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A variant of Bizarre and Improbable Ballistics, where a bullet, arrow, stone, whatever, ricochets off several objects before finally hitting its target. Can be either accidental or just a sign of the shooter's skill.

To pull this off intentionally means you're either The Gunslinger or The Archer; pulling it off accidentally makes you incredibly lucky. This is often a characteristic of the Precision-Guided Boomerang, though returning to the wielder is not necessary. You may find one in a Trick Shot Puzzle.

A sister-trope, Hyper-Destructive Bouncing Ball, describes instances when an item ricochets, causing random damage. That is not this trope; this always has a definite target. However, both tropes are Artistic License Physics at its finest. Ballistic projectiles lose energy when ricocheting (the same reason a bouncing ball never goes as high as its first bounce), meaning the last target hit by the projectile should take far less damage than the first.

Compare Reflecting Laser.

Examples of Pinball Projectile include:


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Anime & Manga

  • Rip Van Winkle's bullets go around in zig-zags until they hit their target, giving them a level of precision that shames homing missiles.
  • Both Train Heartnet and Saya Minatsuki of Black Cat are able to do this with a technique known as the Reflect Shot.
  • Mana Tatsumiya of Mahou Sensei Negima! does this in the intentional variety to gain advantage over the Mahora defenses (having Instant Kill proximity bullets helps).
  • Umineko no Naku Koro ni - The Seven Stakes of Purgatory are shown as part spike, part homicidal guided missile, and part this.
  • Pokémon Special: Gold always carries a billard cue with him and frequently uses it to launch his Pokeballs to a tactically advantageous postion, often ricocheting them off of surfaces to get there.
  • In Ranma ½ the detachable blade ring of the Kinjakan is meant to be used like this. When Ranma steals it from the Phoenix people and tries to use it acts like a Hyper-Destructive Bouncing Ball, and a Phoenix woman tells him that it takes years of training to use the weapon properly. Then Ranma immediately uses it a second time, the ring bounces exactly where he wants it to go, and Ranma gives a smug smirk.


Comics

  • Captain America's shield. Due to its unique construction and lots of practice, for the most part - others who have stepped into the role, like John Walker, never really got the hang of it like the original did.
  • Cyclops of the X-Men has repeatedly demonstrated the ability to cause his optic blasts to ricochet or reflect off of objects in a trajectory to his liking. He's reflected a single blast off of over a dozen objects before. How the objects aren't simply destroyed from the force is never explained, but it's one of his niftiest tricks.
    • Predicting ricochets is an intuitive secondary power of his. If you play pool against him, play for fun, not money.
      • One has to wonder who would win in a pool game between him and Cap. Probably whoever went first, as Cyclops at least has shown the ability to clear the entire table in one shot.
    • On at least one occasion, the objects being reflected off of WERE destroyed. The X-Men were captive in Murderworld (a lethal amusement park),and Cyclops and Nightcrawler were surrounded by maybe a dozen fast-moving bumper cars equipped with buzzsaws. Cyclops took all the bumper cars out with a single blast. Nightcrawler was appropriately impressed.
  • Lucky Luke occasionally demonstrates his Improbable Aiming Skills this way.
  • Judge Dredd's gun has special "ricochet ammo" for this purpose.
  • Bullseye can do this with ANYTHING.
  • Daredevil himself can do it with his billy club on occasion. Most egregiously in one of Kevin Smith's issues, where Daredevil throws it through a glass window where, instead of shattering the window completely, it just leaves a small hole, approximately 1.5 inches in diameter. Then it bounces around, knocking out the Mooks and returning through the exact same hole.
  • Wonder Woman has been known to do this with her tiara.
  • Green Arrow does this with arrows.
  • Miho has done this a few times with her manji shuriken.
  • Nightwing has done this with his eskrima sticks, having it hit a couple mooks then return to him, even though they're not meant to be thrown in the first place.


Films -- Animation

  • In Disney's Robin Hood, Robin pulls this off by shooting an arrow that had gone off course with another arrow, correcting the tragectory of the first arrow and sending it straight into the bullseye, Robin Hooding the one that was already in there.
  • In The Thief and the Cobbler, the titular Cobbler Tack sends a tack ricocheting during the final battle. It eventually hits Evil Chancellor Zig-Zag's horse, who launches Zig-zag off its back, which causes his sword to cut a rope, which activates a catapult...


Films -- Live Action

  • In Tron and its sequel Tron: Legacy, the Identity Discs behave like this.
  • House of Flying Daggers
  • An epic one (it even gets a replay) in the Thai movie Tears Of The Black Tiger
  • This is Happy Gilmore specialty after being trained to use it to his advantage. In his final match against Shooter, a lookout tower gets in the way of the final hole thanks to a flunkie Shooter hired to ruin Happy's shot. Instead of putting around it and going into sudden death. Happy studies the structure and decides to beat Shooter then and there by hitting the ball so that it ricochets and hits a chute where it rolls perfectly into the hole.


Literature

  • This was also in Pyramids by Terry Pratchett: a young assassin decides to flunk his exam when he finds out that it will end with killing a live target. He misses the target intentionally, but the arrow ricochets a few times in this manner and ends up hitting the target anyway. The examiner misunderstands and thinks that he was just showing off, and lets him pass. (And, to round up a happy ending, the victim turns out to have been a fake too.)
  • In another Pratchett novel, Reaper Man, Bill Door is very good at pool, but realises that when it comes to a friendly game at the pub, you get more friends by losing entertainingly, and uses his skill to set up shots that "accidentally" send the cue ball flying off the table and ricocheting around the room before landing harmlessly in somebody's pint mug.
  • And of course, there are the trick shots Archchancellor Ridcully sets up on his pool table. Being a Discworld wizard, his "trick shots" involve bouncing the cue ball off of passing seagulls, the back of the Bursar's head (last Tuesday, no less!), and possibly even itself.
  • One of the novels in The History of the Galaxy series mentions that there is special software installed to do exactly that with the Real Robots when the enemy is hiding. Why an explosive projectile blows up only when hitting a target instead of a rock is not explained. Presumably, they're smart bullets or something.


Live Action TV

  • Xena's chakram, which bounces off rocks, pillars, and Mooks' heads before returning to her hand.
    • Exaggerated in an episode featuring a Groundhog Day Loop. To break the loop, Xena had to (among other things) stop a young noblewoman from committing suicide with a vial of poison. However, the distance from where Xena wakes up every morning to where the girl does the deed is too far to reach in the time allowed, in addition to stopping everything else going wrong that day. So she spends at least one day ignoring everything else to take measurements, angles, and distances. So that when she wakes up again, the first thing she does is go outside, gauge the wind, and throw her chakram across, through, above and between several city blocks in order to be exactly where the poison vial will be when it gets there, as well as putting a stop to everything else along the way. And it returns to her hand afterwards.
  • Seen in Red Dwarf. In the famous "Gunmen of the Apocalypse episode set in a computer-simulated Western town, The Cat pulls off non-lethal trick shots in this manner.
  • The Doctor pulled this off at one point. He threw a cricket ball, and it bounced around all over the place. Admittedly the effect bordered on a Rube Goldberg device instead of this trope, but it probably still counts. Not only that, but he did it while his Time Lord mind was entirely suppressed and he believed that he was human.
  • Tested by the Myth Busters with firearms. For the record, bullets lose a lot of energy when they ricochet. The "three ricochets and kills the firer" myth they were working on was solidly Busted.
  • Pretty much the only possible way Warren Mears could've hit Tara Maclay with that stray shot.
  • In V.I.P., Vallery Irons tried imitating Xena with her headband. Four enemies knocked out despite wearing a helmet. At least she was impressed.


Tabletop Games

  • This can be taken as a cinematic skill or special power in GURPS.
    • Plus the frisbee grenades from Ultra-Tech.
  • In both 5th edition and 6th edition Hero System, you can do this with any ranged attack you have Combat Skill Levels for, unless you specifically take a Limitation on the attack that says otherwise.
  • Available via the Ricochet feat in Mutants and Masterminds.
  • In Exalted, you can get a Charm that does this. Some weapons don't even need a Charm.


Toys

  • In the Inika arc from Bionicle, Toa Hewkii gained a Mask of Accuracy. One of the things he did with it was shoot a pebble he created (being the Toa of Stone) and ricochet it off a dozen surfaces before hitting his intended target in the back. Crowning Moment of Awesome, indeed.
  • Cue sports (such as Billiards) calls successful attempts of a pinball projectile to be trick shots. One variation, three-cushion billiards, requires this because a scoring point is awarded by hitting an object ball and three cushions before the second object ball.


Video Games

  • The Reflective Shot powerup in Gauntlet (1985 video game) games allows players to do this.
  • Moon Knight's X-Treme attack in Marvel Ultimate Alliance takes this Up to Eleven. Basically, it's this trope combined with More Dakka, turning the whole screen into a bouncing, ricocheting Bullet Hell for the enemies. Pretty much an instant boss-killer too, especially if it's used in an enclosed room.
  • Happens with projectiles with the Missile(Bounce) attribute in Warcraft III.
  • Perfect Dark's grenades are rather humdrum until the secondary mode, "Proximity Pinball," is activated -- after which they start bouncing throughout the level until an enemy gets close enough to set off the proximity trigger. Multiplayer matches including them taught players to dread that innocent little "boing" sound...
  • Descent's Phoenix Cannon ricochets twice off surfaces. A skilled player can use it to shoot robots around corridors. A less skilled player is likely to try to use it to open a door (which works fine for other weapons) and get his own shots bounced back in his face for a highly embarrassing death.
  • Jak and Daxter, specifically Jak 3's Reflexor gun. That thing will bounce off anything, forever, and if you spam the screen with bullets its a veritable party of yellow lines. And if you buy the upgrade to make it bounce off things more... hoo boy. Then again, the Jak and Daxter series doesn't seem to pay attention to reality much anyway.
  • Revolver Ocelot in the Metal Gear Solid series can bounce bullets off the wall to hit the player around corners.
  • In Project Eden you can use the disc launcher to kill enemies around corners. It looks similar to a certain movie.
  • And speaking of Tron, the game Tron 2.0 gives you the legendary Disc as your primary weapon. Bouncing shots off the floor or walls is one of the best ways to control them over longer distances.
  • In Half-Life 2, the Energy Ball ammo for the pulse rifle (and the energy globes in the Citadel) will ricochet until they hit a target.
  • Jr. from Xenosaga has a few of these attacks. One of his "normal" attacks in the first game involves flipping a coin and shooting it, hitting an enemy with the ricochet. One of his special attacks, however, involves throwing a handful of coins at the enemies and firing a single bullet, bouncing it off all the coins in order to hit multiple enemies.
  • In Space Quest IV, if you die by entering the hatchway of the patrol ship instead of the landing gear, you get this message, "The young shuttle pilot, his seat suddenly humidified by your surprise entry, fires his pulseray. The shot just misses you and then bounces off the reflective surfaces of the cabin... eventually managing to fatally perforate you. Just as you fade from the living organism club you think, in amazement, 'So that's what my spleen looks like!'"
  • The Marksman in Hellgate London can learn to bounce shots off the environment with 100% effectiveness, and ricochet between multiple targets.
  • Your main gun in Dgeneration can bounce off up to three walls.
  • The aptly-named Ricochet Stone subweapon that appears in a few games of the Castlevania series.
  • GDI Grenadiers throw Disc Grenades in Tiberian Sun, which bounce a few times before detonating.
  • Mario's Fireballs in the Super Smash Bros series bounce off walls and floors.
  • In Devil May Cry 3, main character Dante in a cutscene hurls a pool table into the air, then shoots the white ball. This causes the white ball to rebound off every single other ball, which then hit and kill a Mook each.
  • In Xexyz, the 45B Ball weapon fires balls that bounce at 45-degree angles.
  • Unreal's and Unreal Tournament's Ripper fires ricocheting discs cabable of decapitating everyone if they hit the neck, and the Flak Cannon is a BFG-sized shotgun which fires red-hot ricocheting shrapnel.
  • One of the bots in Shatterhand.
  • In Wii Play's subgame Tank, you can shoot bullets that ricochet on walls twice. Not only that, but a some of the enemies' shots can also ricoshet off walls.
  • Wipeout's non locked-on missile and shuriken (The latter is eliminator mode only).
  • Ricochet Bombs in the Twisted Metal series.
    • In earlier incarnations (Pre Twisted Metal:Black) the bombs would last forever until hitting a vehicle, and each undetonated bounce would increase the power of the overall bomb. With the unlimited ammo cheat....
  • The original Atari home system came with a game simply called "Tank", where two players control tanks that fire missiles at each other. On some levels the missiles bounce, and intricate trick shots are possible.


Web Animation

  • In Red vs. Blue: Reconstruction, Church's usually horrible aim with his signature sniper rifle takes a momentary lapse as he lands an impossible ricochet shot on the Meta.
    • That was an accident, and it ricocheted nine times before hitting the Meta in the foot. Hardly an ideal shot, even if he meant to do it, though it did prove to be helpful...by providing the heroes with a trail of blood to follow.
    • It doesn't count anyway. He didn't call it first.
  • Haloid has this as one two of its many (many) Crowning Moments Of Awesome.


Web Comics

  • Vallant, of Teh Gladiators, takes Accidental Aiming Skills to a new level of insanity when his shots ricochet around the Arena like buzzing flies until they finally hit something -- never what he was aiming at but always something that helps Teh Gladiators win.
  • The lucky shot variety is subverted in this strip of Order of the Stick.


Western Animation

  • Happens in the Justice League Unlimited episode "Flash and Substance": Batman fires a flare into the air, seemingly aiming for Mirror Master, but it ricochets off various objects before falling into a mirror. Mirror Master jeers, "You missed me!", not realizing Batman launched it in the mirror so the Flash, trapped in a mirror dimension, could find his way back and kick butt.
  • On Phineas and Ferb, Isabella does this in a foosball match, after saying that the next shot would go in.
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