A hero tries a desperate, futile attack against the enemy, charging in against an armored killing machine armed with, say, a pointed stick.
The enemy falls down dead. The hero looks at his weapon in baffled amazement. Then we see that the villain was actually shot by another hero who'd sneaked up behind him. (If there's no killing, but only the villain being scared off by the appearance of a second person or creature with the hero being unaware of their presence, then that's Scared of What's Behind You
This is sometimes a variant of Bait-and-Switch Gunshot
. It could overlap with Big Damn Heroes
, Big Damn Villains
, or Changed My Mind, Kid
Sometimes, the second hero is disappointed when no one will give him the proper credit and praise he deserves. See Dude, Where's My Reward?
and Dude, Where's My Respect?
. Contrast Engineered Heroics
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Anime and Manga
- In Berserk, Farnese has her knights fighting Guts and getting slaughtered. Guts plows through them and charges Farnese who timidly holds out her sword in a feeble attempt to defend herself. Just as Guts reaches the point of her sword, the combined exertion from fighting an giant monster and then facing her knights causes him to collapse from exhaustion. The knights then cheer Farnese for single-handedly defeating the black swordsman.
- In Dragon Ball Z, Mr. Satan tried to shoot Buu with a pistol, and it seemed like it had cut Buu in half, but it was actually Goku that did it
- In the second Sakura Taisen OVA series, there is a point where Li Kohran, in costume as a character she plays on the radio, faces down a mecha with a prop gun; her teammate Maria is actually the one who makes the shot.
- Trigun: During Meryl and Millie's Day in the Limelight, Vash takes care of a couple of baddies for them as payback for their help in a previous episode. Then there's an Iris Out on him as he complains about not having a bigger role in this story.
- In the Tintin album The Crab With The Golden Claws, Captain Haddock charges a whole band of desert raiders alone. They flee, and he believes for a moment that they did because they were scared of him. In fact, reinforcements were arriving behind him.
- Spider-Man: Norman Osborn killing the Skrull Queen Veranke in Secret Invasion. While the others have been battling for days, doing most of the dirty work, his team of maniacs, criminals, and lunatics comes in and steals the show. What really makes the it a Downer Ending is that he kills the Skrull queen seconds before Wolverine was able to. Naturally, he was placed in charge of every registered superhero, the Avengers Initiative was renamed the Thunderbolts Initiative, and SHIELD was disbanded and replaced with HAMMER, which is also run by Osborn.
- Played with in Snarfquest, where an evil wizard whom Snarf is facing off with suddenly goes "Urk!" and dies. The humanoid characters assume that Snarf actually scared him to death, but the readers learn that their gaggaleech companion (actually a highly venomous death leech) had secretly dropped onto the wizard's back and bitten him.
- Happens in the John Ford movie The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, former trope namer. Ransom Stoddard is a pacifist lawyer in a bad town in the old west. Throughout the film the outlaw and murderer Liberty Valance (Lee Marvin) constantly assaults and belittles him, only stopping from outright murdering the whole town due to the presence of the badass but uncaring Tom Doniphon. After Valance beats the town's eccentric newspaper man, Stoddard grabs a pistol and attempts to kill Valance on the town's main street. He misses the first five shots and is horribly wounded by the outlaw. Tom Doniphon, witnessing the scene from a secluded spot, fires from an alley at the same time Stoddard does and kills Valance. The town only sees Stoddard who gets the girl and the glory, and later on becomes a Senator. Doniphon dies bitter and alone after drunkenly burning down his own house. When Stoddard tries to set the record straight, the reporter replies "This is the West, sir. When the legend becomes fact... print the legend.". In the final scene Stoddard seems to be haunted by his breakout action and base of his career being nothing but a lie people keeps bringing up.
- In Saving Private Ryan Tom Hanks' character starts shooting at a tank with a pistol, and the tank suddenly blows up. He stares at the pistol in shock for a moment before he sees the American P-51 Mustangs who really blew up the tank fly overhead.
- The Brazilian movie Lisbela e o Prisioneiro does this twice in the same scene, using a Bait-and-Switch Gunshot to boot. Frederico is about to shoot Leleu, the camera cuts and a shot is heard. It's revealed that Lisbela shot Frederico. Later on, it's revealed that Lisbela's gun was in fact empty and Frederico's wife was the one who shot him.
- Variant occurs in The Lion King. Simba is trying to roar to scare off the Hyenas from the elephant graveyard. On his third try he suddenly lets loose with a loud, echoing roar.... Except it's his father coming to save him.
- In the second Ghostbusters movie, Rick Moranis's character, who has spent the film bumbling about, gets to the climactic battle, and clumsily fires up us laser stream just as the other guys take down the Big Bad. The crowd doesn't see them, and cheers and starts parading him around instead.
- The movie Sahara has a minor subversion at the climax. After Dirk Pitt and friends shoot down the local warlord's helicopter with lucky shot from a Civil War era cannon, the enemy army surrenders while the heroes marvel that their plan actually worked. Realizing something's not quite right, they turn and see an entire (friendly) Toureg army positioned on the top of the cliffs behind them. The subversion is that while the army surrenders because of the Touregs, the heroes really did shoot down the helicopter with a 150 year old Confederate cannon.
- The Illuminatus! Trilogy combines this with a Gambit Pileup for its depiction of the JFK assassination.
- In a Star Wars Expanded Universe novel, four fighter pilots are vastly outnumbered, so despite their superior skills, they are being worn down. After one's ship is damaged, he ejects. That particular pilot is also known as something of a gunslinger with a blaster (rivaling Han Solo for skills with a blaster pistol)...so in desperation, he draws his sidearm and fires at a fighter about to make a run on him. The fighter explodes. His commander makes a mental note to ask what kind of pistol he carries, when he sees that one of the other pilots was the one who took it down.
- In Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman's Good Omens, the character of Shadwell points an admonishing finger at a character who promptly vanishes in an explosion of blue light. This happens so often to him that he becomes convinced that his finger is the deadliest weapon known to mankind. In all cases, the explosions are due to there literally being an Angel nearby who is causing it.
- The same thing happens to Rincewind in Interesting Times and Eric.
- The Last Continent: The actual source of Rincewind's powerful curse turns out to be a particularly venomous spider that was hiding in his hat.
- In one of the Left Behind books, Rayford attempts to fulfill the part in Revelation about The Antichrist, Nicolae Carpathia, getting killed. After accidentally firing his gun and actually wishing he hadn't, it turns out that Chaim Rosensweig had actually stuck a blade through his back.
- The battleship USS Missouri, in the second book of the Legacy of the Aldenata, fires a full salvo from one of its main turrets at a Posleen warship in a desperate attempt at destroying the vessel. The craft is destroyed, but it wasn't the battleship's rounds that did it: a nearby Planetary Defense Center armed with a gun designed to defend against those kinds of ships actually made the killing shot. However, from the perspective of the battleship's crew, their rounds were the fatal shot, as the PDC was completely destroyed by orbital bombardment from another Posleen warship immediately after firing. The notion of the battleship's rounds making the kill was ultimately responsible for the creation of the SheVa mobile artillery pieces featured in the third and fourth books.
Live Action TV
- In the video game Snatcher, there is a scene where "junker" Gillian Seed is being choked to death from behind by Freddie Nielsen, the Snatcher who killed your co-agent Jean Jack Gibson. In order to pass this action scene, you have to use the mirror to aim behind you and make a shot. When you do, the Snatcher's head explodes, and it is revealed that it is not your shot that killed the Snatcher, but that of ace bounty hunter Random Hajile, who just happened to wander in.
- In a sidequest in Tales of Symphonia, Genis and Mithos are going out by themselves to try to find a cure for Raine's sickness, but Lloyd follows them secretly. At one point the two are assaulted by a monster. Genis tries to attack it. He clearly misses, but Lloyd dashes out behind the monster and kills it. Mithos gives Genis the credit for beating the monster. Later on, after everyone has yelled at Lloyd for being useless during the crisis, Genis tells Lloyd that he knows what Lloyd did.
- In Ōkami, Ameratsu does this to Susano constantly, to the point where it's a major surprise when Susano reveals that he knows Ammy has been helping him, tells Ammy not to help him, and deals a serious blow with his stick unassisted.
- The downfall of The Red Baron may be this. It was long credited to a Canadian pilot, Arthur Roy Brown, but in recent years, reexaminations of the Baron's injuries and the events of that day indicated that he may have instead been killed by a bullet from an Australian machine-gunner.