; they don't benefit your city at all, but they're not Poison Mushrooms, either. They just exist to occupy space until bulldozed and rezoned.
  • The "In Shining Armor" perk from Fallout: New Vegas's Dead Money expansion is supposed to give a +2 Damage Threshold when wearing glasses or reflective helmets and a +5 while wearing metal armor, against energy weapons. This would be situational-but-good... but according to its listing in the game's files, it's not "energyweapons", it's "energy." Since the former is the actual descriptor for energy weapons, that one missing word means that the perk actually does nothing.
  • Fallout 4 has Wasteland Survival Guide #5 "Guide To Diamond City", which sounds great to have: it tells you where Diamond City is, the central hub of the Commonwealth Wasteland. Except in practice it requires you to hoof it to the Gorski cabin (slightly south-east of Sanctuary Hills and directly west of Starlight Drive In), kill the ghouls there, and then head into the highly-radioactive root cellar (when you barely have any way of dealing with radiation), then snag the magazine on the desk to the left of the door on the way in... to have it only mark it on your map. You have to walk into Diamond City to "discover" it. And what's worse, Mama Murphy does the same thing for you during the quest "When Freedom Calls," same with Trashcan Carla if you decide to wander down Concord's road instead of helping Preston. Even issue #4 does something, even if it lets you make plastic lawn flamingos! This issue seems to be only thrown in for fluff, or for people who wanted to sequence-break (and even then you could just check online).
  • In Might and Magic VIII you can find a quest item called Druid Circlet of Power. Said item is absolutely useless due to associated side-quest being Dummied Out before the game's release.
  • The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind has the Belt of Free Action, an enchanted item with the effect "Cure Paralysis on Self", which seems like it could be very useful. However, you cannot activate "Cast When Used" enchanted items while paralyzed and thus, in the one situation this item would be useful, you cannot use it.
  • The Game Boy Color version of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets gives you themed rewards for completing each section of the Famous Witches and Wizards Cards collection. The reward for collecting all "Potions" cards is, predictably, several of every potion in the game. One of these potions is Polyjuice Potion, which exists only because the plot requires you to brew some at one point — but you never obtain it as an item when doing this, and having the item in your inventory doesn't allow you to short-circuit this plot segment, or indeed do anything at all.
  • The Game Boy version of the Licensed Game of the 1991 Addams Family film had a gimmick of power-ups that gave Gomez monster-themed powers, such as a Gill-man power-up that enabled him to breathe underwater and a werewolf power-up that enabled him to move faster. There is a beehive world in the game where the player can find a vampire power-up, but it is impossible to use because it is located in a pit of death spikes, meaning that the player will lose a life the instant they obtain it.
  • You Have to Burn the Rope: The axes serve no purpose at all. Done intentionally.
  • The Wolf and the Waves: The player has a compass on their HUD, but the top-down camera doesn't rotate so it's completely pointless.
  • Dragon Quest:
    • The Fairy Water minimizes Random Encounters, but only against enemies that don't pose any threat to you. It's somewhat convenient if you don't want to be hassled by several weak baddies while traveling, but not only does it not ward off the lethally strong enemies you're desperately trying to avoid, but it also seems to piss them off and make them even stronger.
    • The Fighter's Ring. Due to a bug in the item, it does not increase any stats whatsoever. Just sell it.
  • Jaws: You get a radar to track Jaws. This would be useful were it not for the fact that Jaws pops up quite often and will likely find you when you are ready to fight him without you needing to look for him. Furthermore, the radar only starts beeping when Jaws is close enough that he will crash into you in a few seconds and you can simply stay where you are for him. As a result, the radar is completely superfluous. On the plus side, you don't have to give up anything for it and it's an item that the story gives you without you having to go to any effort to get it, as it is a natural story acquired item, so it's not like it does any harm or anything.
  • Justified with most of the Stop 'N Swop items in Banjo-Kazooie. Several mystery eggs and an ice key were intended to be obtainable in the first game and ported to the sequel Banjo-Tooie, where they would unlock stuff. However, the Stop 'N Swop feature got canned due to technical issues. The items remain in the original game and are accessible via very long cheat codes, but they're useless as is. The Xbox 360 versions of the games properly implement them, but ironically, that console's version of Tooie features new useless items in the form of the Gold, Silver and Bronze Mystery Eggs. Whether they were also intended to be used in a future game or implemented as a joke, they're just as useless as the other items used to be.
  • Unreal has the Voice Box, an item that can be thrown and will play a series of noises simulating a gunfight, before vanishing in a small explosion. Enemy AI is not coded to react to it in any way, so it only serves as a novelty for new players. You only find it once in the whole game, and it never shows up again in the expansion or later titles.
  • Most of the items in Untitled Goose Game are completely useless, and exist to only make the area more interesting and to make it less obvious which items actually do do something. In fact, of all the items in the game, there is only a single item which actually has a purpose outside of a tailor-made task which requires it: the walkie-talkies that broadcast the goose's honk, and can be used to lure people away from you but have no specific task in the game that requires their usage.
  • The Binding of Isaac:
    • While playing as The Lost, most health-up items become this as he can't gain any health. Stuff like Meat and Blue Cap will still grant their secondary effects, but things like Breakfast, Snack, and Health-Up pills won't do anything. On the flipside, at least this means Health-Down pills no longer screw you, and you can enjoy Abbadon without it stealing all your hearts.
    • Things that work in shops, like Steam Sale, Credit Card, Store Credit, and Member Card all become worthless once you reach The Womb and shops stop spawning.
    • In Wrath of the Lamb, the Rusted Key trinket, which is supposed to increase the drop rate of keys and golden chests, is bugged and does nothing.
  • Freddi Fish:

    Tabletop Games 
  • The Magic: The Gathering card Steamflogger Boss had a deliberately useless ability: "If a Rigger you control would assemble a Contraption, it assembles two Contraptions instead." At the time of release, the term "assemble" had no meaning in the normal rules. "Contraption" was defined in the rules as being a type of Artifact, but no such Artifacts had been printed. On top of that, no Rigger had ever been printed other than Steamflogger Boss itself, and while a few cards retroactively became Riggers, none of them had any Contraption-themed abilities. The reason for this useless ability is that it comes from a time-travel-themed set, and is meant to evoke future yet-to-be-designed mechanics — and indeed, ten years later, the Self-Parody set Unstable would be themed around Riggers and Contraptions, allowing Steamflogger Boss's ability to finally see a use... but only in Un-play, as tournament rulesets all forbid the silver-bordered/acorn-stamped joke cards created for Un-sets.
  • In Rifts, stats were given on page 46 for Long-Range missiles, yet nothing in the main rule book was actually capable of firing them. The closest usable thing was the next step down, Medium-Range missiles, which could be fired by Enforcers, Death's Head Transports and Titan Combat Robots. It was not until subsequent sourcebooks that PB got around to introducing larger robots and vehicles actually capable of firing LRMs.
  • Back in the day, the Yu-Gi-Oh! card game had a bunch of cards that were only useful against one specific card. Not a specific type of card, not a specific group of named cards, but a single, solitary card. 10 years later, most of the cards they were useful against have been banned, leaving them with no use whatsoever (except if they're monsters, in which case they might as well be effectless). Even before then, the cards in question were limited to 1, so there wasn't much chance of being used in fans' eyes, anyway.
  • The official Girl Genius card game includes a Vampire Hunter card that affects only Vampire cards. There are no Vampire cards. (Just as the series itself contains a vampire hunter, but no vampires.) Though there are no vampires, there is a card that, by the rules (explicitly: it is used as an example of the card game's literal text-based mechanism for determining to what cards the "Instructions" on a given card apply) counts as one: the Vampire Hunter card.
  • The earliest releases of Spellfire had a plethora of Ally cards that offered pathetically small combat bonuses and had no special abilities whatsoever. Since all Ally cards in Spellfire have the same cost and Allies were at the time the weakest card type in the game, there was never any reason anyone would ever put one in a deck. The reprints gave these cards special abilities.