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When All You Have Is a Hammer…

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"I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail."
Abraham Maslow, The Psychology of Science (1966), the Trope Namer

A character has a limited offensive repertoire, but the writer wants to make them look clever anyway, so they face them off against something which requires a little bit of strategy. Unfortunately, this strategy ends up being "just do what you always do, but slightly better." It's not that our hero is uninventive. They may be an outright MacGyver, but they just don't have much to work with.

Say that Alice is facing against the villain of the week, Bob. She punches him really hard, as she usually does, and... oh no! Bob shrugged it off easily! After realizing what will happen if she tries to fight normally, Alice flees. By the end of the episode, Alice has come up with a genius plan to beat Bob: Punch him really hard in the face.

Sometimes, this is a little more elaborate, and the hero has to do something totally different first, like "cast 'dispel invulnerability' on the other guy." Then they get to fall back on their usual strategy to "punch them really hard in the face."

Occasionally it happens because of complacency; the character does have other abilities/methods to do the job, but they have used "the hammer" so much to be really effective with it, and thus those other methods are largely redundant for them (save for special occasions). Especially true for a given character's Signature Move and especially Finishing Move, or worse, it's part of the work's premise. See Complacent Gaming Syndrome for cases of video game players about this.

A justification can be that there are many ways to arrive at what looks like the same conclusion. For example, all of General Patton's strategies were elaborate ways to shoot stuff with tanks, and all successful modern infantry tactics end the same way: "and then we shoot them/call in the artillery."

This generally happens due to the Inverse Law of Utility and Lethality; the more a character specializes in combat, the smaller the characters' repertoire. If the character is so attached to his 'hammer' that he cannot adapt to, say, a screwdriver, see Crippling Overspecialization.

Damage-Sponge Boss can be a justification for this trope.

The All-Solving Hammer is when this becomes a Running Gag. Can sometimes be related to What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway? (and Heart Is an Awesome Power if used creatively) and Death of a Thousand Cuts. See also Plot Tailored to the Party, Smash Mook. Your Answer to Everything may be said about this, and it might be a New Ability Addiction if it's because they just got it. Contrast Every Device Is a Swiss-Army Knife, Swiss-Army Weapon and Swiss-Army Superpower when something does have enough functions to tackle a (plausibly) wide range of problems. Can overlap with Quality over Quantity in the sense that skill with one tool beats skills with other tools.

This can often be the calling card of a Invincible Hero, since the lack of challenges which force them to change or upgrade their approach in much any way can eventually make them repetitive in action.

Not related to characters who use hammers as their (primary) weapon unless they use nothing but this hammer at every opportunity.

Also known as the Law of the Instrument, or the "Golden Hammer".


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  • Deconstructed in Armed Girl's Machiavellism with the Five Supreme Swords, because as good as they are with their kenjutsu styles they can also be prevedible and outmanouvered by opponents without the same limit.
  • Black Clover:
    • Asta, the protagonist, has a BFS with one single ability, and one alone: it negates all magic that comes in contact with it. While Asta can also use his sword for the usual swinging and cutting, Asta has discovered that the anti-magic can also be used to lift curses, heal people who were hurt by magic, cut magic signals, revert changes to people and objects done by magic, and by using the flat sides of his sword, deflect projectile magic back at the caster like a mirror.
    • Rades is a villainous example. He makes a coordinated attack on the Clover Kingdom's capital, overwhelming the entire city with hundreds, if not thousands of zombies, which take the entirety of the Magic Knights to fight. When found and cornered, the heroes find out that the spell to resurrect the dead is the only spell he can cast, a fact that made him feel inadequate and drove him to evil. He returns later on, having found even more creative use for that one spell, in which he splices zombies from the dead bodies of multiple wizards, who can cast very dangerous spells through combined use of their signature magic types.
  • In BLAME!, Killy's solution to everything is "shoot it with the Gravitational Beam Emitter". Granted, when you have a pistol that can leave a 70km long hole in absolutely everything, that's one hell of a hammer to just swing around.
  • Bleach has a number of examples:
    • Kenpachi Zaraki has no interest in the sort of tactics, strategy, or sophisticated moves used by other shinigami; he relies on his brute strength and insane durability to win. And even at that he wears an eyepatch that seals his energy, wields his sword one-handed to weaken his blows, and purposely lets his opponents hit him.
      • When pitted against opponents who negate this strategy it is quickly revealed that Kenpachi is a clever strategist, if a somewhat linear thinker. After Tōsen's Bankai cut off all his senses, Kenpachi figures out that he could still feel pain. So he lets himself get stabbed, knowing that doing so would allow him to grasp Tōsen's sword, thus dispelling the Bankai.
    • Ichigo Kurosaki. When all you have are Getsuga Tensho and a tendency to rush in, everything's a contest of power, which he has in spades.
    • Hitsugaya and Harribel get trapped in a battle that consists of this. Every single tactic boiled down to Hitsugaya trying to throw more ice at Harribel than she can cope with, and Harribel trying to throw more water at Hitsugaya than he can cope with.
    • Yasutara Sado's El Directo was his hammer for a very long time, until he got his second hammer, La Muerte.
  • A Certain Magical Index:
  • Contractors in Darker than Black get only one ticket in the Superpower Lottery. Some adopt the "hit it with a hammer" approach and act like walking guns with a single type of ammo, but smarter or badass ones are more than just their powers. Hei and Wei, as martial artists, use sound tactics and combine powers with normal moves. In addition, some contractors are very versatile and find a Mundane Utility or dozen if possible. Force whip cuts bottle necks, people or incoming projectiles just as well. Ice may immobilize, stab, or shield. Electrical discharges allow to attack via various conductors, repair a TV, crack electrical locks, defibrillate hearts, tweak particle beams, alter substances...
  • Date A Live: Shidou solves almost all of his problems by dating them. This works because he has the ability to seal a Spirit's power by kissing her while she's in love with him. He does eventually learn to use the powers he's sealed, but this still requires dating first.
  • Light Yagami's only weapon is a Death Note. It kills people. It has a few functions related to the task (which Light exploits the hell out of), but in the end, all it really does is kill people, so every crime tends to receive the same punishment. By the end of the series, the worst criminals in the world are as petty as purse-snatchers, so they receive the axe as well.
  • Deconstructed and reconstructed in Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba. Compared to Tanjiro's versatile repertoire of techniques, all Zenitsu knows is one move. It causes him a great deal of distress and he believes himself to be useless in battle, good for nothing and doomed to die a horrific death. However, he's actually very good at that one move. Like, really good. To the point that he ends up coming up with several increasingly more powerful variations of it. Comparing his level to that of the average recruit Slayer who is not one of the main characters, it's clear as day that Zenitsu, despite his perceived incompetence, is leaps and bounds above the norm and worried over nothing. This is actually in line with the philosophy of many Real-Life martial arts, as mentioned below.
  • In Digimon V-Tamer 01, Zeromaru has full confidence in his V-breath arrow's ability to defeat any monster, having seen that Yagami Taichi always comes up with some sort of plan if it initially fails that allows his shot to beat it. When the Digimon of Folder start lecturing him about Evolutionary Levels, Zero's response is to simply shoot bigger V-breath arrows but eventually they evolve so far not even that works anymore.
  • Inverted with Doraemon who seems to pull out a new equipment every episode to achieve similar goals. For example, he has a "One Inch Master", a cap that can shrink its wearer to one-inch height, despite this being redundant to the "Small Light". He also has multiple tools, all of which functions to duplicate objects: the duplicating mirror, the egg light (this can only be used for animal-shaped egg-laying objects), the bye-bye inn, etc.
  • Durarara!! has Saika, a demonic blade that truly loves humanity and wants nothing more than to express that love. Unfortunately, it's a sword, so the only way it knows how to do anything is to cut it.
  • In Fairy Tail, the main character Natsu has the power to project/eat/breathe/be immune to/etc. fire. He fights an opponent whose main power is the ability to shoot fire, so he's not affected and goes to deliver a flaming punch. Natsu then learns that his opponent can control fire, so he makes the hero punch himself in the face. Natsu's response to learning that his only weapon can be used against him? Use more fire! He did this until he finally makes a fire blast too big for the enemy to control, thus winning the fight.
    • Another time, Natsu faced an opponent whose wind armor countered his fire magic. The winning solution? Make more fire. This works because his fire made the air too hot for his opponent to control, not that Natsu knew that at the time.
    • One more, he goes against an opponent who can nullify magic covers himself in a shielding that hurt Natsu if he punched into it. Natsu's solution, use his flames on his elbow to give him the velocity to break through the barrier. Let's just say Natsu good at improvising with his flame magic.
  • Fist of the North Star: Kenshiro hits people and then they explode. If he loses a battle it's not because he needs to strengthen or do more training like with the shōnen protagonists that come after him: he's just hitting them wrong. Once that's figured out, he hits them and they explode like they're supposed to.
  • GaoGaiGar, where it is a case of "When All You Have Is A Goldion Hammer". He has other moves, but they're to weaken the enemies so he can use the Goldion Hammer/Hell and Heaven. Furthermore, it's justified here since those two attacks are the only way to remove a Zonder's core without obliterating it and killing the innocent person trapped inside it.
  • Getter Robo: "If it doesn't work, we'll just have to make it work!" Though the series uses comparatively more strategy in its battles than other Super Robot shows, an awful lot of problems are solved by just getting a bigger axe and hitting things with it. And then things get crazy when we get into combining.
  • Goblin Slayer: Goblin Slayer himself is so monomaniacal about what he does that everything he says or does must be related to goblin extermination. Quest offered? Ask if there's goblins involved, kill them if so, turn down otherwise. Asked for any advice, even romantic? Compare situation to goblin slaying in one way or another and work from there. High-tier heroine asking him for help with her broken psyche, as she got captured and abused by goblins so long ago and she's also rather infatuated with him? Offer to slay goblins... that are in her dreams. And by calling upon him within her dreams, it works, and she finally sleeps well. Also inverted in the "when you have a nail, everything looks like a hammer" sense, as anything and everything Goblin Slayer finds will inevitably be considered as a tool for goblin murder. Even an expensive Gate scroll or simple illumination spells.
  • Ippo from Hajime no Ippo is an in-fighter with exceptional power. Unfortunately, that's all he has going for him, so he makes up for it by focusing on being a purebred in-fighter, despite the drawbacks. Pointed out when Ippo learns the Dempsey Roll. At first, he wins a lot of fights by using the massively powerful technique, but after fighting Sawamura Ryuuhei he realizes that he needs to seal the technique in order to ensure future victories; otherwise, all his opponents will start figuring out ways to counter and capitalize on it.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure:
    • "Punch him really hard in the face" is literally the hero's big plan for defeating the final villain. Word for word. AND IT WORKS.
    • Jotaro has a variation, punching Dio in the knee.
    • Stand users are limited to specific skill sets (unless something miraculous happens), so the question is about how the user utilizes such abilities to overwhelm the opponents.
    • Hamon is normally used to heal, but when the protagonists use it, it can manifest anything that can to be used to kill zombies and vampires.
  • Kekkaishi has a good deal of this. As a Kekkaishi killing monsters typically comes down to 1) Form Barrier. 2) Explode what's in barrier. It starts to get interesting when characters realize that there's a hell of a lot you can do with just a box shaped barrier. Thin, long ones are like spikes, many small ones act like restraints, a barrier inside another barrier explodes exponentially harder. They have other powers, but they typically don't need them.
  • KonoSuba: Megumin is obsessed with her powerful Explosion spell and believes it is the answer to any situation. She absolutely refuses to learn any other spells and devotes all her resources to improving Explosion.
  • This is arguably the entire point of the series The Law of Ueki in which Junior High students are given a single power (usually transforming something into something else) in order to compete for the next candidate for God. The titular character Ueki is granted the ability to turn trash into trees, and for the first half of the series he must find creative ways to do so. Played with as the series progresses, characters are given a "level 2" version of their power when they get stronger which gives them access to a whole other range of abilities. Also Ueki is a heavenly being, which gives him access to a whole other arsenal of attacks that only people of his kind have. He starts relying on those a lot.
    • The manga only sequel Law of Ueki Plus has Ueki going on an adventure with new friends and his new power is literally controlling a mop, but not just any mop a special mop.
    • Part of what makes Ueki's power so versatile is that it's the power to turn trash into trees... and just about anything can be considered trash.
  • Lyrical Nanoha: Nanoha Takamachi's signature style relies mostly on using an assortment of beams to try and subdue opponents. When the going gets tough, Starlight Breaker. This is lampshaded during the second season, during her fight with the Book of Darkness, who tells Nanoha that since she already knows all of Nanoha's attacks, using the same ones over and over would be pointless. Nanoha's response when a point blank Excelion Buster fails to even scratch her opponent is simply "I guess I have to try harder." This philosophy is also part of her training style during StrikerS, stressing the importance of refining the skills one is strongest at to bring out her students' full potential.
  • Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch has all enemies defeated with song. The only time this didn't work was when an enemy covered her ears (shock, horror). They steal her hat, and the song defeats her. Music also apparently cures illness, brainwashing, and changes the weather... so might be a flexible tool?
  • Virtually every episode of Mobile Fighter G Gundam ends with Domon ending his battle with the same move. When he learns a new move, he doesn't increase his repertoire, he just replaces the hammer. Given the name of the first two finishing moves he uses, you could say that he effectively wins fights by giving his enemies The Finger.
  • My Hero Academia:
    • All Might's fighting style essentially amounts to punching things really, really hard. To counter him, the League of Villains create a Nomunote  with the abilities of shock-absorption and regeneration, allowing it to No-Sell All Might's attacks. Eventually All Might figures that since the Nomu's Quirk only absorbs shocks, all he has to do is just keep spamming punches, harder and harder, until he goes beyond the limit of what it can absorb. Once he does, he promptly punts the Nomu into the stratosphere.
    • Izuku Midoriya, the series' central character and inheritor of All Might's Quirk, also suffers from this for a while, partly because he's still learning how to control said Quirk, and partly because he's hung up on imitating All Might, whom he idolises. For the first two-and-a-half seasons, Izuku's fighting style consists almost entirely of full-power punches and Finger Pokes of Doom that break his bones from recoil. By the time he develops a fighting style of his own that makes better use of his legs, it's practically out of necessity, because his hands are already heavily scarred and any further breaks could cripple him for life.
      • During the fifth season, Izuku begins manifesting the Quirks of the previous One For All holders, allowing him to avert the trope entirely.
    • This is a recurring theme in the series. Students with powerful, combat-oriented powers tend to develop very narrow combat strategies, which characters like Stain and Aizawa take advantage of by getting in close/nullifying their powers and taking them down with regular martial arts. It's for this reason that U.A. High School's teachers emphasize creativity with powers and taking Boxing Lessons for Superman.
  • Naruto uses this trope a lot. About a fifth of the way into the series, the title character learns this nifty technique called a "Rasengan" and from then on whenever he encounters a problem he infallibly resorts to punching it in the face with this technique. If that doesn't work, 9 times out of 10 he resorts to some variation of it to win.
    • Before he learned Rasengan, Naruto's favorite (only) tactic was to bum rush with his shadow clones a lot. When that by itself inevitably failed, he would use it in combination with his disguises to sneak his real self into position while his clones distracted the villain.
    • Generally speaking, a lot of the time everyone sticks to what they're good at. However, the trade-off is that most of these abilities overlap. For example, Naruto's favorite technique is Shadow Clone Jutsu. While he is by far the most proficient user of the technique, there are a ton of abilities that do a similar effect.note  The same is true of other types of techniques, and most of the best ninja tend to find ways to copy abilities from others using their unique skill set. For example, if there's an ability too difficult for Naruto to pull off, he usually uses a shadow clone to assist and comes with his own unique variant.
  • Negima! Magister Negi Magi: If Jack Rakan has anything to say about it, just about every problem can be solved by summoning a sword or multiple swords or a sword the size of a skyscraper. He calls this his "Rakan Smash" technique and he uses it so often because he keeps his intelligence a secret. Much of his apparent invincibility comes from his flexibility, knowledge, and cleverness. When intelligence and strategy prove useless against Fate, he shows just how ridiculously strong his "Rakan Smash" technique is regardless.
    • Negi has a tendency to solve problems by making Pactios with his students. It's a joke in the fandom that he can solve any problem by finding the right girl and snogging her. This is HOW he unmasks Shiori/Luna of all people.
    • Negi's father Nagi plays this straighter: He states outright at one point that if he can't solve the world's problems by beating up bad guys, someone else will come along with a better solution.
  • For NERV as a whole, Unit 01 is this. Got an Angel that can't be beaten? Throw Shinji at it. Shinji can't beat it? Piss Shinji off. There are a couple of aversions, but generally Unit 01 is treated as the Ultimate Hammer. There's a very good reason for this, since Unit 01 is a Super Prototype Physical God. The deconstructive nature of Evangelion comes from the horrific psychological toll that this treatment (along with everything else he goes through) takes on Shinji's mind.
  • Captain Luffy of One Piece tends to get caught up in adventures of political intrigue, corrupt governments, and false Gods. His general solution to the problem is to find the most powerful guy on the opposing side and beat the crap out of him. He's even been known to run off while the other characters were planning their elaborate strategy because he figured he could get to the guy whose ass he wants to kick faster on his own.
    • This is in general true with more or less all Devil Fruit users, who usually have no other combat abilities whatsoever, but learn to utilize what they have in extremely varied ways. Luffy himself is no exception.
    • It's even mentioned at one point that the Devil Fruit's powers don't get any stronger, but the user gets more inventive with how they use their ability.
      • Bartholomew Kuma deserves a specific mention. His power is to push things. Sounds lame, right? Somehow, he figured out that this includes "pushing" abstract concepts, meaning he can "push" pain from somebody's body.
    • Roronoa Zoro, the Straw Hats' swordsman, when confronted with a problem, his first idea is to cut it.
    • CP9, the World Government's top assassin squad, uses a martial art called the Six Forms which has only six moves. However every member of CP9 uses those six moves in various ways. Some even use them to complement their Devil Fruit powers.
  • One-Punch Man: The S-class heroes in general, at least the physical fighters, seem to find themselves in this category often, having a bit of trouble with regenerators because all they know how to do is, for example, smash things with a bat. However, with some good aim, proper knowledge of the enemy (in this case knowing the source of the regeneration) and skill, it can be overcome. Saitama himself, however, falls into this hard. Enormous monster starts killing people and carving a swath through several cities? Punch it, monster's dead, problem over. Enormous meteor is a minute away from crashing into Earth and wiping out several cities? Jump out there, punch it, scatter it into smaller pieces that will just wreck one city, problem over. Smear campaign by jealous heroes? Punch them in front of everyone, embed them into the nearest wall, problem over. The Lancer wants a spar and won't stop until Saitama finally decides to go on the offensive? Almost punch him, let the windshear wreck the entire mountain range behind him, leave him gawking, problem over. Ultra-powerful alien with regeneration that renders the attacks useless? Punch him a whole lot until his Healing Factor is taxed and overcome, problem over. Same ultra-powerful alien tries to pull a Frieza and destroy Earth with a giant Kamehame Hadoken? Punch the beam harder, split the fucking atmosphere, kill villain with that single punch, problem over. Saitama has displayed clever use of his available tools on several occasions (such as when he killed his first monster before he started his training), but by the time of the story he is so ridiculously overpowered that even when holding back as much as possible, he still kills everything in one punch, so he really doesn't need to bother with anything else.
  • Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt: A little quiz, shall we? It's the Darkest Hour. Your partner in crime-fighting has been Put on a Bus, you've been left depowered, and the friendly neighborhood Big Bad has kidnapped the closest thing you have to a Love Interest in order to open a gate to Hell with his penis. So, what do you do? If you have any idea what this show has been like previously, you should know that Panty's answer is fuck a guy. The best part? It turns out to be EXACTLY the right thing to do.
  • Pokémon: The Series: The Team Rocket trio up to no good? Use a Pokémon to shock them or pop their balloon. A giant serpent gone mad, destroying the countryside? Why tranquilize it when you can defeat it with a couple of two-foot tall monsters? All of time and space in the process of being destroyed? Good thing we've got just the Mon for the job. Every once in a great while, a Guest-Star Party Member would throw a tranq dart at it, or calm it down with The Power of Friendship, but 99% of the episodes have been solved by "battling it with a Pokémon until you can throw a Poké Ball at it." This is especially painfully obvious in the episode where Ash fights Brock for the Boulder Badge. What does he do when his Pikachu can't beat Brock in a straight fight? He charges his Pikachu up with MORE ELECTRICITY!. Misty offers to loan him a water Pokémon, which would have solved the problem and is the obvious solution. Ash goes with the lightning because he's stubborn and still a bit of an Idiot Hero.
    • When he faced Drake, the leader of the Orange Crew, Ash used this tactic to take down Drake's first Pokémon. That first Pokémon was a Ditto that would copy the appearance and moves of its opponent, which caught Ash and Pikachu off guard when the match began. Misty suggested that Ash change Pokémon, but he pointed out that Ditto would simply change shape again into whichever Pokémon he sent out next. He eventually defeated the Ditto by simply having Pikachu blast it with everything he had, realizing that while the Ditto might have copied Pikachu's abilities, it couldn't copy Pikachu's power level and couldn't take as much punishment.
    • The Sun and Moon series does bother to try downplay this, since the Slice of Life format of many episodes involves situations where the protagonists want to solve a problem pacifistically, meaning instances of them often still utilising their Pokémon's abilities, but achieving their ends through cunning rather than raw power. Compared to the standard "Pikachu, use Thunderbolt!" climax of many previous series' episodes, one has the gang deal with a hungry Morelull absorbing the team's life energy. Ash however pities it and solves the problem by eating enough food for it to absorb and fill off of him. Another has Jigglypuff livid when Komala seemingly sleeps through its singing (it sleeps constantly by default). Despite Komala being able to easily outmanoeuvre Jigglypuff, the group know battling won't end its vendetta, so instead teach Komala to mimic its Sing ability in its sleep, making Jigglypuff think it's joining its performance.
    • Whitney's strategy like in the games is to have Miltank spam Rollout constantly. Backfires big-time in her rematch with Ash as he has Cyndaquil wear down Miltank, Totodile use Water Gun to dig trenches and Pikachu to get to a trench ahead of Miltank so he slams her into the air and fries her for the win.
  • The Prince of Tennis: Some of the characters in the series have a limited arsenal of shots. Kaidoh only has one called "The Snake"...along with many variations to confuse opponents. Special mention goes to Ishida Gin, who only has a single move, the Hadoukyuu that happens to have a hundred and eight variants. Said variants are simply the same move with more power. The illogical situation is even lampshaded by Ryoma Echizen, calling him stupid for having several identical variants of the same thing.
  • Rurouni Kenshin:
    • Saito Hajime follows the philosophy that a warrior does not need several special moves. He needs only a single move refined to the point of perfection. Thus, his only named attack is the Gatotsu and uses variations when the situation calls for them. Opponent above you? Gatotsu third form. Opponent in point-blank range? Gatotsu zero form. Need to bust down a door? Gatotsu. Need to clear rubble? Gatotsu, of course! In the final series of battles, when Saito's "perfect" attack is foiled by his opponent and Gatotsu is defeated (or so the opponent thinks), Saito shows that all he needs is a slight variation in his move to win.
    • A point is made that Saito only needs two things: his Gatotsu and Aku Soku Zan. This is because two warriors generally met in battle once, since most ended in death; thus if you had one move honed to perfection with which you could defeat any opponent... why not?
      Kenshin: If Hajime Saito could be defeated just by defeating his Gatotsu, the duel between him and I would have been settled long ago in Kyoto during the Bakumatsu...
    • Sanosuke also adheres to this philosophy. Tough enemy? Take the blow, and return the favor with a punch. Not strong enough? Hit even harder.
  • In the first anime of Sailor Moon Sailor Venus used the Crescent Beam, her first attack spell, much longer than the others, not upgrading to the Love and Beauty Shock up until the Super S season while the others had already got at least one new attack. It helps that Sailor Venus fought alone for about a year before any of the others was awakened, so she had all the time to master the Crescent Beam to perfection and make it much more effective.
  • In Saint Seiya, Athena's Saints typically have anywhere between three to four attack techniques: a basic, general-purpose one; a mid-level one for difficult foes; a situational specialty; and a Dangerous Forbidden Technique that might kill the Saint and his foe. Seiya himself has three, but he has only used the Pegasus Rolling Crush and Pegasus Comet Punch exactly once each, preferring to just spam his Pegasus Meteor Punch against every. Single. Enemy. Always. And if it doesn't work, he'll do it again, but faster.
  • Parodied in one episode of Samurai Pizza Cats, where the Monster of the Week is fully defeated by a clever stratagem... but then Speedy performs his standard Stock Footage finishing move anyway, because it's in his contract that he gets to do it Once per Episode.
  • Toyotomi Hideyoshi in the Sengoku Basara anime has his strategist Hanbe make plans for him: the man himself approaches problems mainly by punching them, and if that does not work, punching them harder. His introduction sees him defang the Uesugi and Takeda clans by punching all their arrows out of the sky (and punching a hole in my cloud cover in the process), and he defeats Chosokabe Motochika and his enormous floating fortress by punching the sea so hard that it splits.
  • In Tegami Bachi: Letter Bee, the Letter Bees' heart bullets are not only their typical way of killing armor bugs, but for main character Lag Seeing, they can apparently show people what's in others' hearts, resulting in him learning about and sharing other people's pasts and solving seemingly impossible problems — often in the middle of killing the bug of the week.
  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann. Hope you like drills. Best shown with this exchange (which is not remotely joking on the characters' part):
    Viral: Our attacks aren't powerful enough! The drill can't get through!
    Simon: So you mean we're gonna have to use an even bigger drill?
  • Voltron frequently fell into the pattern of having a monster require a clever strategy to weaken it, but then it was always time to form the blazing sword.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! in general. Oh no! A giant that could kill us all with a flick of his wrist is coming at us... well, time to get out the cards.
    • Yu-Gi-Oh! The Movie: Pyramid of Light: Big evil comes back to destroy the world, they defeat it with card games. It's Not Quite Dead, but a quick trading card later...
    • Yu-Gi-Oh! GX: Kaiser was the epitome of this trope, before he had a Freak Out and got new cards. His entire strategy consisted of summoning Cyber End Dragon over and over again. In fact, in the dub of The Graduation Duel, Part 2 after Zane summons his Cyber End Dragon yet again, Jaden outright says "Ya know, I'm getting really tired of seeing this guy!
    • In fact, most main characters in all six series to date will typically default to strategies built on their signature cards to win the big duels, even if other options are available. Kaiba never let a duel pass without summoning at least one Blue Eyes White Dragon, if not all three.
      Kaiba: "Mokuba, what do I always tell you? If at first you don't succeed... BLAST IT WITH YOUR BLUE EYES AGAIN!"
    • Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds: The town is threatened by duelists wielding the Machine Emperors, which are designed to defeat Synchro monsters. Yusei suggests everyone practice dueling without using Synchro monsters. He duels Jack Atlas for practice, but Jack declares this is stupid and summons his Red Daemon's Dragon anyway. When the others call him out on this and point out his dragon will be vulnerable to the Machine Emperors, Jack declares he doesn't care who his opponent is, he'll defeat them with his Synchro monsters. Later in the series, Yusei and Jack gain new Synchro monsters that can avoid the Machine Emperors' effects.
    • While characters clearly have favorite monsters in Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V, they will gladly use other hammers as needed. They just prefer to use their favorite hammers when possible.
    • The protagonist and rival of Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS generally avert this, as they have more ace cards they can choose between and bring out different ones in specific duels. They have some they favor over others true, but compared to most protagonists they avert this trope. It helps both of them can pull cards out of thin air when needed to give them more ace cards and support monsters for those ace monsters. Soulburner on the other hand plays this straight as he does not have the ability to create new cards on the fly: his strategy is using Salamagreat Heatleo and supporting that process until the enemy is down.

    Comic Books 
  • Groo the Wanderer by Sergio Aragonés. Aside from being the godchild of Fate herself, which protects him from all manner of schemes both vengeful and proactively self-defensive, Groo has... swords. And lots of skill with swords. Not that he's beneath taking an errand or two, but he usually messes that up, or else does the errand far too late, or talks about it to the wrong person. And then a couple of armies storm the village and he kills everybody with his swords. Swords rule!
  • The Incredible Hulk primarily deals with his problems by smashing them. He frequently violates the "clever trick" aspect of this by simply beating things harder and harder until they break anyway, regardless of how cleverly designed or how skilled they are at absorbing or avoiding damage. Hulk is thus the ultimate "hammer" and disabuser of the notion of rock/paper/scissors story design. Justified in that the Hulk gets stronger as he gets angrier, so the longer he fights, the stronger he gets, and the more capable he becomes of solving the problem by just plain smashing it.
  • Jesse Custer, the titular character of Preacher, has the Word Of God as his hammer — he can command anyone who understands him to do anything, and they will. Or at least, they'll try. After he realises he's become overly dependent on it (around about the same time that his enemies figure out they can send in Elite Mooks who don't speak a word of English) he starts trying to ensure he's got some other tools in his arsenal.
  • In the third Runaways series, Nico Minoru developed a really bad habit of resorting to magic to fix every single problem, often with great complications. She finally got called out on this after using a magic spell to force Klara to stop crying after the latter was seriously traumatized by an accident.
  • Well-Spoken Sonic Lightning Flash of the Super Young Team is a speedster. When the team temporarily disbanded, he did the one thing that felt right: he walked aimlessly. His thing is forward motion, and it's all he knows. That's why his immediate reaction to most problems is to simply run directly at them.
  • Although he's intelligent, and is capable of coming up with plans and tactics, Superman's default method of attack is just to fly up to a problem and punch it. Given that he's Superman, this does solve a number of problems. Likewise for Supergirl, Superboy, Power Girl and any other Kryptonians.
  • One of the older Thor annuals in his Marvel Comics series involved Loki stealing his hammer (see Mythology below) in order to escape from his mystical prison. Thor fights through much of Asgard in order to get it back, solving various problems by making hammers out of nearby materials.
  • In a Crisis Crossover in The DCU, Superboy-Prime, who was previously Ret-Gone, punched his way back into continuity. He punched at the walls of time and space until he existed again. note 
  • The Transformers: More than Meets the Eye: Getaway has one solution to all his problems; his memory-erasing nudge gun. People learn you're planning a mutiny? Nudge gun! Crew objects to you acting like a selfish prick? Nudge gun! Need to ensure a dissenter's death? Nudge gun! He abuses the thing so much that the gun eventually starts breaking down from overuse.
  • Spider Jerusalem from Transmetropolitan has his go-to joke gun, the (usually) non-lethal Bowel Disruptor to incapacitate painfully and messily. Used as a subversion when, while on the run from the government, they are so used to him using the bowel disruptor that they are unprepared when he has actual firearms and knows how to use them. Then DOUBLE-subverted when, finally getting a one-on-one with the president, the security is so aware and careful of his new-found use of firearms that they neglect to check for any Source Gas recording tech on him, the first trick he ever pulled on the president.
  • Defied early on in Ultimate Spider-Man, when Peter gets his ass kicked by the Kingpin and Electro, and realizes that just because he can shoot a web at someone then punch them really hard, doesn't mean he should stop using his brain. He goes back for a second round but with a plan this time — the Enforcers end up in jail, the Kingpin has to flee the country as a known murderer, and Electro is taken into S.H.I.E.L.D custody.
  • Valhalla: Thor is a subversion. Thor's comfort zone when it comes to problem-solving is "Hit it with Mjolnir until it stops resisting", and Mjolnir's power and Thor's strength make this a valid solution to pretty much any problem. This leads a lot of beings to believe that Thor is helpless without the hammer, but this is repeatedly proven to not be the case. Thor is the strongest of the Aesir even without magical help, and quite capable in a fight, even unarmed and unarmored. Thor also possesses a strength-enhancing belt, a pair of armored gauntlets and a magical mail hauberk, which are all powerful magical items in their own right (though not as powerful as Mjolnir). Finally, Thor is Hot-Blooded and impulsive, but he is far from stupid, and has inherited some, though not all, of his father Odin's talent for strategy and intrigue.
  • Very common for most X-Men, especially more minor characters, to fall under the trope and be reliant solely on their mutant powers. This is not completely universal for every mutant though. For example, Gambit very notably has many non-mutant skills and can manipulate his powers in a lot of different ways. Generally, his well known Death Dealer approach is most emphasized when he plays a minor role in a comic. Another example is their reliance on the Fastball Special, especially during Joss Whedon's run on Astonishing. Lampshaded by Emma Frost when she once told Colossus, "You can't just throw people at all your problems, dear." Justified in part; a usual aspect of mutants was that they had only one power (usually), and many of them have a highly specialized power. Still, they were able to use it creatively: Cyclops' optic blast serves as an attack, can be used to slow his falling, allows him to fly...
  • In War Machine's case, it's "When all you have is an electric minigun, a missile box and a crapload of other guns."

    Fan Works 
  • Shirou in Fate Gamer Night currently only has swordsmanship for fighting. When he fights a Blob Monster, he's forced to cut it faster than it can regenerate until he finds it's core and destroys it. Afterwards, he's asked if he realized the monster is weak against fire.
  • Child of the Storm initially plays this straight with Harry's more advanced magical combat techniques - which mostly extends to spamming wandless fire magic and telekinetic blasts, essentially solving all problems by blowing them up. Since he is initially a Squishy Wizard, this comes back to bite him. It is later Played With when it's revealed that Harry is quite creative within those limits, and then eventually subverted in the sequel when it is revealed that Harry can be subtle and has a rather broader repertoire than he lets on, and Ron speculates that given the scale of threats he was facing, he had to become a Master of One Magic just to survive.
  • Jaune in Forged Destiny. Being a Blacksmith, he is only capable of having Skills that allow him to forge and craft materials. Up until Book 2, the only skills he had shown were Quench (quickly cool a metal) and Stoke the Forge (generate intense heat in one's hand). Despite this, he's able to apply it in a variety of combat situations, such as burning people and objects, or improperly heating and cooling weapons in order to weaken or break them. He later gains Runesmithing to further aide his combat abilities by enhancing his weapon.
    • It's later revealed that this can potentially apply to everyone to some degree, as people who take on specific roles or methods will gain skills designed to better aide them and will eventually be locked into those roles should they progress far enough. Thus unless one deliberately focuses on versatility from the beginning, they'll eventually only be able to use specific methods for the rest of their lives.
  • In I'm a Marvel... And I'm a DC, It's Just Some Random Guy only really uses two special effects. His lightning is used for everything from tazers to The Joker's staff to Iron Man's repulsor pulses. His circular fade is used for any form of teleportation as well as any character shifting from one model to another (e.g. Modern Superman and Batman to overly friendly '80s Superman and Batman). Fortunately, his effects pool was slightly increased before Green Lantern used his powers. Unfortunately, that just meant that everything goes green for a second.
  • This leads directly to Lila's downfall in LadyBugOut. For the longest time, she's been able to court attention through constant lies about her supposed connections, and slandering anyone who doesn't fall for them by making herself out to be the victim. When Ivan spots a problem with one of her claims and calls her out on it, her attempts to use her usual tactics backfire, but all she can think to do is keep trying, digging herself ever deeper in the process. Afterwards, she continues using the same tricks despite having already lost all her credibility, as she simply can't figure out anything else to do.
  • In Smash Kingdom, King Dedede, a king with a nation of weapons and variance of abilities, is a bit too dependent on his hammer.
  • Referenced in this abridged script for Thor:
    Chris Hemsworth hammers the fuck out of the robot, hammers the fuck out of some Frost Giants, hammers the fuck out of Tom Hiddleston, and hammers the fuck out of the Rainbow Bridge.
    Chris Hemsworth: Everything looks like a nail!
  • Quoted in the title of When All You Have Is a Hammer but actually averted; Izuku has what seems like a weak Gender Bender quirk, but he quickly learns to abuse the quirk's mechanics to store items, absorb injuries and more.
  • Cori Falls believed that Ash was an incompetent trainer because his Pikachu only knew Thundershock, though this is not actually the case. But she wrote it as such in her fanfictions, so the Recursive Hate Fic At The Food Court has the narrator confused when Ash says Thundershock was all Pikachu ever needed to win battles, and concludes that this was the reason Team Rocket was always after Pikachu.
  • In Dr Happy the Lurve Guru, Mira enlists Happy to give romantic advices to their guildmates after he finally gets together with Carla. Though while Happy does give sage advice, they always involve fish in one form or another.

    Films — Animation 
  • Brave: The witch's bear motif is noticeably prevalent in all her professional dealings. The only spell she seems to know is turning people into bears.
  • WALL•E:
    • EVE's problem solving tree is something like "Blast it with my arm cannon. Does it still need to be blasted more? Repeat as necessary."
    • M-O, the obsessive cleaning bot, lives in a very black and white [Clean/Foreign Contaminant] world. Even in battle, he rushes towards the enemies just to... deliver a maintenance job.
  • Wreck-It Ralph:
    • Fix-It Felix Jr. literally has a hammer as his only weapon. Unfortunately, it's a magic hammer and its only function is fixing stuff. When he tries to break out of King Candy's "Fungeon", hitting the bars with his hammer only causes them to grow stronger.
      Felix: Why do I fix everything I touch?
    • Wreck-It-Ralph is incredible when it comes to wrecking things... but finds out when he's game-hopping that he's not so good at anything else.
      Ralph: I told you; I don't make things. I break things.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Armageddon (1998): A Russian cosmonaut, confronted with a malfunctioning piece of equipment, repeatedly hits it with another, similarly malfunctioning, piece of equipment, shouting "THIS IS HOW YOU FIX THINGS ON RUSSIAN SPACE STATION!"
  • Referenced verbatim in Arrival when Louise and the Colonel are trying to figure out how the Chinese government is communicating with the aliens; they've been speaking with them via playing mahjong, so every interaction so far has been in terms of victory or defeat.
  • In Captain Marvel (2019), the Kree warrior Yon-Rogg complains about the fact that the Accusers' solution to every single problem is Orbital Bombardment.
  • The Dungeonmaster: The protagonist has precisely one solution to any of the challenges thrown his way by the villainous Mestema: shoot it with his Frickin' Laser Beams. In Dr. Insano's review of the film, it starts wearing on his last nerve.
  • Fast & Furious: The main characters have never met a problem that couldn't be solved by driving fast and/or furiously.
  • G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra: Nevermind your complicated bypassing of the security system, Breaker. Snake-Eyes can just do what he does best and stab it with a sword.
  • The corridor fight scene in Oldboy (2003). On the way to confront Woo-jin, Oh Dae-su meets a corridor filled with over two dozen mooks armed with almost every simplistic melee weapon under the sun, including metal poles, baseball bats, chunks of 2x4, and knives. Despite having little more than the clothes on his back and a claw hammer, Dae-su proceeds to beat each and every one of them down. Given that the entire scene is done in a single take and lasts the better part of three minutes...
  • Police Academy: Tackleberry's solution to any problem is to shoot at it. This includes putting out a cigar, getting a boy out of a car to force him to go to school and rescuing a cat out of a tree.
  • Shoot 'Em Up: The hero uses his gun to do just about everything, including cut the umbilical cord from a newborn.
  • Speed Racer: When told that racing isn't going to solve the world's problems, he says, "Racing is the only thing I know how to do, and I gotta do something."
  • In Terminator 2: Judgment Day, at one point John orders the T-800 to get rid of some people annoying him, resulting in the T-800 almost immediately attempting lethal force in the form of a bullet to the head. When John chews him out over it, the T-800 matter-of-factly points out that as the titular Killer Robot, murdering humans in cold blood is what he does.
    John: Jesus, you were gonna kill that guy!
    T-800: Of course. I'm a Terminator.

  • An electrician, a chemist, and an IT technician get on a car, but the engine doesn't start. "There must be a problem with the spark plugs", says the electrician. "No, it's the gasoline that has the wrong octane rating", replies the chemist. "What if we got off the car and on again?", says the IT tech. Extra points for this being a joke that came true. In the 1990's the idea of a car working like this was both ridiculous and funny, today most warning lights really are caused by errors that go away from restarting. Rudimentary computer knowledge has become a pretty useful hammer.

  • Animorphs:
    • Late in the series, Jake makes this assertion regarding Visser Three.
      Jake: Visser Three doesn't do tactics. He fights with a sledgehammer.
      General Doubleday: If you have a big enough sledgehammer, that's all you need, son.
    • The way the Visser uses his Andalite host's morphing power backs Jake up on this. The Animorphs themselves shapeshift into all manner of animals, both powerful and subtle. Visser Three, by contrast, exclusively uses it to turn into terrifying alien monsters.
    • Given that it's literally their only weapon, the Animorphs' practice and use of the morphing technology far surpasses the Andalites' skill with it. This to the point of shocking Andalites like Ax and Aldrea, who watch the humans perform morphing acts that would count as legendary to their species yet let it pass without comment.
      • One particular "hammer" they use surprisingly often is dropping Cassie's humpback whale morph from a great height, used in Megamorphs #1, #24, #34, and #39 (though in that one a Deus ex Machina prevents her from being shredded by the helicopter they dropped her on).
  • Anita Blake. Except all she has are her genitals and a gun. Made even more blatant with the same author's Merry Gentry series. There are no problems that cannot be solved by the main character having sex with someone.
  • In Atharon, every member of the class/ magical discipline has the similar approach to solving the problem. It mostly defaults to Murder Is the Best Solution but it causes no end of problems for the protagonists.
  • At the climax of Fred Saberhagen's Book of Swords novel Third Book of Swords, Vulcan, wielding Shieldbreaker, is being wrestled to the ground by a group of unarmed human beings, only to discover that the otherwise invincible Sword of Force doesn't work on the unarmed. To make matters worse, the Sword won't let itself be thrown away during a fight, and also prevents Vulcan from using any of his other powers. So he tries using the Sword against the walls of the building, hoping to bring the house down on the heads of his attackers:
    Concentrated now in the one Sword was all of Vulcan's power, and all his hope. He knew that he must win with it, or die.
  • In the 4th and later books in Spider Robinson's Callahan's Crosstime Saloon series, mass-telepathy becomes the go-to solution for whatever horrible conflict is currently facing our intrepid barflies, even referencing the quote at the top of the page. It almost turns into the literary equivalent of Overly Long Fighting Animation. In the first three, the problems are on a much more personal level, and the solutions are far less predictable. The group telepathy doesn't even show up until halfway through the final story in the third book.
  • Lawrence Pritchard Waterhouse in Cryptonomicon is more or less useless in any situation that doesn't involve mathematics. It's rather astounding the number of different ways he does manage to bring this particular hammer to bear.
  • Discworld: Arch-Chancellor of the Unseen University Mustrum Ridicully's approach to a problem is to hit it with his staff. Which is made of oak. As he points out, anything that can shrug that off isn't really going to be bothered by anything else he could do. (It helps that Ridcully is a Big Guy in a way that's atypical for wizards, being an extreme physical fitness buff.)
  • Gilderoy Lockhart in Harry Potter, who could do only one spell with any degree of competence: memory erasure. On a general note, if it's a good guy, they will use Stupefy (stun) and Expelliarmus (disarm). If it's a bad guy, they will use Cruciatus (torture) and Avada Kedavra (kill). At first. Later when the Second War starts, there are plenty of good guys willing to use lethal or at the very least brute force on Dark Wizards, so much that Lupin calls Harry's having Expelliarmus as his trademark spell as childish.
  • In The Initiate Brother, General Hojo tries to avert this, saying that a soldier like him might not be the best person to decide a certain issue.
    Hojo: Soldiers will always make decisions with a sword. It is our way, but there are other ways.
  • In the Johnny Maxwell Trilogy novel Only You Can Save Mankind, Johnny accused Kirsty of having a mind like a hammer and treating everyone else like a nail. Another example would be Johnny initially continuing to fire when the aliens in his video game try to surrender. After all, there wasn't a Don't Fire button.
  • In The Kane Chronicles, Horus's strategy for fighting seems to be this. This is amusingly lampshaded in The Serpent's Shadow, all (of course) while Horus is possessing a pigeon.
    Horus: My knowledge of combat magic is rather basic. Hit enemies with a sword until they're dead. If they rise again, hit them again. Repeat as necessary. It worked against Set.
    Carter: After how many years of fighting?
  • Discussed in Space Marine Battles:
    Lycaon: Do you know how to kill him?
    Lysander: Cut him into pieces and burn them.
    Lycaon: Is that what the people of Malodrax say?
    Lysander: No, but that works on everything.
  • The page quote comes back often in StarCraft novel Liberty's Crusade, seeing how Mengsk's primary strategy to solve every problem is to plant a PSI Emitter near it and let the Zerg take care of the rest (followed by the entire planet being incinerated by the Protoss).
  • This became a problem for Luke Skywalker in the Star Wars Expanded Universe. Granted, the Force isn't so much a hammer as it is a complete garage full of the best power tools money can't even begin to buy, but even the Jedi of the old order, flawed though they were, knew that Jedi had to have tools and training beyond lightsabers and the Force. It was "fixed", temporarily, by one author, who noted that Yoda, Obi-Wan, and so on didn't use the Force except when forced to make a point, and that excessive Force use — coming to see the Force as a sonic screwdriver — was the equivalent of making a whole lot of noise all the time, making you unable to hear even important whispers. When he established the Academy, Luke initially doesn't see the use for any weapon but lightsabers. Corran Horn points out that lightsabers have no stun setting, and convinces Luke to have the trainees study basic unarmed combat, toonote .
  • There Is No Epic Loot Here, Only Puns: The town of Durence has a single person, Seath, in charge of both common pests and lethal dangers. This is only fitting, since his solution to all problems involves infernal fire from the 67th level of the Abyss.
  • Villains Don't Date Heroes!: Rex has a minor mind-control power. Night Terror soon realizes that the reason he's a smarmy asshole is because he's never had to learn actual charisma. When facing two people immune to his power, he tries to talk them over to his side because that's always worked before, but has no success. When Night Terror confirms that he has no more tricks (and he's admitted to a long list of horrible things in front of Fialux), Night Terror casually disintegrates him.
  • Subverted in Gromyko's Witch as Profession series. The heroine once explains: "A battlemare can't win by just dishing fireball after fireball, you must THINK, and fast!"
  • It's a whole plot point of Lawrence Watt-Evans's book With a Single Spell, which tells a story of an apprentice wizard whose master has died after teaching him only a single simple fire-casting spell.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The titular character from Angel will often claim to have a plan to solve the current crisis. If any of the other characters bother to ask for details, it usually involves going in the front door of the bad guy's lair and stabbing it/them. (In another humorous case, the plan to avoid security was "walk really fast", and then, stab something.)
  • Babylon 5: John Sheridan's motto appears to be, "When in doubt, nuclear warheads." No wonder Syfy keeps hiring Boxleitner for their similarly inclined movies. (To be fair to Sheridan, though, he never uses nukes in the same manner twice, and he's got plenty of other tactics in his bag of tricks that he's perfectly willing to use.)
  • Several times in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, when the story required a less than super character to handle a situation on their own, it was suggested that Buffy sit that one out as it didn't require slaying, citing Buffy's tendency to respond to even minor conflict with violence. And while she has quite a repertoire, her go-to weapon is a good-ol' pointy stick.
    Buffy: Why don't I just put a stake through [Anyanka's] heart?
    Giles: She's not a vampire.
    Buffy: You'd be surprised how many things that'll kill.
  • Despite being surprisingly sophisticated in its character drama and plot development, Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future was prone to resolving all its moments of suspense by the simple expedient of having it turn out that the heroes were not hurt quite so badly as it had at first appeared.
  • Doctor Who:
    • Subverted: sure, all the Doctor has is a sonic screwdriver, but it has more features than a Swiss army knife with extra hammer space. If we're to judge by Doctor Who, the grand unifying theory of science is that everything is controlled by screws. In fact, it was temporarily taken off the show because it was feared it would become a Game-Breaker, so to speak. Although it doesn't do wood. Also, it's specifically never used to solve the episode's big problem. And in the revival series, the Doctor rarely uses the same trick twice to solve the episode's big problem.
    • Ten references this in one of his audiobooks as the reason he never carries a weapon. "If all you have is a gun, then all you see are things to destroy, and that's not who I am." It's not that he doesn't think there are situations that call for violence, he just doesn't want to risk it becoming his first resort. When all you have is an amazing intellect, and tools to get you access to all the most relevant data on what's going on, things are much less likely to end in a tragic misunderstanding.
    • In the Classic series, the Doctor is always ridiculing The Brigadier's tendency to use military force to deal with the Monster of the Week. Of course, he's simply using the tools he knows well; it's the job of his "scientific advisor' to come up with other options.
    • The Daleks were very clearly designed with one purpose in mind: Exterminate. They were given two appendages, neither of which even functions as a hand: a gun, and a plunger like device that can interface with technology (and even that can be used to kill). While early episodes showed that they can stun someone, it rarely comes up as an option; their general tactics are kill, kill, and kill some more. Even when performing tasks like interrogating someone who would have willingly shared intel with them, they make it lethal because it's what they do.
      Rose: You didn't need to kill him!
      Dalek: Neither did we need him alive.
    • Eleven and Twelve's manservant Strax cannot help himself but suggest violence to solve the situation. Not problem, but situation. Like getting everyone to sit down for dinner on time. It's literally in his DNA.
      Drax: The Doctor said to ask if you needed any grenades. He may have said "help".
  • Across assorted TV and live shows, Australian comedy troupe the Doug Anthony All Stars had a running gag involving moral dilemmas, each of which would describe a particular quandary in varying amounts of detail, including situations involving alcoholism, losing a job and so on. The last line of each dilemma was inevitably "You have... a hammer." Except for unwanted pregnancies where it ends with "You have... a coathanger."
  • Barry Allen of The Flash (2014) initially falls into this, given that he can only do one thing. His basic battle strategy in the early episodes tends to be "Run really fast and punch the other guy." However, he does eventually learn more applications of his powers, like time travel, creating illusory duplicates of himself, and turning his spark trail into a projectile weapon.
  • Ghostwriter: Reading and writing is the characters' solution to every problem. Justified when Ghostwriter is involved because he can only communicate or interact with the world through writing, but since the show was designed to encourage literacy in kids, the creators seemed to go out of their way to create situations that reading and writing could solve.
  • Claude Raines stopped Peter Petrelli from turning New York into rubble in Heroes with a well-placed right cross. Given that he was played by Christopher Eccleston, it was awesome. This is similar to the method used to stop the alien villain in the Doctor Who serial "City of Death."
  • How I Met Your Mother: Lily Aldrin solves all of life's problems by treating them as she would in a kindergarten class and recommends her friends do the same.
  • It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia: Frank has a gun. He wants you to know that and will pull it out at the slightest provocation in what is otherwise a (very dark) Sitcom. It's the only reason anybody ever does anything he says.
  • Kamen Rider Wizard:
    • The Monsters of the Week, Phantoms, are tasked with making special humans called "Gates" cross the Despair Event Horizon and have their Phantoms break out of their "Gate". The more intelligent Phantoms come up with custom-tailored schemes to drive their Gate to despair by playing off their existing personality flaws. The less intelligent ones tend to simply use their physical and magical power to attack the Gate directly, often while declaring some variation on "Let the fear of death drive you to despair!" Phoenix was Kicked Upstairs to supervisor status because he killed the Gate he was targeting in this fashion.
    • In the same show, Wizard never casts a spell while using his final form because Infinity Style's superspeed and invincibility are all he needs to obliterate any opponent he meets.
  • In Kamen Rider Drive, Gou/Kamen Rider Mach uses Signal Bikes, which are much more straightforward in application than the gimmick superpowers the main protagonist's Shift Cars grant him. This makes them much easier to use, but also means he's limited to punching with his Power Fist and shooting what are mostly regular bullets with various homing properties.
  • Kamen Rider Ex-Aid: Taiga Hanaya's main strategy is simply to shoot the video game themed Bugsters until it stops moving. This has proven to be both risky for the patient the Bugster has spawned from and not feasible in other games than the action ones. He gets called out on it.
  • Kamen Rider Build: Ryuga Banjou is a former boxer, which makes his fighting strategy fairly obvious. Punch it, if that doesn't work, punch it harder. Rinse, repeat. Not only does this strategy carry him for the entire show, it actually makes him one of the most powerful secondary Riders in history, often becoming stronger than Build himself.
  • There is an interesting variation on the Leverage episode "The Rashomon Job" where each of the various thieves tried to steal the same rare dagger on the same night using their designated skills and inadvertently sabotaged each other, only to realize that the mastermind of the group had really ended up with it. This was before any of them ever really met, mind. it also turned out that the dagger was really a fake and that it was all just an insurance scam. Eliot often plays this straight as well. His primary means of gaining a proper disguise is to beat up the person wearing it and steal it.
  • The only weapon on the Lexx is a planet-destroying wave, as such the ship and its crew have a tendency to solve problems by blowing up planets. Like in the third TV movie where the Lexx scrapes a parasite off its skin by destroying the planet they were on and flying into the debris field.
  • The Mandalorian: IG-11 is an assassin droid who was programmed to self-destruct if captured to prevent his knowledge from falling into enemy hands. That programming worked a little too well, because now every time a situation starts going south, IG-11's immediate response is to blow up himself and everything around him, forcing his allies to belay his self-destruct.
    IG-11: (as he and the Mandalorian are being shot at) I must self destruct!
    The Mandalorian: Do not self-destruct!
  • A nonviolent variant from MythBusters: No matter what the problem, Grant has the same solution: build a robot. And a "violent" variant from the same: if a myth is even tangentially related to explosions, there will be an explosion, even if they have to resort to calling in the bomb squad.
  • Power Rangers is a particularly egregious offender, almost every episode requiring that they devise some special technique to render the monster defeatable by one of the stock finishing moves. Several noteworthy examples:
    • The second season's Mecha-Mooks, Z-Putties, were completely indestructible unless you knew their weakness. This weakness: being punched really hard at a point in the middle of their chest which is conveniently marked. (Despite learning this weakness during their first encounter, the heroes never aimed for it immediately, which would've made the show both realistic and boring.) This once led to them being defeated by 10-year-olds with dodgeballs.
    • In another early episode, the Power Rangers are faced with evil doubles that they aren't able to beat, so Zordon gives them new weapons... which look exactly like their old weapons. (Specifically, they're stronger versions meant to overpower the Mutant Rangers' weapons)
    • SPD, "Reflections": Sam, who can turn into a ball of light, realizes that a monster's weakness is the mirrors built into its chest. So, is his brilliant tactical strategy to somehow leverage his light-form to turn those mirrors into a liability? Nope, the answer is "punch him really hard in the chest."
    • Operation Overdrive:
      • "Man of Mercury": Future Sixth Ranger, Tyzonn, has the power to turn himself into mercury, T-1000 style. Faced with the need to stop an alien army from escaping their imprisonment in a mirror, you might think that he'll use the reflective qualities of his mercury form in some way, as he'd been seen to do a few scenes earlier. He does end up using his powers: he extends his reach and smashes the mirror. Power Rangers writers seem inordinately fond of smashing mirrors.
      • A different example is pointed out in at least one review of the episode "Both Sides Now" in which the Black Ranger seemingly defects for the purpose of stealing back an artifact from the bad guys. While it's clear that it wouldn't have gone as smoothly if the Rangers didn't have a career criminal on their team, it's also likely that they would never have even thought to try the Fake Defector plot if someone with Will's skill set wasn't around.
    • But finally something different in Power Rangers RPM: "Doctor K": Faced with a monster that can duplicate anything it can reflect in its mirror, Dr. K does a well-timed feint, causing it to duplicate not her weapon, but a generator the rangers need two of. Still, it wouldn't be Power Rangers without falling back on the old chestnut. While all this is going on, the Rangers defeat a larger version of the same monster by a well-placed flying kick to the chest-mirrors.
  • In the Red Dwarf episode Meltdown, Pythagoras believes there is a solution to the war, possibly involving triangles. Einstein is annoyed saying "Always with the triangles".
  • In the early seasons of Smallville, as Clark's powers are limited to invulnerability, Super Speed and Super Strength, his default attack is "throw the villain hard at something". In Season 2, he gains heat vision, but his default attack is unchanged because it would otherwise be messy. As his Super Speed increases, he seems to start using "punching you at Mach 10" more often against tougher opponents. Hey, it worked even on Brainiac, Zor-El and Zod! Not to mention he took down Darkseid with one of those...
  • In Stargate Atlantis, the eponymous city is invaded by aliens in powered armor who have come to steal a device. During their escape, one provides cover by throwing up an energy shield which blocks bullets. Undaunted by this, the heroes unload on this guy for nearly 30 seconds, eventually breaking the shield and killing him.
  • How many times did Star Trek's Captain Kirk punch an offending alien in the face? Or order his crew to fire phasers? Handheld phasers borders between Every Device Is a Swiss-Army Knife and this trope — on the one hand they can be used in a fair number of non-weapon ways (plus, they can serve as improvised explosives), but on the other hand a lot of problems were solved by firing at someone/something until it fell down/exploded/disintegrated.
    • In "The Carbomite Maneuver", Yeoman Rand offers Kirk a hot cup of coffee, which is surprising because they'd been told there was no power. Rand says she heated it with a phaser. Who knew you could set phasers to "percolate"?
  • Cameron in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, being a literal killing machine, tends to view any problem in the context of how many people she has to kill, treating alternative methods with anything from bemusement to derision. That she is willing to apply other methods as the series progresses is an important point of Character Development for her.
  • Jeremy Clarkson of Top Gear is particularly fond of hammers, using them at every opportunity even when it's not the best idea in the world.
    James: Don't hit it with the hammer.
    Jeremy: Why not?
    James: Because it's the tool of a pikey.
  • In Tyrant (2014), Abuddin's military is trained primarily for brutally suppressing dissent among the people. When faced with the external threat of the Army of the Caliphate, rather than take a proactive stance early on, it institutes a brutal crackdown of possible sympathizers within its own borders... which naturally causes a lot of Abuddinians to flee over the border and join the Caliphate.


    Myths & Religion 
  • Norse Mythology: Tales of Thór sport an early example of this trope, as his repertoire was so limited that he was always content to solve any problem with a literal hammer, no matter the odds. This was lampshaded, as Thór once lost the hammer to theft, and was then screwed to the point of begging Loki's help to get it back. Averted once when Alvíss, the all-knowing king of the dwarfs, wanted to marry Thór's daughter Thrúd. Thór kept Alvíss busy and distracted with questions until sunrise, knowing that sunlight would turn the dwarf into stone.
  • Classical Mythology: Zeus used transformations to sleep with nymphs and mortal women or solve problems. (The rest of the time, he threw lightning bolts.)

    Pro Wrestling 
  • Several wrestlers can win any match with their Finishing Move. When Batista claimed the STFU (a submission move) was completely useless in a Last Man Standing Match, John Cena proceeded to lock him in it until he passed out, then counted to ten, proving him wrong.
  • Many of the less athletic pros out there fall under this, The Great Khali being among the top offenders. He has literally three "moves": overhead chop, choke-bomb, head-vice. The last two are finishing moves, and anything that doesn't involve swinging his arm over his head is either just running into someone, pushing them in various ways, and falling on them in various ways while the commentators desperately try to call it a leg/elbow drop. Big Show threw a lampshade on this at a house show, responding to chants of "You can't wres-tle!" with "I don't have to!"
  • The Young Bucks have a decent repertoire of moves. However, they are notorious for spamming the superkick over and over again until their opponents finally go down.
  • Nicole Savoy cited this as the reason she lost to LuFisto in their first SHIMMER encounter, promising she'd show more versatility at Volume 80. LuFisto clearly wasn't expecting it, as her strategy was out-suplexing the suplex queen.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In any game that has it, the "Magic Missile" spell quickly turns into a wizard's hammer: it typically deals Non-Elemental‎ damage which is hard to resist, it's cheap to cast and scales up nicely with the caster's level.
  • A common saying amongst Ancient and Medieval miniature wargamers: Sledgehammer is a plan on itself.
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • Some specialist wizards are more specialized than others. Necromancers at least have Black and White arts (not much), Summoners have acid arrows and suchlike, but what sort of spells do you think a Fire Elementalist is going to have? Protection from fire, hurling fire, breathing fire, beating with fire, fire wall, fire cloud, fire trap and... and... yeah, right, that's about it.
    • Specialist wizards could sacrifice breadth of knowledge for depth. By forsaking two (of eight) schools of magic, the Wizard chose one other school and gained a special spell slot at each spell level that could only hold a school from his chosen school. A splatbook adds the "Focused Specialist" class variant in which a wizard could sacrifice a third school to gain two more spell slots for their chosen school (for three extra slots the cost of forbidding the wizard to use roughly 1/3 of the spells on his class list).
    • Other (typically less useful) classes also forced specialization on individual characters. For instance, Shugenja had to forbid a quarter of their class list from their class list, Warlocks could only ever learn about 1/4 of the available Invocations, and all spontaneous casters (save the Spirit Shaman) had to permanently commit to a small pool of the spells on their list. The sublime martial artists of The Book of Nine Swords faced similar restrictions.
    • 3.x had this in spades among players. The best fighter build, for instance, is considered to be one which uses feats to give a ridiculous number of bonuses to a charge, then praying for that one charge to kill the opponent.
    • Although spellcasters aren't generally subject to this as much, since their big advantage tends to be a lot of versatility, there's a feat called Arcane Thesis, which lets you really specialize in a single spell above all others. Paired with a few other abilities, you can pile on the metamagic for an empowered, twin, chain, repeat, maximized, enervating, admixed, searing orb of cold that deals solely fire damage, and enough of it to literally kill gods. But, you won't be able to do much else, and it's considered one of the weaker ways to go. Yes, godslaying is subpar for casters. Go figure.
    • Perhaps the most extreme caster example in 3.5 is the psionic class the Wilder. With an utterly dismal 11 powers known at level 20 (assuming one has not taken feats to gain more, this is one of the lowest of any psionic or arcane caster class in 3.5, period) but the potential to "surge" and vastly increase the wallop of your power when cast, you will be using a very narrow repertoire of powers but surging for immense increases in your effective caster level. This amounts to some truly absurd amounts of damage that can be dished out in a single usage of your power, but you will be using that same power and your wild surge again, and again, and again.
    • The flavour text of Forgotten Realms spell Khelben's Warding Whip (disrupting magical force constructs) says that Blackstaff once met Bigby "apparently not on the best of terms" and later expressed his opinion on Bigby's Hands line of spells as "the old goat comes up with one good gimmick and beats it to death with a rock".
    • 4e Slayer. What does it do? Basic attacks. That's all it can do, dishing out huge amounts of damage through basic attacks. And occasionally, have magic items that trigger basic attacks or are triggered by basic attacks. Why does the 4e Warlord like to pair up with Slayer? Because the 4e Warlord focuses on granting other players basic attacks.
    • Warriors who put enough feats into using a specific weapon can result in this, too. In particular, a character focused on ranged attacks can quickly reach the point where a bow is the ideal weapon, regardless of range. Doubly so for the Iron Heroes variant's Archer class.
    • 5e Warlocks get a lot of nifty tricks at high level, but for much of their career, in combat, with their limited spell slots, the vast majority of problems end up being solved with two simple words: "eldritch blast".
    • 5e Open Palm Monks can do a surprising amount of stuff by just punching stuff.
  • Exalted:
    • The Green Sun Princes are explicitly told to move away from this paradigm. What separates them from their Yozi masters is that they can think outside of the box and mix-and-match their masters' gimmicks to best deal with the situation at hands.
    • The Yozis, on the other hand, have this as a fundamental tenet of their existence. For Malfeas, "solve this problem" = "use overwhelming force to solve this problem". Someone has to die? Smash them into a pulp. Need to debate someone? Shout them down.
  • GURPS give us the Hidebound Disadvantage, meaning a character prefers to use tried and true methods, or in some cases is psychologically unable to do otherwise, that have served them well in the past.
  • Though the sheer length of time that Magic: The Gathering has been around means that each of the five colors have a vast and expansive repertoire of spells at their disposal, each color tends to fall back on the same themes time and again. The biggest offenders are Red, the color of "throw fire/lightning/goblins at it", and Green, the color of "throw nature at it". In a text about the green/red pair, Mark Rosewater pointed this out as that pair's biggest weakness: "Plan A: Beat it up until it stops moving. Plan B: Er... We were supposed to have a plan B?"
  • The quote for the Ogryn Specialty in Only War shows the burly abhumans' approach to problems.
    Karg, Ogryn Bone'ead: Brute force not work? It because you not use enough of it!
  • Princess: The Hopeful: As the Calling that specializes in direct physical solutions to problems, Champions will sometimes get stereotyped as Dumb Muscle. This isn't true, Champions are simply temperamentally inclined to find direct solutions to problems. If a Champion can't find something he can do to solve a problem, he'll break it down until he does find something. If he still can't find any way to approach the issue, he'll probably decide that this is a job for some other Calling and go get help.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • The only thing the Imperial Guard have going for them? Guns and manpower. When confronted by the enemies of Man, they employ both of these, and if that doesn't work, they just keep throwing bigger guns and more men at it until it breaks. That said, their bigger guns tend to be really effective.
      • Kubrik Chenkov is a master of this. His strategy? Send men. If that doesn't work? Send more men. He uses men to clear minefields for his tanks. In one battle he sacrificed ten million men to achieve victory. His superiors gave him a medal.
    • The Orks tend to be even more extreme than the Guard, just with "When All You Have Is More Dakka." Or perhaps More Choppa. At any rate, this mindset is reflected in the Greenskin deities, Gork and Mork — the Orks love to fight over which is which, but the main difference between the two is that one is "brutally cunning" and will bash you when you're not looking, while the other is "cunningly brutal" and will bash you really hard even if you are.
    • The Adeptus Mechanicus have one main combat tactic. Apply guns. If that doesn't work, use More Gun. With the variety of weaponry, troops and relics available to them, though, that works most of the time if they're allowed to react to a defeat by opening up the remnants of a dozen apocalypses and going full E.E Doc Smith on the hostiles unlucky enough to piss of the Lords of Mars.
    • The Tyranids as well, which was lampshaded in a White Dwarf, battle report when a Games Workshop employee said that you can discuss different rosters and tactics for Tyranids, but when it comes down to it, all their strategies end up being about "spikey death."
      • Averted in fluff. Tyranid Tyrants and especially the Swarmlord tend to be brilliant strategists fully capable to outwit Imperial Guard generals, Space Marines Chapter Masters and Eldar Autarchs. And Orks are not an easy target practice as well. Especially that Ghazghkull guy.
    • If you're playing a Chaos Daemons army, this gets even worse. Daemons literally have no guns, unless you use a lot of hyper-expensive Tzeentchian squishy-wizard Daemons, so the only thing you can do with them is charge. Thankfully, your basic close-combat soldiers can hack enemies to pieces with gigantic iron swords, sinuously decapitate them with crab-like claws while dancing, or take a whole lot of abuse to deliver a gigantic payload of Super Space Flu.
  • Many Yu-Gi-Oh! decks are built like this; depending on the archetype chosen by the player, each deck built will usually have one or two specific "win conditions" they're trying to get to, and several potential ways to get there.

    Video Games 
  • In pretty much any first person shooter with a physics engine the player will find themselves trying to manipulate objects with guns or bombs rather than with their hands. Clearly the best way to move a can across a room is with a shotgun.
  • Pick any video game with Level Grinding. You will get players whose main tactic is to power-level to a point where all challenges become moot. For example, right up until Pokémon Black and White (which introduced diminishing returns) it was a perfectly valid tactic to only use your starter Pokémon and grind it until all elemental weaknesses and strengths were flattened by raw level advantage. Even there, if you pick the right starter, then even the diminishing returns aren't enough to stop you, as there are exactly enough trainers to hit the level cap.
  • For that matter, just about every shooter, from the classic Doom clones to more modern "realistic" ones. Chances are if your problems aren't solved by shooting it, you're either not shooting it enough/in the right place, or you're supposed to use explosives.
  • Players can fall into this in RPG games that have multiple solutions to problems, particularly if they optimize characters for combat rather than diplomacy. How this is handled can vary from a drop on the Karma Meter, to economic penalties, to nothing at all.
  • If you ask Lilarcor for advice in Baldur's Gate II, he will recommend killing things. In fact, his only solution for anything is killing things. Need money? "Find someone rich, and kill them. Then find someone richer, and kill them too!". Need to find your way around a labyrinthine plot of intrigue? "Start swinging. Eventually you'll lop off the head of *someone* important and the good fights will really start!" Need to defeat the Evil Sorcerer? "Kill him!" Then again, Lilarcor is a sword. Everything probably looks like a stab victim to him.
  • In Borderlands 2, Brick and Mordecai, two NPCs who were playable characters in the first game, discuss their tactics with each other in one story mission. Brick's preferred method of solving problems is to utilize his secret "punch them in the face till they die" technique. Mordecai prefers to shoot stuff from far away.
    Mordecai: Like I said, instead of punching, I prefer to keep my distance from my target, pick my moment, then kill them with a single, well placed shot.
    Brick: You lost me at "instead of punching".
    • In fact, in Tiny Tina's Assault on Dragon Keep, Brick's solution to several problems is to punch them, which inevitably led to problems when he rolled the highest initiative for communicating with the dwarf king.
      • This trope is then subverted later in the campaign when you free the Handsome Sorcercer's daughter (who represents Tina's mental image of Angel), and she quickly betrays you when you untie her, which all could've been avoided by punching her in the face.
    • There are very few problems a Gunzerker can't solve with liberal application of gun. If that fails, you simply apply more gun.
      • To be fair, it's not like the rest of the cast don't just solve most situations with gun. It's just that where everyone else's plan B for when gun doesn't work is things like "use space magic to immobilize them, then gun" or "turn invisible, sneak behind them, then gun" or "set self on fire, then gun", the Gunzerker's special skill is just more gun.
  • In Bulletstorm, there's four simple solutions to every problem in-game:
    1: Kicking it
    2: Leashing it
    3: Shooting it
    4: Cruel and Unusual Death
  • City of Heroes and City of Villains. Click on things, and blow them up. You can blow them up in a variety of interesting and unique ways, or even heal people while blowing them up, but you'll blow them up. Trying to find the Council's hidden base, key to their plot to take over the world? Screw infiltration or keeping an ear to the ground; you'll just blow up Council till one of them spill the beans. Need to develop a new component based on Freakshow and Rikti technology? No, we won't be scavenging their bases; just go and blow them up. In fact, there are many missions that are ostensibly about "investigating" enemy bases; this can reliably be interpreted as "pound every single opponent on the entire map into the ground." The development team has tried to subvert this, but attempts usually fail internally due to it simply not being as fun as blowing things up.
    • As a general rule of thumb, any task, no matter what its objective is, can be accomplished by simply beating up everything that can be beaten up in the target area. There is one exception; a mission specifically supposed to be about stealth. On it, defeating certain enemies will FAIL the mission, which can catch people by surprise.
    • It's also why Mayhem Missions (Blow everything up) is generally considered more fun that Safeguard Missions (Stop people from blowing stuff up. Granted, you stop people from blowing stuff up by blowing them up, but still...
  • Phoebe from Crystal Story 1 is a quite literal example. Her weapon is a large hammer, and her suggested approach to pretty much every problem involves hitting it with said hammer. This includes when the man who hired them gets knocked unconscious.
    Everyone else: NOOOO!!
  • In Darkest Dungeon the Flagellant kills enemies by whipping them. If he's feeling stressed? Whip himself. Suffering from disease? Whip himself. Bleeding to death? Whip himself. He has some kind of Blood Magic, it seems, which encompasses healing magic.
  • Nero's Devil Bringer in Devil May Cry 4 is used to lay the smackdown on enemies, hold them hostage, pull them towards you (Or, in the case of "heavy" enemies, pull yourself towards them), counter moves, store Yamato (Which, in turn, lets you use Nero's Devil Trigger), search for hidden orbs, missions and items, activate and use Gyro Blades, solve puzzles...
  • Extremely common in the Disgaea franchise, since that universe operates on a caricature of Might Makes Right. The best example of this is Adell in Disgaea 2: Cursed Memories, who is presented as a dumb brute who solves everything with his fists... except when he effortlessly solves a complex Geo Puzzle in seconds. He then reveals that he is capable of being smart, but that he just happens to live in a world where punching things is the quickest and most efficient solution to your problems.
    • Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance features a lot of this, due to the introduction of "Overloads", powerful super moves possessed by some characters, that become their go-to strategy for basically everything. Seraphina's is seduction, and she's generally unable to deal with anyone who is immune to her charms. Red Magnus can grow large, and the closest thing to tactics he possesses is "grow even larger". Majorita can raise fallen enemies as undead, so her one trick is to avoid you and throw armies of zombies in your way. This is even true in a metagaming sense; there are a couple attacks including the Overload "Comet Disaster" and the Sage's ability "Land Decimator" that attack every enemy on the map, so many endgame strategies simply amount to spamming those attacks with as powerful a unit as possible. It's to the degree where it's considered pointless to teach any unit an Overload other than "Comet Disaster" (or use any generic unit other than the Sage), because no other strategy is as effective.
  • Drill Dozer could be considered a predecessor to Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann in this regard. Everything except defeating the final boss is accomplished by using a drill, including flying, swimming, opening doors, and defeating enemies.
  • The two major opposing factions in Fallout: New Vegas:
    • The New California Republic has gone from a five-city federation to conquering everything from parts of Washington in the north to parts of Baja in the south, and has started to expand eastward into the Mojave Desert. How do they deal with their problems there? They throw people at it. Brotherhood of Steel taking control of the Helios One solar power plant? Throw waves of bodies at it. Caesar's Legion trying to take over Hoover Dam? Throw people at it. As your companion Arcade Gannon states, when the NCR throws enough hands at something "they can make or break anything". Being the sole Old World-styled power this side of the Mississippi, they have the largest industrial base and the farms to support a population of their size, as well as a developed infrastructure and technology that, while not quite on par with the tech-hoarding Brotherhood of Steel, is more than a match for any tribals or raiders that might oppose them.
    • Caesar's Legion functions the same way: a Zerg Rush of poorly-armed and -trained Legionnaires. This let them become a great power in the southwest by overwhelming and conquering their neighboring primitive tribes, but the Legion hit a wall when they encountered the NCR at Hoover Dam and fought an enemy with comparable numbers to their own, as well as decent firearms and combat armor for its basic soldiers. Which put the Legion at a disadvantage, since some of their grunts don't even have guns and are running in with spears or machetes and wearing pre-war football gear as Improvised Armour.
  • Fallout 4 has the Institute, the descendants of a bunch of physicists and engineers that are using their advanced technology to try to save the Commonwealth. Somehow. The problem is, the Institute developed some incredibly advanced androids called Synths, and all of their interactions with the rest of the Commonwealth involve either pulling a Kill and Replace on someone with a Gen 3 Synth or attacking a settlement with an army of Gen 2 Synths, without any wider plan. Even an Institute mission to develop a new type of crop to flourish in the wasteland involved a Synth infiltration and is set to end with the death of the farmers who are unwittingly assisting with the experiment.
  • Fate/stay night: During his fight with corrupted Berserker in the Heaven's Feel route, Shirou mentions that when brute strength goes beyond a certain point skill has no meaning anymore. He then uses Archer's Arm, which copies both a sword and the skills and abilities of it's owner (apparently including brute strength), to get both. Shirou's basic tactics boil down to this; as he doesn't have the wide array of skills that most mages employ, his tactics mostly consist of finding the right sword to project and whacking the bad guy with it until he falls over. If that doesn't work, Unlimited Blade Works usually does the trick.
    Archer: You only have one skill; you must learn to use it to its fullest extent.
  • Monks from Final Fantasy? Punch stuff to death. Dark Knight Cecil in the Easytype of Final Fantasy IV? Swing your sword at stuff. The Berserk status used in most of the games takes the trope to its logical conclusion where affected characters can only strike with their weapons and (depending on the game) get stronger from it. Ergo, you can strike with the proverbial hammer and Berserk just makes you do that, only harder.
  • 99% of the time, whenever presented with a problem, Snow Villiers of Final Fantasy XIII presents "summon Shiva" and "kick lots of ass" as the solution. Most of the time, it doesn't work at all. However, sometimes it does.
  • Genshin Impact: Pretty much any time a quest requires you to track down someone or something, they/it will turn out to have some sort of elemental signature so you can use Elemental Sight to guide you. In some cases, like bounty hunts, it's not clear what element you're supposedly detecting.
  • There's almost nothing in Golf Story that can't be solved by hitting a golf ball at something, or throwing golf balls at someone.
  • Master Chief in the Halo series tends to have one solution to most problems. He even lampshades it in Halo 3: "I thought I'd shoot my way out. Mix things up a bit."
  • Hammerfight: you swing a hammer around your craft by moving it and letting the attached free-swinging hammer or sword get tugged around. That's it for attacking, defending, and everything.
  • Iji: The second battle against Assassin Asha boils down to this, due to the guy having "Plasma Cannon reflexes". He will dodge anything (including the Nuke weapon you might have fired on him in Sector 5) that isn't the Shotgun or Buster Gun, because he thinks dodging such pathetic weapons is shameful. He will continue not dodging pellets even on the verge of death. The Shotgun is the only weapon you have on Ultimortal that isn't the Resonance Detonator (you get the Reflector on that difficulty before the battle with Tor), so...
  • Deconstructed in Jade Empire: when prompted by the Player Character, Black Whirlwind has a number of stories to tell about his past adventures, all of which boil down to Whirlwind solving every problem he encounters by killing people. It's funny at first, but then Fridge Horror starts to set in. By the time you complete the Imperial Arena's sidequests and learn about how Whirlwind killed his own brother, Raging Ox, in the process of trying to convince Ox to stop working as an enforcer for the local criminal syndicate, it's become clear that Whirlwind's inability to find any other means of conflict resolution is in fact very tragic for him.
  • In Jet Set Radio and its sequel Future, pretty much the only thing you can do to defeat enemies is to spray graffiti on them with your paint cans. You spray rival gang members, you spray law enforcement officers, you spray tanks and helicopters, and you even spray spider mechs, and they all somehow get destroyed. This is taken all the way to the final boss fights too: in the first game, the evil millionaire is summoning demons with his turntables and you have to spray paint all over his sigils to defeat him.
  • Kerbal Space Program. Rocket not reaching orbit? You could try and make it lighter, refine your engine choice, fly more efficiently — or you could just add more boosters. Also those players who will use the same lander for almost everywhere, and those who launch everything on a spaceplane.
  • Lampshaded in Kid Icarus: Uprising. During the Lightning Chariot level, Pit comes across an obstacle he needs to get past to proceed. When he wonders aloud what to do about it, Hades says "The same thing you do with everything. Shoot it."
  • Kingdom Hearts' Keyblade can solve any problem you come across because it is more versatile than most weapons, functioning as a Sword, Magic Wand, Skeleton Key, and Spaceship. That doesn't change the fact that many of the problem a Keyblade Wielder comes across can be overcome by smacking the offending object with a giant key. Need to open a chest? Smack it! Big Bad firing a giant cannon at you? Smack enemies into it! Evil computer program trying to kill you? It's okay, with a bit of help, your keyblade can shoot HACKING LAZERS! Need a minion? Stab someone in the chest! They won't even die!
  • Kirby's main ability is to inhale enemies into him, then either spit it out (towards other enemies and destroyables) or swallow it for a copy ability. Sure, said copy abilities vary a lot, and those abilities serve for solving different puzzles, but at the end of the day, it's all traced back to the inhale. Subverted for the spinoff games that usually will make him unable to inhale; some games will also hand you some kind of 11th-Hour Superpower when it's clear neither inhaling or copy ability would work against the final boss.
    • Taken Up to Eleven by his special Hypernova ability in Kirby: Triple Deluxe. All it does is a much stronger version of his standard inhale, and you'll be surprised at the things it could do to solve obstacles, like engage in a Beam-O-War with the Final Boss.
    • This goes even more for when you're able to play as Meta Knight (or sometimes King Dedede) who can't copy abilities like Kirby does (Dedede can inhale, but only when he's the boss; outside of Super Smash Bros., the player could never do it). They just smack things around with their sword and hammer respectively.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • Despite the vast variety of tools at his disposal, almost all bosses still go down with Link's sword. Boss have a specific weakness? Use dungeon tool, then sword.
    • Taken Up to Eleven in Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, where it is your sole weapon in that game (everything else is used for puzzles) but can even grab items just by stabbing them. Even though you do get a literal hammer, it's used as an overworld item, not as a weapon.
    • The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past: Unlike most other Bosses, the Armos Knights can only hurt Link by stomping on him.
  • Mass Effect 3:
    • In multiplayer, the Krogan Warlord embraces this trope in a very literal way. His melee attack? Smash it with a hammer. His active power? Smash it with a biotic hammer. His other active power? Smash it with an electrified hammer. His passive powers? Become better at smashing it with a hammer.
    • In the Citadel DLC, you can overhear a conversation where a Turian Sentinel claims that detonating Tech Armour is the best Finishing Move against any enemy one might encounter and any situation one might find themselves in. The Sentinel's lines were inspired by actual players doing exactly that in multiplayer matches.
  • In Michael Jordan: Chaos in the Windy City, anything that Michael Jordan can't hurdle by jumping alone is solved by throwing a basketball at it.
  • Mischief Makers: There is no problem that cannot be solved by grabbing, and usually, shaking an object on the screen.
  • Qara in Neverwinter Nights 2 is a sociopathic sorceress who specializes in fire spells. Naturally her preferred solution for solving problems is to blast everything in sight. She ends up drafted into the party after nearly burning down the tavern; the innkeeper (your foster father's half-brother) has her paying for the damage in sweat.
  • Octopath Traveler: In each character's individual chapters, a problem inevitably arises that always comes down to using their special talent to overcome it. The one exception is Primrose's final chapter, which does not require that she use Allure on anyone.
  • Overlord: Pretty much your entire repertoire of options boils down to "have minions do it cleverly", "have minions do it stupidly by throwing more along", and "have minions occupy the enemy while you throw spells at them and hit them with your preferred weapon". You may have noticed a pattern here.
  • Overwatch:
    • Reinhardt can quote this trope upon getting a kill. ("When all you have is a hammer, everyone else is a nail.") Fittingly enough, his weapon is a giant rocket-powered hammer, and if he lands his ultimate ability (Earthshatter), he's got three seconds to use said hammer on his opponents without them being able to fight back. And since his hammer hits everything in front of him when he swings, it pretty much guarantees all non-tanks are boned.
    • Torbjorn, a Swedish dwarf engineer, also has a hammer. But it's best used for hitting turrets to repair/upgrade them. He does, however, say "Hammer time!" if he gets a kill with it. If he kills Reinhardt with the hammer, he has a unique quote: "It's like I told you; the size of the hammer doesn't matter!"
  • Painkiller, as described by Yahtzee:
    Okay, so maybe it is nothing but murdering tonnes of dudes, but it does it so well, what more could you want?
  • Pikmin: In all games, the player characters solve all of their problems with one of two things: Pikmin, and if really desperate, punching. Whistles are also needed for giving the former commands. Something needs to be carried? Use Pikmin. Wall in the way? Pikmin break it down. Need to lower a platform? Throw Pikmin on it until it's weighed down. A giant Eldritch Abomination humanoid on stone rollers is stalking them and seems to be invincible to all attacks? That's only because in that one cave you don't have access to the Purple Pikmin yet, get them and that blob monster becomes a joke. The Pikmin themselves solve most of their own problems by either hitting it with their leaves/buds/flowers or by carrying something to a destination, that "something" being anything from pellets to ship parts to exploding rocks to enemy corpses.
  • Pokémon: If you have only one type effective move, screw strategy. Spam Thunder until that Pidgey is on the ground and twitching.
    • In competitive play a set comprising Rest (restore all health, but fall asleep), Sleep Talk (use a random move in your sleep), Calm Mind/Bulk Up (increase both your offense and defense), and a single attacking move is sometime seen. Even if the opponent resists that attack, after some Calm Minds it won't matter.
    • Also the Choice Items give the Pokémon holding it increased Speed, more powerful physical attacks, or more powerful special attacks, depending on which one you use. However, it forces that Pokémon to keep using the same move you pick first, unless you switch it out and back in, or lose the item somehow.
    • A number of specific Pokémon fit this, either due to a limited move pool or because their stats, type, or some other factor keeps them from using most of the moves they can get effectively. A prime example is Lilligant; if you see one competitively, you can already guess 3/4s of its move set with near certainty: Sleep Powder, Quiver Dance, and Petal Dance. The last move is more of a toss-up, but it tends to be little more than filler anyway, and is usually only used if the "Disable opponent with Sleep Powder, power up with Quiver Dance, kill everything with Petal Dance" plan fails.
    • There are also a handful of Pokémon that have found competitive use simply by using one move over and over due to there being so few Pokémon able to stop them with the right timing:
      • Slaking was the first one to come up, annihilating anything that isn't Rock-, Steel-, or Ghost-type with Giga Impact. Giga Impact requires the Pokémon be idle on the next turn, which its Ability, Truant, forces it to do anyway. Regardless, any Pokémon with Protect will undo Slaking, so using it well is a matter of figuring out what the opponent has.
      • Serperior was the next one, and the first that made a large effect to competitive play. Serperior can have Contrary, an Ability that changes all stat drops into stat gains and vice versa. It also can use Leaf Storm, a very powerful Grass-type move that would normally drop Special Attack by 2 stages — but with Contrary, it rises by 2 stages instead. This results in an increasingly powerful Leaf Storm that, once enough turns have passed, can wipe out even Pokémon resistant to Grass. It's perfectly valid to bring in a Serperior that knows Leaf Storm and nothing else, because Leaf Storm is all it needed. In Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, the Battle Agency has Serperior as a possible Pokémon available to rent — and it has precisely this scheme, with Leaf Storm as its only move.
      • Dracovish has a lot of ways to stack power on its Signature Move, Fishious Rend, the moment it enters play. This is a move whose power doubles when it goes before its target, which can be done with Choice Scarf, which boosts the user's Speed but locks it into one move.note  Add the Ability Strong Jaw to that, which boosts biting moves like Fishious Rend by 50%, and the Same Type Attack Bonus, which boosts it by another 50%. It's also a Water-type move, so it's eligible for yet another 50% boost when it's raining. With the boosts counted all together, Fishious Rend can do roughly 5 times as much damage as it would without them. The absurd power of a fully optimized Fishious Rend, and the fact that it's easier than it looks to do it, forced people to use Pokémon immune to Water-type moves solely to counter it.
      • Regieleki is a downplayed example, but it is still pigeonholed nearly completely into Electric-type moves. Nevertheless, particularly in double battling, the Electric-type moves it does know can wreak havoc on opponents. This includes Thunder Wave to inflict Paralysis, Electroweb to lower both of the opposing Pokémon's Speed, Thunder Cage to prevent escape and to deal indirect damage at the end of each turn, Volt Switch to deal damage and switch out at once, and Electroball as a move that gains power the faster the user is than the target, which combines well with Regieleki's unbelievably high Speed. All of this pairs with Transistor, a passive effect that gives a 50% boost to damage from Electric-type attacks, allowing Regieleki to knock out even Pokémon who resist Electric. That is, Regieleki won't be using much besides Electric-type moves, but it can do a lot of different things with it while hitting like a truck.
  • Portal's gameplay is centered around applying the same one tool (the Portal gun) to solve puzzles and defeat enemies. Having said that, the Portal gun lends itself to slightly more creative applications than, say, a left hook.
  • Many of the princesses in Princess Waltz fall into this. Angela, for example, uses a lance and fireguess what her answer to everything is. Suzushiro, however, takes the cake. Her only real ability is to concentrate all her alma into her fist, making it harder than steel. Her answer to everything is to punch it.
  • The title characters of the Raving Rabbids games have a problem with this as a result of their phenomenal idiocy. Most of the unlockable videos in the first game are built around the structure of a Rabbid being in an everyday situation, then "solving" it by pulling out a blunt instrument of some kind and screaming "DAAAAAH!" (Also, plungers. Plungers everywhere.)
  • The main character of Rockin Kats is armed with a spring-loaded boxing glove gun. Not only can he use it to punch enemies, but he can rebound himself off of objects to hit enemies with himself, rebound off the floor to avoid hazards like spikes and over large pits, rebound off the walls to Wall Jump, grab and swing from various objects (once again damaging enemies with himself in the process,) and grab certain projectiles and hurl them back at the enemy.
  • Despite the vast range of items available in Scribblenauts, most players will fall into using the same common basic items again and again. Later games in the series reward the player for coming back and finishing the same mission in different ways, in an attempt to shake things up a bit.
  • Solatorobo, the main character's Mini-Mecha has only two main functions: grab something and throw it. Red expands the basic combat by either tossing enemies at each other, chaining a throw combo, or throwing an enemy's projectiles back at it. Red later unlocks parts of the robot and a Super Mode which, in most cases, result in him grabbing and throwing things better.
  • Sonic Blast Man proves that all problems can be solved through gratuitous use of the 100-Megaton Punch. Gangster stealing a lady's purse? Hit him with a right cross through the jaw. Meteor threatening the Earth? Body-blow that sucker straight out of orbit.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • The titular character of the series has two attacks: "curl into a ball and hurl self into the enemy at high speed"; and "turn into Super Sonic and fly into the target at even higher speed". Over the years, by figuring out exactly when to do so and where to aim himself, he's destroyed armies of Dr. Robotnik's robots with the first attack, and defeated several evil gods with the second. Though the series does mix things up occasionally with Puzzle Bosses, and the major gimmicks of Sonic Unleashed and Black Knight involve hand-to-hand combat and sword fighting, respectively. This comes up even when Sonic shows up in the Super Smash Bros. games, as a good portion of his moves consist of different ways of the former and his Final Smash, across different games, are different applications of the latter.
    • Shadow has all the same abilities as Sonic. However his solution to every problem, everywhere, appears to be Chaos Control. Need to cross the street? Chaos Control. Need to put the ARK back into space? Chaos Control. Need to slow time to kick a 14 year old in the head? Chaos Control. Need a beer from the fridge? Chaos Control.
    • Knuckles, despite being able to use the Spin Dash like Sonic, prefers solving his problems by punching them. Need to defeat Badniks? Punch them. Need to remove an item blocking your path? Punch them. Need to get up a mountainside? Climb it by punching your knuckle spikes into the rock. Need to get something buried underground? Punch the earth out of the way. Need to keep the Master Emerald from being stolen by Robotnik? Punch it. Punching something not working? PUNCH IT MORE!
  • Everything you do aside from moving and jumping in Splatoon involves applying ink to things, usually with a lot of force. In the single-player modes, applying ink is how your player character defeats enemies and bosses, navigates terrain, solves puzzles, stay hidden, search for things, deflect missiles, and save the world. It's rather convenient, then, that the weapon designed to annihilate all life on Earth at the end of Splatoon 2: Octo Expansion is solar-powered, as covering it in ink will render it inoperable.
  • Any mission in Star Trek Online involves either shooting crowds of enemies alongside your BFG-wielding bridge officers on a planet or a space station, or else blowing up waves of enemy ships in an asteroid field. It took a serious amount of player outcry just to get a diplomacy system implemented, and this is The Federation we're talking about. The Klingon faction has nothing to do but blow other people out of the stars, whether that's their actual enemies or other Houses.
  • In Star Wars: The Old Republic, most of Sith Inquisitor's repertoire revolves around creative ways to use Force Lightning. Likewise, most of the Sith Warrior's abilities boil down to "Stab".
  • Summon Night exemplifies this trope.
    • The hammer is a Craft Knight's first weapon, as well as a tool for producing more weapons.
    • In the very first Swordcraft Story game, Pratty (or Cleru) can't get in the labyrinth without a weapon, but she can't forge a weapon without first collecting the materials from the labyrinth, so what's she going to do? Why, use a hammer as her weapon, of course!
    • Then in the second game, Aera (or Edgar, the Male Character) is given the materials to make a basic dagger... which promptly breaks after the first boss fight. Then she gets another set... which ends up poorly forged and breaks immediately. Cue Hammer Time at the local forest.
    • Also, the hammer is the Emergency Weapon of the game, and is always used whenever the player breaks all of their equipped weapons (or has none equipped to start with).
    • During tournament battles in the first Swordcraft Story, each Craft Knight gets to bring a single weapon to battle. If a combatant's weapon breaks, they lose.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door does this with the Hammerman badge. It doubles the Attack power of your hammer... And nukes your Jump ability until you take the badge off. Similarly, the Jumpman badge powers up jump attacks but disables hammer attacks.
    • Mario in general is original video game king of this trope, as the Portal developers mentioned in an interview once. To get over obstacles, jump over them. To gather coins and upgrades, jump under a "?" block. To kill baddies, jump on them. To lower the flag at the end of the level, jump into it. Everything else is an optional bonus. He manages to be a One-Man Army with nothing but jumping. That sort of takes him to a whole new level of awesome.
    • Mario in Super Mario Sunshine can't seem to do anything without the help of FLUDD. Never has spraying water at something been so vitally important.
    • Luigi in the Luigi's Mansion games can do anything with his Poltergust vacuum. Including (in the first game) spraying ice, water, and fire, carrying objects, hanging on to things, pulling things, grabbing items from afar, defeating enemies, etc.
  • The downloadable game 'Splosion Man has you controlling a little fireball-man who has only one move: creating an explosion around himself. You use this for everything from attacking enemies to jumping.
  • Chester from the original Tales of Phantasia has only one attack: his arrow shot. He hits high, low, and hard. He doesn't even need a special skill or a need to locate an enemy's weakness to be powerful.
  • Team Fortress 2:
    • In general, game strategy can be described as "Find creative ways to keep your enemy occupied while the The Medic builds up his Ubercharge."
    • The Engineer is another example. As the Meet the Engineer video says "The answer...use a gun. And if that don't work, use more gun." A built up sentry gun, or several built up sentry guns can even defeat an Uber.
    • This trope is one of the reasons Pyro, Heavy and Demoman are considered good beginner class choices. While all three have their higher-tier gameplay skills to learn, a lot of problems can be solved by dousing everyone in fire, throwing a wall of bullets at it or spamming the area with so many grenades that the massed splash damage will do the trick, respectively.
      • By extension, the Pyro is practically a trope victim. Since all his (her?, it?) primary weapons deal damage through fire, all but one/two of his secondaries also light things on fire (the exception being the fairly generic shotgun or the Reserve Shooter which scores minicrits against airborne foesnote ), and one of the best melee options (the Axetinguisher and its reskin the Postal Pummeler) relying on the target being on fire, it can be safely assumed that fire will be making your kills. This puts the Pyro in a bad position as the number of ways to counter ongoing burn keep increasing.
      • The Heavy is in a similar boat. Too slow to really benefit from melee weapons and having only a choice between some underwhelming shotguns and a support item lunchbox, a Heavy is going to be solving virtually every conflict by way of minigun. Indeed, this is the Heavy's main balancing factor. The minigun is one of the most destructive elements on the field but any way around it (high mobility scouts, long-range snipers, spies, etc.) and the Heavy is best off getting back-up rather than handling it themselves.
  • Touhou Project:
    • All characters solve their squabbles with relatively non-lethal combat magic. The first boss is almost never related to the real incident of the game; nonetheless, delivering beat downs to at least three random youkai will always point a heroine in the correct direction of the person responsible. Then you deliver a beat down to that person as well, and come back in a week to deal with their quirky entourage. Getting hit in the face with a bullet is practically a "hello" in Gensokyo.
    • Many characters come with a special gimmick and their Vancian spellcards play on as many non-lethal applications of this power as they can imagine. Other characters, based on folklore and youkai, have theme-tinted techniques. The fandom takes this to extreme limits by developing world-building routines that can be based around thorough mundane application of their power. In an aversion, some residents have rather abstract powers that are hard to understand or have set limitations (e.g., Remilia).
  • Tsukihime: And then Shiki stabbed the unkillable super death machine vampire. And it died. Next! If you want someone to do a different method of fighting, talk to Arcueid (Wolverine Claws, Marble Phantasm, Mystic Eyes, Healing Factor etc) or Ciel (sword fighting, sword chucking, the Seventh Scripture, magic) because Shiki is noted even in story as skipping all the complicated parts so long as he gets near his target, to the point that his surviving to get near is the whole tension in his fights — once he can get the stab in, it's done.
  • Viscera Cleanup Detail: Your job is clean up a god-awful mess on a space station (or, in the Shadow Warrior (2013) DLC, a fancy Asian manor). You have a mop, a steady supply of buckets and bins, and a furnace. Sooner or later, many players don't even bother with the niceties of a preemptive tidying up, and just throw everything into the furnace at the start. Shell casings? Furnace. Ruined equipment? Furnace. Bits of monster? Furnace. Co-worker's corpse? Yep, furnace.

    Web Animation 
  • In Harry Partridge's short DR. BEES, the superhero Dr. Bees' solution to every problem is the bees he carries around. Robber running down a city street? Apply bees. Happens by a picnic he views as "woefully underpopulated" with bees? Add bees, whether the family likes it or not. Recognizing a true "overabundance" of bees at a workplace that didn't think through the implications of Bring a Shitton of Bees to Work Day? Add bees. Bee convention that actually wants bees? He died at some point during the intervening bee, so never mind.
  • DSBT InsaniT: The Darkness counterparts only real attack is firing a wave of pink orbs.
  • Puffin Forest:
    • Aligaros thinks that an ax is the solution to every problem. He is amazed when he sees one of his teammates solve a problem with their mind, so he thinks they must have used their "mind-ax". So from that point on, they tell him that he they they are using their mind-axes whenever they need to stop him from pulling out his ax.
    • Captain Morgan's solution to every problem is cocaine. It usually works.
  • RWBY:
    • Yang Xiao Long's go-to strategy in a fight is basically "rush up to her enemy and punch them." That fails? She gets angry and punches them harder. That fails? She ignites and punches them even harder. That fails? She goes all red-eyed, boosts her power to maximum, and punches the everliving crap out of them. Not advanced or graceful by any means, but it usually gets the job done. The series starts to deconstruct this as it goes on, though. At the end of Season 2, Yang suffers a rather embarrassing Curb-Stomp Battle at the hands of Neopolitan, who is just too nimble for her to land a hit on. Then in Season 3's penultimate episode, Yang tries her old rush-and-punch tactics against Adam Taurus, who was hurting her friend Blake and unfortunately for Yang is also an Iaijutsu Practitioner with a Semblance that allows him to absorb the power of attacks that he blocks with his sword and unleash that power in a single draw, resulting in Yang losing her arm. In Season 4, her father Taiyang calls her out on her dependence on her Semblance to win her fights and lack of lateral thinking. The lesson sticks, and Yang starts making far better uses of dodges, blocks and clever tricks in her later fights.
    • As Glynda Goodwitch notes, General Ironwood's go-to solution for problems is to throw as much military force at them. When worried about the safety of the Vytal Festival, he brings a massive fleet to Vale, and after the Fall of Beacon, closes the borders of Atlas and turns it into a police state, with soldiers and robots patrolling the streets. While Ironwood feels the displays of power will comfort the people while intimidating their enemies, these acts only raise tensions, making it perfect for Salem's Divide and Conquer methods.
    • The Maidens in general are able to use a wide array of magic at their disposal, but for the Maidens we see in the show, they resort to Elemental Powers and even then, Maidens stick to just one.
  • Zero Punctuation's Yahtzee describes Batman as responding to everything by either punching it, or applying "bat-anti-thing spray" first, and then punching it.

    Web Comics 
  • The "hammer" in 50 Tea Recipes from the Duchess is tea. When a modern, tea-loving lady gets isekai'd into the body of a timid, withdrawn noblewoman in an 1800's-eqsue Fictional Earth that hates tea, she uses her knowledge and passion for tea to change the world. As Duchess Chloé, the protagonist utilizes a liberal application of tea to solve all the problems that her new world throws at her, up to and including defrosting the frigid Duke she's married to, boosting her clout by opening a tea shop and marketing it with 21st century business tactics, "inventing" the cure for scurvy by brewing teas packed with vitamin C, and ensuring that diplomatic relations between her country and "the East" stay on an even footing by catering diplomatic banquets with expertly brewed Eastern teas.
  • 8-Bit Theater:
    • Fighter thinks very much this way. He's dumb enough to miss important clues to the workings of the world around him, but he's also exceedingly skilled with his swords (not to mention fixated on them). At a certain point he creates "swordchucks" (a combination of swords and nunchucks, that allows him to wield four swords simultaneously). His spiritual mentor appears to him in the form of a giant sword wearing glasses. Oh, and when conversations don't involve swords, he completely ignores them.
    • This trope in regards to Fighter is taken to its logical extreme when he faces his own worst vice, the manifestation of Sloth, which accuses him of always falling back on his sword techniques instead of improving himself in new ways, like using his mind. Fighter gets past it by killing it with his swords, saying "my mind told me this would be faster."
    • We also have Black Mage, who tries to solve most problems with stabbing or a Hadoken spell. Black Mage, in the early stages, discovered how frustrating this trope can be when you can only use your hammer once a day. Then he developed his knife-fighting skills and some fire and lightning spells that didn't involve directly nuking an area the size of Vegas.
    • Red Mage believes that there is no obstacle that cannot be overcome by vigorous application of the Animal Husbandry skill.
    • Thief resolves most problem by stealing stuff, and then stealing some more stuff, be it riches, MacGuffins, plot devices, the soul of his enemies and other intangible stuff, to the point of stealing his class change from himself in the future. This comes back to bite him when, during the battle with Sarda when his past self steals his class change.
    • The Light Warriors in general seem to adhere to this philosophy. Their general plan for any situation is "kill everyone and steal anything that isn't tied down and on fire." So far it's worked, mostly through luck.
  • Khrima, the Big Bad from Adventurers!!, was a Kefka-class archfiend, with magic powers up the ying-yang. So naturally, his solution to every issue, from stopping the hero party to quashing revolts in conquered cities to cutting his sandwich in half, was Big Frickin' Lasers. Once had a minion executed for suggesting that lasers were pretty inefficient and they had much better weapons (energy and magic-based) available. He also once fired a scientist when he told Khrima that he was developing an energy-beam weapon to make Khrima's lasers obsolete. The guy really should have just called it a "super-laser".
  • Another Gaming Comic has Nuclear Dan who is fire obsessed, with his entire spell list being a fire spell, he even spent a levels worth of points on fire immunity so he could fireball himself and not die.
  • Basic Instructions occasionally features a group of weird and dysfunctional superheroes. One of these, considered pathetic even by the others is the "Knifeketeer". He's a (not very) Badass Normal who stabs people with knives. That's it. When the others complained that most heroes prefer non-lethal tactics, he got himself a boxing glove knife. Yes, a boxing glove on a knife handle. That he then "stabs" people with.
  • A version of this trope is Played for Laughs in Drowtales. Chirinide can't figure out how to operate a non-manatech oven while staying in the colonies. Kau informs her that it uses fire. The trouble is, Chiri is a Kyorl'solenurn Warden, whose experience with fire extends to purging demons and other foes. She promptly calls forth an enormous fireball.
  • In El Goonish Shive, during the Pokémon Red and Blue parody storyline, when Justin tells his Gracemander to cut down a tree she doesn't seem to know any effective non-fire type moves so she simply blasts the tree with fire.
  • The way the Strife Specibus system works in Homestuck forces the users to have only one (and, later, at most a limited) type of weapons. As the story progresses, these weapons gets bigger and badder, but still of the same type as earlier in the story.
    • Used very literally with John Egbert, who had to put something in his Strife Specibus, and chose the obvious choice. Because of this, he's forced to result to simple brute force of smacking his opponents really hard with large hammers. Later on he acquires the Fear No Anvil, which can alter time to stun whoever is hit by it. It's still a hammer though, whose primary function is to smash things really hard. In the face.
  • Housepets!, in The Adventures of Spot (superdog), this is parodied, as Spot (superdog) solves everything by punching. Then the writer, Peanut, tries to make the story better, based on Grape's advice. Spot (superdog) goes into a Heroic BSoD when he finds out that there's a problem he can't solve with punching: The villain making kids obese with snack foods. Spot (superdog)'s first attempt to solve this problem without punching is to make a PSA to stop kids from eating too much junk food. Then the villain mentioned earlier wears a disguise as a scientist to refute Spot (superdog)'s claims. Spot (superdog) tries to refute that, and the villain states that it'll take 20 years for the science boards to agree on why the kids are getting fat. Then:
    Spot (superdog): *Punches villain*
    Grape: So what was the entire point of—
    Peanut: I DON'T KNOW
  • Kyros in Irregular Webcomic! generally tries to solve problems by putting more mana into his flame spells, causing much work for the Death of Insanely Overpowered Fireballs. In one case, he proposed using a Baelrog's own flames to power his fireball. Baelrogs are made of fire.. According to the GM's house rule, characters can only spend experience to improve skills they used. All Kyros ever uses is his fireball. Ergo...
    Lambert: You can't fight fire with fire!
    Kyros: Of course you can fight fire with fire. You can fight anything with fire!
  • Due to complicated circumstances in Oglaf, a man enchanted to be the best at blowjobs in the world is made king. A vizier tells him that he can't fellate his way out of the kingdom's fiscal troubles. Gilligan Cut to the vizier sleeping at the king's feet with his pants down, a big smile on his face, and a giant bag of money in the king's hands. A later comic indicates that "King Blowjob" introduced social reforms, cured curses, and made the country a genuinely better place, all through the power of amazing oral sex. That being said, he can't go against the sheer power of Knobguy's (aka "Wrecking Ball") penis, which makes all instantly orgasm the moment they touch it (yes, even his own hands).
  • The Order of the Stick:
    • Xykon's two main tactics consist of brute magical force and sacrificing minions (sometimes combining the two by using brute force to kill his minions and then turning then into obedient zombies). He has no head for strategy and hates thinking too hard, but as he once put it "there's a level of force against which no tactics can succeed", and takes extra pleasure in killing wizards who accuse him of being dumb and repetitive. But while he hates battle tactics, he's absolutely brilliant at psychological manipulation. Examples include the rubber bouncy ball engraved with the Symbol of Insanity which causes an entire room of paladins to start killing each other and the brutal "Butch and Bitch" speech in Start of Darkness, where he gets Redcloack to kill his own brother so the guilt will tie him to Xykon forever.
    • The good guys' Wizard has the same problem. Vaarsivuus's obsession with arcane magical power as the solution to any kind of problem as opposed to tactics and intelligent use of all assets bit the elf in the ass when Xykon showed he could think outside the box.
      Xykon: You know what does equal power? Power equals power. Crazy, huh? But the kind of power? Doesn't matter as much as you might think... Right now, power takes the form of a +8 racial bonus to Listen checks.
    • Vaarsuvius proves capable of learning from experience and turns this one around on Xykon immediately, inflicting a humiliating defeat — which but for a stroke of luck could have been much, much worse than it was for Xykon — using just two potions to revive O-Chul, the level one class feature raven companion to carry Xykon's stolen phylactery, and a 3rd-level Explosive Runes spell to guard said phylactery.
    • O-Chul is very, very tough, so most of his plans involve him getting hit a lot. In the prequel he holds a bridge by himself, tanks attacks from hobgoblins while trying to talk to them, and ultimately exposes a paladin as dangerously unstable by letting the paladin whale on him while he's unarmed. In the main comic, he survives weeks of torture, uses the opportunity to talk to a minion and begins to convert him to good, and once he escapes he reveals that he learned most of Xykon's spell list "one saving throw at a time." He claims that surviving is pretty much the only thing he's good at, and if he had another skill that didn't require him getting stabbed, he would gladly use that instead.
  • Rusty and Co.: Two members of the party fall into this. Since he's a rust monster (a creature that corrodes and devours metal), Rusty's answer to everything is always "Eat [metal object]". Gelatinous Cube, for his part, eats people instead. Most problems that can't be solved with eating either a metal object or a person are handled by Mimic. Best summarized here:
    Mimic: To a hammer, the world is full of nails.
    Rusty: Eat nails?
  • Schlock Mercenary:
  • Starslip's Memnon Vanderbeam apparently thinks all the universe's problems can be solved through art theory. And tries to prove it. Hilarity usually ensues.
  • xkcd, in the strip Golden Hammer, this quote is parodied when Black Hat returns from a night out with his girlfriend, Danish, with this sarcastic remark to Cueball, who is discussing single-purpose hardware that runs java.

    Web Original 
  • If 5-minute Crafts is to be believed, hot glue guns are this.
  • Things Mr. Welch Is No Longer Allowed to Do in an RPG:
    15. Plan B is not automatically twice as much gunpowder as Plan A.
  • Cracked: "Nobody outpunches the Punchmaster! A running joke comic by columnist Seanbaby, made from various unnamed Golden Age comic panels featuring a man whose only solution to anything (from answering a question to submitting a resume) is to punch it. Any discussion, confrontation or remark with the Punchmaster will result in being punched. ['''Nobody summarizes the Punchmaster!''']
  • SCP Foundation: SCP-682 inverts this into "when you really, really, really need to pound in a nail, everything looks like a hammer." It's a malevolent entity which is virtually impossible to kill due to its Healing Factor and Adaptive Ability. At some point or another, the proposal to introduce SCP-682 to any other interesting SCP will be made.
    SCP-682 must be destroyed as soon as possible.
  • Whateley Universe:

    Web Videos 

  • In Atop the Fourth Wall's crossover review of Southland Tales, Linkara claims the safety of the universe is threatened by the film, and tells the assembled they must review it.
    Nash: Why is our default response to everything to automatically review it?
  • Baumgartner Restoration: Julian was shocked at the state of the painting in "Stretching Belief" - it was repaired and massively overpainted, essentially flattening the sky and muting the entire painting's colors. The previous person used a trowel and tile adhesive (which belongs nowhere near paintings) to repair the painting. Some commenters pointed out that the methods used on the painting, while disastrous from a conservation point of view, is exactly the same methods that would be used for repairing a wall. Most likely, one of the painting's prior owners - being unable or unwilling to find an art conservator - brought it to a general contractor.
  • In Boatmurdered once Operation Fuck The World (which when activated floods everything on the map outside the fortress with lava) was complete, it became their response to everything. Initially designed to provide a permanent solution to the elephant problem, it was eventually used against goblin invaders, a bronze colossus, an inoffensive merchant caravan come to trade with them, and a flood. The last of these was disastrous, creating an enormous cloud of steam that enveloped the fortress and scalded many dwarves to death.
  • In Break It To Make It, contestants are given objects to destroy, and they have to do so with a single item they are given. They can't break it without using the item either, as doing so results in them having to wear the gloves of shame for the next round.
  • Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog: Captain Hammer hits things. Sometimes he throws things. But usually he hits things. The one time he tries to mix it up and shoot things, it goes really bad.
  • Hat Films heavily rely on the fact that there is three of them, and tend to do a lot of their game problem solving with this in mind. While this can lead to very effective strategies, such as their use of Zerg Rush in 'Crown Conquest' and their group coordination in games like Halo 4, this can also sometimes become a case of Crippling Overspecialization, like in the case where the Cobble Generator in their early episodes of Skyblock, an easily one-manned device for the average Minecraft player, suddenly requires all three of their attentions (one person to pick, one person to dip, and one person on ice duty) to properly maintain.
  • I Am Not Infected has "The usual plan:" Push Charlie at the zombies and run. They only use it twice or so though. And Charlie survives both. They even say it's more like what they use in absence of a plan more than anything. However, on one occasion they used it rather than simply shoot the zombies.

    Western Animation 
  • Arcane: Fitting for her boxer fighting style, Vi default approach to problems is finding something or someone to hit and then hitting them hard. She's disappointed with the Piltover council's passivity even after she and Caitlyn spelled out the situation to them, so she opts for finding Jayce, the only one who sounded proactive at the meeting, convincing him to hit Silco's Shimmer supply directly, and going there herself with the Atlas Gauntlets to beat up as many of Silco's goons as possible. Even when Jayce decides to stop, Vi sticks with her idea by barging into the Last Drop to handle Silco personally. But this mindset tends to cause even more problems for in the long run: Even with the Gauntlets, Vi only defeats Sevika after taking a heavy beating herself, allowing Jinx to knock her out easily. Hell, part of the the reason the sisters' relationship fell apart in the first place is because Vi hit Powder angrily after learning she set off the bomb that killed their surrogate family and walked away out of fear she'd keep hitting her.
  • The Take's Avatar: The Last Airbender essay on the fire element points out that to Azula, everything looks like kindling.
  • In the Batman: The Animated Series episode "Girl's Night Out", Supergirl and Batgirl team up to take down Livewire, Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn. Harley's response every time the three villainesses find a locked door is to repeatedly (and futilely) hit the door with a large prop hammer. After Harley's second attempt, Ivy just looks at Livewire and says, "She tries so hard." Then Harley sneaks up and tries her hammer on Supergirl. It backfires hilariously.
  • Captain Planet and the Planeteers may be the Trope Namer for What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway?, but as Linkara pointed out in a comic review, it was by far the most versatile of the powers. Wheeler mocks Ma-Ti for his abilities, but when all is said and done, all Wheeler could do was set stuff on fire (or make it melt). It was, in fact, the least useful of the Planeteers' powers, especially in a series where Thou Shalt Not Kill. He didn't even use it very creatively. Heart, on the other hand, combined aspects of Speaks Fluent Animal, Care-Bear Stare, and More than Mind Control. Heart Is an Awesome Power, indeed. In a broader sense, Once per Episode the solution to the problem of the week turns out to be, 1.) summon Captain Planet, 2.) watch the fun.
  • Often used anti-climatically in The Dreamstone. The Urpneys rarely put up a real fight, and even when they do, the Dream Maker and the Wuts' magic is powerful enough to neutralise even Zordrak with a flick of a wrist, let alone his incompetent minions. The one time Urpgor made a device capable of resisting the heroes' powers, they were left reliant on dumb luck to stop them. Due to having no magic powers, this often led to the main heroes, Rufus and Amberley, being redundant, though they did become more crafty on their own later on.
  • Futurama:
    • Clamps of the robot mafia is so clamp-obsessed that the Don Bot once chastises him for assuming every problem has a clamp-based solution. Then again, he does have clamps for hands...
    • Bender has also supplied the line, "When you look at it the right way, everything is just a primitive form of bending."
    • Also Roberto, as a function of being Ax-Crazy.
    "This here's my stabbin' knife!"
  • In Justice League and Justice League Unlimited, Hawkgirl is a first-string hero. Her powers are limited to flying and hitting things with her mace. She lampshades her problem-solving abilities in issue #30 of Justice League of America. The Team is fighting evil shadow versions of themselves, and various members are commenting on the best way to take the shadows down.
    Hardware: Hint for the slow kids in the class: extremely bright light will take them down.
    Hawkgirl: So does a mace upside the head. Actually, I've found the mace works in pretty much every situation.
Despite the multitude of her mace's uses, she still hits EVERYTHING in the end. To wit, the mace is made from a special anti-magic metal, so it can even smack GODS upside the head. It backfires in the two-part "Eclipse" where she smashes the jewel that allows some sort of ancient reptiles to possess whoever is holding it. Unfortunately, the Justice League (minus the Flash who was fast enough to dodge them) is then covered in the crystal's shards meaning they are all possessed at once.
  • One episode of King of the Hill, "Bobby Goes Nuts", sees Bobby wanting to learn to defend himself. Lacking the discipline to take up martial arts, he takes a basic women's self-defense course, and thus starts using Groin Attacks to solve every possible conflict.
  • Megas XLR. Coop is good at smashing things, and Megas, being a walking homage to the Super Robot genre, is very very good at smashing things. However, when put up against enemies resistant to smashing (such as a nano-mechanical robot capable of integrating any metal into itself to gain new abilities and able to regenerate infinitely, even to the point of replicating itself a thousand fold) he has a few problems.
    Kiva: Just to reiterate: Smashing bad.
    Jamie: You know, normally I'm pro-smashing, and I hate to agree with future-girl, but maybe smashing is not the way to go this time.
    Coop: We tried no smashing, and that didn't work. I'm sticking to my strengths...And smashing is my strengths. I just need to find the right way to smash him.
    • Coop has to think outside the box and in this case learn the they were solar powered so he uses Megas to create a massive smog cloud. Though most of the time the trope is played straight.
    • There's also the one time Coop fought a cloaked robot. Instead of figuring out some way to detect the robot, Coop simply fires missiles in every direction, rendering the cloaking meaningless.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • The Mane Six tend to try and use the Elements of Harmony for every major threat, often with little success. The protagonists pursue and acquire the ancient, extremely powerful set of magical artifacts known as the Elements of Harmony, which are capable of extreme feats of power. But, because they keep getting stolen, they are given the Elements permanently in Twilight Sparkle's house, which backfires when Twilight accidentally casts a spell on them which switches their lives around. Finally, when big black vines overrun Equestria, they yet again break out the Elements of Harmony to combat the threat, only to discover that they must return the elements to the Tree of Harmony to fix the problem.
    • For pretty much everything else, their scheme tends to be "friendship: apply directly to the problem". Given the title of the show it's not too surprising. Reforming former villains Discord and Starlight Glimmer basically involved "be their friend and they'll pull a Heel–Face Turn" which worked. Reopening the School of Friendship, which was closed for racially-motivated but largely valid reasons, involved singing a song that could be best summed up as "we're friends so it'll all work out" which worked. Problems that can't be solved by friendship tend to get a one-way ticket to Tartarus, the statue garden, or on rare occasions the morgue.
    • This is the Fatal Flaw of Starlight Glimmer. Her solution to any problem is "throw enough magic at it to make it go away". Not only has this backfired on her more than once, it's gotten her new allies very annoyed with her. In the Season 5 finale "The Cutie Re-mark," it also potentially doomed the entire world, which no one has let her forget. Even after pulling a Heel–Face Turn, she still struggles to learn that not every problem can be solved by casting a spell: "All Bottled Up" had her try and solve of a problem of not using magic by using even more magic and "Every Little Thing She Does" had her decide that Mind Raping them into effectively being her servants was a good plan.
  • Popeye. Spinach. When punching doesn't work, punch it with the power of spinach!
  • Parodied on The Simpsons in the show-within-a-show "Knight Boat." A Knight Rider-esque sapient crime-solving boat is never stymied when the crooks go on land, because, as Bart and Lisa says in this exchange, "There's always a canal." "Or an inlet." "Or a fjord."
  • Sandman from The Spectacular Spider-Man and his sand-based powers. In Season 2, he learns how to use them more creatively, becoming a much more dangerous threat. Interestingly this is the last episode we see him in the series, because if he got too good at swinging his hammer, he would become a total Game-Breaker.
  • When the cast of Steven Universe have to face an unimaginably powerful foe in the core of the Earth, what's their plan? Well, they need to get to the core, and a giant drill is the most effective way they have to do it. As for actually defeating their foe?
    Peridot: We have a drill. We're going to drill.
  • Titan Maximum uses the same basic solution. According to Palmer, their entire strategy for every fight they have ever been in is to "Punch the f*ck out of it." Sasha is even more specialized. She once suggested surrendering when she realized the enemy had no crotch, and a later enemy had a special force field protecting its crotch just to thwart her.

    Real Life 
  • Hitler and Napoleon (odd bedfellows, indeed) fell victim to this; both became so used to achieving foreign policy victories through war that they became reliant on warfare to secure all their successes. This culminated in disastrous invasions of Russia.
    • Napoleon's tactics and battleplans in warfare could all be boiled down to "place a lot of artillery where it will hurt the enemy the most and fire until they break and run". Said approach earned Napoleon many victories when he should have lost (Austerlitz, for example: had he failed to conquer the Pratzen plateau that dominated the battlefield and place his artillery there, the Austro-Russians would have won), but if the artillery was somehow reduced in efficiency he became defeatable (at Leipzig, Napoleon was facing a dozen different corps with independent command from four nations, and by the time one was at the breaking point he couldn't give the coup de grace because of attacks from two others, while at Waterloo, Wellington resisted long enough for the Prussian attack because he had placed his troops behind a hill to neutralize direct artillery fire and mud from a nightly rain had reduced the effectiveness of grenades).
    • Hitler and his generals became so wedded to the blitzkrieg strategy that it precipitated two key defeats. In Stalingrad, an army trained for a fast and overwhelming victory in the open became bogged down in urban warfare it was not meant for. At Kursk, the Germans sought to stake everything on one final blitzkrieg to open the road to Moscow, only to realise you can't blitz a prepared defence-in-depth. These two battles so weakened the German army that Russian victory became inevitable.
  • Similarly, Japan's strategy in World War II to defeat the US, from the Pearl Harbor attack to the development of the famous Yamato-class super battleships, was designed around crushing the American fleet in a single, climactic battle, as Japan lacked the resources for a protracted war. Once the United States brought its powerful industry to bear and all bets were off, the IJN was still looking for that single decisive battle, with disastrous results.
  • Mao Zedong began as a revolutionary leader, later becoming the chairman of a vast country. When fighting the Japanese and KMT, his efforts involved a "mass line" involving the people's involvement as a whole. While this worked well in guerilla warfare, it was less effective in industrialising the country
  • A lot of kenjutsu/iaijutsu techniques come down to executing shomen-uchi (straight downward cut to the top of the head) as the killing strike.
  • Krav Maga is similar except in that case the killing blows usually involve breaking the attacker's jaw, frequently after hitting him in the nuts.
  • In Shaolin Kung Fu, it is often skill and physical capability rather than technique that decides a fight. Among masters who have near-perfect technique, they will put considerable effort into refining one or two particular techniques. The great Wong Fei-Hung of Hung Ga fame was renowned for his No-shadow Kicks.
  • True of most martial arts masters. Famed Taiji master Yang Lu Chan used to beat everyone with the same move: grasp the bird's tail. As the quote above demonstrates, the masters of any martial art are very aware of this. To provide another example: one of the best American karateka used only three techniques in his fights — jab, cross, and front kick. He was just really good at them.
    Bruce Lee: I fear not the man who has practiced ten thousand kicks once. But I fear the man who has practiced one kick ten thousand times.
  • One FIRST robotics team adopted the motto "Nothing's impossible with a rubber mallet and enough strength of heart!" when trying to properly adjust the timing belt on their mecanum wheels (a difficult and delicate task involving much rubber mallet use). Another has the unofficial motto, "Life would be meaningless without 7/16-inch wrenches."
  • TV Tropes — Let's face it, not everything on this site really lends itself to a wiki format, but you have to give the admins credit for making it happen. Same with a lot of wikis. Notably That Other Wiki's discussion pages.
  • Duct tape. If it can't be fixed with duct tape, you're clearly just not using enough. There's even a saying that puts it quite nicely: "If it shouldn't move but does — Duct Tape. If it should but doesn't — WD40."
  • "There is no problem in the world that cannot be solved by enough high explosives."
  • The Perl programming language relies heavily on regular expressions, a language for super-precise text searching. Unfortunately, it makes Perl programs super-hard to read.
  • Similarly, almost every task in UNIX shell scripting can be jury-rigged with creative stream redirection and the use of one of three programs: grep (a regular expression, or regexp, text-finding utility), sed (a regular expression, or regexp, text replacer utility) and awk (an inline programming language that takes, you guessed it, a regexp, searches text for matches and then executes a routine for every match). In fact, awk was the basis for what later became Perl.
  • It is slightly sad how far a sports coach can get with a tactical repertoire consisting entirely of "Plan A" and "Plan A with slightly different players".
  • In the 1960s, RCA conceived of a Video Disc home video format instead of what would become the far more common magnetic tape format, because doing so would allow them to re-use their vinyl record pressing machines and other phonograph-related infrastructure. Problems with the finicky technology took 17 years to work out and user experience issues like constantly flipping discs and changing worn playback needles were ignored. When the Disc format utterly failed against rival tape formats, RCA never recovered and ultimately lost its place as the most dominant consumer electronics company in the United States.
  • A sports example: The basketball player Shaquille O'Neal was a pretty bad shooter and had a very limited offensive repertoire, yet he is #5 on the all-time NBA scoring chart. O'Neal had three moves — a dunk, a lay-up, and a jump-hook — but combined with his insane physical gifts (7 feet, 330+ pounds and explosiveness) and footwork he really didn't need any more moves.
  • In baseball, most pitchers have multiple pitches they can throw so that batters have to guess what they will throw next. Occasionally, though, pitchers get by with only one — and in some cases, thrive. The most famous example is Mariano Rivera. He has only one pitch — a 'cut' fastball, or a fastball that moves away from right handed batters. He has ridden this one pitch to be widely acknowledged as the greatest reliever in major league history.
    • The reason this typically doesn't work in baseball is because if hitters know what is coming, it is much easier for them to see where the ball is going and know to swing or not and when to swing. In some cases like Rivera's, it doesn't matter because the one pitch is so dominant that even though hitters know it is coming, they can't stop it. Another way to get by this is to throw a knuckleball — a ball with barely any spin on the ball. The lack of spin counter-intuitively causes the ball to have crazy motion, so that no one, even the pitcher, knows exactly where it's going. Some pitchers, such as R.A. Dickey and Tim Wakefield, have succeeded by throwing a knuckleball almost exclusively.
  • Boxing. It has a grand total of four offensive techniques (Jab, Cross, Hook, and Uppercut), and five defensive techniques (Slip/Turn, which consists of turning the body so they miss; Bob And Weave, which is essentially ducking, Parrying/Blocking, which deflects the blow to the side; Cover-Up, which uses the forearms as a buffer against the body/face; and Clinch, which is basically a grapple). Every style and form is based off of using these nine techniques to devastating effect. On a simpler level, boxing only strikes with the closed fist.
    • Boxing defense is argued by some to be even simpler than that. Teddy Atlas is fond of saying "There are three ways to defend against a punch. You can block, you can dodge, and you can counter, and too many fighters only learn to do one of those things."
    • If you think about it, boxing offense is also simple, as the aforementioned attacks above are just variations of how you can hit your opponent with your fist. Boxers mostly need to know two things, how hard they should hit the opponent and where they should hit the opponent.
  • When the M14 rifle was developed following World War II and The Korean War, the American military decided, to ease up on logistics requirements like what they had to go through during WWII (three or four different ammo types for six or so weapon systems), the M14 would replace every single long gun in the arsenal. Being a full-size battle rifle with heavy recoil and a small magazine capacity, this failed quite hard — it turns out that, rather than becoming the Jack of All Stats as expected, a ten-pound weapon with 20-round magazines is simultaneously too heavy for quick movement and close-range spraying, but also too light for effective sustained fire for suppression at range, with the magazine capacity hindering it in both cases; the weapon only even still sees use in the modern day because, when locked to semi-auto and fitted with a scope, it makes a pretty good marksman's rifle. Even today, when most standard-issue weapons do actually use the same ammo for different purposes, there are still differing weapons for each of those purposes (e.g. if you need suppression fire, you let the machine guns that feed from belts of whatever length you need and can quickly replace an overheated barrel do it, rather than forcing the role onto assault rifles with magazines of a couple dozen bullets and no facility for replacing the barrel in the field).
    • Both West Germany and Russia saw a lot of this in the immediate aftermath of World War II, as they found their new standard-issue rifles, respectively the G3 and AK-47, turned out to be very adaptable designs. H&K's G3 was the bigger offender, as after they made a 7.62mm battle rifle they went on to downsize it into an assault rifle and a submachine gun, accurize it into a sniper rifle, and at one point they even found a way to adapt its mechanism for a handgun; just a decade or two into the Cold War they'd even made a belt-fed machine gun out of it, not because the West German army had any particular need for one (they were satisfied with a modernization of the MG 42), but because they'd made so many other derivatives of the G3 that they figured they might as well make a machine gun and see if they could do well exporting it (and it did), and once they had that even proposed making it into a heavy machine gun in .50 BMG. The AK was likewise adaptable, downsized for smaller cartridges (up to and including pistol ones to make submachine guns after the Cold War ended), enlarged and then effectively flipped upside-down to make automatic rifles and light machine guns, upsized after the Union's fall to make semi-automatic shotguns, and, while not related to the Dragunov sniper rifle, did serve as the basis for several other comparable marksman's weapons made as counterparts to the Dragunov to be used by other members of the Union.
    • This trope is also seen in how various countries have reacted to the rise of cheap and effective body armor. NATO countries have focused on creating a new class of weapons, using bullets sized between those of pistols and assault rifles with sharper tips fired at higher velocities to stab through armor. Russia simply made overpressure variations of the existing 9x18 and 9x19mm cartridges to hit armored targets harder. Though, it should be said that the Russians in effect created a new caliber, since the "overpressure 9x18mm" first needed a new bullet design to maximize penetration, and then a longer cartridge case to hold the increased charge, and then a new gun to cope with the overpressure, leading what was originally a mere hot-loaded cartridge to becoming the 9x21mm Gyurza, and a series of firearms developed to handle it; their improved 9mm 7N21 is a little closer to this trope, using an almost-identical new bullet design and primarily meant to be used with specific handguns designed to handle the higher pressures but otherwise effectively being just a particularly-hot-loaded 9x19mm.
  • The primary way that Greek generals adapted the phalanx for various tasks was to simply make it denser and thicker. Epaminondas was said to have made a phalanx fifty men deep to fight off the Spartans.
  • Go ahead and ask an electrician how often he uses his screwdriver as a chisel or his linesman pliers as a hammer, and when you're done go ask a plumber how often he uses his wrench as a hammer.
  • Money. If you have enough of it and know who to pay it to, you can make anything happen (well, anything humanly possible).
  • Germany was blessed with a lot of coal, contributing to its industry in the Ruhr and a strong railway system, but it has often lacked other resources. Two regimes in German history, the Nazis and the GDR, pursued economic self-sufficiency for Germany and were forced to really stretch what could be done with coal.
    • Hitler's policy of autarky for Germany proved counter-productive, since as long as they refused to export anything they could not earn foreign currency with which to import food, petrol, rubber, and many other products. Fortunately there was a very large and innovative chemicals industry in Germany, and during the 1910s and 20s German scientists had figured out processes for converting bituminous coal into synthetic fuel and a wonderful array of other synthetic products. During World War II, they synthesized coal into aviation gasoline, petrol, rubber, methanol, ammonia, and nitric acid. At Heydebreck they synthesized food oil, and tested it on concentration camp prisoners. Unfortunately for Germany, synthesis was unsustainably expensive compared to normal petroleum extraction, and while their ally Romania produced a lot of oil it wasn't enough. Their attempt in 1941 to conquer the Soviet Union in just three months — in the process capturing all the agricultural land and oil fields needed for self-sufficiency — backfired horribly and turned into a four-year-long, unwinnable struggle. Towards the end, when the oil production facilities of Germany and Romania were being increasingly disabled by the Allies, they resorted to de-motorizing many of their ground units, converting civilian vehicles and training tanks to run on wood gas, and designing an interceptor airplane to be propelled by a ramjet using granulated coal as fuel!
    • During the Cold War, when the NATO and Warsaw blocs weren't trading with each other, the Bonn Republic in West Germany had (and still has) notable quantities of black coal within its borders, while the German Democratic Republic in East Germany only had lignite, or brown coal. Lignite is the lowest grade of coal because it is just this side of peat, contains way too much sulfur, and comes out of the ground so wet that half of it is water. It is so dirty, even oil or regular coal is an improvement in terms of the environmental record and it is mostly mined open pit, meaning whole villages had to be moved to access it. On the other hand, there is nothing in organic chemistry that cannot be made from lignite and water. Lignite can also be burned as a fuel. At the end of years of experimentation, chemical engineers had found a way to make margarine from it. That's right, they even tried to feed their citizens something made from lignite. The GDR had a huge chemical industry which — after the USSR cut petroleum supplies — ran almost exclusively on lignite.
  • In urban planning this could be renamed to "when all you have is cars, all solutions will look like streets". While there has been a major paradigm shift in Europe and some American cities are also slowly moving away from this philosophy, in many cases this is still the main line of thinking. Congestion? Build more freeways! Downtown business in trouble? Nothing that a bit of freeways won't solve! Your city is losing residents? Well, it's probably because they do not have enough freeways! And if the freeways don't fix it, don't forget to add ample parking.
  • Solving mathematical equations with higher exponents: When all you have is a function for solving a(X^2)+bX+c=0, just change functions until they fit that formula (the cubic and quartic polynomials can be solved this way). Downplayed in that it can't be done with everything, and there are methods to solve things which can't be rewritten into this.
  • This trope is the reason why factoring a base 2 polynomial is taught before the quadratic formula. Had it been the other way, some students may choose to forgo the faster factorization in favor of using the formula every time.
  • Controversially, police in the US are notoriously deadly for this reason. In the heat of the action, using batons, nightsticks, or even just talking down the suspect take a backseat when a gun is right on your belt.
  • Evolution is fond of this, because it's easier to duplicate and adapt one gene to do something else than make an entire new gene specifically tailored for a new purpose. One example of this is that a lot of the genes related to limb formation and growth are also used to produce other, non-limb extremities.
  • Knots: Forget everything your scout leader taught you. The "rope through the loop"-knot, or occasionally multiple, can solve almost every rope-related problems.