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"This looks important!" *removes*
Tony Stark, Iron Man

There are many ways to stop a rampaging robot, a spider-tank, or even a huge mecha. Missiles, More Dakka, or perhaps even another rampaging robot, spider-tank, or mecha! But the method that is most enjoyable, from a heroic perspective, is tearing a hole in the machine's armor, reaching an arm in, and simply yanking wires and components out until it stops moving.

The destructive opposite of Percussive Maintenance. For one wire in particular, see Cut the Juice. For wires that need to be dealt with in a particular order, see Wire Dilemma.


Comic Books

  • In an issue of Spectacular Spider-Man, Spidey lands on the Vulture's back mid-flight and begins ripping things out of the Vulture's wing-pack. The flight ends pretty quickly.
  • In the Astro City story "Old Times", Supersonic is no longer able to think of clever schemes to defeat a rampaging robot due to his age. Instead, he resorts of simply pounding it repeatedly until he can reach and tear out some vital components.
  • Atomic Robo (see trope image) is fond of this tried-and-true technique.
  • Lampshaded in Sonic the Comic when Sonic does this to take down the giant robot Mekanik, after breaking a hole in his armour with help from Shortfuse the Cybernik. "Typical shoddy work by Robotnik! Impressive on the outside, but rubbish inside!"
  • In one Ultimate X-Men, Kitty Pryde phases inside of a rampaging physical manifestation of the Danger Room and attempts to stop it this way. Becomes a bit of a Mexican Standoff, as she needs to turn solid to damage it, and it threatens to kill her as soon as she does.
  • Superboy pulled this stunt during the Reign of the Supermen event, tearing into a robot that tried to kill Superman (again) and ripping out a few random parts.


  • Iron Man. During the final fight with the Big Bad, Tony Stark does this against the Iron Monger suit, and uses the quote as a quip. This is a subversion, though, in that it doesn't result in completely shutting down the suit. Rather, it shuts down the villain's targeting system. This allows the villain to get face time, gives him a chance for a Hannibal Lecture, and simultaneously gives him an excuse for missing Stark repeatedly. Tony is the world's foremost expert on the Powered Armor suits they were using (having invented them). Presumably, he would know which wires were important and which were not, rather than yanking at random. It also helps that Jarvis also functions as a built in Sherlock Scan. You can see scan readouts on the circuitry as Tony's rummaging around.
  • In RoboCop 2, Robocop puts a stop to the rampaging Robocop Mk. II by yanking out the jar Cain's brain is housed in and smashing it on the ground.
  • Judge Dredd: Fergee (Dredd's Comic Relief Sidekick) disables Rico's robot by yanking out some of the wires behind its head.
  • In the first Spider-Man film, Spidey's first encounter with the Green Goblin ends when he reaches up and rips some wires out of the Goblin's glider, leading to it careening away leaking black smoke while the Goblin shouts "We'll meet again, Spider-Man!" as only Willem Dafoe can.
  • In The Incredibles, Mr. Incredible pulls the CPU out twice from Syndrome's battle droids. Once, he gets the battle droid to do it to itself. You think Syndrome might have figured it out and moved the CPU in the upgraded version . . .
    • Or hardened the outer shell so that not even its own claws could pierce it. You can probably blame Syndrome's overconfidence into leading him to believe that teaching the robot to stop punching itself would be sufficient to ensure a real-life victory against a squad of supers.
      • Or programmed it to not steal his remote control. Or not worn a cape. Syndrome might have been a genius inventor, but he was pretty Genre Blind.
  • The Avengers 1998. Steed rips the guts out of one of Sir August's robot insects after it crashes into Mrs. Peel's car.
  • In the Tomb Raider film Lara pulls out a few wires from here practice robot to try and stop it, oddly it then responses to a stop command.
  • In Twice Upon a Time, Flora Fauna ends up doing this to Botch's TV-headed Giant Mook Ibor.


  • In Tamora Pierce's Protector of the Small, Kel faces killing machines powered by the spirits of dead children. To "kill" them, the hero has to punch a hole in the machines, thus letting the spirits out.

Live Action TV

  • That's the way the cyborg Adam is defeated in Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Buffy managed to put her hand inside him and tear out his power source. She even did the "Kung-Fu Badass" thing where she showed it to him before he died.
  • D'argo does this to disconnect Moya's "control collar" in the first episode of Farscape.
  • In the Twilight Zone episode, "Terror At 20,000 Feet", a gremlin is doing this to an airplane until stopped by an acrophobic William Shatner. Before his intervention, the thing was yanking wires and pieces out of the airplane's engines.

Tabletop Games

Video Games

  • In Final Fantasy X, using the "Steal" command against a mechanical mook results in an instant kill (and the player gaining a grenade). Presumably, this represents your thief reaching into the machine and pulling out some vital (but explosive) component.
  • Just one of the many parts of Rand's best attack after the Gunleon's Sphere is activated.
  • In Rise of Legends, Giacomo rips some wires out of the Doge's laser cannon, causing it to blow up in his face.
  • At several points in Mass Effect 3, Commander Shepard must assign one squad member to activate or disable some sort of electronic system while Shepard and the other squad member fend off the enemy. There's almost always a tech specialist in the party during these moments, but there's nothing stopping the player from giving the job to The Big Guy James Vega instead... to which James replies that it's not really his specialty, but he'll "pull a few wires, see what comes out."

Web Comics

Western Animation

  • Ben has used this technique a couple of times in Ben 10.
  • Badass Normal Robin did this to a squid-shaped robot in an early episode of Teen Titans. As Teen Titans Abridged points out, he was somehow able to punch through the robot's armor despite Starfire's laser blasts having absolutely no effect.
    • Perhaps it had a form of Deflector Shield that blocks energy damage, but is less effective against kinetic damage?
  • In the Justice League Unlimited episode "Flash and Substance", the Flash does this to the giant, rocket-powered boomerang Captain Boomerang catches Flash with. Flash likes this. He earlier did something similar to Grodd's mind control helmet, at super speed, while making it look like he was just slapping his head repeatedly.
  • In the 1960s Justice League of America episode "Target Earth", the Atom shrinks down to get inside the villains' "Magno-Ray". Once inside, he goes on a mini-rampage (pardon the pun...), yanking out wires, smashing vacuum tubes (!) and generally busting up the innards of the thing. Eventually, it blows up, or at least explosively wilts.
  • In Transformers Prime, Bumblebee does this to Skyquake while clinging to the exterior of his jet mode in midair; once he yanks enough stuff out, the Seeker goes into a nosedive and fatally crashes into the ground.

Real Life

  • Truth in Television: Open a computer case and pull a wire out at random. Any wire. Chances are something will go horribly wrong to prevent it from working when you try to turn it back on. Don't Try This At Home.
    • Though subverted once in a popular computing urban legend, where a company adds unnecessary components to their hardware to make it run slower, so that when it comes time for the "upgrade", they need only to remove a wire. Usually the punchline is a disgruntled programmer sending out a memo to customers warning them not to remove the blue wire or else the result will be their computer running 1.07 times faster. In this case only one specific wire removed would achieve this result. Any other would invoke the trope in full force.
    • Task Manager, anyone? Or worse, the computer registry.
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