Created By: HalberdDecember 15, 2012 Last Edited By: HalberdFebruary 4, 2013
Troped

Homing Laser

Frickin Laser Beams that actively seek out targets like missiles.

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope

As You Know, missiles are very effective anti-vehicular weapons because when fired, they track down and follow their target to ensure they hit. This also makes them very cool. But you know what would be cooler? If we had lasers that did the same thing!

Who cares if they have no known or plausible way of steering and don't possess the correct attributes to identify a target?! They make for some amazing action sequences, and that's all that matters.

If a sci-fi work contains these, it's more than likely to be on the softer side of the sci-fi spectrum.

Often causes the one on the wrong end to have an Oh Crap moment, especially if they think the shooter has missed, and may be Lampshaded with "How Is That Even Possible", depending on the hardness of the setting. Or at least, how hard they think it is.

Subtrope of Frickin Laser Beams, Sister Trope to Homing Projectile, overlaps with Impossibly Cool Weapon. May involve, but is not strictly limited to Roboteching and often leads to a flashier version of the High Speed Missile Dodge.

This is NOT simply Beam Spam, where so many beams are fired that the target will get hit solely because of the sheer amount of beams (though there's no reason you can't spam Homing Lasers). It also excludes guns that auto-track to keep an otherwise normal, straight-flying beam on the target and any remote reflection, refraction or beam-bending/ splitting devices that can be made to aim at a target. Also does not count if the beams simply bend randomly in-flight; they must actively chase the target(s) in question.

This trope is not strictly limited to lasers per-se. Particle beams and beams of Pure Energy also count, as do beams or bolts made of any kind of in-universe phlebotinum. Hard Light projectiles also count, though only if they do not imitate the workings of conventional homing weapons. This is where it overlaps with Homing Projectile.


Examples:

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder:Anime]]

  • Gunbuster is the Trope Namer for this, as can be clearly seen from the page quote.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam 00 features a very big one mounted on the Mobile Armour "Regnant".
  • Numerous examples exist in the Eureka Seven universe, including the Devilfish and The END.
  • The same goes for the Eureka Seven Ao universe, particularly where the Secrets are concerned.
  • Zegapain also features these, in the form of the Hraesvelgr's "missiles", which despite their name appear to be simple chunks of Hard Light with no known internal computation systems, aerodynamic properties or explanation of how or why they are capable of following targets other than Rule Of Cool.
  • Umineko No Naku Koro Ni has Magitek looking bullets of Hard Light that curve a multitude of times to seek out their target, even flying through keyholes to get at their victims.
  • In Naruto there's one Storm Release (Water + Thunder) Technique that shoots a volley of laser-like bullets that home on the target curving and bending midair.
  • On several scenes of the 'Gall Force' OVA, many ships fire lasers at each other that make 90-degree turns to hit their targets.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Video Games]]
  • The Orbital Frames of Zone Of The Enders are known for mixing this with Beam Spam, particularly Jehuty and Anubis.
  • Halo:
    • Charged shots from a plasma pistol will curve off after the nearest target. They won't robotech, but the path of the bolt will bend by up to about fifteen degrees.
    • However subverted with the larger scale Covenant plasma torpedoes (seen briefly in the "escape from the Pillar of Autumn" cutscene in Halo Combat Evolved, but elaborated upon by the EU), bolts of plasma contained in a magnetic field generated by the vessel that fired them projected over the intended target. As such, it merely appears as if the bolt is chasing the target, when in fact the weapon appears to be more of a continuous "beam" that simply alters its angle to keep on the target, as the plasma bolt is just made to follow the natural path of the field as it tracks.
  • The Predator uses a Plasma Caster that shoots Plasma bolts. It follows the laser sight built into his helmet and in the AvP videogames, the bolt actually homes in on the target. Very useful against those fast-moving aliens!
  • Panzer Dragoon:
    • Dragons fire these, if you hold the button and scroll your cursor over relevant targets. They're much more powerful than your rapid-fire gun, and are guaranteed to hit, but having to lock-on all the targets takes longer, and they don't lock on to projectiles that could otherwise be shot down.
    • In Saga, which is an RPG instead of a Rail Shooter, the downside is instead that they lock-on to targets automatically and indiscriminately, which can be a problem with large crowds if they target several weak Mooks when you wanted to hit a strong one.
  • E-102 Gamma in Sonic Adventure, as well as Tails and Eggman from Sonic Adventure 2, are equipped with homing lasers that behave extremely similarly to Panzer Dragoon's. However, they are platformers with mostly static targets, and not rail shooters where the targets would inevitably go out of range of their own volition. To counter this, the targeting laser eventually dies out, losing your lock on every target, requiring players to lock onto all targets within a short timeframe if they want to fire anything.
  • R Type's Green powerups fire a laser that bends to hit enemies.
  • Terra's weapon from Mega Man V Spark Chaser. Not only it homes on your enemies, but a single laser can hit multiple times.
  • Ranged energy weapons in StarCraft noticeably curve off after moving targets, even pursuing them beyond their normal attack range.
  • SuperRobotWarsZ Saisei Hen features a new Anti-Gurren Lagann, which fires pink/ purple beams from the ports all over its body that home in on their target, even those fired from the back of the mecha.
  • Solatorobo: The Titano-Machinas' lasers bend at right angles before going to the target.
  • Jak 3 Wastelander: The final Blue Eco Mod for Jak's Morph Gun is the Needle Lazer. You don't even need to aim the gun at your enemies because the laser bullets will find them for you.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Comic Books]] [[/folder]]

[[folder:Western Animation]] [[/folder]]

[[folder:Real Life]] [[/folder]]
Community Feedback Replies: 40
  • December 15, 2012
    StarSword
    Fixed a link in the draft. (Just for reference, our articles tend to use American spellings so Artistic License Physics, not Licence, is the correct link.)

    Video Games:
    • Halo:
      • Charged shots from a plasma pistol will curve off after the nearest target. They won't robotech, but the path of the bolt will bend by up to about fifteen degrees.
      • On a larger scale, Covenant plasma torpedoes (seen briefly in the "escape from the Pillar of Autumn" cutscene in Halo Combat Evolved, but elaborated upon by the EU), bolts of plasma contained in a magnetic field generated by the vessel that fired them. The ship guides the torps similarly to a wire-guided missile by moving the magnetic field around.

    Edited to pick up a gameplay example.
  • December 15, 2012
    Chabal2
    Does this include Wave Motion Gun-type continuous beams that don't leave the weapon?
  • December 15, 2012
    StarSword
    If it curves to follow the target, most likely.
  • December 15, 2012
    Tuckerscreator
    The Halo example doesn't count because it's plasma, not lasers. Laser weapons exist in the Haloverse, especially on Covenant ships, and they behave correctly.

  • December 15, 2012
    Stratadrake
    @Chabal, Starsword: There's a bit of distinction between a homing Laser Bullet / curvy laser beam and a continuous laser that merely aims to keep up with its target's movements (like the magnifying-glass scene from Antz).
  • December 15, 2012
    Onitatsu
    In Naruto there's one Storm Release (Water + Thunder) Technique that shoots a volley of laser-like bullets that home on the target curving and bending midair.
  • December 15, 2012
    StarSword
    @Tuckerscreator, Stratadrake: Plasma casters are counted under Frickin Laser Beams since it's the most common justification for so-called lasers not behaving like real lasers, and this is a subtrope of FLB. I'll leave it up to the OP to decide if it counts or not.
  • December 16, 2012
    Halberd
    Yes, plasma weapons do count, as long as what's being fired is a ball/ bolt/ stream of plasma that has no guidance system such as a missile at the centre/ front.

    The Halo example listed by Star Sword may actually count as the first subversion, as the bolt of plasma itself does steer mid-flight, but only because it is being controlled by a magnetic field projected by the ship (which presumably is like aiming a gun that fires a "normal" continuous beam). To expand upon this, it merely appears as if the bolt is chasing the target, when in fact the weapon should just be classed as a continuous weapon that simply alters its angle to keep on the target, as the plasma bolt is just made to follow the field as it tracks.

    Mentioning the charged Plasma Pistol bolt, however, would be a perfectly straight example, though.
  • December 16, 2012
    Halberd
    One other thing I would like to clarify: Hard Light. Any "projectile" made out of Hard Light that tracks its target autonomously by changing vector mid-flight does count if it is just a "dumb" chunk of Hard Light like a bullet. If it features some kind of machinery, such as a "working" Hellfire missile made out of light, phlebotinum or Pure Energy (as in likely features microchips and circuits, regardless of numerous physics violations) it does NOT count in any way. They are to be treated as conventional guided/ homing technology, as they don't "just" home, they aim to recreate the workings of conventional homing weapons with only one minor difference.
  • December 16, 2012
    StarSword
    ^^I completely forgot about that one. Added it to my example.
  • December 16, 2012
    Lyendith
    Would the Chiester Sisters' bullets count? The sisters always have some Techno Babble before firing ("Data link, fire sequence initialization", etc.) but their "bullets" are basically homing Hard Light arrows that can also curl up on the target like a tight rope. And go through keyholes. You can see them here (at 3:30) or here (at 6:30). The anime doesn't do a very good job at representing them but, you get the idea...
  • December 16, 2012
    Tuckerscreator
    Then add them but at least point out that the actual lasers themselves act correctly and aren't bolts that track things.
  • December 16, 2012
    Halberd
    @Lyendith Not really in the case of the "arrows". They're more like Combat Tentacles made out of Hard Light rather than projectiles/ beams. The bullets seen in the second link may count, though, as long as it is actual Hard Light and not just some form of magic, etc.
  • December 16, 2012
    Halberd
    @starsword I've added your example from the Halo universe, including the Plasma Pistol addition, with the note that the Plasma Torpedo is a subversion.
  • December 16, 2012
    StarSword
    ^You know you can copy the bluelinks and formatting by clicking the pencil next to the post, right? (Long as you don't hit submit, it won't change the post.)
  • December 16, 2012
    Halberd
    @Star Sword Ah. Thanks for that, I was unaware. The text from both posts did need combining and condensing somewhat anyway, though.
  • December 16, 2012
    StarSword
    One other thing I forgot: The plasma torpedo is actually a Justified Trope, Not A Subversion (unless the point of this trope is "there's no possible way to have guided Frickin Laser Beams," which smacks of complaining somewhat and I don't think is what you had in mind). The torpedo appears guided because it actually is.
  • December 16, 2012
    Halberd
    Well, no, it's not about "there's no way of guiding them", it's just that how you describe it, it sounds like the magnetic field is like a track and the bolt simply travels down it like a bullet down very long, invisible gun barrel that stops the plasma going off in random directions. "When the weapon charges, a ball of superheated plasma forms in front of the turret, then after about 3 seconds, it fires outward at its target. Inside the turret, gas is superheated by the ship's reactor to produce the charge of plasma. Magnetic coils shape and guide the plasma, acting as a sophisticated focusing lens." - The most descriptive extract from the most popular Halo Wiki, Halo Nation, that I found, which seems to back up that interpretation.

    If it isn't like that, please can you tell me how it is supposed to work, or point me toward a reliable source.

    If it actually tracks by being pulled this way and that by alteration of magnetic fields, etc. (and is not just travelling in an arc because magnetic fields are curved) as it travels through space then it is played straight.
  • December 16, 2012
    Lyendith
    @ Halberd: Well, what the anime doesn't depict is that the Combat Tentacles are the bullets. At least in the sound novel and in the manga, it's always described as a continuous golden arc, whether they are used to constrict or shoot (like here or here). As for the nature or the weapon, it would be something like Magitek... but all in all, it doesn't seem to count after all.
  • December 16, 2012
    Halberd
    @Lyendith Hmm... this is an interesting one. They seem to possess both the properties of limbs and projectiles in that they move with the kind of trajectory associated with projectiles/ beams, yet the trail(?) they leave behaves like a limb.

    I'd say that as they "fly" like projectiles (from the sound of it), it fits, if somewhat awkwardly, and that they definitely track their target in-flight or are guided by magic, etc., that does make them homing light.
  • December 16, 2012
    Chernoskill
    The Predator uses a Plasma Caster that shoots Plasma bolts. It follows the laser sight built into his helmet and in the AvP videogames, the bolt actually homes in on the target. Very useful against those fast-moving aliens!
  • December 16, 2012
    Halberd
    @Chernoskill Sounds like a worthy addition. Thanks.
  • December 17, 2012
    Omeganian
    Darkseid's Omega Beams?
  • December 17, 2012
    Halberd
    @Omeganian Yes, I looked into those, and they meet the criteria for Homing Lasers entirely. However, I think it could do with a little bit more description, like what was mentioned in the page Tuckerscreator linked to under Eye Beams, and as I'm not familiar with that work, I won't attempt to enter an example myself. If you can provide a descriptive entry, I'll add it.
  • December 17, 2012
    StarSword
    Zero Context Examples aren't allowed on the wiki anyway.

    As for the plasma torp thing, my data came out of one of the EU novels (either Halo The Fall Of Reach or Halo First Strike; I forget which). Though it might've been retconned since then, as the Halo canon policy is "new material wins".
  • December 17, 2012
    Halberd
    @Star Sword I am aware of the Halo writers' policy, and the potential problems it can cause to sites like TVT. Though now I've been pointed in the right direction, I know someone online who has read them and probably still has them. I'll get them to see if they can dig it up so we can put it in its right place in the EU and mention the retcon if there is one (which sounds likely).
  • December 17, 2012
    ShadowHog
    • Panzer Dragoon's dragons fire these, if you hold the button and scroll your cursor over relevant targets. They're much more powerful than your rapid-fire gun, and are guaranteed to hit, but having to lock-on all the targets takes longer, and they don't lock on to projectiles that could otherwise be shot down.
      • In Saga, which is an RPG instead of a Rail Shooter, the downside is instead that they lock-on to targets automatically and indiscriminately, which can be a problem with large crowds if they target several weak Mooks when you wanted to hit a strong one.
    • E-102 Gamma in Sonic Adventure, as well as Tails and Eggman from Sonic Adventure 2, are equipped with homing lasers that behave extremely similarly to Panzer Dragoon's. However, they are platformers with mostly static targets, and not rail shooters where the targets would inevitably go out of range of their own volition. To counter this, the targeting laser eventually dies out, losing your lock on every target, requiring players to lock onto all targets within a short timeframe if they want to fire anything.
  • December 17, 2012
    Halberd
    @Shadow Hog Added them.
  • December 19, 2012
    StarSword
    Namespace tweaks.
  • December 23, 2012
    dvorak
    Video Game
    • R Type's Green powerups fire a laser that bends to hit enemies.
  • December 31, 2012
    Dawnwing
    • Some of the weapons in Kid Icarus Uprising work this way; several of them shoot lasers or light, and each weapon can have shot homing - it depends on the type of weapon you're using (for example, the Angel Bow has strong homing, while the Darkness Bow has very little), and on the individual weapon itself, as it might have a homing bonus compared to another weapon of the same type.
  • January 1, 2013
    marcoasalazarm
    On several scenes of the 'Gall Force' OVA, many ships fire lasers at each other that make 90-degree turns to hit their targets. Dunno if it would fit here or not.
  • January 4, 2013
    Halberd
    @marcoasalazarm Yes, if they turn to hit their targets and don't just bend mid-flight, then it does fit. From the way you described it, it's worth adding.
  • January 4, 2013
    GeminiSparkSP
    Terra's weaopn from Mega Man V, Spark Chaser. Not only it homes on your enemies, but a single laser can hit multiple times.
  • January 8, 2013
    StarSword
    Just remembered another.

    Video Games:
    • Ranged energy weapons in StarCraft noticeably curve off after moving targets, even pursuing them beyond their normal attack range.
  • January 12, 2013
    InsanityPrelude
    Subtrope of Homing Projectile? Beam weapons homing in is also mentioned in Roboteching, but that's a specific type of homing in.
  • January 14, 2013
    Halberd
    @Insanity Prelude: Possibly, as it overlaps when Hard Light comes into play. Then again, possibly a Sister Trope due to the fact that while they are fundamentally different, they are essentially two breeds of the same animal, so to speak.

    Thanks for bringing that to my attention. I'll actually mention that in the description now.
  • January 19, 2013
    Chabal2
  • January 31, 2013
    troacctid
    Edited the draft to add folders and fix a typo.
  • February 2, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    Video Games:
    • Jak 3 Wastelander: The final Blue Eco Mod for Jak's Morph Gun is the Needle Lazer. You don't even need to aim the gun at your enemies because the laser bullets will find them for you.

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