Awesome Yet Practical

    Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

    People love things that look cool and flashy. Unfortunately, you frequently end up with flashy-looking things that don't actually work very well. On the flip side, you get things that work well, but aren't particularly interesting or impressive. Can't there be a happy medium?

    Well yes, there can. Combining the best aspects of Awesome but Impractical and Boring but Practical is Awesome Yet Practical. It's flashy and awesome, but without sacrificing functionality. These are things that are just as awesome to watch as they are to use. These are the things that you'll find being used all the time, because when they're both useful and cool... well, why not use them all the time?

    Compare Simple Yet Awesome, which is less impressive to see but just as awesome anyway.

    Examples of Awesome Yet Practical include:

    Anime and Manga

    • Blood+: Solomon's Blade Below the Shoulder. Simple, refined, and capable of cutting through practically anything.
    • In Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, things are powered by awesome, so being awesome makes it practical by definition! Best seen early in the series when Simon tries to take the Boring but Practical route to Combining Mecha and just climb up Kamina's Gurren with his Lagann. Kamina attacks him until he does it more awesomely. And it really does work better that way!
    • The Rasengan and Kage Bunshin/Shadow Clone Jutsu as part of Naruto Uzumaki's arsenal. So simple tricks...but so highly effective in battle. Even moreso when he uses his Super Mode{s}.
      • When Kimimaro's illness renders him paralyzed, he moves by using his ability to manipulate his skeleton.
      • In the same vein as Kimimaro, Nagato can't really move his legs but he can send six bodies that are strong enough to take on Konoha and win.
      • Minato's Rasengan was even more awesome (as well as more efficient) than Naruto's, if only because he could form it almost instantly and without having to use Shadow Clones. During his fight with Tobi, he was even able to initiate it right after reappearing from using the Flying Thunder God 2.0, just milliseconds before he slammed down on Tobi.
      • Susano'o when used by Madara Uchiha. When either Sasuke or Itachi use it, they are always limited to how much they can maintain it. Madara doesn't have to worry about it. Not only that, unlike Sasuke or Itachi's versions, his has legs and thus isn't limited by mobility. And his full, Perfect Susano'o form even sports a Badass Longcoat and is as big as a skyscraper!
    • Bleach: Kenpachi Zaraki's entire schtick in battle is about this. He's the only captain in Soul Society who doesn't know the name of his zanpakuto, and thus can't achieve bankai or even shikai, meaning he can't use all those fancy tricks and abilities that his fellow captains can. But who needs fancy tricks when you're a fountain of raw, unlimited power, to the point that you need to use Power Limiters just to have a fair fight with anyone?
      • Ichigo was also like this before he started getting all those hollow abilities. His zanpakuto may not be able to turn into a multi-segmented sword with teeth, or millions of tiny razor-sharp blades, or a giant bug-thing that breathes poison gas, but not only does he have raw, unlimited power just like Kenpachi, but his bankai is just a simple, normal-sized sword...that's able to take all that power (most of which was just being wasted anyway) and focus it until he achieves Lightning Bruiser status.
      • Speaking of millions of tiny razor-sharp blades, Byakuya is this trope incarnate. Besides having mastered most forms of kido (such that he can use high end spells without having to use incantations) and flash steps, Senbonzakura, aka the Pink Petals of Death, is not only one of the most effective (and brutal) zanpakutos out there, but also one of the most versatile. Byakuya can manipulate the blades to form a multitude of purposes, such as forming a barrier against incoming attacks to surrounding his opponents in a sphere of pedals or free flying swords or simply forming it around himself to initiate a final close range attack.
    • Undefeated Bahamut Chronicle: To Lisesharte, the best Drag-Rides (Mini-Mecha shaped like dragons) are this trope. She uses drills as an example. Later on she pulls off a Big Damn Heroes moment using one.

    Fan Works

    • George's closet in With Strings Attached. A side effect of his shapeshifting ring is the ability to hold something and change into himself not holding it, thus storing it in “some unfathomable limbo” until he changes into himself holding it again. In practice it looks like he can simply will things into existence! And he can store huge amounts of stuff in there, too, so that the four are never burdened with supplies.


    • Indy has the scene in the market where a swordsman comes, and he decides to pull off his gun.
    • Jackie Chan's movies are famous for the wire-free stunts he pulls, frequently baffling his enemies with Roof Hopping and running across a pool. Among his most famous include clog dancing shoes (a very hard surface), using the added kicking range of stilts to his advantage and making a folding ladder into a credible weapon.
      • However, the outtakes at the end of his films certainly call the practicality of some his weapon choices into question.
    • Crocodile Dundee: When a gang member tries to rob him and pulls out a switchblade, Dundee gets him to back off just by pulling out his own awesomely gruesome-looking hunting knife.


    • Snow Crash's Y.T., a skateboard courier who carries packages in urban environments, has a device mounted on her skateboard to help her avoid splattering herself on glass walls at 40 mph. It emits a sonic blast that's compared to an airplane crashing into a tarp stretched over a stadium.
      • Skateboarding to a delivery wouldn't be practical without the additionally awesome magnetic grapple to steal tows from passing vehicles.

    Live Action TV

    • The Batman series had the Riddler once get the perfect burglary tool; a rare wax that is a powerful corrosive that can eat through thick steel or concrete within a few minutes, is practically silent in use and a pocketful is all you need, yet it is perfectly safe to handle until you expose it to direct flame.

    Tabletop Games

    • BattleTech features a somewhat more literal example than most. In an era where new tech was being rapidly introduced (the 3050s), there existed an assault 'mech that was a paragon of old tech. Max armor, four powerful weapons, heat sinks to fire them repeatedly, electronic countermeasures to disable some new tech, and it was affordable for a 'mech. Its only real weakness was its sluggishness, but assault 'mechs were never meant to be quick. The name of this particularly machine? The Awesome. See for yourself!
    • Yu-Gi-Oh's Synchro Monsters can be seen like this. They are typically easy to summon, can be put into virtually any deck, have powerful effects, and are generally cool in design. Stardust Dragon in particular is so useful and easy to use, it is one of the most dominating cards in its metagame. In fact, most of the awesome cards (mostly Synchro) featured in Yu-Gi-Oh 5 Ds are this, Shooting Star Dragon and Red Nova Dragon being the big examples. Xyz monsters in Yu-Gi-Oh Ze Xal take it to the next level, being even easier to summon, despite most of them become almost useless when out of Xyz materials.
    • In Magic: The Gathering, the game designers like powerful, tournament-dominating cards to be splashy, exciting, and fun to play, so it's common to see splashy, exciting, and fun cards intentionally pushed up in power level. Planeswalkers are a great example: not only do they have their own unique card type, but their characters are designed to be the face of the game, so the developers make sure to give them powerful abilities. Jace, the Mind Sculptor in particular quickly gained a dominating presence in multiple tournament formats.
    • In Warhammer 40,000, the Tau tend to be this. They employ battlesuits, high-tech weapons, and similarly high-grade armor and equipment for even their most basic infantry. Each trooper has a tremendously powerful energy rifle and armor on par with the best available in the Imperial Guard, not to mention a helmet chock-full of useful tech. And when working with plasma weapons, they simply reduced the power output marginally and managed to make it perfectly safe to use while not compromising its ability to virtually nullify any form of infantry armor. Unfortunately, the only area their tech doesn't cover is close combat. That came back to bite them when...
      • ...the Dark Eldar employed this trope with their Grotesques and Wracks, which are essentially just fleshy abominations created by the Haemonculi. In one incident, the Dark Eldar were temporarily allied with the Tau, predominantly using the Wracks/Grotesques to stand toe-to-toe with the Tyranids when the long-range Tau couldn't. It didn't work out for the tau when the Dark Eldar broke the alliance.
    • In Pathfinder and editions of Dungeons & Dragons before 4th, magic users. Let's use the Wizard and the Cleric as prototypes. Wizards got spectacularly flashy attack spells which could fill the air with flame and lightning, could shape change, teleport, turn an enemy into an ally, control a person's mind, turn party members invisible, and call forth illusions capable of fooling the enemy. Clerics could call down holy fire, restore sight to the blind, bring the dead back to life, and banish demons with a sternly worded wagging of their fingers. Both classes were a Game Breaker in most editions once they overtook the linear warriors. A poorly played wizard was still a terrifying damage dealer. A good player could run over a new GM with their powers. A great player sometimes had to intentionally Nerf themselves just to avoid ruining the game for everyone.

    Professional Wrestling

    • This trope is featured all across the board in today's professional wrestling. Flashy moves are the norm in modern pro wrestling, especially in and around the cruiserweight division, but moves that are as devastating as they are cool to look at can be found across all styles and sizes. Generally the more agile the competitors, the more outlandish maneuvers you'll see to the point that they can be somewhat convoluted. As previously mentioned, the smaller weight divisions is where you'll see the most awe-inspiring and tricky techniques as their small sizes make them more acrobatic than the lumbering massive wrestlers of the heavyweight division.

    Video Games

    • Persona 4 has your teammates have a chance, at Social Link level 3, to perform follow-up attacks, assuming you knock down an enemy. Basic party member Yosuke gets your standard Critical Hit, but Chie uses the incredibly effective "Galactic Punt." Chie will target a random enemy, up to and including mid-bosses that aren't downed, and kick them into the stratosphere, complete with A Twinkle in the Sky to signal the fact you just scored a one-hit kill. And yes, you do still get EXP and Yen from it.
      • And it still counts as knocking down the target, so you can follow up with an All-Out Attack if everyone else is knocked down, too.
    • Prototype has a ton of this. Most notable is probably hijacking helicopters. The easiest way to get onto one in order to steal it? Karate kick.
    • In Famous is, unsurprisingly, similar to Prototype in this. The final move calls lightning from the skies to smite your foes, which is easily the most effective way to defeat normal enemies, and even the final boss takes good damage from it.
      • The sequel has Ice Launch, which not only looks awesome but launches you up a good two storeys, allowing you to avoid climbing smaller buildings and only consuming a small amount of energy.
    • Counter Attacks and Stealth Kills in Assassin's Creed. Ridiculously badass looking? Check. The most reliable way of systematically depopulating the Holy Land/Renaissance Italy? Double check!
    • BioShock (series). Electric buckshot. Bam.
    • Pokémon games have Surf, a move normally used on the world map. Unlike the other comparable moves (Flash, Fly, Dig, etc), Surf is actually worth using in battle as well, being on par with pure-combat moves like Earthquake, Flamethrower, Thunderbolt, and Ice Beam.
    • The mighty Tidal Wave attack in Vanguard Bandits. It does so much damage most enemies blocking it from the front will take more damages then lesser hits to the rear. It's fairly accurate, and the costs for it are so reasonable that you can use it twice a round with little consequence.
    • Vikings in StarCraft II. VTOL capability, twin miniguns, and with careful work they can dominate much more expensive units like Carriers and Battlecruisers.
      • What, no Siege Tank? Excellent in offense AND defense, plus their transformation animation is always fun to watch.
    • The Bozar from Fallout 2. It's a minigun that is accessible early, needs only medium skill in big guns and fires what is probably the most common ammo in the game. The consumption rate is still very high (as appropriate for a minigun) though, but at least it's far easier to get more ammo for it than for the Vindicator.
    • Resident Evil 4: Leon can use Suplex Finisher, which, not only looks darned cool, is almost guaranteed one hit kill, and even stops Plaga monsters coming out of their necks.
    • Just Cause 2: There is, almost literally, no situation that cannot be solved with the grappling hook. You can flip over vehicles to cut short a chase, you can quickly jump onto any vehicle, you can easily climb skyscrapers, and combining it with the parachute provides a sweet form of transportation.
    • Final Fantasy XII: Quickenings eat up MP, but they a) pause the battle while they're being used, preventing enemies from acting, b) are capable of breaking the damage limit, letting them deal way more damage per MP used than any normal attack, c) is considered neither physical nor magical damage, thus ignoring any resistances the enemy has to either, d) can be chained together so the player can do 5-8 of them in a row, and e) look really damn cool.
      • Final Fantasy VIII has Zell's Limit Break, Duel. Quickly alternating between Punch Rush and Booya not only looks cool, but with good junctions the combo can potentially dish out the highest possible amount of damage in one turn.
    • The Shockwave biotic power from Mass Effect 2, at least on lower difficulties. It shatters enemy formations, instakills Husks, and has a tremendous range. And it looks amazing.
    • A lot of new guns introduced in Mass Effect 3.
      • The Javelin, a Geth sniper rifle that fires a thin stream of electrically charged ferrofluid. Same damage as the Widow, more accurate than the Black Widow variant, and it can shoot through thin barriers without the damage penalty associated with the armor-piercing ammo mod. The only problem is a brief delay between when the trigger is pulled and when it fires, but that's easily compensated for by a skilled player.
      • The Graal Spike Thrower, a Krogan shotgun that has modest weight and ammo capacity,(for a shotgun), high power, a cool name, the ability to bleed enemies dry on the battlefiled, and it works great in combination with the Biotic Charge. When fully upgraded, it does the most damage of any weapon in the game, tied with the M-300 Claymore, but it's only half as heavy as the aforementioned M-300.
      • The Scorpion, a Salarian heavy pistol that shoots proximity mines. Low ammo, but one or two direct hits are virtually guaranteed to kill enemies on foot.
      • The Phaeston, a massive Turian assault rifle with 50-shot ammo capacity, insanely good accuracy on full-auto, reasonable weight, and high damage against all defenses. There's really no reason you'd ever need another gun if you've got this one.
      • The M-358 Talon, a revolver that shoots heavy-gauge shotgun slugs. Short-ranged, but will kill pretty much anyone who gets anywhere near the user in one shot.
      • The Chakram Launcher is an assault rifle with good damage, great accuracy, and the ability to stagger enemies, puncture Guardian shields, or deliver a Charged Attack. It also fires glowing, razor-sharp discs that explode.
    • Torchlight has several:
      • The Alchemist's Ember Lightning. Visually awesome and shoots through walls.
      • The Vanquisher's Explosive Shot. BOOM!
    • Impactors from Sword of the Stars have a range matched only by missiles and deal excellent damage to boot. If the enemy gets them before you, expect to lose a lot of your ships before you manage to build up enough with the necessary anti-kinetic Deflector Shields.
    • Bullet Time in Max Payne. You can drop 13 people before they have a chance to get their fingers on the triggers. Not to mention the amount of times you'll be jumping around, firing your handguns akimbo.
    • EX Combos in Baten Kaitos Origins often take two or three turns to assemble, during which your characters are usually just taking hits. That being said, they're also the best way of dealing out tremendous damage, and in the later parts of the game, it's more efficient to spend five turns assembling one advanced combo than it is to just attack wildly and hope for the best. It doesn't hurt that lots of them look awesome.
    • The Thu'um in Skyrim. Being able to warp reality by shouting is definitely cool, and all of the Shouts are useful. And one of the most useful and entertaining Shouts is the very first one you get.
    • The Djinn and summon system of Golden Sun is very friendly to people that like fighting in style. Unleashing Djinn does remove their stat bonuses, but it gives you a powerful cost-free effect (whether just a really strong attack, healing/protecting/boosting the whole party, or something else) that then feeds into summons, which a) Look awesome, b) Do tons of damage, c) Raise the summoning character's power so their psyenergy does more damage, and d) mean you get your Djinn back in a turn or two if the summon didn't already end the battle. Of course, since Golden Sun encourages a lot of customization, an entirely different awesome but practical battle method is to conserve your djinn and acquire gear that will help release the devastatingly powerful Critical Hit attached to each weapon, filling any offensive or defensive gaps with psyenergy.
    • Alice: Madness Returns has the Teapot Cannon, the Noob Tube of Wonderland. Infinite ammo, no friendly splash damage, and more shots between cooldowns after upgrading. Whether or not you use your handheld ad-hoc artillery at 1 feet or 50 away from your target is simply up to personal preference.
    • For players of X3: Terran Conflict and Albion Prelude with a good supply train for munitions, M7M Missile Frigates can single-handedly level sectors with Macross Missile Massacre.
    • Most of the magic in Dark Souls is really cool, and almost all of the spells are lifesavers in the right situations. Iron Flesh in particular turns you into a slow but durable Chrome Champion that can tank just about anything the game throws at you.
    • The Glaive in Dark Sector. Awesome to look at, awesome to use, and almost always useful. Small wonder the normally wangsty protagonist stops complaining so much about his transformation after he gets it.
    • Vanquish turned this trope into a video game. Everything Sam Gideon is capable of doing in battle looks frickin' sweet but also serves a greater purpose (AR Mode attaches target identifiers to all available targets so you can pick them apart while you're still slowed down, boosting is like doing a rock and roll power slide but at 50 mph in the heat of battle, the list goes on).
    • The Medi-Gun in Team Fortress 2. The Medic is absolutely the rock of the team, supplying everyone with heals. This is accomplished by a real sweet backpack hooked up to a gun that shoots people with glowing tendrils of light. The Uber-Charge only makes it more awesome; for seven seconds both the medic and his patient are glowing, invulnerable metallic demons of death.
    • Many ultimate abilities of League of Legends champions fall under this, particularly those belonging to burst damage based characters once you get their cooldowns sufficiently lowered. Special note goes to Lux's Finales Funkeln: Good damage, once of the longer ranges in the game, and can be used as frequently as every 24 seconds, with the right gear.
    • Most of the weapon-mods in Borderlands fall into this category. Electric guns laugh in the face of shields and can very briefly stun enemies; fire guns do a good burst and damage over time; acid guns do less damage over time than fire but also lower armor value so the target takes more damage; and finally explosive guns do fairly good damage with an area of effect. And then there's the named shotgun that shoots missiles an entire magazine at a time, which are two rare mods stuffed into one weapon. About the only reason you'd ever pick up a non-elemental weapon over an elemental one is if it's got disproportionately high damage or you just haven't found an elemental of that type of weapon yet.
    • In the first The Godfather the automatic weapon wasn't much good unupgraded. In the sequel, however, the increased focused on mobility makes methodical headshotting with handguns hard to pull off, turning the automatic weapon into this. Large ammo capacity, More Dakka and better accuracy than the first game's version, what's not to like?

    Real Life

    • Martial arts. Each discipline is designed to incapacitate someone as efficiently as possible, and, as evidenced by televised boxing, MMA tournaments, et cetera, many people find them entertaining to watch.
    • Fire. Largely considered to be the most destructive primal force. Use it to cook a tasty meal, make weapons, or even as a weapon itself.
    • 3D Printers. Allow you to make virtually anything on demand easily from a variety of materials.
    • Nuclear Weaponry. Since their first and last deployments in World War II, they've become essentially a signal that a nation is now an advanced power, possessing the wealth, the infrastructure, and the knowledge base to create them. Largely due to their existence, disputes between the great power, though still, sadly, involving bloodshed, have become notably less violent and smaller scale. Like it or not, they're the only weapons ever created that really are effective deterrents, and a nuclear blast is most certainly an awe-inspiring event.
      • It helps that firing nukes precludes plundering the target.
    • The F-35 Lightning II (a.k.a. the Joint Strike Fighter) is intended to be this in comparison to contemporary fighter jets. In particular, it has a much lower price tag than the F-22 Raptor, has stealth coatings that don't need to be reapplied after every flight (F-117 Nighthawk), and the Marines' version features VTOL that doesn't allow exhaust to get sucked into the intakes (Harrier).
      • Sadly (for Americans anyway), the F-35 is turning into Awesome but Impractical. Much lower price? Not anymore (F-22 unit cost per plane $150 million, F-35 now at $122M to $184M). The stealth was in 2006 downgraded from "very low observable" to "low observable". In November 2011, a Pentagon study team identified 13 areas of concern that remained to be addressed in the F-35.
      • The F-22 itself went from Awesome Yet Practical to Awesome but Impractical, as the entire fleet has been grounded multiple times for suspected oxygen system problems. The F-22 has the highest accident rate of any USAF fighter aircraft in service.
    • Sharks. Though there are a large variety of shark species floating around today, sharks are one of only a handful of species whose basic form has remained unchanged since prehistoric times, others including crocodiles and alligators. Sharks are no smarter, no stronger, no faster, and yet no less deadly than they were before humans' earliest ancestors showed up, and what this means is that all that time there was no need for them to improve.
      • And on land, wolverines. These things aren't much bigger than a medium-size dog—they'd come up to a man's knee fully grown—but they can and do take down moose.
    • The USAF's A-10 Thunderbolt. A truly awe inspiring machine that fulfills its function very well.
    • One of the reasons powerful people used to like resplendent clothes in the past even more then now was just for the heck of it of course(and in principle there is nothing wrong with that though in the wrong context it is rubbing it in a little to much to the less lucky). Another reason was of course to advertise their importance. A third reason though was that one of the best ways to keep your treasure from being pilfered in your absence was to wear it. Of course then you have to worry about it being pilfered while you wear it. But if you are that rich either you were already trained to fight or have a trustworthy enforcer with you.
    • The B-52 bomber. Originally intended to deliver nuclear weapons it has of course fortunately not been used for that purpose. However it has remained in service for decades because its tremendous payload and endurance allows it to be a surprisingly good area-effect tactical bomber. That is it essentially fires an airborne artillery barrage. In later times miniaturisation and advancements in computers have allowed greater subtlety, for the payload is more useful then ever when each round is a smart weapon.
    • Parahawking: paragliding with trained birds of prey "in an effort to advance the interaction between man and bird, and to provide a unique opportunity to interact with birds of prey in their own environment". As in, the falconer flies on a paraglider, while the bird scouts ahead for thermals. This pastime was invented by Scott Mason — somewhat surprisingly, in 2001, after the niche was before everyone's eyes for decades (less surprisingly, in Nepal).