• Before making a single edit, Tropedia EXPECTS our site policy and manual of style to be followed. Failure to do so may result in deletion of contributions and blocks of users who refuse to learn to do so. Our policies can be reviewed here.
  • All images MUST now have proper attribution, those who neglect to assign at least the "fair use" licensing to an image may have it deleted. All new pages should use the preloadable templates feature on the edit page to add the appropriate basic page markup. Pages that don't do this will be subject to deletion, with or without explanation.
  • All new trope pages will be made with the "Trope Workshop" found on the "Troper Tools" menu and worked on until they have at least three examples. The Trope workshop specific templates can then be removed and it will be regarded as a regular trope page after being moved to the Main namespace. THIS SHOULD BE WORKING NOW, REPORT ANY ISSUES TO Janna2000, SelfCloak or RRabbit42. DON'T MAKE PAGES MANUALLY UNLESS A TEMPLATE IS BROKEN, AND REPORT IT THAT IS THE CASE. PAGES WILL BE DELETED OTHERWISE IF THEY ARE MISSING BASIC MARKUP.


WikEd fancyquotes.pngQuotesBug-silk.pngHeadscratchersIcons-mini-icon extension.gifPlaying WithUseful NotesMagnifier.pngAnalysisPhoto link.pngImage LinksHaiku-wide-icon.pngHaikuLaconic

File:FF7 weapons 9147.jpg

Yeah, a freakin' hairclip is more powerful than the Gatling gun.


When it comes to offense and personal defense, it's been long established in real life that firearms are usually the best way to go. They pack considerable destructive power in portable packages and can strike long-distance.

However, such ruthless efficiency doesn't usually serve fictional plots very well. Just one gun can swing the balance of power severely, especially in a "man vs. mob" situation. Thus, for the sake of drama, if a hero's access to guns is unavoidable in a fictional milieu, writers will tend to use the plot to defang their effectiveness. Perhaps the mob will conveniently have Stormtrooper Marksmanship where the mob will always miss hitting the hero. Perhaps the enemy is supernatural or has an alien physiology, and thus resistant to projectile weapons. Perhaps they have superior technology, either in shielding, wielding even better projectile weapons than the protagonists, or both. Perhaps there's an ammo shortage, making every firing precious. Perhaps the heroes simply aren't trained in effective gun use. Whatever the method, there will be some reason why the problem can't be solved with a few judicious headshots. For these reasons, this trope is especially ubiquitous in the sci-fi, fantasy, and horror genres.

In games, especially in settings where firearms would be Game Breakers but the "neato" factor is too great to ignore, this trope is often reflected in a reduction of firearm effectiveness and power compared to "standard" melee weapons. Again, ammunition also tends to be used as a limiting factor; swords don't need to be reloaded, after all. Or, the designers can make a preference for melee weapons a matter of practicality, as in "hack and slash" games, where being able to attack many foes around you in one quick motion would often be better than being able to only fire at a single enemy in front. Then again, see One-Hit Polykill and bemoan how many games don't bother with it.

Compare Arbitrary Gun Power, Never Bring a Knife to A Fist Fight, and contrast The Lethal Connotation of Guns and Others, Muggles Do It Better. See also Elegant Weapon for a More Civilized Age and Fantasy Gun Control.

Examples of Guns Are Worthless include:

Anime and Manga

  • Elie, the main female in Rave Master, wields two guns with exploding ammo. They win her all of one fight and are only of notable aid once. They hammer this home by having the Big Bad catch one of her bullets in his teeth when fired from too short a range to dodge.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion occasionally has the Evangelions fight the angels with firearms, ranging from pistols to multi-shot bazookas and really huge sniper rifles. The shell casings from the Evangelions' weapons can crush cars, but the actual rounds do nearly nothing against the Angels. The Evas' Progressive Knives have killed more Angels than the skyscraper-sized rifles.
    • Granted, Shinji uses a rifle to great effect against Matariel, and the positron cannon works extremely well...but requires all the electricity in Japan to fire.
    • This makes some sense as close range is required to disolve an angel's AT Field.

 Asuka: "Why am I armed with a spear?"

Shinji: "Believe me. Any pointy object is more effective than a gun. Especially a Gatling gun."

  • One Piece is an odd case where guns aren't worthless, in and of themselves. The times we see bullets actually connect they do cause damage. The problem is that everyone in the series that gets guns used against them can either power through the injury, Dodge the Bullet, or are just flat out Immune to Bullets by virtue of a Devil Fruit power or other factor.
    • Or more frequently, the bullets just whiz by them, even when they appear to be going right through them.
    • One notable aversion at the end of the Paramount War arc, Admiral Kizaru is stopped in his tracks by Red-Hair Pirate Ben Beckman holding him at gunpoint. This is notable because the assailant was a decent distance away, Kizaru can not only transform into light itself and become Immune to Bullets, but move at the speed of light. Yet considered a (presumably Haki-infused) gun a legitimate threat.
  • Very much played straight in Dragon Ball. In fact, this trope was used as early as the first chapter, where Goku cries out in annoyance from all the bullet Bulma shot at him, who stood there in horror.
  • Guns are useless in Fist of the North Star for the simple reason that there's no ammo left. Jagi carries a shotgun for the intimidation value, but he prefers Pistol-Whipping with it rather than shooting - he may not actually have shells.
    • He manages to pull the trigger once. It misfires.
    • Played COMPLETELY straight in an earlier arc, where Jackal takes a headshot (while running full tilt on a motorcycle, no less) which does little more than infuriate him.
  • Hellsing: Guns are used by many characters in the series, but seem to have little effect unless large amounts of firepower are deployed. Somewhat justified, as mostly, they're being used against vampires, who are all but immune to normal bullets (weapons loaded with silver or blessed ammunition have somewhat more effect).
    • Averted by Alucard's pair of absolutely massive handguns, which are devastatingly effective against more or less everything. Justified, as one is loaded with .454 Casull rounds made from melted-down silver crosses, and the other weighs sixteen kilograms and fires explosive rounds that can demolish walls.
      • And then played straight again with anyone unfortunate enough to be fighting Alucard. Hundreds of automatic weapons being fired at once have literally zero effect, whereas thrown bayonets are shown to slow him down significantly. Handwaved by the bayonets being blessed, and being thrown by the amazingly powerful regenerator Alexander Anderson (weapon effectiveness in the setting seems to be largely determined by the power of the wielder, rather than by the weapon itself).
  • The Black Rock Shooter TV anime. Characters routinely shrug off getting hit by dozens of bullets. Sure, everyone is Made of Iron, but melee attacks are shown to hurt, and even kill.
  • This could explain why many Nations in Axis Powers Hetalia seem to prefer melee over firearms (with the likes of Switzerland more of the exception). Especially since they could apparently withstand headshots with little to no permanent side-effects.


  • Ranged weapons in Star Wars vary depending on the target. Against most of the universe, the commonality of blasters makes guns very useful to have at your side, since the only defense against them is some good armor or solid cover. Against Jedi, blasters are useless unless present in large amounts, since enough shots can overwhelm Jedi by the sheer number of blasters to block or deflect. Averted with the much rarer real guns, called slugthrowers in-universe, that are nearly impossible to block by Jedi - they can sense them, but the lightsaber can't deflect it as it can a blaster bolt. Lightsabers cut through stuff by melting it apart. A bullet would also be melted by a lightsaber, but that doesn't make it any less aimed at your face. Instead of a blocked bullet, you get a superheated blob of liquid metal, retaining the same amount of kinetic energy, that probably still hits hard enough to get into your flesh. Where it's still liquid metal. Really, it's just a bad idea.
    • In star wars lightsabers have a very short list of things they can't instantly cut through the most famous being Mandalorian iron used by Boba Fett. Even so it only resists lightsabers, if you keep hitting it will eventually give out. However almost all the substances that can block, short out or defend against a lightsaber are rare or expensive to make and as such are used to explain the lack of them in every story.
    • Note that the same thing would happen with a melee weapon/lightsaber fight, although this is almost always glossed over. Realistically, unless you have a sword that resists lightsabers you are both going to kill each other in a single stroke, as both weapons will pass through each other effortlessly and into your squishy flesh.
    • The "attenuated plasma arc" concept retconned into their workings implies that lightsabers would impart some degree of kinetic force to material objects either towards or away from the lightsaber's tip (you're basically sticking the object into a focused fountain), though how much is hard to guess at. Slugthrowers are supposedly rare due to improved materials science rendering a lot of things (such as stormtrooper armor) effectively bulletproof, making a blaster a generally better weapon to carry (and if you're a civilian, recharge).
  • The "dishonorable" guns prove inadequate against the "honorable" samurai during the first in The Last Samurai. The first battle was justified since the soldiers at that point were barely-trained rookies fighting with slow, muzzle-loading guns in a forest with poor lighting. The climactic battle in the movie, however, has better trained and equipped soldiers (with bolt-action rifles) up against the Samurai, and Algren and Katsumoto have to lure said soldiers into a close-quarters confrontation to stand a chance, and even though the initial skirmish ends in the Samurai's favor, their numbers are severely depleted. Then their final charge is only completely wiped out by Gatling guns.
  • In both the comics and the movie, Spawn uses guns against some his adversaries (Overtkill in the comic, Violator in the movie). While Overtkill is easily defeated, Violator just shrugs off bullets. Cogliostro points this out later on, even saying "guns are useless", and shows Spawn how to use his own powers properly.
    • Guns, however, are still useful as Spawn had a limited amount of power that can't be restored, so guns help save them when he really needs it (of course, everyone forgets about that).
  • Mostly true in Ninja Assassin, at least until the Final Battle, when the now-Genre Savvy Europol commandos arrive en masse with spotlights, body armor (mostly useless), and heavy artillery. Apparently, shooting a ninja lord in the back several times does absolutely nothing.
  • Averted in The Warrior's Way. In this film ninjas have the standard near-superhuman speed, but are still not fast enough to dodge a bullet, and react to being shot just like anyone else. Indeed, the hero Yang never attacks gun-wielding opponents head-on; he either catches them by surprise, or fights while concealed in a dust cloud or in darkness.
  • Toyed with in the Blade trilogy; normal guns will hurt a vampire, maybe even knock it of its feet, but then it'll be back up, complaining about the pain and biting your throat out. Now, if your gun happens to fire silver bullets or launch stakes, you'll have a pile of ashes that used to be a vampire.


  • Dune goes out of its way to make ranged weapons useless through personal shields, which make the wearer immune to all damage (except lasers, but that ends with both laser and shield going nuclear)--except, in order to allow air through, the shields have to be set to allow anything moving below a certain speed threshold to pass through. This means that soldiers and assassins are trained to slow their strike at the precise moment just enough to get through the shield.
    • Averted in the open desert on the planet Arrakis (Dune) itself, however: shields are one of the surest ways to call a sandworm. Consequently, the Fremen do not wear shields, and battles in the desert use traditional artillery and firearms.
  • In Sergey Lukyanenko's A Lord from Planet Earth trilogy, guns, as well as all forms of explosive, nuclear, and energy weapons, are generally disabled through the use of neutralizing fields. Somehow, the field generators are able to prevent the chemical reactions that cause a gun to go off from occurring. This leaves only one form of combat (apparently, nobody in that Verse believes in unarmed combat) - sword-fighting. The swords almost exclusively used in combat are Absurdly Sharp Blades, which requires a different style of sword-fighting than with normal bladed weapons.
    • In the second novel, the protagonist creates a gun that works despite the use of neutralizing fields. It uses compressed air to launch a small disc whose edges are also Absurdly Sharp Blades. These projectiles also act as hollow-point bullets and bounce around in the target's body, shredding his organs.
    • Since air guns work fine, one wonders why nobody is using bows and crossbows, with ammo tipped with an Absurdly Sharp Blade.
  • In Men At Arms, this trope is brutally subverted by the gonne, a Discworld rifle. It's so deadly and terrifying that upon its invention the Assassins take it and lock it away because it makes killing way too easy and Vetinari orders it destroyed because it's so damn scary. The only person to survive a direct hit from it is Detritus, and that's because he's basically a living rock. It helps that due to Leonard of Quirm's particular genius the first gun came out not inaccurate and slow, but deadly from long distances and with an efficient loading mechanism. The gonne itself had other plans, though.
  • The Trigger invokes an accidental invention of a device that sets off all explosives within its radius, allowing for creating zones where it is impossible to bring in guns and where incoming explosives would blow up before reaching the target at the center. Criminals quickly find ways to exploit this behavior, so further scientific developments create a field where the explosive reactions cannot happen at all. Criminals proceed to use conventional missile weapons. Then, the scientists realize that they've been misunderstanding how the device works the entire time, and it can be used to prevent any specific chemical reaction including the metabolism of a target with specific DNA. The book closes on their horror at realizing they've created the ultimate murder weapon.
  • In the Dresden Files novel Proven Guilty, Harry advises against bringing guns on their expedition into Faerie because there are parts of Faerie where gunpowder is inert. Murphy and Thomas both bring guns into Faerie anyway and also carry melee weapons as well, and it turns out that firearms work just fine around Arctis Tor.
    • For the most part though, this trope is averted hard. Even characters with very powerful supernatural abilities will often carry guns and use them to good effect, and the main character points out that in some situations a gun is actually better than magic. Book 12 also ends with the character, a massively Badass wizzard, being "killed" by a single sniper rifle shot.
    • The RPG goes on at some length about how guns will get the attention of even the supernaturals when they're brought out. While it might not have the flash of a fireball, or the power of a troll's fists, the description notes that few things convey the idea that someone is deadly serious like pulling out a gun.
  • In the Chronicles of Amber, it's not so much that guns don't work as gunpowder doesn't ignite in Amber. Corwin gets around this by finding a powder which does ignite, after which the weapons work just fine.
  • L.E. Modesitt, Jr.'s Recluce novels have fairly good reasons why any weapon using gunpowder is useless. Chaos mages can set off gunpowder from a distance (typically somewhere outside the maximum effective range of the average firearm), or else make themselves invisible so as to get close enough otherwise. It isn't until late in the series chronology that we see firearms deployed to any great effect by any considerable force, and then it's essentially because shell casings have been invented (the shells prevent a chaos mage from tampering with the powder). Until this happens, arrows (particularly iron arrows, because chaos mages have a rough time with iron) are nearly the only reliable projectile weapons in the series.
  • In Edgar Rice Burroughs's "John Carter of Mars" novels the Martians have absurdly powerful firearms, but a nearly unbreakable cultural taboo against fighting a foe with "unequal weapons." So when an army of troops with radium rifles face swordsman John Carter, they instantly draw their own blades instead of gunning him down.

Live-Action TV

  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer is a definite example of this. One episode even has Buffy picking up a gun and saying "These things. Never useful."
    • That's about fighting vampires, 'cause bullets hurt but don't kill them. Against Buffy herself... There is an early episode where Buffy was HELPLESS against a gun-wielding vampire, and survived only because Angel, shot early by the same vampire, rose and staked the attacker. Another episode where Buffy faced against a powerful demon named The Judge that no weapon forged could destroy. So her usual arsenal of blade weapons wouldn't harm him. She then blows him up with a rocket launcher.
  • Discussed in the Angel episode "Inside Out" by the demon Skip.

Tabletop Games

  • Guns in Feng Shui are funny things. Because of the rules, a single bullet can put down a Mook with little problem, but named heroes and villains alike get the benefit of Almost-Lethal Weapons when dealing with guns — against named characters, your average pistol is only going to cause as much damage as a kung fu warrior's punch or kick, and when fighting a high-Toughness character like a Big Bruiser, something like a dinky .38 snub revolver isn't going to do much to him except piss him off unless it's a signature weapon. Still, heroes and villains alike in the Heroic Bloodshed movies that the gun rules try to emulate are known for taking serious amounts of punishment, sometimes to Normally I Would Be Dead Now levels, so this may be reflective of genre.
    • It is explicitly stated that game tries to capture Hong Kong action movies atmosphere and doesn't even try to imitate reality.
  • Played with in SLA Industries, in which guns do massive amounts of damage, and are often the only way to penetrate the better armour suits in the game--but the 'bullet tax' levied by the government even on its own operatives (who are expected to lease all their equipment from said government) means that buying even one clip of ammunition often costs more than the players will earn in several missions.
  • Warhammer 40000 does this to a degree. While guns are still very effective weapons, they did want a way to use their chainswords, power swords, etc, and so despite guns being effective in Warhammer 40,000, somehow melee charges manage to be effective as well. Short-Range Long-Range Weapon resulted, to the n-th degree.
    • Helps that most close combat troopers are either a) Made of Iron, b) can get into combat fast, c) the units just has so many troops they can take a few hits or a combination of the three.
      • Generally, a unit is considered a close combat troop if 1.) it has a movement modifier and 2.) if it has more than 1 attack (either by a innate stat boost, close combat weapons, some special rule, or all of the above). The ability to negate enemy toughness, weapon skill and/or armor are also indicators of a good close combat troop (although there are instances where a unit does indeed have poison or power weapons, but lack the necessary numbers or attacks to actually use them).
    • The new edition changed the rules so that melee fighters can no longer jump straight from combat to combat with no chance to shoot them. This made shooty armies much more powerful, as previously small groups of elite melee units could easily roll up an entire flank of Guards or Firewarriors if they got into close combat.
    • This is also partly why Kroot are considered inferior close combat troops. They lack the Made of Iron-ness of other dedicated close combat troops (having literally no armor and mediocre toughness) combined with crappy close combat weapons that can't deal with other Made of Iron troops. The only reason they're still being used is because they're the only troops in the Tau Army that actually has any close combat prowess (which is not saying much).
    • In the modern world, personal armour is generally inferior to offensive weaponry - 40k is the other way round.
    • In-universe, the description given for the Lasgun states that it can take off limbs and cause fatal burns against most conventional targets (i.e: other humans) and it's destructive force is comparable to that of a modern-day AK 47. The Bolt Pistol, standard sidearm to any Space Marine, is a one-handed RPG launcher. The problem is though, the targets are usually monsters with shells thicker than most structurally sound bunkers, supersoldiers clad in power armor surrounded by a forcefield/daemonic energies, undead skeletal machines that can regenerate their steel, and Eldritch Abominations that defy reality with every breath.
  • Shadowrun has a blanket rule on the effectiveness of guns and explosives against supernatural entities--magical beasts and ghosts exist literally because Your Mind Makes It Real, thus only an attack that carries the wielder's intent can harm one--Good Old Fisticuffs, melee weapons, arrows, thrown objects or, of course, Magic and Powers. And a Hollywood Cyborg will have a lot of trouble with them because Cybernetics Eat Your Soul. In other words, though it is a Cyberpunk game and every party must include at least one Street Samurai, Rigger and Decker, you also need at least one Wizboy because "Magic Must Defeat Magic!"
  • In Spirit of the Century guns, fists, and melee weapons do all the same amount of damage. Because it's a Pulp World it's assumed that someone with a 3 in guns is just as lethal with those guns as someone with a 3 in fists.
  • Dungeons and Dragons 3.5 falls squarely into this. While most settings don't really use them, the Dungeon Master's guide has rules for some modern weapons. Notably, they're treated as being harder to master than standard medieval weapons (exotic rather than simple, suggesting the difficulty is due to lack of familiarity), they don't do much if any more base damage than standard projectiles (and can't be modded to factor in ability score modifiers, but also don't suffer penalties for low strength), and there aren't any special rules for how they interact with armor or shields suggesting that they don't penetrate (which goes down to how abstract Armor Class works in the first place). They can still be enchanted, though.
    • This is due to the fact that characters gain hit points as they progress while weapon damage remains constant. This means that an experienced SWAT member is way more bulletproof (or can dodge more) than a rookie beat cop (who can die after one lucky shot from a 9mm pistol).
    • When players try and homebrew firearms, they either make them even weaker (taking minutes to reload in a game where a round is six seconds) or make them an absolute Game Breaker that ignores all armor, magical or otherwise, and always hits For Massive Damage.
    • Of course, there are enemies in D&D that are simply immune to bullets for one reason or another. They'll pass straight through Oozes or other liquid creatures without doing anything, they're another physical attack for spirits to ignore, and against gigantic things like titans and the Tarrasque, you may as well be throwing pebbles.
    • Pathfinder addresses most of these in the Ultimate Combat supplement. "Early" firearms (roughly equivalent to 16th-18th century real-world firearms) are rare, expensive, require an Exotic Weapon Proficiency, slow, prone to misfires, and have much poorer range compared to bows and crossbows. However they inflict significant damage and basically ignore armour (but not other defenses) at short range. "Advanced" firearms (roughly 19th-century equivalent) are reliable, faster, still do good damage, have better range, and ignore armour at much longer distances.
  • Both Vampire: The Masquerade and Vampire: The Requiem rely on this. As vampires don't really have working circulatory systems, and everything else is functional solely because of The Power of Blood, guns will, for the most part, do bashing damage rather than lethal (comparative with being hit with a sledgehammer). Enough bullets will still screw them up (as will headshots, in some cases), but as guns mainly do damage by causing bleedout, vampires don't really have much to worry about.
    • Averted when shooting at mortals, however. Guns do lethal damage to living targets, which most mortals cannot soak (try to ignore damage from), and deal more damage — and faster — than all but the most optimized melee builds. One to three hits from even the weakest pistol in the game will kill or incapacitate a human.
  • Played straight in Scion where guns can are significantly less effective on the demi-gods characters than they are on mortals. Also, a gun will kill a mortal human but the game presents so many more effective ways to do so, like crossbows, which have a range and accuracy rating superior to a 9mm.
  • 2E Mutants and Masterminds exhibits this, much to the frustration of many of the players. Standard guns top out a 2-5 ranks of damage, equivalent to a good hard punch by a trained baseline human. Most PC heroes begin at a 10 Toughness bonus, meaning that, when hit by an assault rifle, they're going to avoid any injury half of the time. The addition of Impervious removes the save entirely.
  • Played unbelievably straight in Mind's Eye Theater's LARP rules, to the point where grappling is more effective than shooting someone in the face.
    • Extremely debatable depending on what game you are playing and what ammunition is in the gun - in fact, in many cases, this is entirely inaccurate. For Garou, a Combat Shotgun loaded with silver ammunition can unload four aggravated wound levels per attack against werewolves because of the bonus damage effect of both shotguns and fully automatic weapons, plus you can hit basically everything in a room with it at once. Put that in the hands of a Glass Walker armed with magical knickknacks or Gifts that give him unlimited ammunition and watch him expend Rage to turn entire packs of Black Spiral Dancers into salsa. That's not even bringing up chainguns...
  • In the Buffy the Vampire Slayer RPG, guns do only one-fifth damage to vampires, in line with TV show continuity. Similarly, guns are still perfectly effective on humans and most demons.

Video Games

  • In The Matrix: Path of Neo, guns are useless against agents, so Neo is forced to take a more hands on approach with them.
  • Arcanum of Steamworks and Magick Obscura was criticised for having all firearms be severely underpowered compared to melee weaponry. This was especially odd given that the background mentioned a war between two of the kingdoms of Arcanum in which the elite knights of the more backward one had been easily slaughtered by volley fire from poorly trained Tarantian conscripts.
    • Guns do have advantages over tech melee weapons, such as range and higher accuracy for more damaging criticals. But thrown weapons of either tech or magick have major advantages over guns; they're faster, magick doesn't cause them to fail and the ueberweapon for the type becomes available much earlier in the game. The Aerial Decapitator does make guns look worthless.
    • Additionally game suffered from the bug causing damage being calculated per shot, not per bullet. This caused mechanized rifles to consume several bullets per 'burst' but still dealing the damage only slightly higher that damage of simple pistol.
    • However the elite knights were slaughtered by huge volleys, one on one an elite warrior is better than a lone soldier with a gun, or rifle, unless that soldier has exceptional gear, armour and the like, it's the peasant armies that beat the few knights.
  • Final Fantasy is, as always, the seminal example.
    • To start us off: Barret from Final Fantasy VII has a gun stuck on his arm that can practically shoot cannon balls, and Vincent uses pistols as his weapon of choice, but they only cause as much damage as Tifa's fists or Cloud's oversized sword.
      • It's even worse for the enemies; their guns are lucky to do a tenth of the damage that Cloud's detached helicopter rotor does.
      • The very first enemy you meet in the game punches for more damage than when they shoot you.
    • In Advent Children, Cloud gets shot at point blank range directly between his eyes. It breaks his sunglasses and gives him a tiny scratch. Could be justified in that Yazoo was just being a dick and blowing his sunglasses off. Plus, remember that this man can block bullets.
      • But then averted at the end when Yazoo shoots Cloud through the back, seriously wounding him. Although to be fair, the effectiveness of Yazoo's final shot is really a case of Abnormal Ammo, probably the result of all the glowing materia he was toting.
    • Both played straight and averted by Final Fantasy VIII. Though the game itself states that melee weapons deal more damage than guns, it also points out that modern technology allows for greater weapons yields than magic. Also, Irvine, the gun-wielding party member, is capable of doing incredible damage with his rifle, and the specialist ammunition he carries can amplify that damage to the ridiculous levels, and Laguna, who carries a machine gun, does most of his damage through the use of raw firepower and grenades.
    • In Final Fantasy X 2 the Gunner's rapid shot technique is one of the weakest in the game until combined with the catnip accessory, whereupon it becomes one of the two most powerful attacks in the game. The rapid shot technique is also useful in starting up a combo, giving a boost to damage for a follow up attack.
    • Final Fantasy XI makes use of the first generation of handheld firearms such as flintlocks and blunderbusses, fitting their real-life counterparts in use delay, but not so much their effectiveness against small rabbits at close range, although these bunnies can destroy anyone, so it's not that bad.
    • Final Fantasy XII uses guns, but they have low attack power compared to swords or other weapons for balance reasons. The quirk here is that guns ignore defense, so a weak character can do a decent amount of damage to enemies if you get guns early in the game and you can do even more damage if you use elemental bullets on enemies that are weak to it. By the halfway point to the end of the game, your other characters will be strong enough outclass gunners and attack faster since guns have a slow wait time. Not only that, but most enemies and bosses by this point will have a passive resistance to guns, making gunners do only a few hundred points in damage compared to the 2000 damage they were doing earlier in the game.
    • This trope is all over the place in Final Fantasy XIII. One of your party members, Sazh, uses guns and has the weakest stats, but compensates for it by being able to hit twice on every attack AND having better bonuses on his crafted weapons. His Blitz attack is a textbook example of More Dakka. Late in the game there are human mooks carrying bazookas that are potential game-enders if they are not dealt with first.
    • For balance purposes; guns have the highest range in the Tactics series but are also very weak. (After all what'd be the point of having melee weapons at all if you can just slaughter enemies before you even get in their range?) However, you can actually use abilities that have weapon range with them - Gunners and Cannoneers with Ultima. OUCH.
  • Several of the newer Castlevania games have guns (one with silver bullets!) but they are generally 75% as strong as the weapons you already have at that point. To rub it in, the bullets only go about five steps forward before vanishing!
    • In Castlevania: Circle of the Moon the character can get a gun as a special attack that deals double the damage of the normal attack, however it's incredibly slow to load.
    • In Order of Ecclesia, there's Albus, who is quite effective with his gun, firing both regular shots, a light/dark spiralling shot and a giant ball of darkness the game describes as using the power of spite!
      • In Hard Mode, he can even shoot Ignis, Grando, and Fulgur out of his gun. In other words, he can use magic fireballs, icicles, and ball lightning as bullets. Not so worthless now, is it? And yet, one of his best attacks is a flaming kick.
    • Symphony Of The Night subverts this trope with the skeletal 'Bone Musket' enemy. They appear in groups of three and stagger their reloading to lay down about one shot every two seconds, and they really hurt! About the only advantage you have is that most of the time you're above or below them, and they can only shoot straight ahead.
    • In Aria of Sorrow a high tech rifle was the Bragging Rights Reward.
      • There was also the pistol, which could be useful if not for the fact that you could get Claiomh Solais at the same time, if not a little earlier.
    • In Dawn of Sorrow guns are fine weapons (and actually gain quite a rate of fire with a Lag Cancel), but there are only 2 in the game (outside of the rocket launcher) and they quickly get outclassed by the (still progressing) melee and throwing weapons
  • In La-Mulana, the pistol is very powerful, but ammunition is the most expensive purchase in the game and the character can only carry six bullets at a time.
  • Guns in Final Fantasy Tactics have just about the best attack range in the game, but rarely do as much damage as a solid sword... unless you find one of the rare varieties that shoot magic at the enemies instead of bullets, anyway.
    • Played straight in Final Fantasy Tactics a 2. Guns do have long range, but the strongest gun has an attack of 35, as compared to mid 50s for other ranged weapons, about 60-80 for melee weapons that are actually intended to be used as such, and a whooping 92 for the strongest weapon (Knightswords). Even staves and rods are stronger than guns for heaven's sake. Add in that Fusiliers have terrible growths across the board...
      • But if you add in that Fusiliers learn loads of attacks that cost no MP and have decent chances of causing Standard Status Effects while still causing regular damage to their enormous range then you still have a great supporting unit.
      • If you give Gunners/Fusiliers Onslaught as their secondary ability set, they can use Ultima at a ridiculous range, and if you have them level up as Moogle Knights they'll have much better attack (somehow).
  • Eternal Darkness: in the levels set from World War One onwards, guns do considerable damage; however, bladed weapons have the advantage of allowing the player to hack the heads and limbs off zombies and, being a horror game, have no ammo concerns.

 Black Guardian: "The tools of your puerile civilization are useless!"

      • Although to be fair, so is your sword, if you can get up to use it. You have to use magic.
    • Then it ends up averted in the next to last level where the game drops a OICW on you along with enough ammo and grenades to spam everything.
  • Knights of the Old Republic is the virtual epitome of this trope; blasters are piss-weak and have barely more range than your arm (and level design often fails to give ranges higher than your elbow half the time). This all the more insulting because ranged weapons are actually highly useful in the Star Wars d20 ruleset the game is supposedly based on. The lesson? It's all about the lightsabers, baby.
    • The relative uselessness of blasters and the prevalence of melee weapons is explained by the recent proliferation of personal shields.
    • For that matter, lightsabers in KOTOR are ridiculously weak compared to what's seen in the movies and other non-game media. "Realistic" lightsabers should not bounce off your enemies like a nerf bat, and allow you to cut through that pesky Insurmountable Waist-Height Fence.
    • While this trope is usually played straight, it is possible to make a highly effective blaster scoundrel Jedi by focusing on maximizing your number of attacks and using force powers to stun enemies for sneak attacks.
    • Knights of the Old Republic 2, on the other hand, introduces powerful weapon upgrades and character combat feats that make long range weapons perfectly comfortable for finishing the whole game with. In fact, one of the most fun things to do is to recruit Mira on Nar Shaddaa, build her a nice rifle at the workbench, develop her into a good gunslinger char with good Force abilities for that kind of a thing, and go nuts. You can park your other team members, including "you" aka the almighty PC, somewhere safe, and knock yourself out cleaning up the two major gangs in the area in solo mode, at the hardest difficulty level.
    • Averted in The Old Republic: Troopers, Smugglers, Imperial Agents and Bounty Hunters all use guns, and they hit just as hard as melee weapons, even lightsabers. In fact, Troopers using Mortar Barrage and Bounty Hunters using Death From Above can inflict more damage in five seconds than most classes in a minute.
  • Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines. Justified when firing at vampires (who are essentially walking balls of dust--the bullets have very little actual tissue to rupture or tear apart), not so much when dealing with juicebags. Your character's fists is usually more effective against mortals for the first half of the game, even if you play a low-physical stat clan like Tremere or Ventrue. Guns are the most effective weapon if you can get your firearms to 10 and start wielding a Desert Eagle, Uzi, or Steyr AUG as your primary weapon, but that means that you have to get world-class aiming skills and military hardware before you start to get realistic performance from your firearms.
    • To top it off, the scope drift at low to moderate levels is truly terrible. Your sight drifts beyond even a 45 degree cone when trying to look straight ahead.
    • This is of course carried over from Vampire: The Masquerade, where bullets only do bashing damage to vampires since, being dead, they don't experience the same tissue trauma as mortals. Bladed weapons still do lethal damage, however, because they can take a huge chunk out of the vampire.
    • A lot more extreme in Vampire: The Masquerade: Redemption. Upon coming into the modern world, you'll find that a medieval sword is going to be a hell of a lot more effective than any weapon short of a rocket launcher, killing many a vampire opponent with a single strike. Somewhat justified in that a) body armor in the modern world is specifically designed to protect against guns rather than blades, and b)your characters are super-strong vampires and so absurdly fast that their opponents can fire at most one shot before you've closed in on them.
  • Due to various gameplay balance concepts, the developers of City of Heroes made ranged attacks somewhat weaker than melee attacks. This has the upshot of player characters with range preferring to get shot for less damage than being punched.
    • Powers such as Rise To The Challenge, however, offer a defensive bonus based on the number of enemies within melee range. This makes the character more vulnerable to groups of gunfighters, since they tend to be spread out, although bowmen are just as deadly.
  • The Howling Voice Guild in the Suikoden series uses guns when everyone else is using swords and magic. Cathari, a member of the Howling Voice Guild in Suikoden V subverts this trope in two ways: she is one of the best physical damage dealers in the game, and she Lampshades it in the following exchange:

 Cathari: You think guns are scary? Elven arrows are worse by a long shot, if you ask me.

Urda: How can you say that?

Cathari: There's only a handful of guns in the world, let alone on the battlefield, so they haven't killed many people. Now, how many people do you think have died from arrow fire? Hundreds? Thousands? Is that not horrible?

Urda: You're just splitting hairs!

Cathari: Then tell me. What about guns makes them "horrible" to you?

Urda: Wh-What about them? They make inexplicable sounds and belch fire and shoot iron bullets! What could be worse?

Cathari: Technically, it's lead, not iron. But, basically, she's right.

Hazuki: Wait — pardon?

Cathari: Simply put, guns are "inexplicable." They're an unknown. People fear that, especially in a weapon.

Hazuki: You're saying guns are merely a... bluff tactic?

Cathari: Pretty much, so far. Guns are still under development. They don't fire as quickly as arrows, or as accurately... Once you know that, they're not all that difficult to deal with.

  • Skies of Arcadia. Most gun-wielding enemies are not a serious threat, and while Gilder, the resident Badass Longcoat gunslinger in your party, is a powerful fighter, he is not the most powerful — both Vyse, who uses swords, and Drachma, who uses a mechanical arm, are more powerful physically. Mind you, Skies of Arcadia's handguns are of the flintlock kind.

 Dyne: That's funny, I only count four of you.

  • In the original Persona, all characters could equip a firearm in addition to their usual non-gun weapon. Certain enemies are weak to firearms, but outside of that they aren't treated any differently from the other weapons.
    • Though they're actually incredibly useful despite their unimpressive attack power due to things like charm bullets. A decent chance to cause charm on every hit with a gun that hits six or more times can cripple a lot of enemies very quickly.
    • Which was lifted from the first Shin Megami Tensei game by the same company. While magic powers and ancient magical swords could outpace firearms in raw damage before too long, getting to choose which status effects your multi-hit firearms put on your foes is invaluable. Especially since SMT1 averts Useless Useful Spell even more than other games in the series, because charm works very well even on boss monsters.
  • In Persona 3 guns that appear in cutscenes are treated realistically and even kill party members with one or two shots. Aegis and Takaya both use guns in combat, however, where they are rather pathetic (all considered) standard attacks that deal about as much damage as the assorted swords, bows, and boxing gloves the rest of the party use and have no improved range to speak of. Heck, one boss character (Jin) throws grenades at people that hardly do any damage. Aside from that, the main characters use gun-shaped Evokers to call their Persona out in a way all-too-reminiscent of suicide, so while it is debatable whether they count as guns or not, they are still vital for your success.
    • Persona 4 carries on this fine tradition in-game: Naoto and Adachi both use guns, and neither are particularly dangerous physically.
  • Certain enemies in Digital Devil Saga are in fact weak to firearms, but using them requires wasting a turn to switch back to human form along with the loss of all skills you'd be able to use while transformed. It is averted in the sense that firearms are the only option available as a human.
  • In Devil Survivor, the characters' Hit Points and stats are Justified by the harmonizer tech in their demon summoning PDAs, which allows Puny Earthlings to 'roll with it' when attacked by a demon and avoid getting instant-pulped. For some reason this also works against human guns, who are a very rare enemy-only physical attack that is quite underwhelming. Although they do deal triple damage to humans, that triple damage still usually isn't enough to simulate the Real Life effects of burst-firing an assault rifle point blank at an unarmoured teenager with intent to kill.
  • In the Samurai Warriors and Warriors Orochi games, it depends on the particular game; Saika Magoichi Samurai Warriors uses this instead of a bow for his first-person shooting, it in fact being needed to unlock part of his story and final weapon, while Ishikawa Goemon uses a back-mounted cannon. In Samurai Warriors 2 the first-person aspect is gone, but Magoichi, Tokugawa Ieyasu and Date Masamune have on-command shots — individually little damage and hard to aim but semiautomatic, able to interrupt enemies, and eventually able to go through enemies (potentially hitting other enemies). In Warriors Orochi the on-command shots are traded for Magoichi's close-range "shotgun" blast attack, Ieyasu's energy beam (which doesn't really subvert the trope by not being a 'proper' shot), and Masamune's pair of attacks where he goes airborne and fires a barrage all around. Unfortunately, these (like all on-command projectiles) are nerfed in Warriors Orochi by losing the ability to interrupt or knock down enemies, so in that game the trope is partly played straight. However, in all of these games and their spin-offs the shots that are part of the characters' normal, charge, and Musou attacks depend on the character's level and (ranged) attack power.
  • The Gunslinger class in the MMORPG Ragnarok Online is, for the most part, arguably one of the weakest classes in the game unless extensive care is taken to ensure they do decent damage, and even at that they still tend to fall far behind other classes (notably the Sniper).
  • Another MMORPG example is Maple Story, whose Gunslinger class — one of the two Second Job options for a Pirate — carries flintlock pistols that never need to be reloaded, have a range of about 6 feet, and are pathetically weak (at least initially). The Gunslinger is considered so weak by most players that the other job branch for Pirate, the Brawler, who wields increasingly elaborate BRASS KNUCKLES, is the more popular choice by a landslide.
  • Present in Chrono Trigger. Lucca's guns are basically your standard "magic user weapon", which deal damage just high enough to be occasionally useful, but far less than the guys with swords. To make things worse, as a projectile weapon it's boosted by the Hit/Accuracy stat, rather than the Power/Strength stat. Not only are there far more accessories that boost Power/Strength, but there are no Tabs/Capsules that boost Hit/Accuracy as well. Plus, for comparison, Crono has about 70 base Power/Strength by the end of the game (at about level 48 or so). Lucca has only 49 Hit/Accuracy at level 99.
  • Played so straight in Rogue Galaxy that weapons like gatling guns, grenade launchers and missiles are comparable to pistols or weaker. None of which are more powerful than swords or a kick to the face, of course. The machine gun-toting mobsters you fight a couple of times are probably the least threatening enemies in the game.
  • In the Wizardry series, Giff Umpani has some firearms, which PC can obtain and use, even as a secondary weapon. Guns do considerable damage, but unlike other ranged weapons have no Abnormal Ammo. And you need to spend actions to manually reload them after every shot — a valid requirement, but somehow isn't applied to any crossbows — so in average you get half of that damage and it sucks.
    • The Umpani flamethrower and rocket launcher from Wizardry 8, on the other hand, are quite useful in the right situations, and one of the two main gimmicks of the player Gadgeteer class is their self-built Omnigun, which starts out as a pathetic sling-equivalent, and ends being able to fire just about anything you stick into it, including swords, to great effect.
  • Medieval II: Total War plays this trope relatively realistically. Early firearms, such as arquebuses, are good for little more than scattering poor-morale peasants at an arm's length, but late-game musketmen will fell their worth in knights before the latter can get anywhere within melee range.
    • Even the latest-game musketmen get vastly outranged by archers, though, resulting in unobservant or unlucky players seeing their fancy-pants musket army getting shredded by a few longbows or American tribesmen doing hit-and-run tactics (also true in Empire: Total War). While having some historical basis, Total War gives this trope a corrolary of Guns Are Worthless When The Enemy Has Bows And Arrows.
  • Star Ocean the Last Hope at least tries to explain this. Soldiers realistically use railguns to try to kill the giant bugs that attack them, but apparently the eletromagnetic signature emitted by the railgun when fired allows the bugs to block the shots with some kind of shield. Protagonist Edge only gives up on his railgun when he drops it, and then grabs the first weapon he can, which just happens to be a sword-like cutting tool, which, of course, works perfectly.
    • Further explained in that Edge's special ability makes it harder for him to use a gun; it causes him to lead his shots too much and miss more often than not.
  • Subverted in Defense Of The Ancients: All-Stars: The only gunslinger, the Dwarven Sniper, is for various good reasons considered a low-tier character. However, none of these are innately because he uses a gun.
  • In Lost Odyssey, Sed's rifle does less damage than the other character's swords. Even Tolten's sword, the weak pretty boy. Even Mack's fists, and he's 10 years old! Though, on the plus side, he never misses and he can shoot through the barrier to the enemy's back row with no penalty.
  • In Nostalgia, guns do less damage than swords, only compensated by higher accuracy.
    • Pad's "Dead Shot" skill turns out to be your best weapon against the ridiculously strong mobs in the bonus dungeons, since they have huge amounts of HP but no instant death immunity.
  • In Dungeon Siege your dungeon crawls take you to a lair of goblins that use gatling guns, flamethrowers and rocket launchers, and also drop these weapons for the player. They are acceptable, but when you move on in the story, the enemies will be dropping bows again, which will invariably be stronger.
  • Blaz Blue's Noel Vermillion is the only gun-user among the player characters, and while she's not low-tier, she doesn't exactly do killer damage easily. Her guns can't even reach across the whole screen except with the Distortion Drives.
  • In the Warcraft series, Guns are largely equal to Bows and other ranged weapons. They aren't as powerful as melee weapons, but can attack from a long distance away, possibly protected by a cliff or other obstacles.
    • In World of Warcraft, guns are exactly as useful as crossbows and bows. Which is to say, incredibly useful for hunters, practically harmless in the hands of anyone else.
      • However several classes are able to make use of them for stat boosts, if nothing else.
  • On the subject of the guns in Too Human:

  Yahtzee: Baldur, it seems, buys his guns from the same shop as Dante, where the only available ammo is peas and bits of tissue paper.

  • Guns in Devil May Cry do pathetic amounts of damage, and aside from a few special attacks (and cut scenes), are generally pretty useless.
  • In Sengoku Basara, arquebusier-wielding Mooks are frequent enemies; their bullets are visible, travel slow enough to dodge or even parry, and deal only slightly more damage than a mook sword. Magoichi and Nouhime are both gun users, and their guns are no more fatal than the assorted swords, bows, hammers, spears, rocks, fists and associated whatnots everyone else uses (they do have a range advantage though). Their bullets are also visible to the eye and dodge/blockable by enemies (except Magoichi's shotgun, which is practically a melee weapon anyway).
  • In Darksiders War gets a Hand Cannon that is a four barrelled, repeating revolver custom made by an Ultimate Blacksmith, with infinate ammo, and named Mercy. It takes about twenty shots from it to down most mooks that can be Action Command auto killed with a single button.
    • While functionally pointless against even average mooks, it comes in so handy when fighting flying demons, or picking off/wearing down creatures when on horseback while you charge in to hit them with your sword.
  • Compared to the swords you get at the same time in Mega Man Battle Network, guns are extremely weak: the first swords can One-Hit Kill anything up to the first boss, while the first guns don't do enough damage to kill the weakest enemies in the game. Even at the end game, any gun more powerful than a sword takes so long to form that you will miss against most enemies at that stage.
  • In Disgaea guns are a 'trick' weapon, with its primary bonus being that it damages based on your HIT stat and drops speed, making them the primary weapon against dodging enemies. They fall behind axes, swords and possibly also bows in damage, and have a range of 4 to 5 — the same as the movement range for most offensive melee-classes.
    • They also have no area-of-effect attacks, which makes them pretty bad for Level Grinding in Cave of Ordeals 3, and since they're based on Hit rather than Atk you can't as easily swap them for a sword.
    • They were also nerfed in the second game, in which they can only fire in a straight line (the four cardinal directions)
  • Cryostasis plays this straight by giving you less-than-impressive guns--the first one you get is a bolt-action Mosin-Nagant that appears to have been made in the 1800s. The one and only submachine gun is necessary against a few bosses, but a lot of the time it's more effective to just hit monsters with a lock and chain.
  • While we see very few guns in Kingdom Hearts (Port Royal even replaces them with crossbows), Clayton has a shotgun that he uses to hunt 500 pound gorillas, which nevertheless deals comparatively little damage to an unarmoured fourteen-year-old.
  • Valkyria Chronicles II has a bit of this. While most classes of soldiers use guns or rocket launchers that are usually pretty effective against each other, the Tech superclass uses melee weapons and a shield that can deflect essentially all gunfire minus a couple of late-game/DLC weapons (shooting them from behind, where their shield doesn't cover, is a lot more effective). The Fencer/Fencer Elite specializations of the Tech class, which wield BFSes, can take out almost any infantry unit in one swing while classes that use guns would take several shots to accomplish the same thing (most classes can fire more than one shot per command point, but it could still take multiple CP to take out a high-defense or crouched target). Fencers have very low movement to compensate for their tank-like defense and virtually-guaranteed One Hit KO's, however, so they aren't completely broken.
  • Painkiller: inverted oh so beautifully for you, played straight for the enemies. Most notably, the mobsters in City on Water switch out their tommy guns for nailguns when they reappear in The Docks, and the nails do at least 4 times more damage. Their Elite Mook friends the Skulls use huge shotguns that can actually do hefty damage the one time they actually hit you.
  • Usually, Team Fortress 2 is pretty much packed with guns; there are, however, two exception. The Demo Man can choose to go "Demo Knight", where he discards his grenade launcher for some Nice Shoes, his sticky bomb launcher for a shield and uses one of his many swords as his melee. This can be surprisingly effective. Similarly, the Sniper can discard his sniper rifle in favour of the Huntsman, a set of bow and arrows. If you're good, the Huntsman can be devastating.
  • With a few exceptions, guns in the first Ryu ga Gotoku game are useless. When used against Kazuma, they serve only to interrupt his combat animations and chip off his health from a distance, doing a pittance of damage while other enemies lay into him with deadlier tables or golf clubs. When Kazuma gets his hands on one dropped by a mook, it fires only one shot and will take off a quarter of the mook's health, if he is lucky enough to hit him in the first place. Truth in Television, as the rarity of guns in Japan means that most are old and poorly maintained.
  • In the Sam and Max games, both Sam and Max have guns you can use at any time, but they are useless as weapons. The guns are used more like remote controls to hit buttons, bells etc., that you are physically unable to reach. This becomes a running gag through the series.

Web Comics

  • Adventurers subverts it in two major ways: main character Tesla is an incredibly effective gunslinger (and user of anachronistic projectile weaponry in general), and, more pointedly, Cody wields a gun forged by god-like beings. The characters assume it will be ineffective, being a gun in an RPG setting, until he casually points it at a rock and deals 9999 damage (!). It's also enough to compensate for nonsensical dialogue, apparently.
    • Parodied in this comic, when the main characters are being mugged by a gun wielding thief.
  • The Adventures of Dr. McNinja: Dan and Sean get on Gordito's case about how guns are useless, but he still manages to kick ass with them.

Web Original

  • That Guy With The Glasses's Suburban Knights takes this Up to Eleven. Multiple times guns are fired at close range into large groups of people, sometimes even with bullet animations bouncing off people, to no effect whatsoever.
  • Rule 16 of the Freedom Fighters: Encyclopedic knowledge of firearms means nothing in a world where all the guns are permanently set to "bitchslap".

Real Life

  • Let's not forget that the modern firearm is a vast improvement over the early models when it comes to aiming and reliability. When your projectile-thrower will be more useful as a club if the weather gets a bit too damp for it, it better be a really good club. Consider, too, the problems that'd be caused if your enemy does not helpfully clump together and the best your guns do for aiming is 'point in general direction of the enemy.' Long story short, what we're saying is that there was in fact an early period of time when guns were worthless. The problem is, people are never seen using those early worthless models.
    • "In effect, rather than making plate armour obsolete, the use of firearms stimulated the development of plate armour into its later stages. For most of that period, it allowed horsemen to fight while being the targets of defending arquebuseers without being easily killed. Full suits of armour were actually worn by generals and princely commanders right up to the second decade of the 18th century. It was the only way they could be mounted and survey the overall battlefield with safety from distant musket fire." - Wikipedia
    • However, several contempary accounts describe early guns as being highly effective on the battlefield, arguably superior to bows-one account describes a siege where hundreds were killed by arquebus wounds, as opposed to one man who died from longbow fire (because the wound became infected). In addition, arrows were described as being unable to reliably penetrate the armour worn by men at arms, whilst the guns were highly dangerous. When the tendency for gunless civilisations to adopt them as soon as possible is taken into account, it seems like RL was playing with this trope for quite some time.
      • Many of the limitations on early fire-arms were as much about training and cost of munitions as they were about problems with the guns themselves (such as long rates of fire and increasing inaccuracy beyond a certain distance). This is one of the reasons why the "massed muskets in formation" tactic lasted as long as it did; when your soldiers have only shot one or two rounds in training before being marched onto a battlefield, massing them was the best way to change advantage of the (not surprisingly) inaccurate individual gunfire.
    • When talking about unimpressive early firearms, many people think of the 1400s but what was fielded then was the result of continual improvement since 1200s. Historians chalk up European conquest of the Americas to ingenuity, and luck with disease more than any technological edge, and European colonialism didn't have comparable success again until the 1800s in areas where disease was in the enemy's favor. The initial game changer was the cannon, which could take down walls and sink ships, another 400s years before guns were enough on their own.
    • By the 1400's hand guns, if not arquebuses, were a part of warfare and were quite useful. Now, that being said, they weren't by themselves a game changer and were inferior to other weapons in many ways. That doesn't mean, however, that they were useless — it simply means that they had their place on the battlefield along with many other weapons and ways to defend against those weapons. It really wasn't until the 1600's when guns became completely dominant on the battlefield, but before then they were still a major part of most European armies and did change the way wars were fought.
    • The Renaissance saw military doctrines that combined the use of firearms with older weapons in ways that fiction today rarely depicts. For example, pike and shot tactics, which combined pikemen with arquebusiers.
    • If anything, the psychological effect of firearms in the early days could be something. In a time where the loudest thing was metal clanging and men shouting war cries, explosions could be pretty startling.
  • There was a Civil War era general who once said that you can be fired at all day by a musket and not realize it.
  • Back in the day, the bayonet was there because sometimes charging something was preferable to a long reload. As guns became less and less worthless, a bayonet was actually more useful as a tool than anything, further showing how far gun tech has come.
    • The bayonet was developed primarily to allow musketeers to defend themselves against cavalry, allowing armies to dispense with the pikemen who had previously been charged with this task.
    • "A bullet is foolish; the bayonet is wise" - General Aleksandr Suvorov (1729-1800), who favored all-out bayonet charges over stationary shooting, implying the wildly inaccurate muskets of the era.
    • Bayonet charges are still used by some armies to great effect. It turns out that sending in a horde of mad Scotsmen wielding blades on sticks is still an effective tactic.
    • It's also a bit of a misconception that bayonets are used only for strict combat purposes. This was true back in the days of ball in musket, but following bayonet innovations made in Prussia, the bayonet was combined with the field knife to create one multipurpose tool. Now days, the bayonet and the combat knife are pretty much the same tool, and used to do things such as cut wire. Pure combat knives are extremely rare, issued almost exclusively to Special Operations units and single-purpose bayonets are almost entirely extinct.
  • The "Tueller Drill" is the source of the "21 foot rule". The rule states that within 21 feet, a knife is superior to a gun, because the man with the knife can close that distance within 1.5 seconds, faster than it can take the guy with the gun to draw, aim and fire. This is a misconception. While it is true the "Tueller Drill" determined that the gap could be crossed that quickly, it's obviously not a certainty. The reason why this was a problem was that if a police officer fired too early at a knife-wielding suspect, they could be seen as shooting someone who was not an immediate threat and charged with murder. If too late, you have a stabbed cop. A gunman could draw a weapon in that time, but police have the legal considerations to take in before doing so. This "rule" has even been invoked in media, Criminal Minds, in the episode "The Tribe".
  • In nations that have heavy gun control, such as the United Kingdom or Japan, criminals will often commit violent acts with whatever else they have available. Knives, stones and bricks, hammers, Molotov Cocktails, bows and crossbows and bare fists will often be used in lieu of firearms. Most firearms available to these criminals are thus likely to be expensive, lacking in stopping power, low capacity, old and poorly maintained due to an inability to get the required parts.
    • Crime committed with a gun tends also to attract much more attention, since it is rare, thus making it more probable to be caught. And having a gun allows law enforcement to act more free with their own, so if you are found and try to oppose police using your weapon they are likely to put you down, due to their superior training, making use of firearms dangerous and risky. So mostly, they are worthless.