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"It doesn't matter how much better or faster I do things. It just doesn't last like when you do it."
—Wizened viewpoint on mortals, Changeling: The Lost

In a Speculative Fiction setting there are often a lot of people going on about how incredible and powerful the Phlebotinum is, which is why people who have it are the ones who move the plot rather than all the ordinary Muggles who need to be rescued.

Except, sometimes, the superhuman devices or abilities in the story aren't really all that earthshaking, at least not compared to the more mundane methods available. Sure, being able to create fire with your mind might be neat, but if it's not on a large enough scale, you might be better off with a handheld lighter. And a Trick Arrow that electrocutes people could be useful, but we do already have stun guns. And that guy saying he'll Take Over the World now that he's got skin as strong as steel? Yeah, apparently he's never heard of armor piercing bullets.

Sometimes the usefulness of Muggle methods will be a big part of the story, like Van Helsing using modern scientific methods against vampires in Dracula. Other times supernatural abilities and Muggle abilities will be kept largely separate thanks to the Masquerade, but when they do intersect the superiority/equality of Muggle methods will be clear. And then there are some stories where it's clear the writers didn't really think about what ordinary people could contribute, or They Just Didn't Care, but the fans certainly will.

In some cases, it applies if and only if the Muggles are Crazy Prepared. A girl who freezes you at will can easily kill regular soldiers, but not if they have insulated suits specifically to fight her.

Related to, but distinct from, a Mundane Solution, which is where the Phlebotinum is given a specific weakness to some commonplace thing that it didn't necessarily have to have. See also Weaponized Weakness, when muggle methods are used to exploit an already dangerous Achilles Heel or Weaksauce Weakness.

This trope is the main power and indeed the only hope of the Un-Sorcerer. Can also lead to The Magic Versus Technology War, with the Tech Level being that of the present day.

Compare with Kinetic Weapons Are Just Better, which is when mundane weapons work better than fancy shiny phlebotinum-powered weapons. Compare Post-Modern Magik, which is when technology and magic intertwine. Also compare to Medieval Stasis, as this trope assumes the supernatural is locked in such while the muggles continue to advance.

Unrelated to Tropers Do It Without Notability.


Examples:


Anime and Manga

  • The WW 2 / Vietnam war-era weapons that have crossed over to the world of Halkeginia in Zero no Tsukaima appear to far out-power all elements of offensive magic except that of the Void. Giant golem? LAW[1] beats it. Dragons? WWII era Zero beats them. Giant walking magically improvious armor? Flak cannon shoots straight through it.
    • One variant of the Zero packed a 20mm cannon. It would be disappointing if the dragons didn't drop over.
  • In Mahou Sensei Negima, while a combination of magic and technology usually works best, it seems that cell phones are almost universally more useful than the Telepathy that mages tend to use, so long as there's reception. In terms of pure offensive firepower, the magic world does not appear to have anything like nukes. In a flashback, Nagi talks about it a little.
  • Darker Than Black employs this trope a lot. Despite their (sometimes) awe-inspiring powers, the majority of Contractors are not Immune to Bullets; they are usually no match for a well-trained squad of armed police or soldiers. Contractors are therefore seldom used in open combat, and are employed more like special operatives where they're able to get the jump on people.
  • Shinryaku! Ika Musume's titular Musume is quite powerful, and would make for an excellent B-movie monster - until the JDSF arrives on the scene. At the end of the day, squids are squishy, and there's only one of her.

Comic Books

  • One of the Marshal Law comics sends superheroes back to World War I. The turn out to be pretty useless to the war effort.
  • Fables spends a good chunk of the war between the Fables of Fabletown (living in the real world) and the Adversary (what they ran away from) showcasing the advantages mass modern technology has over magic.
    • And a highly-effective-seeming and entirely magical plan for taking out Earth is dismissed when it's explained that modern "mundane" technology would not only quickly pick up on the plan and foil its latter stages, but invite a devastating counterattack that the Adversary's forces wouldn't have a prayer against.
  • One of the reasons for the Reed Richards Is Useless trope is that more often than not superhero super science is less practical than real world science.
  • Subverted in an issue of Justice League of America: the son of the recently deceased Green Arrow has to fight a bad guy and his mooks using an old set of arrows his father left behind. He laments on the fact that they're all ridiculous trick arrows, such as a handcuff arrow or a boxing glove arrow, and wishes his dad would have had at least one regular arrow among them. He ends up defeating the bad guy with a boxing glove arrow.
  • Often played with in the DC Universe and the Marvel Universe. Some characters manage to do very well against superpowered adversaries with nothing more than the training and technology you see in the real world, The Punisher being a perfect example. Oftentimes, though, the police, the army, would-be Heroic Bystanders and others are completely ineffective against the villains.
  • In his first fight against the Masters of Silence Iron Man was confronted with the fact that they were immune to his repulsor bolts. In their second battle Iron Man wore the so-called War Machine armor, equipped with guns. A lot of guns. The Masters of Silence were promptly trashed before being confronted with the fact they had been tricked in attacking Stark in first place.


Fanfic

  • In The Moment It Began, instead of being defeated by The Power of Love, Lord Voldemort, the most powerful Dark Wizard in the world, is defeated... by Snape's Muggle father Tobias and his trusty handgun.
  • This is one of the running themes of Harry Potter And The Methods Of Rationality where Harry has learned all about the scientific method and critical thinking before going to Hogwarts.
    • The series plays with it a ton. While the magical world rarely if ever applies the scientific method to magic, just like in canon, that's because sometimes science doesn't work on magic. But once in a while characters find out that it does work, which usually leads to an Awesome Moment.
  • This is the Anvil in The Return The Demons and Eldritch Abominations have all these fantastic powers, but Humans have inventiveness and are much better at being bastards and normal military tech more than levels the field.
  • Old Soldiers never Die is made of this trope. It's also doubly ironic because Voldemort was defeated almost entirely by a force of 80+ year old squib veterans using technology that at its most modern dates back to World War Two
  • Sort-of-done in My Immortal. Instead of telling Ebony to kill Vampire/Harry via magical means, Vloxemort gives her a gun to shoot him. Of course, given Tara Gilesbie hasn't displayed any real understanding of how the actual series works...
  • In Harry Potter and the Invincible Technomage, Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four and Tony Stark (Iron Man) discover how Potter Verse magic works, and manage to make it work with their technology rather than against it (and Tony uses the magic as a cheap energy source for his various armours, such as the one he gives to Harry).
  • The Book of Dobby, by Doghead Thirteen, focuses on Harry fighting the Death Eaters with World War II era bomber and fighter planes. Of course, he's basically going Magitek, what with the dragon-hide coatings and the de-ruster spells and so forth, but it's the same idea.
  • An example appears in Oh God Not Again to explain why Theodore, a Slytherin, is in Muggle Studies. When asked why he was there, Theodore noted that his father learned the hard-way that Muggles weren't as harmless as he thought after being shot on a trip to Las Vegas, and wanted his son to learn as much about Muggles as possible.
  • Subverted by a few Heroic Bystanders who have tried to defend themselves with their guns in both the Ultimate Sleepwalker and Ultimate Spider-Woman series, rather than waiting for the heroes to rescue them. Unfortunately, Failure Is the Only Option for these Muggles.
  • Discussed in the Zero no Tsukaima/Prototype crossover Unfamiliar, while magic can do many thing technology can't it's also inefficient for more mundane things. For example an earth mage can do the work of ten farming machines, however it takes years to train a earth mage whereas you can build farming machines in days.
  • Subverted in some Axis Powers Hetalia fics involving human beings trying to take on the Nations themselves. As it turns out, all conventional weapons (whether it's a knife or a .50 caliber rifle) could do is simply stall them long enough for the Muggles to escape with their lives.

Film

  • In the french movie Arthur et la guerre des deux mondes (Arthur and the war of two worlds), the Big Bad entered the human world thinking he would rollover humanity with his army of really stupid mooks... he did rollover the population of a mostly unarmed and peaceful really small town. But when an actual human army show up, they pulverised the Evil Army in seconds. Hell, the tanks were completely overkill. Granted, the Hero does lampshade the fact that the Big Bad had utterly no clue about humans capabilities, as he come from a millimeters-sized population of fairy-like creatures that lived in the gardens and forests.
  • Star Wars
    • In Episode III, the vast majority of Jedi are gunned down by common soldiers. Because they were Just Following Orders, the Clone Troopers didn't necessarily have any malicious intent (and thus the Jedi couldn't sense their impending doom until it was too late.)
    • Episode II has a Jedi leaping up to the platform to challenge Count Dooku... only to be nonchalantly gunned down by Jango Fett. This scene was probably just meant to make Jango look that impressive, but if anything, it made the Jedi look incompetent; Jango wasn't even doing anything special, just pointing his blaster and firing, yet this was somehow too much for the Jedi to handle. It's amazing he wasn't already gunned down by the hordes of droids he was just battling below.
  • Ghostbusters
  • In the Underworld series, vampires and werewolves have been fighting for centuries with neither side being able to achieve victory. In Underworld Awakening, humans get involved and drive both species to near extinction almost immediately.

Literature

  • Zigzagged in Harry Potter. In the canon, it looks like in The Magic Versus Technology War, Magic always wins. For example, Muggle surgery was useless in Order of the Phoenix. But in Goblet of Fire, Harry mentioned that Muggle equipment would sometimes be useful. Hermione refuted it, but only because Hogwarts has a magic anti-technology field.[2]
    • According to Lady Rowling, "In a fight between a Muggle with a shotgun and a wizard with a wand, the Muggle will win." There are extremely long debates, some on this very wiki, about how far this goes, often starting with "What happens if the wizard is smart enough to hide and stick his wand out a window?"
    • This happens in-canon, of all places, too. These themes are usually downplayed, but still there. For example, in Goblet of Fire, an owl is sent out. At least one day later, a letter is sent by Muggle post. The letter arrives that morning, and the owl arrives well after breakfast.
      • Also, when Mr. Weasley is in St. Mungo's, he and a young trainee healer decide to try closing up his wounds from his snakebite using stitches (which would allow him to go home and wait for them to come up with a full antidote without needing his bandages replaced regularly.). It doesn't work, the implied reason being that the snake's venom dissolved through them.
      • Additionally, who is to say that a wizard healer even knew enough about muggle medicine to properly perform the procedure? Metal staples were another option besides stitches, but if the healer had as much understanding of muggle medicine as Mr. Weasley did about technology, the failure seems inevitable. Wizards in this 'verse seem smug on the superiority of magic, and speak of muggle tech as silly, even when they have no or very little understanding of the extreme complexity and precision involved.
  • In The Dresden Files killing a wizard is considered a very dangerous proposition since, if they know they're going to die, they can expend their life energy to create a "death curse" that can do really horrible stuff to their killer. So Kincaid explains that, if he ever wanted to kill Harry, he'd do it from a mile away with a sniper rifle; the bullet would outrun its own sonic boom, making it impossible to hear coming, and once it plows through Harry's brains, he's not gonna have time left to cast any sort of spell. After being told this, Harry reflects on the fact that wizards are going to have to get used to modern day tech as the great equalizer. And at the end of the book "Changes," it looks as if someone has made good on the idea. It is revealed in Ghost Story that Kincaid carried this out at Harry's request so that he could try to get out of being the new Winter Knight. It doesn't work.
    • This is also the reason for the Extra-Strength Masquerade: bringing in mortal forces is the equivalent of a nuke in the supernatural community (and not just because they have nukes). Bear in mind that this is a setting where the main character, more powerful than average but far from the most powerful magic user in the setting, can throw a werewolf through two buildings with magical brute force. Then consider that everyone from Fallen Angels to the Billy Goats Gruff use machine guns.
    • In Turn Coat, Morgan talks about a battle he had with a skinwalker. He couldn't match the monster with magic, so he went for the next best thing. He lured the skinwalker onto a nuclear testing site right before they detonated the bomb, and hopped into the Nevernever right before detonation. Even Harry has to admit that it was pretty damn awesome.
    • It is something of a recurring theme in the series that muggle abilities are just as deadly as magic, in their own way. In fact, throughout the series Harry has come within a hairsbreadth of death when dealing with ordinary humans with purely mortal weaponry. For example, in Small Favor he is ambushed and nearly killed by two of Torelli's goons, and admits that if things had played out just a little differently, the two hitmen would have killed him, Murphy, and Molly, with no magic required. And ultimately, the thing that finally kills Harry is not a wizard or supernatural monster or elder deity....it's a sniper shooting him as he steps out Thomas' boat. It's not that an individual human is very scary to the supernatural, but hundreds of humans, with guns and tanks and helicopters and bombs...
      • It's mentioned that magical creatures need to pay attention to keep their construct intact, and having their constructs get torn up is in part breaking their concentration. Enough and it forces them back into the Nevernever because they need to keep concentrating to stay in our world. Then... ectoplasm. Ew.
    • Harry uses this to his advantage, too. There's been more than one supernaturally inclined baddy that thought he was totally out of the fight once he'd exhausted his magic, or they'd disarmed him of his staff, only to receive a few slugs from a .44 while they're gloating.
    • This is one of the reasons that the Red Court did so well against the White Council in the war. Most magical creatures don't interfere with technology nearly as much as wizards, so they (and even more so, their goons) can threaten wizards much more successfully. Additionally, money and law are mentioned as facets of power, and that any self-respecting magical faction has a lot of money they can throw around.
  • Part of the Heralds of Valdemar series' approach to magic and mages is that they can be taken down by physical force just as easily as any other mortals. This is a deliberate inclusion by the author, who didn't want magic to become an in-universe game breaker. It's neatly summed up in By the Sword, when a company of Private Military Contractors is brought into Valdemar - a country where magic is all but unknown - specifically to help fight the mages of an enemy nation. When worried Valdemaran citizens stop them to ask what fighting mages is like, the inevitable response is, "They die."
  • A major plot point in Everworld, where not only do the Coo-Hatch almost hand the Hetwan a victory over Olympus with a fairly-primitive cannon, but Senna's ultimate plan turns out to be importing an army of gun-nuts into Everworld to help her overthrow the gods, who, it turns out, aren't quite as immortal as they thought.
  • In one science fiction story, a group of (essentially) mutants left earth because their powers were feared. Years later, when the "normals" and the mutants met again, the normals had developed technology to such a point that every person had access to more capabilities than the mutants (like Syndrome wanted to do in the Incredibles).
  • In the world of the Darksword Trilogy, everything is done by magic. Technology and science are considered Dark Arts due to a prophecy about someone without magic destroying the world and mutterings about technology being a bit too effective when it comes to killing things. Halfway through people in tanks show up and demonstrate that technology is indeed a superior weapon.
    • That has a lot to do with the magic world being founded entirely by exiles fleeing witch hunts on Earth. Most of the more competent and rational mages either died gating the "civilians" there and establishing the magic-trapping field surrounding the world which enabled them to survive without tools, or stayed behind to help guide the magicless societies towards an eventual reconciliation. The latter category included every engineer ("Death Mage") available. Initial emotional trauma led to institutionalized guilt over not releasing magic again into the greater universe once it was safe to do so (as promised), and thus to forgetting about and demonizing the nonmagical. And to being totally unprepared for encounters with it.
  • In Sergey Lukyanenko's Watch novels, the Others are mostly immune to human weapons by virtue of always having the ability to enter the Twilight, where no human can go. Also, all seriously wounded Others instinctively enter the Twilight to heal up. Also, The Masquerade prevents humans from knowing the truth. Several Others have been killed by Muggle means. Edgar's wife, a witch, is killed by a truck driver having a heart attack. One story involves the possibility of resurrecting an ancient dragon-mage, who, being from before The Masquerade, would go rampaging across Europe. The Others argue that, in a battle between a mad dragon and missile-armed gunships, the gunships would come out on top (Take That, Godzilla).
    • The only human weapon that almost no Other can escape is a nuke. A nuclear explosion will even reach into every layer of Twilight, leaving no places for Others to hide.
    • Also partly true with enchanted weapons that can penetrate into Twilight but are otherwise ordinary. A werewolf is gunned down by a submachinegun in the fourth novel.
    • Given that magic is actually made by humans and absorbed by Others, if humans expand into space, the Others will be hard-pressed to follow them until sizable colonies are created. Add to that constantly-evolving weapons (the fourth book even has remote-controlled guns that make it very difficult to spot danger due to a machine having no evil intentions), and the Others will eventually be helpless against humans.
    • Muggles seem to come on top even when the playing field is simply leveled. At some point in the fourth book, the villains prop up a SWAT team with charms that render them immune to magical attacks and sit back as the troops effortlessly storm a Night Watch-owned building.
  • In The World of Eldaterra: The Dragon Consipracy there are two problems. One a fantasy race similar to orcs invading earth. Solved with brits with bolt action rifles. Second dragons trying take over the world. Solved by one guy with a grenade.
  • Discussed in Xanth. In Centaur Aisle, Dor visits Centaur Isle which is near the fringe of magic, and therefore magic is used much less. As a result, they're much more technologically and socially advanced compared to the rest of Xanth which is stuck in Medieval Stasis. This leads Dor to wonder (briefly) if that means it's better not to have magic. His conclusion: Ridiculous!

 He had followed the thought to its logical conclusion and found it absurd, therefore the thought was false.

  • In Robert Heinlein's Methuselah's Children the immortal Howard Families flee Earth because the rest of the population are getting ready to imprison and torture them to learn the secret of their immortality serum -- which doesn't exist; they're just naturally long-lived. Years later they return, and find that the people of Earth devoted a massive project to discovering the immortality drug . . . and succeeded.
  • Malazan Book of the Fallen: There are many examples throughout the series of Nigh Invulnerable ancient beings of terrifying power coming up against a Malazan soldier with a Moranth grenado - much to the former's surprise and (often short-lived) chagrin.


Live Action TV

  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer periodically showed that even the most Badass of supernatural beasties could be taken down with real world firepower. While it's shown that guns can't kill vampires, they do "hurt like hell," and most other monsters have no such immunity, and even Buffy was once almost killed by an ordinary guy with a handgun. Since the self-imposed Masquerade kept the police or military from getting involved in the plot much, and the Main Characters could only occasionally get their hands on post-medieval weaponry, this didn't stop most fights from being superpowered slug fests. This got a little wonky in Season 4 and beyond, though, when the government did get involved, equipping a lot of Muggle soldiers with hi-tech weapons and sending them off to fight demons, but how successful this actually was tended to vary by episode. One of Joss Whedon's ideas for the season was "magic vs. science, magic kicks ass", which was proved by the Curb Stomp Battle in the penultimate episode, but up until the Big Bad made his move, it was largely back and forth.
    • In "Homecoming," when various people, vampires, and demons compete to see who can kill Buffy and Faith, it's the two humans with machine guns and grenade launchers who prove the most effective and deadly (that's not to say they won, but they lasted the longest at least). To be fair, she had to trick them to shoot each other, she couldn't take them out directly.
    • In "Innocence," the Judge, an ancient, unkillable demon that it had previously taken an entire army to defeat is poised to destroy the world. Buffy shoots him with a rocket launcher. No more Judge.
      • Technically, the Judge is still alive, just like the last time he was defeated. It's just that he's alive in thousands of tiny pieces, and thus no longer a threat.
    • Mayor Wilkins, the Big Bad of Season 3, spent a hundred years making deals with demons in order to become the gigantic snake demon Olvikan and take over the town of Sunnydale, and possibly the world after that. Once he finally becomes a demon, he finds his vampire army being defeated by a bunch of Ordinary High School Students armed with arrows, stakes, and a couple flamethrowers, and he himself is taken down by some strategically placed dynamite.
  • Stargate SG-1 makes great use of this trope (as, to a lesser extent, do its spin-offs). The Goa'uld have starships, plasma cannons, and teleporters. The heroes have... normal, modern-day U.S. Air Force issue weapons. But the entire Goa'uld society essentially runs on Cool but Inefficient -- their high-tech staff weapons are scary and flashy, but inaccurate and have a slow fire rate; their Space Fighters are impressive, but a surface-to-air missile will bring them down as surely as a plasma blast would. This is often lampshaded in the show. In one episode O'Neill points out explicitly that Earth's comparatively low-tech weapons can be superior to the Goa'ulds' Applied Phlebotinum because the Goa'uld are obsessed with intimidating and impressing their enemies, while primitive Earth weapons are designed merely to kill. As the show goes on Earth gradually gets more and more Applied Phlebotinum of its own, but even then the protagonists remain armed with old-fashioned Tau'ri guns.
    • The introduction of the Replicators is probably the best example of this. The Asgard are getting their super high-tech asses kicked by robots that assimilate technology--the more advanced the better. So how do you fight them? Bring in primitive ballistic weapons.
    • To be fair to the Goa'uld, they do have a serious trump card in the form of their Ha'taks, spaceships that are impervious to nuclear weapons and capable of bombing a planet back to the Stone Age from orbit. It's not until relatively late in the series that the Earth has a defense against a direct attack like that. Much of the series is about preventing such an attack in the first place, usually using guerilla tactics and subterfuge.
  • The Outer Limits episode Rule Of Law has a scene where the judge protagonist, armed with a handgun, confronts a lynch mob armed with laser guns. The crooks mock his inferior weapon, but are defeated with ease, owing largely to the judge's superior marksmanship and training.
  • In the Doctor Who (Seventh Doctor) episode "Battlefield" retired Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart kills the Destroyer Of Worlds by simply walking up and shooting it in the chest with silver bullets.
    • Look at it this way: The Brigadier was a British soldier who had personally faced down the most evil and terrifying things in the entire universe - the stuff of nightmares - and did not blink even once. That goes way beyond Badass Normal territory. The Destroyer Of Worlds never had a chance. There's a reason why he has his own trope.
  • Ultraviolet works on this, because modern technology means the "Code 5"'s - vampires - have to take a lot more care these days. The hunters are armed with the likes of gas grenades loaded with the active anti-vampire ingredient of garlic, and guns with video cameras (which, like mirrors, vampires don't appear in) and carbon rounds (like tiny, very fast stakes).
  • Lost in Oz uses this as Caleb holds the Wicked Witch at gunpoint. While she claims it can't kill her, it apparently can, as a new host for the Witch's soul is chosen soon after.


Tabletop Games

  • In the world of Warhammer 40,000, almost every army relies on technology so advanced it might as well be magic, or actual magic. The Imperial Guard, on the other hand, somehow (barely) hold back an implacable hive mind, undead killing machines, barbarous green savages, and magic-using traitors with just laser guns, tanks, and artillery. And infantry. Lots and lots of infantry.
    • Da Ork's strangely are both Muggles do it better AND Wizard's do it better. They still use bullets, guns, tanks, and giant battle axes as their primary weapons, with it being little more advanced than what we have now. However, they are still can kill just as good as any other race, and it is agreed that if the Ork's were ever united, they would be able to walk over the rest of the galaxy. However, their technology runs on their collective physcic powers MAKING it work by thinking it will.
  • In Changeling: The Lost part of the angst for the Wizened is that, yes, they have magic and it does spiffy things; the problem is that it's just not sustainable.
  • Most Old World of Darkness supernatural characters have this problem, given that magic and mad science suffers from No Ontological Inertia, while human technology does not. The Masquerade and the equivalent dictates are in place partially because the supernaturals learned this.
    • Is Mage: The Ascension, this problem was deliberately caused and created by the Technocracy.
    • Werewolf: The Apocalypse points out this trope in Hammer and Klaive, the splatbook detailing fetishes (magic items). Fetishes used by the more rural tribes tend to be flashy, ostentatious and straight-forward. The urban tribes, on the other hand, tend to go "Ok, we can find a wooden stick, inscribe it with a few glyphs and anoint it with sacred oils, bargain with a spirit of lightning and thus get something to point at people to kill them -- or we could go to the local gunshop to get the same thing for a couple bucks." As a result, the more modern werewolves engage in lateral thinking and use fetishes for purposes that can't be achieved technologically.
    • In the Gehenna scenarios that involve the Masquerade being blown wide open, it's not uncommon for single squads of human soldiers armed with automatic weapons to take out thousands-year-old elder vampires whose cultural stagnation has kept them from adapting to the times. To wit; they're not so stupid or Luddite that they don't know what a gun is, it's just that guns didn't exist in a time when they were still young and didn't spend as much time as possible ignoring the world, so they have no idea how to practically handle such a threat in person. Escalation happens when the smarter vampires start taking action; for example, a Ventrue using Dominate to force the launch of nuclear missiles.
  • Genius: The Transgression, the New World of Darkness fan-game, subverts this trope. Sure the Inspired can make changes last forever (it's very hard though) and they've built some of the oldest still functioning machines in the world and anything muggle technology can do a Wonder can do better. Despite all this as a rule of thumb: as soon as mundane science reaches the point where it can do something only Wonders could do before, the Inspired start using the mundane solution (e. g. switching from a network of Apokalypsi-based 'communication nodes' to... just connecting to the Internet). Sure, the effects aren't as flashy, but mundane science doesn't fall apart or go berserk when not "fed" enough Mania, it can be maintained by regular people without causing Glamour Failure, it can be mass produced easily. In short, Geniuses do it better, Muggles do it reliably.
  • In Exalted's Autochthonia, this was made a basic point in the laws of physics of the world by Autochthon, its creator. While the Alchemical Exalted wield far more personal power than any muggle as the warrior champions of their people, Alchemicals lack Favored Abilities, which means muggles can become better at things much faster than them, and they are divinely forbidden from ever achieving a place in the gubernatorial hierarchy - not to mention only mortals can be blessed with the knowledge of how to make other Alchemicals by their patron god. This stands in stark contrast to most of the rest of the Exalted, which have an underlying theme of being better than puny little humans in every way and designed to be rulers and lords.
    • Though, Exalted lacks a clear division between magic and non-magic, anyway; unenlightened mortals are just so weak that they have no control over their Essence. On the other other hand, the Solar Exalted, among the most powerful of Exalts, explicitly have powers that resemble the 'mortal' way of doing things (shooting arrows that hit you anywhere in the world and leaping over mountains instead of teleporting or firing blasts of fire), and are designed to win out against more obviously magical effects.
  • The Dungeons and Dragons adventure "The City Beyond the Gate" by Robert M. Schroeck, in Dragon Magazine #100, where a PC party goes through a dimensional gate to modern day London, England. It's specifically stated that if the PC's decide to fight it out with the British police and/or military that they'll be slaughtered, either immediately or after their magic runs out.


Video Games

  • KOTOR makes Jedi not look as invincible as they are generally believed to be. Vibroblades are infused with cortosis, special ore that can resist lightsabers, which allows non-Jedi to fight a Jedi on equal terms, and blasters can still retain effectiveness even after acquiring force powers, especially in the sequel. Basically, although the Jedi still generally have an advantage, it's not a Foregone Conclusion.

  Master Vrook: "Nothing is more embarrassing for a Jedi than to be cut down by a stray blaster shot."

    • In The Old Republic a Sith totally laughs off the Bounty Hunter character, as a force user 'cannot be defeated by some hired gun'. One short battle later and she's gasping on the floor, heavily injured. Indeed Bounty Hunters use plenty of mundane weapons that Jedi are noted as weak to, such as close range fire attacks, explosives and dart weapons.
  • The Bonus Ending of Drakengard. loljets.
  • An awesome example of this pops up in Final Fantasy VIII. The giant spider robot during the Dollet mission has been hounding your squad all the way down the mountain. You can't kill this thing, as it autorepairs. All your superhuman strength, training, magic, Guardian Forces, and archaic weaponry cannot freaking stop this mechanical monster. It just keeps coming. Then, you get to the beach, where Quistis is waiting in the gun turret of your hovercraft, manning a .50 caliber machinegun, and she tears the robot apart with nothing but intense, drawn out automatic fire.
    • Late in the game, the party must board Lunatic Pandora, a floating obelisk with a shield around it. They get through the shield by flying their airship at it and shooting it a lot. They get through the wall by shooting more, until they've blown a hole through the side. The airship itself is one of three that were originally made for the sole purpose of dragging a sorceress into space so she couldn't harm the world any further; she was made docile enough for this to work by what amounts to cryogenic suspension.
    • Sadly, this trope is generally subverted in other Final Fantasy games. For example, in Final Fantasy VII the Huge Materia Bomb is not sufficiently powerful enough to destroy the meteor. It's zig-zagged in FF 7 with the Weapons in plot scenes, however, where the Sister Ray does in fact have enough power to kill both Sapphire and Diamond Weapon; the former with a shot to the exposed head, the latter when upgraded with the Mako reactors in Midgar was able to punch through Diamond Weapon and lose little to no actual power from the actual shot.
      • The only problem is firing the Sister Ray almost destroyed Midgar in a Mako Overload, and that's just ONCE, and it can only be pointed in one direction. The Big Bad is also practically immune to the Sister Ray...and due to genetic enhancements thanks to his parents, he would of actually gotten STRONGER if hit by it. Still, they do a number on the WEAPONS regardless.
  • The Sealed Evil in a Can in Return to Castle Wolfenstein was sealed because he was impossible to kill in his era, by mundane means or magic. Turns out perfectly ordinary World War II-era guns -- and some less ordinary ones -- do the job just fine. He's not even a Puzzle Boss -- it just takes a lot of firepower to finally bring him down.
    • In fact, almost all of Ids games include some elements of this. Doom's demonic invasion was basically slaughtered by one man using only little more advanced then a shotgun, rocket launcher, and chainsaw. The Wolfenstein (2009 video game)... remake I guess had most of the interdemensional beings able to be killed by WW 2 era machine guns.
  • An example due to Gameplay and Story Segregation: Biotics in Mass Effect were easier to turn into game breakers than other mechanics, and biotic characters are always both powerful and diverse enough to be a threat on the battlefield. In Mass Effect 2, biotics were nerfed and have significant trouble dealing with hardened armor, for which a Soldier with a big gun and anti-armor incendiary rounds is preferred. They're still just as practical during cutscenes, however. Pieces of deleted, and thus non-canon, materials suggest an actual in story justification was going to appear (tech progress hitting the afterburner post-battle of the citadel) to explain those changes in gameplay, but this was scrapped.
  • In Dreamfall, the Azadi Empire easily conquers a large chunk of Arcadia despite many magic-wielders opposing them by using Magitek and old-fashioned cold steel.
  • In Fable II, we discover that the Heroes' Guild was wiped out by muggles shortly after guns were invented, because good Heroes were no longer necessary and evil Heroes were no longer worth the hassle. (Although its stated most of the good Heroes were unarmed/didn't fight back)
  • Earthbound has Jeff Andonuts, an only character that uses bomb and rockets to make up for his lacking of PSI ability, and sometimes can cause more damages than his friends do.
  • At first glance, it might seem like Rise of Legends plays magic and technology fairly equally, but then you realize that one of the factions uses Sufficiently Advanced Technology and, in the game's plot, curbstomps the current tech and magic users.
  • A major theme of Arcanum Of Steamworks And Magic Obscura is that sufficient amounts of one cancel out the other. Guns jam in a wizard tower, but spells fail to work in towns with steam engines and industries. Part of why this is a big issue is because technology is much easier to use and lends well towards the kind of ubiquity you'd never see out of mages.
  • Done...weirdly in the Nasuverse (Fate/stay night, Tsukihime etc). Wizards start off doing it better, but as Muggle technology and science improves, the magic starts going away in proportion to the scientific developments until the balance has shifted so Muggles Do It Better. This is because magic is based of myths and legends, and as these are dispelled, there goes the magic. Currently, it is assumed possibly one or two of the five True Magics (the current ones others being Alternate Universe Manipulataion, Soul Creation and Time Travel) have been lost thanks to human technological developments, and as we develop more and more, it'll eventually become that Muggles Do Everything Better. Of course, by that stage we'll pretty much have reached Magic From Technology with Time Travel, the ability to skip over to Alternate Universes and the ability to create souls.
    • Nasuverse mechanics seperate "magic" which is defined as something that is "miraculous" e.g. can currently only be achived through magic (timetravel for example). And "magecraft" defined as using magic to achive something that can be achived without the use of magic. Example: Human flight was an act of magic until the airplane was invented, then it became magecraft.
    • For a direct example, in Fate/Zero Kiritsugu largely bases his fighting around normal human weaponry. Mages are pretty much all completely scornful of technology and thus dismiss it completely. Kayneth is utterly shocked when Kiritsugu pierces through his magic barrier with a high caliber bullet and vows not to make the same mistake again. Which is actually when Kiritsugu uses magic to win, but still. Apart from this, magical familiar used for spying are pretty easy to detect and and be fooled by illusions, but you can neither find nor trick a mundane camera with magic.


Web Comics

 Random Citizen #1: Look out, he's using laser eye-beams!

Random Citizen #2: But we haven't invented lasers yet!

Demon: WE HAVE.


Web Original

  • The Salvation War: This is pretty much the entire theme of the work. Humans have modern day technology. Demons have superpowers like superhuman strength, huge size in some cases, and limited mind control, but they have Bronze Age technology. Humans are pretty quick to figure out how to counter the superpowers. It goes very badly for the demons. Angels have better superpowers than demons, so they pose more of a threat to human armies, but they still lose.
    • Just to give you an idea how much better the human weapons are than the demonic armies in the first battle 440,000 demons marched against a prepared group of a few (unnumbered) thousands of humans. Only 300 of those demons survived.
  • The 'Dragon Slayers', the bogeyman of the mutant world in the Whateley Universe, turns out to be a team of seven highly-trained U.S. Marines with complicated tactics but standard weaponry.
    • And in one Team Tactics training sim during winter term, Team Kimba (with uber-mage Fey, Flying Brick Lancer, and Person of Mass Destruction Tennyo) gets slaughtered by conventional forces who use sniper rifles, regular soldiers with machine guns, and some surface-to-air missiles for Tennyo.
  • In the Potter Puppet Pals, they resort to killing Voldemort by using machine guns.
    • Voldemort also apparently kills them all with a pipe bomb.
  • The Cracked video Why The Harry Potter Universe Is Secretly Terrifying discuses, among other Fridge Logic aspects of the books, why it was stupid not to inform the muggle governments about the danger Voldemort posed to the world.

 Bowie: Because you fight fire with fire. Wizards are supernatural. What help is a Muggle going to be?

Swaim: There’s a bunch of us and we have helicarriers and assault rifles. We killed Hitler, Hussein, and Houdini. You think we can’t nuke Volter-man into next week?

Willers: He has limitless dark power.

Swaim: That he has to aim through a wand. We can shoot people with a thousand rockets from space! ...With iPhones.


Western Animation

  • Done quite a bit in Gargoyles. Humans have always been a risk to the gargolyes because of how vulnerable they are to being smashed during the day when they're stone. In the first episode, after being woken up from their thousand year sleep, the Manhattan clan faced off and and lost against a group of well armed human mercenaries. A human holding Hudson at gun point notes that he doesn't know what Hudson is, but he isn't bullet proof, which Hudson agrees with.
    • In a later episode taking place on the island containing the offspring of the Greek Gods note that the invisibility shield won't hide them from humans much longer because of the advancement of human technology.
    • Another episode, taking place on Avalon, a wizard who now had an extreme amount of magical power and the power to travel through time, the first thing he warned his younger self was that taking over the world would not be easy because of the human advances in technology. In fact, the reason he wants to make Avalon his launching point is that it cannot be reached by non-magical means.
  • In The Legend of Korra, Amon explicitly says that modern technology now allows any non-bender to go toe-to-toe with a bender, thanks to the spiffy taser gloves his men have invented. In practice, though, a bender still has the advantage at range (they haven't moved up to guns).


Real Life

  • There are many times throughout history of many native people who used mystics and called to their gods to try to defeat the European colonists. Firearms generally won out.

Notes

  1. Light Anti-Armor Weapon
  2. It is rather vague as to what kind of technology the magical field permeating the Hogwarts grounds disrupts, given that plenty of optics, mechanics, chemistry, etc. are used throughout the stories without issue. E.g. fountain pens would probably work if no magical effect interfered with the plastics and elastics involved. The fact that a steam train operates in Hogwarts peripheries suggests anything less complex than transistor tech will operate without difficulty.
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