You're playing a video game, and you get to the epic battle where it's your team against the enemy team that has ten times as many members as yours. But you have a secret attack in store for them: one that engulfs everything on the field in flames For Massive Damage. Your team is victorious! Hold on... everything? If it was that far-ranging, then why are your team members standing unhurt with only the scars they gained from enemies, and the grass with every blade untouched?
Just call it immunity against friends' attacks. Perhaps The Power of Friendship becomes a tangible force in combat that can be used as a shield against friendly firepower, accidental clicks on them instead of the opponents, and toxic, wind-spreading spells cast a foot away from them. A shield so flexible that it can also protect any surroundings and landscape formations from harm. This makes it easy to focus on the enemies alone, as you know that you can pull out bombs, poison, Dangerous Forbidden Techniques, the like against them; so long as the Evil Minions don't touch you, your friends will be perfectly fine.
This is largely an Acceptable Break From Reality because it'd be cumbersome to hold off your team's strongest attacks for fear of blowing one of your members up. It could also be considered as keeping you in-character; the person you're playing as wouldn't shoot their squadmates, so giving the player that ability would be a matter of Gameplay and Story Segregation. This also overlaps with Story-Driven Invulnerability: being allowed to kill your plot-critical allies, or turn them hostile, would wreak havoc on the storyline. Still, it can get ridiculous at times, as some of the examples below testify; this is especially true if you are allowed to kill civilians or other friendly targets (including yourself), and only your squadmates are immune to your idiocy.
Many players of multiplayer shooters also have friendly fire turned off in a desperate measure to prevent griefers from team-killing, which of course results in unthinking, indiscriminate spamming of machinegun fire and high explosives into mixed groups.
Less common in Real-Time Strategy than in other genres where individuals are less disposable.
Prevents Friend or Foe becoming an issue, as well as needing an Arbitrary Minimum Range when shooting near allies. Subtrope of Damage Discrimination.
See also Invulnerable Civilians. Not to be confused with Insult Friendly Fire.
open/close all folders
Averted to the tune of much hilarity in The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. One moblin can be a pain in the ass unless you're paying attention. Multiple moblins are actually easier to beat, because they'll regularly hit each other when they miss Link. The moblin(s) hit will be knocked flat, and the one that did the hitting will stop and stare at its bowled-over brethren, which basically gives Link a free attack. It's even more hilarious if it's a moblin and one or more bokoblins; the bokoblin gets Blown Across the Room by the moblin's swings. About the only ally moblins aren't dangerous to is darknuts, and then only because their armor is impenetrable.
Cannon Fodderhand waved this in the instruction manual by saying your little cartoon men fired “smart bullets,” though you could still inadvertently kill everyone with a misplaced grenade or rocket.
In Bloodline Champions, you are incapable of harming your team. Throw those axes, boomerangs, fireballs, bullets, arrows and all sorts of magical attacks without fear. This is quite an advantage since you can have ranged attacks hit enemies through your large-sized but durable tank bloodlines while they absorb the enemies' attacks.
The Dynasty Warriors series (and spinoffs) not only have the general meaning of this in spades (you can swing your weapon around freely in a pitched melee and still only hit enemy soldiers, leaving your friendly Red Shirts unscathed), it also applies a particularly literal version: Using a Fire Attack to set an area ablaze will generally only harm enemies. So if you just set a base on fire, it'll burn your enemies to a crisp, while you can freely fight amongst the flames without even SWEATING. Of course, it also works the other way around if the AI decides to set something on fire. Interestingly, with fire being so partisan, the only kind of flames that'll indiscriminately hurt BOTH sides are ACCIDENTAL fires... so really, the best way to avoid getting burned is to set the place on fire before anyone ELSE can.
This is not the case in Chivalry Medieval Warfare. Horizontal swings in a clumped melee is frequently more liable to hit your allies instead, since your enemies can see your swings clearly to block them!
Beat Em Up
Averted in Battletoads. As if the game wasn't hard enough with just one player, in co-operative play it's almost impossible to avoid hurting and inadvertedly killing your partner, making the game practically unplayable in co-op (and very literally unwinnable near the end too due to a glitch).
Level 2 (in which the 'toads rappel down a cliff) is particularly unreasonable. A normal attack has melee range, but if a player hits the same attack button when there is an enemy on the other side of the screen, they'll turn into a wrecking ball and swing to the other side of the screen. This wrecking ball will kill your ally in one hit. Did I mention that when you hit the attack button, the game counts your ally as an enemy when deciding what to do? Oh, and if one of the 'toads runs out of lives, it's game over. For both players.
In Super Smash Bros., you won't harm your partner if you hit him during team battles. You can turn this option off, though. Anything you can harm yourself with, such as Link's bombs, can also harm your teammates.
Friendly Fire is almost always on in competitive play to prevent horribly abusive strategies (especially involving firing projectiles through your partner).
The blog for Brawl discussed strategies that can be used if the Friendly Fire setting is on, such as having a teammate throw projectiles into Mr. Game & Watch's Oil Panic bucket.
An alternate use for this is Ness and Lucas' PSI Magnet, which is the only way to heal with items turned off. Turn the Friendly Fire setting on and have a character with energy attacks shoot them when PSI Magnet is up.
The Gundam Vs Series averts this. You can't directly target your partner, but friendly attacks still cause harm. This can be a problem if, for example, your AI partner decides to nuke the enemy with whom you are currently exchanging melee blows.
Artdink's Gundam Battle series plays this mostly straight. However, there are settings for versus matches that can determine if allies can be targeted and/or damaged by friendly fire.
First Person Shooter
In Borderlands, you are incapable of harming your allies. Hell, one character even has an ability to heal their allies when they hit them. You are not immune to your own explosives, though.
Averted in Borderlands 2 with Krieg, who has a skill that actually makes him susceptible to friendly fire. This goes with skills that buff him as he takes damage, and more levels in the skill that enables him to take friendly fire reduce the damage taken more and more. Fortunately, it does not cancel out Maya's ability to heal with bullets.
In the Jedi Knight games, friendly NPCs are immune to most of your Force powers (but not your saber or guns.)
Many online FPS games, such as Counter-Strike and the Battlefield series, have a server-controlled friendly fire switch: if the admin turns it on, better be careful not to get in the line of fire of your partners, or you'll get smoked.
Team Fortress 2 has friendly fire off by default because if you haven't already guessed from its name, this game was designed with teamwork in mind and friendly fire would potentially ruin teamwork-oriented gameplay. One main reason for this is the fact that the only way to root out Spies disguised as teammates is to shoot every ally you find and see if they are affected. Server admins can turn friendly fire on and off via the Developer Console just for the fun of it though.
However, players can hurt themselves with their own weapons, mostly explosives, taking a variable amount of damage: damage is reduced for rockets and stickybombs, full damage for (unguided) Sentry Gun rockets, or even increased in the case of the Detonator. Reflected enemy projectiles are treated the same way, so it is possible for a Pyro to kill himself even with a reflected rocket or pipe bomb. This makes explosive-jumping (sort of) balanced, which trades health for mobility.
With the Wrangler, the Engineer can take control of his Sentry Gun and fire rockets manually. This allows the engineer to rocket jump to places that only Demomen and Soldiers could have rocket/sticky-jumped to.
Very briefly averted by the unlockable Wrangler. A glitch existed where Sentry Gun rockets, under the influence of the Wrangler, could actually hit and kill your allies in very specific circumstances (aim your sentry at a teammate, fire your rocket, immediately pull out your Destroy tool, destroy the Sentry before the rocket reaches its target). The reason is that a Sentry Gun's rocket cluster that has no 'affiliated' Sentry Gun due to its destruction used to be treated as a third 'neutral' team (similar to things like environmental kills) and would therefore hit either team. This was very quickly patched out due to its obvious uses in Griefing, like so.
A Pyro exploit, similar to the above Wrangler exploit, averted the trope by breaking the built-in code against friendly fire. It is similar in concept—walk up behind someone with the flamethrower going full blast, and quickly switch to spectator. The lingering flame particles join the player who switched to spectator and thus are part of a third 'team' and allowed to damage former allies. As expected, more Griefing and patches soon followed, since these glitches demonstrated why being able to damage teammates would quickly lead to a breakdown in gameplay.
There are a few weapons which have different effects for enemies and allies: the Crusader's Crossbow functions as a normal weapon for enemies and a Healing Shiv for allies, while the Jarate, Mad Milk, and compression blast can extinguish burning allies but causes enemies to take extra damage, return damage as a lowered amount health and push away enemies and enemy projectiles respectively.
As does Medal of Honor: Airborne, which is a good thing since your Allied allies have a seemingly suicidal tendency to run right in front of your gun while you're blasting at the enemy.
The older MOH games mostly play this trope straight.
Averted in Call of Duty and Americas Army, where the game hates you if you plink any friendly (on purpose, as a few strays are acceptable in CoD). CoD ends your "life", while AA sends your character to Fort Leavenworth.
Call of Duty: World at War plays the trope straight (at least in single player). Especially bad when you can shoot napalm straight through your squad to hit the enemies on the other side... And with one of the Death Cards, you can heal teammates in co-op by shooting them.
Hardcore mode in multiplayer averts this — as per its name, it makes things tougher by making your weapons as lethal to allies as to enemies, and removes the names that appear over teammates' heads in normal gameplay.
Averted in the original Half-Life, where shooting some of the friendly characters would cause a Non-Standard Game Over. Also, firing at a security guard would cause him to shoot at (and damage) Gordon, provided he did not die. The second installment changed this by making Gordon automatically lower his weapon when aiming at friendlies. You could still fire at them, for some reason, but the bullets would inexplicably not harm them.
Left 4 Dead averts this. There is no option of turning friendly fire off, and it's easy to shoot teammate because you jumped after some infected suddenly appear.
The amount of damage you do to your teammates is determined by the difficulty level. On easy, you're immune to damage, but the game still keeps track of friendly fire (and your teammates will yell at you for it). On expert, a single shotgun or hunting rifle shot is an instant incapacitation.
Being shot by the AI will never damage you, but your screen will shake from the hit and throw your aim off.
There's a term scraping which is the careful removal of Common Infected swarming a Survivor (say, after a Boomer hit) while not hurting him or her in the process. Snipers and Assault Rifles are good for scraping. Shotguns, not so much.
Special Infected are also not immune to friendly fire damage from their own zombie friends. Hilarity Ensues when an overzealous Tank smashes a Hunter that pounced a survivor, killing the Hunter while freeing the survivor.
This is highly averted in most of the Halo series (annoyingly enough). This made certain gametypes hard to play or make it nigh impossible to complete a match, since most Halo games (Halo 3 and Halo: Reach) had the boot-button which most players used whenever it appeared. This makes a lot of lengthy gametypes a pain, and a game of Video Game Caring Potential, which is difficult with incompetent teammates.
Friendly fire and the boot-button can be a kick to the nads, at times. Especially during Invasion, or a gametype where you're kicking ass.
This is why most Halo-gamers play with their friends so it fills up a whole team for certain gametypes. Mostly Team Slayer, where the friendly casualties are highest, and teammates are usually 4-5 players. (Which can screw you over if just one team-mate quits/gets booted.)
Averted in Tron 2.0. Though, if you screw-up and de-rez a non-hostile character, the game immediately protests "Illegal Program Termination" and gives you a Nonstandard Game Over.
Averted in No One Lives Forever, to the point where shooting a monkey will result in a Nonstandard Game Over with an "unacceptable simian casualties" message. The civilians will also cower if you approach them with a drawn weapon.
Averted in Marathon and its sequels. If you kill too many of your allies, they will no longer be allies.
In Starship Troopers, the only thing that can harm your fellow grunts (allies) were Arachnids and scripted events, meaning that you are free to shoot them as target practice without consequence. Taken Up to Eleven too; Not even nukes can harm them.
PAYDAY: The Heist has no friendly fire by design and for good reason; with all the crazy shootouts you get into against the cops, the last thing you need to worry about is watching where you aim. You can still hurt yourself with splash damage from the grenade launcher and trip mines.
Taking advantage of this is almost necessary at times in Killing Floor. Your explosives can hurt you, but not your allies. Your weapons will never hurt you or your allies. Teammate being swarmed by Specimens? Eh, toss a grenade in there or just hose him down with a flamethrower. He won't so much as blink, but it'll get him free real fast. At higher levels, the Medic gets healing grenades in addition to his standard Healing Shiv, meaning you can toss a grenade and heal multiple allies at once while still doing damage to any enemies that get caught in it.
Used happily in Resistance2. In co-op and smaller PvP battles, the levels are small enough that you don't really need to check your aim (and some characters NEED to shoot allies in co-op!). However, you will be thankful for this in the *30 vs. 30 man team matches!*
Averted in SWAT 4, where not only can you shoot and kill allies, it only takes one or two bullets to kill anything. Not checking your aim can result in killing a civilian or an enemy who's surrendered, killing your squadmates, or (in worst cases) your squadmate shooting you in the back of the head.
In Bioshock Infinite, shooting at the Luteces simply cause them to remark that you missed, even if you hit them at point-blank range. It's justified in that they exist outside of reality due to a Freak Lab Accident and are essentially Physical Gods.
Light Gun Game
The House of the Dead III has occasional "rescue your partner from zombies" scenarios. Shooting your partner has no effect, so feel free to open fire on or extremely close to them if it'll save themnote or rather, the potential life bonus and bonus room if you (and the 2nd player if any) haven't failed any rescue scenarios yet; your partner cannot take damage or die from a failed rescue from a zombie within critical proximity.
Area51 has your members jumping into your fire, and if you accidentally shoot them, your health goes down. However, if you do this at the beginning, you unlock a different mode, where you have to stop the mutant aliens, human or not.
City of Heroes labels other people on the field as either friendly, hostile, or null: only friendlies can be hit with healing and Status Buffs, only hostiles can be hit with damage and debuffs, and nulls (some hostages, all civilians on the street) can't be helped or harmed at all by anyone. This allows you to unload indiscriminate explosions (or, for that matter, blanket healing) in a tight battle without fear of hitting the wrong person, hostages included.
However, a Confuse effect will randomly scramble your friendly and hostile markers. Not only does this make it briefly impossible to damage some of your opponents, but any attempts to Nuke 'em will likely hit at least one suddenly-"hostile" person you didn't want to hurt. Recently (05/08) patched to make you only able to target people in your current group, along with being unable to target the enemy that placed the effect on you.
Heavily featured in World of Warcraft, where swinging blades, fire and ice and arrows and holy wrath coming down from the heavens all ignore each other and allies. Even buffs with two-edged effects can be removed in case they would be a disadvantage in that situation. In spite of this, it is remarkably easy to get everyone killed.
In Phantasy Star Online, there are many massive techniques that can engulf the room with fire, lightning, or massively damage one target. Though multiplayer cohorts are totally unaffected. However, the player automatically aims at the closest available target and may cast techniques on item-boxes of not positioned properly.
Averted in World of Tanks. Your own shells will quite happily damage or destroy your teammates and poorly aimed or timed friendly artillery fire is also a danger. The occasional mishap is considered part of the game, but deliberate Team Killers are quickly flagged by the automatic system and it's open season on them from then on.
It's standard in almost every Multiplayer Online Battle Arena that your character's spells will ignore your allies, though it's possible to force your attacks to hit allied creeps or structures, which actually does have a purposenote Killing them yourself denies your opponent the gold and experience bonuses of landing the killing blow themselves. Such a process is actually known as "denying".
A notable aversion of this (hence playing the trope even straighter) is League of Legends, where no ability or attack in the game can damage anything on the user's side. This is a Justified Trope in the lore, however: any set of Champions could end up on the same side, and there are several pairs (such as Kayle and Morgana, Nasus and Renekton,Rengar and Kha'zix) who would ignore the team's welfare for the chance to kill each other, so the friendly fireproofing has to be completely airtight.
In Super Hero Squad Online, heroes cannot hurt heroes and enemies cannot hurt minions, except when Mind Control is applied.
Completely absent from Shadow the Hedgehog, in which your allies' attacks will not only damage you, but so will merely bumping into them. Since you can switch sides (and, thus, objectives) at any time, this is presumably meant to prevent players switching to whichever side gives them the least resistance on the path to their actual objective.
Both averted and inverted in Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. When Farah is with you, she supports you by firing a bow and arrow, and will occasionally hit you and do damage. The Prince is appropriately annoyed when this happens, and Farah offers a quick, "Oops, sorry."
Iji. Tasen-dispensed munitions harm Iji and Komato, Komato-dispensed munitions harm Iji and Tasen, and player-dispensed munitions harm Tasen and Komato. Splash Damage ignores all of this regardless of who pulled the trigger. In stages where both races are available, they will tend to take priority on killing each other over the Anomaly. This is useful if you need to get the hell clear of an Annihilator; let your Tasen friends draw its attention away from you.
In Angry Birds, the birds can't hurt each other, either through impacts or special attacks. This can really screw up a shot if you land a fresh bird or the white bird's egg on a stunned bird, so waiting until the bird(s) poof out from where you want to shoot is generally a good idea.
Most versions of Mario Kart make drivers immune to attacks from fellow team members in team races and team battles.
Real Time Tactics
Battle Bugs, despite being a kind of silly game, avoids this pretty well. Bombs, gas grenades and cheeses hit every unit, except those specifically immune to it. It is still often a good tactic to let multiple enemies attack one of your units and then bomb them, but the friendly unit is not going to survive the ordeal. the only straight use of the trope is with the spider, which attacks multiple enemy units at the same time, but does not accidentally punch nearby allies, despite looking like a swirling ball of legs when it fights. I guess those eight eyes are good for something after all.
Warhammer: Dark Omen also averts this without mercy. When you have a ranged unit fire at an advancing enemy, always switch them to another target if you send your melee fighters to finish the job, cause the shooters will not hesitate to fire into the fray (Unless you aim for the aforementioned trick with sacrificing your melee units to tie the enemy up and give your shooters a still target). Not only that, but since every projectile in the game is an actual object with its own trajectory, it's entirely possible to have a situation when you send a unit to flank an enemy who's engaged in a shoot-out with your shooters, only for your shooters to miss the enemy and hit your flankers behind them by mistake.
Real Time Strategy
Averted in Age of Empires, 'siege weapons' that hit stuff in an area can damage your units, but they are otherwise immune to their own forces.
Particularly frustrating in the second game, where they suffered from a severe case of Artificial Stupidity and would auto-fire on enemies even if allies were in the way. (And they'd often end up killing more allies than enemies like this.) One of the advertised changes in the expansion pack was "Siege weapons don't auto-fire if it would harm allied units." And There Was Much Rejoicing.
However, non-area-of-effect ranged attacks have the two options of either hitting an enemy or missing, even if targeting enemies engaging with allies in a melee.
This trope is then played straight in the spin-off Age of Mythology. Becomes a bit more laughable when you have myth units spraying poison, fire, and also making the earth quake with no more then their steps.
Averted in StarCraft; if a nuclear strike is launched, the explosion heavily damages everything in range, friendly or not. Siege tanks in siege mode also hit allies caught in close combat with their targets. Strangely, Reaver scarabs do not, despite the guide saying that they do. This is usually used as a balancing agent, as skilled play can cause Siege Tanks to kill each other. This involves rushing them with melee units; shots meant for the melee attackers have unpleasant consequences for the nearby Tank. And blind use of Psi Storm can have equally unpleasant consequences. Because the AI on Reaver scarabs is perhaps the dumbest AI ever put into a game, they decided to go easy on you and keep it from killing your units. However, single-targeting ranged attacks onto enemies which are literally next to allies has no chance for friendly fire.
Friendly Fire is almost a racial trait in SC. The Terrans, a more rugged, down-to-earth species with barely functional equipment, can't really make explosions that discriminate. The Protoss, a more enlightened, evolved race, can and does.
However, all friendly fireproof splash damage attacks will damage units owned by allied players.
The sequel has an upgrade for tanks in the campaign which reduces friendly splash damage by 75%
Absent from the grand strategy game Hearts of Iron — in naval engagements, at least. There's a small chance that one of your ships will fire on a friendly vessel, which actually did happen a couple times in WWII.
Since most combat other than sea battles takes place on the scale of infantry divisions, with the minimum "tick" of time being an hour, this is probably justified. There were lots of times in air-to-air or land combat where two units on the same side attacked each other. But it's hard to imagine two entire infantry divisions of several thousand men, with tanks and artillery, getting into a firefight with each other for an entire hour without anyone realizing that they were both on the same side.
Averted in Total Annihilation and its 3D spin-off Spring: explosions will damage everything. However, friendly fire will actually go straight through friendly units (though this is mod-dependent in Spring), which means that technically you can fire at a friendly unit all you like and it will go unharmed so long as the missiles / lasers / whatevers don't explode on the ground next to them.
Averted in Total War: Archers firing on units in combat will not only kill those on their own side, but also hurt their morale.
Ditto for artillery, which is why putting cannons behind your infantry in Empire and Napoleon is not the best idea. Unfortunately, the AI will occasionally fire cannons at targets, even if there are friendlies in the line of fire. This may be actually used against the enemy.
Inverted in the Warhammer 40,000 RTS Dawn of War: Imperial Guard Commissars can raise the morale of all nearby friendly units by executing one of their own men during battle. In addition, certain artillery units also do damage to nearby friendly units.
Used...randomly in Dawn of War 2. Frag grenades harm friendly squads but the grenadier's squad is impervious. Stun grenades do not affect allies at all. Explosives and artillery harm everyone, but rocket launchers are safe, as well as plasma guns (but not plasma cannons) and flamers. All bolter weapons are safe. Area-effect concussion attacks, like a squad of Assault Marines plummeting from the sky, or a slam on the ground by a huge Dreadnought (that levels buildings) are also inexplicably selective.
A hidden mechanic makes units that are engaging in melee-attacks take 50% less damage from ranged attacks, presumed to be justifiable by the enemy's ranged-attackers trying to avoid friendly fire.
Averted in Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds, in which the easiest way to lose mounted troopers is to put them in the same group as an Assault Mech (which does vast amounts of splash damage), and then order the group to attack a specific target. (Fortresses seem to be large enough that Pummels can rip them apart without being hurt by Assault Mechs that are also firing on the fortress, though)
When averted, careful unit placement is important, as they fire at the enemy even if there are friendlies in front of them. Since rear armor is much weaker than frontal armor, this can lead to problems.
Populous: The Beginning: used and averted this, the shaman is immune to her own spell damage (except swamps) but her followers all take full damage.
Severely averted in Bungie's Myth games, as over-eager ranged units tend to lob attacks right into melee battles, wounding friend and foe alike. But at least they apologize.
Magic users are generally immune to their own explosive attacks, but not teammates'.
In Star Wars: Empire at War and its Expansion, It is 100% impossible to hurt your own units with anything. Which is a good thing, considering how often units are packed right up against each other. Especially in Space combat, where fighters often fly around capital ships during battle, as said capital ships attempt (and fail) to shoot down the fighters with their turbolasers. It would be quite annoying if these turbolaser shots then damaged your own capital ships.
YMMV. One of the most famous in-universe tactics in Star Wars is the Ackbar slash, which is pretty much what was described. To some players being able to use tactics like that (and other similar tactics) would make up for the annoyance of friendly fire.
If you're in a heated ground battle with the enemy, one tactic is to call in a bombing run right on top of you! The end result is that your enemies will be decimated and you'll be completely unscathed.
Archers in King Arthur The Roleplaying Wargame technically fire in an area rather then specific targets. Thus, firing at an enemy unit that is very close to your own may harm your own. Some magic spells also do damage in an area to all in that area, while others may avoid this. However, your cavalry and knights can be at Foe-Tossing Charge speed, but won't hurt your own units if they get in the way (Especially Acceptable Break from Reality since getting to high speeds can be tough, so tying up enemy units in melee with your own is a particularly sure way to get it to happen. Otherwise, you'd probably need magic.).
Command & Conquer, at least the first one, does a terrible (to the player) work at averting this trope. With several units that deal splash damage, you may try a mass attack, but a mass attack of grenadiers or flamethrowers is going to hurt you more than the enemy.
Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun has three One-Hit Polykill units in the form of Ghoststalker with his handheld railgun, the Mammoth Mark II with it's mecha-sized railgun and the disruptor's sonic beams which will not discriminate fellow GDI units in their firing lines, save for the distruptors which are immune to other distruptors, making a rush with them quite viable.
Frustratingly sporadic in the current version of Bowmaster: Winter Storm; arrows that deal damage directly instead of having some special area effect will go right through friendly deployed units... Except when they don't. The arrow that can go right through targets will only avoid going through your guard most of the time, while the arrows that heal their targets can heal enemy units if fired into close combat.
In Angband, you aren't affected by your own area-of-effect spells. As a result, a standard way for mages without the "see invisible" ability to deal with invisible monsters is to repeatedly cast area-of-effect spells centered on yourself.
The Pokémon Mystery Dungeon series has some attacks like Earthquake and Surf, that hit everyone in the same room, whether they be friend or foe. Ranged attacks can also harm allies if they get in the way, and a confused Pokemon can harm friend and foe alike with any of their moves. There exist IQ/Team skills that your Pokemon can learn in order to prevent the latter two forms of friendly fire, though.
Role Playing Game
In Final Fantasy VII, you can call down a gigantic explosion on the entire battlefield without even singeing your allies' hair.
The all-time king of the ridiculous, from the same game, is Sefer Sephiroth's Super Nova attack, which destroys three planets just getting to Earth, then blows up the sun, taking out Mercury and Venus in the process. And he can do it multiple times in one battle.
Squaresoft/Square Enix likes this one. In Xenogears, Fei's ultimate Ether - Big Bang - simply sends a gigantic blast through the Earth, cutting a hole through the core and causing it to explode. Cut back to the battlefield and everyone's perfectly fine.
Averted in Final Fantasy VI, as the spells Quake, Tornado, Meltdown (or Merton), and the Esper Crusader will harm your own party in addition to the enemies on screen. However, this seems a bit silly at times when similar massively-damaging spells such as Meteor (bombards the area with meteors) and Ultima (concentrated nuclear blast) leave your party members alone, leaving the others Awesome, but Impractical.
Unless you equip your party with the proper element absorbing items, in which case they're just awesome. Ultima doesn't heal your party every time you cast it. Meltdown, Tornado, and Quake can.
Justified in the case of most Espers, whose summoning sequences cause the party to vanish first.
Turning Friendly Fire off in Dragon Age utterly breaks the game. The secondary knockdown/flash-freeze effects of spells like Fireball and Cone of Cold still apply, but they deal no damage to your allies or your person, making mages unbeatable.
Final Fantasy IX continues with the tradition of making your party members vanish before the summon attack begins. It also has a subversion in Quina's Night spell. Night hits your party members along with the monsters, but you can make yourself immune by equipping the Insomniac ability.
Not to mention how often often you fight on airships... yet the moon can crash through them and half-burrow itself into the planet.
The flashier Summons in the Golden Sun series call down friggin' gods, who wreak havoc with the surrounding landscape...until their animation is over, at which point everything goes back to normal. Particularly ridiculous with Judgment, who fires an energy blast which is seen scouring most of the planet into nothingness; Catastrophe, who wreathes the world in demonic flame, and Iris, who causes the sun to go nova. Can you spell "overkill"?
Then there's the more advanced weapons, which will occasionally "unleash" a more powerful attack with its own cutscene. In The Lost Age, a properly equipped character with the Sol Blade can drop a meteorite every turn with no apparent environmental consequences.
Most games in the Tales Series. As the games in the series are action-RPGs and the antagonists frequently draw from the same pool of spells as the protagonists, this can make dodging a chore if you're not paying attention, since Abyssion's Meteor Storm looks exactly the same as Genis's Meteor Storm.
Hand waved in Tales of the Abyss - Fonists (read: "mages") can mark their allies with invisible friend-or-foe markings to prevent friendly fire damage. Mentioned in one cutscene in which Jade says he can't use his magic to defend himself because there are too many civilians around who don't have friend-or-foe markings.
To say nothing of Hi-Ougi. You can become a whirling torrent of massive energy blades, fire a gigantic laser across the battlefield, call down comets from space, call out an elemental, and all sorts of other very impressive flashy things. But, like Final Fantasy, your allies disappear beforehand so it's okay! Then again, normal weapon attacks and spells treat allies like they just don't exist.
Averted in Suikoden III - area effect spells hit in the area of effect, and if your friends happen to be standing right next to your target , then that's just too damn bad for them. Spells that are 'Hit All', however, will still only target foes...
Demon's Souls: Friendly NPCs can be hit with any of your weapons. Fortunately (and/or gamebreakingly), most of them will hold off retaliating before you deal significant damage to them. On the other hand, you can't hurt Blue Phantoms, so Friendly PC Fire is off.
Pokémon largely averts this, as moves such as Earthquake, Surf and Discharge will affect all targets in a Double or Triple Battle, including allies. There are moves such as Rock Slide that only target enemies, but they do reduced damage to all targets. You also have the option of targeting your allies with most single-target moves.
Of course, the game's complex Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors makes it easy to create Double or Triple battle combos that take advantage of these moves. Pair a Flying-type or one with the Levitate ability with another that knows Earthquake to hit foes while avoiding allies, or use Surf to damage enemies and restore the HP of an ally with Water Absorb at the same time.
The Telepathy ability specifically makes a Pokemon impervious to attacks that target both friend and foe.
Neverwinter Nights 1 and 2 allow you to choose whether you can damage your friends by changing the PvP settings. You can opt to not be able to hurt any friendlies, not to hurt your own party members, or just to damage anyone who gets hit.
The chief problem with leaving it on "hurts friendlies" is that if you have a melee-based henchman, they will run into the area of your fireball (or other favoured "kill lots of things" spell), receive a mild injury, and come running back over to beat you up with their weapon.
Averted in Wizardry, where the effects of spells are described in the manual rather than shown due to the primitive graphics of the time. In the description for the most powerful spell, Tiltowait, the manual specifically mentions that the spell also creates a force field to protect the party from the tremendous explosion created.
Rogue Galaxy gives a send-up to Final Fantasy VII with the 'Supernova' attack - a Combined Energy Attack special-move initiated by the hero, which creates a huge beam of energy that literally blows the planet you're standing on to smithereens, and scatter the lifeless rocks that result to the eight corners of the universe. And yet, somehow, the planet is still there for you to stand on when the move is over...
Averted in Fable, where friendly/neutral NPCs are immune to your melee attacks (unless you're locked on to them), but not to your arrows/magic. This can be frustrating when NPCs get between you and your target, and they will.
The sequel has many NPCs capable of using automatic weapons, from SMGs to automatic shotguns to miniguns. Every last one of them will fire unhesitatingly into the little cluster of Power Fist -wielding maniacs surrounding you.
Note that unlike the original, Fallout 2 allows you to talk to you allies and tell them when burst fire is acceptable. Options range from "don't use burst fire if I'm in the way" to "Use burst fire even if I'm in the way", and everything in between (that option being "only use burst fire if you're sure you won't hit me"). This does absolutely nothing to prolong your life.
Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas both have friendly fire turned on, the latter has a perk that makes you less likely to hit your allies. Non-essential NPC's, however, can accidentally be hit and will subsequently turn hostile along with their allies.
Apparently, your guns, biotics, tech mines, et cetera, could distinguish between friend and foe. Strangely for a game that usually explains everything, this wasn't even handwaved If you shot something that exploded, however, you could hurt yourself and your allies. It was sort of handwaved - your shots would bounce off your allies' shields, although this wouldn't have any actual effect on said shields.
Fortunately, it works both ways. THEIR shots bounce off YOUR shields as well without doing any damage. As you're the perpetual pointman unless you specifically order them ahead, and they will in fact try to shoot an enemy behind you, this is a good thing. Except, of course, that the shield impacts DO bounce your aim around, making sniping basically impossible while your allies are shooting you.
For the PC version, you can turn off friendly fire protection in the configuration file. Whether this makes combat more realistic is up to taste: it's certainly realistic that your teammates' weapons now damage you, but it's not so realistic that your teammates are too stupid to step to the side when you are in their line of fire. Carefully ordering them to positions becomes mandatory.
In Mass Effect 2, your squadmates will yell at you if you shoot them. But you still won't do any damage.
Kasumi: What am I, invisible or something?
Mass Effect 3's multiplayer includes this, though it won't stop other players' characters from complaining if you do shoot them.
Annoyingly absent in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion where three accidental hits will turn allies into enemies, usually because they keep getting in the way. However, you can "yield" to them and if their disposition to you is high enough they will back off. However, AI characters cannot yield to each other, and even AIs in the same faction will fight each other to the death if they hit each other 3 times. Some players take advantage of this by crafting a spell or bow of Command Humanoid up to Level 25, to make the enemies take each other out while you laugh and point from the shadows.
In the DragonbornDLC of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, there is a perk obtained through the use of a Black Book that makes it so that followers don't take damage from your attacks, spells, and shouts while in combat.
In the Slayers video game (one of them) ALL spells can hurt your own party members, so be very careful. Also, big fireball spells or destructive ones will scorch the ground!
Slightly averted in Phantasy Star II, where the best offensive technique in the game hurts your friends too. A lot.
What that technique actually does is steal 50% of your friends' hp and add it to the spell's base damage for an added punch, so it's not so much that it fails to differentiate between foes and allies but that it targets your allies specifically before nuking your foes.
Dragon Age: Origins does the hell out of this. Say you have a ton of darkspawn coming at you and are on such a difficulty level that friendly fire is turned off. You can nuke said darkspawn with...oh, lets go with Inferno...WHILE STANDING IN THE GIANT PILLAR OF FLAME WITHOUT FLINCHING! In addition, you can even have conversations with party members and NPCs while ON FIRE. And this is without any snarky commentary or anything.
Averted though, when you do have the friendly fire on (every setting but Easy), you need to be careful with the Mages. Doesn't help when you cast a giant fireball at an enemy that is running at your party. Sure he's knocked down and set on fire, but so is everybody else in range. Including you. Also annoying to accidentally freeze a party member. Still, it is funny to see a party member talk to you while on fire, but some moves that paralyze of freeze an opponet that talks to you when defeated won't let the convo start until it wears off.
Also, even on the lowest difficulty, when Friendly Fireproof is enabled, while your party members are immune your attack spells, possible ally characters (unless they have Plot Armor) are not, making large-scale magic attacks impractical for mass combat.
In Dragon Age II, friendly fire is only actived on the highest difficulty setting. Normally, having a few melee based characters ganging up on a single powerful foe and unload BFS based super-attack is a good strategy, except that now, every blade attack has a small AOE that hugely (as warriors' damage output is now very high) damage ANYONE, especially the BFS, so essentially, your melee characters are going to slaughter themselves. Ironically, mages don't suffer as much from this change, since comparatively few of their spells can do friendly damages.
Mount & Blade averts this for ranged weapons but plays it straight for all melee weapons. Once your army gets large enough, you WILL get shot by your own forces at least once a battle.
Done in all the Mario RPGs, your own/your allies powerful attacks will only ever do anything to your opponents, not the party. Especially amusing in Mario & Luigi: Dream Team, where the Luiginary Typhoon can literally suck up Mario like an enemy but does nothing to his HP.
Shoot Em Up
In the original SNES Star Fox as well as Star Fox Assault, your teammates are immune to your own blasts. This wouldn't necessarily be a problem, but when they fly into your line of fire and start taking the shots meant for the enemy (and they will), chances are you'll want to hurl your controller through the screen.
The other games in the series do make it possible to harm your allies. In Star Fox 64, you can damage your teammates if you shoot them, though if you're going for a medal you're going to want to keep them as far away as possible from dying. Also while your teammates aren't usually good for much, you're going to want to have them around as meat shields if you happen to be going into a fight with Star Wolf.
Averted in FreeSpace. Aside from specific mission that have the special no-traitor flag, allied spaceships will give you a warning after a few shoots on them ("Whose side are you on, pilot ?!"). If you persist, all your allies will suddenly turn against you (and of course, your enemies will stay enemies), which kind of result in a Game Over.
When becoming a 'traitor' and returning back to base, you get a game-over debriefing, common to all missions ("you are hereby stripped of your wings and... blah blah.")
Averted in space-sim Starlancer - while you'd ordinarily have to actually be trying in order to shoot down a friendly, God help you if you catch one of your buddies in the blast when killing one of the game's many, many, MANY torpedoes. Even an obviously accidental teamkill results in a nonstandard gameover complete with firing squad. Some of the more chaotic missions get really hairy because of this.
Averted in F/A-18 Hornet, where if you damage any friendly planes or structures, you will be court-martialed as a Nonstandard Game Over.
Averted in the Video Game/ARMA series unless playing a custom mission using custom scripts.
Very averted in the X-Universe series. You really have to be careful when using Area of Effect weapons; a Firestorm Torpedo fired at the wrong time can wipe out an entire squadron of expensively equipped fighters. And don't even bother trying to do fleet or carrier operations if your ship is equipped with Phased Shockwave Generators; when they're firing you'll kill everything in a one-kilometer radius. (They were nerfed to capital ship-only from X3: Terran Conflict on for exactly that reason.)
Thankfully present in Resident Evil 5, where your bullets and those of your partner can't hurt each other. Its still annoying, though, that your partner will gladly stand right behind you and keep shooting you in the back to get at the enemy in front of you.
Completely averted in Resident Evil 4 You can kill your Escort MissionPresidentsDaughter in ONE hit by ANYTHING including one knife swipe. And even the merchant. However the ENEMY can't hurt each other AT ALL, even if the person obviously had stabbed his partner in the back. However people with dynamites can still kill the other ganados, and Jj can also shoot his own military.
It get's better since certain weapons do a downwards swing that will crush a zombie skull. It get's worse when you attempt to save a survivor using that weapon. Why? Let's just say that survivor's can't take a 2x4 (or at times sledgehammers) to the face.
In Dead Rising 2 most attacks won't be a survivor deadly as the first one.
The Dead Space series uses this to great effect, although it's more noticable in Dead Space: Extraction and the second game. In Extraction, you can fire bullets around your allies, but you can never pull the trigger while the crosshairs are over them. The same also applies to the scenes in Dead Space 2 when you interact directly with Ellie and still retain control over Isaac.
Third Person Shooter
Freedom Fighters makes soldiers immune to their own side's bullets, but not explosives. The best way to deal with a crowded alley battle can be to whip out a machine gun and unload indiscriminately into the middle of it.
Gears of War also allowed you to shoot your allies without harming them. Mostly, shooting at your allies or vice versa too much might make your character or theirs to tell them to get out of the way, or something to the air of 'you're blocking my shots.' It's not very nice.
Averted in Oni, and enemy mooks will not shoot if there is another blocking their line of fire. However, seeking weapons are indiscriminate and it is quite easy to lead them into another mook, who will be too dumb to get out of the way. Enemies are also rather indiscriminate with the sole Splash Damage weapon (a grenade launcher) and will happily fire it into melee.
Star Wars Battlefront II gives you the option to turn off friendly fire. Do it, and watch as the AI units on your side suddenly become more effective.
Ghostbusters: The Video Game plays the trope straight, hitting any of the other Ghostbusters will provoke nothing worse than a sarcastic remark. Pretty jarring when you remember how powerful the Proton Pack is. Crossing the Streams however is a bad idea, it does a large amount of damage and knocks both characters on the ground.
Present in Warframe, flame weapons and AOE uber attacks cause no damage to Tenno. In the recent Gravidius Divide event, this extends even to factions the Tenno are temporarily allied with.
Turn Based Strategy
Averted in the Final Fantasy Tactics series, where attacks damage anything in their range, including allied units... except for Summon Magic, where it halfway makes sense anyway due to being the efforts of two sapient beings. In Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, "Target All" attacks are still mostly "Target all enemies" except for the Blue Mage's Night spell, which does indeed target everyone except the caster. And the Tinkers spells randomly target either the enemy or your own team.
Final Fantasy Tactics A2 has the Scholar, basically an Illusionist without Friendly Fireproof mechanics. Fortunately, the right equipment setup can negate the damage on part of your own party members or even turn it into healing.
In both Advance games, the basic Summon Magic doesn't discriminate. The stronger totema/scions however, do, despite their animations showing them blasting the entire battlefield.
With a few exceptions. One scion has a (generally) 50/50 chance of causing 999 damage to EVERYONE, making it possible to completely wipe out your team and the enemy team at the same time. Two other scions that target just one person can be chosen to hit friend or foe. Another (Ultima) nukes your enemies and fully heals your side.
The reason most Scions and Illusion spells don't hit your team is because teleporting the entire team away temporarily is apparently part of the spell. Much like how the characters vanish when using summons in Final Fantasy VI.
Some of the area-effect "MAP" attacks in the Super Robot Wars series will target everyone in the line of fire, friend or foe, some won't. If you're lucky, the game will have a way to let you know which one it is before you let loose with it.
Brigandine has this for its "geno" area-of-effect spells (Geno-Frost, Geno-Flame), and the slightly wider but slightly weaker "Holy Word". You don't have to fear harming your allies, and the enemy needs to be a bit more cautious when placing all its troops around you. However, the game also includes several area-of-effect spells that do harm your allies - and, while a few of the stronger tank-type heroes have the a-o-e spells, they're mostly found on weaker heroes who shouldn't be toe-to-toe with the enemy, making the spell's range a little less impressive.
Averted in most of Nippon Ichi's strategy RPGs, from La Pucelle on. All area effect spells and attacks hit EVERYTHING in their radius, including people you don't want it to. In later games, the number of friendly kills plays a role in determining which ending you get.
In the Disgaea series, characters are incapable of damaging themselves with their own area attacks, but anyone else is free game. However, there's an evility in 3 and 4 makes the user friendly fire proof.
Averted in Vandal Hearts 2: All attacks hurt anyone in range, which if you plan badly or the enemy move can make attacks not only devastating for yourself but the enemies untouched. This made some powerful spells unusable in close combat, and the enemy could also sneak into the range of your healing spells.
However, it's in full effect in the first game. Kind of necessary though, given there are a couple spells that hit all enemy targets within either 7 or 9 spaces of the caster.
Averted in Sword of the Stars. Your ships can damage each other. The Smart Nanites upgrade exists to allow you to play this straight with Nanite Missiles.
A player with fast enough cloaking or intangible ships can use this to their advantage, given the AI's tendency to keep firing at empty space when enemy ships vanish and failure to realize their own vessels are in the way.
Played straight in Project X Zone where you have up to five people attacking the same enemy yet none of them will hit your allies. Ulala takes this one Up to Eleven where she summons Sega cameos to the point you have eight people attacking the same enemy!
Turn Based Tactics
Averted in the X-COM series. Explosives can do damage to friendly units too close to the blast, as do stray rounds from standard weapons.
If one or more of your soldiers go berserk, they will start spinning and shooting, often hitting anyone near them. Since soldiers aren't usually facing one another, and side and rear armor is much weaker, those can result in one-hit kills.
Averted in the Worms series. Inaccuracy can and will hurt your own team. Sometimes, however, it's worth it.
Played straight in Call Of Cthulhu: The Wasted Land. It is impossible for the Investigators to mutually attack themselves, as using any aid item on a party member is technically the same action as attacking an enemy (right click on the target). Also, they can shoot through their comrades without injured them and can't be hurt by their artillery strikes.
Wide Open Sandbox
In Terraria's PVP mode, players on the same team can't hurt each other and players who have PVP turned off can't be harmed by other players. This applies to melee weapons and bullets (both physical and magical), but not to environmental damage, which will damage any players (including the one who triggered it) regardless of their status. Explosives of any kind, rolling boulders, and arrow turrets are treated as environmental damage.
Averted in Bully. Most missions where Jimmy is working with someone else, it's imperative that they survive the whole thing, save for Halloween and rumbles. Kind of annoying when you're messing around and you kill a superfluous character because they're only slowing you down anyhow then you lose the mission.
In The Godfather: The Game, Aldo can't attack his Corleone brothers-in-crime, while they don't hurt him when shooting at enemies.
In Spore, you cannot kill or even harm any members of your own species in the Cell and Creature stages.
Non-video game examples:
Anime and Manga
Dominator guns in Psycho-Pass automatically change settings (Executioner or Nonlethal Paralyzer) or lock up depending on the target's Psycho Pass. Most of the plot is set in motion by Makishima creating a way to bypass this.
In Fairy Tail, Guild leader Makarov has an attack called Fairy Law that only damages people whom he views as his enemies, leaving everyone and everything else unharmed.
Later, Jerk Ass Laxus tries to use this on his own teammates because he claims that their weakness is getting in his way, and therefore they are his enemies. In the end, the attack does no damage, because he doesn't actually believe this is true.
The Majin Hunter in Soul Eater doesn't harm Muggles, so Maka has free reign to rip Medusa's soul right out of the innocent little girl she's occupying.
In Westworld, the guns are fitted with a module that prevents you from using them on other human beings; only the androids can be shot.
In Sergey Lukyanenko's Line of Delirium, when preparing to storm an Imperial military base, the main character decides to arm his teenage companion with an "intellectual" weapon, which will not fire (or even aim) at an ally (or a child).
In the Blood Angels novels, the Spear of Telesto, signature weapon of the Blood Angels' Primarch Sanguinius, has a flamethrower attack that will incinerate anything else that's flammable. Unless it's another Blood Angel, in which case it just gives them the equivalent of a mild sunburn.
During Church's time-travel escapades in Red vs. Blue, he attempted to prevent his death by auto-fire tank blast by tinkering with Sheila the tank's friendly fire setting. However, the friendly fire was turned on by default, which caused Church to disable it by accident. Before he could correct it, Caboose took the tank out to attack the Reds and Church's death still happened as before.
Church: Oh no! I'm the team-killing fucktard!
Averted in Dungeons & Dragons, where a mage who's less-than-careful with his fireballs can quickly become the least popular member of the party. However, there are several spells which only harm characters of a certain alignment, which works out to "enemies only" or "allies only" in a Good vs. Evil game. Woe betide the evil character in a good party, though.
Some special abilities let you do this, regardless of alignments. For example, in 3.5 Edition, the Archmage prestige class offers an ability called "Mastery of Shaping," which essentially lets you carve out spaces for your allies in your AoE spells.
There are also some spells that allow you to affect any subset of the creatures (chosen by the caster) in a limited area, bringing this trope into full effect. Horrid Wilting is one example.
Forgotten Realms has a few spells from Myth Drannor like this. Symkalr's Friendly Fireball doesn't burn the creatures chosen at the time of casting — e.g. elves — and snuffs any fires it created so there's no conflagration. The reversed version, Symkalr's Unfriendly Fireball, burns only whoever it was set to burn — e.g. only orcs (or humans). This also means the loot remains perfectly intact among the smoking ashes, of course.
The Pathfinders system gave Clerics the ability to channel healing spells either to exclusively restore party members or to invoke Revive Kills Zombie.
Averted in Mutants & Masterminds for their Area powers. They can be made Selective although it is more expensive for actual attacks than for effects that do something like impose concealment. GMs are also encouraged in the manual to be stingy in allowing this modifier because it removes a good deal of the balance involved in area attacks vs. single-player attacks. Also, attacks can only be selective where the attacker is aware of the targets to be excluded. Dependent on descriptors, selective attacks may miss hidden enemies or hit hidden allies.
Averted in GURPS unless the attacks says otherwise. The Selective Area enhancement can make guns that seemingly bend bullets around friendly people.
Mostly averted in Shadowrun, where bullets and explosions kill indiscriminately, but played straight with smartguns: Not only will the gun avoid firing at friendlies when doing full-auto sweeps, it also conserves ammo by not firing at the scenery.
Zig-Zagged in Warhammer 40K; normal shooting cannot hit your own units (the justification being that the units find the right lines of fire to not shoot their comrades). Template weapons such as frag missiles, certain heavy weapons and grenades, on the other hand, can hurt friendly units if they scatter into their ranks.