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We Will Wear Armor in the Future

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In many science-fiction works most if not all soldiers and or police (especially Space Marines) wear roughly as much plating as a medieval knight, often being Powered Armor or made of composite materials (which does a decent job justifying it when those occur, since they alleviate the issue of mobility which would otherwise be compromised by such extensive coverage). Oftentimes this armor is portrayed as being completely useless, though sometimes it's stated, if not demonstrated, that the armor is completely bulletproof, it's just that they're using lasers - or the other way around if Kinetic Weapons Are Just Better.

Might be justified in that (though most militaries prefer mobility over protection) the armour provides very reliable protection against the weapons the soldiers are up against (like plate armor at its advent in the medieval times, with the armour making its wearer very hard to injure; once more ways to bypass it arose, to be fully armored fell out of fashion). Or if the armor is supposed to double as a space suit (which are already bulky and cumbersome).

As an aside, personal armor technology has improved dramatically in the last fifty years, whilst the average infantry rifle has actually become less powerful (cartridge sizes have decreased for the sake of accuracy, ergonomics, ammo capacity, and automatic fire capabilitynote ). For this reason, this trope is increasingly looking like Truth in Television.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Many of the space-based organization in the wider Dragon Ball franchise wear some sort of armor, with the pattern being a quick way to identify which one. The Planet Trade Organization, in particular, has everyone wear armor, even non-combatants, and has enough patterns it's easy to identify even the branches, special units, and the specific time period of the member.

    Fan Works 
  • Lampshaded in Red Fire, Red Planet. Norigom, the IKS mupwi's Nausicaan operations officer, is described as "clanking" his way onto the bridge, and his captain, Brokosh, has no idea why he goes everywhere in corroded durasteel armor.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Star Wars: The infamous stormtroopers and their predecessors the clone troopers, which may well have been the Trope Codifiers, if not Makers. Also the Mandalorians (i.e. Boba and Jango Fett).
    • Stormtrooper armor blocks radiation, chemical and biological weapons, stun bolts, vacuum exposure, and most (non-energy) melee attacks, as well as providing general life support and environmental protection. Too bad (for the stormtroopers) that the rebels just use simple blasters. That said, other sources say that while it might be penetrated by a direct blaster bolt, it would at least significantly reduce damage from the absorbed bolt, so the constantly close-ranges of combat in the movies is why the armour seems useless. This is illustrated in the first battle scene in the entire series. Armored stormtroopers vs. unarmored rebel bodyguards — if a blaster bolt hits anywhere near one of the rebels, they go down, while only direct hits to storm troopers do any damage. Also, you see some stormtroopers helping up their wounded after — while none of the rebel troops seem to be even moving.
    • Stormtrooper Captain Phasma in The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi wears shiny armour plated with some kind of chromelike metal that is actually completely immune to blaster fire, which just ricochets off with no effect.
    • Additionally, Mandalorian armour appears to be far tougher than the Stormtroopers' standard-issue panoply, given the number of blast-marks that Boba Fett's suit bears (including one on the codpiece). This is, perhaps, only fitting, as the design that would go on to become Fett was initially intended to represent a type of elite Stormtrooper, rather than the individualised Bounty Hunter it would come to be.
      • This extends into The Mandalorian, in which the title character wears armor made of a special alloy that doesn't even lose its shine despite taking quite a bit of punishment. It doesn't make him immune to physics, however; anything (or anyone) with sufficient strength to knock him around is still a credible threat.
    • Imperial Army troopers in the field have their own sets of armor, though they're much less covering than Stormtrooper armor, as shown by Veers and the vehicle pilots in The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi and Rogue One (admittedly, an officer and vehicle pilots, not really expected to be in any sort of combat that would get them exposed to enemy fire) and the infantrymen in Solo (whose armor is more covering than Veers' and the pilots', thought still not as covering as the Stormtroopers').
  • Starship Troopers: Making the fact that they left out the book's power armor even more obvious. The armor props were sold to a lot of other productions, like Power Rangers Lost Galaxy and Firefly.
  • The colonial marines in Aliens have fairly realistic armour. Hicks even survives being sprayed with an alien's acidic blood thanks to his armor. Given the damage his breastplate sustained, he'd have died in pretty short order if he were unprotected.
  • The Fifth Element: The cops wear so much armor that they look like mobile metal bon-bons with the word "Police" stenciled on them. Ditto for the Mondoshawan, assuming the mechanical-looking structures that covered them actually were armor, and not just environmental suits or their actual bodies. Unfortunately, armor seems to do little to actually stop bullets.
  • In Minority Report, the beat cops wear powered armor, with the ability to fly, the better to catch bad guys.

  • The Lensman universe goes in very heavily for space battle armour, and it frequently incorporates a defence shield. The effect this has on combat is to force a reversion to axes, because first-class battle armour protects against hand-held beam and projectile weapons, although not against heavier semi-portable and fixed-mount systems. When you have to go up against those, the armour is powered because it's acknowledged to be too heavy for the wearers to move unassisted.
  • This appears in several sci-fi novels and series written by David Weber including:
    • Honor Harrington, with various characters employing Powered Armor, "clam shell" style conventional armor, and an armored variant of the standard skin-tight sci-fi Latex Space Suits, designed to provide some protection in the hazards of space combat.
    • The Starfire novels (co-written with Steve White).
    • The March series features Powered Armor, but beyond that there's little armor used by the troops, as the deadliness of personnel weaponry makes the weight penalty of non-powered armor too costly.
    • The Empire from the Ashes series.
    • In Fury Born:
  • As mentioned above, the book version of Starship Troopers features not just 1, but 3 different variants of its powered armor, built for scouting, fighting, and being in charge.
  • Hammer's Slammers wear full body armor made of a ceramic that can deflect the bullets used by most of the frontier militaries and insurgencies they end up fighting, so long as it doesn't hit any of the gaps, but are substantially less effective against the powerguns they and other mercenary groups prefer to use. They also inject stimulants or painkillers when the red or blue tab is pulled.
  • Armor says it all. With humans fighting an alien race that has claws and superhuman strength, as well as heat rays and powerful missiles, wearing plasteel Powered Armor is mandatory. And the humans are still losing...

    Live-Action TV 
  • Babylon 5: Averted; Earth security forces wear flexible, sleeveless flak-vests designed to deflect energy and plasma-based weapons. There are a few variants of this, including the goofy-looking and never-seen-again full jacket style from the pilot.
    • Played straight with a couple of the alien races, though: Minbari of the warrior caste wear padded black armour, and high-ranking Narn are often seen wearing some kind of cuirass.
  • Farscape: The Peacekeepers use an also-space-suit variant.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation, in the first episode when Picard is put on trial by Q for the crimes of humanity there were some 21st century soldiers in heavy, solid body armor.
    • Given that World War III was generally acknowledged to be partly nuclear in nature, these may be radiation suits of sorts. They definitely included built-in drug-dispensors (to keep the soldier angry, trigger happy, and following orders instead of thinking for himself or showing mercy)
    • In the times periods the show are actually set, however, no one ever wears more armor than a shirt. Well, humans don't; Cardassian uniforms include rigid plates and some Klingon outfits have armor on them, fitting given their preference for melee combat.
    • Occasionally in the TMP era there would be a background Red Shirt or two wearing an armoured chest plate and a goofy helmet. Star Trek: Discovery features flak jackets for dangerous away missions as a matter of course.
  • On Firefly, the "Purple-Bellies" (as Alliance soldiers are called) get their name from the black and purple armor they wear (which seems to minimize the damage done by projectile weapons at least), while the "Brown Coats" had to make due with leather dusters and the occasional metal helmet. Guess who won the war?
    • Zoe often wears a bulletproof vest under her shirt.
  • The Jaffa in Stargate SG-1 wear suits of chainmail that are basically useless against any common weapons in the series, plus a slightly more resistant breastplate. The SGC tends to wear flak vests that don't work any better against energy weapons. In fact, one episode shows us the effects of staff weapons on and armored vest... the armor actually amplifies the heat, and it took them years to develop staff-blast resistant armor inserts. This actually makes sense in context, since the primary purpose of the Jaffa is to look impressive and intimidate human populations into submission — which they do. As Jack O'Neill notes in one episode, the purpose of a staff weapon is to terrorize the enemy, while the purpose of a P-90 is to kill the enemy. Plus, suits of chainmail hold up perfectly well against the kind of weapons that most of the humans in the galaxy can muster. So far, so logical. The fact they don't adjust after years of the Tau'ri cutting them to pieces with bullets, however, isn't.
    • As the series goes on, more and more Jaffa are fighting alongside the Tau'ri rather than against them, and the ones that aren't are following the orders of the Go'a'uld, who with a few exceptions are Stupid Evil and have bought into their own hype of being gods. The former are unlikely to get shot at by their allies, and the latter are serving people who could care less if they live or die. Makes a lot more sense with that in mind.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Averted for the most part in BattleTech. Infantry generally wears fatigues with flak jackets and (somewhat bulky) helmets. Space Marines wear Latex Space Suits to give them added agility in zero-g operations. On the other hand, full suits of BattleArmor are more commonly used in place of infantry once the technology is rediscovered, because even the emplaced weaponry used by infantry can do little against BattleMech or combat vehicle armor. Mech pilots operate almost naked as any kind of personal armor would only exacerbate the Over Heating problems they have to deal with.
  • In the Chi-Chian role-playing game based on the comic by Voltaire, armor is worn as a fashion statement and show of wealth with the best normal armor being the Dragon armor - a winged Powered Armor that is flight-capable and can breathe fire from an elaborate pseudo-dragon head helmet. Chi-Chian herself has a unique Armor of Invincibility that actually has an infinity armor rating.
  • In GURPS the trend away from armor that started in TL 4 (1450 to 1730) starts to reverse in TL 7 (1940 to 1980) with the discovery of lightweight, bullet-resistant synthetics such as kevlar. In some TL 10+ (2075 and beyond) campaigns armor is vital, while in others weapons are so devastating that dodging or shooting first is far more important. For example, disintegrator technology makes armor irrelevant because they do enormous damage and bypass most armor completely while FTL laser technology makes it so that soldiers always need to be in armor because shots can hit with deadly accuracy from tremendous range.
  • In Hc Svnt Dracones a cheap bulletproof vest can double your effective hit points, if you dump-statted Body, while riot armor can triple it and a fully upgraded MarsCo Hardcase can quadruple it at the cost of mobility. And that's not even getting into the powered or living armors.
  • In Polaris, a French game set deep undersea, everyone who works outside must wear at least a reinforced environmental suit, with Powered Armour and Mini-Mecha available for those who need even more protection.
  • Armor is almost literally an art form in Rifts, with all sorts of styles in nearly every book. Given that your average laser pistol can core a modern Main Battle Tank in less than half a clip, this is necessary.
  • Due to the general lethality of combat in Traveller armour is all but required to survive more than a couple shots. Besides Battle Dress available armours range from practically useless leather to Combat armour that requires a laser or gauss rifle to really penetrate, there's also reflec that only defends against lasers and can be added to other types of armour. However most armour tend to be a higher tech level and much more expensive than the weapons that can pierce it.
  • In Unhallowed Metropolis almost everyone in London, 2105 A.D., wears Victorian-influenced armor when going out with a leather neckpiece being the minimum protection for unexpected vampire and animate ambushes plus most folk will have some thick rubber outerwear to protect against London's toxic polluted air. For those with the money or a dangerous occupation, they'll be wearing pieces of plate armor and chainmail layers plus their leather and rubber wear will be reinforced with metal studs and fastenings. The very rich will sometimes show off their wealth by wearing exotic lacquered armor made from descendants of Asian craftsmen who were stuck during the Zombie Apocalypse.
  • Most of the Warhammer 40,000 armies give their troops some sort of armor, though the Imperial Guard's flak armor. Of course, when faced with hypervelocity ninja star machine guns, gyrojet autocannons, Chaos enhanced versions thereof, laser assault rifles, and double-barreled .50 spewing monstrosities... it is somewhat... underpowered.
    • The Imperial Guard's uniforms make seem they're just wearing armour over top clothing like normal modern soldiers, but actually, their entire uniforms are flak armour as well, and the soft portions are fully capable of stopping modern assault rifles, while the hard armor would allow you to possibly glance a .50 bullet.
      • Or in the case of the Catachan Jungle Fighters, just t-shirts over massive muscles. Which function just as well as the armour worn by other guard troops.
      • The Death Korps of Krieg also make it a point to not wear any more armour than some shoulder pads and a not unintentionally German-looking helmet. And they are shock troops. In all fairness, their coats are heavy duty chemical suits, they wear a gasmask all the time and drink water filled with super-steroids, so who needs armour.
      • Grenadier Death Korps personnel do wear Lobster Plate reminiscent armor, and it could be that the flak armor is underneath the coat.
    • "Carapace armour" is a significantly more effective form of armour worn by many of the Imperial Guard's elite troops, such as Stormtroopers.
    • Bonus points for the Space Marines (who are in such extensively large and closed armor such that many inexperienced with the franchise may mistake them for robots) actually referring to their Power Armor as plate mail.
    • The Eldar run about in form-fitting mesh armor, sometimes with the addition of molded composite plating, the Tau generally have pretty heavy battle armor, and the Tyranids have a variety of exoskeletal structures. Dark Eldar wear lightweight armour with Spikes of Villainy, except Wyches, who wear as little armour as possible as a point of pride, and rely instead on their athleticism to avoid being hit. Tau Ethereals are also known for going into battles with ceremonial robes, although the ones who make up Aun'va's bodyguard wear some light armour.
      • Specifically, Tau Fire Warriors wear armour made from a nano-crystalline compound called Fio'tak. It's very nearly as tough as Imperial ceramite (the same material used to make Space Marine Power Armor), but it's much lighter. Fire Warrior armour distinctly has an enlarged shoulder pad on the wearer's firing side, maximizing their protection but minimizing weight, much like Real Life medieval archers or Japanese Ashigaru.

    Video Games 
  • Starting with Tiberian Sun soldiers in Command & Conquer, particularly GDI, have worn plating and helmets, culminating in GDI's infantry all wearing powered armor by Tiberium Twilight. Given that they're living in an increasingly-Crapsack World that is getting more and more toxic to humans, the armor is justified, given that it also contains life support systems, and protection from tiberium exposure.
  • The Galactic Federation troopers in Metroid wear powered armor, though it is less advanced than the suit worn by Samus herself.
  • The UNSC Marines and Army Troopers in the Halo series tend to wear more plating than their modern counterparts, especially the ODSTs. But it is not powered like the Spartans' MJOLNIR armor. The trope has gotten more pronounced as the series progressed: in the first game the crew was evacuating from the Fall of Reach, so many marines are wearing simple fatigues, and even the armored ones wear a relatively modest set of helmet, breastplate, and greaves. The armor set gets noticeably bulkier in Halo 3 and Halo: Reach.
    • Later media and background lore have indicated that non-augmented elite units are starting to be equipped with (relatively low-grade) Powered Armor in the post-war era.
  • Lots of armor in Mass Effect, which also functions as a spacesuit when necessary. This is probably because mass accelerator technology has made small arms even more lethal without armour. Not so much in Mass Effect 2, however, where most of your teammates do not, in fact, wear armour.note  Interestingly, several of the villains do.
  • In the Fallout series, being set in a Schizo Tech Alternate Universe, armour was very popular both before and after the war, amongst individuals, companies, armies and police forces alike. Its effectiveness greatly depends on how improvised it is—you may not even feel a difference shooting the fellow in the boiled leather and shooting his unarmored buddy, but a good suit of power armor (which only the best equipped factions have access to) can make one near immune or at least highly resistant to most every day wasteland threats, including radiation. Non-powered combat armor also tends to be on the larger side, consisting of rigid plates and pads resembling sports gear.
  • The Gears wear armour so ridiculously bulky it's a wonder they can move their arms, but they're still just too badass to wear helmets. Well, the protagonists don't. And the Carmines. It is revealed in the third game that most of that bulk wasn't armor, they are just that large and muscular (Marcus's biceps are two third's the width of Anya's torso).
  • The armor worn by Terran Marines in StarCraft is likewise bulky, but does come with a helmet. Marines have no armor value until you research upgrades, however it's presumably why they have 55 health compared to the 10 health of an unarmored human.
  • Averted in the Killzone series, while massive suits of powered armour do exist (their users referred to as heavies) said armour is bulky, interferes with peripheral vision and slows the wearer down considerably, as a result they aren't seen in use much, everyone makes do with rather contemporary looking body armour
  • Half-Life 2 is an aversion of this trope, as the Combine soldiers are equipped with kevlar-like soft armor that resembles modern riot gear, in contrast to the standard Sci-Fi plate armor with Shoulders of Doom that most FPS soldier enemies tend to wear. Played straight, however, with Gordon Freeman's iconic HEV Suit (which appears to incorporate maille into its construction, interestingly enough). The HEV suit, however, was clearly lab equipment designed for survival in hazardous environments or when handling dangerous materials (the name stands for Hazardous Environment suit) rather than a piece of military equipment; while the Powered Combat Vest Adrian Shephard wore in Opposing Force provided a similar level of protection, it was much closer to realistic modern-day combat gear.
  • The marines in Doom³ and Quake IV wear a cuirass of hard armor plates.
  • Section 8 takes this to the extreme, with every single soldier down to the lowest Mook being equipped with a SPARTAN-II-level suit of Powered Armor that'a designed for dropping onto a planet from orbit, is built to withstand full-auto gauss rifle rounds, runs as fast as a speeding car, and (later on) is equipped with a jetpack.
  • The enemy soldiers in TimeShift wear close to a full suit of composite plates, and even the lower-ranking cop enemies wear a single big metal plate strapped to their chest.
  • The Korean Army soldiers in the alternate history game Homefront all wear bulky armor that wouldn't look out of place on a bomb suit. Amusingly, they still can't take as many bullets as the crazed t-shirt wearing survivalists fought later in the game.
  • PlanetSide 2's New Conglomerate troopers wear large amounts of heavy-duty, box-shaped composite armor on top of civilian clothes (tan jeans and a sweatshirt). Terran Republic Heavy Assaults wear a huge breastplate, large pauldrons, and heavy boots on top of military fatigues, though their other classes wear lightweight armor and shoulder/knee pads. Averted by the Vanu Sovereignty, who rely on Future Spandex augmented with relatively small pieces of armor. Ironically, the New Conglomerate MAX armor is the most unarmored, with the suit obviously being a re-purposed mining exoskeleton, standing stark contrast to the purpose-built MAXes used by the other factions; the very intimidating Terran Republic MAX and elegant Vanu Sovereignty MAX.
  • Deus Ex: Human Revolution: Regular police officers in Detroit and Hengsha walk the streets wearing riot vests and protective helmets and brandishing combat rifles. Detroit's SWAT also wear some bulky, intimidating heavy armor with face-concealing helmets, and most Belltower operatives wear combat armor that even slightly resembles medieval armor, with many at least equipped with a futuristic breastplate at minimum. It's justified with the Detroit police, since the first time you visit there is just after a large semi-violent protest was shut down, and the second time is in the middle of a full scale riot, so the extra protection is warranted at that moment.

    Web Comics 
  • In S.S.D.D. it's stated that buckminster fullerene armor made conventional firearms obsolete. However, the various weapons designed to counter it all have their own disadvantages (slow firing, cumbersome, expensive, tends to explode, etc).
  • In Schlock Mercenary, the Toughs begin using armor fairly early on. The low-profile powered suits they eventually settle on look a lot like cloth uniforms, but definitely function as armor. And Armor Is Useless is usually averted (when it's not, bloody dismemberment usually ensues). They first realize they need armor after facing a squad of commandos wearing armor good against small arms, so they buy bulky powered armor that is destroyed a couple missions later. Since that armor restricted movement so much (their martial arts instructor said he'd rather fight naked) they exchanged it for low-profile suits that look exactly like regular uniforms (and are used as such), but are still powered and can stop a tank round. Now they also have heavier suits for use in boarding actions. The low profile armor, along with the obvious benefits of protection, also have neat features like being able to sustain the wearer in space for short time periods, and inertic flight.

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • A medieval knight would see similarities in their armor with the riot suit of a SWAT Team. Though made of plastics and Kevlar instead of iron and steel, at maximum protection it covers the whole body and includes a tactical shield. Most television and movie depictions of futuristic armor is just a real riot suit with flashing lights and metallic parts.
  • This trope already happened with World War I. For the previous centuries armies had been using less and less Armor as gunpowder warfare made it hilariously obsolete, especially in line warfare of most European battles. After WW1 had devolved into trench warfare, the number of soldiers suffering from head wounds, especially from high explosive or shrapnel artillery rounds, increased dramatically. Light weight steel helmets were developed as a response and were quickly adopted by all combatants with the industrial capacity to manufacture them.
    • Additional attempts at armor were attempted, many resembling medieval predecessors, but the power of infantry weapons rendered most of these experiments of limited value or of such weight as to be impractical.
      • The unlucky soldiers assigned to try and cut a hole in barbed wire were equipped with bulky plate armours to offer some protection against machine gun fire (the most notable being the American Brewster Body Shield, the old cuirass that gave the name to the cuirassiers armoured cavalry, and a French suit commissioned by general Adrian, designer of the French helmet). Between the distance between the machine gun and the barbed wire and the fact the plates were thick they did offer decent protection (as seen here with the cuirass), but they protected only face and torso, and machine gun crews learned quickly to just shoot the legs.
  • The trope was also largely subverted in WW2 with the exception of specialized Soviet urban warfare units that were equipped with "light" steel cuirasses designed to protect against lower power pistol rounds and grenade fragments.
  • The trope became Truth in Television when "futuristic" materials that had a chance of stopping high velocity projectiles were developed in the post-war period. These materials included high-strength aluminum, ballistic nylon, fiberglass composites (a.k.a. Duron), Kevlar and boron carbide ceramics. Widely deployed starting in the Korean war, the new materials were light enough to be worn as a matter of course, but also strong enough to protect against a wide variety of threats. Korean and Vietnam era armour could stop pistol caliber rounds and shell fragments at point black range. Today military grade armour can allow soldiers to shrug off hits from assault rifles. Further advances in material science will make soldier-armour even more effective and therefore, more widely deployed. Even if the lighter materials aren't strong enough to withstand direct assault rifle fire, they can still be lifesavers against richochets and longer-range shots, which have lost a chunk of their energy. To say nothing of much weaker but still decidedly dangerous pistol-cartridge fire and shrapnel, and even partially mitigating the power of a bullet that still does go through the armor can be the difference between being patched up and sent to recuperate in the backlines, and being taken home wrapped in a flag. Additionally, should the powered exoskeleton tech prove effective and cost-friendly enough, it is not unimaginable that someone will attempt to graft armor onto it — power armored modern "knights" anyone?
  • Bomb Disposal units wear full body suits that protect them should the bomb they're dealing with explode unexpectedly.

Alternative Title(s): We Will Wear Armour In The Future