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"If I were to pick up this cowering-plate, I would have to put down my second sword," a Scotsman thinks. "And surely this is madness."

Shields. Big pieces of wood and/or metal that protect at least one half of your body against attack. Pretty useful in battle, you might think. And indeed some characters will gratefully sigh that Luckily, My Shield Will Protect Me. Others, however, are not so sure.

In reality, people covered by a shield from shoulder to knee are rather difficult to hit. Only their head and calves/feet are exposed. This meant that in the Middle Ages a popular trick was to stab your opponent in the foot and then, when they cringed and let down their guard, stab them in the face. Which is arguably less cool than heroic slashing.

Shields Are Useless applies whenever shields are shown to have a negligible effect in combat. A Hero may discard his shield before charging the Big Bad just to show how Badass he really is. Yes, our hero is so awesome that he doesn't need a shield. In the villainous version, Mooks will have shields - but the good guy, armed with the BFS or Dual-Wielding, will still slaughter them by the hundreds. Apparently they learn to use their shields at the medieval equivalent of the Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy.

Closely related to Armor Is Useless. Not to be confused with Deflector Shields. Aversions are Luckily, My Shield Will Protect Me.

Examples of Shields Are Useless include:



  • In Kingdom of Heaven, when the walls of Jerusalem are breached, Orlando Bloom's character throws aside his shield and charges into the fray with only his sword. In reality this would be a death sentence.
  • In the Lord of the Rings trilogy, shields are used for a variety of standard and creative purposes, but often we see the Red Shirt Armies on both sides just letting their shields hang by their sides as they're casually dispatched.
  • In Hero, Flying Snow and Broken Sword fight through the entire imperial guard single-handedly, slicing through their shields like cardboard.

Live Action TV

  • In Game of Thrones, Bronn refuses a shield for his duel with Vardis Egan. Combined with his lighter armor, he's able to use his increased mobility to defeat the Mighty Glacier.

Tabletop Games

  • Shields in GURPS provide no help against guns and energy weapon unless they're big enough to hide behind.
  • Dungeons and Dragons: Shields give a passive bonus to your AC, typically by a mere 1 or 2 (5% or 10%) without any modifiers. In doing do, however, they take up a hand, preventing your character from using both hands for offense. Various magical enchantments, feats, and different rule systems can be used to make shields more useful. These examples should be listed in Luckily, My Shield Will Protect Me.
    • Basic D&D shields only provides a nominal passive bonus to AC. However, they provide Breakable Weapons known as Shield Weapons that give an attack and a better AC bonus if you train them well enough.
    • In the 4th edition of Dungeons & Dragons, shields provide no armor bonus if the character has no proficiency.
  • d20Modern allows the player to carry a shield. While it may seem like an odd choice in a game where firearms are generally quite available, sufficiently large shields (like riot shields) which also provide ballistic protection offer the benefit of cover, a vital mechanic for staying alive.


  • Sniper Joes are shield-toting enemies you'll find in many of the classic Mega Man games. Their shields are quite effective at blocking even fully charged buster shots, but are useless against weapons that go through enemies, like the Elec Beam. Similarly, Mettool/Metall/Mettaur hide under hard hats, and there are weapons that can destroy them while they're hiding.
    • As of Mega Man X8, X's fully charged buster shot, Zero's 3-hit sword combo, and Axl's rapid-fire shots can flip Metools over. They all also have at least one boss weapon that breaks shields like the previously-mentioned techniques, and one that bypasses shields completely.
  • The businessman's briefcase shield, however, is no match for the mighty Mad Karate Man's skills!
  • World of Warcraft: Played straight for offensively-minded Warriors, Paladins and Enhancement Shaman, which will much rather use a two-handed weapon or dual-wield. Averted for tanking, where the shield provides a good chunk of armor, allows blocking and is required for several useful abilities such as Shield Bash (smacking an enemy with the shield to interrupt spells).
      • Nowadays however, the tank specializations for warriors and paladins can be quite deadly in PvP if used right through combination of being able to survive normally lethal burst and being concentrated on while being able to deal decent enough damage to be a threat as well as taking up time from people who try to kill them while their allies enjoy not being attacked. A well geared warrior/paladin designed like this can tear lesser geared damage specialized classes apart, especially cloth wearers. One on one fights with them can be quite unfair due to their survivability as well.
    • The Death Knight class is the only plate wearing class that cannot use shields. They can still act as a tank but use other damage mitigation abilities to offset the lack of a shield.
    • Paladins and Shaman also find some shields to be useful for spellcasting while still offering decent protection (blocking won't be very effective, but shields still make up about a third of the players total armor value).
  • Team Fortress 2: Played fairly straight with the Razorback, a shield for the Sniper whose only purpose is to prevent the inevitable Back Stab but has only one use and the Sniper might not even notice it breaking (and when he does, he only has the knife for self-defense at close range). The Chargin' Targe for the Demoman however provides decent protection and a charge ability, although the tradeoff (no sticky bombs) is also more noticable in this case.
  • In Tales of Symphonia, Kratos and Zelos can equip shields. They don't actually do anything except add a few points to the defense stat.
    • Actually, the shields can occassionally deflect insignificant projectile attacks that happen to land directly on their hitbox. Tales of Phantasia (the first game in the series) had Cless, whose shield showed up on his sprite even when he didn't have one equipped, and could sometimes negate enemy attacks if he wasn't moving.
  • Age of Empires I: Several units carry shields (in some cases added by upgrades) without getting any tangible benefit from them.
  • Bastiodon from Pokémon has a shield as a face and is one of the most defensive Pokémon in the game, but that doesn't stop Ground and Fighting-type attacks from walking all over him.
  • Played nearly (and painfully) straight in the Punchout-esque Wii Ware game Rage of the Gladiators. While some attacks can be blocked with the shield, most simply go right through it and deal full damage to you. Some of them can't be evaded and need to be blocked with a shield though, like most long-lasting beam attacks.
  • Earthworm Jim will encounter Lawyers who hide behind their bulletproof briefcases. Luckily Jim can whip them out of their hands easily.

Real Life

  • With the invention of full suits of plate armour, knights stopped carrying shields because they were already so heavily protected that a shield was little more than an extra encumberance.