"It's all in the reflexes."
Well, fiddlesticks. Looks like the someone's trying to kill the named character
with some kind of projectile weapon. Arrows, bullets, throwing knives. And just to make things worse, the character in question is unarmed. How on Earth can they defend themselves from such a vicious onslaught?
Simple, really. Stretch out that hand, grab the weapon that's being hurled, and fling it straight back to the attacker! That'll teach anybody to try and screw around with long range combat. After all, everybody knows that close range weapons are way cooler
To understand the Real Life
viability of this trope, first, look at Arrow Catch
and Bullet Catch
. Take the probability of pulling off such a catch, multiply by itself, and that's roughly the chance of this actually working. At least, as far as launched weapons. Thrown
weapons can vary, depending on size, pointiness, and victim's preparation. Lobbing a ball-sized object at a lacrosse player? Justified. Flinging a shuriken at a nudist? Not as much.
This trope is the concept behind many a Counter Attack
. Compare Attack Reflector
, which doesn't bother with the catching part, and Lodged-Blade Recycling
, for when said part goes awry. See also Tennis Boss
. Grenade Hot Potato
is a subtrope.
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Anime & Manga
- Bamse has done it with cannonballs. He is superstrong, but how he can be fast enough isn't explained.
- In Calvin and Hobbes, Calvin tries to surprise Susie by throwing a snowball at her in springtime (he kept it in the freezer since last winter). He misses and the snowball harmlessly breaks apart on the sidewalk, and as he curses his luck, Susie scoops up the snow, shapes it back into a snowball, and hits him with it. Calvin responds, "The irony of this is just sickening."
- He tries to chuck a pine cone at her in another strip, only for it to be returned at bullet-like speed. Cut to Susie, coming home in full kit from a lacrosse game.
- Typhoid Mary, one of Daredevil's more crazed foes, managed to deflect a bullet with a katana, manipulating its path of flight in order to hit the guy who shot at her. While singing.
- In the DC vs Marvel crossover, Bullseye manages to catch one of Batman's batarangs and throws it right back at him. Batman astonished him by being able to duck in time.
- In the 1980s G.I. Joe comic from Marvel, Storm Shadow's Ninja sect weren't considered completely trained until they could catch a sword thrown at them and throw it back at their attacker... and they had to be blindfolded while they demonstrated the ability.
- Shang-Chi did this at least once in Master of Kung-Fu. Probably on the cover.
- Dani Moonstar, in an issue where she was temporarily empowered as a Valkyrie, did this with a missile fired at her from a fighter jet.
- Winter, of Stormwatch, did this with a lot of bullets from a gatling cannon (or two), thanks to his ability to absorb energy (kinetic in this case), then re-apply it in his chosen direction.
- A superpowered witch doctor in a Thor comic caught several volleys of machine gun rounds in his hands and threw them like bullets at the aggressors once.
- Basically Bishop's mutant power — he's able to absorb pretty much any energy directed against him, then redirect it as kinetic energy.
- Rachel Summers was shot at by a anti-mutant bigot. As she did this maneuver, she pointed out how stupid it was to think he could ambush a telepath, or that bullets would work against a telekinetic. Fortunately for the bigot, Magneto (who was reformed at the time) "caught" the bullet with his own powers.
Films — Animation
- Ronin does one of these in Epic. Can be seen at about 1:38 in the second trailer.
- In Kung Fu Panda 2, Po uses this to destroy Lord Shen's cannon ships by catching their cannonballs and throwing them back at them.
- Ashitaka pulls this off in Princess Mononoke. He loads the arrow into his bow rather than throwing it, however. Justified in that his arm was cursed with a demon (giving him super strength and reflexes).
- In the animated movie The Swan Princess, Prince Derek plays a training game called Catch-And-Fire, where he catches an arrow fired at him and shoots the same (or a different) target all in one motion. Naturally, he has to use it for real in the Climax.
Films — Live Action
- In the Harry Turtledove novel Blood and Iron, General Custer (having survived into the 1920s) does this with a homebrew bomb.
- In The Deerslayer, the eponymous character catches and throws back a tomahawk, splitting the thrower's head open. This is presented as a reaction based on pure instinct — he hadn't intended to kill the man. Nonetheless, he uses the ensuing chaos to steal a canoe and escape.
- The eponymous protagonist of Mickey Zucker Reichert's The Legend of Nightfall mentions early in the novel that he and a friend used to do this for fun, playing catch with throwing knives. Unsurprisingly, the skill comes in handy by the end of the book.
- In Frans Bengtsson's The Long Ships, a Viking crew member catches and returns a spear thrown from an approaching enemy ship, hitting the thrower and freaking BOTH crews out. When his amazed crewmates quiz him afterwards, he explains that it's just something he can do, and he doesn't tell people about it because one of his relatives was badly injured trying to duplicate the stunt. Given the (relatively slow) speed of a thrown spear and the returner's difficulty disclaimer, this is pretty realistic.
- Matilda does this with a carrot and telekinesis.
- Jiang Wei pulls this off in Romance of the Three Kingdoms. To be fair, he doesn't throw the arrow back, but his quiver had been spilled and catching an enemy arrow was the only way for him to use his bow.
- Kellhus of The Second Apocalypse does this when someone throws a spear at him. As you might expect, the attacker died with a look of complete surprise on his face.
- In the Saga of Hrolf Kraki, the retainers in King Hrolf's hall provoke the newcomer Bodvar Bjarki by throwing bones at him. After ignoring it for some time, he catches a particularly large bone and throws it back with such force that it kills the man who hurled it.
Live Action TV
- In the Season 4 premiere of Angel, Connor is quite proud of a 'cool' move where he catches and returns a vampire's axe.
- In one episode of the series Masquerade, Operation Masquerade recruits a baseball player to help them on the mission. He ends up using his baseball skills to take on a Ninja, including catching a shuriken in his mitt and hurling it back.
- Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers: One of the things Tommy did in his first battle with the Rangers as the Green Ranger was catching a Blade Blaster thrown at him and throwing it back, hitting Trini in the chest. The Dragonzord Fighting Mode wound up on the recieving end of this each time it tried throwing Dragonzord's head crest as a weapon.
- One of Lord Zedd's monster liked to throw bombs... which the Ranger tossed right back at him.
- Also happens in Power Rangers RPM, in Gem and Gemma's debut battle.
- Played for laughs with a snowball in Red Dwarf, episode "Timeslides".
- Khalek does this with his telekinesis in an episode of Stargate SG-1, when a squad is shooting at him on full auto. Slightly subverted in that the bullets normally simply bounce off his telekinetic "shield" in random directions. However, he just walks close enough to them to have the bullets hit the shooters.
- Interestingly, Khalek is played by the same actor (Neil Jackson) who would later play a telekinetic in Push with the same ability to create telekinetic shields.
- Sylar once did this with about half a dozen bullets at once. The telekinesis helped.
- At least once in Walker, Texas Ranger.
- Sara Pezzini from the live action adaptation of Witchblade once caught a crossbow bolt and threw it back at the shooter with enough force to kill. Justified, since the Witchblade itself is a supernatural weapon that grants the wielder superhuman strength and agility and the ability to manipulate time.
- Wonder Woman does this in one episode with a Bazooka Shell!
- In The Flash (2014), Barry does this when training his speed to be able to fight the Reverse-Flash. Cisco's drone is chasing him with machineguns and missiles. One missile narrowly misses Barry. When the second one is launched, Barry runs towards it, jumps, catches it in mid-air, and swings it back to fly straight at the drone. Cisco is both miffed and impressed, then reveals that he has two more drones... with lasers. Cue Dr. Wells spoiling his fun with "No lasers!"
- Destroy The Godmodder has an annoying amount of this. There have been many times where the godmodder would catch things like explosions, lasers, even a space ship, and then throw it at the person who launched it at him.
- In Champions, this is called "Missile Reflection" and is bought as an advanced form of "Missile Deflection".
- One of the special abilities martial artists can buy in Deadlands Classic, "Seize the Pearl o' Death", allows them to catch a thrown projectile and throw it back. But it doesn't stop there: if the (soon-to-be-ex) martial artist has big enough britches, she can try it with arrows, bullets, or cannonballs. If it succeeds, the martial artist can throw the projectile back with the same velocity it had when it was launched. If it fails, the character takes damage to both the hand and the body part that would've been hit anyway.
- The Dresden Files RPG doesn't have a specific ability for this, but you can combine the Juggler stunt, which lets you catch weapons thrown at you, with Riposte, which lets you counter attack. Dresden himself notes in the margins, "Juggler + Riposte = It's all in the reflexes!"
- Dungeons & Dragons
- In 3.5, the psionic feat Return Shot does this; being at the end of a chain of psionic feats, a psychic warrior is the most likely to have it. Any character can gain the feats to do this, so long as they meet the prerequisites. Monks get these feats as bonuses. With Epic feats they can backhand spells into the caster's face.
- Giants usually have Rock Catching (Ex) and Rock Throwing (Ex). The combination should be self evident.
- Spellthieves can do this, appropriately enough, when targeted with spells.
- The 2E Forgotten Realms Adventures also has the spell Missile Mastery, which allow a wizard to take control of a single missile by round for 4 rounds, and send it back at the thrower.
- Dragon magazine #60 article on the Jester NPC. Jesters can catch a weapon thrown at them and throw it back at the attacker.
- Then there is the magical item "Gloves of Missile Snaring". It should be evident what they allow the wearer to do...
- The "Laughter of the Monkey" fu power from the Feng Shui supplement "Blood of the Valiant" essentially allows you to do this.
- Magic: The Gathering lets you do this with Guile, whose ability lets you exile a spell you've countered (the catch) and then cast it for free (the return).
- In Warhammer 40,000, Aetaos'rau'keres, the "Slayer of Souls", a greater daemon of Tzeentch, has among a slew of abilities, a good chance of bouncing psychic powers used on him back at the enemy that cast it.
- One of the more entertaining mechanics from the Afro Samurai game is his ability to snatch bullets out of the air with his sword while in Focus mode, and then launch them back at the gunner.
- In Alice: Madness Returns, the Menacing Ruin can collect your Pepper Grinder shots and fling them back at you.
- In Anarchy Reigns, any character is capable of grabbing a rocket fired at them by a helicopter drone or otherwise and throwing it as an explosive projectile at the attacker or at anything in general. Including nearby enemies. Unlike above examples though, the timing is much more forgiving.
- Telekinesis in Bioshock can be used like this — grab the projectile mid-air and hurl it back. Of course, since the character in question is using psychic powers, this is a bit more plausible. An audio diary states that catching bullets is plenty possible if not for the user's slow reaction time.
- BioShock Infinite's "Return to Sender" vigor allows the user to absorb projectiles and launch them (or at least their pent-up kinetic energy) at other targets.
- In the second game's online, one of the uses of telekinesis can be used to grab grenades shot by a launcher to fire it back at whoever shot it. This is also one of the reasons not to use the homing missile upgrade for the said weapon, because the item moves slower, making this much easier to catch.
- Dead Space 2: Puker 'projectiles' can be caught and thrown back with your Kinesis, instantly killing their owner.
- You can do this via telekinesis and time stop in Destroy All Humans! 3. With tank missiles.
- In the battle with Credo in Devil May Cry 4, the spears that the boss throws can be caught with the Devil Bringer and then thrown right back at him.
- Theoretically possible in Skyrim as arrows in flight can be interacted with and picked up, but to do so would require inhuman reflexes.
- Or you can use the slow time shout. Also both you and your enemies are capable of using arrows that have actually struck (some of the time).
- In Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, the "Return Fire" reaction ability allows units to catch and throw arrows back at the shooter. On top of that, they can return fire to a place that they could not hit conventionally.
- In the PS2/Xbox game Godzilla Save The Earth, a skilled player can catch a building thrown by an opponent, and chuck it right back (though, the opponent can catch it, too, resulting in a game of catch until someone messes up).
- In the sequel, Godzilla Unleashed, while you are unable to catch and return a building, you can deflect the building off of you, negating the damage of the building, and (if you're lucky) have the building land right back on your opponent.
- An extremely satisfying method of disposing of Hunters in Half-Life 2: Episode Two involves picking a bulky object up with your Gravity Gun, using it as a shield against Hunter's antimatter flechettes, then smashing the Hunter hard with the object and flechettes lodged in it, causing annihilation. You even get an achievement for doing this.
- You can deflect missiles in Halo with a gravity hammer — if you're extremely skilled or lucky.
- In Halo 4 Forerunner Watchers can catch your grenades and send them back.
- In The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction, the Hulk can deal with an oncoming missile using two techniques: punching it back at the sender, or catching it to be thrown later, perhaps back at the sender. Both of these techniques are unlocked late, however, and non-trivial to execute. Also, he's the Hulk.
- In the Iron Man videogame, if you're flying, and a helicopter decides to send a missile your way, you can catch it and spin around, sending it back at them. Granted, it's extremely difficult, but awesome!
- In Kingdom Hearts, Riku will attempt to do this in the second mandatory fight with him if you use Blizzard or Fire on him, catching either move in his free hand, then sending it back as a burst of dark energy. However, you can just reflect the returned projectile back at him by guarding, which will hit him.
- In The Matrix Path Of Neo, Neo (after becoming the One) is able to stop bullets in mid-air, just like in the movies. However, later, this ability is upgraded into being able to throw the bullets back.
- A main gameplay mechanic in Mischief Makers, where Marina usually beats enemies/bosses by throwing their missiles and junk right back at them. Sometimes with an added "Shake Shake".
- In Ninja Senki, the last two levels feature Kung Fu Master enemies that can catch and throw your shurikens right back at you. The only way to defeat them is to shoot them in the back.
- Prototype allows you to catch whatever object an enemy picks and throws at you, though it requires considerable skill and good timing.
- In Resident Evil 4, Leon interrupts The Dragon's monologue by throwing his knife, and nailing his hand to a pillar. The Dragon's bodyguard then takes the knife and throws it back at Leon, meaning he has to Press X to Not Die.
- Similar to the above Afro Samurai example, Samurai Gunn has a mechanic where any Painfully Slow Projectiles fired by other players can be deflected back with a well-timed sword slash. This can happen multiple times depending on how well the timing is, and this "bullet tennis" instantly becomes hilarious.
- The Glove and Super Glove items in Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing Transformed will neutralize any item attack while active. If your item slot is empty, it'll add that item to it. There is a sticker (for 100% completion and decorating your game save file) you earn for catching an item with the Glove and successfully sending it back at the attacker.
- In Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 2 several enemy vehicles can only be damaged by catching their projectiles with the Force and returning them back.
- In the first game, Starkiller can catch Palpatine's Force Lightning with his lightsaber and send it back.
- This is how you actually defeat both Giga Lakitu and Megahammer in Super Mario Galaxy 2.
- This is the Baseball Boys' schtick in Yoshis Island. The ones with the mitts will literally catch Yoshi's eggs and toss them back after a short delay, whereas the ones with the bats will just deflect them immediately by hitting those eggs.
- The infamous Golden Torizo in Super Metroid can catch your Super Missiles (!!) and throw them right back at you.
- Mario could do this to Donkey Kong's Barrels in Donkey Kong '94.
- Donkey Kong Jungle Beat give Donkey Kong several opportunities to do this with coconuts and pineapples. In the case of the hog bosses, electrified coconuts!
- In Super Smash Bros. Melee, it's possible with proper timing, to catch a thrown item by pressing A just before you are hit, which makes it possible to use this trope.
- Then this trick is made even easier to do in Brawl. It also annoys human opponents to no end.
- One of Villager's abilities in Smash 4 is to catch an enemy's projectile weapon, store it in his inventory and then fire it back later.
- In Xenogears, Id catches a battleship and tosses it back.
- The Scout from Team Fortress 2 at one point was going to be given a baseball glove as an unlockable weapon to literally catch projectiles and throw them back at the enemy. This idea was soon dismissed after only a brief period of consideration, but the idea of an Attack Reflector was later given to the Pyro in the form of the airblast.
- Dodgeball, naturally. In some versions of the game, the "return" part isn't even necessary, as catching the ball qualifies as an instant "out" to the opponent that threw it.
- An attempted assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand was foiled when a bomb was thrown at his car, and he simply picked it up and tossed it out of the car. It exploded under the car behind him, wounding 20 people. It didn't make much difference, since he was shot later that day, sparking World War I.
- He got shot because he insisted on going to visit the injured at the hospital, which caused him to cross paths with his assassin Gavrilo Princip; who was buying a sandwich and was probably as surprised as his victim when he got the opportunity to assassinate him.
- The Roman army designed their thrown javelins to break after one use, so as to avoid this trope happening to them.
- It also left the metal points of the javelins bent and embedded in the flesh of anyone they hit, inflicting worse injuries.
- Or hopelessly embedded in their shields, which was almost as good since it made actually using the shield nigh-impossible. And shields were absolutely essential to the combat tactics of that era. Once the battle was over, the bent javelins were retrieved, and blacksmiths would straighten them out (the relatively soft iron used to make them bend in the first place made this a fairly easy thing to do).
- The heads of javelins were originally fitted with metal rivets, so while they would break on impact with armor or a shield, they would remain intact upon contact with flesh or soft ground, enabling armies of unarmored opponents in a desert region (such as Jugurtha's men) to throw them back. Marius corrected this problem by ordering spearheads to be fixed with wooden rivets, so that even impact with flesh or soft ground would break the spearhead off.
- One of modern-day super-archer Lars Andersen's many, many feats of bowmanship is catching an arrow fired at him and shooting it back, proving that the trope is physically possible (though still insanely difficult).