Yes, like that.
When the Archer Archetype
fires an arrow and someone has enough hand speed to yank it out of mid-air, that's an arrow catch.
Like so many tropes, this one exists for one reason: it's cool
. You don't have to be an arrow scientist to figure out that arrows go at crazy speeds. Very few people in the world can catch arrows. Although we have to admit, when they do
do it, it's pretty darn cool
. It also shows that it's only possible when the archer is on their side
James Randi (AKA The Amazing Randi) has discussed this, as among the many, many
things he's done in his life, he's also studied archery. The above video is an example of the kind of arrow catching he's explained. The arrow in the above is a flu-flu; an arrow with fletching designed for hunting birds. The arrow will leave the bow at high speed, but at a certain distance will slow down dramatically so that you can retrieve your arrow if you miss. Those who catch arrows do so after it has slowed, but before people can see that it has done so. In other words, don't try this at home unless you've got the right equipment.
Can be justified in some cases by giving a character actual supernatural powers
. Most of the time, though, this kind of thing is the province of the Badass Normal
, or just the general Badass
in works where everybody's going medieval on each other.
See Bullet Catch
for this trope to its next natural level. See Catch and Return
for this trope plus
a follow-up move.
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Anime & Manga
- In a Peanuts strip from long ago, Charlie Brown was trying to play fetch with Snoopy using a bow and (suction-cup-tipped) arrow: as explained by Charlie Brown, he would shoot the arrow and Snoopy would run to where it landed and fetch it back. Snoopy didn't feel like expending the running energy though, so he just caught the arrow with his mouth right after Charlie Brown shot it. (Snoopy was standing right next to CB at the time, so the arrow had only been shot about a foot before Snoopy caught it.)
- In Maybe Im A Lion, it's apparently a standard magus test of the reflexes of supernaturally empowered beings to have them catch a bolt shot from a crossbow; the shaft is banded in color, and the score determined by where they grasped it. Lio asks if he gets bonus points for catching it in his teeth. (Lio is somewhat beyond the ordinary parameters of the test.)
Films — Animation
- Ashitaka does this in Princess Mononoke at one point. It's the shot that takes some guy's arm off. Extra Badass points in that he immediately reloads it into his bow. He's also shown to be capable to cutting flying arrows out of the air.
- Batman: The Dark Knight Returns: During his fight with Batman, Superman catches an arrow shot at him by Green Arrow. However, the arrow in question is a Kryptonite Trick Arrow that proceeds to explode in his face.
- Although it's in the background, in the movie Brave during the mead-hall skirmish, if you look for it you can see the Hunk catch an arrow mid-flight right in front of his face. Bonus Points in that his arm, hand, and fingers were absolutely the only things he moved, the expression on his face and even the direction he was looking in didn't change.
- The Swan Princess: The Prince Charming was sometimes seen to practice this with his dopey sidekick. The sidekick would shoot an arrow at him, then he'd spin around, grab the arrow out of the air, and shoot it back with his bow. At the right moment, his sidekick fired the arrow at him, and he caught it and shot it at the monster.
- Parodied in Mulan when an arrow flies right into Yao's hands without him attempting to grab it.
- Tigress does it in Kung Fu Panda 2. Bonus points for the arrows being on fire, and her not even turning to face the arrow when she caught it.
Films — Live-Action
- This happens in the novel Jingo, with Vetinari snatching the bolt out of a crossbow before it's fired.
- Happened earlier in Feet of Clay, where Dorfl the golem catches a crossbow bolt fired by Sergeant Detritus. Well, he doesn't so much catch the arrow as stop it, but the bolt in question was a huge metal arrow fired from a converted ballista. Golems are incredibly strong, and much faster than they look.
- Then happens again later in Making Money with Gladys, another golem. The arrow's sudden deceleration causes it to catch fire in her (ceramic) hand.
- Richard from the Sword of Truth series does this once in the second book, to intimidate a group of natives. He rarely gets the chance thereafter, since when arrows are fired at him, they tend to come in larger numbers. The internal justification is that it's part of the manifestation of his War Wizard powers in the context of bladed weapons. He doesn't actively use his power, so it forces itself out of him. He'll vigorously deny it, but especially in later books with the whole "I can do awesome things with any blade with no additional training" shenanigans...
- In a David Gemmell novel a character knocks an arrow out of the air with his sword which impresses the would be assassin so much it leads to a Defeat Means Friendship moment. Subverted because the guy with a sword is a kid who was just practicing his fencing and didn't even know he was being shot at, Beginner's Luck.
- Legend, another David Gemmell book has Druss cut an arrow out of the air with a huge double bladed axe, and it too leads too Defeat Means Friendship. Being Druss, he meant to do it.
- Kellhus in Second Apocalypse can pick up arrows from the air without much trouble because he's just that good. Not only can he pluck them from the air, the first time he was shot at he went on to curiously study the arrow (having never seen them before) whilst simultaneously dodging round the hundreds of other arrows landing around him.
- Tortall Universe
- Shanir weapons-master Randiroc easily catches an arrow in To Ride a Rathorn, book 4 of P.C. Hodgell's Chronicles of the Kencyrath—but then, he's pretty much the only living Kencyr with combat skills that match heroine Jame's undead teacher Tirandys.
- Jiang Wei in Romance of the Three Kingdoms is capable of this.
- Lanik, the protagonist of the book Treason by Orson Scott Card does this in a sense, but ups the badass level to impossible by slowing time (really just speeding himself up so that everyone else appears to be moving in 100x slow motion) right as a squad of archers shoot at his friend. In quicktime, he grabs the arrows and sticks them into the wall behind his friend. The archers, which are an execution squad, are perplexed, but fire again. This time, he goes into quicktime just after they fire, takes the arrows out of midair, and stabs them back through the respective archers' hands!
- Rumo & His Miraculous Adventures: Rumo can do this, thanks to wolpertings' prodigious speed. It does, however, hurt his hand.
- Eragon does one near the end of Eldest.
- Parrying an arrow is a skill witchers are known for. Geralt at one point managed to parry two arrows at once, but his success came to him as a genuine surprise.
- Busted by MythBusters. An arrow would be easier to catch than a bullet but you would have to be incredibly lucky to grab the shaft (and grab it so you won't injure your hand). A bullet simply won't be stopped by your hand. A quick reminder is that busted doesn't mean impossible, but instead incredibly unlikely or impractical. They brought in a martial artist to test the myth, and he did manage to catch a few arrows, but would have been killed by the other two dozen that hit him (if not for the safety precautions). The main thing they did note was that if you had the skill it would be more practical (just less badass) to either dodge the arrow entirely or deflect it.
In a way, they did. The ninja they brought in called foul, and said that a real ninja wouldn't just stand there taking it — the whole point of being a ninja is not to be noticed to begin with, so any ninja worth anything wouldn't be seen by the archers anyway. Still, he proved that an arrow could be deflected with a sword. So, in a way, Samurai > Archers > Ninja. (Also, the ninja was in his forties, which is past the prime for such a profession.)
- Earlier than MythBusters was Ripley's Believe It or Not!. The man in question was in his 50s and barely missed the arrow, having the head cut into his palm. Although, he did manage to stop the arrow at least.
- In the Merlin TV movie, Mordred shoots an arrow at Maab and she just catches it. She's an elemental being (sorceress/witch, just like the Lady of the Lake), so she has an excuse.
- Xena: Warrior Princess does this all the time, and so does Hercules in Hercules: The Legendary Journeys. He at least has the excuse of Super Strength, though. Notably, on one occasion, Xena caught the first arrow fired in her left hand, the second in her right, and the third in her teeth.
- One episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer has Buffy catching a crossbow bolt that was fired by an automated trap, and in the first season finale, the Master catches a bolt from her crossbow.
- Angel also managed this trick when Faith fired at him with a crossbow. From about 2 feet away. From behind. And yet, he never demonstrates this power before or after, though Angelus sure does. Right after he escapes in season 4 and sneaks back to the hotel, Cordy shoots a crossbow at him, and he catches it. Oh and then he throws the bolt back at her and nails her in the thigh. With him being a floor above her, one might say that it was badass. Subverted in the episode WarZone, Angel catches the arrow alright, but with a very painful open palm.
- Criss Angel did this once for Mindfreak... after many, many, many attempts. From the footage they shot, it looked like he injured his hand pretty badly as well. He also attempted it with a nail gun. That one... Didn't go so well.
- Once Upon a Time: Regina does this in season two after she gets her magic back and Red's grandmother fires a crossbow at her. She then sets it on fire, and throws a fireball around the room. Needless to say, this cows the crowd into submission.
- Happens again in Season 3 when Henry shoots a crossbow at Peter Pan, who catches it. He doesn't even seem upset at Henry for trying to kill him.
- Neal shoots what's essentially a poison arrow at Pan as well. He, of course, catches it again. Good thing Neal's Genre Savvy enough to put the poison on the shaft.
- In one of the flashbacks to the Island on Arrow, Yao Fei shoots an arrow at Deathstroke, who catches it easily.
- The Huntress is capable of doing this feat, despite being comparatively untrained compared to the other people who caught arrows.
- In the penultimate episode of the first season, the Dark Archer reveals his identity to Oliver by catching the arrow when Oliver tries to execute him. Oliver does it again to the Dark Archer in the finale, except this time he learned his lesson by shooting a trick arrow that exploded after Merlyn caught it.
- Season 2 has League of Assassin's Al-Owal(The First),the man who trained Malcolm himself catching an arrow shot at him...from behind without even looking.
Myths & Religion
- Norse Mythology:
- One of the powers of Odin was that he could catch arrows.
- Snorri Sturluson relates in Prose Edda how after Frigg has made all things swear they will not harm Baldur, the gods make a game of shooting arrows at Baldur, and Baldur catching them from the air for fun. He could not catch the mistletoe, which was the one thing that Frigg had forgotten.
- Robin Hood's companion Friar Tuck is sometimes said to have trained his dogs to catch arrows (though Little John's shafts were too fast for them).
- Dungeons & Dragons
- The monk class had this ability from the first edition, whether it was the Oriental Adventure version or not. They could catch any number of arrows as long as they made the saving throw.
- The monk class in 3rd Edition has the Missile Snare ability starting at level 3. This can be used to dodge or catch any non-magical missile, including arrows, quarrels, ballista shot, and boulders(!).
- In 3.5, this is changed to a combination of two feats: Deflect Arrows and Snatch Arrows, and specifically said that it wouldn't work for things like boulders and ballistae. You could also only use it once per round... until you were epic levelled.
- GURPS'' includes the skill "Parry Missile Weapon", which can be used to catch spears or arrows instead, at a considerable penalty.
- One of the available abilities in Dark Heresy is "Deflect Shot", which allows you to parry ranged attacks from primitive weapons such as bows. Or muskets.
- In Final Fantasy Tactics, the "Archer" class can gain the ability "Arrow Catch", which effectively allows them to block and counter any arrow-based attack by doing this. Ninja have the ability to catch any thrown projectile, but not arrows. On a similar note, due to a bug, the "Sword Grasp" ability of the Samurai Class, works against EVERYTHING — swords, maces, fists, arrows, and yes — bullets too.
- Hrist is shown doing this in Valkyrie Profile 2 Silmeria. Justified by the fact that she's a goddess of battle.
- The Witcher
- Played with in The Witcher. The Professor claims to have heard that a Witcher can catch arrows in mid-flight, shortly before shooting Witcher-in-training Leo with a crossbow and killing him. Geralt later parries a crossbow bolt, causing the professor to realize he was right all along.
- In The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings you can get a skill to parry arrows, and even deflect them back to the shooter, although how the arrow keeps the momentum or still hits with its point is not explained. Most players don't find the skill worth investing points to, since archers and arbalists are very rare enemy type in the game, and can usually be eliminated before they get two arrows/bolts shot.
- If you Screw Destiny in Dynasty Warriors 5 and save Sun Jian during the battle of Jing province, he'll do one of these to intimidate the archers who were firing on him.
- Theoretically possible in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim as arrows in flight can be interacted with and picked up, but to do so would require inhuman reflexes. Easier to do with one of the shouts, which slows the game down effectively giving you inhuman reflexes.
- Freddie Wong uses this trope in his Skyrim Badass video to defy the tired "arrow to the knee" meme.
- Tower Fall and it's Updated Re-release Towerfall Ascension use this as a gameplay mechanic, as you have a limited supply of arrows it's either catching them during a dash, or walking around collecting them. It is essential to survive against enemy archers, and other players.
- John Redcorn caught an arrow in an episode of King of the Hill. It probably helped that he was standing right next to the archer at the time.
- Finn in Adventure Time catches an arrow of ice in the episode "Chamber of Frozen Blades" where Finn and Jake were in a ninja fad.
- Storm-Shadow from G.I. Joe (a ninja character) was capable of, and performed this feat. Followed shortly thereafter by a double-face-kick to two guys either side of him.
- Robin of Teen Titans does this once.
- Samurai Jack managed to catch one once, but the arrow turned into a venomous snake and bit him.
- Danny does this in an episode of Danny Phantom. He was mad impressed when he did so, but failed to notice until the last minute that said arrow had dynamite strapped to it. You can tell what happens next...
- In the episode "Secrets" of Young Justice, the villain, Harm, manages to catch several of Artemis's arrows. Artemis however, wises up and tricks Harm into catching an arrow while he's standing next to a gas stove. The arrow bursts into flames and and blows up the kitchen Harm's in. It only slowed him down though.