Too Awesome to Use

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
I'm still not using it unless Godzilla shows up.

Eliwood: Don't you think we should conserve our supplies? What if we need them later?
Hector: I'm bleeding to death now!

So, you've been toiling through the game for many an hour. You've scoured the sprawling dungeons, killed menacing bosses, and effortlessly solved every puzzle presented to you. When suddenly... you stumble upon some kind of super secret item room that must have otherwise been impossible to find without help from GameFAQs. Inside the room is a single treasure chest. You open the chest, and receive your reward: The ultimate attack. The weapon that can crush your enemies and drive them before you as you hear the lamentations of their women. The spell which channels the power of the gods and rends the earth (although somehow without damaging you or your teammates). The one attack that rips victory from the jaws of defeat, bends to one knee, and hands it to you on a silver platter.

It's flashy. It's unstoppable. It's awesome and practical.

It is also single-use and impossibly scarce.

...Yup, it's going to end up sitting safe and sound in your inventory until the very end.

Games such as RPGs featuring an inventory system are prone to giving you items that are Too Awesome to Use. It could be an item that heals all your stats and makes you invulnerable for an extended period of time. It could be a special power that lets you fly, or a Status Buff that lets you destroy the universe with the snap of a finger. It could be a Superweapon with an extremely limited amount of ammo, or an ultimate sword that breaks after a certain number of uses.

It's useful, awesome, and practical - unfortunately, you're never going to see the item in use outside of maybe the last boss (as you wouldn't need it afterwards), either because you're afraid to waste such a valuable treasure and will be waiting for that one good opportunity to use it, or maybe because it simply pains you to imagine having it missing from your inventory. Of course you may save it until the last boss only to realize you can't use it during boss fights...

If a Too Awesome To Use item sticks around long enough, it can sometimes become Awesome but Impractical as it gets outclassed by a much more efficient or re-usable item; in a game with Character Levels, it may also just become useless as your characters' stats outstrip the item's power. In any case, the item may just become useful in the Bonus Dungeon if one exists in the game.

Consequently, if there's an item duplication glitch in the game, then of course you're going to be using it all the time.

Examples of Too Awesome to Use include:

Video Game examples

Action Adventure

  • Magic Potions in The Legend of Zelda series. Usually, there is a super-rare and super-powerful type of potion that you can place in one of your bottles. However, some of them are refillable, free of charge.
    • For example, Grandma's Soup in The Wind Waker refills all your magic and life AND doubles your attack power until you take damage (the only item in the game to do so), and you can do this twice with one bottle since she gives you two servings. Since getting a refill requires going all the way back to your house, an unpleasant task if you're in the middle of a dungeon, and since the game is relatively easy in the first place, you might opt to search for hearts and potions in grass and pots rather than using it, and you might beat the whole game without using it. (But you'll keep one with you anyway, since they're the best thing to have in your bottle.)
    • In Twilight Princess, you are rewarded with a bottle of Fairy Tears for collecting 20 Poe Souls. These not only refill Link's health completely, but they increase his attack power temporarily as well (unfortunately, only for 10 seconds at best). However, in order to get more than just the one, you have to take Link on a quest through the Cave of Ordeals. But again, they are refillable and free afterwards, and beating the entire Cave lets you refill on Fairy Tears in 5 different areas in Hyrule.
      • Rare Chu Jelly does the same thing, but good luck getting them in a crush of Chu Chu or finding where they spawn.
    • In Skyward Sword you can buy a certain potion that makes you take half damage for a while. You can also upgrade it to make you invulnerable instead. The period during which the potion lasts is rather long, and unlike the attack-boosting soup/potions from Wind Waker and Twilight Princess it is not canceled after being hit once. Once you get a certain other item, the potion duration is further increased. So you got an item that makes you for a few minutes? Nope, won't use it despite its power, maybe because it ironically enough it too good and feels a bit cheap.
  • The Lightning in Medievil is the most powerful weapon in the game, but you have no way to recharge it if you run out. Most players never bother actually using it.
  • Castlevania: Symphony of the Night has any number of powerful, one-shot items that most players will hang onto "until the right time". But as the game is relatively easy compared to later Metroidvania-style games (and possesses what many consider the easiest Dracula fight in the series), that time will never come. On the second or later playthrough of the game, it is possible to obtain an item called the Duplicator, making those single-use items infinitely reusable; still, it's easy to see why many of them became equippable (and thus infinite-use) subweapons in later games.
    • These items also tend to quickly become Awesome but Impractical because Alucard becomes really powerful fairly quickly. In fact, the sole reason why this game is so much easier is because Alucard is thousands of times more powerful than his predecessors.
  • Thanks to there being almost no hint of when it might be safe to use them, and being generally placed in arbitrary positions, the rarer-than-golddust save crystals in the PlayStation version of Tomb Raider 3 ended up suffering from this for a lot of people.
    • Previous games encouraged/forced players to manage their inventory by striking a balance between using medi-kits and using ammunition for the better weapons when confronting dangerous enemies. The crystals created a third thing to manage, and the more obsessive-compulsive players could find this pretty stressful.
    • The Rocket Launcher, whose ammo is obviously very limited, is best saved for the last two levels of 3. To add insult to injury, you lose all your weapons and ammo in Area 51.
    • Averted in Tomb Raider Chronicles. Every chapter has their own set of levels and each chapter are separated from each other, so progress between chapters are not saved. This encourages players to use up everything they find rather than hoard them and find out that the items don't carry over between chapters.
  • The Heart Pot you receive from Jenka in Cave Story would certainly fall into this category: using it completely refills your Life Meter, and then it's gone. It does turn out that you can later go back to Jenka to get another anytime you want, but soon after getting the first one comes a long period where you can't return to Sand Zone. On top of that, there are often sequences where you can't freely grab Heart Pots without resetting the level. And to a lesser extent, just going out of your way to go back to Jenka's house is a minor annoyance in general.
    • As good as everyone will agree that the best situation to save the Pot for is the Bonus Boss. Before the game's Point of No Return, the best situation to use it otherwise is probably the boss fight at the very end of the Sand Zone/Labyrinth itself, just before you get access to said refill; since if you are going for the Bonus Dungeon you will have skipped the first jetpack version, which you will later get a vastly superior upgrade of instead. The reason for skipping it is that otherwise the inventor will die after being unable to save himself with its parts, but naturally missing this piece of equipment makes the following level and boss much harder.
  • Spiral Knights has the Mist Tank, which you only get once after passing the tutorial and refills your Mist Energy once, i.e. the "currency" you need to enter levels and craft equipment.

Action Game

  • Zombies Ate My Neighbors has a flamethrower located in a hidden alcove. Despite being the strongest weapon in the game, the flamethrower is unique, only has 400 ammo and is best saved for the final boss. Other rare items, like Red Potions and Pandora's Boxes, may also qualify.

Adventure Game

  • The horror-based adventure game/first-person shooter/interactive movie Realms Of The Haunting had a magic staff which had a very limited number of charges (something like 12 shots or so) and couldn't be recharged. It wasn't noticeable more powerful than the game's other magic weapons, though, so you either never used it anyway, or used all 12 shots then forgot about it. Sucks to be you if you did use it up killing common enemies, because it turns out this particular weapon pretty much insta-kills the otherwise very tough and annoying final boss.

Driving Game

Fighting Game

  • Super Smash Bros. Brawl has Golden Hammers that can automatically unlock a secret without having to do the challenge. You never use them.
    • Made even worse because, for the few challenges that really are exceptionally difficult (beating Boss Battles on Insane, for example), you can't actually use the damn hammers in the first place. Which makes them completely useless unless you're too lazy to complete the challenge yourself. Well, except in the PAL versions.
    • These are most useful for unlocking things which would otherwise be monotonous to unlock or take a long time to get; there are several challenges which require you to play the game for a long time before unlocking them, so the hammers allow an instant unlock.
    • Also, the heart containers in boss battles. They completely heal you, but there are only three, and they can't be used mid-battle, which often results in death after deciding to try and tank an easy boss at high damage.
  • In BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger, the Barrier Burst gives you one shot at breaking free of a combo at the cost of lowering your defence for the rest of the round. For new players it is easy to fall into the trap of not using it because "it's not too late, I can still survive this combo and make a comeba- wait, what do you mean I lost?!" A good player has to learn when to bite the bullet and use Barrier Burst effectively. Continuum Shift makes it a bit less daunting as losing one round without touching the Barrier Burst gives you a second one in the next, plus you don't take extra damage after using it anymore.
  • Gundam: Federation vs. Zeon has a form of this in its Campaign mode. Basically, even if a mobile suit you take out for a mission is entirely undamaged during the course of it, once you get back to the map screen it'll still have an arbitrary number of HP depleted, as a deterrent to just taking the same suit out over and over again (much like real-world armored vehicles and jets can't go on more than one mission in a row without maintenance). As such, the titular Gundam will almost never be used - taking it out on a mission, even avoiding all damage, automatically drops it down to 25% health once it's over, which will not be fully repaired until after you complete multiple missions.

First-Person Shooter

  • Doom:
    • The trademark Heart Artifact from Doom 3: Resurrection of Evil could stop time, turn the player invincible, and boost the damage of their weapon all at once. It was such a cool effect that the player is commonly tempted to conserve the artifact's energy and rarely use it, even though it could be recharged just about everywhere.
    • The BFG 9000 from all installments is likely to fall under this trope as well. The player is likely to use the BFG 9000 only rarely, though it only uses forty plasma cells per shot, because it's the biggest gun in the game. The "I can handle these with smaller weapons" effect comes to play even though in 75% of big fights, you can actually conserve ammo by using the BFG.
  • A lot of first-person-shooters tend towards this with the final weapons that become available in their arsenal. The biggest and most devastating weapon(s) in the game are either available halfway through the game and make it too easy, or only turn up right at the end and have so little ammo available that the player never gets round to actually using them.
  • First Encounter Assault Recon suffered from a form of this, where the three-weapon limit to the player's inventory meant that the rarer, more powerful weapons, like the multi-rocket launcher or the repeating cannon were often just left in favour of something simpler with more readily available ammo.
  • The Gluon Gun from Half-Life. It wastes away enemies with ease, even bosses, but drains your Nuclear Ammo extremely fast, so instead you end up picking and prodding at the enemies with your pistol.
    • The sequel turns the revolver into this: the gun can one-shot all infantry enemies, but you can only carry a maximum of 30 bullets at a time and ammo pickups average about one per level.
  • The first System Shock also does this. 45 magazines for an RF Scorpion?
    • The second has Disruption Grenades, which are great against powerful enemies but always in short supply. Energy weapons, power armor, and implants could also qualify after a certain point, as there's an entire level full of powerful enemies and no rechargers at all, which can lead you to set aside some of your most effective gear because you're afraid of it running out of power and becoming useless.
  • STALKER: Shadow of Chernobyl has several special weapons that can be found once and only once. Typically they have something that sets them above their normal counterparts - for example, there is a special MP5 that uses common pistol ammo instead of less common submachinegun ammo, and does the same damage. Problem is, the game has weapon degradation, and - if left unmodded - no way of repairing damaged items. Which is why many players save up the special weapons, only to find out later on that they become useless against the heavily armored foes of the later game, who require heavier firepower to be brought down.
    • It might be safe to assume that every weapon is impractical once you encounter a new enemy set. Same goes for all the ammo you saved if that new rifle doesn't take what you have 700 rounds of.
    • Also the gauss rifle, which is not sold in any store, is found after the Point of No Return, and will kill any enemy in one or two shots.
    • RPGs might be the purest example of this trope in STALKER. As with all weapons in the game, they are realistically powerful, and thus (as the game's only rocket launcher) far deadlier than any other weapon you can acquire. The problem? The launcher alone takes up about 20% of your equally realistically limited carrying weight, and ammo is virtually nonexistent in the game: there are maybe three rockets you can find in the entire game, and that's if you really take the time to look.
  • In Metro 2033, military-grade rounds serve this function for the first 2/3s of the game. They provide a welcome edge against tougher mutants like Black Librarians, but are also the game's money system—meaning if you want that tricked out Kalash 2012 that's only available in Polis Station, you'd better choose your priorities. They lose this status toward the end of the game, where there are no more stores and powerful mutants are ubiquitous.
  • In Team Fortress 2:
    • Medics can, over the course of about 2 minutes, charge up eight seconds of invulnerability called Ubercharge. Of course, this leads to the age-old dilemma of when you actually use your Ubercharge... Saving it can be vital, as beginning it mere seconds before the enemy initiates theirs will make it all but obsolete. So often, you end up waiting so long to initiate Ubercharge that you are killed before you can, and your Uber meter is reset. It's a bit more bearable thanks to the existence of the Vita-saw - a weapon that allows you to keep 20% of your charge upon death – but still.
    • This also applies to the Soldier's Buff Banner, which gives you and everyone near you the ability to crit. To fill up the meter, you have to damage the enemy or take damage yourself.
  • The first three Turok games all feature a superweapon that the player must rebuild by collecting parts hidden in secret areas (the first game actually has two superweapons, but only one must be built). All four of these guns can clear entire rooms of enemies with one shot, but two of them carry only tiny amounts of incredibly rare ammunition (the Fusion Cannon having a total of eight rounds in the entire game), and another, the Chronoscepter, is limited to only three shots that can never be refilled without cheats. The worst part of this comes when the player realizes that the final boss of Turok 2 is actually completely immune to the ammo-starved Nuke superweapon, and that saving those precious few shots accomplished nothing. The effect is alleviated somewhat in the third game, as the Personal Singularity Generator superweapon instead has a lengthy cooldown after each shot, and the final boss is vulnerable to its fire.
  • First Aid Kits in Left 4 Dead, even more so on Expert. Sometimes, people will absolutely refuse to use First Aid to heal and will either be popping pills or just limp on and will only use First Aid when the next knockdown is going to cause death. It's a common tactic on Expert to kill someone so they can respawn with more health and save a kit.
  • The GEP gun in Deus Ex is offered as an option to the player at the start of the game. Good enough to take out most bots with one rocket, it takes up a giant 8 out of 30 inventory slots, and ammo for it is relatively rare.
    • HE ammo for the Assault rifle later on in the game is partially susceptible to this, as while it offers Heavy Weapon power for a Rifle specialist, ammunition is fairly rare.
    • The PS20 is a one-shot holdout plasma blaster that has perfect accuracy even if you don't have any points in the relevant skill. It will kill just about any human enemy that you shoot in the head with it, and each one only takes up a single spot in your inventory space, but you don't find many of them, and it's hard to decide which of the many nameless mooks you battle to use it on. The Light Anti-tank Weapon is a one-shot rocket launcher that is guaranteed to destroy anything it hits directly, and also probably anything standing nearby. However, because it's only a one-shot gun and takes up four inventory spaces, it's impractical to carry around if you have other rifles or heavy weapons with you. Cue desperate thinking about how best to dispose of it along with some Inventory Tetris. On the bright saide, the LAW was almost always found near giant military robots.
    • LAMs (grenades that can be attached to flat surfaces and then double as proximity mines) are extremely useful for blowing up doors and other barriers or for setting deadly ambushes. However, they are relatively rare, if not as much as some other items. You can use other, easier-to-find explosives like the GEP Gun to reduce the need even more. This can lead to sudden moments of anger when you already have the maximum of 10 LAMs in the inventory and come upon a new one in the field. There actually IS a point in the game where having loaded up on LAMs pays off, though. At a later point, they also pretend you'll need at least 5 of them for a mission (with a character charging you thousands of credits to buy some) but actually, any explosive will work. So in the end, outside that one scene, you'll probably still only use them to lay impressive ambush grids, lure your enemies into that, enjoy the show, then load a savegame and get past the obstacle without wasting LAMs instead.
  • In Deus Ex: Human Revolution you have multiple contenders for this, and frequently spend Praxis Points upgrading your inventory to keep it all in there - the Heavy Rifle earlier in the game, which is almost useless without error-correcting augs, and later on the laser rifle or grenade launcher. Masses of space, no ammunition for the latter two, and completely unnecessary when you can headshot everyone with a silenced/laserguided pistol.
    • The laser rifle can shoot through walls though, so if you can see through them, it's great for catching enemies unawares.
    • Those who pre-ordered or bought the applicable DLC pack will experience this through the grenade launcher; it can only be acquired about 2/3 into the plot and eats through boss health, but all ammo for it (save for the six grenades it comes loaded with) must be found, which means most players get little use out of it.
  • The dual shotguns of the latter two installments of the Marathon trilogy, which would use up even a maxed-out load of ammo in a matter of seconds. And reduce anything in the game to a bloody pulp even faster.
  • The Earthshaker missiles in Descent II. You'll need most of them for the Final Boss.
  • The Spartan Laser in Halo 3, at least in the campaign. It will kill almost anything in the game with one or two hits, can hit multiple targets at once, and it's also really cool. The problem is, it takes a few seconds to charge up so it's a little hard to actually hit something, it only has 5 shots and can't be reloaded, you only get one two or three times in the entire campaign, and one of those times, you get it for the sole purpose of killing 343 Guilty Spark. So, you probably won't be using it much.
    • The trick to using high-powered, limited-ammunition weapons like the Spartan Laser or Rocket Launcher is the fact that NPCs don't run out of ammo. Give them a Spartan Laser with one shot left and they'll keep shooting until the end of time.
  • In the 2009 Wolfenstein the powerful experimental weapons you acquire early will have very little ammo available for scrounging until the weapons themselves become plentiful in the hands of the enemy. On the other hand, the Thule Medallion that gives you mystical powers appears even earlier, and energy refills are literally everywhere. Of course, the Medallion is an integral part of the game and story and you need to use it no matter what.
  • The Browning Automatic Rifle in the Medal of Honor games packs a punch and has great accuracy at long range, but has very limited ammo (practically no pickups). You can get by with an SMG in most situations.
  • Quake II has the Quad Damage and Invulnerability items, which quadruple the amount of damage you give out for 30 seconds and makes you completely invincible for 30 seconds, respectively. The problem is that they are inventory items, meaning you can activate them whenever you want to use them. However, they're so powerful and you fight off so few enemies at once in the levels, you'll keep the things in reserve throughout the game until the final boss. When used together, they turn it into a joke. It doesn't help that the game pretty much throws Quad Damages at you, making you feel kinda guilty for hoarding the two little Quads you found in the first hub throughout the whole game.
  • Serious Sam's "I win" weapon is the Serious Bomb, which kills every enemy in an area, no matter how much health they have and it can be activated by merely pressing a button. Because of how powerful and handy it is, you'll usually be keeping it in reserve "in case" throughout the game. Serious Sam 2 and Serious Sam HD: The Second Encounter make this even worse because you have to take it out as a regular weapon before using it, meaning that even if you do want to use it, you'll have to determine if you have enough time or space to take the thing out and use it without being mauled, and by that time you've probably managed to thin out the horde enough so that you don't need the Serious Bomb anymore.
  • Painkiller Resurrection has an odd case of this in multiplayer: attempting to fire the electrodriver weapon crashes the game immediately.


  • In Galactic Civilizations 2, it is possible to 'get lucky' and find a rare Precursor battleship early on which is generally much stronger than anything currently out there. However, between fleet limits (a player at that point can generally only afford to field -only- that ship in a given battle) and a rather adaptive AI, those ships may be held in reserve until they get surpassed by normal researched ships. Ironically though with the proper civilization traits, one can end up finding quite the number of such ships very early on.
  • In 4X game Space Empires V there is a special Ancient Ruins tech you may find if you colonise a planet, called Shield Imploder. It will bring down the enemy shields and cause damage to the enemy ship (Best description is the Breen weapon in Deep Space Nine), however it is rather weak at first, but eventually it will destroy with one shot ships relying on shields. So you end up keeping it secret so as not to let other players know you have it. A game can actually end before you get to the stage where it is a one shot kill weapon. Meanwhile it would have been quite good as it is to instantly remove enemy shields if you hadn't wanted to keep it a secret for later.
  • The console-only (later ported to iOS) game Civilization Revolution gives you an ICMB once you build the Manhattan Project wonder. Unlike a typical Civilization nuke, this one can reach any city and wipe it off the face of the map without leaving any fallout. However, it's a unique unit that you only get once per game. You probably will end up not using it until the game ends.

Hack and Slash

  • A minor example in Diablo II are the jewels and runes, items that can be put into special "socketed" items for stat bonuses, but can only be used once. They are just rare enough, and special items with stat bonuses drop regularly enough, that it makes one hesitant to use them instead of just waiting for another special item to drop.
    • In Ladder tournament play the object is to get the highest level runes, which ever remain Too Awesome to Use. The player often faces the dilemma of whether to create a powerful runeword for survival now or hoard the runes to transmute to higher runes later. Then there's the question of finding the correct base item for it. Of course, this is what happens when there are literally dozens of items which are each so rare that many-year players frequently never find any of them in the first place, many of which have to be combined to yield results...
    • Another example is the quest rewards that let you imbue and socket an item.
    • For the longest time, perfect gems were the currency of choice in multiplayer games. This is due to the game suffering from Money for Nothing.
  • God of War has the Rage of the Gods in the first game. It takes maybe an hour or two of killing enemies to fill it up all the way, and once you activate it, you have about 10 seconds of mauling everything within 20 feet of you before it's gone. It can't be turned off if you activate it by accident either. From Rage of the Titans in the sequel on, there are orbs you can collect to refill the meter, and it can be turned off while active, averting this for the most part.
  • Unlike its spiritual predecessor above, Dantes Inferno is incredibly stingy when it comes to using your Redemption due to the rate of Redemption regeneration being directly correlated to your combo lengths. Moreover, you can't turn it off once you turn it on (a lesson God Of War learned years ago), and you can only use it once you completely fill at least one tier on the potentially three-tier meter. If playing on Infernal difficulty, you will use your Redemption twice over the course of the game, and both times are against incredibly cheap bosses. For all practical purposes, your real berserk meter might as well be your mana Divine Armor meter.


  • World of Warcraft has a lot of items like this, though Blizzard eventually changed them to be unreliable or useless against enemies over a certain level. Fortunately, many of them can still be sold to players that have less doubts about using them in a tight situation.
    • The Holy Mightstone, an artifact that a level 50 paladin receives at the completion of a lengthy quest chain. It provides a 10-minute buff to damage vs. undead when used, but it can only be used once and can never be replaced since it's a quest item, so the end result is that most paladins end up never using it. Sadly it's fallen victim to power growth in expansions. At level 60 it would turn you into an death-machine by practically doubling your offensive stats. At level 80 - not so much. It gives the same boost, but by now it's a 5-10% power-up at most.
    • Super Sticky Glue is an item you get from a quest in the Orc starting zone that allows you to immobilize the target. People always hang onto them in case they would ever really need one.
    • A similar case with the unique "Light of Elune" potion (which grants full invulnerability for 10 sec and then it's gone forever). You get it as a mid-20s quest reward; people still have it in their lvl 70 character's inventory.
    • A lot of the abilities with cooldowns over 5 minutes are seldom used except in times of utter desperation, waiting for that right moment... and sometimes in a dungeon or battleground run, never used at all. e.g. "Lay on Hands" (paladin) or "Recklessness" (warrior). Acknowledging this trope, Blizzard changed many of these skills to be somewhat less awesome, but with more manageable cooldowns, generally with the thought in mind that they should be available for every fight exactly once. Especially notable would be Shield Wall, a survival cooldown for warriors that used to have a 30 minute cooldown and make the user nearly invincible for its duration. Now it can be used every few minutes and still provides a significant damage reduction. Few abilities still exceed 10 minutes cooldown at this point, and many of those can be reduced significantly by talents.
    • Flasks used to be like this in the original game. While they provided outlandish buffs (such as increasing player health by 1200, which for most classes meant a 30% increase in hp - an incredible amount, particularly for boss fights), they were also notoriously difficult to craft. Obviously, you needed to be a high-level alchemist (which in itself wasn't that big of a deal—many players would grind alchemy as it provided access to expendable mana and health potions). However, crafting flasks also required Black Lotus, a ludicrously rare herb (initially at any time there were a maximum of four in the entire game, up to one in each of the zones they could spawn) that wasn't tradeable: you had to find it yourself (good luck!) and in order to be able to gather it, you had to be a maxed-out herbalist. Since herbalism was considered a primary profession (of which you could only have two), if you chose any combination of professions other than "herba-alchy", you could not make flasks, period. To top off the ignominy, flasks could only be made in one place in the entire world (later two), which was smack at the end of a high-level dungeon. When C'Thun was first killed, most of the player community had problems wrapping their minds around the fact that the victorious guild expended forty flasks on this single boss fight.
  • City of Heroes:
    • There are several temp powers with a limited amount of use, many of which are earned for or after a specific mission and will never be retrievable again. Not surprisingly, these usually get hoarded for emergencies, and are still waiting to be used when your own powers are so far beyond them that there's no point any more. In some cases they don't make any sense using even when you do get them, a classic example being the Loa Bone, which lets you summon a zombie. Cool for most people, utterly redundant if you are a Mastermind who can already summon zombies. Some of these temp powers became so popular that when the developers added Veteran Rewards, a shiny badge for every so many months the player has been subscribed plus an item like a special costume item or a free character rebuild, two of the rewards each gave a choice of two temp powers that would become permanent on that character. The player can make different choices of which powers to take on every character they have. The Sands of Mu and the Nemesis Staff are the two most popular choices.
    • The devs actually added time travel to the game, allowing players to play through content they skipped and already completed. This allows anyone to get most temporary powers an infinite number of times. This is prevented from being Game Breaking by giving out a weaker version of the temporary power to those who already got the full-strength version before.
    • The Wedding Band hero-side springs first to mind. It granted a hefty resistance buff to all damage that lasted for two total hours of on-time (and maybe required an hour to get). Since it was only available to heroes, it quickly became the major target of villains and a fair issue of player-versus-player balance. The "Echo" version of the power now gives the same level of protection, but only lasts five minutes of on time, but can be stacked with the original version.
    • Similarly there's the Inspirations you build up as you play, basically the equivalent of potions in other MMORPGs that can be used at any time to heal health, restore endurance, or give a number of beneficial buffs. The thing is, you rarely need to use them to win most fights so the tray quickly fills up with Inspirations you hang on to for tougher fights and emergencies that never come.
    • Many of the high-level powers take so long to recharge you can't use them in 99% of the fights. For example, an area-of-effect attack that lowers the defence, damage resistance and health regeneration of all enemies caught in the blast? Awesome. Too bad it has a several-minute recharge, and at the higher levels you tend to breeze through foes anyway, so the effect would barely be noticeable.
  • Many, many one-use items in Kingdom of Loathing, especially the ones that were available for a limited time in the past and most likely will never become available again.
    • Many of the semi-rares fall prey to this trope. This may be later averted when diving Fernswarthy's Basement, where every little bit of stockpiled resistance and HP buff becomes more and more necessary. The items you receive as rewards while diving Fernswarthy's do qualify, though.
  • (Literal) Easter Eggs in the Urban Dead-inspired Nexus War, because they can only be found once a year, at Easter, and have variable effects which can't be determined before use.
  • zOMG! has the power-ups (Superchargers to restore partial health & stamina, and Ring Polishers to temporarily increase the strength of your rings). Players get a couple of these from early quests in order to try them out. You can buy more, but the cost is in Gaia Cash, which requires spending real money (as opposed to Gaia Gold, which you can earn in at least a hundred different ways). Therefore, the power-ups earned as quest rewards can become Too Awesome to Use. Recent updates have attempted to mitigate this: power-ups are now rare loot drops, and power-ups bought from the store can be resold on the site's marketplace, which uses Gaia Gold as its currency.
  • EVE Online has several extremely limited-run ships that were/are only handed out as a result of one-time events, such as the Alliance Tournaments. Since being able to say that you destroyed one of the five, say, Imperial Issue Apocalypses in existence is cause for immense bragging rights, the result is that these ships sit in their owners' hangars, never actually being flown.
    • In fact, four out of five Impocs have been blown up, making the last one a museum piece.
    • And one ship has become "extinct", the Gold Magnate -class frigate of which there was only one.
  • RuneScape has the Tiger Shark, one of the most powerful pieces of food in the game. It heals more Life Points than any other fish,[1] and it can even boost your life above its normal maximum. Of course, it can only be obtained with a near-maxed fishing level, requires a near-maxed cooking level to be edible, can't be traded with other players, and it's very rare, obtainable only through the Fishing Trawler minigame at an average catch rate of roughly one tiger shark for every hour of trawling.

Platform Game

  • P-wings in Super Mario Bros 3 gives you infinite raccoon flight. This game also had some other items that fell prey to this effect, like the Hammer Bros. Suits and the Tanuki suits. They were just too cool and rare to use anywhere. They're more usable in the All-Stars remake, where you can save items and regain items earned from beating worlds, meaning you can easily farm P-Wings by repeatedly beating World 1. The same goes with Lakitu's Cloud, which allows you to automatically skip a single stage.
  • Mega Man 9 gives us a few of these, with shop items that are expensive, or of which you can only have one at a time. Eddie Call can give you items, including 1-ups. The M-Tank acts like the Megalixers described above; it refills your Hit Points and all your Weapon energy. But the biggest user of this trope has to be the Guard Power. It grants double armor for 1 level, but though you'd be tempted to use it against the !* %@?&% Bio-Devil twins, you'd be far better off using it against the final level's Boss Rush and Wily's 3-stage battle.
    • This is generally true of all games. With some minor exceptions (such as Mega Man 2's Metal Blade), special weapons are too costly to use willy-nilly especially when the end boss might have a vulnerability to it. Plus in a lot of cases, it's simply too much work to go through the weapon select screen (they didn't figure out that Select was a viable button to switch weapons until much later).
  • Bunny Must Die has both Bunny and Chelsea dolls. Bunny dolls are optional uses when Bunny bites the big one, and can reload the entire room with Bunny at full health. Chelsea dolls are automatically used when Chelsea gets slagged, and restore Chelsea to full health and Mana. Naturally, players will preserve as many of both of these as possible for the Final Boss battles in each game—Chelsea for Bunny, and Septentrion and Bunny and Dechronos for Chelsea.
  • In the second and third Jak and Daxter games, it took so long to charge up your Dark Eco meter to use your Dark Jak Super Mode, and you could use up your entire meter in one kill-everything-on-the-screen spray of purple lightning (the same applied to the Peace Maker, a BFG lightning-death-cannon-thing due to its extremely low ammo capacity). As a result, it was extremely rare that you'd bother using either...until the end of Jak III, in which the end boss was kind enough to provide light and dark vents, permitting you to Super Mode with impunity.
  • In The Lost Vikings and its sequel you can find an item that kills every enemy on the screen. However, this item rarely comes into play as you can usually take out your enemies easily enough with your normal attacks.

Police Procedural

  • L.A. Noire has Intuition Points that allow you to find all clues and ease questioning, you also only get a limited amount of them and can only have 5 at once.

Puzzle Game

  • The question skips in The Impossible Quiz. You do actually need to stockpile every last one to get past the last question. Muhahahaha.
    • In The Impossible Quiz 2, your final grade (should you beat the game) is dependent not only on your number of lives remaining, but also how many Skips and Fusestoppers you've stored up.

Real Time Strategy

  • The heroes in Warcraft II are almost always Too Awesome to Use, as in most missions if they die you lose the mission. Only the human side has healers, auto-healing doesn't exist, and you don't always have healers in every mission, so most of the time you keep your hero locked up tight in your base where no one can hurt it, so that you don't accidentally lose the mission by getting them killed. The expansion Beyond the Dark Portal made the heroes into souped-up versions of the regular units, so you might be tempted to use them; in vanilla Warcraft II, they're weaker than regular units and far too easily killed to ever be risked in battle. Except when you really need that spell only the hero can cast.
  • Heroes were a big problem in most early RTS games, including StarCraft and Age of Empires. Generally the heroes only found use if they were either expendable or in a no-production mission. Newer games, especially Warcraft 3, combat this by making Hero Units respawnable and able to be customised and levelled up.
    • Using heroes in missions is a learned behavior. Eventually you figure out that they're worthless if you hide them in the middle of your base, and it just makes the mission harder to defeat. Use their abilities and extra hit points freely, and if they die, just start the mission over and be more careful.
  • Dawn of War. You can call in Veteran units at any time in the campaign mode from the previous missions. You never will because you might need them when the AI decides you have won too many games in a row and starts to rush you with an unbeatable amount of units. Any recent DOW game has had the same problem for me.
    • In Dawn of War 2 the artillery strikes are hard to get and only work in incredibly specific situations (Tank traffic jams) but can win you the game. Averted when you play a longer game mode though, as you will probably get enough resources to use these strikes and other support abilities multiple times.
  • Star Wars: Rebellion had the Death Star if you played as the Empire. Though costly and time-consuming, building one immediately helped your popular support, but if it left the sector, all the planets would slightly favor the Alliance. Furthermore, if you destroy a planet or if your Death Star is destroyed, you lose popular support throughout the galaxy. But if you've found the Alliance headquarters and have already captured Luke and Mon Mothma, it's a quick win.
    • Conversely, the Alliance had Luke: High in all stats except Diplomacy and Force-sensitive, his Force powers meant he could level up with a certain number of missions. If Vader or Palpatine were present, it would be that much quicker. (In fact, if you have Palpatine under blockade, you can have Luke powerlevel by sabotaging everything on the planet, and then abducting Palpy.) But if Luke encountered Vader or Palpatine, there was a chance he'd be captured instantly, one third of the Imperial victory conditions. But you need to encounter Vader to learn that Leia's Force-sensitive.
    • There's also the fact that the game randomly selects who will be Force sensitive (aside from the canonically required characters) each time you play. While there's no guarantee that your Force sensitive characters will be any good, if you'll lucky enough to end up with a Force sensitive Thrawn, for example (who has naturally high stats to begin with, and Force training increases all stats), you'll probably not want to risk losing him. Especially since, unlike Palpatine and Vader, he can be killed in battle, thus eliminating the possibility of a rescue mission.
  • Some ultimates in League of Legends have this issue. Galio's ultimate, with a huge cooldown of over 2 minutes, is a channeled vortex that taunts enemies towards you, then explodes for massive damage. Locking down the entire enemy team and drawing them together can turn the tide of a fight and possibly the game, so you may end up never using it because the perfect opportunity may arise just 30 seconds later...

Rhythm Game

  • When playing as Vegas or Pointman in Audiosurf, players may hold on to a paint or sort powerup until they get a large combo or the end of the song so they can get clean finish. Overfills that could have been avoided by using one of these powerups will ruin their plans, however, due to losing all power ups you were carrying when you overfill.


  • Falling into this hoarding mentality is especially deadly in Nethack, doubly-especially on the first few levels. Until you've built up a small cushion of hit points, use that wand of lightning!
    • In the late game, certain expendable items do become almost useless - namely scrolls and potions. (No need to hurl potions of paralysis at a monster when you can smite it with Excalibur, after all.) Almost, because you can dip potions and scrolls in water to blank them out - and with the proper tools, bottled water and blank paper can be some of the most useful tools in the game.
    • One playing the Nethack variant Slash'EM may come across the Houchou, an artifact-level spoon. Throwing this spoon at a monster results in an instant kill, after which the artifact is destroyed. Slash'EM mostly averts this trope, though, because just about every player has their own idea of which single creature in the game deserves skipping.
    • This is especially true in Linley's Dungeon Crawl, as beneficial potions and scrolls are relatively common and safe to identify by trial-and-error (and it is easy to end up facing half a dozen rampaging orcs with three hit points left).
    • Being based on the same principle, but adding in an overworld and the ability to buy storage houses... let's just say it is very common to have a ginormous amount of these in Elona.
  • Summon feathers in Chocobo's Dungeon allowed you to replace your partner with far more powerful summon creatures. This meant calling to your aid allies that could take down the game's bonus boss singlehandedly while taking only pitiful damage in return. The downside is that, should they actually die, you lose the feather you likely spent hours trying to get your hands on. A random summon feather takes away that risk but doesn't give you the option of selection.
  • In Castle of the Winds, you randomly find magic wands that can cast all kinds of spells, even the room-clearing Ball spells, with as much as a dozen charges. Even if you do put one in your belt, you'll probably forget you have it.

Role-Playing Game

  • There are a multitude of items like this in Pokémon; the Master Ball is probably the most famous example, since it can catch any Pokémon regardless of how strong it is. However, you usually only get one during a playthrough, though it's possible to get more of them via the lottery, trading, or exploiting cheats. Other examples may include certain TMs, evolutionary items, battle items and even certain healing items, such as Max Revives and the Sacred Ash, which can heal every Pokémon in your party to full health but can only be found once or twice in the game. Another bizarre example would be the Old Gateau, which is a one-off item that otherwise functions like a Full Heal, so you end up keeping it just because it looks cool.
    • Although, considering that in the first generation, there was an easy way to duplicate items like the Master Ball many times over, while in the later generations duplicating is a slow and involved process if you want many of the same item.
    • Ethers and Elixirs can't be bought in stores, and are only found on the maps. Therefore, they are usually conserved for the right time. In the later games, Mysteryberries and Leppa Berries had the same effect, but you could replant them for more, thereby rendering Ethers yet another useless thing that garnered lots of cash.
    • Rare Candy, a free level-up, is another example. However, since the higher a Pokémon's level is, the more experience it needs to level, saving them for later leveling lets you get the most bang for your buck.
    • Pokémon games have a large list of TMs (items that teach attacks to Pokémon), some which can be bought at markets and Game Corners, others that you only get one of... ever. And if you're the kind of Trainer that switches up his/her team a lot, you may have just wasted a strong attack on a Pokémon you'll never use again. Earthquake is a particularly big offender, given its high power, high accuracy, and useful typing. Worse, since only fathers pass down TM moves, the player is discouraged from ever using one-of-a-kind TMs on female or genderless Pokémon.
      • Pokémon Black and White changed the rules for TMs to allow them to be infinite use like HMs, And the Fandom Rejoiced. Interestingly, this was because Game Freak took notice of this exact trope, realizing that some people refused to use TMs at all due to this.
    • Sacred Ash. In most games, there's only one legal way to get it (two in HeartGold/SoulSilver), which is usually by catching Ho-oh, who will be holding it... but the item's power is ridiculously awesome - it can revive all of the Pokémon in your party to full health (albeit only on the field).
    • Pokémon Black and White adds Gems, which grant a whopping 50% power boost to a move of the same element, but they're one-use, which means that after that initial blaze of power, your Pokémon is stuck with no item (although this is a good time to follow up with Acrobatics). You have to decide if the one-time boost is preferable to the constant 20% boost you'd get from a Type-enhancing item of the same element.
  • In Super Mario RPG there are tons of these. At the end of the game you have enough of these that you have to actually start chucking the "lesser" amazing items when your inventory fills up. Thankfully most of the really awesome items have either multiple uses or easily-acquired substitutes. The game, to its credit, does try to avert this by occasionally allowing "Freebies", which mean the item is not used up. They can possibly even be timed, but if they can, the timing is incredibly precise.
    • The best example is Kero-Kero Cola, a Megalixir-equivalent that can be bought en masse for an expensive but comparatively worthwhile 150/200 coins, depending on where you get them. By comparison, Max Mushrooms (which heal a party member to full HP) can only be bought at the Very Definitely Final Dungeon and Royal Syrup (which restores FP to full) can't be bought at all. Kero-Kero Cola does the same thing as both items combined, and on the whole party, too. Unless money is an issue (and given the genre, it probably isn't) you'll never be in a position where using the rare item is better than using a Cola.
    • One of the biggest items of them all would be the Red Essence, which leaves a character invincible for three turns and is very hard to find.
    • Flower Boxes, Jars and Tabs may count as this at some points, as they also completely recover your FP alongside raising it, so you'll often save them for when you start running low so as to save your normal recovery items.
    • Another one is the Rock Candy, which deals 200 damage to every enemy in the battle. Too bad that the average player will only find about three throughout the entire game. Most players know exactly what they're saving all the Candies for: Culex.
    • Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga has Golden Mushrooms; there are only about 4 you can ever get in hidden courses, and they fully restore the bros' HP and BP.
  • Paper Mario has the Jammin' Jelly, and to a lesser extent, the Ultra Shroom. The latter gives Mario 50 HP when used, while the former gives you 50 FP. Since you can only level Mario's HP and FP up to 50 (to have more than that, you need the HP Plus or FP Plus badges equipped), chances are you'll have one or two still in your inventory when you beat Bowser.
    • You can combine the two into a "Jelly Ultra" Which restores both HP and FP by 50. Doing this may seem like a good idea, but doing so will cause an extreme mental block which will prevent you from ever using the item. Other high-end recipes can fall into this trope also.
    • Further, the Triple Dip badge grants you the option of using three in one turn, giving you the option to restore 85 more HP and FP than Mario can possibly have, you know, when the time comes.
    • Jammin' Jellies and Ultra Shrooms can be obtained from the pig farm, but it's fairly expensive and time-consuming.
    • Whacka's Bump is a healing item that restores 25 HP and FP... but you can only have a few per game.
    • And then The Thousand-Year Door has those same items, but you can increase your total HP even further. Even so...
  • Dragon Quest:
    • In the earlier Dragon Quest/Dragon Warrior games, you can pick a leaf from the World Tree which has the power to resurrect a dead party member without having to use a costly magic spell that has a chance of not working. However, you can only pick one of these at a time, and those that are hidden around the world were One-Time items. (A few of the games have them as Casino prizes, but that requires a lot of luck or Save Scumming.) Dragon Quest VIII permits you to buy or otherwise legitimately acquire two such leaves; however, it's possible to smuggle a third into the inventory via the game's item-crafting system.
    • Dragon Quest VII also boasts the World Dew, medicine derived from World Leaves that can heal your whole party. Again, you can only have one at a time; unlike with World Leaves, though, you have to buy it from a shop that was always crowded, and wait your turn in line. And it's possible for them to "run out" before you even got to the counter...
    • Dragon Quest IV also contains the World Dew, though it follows a "one at a time" rule quite similar to the game's Leaf of World Tree. Fortunately, despite the limited supply, both were free.
    • The wisdom rings are too awesome to use as well as it's rare, one of the only ways to recover magic points, and breaks after several uses. Same with Elfin elixirs which recovers all MP. Some games have them offered as casino prizes.
  • The Magic Bullets and similar items in Lunar: The Silver Star, to the extent that the Playstation remake removed them altogether.
  • The Atelier series subverts this. Burst variation is activated via several means, attacking in combos and attacking stunned folks or hitting an opponent's weak point for massive damage. Most expendable items will see a use as they build up Variation when you needed it for a rainy day.
  • Breath of Fire III has a pair of skills. Bonebreak is one of the game's strongest attack skills, and Celerity bestows godlike stat buffs. Both skills are usable at zero ability point cost. The catch? After using either skill, you have to wait five in-game hours for it to recharge. Considering that the game lasts about 30 hours and you get neither skill until very late in the game (and after tons of long, hard level grinding), it goes without saying that you'll probably never see either put to use until it's Final Boss Time—assuming you feel like expending the effort to acquire the skills in the first place!
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Final Fantasy III, Phoenix Downs can't be purchased in shops. Either keep a party member who knows Raise around, or be prepared to spend time farming weaker enemies for the items.
    • Final Fantasy VI's Super Ball may be unique in that, by the time you get it, it's already useless.
    • Final Fantasy IX has the Dark Matter item. Unstoppable, unreduceable 9999 damage for zero MP cost, and there are only three in the game. Smart players, on the other hand, will keep it around just long enough so their summoners can learn Odin off it, and then use it on a boss.
    • Any item in Final Fantasy XI that has an "Enchantment" effect with a limited number of uses is almost always Too Awesome to Use... Even when it's not. Items such as Trick Staves, Anniversary Rings and Raphael's Rod are rare in that you can only hold one and they're actually hard to obtain, so players will let them collect dust in storage unless they know they can get another. Items with unlimited uses but high timers (Tidal Talisman, Nexus Cape) are sometimes Too Awesome to Use because you almost always find yourself needing their enchantment when you've already used them and still have days remaining on your timer. Items with limited uses that are easy to re-obtain (such as Warp Cudgels, Reraise Earrings or Emperor Bands) subvert this trope, unless those items are being held for resale. Then they're Too Awesome to Use because a "used" Enchantment item cannot be sold on the Auction House.
    • Every job in Final Fantasy XI has an ability that, once used, cannot be used for another two hours. But many of these abilities never get used because players either want to hang on to them in case the party gets into a bad situation or the like, at which point it's probably too late anyway, or a waste—Benediction results in the user getting much too much aggro to avoid being the enemy's target, and Hundred Fists, which allow the Monk to hit repeatedly with almost no delay, usually can't do enough damage to kill the enemy before it starts offing players late in a battle, for example. Somewhat averted in Corsair's 2hour, Wild Card, which can recharge 2hours for others in the party... except other Wild Cards. If you're lucky, you can make quite a bit of money on the side by having your level 1 Corsair use Wild Card for random people who'll pay you for success.
    • Final Fantasy XIII has only four elixirs in the game. If you do dare to use them and do so intelligently though, one is usually enough to drop the scales in your favor.
      • Shrouds (field items that pre-buff your characters with every conceivable positive status or let you dodge enemies entirely) cannot be bought in shops. They also never drop from enemies. How to get them? Intentionally spend excessive amounts of time in battles so that you get One-Star rankings in them, and after about a few dozen instances of this, a flag triggers that allows shrouds to become rare drops. Needless to say, you'll want to save the 20 or so you get through the course of normal play for the endgame Bonus Bosses.
    • Final Fantasy VIII has the Hero and Holy War items, which make respectively a single character or the whole party completely invincible for a short period of time. They have to be mugged off of certain bosses and are thus very limited in quantity... unless you go to the trouble of playing the card game. Winning the Laguna and Gilgamesh cards - a difficult task but not Nintendo Hard - and refining them with the Card Mod ability gets you 100 Heroes and 10 Holy Wars, more than enough to get you through all of the game's toughest boss fights. In addition, Bahamut (another rare card) could be refined into 100 Megalixirs.
    • Final Fantasy VIII's junction system essentially discouraged the player from using magic, since you'd either be saving up your best spells to junction with a specific stat or you'd have them junctioned already, meaning you were left with the lesser spells that weren't worth using on account of the stat boosts from the junctioned spells.
    • Any Final Fantasy game with a class or character that can throw items turns the better weapons into this. And the cheaper weapons may simply not do enough damage to be worth throwing.
    • In every Final Fantasy game, Elixirs restore all of a character's HP and MP, and Megalixirs work as Elixirs on the entire party. Unless you plan to spend hours trying to steal more of them from specific enemies, you'll only find a small handful of Elixirs in any given game and probably one or two Megalixirs. In some of the games Ethers also cannot be purchased and so are also very valued unless you know where to steal them from, if you can steal from some of the enemies.
  • SaGa / Final Fantasy Legend II naturally has these; almost every item has a durability counter. The ones you can't buy of course will fall into this. A lot of these can be found in the Nasty Dungeon. The Glass sword, which deals 1000+ damage ignoring all defense, breaks after one use. There is also the Hyper cannon, which will instantly win any non-boss battle, but it can only be used three times. You can equip the latter on a robot for one regenerating use, but the limited space on a robot itself is Too Awesome To Use. The DS version features even more of these.
  • The Eternal Key in Shadow Hearts 2 and 3 allows a character to extend a physical attack string infinitely, as long as the player can keep hitting a series of timed button presses. Get enough hits with one, and it'll kill literally any enemy in existence through overwhelmingly huge damage. Of course, there's only one in each game.
    • To a lesser extent are the Third, Fifth, and Seventh Keys. All three games have an endgame shop that sells Third Keys, but you won't see many of them or the others prior, even if you're thorough.
  • In Valkyrie Profile, there are two types of items that fall into this - Slayer weapons, and Great Magic staves. The first deal insane damage to certain types of enemies, but are breakable, and you'll never find one that isn't. Great Magic staves are stupidly powerful (the first one you'll find is in the triple digits for MAG when what your mage likely has barely breaks two digits), and naturally, unlock the specials for mages. They're also extremely breakable - some have a one in three chance of shattering. Unlisted are tricks for preserving these items (oneshot the enemy to keep the slayer, just don't use Great Magic to keep the stave), so newbies or inexperienced players let these sit.
  • People went through Mother saving up on attack items like bottle rockets to use on the final boss, only to find out in the end that to beat him, you have to sing to him. Practically the same thing happens in the sequels, though Mother 2/EarthBound did have you actually fight Giygas in the second stage of the final fight. There is also a healing item called a Hand-Aid which recovers all your HP and PP, but there is only one of it in the game. Fortunately, EarthBound allowed you to buy the various types of bottle rockets (and for fairly reasonable prices considering how much damage they can do). So bottle rockets are no longer Too Awesome to Use.
    • Then there's the Bag of Dragonite, which turns one character into a dragon (although this just means an one-time powerful fire attack). If it weren't for the restrictive nature of the inventory in that game, they'd never be used at all.
  • Mother 3 repeatedly asks you not to do this, telling the player it's no use carrying around items you never use. At one point a woman asks if you're the kind of person who "stocks up on food and never eats it."
    • Similarly, Lita cheerfully reminds you in Boktai 2 that "items are meant to be used". However she has an ulterior motive—she wants Django coming to her store as often as possible.
    • And in Valkyrie Profile: Covenant of the Plume, a man in the prologue said something along the lines: "Medicine never did a dead man no good."
  • The Neverwinter Nights franchise has this. This is mostly the case with powerful or even ordinary potions and scrolls, especially if your character is not a magic build. A lot of mundane but tough fights could have been made easier if you'd just used that barkskin potion or whatnot, but you keep saving it for the boss fights.
  • Similarly, occurs with potions and antidotes in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. You'll instantly start collecting various buff, health and antidote potions, but when an opportunity arises to actually use them, you'll find some way to avoid 'wasting' them until that special moment when you really need them. As time passes, this simply has the effect of rendering the items useless, as a formerly effective health potion that just restores one hundredth of your now leveled-up character's hit points is no longer as valuable. Then you drop the junk because it weighs you down. To make room for new junk.
    • Of course, considering you can make them yourself via Alchemy, that every potion you make raises your Alchemy skill and that by the time you're a Master of Alchemy it's probably the quickest and easiest way to make money (go raid a few farms and presto, 200 potions of restore fatigue to sell), this doesn't really apply if you're playing a character that uses alchemy.
    • The Daedric Lava Whiskey from the Wizard's Tower expansion: Only one bottle in the game, does a slight amount of damage and paralyzes you in exchange for then healing a massive amount of health and summoning a Dremora Lord, which is one of the most powerful summonable creatures in the game
  • A great example is found in one of the expansions to The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind. In a stump are five Ebony Arrows Of Slaying that do 5,000 damage apiece. This is enough damage to drop The Imperfect (The Dragon in one of the expansions, and also a giant magic robot that the offical guide refers to as a monster to take down) twice over in one shot.
    • This can also happen with some of the more powerful scrolls, one-use items that allow you to cast powerful spells at no cost.
  • Using items mid-battle in Eternal Sonata is clunky and generally unnecessary for victory, so many very useful ones remain unused throughout - even in the final battles of the game, when it only really becomes necessary to use HP restoring items.
    • Though in the later battles it is simply easier to stack the battle inventory with only resurrection items and let characters die and raise them rather than healing them at all.
    • Most healing items restore a percentage of the target's max HP. Naturally, these items increase in effectiveness the higher your characters' levels are, so you'll probably hoard them in favor of using healing abilities like Blossom Shower and Heal Arrow.
  • The second Parasite Eve game presents a similar problem to that posed by Resident Evil games. Stocks of unlimited standard pistol bullets appear early on, and unlimited stocks of slightly more powerful pistol bullets and standard shotgun ammo appear later. But you're going to be lugging that assault rifle and grenade launcher around for the entire game without using them because ammo is limited and you want to save it for later. You might get way more use out of the rifle's optional bayonet attachment than out of its actual bullets.
    • An unlimited rifle ammo and grenade stock point can be found near the end of the game though, alleviating this problem in the final battles.
  • Fallout 2 had the Monument Chunk, a consumable which offered massive combat bonuses, but was available only once in the entire game. It almost always wound up in the trunk of the car until after the end of the game.
    • If you were willing to risk an instant death trap, you could have three or four.
    • Fallout 2 also had the three special Federation super-medkits which you found in the special encounter with the crashed Star Trek shuttle. They restored your health completely, no matter how hurt you were - but there were only three in the entire game. As a result they inevitably ended up in a chest or other container, from which they would only be taken when really needed. Or not.
  • Fallout 3 features the Experimental MIRV: a modified Fat Man that fires 8 mini-nukes at once. The average player probably won't find enough mini-nukes over the course of the entire game to fire this baby more than two or three times. No fight in the game justifies the use of such firepower, so the weapon will most likely remain unused. Great for showing off, though.
    • The Alien Blaster will disintegrate any target with a headshot, but there are less than two hundred rounds of ammunition for it in the entire game.
    • There are roughly two enemies you can feel justified using the Alien Blaster on: Super Mutant Overlords and Feral Ghoul Reavers, both from the Broken Steel DLC. They're only encountered in tight quarters where sniping is useless and they're tough enough where you don't feel like you're wasting ammo.
    • You could also classify the Firelance under the same banner as the Alien Blaster. Only obtainable in a randomly found event (of which you may not even notice and end up walking away from). It's a unique variant of the Alien Blaster that sets things on fire as well as having a pretty punch. Because of the fire effect, it gets an extra 50% damage from the Pyromaniac perk. Add the Xenotech perk from the Mothership Zeta Downloadable Content to add a further 20% damage to it, and you can easily drop the toughest enemies with a decent Energy Weapons skill. Sounds good and all, but the event only spawns it with 12 rounds, randomly thrown about the nearby area, so you're not likely to find even half of them. The total available ammo for it in the game is around 280: 120 from the crashed Alien ship, 12 from the Firelance event itself, and ~100-150 from Fort Independence assuming you have the Scavenger perk. You can find a further 80 or so shots from the Mothership Zeta DLC, and a small stash of ammo with the Broken Steel DLC. So in theory, you might be lucky to get 400 shots if you know exactly where to get them, what perks to have, have both of the necessary DLC, and have plenty of time to invest in getting them. After all that, are you really going to squander the ammo on some weak mutants?
    • Is somewhat lessened with Mothership Zeta, as you can find more alien blaster ammo as you play through the ship. Enough to warrant using it against excessive hordes of mutants or against surprise deathclaw attacks.
    • With "Operation Anchorage", there is exactly one Gauss Rifle, and without Alien Epoxy from "Mothership Zeta", there's no way to repair it. Even though you could practically be swimming in its ammo late in the game, there's a hard limit on the number of shots you can fire (unless you abuse a glitch to get a nearly indestructible version from the computer simulation out into the "reality" of the Capital Wasteland).
  • Fallout: New Vegas has some of them, such as:
    • Fat Man. There are only 14 Mini Nukes (down to 12 if you have Wild Wasteland trait) in the entire game!
    • Holy Hand Grenades. Their damage and blast radius is similar to Mini Nukes, but there are only three of them so use them sparingly. Oh, you also need Wild Wasteland trait.
    • Alien Blaster. You can only fire about 14-25 times for the entire game. Also requires Wild Wasteland trait.
    • Depending on how miserly you are, regular grenades and mines can fall under this. Are you seriously going to throw something that costs 150 caps at an enemy you can just shoot with ten 5.56 bullets (a cap each)?
  • Wild ARMs had the extremely useful "Ambrosia" potion that revives, fully heals health and magic points and removes all status changes for the entire party.
  • The Bard's Tale has Adder Stones, which allow you to heal instantly, restrain enemies, become immortal for a brief period of time, and do several other cool things. Depending on how conservative the player is, this can result in completely unnecessary hoarding in case they need to become immortal later—people have died sitting on a decent collection of adder stones and entered the final boss fight with 102 stones (one is needed to heal, and 3 for immortality).
    • Of course, if you're the type that doesn't care about cheating, there's a cheat code that gives you a insane amounts of adder stones(as well as gold) and can be used repeatedly. This can be used in combination with codes that make you invincible, allowing the adder stones to be used for their more offensive spells as opposed to just their healing and defensive ability.
  • Various awesome potions and protections scrolls in Baldur's Gate just pile up in your inventory until the endgame, when you don't really need them since your mages and clerics can cast far mightier buffs on you. However, Protection from Magic and Protection from Undead scrolls may prove useful in the final levels. And for all that's holy, do hold like glue onto that Cloudkill scroll you find in the Firewine Ruins! Party mage + Cloudkill = the Big Bad's henchmen gone before they even see you.
    • Same goes for most scrolls and potions in BG2: by the time you'd figure you need them, you can beat pretty much anyone to bloody pulp without magical buffs, let alone potions. This also applies to artifact weapons lying around, especially after you find that Bag of Holding.
  • Ultima frequently features the Glass Sword, which is very much one of these, killing any enemy instantly but breaking after use.
    • Glass swords also used in quite a few of the SaGa/Final Fantasy on Game Boy games.
  • The dragon form in Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter is so powerful it can demolish any enemy with ease, even bosses. But using it increases your D-Ratio, which triggers a Nonstandard Game Over when it hits 100%, and there's no way to reduce it. And it still increases gradually even if you don't use your dragon powers.
  • Odin Sphere averts this trope nicely (and it is so difficult that if the player refuses to get rid of their Too Awesome to Use attitude, it makes the game much harder than it needs to be). The only consumable items worth using are food and potions. Food is used mostly for HP Experience so it is often used immediately instead of being saved for healing purposes (and the best food is purchased in restaurants and eaten automatically). Every type of potion can eventually be made by the player and the ingredients to make them are plentiful (the exception being potions that require Troll Molars, but those aren't used for combat). Furthermore, inventory space is very limited to further discourage item hoarding.
  • The Random Joker cards in Kingdom Hearts Chain of Memories. Exceedingly rare, and one Random Joker fits any critera for opening a door. If you manage to get one, you'll probably end up saving it until you reach the Final Boss, just in case you find a door with an even more insane requirement.
    • 0 world cards (open doors of any less than or greater than value, as well as doors with a 0 value) count to a slightly lesser degree, as players may want to save them for 0 doors rather than use them to easily open other types of doors.
    • In the first game, there were the rare "Angel" items, which fully recovered your party back to full health outside of battle. Expecting that they could "put it to better use later on", most players never even used ONE of them, because it was always possible to just track back to the last safe point and restore your health there, even though this was a lot more impractical and time consuming.
  • Skies of Arcadia features the Aura Of Valor which maxes your Spirit pool allowing you to unleash your biggest attacks but you only ever get 2 or 3. The bright side is that the storyline bosses are easy to beat using the Game Breaker Justice/Delta Shield combo; you generally won't need to use the Aura unless you take on some of the sidequests. The downside is that trying to beat some of the Wanted battles (especially Daikokuya, the Ixa'Ness, and the Impostors) without using one tends to wander towards the hard side of impossible, and even when you do use it there's a non-zero chance they can recover from it (especially if you were fool enough to use Blue Rogues rather than Prophecy or Pirate's Wrath) and even in the best-case you'll blow a hell of a lot of Riselem Crystals to win the fight.
    • There's also the Tropica, a fruit that gives any character a 200 HP boost. There are only two in the entire game, and one of them is very, VERY easy to miss.
  • The GBA/PSP RPGs Riviera: The Promised Land and Yggdra Union were both FULL of these, since both had limited-use item systems (and even worse, in Yggdra Union good items were sometimes needed to give to certain NPCs to obtain better items). Fanelia in Riviera was the worst offender - it dealt enough damage to trivialize any battle in the game, but there was only one and it only had one use.
  • The All-Divide in Tales of Symphonia halves damage that the party receives and inflicts, and while it makes battles take longer, it makes it considerably easier to withstand enemies' attacks long enough to heal. Unfortunately, given how rare they are, most players will save them for That One Boss or not use them at all.
  • All-Divides return in Tales of Graces along with Elixir items that fully restore the HP of even KO'd characters, but the trope is averted with the game's Eleth Mixer feature, which gives you the chance to duplicate items by running around as long as you have had them in your inventory at one point in time.
  • The Penny Arcade games do their best to avoid this; items spawn randomly and the max of each that you can hold is pretty low, so if you don't use items regularly, they'll just be wasted.
  • Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura features Fate Points. Put simply, they provide a guaranteed critical success to the next use of whatever specific skill you chose (pickpocket, spell, attack, etc.) or instantly refill a meter of some sort (like health). They are extremely rare (about 25 technically), only rewarded for completing specific tasks, and are sometimes rewarded for different results in the same task (in other words, impossible to collect all of them). Good luck choosing those few very special occasions to spend them on. Most players would probably default to using them to gank powerful items that could otherwise never be stolen without being caught, but even then there are more such items than you have points to spend.
  • Persona 3 and Persona 4 both contain the rare "Soma" item which restores the whole party's life and magic points. However there are only several in each game and they can't be bought from any store.
    • Played painfully straight in the Updated Rerelease Persona 3 Portable, wherein the combination attacks now come in card form, purchasable from the antique store. Remember that Game Breaker, Armageddon? It now cost 99 Malachite and 10 Opal. Don't worry, you'll have that many if you saved for 80 levels.
    • It's also beautifully cruel in the latter game. Persona 3 would grant Somas and Bead Chains (restore the HP of the entire party, but not the SP) with relative ease, and often after beating one of the dozen sub-bosses in the 250+ floor tower. Players who realized this and started using them confidently would assume Persona 4 would offer the same generosity. But there are only three non-random-chest Somas in the entire game, and one of them is sold through the easily-missed TV shopping channel.
    • Also applicable to Persona 4's SP-restoring items. Again, these were plentiful in Persona 3 (which also restored characters to full when returning to the dungeon's entrance, so SP items would languish unused and unnecessary until lengthy battles) but they're painfully rare in Persona 4. Even the vending machines that sell soda (the lowest form of this item, restoring only a few SP) run out of items after a few purchases, and don't restock for several days.
  • The golden potato in Barkley, Shut Up and Jam: Gaiden. One Hit KO on any enemy, including the final boss.
  • Crisis Core has a interesting case. It takes the Phoenix Down, which in all previous Final Fantasy games is cheap to acquire and available in most shops, instead making it very rare, but also a definite Too Awesome to Use: With the right accessory equipped, it can revive and cure Zack of up to 99999 HP. Very useful for those Very Hard missions, where common monsters can have damage limits larger than Zack's maximum HP.
  • Geneforge does this with the Discipline Wand, even though the wand itself isn't actually Too Awesome to Use. The weapon basically acts as a One Hit KO for most creations, but has only six shots. When you first enter Ellrah's Keep, the Discipline Wand is set up as being this dangerous superweapon that invokes hushed voices and dramatic lightning whenever discussed. In reality, while the weapon is good, Discipline Wands, while uncommon, can be found in a few areas; this is not the only one. However, players are likely to be so certain that this is the only one they'll ever get that you can be sure you won't use that first one until it becomes clear that you can get several(and even then you might hoard them).
    • A more conventional example is the Jeweled Wand, which lets you use the extremely powerful "Diamond Spray" attack that you can't cast on your own; it hits up to FIVE enemies for quite a bit of damage. The item is extremely rare, as well, with most players probably only getting one. Players usually save the item for the battle with Trajkov, Goettsch, or the Bonus Dungeon.
  • In Albion, you're a brave space-pilot, stranded on a medieval-level world with your scientist friend. Favored weapons amongst the natives includes swords, spears and the like. In the wreck of your spaceship, you find a gun and a handful of bullets for it - and, needless to say, you're not likely to find extra ammo anywhere on the planet. Hence, you'll probably never use it at all, even as the game's progression gradually gives you access to to powerful magic-users and enchanted weapons that can equal and surpass the handgun's power - and towards the very end of the game, you actually DO find plentiful extra ammo, and more powerful guns as well. Shame you didn't use the gun back near the beginning, where it would've actually been really useful...
  • In the Dungeons & Dragons CRPG Ravenloft: Strahd's Possession, the heroes can find a handful of Arrows of Slaying Undead very early in the game. There are only a handful available in the game. Good luck deciding when to use them.
  • In the Monster Hunter games, there are Max Potions and Ancient Potions: you can only hold 2 and 1 at a time, respectively. Max potions will heal you to full and increase your max total health to its maximum; Ancient Potions will do that *and* do the same to your stamina (though stamina recovers megafast anyway, but the max deteriorates over time). Max potions can be crafted, and with farmable materials, but they're a hassle... and Ancient Potions also require Kelbi Horns to make, which can be tough to get. And inventory slots are valuable. So, pretty much never gets used. They do have a good use for when you get killed, as that resets your max stamina/health and they're the only ones who can increase max health during a quest... but then you're wasting the healing component, and most don't assume they'll get killed during a quest/plan around it.
    • Tri mitigated this a lot with the Moga Woods, a hunting area with no time limit and that often had a lot of Kelbi. If you needed more horns, all you had to do was wait until the next Herbevore Breeding cycle, grab a sword and shield (or hammer) and go "clubbing". Of course, if a Rathalos spawned on your head while you were out, that was a problem all on it's own...
  • SP-restoring items in Shin Megami Tensei Nocturne. They are very hard to find outside of Random Drops, and when you attempt to recruit demons, they will almost always ask for one. Eventually remedied when the Collector opens up shop in Asakusa, as he sells SP-restoring items. The Chakra Elixir will also make sure that you never run out of SP ever again.
    • Somas, seen in Persona 3 and Persona 4, are toned down in this game (only affect one person as opposed to the full party), but that doesn't change the fact that they're painfully rare and just begging to be stockpiled. Here, there's only ONE that doesn't require finding Mystical Chests, the contents of which will actually change if you open them in the wrong phase. How do you get it? Through a very-easily missed vending machine that stops working after the Conception. In other words, it's only available to you for the first 15 minutes of the game. Missed it? Too bad.
  • Time Flutes in Pokémon Colosseum instantly purify any Pokemon, thereby giving them an extra move and whatever experience they should have gained through battle. However, there's only 3 throughout the entire game, and one of them comes from beating Mt. Battle.
  • In Hydlide, the Medicine will revive you to full health when you die, but only once. Saving it for the Final Boss is pretty much obligatory.
  • Dark Souls has the not-that-common Ring of Sacrifice and the Rare Ring of Sacrifice, which prevent you from losing souls and humanity upon death, and the latter breaking the otherwise hard to remove Curse ailment...and break upon use. And then there's the Ring of Favor and Protection, which gives a boost to health, stamina, and carrying capacity, with only two(and one of them well-hidden) in the game, and they break upon being removed. And then there's the Divine Blessing: A very large heal that cures any ailment except curse, and of which only a limited number exist in each playthrough.
  • Quest for Glory V has the Thermonuclear Blast spell which can be used at any time for a Nonstandard Game Over or on the Doom Dragon to win the game, at the cost of your life and everything nearby.
  • In Mass Effect 2, the M-920 Cain is essentially a railgun with the power of a nuclear warhead (to the point of causing mushroom clouds and bearing the radiation hazard symbol) that does enough damage to instantly cheese some tough events. Unfortunately, it requires all of your heavy weapon ammo to fire once (unless you have the heavy ammo upgrades, then you might be able to fire it twice), has a four second charge time, is impractical in the many close-quarters firefights which populate the game because of its blast radius, and fires a relatively slow projectile. The last boss is one of the fights you'd want to use it on, but he flails around like he's having a seizure, making hitting him an exercise in frustration, so you might save it until the end... and then completely blow it.
    • To a certain extent, all heavy weapons are like this. They're very situational weapons and they all share the same ammo pool that does not refill between missions. And most every instance where a heavy weapon would be useful could be handled just as easily with a conventional weapon. Still, one can't deny the coolness factor of exploding, snap-freezing, or incinerating a massed group of enemies.
  • The game Full Metal Alchemist And The Broken Angel had a system where you could turn things into weapons using alchemy; you could make the basic weapon and a more advanced one, and could add on elemental bonuses to them. You could, for example, create a broadsword and attach fire to that, which was pretty powerful, or you could make the more advanced weapon, a katana, but it came at a cost; you couldn't attach an element to it, and, while it was powerful enough to take out an enemy in a single hit, it was used up after about six hits, leaving you running around wildly looking something else you could turn into a weapon.

Shoot'Em Up

  • The Grenades in Metal Slug are rather powerful. You'll want to keep them the first time you play the game, thinking you're going to find a good use for all that power... The game soon obliges, and you'll usually end up wasting those grenades when you get killed. Of course, you get a fresh set on your next life, and hopefully a little extra insight on how things work in the game.
  • Bombs are very useful in Star FOX, and are instrumental in a few boss fights. You don't find yourself using them too often, though, do you?
    • Doubly so because killing multiple enemies with a single Bomb does not offer the same cluster-kill bonus that doing the same with a charge shot does. It mostly comes down to a matter of only using it on enemies that you KNOW you can't clear out anyway, and memorizing the points where more bombs appear so you can be sure a replacement is right around the corner.
  • Bombs can seem this way in Shoot'Em Ups, especially in Bullet Hell shmups, but hoarding them is often very harmful. Because they often have the property of rendering the player invincible for a few seconds and/or nullifying all on-screen bullets, many players will save them for when they're really in danger of losing their current life... and then die and have their bombs wasted as a result. Some games offer an "auto-bomb" feature that automatically deploys bombs for this purpose or gives the player a few additional frames to fire a bomb, though sometimes it comes with a penalty; Imperishable Night will burn an additional bomb for using this feature, and Ketsui Death Label takes away all of the remaining bombs and reduces the player's score multiplier.
    • See also, Gigawing, as bombs add a ridiculous amount of points to your already ludicrous trillion-digit score. The temptation to beat your old score by holding onto just ONE more bomb this time is quite deadly.
  • The Climax Mode Limit Break in After Burner Climax, which gives you Bullet Time and a Macross Missile Massacre, does not come that rarely, but it's still possible to fall into this mentality as there's a chance you burn it on one enemy wave only for an even larger wave of enemy planes to show up.
  • In Thunder Force III onwards, dying takes away your current weapon unless it's Twin Shot or Back Shot, your initial weapons. Less experienced players who are aware of this penalty may find themselves refusing to use the better weapons, out of fear of losing them.

Stealth Based Game

  • Splinter Cell: If you didn't realize you could use the Sticky-Cam to knock out people, you'd end up hoarding Sticky-Shockers and Airfoils right past the point where they'd be useful. (And the games would often have Sam inexplicably dump several of his items during loading screens, rendering all your hoarding moot.) Conviction rectifies this by giving players "Weapon Stashes" that top off all the player's ammo whenever they're used.

Survival Horror

  • Nearly all entries in the Resident Evil series barring Code Veronica (where there simply isn't enough ammunition) and 4 (where it's just so damned fun to shoot regular enemies with larger weapons than is necessary, and the game will give you more of the larger ammo if you're short on it anyway) have players finding themselves with dozens of magazines worth of ammunition for their weapons, and their larger guns all but unused by the time they meet the final enemy, which most likely cannot be hurt by any of those weapons, even the big-ticket firearms.
    • Ink Ribbons. 'Nuff said. While most typewriters have at least one and possibly as many as three ribbons nearby, the prospect of running out and being unable to save is quite scary for many players.
    • Resident Evil 4 has this with the rocket launcher, which is very powerful (can one-hit just about every boss in the game), but is still better to sell for cash and use that to upgrade one of your guns that gets more then one use.
    • Resident Evil 5 ends up playing this trope semi-straight (or at least straighter than RE4 did) due to its more limited inventory system. With only nine slots available per character, space is at a premium and it's usually best to rely on the weapon you have the most ammo for, if only to keep your inventory from being clogged with four or five superfluous ammo boxes. Sadly, the ammunition for the best weapons in the game (magnums and the grenade launcher) are almost impossible to find. And even when you do find magnum and grenade rounds chances are you won't have either of those weapons in your inventory since you so prudently chose to store them away in your hammerspace inventory accessible only in between chapters. On the other hand, RE5 also allows you to replay individual chapters over and over again to stockpile items, so there ya go.
    • As for Code Veronica, the SMG's and the assault rifle are too awesome. The Magnum you'll definitely need for the later bosses, and if you left the Fire Extinguisher (which you need to extinguish the fire blocking the path to it) behind in the security box, it'll be Lost Forever.
    • The Submachine Gun in RE 2, though a case of Tropes Are Not Bad, as using the gun (either unlimited or not) reduced the rank of the character in question, making it really stupid to use.
  • In the Silent Hill series, the more powerful weapons, such as the Rifle in the first two games and the Submachine Gun in SH3, tend to have the scarcest ammo and should be saved for major boss fights. The Ampoule, an item that heals all of your health no matter how badly hurt you were, also suffers from the same scarcity and often ends up never used at all.
    • Silent Hill 4 features unkillable Victim ghosts that haunt the player throughout the entire game. Your best defense are the Swords of Obedience (there's only five of them) and the even rarer Silver Bullets (there's only two). Swords will pin down a fallen Victim for the remainder of the game; Silver Bullets will instantly "down" a Victim. Usually, players save the Swords for pinning down the four toughest Victims Cynthia, Jasper, Andrew and Richard, while hogging the Silver Bullets for the latter two, essentially bypassing two of the hardest fights in the game. Meanwhile, the fifth Sword of Obedience comes so late in the game you might as well use it on anything, thereby subverting the trope.
      • Also in the game there's the case of Holy Candles and Saint Medallions. Both are effective means of defense against Victims, and come pretty early in the game, but players may choose to start saving them for the second half of the game, when the apartment starts suffering Hauntings whose exorcism directly influences the ending of the game.
    • Silent Hill Origins has one of the largest weapons' count in the series (including six kinds of firearms). Most of them, however, are commonplace depot appliances. The more powerful ones break after a single use, so players want to save them for boss fights and the like. But there's so many of them that Travis usually ends the game with dozens of TV sets, toasters, blenders and hammers in his pockets.

Third-Person Shooter

  • The Smart Bomb in Alien Swarm. When you unlock it, you can carry only one. It's pretty much the same as the Hornet Barrage, but 5 of them. It fires so many damn rockets that a huge swarm can easily be dispatched with the item. However, since you can only hold 1, you'll have a tough time figuring out when is the best time to use it.
  • Heavy weapons in Mass Effect 2. You can only replenish their ammo at a handful of fixed points in the game, and you get money for all the heavy weapons ammo you pick up that would put you over your maximum ammo capacity. Most people only ever use their heavy weapons in the tutorial because of the monetary reward. Medi-gel had a similar role. This has resulted in heavy weapons being scrapped, and medigel was given a more vital role in Mass Effect 3, being the only way you can regain health as opposed to the Regenerating Health of Mass Effect 2.

Tower Defense

  • Most emergency plants in Plants vs. Zombies, i.e. Cherry Bomb, Jalapeno, Doom Shroom, etc. Most of them get pretty expensive at 100 sun upward for an explosion, when you could be spending your sun on permanent attacking plants. They also take forever to recharge, so you can't use one back-to-back for multiple emergencies.
    • Most of the plant upgrades qualify in anything that isn't Survival Mode. By the time you have enough sun to turn all your Sunflowers into Twins or your Repeaters into Gatling Peas, the round is most likely over already. In the case of the former, as well, it costs so much sun to upgrade to Twins that the Sunflower has to pelt out sun 6 times before you start making profit off of it.

Turn-Based Strategy

  • Fire Emblem:
    • The unique S-rank staves in various Fire Emblem games (e.g. the Ashera Staff in Path of Radiance). They heal all your allies on the battlefield as well as removing all status ailments and give enough experience to the caster for a level up. But they only have three uses, and in order to use them at all you need an S-rank in staves (which has no other purpose and, in some games, stops you from S-ranking any other weapon type). This at least is not so much a problem in Radiant Dawn, because you only get the Ashera Staff from a character (whose method of recruitment approaches a Guide Dang It) that joins in the last chapter, and it can be freely used in the fight with the Big Bad.
    • And in a similar case, the Hammerne staff, which can repair almost any item in the game. Again, three uses before it's gone forever. However, the Hammerne staff can be used to repair other Too Awesome To Use items and weapons.
    • Most of the long-range magic items suffer from this trope. They're quite powerful and can be used from very far away, but are not common and have only 5 uses. In Radiant Dawn, if you have them blessed near the end of the game, they become infinitely usable making them partial Game Breakers.
    • While we're at it, the majority of S ranked, Brave, and special weapons in FE tend to fall under this trope. For example, in PoR, the Vague Katti is a decently powerful sword, but its true strength lies in its 35% increased chance of landing a Critical Hit. Too bad it only has enough uses to be good for one or two chapters.
    • Blazing Sword references this when a character warns not to put too much thought into who gets an item; 'holding onto a useful item does no one any good'. However, said NPC appears in Lyn's mode, and saving the item will help up your funds ranking. A higher funds ranking means Lyn has a better gem in her inventory in Eliwood/Hector mode, so ironically, this is the one time not using an item IS helpful (though it's debatable whether the better funds ranking and the extra gold later on outweigh the stat bonus from using the item right away).
    • Frankly, a lot of the items in the game, up to and including Vulneraries, which are the only way to heal without standing on fortresses or using healers.
    • In some games every weapon other than steel plus hand axes and javelins (and iron before that) ones are too expensive/fragile/rare/(In the GBA games) heavy to see much use on anything but bosses.
    • Sword of Seals actually forces this behavior. You have access to the game's ultimate weapons very early, but they have few uses, and in order to get the best ending they all need to be intact by the time you beat the Big Bad. Even though you technically CAN use them 1/3 of the way through the game, not players won't until the very end.
    • Going for an overall A Funds ranking also enforces this kind of behavior, as it's based on the total monetary worth of all items in your possession. Expect the wast majority of Silver weapons to get hoarded in the convoy and never used. Also note many forum members consider this the only way to play.
  • Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri's expansion pack introduced Battle Ogres. These are alien war machines left on Planet that really kick ass, especially the Mark 3. Problem? They are rare, and damage to them can never be repaired. So despite having very good weapons for when you pick them up, they tend to sit around as garrison units, because they have an ability that makes them better police. They're also good stopgaps in the case of mindworm swarms, as they have not only good defense but (in the mark 1 and 2 versions) additional defenses against psi attacks. Just be sure to never let them get into real combat.
  • Completely averted in the Baten Kaitos games; thanks to the card-based battle system, you could use your most powerful Magnus on weak enemies, and they'd still be in your inventory.
  • In most normal gameplay, you won't need to use the Jonathan Ingram card in Metal Gear Acid, despite it being one of the most powerful ones in the game. Ingram removes twenty COST from your character, far beyond the twelve COST removed by the most powerful conventional COST reduction card - but, because Jonathan Ingram is so powerful, it tends not to get used.

Turn Based Tactics

  • The three one-shot ultra-weapons in Gorky 17 (known as Odium to Americans), (a missile, a lightning and an energy beam). They cause colossal damage in a huge radius.
    • A very frustrating occurrence might be using one of those on a boss... only to discover he was immune to this type of attack.
  • The Samurai class in Final Fantasy Tactics has the ability to unleash area attacks from the different katanas available in the game. However, using them in this fashion had a chance of breaking them. While some of the weaker katanas were easily purchased (including, fortunately, one that restored allies' health), the most powerful ones were available only as rewards in battle (or via stealing from enemies). While you could just equip said katanas and use them for melee attacks to your heart's content, the special attack (which could break the katana) wound up never used.
  • See that beautiful Allmighty Antilaw in Final Fantasy Tactics Advance? It allows you to completely nullify all laws in the battle. Which means that they are the ultimate anti-judge weapon. But then it should be noted that it is limited to very certain plot points of the game. This extends to a lesser extent to the R level law cards which are still rare, but they can keep returning to the card shop. But good luck on getting yourself to use them too because often times you will just stomach the laws to begin with.

Wide Open Sandbox

  • In Grand Theft Auto games, getting a vehicle you want to keep generally means it will stay in the garage forever, since if you take it to do a mission, you will likely have to get out of it and risk it disappearing, and they are ridiculously easy to destroy.
    • This is taken to insane lengths in Grand Theft Auto III. Certain plot-involved cars are immune to certain things, such as bullets, fire, explosions, and wrecks. Most of these cars could only be obtained ONCE per game and often required hours of trial and error to get. Many players spent many hours collecting them, just to have them waste away in a garage, even though some missions almost require one to complete.
    • Another notable mention of this trope are the combine harvesters in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. These vehicles had the unique and delightfully sadistic feature of turning crops of pedestrians into neatly bundled up bales of body parts. Unfortunately, the harvesters are rare, encountered only at certain times in rural areas. In addition, almost all of them are locked and can only be accessed by killing the driver of one already in use. Even after obtaining one, the size of the vehicle makes it difficult to move in populated areas and impossible to fit into a garage for safe keeping. Its slow speed and bad handling make the player easy for law enforcers (who inevitably start to show up after a few good mauls) to catch. Finally, if the player decides to exit the vehicle for any reason, the door locks behind them.
  • No More Heroes has Anarchy in the Galaxy, the most devastating Limit Break move in the game that clears the entire screen of enemies. It's also the only Limit Break that can not only be triggered at will, but stacks as well in case you get more than one over the course of a level, and you get a sizeable cash bonus if you make it through the level without using it.
    • The cash bonus increases on subsequent playthroughs. It also does squat to bosses.
  • Minecraft has golden apples, the only food that gives the largest amount of hunger restored (5 units) and grants 30 seconds of regenerating health, regardless of hunger level. Red apples alone are incredibly rare, only being found occasionally in dungeons, or dropping off Notch, the game developer, should he grace your server. To make a golden apple, you have to encase that red apple in 8 cubes of gold. A cube of gold takes 9 gold ingots. You would have to mine and smelt 72 blocks of gold ore, a fairly rare material found underground or dropped in nugget form (1/9th of an ingot) by Zombie Pigmen, in order to have enough material to make a single golden apple. Before the 1.8 update, the Golden Apple was more of a status symbol than anything since other food at that time was more plentiful and healed a good amount of health. Golden Apples can be found in dungeons, but you only have a 1 in 125 chance of actually getting one.
    • Changed as of version 1.1. Apples now have a 0.5% chance of dropping from certain trees. They also only need eight gold nuggets, which can be made from one gold bar, not the previous 72 bars required. Still not very easy to get as you need to dig quite deep for gold, or kill several Zombie Pigmen. They're also not as effective in terms of healing, though they still offer the much sought after health regeneration for thirty seconds.
    • Some consider diamond equipment to be this. A pick-axe made of diamond mines faster and lasts a lot longer than one made of iron or stone... but it still breaks eventually, and if you're killed by underground monsters or a lava flow, you risk losing it forever. Similarly, diamond armor offers a great deal of protection, and diamond swords deal 25% more damage than iron swords, but since they're only useful in combat, there's a serious risk of losing them long before their unparalleled durability runs out, especially when diamond armor provides not much more protection than iron, which is plentiful. Diamond is found deep within the earth, usually near lava, and is even rarer than gold. It can still be worth using with proper branch mining techniques, but it is time-consuming to hunt for.
    • Ender Pearls. Endermen drop them when killed but they are difficult to kill quickly due to their Teleport Spam and the drop rate of the pearl is low. Throwing a pearl will teleport the player wherever it lands (but hurt you when used to prevent people from spamming the pearls willy-nilly), making them excellent tools to climb hills or to cross large gaps, but since the pearls are not common, players will either store them up and never use them or wait for the worst possible scenario to happen before using them. On top of that, an ender pearl can be combined with blaze powder to create an Eye of Ender, and you'll need up to a dozen every time you want to activate a stronghold portal to The End, not counting however many you use up trying to locate the stronghold.
    • Enchanted tools and armor. You can get some nifty effects for your items, such as setting mobs on fire or increasing the diamond drop rate. However, the enchantments you receive are pretty unpredictable, and the experience cost increases exponentially with the enchantment level. You'd have to kill 77 hostile mobs for level 10, 651 hostile mobs for level 30, or 1785 hostile mobs for the maximum, level 50. Furthermore, enchanted items can't be repaired without stripping the enchantment. They basically have all the drawbacks of diamond equipment taken Up to Eleven.
  • Depending on your playing style, the blunderbuss from Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare may qualify. Hands-down the most powerful gun in the game, it blasts zombies into a fine pink mist with one shot (several of them if they happen to be in a tight cluster). The ammo is made from dead zombie parts (ribs, eyes, ears, and tongues according to the RDR Wiki) and it takes ten zombie parts to make one unit of blunderbuss ammo. However, if you blast the undead apart with the blunderbuss you can't loot their bodies for ammo ingredients, which forces you to kill zombies normally. If you can kill 10+ zombies with conventional weapons you probably don't need the blunderbuss anyway.
    • Also, holy water and dynamite are extremely rare, especially since you can't buy anything.


  • Kantai Collection: Mechanics that lock units to certain maps or even phases within a map in events mean that it can be tempting to refrain from using your best units just in case they become necessary later on.

Non-Video Game examples


  • In Fred Saberhagen's Books of Swords trilogy and the sequel Books Of Lost Swords octology, Farslayer had this problem: its wielder could use it to kill anyone, anywhere in the world, even a demon or a god. The only problem was that it would remained lodged in the victim's heart, meaning that it would now be in the hands of whoever was nearest the victim when the Sword struck. If that person was a friend or loved one of the victim, and had any idea who might have flung Farslayer in the first place....

Tabletop Games

  • Some cards in Magic: The Gathering are specifically designed to invoke this trope, by giving you a small cheap effect and/or a large expensive effect. Good players will know when getting it out now is more important then making it more powerful; bad players will not.
    • One such example is Kavu Titan; when they were playtesting Invasion and someone lent now-head Designer Mark Rosewater a deck to use without mentioning that the Grizzly Bears (a basic 2-mana card with two power/toughness, similar to Kavu Titan without its kicker) were supposed to be proxies for Kavu Titans. Mark went 4-0 the first week, and then upon being told that they were actually Titans, he went 2-2 the next week, wanting to hold back to use the Titan's improved version rather than just pouring on the aggression.
    • Another example in Magic: The Gathering is the Chaos Orb, a card which is tossed from a specified height onto the gaming table and destroys any card it ends up touching. It is now banned entirely from tournament play, but in the early days a story went around about some players came up with the clever idea of tearing up the Chaos Orb card and scattering all the pieces across the opponent's side of the table. This was eventually deemed illegal, but anyone with the cojones to pull a stunt like that with an extremely valuable out-of-print rare deserves to get the win.
    • There are also the Planeswalkers, which have two small abilities and one "ultimate" ability, but which they can use only once per turn. Garruk Wildspeaker, in particular, gets this treatment: "Do I untap two lands or Overrun?" is a legitimate question.
  • Dungeons & Dragons
    • The core magic system includes the wish spell (starting from Basic D&D), and its divine counterpart miracle (much later). They can do almost anything. In a normal[2] campaign, however high-level, no one will ever cast them, unless suicidally desperate. The cost and having to deal with possible twists simply aren't worth it. And for a wizard it's likely both less troublesome and in-character to research a spell or two for the specific purpose. Even dropping a permanent time-stop on the problem until a solution is found sounds better.
    • Several Dragon magazine articles in the 1980s warned players against hoarding magic items and spells, especially in tournament games which were usually "one shot" anyway. It was foolish to have your PC die by not using a healing potion or spell or an attack spell could have defeated a dangerous enemy before it killed party members.
    • A charged magic item (particularly a staff, which can hold spells of any level) can cost a fortune to buy new or craft from scratch. You can loot them off enemies or find them in treasures like any other item, but in this case they are unlikely to have a full compliment of charges (50) when found. If you find one with particularly mighty spells, it will often have only a few uses left, and good luck deciding when to expend them.
  • Avalon Hill's World War Two game Third Reich (both the table-top and computer versions) has elements of this:
    • The double move: With a little judicious spending, it's possible to move twice in a row, which can be a huge advantage. The only problem? It tends to set up the other side to do the same exact thing, so most players will never use it unless they can be pretty certain of knocking a major enemy country out of the war.
    • American units: These are the best Allied units in the game, but they have a drawback. American units that get eliminated have to be rebuilt in the United States and then initially deployed to Britain (or France, in the unlikely event that France is still standing), but the United States can only initially deploy six units per turn, and those units cannot be strategically redeployed to any place outside of Britain until the next turn. So there's a temptation for the Allies to let the British carry the brunt of the fighting, since any British casualties can return to the front a turn earlier than any American casualties.
    • French and British units in the Mediterranean theater: This is the same principle as the previous point. British units are generally stronger than French units, but British units require two nine-factor fleets to be transported to the Mediterranean front, whereas French units require only one (assuming the French navy has been based in Marseille). So if the war in North Africa heats up while France is still standing (granted, it usually doesn't), there is a temptation for the Allies to let the French to bear the brunt of the fighting there.
    • All that being said, however, these are just temptations or tendencies. It's a rare game indeed where there isn't at least one double-move (and if the Allies don't pull a double-move in 1942, when the United States enters the war, it is because the Axis has all but won). Likewise, barring very unusual circumstances, American units will see plenty of action, and the British will do plenty of fighting in North Africa.
  • Some wargamers never commit their reserve "just in case". They put the figures on the table. They lose due to not committing the reserve. They put those figures away, having never touched them.

Web Comics

Real Life

  • Rare coins and dollar bills:
    • The 2-dollar bill. Some people give them as gifts, knowing that the recipient will keep it for this reason. Ironically they aren't rare at all. The U.S. Treasury has been sitting on shrink-wrapped piles of them for years, but banks rarely ask for them.
      • Well, they are rare compared to other bills at least. Rare enough that they can be used for currency tracking and to gauge economic impact. In 1989 the Geneva Steel mill in Utah county paid its employees in $2 bills. When the bills started showing up all over the place it proved the importance of the mill to the local economy as a counter-argument against environmental protestors who wanted to shut it down. For the record, Thomas Jefferson is the President on the $2 bill. The reverse side shows a modified reproduction of John Trumbull's Declaration of Independence.
    • To hard-core numismatists (look it up), Sacagawea and Eisenhower dollars are no different than the change we have in our pockets. However, there are other dollar coins made from precious metals that you would be an idiot to spend at face-value. A $3 gold coin (yes, they really exist) minted in 1854 and in near perfect condition (MS-67) is worth at least $95,000. A Flowing Hair Half Dollar minted in 1794 in MS-64 condition is worth over $450,000. There are even platinum coins out there. A platinum Eagle ($10) minted in 2000 is worth $7500 in perfect (MS-70) condition.
    • This also goes for the Japanese ¥2000 note. Just having one is a conversation point, and no one ever spends them if they can avoid it.
      • Also the cupro-nickel ¥500 coin which was actively removed from circulation and replaced with a heavier brass-nickel replacement because it was too easy to counterfeit and fool vending machines. As a result, new vending machines calibrated to accept the new heavier coin won't accept the old, which means you'll only find it by chance person-to-person transactions.
    • The British £2, £10 and £20 coins, though £2 have become less awesome as they've become more widely circulated.
    • The Canadian one and two dollar bills are still technically legal tender, even though they were replaced by loonies and toonies over twenty years ago. The bills are now kept by people old enough to have used them when they were still in circulation. Collector's coins, put out every year or so, are also carefully hoarded, unless you've already got one, in which case they typically get spent.
  • The Japanese in WW 2 more or less hoarded their battleships for a decisive surface fight that never actually wound up happening. By the time they got to the point of desperation, the best use they had for the largest battleship humanity has ever built was as improvised land-based artillery.
    • This was typical of most nations through World War I. Ironically in World War II battleships had a few momments of awesome simply because, on the allied side at least, it was realized that they were no longer too awesome to use. They managed to get in on a few surface actions if seldom the Big Badass Battle Sequence s everyone had planned for and they made useful antiaircraft and bombardment platforms.
  • Anyone who posesses an actual nihonto will attest to this. They're great swords, well made and quite beautiful, but they're no good for typical tamashigiri because they cost several thousand dollars.
  • A major debate among survivalists is situations in which, for example, you are stranded in a desert, and have a limited supply of water. Some say that conserving it is the best idea, others say that this is not the best idea, and you are instead advised to drink all the water you need. After all, hikers have been found dead from dehydration with water still in their canteens.
    • On the food side: metabolism is a miser. It never wants to waste a single calorie taken in, and will ask for more mere hours after getting some. So when the human metabolism, evolved as it was for a hunter-gatherer lifestyle where this made sense, meets the modern agri-industrial days of plenty, bad things happen.
  • Wedding dresses, which are typically used only for one occasion.
    • Except that they don't self-destruct after one use. Movie costumes are a better example. They are horrifyingly expensive, because they start with a famous costumer, and a lot of money goes into their outer look, but they are often shoddily made, because they aren't intended for anything other than a brief scene. Sometimes they have fronts, but not backs, and other times, and actor is sewn into them, so they have to be taken apart after the scene is shot. Often they are cannibalized to become parts of other costumes for other films, but the most famous ones end up as museum pieces, because they are too awesome (and impractical) to be used as regular clothes.
  • Nuclear weapons. The most powerful weapons ever developed by humanity, they can wipe out whole cities with a single blast. Their primary use for major world powers is as a deterrent. Should anyone actually use a nuclear weapon against another nuclear power, both nations would be wiped out. This concept is called "Mutually Assured Destruction" (MAD). Because of MAD, nuclear powers generally refrain from attacking each other at all, due to the threat of the conflict escalating to nuclear weapons.
  • The Yankees had the Joba rules, a set of rules for use of Joba Chamberlain, a pitcher that is supposed to be the next big thing that basically stated he gets an extra day of rest for every inning he pitched. It got annoying to hear after the first 5,000 times.
  • Wine collectors often buy extremely expensive wines and are reluctant to ever crack them open, because to do so would destroy the wine and remove it from your prestigious collection. Also, you never know if this event is really the best time to drink it. Since even the best wine will be vinegar after 100 years, you'd best drink it at some point!
  • Compulsive hoarders can abuse this trope regularly when it comes to storing things. People who suffer from this can never bring themselves to throw away things they no longer need or stuff they never use because they keep thinking that either they will need the item one day or will find said item too important to use.
  • Game theorist Avinash Dixit presents a solution to this problem, known in economics as the spongeworthiness problem, after an episode of Seinfeld in which Elaine contemplates the use of special contraceptive sponges she bought that later get pulled from shelves.
  • The Browning Automatic Rifle never saw much use in World War I, partly because it was developed so late and partly because the U.S. military feared it being captured and reverse engineered. By the time they did get to use it, it was impractical: too bulky to use as a personal weapon and too underpowered to serve the role of LMG.
  • is the record holder for the most expensive domain name ever. The domain has changed hands several times for millions of dollars each time. Still, up until 3/25/2012, none of the owners have ever used it for anything more interesting than an ad farm, with no actual content or services of any kind.
  • The F-22 Raptor. It carries the most cutting-edge Air Superiority Technology ever made. It is all but invisible on enemy radar, and it has been known to amass kill-death ratios in simulated exercises approaching 200-0. It also costs a quarter of a billion dollars a pop. With such a prohibitive price-tag, and sensitive technology on board, the Air Force almost never actually deploys them to a combat zone for fear of losing one.
  • Collector items can become this. It can either be straight up due to the item in question being a one-use item that either can't be duplicated (most likely any sort of ancient liquor, as you'd need to wait the equivallent amount of time to get "back" what you lost) or the collector in question intends to sell it, but is intentionally keeping it to add to the value, as generally the older a collector's item gets, the more valuable it is. Stocks can function like this too, and if it's the latter reason, it's very rare that the collector will sell it at peak value, as he will probably only realise the peak after a steady decline has started, or sell it prematurely thinking it's the peak.
  • Blood type O-. You can donate to anyone you want because your blood doesn't screw with the immune system of others (which is why you can't donate to anyone with blood type B if you hold blood type A), but hospitals don't use it because no one can donate to others with blood type O- other than themselves, so they keep it to use it on people with blood type O-, or in desperate cases where they don't know your blood type. On the other side of the scale is blood type AB+: they can receive blood from anyone, but can't donate to anyone but themselves.
  • This line of thought is behind the old pirate torture of "maroon your enemy on an island with one bullet left". The prisoner will initially save the bullet, planning to use it for killing a game animal, for self-defense, or for revenge. But after weeks of starvation with no hope of escape, the strandee will eventually turn that saved shot on himself.
  • Skunk musk is so foul that even bears avoid skunks, however, a skunk can only hold enough musk for 5-6 shots, and it takes weeks to recharge. Skunks are reluctant to use their spray until the situation is desperate, and will threaten their opponents instead.
  1. Except the Baron Shark (also very rare), which heals slightly more, but with a delay
  2. i.e. with a competent Game Master and not Monty Haul or something