It's not uncommon to find video games in which the damage of a projectile attack is calculated independently of the on-screen projectile actually hitting its target. Things get extra weird when the on-screen visuals are subservient to the calculations, as opposed to the other way around.

In many games which show projectiles, a shortcut often taken by programmers who don't want to bother with complexities such as tracking and physics is to assume that every projectile attack will ultimately "hit" or "miss" its target and dictate this outcome ahead of time, usually with a die roll or {{hitscan}} trace. Nothing the target can do after that will avoid damage, the projectile follows the target perfectly, often even through obstacles.

This doesn't really cause a problem with lasers and stuff that move too fast for the eye to track anyway, or when attacking a stationary target, but for slower projectiles like medieval arrows, stones and mortar shells -- or any case where it otherwise takes a long time for the projectile to actually close the distance -- the effect can be quite surreal.

Common symptoms include units taking damage even when the projectile hasn't visibly collided with them (yet), projectiles changing directions (''[[FridgeLogic inexplicably]]'', that is) in mid-flight to intercept their target, and so on. Logically, projectiles which are explicitly designed (or [[AWizardDidIt enchanted]]) to home in on their target are exempt from this trope, no matter [[{{Roboteching}} how dramatically they change directions]].

Compare StalactiteSpite. Use of this trope may grow less frequent over time as proper physics rendering becomes more advanced, easier to do and ''expected'' by players of genres where it was once endemic but at the same time it may be continued as a {{Retraux}} touch. If this happens with FrickinLaserBeams, you've got HomingLasers.

Compare {{hitscan}}, which often overlaps.


[[folder:Action Games]]
* Spells home in in the video game ''VideoGame/HarryPotter and the Chamber of Secrets''. There's nothing particularly weird about that (after all, [[AWizardDidIt a wizard really did do it]]), but it's made quite clear in the original books that spells travel in a straight line.
** To further confuse the issue, spells do not home in the Duels.
* Machinegun bullet streams and lasers in many ''Franchise/{{Gundam}}'' games tend to do this as well, but most players don't seem to mind.
** In particular, the ''VideoGame/GundamVsSeries'' grants improved tracking to attacks when executed at closer ranges. A couple of the games have a GoodBadBug where, by quickly changing between a close and a distant target while firing, one can trick the game into giving the improved tracking to a long-range attack, giving the weapon literally impossible homing capabilities.
* Noticeable in ''VideoGame/{{Prototype}}'' when throwing objects at helicopters. Cars, air conditioners, tanks, and people will actually curve to track a moving helicopter if released close enough and the helicopter maneuvers away.
* ''Videogame/RedDeadRedemption'' allows the player to lock onto targets via BulletTime, even with thrown weapons. This leads to the often hilarious sight of throwing daggers and sticks of dynamite chasing flying birds like heat-seeking missiles.
* In ''Divinity 2 Ego Draconis'', bow arrows have a curious tendency to swerve towards you even if you've gotten out of the way, and poisoned arrows are even worse; whereas most magical attacks (which could be justified to home in on you) travel in straight lines and can be sidestepped. In the Orobas Fjords the goblins fire catapults with literal Homing Boulders (they will swerve and seek you out unless you're constantly moving) while Damien's magical ballista towers (which shoot green bolts of energy) shoot in straight, easily dodged lines.
* ''Videogame/SaintsRow2'' has a variation, noticeable when using machine guns from aerial locations- despite [[EveryBulletIsATracer every bullet being a really, really slow tracer round]] visually, the game tracks machine guns as {{hitscan}} weapons. This isn't noticeable when firing at slow targets or at still targets, but when firing at a fast-moving targets, the bullets appear to hit the ground several feet behind the target, which has taken damage from every shot.
* ''Videogame/Left4Dead'' has the Tank, which can rip out chunks of the ground and throw them at the Survivors. The rocks have a degree of homing, but [[TheAIIsACheatingBastard the AI Tanks are even worse]] to the point where [[FanNickname players have nicknamed them]] "rofl rocks". It doesn't help that AI Tanks can throw rocks that sometimes ''clip into the level's geometry'' to reach the player.
* ''{{Franchise/Uncharted}}'', starting with the second game, uses [[EveryBulletIsATracer tracer rounds]] for all the bullet weapons, but only for the visuals. The actual damage is still enacted using HitScan, resulting in this trope on moving targets where the tracer moves slow enough to completely miss them, but they received damage as soon as the trigger was pulled.
* ''Franchise/RatchetAndClank'' plays it straight and averts it at the same time. Shots from the automatic pistols will curve towards a target if they're moving, but only have a limited turning ability and thus can still miss if the target is moving fast enough.
** On a setting-based level, shots fired on [[BabyPlanet the spherical moons]] will inexplicably follow the moon's curvature. [[FridgeBrilliance This makes sense as this same phenomenon affects everything else on the moon]]!

[[folder:Action Adventure]]
* An interesting (and literal) example in ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaOcarinaOfTime'': In the Death Mountain Trail segment where the volcano erupts, you can move as much as you want and the debris will still fall on your head.
* This is played straight in ''Videogame/{{Pikmin}} 2'' where the Decorated Cannon Beetle fires boulders which actively home in on your character. It is {{justified|Trope}} in the Piklopedia where it notes that the boulders are magnetic and attracted to the high metal content in Olimar's space suit. That said, it doesn't explain how the homing still works when the entire level is constructed of metal.

[[folder:Fighting Games]]
* ''VideoGame/BackyardWrestling'' featured this. A thrown projectile was guaranteed to score a hit, curving in mid-flight and even back-tracking to smack into you no matter how fancy your maneuvers to try and avoid it. The game's quality is... dubious, to put mildly.

[[folder:Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games]]
* In ''VideoGame/MapleStory'', arrows usually home in on their targets, even if the archer's bow isn't pointing in the same direction. Throwing Stars do funny things, too, but they're {{Ninja}} weapons so maybe thats not too surprising. The homing bullets, however, do not have that excuse.
* Occurs in ''Videogame/WorldOfWarcraft''. On a fast epic mount, you can fly close to a mob using a ranged attack, and then outfly the mob's projectiles for quite some time if you put some effort into it. The damage gets applied instantly, but it can get hilarious if you fly away for a while and then see the graphics of a bunch of ranged attacks hitting you in succession.
** This can even happen when summoned (i.e. teleported) to another zone, as long as it's on the same continent. Not often seen, but funny.
* The TropeNamer (but not the Ur-Example) is ''VideoGame/CityOfHeroes''. The damage also isn't applied until the boulder actually hits, although the decision of whether it does is made as soon as its thrown. Hits not only curve and chase you, but will go through walls to impact you. If you aim at a Teleporter, this can lead to some truly amazing boulder throws or sniper shots. Curiously, misses always travel in a straight line.
** Fortunately this works both ways, as PlayerCharacters can damage enemies with Homing Boulders as well, causing most projectiles to be FireAndForget.
** In an interesting counter-trope, a "miss" animation will fly straight, but slightly off-target. No big deal when fighting across a room, but at point blank, this will suddenly cause a projectile to fly straight up or sideways. Alternately humorous, and humiliating.
** This also occurs in ''VideoGame/ChampionsOnline''. The player character can be teleporting (read: an intangible, invisible mass of energy) and whatever projectiles were launched will pursue you to the point of staying at the exact point where your character is floating. Amusingly, they will not register the hit until after the player completes the teleport.
* Gigas in ''Videogame/FinalFantasyXI'' toss boulders as a ranged attack. Said boulders travel to their target in a straight line and always show an impact in the animation, gravity and obstacles be damned. Of course, like the ''City of Heroes'' example above, whether or not the boulder actually hits is independent of this.
* ''Videogame/RuneScape'' is guilty for it, too. ''Any'' projectile, when launched, is gonna hit, come hell or high water. If someone throws a knife or fireball at you and you teleport elsewhere before it hits, it will travel to wherever you ended up and connect, no matter ''how'' long the distance is. The time is determined by where you were when the projectile was launched, so if you run towards them, it slows down, and if you run away, it speeds up.
** This used to be true for everything earlier than a certain date. The advent of Corporeal Beast (probably) was also the birth of a ranged attack that targeted a ground location rather than a player, so that players could move away from the location to not get hit - and considering the hit's strength, that was preferable. Many bosses followed suit, having move-dodgeable attacks that target places - but all standard player-targeting missiles or spells will curve to hit their targets.
* Arrows in ''VideoGame/{{Mabinogi}}'' have their targets predestined based on which mob you're locked onto; in fact, an arrow can go right through one mob on the way to hit another.
** The game does shave the trope closer than normal for an MMORPG, though: a projectile can go from "hit" to "miss" while being launched or thrown, if not after the instant it actually enters flight. And the use of ConcealmentEqualsCover to disrupt the aiming process also goes beyond the normal level.

[[folder:Platform Games]]
* The original ''Videogame/SpyroTheDragon'' had this with the cannons in the Peace Keepers and Dream Weavers homeworlds, and the barrels in Gnorc Cove.
* In [[VideoGame/SlyCooperAndTheThieviusRaccoonus the original Sly Cooper game]], being spotted by a flashlight guard meant the player ''was'' going to take damage, even if the shots had to [[{{Roboteching}} juke and weave to counterattack a player's dodge]]. Later games removed the homing, but made shots so fast they were practically HitScan, and averted HeroTrackingFailure, to compensate.
* In what is perhaps the most literal case of this trope, in ''VideoGame/SonicLostWorld'''s cave stages, the rolling boulders will turn according to whether Sonic is to their left or right. They CAN miss (and there are too many of them to afford to get hit by all of them), and they will stop homing once Sonic passes them. Nevertheless, there is no reason why they should be following Sonic's movements, and it's subtle enough that anyone playing without advance knowledge might be confused why they're clumsily running into so many of these rocks.

[[folder:Real-Time Strategy]]
* ''Videogame/LeagueOfLegends'' has slow moving energy bolts fired by caster minions. Those move only slightly faster than a champion's running speed, follow you anywhere once fired and can do enough damage to kill players on low health even if they've gotten away from them and the enemy team. This is humiliating. Otherwise, some abilities are [[ guaranteed to hit their target]] while some (known colloquially as "skillshots") require them reaching a target to work. The Flash summoner ability could once be used to dodge homing spells and missiles if used while they were en route, but due to it adding a major benefit to an already useful ability, this was removed.
* Blizzard's games are notorious for this: ''Videogame/{{StarCraft I}}'' (at least) features projectiles which can track a fast enemy all the way across the map- easily 20 or more times the official range of the unit which fired them.
** Some weapons can miss though. Like in ''VideoGame/WarcraftIII'', Human Mortars, in ''VideoGame/StarCraft'', Terran Siege Tanks.
*** A literal example in ''Warcraft III''. Ancient Protectors ({{treant}}s which double as towers for the Night Elves) throw boulders at both grounded and flying units. If the unit moves just within range, then runs/flies at high speed at a different angle, the boulders can follow some truly ridiculous trajectories. The game also has a "Miss" mechanic, but even when a range attack misses, it will still home on the target.
** One of the most ridiculous example would be the attack of the Zerg Devourers, a spray of acid that move slower than any other projectile in the game If the Devourer attacks a Carrier's [[AttackDrone Interceptor]] (fastest unit in the game) the acid cloud will start orbiting the Carrier, while trailing the interceptor. The Spore Colony's attack is faster, but again, can home on targets without any apparent way to do so.
** ''VideoGame/WarCraftII'' has it for some projectiles. Although cannonballs and [[{{BreathWeapon}} dragon breath]] fly in straight lines, arrows (from archers or towers) curve to track their targets. Most units are slow enough that the effect is barely noticeable, but against certain fast units the arrows can sometimes be seen making 90 degree turns in midair.
* In the first ''Videogame/MechCommander'' game, everything homes (including lasers and cannon shells, which move quite slowly and would turn up to ninety degrees to follow a fast-moving Mech) except the short range missiles.
* ''VideoGame/AIWarFleetCommand'', where the projectiles even track the target after it teleports.
* ''VideoGame/DawnOfWar'' has an unusual example with the Tau Skyray gunship's missiles. They seem to miss more often than not, but when they do, they often overshoot the target before suddenly pitching more than 90° to crash back into the target.
** This trope seems to apply to all ranged weapons from ''Dark Crusade'' onwards. Even hitscan weapons seem to work by applying continuous damage over time without bothering to synchronize the damage ticks with the shooter's animations, often resulting in the target dropping dead a split second before the shooter even pulls the trigger.
** Rolls to hit for missile weapons are always calculated on launch - but as ''Dawn of War'' didn't have scatter values or terrain collision detection like ''Company of Heroes'' does, misses result in the missile simply flying in a straight line following the terrain until it despawns, flying through everything in the way with no collision detection whatsoever.
* ''VideoGame/CompanyOfHeroes'', using the same engine as ''Dawn of War'', has the same issues - though it partially fixed ''Dawn of War'''s missile issue. When a unit fires a projectile, it rolls to hit based on the weapon, distance, cover and any other modifiers. If a hit is rolled, the projectile will track the target and deal damage on impact, which can lead to fairly slow projectiles like bazooka rockets curving mid-flight to follow a fast-moving target. However, if a miss is rolled, the projectile will still be fired in the general direction of the target, with different weapons having different scatter angles. The projectile will then hit the first thing it clips with, whether terrain, obstacles or units. If it hits a unit, it will do damage to that unit in the normal way.
** On the other hand, projectiles rolled to hit will follow the terrain to avoid colliding before hitting the target, even though this is cleverly hidden by the line-of-sight limitation of most weapons. This anomalous projectile tracking can be easily observed in action on the Sottevast level of the vanilla campaign, abusing the German installation's wonky hit detection allowing units on the ground to shoot up at the roof from certain spots and vice versa. Moving an infantry unit into range of the [[{{BFG}} 88mm flak cannon]] on the roof will cause the flak cannon to hit the roof due to the inherent accuracy penalty almost always rolling a miss. However, moving a Sherman to the same spot will cause the flak cannon's shot to streak across the roof towards the tank, do a sudden 90° turn vertically downwards when almost over the tank, drop down to street level and finally do another 90° turn back to horizontal to hit the tank's side.
*** Even more hilariously, while such ordnance (rockets ''and'' artillery shells, including shells designed to be fired from tank cannons) exists in real life, it was only invented during the Cold War - and even currently existing state-of-the-art models don't have such {{Roboteching}} capability! StupidJetpackHitler in action, maybe?
* In ''VideoGame/{{Fallout Tactics|BrotherhoodOfSteel}},'' energy weapons travel to their destination slowly enough that the target often has time to duck behind cover. The projectiles do not home, but will still hit the character even if the beam does not connect.
* Rockets shot at aircraft in ''VideoGame/CommandAndConquerGenerals'' will home in on them for quite some time. If you, however, manage to evade them long enough, [[DevelopersForesight you will see them burn out and slowly descend to the ground before exploding]], with the pursuit distance depending on what fired the missile. The GLA's Soviet-era [=RPGs=] drop out of the sky almost immediately if they don't hit the target, whereas the US' state-of-the-art Missile Defender rockets will chase the same target for quite a distance.

[[folder:Turn-Based Strategy]]
* In ''VideoGame/{{Civilization}} V'', most units don't move a lot during combat animations. Airplanes, on the other hand, are seen moving. Everything makes sense when targeting soldiers equipped with rifles or cities defended by missiles - otherwise, expect arrows, boulders and fire bombs chasing your planes.
* In ''VideoGame/XCOMEnemyUnknown'', if a character attacks and misses, it doesn't matter whether or not the graphical representation of the shots land on the intended target a successful hit will have the shots always land straight at the exact spot of the target's head. A soldier shoots at a Muton and hits it twice in the torso and once in the cheek? "Shot failed to connect!". This effect is especially visible with the Plasma Pistol and Heavy Plasma, which fire several large projectiles that are easy to track. (That said, ''only'' the intended target is so protected; anything else along the projectile's path, be it an innocent bush or one of your own men, is fair game.)

[[folder:Role-Playing Games]]
* Happens quite literally in ''Videogame/NeverwinterNights'' with giants' thrown boulders.
* Arrows and bolts in the ''Videogame/BaldursGate'' and ''Videogame/IcewindDale'' games will turn midflight to track targets, even if they "miss". This was quickly patched by making projectile speeds ''much'' faster, to mostly avert this trope. The patch also allowed targets inside the area of effect of something like an incoming fireball spell to outrun the explosion, but the improved projectile speed also meant that that was much harder without using Haste or the Boots of Speed.
* ''VideoGame/DragonAgeOrigins'' does this with arrows (anyone see a pattern?) but the boulders don't track. Just their damage. Which isn't annoying at all.
* In ''Videogame/FinalFantasyX'', Blitzball physics are a little weird. When passing the ball, everyone stops moving. No matter how long the ball has been moving since you passed it, or how many opposing players it passes through, the ball won't get intercepted. If you try to throw the ball too far, however, the receiver will fumble it.
* In ''VideoGame/KingdomHearts3DDreamDropDistance'', one of the Zolephant dream eater's attacks is to carelessly chuck a boulder straight into the sky and out of sight, after which it'll proceed to land directly on your head a moment later if you aren't moving when it comes down. It also inexplicably ''multiplies'', becoming a rain of equally sized boulders that'll hit every enemy or ally in the near vicinity.

!!Notable Aversions:

[[folder:Video Games]]
* In the ''Videogame/TotalAnnihilation'' series, all projectiles can miss, even the lasers and homing missiles(they can only turn so sharply!). This is actually the main defense of scout/fighter jets, they're just moving too damn fast for most attacks to hit them! Gaining veterancy allows units to lead their targets, but even then, they'll still likely miss the fastest of enemy units.
** This becomes even more clear when playing around with utterly broken custom units with multiple attacks. There is literally no hitscanning in the game at ALL, not unless you specifically kitbash the game's physics into recognizing it for that particular unit. Two custom units amount to being essentially giant laser shotguns, yet will get torn apart by a fleet of far cheaper PeeWees (tiny machine-gun bots) because there will always be at least a handful in the spread's 'pattern blind spot,' or are missed because in the nanosecond it took to impact their little feet carried them out of the edge of the laser's animation. It makes shmups suddenly not seem so impossible...
* ''Videogame/CommandAndConquer'' had tanks with shells that only have little splash damage. Given how tank shells work in that game, missing the fast-running civilians by one pixel only causes ScratchDamage.
* The ''VideoGame/TotalWar'' series has archer units, some 200-man strong, and all arrows are animated with ballistic trajectory. You can actually move your camera to watch the volley of arrows fly all the way to the target. They do not always hit, of course. Also the trajectory means that arrows can hit friendly units in the back if they are in the way, although archers usually fire upwards over the heads of friendly units when necessary.
** Can be particularly impressive when watching five or six archer units - totaling out to sometimes more than a ''thousand'' men - firing arrows at a fleeing unit. You'll see hundreds of individual arrows screaming down at the retreating enemy, and it becomes even ''more'' awesome if you have them all [[ArrowsOnFire on fire.]] This often results in the rather ridiculous site of hundreds of arrows all landing in a tight cluster ''juuuust'' behind a fleeing soldier.
* The ''VideoGame/{{Myth}}'' series is another notable example of free-flying projectile physics, (in)famous for the [[VideogameCrueltyPotential horribly messy friendly fire]] caused by only somewhat accurately aimed arrows, spears, and ''high explosives'' arcing over the terrain and interacting unpredictably with objects.
* In ''VideoGame/BloodlineChampions'', if it can harm your enemy in some way... it will never do this. Even standard healing abilities require a bit of aim, and only some effects that are friendly and targetted to one person will always hit. Yes, that taunt ability has to travel and make contact with an enemy.
* The ''VideoGame/{{Thief}}'' series allows you to dodge arrows and magic projectiles if you time it right, even to the point that they'll cause friendly fire. Likewise, enemies sometimes side-step when they see you aiming an arrow at them, though the AI is generally too dumb to dodge effectively.
* In the [=FPS=]-style ''VideoGame/Fallout'' games (Generally Fallout 3 onwards), inverts this trope and even even a perfectly-aimed shot can miss because the [=FPS=] interface is hiding [=RPG=]-style random number generator which takes your stats and weapon skill into account. The limited availablity of [=VATS=] means that you can't really rely on character skills (like an [=RPG=]) '''or''' player skills (like an [=FPS=]).

!!Non-Video Game Examples:

[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* [[Music/WeirdAlYankovic Weird Al's]] ''Film/{{UHF}}'', in a parody of ''Film/RaidersOfTheLostArk'', started with the boulder rolling down the track to the adventurer, then continuing to follow him '''outside''' the cave and into a city, where it chased him down city streets--even doubling back on its track. [[spoiler: It's justified since it turns out in the end that it's really just George imagining the whole thing while he's stuck working at his BurgerFool job]].
* Cheerfully played UpToEleven in ''Film/TheGamers'' where an extremely difficult shot is made against an enemy fleeing through a forest. With the modifiers for cover, distance, movement and so on piling up, it can only hit on a [[CriticalHit Natural 20]] - which it does, of course. Ingame, we get a scene of the arrow almost stalking its target, changing course multiple times before hitting it from an entirely different direction.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* ''WesternAnimation/WileECoyoteAndTheRoadRunner'': Wile E Coyote has been plagued with these on more than one occasion.