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. Most arrows used in this trick are called 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
- Fist of the North Star
- Kenshiro does this in the 2nd episode. It's called Hokuto Shinken Nishi Shinkuu Ha.
- He used this technique in the following episode to save a boy whose father was being forced by one of Diamond's mooks to shoot a can off his head William Tell-style. In both examples, he returned the arrow at high speed into the mook responsible.
- In Kenshiro 0 Den he uses it to catch and return a salvo of arrows fired by an entire archer battalion. Yes, every single one of Jugai's longbow-wielding henchmen gets their own arrow back. In the face.
- Vampire Hunter D does this in the second anime movie — Bloodlust.
- One of the samurai of Samurai 7 could do this. He practiced it as a street performer.
- Mahou Sensei Negima!
- In Rurouni Kenshin Kenshin does this in the manga during the Jinchu arc when Otowa Hyoko shot an arrow at him, albeit a small one from a hidden shooter, it's still impressive nonetheless.
- Happens regularly in the Ranma ½ manga. It's pretty much amongst the basic abilities of martial artists, even the less skilled ones.
- In Katekyo Hitman Reborn!, Kyouya does an impressive feat of catching Belphegor's throwing knives between his fingers.
- Haru Glory catches one with his mouth at point-blank range in Rave Master.
- Souma did this in Kannazuki no Miko. Unfortunately, the arrow immediately exploded in his face.
- Bazette does this in Fate/kaleid liner PRISMA☆ILLYA when Kuro attempts to use the Archer card on her. She then throws it back to Kuro like a javelin.
Bazette: I've already seen this tactic.
- Sting from Fairy Tail not only catches an arrow, but then eats it and shoots it back with a massive gust of wind using his Dragon Roar attack.
- Gowther from The Seven Deadly Sins was able to do an extremely impressive arrow catch when he caught an arrow that was fired off like a Kamehame Hadoken.
- Tigre from Madan no Ou to Vanadis catches an arrow aimed at his Childhood Friend Teita, then fires said arrow back to where it came from. He did this one-handed.
- Rudy pulls one of these off by accident in Log Horizon. He was making a flashy pose and just happened to place his hand where it intercepted an arrow between his fingers. He did not handle the subsequent arrows nearly as gracefully.
- Young Justice
- This popped up when the villain Harm caught an arrow shot by Arrowette and used it to stab her in the shoulder. Superboy (who was enamored of Arrowette) spent the next issue or two trying and failing to catch her arrows. When an alarm comes, Robin is able to catch the arrow and get them on topic.
- Later, when Arrowette is about to kill a criminal, Superboy manages to catch it just in time.
- Batman once caught a Trick Arrow shot by Speedy (Roy) over his shoulder, without looking. It was meant as a joke by Roy, and it made a durable impression on him until long after he became Arsenal.
Arsenal: Dick, he caught the frickin' arrow.
Nightwing: Would you stop with that already? How many years ago was that?
Arsenal: He didn't even turn around and he caught the frickin' arrow!
- Vandal Savage does the same thing with one of Arsenal's arrows in DC One Million. He then tosses it at Supergirl, instantly disabling her.
- This was a trademark move of villain Constantine Drakon in Green Arrow; much to the Emerald Archer's annoyance.
- In Sonic the Comic Amy and Johnny notice Sonic battling the Metallix. Amy pulls out her longbow and fires an armour-piercing arrow at the robot. Meanwhile, the Metallix is about to be beheaded but survives by firing its death ray at Sonic. The robot apologises, stating it used the blaster's lowest setting, and reveals itself to be a Mobian in disguise. As this sinks in, Sonic notices Amy's arrow approaching and grabs it before listening to the Mobian's story. Justified by the fact that he has Super Speed.
- In a He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (1983) mini-comic, Clamp Champ catches an arrow stealthily fired at him by Ninjor. As Clamp Champ explains, he possesses Super Senses that make him impossible to take by surprise (though that doesn't explain how he could move quickly enough to catch it in the first place, especially when it was fired from fairly close range)
- 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.)
- Jason from Sailor Moon: Legends of Lightstorm can do this. Despite losing his powers and being effectively human, he's still one of the fastest men on the planet, so much so that he use his shuriken to knock Tuxedo Mask's razor roses out of the air.
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
- Mr. Miyagi in The Next Karate Kid does the Zen Archery thing, catching an arrow before it hits him.
- Master Pain (a.k.a. Betty) does this in Kung Pow! Enter the Fist.
- Also happens in The Scorpion King. The villain likes to show off this ability in front of his troops. The first time we see it, he catches an arrow during practice. Later, when the hero goes to fire an arrow at him, he tries to block it with his swords... and misses. (Mathias is shown before the shot to have pulled his massive bow back farther than he usually does, adding the extra power needed to get past the villain's hands.)
- Used by the Big Bad in the film The Hunted. And it was at point blank range too.
- Taimak in The Last Dragon karate-chops an arrow out of the air. As it turns out, he really did, and the stunt only took two hours to get right.
- In Hero Nameless and Flying Snow are able to effortlessly sweep aside hundreds of arrows, while Broken Sword catches one without looking for the simple reason of needing a new writing tool after his previous tool was broken by a passing arrow.
- Robin Hood: Men in Tights has one of Robin's merry men save him by catching an arrow fired by a crossbow. Said catcher was blind.
Ahchoo: Blinkin! How did you do that?
Blinkin: I heard that coming a mile away.
Robin Hood: Right-o, Blinkin, very good.
Blinkin: Pardon? Who's talking?
- Lucien does this in the beginning of Underworld Rise Of The Lycans. He spends the rest of the movie being shot in the back. Apparently these Mooks were paying attention.
- A variant occurs in O Brother, Where Art Thou? The "heroes" bust up a KKK rally while trying to save Tommy Johnson from being lynched. One of them grabs their flag and waves it around, distracting all the Klansmen who don't want it to touch the ground. He then throws the flag into the air, then Big Dan Teague catches it — with the arrowhead on top of the flagpole an inch from his eye. Unfortunately for him, he then doesn't move out of the way from a falling giant burning cross...
- In a movie version of The Mahabharata, Shiva catches an enemy's arrow in his mouth.
- Michael Dudikoff's character does this in the second American Ninja film.
- Amitabh Bachchan's character does this with multiple arrows in the 1991 Bollywood film Ajooba. Also an example of Right Back At Ya.
- In The Avengers (2012), Loki catches one of Hawkeye's arrows a second before it can go through his eye, as Hawkeye has expressed a desire to do. He then sneers at the attempt. And then its explosive tip detonates in his face.
- Thor: The Dark World. Lady Sif does a slightly more plausible version of this trope when she stops an arrow fired at Thor by getting it stuck through her shield.
- In Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Michelle Yeoh's character catches a dart fired from a blowgun.
- In the tortoise-formation battle from part 1 of Red Cliff, Gan Xing catches a spear thrown by an enemy. In the same battle, Zhou Yu catches an arrow, but in his shoulder, in order to protect Zhao Yun.
- The old warrior monk in Hong Kil Dong does this to save Hong Kil Dong from getting shot by a bandit.
- In Avengers: Age of Ultron, Pietro aka Quicksilver is fast enough to casually pluck Hawkeye's arrows out of the air.
- Mad Max: Fury Road. Max covers his eyes whenever he has a hallucination of his dead daughter. This instinctive reaction saves his life when a War Boy simultaneously shoots him with a crossbow, giving Max an Impaled Palm instead of an impaled head.
- 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 Merlin (1998), 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.
- In season 5, after becoming the Dark One Emma is able to grab Merida's arrow mid-air.
- 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.
- The short-lived 80's seriesThe Master has this in the opening credits.
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.
- Averted, for all the game's pulp roots, in Spirit Of The Century. A "Catch" stunt exists, but explicitly only works on objects thrown at the user with hostile intent (and then still requires a very good defense roll to kick in) — so, you could catch a thrown knife or hatchet, but not an arrow per se.
- 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.
- TowerFall 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.
- In the fourth installment of Super Smash Bros. the Animal Crossing Villager expands this trope beyond arrows and applies it to things like Energy Balls, lasers, trees... it works on any projectile.
- Guere pulls this off in Miamaska.
- The webcomic Goblins, being based on D&D, has a goblin monk demonstrating the ability.
- Cale'Anon from Looking for Group can do this with a crossbow bolt fired from behind him. And then he impaled the shooter through the head in the same motion as turning around, as part of his continued taking of levels in badass. But he's an elf.
- Melna pulls this off in Dominic Deegan, complete with incredulous Lampshade Hanging by another character.
- Keychain of Creation features the badass Dragon-blooded monk Ten Winds pulling this off. While being a Deadpan Snarker.
- Girl Genius: Jenka, with an actual arrow.
Jenka: I forgive. Once.
- In The Order of the Stick, Tarquin proves he's good enough to catch Haley's arrows out of the air. He does it again a few strips later, and Nale has just enough time to gloat before POOOF. At the end of the arc this ability backfires again on Tarquin, since even if he can catch two arrows at the same time, doing so while you need both hands to cling to a railing proves problematic.
- Played for laughs in a page of No Need for Bushido.
Cho: I found something!
Ina: An arrow? We must be getting close. Where was it?
Cho: I was just walking and... (catches a second arrow) Oh! Another one!
- 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.
- Lars Andersen catches an arrow in part of his video here. Of course, keep in mind that this is a trick under controlled conditions and he makes some claims about his technique that other archers consider to be inflated.