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"How do people in movies always know how to do this stuff without practice?"

A reasonably common fallacy based on the notion that the possession of a piece of technology, excluding things specifically described as a Black Box, implies that the owner has a full understanding of its workings and mechanisms, the principles on which it operates, and can adapt and use those principles in other matters in a reliable way, and can even undermine them as necessary.

In other words, anyone who owns a car is fully capable of building a car, and ought to be able to build an anti-car weapon.

This makes more sense when dealing with governments, mind you, who are both interested in and good at reverse-engineering; on the other hand, this presupposes that other cultures' governments are similar to that of the US.

This fallacy is often reinforced by Mr. Fixit, who generally can adapt any piece of technology he gets his hands on to do whatever the plot calls for — especially if he's a Technopath.

Compare Instant Expert. Contrast Cargo Cult, Clarke's Third Law, Scavenger World (where people forgot how to make a lot of things After the End), How Do I Shot Web? (the inverse of this trope with superpowers), You Shouldn't Know This Already (which stops gamers from using something they have before they learn how in-game), Low Culture, High Tech (where the this is not the case for a low tech culture using high tech gadgets), Black Box and Loyal Phlebotinum.

Has nothing to do with Demonic Possession (although one might wonder how easy it is for demons to work out how to use their hosts' bodies...)


Anime and Manga

  • Conspicuous by its absence in Macross, where barely understood higher technology acts like it. Multiple plot points involve the protagonists being forced to use a foolhardy technique or maneuver and having it blow up in their faces. The Cool Ship first takes off using alien antigravity generators, which proceed to tear through the hull and float off into the sky. The second attempt is done with ordinary engines. On the other hand, the crew then pulled off an extreme low altitude space fold jump to outmaneuver the Zentrandi, leaving them astonished that their enemy could something they thought impossible. Simply, the inexperienced and desperate Macross crew did not know that themselves and succeeded by pure luck. This actually works somewhat in their favor since their enemies are kept continually off guard with each stunt, unable to decide if their completely unpredictable enemies are pathetic amateurs or half-crazed tactical geniuses.

    On the other hand, the Zentraedi could operate all their technology — but when something broke (such as the big screen in Breetai's command deck), all they could do was clean up the mess and make do without because they were kept deliberately ignorant of how to create or repair technology.
    • This lack of understanding actually kicked off the plot. The crew of the Macross found out too late that the original owners of their ship had rigged it to fire its main cannon on the first Zentrandi ship that came in range, thus throwing humanity into a war with the aliens. more to the point, the low altitude space fold jump mentioned above ended up bringing an entire island (with over 5000 civilians) along for the ride, out to around the orbit of Pluto (they had intended to jump behind the moon). Better yet, the fold space generator (that they had used to make the jump) literally vanished into thin air during the jump.
  • Shirou of Fate/stay night develops the ability to construct imitations of legendary swords out of seemingly nothing. This also somehow reconstructs the original users' skills at using said weapons, so possession in this case really does imply mastery, or at least proficiency.

    It is a plot point in UBW that Gilgamesh and Shirou, as mere "owners" rather than "wielders" of their weapons, generally suck in comparison to other servants in direct combat because they don't have the mastery gained by focusing in one weapon. Shirou actually points this out, and wins because Unlimited Blade Works provides him with an infinite amount of duplicates that are summoned faster than Gilgamesh pulls stuff out of his arsenal. He uses the duplicated proficiency and overload the duplicates to repel or destroy Gilgamesh's originals and forces the latter on the defensive.
    • It helps that Shirou, when recreating his weapons, copies the history of how they were made and how they were wielded, giving him a level
  • This is the power of the Gandalfr Familiar, the position held by Saito, in Zero no Tsukaima. If it's made for battle, he can use it. This is demonstrated when a shiny display sword given to him by Kirche completely fails in battle.
  • Haru Glory's Ten Commandments sword in Rave Master. It has ten forms, and Haru seems to know exactly what every form does the moment he needs it, such as bringing out Runesave to save Elie without having to kill her. This is however justified since the Rave of Knowledge explicitly provides this insight.
  • In Bleach, this is quite the opposite for pretty much anyone with spirit abilities. Especially captains, no matter how much of a genius they're stated to be. Which explains just why characters like Ichigo and Toushiro can keep getting pretty much curb-stomped, despite their power levels and genius. They have it — doesn't mean they have mastered it yet. Kubo seems to take great pleasure in avoiding this trope.
    • Kenpachi Zaraki is the best example of subverting this trope. He owns a zanpakuto... but to him, it's just a normal sword. He makes up for the lack of zanpakuto abilities with monstrous strength and spiritual pressure. Similarly, lesser shinigami have zanpakuto without abilities, but it's implied that for most shinigami, gaining the abilities simply comes with time and effort, leading to a increase in rank and power.
  • A lot of characters in Code Geass seem to be able to pilot Knightmare Frames, despite having found themselves using them for the first time. Somewhat justified in that Suzaku mentioned having had some military-mandatory training on simulators in the first episode, Lelouch having used the Ganymede to make giant pizzas during previous school festivals, and Kallen having assumedly had some time to practice with that old Glascow. Still, a line from the Abridged Series is used as the page quote for Falling Into the Cockpit...
  • Heavily averted in Gantz. The main protagonist (among others) are given special combat suits and weaponry, but they have literally no idea of how they work until they figure it out by trial-and-error.
  • Usually averted in One Piece with the Devil Fruits, but not so much for Kaku and Kalifa. While being top-ranked assassins with all sorts of cool superpowers, they were given Devil Fruits to be even tougher. Only a few hours later do they appear having nearly complete mastery over their powers, with the exception of Kaku, who, while shifting forms, accidentally enters his animal form instead of his hybrid.

Comic Books

  • Subverted mercilessly in Marvel Comics' GLX-mas Special #1, where the second Grasshopper is taking his first jumps in a brand-new super-suit. After foiling a villain, Grasshopper is approached with a dinner invitation by his unwitting sister. After denying her advances, he makes a heroic exit by engaging the suit's "Maximum Jump" ability, which propels him into space, killing him instantly. Sidenote: to this day, there have been three Grasshoppers in Marvel continuity, and not one have them have survived more than a single issue. The most recent one debuted and was killed in all of three panels.
  • Played totally straight with the character Adept from Strikeforce Morituri, whose superpower was the ability to analyze and understand anything she touched. Since their primary opponents were a race of alien Planet Looters with scavenged technology, this was very useful.
  • Averted for most of the Blue Beetle legacy. The first one, Dan Garett, got powers from it by saying a magic word (ultimately revealed to be misusing it, and the magic likely damaged its true function). Then Ted Kord came into possession of the scarab but never got it to work, instead borrowing its motif for his costume and gadgets. It was only the third owner, Jaime Reyes, who had it work as intended - but he still hasn't mastered it; the scarab activated because it chose to, and he still argues with it over what to do at times.
  • Ultimate X-Men member Colossus lampshades this when Weapon X forces him to stop a train, pointing out that just because he's super strong doesn't mean he's strong enough to do this though it turns out he is. Weapon X doesn't care.
    • This being the Ultimate Universe, things aren't quite that simple though. His initial warning is true, he doesn't have super strength; this was later proved to be a side effect of a Super Serum called Banshee that amplifies mutant powers. Without it, Colossus would have just been a metal man, too heavy (it's implied) to even breathe for any extended period of time. In true comic book form, they retconned this by saying this was why he was working for the Russian mob in the first place, they paid (or were a meants of payment for) the drug. By the end of that arc, however, it seems that the super strength is now a permanent side effect, effectively keeping Status Quo Is God.
      • Which brings up the Fridge Logic of how Colossus still had his strength after weeks of captivity. But then, that will happen with a story about a drug made out of Wolverine.
  • In a similar vain, a recent story looking back on the early days of Superman's career shows that the man of steel knows he's strong and invulnerable but doesn't know how strong and invulnerable he is. He briefly panics when his lungs fill with lava while submerged.


  • A little known UK movie called Morons from Outer Space plays with this trope, as the aliens who crash-land on Earth are assumed to be a higher order of intelligence. In point of fact, they are the interstellar equivalent of ignorant tourists who rented a camper and ended up running off the road in the wrong town.
  • The heroes of the film Spaced Invaders are the most incompetent members of their race.
  • In the Iron Man film, Obadiah Stane pilots powered armor (that wasn't even made by him) for the first time and is immediately able to go toe to toe with Iron Man, who spent several (hilarious) weeks practicing with his suit. Justified as Stane planed to sell his Mini-Mecha Evil Knockoff on the black market, so he just crammed it with computer assistance — and after Stark yanks out a few wires, he not only can't hit a human-sized target at six meters with automatic weapons and missiles, but has to open the cockpit to see.
  • In Pathfinder, the hero grew up with a Viking sword, but his only practice with it appears to be occasionally swinging it around, alone, in forest clearings. When the Vikings show up again, he proves to be a skilled swordfighter.
    • It's actually a partial aversion. When he's swinging his sword in the forest, it's a Training Montage. It's vaguely implied that he practices for a long time. At the beginning of the scene he holds the sword wrong and swings it awkwardly. By the end of the scene he's holding it correctly and swinging it much more skillfully.
  • Averted in District 9 when Wikus gets into a suit of power armor and is shown stumbling around awkwardly. His good aim with alien handguns is shown via the sophisticated HUD to be a function of the suit being highly automated and taking high-level orders via a semi-biological link. In fact, its implied that if he actually knew how to use the thing, he would have been able to tear through the mercenaries like tissue paper; the auto-pilot curbstomps an entire gang in about ten seconds.
  • Averted in Ghostbusters. Harold Ramis has gone on record for stating that the key was to portray the Ghostbusters as really trigger-happy and nervous when they're on their first bust.
  • In Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, Anakin Skywalder assumes that because Qui-Gon Jinn has a lightsaber, he must be a Jedi. When Qui-Gon jokingly retorts that he could have alternatively killed a Jedi and snatched the lightsaber, Anakin claims that no one would ever be able to kill a Jedi.
  • Averted in Terminator when Kyle Reese talks about how the resistance captured the time portal device to send him back to the 1980s. The consulting psychiatrist for the police asks him how it works and gets shut down with "I didn't build the fucking thing!!"

Fan Works


  • The Fithp in Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle's 1985 novel Footfall are a young alien species who came across a cache of technological knowledge left by another, older species and built their entire civilization around it. However, they never developed any kind of science and have a cultural tunnel-vision centered around the technologies in the cache; not only are they unable to analyze or extrapolate base principles from the ancient knowledge, but they cannot imagine or cope with a technology not laid out in detail for them in the cache.
  • The Yuuzhan Vong in the Star Wars Expanded Universe consider it heresy to even consider attempting to devise new biotechnology. Their race has possessed and used for their entire recorded history a cache of biotech they claim was given to them by the gods. New designs have secretly been introduced by their Supreme Overlord, who claimed the designs came from (fictional) parts of that cache only he can access.
  • This trope is lampshaded in the Corellian Trilogy, where people who live on Centerpoint Station deny having perfect knowledge of how the station works.
    • Also invoked briefly in the Revenge of the Sith novelization: Anakin Skywalker manages to land an alien ship whose controls he's never seen before, which wasn't designed to be landed in an atmosphere, while half of the spacecraft is missing and the remaining half is on fire. Because he's just that good (or because the Plot is with him).
  • The Posleen of John Ringo's Legacy of the Aldenata. All of their tech was ripped and copied from the withdrawn from the galaxy and negligent Aldenata (in a sort of angry Cargo Cult fashion) and they only vaguely understand how it works, but they can, and do, produce more.
    • The limited AIs and the 'Net' that controls their society is copied into the new systems, and when long unused alarms go off people don't understand what Incoming Artillery Strike means.
  • Played with by Douglas Adams' Mostly Harmless. Arthur Dent's only practical skill is making sandwiches, so when he crashes on a primitive alien world he can't offer any of humankind's knowledge and inventions ("He couldn't even make a toaster"). But the alien villagers still venerate him as 'The Sandwich Maker' since they hadn't thought of the idea.
  • Averted in the Honor Harrington novels where Admiral Shannon Foraker is quite frank about how even when they capture Mantie technology they can't actually use it because they don't have the same tech base or miniaturisation technology, but that it's still worthwhile because it gives them ideas on how to do it, and how to develop countermeasures.
  • Subverted in The Tommyknockers. The titular entities have no clue HOW their stuff works, but somehow managed to figure out how to make it.
  • Inverted in Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows, where it becomes a key plot point that merely wielding a certain wand is not enough to be its "true" master. However, there is no requisite knowledge the wielder might lack, just the requisite action of "defeating" the old master.
    • Averted in Harry Potter as a whole. Just because you have a broomstick/wand/crystal ball/whatever doesn't mean you can use it without going to school first.
  • Averted in The Bartimaeus Trilogy, where Nathaniel gains possession of an extremely powerful magical artifact and tries to use it against his enemy. Bartimaeus notes that there's no chance of him being able to master it on his first try, but stops when he succeeds in generating a massive surge of magical energy. Then he loses control and the backlash knocks him unconscious.
    • In the final book demons possessing people run into this problem, having very little idea how to actually work their new bodies. At one point the immensely powerful demon Nouda is seen being helped to his feet by a lesser demon who's had a body longer, after he fell over and started twitching.
  • This is the primary ability of Berserker from Fate/Zero. Anything that is remotely a weapon he corrupts it in his mana, turning it into a magic weapon of devastating power.
  • The Gateway books involve a lot of this. The Titular station contains many ships, each with an FTL drive and a navigation system that works by pushing a few buttons. Unfortunately, nobody quite knows how the ships work or how to navigate them. Humans explore the galaxy with them by pushing the buttons in different combination and seeing where the ships goes. Hope you brought enough supplies to survive the trip there and back(not that you know how long the trip is going to be). Some ships just don't come back.
  • Scott Adams discusses this in relation to UFOs in his book, The Dilbert Future. He points out that "just because you see a person driving a car, that doesn't mean that they invented the automobile," so we can't assume that an alien piloting an advanced spaceship is a genius. He goes on to speculate that the aliens that abduct people are actually The Greys' equivalent of rednecks, and that Anal Probing is their equivalent of cow tipping.
  • Amusingly averted with Bertie in Jeeves and Wooster:

  You see, I'm one of those birds who drive a lot but don't know the first thing about the works. The policy I pursue is to get aboard, prod the self-starter, and leave the rest to Nature. If anything goes wrong, I scream for an A.A. scout.


Live Action TV

  • Star Trek frequently uses this trope; it's Lampshaded in an episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine where minion of the Dominion notes that, while they otherwise hold the Federation in contempt, Starfleet Engineers are famous as being the undisputed masters of technology adaptation and modification. "Turning rocks into replicators." Considering the variety of cultures which makes up the Federation, this may be a Justified Trope, as Starfleet engineers would be trained in the use of technology which is itself a pastiche of many different technologies. Plus, there's the fact that all aliens have base-10 numeral systems, have the same emotional and intellectual range as humans, progress along the same basic technological path as humans, look like humans in rubber masks, and can even write documents word-for-word identical to the U.S. Constitution without ever having seen it.... With all those similarities, is it any wonder they all build similar technologies?
  • The title character in The Greatest American Hero received an Applied Phlebotinum powered Superhero suit at the start of the series, lost the instructions, and spent most of the series amusingly floundering about trying to figure out how to use it correctly.
  • Stargate SG-1 tends to play with this trope fairly successfully on occasion. In one episode it's revealed that the SGC computers can't even interpret many of the Stargate's feedback signals, and others are disregarded on a routine basis in order to establish a connection. This is suggested to be a major contributing factor to the various mishaps of one type or another that have occurred when using the gate. Another episode introduces the Air Force's prototype hybrid fighter craft, combining standard Earth technology with that of Go'auld Gliders - which promptly goes wrong due to incomplete understanding of the alien technology incorporated in the design.
  • Sylar's base power inherently grants him this effect; as soon as he acquires a new ability, he instantly understands how to use it perfectly. Everyone else on the show suffers How Do I Shot Web? at first (Peter suffers it constantly).
  • In Power Rangers, this is pretty much the standard. Hand five people giant robots, watch them pilot them effortlessly, including the part where they merge into one giant robot, although many series with robotic zords have the combination process mostly automated and those with living zords simply ask them to do it for them (basically).
    • Apparently, it's part of some Rangers' power sets: Billy, the first Blue Ranger, remarked "I actually know how to drive this thing!" Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue - the first series to be entirely divorced from what went before, even moreso than Lost Galaxy - turned away from this (as well as everything else about the previously half-magical ranger tech) and have the heads-up display in the helmets instruct the heroes on any new gadgetry.
    • Power Rangers RPM; the three starting Rangers had been Rangers for a while when we first saw them suited, and Dillon's enhanced abilities made him a fast learner and a superb fighter from day one. Ziggy, on the other hand, Falling Into the Cockpit, is hilarious as we watch him try to get the hang of his gear. His first Zord battle winds up with him accidentally taking out several Mook vehicles by activating the spinning attack.
    • Partially justified at the beginning of Samurai Sentai Shinkenger in that all of the characters have been training to carry on their family legacies. However it is averted slightly in the second episode. Ryuuonosuke knows about the Samurai Gattai but doesn't actually know what it does or how its done and winds up getting everyone to stack themselves up in a totem pole like formation.
  • Averted in the Doctor Who episode "Attack of the Cybermen", in which the Cybermen plan to use a time machine to change history. The Doctor cannot understand why the Cybermen would do something so catastrophic, since it would be just as damaging for them as for everyone else; it falls to another character to point out that the Cybermen's timeship is stolen, not built, and that they do not understand its principles.
    • Averted in the first few years of Doctor Who with the TARDIS. Part of Sydney Newman's original character brief was that he did not know how to steer his stolen timeship; however, in execution, it was a combination of "the Doctor didn't know how" and "the ship was already old"--this is why the Chameleon Circuit broke down in 1963 England. The TARDIS is also fully sentient and aware in eleven dimensions, so it always sends him where he needs to go instead of where he wants to go. The characteristic flight sound has also been revealed to be because he leaves the brake on.
  • Modern Kamen Rider series tend to have a character just know how to use their Rider powers within seconds of obtaining the Transformation Trinket - including how to use the Trinket in the first place.
    • Depends on the series. There are subversions here and there although certain ones like Kabuto, Faiz and Kiva play it straight.

Tabletop Games

  • Dungeons and Dragons up to 3rd edition averts this, as you need an (expensive) Identify spell, a good skill check or some creative experimentation to understand what a magic item does and how to activate it. Capturing magical items in (A)D&D used to be only half the battle, getting them to work was even more 'fun'. This was lampshaded by the 'magical items' in Expedition to the Barrier Peaks... which used flowcharts very similar to those from Gamma World as the hapless PCs tried to figure out advanced technology.
    • 4th edition plays it straight: any adventurer who spends five minutes studying a magic item will automatically know everything useful about it.
    • Weapons were first just allowed by class lists, but obvious issues led to simple solution in AD&D — penalties for non-proficient use. A character can grab any weapon, but this won't do much good without a proficiency in it, which for a non-warrior class may or may not be learnable at all.
    • In third edition, you could get the "Skillful Enchantment" on any weapons. After being so enchanted, anyone can pick up the weapon and use it at least as well as they can their normal weapons or better in the case of character classes that least emphasized combat (so it eliminates the non-proficiency penalty and sets your attack bonus up to the middle progression if it wasn't already at that level.)
  • GURPS has similar, highly amusing tables for meddling with stuff you don't understand. Including modifiers for poking it with a stick.
  • The Imperium of Man in Warhammer 40000 are pretty much the same. More than a fair proportion of their military equipment relies on technology long since lost. Tech-Priests pray to the machines to convince them to fix themselves, while doing rituals they believe appease the machine spirit rather than realizing they're the ones fixing it.
    • The Orks would seem like a straight play of the trope, as the "Mechboyz" know tech on a genetic level, including captured enemy hardware. Looking deeper, all Ork tech runs on the psychic gestalt generated by Ork belief in the fact that the tech will work, to the point where a human opening up an Ork gun may find simply a load of junk parts in a shoddy casing.
  • This is an unfortunate fact of life for Yu-Gi-Oh! card game players; duelists looking for a quick and cheap (figuratively, though definitely not literally) victory will "netdeck", or go online and copy a tournament-winning deck card-for-card. The theory is that playing a tourney-winning card will give them the ability to win more, and assuming they'll be able to pull off all of the best combos and strategies associated with that deck as the original player has. This should not work in reality, but somehow it does, because within the (relatively) simple ruleset of a card game, the idea of being able to reverse engineer the winning strategy for using the deck just from looking at its parts makes a bit more sense.
  • In Magic: The Gathering, due to the ever-changing meta-game, don't expect to win a large tournament with a netdeck. By the time you master it, really good players will have analyzed the famous "winning deck", found how to beat it, and played the cards that stop it on its track. If you made the same analysis, you may have modified your deck accordingly in order to reduce its vulnerability to those decks. If you just netdecked in hope of a cheap win and thought your opponents will behave exactly as your friends at the local FNM... You're facing troubles.
    • This is rather misleading though, as very often well-known decks do win tournaments, and the fact that an exact composition does or doesn't win doesn't even necessarily mean it was the correct build of the deck - having a slightly off deck can be more than compensated for by being a better player.
  • Parodied in Paranoia, where players are often ordered to test out new experimental equipment in the field, and report back on the results. Unfortunately, because the equipment is always well above their security clearance level, they cannot be told how it works, or even how to operate it. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Explicitly a rule in The Hero System. If you purchase an item (or special ability) with character points, you are automatically assumed to know how to use it. If you do not use character points (for example in a fantasy game, buying a sword with gold pieces) you need a requisite weapon familiarity skill.
  • In the text RPG Rifts, a PC can use any weapon they have without a Weapon Proficiency (WP) in that type of weapon with no disadvantages. But when a player does take a WP in a weapon type, they get bonuses. However, a player can't pilot some of the more 'fun' vehicles without a Piloting Skill in say... Giant Robot.

Video Games

  • Dante of Devil May Cry likes this trope. Whenever he acquires a new weapon, he instantly has intimate knowledge of how it works, no matter its complexity or peculiarity. Usually this knowledge of demonic weaponry is displayed by an over-the-top cutscene, which was taken to a new extreme in the fourth game where Dante demonstrates masterful use of Pandora, a demonic briefcase that can transform into a multitude of weapons including: a huge rocket launcher, a huger rocket launcher, a laser cannon (not shown in the cutscene) a large 3-bladed shuriken, a gatling gun, and a flying missile platform capable of a Macross Missile Massacre. Within the first minute and a half of acquiring the weapon.
    • There is a subtle inference that the weapons themselves are demons, and that Dante is able to communicate with them and is thus imparted mastery, at least in the first game.
  • In Company of Heroes, if your infantry squads can pick it up, they can reload and handle it like the original owners. Even if the weapon was comparatively rare on the enemy faction.
  • After playing through Shadow of the Colossus, one gets the idea that while Wander can shoot a bow well and ride his horse like a pro, he swings a sword like he has no idea what he's doing with it. Makes sense, since he's supposed to have stolen the sword. Maybe.
  • It's a plot point in Mass Effect: the peoples of the galaxy have access to Mass Relay technology, and are able to use it quite effectively, but have no real understanding of it (or rather, they understand how Mass Relay technology works, but can't replicate it).
    • Shepard having the collective experience of the Prothean race in their mind, becomes a minor plot point in the first and third game. Due to this Cypher, all Prothean technology reacts to their presence as though they were a Prothean; allowing them to see Prothean data where others would see only static, as well as fully activate the Prothean beacon on Thessia, which has defied comprehension by the Asari for millennia.
  • Played with Final Fantasy VI, Sabin (a martial artist that spent the better half of 10 years living secluded in a wooded valley,), Cyan (a technophobe samurai,) and Shadow (a ninja who lives off the land and presumably doesn't hang around machines much) all manage to be able to use Magitek Armor within minutes of finding some, when it took members of the Empire that owns them months, if not years to do the same. However, Cyan initially cannot pilot his armor, and Sabin comes from a kingdom with highly advanced technology, so at least in his case this may be somewhat justified. However, in both the opening and if you bring her for this later scene, Terra can perform more powerful moves, like the Tech Missile, suggesting that she knows her way around more complicated systems in the mech.
    • A better example is Final Fantasy VII. The prequals show that Cloud is a very poor shot, even with automatic weaponery. However, he's able to pick up a SOLDIER sword and use it to dispatch said SOLDIERS. It can be reasonably assumed that Limits helped, but the point is still made that he has a natural affinity for swordsmanship.
      • A similar scene occurs in Final Fantasy X. Auron hands Tidus a sword. He stumbles a bit, but once he gets used to the weight, he's pretty much fine. Auron is more effective, but then again his weapons are heavier.
  • In every game in The Legend of Zelda series, once he finds an item Link is automatically able to use it almost perfectly (depending on how good the player is, of course). Subverted in the case of items like the sword and shield, which some of the games give a tutorial for and thus does have Link train to learn to use them.
    • In Twilight Princess, it's justified that Link knows swordplay and horse riding from before the start of the game.
  • In Homeworld 2, a Marine Frigate is able to dock with an enemy ship and deploy commandos to take it over from the inside. After a successful hijacking however, the commandos are apparently able to fight with their new ship just as effectively as the previous crew without first having to familiarize themselves with how to operate it.
  • While previously this trope was averted in World of Warcraft with everyone's weapon skill starting out at one, in patch 4.0.1 weapons skills and training were done away with - now your character automatically fits this trope, so long as they can equip the weapon. This was because weapon skill added nothing whatsoever to the game, and simply resulted in higher level people who acquired a new type of weapon having to spend a lot of time hacking away pathetically at equally pathetic creatures while grinding their weapon skill up through 400-odd skill points before they could fight real enemies again (death knights, starting at level 55 and initially untrained in several of their common weapons, were particularly troubled by this).
  • Call of Duty 2 plays with this trope. On one hand, your character doesn't seem to have any trouble using captured German weapons, but that's no surprise given the point-and-click nature of most guns. On the other hand, Private Macgregor's attempts at driving a captured German armored car was...well, see for yourself starting around 4:15.
  • Particularly egregious in Nazi Zombies, where everyone instantly knows how to use the new Wonder Weapon introduced in each map to electrocute zombies, shrink them, turn them back into humans, suck them into a miniature black hole, etc. Especially in the Call Of The Dead map, where the player characters are actors.
  • In Master of Orion 2 any ships captured by boarding can be used as one's own, but scrapping them gives a chance to learn any unknown technologies they use.
  • The protagonist in Jade Empire picks up a wide array of techniques and can perform them effectively with little or no training at all - the Spirit Thief technique is demonstrated once, the transformation powers are gained by defeating the same monster, and several weapon styles become available after you've gained the weapon. You can effortlessly swing two massive axes without a second of prior training, and can service, load, wield and fire a blunderbuss imported from an analogue of Britain. And then there's the flying crafts that you've had no experience with either...
  • The ease with which the Exile in Knights of the Old Republic II The Sith Lords picks up new lightsaber forms ends up being a plot point later.


  • Averted in Captain SNES, when Alex gets the Mouse. He's supposed to be able to say a phrase to activate its power, but has no idea what the phrase is, and the people who gave it to him thought he'd already know, so they didn't bother to find out themselves.
  • Averted in Erfworld, where Ansom schlepped the Arkenpliers around for ages without being able to attune them. Wanda on the other hand…
    • Lampshaded in their first mention, Ansom's allies weren't aware of this distinction and he had to explain it to them.

Web Original

  • Both played straight and averted in the Whateley Universe, depending on the type of power. Most Energizers can just blast away with their powers with no training. Telekinetic bricks seem to know how to use their power instinctively, even if they don't know some of their weaknesses or how to control their strength without lots of practice. Wizards usually need lots of classwork to learn spells and focus. Then there's Phase, who nearly died several times while struggling to learn to use his powers, and is still figuring things out months after getting his powers.

Western Animation

  • Wade can understand anything given 10 seconds to scan it with the Kim Possible Kimmunicator.
  • The same thing that happened to The Greatest American Hero above happened to Fenton "Gizmoduck" Crackshell in DuckTales.
  • Lampshaded in Gargoyles: Lexington builds a motorcycle. Brooklyn asks why this is such an arduous task for him, given that he has ridden one before, and Lexington responds, "You've ridden a horse before; could you build one from spare parts?"
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, Admiral Zhao deduces that Zuko is the Blue Spirit, a thief who uses dual swords, after seeing that Zuko had two swords hanging in his quarters. Zuko does protest that they're just decorations, and he has no idea how to use them, but of course he's lying.
  • In Megas XLR, when Coop first gets the Megas, he somehow successfully attaches a car in place of its missing head/cockpit. He then pilots it skillfully, with no understanding of how it works, or what any of its features actually do. But then, the controls change from episode to episode. Make of that what you will.
    • Handwaved, in that Coop was the one who did the heavy modifications. Doing that without blowing it up is a miracle, however...
    • Handwaved by a later episode where it is revealed Megas' computer core can calculate a lot of tactical data and all of the fancy stuff it does are interpretation of what Coop wants it to do. When it breaks Hilarity Ensues...
  • In Bump in the Night, Molly applies to become a doctor and assumes that just because she has all the instructions and equipment necessary for the average doctor, she has instantly become a doctor. It gets worse when Bumpy eats the pages from the manuals and replaces them with gardening and home repair manuals.
  • Averted in Ben10. The series repeatedly shows that Ben only has the vaguest idea of what the Omnitrix is capable of.
  • Futurama has "Bender, owner of disguise".
  • In Transformers Prime, only Ratchet has any idea on how the eponymous Mechanical Lifeforms work, him being the equivalent of a medic. When Jack asks how come Arcee doesn't know how to build a motorcycle despite being one, she asks bluntly, "You're human, Jack, can you build me a small intestine?"