When you can't even get through a Chainmail Bikini, it may be time to upgrade...
In media, the bow, one of the ancient world's most effective ranged weapons, has nowhere near the punch it has in Real Life. A character struck with an arrow need only grab the shaft and yank it out with little more than some momentary discomfort, then go back to doing whatever they were doing. If they're too busy in the middle of a melee, they can just leave them in place and deal with them when things settle down.
If you've gotten your knowledge about bows and arrows from the media, it's understandable that you'd think they were easy-to-use but relatively useless weapons. Needless to say, this is yet another area where Hollywood gets it wrong. Frequently.
What really put the bow and arrow out of business as a weapon of war was the rise of increasingly cheap plate armor that forced archers to loose at shorter and shorter ranges to have any chance to penetrate. Combine this with the advantages that firearms had over most warbows (better armor penetration, horrific wounds, able to be used prone and behind cover, and shooters suffering less fatigue) and you see the bow finally being put to rest sometime in the 16th century.
An arrow hit on a lightly armored or unarmored person might knock them off their feet. Trying to continue doing anything with an arrow sticking out of you is difficult at best, although whether the difficulty is primarily physical or psychological is dependent on where the arrow is sticking.
Attempting to pull out an arrow will only make things worse - historically, arrowheads were not firmly adhered to their shafts. Sometimes they were attached with a blob of candlewax, but usually the archers would simply spit on the shaft before sticking the head on - thus, snapping the shaft (a lot more difficult than Hollywood makes it look, as they were made from the hardest woods available so they would fly further and straighter), was completely pointless, as pulling on the shaft would leave the arrowhead inside the wound. The only way to remove one was to widen the wound, either with a knife or by wiggling it around. And as archers would usually stick a number of arrows in the dirt at their feet in preparation for firing them, arrow wounds had a strong tendency to become badly infected. The only way to deal with an arrow quickly was to push it through until the head came out the other side. A hit from an arrow was neverOnly a Flesh Wound.
Scale armor (the first effective common metal armor, used by many cultures in the Fertile Crescent even to Sumerian times) provided some protection from arrows, with a narrower point required to punch through. While we usually don't think of chain mail as protective against arrows, the multiple thicknesses typical of chain armor were very effective in stopping arrows. Rings would be lost when an arrow struck with force and the armor would have to be repaired later. (It sure beat being killed or severely injured by an arrow wound, though.) Plate armor stopped arrows cold, but was very expensive (at least at first), and a lucky hit was still possible.
A form of Worst Aid. May play a part in a Rasputinian Death and can easily invoke Human Pincushion. Contrast Bulletproof Human Shield, Guns Are Worthless, Almost Lethal Weapons where it's the modern-day firearms that get similarly shafted. A common justification is to make the pull-ee the Implacable Man or Made of Iron. Almost always averted when it comes to Arrows on Fire, because, well...they're on fire. For slings being treated similarly, see Suffer the Slings.
NottobeconfusedwithannoyingEros. or Annoying Aeros.
Used especially often in Berserk. One notably badass scene involves the main character taking an arrow to the palm of his hand and then snapping that same arrow in half with the wounded hand's fingers! The crossbows used by enemy soldiers still frequently kill people when they hit, and the previously mentioned palm injury is the ONLY time a main character is ever hit by one, and it's treated as a wound that put him at a heavy disadvantage, since his sword is a two-handed weapon. Later on this trope is played even more straight: the Apostles are simple so large that the crossbow bolts penetrate their skin but can't even reach vital organs, essentially sticking in their skin like thorns or burrs. Guts STILL manages to make use of his arm-crossbow effectively though, by aiming for their softer parts, like their eyes.
Averted with Casca, in one occasion, she was hit by three arrows and was considered an incredible feat that she stayed conscious until the end of said battle. After the battle, though, she slipped into a coma for three days.
Uryuu Ishida from Bleach hits both sides of this trope, with his arrows ranging in effect from instant-victory attacks that completely obliterate an enemy's torso to not even piercing the skin, depending on the enemy and how much spirit energy he puts into a given shot. However, unlike normal arrows, Ishida makes his arrows from spirit energy, the same way a zanpakutou is made. If you have a higher spiritual pressure, his arrows won't be able to pierce you.
Detective Conan uses this as an important clue for a case. Conan, confused at the apparent time of death, sees a statue of the legendary warrior monk Benkei who was killed by a hail of arrows and died standing up because of the chemicals his body produced from all the activity. Thus, Conan realized that the murderer got the victim worked up with a game of ping-pong so the time of death would appear different than it actually was.
Averted in One Piece where Vander Decken shows off his literal Improbable Aiming Skills with about a dozen arrows on Hatchi, which nearly kills him. Fishmen, which both are, are about 10X tougher then a normal human, which is probably why he didn't die.
Exaggerated with Whitebeard; He had annoying swords that went clean through his front, and remained there for quite some time afterward.
In the anime, when Akainu gives him a second helping of lava inside his chest, he doesn't even bother putting out the flames as he prepares for his next attack.
However, this is generally averted in One Piece: believe it or not, (aside from Whitebeard) guns and other ranged weapons are still very deadly in this world despite the fact that people can survive massive blunt trauma. The arrows used on Amazon Lily- when infused with Haki- can even shatter rocks and Luffy made quite the effort to avoid them. Of course, the best of the best in the series still usually have some way to negate the effects of guns (Ex: Bullets bounce off of Luffy's rubber body, Zoro is too fast to be hit by a gun, Ace is made out of fire so bullets pass right through him, and Franky performed surgery on his body that replaced his torso with steel, so bullets hit and then fall off of him).
The Hating Girl is about a girl who has lived since childhood with an arrow through her head. The Japanese title (Subete ni Iya Gaaru, or "The Girl Who Hates Everything") is in fact a pun: the characters used to write "iya"/"hate" can also be read as "archery." (Possibly averted in that it apparently has happening to real people — who survived — but the manga plays it completely straight.)
Played straight to a ridiculous extreme in Kazan when the title character (who has the body of a child) is hit in the back of his torso by a barbed arrow. After some conversation, Kazan takes out a dagger, cuts off the feathers in one swift move, and jumps backwards, landing on the arrow, forcing it forward through his chest where he grabs it and yanks it out.
In Princess Mononoke, Ashitaka took off limbs and heads when he fired his arrows at normal humans, but only as a result of the curse he was under. When the curse wasn't active, his arrows bounced harmlessly off samurai armor, including once where he hit someone's head with a glancing blow and they hardly flinched when their helmet deflected it. There was also a notable difference between the stone-headed arrows he brought from his own village and iron-tipped ones he snatched out of the air or liberated from the bad guys.
In the backstory of Nago, the Boar God who became a demonic abomination and bestowed his curse upon Ashitaka, we see him receive a face-full of arrows from Iron Town's residents. They do as much damage as a gentle spring breeze, and he just shakes them off as though they were blades of grass. Of course, he's a Physical God and manifestation of the Forest. However, when hit by a single iron bullet from a rifle, it goes all the way through and shatters his bones, inflicting a lethal wound that causes his deathly rage at mankind.
In Scrapped Princess, Shannon Casull look-alike Furet has two arrows stuck in him when he fends off several assassins as he tries to escape the city with Pacifica (still as "Pamela"). He kills a few of them before biting the dust in a Heroic Sacrifice.
In Sword Of The Stranger, a red clad female is shot with six arrows all at once while rapidly diving, but is so skilled that she does not fall, merely whipping her body into a slide and popping right back up, followed by her smugly chuckling to demonstrate just how battle crazy she is. The action flashes back to her and all six arrows are miraculously out of her body; she then throws a gigantic axe-like weapon on a chain through the air, with great force, despite having been shot in both arms. She dashes around rapidly, evading thrusts, followed by acrobatic leaps, despite having been shot in a leg. She, like most of her red-clad fellows, fights while under the influence of some kind of drug that totally eliminates the sensation of pain, which somehow also cancels out the damage done to their bodies. Anyone else hit with arrows avert this, including one redshirt who had his head ripped off by one.
In Utawarerumono, arrows are not effective against major characters. The archer characters can kill somebody with one hit but only if he has very little plot importance. They don't even try shooting at major villains.
Horribly averted with Sagitta Ptolemy from Saint Seiya. He shoots many plasma arrows at the heroes, they shrug them off easily and Seiya takes him out with one punch... but it was his plan all along, since he shot one single not-trick arrow. That one hit Seiya's "goddess" Saori in the chest and gravely wounded her.
Averted and subverted in InuYasha by Kohaku and Sango, respectively, after being hit by several arrows. The former died right in the spot, then is revived by Naraku. The latter is barely alive after they’ve been removed, but is able to fight thanks to a Shikon shard on her back that serves as a powerful painkiller (also given to her by Naraku); once the shard is removed as well, the poor girl collapses and spends three days in a coma.
Averted in Ikki Tousen, when Archer Archetype Ten'i fights the grappler Ryoumou and almost kills her solely with arrows. Cho'un has to step in to rescue the seriously wounded Ryoumou.
Very cruel aversion in Anatolia Story. When lead female Yuri is shot in the back by one, she nearly dies and is clearly feverish and unable to think straight when she makes it back to Kail. And when the arrow is pulled out, she goes through even more pain (not helped that she had to keep the arrow in until the skin around it hardened, for plot-related reasons).
Warren Ellis' Crecy is all about how truly annoying arrows really are, as in how widespread archery put an end to medieval warfare. A lot of work was put into making arrows into incredibly lethal weapons. They discouraged crossbows as longbows could be quickly strung or unstrung - this meant drawstrings could be removed during rainstorms to keep them dry. Archers were trained to use them as Swiss Army Weapons; they carried three types of arrowheads - normal arrowheads, bodkins for piercing plate armor, swallowheads for killing horses. They sometimes applied the heads to the arrows with candlewax, but they usually just spit on the ends of the shaft to secure them - this ensured that trying to yank out the arrow would cause the head to detach, meaning that one would have to aggravate the wound in the process of removing it. Finally, they stuck the arrows in the dirt prior to firing them - this ensured that contaminants would be carried into the wound. English archers were thus able to take better care of their weapons than French crossbowmen, and those weapons were both more versatile and inherently more lethal.
The narrator points out the Genoese mercenary crossbowmen hired by the French were brutally lethal as well: they had the training and equipment to fire an arrow a hundred and fifty yard every seven and a half seconds, and the pavise they crouch behind renders them invulnerable save the exact moment they fire.
The catch is that the damned things weigh around twenty pounds each, meaning they're too heavy for a crossbowman to carry as part of his ruck while marching - they had to be brought to the battlefield by baggage train. And a good archer can fire a Trick Arrowtwo hundred and fifty yards every five seconds. Crossbowmen were meant to slaughter infantry, not exchange fire with people who can actually shoot back.
William of Stonham: These things may look primitive to you, but you have to remember that we're not stupid. We have the same intelligence as you, we simply don't have the same cumulative knowledge you do. So we apply our intelligence to what we have.
One is when Cutter gets skewered by a spear; his friend breaks the barbed end off and pulls the thing out (the battle is such that every fighter is needed, even if wounded). The wounded Cutter fights on for a few minutes before collapsing and then nearly dies despite having a healer around to work on him magically.
Much later in the series, Cutter gets hit by an arrow, and, there being no magical healer around at the time, he resorts to medical care by the trolls. The troll breaks off the shaft but can't get a piece of the arrowhead out, and it remains stuck under a rib, a constant annoyance to the elf. Eventually the tribe gets their healer back, and her powers manage to pull the arrowhead out entirely and heal him up good.
G.I. Joe. In the first Cobra civil war, hostilities fell apart when Zartan, already established as a ninja, fires an arrow into Serpentor's eyeball from far away. He got better. But they had to reclone him.
The Marvel G.I. Joe comics largely avoid this trope. Almost every arrow that managed to pierce flesh in the series run was lethal, even against ninja masters.
Green Arrow: Onomatopoeia, a villain, takes several arrows to the body in an attempt to kill one of Green Arrow's sidekicks. After a long (long) stand off, he manages to escape, even though he is a pincushion. Nobody is sure if the guy is superhuman or just well trained.
The trope is averted in the story Night Olympics when Black Canary gets shot by an arrow in the shoulder, and is felled instantly. The shooter thinks he may have killed her. She mumbles to Green Arrow that she'll be up in a minute, she just has to pull this arrow out, so he yells at her that it's the only thing stopping her from bleeding to death right there, and that she's leaving it in until paramedics can get her patched up.
Even more averted in The Longbow Hunters in which both GA and Shado are quite deadly with their arrows.
Averted and played straight in the same very page of Hellboy where both a small girl is killed by an arrow to the heart while Hellboy takes several without blinking. In Hellboy's case he's a nigh-unkillable demon.
In the Predator: Dark River series from 1996, Schaefer is shot in the shoulder with an arrow that has been poisoned. He is unable to believe how badly he feels from this, because he claims to have had worse paper cuts.
Subverted in Marvel Comics' Secret Wars where the archer Hawkeye is confronted by super villain Piledriver who gives a Badass Boast about his bullet proof skin. Hawkeye warns him that at close range his arrow will strike harder than a bullet. Undaunted, Piledriver moves to attack and is shot in the shoulder. In shock, Piledriver retreats to nurse his wound.
Played with in Batman/Huntress: Cry for Blood: Huntress shoots a crossbow quarrel in the lung, and Batman snaps the shaft off. Not a straightforward example, however, because the wound is shown as being highly debilitating, and takes Bats out of the fight altogether. Still, you would think Batman would know better.
Transformers More Than Meets The Eye: Atomizer is a background character who fights with a crossbow in a universe where lasers and bombs rule because he prefers edged weaponry, said crossbow is confiscated because of his efficiency with it, and he has to use a bow and arrow. His arrows are reinforced and can pierce through and kill his robotic enemies. When Overlord shows up, a panel shows him having been show with a bunch of arrows, and he keeps on going. Overlord is a planet destroying Super-Decepticon, who's endoskeleton is almost indestructible. He's survived being reduced to that skeleton, Arrows are not going to stop him.
In Apocalypto, Jaguar Paw, the main character, gets hit In the Back with an arrow, which goes through him and pokes out of his abdomen. Not only does he keep running, but he barely bleeds even after he yanks it out. He goes on to evade a group of trained warriors, dive off a waterfall, and fall into quicksand, all without treating a wound that went straight through him. Later he's hit in the chest and the arrow apparently gets stopped by his sternum. It doesn't even slow him down.
Played with in Avatar. The arrows glance off the canopies of the human gunships during the assault on the World Tree, but that's to be expected when you take on gunships, from the ground, with bows and arrows. Later, fired downward from the back of a diving ikran, they have enough velocity and the right angle to penetrate. They're also shown going right through body armour. And they're coated in a nasty neurotoxin that's probably used hunting the thick-skinned local predators, but superfluous on humans given the size of the arrows and power of Na'vi bows.
In Braveheart, Hamish's father takes an arrow to the shoulder, but continues fighting and even manages to lift a portcullis with the arrowhead still inside of him. Later, however, we see what a painful process it is to heal the wound. Guess the old man was just that tough. A later scene averts the trope, when a few volleys of English arrows do manage to inflict casualties on the Scottish. The only reason the English stop shooting is because Longshanks wants to kill off his Irish conscripts.
Both averted and played straight in Gladiator. Various minor characters are seen being instantly downed by single arrows (and in one case a ballista bolt), and Hagen is killed by a hail of arrows. However, Hagen takes an arrow to the leg during the re-creation of the Battle of Zama, and while he is at first in such pain that he is unable to focus and Maximus has to shove him out of the way of an oncoming chariot, as soon as he's on the ground he promptly pulls it out and continues fighting with only a mild limp.
The Qin army's arrows in Hero are attributed to being the army's strongest attribute and are likened to artillery. The badass kung fu warrior-magicians, however, swat them away like nothing.
Later painfully averted when the nameless main character allows himself to get riddled by the thousands of arrows flying towards him. The next and final scene has him receiving a hero's funeral.
In Kingdom Of Heaven, the blond German dude gets a crossbow bolt stuck in his throat, and keeps on racking his kills till he finally dies. Given the cool electric guitar part, it plays well enough. Liam Neeson's character also claims to have "fought for three days with an arrow through [his] left testicle." He later dies from another arrow wound, specifically one he made worse by accidentally snapping off the shaft. So... averted, mostly.
Played straight in The Messenger: The Story Of Joan Of Arc, notably where Joan gets hit by an arrow in the leg but doesn't notice it.
In Shrek, the titular ogre is literally inhumanly tough and doesn't realize he has an arrow on his rear until it is pointed out. Fiona has difficulty pulling it out, but only because Shrek won't stand still.
Usually averted in The Lord of the Rings, especially by Elven archers, but Boromir does manage to make a last stand and continue fighting even while pincushioned by arrows as thick as sausages. His wounds are treated as mortal throughout the scene, however.
TheTwoTowers: when Legolas attempts to shoot down an orc on a suicidal run to destroy a vital wall in Helm's Deep. It takes several arrows and the orc still keeps coming. Justified Trope since said Uruk-hai Orc is a Berserker, trained to ignore pain.
Inverted in the Prince Caspian movie, where Susan's arrows are the deadliest weapon. Probably due to their magic, every shot is a fatal shot... no matter what armour her opponent is wearing, and even if she throws them by hand. Less forgivable is when a unit of archers volleys arrows into a unit of charging cavalry in the time-honoured tactic, and every single one of them is a hit. It's a wonder why anybody even bothers wearing armour.
Played with in Shaun of the Dead, when Shaun takes a dart to the head from an overly enthusiastic Dianne.
Played straight in the end of Throne of Blood. An arrow through the chest and another through throat do stop Washizu. Eventually. After which he still manages to walk towardshis attackers, though he ends up collapsing before reaching them. The Criterion Collection version does have at least one of the essays defending the plausibility of the scene, given his armor and the placement of the fatal arrow.
It's then averted when several of Achilles Myrmidons are killed by arrows when they storm the beach.
As for Achilles himself, the one through his heel slows him down considerably. He is then shot twice in the chest, and while he does pull them both out, he moves in slower afterward. The third arrow to the chest stops him, and the fourth brings him to his knees. He pulls them out too, but then dies.
In Two Mules for Sister Sara, Clint is hit by an arrow in the shoulder and knocked from his horse. The wound causes him great pain and the removal is complicated, with Clint removing the fletching and the rear part of the arrow and the titular Sara using the "pushing an arrow through his body" technique, followed by a crude cauterizing.
Strangely averted in the House Of Wax 2005 remake. The brother of one of the killers is shot and impaled with two arrows. He slowly (and very painfully) pulls out one from under his arm (which releases a lot of blood) and then tries to remove the one from the side of his chest, but the pain makes him vomit. Rather than risk passing out and bleeding to death he just cuts off the end of the arrow, leaving the rest in his chest.
In 300, this trope is played straight at first when the Spartans scoff at the Persian's threat that their arrows will "blot out the sun," using their shields as cover. Later though, they get killed to a man from the hail of arrows the Persians fire at them.
Justified twice over in Brave concerning Mor'du. Not only is it very hard to put a bear that size down with a relatively light bow, but it is heavily implied that the bear has a supernatural degree of resilience.
Averted in the Codex Alera series. Arrows are serious business, with no one taking an arrow and not being out of the fight (unless it failed to penetrate armor). Canim crossbows (called "balests") are treated like a weapon of mass destruction, capable of penetrating more than one person, armor and all. Even the lowly sling gets its day in the limelight, when Tavi uses one to take out an assassin armed with a bow and arrow, with the sling bullet totally penetrating the assassin's forehead and doing something horrible to his brain that kept his limbs moving for a second or two without any real direction. It also helps that many of the archers in Alera are also woodcrafters - as a result, they're able to craft wooden bows and arrows to strengthen them and increase their accuracy and penetration. And the furies help anyone who ends up in the sights of a woodcrafter with talent at earthcraft, as earthcrafting grants Super Strength. A capable earth- and woodcrafter is the equivalent of a walking ballista.
Amara even lampshades the aversion at one point. She expects arrows to be useless against stone gargoyles because, well, they are stone. However, Bernard still fires an arrow anyway and the gargoyle shatters on impact. After the event, Amara comes to the conclusion that if Bernard aims an arrow at something, it WILL go down. Including but not limited to High Lord Kalarus and a vordhulk, a near-skyscraper-sized bioweapon that entire Aleran Legions can't defeat.
In the case of the vordhulk this is accomplished through a combination of Abnormal Ammo (an exploding arrow) and Attack Its Weak Point (the roof of its mouth). It's still a damn impressive shot though
Played straight in the short story "Gilgamesh in the Outback." Gilgamesh (as well as everyone else who dies) is in Hell. He is hit with an arrow in the arm, and bites the shaft in half and pulls the arrow out. Of course, since he is half-god, this may be Justified. Averted several hours later, when he is almost on the verge of passing out, presumably from blood loss, before his wounds are treated.
The death of Discworld's Reg Shoe. He continues fighting with several arrows sticking out of his chest for a long while before finally collapsing. It's pretty heavily implied he's already a zombie at this point, and it's even phrased that he only fell over because he decided he must be dead from the sheer number of arrows sticking into him.
but see also characters like "Snowy" Slopes, the contract killer. Slopes is specifically used as a distraction, a no-hoper who is implied to be a failed assassin, but Angua and Captain Carrot refute this on the grounds that a nonentity like him would not have the skill, strength or ability to use what must, from context, have been a high-quality bow used by a skilled archer
In the Farsala Trilogy, Commander Merahb is shot by four arrows, falls down, and attempts to get up again without missing a beat. Then, at least, he's caught in another volley of arrows and killed.
The protagonist of Margaret Atwood's Lady Oracle is struck by an arrow at an archery range during her summer job. Somewhat plausible, in that she's well-padded and it hits her in the rear, these are blunt target arrows (which can still kill you if you get in their way, but you might at least get to the hospital) and while the wound doesn't kill her, the ensuing infection almost does.
Both invoked and averted in Book 11 of The Iliad. After Paris has wounded him with an arrow to the foot, Diomedes angrily dismisses the bow as a weapon for "a woman or an idiot boy," claiming the spear is both deadlier and better suited to a warrior. The truth is, however, that the wound puts Diomedes out of action until the end of the fighting in Book 22. Played straighter earlier on where both Diomedes and Menelaus shrug off arrow wounds to continue fighting, though it's worth noting that the archer Teukros has one of the highest kill counts of the Greek warriors with 30.
Averted in The Lord of the Rings. As Pippin says to Denethor in The Return of the King: "the mightiest man may be slain by one arrow, and Boromir was pierced by many"note This line appears in the extended cut of the Jackson film and while Boromir's Last Stand is not shown directly but through the recollections of Pippin, it's said that over a hundred orcs shoot at Boromir with their arrows, and this was after Boromir had attacked and killed many of them— until they realized that they were useless against him in melee-combat, and bugged out in order to shoot at him from a distance. Mortally wounded, he sinks against a tree, and the Orcs take the hobbits and leave; Aragorn arrives only a few moments afterward.
Faramir is wounded near to death by a single dart during the retreat from a failed assault on enemy-held Osgiliath. In one of Tolkien's drafts Théoden dies in a similar way. And this was just "some southron arrow". Had he been smitten by a dart of the Nazgul, he would have died that night.
Wormtongue is stopped dead in his tracks (literally) after being hit by several Hobbit arrows.
Also, justified when an arrow that hits Frodo in Moria bounces off him, because he wears Mithril armour.
Humorously averted in The Mouse That Roared, wherein a handful of longbowmen from a tiny, traditionally-minded European nation infiltrate New York, steal a bomb, have a show-down with the NYPD, and exfiltrate...with one casualty. Granted, most of the city is in a bomb-drill lockdown, but it is made entirely clear that the archers' arrows are fairly serious business.
The Redemption Of Althalus: The sling-variant of the myth is invoked by a general and then averted by the titular character. While the general initially dismisses the peasant volunteers as useless, he changes his tune when he learns that they can kill a man or horse with a single bullet between their eyes, something that's a lot easier than their usual target practice. Wolves.
Averted at least three times in Belgariad. The character of Lelldorin is considered the best archer in the world, and is routinely capable of one shot kills with the longbow, in fact Lelldorin never seems to miss and every shot seems to kill. The character of Adara is casually hit in the chest by a Murgo archer while at full gallop, she barely holds on to her horse long enough to run the archer down, delaying him long enough for Hettar to kill him, she then falls unconscious from her horse. She is only saved by Lady Polgara who is perhaps the best medic in their world and a gifted sorceress. Adara is certain she's dying, since no one survives an arrow to the chest, and spends months recovering. In the final book there is a pitched battle between the Western Armies and forces of the Angaraks on two sides of a river, numerous descriptions of arrows raining down on enemy forces leaving devastation in their wake are included. One describes enemy soldiers falling like grass being mowed down.
Bows are given quite a bit of respect in A Song of Ice and Fire. Jon Snow takes an arrow to the leg in book three and spends the next few chapters limping around and eventually passing out from the pain and exhaustion, surviving only because he was located in time. Soon after, a group of less than twenty manage to hold off an army using only strategic archery positions, some decoy scarecrows, and a very tall wall. Jaime Lannister, a famed swordsman, is very wary of archers and despises crossbows, calling them a coward's weapon.
One of Jon's first acts upon heading the Night Watch is to have every able member trained thoroughly with the longbow.
Averted in the historical novel The Ten Thousand by Michael Curtis Ford (a novelization of the journey of the Greek soldier and mercenary Xenophon). In particular the slings used by the Rhodians are portrayed as being quite deadly.
Averted in Michael Crichton's Timeline, where arrows are serious business. One of the characters is knocked several feet back by an arrow.
Crichton seems to have put a lot of research into his books, and this may well be a good example. Crichton points out that the longbows in use required about 100 pounds of pull to fire. Given that amount of tension, imagine what kind of force that arrow is going to slam home with: that's not a poke, it's going to cause deep bruises even if it glances off, and may even be powerful enough to break bones. Then consider that these bowmen were able to repeat that shot at a rapid rate all day, and you'll realize that these were not the kind of "dangerous from a distance, but fragile at close range" archers found in most video games.
Played weirdly straight in the Warhammer 40000 background novel Horus Rising. The future-bows used by sagittars have insane power and can pass straight through the heavy armour of a Space Marine and out the other side, but apart from headshots this doesn't necessarily kill them or even slow them down - because of their ridiculous superhuman toughness and redundant organs.
A discussion in The Warlock In Spite Of Himself is about the titular character wearing plate armor. When his manservant says that it will protect him from swords and arrows, the very agile fighter says, "Swords I can block, arrows I can duck, and plate still won't do a bit of good against a crossbow bolt."
In The Wheel of Time series, Perrin attempts this trope. In The Shadow Rising, he gets hit in the ribs by an arrow the size of a spear, then breaks it in half and tries to keep fighting. He gets a timely rescue, and has to ride back to Emond's Field for magical healing. The ride almost kills him.
Also very, very averted in the form of the Two Rivers archers, who make use of longbows similar to the way medieval England did. Absolutely nobody is prepared for how devastating these weapons are; The Aiel, normally considered the best warriors in the setting, are positively massacred by a much smaller force of volunteer longbowmen because their normal tactics just don't work against weapons with the range and killing power of a longbow.
In the Conrad Stargard books by Leo Frankowski, Conrad introduces the concept of plate mail to the Poles. The English longbows still readily put holes in the armor, but the Mongol horsebows largely just stick arrows in the armor's surface. But when Conrad himself gets shot in the face after removing his helmet. One moment, he's standing there, and the next, he's lying semi-conscious in the mud, feeling like a truck hit him. And the removal of the arrow results in him losing sight in the eye on that side.
Partially played straight the Mongol bows were one of the most powerful bows in the world next to the English Longbow.
Averted in Tamora Pierce's books. She shows arrows to be just slightly lower on the lethal scale than the guns of today, and she shows that archery is not easy, at all
Averted, and a major plot point in Bernard Cornwell's Grail trilogy. The protagonist is an archer during the golden age of the English Longbow, and the power of armies with a sizable number of archers is evident on all major battles. Bowmen were hated across all countries enemy of Britain (most of them, basically), and a captured bowmen always had his index and middle fingers cut as a punishment.
The hatred of archers was borne by the knights; nobility who would have 'gentlemen's agreements' with their opposite numbers to be ransomed in the event of defeat rather than slain. The archers, commoners to a man, held low opinions of their feudal overlords, cared little for their traditions and had no compunction in slaughtering wounded and captured knights.
It's also lampshaded in the second book, Vagabond, when a new archer and a veteran archer are mincing Scottish meat.
New Archer: Is it always this easy?
Veteran Archer: Only while the arrows last. Then it gets really hard.
Averted in Robin Hobb's Farseer trilogy. Fitz is being hunted and gets hit in the back with an arrow and it nearly kills him. He nearly passes out from pain several times and spends weeks convalescing.
Averted in The Hunger Games when Katniss notes dryly that her opponent "cut the short life that he had left in half" when he pulled the arrow she'd fired out of his throat.
Averted almost to the point of excess, really, as almost every single arrow Katniss fires throughout the entire series is shown to be instantaneously lethal, even in situations where futuristic miracle medicine is present.
Not quite every one: in the first book, the arrow she gets Clove with is just a mild nuisance.
Averted in Sword of Truth, where Richard is nearly killed by an arrow, despite healing by one of the most powerful magic-users in the world.
Generally averted in Brian Jacques' Redwall series, where most creatures will be instantly slain by arrows. Bigger animals like badgers and most of the Big Bads, however, can absorb a lot of them.
Played with in Charles McCarry's The Bride of the Wilderness: A side character is shot, but the arrow gets stuck in his abnormally dense subcutaneous fat and doesn't hit anything vital. And while he's able to keep walking, it's made clear that it's painful.
Live Action TV
Callisto of Xena: Warrior Princess provides the picture for this trope. Lucky for her, she was a god at the time, so she wasn't killed. Xena herself takes an arrow to the abdomen in Episode 2, and both pulls out, and cauterizes the wound herself. It only takes her a few days to recover- which just so happens to be one of the longest recovery times on the show.
Gabrielle takes an arrow to the chest in one particularly memorable episode. It takes her a while to recover as well, but this is mostly due to the arrow being tipped with poison.
Xena takes almost as many arrows as Callisto did in the featured picture, (pulling only some out), in the finale. Unfortunately for her, she wasn't a god at the time.
In the episode, "Pangs", Buffy gets an arrow through her arm, and Spike gets turned into an arrow pin-cushion (fortunately none of them hit his heart). Justified for Spike, since he's a vampire and wounds like that are non-fatal as long as they don't hit his heart. In the same episode there is an amusing crossbow error, as Buffy shoots a bolt at the Native American ghost outside the window, who just casually bends aside as the bolt sails veeery slowly out into the night.
Averted with Miss Kitty Fantastico. Something happened between her and Dawn's crossbow. It is not made clear but is implied to be really, really bad.
In one episode, Giles is shot with a crossbow bolt at point blank range and proceeds to pull it out, stake a vampire with it, and limp to the hospital.
GILES: No, no, really, I, uh, I don't think it went in too deep. The advantages of layers of tweed. Better than kevlar.
Done to a degree in Deadliest Warrior. In the test done with bows and arrows, they acknowledge them as dangerous weapons, but in the staged fights between the warriors they don't do much since it would end the fight too quickly. Note that in statistics of kills in the simulated fights the bow also plays a big factor.
Subverted in the US version of Eleventh Hour, Agent Young is struck by an arrow. Her kidnapper offers to remove it but she tells her not to as she knows the arrow is the only thing keeping blood from gushing out.
On Fire Engine 132, the firefighters are relaxing in the bay when a man comes in. He was apparently jogging, judging from his clothes and the sweat on them, when he was hit by an arrow. He was able to walk, under his own power, to the fire station, where the somewhat bewildered firefighters lead him inside the station proper for treatment. It is never bought up again.
On Heroes, after Kensei is shot, Hiro just yanks the arrows out of his chest. But it's made clear that Kensei would have died if his Healing Factor hadn't chosen that moment to manifest.
Considering that Hiro is a modern-day fanboy whose knowledge of Ancient Japanese warfare comes from TV and myths, where people likely would do that with arrows.
In an episode of Kung Fu, one of Caine's enemies (a rogue Shaolin monk) attempts to assassinate Caine (before a commercial break, of course), by shooting him in the back with an arrow while he is meditating. In a later scene after the commercial break, Caine pulls what is probably a Crowning Moment of Awesome by confronting his assailant, reaching around, pulling the arrow out of his back, and then contemptuously throwing the arrow at his enemy's feet.
Caine was bluffing— i.e. he was trying to show them that he was immortal, as they feared— and fortunately for him, they believed it, and fled away forever. Also fortunately for him, the bowman wasn't a particularly good shot, and missed his vital organs. The arrowhead was also stated to be made of silver, in order to "overcome his magic;" however in reality, silver is a fairly soft metal, and will blunt when hitting bone, doing less damage and being easier to pull out. Therefore the arrowhead would break a rib or two, and do some damage— but far less damage than an actual steel arrowhead. Finally, Caine was able to get to a fairly competent 1870 frontier physician, who was used to treating such wounds.
Averted in Game of Thrones. People shot by arrows usually fall down dead instantly.
Yoren is the exception. When the Lannisters come after his group of Night's Watch recruits, a crossbowman shoots him in the chest. All it does is knock him to his knees, and makes him bite out a comment that he hates crossbows because they take too long to reload, followed by cutting down the crossbowman and killing several more guards, before finally getting overwhelmed.
In "The Bear and the Maiden Fair", the titular bear simply gets angry after being shot by a crossbow bolt.
Possibly averted on LOST when "Henry" is captured and shot at close range with a crossbow by Rousseau. The arrow goes through to the other side and causes him to faint dead away, and seems to cause him a tremendous amount of pain when he wakes. Jack uses pliers to cut the head off and most of the shaft, then pushes the remaining part out through the wound, which causes him to faint again, although how much of this was an act in order to feign weakness is uncertain.
Flaming arrows were used to slaughter about two dozen redshirts.
Justified in Lexx, as the only character who can do this has also shrugged off point-blank laser blasts, being sawed in two down the middle, and the explosion of the planet he's standing on. Crossbow bolts? He won't even stop walking to pull them out.
Both subverted and played straight in the Robin Hood series, where a character's reaction to being shot by an arrow generally depends on whether or not they're a main character. Mooks who get shot tend to die or at the very least, go down and stay down for the rest of the battle. The heroes however, seem much more resilient. In the fourth episode, Robin takes an arrow to the arm and while he does cry out in pain, he is still able to ride a horse while holding a baby. Marian does have to sew the wound up later though. But the worst case is in the finale of the first series in which Little John is shot in the arm...and barely notices! He then yanks it out with no trouble, still not reacting as if it were anything worse than a slightly irritating splinter. One might be able to argue that his thick, heavy coat may have protected him a little but still...
In one episode, Robin goes on a rampage and starts killing the Sheriff's Mooks, whereas previously he refrained from killing (he thinks Marian is dead and goes ballistic). Each arrow is invariably a kill shot to the Mook, even if they're wearing chainmail.
Ronon does this in his first episode of Stargate Atlantis, minus the cauterizing. On a more realistic note, McKay gets shot in the ass the next season and can't sit down the rest of the episode, and claims sciatica from it a few episodes later. Ronon can be excused, however, by being the Implacable Man. It's hard to say how the writers were treating this, as Ronon shrugs off most injuries and McKay will whine about most injuries.
It's mainly to show that Ronon is a Badass, and McKay's...not.
In Ronon's first appearance, he has a tracking chip removed from the back of his neck... without anesthesia.
Averted in the TV mini-series adaptation of Lonesome Dove. Arrows used by the plains Indians are deadly. Gus takes a shaft to the leg when running from a group of them. His horse is killed and he's miles from the nearest town, which means removing it is necessary. Unfortunately, it's in deep, but not all the way through, so he has to push it out the other side. The repercussions of this action lead to him losing the leg and ultimately dying from the infection.
Inverted by the 1997 TV movie version of The Odyssey. Once Odysseus has his bow he fires arrows that fling their targets back several feet and staple them to the wall. It's faithful to the original myth, as the pull on Odysseus' bow was so high few other men could string it.
Averted in The Walking Dead. The crossbow is an effective weapon against the undead.
Charmed: In the first series episode "Love Hurts", Leo is shot in the opening scene with an arrow. The trope is averted by the sisters taking the arrow wound itself very seriously and not brushing it off, but played straight in that the sole thing stopping Phoebe and Piper from trying to pull the arrow out the way it went in was Leo telling them not to touch it because it was poisoned. Then subverted again in that Prue's reaction to hearing the news is to telekinetically force the arrow out by pushing it through Leo's body to get it out rather than pushing it out the way it came in. The rest of episode is more about the impact of the poison than the arrow itself. Justified to an extent in that Leo is the show's equivalent of an angel and therefore the arrow itself wouldn't be able to kill him which is why it was poisoned with special toxin designed to kill his kind.
In the episode "The Courtship of Wyatt's Father", as the show established that the anti-angel arrow poison has no effect on witches, Piper takes a few shots to the arms with mild annoyance.
In Spartacus Vengeance: Played with in episode 8, Glaber takes an arrow to the shoulder, and despite wearing armor is knocked off his feet. He isn't seriously hurt though. The Egyptian completely ignores a dozen arrows sticking out of his chest, arms, and legs; but he seems to just be that tough.
Completely averted in episode 9, however; every arrow that lands at the very least takes the target off their feet. It almost swings too far in the opposite direction with a little Improbable Aiming Skills (almost every arrow lands in the throat) and instant death thrown in the mix.
Averted in Arrow. They're plain old arrows, but everyone who gets hit with one drops instantly, with only the very first victims being mentioned as hospitalized. Indeed, the hero racked up quite a body count within only the first few episodes, showing how deadly arrows are.
Used to an extent when Oliver is shot by The Black Arrow. He's shot multiple times in the back but still manages to surprise his rival with a knife and limp away. It's clear he's not making it very far though.
In Star Trek: The Next Generation, when Q has sent the main characters into a Robin Hood fantasy, Troi practices archery and hits Data square in the chest. Being an android, he calmly removes the arrow and reassures her that her aim is improving.
In Vikings Ragnar is shot in the shoulder with an arrow that penetrates all the way through. He snaps the shaft and then pulls the arrow out. he was in the middle of a fight to protect his family and the arrow would have limited his movement. While the wound does nor affect him much during the fight, afterwards the blood loss causes him to lose consciousness and he almost dies before receiving treatment. It takes him a long time to recover from that injury.
Averted in The Legend Of William Tell. William uses two different crossbows, but almost never actually kills or even hurts anyone; instead he does things like pin sleeves to walls or trees, or knock weapons out of people's hands. Since he only carries one bow at a time, he only ever gets one shot off before having to wade in hand to hand.
The bow is one of the weakest weapons in Feng Shui that you can use Gun Schticks with. They do a bang-up job on Mooks of course, since all you need to do is hit with an Outcome of 5 or more to down them, but you're going to need a lot of arrows to even give your average named character pause, let alone kill him, since the base damage of a bow in this game is only 7, which is equivalent to an average kung fu warrior's punches or kicks. Taking your bow as a Signature Weapon increases its damage to 10, which is equivalent to your average 9mm pistol (see Almost Lethal Weapons).
Averted in GURPS. Bows have a relatively low damage rating (slightly better than a punch) but the damage is later multiplied (for being an impaling weapon). Thus, heavily-armored targets may play Annoying Arrows straight, but unarmored characters (or characters struck in a spot that is not armored) suffer grievous wounds.
In Dungeons & Dragons, bows and crossbows have decent base damage (1d6 for short bows and light crossbows, 1d8 for longbows and heavy crossbows), but can't (with the exception of composite bows) use the character's strength bonus for added damage. While very useful at lower levels, they quickly fall into obsolescence (except for specifically designed bow-focus characters) by the mid-levels as magic and power-attack-aided melee combat bypasses it. Still, they both beat firearms any day of the week.
In earlier games, bows did a straight six-sided die's worth of damage, but could be shot twice a round. The only way to increase bow damage (other than by getting a magical bow or magical arrows) was to take weapon specialization in the bow upon character creation (something only available for fighters) which cost two "slots" of weapon proficiency and gave you two points of extra damage.
Then you have the great-bow, which deals a fairly massive 1d12 damage, has a range of 25/50, and still doesn't weigh much. Of course, you have to take a feat to get it.
This is made even worse by Damage Reduction. When your weapon can never really do above 20 HP damage or so per attack, monsters that cut down anywhere from 10 to 25 HP absolutely destroy archers. Fortunately, such monsters are rare, and buying a handful of arrowsto cover their common weaknesses is not too prohibitively expensive unless you follow the More Dakka school of archery.
At least in third edition (and its variants), arrows always dealt triple damage on a critical hit, and 3d8 will drop pretty much anyone without class levels.
Even in 3.5 prestige classes and various extra sourcebooks can make archers deadly. Arcane Archers combine bows with arcane spells to deliver nasty attacks at absurd ranges (you can deliver melee touch attacks with Imbue Arrow), and a mid-level Scout (Complete Adventurer)/Order of the Bow Initiate (Complete Warrior) can deal a silly amount of damage combining Ranged Precision and Skirmish.
Bows are low on the damage-dice totem pole compared with most guns in Deadlands. This can be very irritating for any characters who opt for the Old Ways Oath.
Averted in Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay: A bow is a damage 3 hit (damage 4 with mighty shot), which is about as much damage as most melee characters will be doing, and arrows cannot be parried. They also gain armour piercing with the right talent or arrow type, and can be shot multiple times per round. While firearms are better damage-wise, bows are cheaper and don't explode. Bow proficiency is rare, however, and most characters will be better off with a (slightly worse) crossbow.
Averted in the source material as well; most bows just as strong as a normal human/elf/orc melee attack; Glade Guard can dish out an ungodly amount of damage with their S4 bows.
Averted for the most part in The Dark Eye. Bows aren't exactly high on the damage scale, but they do have a significantly higher chance of causing Wounds (i.e. hits that really affect your combat abilities). The Dark Eye also simulates the training issue mentioned in the introduction by making the higher-level combat abilities for archers very rare and difficult to learn.
Legend System averts this. Ranged weapons e.g. bows are designed with the same process as melee weapons, meaning a bowman will do just as much damage as a greatsword-swinging Barbarian.
Averted in the western-themed Aces and Eights: the rate of fire is slower than that of a gun, but the damage inflicted is about on par with that of a heavy pistol, and an embedded arrow penalizes speed and accuracy more than an equivalent bullet injury would.
In Age of Empires, the Archer gets progressively stronger, ending with the Compound bow for some civilizations.
In Age 2 (including expansion), the archer gets upgraded into a crossbowman then a more powerful metal arbalest. They are less powerful than the gunners (who wield HAND CANNONS), who excel at short range, but do damage at a longer distance.
In 2 the British special unit is the longbowman. Fully upgraded, they out-range everything but the Trebuchet, the long range siege weapon. The Chinese have Chu Ko Nus, machine crossbows. Units are able to shrug off at tens of arrows depending on armour and health with no negative consequences.
2 also featured the Viking Longboats, which fired Rains of arrows. Naturally much more effective than single shots.
Massively (massively) averted in the third game, where the British unique longbowmen have just about the longest range and line-of-sight of any non-artillery unit in the game, and remain at least on par with skirmishers all the way into age 3 (and all the way to the end of the game if you get the card that allows you to fully upgrade them).
Played straight in both Assassin's Creed games where the main characters can take multiple shots from arrows without even losing one square of health. The arrows do however stop you from climbing.
Even worse with Rosa in Assassins Creed II. During a cutscene she's shot in the leg while climbing a building and promptly falls about a story back to the ground. Not only is she uninjured from the fall, but she's able to limp at sprinting speed and continue fighting with the arrow in her leg, though eventually she gives in to the pain and Ezio has to carry her to safety.
Ezio averts this in AC: Brotherhood with the crossbow. Enemy arrows still aren't much of a threat as long as they're not knocking you down from a high ledge, but the crossbow is extremely accurate and can one-shot nearly any enemy in the game.
The trailer for Assassins Creed Revelations kicks off with Ezio getting shot in the shoulder with an arrow, calmly snapping off the shaft and leaving the head in, before proceeding to beat the hell out of dozens of Templars with no visible problems, being overwhelmed only after being distracted.
To be fair, Ezio wears some pretty heavy duty armour in the later games. It's possible that the arrow didn't reach his flesh at all, but embedded in the armour.
Averted in Assassins Creed III where your bow almost always hits and is usually a one hit kill for any enemy or animal.
Actually, it's sort of played with. A close to mid-range arrow is a kill shot, but be too far away and your arrows won't even kill a man. If that happens, it really puts the Annoying in Annoying Arrows: If your shot wasn't noticed, your victim and any friends of his will do a search for, like, fifteen seconds before shrugging and acting as though nothing happened.
Averted in Shadow Of The Colossus: Wander takes a crossbow arrow to the thigh in the ending sequence and its enough to drop him to the ground and cripple him. Its implied to be a mortal wound too, but Lord Emon has one of his soldiers impale him with a sword just to be certain. It ultimately carries over into the Controllable Helplessness part of the ending when Dormin pulls off a Grand Theft Me / One-Winged Angel transformation on Wander's body—even as a 100 foot tall invincible shadow monster, the leg that took the arrow is effectively a crippled piece of dead weight.
That said, Wander's own arrows are only good for getting the Colossi's attention or irritating them, but this is justified as the colossi are HUGE and possibly made of stone.
In the New Game Plus, you can unlock Flash Arrows, which are explosive. Being that, they actually are capable of damaging a Colossus if they hit it in the right spot. However, only Wander's magical sword can actually kill the Colossus, no matter how many Flash Arrows to the glowing sigil it takes.
In The Battle For Middle Earth I&II, archers are generally the strongest units. Elven archers even throw enemies back with each shot.(Assuming the first shot doesn't kill the enemy...which it usually DOES. Though the corpse still gets flung.) However, with armor upgrades, dwarves and uruk-hai can stand a couple of arrows before going down.(Though humans, elves, orcs, hobbits, etc. can't so you could say it's played straight.) Of course stronger units such as trolls, m?il...and obviously the HEROES can take many arrows before dying as they're clearly superhuman.(Although the frailer ones, such as Arwen or the hobbits still go down VERY quickly to arrows.)
Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Naturally, a crossbow bolt to a vampire's stomach does little.
Averted in Call Of Juarez, where the bow used by Billy is precision accurate, silent and does more damage than most of the guns. As if that wasn't enough, the game also goes into slow motion whenever you're using it.
Played completely, and infuriatingly, straight in Castle Crashers. God damn Thieves Arena...
Arrows in City of Heroes can do just as much damage as guns and other kinds of attacks, but unlike those other attacks, the arrow remains visible sticking out of the character for a short period following impact, without actually inconveniencing the character in any way. The same is true of larger projectiles such as the spikes of wood, crystal, or bone that some enemies sling, which can result in a player character delivering a beatdown with several massive spikes stuck all the way through his or her torso.
This can be kind of silly when attacking a giant monster. The 'arrow sticking out' scales with the size of the enemy, so the monsters end up with arrows 3 times your character's size sticking out of their chests, as if you shot them with a tree!
Played straight in Conan. When the titular barbarian is struck with an arrow, all the player has to do is hit a button to have him yank it out, with no ill effects. Of course, Conan is one of the biggest badasses in literary history.
Dragon Age: Origins is an odd example. On the one hand enemy archers are one of the biggest annoyances in the game; friendly archers can make a lot of battles very, very easy. A high-strength character with a good bow can do more damage than the same character with a big sword, depending on what special abilities are being used. In either case, they can do considerable damage. On the other hand, your character model can turn into a Human Pincushion and still go on just fine.
However, in the cutscene after lighting the beacon at the top of the tower at Ostagar, a few darkspawn bust into the room you're in and drop the Warden with a couple of arrows to the chest.
Archery is such a powerful weapon that, without even having any skill points in Archery, you, Alistair, Morrigan and Wynne can take out the final boss with little to no effort.
In Dragon Age II, the two archer party members (Varric and Sebastian from the DLC) are consistently your highest damage-dealers, particularly against bosses. It is possible to do truly ludicrous amounts of damage with ranged fire from their crossbow/bow.
Played mostly straight in both Drakengard games. Archers and crossbowmen are easily some of the most annoying enemies out there, but they're unlikely to kill you unless you stand around and let them. However, if you happen to be riding a dragon, a shot or two from an archer will knock you to the ground faster than you can blink.
From the Dungeon Siege series, it is normal for enemies to end up with 6, 8, even 10 arrows visibly pin-cushioning them, and they keep coming.
Averted in Dwarf Fortress. In a game with no HP system where death is determined by what body parts are mangled, crossbow bolts (which have a very good chance of puncturing several organs at once, even through heavy armor) are powerful indeed.
Crossbows have been nerfed in the 2010 version: low-skill users take a really long time to load, bolts can be blocked by shields or any weapon, plain wooden or bone bolts are now virtually useless except for training and hunting small game, and even steel ones will have trouble with high-quality plate armour. However, with the implementations of tracking damage down to the tissue layer the actual damage inflicted by a bolt or arrow can vary significantly: it may just tear the skin (apparently skimming the side of the target), stick in a wound but only cause pain and minor bleeding, tear muscles, organs, tendons, bones, arteries, or nerves, or in extremely rare cases tear someone's entire head off. The 2012 version of the game restored some power, making them better at armor penetration and harder to block with weapons or dodge.
Ballista bolts may or may not fall under this trope; they're basically 10ft long spears, and no one would mistake them for annoying or weak. In the unlikely event they hit, they can easily transfix 5 targets dealing fatal damage to all of them (at worse; exploding them into a cloud of giblets at best).
The Dynasty Warriors-related game Bladestorm: The Hundred Years War (the game differs in controlling squads instead of a single hero — making it actually more like the weirdest Real Time Strategy Game ever) plays it both ways. A squad of archers or crossbowmen cuts a swath through armored knights, footsolders and pikemen that resembles harvesting wheat. Against lightly armored troops, like knives or fencers, you might as well be throwing spitballs.
Meanwhile, pre-Dynasty Warriors 6, you could arrow-annoy enemies to death by picking them off from afar (and enemy archer towers / walls are a similar threat to you).
Dynasty Warriors loves to play with this trope. Cao Cao's cousin Xiahou Dun once got shot in the eye, but was such a badass that he plucked it out with eye attached and ate the eyeball to strike fear into the hearts of his enemies.
During the gameplay of dynasty warriors, depending on what difficulty you have on, Archers may seem like just a unit for making you flinch. In harder, and SLIGHTLY more realistic, modes, you can actively worry about how much damage an arrow is doing. on easier modes, or the ubiquitous "normal" mode, they are general just pinpricks. If an entire group of them attacks you it can be fatal on normal, but anything under is just an annoyance.
In the online variation that accurately replicates the gameplay of the original, Minus technical difficulties like lag, being killed by an archer is one of the most pathetic things, due to the fact that online variation makes it so the this trope is literately how you feel about arrows, and even then the first upgrade your ability to resist flinching is only arrows, making them useless after that.
The weapon, not released in the English version as of yet, that Huang Zhong used, War sword, makes use of a bow, and the arrows do more damage than the dime-a-dozen mook archers, however they are still weak and you need some upgraded attack to kill even said dime-a-dozen mooks in one hit, and OHK Oing hundreds of mooks is the staple grab of the game mind you. Also, instead of the normal arrow that you see, it instead uses a yellow projectile, making it less of an arrow.
In Dynasty Warriors 7, Arrows follow this trope until cutscenes. In game they are about as weak as one would expect, but in a cutscene, even if the character has taken 160 arrows to the back before that, 1 arrow is enough to kill somebody, but sometimes they may take as much as 5.
Following that, it is subverted in the cutscenes, as in the scenes arrows are just as deadly in real life, and you don't once see anything flashy that renders arrows just an annoyance. 4 arrows in the back are enough to kill somebody. The only time this trope might be subverted is Dian Wei's death cutscene, where he uses his massive bulk to block a rain of arrows aimed at Cao Cao, allowing him to run. The characters in the scene are even surprised at how much Dian Wei can take, so it is still completely subverted. This would make it more an issue of Gameplay and Story Segregation.
In The Elder Scrolls IV Oblivion, the designers tried to make arrows behave realistically. The effect they have on physical objects looks great, but it's odd to see what happens when the arrows hit a living thing. The character model of anyone hit with an arrow will have the shaft clearly sticking out of them. Not only that, but the arrow will always be buried about a foot deep in the flesh. Anything hit in the torso will have the arrowhead coming out the other side. It's particularly noticeable when you get into a fight with a group of archers. Your character will look like a pincushion. Of course, this doesn't impair your ability to run around and fight at all. And if the arrows did not break when they hit you, they turn up in your inventory, where you can use them for yourself. In fact, getting shot with arrows can make a character over-encumbered.
Oblivion's physics also go off the rail with arrows. If it doesn't kill your target an arrow merely shoots into them. If it does kill them however the body flies several feet backwards through the air. Apparently momentum only applies to the living.
This is apparently a Rule Of Cool oddity of the game engine. When the target dies, any extra damage is converted to momentum that is applied to the ragdoll physics.
There are as many arrow-damage and physics-fixing mods as there are Oblivion players, it seems, but one of the funnier side effects of a "faster arrow" mod is that the flyback effect is worthy of the worst Western film director.
Zigzagged in Skyrim. The damage dealt by an arrow mostly depends on the archer's Marksman skill, so a strong enemy archer can kill players in a couple shots, especially at mid- to high difficulty levels. Those same arrows fired by a low-level mook just piss the Dovahkiin off.
Even high-level archers' arrows are reduced to Annoying if you have the Deflect Arrows perk in the Block skill tree and make use of it.
And reduced even further to the point of being simply "Thanks for Free Ammo!" if you have the Slow Time shout, allowing you to simply walk up and grab those pesky arrows out of mid-air, with enough time to equip them and even fire them back!
Though this holds true for many roguelikes, the graphical Japanese take on roguelikes (filled with many hilariously wrong tropes especially regarding marriage/breeding), Elona, plays it straight. Equal skill in bows and throwing will still usually result in shuriken and sometimes even special throwing stones doing lots more damage than normal bow+arrow combinations, due to having larger min/max damage (as high as 1d25 for normal shuriken, based on material) and higher dex resulting in landing higher rolls more often. However, the best random artifact bow+arrow combination will still always beat shuriken, simply due to having double the skill/statboost (as you equip bows and arrows separately), as well as other cumulative effects. Still, the game does not strive for total realism like other roguelikes, only halfhearted, and so shuriken remain better overall for dungeon crawling because anything can bleed and shuriken cause 'cut' damage. Yes, even golems and the undead. Shot weapons do minimal damage against them, but the cut damage can be coupled with poison/acid to drain them away. There are also anachronistically guns available, but only the shotguns seem worthwhile.
Both averted and played straight in Dungeon Crawl. Normal arrows only ever cause HP loss, so any hit that doesn't kill you outright can be healed quite quickly. On the other hand, the amount of HP damage largely depends on the skill of the shooter, and can reach scary levels for arrows fired by high-level centaurs, and any yaktaurs or elvish sharpshooters. Facing these monsters without some very effective armor or specific defensive magic can lead to a very quick death, and you will probably want to neutralize such creatures quickly even if you do have a decent defense.
Played straight and averted in Fate/stay night. Apparently arrows just aren't cool enough to be an effective weapon for Archer, therefore his normal arrows do damn near nothing. They might work against Caster, acknowledged in story as being the weakest Servant. However, he can use some 'special' arrows to get explody effects.
Without considerable cross-job stat-optimization, Final Fantasy Tactics A 2 mostly follows the same pattern, as Bows and Greatbows have considerably lower Attack than the corresponding melee weapons, Archer's have below average Attack, and Rangers and Hunters have average Attack (though the later has some good abilities for boosting damage). The exception to this is the Sniper, which has the highest Attack of any Viera class and is tied with a couple others for the best attack of any class.
In Fire Emblem, while normal hits from an archer don't do much damage, archers tend to have more skill, and therefore more critical-hits, than other units. Therefore, an 8-point normal hit will become a 24-point critical hit—which will make quite a dent in most units' HP. For flying units (pegasus/wyvern knights), arrows are downright lethal, and often kill in two hits or less.
Also interesting to note is the fact that in most of the Fire Emblem games, most of the non-special bows have higher damage than most of the non-special swords of the same rank, and they tend to be equal or nearly equal with spears. The only reason archers do less damage than the average sword or spear user is because most archers have below average strength, while most sword using classes tend to have very high strength.
Hercules from God Of War 3 doesn't take any damage from The Bow Of Apollo.
Played quite straight in the Heroes of Might and Magic series. While ranged troops can inflict some pain, they suffer from limited range (anything beyond halfway across the battlefield takes half damage) and the inability to shoot if enemies are close to them (in which case they have to resort to melee weapons and again deal only half damage, in addition to losing any special effects). Even factions with strong shooters, like Ramparts, are generally deciding their battles with the melee units.
As far as Heroes go in V though, Rangers definitely got the most damage potential with physical attacks. If the conditions are there, they can fire on 3 enemies at once with increased damage (guaranteed to kill one enemy), with each arrow carrying a destructive spell or a curse.
In the second and third games, this is strongly averted. Ranged units all had very respectable damage, and the fact that their attacks were safe from retaliation made them among the most dangerous offensive units in the game.
Heavily, heavily, heavily averted in King Arthur The Roleplaying Wargame. Archers are incredibly lethal, able to slaughter an approaching army in a very short time. The developers eventually included an option in the menu to make them weaker.
Semi-averted in the Xbox Kingdom Under Fire titles: arrows do cause pretty significant damage and make the target stagger, but don't have any ongoing consequences and can be blocked by most units not distracted by combat.
Lords of the Realm 2 plays both sides of the fence. Bows are not very effective against armored units and rely on More Dakka. Crossbows have much worse range and rate of fire, but each projectile is a guaranteed kill, making short work of heavily-armored knights and even Made of Iron siege engines.
In Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, The Fear uses a crossbow. Leaving the bolts in is a bad idea, and you can't just pull them out — you have to extract them with the knife. The game treats bullet and dart wounds the same way, as a note.
Hilariously, if you treat the wound without extracting the arrow, it will remain visibly lodged in Snake's body throughout the rest of the game.
Averted and used in Mount & Blade. On Full Damage settings, arrows are deadly; they can bring most characters down in a few hits, fewer if using crossbows. On easier difficulties, though, they are Annoying Arrows, as they do less damage but disrupt your attacks.
Neverwinter Nights has belts that grant damage resistance. There's nothing quite so Bad Ass as seeing a character with a throwing axe sticking in her cleavage continuing to fight. Of course, given that NWN is based on Dungeons & Dragons rules, this is merely enhancing the trope, rather than providing it.
Perfect Dark for the Nintendo 64. The crossbow has two functions, kill and tranquilizer. But the bolts for both are HUGE so it's possible to see a tranq'ed civilian with a gigantic bolt popping out of their skull. And it's possible to shoot out the giant bolt and re-use it. To tranquilize another civilian. Gross.
A very amusing use of this is in Quest for Glory I, where the arrows the brigands shoot at you stick out from your body. However, the game lampshades this as you aren't supposed to survive standing there for too long.
A sci-fi variation happens in a cutscene in Star Craft II when General Warfield pulls a Hydralisk spike (one of several, and with serrated edges) out of his arm. He loses the arm and gets a mechanical replacement.
Team Fortress 2 Snipers get to use a Bow as alternate. Compared to bullets, arrows do pack a lot of punch after a quick charge (enough to kill many classes outright), but a Heavy that is being healed can run around with several arrows sticking out of various body parts without any side effects. Even if an arrow goes through his head. This is an interesting example, though, because while it's played absolutely straight if you don't get a kill, you can put someone down hard and fast with a well-placed, charged arrow. Overlaps with Critical Existence Failure for that reason.
There's even an achievement (see picture) for hitting an enemy with 3 arrows without killing them.
Gets even better: try shooting arrows repeatedly on a Scout under the effect of BONK!
The Medic got a crossbow somehow averts, plays straight, and even inverts this trope at the same time. A at long range it does a lot of damage to the target. At close range, however it's damage is pretty pathetic, since it gains damage over range. However, it also HEALS your teammates, which can be a God send to wounded teammates.
The Total War series handily subverts this trope. Your army can easily lose a lot of soldiers from an attack by a group of determined archers. The same also goes for slingers.
Both the Huntsman and the Crusader's Crossbow can play this straight due to their projectile-based attacks. Since they are physical projectiles, they use the much larger projectile hit box. This results in hilarious incidents where you can get killed by a headshot from an arrow that missed your face by half a foot. The annoying part comes in when the opposing sniper realizes that the lower wait time means he can spam more arrows in your general direction, rather than actually trying to aim (which ended up earning the weapon the nickname "Huntspam").
Units with heavy armor and facing your archers suffer few loses from arrows. Place your archers behind them (where shields are useless) and they become highly effective.
Played straight in a subtle manner: soldiers dropped by arrows have a much greater chance of recovering after the battle, especially if they have heavy armor. Troops trampled by horses or felled in close combat with melee weaponry are more likely to not recover.
Turok: Evolution: Shoot an enemy in the arm with an arrow, and the arrow will take his arm off. Shoot them in the head, and they'll be decapitated. However, the larger enemies (incidentally, the ones with miniguns and rocket launchers) can take 3 or 4 arrows in the gut and keep fighting.
In the most recent Turok, the bow is quite possibly a gamebreaker. Enemies won't react to shots you fire if you're in cover (they'll panic at what the shot does to their buddies though...), and you quite happily puncture through hi-tech body armour resulting in a one-hit kill. The only "penalty" is the need to hold down the fire button for a second or two before letting rip.
Turok 2 for the N64 had realistic arrows for use against the monsters. Fill their arms full, sure, but one good arrow through the brain and they fall down dead. And joy, you can pick up the arrows again! Wheee!
It also had exploding arrows, which were insanely, less effective than the standard ones. Until they did explode.
In Vagrant Story, Sydney is shot through the heart with a crossbow bolt. He pushes it straight through his body and out the other side. Far from being treated as normal, it's proof that Sydney is, as he claims, immortal.
Although at the start of the cut scene, they do subvert this trope by having Ashley's crossbolt shot knock Sydney to the ground
Played straight most of the time in the Sega CD/iPhone RPG Vay, but subverted in one particular cutscene where the apparent Big Bad, Emperor Jeal, snipes plucky elf boy Pottle with a bow, killing him with a single shot to the heart.
Warhammer Dark Omen averts this heavily. Humans and goblins are scythed like wheat by arrows or crossbow fire, orcs are slightly tougher but you can still cause hideous casualties, only the very strongest units, like mummies and the Black Grail can ignore arrows without dire consequences.
Avoided in gameplay in The Witcher, and averted in one cutscene. The first arrow fired in White Rayla's back is instantly disabling and likely eventually lethal. The rest of the arrows Yeavinn delivers out of spite.
Averted, like many videogame combat tropes, in The Witcher 2 Assassins Of Kings. If you are surrounded by enemies and do not take preparations to limit the effectiveness of their numbers, the enemy will chop you to pieces, and similarly, only a few archers nearby will do heavy damage and set you up to be killed by their melee support quite nicely. There's even a level where you must move with your magical defensive cover, because to move outside it is to quickly be peppered by arrows that you can't really dodge, nor can you attack their shooters.
In World of Warcraft, arrows and thrown weapons can also be seen sticking out on the target for a moment with no side effects. However, Rogues can use the Deadly Throw skill to hinder enemy movement significantly. But if the thrown weapon is a spear, the spear goes straight through your chest, looks weird when you are skewered several times. Of course, people have a similar degree of resistance to bullets, axe blows to the head, lightning bolts, and being frozen solid.
Then again, World of Warcraft player characters are essentially fantasy superheroes, able to effortlessly swing two-handed axes that are in some cases and with some races clearly several times larger and heavier than they are - and take hits directly in the skull from said weapons without basically exploding.
The max is three spears in the chest.
Generally if a non PvP Guard NPC or a Warrior/Rogue shoots you, it is no cause for concern, as the damage they do is often forgettable.
Averted with the archers found in the towers of Alterac Valley battleground matches, they do noticeable damage, and there are several of them at any one tower; it thus is not a good idea to try to attack a tower alone without other people around to have the archers split their aggro. Arrows from PvP spawned guards around the world are also very dangerous, especially in larger numbers.
Played half-straight in most Zelda games. You often encounter enemy archers and being hit by them is more an annoyance than a real threat. Although your arrows tend to deal as much damage as one of the swords you get in the game, and usually more than the starting sword. It may be less a difference in arrow power and more the fact that once you've picked up a few Heart Containers, you can take more punishment than some bosses can, whereas the average mook has less health than you have even at the beginning of the game.
Actually played for laughs in The Wind Waker. There's a friendly fish in each sector of the ocean who has some ferocious body aches that only acupuncture can cure. You have to shoot the fish with your bow as he leaps out of the water, and if you shoot him enough times within the time limit, he'll pay you 200 rupees and tell you how good it feels to have all those arrows sticking out of him.
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword averts it further: the bow is by far one of your strongest weapons, bordering on an Eleventh Hour Superpower. Fully upgraded and fully charged, it's even stronger than the Master Sword. Enemy archers are unusually just an annoyance, but they often appear in groups with other enemies, and can be quite troublesome. And they're downright lethal in Hero Mode or on a Self-Imposed Challenge.
In Suikoden II, Luca Blight is peppered with more arrows than should be necessary to kill a man. And he's still able to fight off your eighteen best party members while being pelted with even more arrows before fighting your main character in a duel. Granted, this isLucaBlight we're talking about.
Averted with the heavily armored soldiers serving him, whom in the same cutscene get cut down easily by the volley of arrows.
Sort of averted in Lands of Lore: The Throne of Chaos. Fairly early in the game, you come across a character who has been shot repeatedly by arrows and is slumped, dying, against a tree. However, he survives long enough to give you some information about where to go next, say "Pardon me, this arrow is...quite annoying...", yank the arrow in question out of his chest, then talk a little bit longer before finally giving up the ghost.
Played straight by the unit animations in Civilization 4 even while being averted by the combat mechanics themselves; archery units have fairly impressive stats (at least by ancient and mediaeval standards), but when they're actually shown fighting a melee unit, they do so by first losing a round of more-or-less useless arrows and then resorting to hand-to-hand combat.
Touhou has finally gotten in on this as of Ten Desires. The arrows first appear in the stage 5 midboss fight, the stage 5 boss also uses them, and they show up in the stage 6 boss battle too. The hitbox on the arrows is centered on the arrowhead. It's also somewhat averted, because just like any other of the (ridiculous number of) bullets and lasers, it takes just one hit to take a life.
Hilariously averted in Fable, where a clean headshot with bow and arrow or a crossbow will take the enemy's head clean off his shoulders and normal hits still do considerable damage.
Towards the end of Dead Space 2, Isaac confronts Tiedemann, resulting in the latter shooting the former with two javelins. How does Isaac respond? By yanking the javelins out - one of which looks like it must have deflated his lungs. He can even heal after the final battle, meaning he literally shrugged it off, via the same first-aid magic that can heal him from within an inch of death after a Necromorph mauls him.
In Dungeons, Minos has several arrows jutting from his back.
Averted in Resident Evil 4, where arrows, like all other enemy weapons, do a lot of damage to Leon and Ada. Militia men uses flaming arrows that do almost as much damage as being shot in the face with a Gatling gun. Arrows used by Zealots in the Mercenaries minigame do less damage, but render certain areas almost inaccessible, since they're firing from the other side of the map.
Also in the Mercenaries minigame, Krauser has a bow as his primary weapon, and it's the most powerful mercenaries weapon available; hitting an enemy in the head with it will almost always result in their head exploding. Granted, though, you can blow up heads with just about anything, including your elbow.
Averted in Dragon's Dogma, the bow can be one of the best weapons in the game, especially if used by a Arisen who is a Strider, Ranger, or Magick Archer. You can fire them in a wedge pattern going up to eleven arrows, one after another that can fire off ten in a second. You can even fire ones that puncture several enemies at once, or pin them to a wall, or unleashes even more shots around it. And that's just the Ranger and Strider. The Magick Archer can reflect shots of walls, charge them with a element, redirect them, and essentially ruin anyone's day. The only problem is that human enemies can do this as well.
Mostly averted in Long Live The Queen, since a single arrow is the most common way for new players to earn their first death scene. Especially if Elodie fails her medicine roll and tries to push the arrow through to the other side.
Played Straight in Call of Duty: Black Ops, up to a point anyway. The crossbow appears to be the sort that one uses to kill deer or boar. Needless to say, the bolts won't hurt anyone when they hit, even if they hit someone in the head. This is primarily due to the fact that the bolts explode after a few seconds of hitting a target and there is no way to remove them, so they don't need to.
Averted in Far Cry 3, where the composite bow is one of the deadliest weapons in the game, with a single hit being sufficient to drop most humans and animals, save for the heavily armored (in the former case) or extremely tough (in the latter). The real challenge with the composite bow is - like in real life - getting the range and arrow drop down properly.
Later revisions of Minecraft have adjusted arrows so they stay stuck in you for a while after you're shot, and any third-person view, including your inventory screen, allows you to view them. This only applies to players though, not mobs.
Both averted and played straight in Dark Souls. Compared to melee weapons, the standard bows and crossbows do little damage. Their typical use for the player is to get an enemy's attention and draw them away from a group. However, they do stagger you, which can leave you open for melee enemies to tear you apart.
She tries to pull the Implacable Manslow walk right after getting shot, explaining that she can walk right up and hit him while he's still reloading his crossbow, but it doesn't work out because she faints halfway there.
To a ludicrous extent in Dominic Deegan. In one instance, Dominic himself is hit in the arm with an arrow. The next day he has a dressing on his arm and is leaning on a cane with it. The day after that, there is no sign he was injured. In another, an orc was shot in the back with an arrow, only to come flying in out of nowhere to deliver a Big Damn Heroes moment 3 strips later.
Even worse, in one arc a bunch of archers let loose several volleys of arrows with the express intent of "not killing".
Goblins plays the trope fully in early strips including the "yank it out" method of dealing with them.
Played with to hilarious effect in Looking for Group, in which Richard gets hit by ballista bolts and is stuck to the mast. He is then referred to as a ladder, and offers Cale to "climb me to safety!" Richard is undead, so arrows won't hurt him all that much.
Haley is also a high-level rogue with a heavy focus in bow attacks, so this may not be so much an aversion as another example of the above justification; it's based on DND and those Hobgobs probably didn't have all that many hit dice.
Slightly Damnedbrutally subverts this with the mysterious Golden Arrows. It's stated pretty much flat-out that if they so much as prick you, you are Deader Than Dead.
In this case, A Wizard Did It. Take a look at the wound, it's more akin to the arrow exploding once it hit. Getting hit with an arrow is bad enough, losing a large part of your torso immediately afterwards just adds to the fun.
Discussed and subverted in Nimona: An arrow hits Nimona in the leg, and she doesn't seem to care, as per this trope. However, Ballister chides her for her attitude, and proceeds to treat it as a serious injury. Leads to the page quote.
Later on, the trope is played relatively straight after all: Nimona turns out to have the ability to heal very quickly, which allows her to fully recover from the wound within days. She simply forgot to tell Ballister about it...
Tifa in Dead Fantasy V. Granted, she comes from a world where Guns Are Worthless and she has probably hit level 99, but even so, getting shot by five arrows hurts a lot. Nevertheless, she remained a pincushion for the remainder of the fight. It does seem to actually affect her for a moment, as she slumps against the car she slammed into from the force of getting hit by five arrows and has about a minute long memory sequence. Then she gets up and slams a metal pipe through a man's skull and out the other side. So. Back in full effect again.
She's also fortunate(!) enough to have just been badly beaten by an opponent who knocked out all of her Materia, which is sort of like removing the adamantium from Wolverine's bones: a trade-off. She can't blast the archers at range anymore, but her ability to take damage just went through the roof. Given how the fight turned out, the arrows had an impressive (if still unrealistic) effect on it.
Just about anyone shot with an arrow in the Survival of the Fittest seasons has done either this or had the arrow merely graze them. Most notably with Jacob Starr, who took not one but two crossbow bolts to the shoulder with little to no ill effect (although the character was absurdly Made of Iron).
Version 4 gets better about this; as of this writing, three arrows have been fired, all have hit someone, and the only person not to be killed by one had died the day before.
In The Hunchback of Notre Dame (Disney version), Phoebus is shot in the back with an arrow. Not only does Esmeralda manage to yank it out underwater, not only does the wound somehow move from approximately his shoulderblade to the front of his shoulder, but after barely any convalescence (less than an hour) he's up and kicking again. Worth noting that it's still a subversion in some senses, as the arrow did still down him, as opposed to him just continuing on.
In the book this happens to Quasimodo: when he's shot in the arm he just pulls the arrow out, snaps it in half, and keeps going.
Subverted in Metalocalypse, in the final episode of Season 2; Ofdensen is shot through the chest with a crossbow, and immediately is almost unconscious— and then he lies motionless, apparently dead, while the band stands nearby and does nothing to help (either he's dead, or they're just too stupid to know First Aid— a very real possibility).
In Mulan, Shang takes an arrow to the shoulder that knocks him off his horse, but he promptly yanks it out, gets up, and keeps going.
It looks like the arrow just hit the shoulder pad of his armor, but not actually him.
Samurai Jack's dad takes multiple arrows in the shoulders, legs and below the ribs when fighting Aku. This only enrages daddy, though, and you can guess what happens.
A comedic example in Yellow Submarine. During Ringo's accidental ejection into the Sea of Monsters, a group of Injuns attack and fire at him with arrows. After being brought back to the submarine (with the help of the cavalry, no less!), Ringo merely plucks the arrows out of his chest.
In some extremely rare and specialized cases, people can take arrows like that and keep fighting, just like in the movies. Adrenaline is an amazing chemical, and just like it can make you Superman for a few seconds if you're sufficiently motivated, it can turn you into Wolverine for a while too. But keep in mind that these types of berserkers usually die of their wounds afterward. The damage is still there, and even increases if you're aggravating the wound by moving around; adrenaline simply prevents your nervous system from being overloaded with pain, which is its way of telling you that aggravating the wound is a BAD idea.
King Henry V of England received an arrow wound to the face as the Prince of Wales during the Battle of Shrewsbury, which was fought against English and Welsh rebels. The wound was severe enough that most soldiers would have been left to die from it, but being the Prince, he received special treatment with the surgery and recovery lasting days and leaving him disfigured. Then later, at the Battle of Agincourt 12 years later, he pulverized the French with lots and lots of arrows.
Henry "Hotspur" Percy, a rebel knight and general opposing King Henry IV, likewise took an arrow to the face at the Battle of Shrewsbury. He wasn't so lucky as the Prince of Wales was in that battle.
As stated on the Oda Nobunaga page, Oda Nobunaga is believed to once have taken an arrow to the neck without flinching, an act that gained him the nickname of 'Demon King'. Of course, the reason he was thought as terrifying and received that nickname because people around then knew getting struck by an arrow like that tends to lethal.
In Homer's Iliad, the famed archer Pandaros complains to Aeneas that even though he managed to hit both Menelaos and Diomedes, neither of these heroes seemed to be bothered much by his arrows. However, this was entirely due to divine intervention.
Odysseus left his bow at home. Doesn't show much respect for the weapon.
Greek mythology has a notable subversion: in Trojan legends, it's mentioned several times that warriors, who were wounded by an arrow, left the battlefield as soon as possible and had the arrow cut out by a healer, who then treated the wound.
Mongols wore clothing for the sole purpose of removing arrows with minimal damage. It was "raw" silk; supposedly, most arrows wouldn't penetrate this material, since the finely-woven silk-strands would wind around the arrowhead, covering the barbs of the arrowhead. This would then allow the warrior to remove the arrow by pulling the silk shirt out, arrowhead and all, and it would keep the arrowhead from doing much damage; an arrow does most of its damage when being pulled out due to the barbs, so the "silk-winding" process kept the barbs from doing this. Silk's a strong enough fiber that the strands would simply unravel, rather than be cut by the sharp arrow. "Raw" silk is uncut after being produced by the silkworm, and so the strands remained long enough to remain full-length intact after penetration. They'd still punch holes in the human flesh underneath, but by pulling on the edges of the cloth, the arrow would come out of the wound.
If the Bayeux Tapestry is to be believed, King Harold yanked an arrow out of his eye at the Battle of Hastings before he was killed. At least, the guy pictured might be Harold. Either way, big aversion.
Interestingly enough, this is the only one portrayed in the tapestry that isn't arrow straight. This is likely due to the tapestry having been damaged slightly and repaired centuries ago.
Specifically, the relevant panel of the Tapestry is captioned "HIC HAROLD REX INTERFECTUS EST"—"Here King Harold is killed." The unfortunate fellow who is clearly pulling an arrow out of his eye socket is drawn directly under the word "HAROLD", with his head between the O and the L. The next drawing, under "INTERFECTUS EST", shows a Norman horseman slashing with his sword at a man who is falling down. Some of the earliest written histories of the battle recount Harold being hacked down by a group of Norman knights while others mention the arrow. One popular theory holds that the images are both of Harold and show a sequence of events—King Harold pulling the arrow out of his eye, only to be chopped down and killed shortly afterwards.
Guan Yu, a general in 2-3rd Century China (who has been deified over the years- just pay attention at your local Chinese restaurant), was once hit by a stray arrow on his arm during a battle, and was about 60 when this happened. Though the surface wound had healed, the bone would still hurt badly, especially during a rainy day. The doctor told him that the arrow tip had poison on it, and the poison had entered the bone. The remedy would be to open the arm and scrape away the poison. Guan Yu promptly stretched out his arm and bid the doctor to get to work. During the surgery, Guan Yu was eating and drinking with his fellow officers whilst the blood flowed from his arm into a basin below. Throughout the process of treatment, Guan Yu drank wine and conversed and laughed as usual, also qualifying him for Four Star Badass.
Drinking enough alcohol is an anaesthetic in itself.
Japanese samurai would ride into battle wearing a horou — a huge, cape-like silk cloth with their standard on it. The horou would severely lessen the arrows' impact and interrupt their path—when Ancient Discoveries tested it, it reduced the chances of being hit with an arrow by seventy-percent. They would still need medical help if an archer got lucky, but three hits out of ten definitely sounds better than getting peppered by archers.
Played relatively straight by Joan of Arc: contemporary accounts describe her being hit variously with an crossbow bolt in the leg, an arrow in the shoulder, and a heavy stone on the head. What is consistent in each of the accounts is that she simply had the wound cleaned, said a quick prayer and was perfectly well within a ridiculously short amount of time. Particularly, during Joan's battle in Orleans, an English arrow deeply pierced her between the neck and shoulder. By the power of faith alone she ignored the pain, pulled the arrow out with her bare hands, made a silent prayer, climbed back on her horse, and continued to lead her army to victory. Pure badass. This might simply be a case of an Unreliable Narrator, but at the time it was seen as evidence that she might really have had divine help.
Jan Žižka of the Hussite wars fame lost an eye in his youth for unknown reasons, most likely a childhood fight. Later he lost the other one to an arrow while besieging the castle of Rabi in 1421. He then proceeded to win every battle he entered — while blind — until dying of plague in 1424.
He probably figured that if a Bohemian could do it, so could a Czech, since John of Bohemia famously rode into the battle of Crecy, despite being 50 years old and having been blind for over a decade. He died there, presumably when the sheer mass of his testicles unexpectedly turned them into black holes.
Cassius Scaeva, a Roman centurion, is supposed to have pulled the arrow out mid-battle when it hit him in the eye. In the same fight he was also wounded twice by javelins and by the end had over 100 arrows in his shield.
Similarly, Xaihou Dun, a Chinese general during the Three Kingdoms era is said to have been likewise hit in the eye with an arrow. Legend has it he ripped the arrow and the damaged eye out with it. The legend then says he stared at it, said "essence of my father, blood of my mother, I cannot throw this away" and ate it. His master, Cao Cao, promoted him for his trouble.
Surprisingly, would be averted more in the modern world than in eras where arrows were widely used. Back then, warriors would wear armor that was meant to protect against arrows, since they were so commonly encountered. Comparatively, arrows used against modern Kevlar would be even less deterred by it than bullets, since Kevlar is specifically designed to prevent ballistic damage by spreading out the force of impact over a wider area. Arrows, knives, and other such subsonic ballistic piercing weapons tend to go right between the Kevlar weave. This is why a variety of solid armor inserts is available to augment Kevlar body armor for situations where the wearer has a good chance of getting stabbed.
More or less Truth in Television, according toCracked. However, the key point to remember is that the article is saying that arrows aren't as dangerous compared to bullets, then contrasting that with Hollywood's treatment of arrows (one-shot, one-kill as long as you're Legolas) with its treatment of bullets (2 or 3 shots can be Only a Flesh Wound as long as you're John McClane).
During the Crusades, Turkish and Mameluke archers often saw their arrows appear to have no effect on European knights and men-at-arms. This was because they were unused to fighting men in mail armor, which even the most powerful longbows and crossbows have difficulty penetrating, much less the short bows used by the Turks. Frequently, however, arrows would get stuck in the surcoats worn by European knights over their armor, so it would sometimes look to the Turks as though knights could keep fighting even with several arrows sticking out of them.
The repeating crossbow (an Eastern invention that allowed to string the bow just by moving a lever) was limited to firing much smaller bolts than its no-repeating cousins, and a single arrow itself rarely resulted in death. However, these things were used in mass to overwhelm the enemy with a rain of arrows and often were tipped with poison.
Kamakura Gongorō Kagemasa, a samurai from the Heian period of Japan, took an arrow to the eye while sixteen and finished the battle with the shaft still sticking out. Another soldier tried to remove it rather roughly, by using his foot for leverage on Kagemasa's head, causing Kagemasa to take offense. The man apologized and removed the arrow more delicately. Other versions of the story have Kagemasa removing the arrow right after he is struck, and killing the offending archer by shooting it right back at him!
If Animal Planet documentaries are to be believed, a cat survived being shot by an arrow through the head - with no major damage.