Created By: captainpatNovember 1, 2011 Last Edited By: morenohijazoApril 19, 2013
Troped

Shoot the Hostage taker

Simply shooting a Hostage taker to save the hostage.

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Trope
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.

Examples:

Anime

Comic Books
  • 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.

Film
  • 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 Chekhovs 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.

Literature
  • 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.

Live Action TV
  • In the episode titled Debt of Law And 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.

Video Game
  • 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 LA Noire. Don't take too long to line up a shot or you'll lose.
Community Feedback Replies: 37
  • November 1, 2011
    TBTabby
    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.
  • November 1, 2011
    randomsurfer
    Robocop: Robocop shoots between the hostage's legs to hit the hostage taker in the groin.
  • November 1, 2011
    Psychobabble6
    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.
  • November 1, 2011
    Stratadrake
    Definitely happened 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.
  • November 1, 2011
    JohnDiFool
    Tommy Lee Jones does this in The Fugitive.

    Ziva also did it in an episode of NCIS; her doing it was Lampshaded ahead of time by another character-bad guy decided not to surrender anyway.
  • November 1, 2011
    captainpat
    ^ While I'm sure those examples probably fit, there needs to be more detail.
  • November 2, 2011
    PaulA
    • 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.
  • November 2, 2011
    PaulA
    • 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.
  • November 2, 2011
    Arivne
    Film
    • Robocop 2. During a raid on a drug lab, a criminal takes a baby hostage. Robocop uses a ricochet shot off a metal door to shoot the hostage taker in the head.

    Watch it here.
  • November 2, 2011
    ChunkyDaddy
    "Unfortunely for the villain a human shield still leaves their face and arms unprotected"

    Pronoun Confusion. This sounds like the shield's face and arms are unprotected. Probably want to reword it to make it clear that their refers to the villain, not the shield
  • November 2, 2011
    lunarkweh
    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.
  • November 5, 2011
    nman
  • November 6, 2011
    Koveras
    • 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.
  • November 6, 2011
    Falco
    • Garrus shoots a thug holding Dr. Michel hostage in Mass Effect 1.
  • December 19, 2011
    Arivne
    Film
    • 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.
  • December 19, 2011
    182crazyking
    Video Game
    • 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.
  • December 19, 2011
    zarpaulus
    Be sure to distinguish from Shoot The Hostage.
  • December 20, 2011
    Treblain
    You might find some examples listed as subversions of Put Down Your Gun And Step Away or Just Shoot Him.
  • December 21, 2011
    Loquacia
    Played with in Copycat (starring Leo de Cap). Helen shows off the Chekhov'sSkill 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. [[Spoiler: later, when she doesn't aim right, she's more or less directly responsible for her co-worker's death.]]
  • December 22, 2011
    Arivne
    ^ @Loquacia: Spoiler text only works if the "s" in "spoiler" is lower case.
  • December 22, 2011
    SeanMurrayI
    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.
  • December 22, 2011
    morenohijazo
    Grand Theft Auto IV: When Roman get 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.
  • March 21, 2012
    lukebn
    Sonny's partner Sal gets shot this way at the end of Dog Day Afternoon
  • March 21, 2012
    pawsplay
    A more specific form of Aggressive Negotiations
  • March 21, 2012
    azul120
    The end of Taken.
  • February 4, 2013
    zarpaulus
    Film
    • 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.

    Live Action TV
    • In the series 2 premiere of Torchwood Jack Harkness makes his re-introduction by shooting a "blowfish" who was using a human shield.
  • February 4, 2013
    StarSword
    TV:

    Video Games:
    • 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.
  • February 6, 2013
    StarSword
    Possible page quote to go with the Firefly example:
    Dobson: (with gun to River's head) "I'm not playing anymore. If anyone so much as--"
    Mal: BLAM!
    -- "Serenity", Firefly

    Video Games:
    • This is the usual way for Cole Phelps to resolve a hostage situation in LA Noire. Don't take too long to line up a shot or you'll lose.
  • February 6, 2013
    KTera
    • 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.
  • February 6, 2013
    MiinU

    Anime

  • February 6, 2013
    Tuckerscreator
    Often involves Improbable Aiming Skills.
  • February 8, 2013
    jatay3
    This can actually be done by police snipers, it is one of their main missions. There is a spot in the brain which, when hit, causes the fingers to automatically go limp rendering the weapon harmless.
  • February 10, 2013
    morenohijazo
    The OP hasn't posted for a while, I'd say this is Up For Grabs.
  • February 10, 2013
    NateTheGreat
    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.
  • February 10, 2013
    captainpat
    Yea, anyone is free to edit this, this is almost done anyway. The page quote needs to be removed or replace since it's the same quote as Human Shield.
  • February 10, 2013
    AP
    • 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.
  • February 10, 2013
    morenohijazo
    I would say that the only missing thing is a Real Life explanation.

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