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A series of murder attempts that should have succeeded but fail through outrageous misfortune. For example, the target trips and falls or bends down to tie his shoelaces at the exact moment the bullet zips by overhead, unheeded.
A very, very common variation is for the intended attack to miss the target and instead kill another person, thus forcing the murderer to cover up his tracks for a murder he didn't want to commit. Very well known for throwing off even the greatest detectives (at least until the end of the episode).
Sometimes paired with the Plank Gag
for extra slapstick
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- An old Australian television ad for insurance had some average Joe walking along the street, narrowly avoiding accidents. One of the accidents he ducks (literally) is the Plank Gag. He drops the coin he is flipping and bends down to pick it up just as the workman with the plank turns around, the plank passing harmlessly over the top of him.
Anime & Manga
- Used to hilarious effect in School Rumble where Tenma is trying to deliver a love note directly to Karasuma by arrow, and he spontaneously Flash Steps out of the way, and goes into more and more crazy positions as the Macross Missile Massacres of arrows miss him by millimeters.
- This happens in Skip Beat! when Kanae's rival tries to injure her and steal her spot in an ad, only to be foiled by Kyoko, who keeps pulling Kanae out of danger without knowing it. Hilarity ensues, with the rival and her mooks getting off worst.
- In Sumomo Mo Momo Mo, Sanae is walking with Kushi when Iroha throws a pencil at the back of her head at breakneck speed. Sanae sneezes and the pencil misses leading you to believe she dodged it on accident. Later at the end of that same chapter, Iroha tries the same method only for Sanae to sneeze again and give Iroha a glare, telling Iroha that she's actually dodging on purpose, however everyone else still takes it as a moment of luck dodge.
- In Pokémon, when May attempts to catch Munchlax, all of Combusken's attacks are dodged by Munchlax by... picking up pokeblocks, and lying down to take a nap.
- A specialty of the protagonist of Angel Densetsu.
- When drunk, Rock Lee blends fluid motion, economy of movement, and a number of minor accidents to dodge most any attack launched at him. How many of his accidents are real or faked is hard to tell.
- Episode 101 shows a group of filler ninja who are after Kakashi. While at a hotsprings, they decide to use a poisonous dart against him. Just as the blow dart is flying toward Kakashi, we see a slow motion shot of him bowing down to get into the water and avoiding it completely. The funny part comes when during the scene, he actually states that he's going in slow motion.
Kakashi: And slowly, I sink in...
- Used in Ranma ˝, when Akane is possessed by a doll determined to murder Ranma. Throughout most of the arc, he doesn't realize "Akane" is trying to kill him and keeps dodging her attacks through mere coincidence.
- Invoked in Trigun, when Vash pretends to be dodging bullets accidentally as he dances into a captured bank, in accordance with his Obfuscating Stupidity.
Deputy: He's dodging the bullets!
Mayor: Dodging!? That brick doesn't realize he's being shot at!
- The premise behind Kill Doctor Lucky is that you are trying to, well, Kill Doctor Lucky. Nobody can directly stop an assassination attempt since they're always done out of sight, but other players can play "fail cards" that cause your plan to fail due to Doctor Lucky's luck.
- Calvin and Hobbes: Hobbes, as is his imaginary tiger nature, would have pounced on Calvin from behind if Calvin didn't bend down at the last moment to pick up a dime.
- Used in a 2012 comic of Pearls Before Swine.
- A running gag in Krazy Kat. Krazy would bend down to talk to a smaller creature, such as a "woim", just as Ignatz was throwing his customary brick. If Ignatz was lucky, it would merely have to be retrieved and thrown again. On a bad day, it would hit Officer Pupp.
Films — Live-Action
- Stanley Stupid of The Stupids goes through this.
- The Pink Panther series
- Inspector Clouseau is a target of this in A Shot in the Dark.
- In The Pink Panther Strikes Again, Dreyfus puts a price on Clouseau's head. An insane number of hitmen try to kill him at the same time; Clouseau dodges them and they all kill each other. It's not certain how much of the assassins killing each other is unintentional, though, since they're all competing to kill Clouseau, killing each other is also removing the competition, and is probably a secondary goal for all of them.
- The Old Lady in A Fish Called Wanda, who survives several attempts on her life... at the cost of one after another of her pack of lap dogs. Worse: the assassin is an animal lover.
- Hot Shots: A guard that Rambo... er, Topper is shooting arrows at does this a dozen times, only realizing it after Topper ran out of ammunition when he turns around and sees the door behind him filled with arrows. Then Topper improvises.
- Wally Ritchie in The Man Who Knew Too Little is the avatar of this trope. Good God.
- The climax of The Day of the Jackal. The entire rest of the film focuses on the assasins' build-up to the attempt. Same goes for the Book on which the Film was based on.
- In the original movie, Sarah narrowly escapes being noticed by the Terminator when she knocks a water bottle off her table in the bar.
- Miles Dyson escapes assassination by Sarah Connor in Terminator 2: Judgement Day, when he is disturbed by his son's remote control truck.
- Happens in the French movie La Vengeance du serpent ŕ plumes. The protagonist is trailed by an assassin in the Parisian subway while eating a banana. You'd expect the Banana Peel trope to come into play, but the bad guy instead slips on a discarded metal can just as he's about to strike, and falls on his own blade. The clueless "hero" then discard the banana peel, which lands on the face of the dying assassin.
- In an episode of Power Rangers Wild Force, Jindrax attempts to off Taylor by throwing daggers at her, but, because she is playing whack-a-mole, she unintentionally dodges them all.
- When Quark from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine gets named as the Grand Nagus's successor, an attempt is made on his life at his predecessor's funeral with a ridiculously accurate autonomous flying missile device. Just as it locks on and fires off its thrusters full strength for the kill, he spots a coin on the floor and he dodges the deadly attack just as he bends over to pick it up.
- In an early episode of Sledgehammer, Sledge is unaware a price of $1M has been put on his head. As he's waiting at a red light, two assassins, each hoping to claim the bounty for their own, pull up on either side of Sledge's car and take aim. Sledge invokes this trope and the hapless would-be assassins shoot each other.
- In one Monk episode, Monk avoids being shot by a drive-by shooter just because he was bending down to pick something up.
- Happens to Earl when he's listening to a "stop smoking" cassette. His ex-wife Joy wants to get her hands on the lotto money (that he claimed just after she divorced him for Darnell), and to do that, she tries to murder him (because she's the beneficiary in his (illegitimate) will). She tried to buy a gun, but since there was a three-day waiting period, she bought herself a crossbow to shoot Earl with. She misses him three times while he moves around without even realizing he's being shot at or who's doing it.
- LMFAO's members accidentally fend off a group of vampires by dancing, taking shots, and general partying in the video for "Champagne Showers".
- In Kindred of the East this is the most common effect of Passive Joss for all Dhampyr. With the Poison Joss flaw the bystander getting in the way becomes commonplace.
- In Avernum, drawn by Phil Foglio, the picture drawn to illustrate the Luck Stat shows a character bending to pick up a coin while, unbeknownst to him, an arrow whistles over his head. This is true to the game; the Luck stat (among other things) increases the chance that a fatal blow won't actually kill you.
- In No One Lives Forever, you have to protect a politician who keeps bending over to pick up change that keeps falling through a hole in his pocket.
- In Threads of Fate Rue leans down to tie his shoelaces just as Mint tries to high-jump kick him into a lake. Naturally, she falls in instead.
- In an episode of Sam & Max: Freelance Police, the heroes use Max's newfound psychic powers to see that Flint Paper will receive a hatchet to the head in the near future. When Sam gives him a helmet without explaining why, the helmet's light illuminates Flint's lunch, causing him to notice the peanuts he didn't see before... and as he bends over to examine, the hatchet flies over Flint's head.
- Happens to this player of Team Fortress 2. Given that he was moving from cover, he was probably intentionally trying to make himself hard to hit. But the timing of his crouch is just too perfect to not be the result of either luck or clairvoyance.
- In Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories, pseudo-subverted with an unlucky Sindacco being run over by Salvatore Leone while bending over to pick up a dollar.
- In Noob, this has happened at least once while Sparadrap was fighting against Dark Avenger, contributing to the long-standing Mistaken for Badass situation between the two.
- The Simpsons: Grampa Simpson and Homer have both done this a few times. The most famous (and tragic, and permanent) example being when Homer bending over for a bobby pin gets Maude Flanders killed.
- Family Guy: Lois Griffin is the target of a mob contract foiled by chance.
- Inspector Gadget: Happens approximately Once per Episode, with Gadget blissfully unaware of the MAD agents out to do him in.
- Futurama: During "The Duh-Vinci Code" Animatronio blows a dart towards Farnsworth, who bends down noticing something. Perhaps a subversion because the dart hits Bender in the eye, but due to his being a robot and all, doesn't faze him.
- Kappa Mikey: Mikey does this while being targeted by agents from Mitsuki's old spy job.
- Duck Dodgers: Can happen to Dodgers when he's in full The Fool mode. In "The Wrath of Canasta", he avoids a laser shot by leaning to pick an apple, and said laser ricochets until it cuts a rope, leading to Nasty Canasta being crushed by a ton of bricks.
- In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode Inspiration Manifestation, Spike’s oblivious to the room crumbling as he walks away with an ancient tome.
- Mobster Mickey Cohen survived any number of attempts on his life by such means as bending down at the last second to check a scratch on his car.