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Well, fiddlesticks. Looks like the someone's trying to kill the named character with some kind of projectile weapon. Arrows, bullets, throwing knives. And just to make things worse, the character in question is unarmed. How on Earth can they defend themselves from such a vicious onslaught?
Simple, really. Stretch out that hand, grab the weapon that's being hurled, and fling it straight back to the attacker! That'll teach anybody to try and screw around with long range combat. After all, everybody knows that close range weapons are way cooler.
To understand the Real Life viability of this trope, first, look at Arrow Catch and Bullet Catch. Take the probability of pulling off such a catch, multiply by itself, and that's roughly the chance of this actually working. At least, as far as launched weapons. Thrown weapons can vary, depending on size, pointiness, and victim's preparation. Lobbing a ball-sized object at a lacrosse player? Justified. Flinging a shuriken at a nudist? Not as much.
This trope is the concept behind many a Counter Attack. Compare Attack Reflector, which doesn't bother with the catching part, and Lodged Blade Recycling, for when said part goes awry. See also Tennis Boss. Grenade Hot Potato is a subtrope.
Anime & Manga
- In Azumanga Daioh, Sakaki intercepts a snowball aimed at Chiyo, and then flings it right back at Kagura (see the page pic).
- In Bleach, Nell, in her adult form, as well as in her child form, protects Ichigo by taking Nnoitra's cero by her mouth then spits it back at him with her own cero strengthened it. This is also the power of Ukitake's shikai, absorbing an attack with the left blade and firing it back (with increased speed) with the other.
- Ichigo later demonstrates the ability to do this in his fight with the Quincy Kirpe.
- The sixth episode of Bubblegum Crisis has Largo do this after Priss tries shooting him with her railgun.
- The title character of Devilman manages to catch a whole tree telekinetikally flung at him and fling it back at the flinger. But then, he is the (literally) goddamn Devilman!
- Used at the start of Dragonball Z by new arrival on Earth, Raditz. With a bullet. Which he flicks back harder than the gun that originally fired it.
- In Hokuto no Ken, the protagonist Kenshiro does this fairly often... usually using just two fingers. The technique in question is known as Nishi Shinkuu Ha.
- Historys Strongest Disciple Kenichi turns this trope Up to Eleven in Akisame's fight with Alexander Gaidar. Gaidar throws an enormous bundle of rebar at Akisame. Akisame hurls it back at Gaidar and hits a steel girder, causing the bundle to split and the rebar to rain down on Gaidar. Gaidar uses it to make a pretty sculpture, which he hurls at Akisame, who catches it, reconstructs it into his own sculpture, and hurls it back. On second thought, Up to Eleven isn't far enough.
- One of the defining abilities of Kirby; perhaps not coincidentally, the localized anime had this trope's former title as a subtitle.
- Sebastian from Black Butler does this in the freaking opening. And it's not a stylistic exaggeration for the purposes of a cool opening, either. He really is just that badass.
- In Chapter 13 of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Vi Vid, Vivio attempts to slip through Einhart's defense by distracting her with a volley of projectiles, a plan that backfires when Einhart catches the projectiles instead of blocking them, then throws them right back at Vivio while she was charging at Einhart.
- Happens frequently in the Ranma One Half manga. One memorable instance involves a pair of eggs and a brassiere.
- In Sonic the Hedgehog The Movie, Metal Robotnik fires a volley of missiles at Sonic. They fly into the distance, and then one missile flies back, with Sonic riding it, steering it right into Metal Robotnik.
- Luffy does this quite often in One Piece, usually against Marines. You would think the World Government would realize by now that bullets are ineffective against him.
- In Fatal Fury: The Motion Picture, the noble villain Jamin makes his introduction by calmly catching the bullet fired at him between his index and middle finger. As if to show his contempt for firearms, he then casually flicks the bullet back the person who fired it, killing the man with a headshot.
- Wuji Chang, hero of the wuxia story Heaven Sword/Dragon Sabre, did this a lot in the Chinese comic adaptation of the story. He was capable of casually deflecting or reflecting any attack his opponents aimed at him, up to an including unarmed attacks. During a fight against 6 martial arts schools, he deflected the attacks of two masters so that their strikes hit each other, and had so perfectly guided them that they hit pressure points and rendered each other immobile. He later one-ups himself when a martial artist attacks him, and he reflects the fighter's attacks back on himself, making the fighter hit his own pressure points and leave the attacker similarly immobile.
- A more literal example in the novel it was adapted from: two of Chang's uncles were attacked with bombs. They caught (one in each hand) and used them to detonate the next wave of bombs.
- In Fate Kaleid Liner Prisma Illya, Bazette catches and flings Kuro's arrow back at her after the latter attempts to take her out with the Archer card.
Bazette: I've already seen this tactic.
- In Xabungle, the eponymous mech is used to catch and throw back an ICBM launched at the protagonists. The whole thing is highly implausible, but then again this show doesn't take itself seriously at all.
- Winter, of Stormwatch, did this with a lot of bullets from a gatling cannon (or two), thanks to his ability to absorb energy (kinetic in this case), then re-apply it in his chosen direction.
- Shang-Chi did this at least once in Master Of Kung-Fu. Probably on the cover.
- A superpowered witch doctor in a Thor comic caught several volleys of machine gun rounds in his hands and threw them like bullets at the aggressors once.
- Basically Bishop's mutant power -- he's able to absorb pretty much any energy directed against him, then redirect it as kinetic energy.
- In the DC vs Marvel crossover, Bullseye manages to catch one of Batman's batarangs and throws it right back at him. Batman astonished him by being able to duck in time.
- In the 1980s G.I. Joe comic from Marvel, Storm Shadow's Ninja sect weren't considered completely trained until they could catch a sword thrown at them and throw it back at their attacker... and they had to be blindfolded while they demonstrated the ability.
- Dani Moonstar, in a recent issue where she was temporarily empowered as a Valkyrie, did this with a missile fired at her from a fighter jet.
- In Calvin and Hobbes, Calvin tries to surprise Susie by throwing a snowball at her in springtime (he kept it in the freezer since last winter). He misses and the snowball harmlessly breaks apart on the sidewalk, and as he curses his luck, Susie scoops up the snow, shapes it back into a snowball, and hits him with it. Calvin responds, "The irony of this is just sickening."
- He tries to chuck a pine cone at her in another strip, only for it to be returned at bullet-like speed. Cut to Susie, coming home in full kit from a lacrosse game.
- Bamse has done it with cannonballs. He is superstrong, but how he can be fast enough isn't explained.
- Typhoid Mary, one of Daredevil's more crazed foes, managed to deflect a bullet with a katana, manipulating its path of flight in order to hit the guy who shot at her. While singing.
- Rachel Summers of the X-Men was shot at by a anti-mutant bigot. As she did this maneuver, she pointed out how stupid it was to think he could ambush a telepath, or that bullets would work against a telekinetic. Fortunately for the bigot, Magneto (who was reformed at the time) "caught" the bullet with his own powers.
Films -- Animation
- Ashitaka pulls this off in Princess Mononoke. He loads the arrow into his bow rather than throwing it, however.
- In the animated movie The Swan Princess, Prince Derek plays a training game called Catch-And-Fire, where he catches an arrow fired at him and shoots the same (or a different) target all in one motion. Naturally, he has to use it for real in the Climax.
- In Kung Fu Panda 2, Po uses this to destroy Lord Shen's cannon ships by catching their cannonballs and throwing it back at them.
Films -- Live Action
- The film Shanghai Noon. Unexpected, because it's done by a random Indian warrior to Chon Wang, the Chinese martial artist.
- Happens at the climax of Big Trouble in Little China. Jack Burton throws his trusty boot knife at Big Bad Lo Pan and misses by a huge margin. Lo Pan picks it up and throws it back -- but Jack, in his single most competent moment in the entire film, catches the knife midair before putting it right between Lo Pan's eyes, killing him. "It's all in the reflexes."
- Casino Royale. During Le Parkour scene in the beginning, the bomber throws his empty gun at Bond, who catches it and throws it back to hit him with it.
- Rick O'Connell pulls this trope with a knife in The Mummy Returns.
- He also does it with a snake of all things in the same film.
- In The Mask, the Big Bad is riddled full of bullet holes. Of course, he has The Mask on at the time... and he just gathers them all into his mouth and spits them back out at the attackers. Like a gun.
- Eric Draven does this to Tin Tin, the first target of his Roaring Rampage of Revenge, in The Crow after dodging his first two knives. Then he closes in for the kill with this memorable line: "Victims... aren't we all?"
- Kill Bill: The Bride does this with a hatchet against one of the Crazy 88 at one point during the big showdown at the House of Blue Leaves.
- The knife-throwing twins in Octopussy have this as part of their circus act. Naturally it is later utilised in their fight against James Bond.
- In District 9, the prawn mech pulls this off in the Nigerian gangster's hut by catching several clips worth of bullets with its Gravity Gun.
- In the initial fight of the movie version of Watchmen, the Comedian throws two knives at his assailant. The assailant catches the second knife, a meat cleaver. Rather than return it though, he throws it into the floor, possibly for the same reason he didn't use a gun or knife to kill the Comedian in the first place. Also something of a Chekhov's Gun, showing the assailant's skill and ability to catch things.
- In the Daredevil movie, Bullseye throws back the sai Elektra threw at him, impaling her hand with it.
- It's implied Elektra was in fact attempting her own Catch and Return, as she steps up to it quite deliberately.
- Spoofed in UHF during the Rambo parody, where Weird Al (as George Newman playing the part of Rambo for this particular daydream) catches a single bullet fired at him (and somehow it's a complete unfired cartridge between his teeth!), chews it up, and spits it back out at his assailant like machine gun fire. The attacker promptly explodes in a gooey fireball.
- In Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Jade Fox pulls this on one of the fighters trying to kill her. Good thing it was only with a paralyzing dart.
- Matilda does this with a carrot and telekinesis.
- In The Deerslayer, the eponymous character catches and throws back a tomahawk, splitting the thrower's head open. This is presented as a reaction based on pure instinct -- he hadn't intended to kill the man. Nonetheless, he uses the ensuing chaos to steal a canoe and escape.
- In the Harry Turtledove novel Blood and Iron, General Custer (having survived into the 1920s) does this with a homebrew bomb.
- Jiang Wei pulls this off in Romance of the Three Kingdoms. To be fair, he doesn't throw the arrow back, but his quiver had been spilled and catching an enemy arrow was the only way for him to use his bow.
- In Frans Bengtsson's The Long Ships, a Viking crew member catches and returns a spear thrown from an approaching enemy ship, hitting the thrower and freaking BOTH crews out. When his amazed crewmates quiz him afterwards, he explains that it's just something he can do, and he doesn't tell people about it because one of his relatives was badly injured trying to duplicate the stunt. Given the (relatively slow) speed of a thrown spear and the returner's difficulty disclaimer, this is pretty realistic.
- Kellhus of The Second Apocalypse does this when someone throws a spear at him. As you might expect, the attacker died with a look of complete surprise on his face.
- The eponymous protagonist of Mickey Zucker Reichert's The Legend of Nightfall mentions early in the novel that he and a friend used to do this for fun, playing catch with throwing knives. Unsurprisingly, the skill comes in handy by the end of the book.
Live Action TV
- At least once in Walker, Texas Ranger.
- Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: One of the things Tommy did in his first battle with the Rangers as the Green Ranger was catching a Blade Blaster thrown at him and throwing it back, hitting Trini in the chest. The Dragonzord Fighting Mode wound up on the recieving end of this each time it tried throwing Dragonzord's head crest as a weapon.
- Sara Pezzini from the live action adaptation of Witchblade once caught a crossbow bolt and threw it back at the shooter with enough force to kill. Justified, since the Witchblade itself is a supernatural weapon that grants the wielder superhuman strength and agility and the ability to manipulate time.
- Sylar once did this with about half a dozen bullets at once. The telekinesis helped.
- In one episode of the series Masquerade, Operation Masquerade recruits a baseball player to help them on the mission. He ends up using his baseball skills to take on a Ninja, including catching a shuriken in his mitt and hurling it back.
- Played for laughs with a snowball in Red Dwarf, episode "Timeslides".
- Wonder Woman does this in one episode with a Bazooka Shell!
- Khalek does this with his telekinesis in an episode of Stargate SG-1, when a squad is shooting at him on full auto. Slightly subverted in that the bullets normally simply bounce off his telekinetic "shield" in random directions. However, he just walks close enough to them to have the bullets hit the shooters.
- Interestingly, Khalek is played by the same actor (Neil Jackson) who would later play a telekinetic in Push with the same ability to create telekinetic shields.
- In Champions, this is called "Missile Reflection" and is bought as an advanced form of "Missile Deflection".
- In Dungeons & Dragons 3.5, the psionic feat Return Shot does this; being at the end of a chain of psionic feats, a psychic warrior is the most likely to have it.
- Monks with the right feats can also do this.
- Really, any character can gain the feats to do this, so long as they meet the prerequisites; monks just get them as bonuses.
- With Epic feats they can backhand spells into the caster's face.
- Spellthieves can do this, appropriately enough, when targeted with spells.
- The 2E Forgotten Realms Adventures also has the spell Missile Mastery, which allow a wizard to take control of a single missile by round for 4 rounds, and send it back at the thrower.
- Monks with the right feats can also do this.
- In Warhammer 40000 one of the super-heavy vehicles for the Orks, the Big Mek's Stompa, has a weapon called a Lifta-Droppa. The sole purpose of the weapon is to pick up an enemy tank... and then send it flying off in a random direction, hopefully to land on enemy infantry or other tanks.
- One of the special abilities martial artists can buy in Deadlands Classic, "Seize the Pearl o' Death", allows them to catch a thrown projectile and throw it back. But it doesn't stop there: if the (soon-to-be-ex) martial artist has big enough britches, she can try it with arrows, bullets, or cannonballs. If it succeeds, the martial artist can throw the projectile back with the same velocity it had when it was launched. If it fails, the character takes damage to both the hand and the body part that would've been hit anyway.
- The Dresden Files RPG doesn't have a specific ability for this, but you can combine the Juggler stunt, which lets you catch weapons thrown at you, with Riposte, which lets you counter attack. Dresden himself notes in the margins, "Juggler + Riposte = It's all in the reflexes!"
- The "Laughter of the Monkey" fu power from the Feng Shui supplement "Blood of the Valiant" essentially allows you to do this.
- You can deflect missiles in Halo with a gravity hammer -- if you're extremely skilled or lucky.
- Telekinesis in Bioshock can be used like this -- grab the projectile mid-air and hurl it back. Of course, since the character in question is using psychic powers, this is a bit more plausible. An audio diary states that catching bullets is plenty possible if not for the user's slow reaction time.
- You can do this via telekinesis and time stop in Destroy All Humans! 3. With tank missiles.
- In Super Smash Bros Melee, it's possible with proper timing, to catch a thrown item by pressing A just before you are hit, which makes it possible to use this trope.
- Then this trick is made even easier to do in Brawl. It also annoys human opponents to no end.
- In The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction, the Hulk can deal with an oncoming missile using two techniques: punching it back at the sender, or catching it to be thrown later, perhaps back at the sender. Both of these techniques are unlocked late, however, and non-trivial to execute. Also, he's the Hulk.
- Similarly, its spiritual descendant, Prototype, also allows you to catch whatever object an enemy picks and throws at you, though it requires considerable skill and good timing.
- In Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 2 several enemy vehicles can only be damaged by catching their projectiles with the Force and returning them back.
- In the first game, Starkiller can catch Palpatine's Force Lightning with his lightsaber and send it back.
- In the battle with Credo in Devil May Cry 4, the spears that the boss throws can be caught with the Devil Bringer and then thrown right back at him.
- "Dropping a battleship on me is cheating. Take it back."
- In Resident Evil 4, Leon interrupts The Dragon's monologue by throwing his knife, and nailing his hand to a pillar. The Dragon's bodyguard then takes the knife and throws it back at Leon, meaning he has to Press X to Not Die.
- The infamous Golden Torizo in Super Metroid can catch your Super Missiles (!!) and throw them right back at you.
- In Team Fortress 2 the Pyro's airblast can be used to reflect projectiles, namely, arrows, rockets, flares, grenades and sticky bombs. Also handy for pushing people off the edge to their death.
- In the Iron Man videogame, if you're flying, and a helicopter decides to send a missile you're way, you can catch it and spin around, sending it back at them. Granted, it's extremely difficult, but awesome!
- In Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, the "Return Fire" reaction ability allows units to catch and throw arrows back at the shooter.
- On top of that, they can return fire to a place that they could not hit conventionally. This troper found that out the hard way when a Viera fired an arrow up a cliff high enough that nobody with any bow would've normally reached.
- One of the more entertaining mechanics from the Afro Samurai game is his ability to snatch bullets out of the air with his sword while in Focus mode, and then launch them back at the gunner.
- In the Play Station 2/Xbox game Godzilla: Save the Earth, a skilled player can catch a building thrown by an opponent, and chuck it right back (though, the opponent can catch it, too, resulting in a game of catch until someone messes up).
- In the sequel, Godzilla: Unleashed, while you are unable to catch and return a building, you can deflect the building off of you, negating the damage of the building, and (if you're lucky) have the building land right back on your opponent.
- A main gameplay mechanic in Mischief Makers, where Marina usually beats enemies/bosses by throwing their missiles and junk right back at them. Sometimes with an added "Shake Shake".
- In Alice: Madness Returns, the Menacing Ruin can collect your Pepper Grinder shots and fling them back at you.
- Dead Space 2: Puker 'projectiles' can be caught and thrown back, instantly killing their owner.
- In The Matrix Path Of Neo, Neo (after becoming the One) is able to stop bullets in mid-air, just like in the movies. However, later, this ability is upgraded into being able to throw the bullets back.
- This is how you actually defet both Giga Lakitu and Megahammer in Super Mario Galaxy 2.
- Theoretically possible in Skyrim as arrows in flight can be interacted with and *picked up*, but to do so would require inhuman reflexes.
- An extremely satisfying method of disposing of Hunters in Half-Life 2: Episode Two involves picking a bulky object up with your Gravity Gun, using it as a shield against Hunter's antimatter fletchettes, then smashing the Hunter hard with the object and fletchettes lodged in it, causing annihilation. You even get an achievment for doing this.
- Cale manages to pull this off in Looking for Group. It was a definite sign that he Took a Level In Badass.
- There was a Looney Tunes short where one of the characters caught a handful of bullets, munched them up and spat out an artillery shell.
- In one Bugs Bunny cartoon, Elmer throws a lit stick of dynamite. Karmic Trickster Bugs immediately puts on a catcher's uniform and pitches it back to him. And bamboozles him into playing along as the pitcher.
- The battlesuit introduced in the movie So the Drama allows Kim Possible to do this with energy attacks. She doesn't seem to hit anyone with them anymore than they hit her, but it provides a nice variation to her only ever dodging energy attacks.
- In Teen Titans, a minor character deflects a shuriken using his sword. Okay, He wasn't "Unarmed" but still.
- That's actually plausible, there is a Japanese sword technique whose name translates as "arrow cutting", and it's Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
- In Centurions, Rex Charger's Gatling Guard assault weapon system uses a high-tech version of this trope. Its equipment includes a Energy Absorption/Retrieval Laser that can take energy from any source (usually an attacker), store it, then use it to power the system's weapons (which are often fired back at the original attacker). His smaller assault weapon system, Electro Charger, includes a similar weapon.
- Taken to the point of absurdity in The Simpsons' Show Within a Show Police Cops, where Officer Homer Simpson does this with a bullet, much to the delight of the real Homer.
- One of the most epic scenes of Avatar: The Last Airbender has Zuko catching a double-strength lightning bolt and aiming it back at his father, who just tried to kill him with it.
- Toph's introductory episode has her utilizing this technique. Because her style of Earthbending requires listening and sensing the vibrations caused by movement before acting, she was able to sense the exact moment when an underground attacker sprang up from the ground to throw a moderately sized rock at her from his position. She promptly caught it and threw it back, with the force of the throw being so strong that said attacker ended up being propelled from the floor of the ring.
- In G.I. Joe: Renegades, Snake-Eyes does this with a firebomb tossed by Firefly.
- While an earlier episode featured a mech-suit equipped Roadblock doing it with a missile fired by Scrap-Iron. Cue epic Oh Crap moment from the weapons designer.
- In Transformers Animated, during Starscream's Death Montage, he tries throwing a bomb at Megatron only for Megatron to catch it - and promptly toss it right back near the former's feet. Boom.
- Dodgeball, anyone?
- An attempted assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand was foiled when a bomb was thrown at his car, and he simply picked it up and tossed it out of the car. It exploded under the car behind him, wounding 20 people. It didn't make much difference, since he was shot later that day, sparking World War I.
- He got shot because he insisted on going to visit the injured at the hospital, which caused him to cross paths with his assassin Gavrilo Princip; who was buying a sandwich and was probably as surprised as his victim when he got the opportunity to assassinate him.
- The Roman army designed their thrown javelins to break after one use, so as to avoid this trope happening to them.
- It also left the metal points of the javelins bent and embedded in the flesh of anyone they hit, inflicting worse injuries.
- Or hopelessly embedded in their shields, which was almost as good since it made actually using the shield nigh-impossible. And shields were absolutely essential to the combat tactics of that era. Once the battle was over, the bent javelins were retrieved, and blacksmiths would straighten them out (the relatively soft iron used to make them bend in the first place made this a fairly easy thing to do).
- The heads of javelins were originally fitted with metal rivets, so while they would break on impact with armor or a shield, they would remain intact upon contact with flesh or soft ground, enabling armies of unarmored opponents in a desert region (such as Jugurtha's men) to throw them back. Marius corrected this problem by ordering spearheads to be fixed with wooden rivets, so that even impact with flesh or soft ground would break the spearhead off.
- It also left the metal points of the javelins bent and embedded in the flesh of anyone they hit, inflicting worse injuries.