Cutting the Knot

    Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

    Nothing keeps me from my cheese.
    "Ask any fighter: A hammer is just a really heavy set of lockpicks."

    Here at All The Tropes, we don't advocate violence... we're just saying it works and we highly suggest using it!

    The hero has only a limited amount of time to do something, be it rescue, transport, repair, or simply Outrun the Fireball, but has a problem. Namely, a very complicated problem that would need time to solve, time the hero definitely doesn't have. After trying (or not trying) in vain to solve the problem the technical way, the hero just shrugs it and Takes A Third Option, namely, by getting rid of the problem altogether, often through violence. When the smart character is trying to get a way around it and the dumb character resorts to violence, the dumb character is often Too Dumb to Fool. When the Leader tramples over objections to prevent Divided We Fall, this often comes into play.

    Often parodied, most often where the hero tries to destroy the problem, only to succeed in destroying everything but the problem.

    Compare: Take a Third Option; Indy Ploy; Dungeon Bypass; Steal the Surroundings; Open Says Me; Debate and Switch (if this is done to a moral rather than physical problem); Impossible Task (what this trope is often the only solution to), and There Was a Door.

    Heroes who make a habit of doing this may boast that We Do the Impossible.

    Examples of Cutting the Knot include:

    Myth And Legend

    • The Ur Example and Trope Namer was the mythical, impossibly complex Gordian knot that, the oracles predicted, could only be untied by the future king of Asia. Alexander the Great tried in vain to untie it and then, when that didn't work, simply drew his sword and sliced it in two. Other versions of the story are the exact opposite of the trope, however, with Alexander finding a clever way to untie the knot without cutting it, like where he basically removes the main object that the knot was apparently wrapped around, thus loosening its entire structure; the equivalent of leveling a building by removing its foundation.

    Anime and Manga

    • Yu-Gi-Oh!
      • In one episode where the main characters are doing the Indy Escape. When they run out of places to... well, run, Honda turns around and punches the boulder as it's about to crush them. It pops. Turns out it was a balloon with a speaker inside.
      • Also, the episode in which Kaiba literally crashes Pegasus' mainframe--he smashes it with a satellite.
    • Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha's famous Dungeon Bypass to take out Quatro. So much for a ship full of super defenses, eh?
    • In one chapter of Keroro Gunsou, the Keroro Platoon has been beefing up the security on their base when Oka Nishizawa, Momoka's Action Mom, comes calling for apparently sinister purposes. The first obstacle they present her with is a heavily-encrypted electronic lock on the mini-fridge that serves as the entrance to their base. Oka almost immediately rips the door off its hinges.
    • During the Hunter exam arc in Hunter X Hunter, the group is confronted with two doors: one leads to a short path to the exit, but only allows one person to pass, while the other has a long path (and will take too long for them to get to the exit in time) but will allow them all. Either one can make it, or no one? They take the third option to go through the second one, and then break down the wall between the passages to get to the shorter one. It takes a lot of effort, but it's faster than the long passage would have been. Later Gon beats a guy who rotated super-fast to defend himself by ripping the floor out from under him.
    • The Big O
      • In one episode, Roger is about to open a door using a high-tech device that would form the key for a lock when inserted, just before Dorothy just breaks the door open. ...with a one-handed push.
      • In the last episode Roger lampshades this trope when he was unconscious underwater and Dorothy was unable to give him the oxygen. So she simply busts the oxygen tank to fill the cockpit with oxygen. Roger asks why she couldn't have been more gentle, such as using Mouth To Mouth. (He wouldn't have asked that if he knew how small her internal tank was, apparently.)
    • In Mouse, one ancient challenge was to figure out how to untie this extremely hard knot. Alexander the Great solved it by simply cutting it. So to make the next one more challenging, they made the second knot out of metal chains.
    • In Phi Brain Kami no Puzzle, Daimon Kaito is trapped in a Fool's Puzzle in the form of a burning tower. Ideally, he would use a maze of elevators to reach the top where the goal is, but the flames have risen high enough to block the route. His solution is to break off the door of one of the elevators so that he can jump off when it passes a floor that will let him take the route to the goal.

    Comic Books

    • The first arc of The Losers has team tech Jensen having to copy the secure hard drives of Goliath, an oil company. When security finds out about the operation and exchange fire with his friends, he hacks the outer casing with an axe and pries the thing out whole.
    • Watchmen features the Gordian Knot Lock Company (one of many companies owned by Ozymandias, who fancies himself a new Alexander the Great). Rorschach breaks the door down. Several times. This is actually a clue as to Ozymandias' endgame: the U.S. and Soviet Union are on the verge of nuclear war, and have been at each other's throats for so long that it has become impossible to untangle them from their conflict. So he plans to cut the knot by introducing a third side for them to unite themselves against--an genetically engineered monster that he teleports to New York, killing half the city. What's frightening is that--at least initially--it works.
    • In Incredible Hercules the title character is presented with a game of dark elven chess that he must solve to pass the Test of Mind. He responds by referencing The Kobayashi Maru (Not The Kobayashi Maru, but Kirk's handling of it), saying that when faced with an impossible situation one should change the rules of the game, and knocks over the table. Princess Alfyse is delighted with his resourcefulness, while her adviser starts to point out that it's not an impossible situation, he just had to move the rook...
      • It wasn't Hercules's resourcefulness the princess was admiring.
    • In Justice League, Batman loses in a fight to Prometheus because he downloaded the fighting abilities of several great martial artists. In the rematch, Batman wins because he switched that disc with another, containing the fighting skills of Professor Stephen Hawking.

    Huntress: Did I see you cheating?
    Batman: Winning.



    • In the film Men in Black, J is taking a test with several other potential MIB candidates. The written part of the test is administered in a room with a large table surrounded by several egg-shaped chairs, although the table is out of reach. J is the only one to think of pulling the table closer to him so he can use it.
    • In the new Casino Royale, James Bond pursues a freerunning enemy who nimbly scales obstacles and slips through narrow gaps. Bond finds more simple but equally effective means of traversing obstacles, such as running straight through a plaster wall.
    • A similar thing happens in Johnny English Reborn (a parody of spy movies and takes quite a few cues from James Bond). While chasing someone, the sequence goes as follows: Opponent climbs over a fence. Johnny opens the door. Opponent uses parkour. Johnny uses a ladder. Opponent jumps across a gap and onto a building. Johnny uses a crane carrying a load of bricks to send himself across. Opponent scales scaffolding to get down. Johnny uses the lift.
    • In GoldenEye, the villains make their getaway in a car into a crowded Russian street. Bond commandeers a tank and drives through a wall.
    • This is practically Indiana Jones' hat (well, other than the cool fedora).
      • When Jones is confronted by a swordsman, he simply shoots him.
      • In the case from The Last Crusade where Indy and his father are in a zeppelin looking to make their escape from Berlin. Suddenly Indy notices an SS officer looking for them. How exactly does one evade a search by a powerful faction in a confined yet public place with lots of witnesses and no place to hide? Well, you could knock out a member of the zeppelin's staff, disguise yourself in his clothes, hit the officer with a surprise attack and throw him out the window. Then, when the witnesses stare at you incredulously, simply point to the window and say "No ticket."
      • In Raiders of the Lost Ark, when Indy sneaks into a Nazi U-boat base, he could continue sneaking around, staying out of sight. Or he could knock out a guard and steal the guard's clothes. And then, after finding that the guard's clothes are too small for him, he could bluff his way out of trouble when a larger superior officer mistakes him for the guard and begins lecturing him for his poor appearance, or he could knee the superior in the balls, knock the superior out too, then steal clothes that will actually fit.
    • In Big Trouble in Little China, the heroes are trying to enter an elevator but the door is jammed. Jack Burton hauls out a knife and cuts through the wall to get in, which works because the wall is made of paper.
    • In Terminator 2:
      • Miles Dyson starts to explain how to open the container holding the robot arm, but is interrupted by John breaking it.
      • Also, when his keycard isn't working to open a door earlier in the scene, he is interrupted by Arnie blowing it up.

    Miles: "My personal access code might still work... no good."
    Terminator: *hefts grenade launcher* "Let me try mine."

      • When John Connor, in a phone box, asks Arnie if he has a quarter for a phone. Arnie smashes open the phone's money box, picks up a quarter, and hands it to John.
    • The Fifth Element gives us the Corben Dallas method of negotiating a dangerous hostage situation:

    Corben: Anyone else wanna negotiate?


    Breaker: What you'll have to do is rewire the laser panel's brain by--
    Snake Eyes stabs the panel
    Breaker: --or you could just stab it.

    • MacGruber (The Movie) sees the eponymous hero confronted with a nuclear missile that's about to launch. He looks at the complicated wiring, panics, and declares he doesn't know how to defuse it. His allies express their disappointment and the villain basically says "I Knew It!" which Mac replies that he wasn't finished. He does know how to rip out the guidance computer, the plutonium, and a couple of other critical parts. The missile will still explode, but it won't go anywhere before it does and it won't be nuclear.
    • The first Tomb Raider movie: Lara Croft finds the old clock containing the Plot Coupon (conveniently in her own basement), and her Smart Guy tries to disassemble it carefully and slowly, keeping track of which screw goes where. Lara will have none of it and smashes the clock to pieces with a hammer.
    • In Werner Herzog's The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser (a.k.a. Every Man for Himself And God Against All), the title dolt confounds a doctor who asks him a version of the Knights and Knaves problem. Kaspar's response: "I would ask him if he is a tree-frog." It Makes Sense in Context.
    • In the movie Sneakers, Robert Redford's character is faced with a locked door and keypad and asks for advice over his earpiece on how to disable it. After several moments of a one sided conversation with Redford saying "mm hmm... uh huh... yeah," he says "Okay, I'll give it a shot," and kicks in the door.
    • Sky Captain and The World of Tomorrow. Sky Captain tries to figure out a way to get into Dr. Jennings' lab. Polly smashes the window, reaches in and unlocks the door.

    Polly: It's open.

    • Patton. During the invasion of Sicily an entire column of troops is being held up by a couple of stubborn donkeys on a bridge. After his subordinates try to push, pull and cajole them out of the way, Patton steps up, delivers a bullet to each of their brains and has them tossed off the bridge.
      • In a non-violent method, he comes to a cross road with two caravans of vehicles trying to both get by at the same time. He pulls rank and stands in the cross road, ordering one vehicle from one group to go by, then one from the other group. All they needed was a traffic cop directing them but it took a general to do it.
    • In the Day Watch, Tamerlane spends a while examining the ways into the maze guarding the Chalk of Fate, before realizing it would be a lot easier to simply blast through the walls themselves to get to the middle.
    • In RED (film) Frank has to break into a secret archive in the basement of CIA headquarters. He gets right to the door but it is protected by a state-of-the-art biometric system that he cannot break or subvert. However, it is not an actual vault but a converted file room so the walls around the door were built by a lowest bid government contractor. He simply smashes through the drywall around the door.
    • In seemingly every buddy cop movie, there is a scene wherein a character will attempt to open a door with lock picks or some other delicate method, whilst his street smart friend will simply kick the door in.
    • In the Robert Downey Jr./Guy Ritchie version of Sherlock Holmes, Holmes takes out a very professional looking lockpicking kit to open up a locked door. Watson just kicks the thing down.
    • Near the end of I, Robot the enemy shuts a critical panel on the protagonists. Turns out that the panel isn't as tough as maverick cop Detective Spooner's mechanical arm. Said arm comes in use again soon after when they have to descend several stories to get to VIKI's core processor, because a mechanical arm isn't compromised by having its skin flayed off. Still hurts like hell though.
    • Jurassic Park III has one of the characters finding a row of vending machines, pulling out change and counting how much he needs. One of the other characters, remembering that they're on an abandoned island, simply walks up and kicks through the display window of the next vending machine and takes what he wants. Then the first guy tries it on his vending machine, and completely fails.
    • In Captain America: The First Avenger, one drill sergeant tells the recruits that if they can get a flag off the flagpole, they won't need to finish their run and can take a ride back to base. After everyone fails to climb up the flagpole, Steve Rogers takes out the screws at its base, causing it to fall over, removes the flag, and gives it to the sergeant.
    • In Ever After, the servants are trying to get Danielle out of the cabinet her mother locked her up in. Feeling that it is useless to pick the lock, Da Vinci comes over, simply pulls out the hinges to the door and opens it that way. Da Vinci comically lampshades this.

    Servant: That was genius!
    Da Vinci: Yes. I will go down in history as a man who opened a door.

    • In The Last Unicorn Schmendrick tries various spells to free the unicorn. After a few unsuccessful tries he produces a set of keys he has stolen that will open the cage.
    • In the film of The Bourne Identity, both Jason and Marie get in on this. Jason makes a complicated plan to get some information on one of his other identities from a hotel, but Marie simply walks up to the hotel manager, introduces herself as the personal assistant to "John Michael Kane", and asks for a photocopy of his hotel bill. Later, Marie and Jason are trying to get into Marie's cousin's house to hide. Marie starts looking for the spare key, but Jason rams the door open with his shoulder.
    • Played with in Blue Streak. Martin Lawrence's character is a professional jewel thief, trying to steal a large diamond under heavy security. Him and his apprentice get to the safe. The pro asks the rookie (in a quiz-like fashion) how to open the safe. The rookie starts rattling off the procedure. The pro stops him and tells him that step one is to check if the door is open. Naturally, he's just kidding. The safe is locked.


    • In the Artemis Fowl series, Holly had to defeat a number of projected holographic opponents as part of her entrance exam to the LEP. Rather than fight with all of the holograms, she simply shot the projector. They had to pass her because she technically defeated every single opponent.
    • Discworld:
      • The Last Hero includes a reference to the Tsortean Knot, followed by a scene in which Cohen the Barbarian (disguised as a god) is asked to prove his divinity by rolling a 7 on a six-sided die. He solves it by rolling the die and cutting it in half on its way down. He further lampshades it, referring to his task as "a knotty one."
        • According to Norwegian folklore, King Olaf did the same thing, thereby winning an island from the king of Sweden.
        • It should be noted that none of Cohen's barbarian horde were very impressed by the story, feeling that cutting it was rather a cheap move.
      • Another time Granny Weatherwax challenges three prospective witches to knock her hat off. Two of them decline to attempt, one concentrates and fails to do anything. She then asks Nanny Ogg to demonstrate, who then throws a stick at her head.

    Girl: Any of us could have done that!
    Granny: But you didn't.

        • This is a running theme in that particular book; the younger witches think witchcraft is about magic, while the older ones know that witchcraft is about having the capacity to think sensibly for three seconds in a row. When the younger witches still complain, Granny gets frustrated and obliges them by using magic to blow up Nanny's hat.
      • Also, apparently in the early days of the Watch, they had a sledgehammer that they referred to as "the search warrant." As in, "We're going to need to check his house for evidence. Don't forget to bring the search warrant."
    • Speaking of Olaf, or in this case Captain Sham, this is employed in book the third of A Series of Unfortunate Events to reveal Count Olaf's disguise to authority figures, with the author explaining the concept by name (Gordian Knot) immediately beforehand.
    • The novelization of the first Resident Evil title has a scene analogous to the "Armor Room" puzzle from the actual game. Instead of manipulating two statues to block the poison gas vents before pressing the button to unlock the crest kept under glass (as happens in the game), Jill simply uses the butt of her pistol to smash the case and grab the crest - an option that, sadly, is not available in the game itself.
    • In How Kazir Won His Wife, Kazir wants to marry the daughter of a king. The king, with one always-truthful daughter and one always lying daughter sets him a series of Knights and Knaves puzzles, ending with an impossible one: he must determine both the name and the marital status of one of the king's daughters, whose honesty he does not know, with a single yes/no question. one of the king's daughters elopes with Kazir
    • Myst: The Book of Atrus has Atrus and his father Gehn exploring the ruins of D'ni, searching for blank books. While scavenging, Atrus happens upon a door locked by a puzzle that could have come straight from the video games, and happily settles down to think his way through it... only to be disappointed when Gehn simply smashes the door apart, nicely foreshadowing the latter's approach to problem-solving.
    • In Phule's Company, similar to the 8-bit Theater example but earlier, the Omega Squad learns soon after Phule takes over that the fastest way to get through an obstacle course leaves it needing to be rebuilt.
    • Heinlein has a short story, "The Long Watch", wherein a nuclear engineer on the moon locks himself in a bunker (with all the nuclear warheads) to stop a rebelling office from taking control of them. His first thoughts are to defuse the "brain" circuits of each bomb, realizes he doesn't have enough time and ends up... smashing the plutonium with a hammer.
    • In The Princess Bride, Inigo and Fezzik are trying to get through Humperdinck's sinister and booby-trapped Zoo of Death. The first staircase has a mighty snake that Fezzik must overpower. The second staircase is pitch black with poisonous bats, requiring Inigo's superhuman sword skills to detect and skewer. The third and final staircase looks completely ordinary and harmless. Its trap is an extremely poisonous spider that will bite anyone who turns the doorknob. However, by this point, Fezzik is so scared that he rams through the door in a panic, not bothering to turn the knob. Then Inigo casually steps on the spider that emerges from the broken door.
    • In Animorphs, Puppeteer Parasite aliens try to infiltrate a major conference attended by several heads of state with the intention of infesting the majority of the world's leaders at once. The main characters try the stealthy sabotage route, which does not work. In the end they end up turning into elephants and rhinos and doing so much damage to the hotel that they have to cancel the whole event.
    • In Humans, a safe cracker explains his favorite method of opening a small wall safe - break the safe out of the wall and take it home with you, where you'll have all the time you need to open it any way you prefer.
      • Truth in Television: There have been reports of robberies where the perps will steal an entire cash register rather than try to break it open in the store.
        • Quite a few home safes are made with handles. They are actually intended as fire protection, but some people still keep valuables in them.
        • This one got subverted on one clip on Worlds Wildest Police Videos. The perp tried to steal the register, only to discover it was cable-locked to the counter. He ended up leaving empty-handed.
    • Fantastic Mr. Fox has a sequence where they need to choose who's going to jump over a fence with barbed wire, slide under tire spikes, etc, until one of them points out there's another path with no obstacles.
    • In the Dean Koontz novel The Face, Big Bad Corky Laputa is breaking into a secured area. The door is held in place with a chain latched with a massive padlock, one with an immensely thick metal clamp that bolt cutters will be useless against. Heck, Shoot Out the Lock might not even be an option! Corky ignores the lock completely and cuts the chain.
    • Averted in-universe in Bloodhound, where Beka is given a briefcase charmed for protection before setting out to Port Caynn. The spell is on the whole case, "none of this spelled-the-buckle-so-cut-the-leather nonsense."

    Live-Action TV

    • In the Stargate SG-1 episode "Full Circle", Carter, Jonas Quinn and the ascended Daniel are trying to find the Eye of Ra. They decipher where it is, but can't figure out how to open the compartment...until Carter, noting that they don't have much time, tells the other two to stand back, and shoots it open with her P90.
      • And much earlier, as Bra'tac is telling SG-1 of the convoluted series of tasks they have to do to destroy the shield generators, O'Neill busies himself with pulling the pins on a pair of frag grenades and dropping them down the hole.
      • O'Neill does this a lot. In fact one could almost describe cutting knots as his job on the team, just like Carter handles tech and Daniel handles talking and Teal'c handles asskicking.
      • Daniel, of all people, does this. After activating Merlin's library, Mitchell has to battle the Black Knight solid hologram guard outside. After unsuccessfully trying to turn it off, Daniel writes down everything he can and shoots the control crystals.
    • Done memorably by Ronon in the Stargate Atlantis episode "The Lost Tribe." Keller, clearly not knowing much about Ronon, starts rattling off the necessity of an elaborate series of computer commands to shut down systems and then lock the Wraith out. Ronon just starts blasting away at crystal trays until the right thing shuts down.
    • In Twin Peaks, Sheriff Truman gives Agent Cooper Laura Palmer's diary, saying that they haven't found the key yet. Cooper simply breaks the lock with his hands.
      • In another episode, a character finds a metal puzzle-box which he is supposed to tortuously figure out how to open. He blasts it a few times with a handgun, which opens it right up.
    • In Firefly, the crew is very keen on this approach, especially Mal. In the pilot episode "Serenity", he defuses a hostage situation which he just walked into by shooting the captor in the head without even breaking stride.
      • And this ends up in one of the comics leaving him with a crazy with a mechanical eye (Mal failed to kill the guy, just took his eye) working with the Hands of Blue to kill Mal and capture Simon and River. Needless to say, they fail. Epicly.
      • Or the episode where a Crime Lord's Dragon refuses to take back money from Mal for a job they couldn't complete, instead telling them how he'll come after them until he kills them all. Rather than create a Recurring Boss, Mal kicks the guy into the turbines of his spaceship. When they bring the next mook over to the same spot and restart the process, the mook immediately agrees to do whatever Mal says.
    • The Big Bang Theory
      • Penny has to get Sheldon's Flash drive from inside a puzzle box. Before he gives her the instructions on how to open it over the phone, Penny asks if he has any emotional attachment to the box. When Sheldon answers no, she simply smashes it open.
      • In another episode, Howard tries using a robot hand to pleasure himself. After Leonard and Rajesh run out of ideas of what to do, they take Howard to the Emergency Room. There, the Nurse suggests simply turning the hand off, and despite Howards pleas not to do so, she turns it off, and the hand lets go.
    • On All That, this was pretty much the M.O. of Kel Mitchell's Repair Man (Man man man man man...), who would "fix" problematic objects by simply destroying them completely. No more object, no more problem.
    • On Leverage Eliot disables a security camera by throwing a rock at it. Unusually, the Magical Security Cam doesn't apply in a show that likes its Hollywood security systems, and the guards come to find out why the camera went out.
    • The Tenth Kingdom sees a pair of doors near the end, when Tony and Virginia are trying to sneak into the castle. The creature guarding the doors is a talking frog, and he presents a variation of the Knights and Knaves scenario where, of course, one door leads to a horrible death. Tony, by now fed up with the bizarre rulesof life ina fairy tale universe, picks up the frog and tosses the protesting amphibian through one of the doors. Moments later there's a loud explosion from beyond the door, prompting Tony's remark that that one must have been the horrible death.
    • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
      • In the episode "Fear Itself", Anya asks Giles if he can make a door to rescue the trapped Scoobies in the haunted house. He says "I can", and instead of a mystical spell, whips out a chainsaw and starts cutting.
      • Buffy does this earlier in the series when fighting a demon called the Judge which is invulnerable to any weapon forged. Cue rocket launcher.
    • A similar thing happens in the Angel spinoff series when the group fight the beast - a nigh invulnerable demon - for the first time. Angel attacks it with his fists and a wooden stake to no avail, and one might expect Wesley being the ex watcher to whip out an enchanted blade or magical spell. Nope. Out come dual pistols. Then a shotgun. Unfortunately...
    • In Burn Notice, Michael spends most of an episode trying to gather enough evidence to get a war criminal extradited to his home country. When the plan falls through, he simply kidnaps him and ships him back home in a crate.
    • In the Torchwood episode "Meat," when the team tries to break into a warehouse, the following dialog ensues:

    Ianto: Did you bring the alarm deactivator?
    Owen: shoots alarm
    Ianto: Well, that's one way of doing it.

    • One episode of Bones has an actual corpse inside a Halloween maze made out of hay-bales. After spending some time trying to make their way through the maze normally, Booth gets frustrated, asks the policeman standing next to the corpse to toss his flashlight in the air, and barrels his way through walls until he reaches it.
    • An episode of Sesame Street had Mr. Hooper present Cookie Monster with a puzzle - make both of these plates (which contained cookies, naturally) look the same. After deliberating for a bit, Cookie Monster proceeded to eat all the cookies from both plates, thereby making both plates look the same (i.e. empty).
    • In the "Countdown" episode of Castle, Castle and Beckett are faced with a just-about-to-detonate dirty bomb with no sign of the bomb squad. Castle's response to this tricky situation is to simply grab all the wires he can see and yank them under the reasoning that one of them would have to shut the bomb off, and what's the worst that could happen. It works.
      • He's smart enough to do it after kissing Beckett.
    • In one episode of Titus, Titus is trying to formally propose to his girlfriend in the emergency room while both their families are there after a Thanksgiving brawl. Unfortunately, her thieving ex-con older brother has stolen it; though tied to a chair by the police officers who dragged him in for treatment, he still refuses to give up the ring. Titus asks his dad for help:

    Ken: You know, I never hit my boys. Instead, I took years to destroy their self-esteem and mold them into upstanding citizens. With you, I don't have that kind of time. Flicks his cigarette lighter, starts moving it towards Michael's face until Michael relents

    • In an episode of Supernatural, the only weapon that can kill the monster of the week is a sword trapped Excalibur-style inside a stone. Dean does at first try just pulling it out, confident that he's the brave knight the legend says can free the sword; when that doesn't work he switches to sticking explosives all over the rock. And manages to break the sword.
    • In a dream sequence on Gilligan's Island, someone tells the Skipper's character "Inspector Whatney", "Use your head, Inspector!" to defeat the vampire. The inspector head butts him. This works.
    • In one episode of NCIS, Abby's computer is being hacked by a person or system so fast and skilled that she can't stop them, even with super-nerd McGee's help. Gibbs' solution? Unplug the computer. In another episode, someone has set up an evil supercomputer, and when Abby And McGee are struggling to hack into it and shut it down before a countdown ends, Gibbs ends up just shooting the computer. Many times.
    • Truth in Television example: On Untold Stories of the ER, a patient who desperately needs surgery can't be treated at the small clinic where he's diagnosed, but his insurance won't pay for the ambulance service to take him to a bigger hospital. Unable to cut through the red tape to arrange transport for their patient, the doctors hit upon a counterintuitive solution: they call 911, which the ambulance service is contractually obliged to respond to, even when the call comes from a hospital.
    • On The Amazing Race, Season 11, Danny became frustrated while doing a Roadblock that involved finding and collecting old newspapers from locals in a Malaysian neighborhood, so he just went to a store and bought a bunch of papers to complete the task (though this would cause them further problems later in the race).


    • Red vs. Blue: Church is implanted with ten megaton bomb which proceeds to destroy the present and send everyone into the future, except for himself who instead gets sent into the past (don't ask). After returning to the present, Church makes several attempts to disarm the bomb in his former self only to be constantly met with failure, including making several copies of himself. At one point, his plan is as follows:

    Church: And then I teleported back and just decided to kill everybody that I could see.
    Other Church: Why did you do that?
    Church: Well... seemed like fun... think I went a little nuts there for a while...

      • Sarge uses his contingency plan when their attempt to bluff their way past the computer failed. The contingency plan being a shot gun.

    Tabletop Games

    Card Games

    • Notable Magic: The Gathering player Zvi Mowshowitz used the line "If brute force doesn't solve your problem, you're not using enough. Why not use more?" in a column on proper Magic strategy.
      • Even more so recently, because contrary to his original "famous" deck, Turbo Lands, his recent decks in the past season have all been super-aggressive aggro decks, with some of them winning on turn 3 or 4.

    Tabletop RPG

    • In Tabletop RPGs, players going Off the Rails frequently do this, much to the horror of the GM.
      • A hilarious example is seen in this DM of the Rings strip, where the players come across the doors to the Mines of Moria, completely ignore the riddle and instead rattle off several increasingly ludicrous ways of Cutting the Knot (picking the hinges, bashing the lock, breaking down the door, pouring water in the cracks to crack the door when it freezes, etc), culminating in the players getting ready to build a battering ram until the DM screams the answer in frustration.
    • In Ars Magica, this is part of the theme of House Tytalus, and part of the background has an apprentice to a mage challenged, as his final exam, to open a box which his master has spent a long time enchanting. After gearing up, and throwing every spell at it that he had, the apprentice kneels in front of his master, acknowledging that he was not ready to be a full mage. His master then walks over to the box and pulls the lid open. He hadn't locked it.
    • That door magically reinforced, locked, and likely to have a trap on it? No problem. Smash through the wall next to it.

    Video Games

    • In Portal 2, there is a point in which Wheatley must "hack" open a door. He tells you to turn around, then smashes the window, allowing Chell to portal herself into there.
      • He does the same thing when attempting a "manual override" on a wall.
    • In Tales of Eternia, the party encounters a gate that will not open unless they figure out how to open it from a riddle. As the party laments that The Smart Guy stayed behind, Max simply rams it open.
    • At the end of Brog's segment of Zork: Grand Inquisitor, he is confronted with a complicated puzzle guarding the Skull of Yoruk. After making a valiant effort to solve the puzzle, the solution presents itself in the form of smashing the cage open with a wooden plank.
      • Also, when stuck on the tech support hotline from hell (literally), you can copy down and work through the complicated set of rules to figure out which buttons to press... or just cast the "Simplify complex directions" spell left over from a previous puzzle.
    • In Second Sight at the end of the game, the Big Bad hides behind bullet/psi-proof glass. Too bad the frame wasn't psi-proof as well.
    • The fictional Book of Cataclysms from Syndicate Wars featured this passage:

    "When tact is required, use brute force. When force is required, use greater force. When the greatest force is required, use your head. Surprise is everything."


    Clank: It says, "Use wrench to break glass."
    Ratchet: *Pulls back his wrench*
    Clank: Hang on. *Looking at a smaller glass case with a rock inside* This one says, "Use rock to break glass to get wrench to break glass to get rock." Oooh! I love logic puzzles! Let's see, if you break the--

    Ratchet: *Having broken open the case with his own wrench* Solved it.
    —Victory music plays-
      • In the same game, while not a real puzzle, Planet Joba contains multiple doors with switches wired to them, but the doors often have enemies behind them, and a smart player will have to prepare themselves with an appropriate weapon so that they can find a switch and react in time in order to defeat the resulting attacking enemies. An even smarter player will just hop on a nearby turret, blast open the door, and then blast the enemies inside.
    • At the climax of Guilty Gear 2: Overture, Sol has to analyze and deactivate the Key before it can unlock the Cube while his party tries to hold off Valentine. After he accomplishes this, he reveals that even though his analysis was going well, he got bored and decided to just break the Key instead (this also has the beneficial effect of making it so that the same Key can never be used again).
    • This is Adell's modus operandi in Disgaea 2: Cursed Memories. He even lampshades it at one point by solving a complex geopuzzle in no time when he explains that it's not that he can't think, it's that it's usually faster to just beat your problems into submission.
    • At one point in Evil Dead: Hail to the King, Ash comes upon a locked door guarded by what seems to the worst puzzle in the game yet. The game changes perspective to the standard, pre-rendered "puzzle screen" and the instructions tell you to find seven rare earth elements and then balance them against each other by their specific weight to open the door. Then Ash suddenly jumps in, aims his trusty shotgun at the wall-mounted puzzle and simply shoots the door open instead.
    • In Mass Effect, a sidequest has you trying to stop a rogue AI from self-destructing. You can use your computer skills to disable the AI before the self-destruct finishes warming up...or you can just shoot it a few times. Granted, the brute force approach is the least beneficial option, as while it's guaranteed to work, it deprives you of the large sum of credits the AI had stored in its system.
    • Level 18 of Chip's Challenge: You can push water-removing blocks into the moat to build a bridge, or... you can walk all the way around the level to the flippers.
    • Many doors and security terminals in Knights of the Old Republic can be simply bashed open or blown up, but this yields less experience.
      • The room before the final boss in KotOR 1 has a locked door that will unlock after you deactivate six droid generators, by using the parts from the droids they create. Alternately, you can just bash the door a couple of times and skip the whole problem.
        • In the second game, though, this often leads to some or all of the loot behind the door getting turned to slag.
      • This also applies to open-ended questions posed by the Jedi Council, as one answer to how to get past a locked door is "Knock."
      • Kreia of the second game has been Jedi and Sith, historian, exile, master, archivist, and teacher. She has seen the constant pattern of the two major Force schools squbble endlessly, hunt down each other to near-extinction, only to have a handful of survivors come roaring back to repeat the Cycle of Revenge. Her idea the stop this nonsense? Kill the Force!
    • See also Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory. Locks can either be slowly but quietly unlocked, or Sam can cut through them with his blade. This makes a lot of noise, and enemies are smart enough to know when doors have been tampered with.
      • In the same game, in the "Displace" level, Sam has to get codes from a laptop by accessing it wirelessly. This would require Sam to stalk the men carrying the laptop. Or he could just use his gadgets to take them down by force.

    Sam: "Finesse is for the young and the cocky."

    • This is pretty much the defining characteristic of Johnny Gat from Saints Row. Presented with any intelligent, well-worked-out plan, his own suggestion is invariably to simply kill everyone in the general vicinity until the problem goes away. This isn't for ease or effectiveness; he just loves to kill people.
    • Devil May Cry: Dante, while trying to return to town in his section of the fourth game, comes across a board game/puzzle that Nero had to stay and waste his time with previously in the Cathedral's basement. A statue of Dante and the die appear prompting him to play through with it to leave the room. Deciding not to waste his time while poison gas slips through the room, Dante slices the die in two, ending (and somehow winning) the game prematurely.
    • In the Fallout: New Vegas DLC Old World Blues, a challenge/experiment involves securing a document without being spotted by patrolling robots. One solution is to destroy the robots, then start the test. Likewise, a later part of the test involves getting past tripwires in the same test. You can disable those before (or during) the test then walk right through them. The latter two portions of the test can't be cheated, though.
    • Take The Legend Of Zelda Twilight Princes - early on in the fifth dungeon, you have to deal with ice by aiming stationary cannons with hidden cannonballs at it, carefully avoiding it, and so on. Later on, you can pull out your Ball and Chain and go to town smashing it.
      • This also comprises the entire second half of the Temple of Time in the same game. The entire gimmick for the area is that you have to traverse the temple in order to find a statue, bring it back down to the first level, and position it in the correct place in order to unlock the way to the boss. Going up to retrieve said statue, you have to deal with tedious puzzles involving sliding gates that are controlled by specifically-placed switches. However, once you get the statue, it turns out that it's also equipped with a big honking hammer that you can use to just bash the gates down (along with any other monsters in your path) on the trip back down.
    • Done in the Penumbra series, which tends to use a fairly realistic approach to solving puzzles. The most notable example happens early in the game where you need to open a locked chest. You can look for the key...or you can just break it open with your pickaxe.
    • Red Faction was pretty much sold on this premise alone. It boasted a real-time environment damage-modeling system called GeoMod that actually took rocket fights to their logical conclusion, which was completely wasted buildings. It was actually necessary to blow holes in walls with grenades and mines at some points in order to progress. One of the taglines on the back of the box was "Can't find the key? Make your own door." Coming from the world of FPSes where a BFG9000 blast could lay waste to every ounce of organic tissue in a 100x100 room but a series of 10 of them couldn't even put a scratch on a door, a lot of gamers found it refreshing to be able to say "Screw the red key" and blast a hole in the adjoining wall instead.
      • ...and then found themselves feeling ripped off once the game started throwing completely indestructible buildings and doors their way at around halfway through the game.
      • Relatedly, Battlefield: Bad Company allows this by way of the Frostbite engine, especially in multiplayer in the sequel; you can either force your way into the building housing an M-COM station, set it to detonate, and keep the other side away until it blows up, or you can shoot at the walls around it with a tank or RPG until the entire building collapses and takes it out.
    • In Neverwinter Nights 2: Mask of the Betrayer, there is a puzzle consisting of two rooms, each with a mixture of fire and ice mephits randomly flying around. Your task is to put all fire mephits in one room and all ice mephits in the other one. You can carefully time openings of the door between the rooms... or you can use an obelisk to kill them all, and then drag their corpses around. You get less XP the brutal way, though.
    • In Final Fantasy VI, the boss Wrexsoul can be rather complicated to defeat; you're supposed to kill your own party until he emerges from hiding, and then commence attacking him. Or, you know, you could just cast X-Zone on him, that works just as well.
    • In Higurashi no Naku Koro ni for the first arcs people tend to take this approach because they feel the other options just aren't good enough. For example, in the third question arc,[1] which is focused around Satoko, she's in a terrible situation. Numerous possibilities are gone through and discarded before a more direct approach is taken. Ultimately, though, Higurashi does not support this conclusion and it's one of the aesops you can pull out of the story that even if the other guy really has it coming and is a complete scumbag with no redeeming qualities, murder just isn't the answer.
    • In Dungeon Crawl, there are labyrinths that pose a significant threat to under-prepared adventurers. While they feature almost no enemies, the entrance disappears shortly after discovering it, leaving little to no time to prepare for the maze itself. The maze can often be long and elaborate: The autoexplore feature is disabled while you're inside, the game doesn't remember any map tiles for long after you're out of view of them, and the clues to the location of your goal are obscure at best. Worst of all, the maze regularly shifts itself, rearranging and making it that much harder to solve. Finally, while wands of digging do exist, and can be used by a canny player to help reach the goal, they will only have an effect on the weaker rock walls, and not the harder metal and stone walls that compose much of the maze. But it is still possible for a player to cut the knot, with just the right spell: Lee's Rapid Deconstruction can tear down nearly any wall with high enough spell power, allowing you to bypass parts of the maze with a bit of effort.
    • Inverted in Professor Layton and The Lost Future, naturally. Thugs are expected to use good-old violence to stop interlopers... but here, they toss a puzzle your way instead! Is it any wonder that the next game introduced Emmy to deal with thugs?
    • In one mission of SWAT 4, you can choose to enter a building through the back door. However, the door has metal bars on it to prevent its use. Instead of removing the screws, bolts, or whatever held it together, the team simply attaches a hook and rope to a car and the metal bars and have it pulled away from the weak bricks. This is probably Truth in Television given the amount of research and realism the company put into that game.
    • The reason Steve from Minecraft is able to make many of the Nintendo Hard Super Meat Boy levels extremely easy is because he can literally mine through the level to the end.
    • The Secret of Monkey Island has Guybrush thrown into the sea tied to an idol. You have ten minutes to escape before Guybrush drowns. There are several sharp objects that could free you just out of reach. The solution: Pick up the idol and walk out with it.
    • In Deus Ex, doors had both a lock strength and physical strength. You can break any door with the right firepower provided its strength was not infinite. They took this out in subsequent games.
    • In Call of Duty 2, during the Battle of Stalingrad campaign, you get a bunch of Germans barricade themselves in a building. Instead of trying to talk them into surrendering or trying to beat down the door, the commander simply orders you to place charges on the building supports. As the building collapses, he screams: "This is how you negotiate with fascists!"

    Web Comics

    • In 8-Bit Theater, in a mystic castle, Fighter is subjected to the trial of sloth, wherein the trial monster attempts to get Fighter to overcome his reliance on stagnant sword skills, and instead use his brain in combat for once. Fighter promptly slaughters the monster, stating that his brain told him that it was faster that way.

    Black Mage: Okay. I seem to remember some dead old king guy who, when presented with a problem of unsolvable perplexity, would blaze a path to victory via stabbity means. Therefore!

    • In Gunnerkrigg Court, when Renard is trapped by a complex magitek binding Antimony can't figure out how to free him. Jones crushes the device (and a scoop of concrete) with her hand.
      • S13 took a page from her book. When robots ran a rescue mission into an area screened with ether syphon buoys (with Zimmy's power running unchecked inside), they put a torpedo into one buoy and entered through that place once fireworks stopped. A few pages later, Renard in Big Badass Wolf form crushed with teeth the talisman blocking Antimony's abilities - though he noted that this was a contest of raw power (and Renard apparently counts as a major mythological entities one tier below gods).
    • This Order of the Stick comic, providing a method around the Knights and Knaves problem by having Haley shoot one of them in the foot. They even gave a disgruntled Smart Guy, who had been about to work the thing out logically, a nice Lampshade Hanging:

    Vaarsuvius: Gordium called. They have a knot that you may want to take a look at.

      • Beautifully inverted by the encounter with the hydra, which they defeated by decapitating it until it regenerated so many heads it could no longer hold them all up to fight didn't have enough blood for all the heads it regenerated. The group outwitted the test of brawn and bullied their way through the test of brains, leaving the test of heart... a medical examination
      • Xykon may be the patron saint of this trope. "And now I see that planning doesn't matter. Strategy doesn't matter. Only two things matter: Force in as great a concentration as you can muster, and style. And in a pinch, style can slide."
      • Vaarsuvius's solution to preventing Daimyo Kubota from weaseling out of his trial is to Disintegrate him and scatter the ashes.
        • It's more like a solution to the problem that Kubota was distracting from V, Elan, and Dukon's attempts to reunite with the rest of the group. V had no clue who the heck Kubota was, so preventing him from escaping justice was just a happy side-effect.
    • Adventurers!! uses this a few times in order to subvert the usual RPG Puzzle.
    • In No Rest for The Wicked, Perrault propounds a scheme to get the owner of a castle with locked gates to let them through them. Red uses her ax on the gate.
    • Girl Genius: Violence is a workable way to stop Lars from panicking. "I'm fine! Perfectly calm!" Of course, Jaegers (and DuPree, oh god, DuPree) tend to take this approach to everything.
    • In this Looking for Group, Richard, while possessing a golem, is asked to undertake a perilous and tedious quest to free the mages caged in crystal by eventually getting three fangs from the "open mouth" of a twenty-headed dragon to smash a glowing crystal. Richard of course decides to take the easy way out and try to smash the crystal himself. And though it's not explicitly shown, he succeeded.
    • Supermegatopia: When Crushed and company are faced with navigating an evil-infested mansion (and risking a horrible death at the hands of the undead nasties sure to be lurking within) in order to destroy an ancient artifact, the intrepid heroine elects to simply torch the place and call it a day(Dead Link).
    • Goblins plays this one brilliantly. When Dies Horribly's party is forced to solve the riddle of the temple guardian, Noe, who will kill them horribly if they summon him more than three times (and homonyms such as "know" and "no", which are used frequently, will also summon him), Big Guy K'seliss solves the problem in a beautifully direct fashion: intentionally summoning him, when prepared to rip his throat out.
      • Tempts Fate is challenged with a devilishly complicated riddle by a talking door, and the wrong answer will unleash horrible death. Tempts Fate elects not to answer at all, and just opens the door, which wasn't locked. After all, it never said he had to give a right answer either.
      • At one point, tempts is confronted with a series of armor piercing arrow launchers that will kill anything attempting to cross the room. He jumps into the air, activating his magic belt, and his metal skin deflects them. The Rant Golem picks up a bit of sand, which is the solution, and passes by completely unharmed. Oddly, he knew the solution ahead of time, and but was bored.
    • Faevv in Juathuur thinks like a shadow-user.
    • In Bob and George, a handful of Dr. Cossack's Robot Masters, lead by Ran, have to figure out how break into Dr. Wily's fortress. He discusses the various traps and hazards they'll have to navigate; Dive Man blows up the front door and walks in.
    • Hyraxx opens a door.
    • A Superscope used to pick a tough lock. Alex's captor suggests that a MacGuffin Alex possessed at the time would've been the logical solution. Alex agrees (with hindsight) that he should've considered it.
    • Xkcd strip 538
    • Schlock Mercenary

    Pronto: Sarge, they just shut some kinda blast door into the data center. We can't get through.
    Schlock: Pronto, how about you finish that sentence for me?
    Pronto: Umm... "Just shut blast door... Data center... Can't get through..."Without blasting?
    Schlock: And that's why they call it a blast door.


    Web Original

    • Doctor Horribles Sing Along Blog: Captain Hammer, when faced with a complex electronic device controlling a van, punches it so it breaks. This just stops Dr Horrible from controlling it, leaving a fast moving, out of control van that almost kills someone before Horrible can stop it. Not that Hammer even notices.
    • When confronting the Temple of All Dooms in Journey Quest Glorion seems intent on traversing the whole dungeon this way.
    • Whateley Universe example: in "Boston Brawl 2", the Necromancer creates a horrific rip in time-space that the mages try to magically repair. Instead, Bladedancer just slices through it with Destiny's Wave.
    • Linkara shows how he deals with Soup Cans in his Silent Hill reviews:
      • Silent Hill: Dying Inside alternate ending: His door is covered with unbreakable chains (as per Silent Hill 4)? Yeah, well, the wall they're attached to is plasterboard—he just rips them loose.
      • Silent Hill: Dead/Alive: There's a paper bag in front of his door that can't be moved without "something needlessly complex and crafted from several parts"? Screw that, he's just going to shoot it.
      • By the point of Silent Hill: The Grinning Man, the soup cans have gotten wise. Linkara finds boxes blocking his door and threatens to turn them to ashes if they don't move—and they promptly fall over, out of the way.

    Western Animation

    • In an early episode of The Venture Bros, the boys and some fake pirates are being harassed by the ghost of a former pilot named Major Tom. The boys contact Dr. Orpheus, the team sorceror, who tries to put Tom's soul to rest. It doesn't work. Plan B? Brock arrives and defeats the ghost by decapitating it with his fist.
    • A Popeye cartoon ending where Olive Oyl is tied to a train track. After trying for a few seconds to untie her, Popeye simply decides to punch the train, which instantly stops and falls apart. It was so famous that it was repeated several times in several different episodes.
    • Nearly every time a locked door and keypad appears in The Secret Show, there is a request to enter a complicated and time consuming code or input, to which the heroes usually respond by blowing up the keypad, which always inexplicably opens the door.
    • In one Ludwig Von Drake cartoon, Drake explains his method of getting rid of an annoying but probably fixable experiment; he teleports it to who-knows-where with another annoying but probably fixable experiment.
    • In one episode of DuckTales (1987), McDuck is thrown in prison with Iron Mask, and tells him "you have to Use Your Head to get out". The Mask then destroys one wall with his helmet.
    • In an episode of The Simpsons, Homer uses an ancient map to escape the plant so he can sneak away to a tour of the Duff brewery. He encounters a giant spider and consults the map, which says, "To escape the spider's curse, simply quote a Bible verse." When Homer can't think of any Bible verses, he throws a rock at it and knocks it out.
      • One Treehouse of Horror special puts Bart and Lisa are in Fairy Tale Land. When Bart comes across the Three Bears' porridge, he (of course) discovers that one is too hot and the other is too cold. He remarks "It doesn't take a genius to figure this out." and proceeds to pour the contents of one bowl into the other.
    • In the Street Fighter animated series, Guile disarms a bomb with a Sonic Boom.
    • In Metajets, In "Under the Ice," when Vector says it'll take a while to find the right access code to open the door to the abandoned research facility, Burner just blows the door open with a good shot from his snowmobile cannon.
    • The Powerpuff Girls used this once. When Him gives the girls a "Train A is travelling..." problem with real trains that'll collide if they don't stop them, Blossom first tries to solve it with an abacus, then realizes, "We're superheroes! Let's just find the trains and stop them!"
      • Movie example: The girls play an unintentionally destructive game of tag. Blossom and Bubbles hide on the top of a building dozens of blocks away from Buttercup. Buttercup snaps and tears through all those buildings to get to them.
    • This is featured in Toy Story 2 when Buzz and his friends are trying to rescue Woody. When asked how they're going to get past a grate to attack who they think are evil toys torturing Woody, Buzz says, "Use Your Head!" Cut to Rex being used as a battering ram, screaming, "But I don't want to use my head!" before crashing through. In a fake outtake scene, the grate was still screwed on by accident, which had predictable results.
    • Optimus Prime, Transformers Generation 1, in the episode "Day of the Machines":

    Human scientist: It's a safe bet those doors are locked.
    Optimus: Fortunately, I know a delicate lockpicking technique. [BOOM!]

    • Iron Man: Armored Adventures: Tony's classmate Happy winds up in the armor and has to deal with a bomb about to go off. Tony doesn't know how to defuse the Happy just snaps it in half.
    • During Gaston's Villain Song in Disney's Beauty and the Beast, the line "No one matches wits like Gaston!" is sung while Gaston is shown playing chess with someone... and throws the board and pieces into the air.
    • Batman: The Animated Series: This is often how Riddler's complex puzzles and deathtraps are solved.
      • His debut episode involves a re-creation of a video game maze, which Batman bypasses by hacking the controls of the flying guardian; later, when faced with a robot minotaur, Bats orders the same guardian to ram it.
      • In "What is Reality?", he lures the heroes into a virtual reality simulation by trapping Commissioner Gordon's consciousness inside it. When they get to the center, they discover that their goal is inside a Baxter's box. Batman's solution? Turn his hands into hammers and break the damn thing, referencing an earlier comment by Robin:

    Robin: You're looking at the guy who solved the Baxter's box in 37 seconds. Of course this time, I don't have a hammer.

    • Xanatos of Gargoyles attempts to do this towards the end of the City of Stone arc. In order to save the city, Xanatos and Goliath need to get a password for Demona. Demona is locked in combat with her Arch Enemy, the Anti-Villain MacBeth. Goliath attempts to talk the two into stopping, and only succeeds in getting both of them to attack him. Out of patience, Xanatos tells Goliath "If they won't listen to reason, take them both both down. We'll sort it out after", and shoots at both with a laser. It doesn't work because Xanatos somehow manages to miss them from about three feet away.
    • In Phineas and Ferb, one of the puzzles in "We Call it Maze" is to guess how many jelly beans are in a jar. While the duo and Baljeet attempt to solve the problem mathematically, Buford's solution was to eat all the jellybeans, then type the number zero. And it worked, too.

    Baljeet: Okay, technically that was correct, but you did not show your work!
    Buford: I will in about twenty minutes.

    • In the beginning of one episode of Xiaolin Showdown, the four monks-in-training are tasked to get a stuffed toy dog at the end of an obstical course. Clay, closer to Earth cowboy, upon noting that the course is shaped like a circle, with the start and finish right next to each other, simply turns around snatches the dog off its pedestal. This comes up several more times in the episode, where the moral is, "Simple solutions to complicated problems"
    • In the second season premiere of My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic, the new villain Discord sets out to corrupt the heroes while they find to powerful Elements of Harmony. When he gets to Fluttershy, he tries to convinces her how her friends think she's helpless and it should make her mad. However, she openly admits her flaws and says that they try to help improve her. Frustrated at this unwanted outcome, Discord stops with the mind games and simply brainwashes her forcefully.
    • In Justice League Unlimited, The Question is looking at a locked glass door to a building with a key card lock. After a few seconds of inspecting the lock, he simply walks off screen for a few seconds, comes back with a potted tree and uses it to smash through the glass door and calmly walks in. Seen here.
    • A Supervillain of the Week on one episode of The Batman had Bats and four scientists tied up in a sort of game show, whose object was to stump the supervillain or get dumped into acid. The scientists ask difficult science and math questions; the supervillain answered them all easily. When it was Batman's turn, he simply asked the supervillain "What is the true identity of the Batman?" Apparently the supervillain never thought to take Batman's costume off.
      • That part would require him to actually grab Batman, and we all know how hard that would be.

    Real Life

    • One of the best ways to disarm a nuclear bomb is to shoot it. While this is incredibly counter-intuitive, most modern nuclear weapons operate in such a way that the desired nuclear yield will only occur if the high-explosive plates around it all fire at the exact same instant with an acceptable error in the fractions of seconds. So if one plate goes off too early, the bomb won't go critical, and the explosion will be...smaller. And still radioactive, but considerably less destructive.
      • Also works for conventional explosives as well. Skilled bombmakers will include all sorts of intricate anti-tampering mechanisms to prevent the warhead being disarmed, but firing a .50-calibre bullet through the timer almost never fails; at worst you'll set the thing off prematurely, but if you know the bomb's there then you can clear the blast radius before the EOD team arrive.
    • In the military, when opening a door in or around a combat zone that has not been previously entered one must first check for booby-traps, then carefully open the door, checking it for traps along the way, unless there is any chance whatsoever of a hostile inside the room, in which case you blow the hinges to hell with 12 gauge slugs or C4 then kick the door the rest of the way down.
      • Additionally, rather than clearing a building full of hostiles, it's usually recommended to simply throw in a satchel charge, or call in an artillery/air strike from a safe distance. Of course, you could look for traps, blow the door, get shot at by ambushing hostiles, evacuate your wounded and send some other guys in, look for traps some more, check every single room in the building for more hostiles... Unless the enemy has hostages or you need someone or something in there intact, blowing it up without ever placing your foot in the door is much easier and safer (at least for the would be breachers).
      • Who says you even have to enter the building? Soldiers fighting in the Battle of Falujah found that, instead of attacking an enemy building by clearing it with infantry, throwing a large enough block of C4 in the front door would kill everyone inside.
    • In computer security, there are two ways to prevent a computer from being attacked and taken over via a network: hideously complex Intrusion Detection Systems, firewalls, and meticulously written firewall rules, or not plugging the thing into the network.
      • A prime example of this was related in Kevin Mitnick's The Art Of Deception: in his younger days (where he was already a notorious hacker) he visited a computer conference where some company was demonstrating a network security solution. They were so convinced it was unbeatable that they dared people to hack it (specifically grant the public terminal administrator access) and promised a cash prize to whoever did (the reps even had the bills pinned to their shirts). Mitnick won by...picking the lock of the server room while no one was looking, accessing the totally unsecure server, granting the terminal admin access and walking back to the terminal.
        • There's a proverb that the only secure computer is one that's turned off. Mitnick said he'd just talk someone into turning on the computer.
      • Also, the super hacker.
    • During the last Hubble Space Telescope servicing mission, several bolts on the telescope were found to be vacuum-welded, meaning that support struts that had been needed when the observatory was first launched now formed a block to replacing the broken instruments. After two hours of deliberation, the following advice came from Mission Control: "Pull on them. If that doesn't work, pull harder".
    • Whoever was the first player of the Rubik's Cube that figured out how to pull it apart and rearrange the colors so it was "solved" proverbially cut the Gordian Rubik's Cube. (You can also peel off the stickers.)
    • According to Cognitive Psychology, compared with people with high attention spans who may try to come up with increasingly complex solutions, people with low attention spans are usually able to see simple answers to problems because they're able to notice their immediate surroundings.
    • A tortoise is a rather tricky creature to eat, due to it's hard shell. When it retreats into it, it becomes nigh invulnerable, and most animals just can't pull out the meaty bits due to a lack of dexterity or due to the protective plates that come up to cover the holes for the tortoise's head, legs and tail. The eagle and the hyena get around this problem with the former simply picking up and dropping the tortoise from high up over rocks and the latter by biting it with it's incredible bite force.
    • In 1417, the city of Florence held a contest to decide which architect would be contracted to build the dome of Florence Cathedral. Filippo Brunelleschi, one of the contestants, challenged his rivals to stand an egg on a flat marble surface; if they couldn't do it and he could, they agreed to withdraw from the contest. When none of the others could manage it, Filippo took his egg, smashed one end of it and stood it on the smashed end, winning the contract.
    • In the early 1990s, handwriting recognition was in its infancy, and the doomed Apple Newton showed how unreliable it could be. So Palm Inc., instead of trying to teach computers to read like humans, decided instead to make a simple, unambiguous shape for each letter, and train its users to write what the computer could understand. And so Graffiti was born.
    1. Though it also comes up in most of the arcs, especially Tsumihoroboshi