Concealment Equals Cover

"Thank God for these bulletproof tables they've got everywhere now."
Jigen, Lupin III (Red Jacket) (Geneon dub)

Concealment and cover are two totally different things. Yet Hollywood seems to get the two mixed up.

  • Concealment: You can't see through it. Walls, garbage cans, car doors, Bulletproof Human Shield, etc.
  • Cover: Stops bullets (and other projectile objects). Some concealment objects may stop bullets, depending on the object and the bullet. Others will not. Most examples of Cover are also examples of Concealment, but not all (bulletproof glass, for example, will not conceal you at all, even if it does stop bullets).

Hollywood seems to apply this trope most egregiously to car doors. Car doors are mostly plastic with a thin metal plate on the outside, designed to maintain its structure against broad and wide pressure of another car impacting it, but most certainly not designed to withstand bullets. Other than police cars which have been specially designed to withstand the impact, there isn't a car on the market whose doors could stop even fairly low-caliber bullets.

The trope also applies to buildings, however. A bullet will generally be expected to manage 12 inches of penetration in ballistic gel to be considered a useful defense load, and this will generally allow it to penetrate any interior walls of an average American home. Even special frangible rounds are only designed to be stopped by the heavier brick exterior walls so they don't exit the building and hit random passers by.

This trope is powered by the Rule of Perception; if you can't see it, you can't hit it. Of course, it's true that it's harder to hit something you can't see, simply because you can't be sure where it is; this trope is about anything opaque being effectively bulletproof. In reality, the only good concealment does is if it is so total the shooter does not know you are there and only then if it is long enough for him/her to move on, for you to ready and use your own weapon, or for you to escape without being seen before you're out of range. Though if you have nothing better that qualifies as actual cover, getting as much mass (of any form from a building wall to a vehicle's engine block) between you and the shooter might turn what would be a fatal wound into a survivable one instead - especially with a lower-caliber bullet or weaker firearm, or it can make it harder for an inexperienced shooter not armed with an automatic weapon to properly aim for a fatal shot. (For example, running into a building won't do a thing for you against someone armed with an Uzi or AK/AR weapon, but it may well save your life against someone with a shotgun or some handguns, especially the further inside you run and the further away the shooter is - one wall between is concealment, two or three or four thick walls is solid cover depending on the weapon and the distance of the shooter.)

In Video Games, this can be considered an Acceptable Break From Reality in games with cover systems, since it would be frustrating to get into what appeared to be cover only to find the enemy could still hit you just fine; players tend to only object when things no reasonable person would try to hide behind like ordinary glass or picket fences are still totally bulletproof, or the cover system is inconsistent and unclear to use. It tends to be more of a problem when enemies can take cover in places that blatantly aren't cover, such as being protected from a hand grenade by hiding behind a rack of magazines or handrail.

This is common enough that only aversions, subversions and justified cases should be listed. Contrast with The All-Seeing A.I., where concealment most definitely does not equal cover or concealment.

Also see Bulletproof Human Shield, when bodies are used for cover, and Bombproof Appliance or Improbable Cover, for when tissue-paper stops explosions. If the bullet is stopped by some small object on the hero's person, that's Pocket Protector. Contrast Bullethole Door, where bullets are usually more effective than they really should be; having both tropes in the same work is a great way to induce Fridge Logic.


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  • Played with in an ad that has the police take cover behind their squad doors (as noted above, those are designed to stop bullets), only for them to run forward to take cover behind a CARDBOARD BOX. Of course, the stupidness of that action was the point of the ad.

  • Justified in Black Lagoon — the team's favorite drinking spot attracts dangerous weirdos from the whole neighbourhood, so the owner had his bar reinforced for use as cover. Also averted during the "Baile de la Muerte" arc, when the US Army unit "Grey Fox" slaughters the mercenaries hired to kill them by shooting through the walls and doors.
  • Subverted in one One Piece movie, where new hero Shuraiya takes cover behind a table during a bar fight, and the bullets punch right through the table beside his head. He then uses the table more as concealment and keeps moving it so they can't tell where he is behind it. Interestingly, since they were firing flintlocks, the heavy oak table probably would have stopped the bullet in real life.
  • One issue of City Hunter, with a criminal in a cafe who tells Ryo he can't shoot him - because Ryo's gun is so powerful, the bullet will go through him and the window behind him, and risk hitting an innocent bystander outside. Ryo shoots through his own hand to slow down the bullet enough to avoid this.
  • Justified in one issue of Angel Heart, where the villains tried to shoot inside the Cat's Eye cafe through the windows to no effect: the owners being Umibozu and Miki, the windows were in bulletproof glass.
  • Lampshaded in Aria The Scarlet Bullet, where Aria and Kinji take shelter from a storm of bullets inside a wooden vaulting box… which Aria quickly reveals to be bulletproof.
  • Lupin III Pilot Film zig-zags the effectiveness of this trope, with Lupin's knife cutting through a tapestry to strike at Fujiko, only to be stopped by a playing card, and later, the policemen avoid Jigen's shots by hiding behind a table.
  • Trigun often averts this, with everything that people try hiding behind getting torn to pieces by massive hails of bullets whether said object is a wooden table or a stone wall.
  • Discussed in an extra episode of Full Metal Panic! where Melissa Mao and Tessa hold a mock Arm Slave battle. Mao gets tripped up because she tries to fire paint rounds through a small tree, and she complains that real guns would go straight through such a thing.

  • Averted in issue #53 of Garth Ennis's run on The Punisher MAX. The Punisher and Barracuda take cover behind their respective cars, but the artwork clearly shows the bullets easily punching through.
  • Hitman. Diving behind the bar in a dive would usually help as your opponent wouldn't quite know where to blast. However if he has X-Ray vision...
  • Averted in Road to Perdition, in which Michael O'Sullivan repeatedly takes down adversaries who are hiding behind doors or tables.

    Fan Works 
  • Averted with chilling results in Shell Shock. A fleeing enemy soldier tries to take cover behind some bushes, only to be shot through them.
  • Averted and lampshaded in Lelouch of Britannia. When an enemy ducks behind a couch, the minigun-wielding Darlton (disguised as Zero) shoots him through the couch and remarks, "Lesson 2: Never confuse concealment with cover."

  • Averted in Real Genius. The finished prototype laser goes through the blast shield, three walls, a statue, a billboard, a tree, and continues all the way to town.
  • Averted in The Terminator. When the Terminator attacks the police station, he shoots a cop right through the wall, as a cop realizes standing in the doorway is not a good idea and ducks behind the wall, to no avail.
  • Averted in the shootout from The International. One of the guys gets shot through a dresser he was using for cover.
  • Die Hard:
    • Averted in the first film, including one scene where McClane shoots a mook through a table.
    • Also averted twice in Live Free or Die Hard. First when the two main characters are shot at not only through the window, but through the building's exterior walls, and when McClane shoots the Big Bad through himself.
  • Also averted in The Book of Eli, in pretty much exactly the same way as the Die Hard example.
  • Averted in Snatch, Tony shouts through the wall for his boss to duck, then empties the magazine at body height through the wall. He successfully hits two of the four guys in the hallway besides his boss, and the other two decide to scram.
  • Averted in an almost identical way in The Matrix, where Agent Smith fires through a wall to hit the leg of an escaping Morpheus.
  • Averted in The Professional. Matilda's little brother runs from the corrupt DEA agents, one of them starts spraying through the wall with a kimmel ap-9 and manages to hit him. Later, when the police try to storm Leon's and Matilda's hideout, the bullets go through the wall, which makes the situation rather sticky for those inside.
  • In Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Brad Pitt takes shelter from Angelina Jolie's UMP45 by hiding behind a fridge door (though it was definitely a very expensive stainless steel fridge; the stopping effect on .45 ACP bullets on a particular fridge of this type can only be tested). Later, when he tries to peek around a corner, she shoots through the wall and almost hits him.
  • Lethal Weapon:
    • Averted in Lethal Weapon 3: Murtaugh gives one of the main villains a Karmic Death by shooting through a bulldozer using the same armour-piercing bullets he'd sold to Murtaugh's son's friend who he was forced to kill.
      • From the same: Murtaugh killed the friend of his son by shooting through his cover; and the villains killed a young cop by shooting him through both the oil drums he was hiding behind and his bullet proof vest.
    • Averted in Lethal Weapon 4. Riggs kills a man who was hiding behind some pipes, by using another pipe to deflect the bullet so the hiding guy stands up from the pain of getting shot.
  • Averted in Road to Perdition. Rance runs away and disappears behind a wall when the gunfight between Sullivan and Maguire breaks out, but the pellets from Maguire's shotgun easily penetrated the plaster wall and killed him anyway.
  • Averted in Millers Crossing, when The Dane shoots a thug through the wall.
  • Death Wish:
  • Alien Nation had bullets piercing all the way through a car (and the guy hiding behind it), but the bullets were revealed to be special, industrial-strength Dakka.
  • Averted in Saving Private Ryan, when a German soldier is killed through the interior wall of a building. The other Germans then shoot back through the wall and hit one of the Americans.
  • Averted in Lord of War. The mobster who hides behind a restaurant table only has his luck to thank for escaping the assassination attempt. When we're shown the scene from behind him, it's clear the table has been shot clearly through - he's only alive because the gunmen are woefully incompetent and have sprayed and prayed instead of shooting the table in the center.
  • Tremors 2. Burt trains his anti-tank rifle, which he intended to use on the extremely-tough Graboids, on a significantly less tough Shrieker. The shot kills the Shrieker and keeps going, eventually hitting the engine of the escape vehicle. Oops.
  • Parodied in I'm Gonna Git You Sucka: at one point, the hero takes cover behind a chicken wire fence.
  • Averted in Bullshot (1983). The hero blasts away at a huge tarantula crawling across the floor, nearly killing several people in the dining room below. He then spends several minutes running about searching for the 'mad gunman' who's just shot up the place.
  • In the climactic gunfight scene at the end of The Shootist, J.B. Books (John Wayne) kills one of the bad guys (Richard Boone) by shooting through the barroom table top which the bad guy is holding in front of himself.
  • The Green Hornet. One of the reasons the heroes even consider being vigilantes is because the Hypercompetent Sidekick is very efficient at bullet-proofing cars. Then they invent offensive weaponry that requires them to open the car doors.
  • Grosse Pointe Blank has John Cusack evading bullets by hiding behind a rack of potato chips.
  • Averted twice in Magnum Force when Harry shoots a hijacker who is hiding behind a thin partition in a airliner; and again when a cop is shot through a door.
  • Averted in No Country for Old Men, when the assassin blasts the hell out of a mook hiding behind in a closet behind a thin plywood wall. The assassin previously rented a room in the same motel and specifically inspected an identical closet wall in order to insure he could do this.
  • Subverted in Sahara. When the heroes take shelter from the villains inside a beached ironclad, the hero is confident the Civil War-era armor is thick enough to hold up to even against a modern gunship. Unfortunately, the villain is using armor-piercing rounds.
  • Played for laughs in True Lies when Tom Arnold's character takes cover behind a lamp post against automatic fire; every bullet hits the post. Even he can't believe it (though it's perfectly plausible: an iron light post is more than enough to stop an AKS 74 U bullet, and the deduction of silhouette it provided against automatic fire is pretty substantial; moreover, the only parts that COULD be hit would be the agent's belly fat and butt fat).
    • Played straight in the opening chase sequence, where the bad guys' 5.56 rounds are stopped by a rather skinny softwood tree.
  • Invoked/averted in Major Payne. A kid complains about the monster in his closet, to which Payne responds by firing several pistol rounds into the closet. "If he's still in there, he ain't happy".
  • Averted in Taken 2 where some mooks try to shoot Bryan through a wall.
  • Averted in the Jason Statham film Safe (2012). When a group of Chinese gangsters take cover behind an overturned table, Statham's character shoots them right through it.
  • Dredd:
    • Subverted when Ma-Ma uses M61 Vulcan cannons to kill Judge Dredd and Anderson, the civilians on that floor of the Peach Trees are seen taking cover in their concrete-enclosed apartments and behind tables but still get torn to shreds. Even when the two heroes and their detainee are taking cover on the complete opposite side of the floor, the rounds still penetrate through the walls, missing the three only because the path of firing is just too high to hit them. The rounds even open a hole in the reinforced metal blast doors at the very back.
    • Averted when Dredd takes cover behind a concrete wall, only for Lex to switch to armor-piercing rounds and shoot right through it. He didn't know exactly where Dredd was, though, so he just shot a line down the wall and got Dredd with the last round.
  • Defied in Veronica Mars: Veronica knows the her-sized plastic trash bins won't stop the Big Bad from shooting her, so she dupes him into thinking she's in the bins when she's actually hiding on the other side of the room, giving herself the drop on him.
  • Assassins: Averted. Walls and other minor obstructions provide no innate cover throughout the film, and both assassins frequently try to kill each other by shooting right through them.

  • Averted in the Dresden Files where Harry is often careful when either firing his revolver or using his shield to deflect bullets fired at him due to the risk of an overpenetrating bullet hitting a civilian. It does actually happen in Ghost Story where an unfortunate neighbour of Murphy is mentioned as having been killed from automatic weapons over-penetrating after an attack on her home.
  • In Red Square, a novel by Martin Cruz Smith (one of the sequels to Gorky Park), a German police officer opens fire on a group of suspected assassins (working for The Mafiya) without ever seeing them. He simply unloads a submachine gun through the wall. And then proceeds to do so again, aiming lower in case any of them decided to go prone. He doesn't report this, as his superiors might object to him just gunning down someone without warning or even seeing them.
  • Averted in the Discworld novel Men at Arms, when Vimes is attacked: The Gonne clearly shoots through walls, and Vimes has to outwit its wielder.
    • It's explicitly noted that it is only a "lath and plaster" wall, and he knows this thing shoots heavy, lead projectiles with enough force to go inches into oak flooring...
    • What's really great is that he has to outwit his assassin twice - the assassin knows the old "use an arrow to hold your helmet up" trick. Vimes uses a pole used for opening windows.
  • Justified at least once in the Star Wars Expanded Universe - Genre Savvy cantina owners are known for using reinforced chairs, tables, and such so that they won't have to replace it all after the Inevitable Bar Fight.
  • Discussed In-verse in A Storm of Swords as Jon warns a young inexperienced fighter not to stand behind the scarecrow sentinels they have guarding windows, as straw won't impede an arrow.
  • Averted in the Spy Fiction novel "Running Blind" by Desmond Bagley, where the protagonist gets his hands on a high-powered sniper rifle and uses it to shoot through the walls of the house his KGB opponents are in, killing or wounding everyone inside.
  • Justified in many of David Drake's novels. Plasma weapons lose containment if they hit anything but air, so even a twig will stop a plasma cannon shot. Once.
    • This only works if you're way behind concealment. Hitting light cover doesn't "stop" the shot, it detonates it at that spot.
  • Subverted in Retribution Falls by Chris Wooding. An enemy mook hides behind a large but empty wooden crate and is promptly shot dead.
  • Blood Makes the Grass Grow Green, Johnny Rico's (real name) autobiographical account of a self-described hippie liberal serving as a US Infantryman in Afghanistan, subverts this trope. Johnny takes cover from incoming small arms fire to see his comrades staring him in shock. He's taken cover behind some hay and the enemy are shooting through it to try to hit him. Fortunately for Johnny, A-Team Firing is often Truth in Television.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 24: One episode involves Jack Bauer and a hostile both taking cover behind various interior structures. Jack pops up from behind his railing, and shoots through the pillar his opponent is hiding behind, killing her.
  • Bones: In one episode, a Genre Savvy bad guy is taking cover behind a heavy steel door, only to learn that the Hand Cannon that he had mocked Agent Booth for carrying was sufficiently powerful to penetrate through the door and hit him anyways.
  • Breaking Bad: Averted. Mike shoots a cartel henchman through a wall after being given subtle instructions from said henchman's hostage on how high to aim.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The episode "Homecoming" has Buffy trick the pair of assassins hunting her into shooting each other through a wall.
  • Burn Notice: The pilot episode lampshades this with a drug dealer's apartment, who has a reinforced door. Michael explains that most people ignore the fact that most walls are just drywall and plaster, which he uses to shoot the dealer in the knee from outside. Michael and Sam later deliberately armor a car with phone books and bulletproof glass, expecting to be hit by a gang. The outside of the car is still riddled with holes but none penetrate inside.
  • Community: Justified in the paintball episode (S1 eE3 Modern Warfare). In paintball concealment does equals cover, paintballs doesn't really go through anything.
  • CSI: Averted Trope in one episode; a little girl is killed by a stray bullet from a drive-by, despite being inside her house ducking sensibly under the bed.
  • Malcolm in the Middle: Averted (good work for a sitcom). In one episode, Malcolm tries to destroy a loaded pistol by sawing into it. When the pistol fires, the bullet penetrates several walls.
  • MythBusters: Demonstrated that a car door stuffed with phone books will stop bullets fired from handguns. Low-calibre handguns.
  • Revolution: Averted at least once: in episode 3, a member of the Monroe Militia tries to get cover from a sniper behind a car's door. The bullet finds him anyway.
  • The Sarah Connor Chronicles: Justified Trope. The first episode features a Terminator discovering the Connors' new apartment, and a shootout ensues, during which Sarah uses a recliner as cover, successfully. A couple scenes later, the police are examining the apartment and discover the chair had been lined with kevlar.
  • Stargate SG-1: Averted. The heroes use C-4 to open a blast door (two blocks, because it's a blast door). The people trapped inside overturn a table to hide behind, but a massive spike of door is embedded in it anyway, nearly skewering someone on the other side.
  • Top Gear:
    • In the 2010 Christmas special, the boys were instructed to drive through the worn-torn Middle East to Bethlehem. Security was high on their mind, and they drove around in Kevlar vests and helmets. At one point, Jeremy has an idea to stuff his doors with sandbags for additional protection. However, a 9mm handgun (albeit fired at close range) went through the reinforced door and out the other.
    • Taken to extremes in the Top Gear Range Rover vs. Challenger 2 main battle tank. The rules of the game: Jeremy has to escape and evade a single Challenger 2, traversing the Challenger's own training grounds of the Salisbury plain. The tank's job is to score a simulated kill on Jeremy using the tank's 120mm main gun. (allowing the crew to remember that they also had two 7.62mm machine guns and personal sidearms, although both are shown in the opening briefing, would have made it far too easy). Jeremy then proceeds to hide behind a bush before recalling the difference.
  • Worst Case Scenarios: One episode of this TBS show based on the Worst Case Scenario Survival Guide and starring a guy named Mike Rowe featured a scene with a man taking cover behind a concrete pillar during a parking garage gunfight. We see a bullet hole burst through the pillar at head level, a few inches to one side of him.

    Oral Tradition 
  • Averted with a legend from the Wild West. While staying at an inn, a gunfighter in Texas, kept awake by loud snoring in the room next door, fired his gun through the wall and killed the culprit in his sleep.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer 40,000 has a variation - while fortifications made to absorb attacks provide an excellent 'cover save' protection from ranged attacks, things like really high grass can still provide a lesser one. The rules explicitly say the reason for that is how it would make the victim of a ranged attack harder to target. It gets stranger with other units - units in front of other units provide a small 'cover save' for the units behind them, since they are in the way which makes it harder to hit the ones behind, even if the ranged weapons in question should be capable of annihilating the units in the way and then strike the ones behind them (there are no other rules for it, so a successful cover save in this manner would have no chance of harming the units in front of the others. An unsuccessful one would just have the units behind be hit.)
    • This (4+) cover save isn't small; it's as good as the save granted for holing up inside a building or hiding inside a treeline. Human Shield indeed! It's Handwaved with a "fouled aim" justification, and rarely justified why the enemy simply didn't shoot anyway.
      • And due to the fact that the narrative tabletop game Inquisitor might have only a handful of models in a given game, it can go into minute details. A character can take cover behind a wall, crate, fortified bunker or whatever they're near - it simply absorbs part of the damage from the shot like an additional layer of armour, so a person hiding behind a wooden crate and being shot at will almost certainly still be hit, but the crate will absorb some of the power and do marginally less damage (or, if they're really lucky, deplete enough of the energy and cause the shot to then deflect off their personal armour)
    • Warhammer Fantasy makes cover more difficult to hit a given unit with missiles (in the case of solid walls because they can duck, and in the case of "soft" cover such as fences or bushes because it's harder to hit something you can't see clearly), not to damage, and sometimes is ignored totally in some cases. So a unit behind a wall might be hit less often by the average guy with a handgun, but a superbly trained assassin will most likely not be bothered that much, and a gout of flaming chemicals will just roil over the cover. Units interposed between the shooter and victim unit have the same penalty as a brick wall because the firing unit either is put off by the nearer enemy, or has to stop themselves from accidentally firing into their own soldiers wandering into their sights.
  • Averted in D&D's (and its many spinoffs): Cover and Concealment differ.
    • In AD&D 1 and 2, Cover penalizes attack roll more, gives the same adjustment to saving throws and 90% cover (i.e. peeking out) turns typical area affecting attacks from "save for half damage" into "half damage save for none".
    • In D&D3 they are entirely separate systems Cover gives a bonus to your Armour Class (with the logic that cover blocks some attacks completely), while Concealment gives a random, percentage-based chance that the attack missed (since it just makes aiming at your real location harder). The humour here is that, against a sufficiently skilled enemy, the bonus to armour class can be made irrelevant by a good enough attack, while the miss chance is virtually always relevant, so under some circumstances, having half of your body obscured by mist or swaying tree branches is better protection than having half of your body behind a stone wall.
    • The exception to this is 'total cover', which is when you are, well, totally covered by something that blocks line of sight (like standing behind a stone wall that completely obscures you from your foe). Characters behind total cover cannot be directly targeted or attacked.
      • This, however, has its own unusual interaction. Fact One: Tower Shields can be used to provide total cover. Fact Two: Equipment and other carried objects are under the same conditions as you if applicable, unless otherwise specified. So when you're hiding behind a tower shield, you have total cover. When you have total cover, so does your shield.
  • In GURPS cover and concealment are part of a single system. A big enough gun can simply shoot through cover but hitting the uncovered parts of the body comes at a penalty.
  • In the Warhammer Roleplaying systems (Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, Dark Heresy and its spin-offs), cover adds a flat armour bonus to your character to any part that's behind it (although the cover is reduced every time it's penetrated) while concealment just gives your opponent penalties to hit. Being so covered you're not visible just makes it impossible for you to be hit except by indirect-fire weapons (like mortars).
  • Can naturally occur in games that put less focus on the physics of combat and run it more as a narrative exercise. For instance, in Wushu "I duck behind the car door" would be essentially just another detail earning a die towards the eventual resolution roll for that turn, the car door's in-universe ability or lack thereof to stop any incoming bullets wouldn't even enter into it because the game doesn't so much as try to resolve matters at that level — if the character doesn't take damage the turn he's behind that car door, then it obviously worked for some reason. (In fact, there'd be nothing mechanically mandating that that die would then even have to be used for defense — by the rules the player in question would be perfectly free to just put it into his "yang", i.e. attack, die pool for that turn along with any others.)

    Video Games 
  • Metal Gear
    • In a particularly ridiculous example, in The Twin Snakes, you are attacked by a boss piloting an M1 Abrams tank firing high explosive rounds. You can avoid damage by hiding behind a snowbank.
    • Also averted to a certain extent in Guns of the Patriot's online mode. You can hide behind wooden boxes and the like, but if somebody has a high powered weapon you can still get shot if they know where you are. With the right combination of feat and weapon, you can get shot in the head before you peek out of cover.
  • Avoided in John Woo Presents Stranglehold, powerful weapons can - with repeat fire - tear through many walls and columns, including reinforced concrete in some cases. Means you can't hide behind that flimsy pillar forever… Tequila takes advantage of this in one scene, using his Beretta to carve out an outline of a mook hiding behind a table, before finishing him off with a bullet right in the middle of it.
  • Call of Duty: World at War and the Modern Warfare series allows you to shoot through certain objects (such as wood) with some reduced damage from the bullets; there's no system for actually destroying anything, though, and any form of divide between the player and the explosion will stop grenade shrapnel dead. In the singleplayer, this only benefits you however. The enemy NPCs simply can't damage you with cover in between you and them.
    • What is and is not bulletproof however seems to be completely random at best. In some places, thick, metal and concrete walls can be shot through for massive damage, but nowhere is there a melon leaf that can be penetrated by an anti-tank rifle in the first two thirds of the Modern Warfare trilogy. Also, vehicles will explode under heavy fire, killing you if you're too close.
    • Same with the Ghost Recon series, where enemies can easily be sniped through walls and other thin barriers, but not so much through thicker cover such as crates.
  • Battlefield: Bad Company included a environment destruction system for breaking down things to hit the enemies behind them; though mostly just wood was easily destroyed from bullets, and explosives were generally needed to damage most things.
    • The sequel is even better about this, with almost no cover being permanent. An easy way to destroy an enemy objective guarded by hostiles in the same room is to destroy the entire building.
  • Battlefield Heroes, on the other hand, makes all the scenery indestructible. Might be considered a Justified Trope since the game is made for casual players who might not have the hardware for such a thing.
  • Averted in Counter-Strike, where guns of sufficient power will penetrate some materials, albeit at reduced damage. This leads to some players spamming bullets through cover that is penetrable but still has a lot of traffic behind it, often called "wall banging".
  • Dawn of War 2 has pretty much everything short of the ground providing cover bonuses - some stuff could justifiably be so, like plants that may be really tough due to being fictional. On the other hand, the barrels seem to be rather unlikely. Presumably, it uses the same justification as the original tabletop mentioned above.
    • It should also be mentioned that the ground can indeed provide cover bonuses provided you shell the area with high explosives prior to moving in. The troops will hunker down in the resulting craters.
  • Company of Heroes has the same cover system as Dawn of War 2, but letting wooden things provide cover bonuses is probably less justifiable to most people. Try to by assume the same potential explanation from Dawn of War 2.
    • Averted in the sense that ordering your men into flimsy cover is generally a very bad idea; it's relatively poor protection and will fall apart pretty damn fast under heavy fire. Applies to everything once the enemy starts getting tanks.
    • Units in the game have different levels of cover. Red being exposed, yellow being partially covered (reduced damage from small arms), green means fully covered (small arms can't do a damn thing, but explosions will hurt)
    • The game actually handles it somewhat realistically. To expound on the above: Light cover (e.g. wooden fences, hedgerows) and smoke cover will make infantry harder to hit with small arms, whereas heavy cover (e.g. sandbags, stone walls) will reduce both accuracy and damage done against them. There is also building, halftrack, trench, water, bunker and emplacement cover, all with varying effect on accuracy and damage depending on the weapon used.
  • Averted in Time Shift of all things. Some cover will disintegrate under heavy fire, other times enemies will simply lob grenades or run to a better spot to shoot you. Boxes can also be knocked over, collapsing your cover.
  • In the X-COM series, most objects or buildings on the battlefield will stop at least one bullet, usually getting blown to bits in the process. Shame the aliens tend to fire on full auto.
    • Cover will not make you immune from explosives, so a standard tactic is to just blast any building with high explosive rounds, rockets and grenades. In the early game, even high explosive packs: an agent opens the door in UFO, an alien faces the door and you know it will shoot before your puny bullets and bad aim may kill it. So this soldier runs away and another sets a charge right next to the enemy behind the wall — it can't breach UFO, but it can damage wall, floor behind it and kill the alien.
    • In XCOM: Enemy Unknown , plasma and laser weapons will destroy cover. The same cannot be said for your puny starting kinetics. Explosives will also destroy cover. Like the former games in the series, stuff that's cover is liable to stop at least one shooting attack at least before breaking... even if that stuff being used for cover is a mailbox or garbage can. Cars will also explode from being shot up, though after they explode the wreckage they leave behind is by all means unbreakable.
  • Averted in S.T.A.L.K.E.R., where each ammunition type has a value for how far it can penetrate through scenery. This is most noticeable in the second level of the second game, where you have to run from a mounted machinegun capable of killing you in less than a second. Annoyingly because even through an entire tree, while the bullet trajectory and speed are reduced by a great deal, so much so that you can see them dropping to the ground, the bullets still do the same damage as when they were full speed. Made the area into That One Level.
  • Super Mario Bros. 3 has those white blocks. If you duck on them for a few seconds, you can go behind bushes and the like and enemies won't be able to hurt you as long as you're totally concealed. Yet if part of Mario is poking out, he can get hurt.
  • Averted to the benefit of the player in Left 4 Dead. You can damage zombies through walls, furniture, and even other zombies.
  • Gears of War has destructible cover (like wood) and completely indestructible cover (pretty much everything else). Even a wardrobe will stop bullets until it's destroyed though.
  • Taken to an extreme in the Jet Li game Rise to Honor. During the gunplay segments you can hide behind anything (even garbage cans) while mooks shoot at you with their infinite ammo guns. You could literally hide behind a garbage can forever without ever taking damage.
  • In the very first level of Psychonauts, you come up against a machine-gun bunker that can shred you to bits in seconds. Although you can activate a series of walls to serve as cover, nearly all of them save one are made of wood, which is destructible, and lasts only a second or two under the intense gunfire. However, this level is in one of the characters' dreams, where concealment = cover makes much more sense.
  • In World of Warcraft, you can't even attempt to shoot or cast spells at anything that's out of your line of sight, which includes walls and such. What's odd about this is that some terrain features that you'd ordinarily expect to block line of sight, like trees and hills, don't, so you can shoot through them as easily as through air. Similarly, if a unit moves behind an obstacle after a projectile is launched, said projectile will happily curve to follow them even if it means passing through solid obstacles.
  • Half-Life had this, but many common covers such as crates get destroyed in a few hits. The exclusion being Tau Cannon, which on full charge can blast through a lot of non-destructible objects.
    • Half-Life 2 mostly plays this straight, but thanks to the Havok physics engine, allows objects being used for cover to themselves be used as weapons. Hide behind a stack of barrels, for example, and a charging Antlion Guardian will bash right through them to get at you. Hide behind a car, and it'll throw the car at you. On the same note though, being able to move objects around combined with somewhat crude AI code leads to some absolutely ridiculous uses of objects of dubious protective value, such as the saga of one mans successful assault on a machinegun nest armed with a small plastic jar
    • Also, the patches of aluminum siding used as cover during the Strider fight at the end of Episode One do protect you from the minigun used by the Strider, but the siding can and will fall off after taking so many shots, exposing you to the Strider (which you were exposed to by climbing the ladder to the platform with the siding). At one point during the chase building up to the fight you can hide behind a shipping container. Sadly you cannot hide behind it for long as once you get behind it the Strider will try to kill you by shoving the shipping container into the wall behind it with its beam attack. The only part of the platform during the actual fight that you can reliably use as cover is the stone support beam just prior to the siding panels, from which you can reload the rocket launcher by grabbing stray rockets on the ground with the Gravity Gun (as the siding panels come off you will be exposed if you go for the ammo crate and if you're a good enough shot with the rocket launcher you should only need at most six rockets; possibly less if you scored successful hits on the Strider on the way to the platform with rockets or thrown Hopper mines (the Strider performs its hit animation when hit prior to reaching the main arena of the fight but it's not clear if the Strider's health is actually reduced).
  • Army of Two would have you believe a car door will protect you from rifle fire.
  • Averted in games using the Silent Storm engine, developed by Nival Interactive, such as Silent Storm, Silent Storm Sentinels, Hammer And Sickle, Night Watch, and Day Watch. Any object is destructible with sufficient firepower. While a wall may stop a bullet, it will be destroyed with several more, making cover irrelevant against heavy-cal guns. In fact, continuous fire from such a weapon can easily collapse an entire building, especially when wearing a Panzerklein.
    • Never mind the explosives, which will also level buildings when used.
  • Averted in Crysis, in the same manner as the Silent Storm examples above.
  • Averted in Killer7, when Kaede hides in a dresser to escape Emir. It does her no good.
  • Averted in Black. Anything that can be hidden behind can be destroyed by gunfire. The game's main marketing point (apart from Gun Porn).
  • Scarface: The World is Yours. Shooting out the window of a well-armored car is a great tactic...oddly, your lackey in the passenger seat will (quite possibly) get ventilated and die while Tony remains untouched.
  • At one point in Resident Evil 4, you can avoid gatling gun fire by hiding in a tent.
  • In Rainbow Six 3: Raven Shield your bullets will pass through glass and chain-link fences, unless you load them with hollow point ammunition, in which case said chain-link fence suddenly becomes impervious to bullets, but only to your weapons and not those of any terrorists. Glass will similarly block a hollow point round, although it will break and allow subsequent shots to pass through.
  • In Time Crisis, being behind cover protects against grenades and rockets. The enemy mooks fire/throw them directly at your face, not at the crate you are hiding behind.
  • Averted in World of Tanks - if an enemy tank spots you behind a bush or fallen tree they can fire straight through at the thoughtfully provided outline the game shows them of your tank.
  • Played completely straight in Mass Effect 2. Archangel's recruitment mission features indestructible sofas that a gunship cannot penetrate with missiles, let alone normal guns. But subverted with certain crates that can be shattered by a SHEPARD PAWNCH! More seriously, they'll be broken by several seconds of gunfire. However, it's easy to tell which ones do this (they're the ones marked "Fragile"), so you can avoid using them unless there's no other choice.
    • Mass Effect 3 averts this with Armor-Piercing Attack that can penetrate some cover. In fact, with enough penetration enhancements it is possible to shoot clean through the floor or walls (though only the geth multiplayer characters really benefit from this: in Hunter Mode they can see enemies through solid objects).
  • Straight in Team Fortress 2 as well. A source of much hilarity on newcomers is that chicken wire counts as "cover", and so you are unable to shoot through it. The same is true for transparent glass, which is often a simple breakable object in other first person shooters, but is not here. This sometimes leads to the slightly painful spectacle of a Sniper parked behind a window and shooting fruitlessly at people on the other side.
    • However, the Demoman can avert this somewhat, since he can just bounce his grenades around a corner/over the cover. One achievement even requires you to destroy a Sentry Gun this way.
  • In Indiana Jones' Greatest Adventures, the Club Obi-Wan stage has a Crosshair Aware Indy taking cover behind tables and grand pianos.
  • In Fallout 3, it is perfectly permissible to take cover behind lamp posts or thin trees in order to block gunfire as long as you're standing directly opposite the opponent, even though you should be broader than the cover. Many enemies may even lose track of you if they can't make direct eye contact. It's far from uncommon for a supermutant with a minigun to run up and look for you behind a lamp post. (Although supermutants aren't known to be very bright, so it fits.) Also, due to the general lack of destroyable landscape objects, everything is bulletproof and only takes a few cosmetic bullet holes.
  • Max Payne 3 zig-zags this: Some things that obviously can't take bullets, like cubicle walls, will be destroyed by gunfire, but others, like yacht hull or the ever-popular residential walls, can take them seemingly forever.
  • In the Medal of Honor series, crates and wooden barricades can be shot through and destroyed.
  • Subverted in Golden Eye 1997, where crates and other scenery objects will explode if shot.
  • Played entirely straight in all Might and Magic games. Might And Magic 8 has the possibility of an explosive fireball being stopped by a tent. That's right, a (theoretically) flammable material stopping a ball of explosive flame. With no damage to anything inside.
  • Averted in ArmA, as finding what provides cover and what just provides concealment from specific weapons is tremendously variable. ACE takes this even further, as a projectile doesn't even need to penetrate all the way through a wall to damage someone on the other side; the shrapnel alone can kill someone.
  • Averted - in a way - in Portal and Portal 2. Although the bullets fired by the turrets can most likely penetrate many surfaces (with some exceptions, like bulletproof glass, and heavy props! The various cubes can provide some protection, but Chell still gets hit), the Turrets can only fire at you whey you are in direct line of sight. If they don't see you, they won't shoot at you. So, in this case, concealment does equal cover!
  • Averted in the rebooted Tomb Raider as some of the cover Lara can hide behind can be destroyed or worn down by explosions and bullets, and thrown incendiary weapons can splash their contents over the cover onto her.
  • Partially subverted in Star Wars: The Old Republic, where enemies can usually shoot you right through whatever you're standing behind. Imperial Agents, though, have a Cover ability that allows them to crouch behind certain objects to avoid harm from most fire.
  • More or less Averted in Full Spectrum Warrior. In those games, while wooden boxes and tables or couches can be used for cover, thinner materials deteriorate much faster than thicker ones. Also, due to how shooting works in the game, it's also entirely possible for a stray bullet to kill one of your teammates regardless of cover. Also, cover and concealment can be completely ignored by flanking. This is a central mechanic in the game.
  • Averted fairly well in Mirrors Edge. Bullets easily tear through most materials that they realistically should, such as metal gratings, rooftop solar panels, and the walls of air vents. Some materials such as reinforced plate glass initially block bullets, but still eventually shatter and break under sustained fire.
  • In the later Syphon Filter games, you can shoot enemies through false ceilings and other thin barriers.
  • Zigzagged in Vanquish, where some pieces of cover are indestructible, while others are quickly destroyed by explosives and other heavy weapons, and some weapons, such as the Romanovs's Chest Death Ray, can penetrate cover.

    Web Comics 
  • In A Miracle of Science, Agent Prester gets in a gunfight with a mafioso in a cheap diner, and dives behind a turned-over table for cover. The wiseguy then proceeds to simply shoot through the table while making snide comments about how stupid it is to hide behind 'a flimsy fiberboard table'. Prester gets a bullet through the shoulder, but fortunately, he's Made of Iron...
  • About to be averted in this comic on in 3, 2, 1....
  • Averted on Goblins during the introduction of Kore. Tavern tables don't protect you from crossbow bolts.

    Web Original 

    Real Life 
  • Justified in places where houses have interior walls as strong as the exterior ones, like large swaths of Europe. ISAF troops in Afghanistan have also reported similar problems with house walls being so overbuilt as to resist 50-cal or even autocannon.
  • Has become a problem where combatants train with the MILES laser system as concealment will stop the laser hits, but would be ineffective against real projectiles thus which can lead to soldiers learning bad habits.
  • While light concealment may not stop bullets, it increases your chances of surviving since the person shooting can only fire where they think you are behind the cover. And since Bottomless Magazines don't exist in real life, the shooter might not have enough ammo on hand to shoot down the whole length of a wall to make sure they hit the person behind it. Also, lower caliber bullets can be blocked by less than what a larger caliber can go through. However, one should try to get behind the thickest piece of cover one can.
    • It is also sometimes true with hollow point bullets that are designed to fragment upon hitting solid objects to avoid overpenetration. It is even more true with frangible bullets that are used by anyone who wants to avoid putting holes in things they otherwise shouldn't, most notably by air marshals.
  • Bullets will, of course, lose velocity traveling through concealment, possibly reducing the impact velocity enough to make a difference. Unfortunately, this difference is more likely to be that the bullet will get lodged in the victims body rather than pass clean through, adding the dangers of having a foreign object in their body to the regular problem of having holes torn into it. It's fairly unlikely for any kind of concealment to reduce bullet velocity enough to meaningfully reduce (or affect at all) the damage done. Hence, this trope.
    • It can make the difference when the target is wearing armor, with the concealment reducing the velocity of the bullet just enough to allow the armor to absorb the shot. Still unlikely for most forms of concealment, but unlike above the difference between 'penetration' and 'no penetration' is much bigger (and more positive) than 'pass through' or 'lodged in body'.
      • Also, some types of concealment, while not enough to stop a bullet, are enough to at least have a chance of deflecting it.
    • Rounds of a type that are known to tumble on impact also have issues with penetrating cover; they may well punch through, but they're liable to veer off-course somewhat as they exit. Russian 5.45x39mm rounds got an especially bad reputation for this in the Chechen Wars.
  • During one armored reconnaissance ("thunder run") mission in Baghdad in the early days of the Iraq war, some of the Iraqi resistance fighters showed the consequences of not being aware that this trope is averted in real life. When the tanks and APCs bore down on them, they jumped behind the cinderblock walls of nearby partially-constructed houses. The armored vehicles had .50-caliber machine guns ... to which cinderblock offers about as much resistance as a piece of paper. The gunners, knowing this, just basically lit up the walls these guys were behind and the resistance fighters didn't last long there after.
  • Similar to the above, one tank battle late in World War II had an American M26 Pershing trying to engage a German Panzer that had just rounded a corner to get out of the American's crosshairs. The tank gunner simply fired his 90mm gun through the building to hit the German tank on the other side.
  • Often averted even with heavy armor plates! Spalling, the phenomenon where the armor plate cracks and sprays the inside with deadly splinters when struck by a shell that fails to penetrate, has been a serious problem for armored ships and vehicles a long time. Certain weapons, such as HESH warheads, are actually designed to kill hostiles hiding behind heavy concealment through this effect.
  • A justified case with Nuclear Weapons fireproof objects, even thin ones, can stop the immediate burns that the burst of heat causes at detonation as the burst of heat radiation travels like light. Then averted as that exact same wall is obliterated by the following blast wave.
  • According to this article written by a former Army Ranger, a lot of insurgents and terrorists seem to think this. They'll hide behind sheetroock, corrugated metal, and car doors, not realizing none of those will stop bullets. He specifically mentions one guy who fired then hid behind a couch.