Created By: 182crazyking on December 18, 2011 Last Edited By: Arivne on February 17, 2013

Vigilant Sniper

When the Hero is just about to get killed, he is saved by a sniper.

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Trope
The hero is knocked down by a bad guy, he's disarmed, and is going to die. But then - BLAM! - the bad guy's head explodes. It turns out that there was a guy with a Sniper Rifle (usually a Cold Sniper, Career Killer, or other such Badass) providing overwatch. Usually, this guy turns out to be a Big Damn Hero who was either Just in Time or wanted to save their bullet for the last minute to be totally awesome.

Sometimes, the bullet is an Instant Death Bullet. Other times, usually when the aforementioned bad guy is stronger, the round acts as a ballistic "Hey, You!" Haymaker and wounds the bad guy for the killshot.

This shooter can be anyone from a previously mentioned character with good aim to an outright Deus ex Machina. In many works, the sniper is a Chekhov's Gunman.

This trope is similar to Stab the Scorpion. Also, compare Type A of False Gunshot.

This troupe might be one that Needs a Better Title. It also might exist already. Excuse One on my part. Also, since I'm bad at finding specific examples, it Needs More Examples - sorry!


Examples

Anime and Manga
  • In the first episode of Gunslinger Girl, Henrietta screws up the mission when her Berserk Button is pressed and goes into Mook Horror Show mode, but one mook takes cover behind the furnature and is about to toss a grenade when Rico dispatches him from across the street.

Film

Literature

Live-Action TV
  • Esposito is this for Beckett at the end of the Castle episode "Kill Shot". This is especially strong thematically since the entire episode has centered around Beckett dealing with her PTSD after being shot by a sniper.

Video Games
  • Everpresent in Call of Duty. Many missions involve you traveling with a companion. Inevitably you'll split up and he'll tell you that he'll "cover" you, thus beginning a line of scripted enemy deaths where you'll hear him say "he's mine..." before the mook's head asplodes. Partially subverted in that, most of the time, you can preempt the script and kill the enemy yourself, or occasionally your companion will give you a choice of taking them out yourself or letting him do it.
  • Seen in Modern Warfare 2.

Web Comics

Western Animation
  • Family Guy, "And Then There Were Fewer." Lois is at a cliff's edge about to be killed by Diane Simmons when Simmons is shot from the house by Stewie.
  • The Simpsons. In "Poppa's Got a Brand New Badge" when Homer (as the new police chief) is being menaced by Fat Tony's mafia goons in front of the house, a sniper takes them down. Marge thanks [former] Chief Wiggum but he says it wasn't him. Turns out it was Maggie Simpson - you know, the baby who shot Mr. Burns.


Community Feedback Replies: 30
  • December 18, 2011
    FrodoGoofballCoTV
    I swear we had this one, but I can't find it either.

  • December 19, 2011
    TechUnadept
    compare and contrast Stab The Scorpion.

    the second Resident Evil movie had this. It was the only good shot the sniper made all night.
  • December 19, 2011
    Falco
    TV:

    • Esposito is this for Beckett at the end of the Castle episode "Kill Shot". This is especially strong thematically since the entire episode has centred around Beckett dealing with her PTSD after being shot by a sniper.
  • December 19, 2011
    randomsurfer
    Family Guy, "And Then There Were Fewer." Lois is at a cliff's edge about to be killed by Diane Simmons when Simmons is shot from the house by Stewie.
    Stewie: If anyones gonna kill this bitch [Lois] its gonna be me.
  • December 19, 2011
    ScanVisor
    Captain America The First Avenger: Bucky saves Cap from a Nazi Mook this way.
  • December 19, 2011
    Daefaroth
    I can't find this individually, but the unexpected sniper is listed as a general example on Deus Ex Machina. It does feel like a subtrope of that. Perhaps this should be broadened to something more like Secret Guardian (not to be confused with The Secret Garden)? That way examples could be used that aren't specifically sniping.
  • December 19, 2011
    182crazyking
    Daefaroth - as I said in the main draft, it may or may not be a Deus Ex Machina, but it could be a related trope. And for the Secret Guardian thing, in my mind at least, widens it so that the definitive characteristics of the trope become nonexistent. Although it'd have to be up to census, of course.
  • December 19, 2011
    Shnakepup
    • Everpresent in Call Of Duty. Many missions involve you traveling with a companion. Inevitably you'll split up and he'll tell you that he'll "cover" you, thus beginning a line of scripted enemy deaths where you'll hear him say "he's mine..." before the mook's head asplodes. Partially subverted in that, most of the time, you can preempt the script and kill the enemy yourself, or occasionally your companion will give you a choice of taking them out yourself or letting him do it.

    (I know I've seen it in a couple other Co D games as well but I can't remember specific examples)
  • December 19, 2011
    randomsurfer
    The Simpsons: In "Poppa's Got a Brand New Badge" when Homer (as the new police chief) is being menaced by Fat Tony's mafia goons in front of the house, a sniper takes them down. Marge thanks [former] Chief Wiggum but he says it wasn't him. Turns out it was Maggie Simpson - you know, the baby who shot Mr. Burns. I'm just padding the spoiler out now, don't mind me. Blah blah blah.
  • December 20, 2011
    Arivne
    Compare the Type A version of False Gunshot, in which the villain has a gun and the audience thinks they fired it, but it turns out to be someone else shooting the villain.
  • December 20, 2011
    Topazan
  • December 20, 2011
    OftenPartisan
    The Gears Of War Tie In Novel Aspho Fields contains this trope, where Dom is saved by Bernie.
  • December 20, 2011
    Stratadrake
    Too bad we can't call it Headshot Ex Machina.
  • December 21, 2011
    Arivne
    Tabletop Games
    • 2nd Edition Shadowrun main rules, short story "Plus Ca Change". During the final confrontation with the MCT security team, Sheila Winder is saved from the MCT magician when her teammate Smedley snipes him from long distance with a Boom Headshot.
  • December 21, 2011
    ChunkyDaddy
    • In The Postman, the Postman is sent to negotiate with the Holnists. The Commander rejects his offer and orders his mooks to execute him. Meanwhile, the heroine(whom the Commander had captured) escapes and gets hold of a gun. As a mook is about to shoot the postman in the head, the heroine shoots the mook right in the head.
  • December 21, 2011
    Loquacia
    Did Riza Hawkeye do this in Full Metal Alchemist?
  • December 21, 2011
    AFP
    A possible name suggestion: Sniper Save?

    Another TV example:

    • In the original pilot for Firefly, Jayne does this for Mal and Zoe when their deal goes bad. The presence of Jayne with a sniper rifle was not set up as a surprise, but at the time, his loyalties were unclear, given that the bad guy had just offered him money to turn on Mal.
  • December 21, 2011
    captainpat
    A trope can not Partially subverted, fix that Call Of Duty example
  • January 4, 2012
    TBeholder
    Why not Saved By A Sniper? Or if we'll gree it's going to be diluted (here's that Schlock Mercenary example already), Big Damn Offscreen Shot.
  • January 4, 2012
    Stratadrake
    ^ Big Damn Sniper?

    ...Or maybe not.
  • January 7, 2012
    PaulA
  • January 7, 2012
    Stratadrake
    Vigilant Sniper doesn't work because that implies a character trope, and this is a plot trope.
  • February 16, 2013
    marcoasalazarm
    Vote for 'Saved By A Sniper'.

    Dunno if it fits or not, but during the final act of Billy Madison , the Jerkass Corrupt Corporate Executive that was facing off against Billy gets a Villainous Breakdown when he cannot answer a question about corporate ethics and pulls a gun on Billy.... and gets shot in the ass by a formerly-bullied character (played by Steve Buscemi) that Madison had apologised to earlier in the movie and was hinted would have gone Charles Whitman on Madison hadn't he done so.
  • February 16, 2013
    StarSword
    Thirding Saved By A Sniper.

    Video Games:
    • One mission in Sniper Elite V 2 has you rescuing a German engineer trying to defect from execution at the hands of a German army officer. Naturally your first bullet needs to go into the back of said officer's head.
  • February 16, 2013
    Chabal2
    • The Good The Bad And The Ugly: Tuco and Blondie's scam works like this: Blondie brings in Tuco for a reward and leaves town. When Tuco is sentenced to be hanged, Blondie shoots the rope, rides in, rescues Chico and flee. They repeat the process in a different town. Later averted when the pair split up, Blondie is still running the scam with a different guy, but is prevented from cutting the rope by Tuco holding a gun to his head.
    • Arsene Lupin: A more complex variation, where the rescuees are two of Lupin's henchmen (one innocent of anything more serious than theft, the other an unrepentant murderer), who are waiting their turn for the guillotine. The sniper takes out the executioner and the murderer (whose dying words are actually of thanks for Lupin, as even this death is better than public execution).
  • February 17, 2013
    randomsurfer
    In the Star Trek The Next Generation episode "A Fistfull of Datas" Worf and son are having an adventure in the holodeck pretending to be an Old West sheriff & deputy. Sheriff Warf is staring down the barrel of a gun, when the baddie's hat is shot off by Mysterious Stranger Durango - played by Troi.
  • February 17, 2013
    Arivne
    Namespaced and italicized the example work titles, alphabetized the example sections, etc.

    Note that the Schlock Mercenary and Modern Warfare examples are Zero Context Examples and need to be fleshed out or they'll be deleted.
  • February 17, 2013
    Koveras
    Seem at least related to I Got You Covered, if not outright subtrope.
  • February 17, 2013
    Tuckerscreator
    ^Related, but not quite the exact trope, since that seems to apply to aircraft.

    • Halo 3 ODST: Sergeant Buck encounters a strange new species of Covenant and just as it corners him the creature is killed by his sniper "Romeo". Subverted in that it turns out the creature is a Covenant Engineer, which are completely harmless and was just curious about the human it met. And that killing it made it more dangerous because it was rigged to explode upon death.
  • February 17, 2013
    m8e
    Any reason this is limited to snipers and rifles?

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=murzhfspqm42tf45665v0qmv