A villain uses a hostage as a Human Shield
to deter the hero from attacking them and give into their demands. Unfortunately for the villain a human shield can only protect so much, and the areas like the villain's head or arms are still exposed. So the hero or a third party will just end up shooting one of those areas instead (usually the head
) and save the hostage anyway.
Often involves Improbable Aiming Skills
. A more specific form of Aggressive Negotiations
. Be sure to distinguish it from Shoot the Hostage
- In The Dark Knight Returns, Batman solves a hostage situation by threatening to do this. It probably helped that the thug was new meat who didn't know about Bats' "no killing" rule.
- In the first issue of Savage Dragon, the hero is taking down a group of hostage takers, only for someone else to shoot the lead criminal: the vigilante known as Star.
- Robocop: Robocop shoots between the hostage's legs to hit the hostage taker in the groin.
- In The Fifth Element: After Korben takes out a few of his men, the lead Mangalore holds priest Cornelius hostage and threatens "One more shot, we start killing hostages! Send someone in to negotiate!" Korben's method of "negotiating" is to calmly walk in, Boom, Headshot the leader, then ask "anyone else want to negotiate?" while waving his gun around at the rest.
- The Matrix Reloaded. While fighting one of the Merovingian's albino ghost twins, Trinity is captured and held while being threatened with a straight razor. The albino orders Morpheus to Put Down Your Sword And Step Away. Morpheus shoots him in the head, which forces him to desolidify long enough for Trinity to escape.
- In the first part of Dredd Judge Dredd is faced with a fugitive holding a gun to a woman's head, he shoots a hot-shot into the perp's mouth making his head burn up from the inside.
- Sonny's partner Sal gets shot this way at the end of Dog Day Afternoon.
- In The Fugitive, there's a sequence where Marshal Gerard and his men track down one of the other fugitives from the train crash, who takes one of Gerard's men hostage. Gerard shoots him at close range, leaving his subordinate temporarily deaf from the gunshot but still alive.
- Played with in Copycat (starring Leo de Cap). Helen shows off the Chekhov's Skill early in the film: shoot the hostage taker in the right place on his shoulder, the nerves go haywire, and they automatically drop the gun. later, when she doesn't aim right, she's more or less directly responsible for her co-worker's death.
- In Die Another Day during a simulation James Bond does this. Q is a little irked that M (the hostage) got shot as well.
Bond: Check the replay. You'll find he's dead and she's only got a flesh wound.
- In the prologue of Last Call by Tim Powers, the Big Bad uses his young son as a human shield when his wife threatens to shoot him, and finds out the hard way that holding a small child so that his head and chest are covered leaves his groin exposed.
- In the episode titled Debt of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit the police raid a brothel run by chinese gang. In one of the rooms a gang member takes one of the prostitute hostage and uses her as as a Human Shield. The prostitute is saved when Detective Elliot Stabler dives through the door of the room and shoots the gang member in the head.
- In the pilot of Alphas, Hicks is confronted with a villain holding Rachel hostage and ducking behind her in such a fashion that the shot was virtually impossible. The villain had prepared for this ahead of time and had planned to psych Hicks out so that he wouldn't be able to make the shot. Being as Hicks' ability essentially is perfect aim, he makes it by use of ricocheting the bullet.
- Firefly. Oh, Firefly. An Alliance lawman takes River hostage at gunpoint and gets out about half a sentence of demands before Mal storms in and shoots him in the face.
- At the end of the Blue Bloods episode "Re-Do", a serial rapist takes Erin hostage within sight of Frank, and tells him to put down his gun and step away. Or that was the plan, anyway: Frank puts a .38 round through his forehead before he can finish the sentence.
- In the series 2 premiere of Torchwood Jack Harkness makes his re-introduction by shooting a "blowfish" who was using a human shield.
- The bonus level the Mile High Club in Call Of Duty 4 ends with you having to shoot a terrorist using a hostage as a Human Shield. On higher difficulty you most get a headshot or you fail the mission.
- In Deus Ex: Human Revolution, at the end of the first mission, you must attempt to save Josie Thorpe from Zeke Sanders, who has taken her as a hostage. Among the many options is to shoot Zeke before he can hurt his hostage.
- Batman: Arkham Asylum has a non-lethal version: When Zsasz is holding a knife to Dr. Young's throat, you save her by knocking him out with a Batarang.
- In Batman: Arkham City Ra's Al Ghul holds his own daughter, Talia, hostage at knife point when batman refuses to kill Ra's and take Ra's places leader of the League of assassins. Batman saves Talia be hitting Ra's with a Batarang.
- The original Mass Effect features a mission on the Citadel where some mooks take hostages in a medical bay. In a cutscene, Garrus takes out the mook holding a hostage, and after combat ends, the player, as Commander Shepard, can choose how to respond to this. Renegade Shepard's response is to compliment Garrus for taking the mook out; Paragon Shepard chastises Garrus for doing something that could have gotten the hostage killed.
- This is an option to resolve the hostage crisis at the end of Thane's loyalty mission in Mass Effect 2. You can shoot his son Kolyat nonfatally, or Shoot the Hostage. The third option is a Paragon interrupt that has Shepard shoot a lamp behind Kolyat to startle him, whereupon Shepard moves in and decks him.
- In Grand Theft Auto IV Roman gets kidnapped and you must rescue him, you finally find him used as a hostage by a Russian mobster. You must carefully aim for the Russian's head to free him.
- In Army of Two: The 40th Day, enemies will sometimes use civilians as human shields. You can do this to them but if you're not careful it's possible to kill the enemy and the civilian with the same bullet. Also, your partner can rescue you this way if an enemy holds you hostage.
- This is the usual way for Cole Phelps to resolve a hostage situation in L.A. Noire. Don't take too long to line up a shot or you'll lose.