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A bullet is fired and you don't want it to reach its target, so what can you do? You could Take The Bullet yourself, of course, but if you are The Gunslinger, there's no better way to show off your Improbable Aiming Skills than to Shoot That Bullet instead. The Rule of Cool will make that happen, rest assured.

Examples of bullets fused by (accidental) head-on collision have been found on American Civil War battlefields, so the idea in general is not impossible, just so improbable it requires two armies' worth of fired ammunition to result in a few collisions. The idea of destroying projectiles, however, is regularly used on a much bigger scale: anti-ballistic missiles and lasers have been put into service for the purpose of destroying incoming nuclear missiles before they could detonate, and smaller variants exist for shooting down smaller projectiles like tactical missiles and artillery shells. Naval vessels now commonly make use of gatling-type or other types of Close In Weapons Systems to defend themselves against low-flying aircraft and missiles, and are definitely not Point Defenseless. Tank-based systems are also being developed, as a counter to RPGs and anti-tank missiles.

A related trope is Bullet Catch. Compare Destructible Projectiles, in which this is a normal gameplay mechanic instead of an extraordinary feat.

Not to be confused with the Touhou game of the same name.

Examples of Shoot the Bullet include:


Anime & Manga

  • Madlax does it to save Elenore.
  • Rushuna from Grenadier does this all the time. At one point, she even stops an entire machinegun salvo with a single revolver bullet (by making it ricochet).
  • Vash the Stampede from Trigun can do this - but he also takes it a step further into insanity by deflecting bullets by flicking pebbles at them.
    • He keeps his eyes closed/squinted, and blinks them open right when he throws. You can tell by the sound that he's flicking before the shot is fired. The deflected bullet always hits the intended target non-fatally. Since he's interfering with a duel, he might be doing this to both bullets with two rocks, or he might deflect one bullet into a path that will deflect both bullets into non-fatal or missing paths.
  • In Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex this is tried twice, but doesn't succeed in both cases.
  • Gandolfini, one of the mage teachers in Mahou Sensei Negima, intercepts Mana's time-displacement bullet in this way with his handgun. Unfortunately, he did it a tad too late as the displacement magic's area of effect was still large enough to swallow him up.
  • Lyrical Nanoha
  • Batman does this in Gotham Knight, except since he doesn't use guns, he simply punches the bullet out of the air with the armored part of his gauntlet (because, you know, a batarang wouldn't be half as badass). A bullet fired from a high powered sniper rifle, from a train moving at full speed, towards a moving target.
  • In Ecole Du Ciel, Asuna does this in a practice duel. In a Humongous Mecha. With beam rifles.
    • Done earlier by Kamille Bidan and Jerid Messa in Zeta Gundam, during the AEUG's operation in Jaburo.
    • Also done by Uso Evin to defend from Katejina's beam rifle while he is fighting Chronocle Asher for the last time. Also, note that all the previous examples were done by newtypes, who can sense the intention to fire before the actual shot rather than simply react with impossible speed.
  • In Zipang, the crew of the Mirai use the RIM-7 Sea Sparrow point-defense system to shoot down 18 inch shells fired by the battleship Yamato. In one case, they even cause a chain-reaction that takes out an entire salvo with one missile.
  • Sho does this unconsciously in an early episode of The Guyver OVA, when one of the bad guys tries to shoot his friend. Justified because he is wearing a suit of biological armour that can shoot laserbeams from its forehead, and that is automatically responding to protect Sho and his friends.
  • Train Heartnet from Black Cat does this a lot in his fights.
  • Several vampires in Hellsing shoot projectiles out of the air. Alucard and Seras are impressive enough, but Tubalcain Alhanbra really takes the cake by shooting a 30mm depleted uranium shell out of the air with a playing card.
  • Panty and Scanty can both do this in Panty and Stocking With Garterbelt. At one point, Panty does it with a sniper rifle
  • Kinji from Hidan no Aria does this in the final episode to redirect an ally's bullet to hit a different target. Using it to parry bullets aimed for him becomes a virtual trademark of his in the light novels.
  • In Mai-HiME, Natsuki uses her Element to shoot down many of the projectiles Shiho's Child fires at Mai.
  • Naruto often uses this with kunai or shuriken, the most notable occasion being part of the battle between Sasuke and Itachi in Shippuden. Since both are equipped with Sharingan, each deflects the other's dozens of shuriken, which pile on the floor between them.


Comic Books

  • Green Arrow did it with arrows against his robot doppelganger.
  • Hawkeye has also been known to do this with arrows, such as one instance where he couldn't dodge an arrow with dynamite strapped to it without getting caught in the blast range, so he shot it in midair instead. Naturally, when he and Green Arrow meet up in Marvel/DC Crossovers, they do it to each other quite often.


Fanfic


Film

  • Wanted! The movie is freaking full of bullets hitting each other.
  • In the Heroic Bloodshed movie Full Contact, Chow Yun-Fat shoots Simon Yam's bullet out of the air during the nightclub scene.
  • This happened in the movie adaptation of The Shadow.
    • The looks on the character's faces when it happens is the film's Crowning Moment Of Awesome.
  • Alluded to in Star Trek: Teleporting from a ship moving at warp speed to another is compared to "trying to shoot a bullet with a smaller bullet, blindfolded, while riding a horse".
  • Happens during the final duel in Versus, when KSC 2-303 and The Man pull guns on each other during the sword fight and empty their clips at each other, followed by a shot of the collided bullets falling to the ground.
  • A character in RED shoots an RPG out of the air. The fact that he survives while the shooter dies demonstrates the director likely did not care how a shaped charge actually works.
    • Mythbusters also examined this scene, and found that it would have killed just the target, but only if it were a faulty warhead for a couple of reasons. First being a shaped charge it would have sprayed forward anyway. Second, and RPG round is only armed after 60 feet, when it's reached a certain velocity. It is possible to shoot it out of the air though.
  • The Heroic Trio has more than one scene in which Anita Mui's character knocks bullets out of the air with a thrown blade.
  • Disney's Robin Hood adaptation has one with arrows. In the archery competition, the sheriff has just scored a bullseye (by cheating). To make sure Robin (in disguise) can't win, the sheriff taps Robin's bow as he releases. The arrow goes in a high arc. Undaunted, Robin nocks another arrow and fires at the first arrow. It hits, changing its direction such that it too hits a perfect bullseye, right through the sheriff's arrow.
  • Missile-to-missile version in Godzilla 1985, a Japanese ground-launched missile is sent to intercept an incoming Russian space-launched thermonuclear missile. It succeeds, but the radiation cloud created revives an unconscious Godzilla.


Literature

  • A particular sect of the Jedi are specifically trained to do this. They want to prove a point about relying too much on one weapon, so instead of blocking plasma bolts with lightsabers, they learn to shoot them down with a blaster pistol.
  • This happens often in Dale Brown books with missiles getting shot down, sometimes with other missiles, sometimes with Frickin' Laser Beams. Sometimes, though, it fails.
  • In the Star Trek novel Dreadnought, some Klingons are firing torpedoes at the Enterprise from long range and Kirk asks Sulu to try and hit the torpedoes and detonate them before they reach the ship. Sulu protests that that's never been done. Of course, having Improbable Aiming Skills, he does manage to hit at least one out of the three of the salvoes.
  • In The Alloy of Law Wax confronts a villain who's holding a human shield in front of him, preventing Wax from getting a clean shot. So Wax fires a bullet a little to one side of the villain, then fires a second bullet that collides with the first, changing its trajectory so that it hits the villain from an angle that doesn't go through the hostage. Granted, time was slowed down for Wax when this happened, but still!
  • A realistic version occurs in one of the Sharpe novels. Hagman, The Squad's Friendly Sniper, tries to take down a fleeing enemy spy. Unfortunately, at the same time, a cannon fires a load of grapeshot that intersects with his shot and knocks it awry.


Live Action TV

  • Done in the episode "Gunmen of the Apocalypse" of Red Dwarf within an artificial reality environment. The outtakes video features a several-minutes-long montage of the multiple attempts to film the bullets falling out of the air.
  • Get Smart had the anti-anti-anti-anti-anti-missile-missile, which was Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
    • That's just silly. We all know that there must be only one more "anti" than "missile" or nothing happens. Clearly, Get Smart had the anti-anti-anti-anti-anti-missile-missile-missile-missile.
  • A standard part of DekaRed's fighting style.
  • Myth Busters tested a version of this, specifically if two Minié balls collided, would they fuse together. The answer was eventually yes but trying to get the two rounds to hit deliberately proved to be near impossible. Their plausible conclusion was reached on the basis that it might have happened by accident given the volley fire tactics of the period the Minié came from.
    • They did however prove you could fuse two Minié balls together.
  • Done in the "Modern Warfare" (1.23) episode of Community, the gets Britta and Chang out when their paintballs collide in midair, spraying them both with paint.
  • Done in Babylon 5 several times. Station weapons, when set to "intercept" mode, automatically target incoming energy blasts and take them out with their own.
  • In the series of made for TV movies following the Robocop TV series, a Guns Akimbo version of Robocop is design, when it's inevitably hijacked and sent against the real Murphy he's obviously outgunned, as Robo Cable tries to shoot two of Murphy's friends, how does he get out of it? By shooting Cable's first bullet and causing it to ricochet the second off course as well.


Tabletop Games

  • In Exalted, Dragon-Blooded archers have several techniques for shooting down projectiles with their own arrows. At higher levels of skill, they can use this to protect their allies, or hit the attacker with their counter-arrows.
    • Lunars have a similar ability... except they can use their bare hands to make the deflection. This also explicitly allows them to use the ability on attacks of pure essence.
  • GURPS: Gun Fu has a perk that allows the character to try doing this. Of course, GURPS is pretty unforgiving when it comes to actually hitting that bullet.


Video Games

  • Dante from the Devil May Cry series is a pro at this. In DMC3, he does it during the cutscene where he and Lady find the body of Arkham. In DMC4, he uses his handguns to cancel out Nero's revolver shots.
    • Indeed you can do it during her boss battle by firing when she does, which also gives you a nice Style boost.
  • In Disgaea 3 Absence of Justice, Salvatore's "Duel!" attack has her do this to her target's bullet to misdirect it so that it ends up missing, while hers still connects.
    • The Bullet Kiss gun skill in Disgaea 4: A Promise Unforgotten has the user do this with their own bullet, which ends up creating an explosion when the two bullet collide head-on in the target's proximity, as well as with the Deadly Pierce gun skill, which has the user headshot multiple targets by shooting the initial bullet that gets lodged in the skull of the first victim so that it flies into the head of the next, and repeating until all of them have been hit.
  • Virtua Cop 3 gives you Very-High-Velocity Rounds with which to do this.
  • The first Quest for Glory game has what might be considered a low-tech variant on this. One of the puzzles involves somehow procuring a tiny seed that's being launched between several plants, and one of the solutions is to intercept it mid-flight... by throwing a rock and knocking it out of the air.
  • In Viewtiful Joe, the player can punch or kick bullets and missiles back at targets while using slow motion, and can shoot them while in the Six Machine. This is crucial for defeating several bosses, including the Helicopter, Harrier Jet and both tanks.
  • During a siege in Chapter 2 of Tales of Monkey Island, if you ever try to fire your cannon at your opponent, he will counter it with his own cannon.
  • Paranoia let you do this with blaster shots.
  • Happens in Space Invaders. Very annoying when you wanted your bullet to go on and into the enemy.
    • In Space Invaders Extreme, shooting a bullet or laser won't add to your combo, but it will reset the combo timer.
  • Not quite bullets, but in many fighting games projectiles will cancel each other out--your Hadouken can knock down your enemy's Sonic Boom in Street Fighter II, while flaming paper fans in Samurai Shodown 2 will knock away a summonned demon.
  • Although it does not involve fighting bullets with bullets, in Team Fortress 2, the Pyro's flamethrower's alternate fire shoots out a gust of air that can deflect a soldier's fired rocket, bouncing it right back where it came from.
    • However, the Sniper's arrows can break if they hit another arrow.
  • Doesn't involve bullets either, but in the Shoot'Em Up In the Hunt, you can use your submarine's torpedoes, anti-air weapons and depth charges to destroy most enemy projectiles.
  • In theory, you can shoot down incoming missiles in Escape Velocity: Nova by hand. It's nigh-on impossible, though, unless you purchase one of the point-defense turrets (which works out shooting them down without any input from you).
  • A variation in Metal Gear Solid 3; When Volgin fires his electricity at Ocelot, Ocelot manages to deflect the electricity by firing a bullet at it. The metal bullet conducts the the electricity, sending it safely off course.
  • In Resident Evil 4 you can shoot crossbow bolts out of the air. And more reliably Molotov cocktails.
  • Wild Guns allows you to do this. Keep doing it enough and you'll fill out that gauge at the bottom of the screen which gives you temporary invincibility and an awesome weapon.
  • Do Don Pachi Dai-Fukkatsu introduces a new mechanic to the DonPachi series: purple enemy lasers. You can shoot these withh your laser to block them. When you go into Hyper Counter mode, you can use your shots to cancel bullets.
  • MASK de Smith from Killer 7 headbutts a bullet out of the air.
  • It's one of the main game mechanics in Battle City series.
  • This is a trait seen in varying amounts in almost every shoot-em-up developed by Compile.
    • Virtually every bullet in Zanac series is destroyable. The most common type not with main gun and non-fully upgraded default weapons though.
    • In Super Aleste, the spinning oval bullets can be destroyed with any weapon, you can use the Laser to blunt certain bullets, and the Circle can block just about any bullet.
  • In Fallout 3, it was possible to target missiles and grenades in midflight with VATS; a patch removed this.
    • Its not like the feature was all that useful. Unless the timing was absolutely perfect, it just plain and simple wouldn't work. VATS has a slight aiming delay, which when combined with grenades being used only up close and missiles traveling very quickly meant that it simply wouldn't be able to hit them on time. Being very small targets with typically poor hit chances didn't help. Grenades can still be shot and detonated while the enemy is still holding them, but thats another trope altogether.
    • It was brought back for Grenades and Dynamite in Fallout New Vegas. Easier with a shot gun, though in the hand it would often kill the user.
  • Intercepting and shooting down anti-warship torpedoes is an essential skill in the Free Space series and is vital to successfully completing an Escort Mission. Fortunately torpedoes are fairly large and slower than most fighters.
  • In the Touhou games Shoot the Bullet (appropriately enough) and Double Spoiler, you can knock bullets out of the air by taking pictures of them with a camera.
    • Using spellcards (read: Smart Bombs) also cancels bullets that come in contact with it.
  • The NES port of 1943: The Battle of Midway has a spread-shooting special weapon, which in its upgraded form can blunt enemy bullets.
  • Heavy Weapon has your tank able to shoot down incoming enemy missiles. Required against Atomic Bombers, because if their bomb manages to hit you or the ground, you're toast no matter how many shields you have!
  • The Super Robot Wars series has the ability "Shoot Down", created as a gun-based counterpart to "Sword Cut"; however, it only works on missiles, grenades, and Attack Drones.


Western Animation

  • Used in Peabody's Improbable History, in particular in that episode about a guy who couldn't hit the broad side of a barn, but his gun was crooked so that made him a great shooter. However the gun got fixed just before the big competition, so Peabody shot his own bullet to correct the trajectory in flight. Inverted the Unspoken Plan Guarantee and lampshaded the improbability of this trope while explaining the plan.


Real Life

  • Close-in Weapons Systems do this, the most well-known of which is the American Phalanx CIWS. CIWS guns that use a hit-to-kill system actually track both the incoming projectile and their own outbound projectiles on radar and "walk" the bullets towards the target. Many modern CIWS guns have started to use explosive proximity rounds, rather than hit-to-kill penetrators, in order to conserve ammunition so they may not qualify as "shooting the bullet" (or missile, in this case.)
  • On a larger scale, this is the basic idea behind PATRIOT systems that were deployed in Israel to protect it from Iraqi SCUD missiles that were launched by Saddam Hussein in the First Gulf War in an attempt to goad the IDF into attacking Iraq and causing the Coalition's Arab members to withdraw. The idea was that, when an Iraqi SCUD was detected, the PATRIOT would launch its own missile so that it would detonate when the two crossed paths and destroy the SCUD before it could reach its target. The US military touted it as a great success, but its effectiveness has been contested by outside experts.
  • Also the YAL-1, Which is a 747 modified to contain a huge Laser that destroys missles. Some want to improve it to shoot down Fighter Jets and to destroy tanks!
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