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Unlike actual Rock-Paper-Scissors, type advantages are not the final say on who's going to win a given matchup in strategy games and RPGs -- if a character (or unit) is strong enough, they can come out triumphant against somebody with even the most outlandish of inherent type advantages against them. This can be a potential Crowning Moment of Awesome for the character to defeat an expected Curb Stomp Battle.

While usually limited to games (or occasionally to other forms of media based off of them), it still has an advantage over its more widely-used cousin, the Worf Effect: You don't need to waste any time establishing the talents of your victim. If you've got a fire user you want to demonstrate the power of, you can set him loose against even a handful of water-based mooks you had show up five seconds ago, and the effect is still achieved.

Often the reason people sometimes have cases of Elemental Ignorance, if they can win consistently in spite of their supposed disadvantage. Alternatively, if someone is a Poor Predictable Rock and knows it, they can train specially to fend against the element that's supposed to counter them, diversifying their skills while remaining true to their art - and often providing a nasty shock for opponents who think they'll have an easy fight simply on the grounds of having the counter element.

Related to I Am Not Left-Handed, where a character who had been losing reveals to have to been playing under a handicap; and Cherry Tapping, where a character defeats another character with an intentionally weak or ill-suited weapon just to humiliate him.

See also Man of Kryptonite.

Tropes used in Scissors Cuts Rock include:

Anime and Manga

  • This happens a lot throughout the Pokémon anime; as it's a Long Runner chock full of Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors, this is perhaps unsurprising. It often involves a trainer being creative enough to not simply use a weaker move directly.
    • The early episode "School Of Hard Knocks" has Misty defeat a schoolboy's Grass type Weepinbell with her Water type Starmie because hers is several levels higher, meaning the type advantage is irrelevant, much to his shock.
      • Just to drive the point home, Misty's Starmie is subsequently beaten down by the resident Alpha Bitch's dual-type Rock-Ground Graveler.
    • Another early episode trainer, AJ, put his Sandshrew through Training From Hell to make it resist water attacks despite being Ground type.
    • Ash's Pikachu is able to affect Ground-types with its electricity due to sheer training, despite that this feat is virtually impossible to duplicate in the games.
      • "PIKACHU! THE HORN!" Enough has been said.
      • Something similar happens in Pokémon Special, when Red's Pikachu is able to take out Brock's Onix with a well-placed Thundershock[1].
    • While not a type advantage, Ash used his Pikachu to defeat Lt. Surge's Raichu. The theme of that episode was that technique trumps power.
    • Ash's Taillow/Swellow, who was able to take electric-type attacks better than your average flying type. At the very least, it's treated In-Universe as an anomaly.
    • Ash's Oshawott handles this in a more practical and visually consistent manner: he uses a shell to deflect electric attacks, which would otherwise be devastating to a Water-type like him.
  • In One Piece, Luffy, being a rubber man, is immune to Enel's electricity-based powers. However, Enel finds ways to hurt Luffy anyway by applying electricity indirectly, culminating in his tossing Luffy overboard with a gigantic gold sphere attached to his wrist serving as an anchor. Luffy defeats Enel as soon as he gets out of the mess, but Enel did turn what should've been a Curb Stomp Battle into one where he had the edge.
  • A non-advantage example: the scene in the Bastard!! anime where Dark Schneider, lacking appropriate Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors spells, takes out a fire elemental with a fire spell.
  • In Ragnarok the Animation, The Dragon Zephyr performed a One-Hit Kill on Moonlight Flower using Lord of Vermillion, a wind-element spell which Moonlight normally employs No Sell on! Well, as part of Story and Gameplay Segregation, of course.
  • During the Sisters Arc of To Aru Kagaku no Railgun, Frenda Seivelun made the mistake of underestimating Level 5 Electromaster Misaka Mikoto by using ceramic, the strongest insulator of electricity, against her. Unfortunately, however, ceramic doesn't take heat very well.
  • In Fairy Tail Natsu is able to withstand any of Todomaru's fire spells as he devours fire. Todomaru reacts by using a special fire that smells like garbage. During the same battle, Natsu manages to beat Todomaru's flame control out of sheer will.


  • The Green Lantern Corps have repeatedly defeated Sinestro and his organization, despite the Green Lanterns being weak to yellow and the Sinestro Corps' ability to generate yellow objects.
  • Ghost Rider: The Ghost Rider manages to defeat water-based powers with his fiery abilities.
  • Some of Superman's villains are powered by kryptonite or have kryptonite parts, such as Cyborg Superman and Metallo.

Live Action TV

Video Games

  • During the first level of Der Langrisser, A horseman commander named Laird takes on an army of spearmen, which normally wouldn't end well at all, but that spearman squad is pretty much doomed unless you can end the battle early.
  • In general Pokémon gameplay, you can override type advantages by simply being much stronger than all opponents. Even the Elite Four can be defeated by a single starter if it's at level 100.
    • An easy way is to use a move that removes immunities. For instance, having a Pokemon with the ability, Scrappy, means that Normal-type and Fighting-type moves can hit Ghost-types, which are normally unaffected.
    • Even without other types of moves, it is possible for a moderately powerful Fire-Type to take down or at least cause considerable damage to a Rock-Type with a strong Fire Move, since most Rock-Types despite their natural resistance to Fire have subpar special defense (When out of sandstorm at least) and most popular Fire attacks (Like Fire Blast and Flamethrower) are special.
  • In Fire Emblem, winged units are weak to bows, but bow users can't attack at close range, and winged units have a Move advatage. This tends to end poorly for bow users, and it's part of why exclusive bow users are a Tier-Induced Scrappy.
    • Theirs also times where a Pegasus/Falcon Knight will have evade high enough that the archers won't be able to hit her, literally avoiding her weakness and then counter attack with javelins that WILL hit the archers.
    • Also, in Sword Of Seals lances are so bad and swords so good a match between users of both has a good chance of ending better for the sword user, despite losing the Tactical Rock-Paper-Scissors. Lances got a much needed buff the next game and swords a slight Nerf.
    • The trinity of Lances, Axes, and Swords in general could count; while the combatants get bonuses or penalties to their damage and accuracy depending on whether or not their weapon trumps the other, a powerful enough character can go up against a weapon they're weak against and still win without much trouble.
  • This can happen fairly often in Battle for Wesnoth, given how time-of-day, terrain, applications of mobility, and special abilities like charging or magical attacks can easily turn the tables as to what counters what. Simply selecting the correct unit types is not enough to ensure victory.

Web Comics

  • In The Order of the Stick, Vaarsuvius is able to almost defeat an enemy wizard who's tailored not just his spell preparation, but his entire build specifically to counter V's evoker blaster-caster tactics. S/he dominates an enemy archer and uses said archer's physical arrows to bring down hir foe where direct application of magical firepower could not. A careless mistake at the end of the fight prevents him from truly winning.

Real Life

  • This is the entire idea behind Wild Weasel missions and the aircraft designed and armed to fly them. Seeing as Surface-to-Air Missile sites are deployed far behind the front lines, ground forces can't take them out effectively. So what's the air force to do? Fight back.
  • The result of many interactions depend on the quality or quantity of the opposing forces. A breeze can blow out a candle but can spread a wildfire. Enough dirt will swallow water, enough water will wash away dirt.
  • In certain competitions self imposed rules and exhibition games often give expert competitors disadvantages to see if they can still win, like winning with a low tier character in a video game.
  • Scissors can cut slate rock.


  1. Onix is a Rock/Ground dual-type Pokemon
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