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Audie Murphy. There's no way to list the ways in which this man was made of adamantium without repeating everything on the linked page.
During the battle of Holtzwihr in France, Murphy's company (of which 19 out of the original 128 men remained in fighting condition) was attacked by tanks and infantry. He ordered his men to withdraw while he remained and directed artillery from his forward position. When the Germans got close, he climbed onto a still-burning tank destroyer and opened fire with its .50 caliber machine gun. Almost totally exposed to enemy fire, he nonetheless single-handedly held off tanks and infantry — for an hour (during which he was shot in the leg) until the phone line connecting him with artillery got cut and he ran out of ammo. He then made his way back to his company, refused medical attention, and organized his company in a counterattack, which forced the Germans to withdraw. At the time he had just recovered from being shot in the arm and the day before had been hit by shrapnel from a nearby mortar strike that killed two members of his squad. Keep in mind he was also suffering from malaria the whole time. He received a Medal of Honor for his actions during this battle, and this isn't even the most ridiculously Badass thing he did during WWII. Not bad for a guy who was 5'6" and 130lbs and lied about his age to enlist.
Shaolin monks practice a rigorous regimen known as "Iron Body Technique", allowing wooden clubs to be broken across their bodies, limbs and heads with little effect, as well as great resistance to piercing weapons. One of the most extreme examples involved a single monk bending two spears (with metal heads) almost double against his throat and having a baseball bat broken on his back at the same time.
Those clubs are weakened to avoid breaking bones. (They still hurt like hell, though.)
Most of those impressive feats are basically tricks that any moderately athletic individual could perform if they know the right technique. They're impressive in their own way, similar to magic tricks, but no great display of toughness.
Well then let me introduce you to the technique iron balls. Yeah it's actually testicles of steel. And that's not even counting their body temperature controlling feats, and many other crazy shit they do. You do not mess with the Shaolin.
Dr. Liviu Librescu, Romanian-born Holocaust survivor, scientist and academic professor. During the Virginia Tech massacre, Librescu personally kept the door shut to prevent gunman Seung-hui Cho from entering the classroom while his students escaped out the windows. He was shot through the door five times before finally succumbing to a shot to the head. Of course, he had a history, since surviving the Holocaust takes a Determinator in itself...
The famous death of Grigori Rasputin, who was poisoned, shot, stabbed and finally thrown into the icy Neva River. Hard to say which ultimately did him in, or if his assassins were just totally incompetent.
He died of drowning as they found water in his lungs and the position he was frozen in suggested he was trying to claw or force himself out of the carpet they wrapped his body in.
Edward Teach, a.k.a. Blackbeard. A brief autopsy after his defeat revealed that he had taken five bullets and over twenty sword wounds before he went down. He was able to swordfight and almost defeated Captain Robert Maynard despite Maynard shooting him at point blank and Blackbeard was also very drunk at the time. Luckily for Maynard, a fellow soldier ambushed Blackbeard and sliced the back of his neck, and even then Maynard ordered Blackbeard to be beheaded to confirm his death.
Truth in Television: It's possible to survive being stabbed in a non-vital area because the damage is mostly localized, so first aid and adequate medical care can allow someone to live without any detrimental effects (beyond the time it takes to heal). Bullets which are not designed to expand upon impact also can be survived, since the wound cavity is only as large as the bullet is..
In February 2008, British marine Matthew Croucher jumped on a grenade, was blown across the compound, and then got up with only a concussion. His backpack apparently took "most" of the blast, but still.
The USMC's Jacklyn Lucas smothered two grenades (one was a dud) with his body on Iwo Jima in 1945. The 17-year-old had no body armour. He died in 2008.
Lucas also survived jumping out of a plane when both his parachutes failed to open on a training exercise.
While running for his third term of office, Theodore Roosevelt was shot in the chest by a would-be assassin as he was on his way to deliver a speech. Roosevelt, never one to be deterred by something so trivial as a bullet wound, went on to deliver the entire fifty-page speech while bleeding from the gut, bothering only to add the following preface:
"I don't know whether you fully understand that I have just been shot; but it takes more than that to kill a Bull Moose."
Bear in mind that TR delivered the speech from memory, as the bullet had gone through the speech, folded in his pocket. This slowed the bullet enough to probably save his life, but left the speech with a hole through it and soaked in blood. He also claimed that he would be giving a shorter speech than intended. He went on to speak for 90 minutes.
Surprisingly (or perhaps not surprisingly, given who we're talking about), he went on to place second in the election.
Note that he placed second in the election...but he was running as a third party at the time. He is the ONLY candidate to beat a major party as a third party, solely on his personal charisma and influence. Even more impressive, the major party candidate he beat was Republican William Howard Taft, the incumbent President.
Real-life subversion: True to his image, TR practiced bare-knuckled fisticuffs in the White House. On one occasion he took a blow that struck him permanently blind in one eye. This was carefully kept secret during his remaining time in office.
That's why he didn't get killed when he was shot. Because of his poor eyesight, he had to make the letters in his speech very big with plenty of space between. Consequently, this was one thick wad of paper he was carrying in his breast pocket.
He was a black belt in judo, carried a loaded pistol with him around the White House and kept a fully-grown lion and bear as pets.
He also kept a badger as a pet. Not a trained one, considering most people complained of it running around savaging visitors ankles.
According to some, he took up judo after he was blinded boxing, because it wasn't as rough.
During the Hundred Years War between England and France, English King Henry V was supposedly hit in the face with an arrow. He not only survived both the impact of the arrow and the surgery to remove it from his face, he proceeded to get right back up and return to beating the hell out of the French until he seized the Crown of France.
It was at the Battle of Shrewsbury in 1403 when Henry was 16 and still only a prince. John Bradmore, the doctor who removed the arrow, wrote about it — "struck by an arrow next to his nose on the left side"; "The which arrow entered at an angle (ex traverso), and after the arrow shaft was extracted, the head of the aforesaid arrow remained in the furthermost part of the bone of the skull for the depth of six inches." The aftercare took several weeks. Henry won the battle, which was against English rebels.
Henry V has nothing on the circus strong man Joe Greenstein, a.k.a. the Mighty Atom. He was shot in the face with a .38 revolver from 30 feet away. The bullet was flattened by the impact with his skull, and caused no serious injury. He was out of the hospital that evening. This is in addition to a career based on feats like bursting multiple chains at once by flexing his chest, bending 1/2 steel bars, and driving nails through several sheets of metal with his hands.
Xiahou Dun of Wei did the whole "take an arrow to the face" thing first, when one of Lü Bu's men shot him in the eye at the Battle of Xiapi. Anyone else would have been on the ground moaning in pain, but he got back up, then proceeded to rip the arrow and his own eye out, swallowed the eye in one bite]], found the poor bastard who had the audacity of plonking him, and ended him in rather brutal fashion.
Another example from Romance of the Three Kingdoms involves Guan Yu, who once took a poisoned arrow in his arm — the best surgeon in the land was forced to cut the wound wide open, remove the arrowhead, and remove every shred of poisoned tissue, to the extent of scraping the poison off the bone. What did Guan Yu do all this time? Go a few rounds of Go with his good arm.
Note that these stories are from Romance of the Three Kingdoms which is not necessarily historically accurate, but instead a somewhat romanticized version of history.
Richard Hammond, who crashed a jet-powered racecar at 288 miles per hour and not only survived the incident (which many say would have decapitated a taller man — there's a reason he's called the Hamster), but recovered from all his injuries with no lasting damage (though he did joke about a new and inexplicable fondness for celery attributed to brain damage) and made a triumphant return to the show Top Gear the following season.
He was getting nailed from all sides during the fight — his helmet was destroyed, his shield was bristling with arrows, he was stabbed in the shoulder with a javelin, hit in thigh by a sword, and fucking shot in the left eye socket with a goddamned arrow. Amazingly, this only made him more ripshit pissed off. He pulled the fucking arrow out of his own eye, threw it down, and resumed with the asskickings like a blood-lusted cyclops.
Mr Harishchandra Shiverhankar, one of the survivors of the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, had a blade slit his neck. Obviously he is still around to tell the tale. So neck-slitting is no guaranteed kill, despite what fiction may have convinced us.
Phineas Gage, a railroad worker who was impaled by a steel bar through the head, removing about 1/3 of his brain. He survived for twelve years (although his personality changed significantly, turning him into a textbook case in neurological studies).
He also apparently walked away from the explosion that caused it without noticing the steel bar in his brain. However, that's probably due more to shock than anything else.
Andrew Jackson, 7th president of the United States, dueled quite a bit. In one duel, he actually allowed his opponent to take the first shot, then shot and killed his opponent while he was reloading. Repeat: in a contest where the object is to kill your opponent, Jackson volunteered to be shot at first. Apparently, his opponent had such a reputation as a duelist that he saw no purpose in trying to draw faster, so he accepted the rapid-but-badly-aimed first shot in order to retaliate with an aimed (and therefore lethal) shot. Keep in mind, Jackson got shot in the ribs, with the bullet so close to his heart no doctor would try to remove it for fear of killing him. Yet he walked away from the duel, acting like nothing had happened. Also a real life example of Authority Equals Asskicking.
Jackson actually had several bullets, a few arrowheads, and a bayonet tip lodged permanently in his body. It was said that he "rattled like a bag of marbles" when he walked around. (There's a story about Jackson digging a bullet out of his own arm during a Cabinet meeting, no form of pain relief, then mailing it back to a former duel opponent with a note along the lines of "I believe this belongs to you". This could be apocryphal, but given who the story is about....)
The respiratory problem is the only reason that the two aides were able to stop him before he added another name to his kill tally.
Otto von Bismarck, at the time the Minister President of Prussia, was attacked and shot from behind twice at point blank range. Bismarck whirled around and seized his assailant by the throat, who then shot Bismarck another three times. Bismarck held on to his would-be assassin until the King's Guard arrived to arrest him. Inspecting the damage afterwards, Bismarck discovered all of the bullets had been deflected by his heavy clothing and just grazed him or bounced off his own ribs.
To quote Wikipedia: He fought in the Boer War, World War I, and World War II; was shot in the face, head, stomach, ankle, leg, hip and ear; survived a plane crash, tunneled out of a POW camp, and bit off his own fingers when a doctor wouldn't amputate them. He later said "frankly I had enjoyed the war."
Colonel John Stapp, Ph.D, was the human precursor to crash test dummies. In his life conducting tests for human endurance in acceleration and deceleration, he subjected himself to over 50 potentially lethal experiments. He shattered conventional wisdom of thinking people would be subject to lethal injury at 18 g-forces when he walked away with temporary blindness and some bruising after sustaining 45 g-forces for over a second. His research was prime material that led to better car and aircraft safety the world over. He was also a good friend and colleague of Chuck Yeager
Speaking of Chuck Yeager, he walked away from an airplane crash after beating a fire out on his face with his bare hands. He made his record-setting supersonic flight with a broken arm that he had to hide from his superiors so they wouldn't either scrub the mission or replace him.
Representative Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona was shot point blank through thehead. Of people with similar wounds, 90% die on the spot and another 5% die before getting to the operating room. She was communicative when she arrived at the trauma center 38 minutes later. Seven months after her surgery, she was back on the job, coming on to the floor of the House to cast a critical vote on a debt-ceiling measure. She was greeted with a standing ovation and not a few of her colleagues in tears.
William George Barker of the RAF citation for the Victoria Cross says "On the morning of the 27th October, 1918, this officer observed an enemy two-seater over the F'oret de Mormal. He attacked this machine, and after a short burst it broke up in the air. At the same time a Fokker biplane attacked him, and-he was wounded in the right thigh, but managed, despite this, to shoot down the enemy aeroplane in flames. He then found, himself in the middle of a large formation of Fokkers, who attacked him from all directions; and was again severely wounded in the left thigh; but succeeded in driving down two of the enemy in a spin. He lost consciousness after this, and his machine fell out of control. On recovery he found himself being again attacked heavily by a large formation, and singling out one machine, he deliberately charged and drove it down in flames. During this fight his left elbow was shattered and he again fainted, and on regaining consciousness he found himself still being attacked, but, notwithstanding that he was now severely wounded in both legs and his left arm shattered, he dived on the nearest machine and shot it down in flames. Being greatly exhausted, he dived out of the fight to regain our lines, but was met by another formation, which attacked and endeavoured to cut him off, but after a hard fight he succeeded in breaking up this formation and reached our lines, where he crashed on landing."
Nicholas Alkemade was a tail gunner for the RAF during the Second World War. On the night of 24 March 1944 his Lancaster was attacked and set on fire by a Junkers Ju 88. Alkemade — whose parachute had been consumed by the flames — chose to jump rather than burn to death. He fell for 18,000 feet, eventually crashing through pine trees and coming to rest in a snowdrift. Despite the fall and the sudden stop at the end, he suffered only minor injuries. His captors refused to believe that he was not a spy, until the wreckage of his Lancaster was found. He spent the rest of the war as a POW and died of natural causes in 1987.
The Red Baron, Manfred Freiherr von Richthofen, was shot in the back of the head with an aircraft machine gun in late 1917. The bullet ricocheted off his skull, doing no permanent damage... at least physically. Those who knew him said he was a changed man after that day though, and may have led to his death in April, 1918.
His eventual demise was also notable. The .303 machine gun bullet that hit his chest ruptured his heart and severely damaged his lungs — a wound that should incapacitate a man instantly and lead to death within a couple of seconds. Not if you are the Red Baron. He managed to land and bring his Fokker plane to a full stop safely before moving on to the next world.
A couple of years ago in California, a man emptied his revolver into his lawyer at point blank range in front of the courthouse. Not only did the lawyer not die, but he was even able to casually walk away when the gunman ran out of ammo. The tail end of the incident was caught on video and circulated around on the internet. The lawyer was not wearing armor and he was indeed hit several times (including being shot through the neck), but you wouldn't know it from the way he seems to shrug it off in the video.
This guy. When your first reaction to getting stabbed is to call not an ambulance but the police, and then your second is to walk a mile to go and order a coffee...
This is a common trait of wombats, probably the tank of Australia. It is one of the few animals where you are advised to swerve to avoid because hitting one will generally wreck the car.
Similarly, moose. If you're driving anything smaller than a loaded transport truck in the Canadian Shield and hit a moose, it will walk away. You will need a new car. They've been known to walk away from collisions with transport trucks too, but less often.
Airman First Class John Levitow, USAF, lowest ranking airman to ever win the Medal of Honor. He was a loadmaster on an AC-47Gunship over Vietnam when his plane was hit by a stray artillery shell. Riddled with shrapnel, he saw a similarly wounded crewmate at risk of falling out of the open cargo door of the damaged plane. He crawled over to the crewmate and dragged him to safety, only to realize that a magnesium flare, used for night-time illumination of the battlefield, had fallen from its rack and begun to ignite, while rolling around on the floor amidst the cans of ammo used for the guns aboard the plane. Levitow threw himself upon the flare and body-dragged it to the door, where he threw it free of the plane. He died more than thirty years later of cancer.
Simo Hayha, a Finnish sniper in the Winter War (and current page image for Cold Sniper) spent months in severe winter conditions (-20 to -40 degrees Celsius) hiding in snow killing Russian soldiers and officers using his bolt-action rifle with iron sights and a sub-machine gun. The Russians dubbed him the White Death and often employed artillery fire, tanks and counter snipers against him to no avail. His confirmed kill count was 705 when he was finally hit with a headshot by an enemy soldier. He recovered and died of natural causes by the age of 97.
He woke up the day of that the truce was signed. People only half-joke that the Russians signed it when they heard he woke up.
Tardigrades, also known as "water bears," are the toughest animal on Earth. The tiny critters (usually not more than one millimeter long) can be found in the Antarctic, on the summits of the Himalayas, in the deep sea, and your backyard. The list of conditions it can withstand includes near absolute zero temperatures (1 Kelvin) as well as temperatures well over water's boiling point (373.15 Kelvins), pressures ranging from 0 (vacuum) to 1,200 atmospheres (for reference, Venus has a mean surface pressure of 92 atmospheres and the bottom of the Mariana Trench is 1,086), radiation levels that would kill a healthy adult human a thousand times over, and more than ten years of dehydration (as in complete dessication). In 2007, tardigrades were flown to the Earth's orbit and exposed to outer space conditions for ten days. They survived. And had sex. In space.
As dramatized in the Brut Productions motion picture Miracles Still Happen, Juliane Köpcke, the 17 year old schoolgirl who was the sole survivor when her plane broke up in mid-air above Peru. She fell more than two miles but only broke her collarbone. She then trekked for 9 days through the rainforest to find help. Some scars remain though.
Cpl. Matt Garst stepped on an IED, which blew up, sending him flying 15 feet. Immediately standing up, he yelled at his squad, "What the f— are you looking at? Get on the cordon!"
There was a newspaper article about a cute little kitten that liked to play in the laundry basket, hiding beneath the clothes. One day, it was laundry time and the kitten ended up inside the washing machine. The poor thing spent the whole cycle in there before its owner heard the screams and came to the rescue. What happened to the little kitten? Absolutely nothing, just the shock.
In 2010 a Frenchman fell over 75 feet into the Grand Canyon but somehow survived.
Subverted with the RMS Titanic. It was claimed to be "unsinkable" by its owners. Pretty Ironic, huh?
Subverted again with her sister ship HMHS Britannic, sunk by either a mine or torpedo.
Played straight with her sister ship RMS Olympic. Several months before the ill-fated maiden voyage of the Titanic, she collided with the HMS Hawke. Two compartments flooded while her stern and a propeller shaft were severely damaged. She did not sink. Olympic would later go on to show her ill-fated sister ships how it's done, as she was converted into a troop transport for World War I. Not only did she survive the war, she sank a submarine by ramming it.
World War II Airman Henry Erwin. A phosphorus flare exploded prematurely in his aircraft, leaving him blinded and burned. He knew that if the flare stayed where it was, it would burn through the floor of the aircraft and set off the bombs in the cargo bay, killing all 11 people on board. So he picked up the burning flare with his bare hands, crawled into the cockpit with it, and threw it out the window, saving everyone. He received the Medal of Honor for his bravery. Doctors expected him to die from his horrific injuries, but he recovered and lived to age 80.
Colloquially, NHL players who make it through a season without an injury are referred to as "Iron Men".
Brett Michaels from Poison. You don't survive an emergency appendectomy, a brain hemorrhage, AND a hole in the heart all within six weeks if you're not this.
RAF pilot Group Captain Sir Douglas Bader lost both his legs in a fairly horrific aerobatics accident, but recovered and tried to return to work as a pilot on the grounds that his two tin legs were perfectly good for the job. He was retired on medical grounds, but returned to the service as a fighter pilot in World War II, becoming a recognised fighter ace. When he was forced to bail out over occupied France and captured as a prisoner of war, he made so many escape attempts that the Germans actually threatened to take away his prosthetics unless he stopped. He didn't stop.
Leon Trotsky took a blow to the head with an ice climber's axe, and was still able to fend off his assassin until his bodyguards were able to take him into custody. He died of blood loss a day later.
Sue Shiomi was this during her heyday as an action star in the '70s, according to Kazuhiko Yamaguchi, who directed her in three Sister Streetfighter films.
Kazuhiko Yamaguchi: [She] did all sorts of dangerous stuff without a single special effect or stand-in. She'd get injured all the time but never made one peep. She was totally bruised up during all of the Sister Streetfighter films.
Most phones made by Nokia. The king, however, is the 3310. Anyone who has owned one (yours truly) has seen that nothing but Theres No Kill Like Overkill can finish it off.
Brisbane Lions captain Jonathan Brown was hit by a car. He only need stitches, while the car was towed off for repairs
Planes are usually comparatively fragile, due to the need to keep them light. By their own standards though, we get some definite standouts.
The P-47 Thunderbolt, one of the toughest fighters fielded in World War II. Heaviest combat airfraft ever lifted by a single non-jet engine.
The A-10 Thunderbolt II (AKA the Warthog) inherited the name with good cause. Able to keep flying and land with a fairly good portion of itself missing.
Ilyushin Il-2 Shturmovik, nicknamed the Flying Tank by it's designers and Concrete Plane by it's enemies.
The B-17 Flying Fortress was so named for good reason.
Alison Botha. In December 1994, she was kidnapped by a pair of men known as the Noordhoek Ripper and brutality raped. She was strangled, stabbed 30 times in the stomach and disemboweled. The men finished by slitting her throat, nearly decapitating her in the process. After they left, Alison gathered her intestines up in her shirt, and crawled to the road to find help. She survived the brutal attempt on her life, confronted her attackers in court, became one of the first South African rape survivors to speak openly about her ordeal, and is now a motivational speaker and author. More amazingly, her attackers stabbed her with the intention of destroying her reproductive organs, but in 2003 she gave birth to a healthy baby boy. Her doctors believe a series of amazing events allowed her to survive her attack — the slitting of her throat after being strangled provided a rush of oxygen to her lungs, the shirt thrown over her by her attackers allowing her to gather up and carry her intestines, the weather was unseasonably warm and prevented the onset of hypothermia, the full moon allowed her to find her way to the road, and finally the person that discovered her on the road was a vet tech, and therefore able to begin providing immediate medical assistance.
There is a YouTube video of a man putting a deer in the trunk of his car after accidentally running it over. When a police man makes him open the trunk, it jumps right out and runs off. Yes, a young deer survived getting run over by a car!
On a related note, it's generally agreed upon that the fastest way to put down most game animals (deer, boar, and coyote) is to hit them right behind the shoulder. If you don't hit at just the right angle or you're off just by a couple inches, then good luck finding a +100 pound animal with twenty minutes of light left in the day.
This man can dip his hands in deep frying oil with little to no burns or pain, after an incident involving a squirrel who was eating a mango that fell into his wok, resulting in oil splashing all over his body. The next day after getting up from bed, he was amazed to discover that there were no residual burns on his skin. Originally intending to consult with a doctor, the man instead went back to frying chicken.
A Reader's Digest story touched on this. A teacher wrote in about how she used to work at a school, and warned the kids that they were climbing a little too high in the tree. Not long after she turned around to watch the other kids, she heard screaming because one of the kids had sure enough, fallen a good six meters (twenty feet) out of the tree, landed on his back, then stood up and ran over because he hurt his finger. When he was alerted to the numerous cuts on his leg, he simply said "Oh. That."
Most cars are a literal example, but special mention must go to the mid-60s Imperial (division of Chrysler). This is a car so tough, it's been banned from demolition derbies. Problem being that since it doesn't break the force instead transfer to the passengers. Which is why most modern cars aren't this trope anymore.
The US Navy sailing frigate USS Constitution was a heavily built 48 gun frigate that entered service at the end of the 18th century. During the War of 1812, Constitution was in an engagement with the 38 gun HMS Guerričre. So the story goes, when the ships exchanged fire, the British cannonballs bounced off the sides of Constitution's hull, causing one American sailor to remark "Huzzah! Her sides are made of iron!" Guerričre ended up surrendering after she was de-masted, and the Constitution would continue to have a long on-and-off career, serving to this day as a museum ship in Boston Harbor (and officially on the US Navy's roster of serving ships, although obviously she doesn't see combat anymore).
In a non-human example, the baby buffalo depicted in the famous "Battle at Kruger" video. The baby buffalo was chased, bitten and dragged by several lions, before being bitten by a crocodile and nearly pulled into the water. The witnesses to the event were convinced the baby was dead, until it stood up and rejoined the other buffalo, completely unharmed.
The "Durable" Mike Molloy, as explained here (incidentally, the first 30 seconds debunks Rasputin's entry on this page). As part of a life-Insurance Fraud scam, some bootleggers tried to murder him by repeatedly serving him enough alcohol to kill him several times over, then spiked his drinks with a succession of antifreeze, turpentine, horse lineament, rat poison, rotten oysters in wood alcohol, and finally sardines mixed with carpet tacks. After that didn't work they got him drunk, stripped him naked, poured gallons of cold water over him and dumped him in a snow drift in midwinter New York. Then two separate attempts to fatally run over him in a taxi failed. He only died after they shoved a gas hose down his throat and gassed him to death.
During World War I, Benito Mussolini had a bomb going off on his face (and we mean it literally: it was the munition of his bomb thrower, and it misfired). He was put in hospital, but he wasn't even scarred. And had the galls to complain that the war ended while he was in hospital, as not even that had convinced him that War Is Hell...