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This is when a weapon is used in such a way that shouldn't work (or would simply be inefficient). It can be broken down into a few subtypes;

  • Did Not Do the Research: In cases where the writer, actor or animator didn't bother to find out how the weapon is used (e.g. Using a rapier to slash, using a mounted weapon as a man portable weapon).
  • When the weapon does something it wouldn't normally (see Set Swords to Stun for the most common example, lethal weapons being non lethal) or works better than it should (e.g. destroying a tank with a pistol).
  • Using the weapon in the place of a tool when the tool it's replacing would do the job more efficiently (tools which are much more effective as weapons than they should be also fit).
  • Using a weapon which shouldn't be available (e.g. being anachronistic or extremely rare and/or expensive).
  • Using a weapon which wouldn't work in real life (e.g. BFS which are too heavy to lift).

Compare Improbable Weapon User for when something that clearly isn't a weapon is used as one. See also: Implausible Fencing Powers, One-Handed Zweihander, Throwing Your Sword Always Works, Throwing Your Shield Always Works, Bullethole Door, Gangsta Style, Pistol-Whipping, Slice-and-Dice Swordsmanship, No Scope. Not to be confused with the novel Use of Weapons.

Examples of Improbable Use of a Weapon include:


General

  • While it's possible to swing the blade of a kusari-gama by the chain (Wikipedia calls this the "Houten Ryu style"), doing so has a tendency not to work very well, and the chain is just used for swinging the weight around. Except in fiction. For this reason fictional examples tend to have smaller or non-existant handles.
  • All swords tend to always be used to slash. Even specialized swords which might be designed for other styles (for example rapiers are designed for thrusting and sabres are designed for slashing).
    • Although they are designed primarily for thrusting, many rapiers do retain a sharpened edge. The resulting cuts are rarely more than a distraction or nuisance, but a well-timed slash to the head above the eyes can be quite decisive when your opponent is blinded by blood, not to mention if you can manage a draw cut that damages or outright severs a tendon.
      • Similarly, there's an illegal move in boxing called "the sweetener" where you pretend to be throwing a hook, and hit the opponent's forehead with the bony part of your elbow (elbow-blows are not legal in boxing)—it's quite likely to break the skin, and he'll get blood in his eyes. It's also difficult to tell if a hit like that was intentional.
  • Kunai are pretty common targets of this trope. Kunai are often portrayed as having sharp edges. In actuality, only the tip is sharp. The kunai was designed as a trowel, not as a dagger. Following that, they were not typically thrown (but then again, neither are most weapons that are thrown in fiction, and throwing a kunai is certainly more plausible than throwing a sword).
  • Most situations in which someone attacks with a double-edged sword and then assures that he used the flat side. It is seen very commonly in Japanese comics and animation, as well as in fanfiction (since many fanfiction writers had never held a real blade, and thus base their knowledge off those comics and animations). By "flat" they may be referring to the actual flat (the side) of the blade, rather than the (sharpened on a double-edged sword) back edge, of course.
  • Using two handguns at once. You can fire them that way, but aiming is impossible and since you're only using one hand each the recoil sends your bullets all over the place. Also, using high caliber pistols like a Desert Eagle with only one hand requires an extremely strong arm, as the thing weighs almost 2 kg, and that's not even considering the recoil.
    • To say nothing of the fact that the human eyes aren't designed to move independently, so looking down the sights of two handguns at once isn't going to happen. Even if a character is superhumanly strong and the recoil isn't a problem, the best they're going to manage is pointing in the general direction of the targets and hoping they hit. A reptilian character, on the other hand, might not have this problem, as some reptiles do have independently-moving eyes.
  • Shooting from the hip is pretty much pointing your gun in the general direction of your target and firing without aiming at all. With only 30 rounds in the magazine even an assault rifle has a very good chance to not hit anything at close distance, especially when you swing it around in an arc. The only valid purpose of doing something like this is to get the enemy to duck behind cover instead of shooting at your comrades while they maneuver.

Anime and Manga

  • The Slayers has Rapid-fire muzzleloaders.
  • Death The Kid in Soul Eater holds Liz and Patty Thompson upside down and pulls their triggers with his pinkies. This might be because he uses them something like tonfa in close combat (so holding them the way he does would give him more torque) but that just justifies one example with another.
    • Being a Humanoid Abomination also justifies his improbably weapon skills. Sure, a human can shoot a pistol with their pinkies, but mostly just with one gun and with both pinkies on the trigger. Two guns that can transform into even larger Hand Cannons (the largest forms needing stands to support them) and with crazy aiming skills? Only a god (which Kid is) could pull something like that off.
  • Kaede Nagase in Mahou Sensei Negima is a Ninja who mostly follows the rules of Hollywood Ninjas (kunai, explosives). Except for her being listed on BFS; it stands for BFShuriken. She does throw it, but it's normally used to shield her and smash her targets. Note that shuriken were used as make-shift blades for close-in defense in Real Life. They just happened to often be small and annoying.
    • On one occasion she does throw it, she takes out a number of opponents. She assures some onlookers that the giant whirling deathball she just threw is totally nonlethal because she hit with the back of the blade. Do note that her shuriken doesn't appear to actually have a dull side, and that the onlookers still think it should be fatal.
  • In Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, Kamina's first impression of a gun is to use its butt as a hammer to bash his enemies in, which doesn't even qualify as Pistol-Whipping. After almost shooting himself in the crotch through that method, he realizes how it's supposed to be used (but still holds it upside down). Later, during his first fight against Viral, he more cleverly uses an arrow as a makeshift knife.
  • Subverted by Golgo 13. His choice of an M-16 seems an odd choice for a sniper, especially since popular imagination has it to be some kind of close combat sub-machine gun. However, as the creator is more than willing to point out, the M-16 is an assault rifle, and is perfectly fine as a sniping for target up to 500 meters, especially in the hands of a skilled user more interested in getting a job done than setting distance records…which Duke Togo certainly is.

Comics

  • Captain America uses his mighty shield as a throwing weapon. And as a club, but that's actually an often overlooked Real Life application of the shield (it's traditionally a bloody great lump of wood with metal furniture. Why wouldn't you hit your opponent in the face with it?).
    • The magical attribute of Cap's shield is that it harmlessly absorbs the energy of any blow, which somehow makes it doubly effective when it strikes somebody. (Perhaps it adds the absorbed force to the blow.)
    • Note that the shield's edge is sharp- he once used it to decapitate a vampire!
  • One of the antagonists in Y: The Last Man shows up for a fight Dual-Wielding a pair of (two-handed) naginatas.

Film

  • The Gamers: Attempting to sneak attack a PERSON with a ballista.
  • In The Mummy Returns, they have flashback sequences to ancient Egypt, where two female characters duel with dual sai. Not only did the sai originate as a weapon in around the seventeenth century AD in East Asia instead of 2000 BC Egypt, but sai were typically blunt truncheon-type weapons mostly used for blocking and breaking swords instead of sharp knife-type weapons. Although there is evidence or sai-like weapons from ancient Egypt which were blunt, it's not likely they were used like that.
  • In Ultraviolet, guns are used for everything, including opening doors, cauterizing wounds, and occasionally killing people.
  • In Titan A.E., a rifle of some sort ends up being used to bridge an electrical connection. Of course, the person who does this dies.
  • In Predator, Jesse Ventura uses a hand-held GE M134 Minigun. It is impossible for anyone to really hold and use this weapon. In Real Life this gun is mounted on a helicopter or armoured vehicle, it is far too heavy to be used otherwise. An even smaller version was actually designed to be man-portable, the XM214 "Microgun" of the 1970s, but even it was designed to be used with a tripod, and never made it past the prototype stage.
    • More specifically, a big guy like Ventura can certainly lift the 70-pound Minigun, but carrying a weapon that heavy into battle in addition to all the usual equipment that any soldier carries would be quite impractical. And also carrying the 2,000-round ammo drum (the ammo alone would weigh over a 100 pounds) and power supply on his back would've been completely implausible. Because even standing while carrying that much weight would be difficult, Ventura carried less than a full drum of blanks (which weigh less than regular ammo) and the battery was on the ground, hidden from the camera's view. But the main problem is the recoil, which would be far beyond even the strongest human's ability to handle. Again the blanks helped with that (since blanks have much less recoil), as did slowing the rate of fire dramatically, which also made the scene more dramatic by making the barrels spin slowly enough for the human eye to follow.
  • In Terminator 2: Judgment Day, the T-800 uses the same GE M134 Minigun. The Terminator's use of it can be Handwaved by being a super-strong cyborg, though one wonders why Sarah Connor kept a helicopter's weapon in her arsenal to begin with.
  • In The Film of the Book Prince Caspian Susan throws an arrow at a soldier. It lands point in, in his heart and kills him. Justified by the arrows being a gift from Aslan.
    • And Susan wields her bow like a staff when soldiers are up close and personal.
  • Shoot Em Up is built around this trope. Smith uses his gun for everything from opening doors to delivering babies.
  • The infamous curving bullets from Wanted.
  • Underworld is notable in the instance where Selene uses a pair of fully-automatic pistols to shoot a circle around her feet, creating an exit through the floor in a building when she tries to evade the werewolves and retrieve Michael.
  • In The Avengers, Hawkeye runs out of arrows and is forced to fight the Chitauri with just his bow instead.
  • In Hot Shots Part Deux, Topper's machine gun runs out of ammunition. He spies a crate filled with bullets and throws them at the bad guys...killing them.

Literature

  • In Discworld The City Watch Novels, Detritus's the troll Weapon of Choice is a ballista. He is able to use it like a crossbow just because he's so damn big. Sometimes it's used to fire the iron spears it was designed to fire, but most of the time Detritus loads it with bundles of arrows. Which shatter from the force of being fired. Then burst into flames from the air friction. When Detritus test-fired it for the first time, it wiped out the training targets, the hill behind them, and some birds that happened to be flying directly above him. He calls it the Piecemaker.
  • In the Humanx Commonwealth novel The End of the Matter, Anti-Hero Skua September puts in his first appearance wielding a heavy military laser designed to be fired from a tripod. He wears the massive power supply as an impromptu backpack. He does comment that it's awfully heavy, which says something coming from a man as huge as he is.
  • In Charlie's Monsters: Nightmare Academy, Charlie uses his rapier to slash at something. Obviously, the author Did Not Do the Research.
  • Gaunt's Ghosts' Trooper "Try Again" Bragg loves to use autocannon or heavy machine guns like they were rifles. He's certainly massive enough to swing it, and it helps make up for his marksmanship.
  • In The Incredulity of Father Brown, this is actually a the answer to the death of a millionaire that seemed to have been shot through a window by God. He was stabbed with an arrow where the angle pointed to the window.

Live Action Television

  • MacGyver once used a revolver chamber as an improvised wrench, 70 feet up in the air. He even stated that he is afraid of heights and hates guns, and he happened to be in this situation.
  • Robin Hood the BBC version: when the Sheriff's men are at a distance, the Outlaws shoot them with bows; when the Sheriff's men are close, Outlaws use their bows as quarterstaffs and hit them. The whole point of a staff is that it is solid; the whole point of a bow is that it bends.

Real Life

  • The Mordhau in German School of Swordsmanship. It is basically grabbing the sword on the blade, swinging it wrong way around and smashing the opponent's face with the crossguard. Likewise, the crossguard can be also used on tripping the opponent.
    • In the German School of Swordsmanship, the whole sword is a weapon. The pommel doubles as a mace, the crossguard can be used as a weapon or tripping or binding instrument, and another unusual technique is Halbschwerten, which means grabbing the sword on one hand on the hilt and another on the blade and cross-checking the opponent.
    • Justified if you wear thick gloves, otherwise ...
    • Any form of sword fighting intended for use in real combat (as opposed to tournament fighting or acting) has this sort of thing. You're trying to kill or disable the other guy before he's able to kill or disable you, and you may be trying to deal with multiple opponents or confined spaces where some types of moves don't work. If you lack the room to swing your sword and have someone up close, striking them in the face with the hilt can be quite effective (most swords used in real combat would, used this way, be like being hit with a hammer).
  • Real Life: on Myth Busters, shooting an escape hole in the floor or shooting out a lock proved possible but far, far more difficult than using the proper tools - a boltcutter and circular saw, and required fairly impressive firepower.
    • SWAT and Special Forces personnel called upon to breach a door are trained to shoot at the hinges instead of the lock as they tend to be flimsier, but even then, without specialised ammunition they're normally better off with a sledgehammer or crowbar.
  • Carlos Hathcock, a famed Marine Corps sniper (one of his famous achievements being a Scope Snipe), once used a .50 machinegun modified and mounted with a scope as an improvised sniper rifle. He set the record for the longest combat kill at 2,286 meters, a feat not surpassed until the Afghanistan war, in which dedicated sniper rifles firing the same .50 caliber round were employed. This counts as a trope example since the M2 was not designed for precision sniping, it doesn't even have a semi-automatic mode. It's just that the rate of fire is low enough (relative to most smaller machine guns, that is) that a careful user can fire off a single round by very quickly pulling and releasing the trigger.
    • His successor is Corporal of Horse Craig Harrison, who took down three separate targets with a single bullet to each with an L115A3 sniper rifle from 8120 feet away, or 3200 feet beyond the rifle's effective range.
  • The IMI Galil had a bottle opener built into it's bipod because of problems with conscript soldiers using magazines of other rifles as improvised bottle openers, damaging the magazine lips in the process.
    • That is exactly the reason why the Finnish army RK 62 magazines were re-designed to have sturdier lips...

Video Games

  • Final Fantasy series (the older ones, anyway): The Ninja's Throw technique makes you able to throw weapons at the enemy. All weapons. Yes, even katanas. And it's even more effective depending on the power of the weapon. So, throwing a katana is more effective than throwing a dagger, and some weapons are only effective when thrown, like the Excalipur (sic).
  • The same issue is present in both Neverwinter Nights games. You can certainly use a rapier...but it has the same attack animation as a longsword, and the result looks as suitably ridiculous as you'd imagine.
  • Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2 have several examples, mostly related to sniper rifles. In the first game, the bad guys' sniper rifles are as effective against the Mako as their rocket launchers for some reason, which is really annoying because you can't exactly dodge the sniper shots. In the second game, Shepard and Legion can get the M-98 Widow sniper rifle. The recoil from the Widow will shatter a normal human's arm, but Shepard has quite a bit of cybernetic enhancement and Legion is a robot.
  • In the final cutscene of Unreal Tournament III the protagonist kills the Big Bad by clubbing her to death with a rocket launcher.
  • Predator and the Grand Theft Auto games both feature vehicle-mounted -- and electric-powered -- miniguns being carried and fired by individual humans on foot, with no extension cord visible anywhere.
  • In God Hand you can get the tremendously useful rocket launcher... which you use with the same animation as every other weapon and use it to beat someones head in. After you've fired it's single payload of course.
  • Handwaveded with the Rule of Cool in Dead Rising 2, where the player can use machine-gun wheelchairs , pitchfork-shotguns, and chainsaw-paddles to mow down the undead.
  • One of Gears of War 2's bosses, Skorge, uses a chainsaw staff to saw a tank in two.
  • Samurai Warriors has Hanzo, who swings the scythe-part of his kusarigama and Shingen Takeda, whose warfan can be used for slicing people. Nagamasa using Slice-and-Dice Swordsmanship with his lance may count as well.
    • Toshiie Maeda can use the two spears he carries on his back as boomerangs.
  • In Dynasty Warriors, Zhong Hui uses five floating swords that he controls seemingly through some form of telekinesis, although in the game anyone can use the swords like that.
  • Hokuto Musougets in on this with Jagi, the Dirty Coward Unfavorite of the Hokuto brothers. Instead of using his fists like pretty much everyone else, he elects to use shotguns and a freakin' bazooka as his weapons of choice. Sometimes this involves firing them like a proper gun-toting maniac. More often, though, he's clubbing people with them, or swinging the bazooka around like a club to wallop his enemies into the distance. Oddly enough, his regular attacks simply leave normal corpses behind, but his special attacks cause the series' traditional cases of Your Head Asplode.
  • The Demoman from Team Fortress 2 uses a potato masher as a weapon. Not the kind that delivers massive crushing force on a certain South American vegetable, but the World War two grenade that was basically an explosive on the end of a stick. It's classified as his melee weapon

 In-game Description: High-yield Scottish face removal. A sober person would throw it.

    • The sniper's taunt kill has him stab an opponent with the arrows from his unlockable bow.
    • "I am heavy weapons guy, and this is my weapon. She weighs 150 kilograms [1] and fires 200 dollar custom-tooled cartridges at ten thousand rounds a minute. It costs four hundred thousand dollars to fire this weapon for twelve seconds."
  • Saki from Suguri also uses a grenade as a melee weapon. It has a 25% chance of exploding and dealing double damage.
  • Samurai Shodown has a bit of this in its repertoire, of course. Some are justifiable, like the swordsmen taking a cheap shot with the hilt (or, for Ukyo, with the sheath). Some are a little more Rule of Cool, like Earthquake tossing the blade end of his kusarigama. And a few are less than textbook, like Cham Cham using her boomerang as a melee weapon.
  • The Bandana Dee in Kirby Returns to Dreamland twirls his spear like a helicopter to fly.
  • Blaz Blue features the cyborg girl Nu-13, who uses a throwing knife with a loop in the hilt to tie off her braid.
  • Daria from Rune Factory 3 uses her hammer as a paintbrush.
  • In World of Warcraft, the Warrior ability Heroic Throw does exactly what it sounds like it does - no matter what size or shape the Warrior's weapon is. One tie-in novel has a (granted, extremely skilled and demigod-blessed) warrior throw his giant two-handed sword like a spear.
    • The Paladin ability Avenger's Shield has them throw their shield Captain America style, although they might be using magic.
    • The ability Titan's Grip allows a Warrior to Dual Wield two-handed weapons. It gets a bit ridiculous when a gnome dual wields giant battleaxes.
  • The latest version of Dwarf Fortress brings in the German School of Swordsmanship mentioned in the Real Life section above, enabling Adventure Mode players to club opponents with pommels, the flat of swords and the shafts of polearms.
  • In Betrayal at Krondor and its Spiritual Sequel Betrayal in Antara, you can thrust with slashing weapons and slash with thrusting weapons, but accuracy and damage increases if you a certain type of sword in the manner it was intended to.

Web Original

  • Chaos Fighters has swiping, an type of attack which the weapon (usually a sword or a lance) is swung in a direction perpendicular to how its blade is alligned. In reality this would not work as well as depicted and potentially breaks the weapon.

Western Animation

  • An episode of The Simpsons had Homer buying a revolver, which he promptly uses to do things like opening beer cans and changing TV channels. This recklessness causes Marge to leave with the children and gets him kicked out of the local NRA.

  "Honey, a gun is just a tool, like a screwdriver, or a crossbow, or an alligator..."

  • Of the four Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, only Leonardo comes close to fighting appropriately with his weapon. Donatello is decent, but never uses half the techniques for a bo, Michealangelo is missing 95% of his nunchuku skills since he dual wields them, and Raphael uses his sai as knives instead of defensive bludgeon tool.
  • On Family Guy, when Peter becomes a professional jouster, he tries to fish toast out of the toaster and butter it with his lance. It works about as well as one might expect.

Notes

  1. 330 pounds
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