"My Legions of Terror will be trained in basic marksmanship. Any [troops] who cannot learn to hit a man-sized target at 10 meters will be used for target practice."When only the Bad Guys suffer from A-Team Firing. Also called the Principle of Evil Marksmanship or Stormtrooper Effect. The good guys (the non-Red Shirt ones, at least - and sometimes even them, too) can stand in the middle of the firefight and never get hit, and can pick off any bad guy with even the most casually-aimed shot while the bad guys seem unable to hit the broad side of a barn. This is a degree of Truth in Television, as by far most shots fired in firefights or combat are misses. Some sources report that in WWII, the average soldier needed to fire two hundred rounds for every hit scored on an enemy; numerous other examples are mentioned in the Real Life section of this page. So the fictional bad guys don't actually suffer from unrealistic inaccuracy; rather, the heroes' fictional performance would count as Improbable Aiming Skills in real life. To make the matter worse, most fictional bad guys exhibit lousy trigger discipline, always firing from the hip and in long bursts, even when firing at a lone target that sometimes isn't even shooting back, instead of looking down the sights and properly aiming. Obvious Sub-Trope of A-Team Firing. Dodge the Bullet is the inverse of this. For the bladed weapon variation, see Never Bring a Knife to a Fist Fight. Opposite number to Improbable Aiming Skills. The use of More Dakka can either overcome this, or make it even sillier. When the bullets don't just spray around the target, but consistently hit where the target was a moment ago, it's a case of Hero-Tracking Failure. See also Plot Armor for the reason the bad guys are such lousy shots. When the enemies vastly outnumber the heroes, their incompetence is a symptom of Conservation of Ninjutsu. Compare Powerful, but Inaccurate, when the inaccuracy is a property of the weapon rather than the wielder. Bonus points if anyone says something to the effect of "whoever is the actual target of that shooter is the safest one here." Named for the obvious Star Wars connection, in which the mooks all seem to be visually impaired, though there is one explanation for their seemingly inept abilities.
— Evil Overlord List resolution #56
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Anime & Manga
- Berserk: Even though it's arrows instead of bullets, non of the marauding bandits, mouthy soldiers or terrifying hellspawn can ever seem to hit Guts even when there's a hundreds of them and Guts is just causally strolling though the battlefield. In fact most shots Guts just deflects◊ off the flat of his blade which is seems pretty reasonable as Guts's sword is huge and could provide cover but then as series goes on and the villains get more skilled, some being super Indo-Arabian ninjas and others demon marksmen the excuse boils down to Guts's reflexes being that good.
- The only real time this was truly subverted is when Guts was protecting Casca and got hit three times, the third even going straight his hand and sticking there, forcing Guts to swing one handed. Casca showed much shock and gratitude at his human shielding.
- The Villains aren't left out of the loop either as none of the human armies (except for the really skilled ones) can ever hit the demon-like Apostles and when they do find their mark it normally doesn't do anything or just makes them angry. One truly galling example is Griffith after his evil resurrection is shot at with a hail of arrows... And they all miss their mark by a good yard — though to be fair to this guy, this scene is meant to show that even though he's Griffith again, he has retained all of his godlike supernatural power as Femto.
- Black Lagoon plays this trope straight and often to a level that threatens one's Suspension of Disbelief. But, then again, its an action movie masquerading as an episodic anime, so it makes sense.
- Space Pirate Captain Harlock episode 39. The Mazone invade the Arcadia. They are supposedly well-trained troops and are constantly firing. Arcadia personnel mow down hundreds of them with the number of friendly deaths being at most in the single digits, and except for a single named character (whose death is foretold in the episode title, who is the only one to get a dramatic death scene, and whose death is the only one that makes an impression on the crew), none of those other deaths are even confirmed.
- In Coppelion the antagonists do quite a bit of shooting. Usually fully automatic, often on still targets at rather short distances out in the open. Don't count on anyone hitting what they aim for.
- Happens fairly regularly in Cowboy Bebop... only to be dramatically subverted at the worst possible moment.
- Lampshaded in Excel Saga: Excel explains to the mooks firing at her that they'll never hit her because of this trope, and doesn't even bother to move.
- At one point in FFVII: Last Order, Zack evades Shinra fire by backflipping rapidly. Combined with Hero-Tracking Failure, as the troops in question seem to be firing at his feet. (Compare to a similar scene in The Matrix Revolutions, and you'll see why this shouldn't have worked.)
- Amarao's men in the fifth episode of FLCL simply cannot hit Haruko, no matter how many of them there are. For context, at one point, a dozen or so men dogpile her and are apparently shooting at her while in this position, but still not a single shot hits her (but on the other hand Haruko also displays a superhuman ability to duck and weave through bullets and even slice them in half with a straight razor in midair.)
- In Fullmetal Alchemist, anyone who shoots at Scar will fail miserably, even Riza Hawkeye who is known for being a highly skilled sniper has only been able to graze him. However, he does put the lightning in Lightning Bruiser.
- Momo Kawashima of Girls und Panzer is a horrible shot, despite her enthusiasm. Perhaps the most notable example was when Turtle team got to point blank range with the St. Gloriana's team, and she managed to fire through the tiny gap between two tanks.
- Happens a lot in the various Gundam series, where if you are not an Ace Pilot you can't hit a space colony while standing on it. The 08th MS Team had a hilarious instance of the hero utterly failing at marksmanship: as Shiro is sliding down a tower, he opens up on his enemy with every single machine gun the Gundam has on it... and misses spectacularly. His opponent remarks, "Well, that looked impressive."
- Hellsing has the Major. He utterly fails to hit a target slowly walking at him until his very last bullet. As he dies, he chortles how happy he is to finally have hit his target. His own minions don't understand how he managed to get into the SS being such a horrible shot.
- JoJo's Bizarre Adventure:
- Hol Horse. Bonus points for managing to shoot like crap while having the ability to control the direction of his bullets!
- Rohan Kishibe can apparently invoke this by using his stand to write "I cannot attack Rohan Kishibe" onto someone. After he does it to Koichi, he still tries by throwing projectiles, but subconsciously aims away from him every time.
- Guido Mista's backstory where he first invokes his stand. Three men shoot him but all of the bullets miss, even though he was at close range and virtually standing still, though only due to his stand, which gives him the ability to redirect bullets. Mista then calmly picks up one of the mens' revolvers, loads it, and shoots all three of the men in the face. To top things off, the judge does not believe that a man could pick up a revolver in the crossfire without getting hit and sentences him to prison.
- Happens all the time in Kimba the White Lion. The second episode has an exaggerated example where Kimba avoids the gunfire from a group of African Terrorists that is chasing the boat he is on by running towards them, ducking every now and again, and using the log that jammed the boat's wheel as a shield while removing the log.
- Lupin III: Any officer assigned to Zenigata to help stop Lupin must have gone to the marksmanship academy. Yes, Lupin is skilled, but he doesn't even have to try and dodge, he can just run in a straight line and they'll miss. (Zenigata himself, on the other hand, features Improbable Aiming Skills with thrown handcuffs.)
- Any missile volley in Macross fired at a single target (and not for saturation effect) is practically guaranteed to miss, particularly if the missiles have homing capabilities which defy the laws of physics.
- In Macross 7, a military police officer fails to hit a stationary enemy soldier at a range of six feet with a handgun. Even worse, in a similar event later the officer only manages to wing his coat with a rifle.
- Macross Plus surpasses that: Myung is trapped in an elevator, and two security guards spray the inside of the elevator with automatic weapons... Not. Hitting. Her. Once.
- From the second Naruto Shippuuden movie, the ninja of the Sky Country have gatling guns that fire kunai. Apparently they're a deadly force, but they just seem to land by peoples' feet more often than not. One of them almost hits Shizune's foot as it just barely misses Tsunade, but she just has to stand there. Then Sai fights several of them in the air and just stands atop his giant bird thinking to himself while a volley of kunai fly over his head. But then, perhaps this also involves the Conservation of Ninjutsu.
- The first Naruto film had similar devices, mounted on a train, mow down a crowd of Red Shirts charging down a hill dowards it yelling (It was an honor thing). Our heroes are all appropriately cowed.
- One Piece tries to avoid this trope by having the navy use swords more often than using guns. Whenever the marines use guns on the Straw Hats, it's only against the stronger members that can easily dodge the bullets or disarm the snipers. If fighting the weaker members, they normally are too close and will be attacked by them or reasonably too far away to hit them. Worst of all is if the poor saps attack Luffy, who often neglects to dodge the ammo and instead bounces it back.
- For a gang of supposedly skilled criminals, Alcapone's gang in Soul Eater has colossally crappy accuracy considering the fact that they couldn't hit Black?Star and Tsubaki who were standing DIRECTLY IN FRONT OF THEM ON A TABLE.
- This has the mooks in Xabungle wondering why they are even bothering to shoot at the protagonists.
- Justified in Marvel 1602, when the Alternate Continuity's X-Men use telepathy to make the gunmen see their ship as being in a different place than it really is.
- Amusingly enough, in the comic book crossover between Spy Boy and Young Justice, Robin actually asks Spy Boy's team if they indeed took the Stormtrooper Marksmanship course — never realizing that HE was also displaying Stormtrooper level of accuracy.
- Parodied in an old Heavy Metal magazine where the heroes of the story are escaping from an enemy castle and none of the archers are able to hit them. One of the archers becomes fed up, takes aim, and proceeds to kill all three of the heroes with the next three shots. His celebration is cut short when his commanding officer reprimands him for the deed, stating that they were all missing on purpose and that the story couldn't continue now that the protagonists were dead.
- In one Twisted Toyfare Theatre issue, a bunch of troublemaking Stormtroopers of various types are forced to community service in a retirement home for the Empire's most honored veterans: The Clone Troopers.
Stormtrooper: Wow, so you guys actually used to, you know, hit things with your guns?
Clone Trooper: Oh, yeah. Jedi, droids, small children... One time I hit the broad side of a barn!
- AIMLESS (probably a parody of Marvel's AIM) in normalman, a mysterious paramilitary organization under the thumb of the nefarious Cephalopod... well, their name says it all, really. They're all really poor marksmen, but it doesn't exactly matter since their nemesis, Sgt. Fluffy, Agent of S.C.H.M.U.C.K., is completely invulnerable to bullets. Or... is he? No, no he's not. Too bad he didn't know that when the Cephalopod got fed up with the indirect approach and decided to take care of the guy himself.
- By a similar token, Decepticon Targetmasters Misfire and Aimless. Misfire held the record for failure in the Decepticon Academy, and only passed because they needed every last soldier. Aimless, his gun, doesn't exactly help matters because he doesn't even try. Megatron actually sees potential in Misfire, however, saying that he's much more deadly than your average gunman because he's a danger to everything except his target. In any case, he's become a surprisingly useful soldier to officers who use his lack of ability in creative ways.
- Again, similarly, Strafe of the Technobots is inherently inaccurate. His targeting computer is defective, it's impossible for him to aim well... but tries to cover it up by saying things like "I shoot everywhere because that's where the enemies are."
- Lucky Luke
- In the story The Treasure of the Daltons, Lucky Luke and The Cavalry are assaulted from four sides by bad guys armed with gatling guns. They proceed to dump several rounds of ammo into the area until Lucky Luke disarms them with his Improbable Aiming Skills. The only casualties? The lieutenant's horse whip and the trumpeteer's trumpet. And the lieutenant even refused to take cover!
- Another story, The Rivals of Painful Gulch, features two feuding families who's been fighting for ages, but never wiped out each other since they were all such bad shots. At one point, the town undertaker even pleads for the hero, if he cannot bring peace between the families, to at least teach them how to aim so they can finish each other off. In the beginning of that story, the mayor is showing Luke around town when they come to a place where one member of the feuding families was cornered by three members of the opposing family. They had been firing at their victim for 15 minutes, but not a single shot hit. The wall at the spot is riddled with bullet holes everywhere, except for the place where their target stood.
- In one of the short stories, a young man tries to impress his girlfriend by convincing her that he is at the same level as Wyatt Earp, let alone Luke himself. The problem is, he is such a terrible shot that every bullet he fires goes backwards, hitting whatever target he has behind him (prompting Luke to take cover because he is standing behind him). At the end, this saves his reputation, because the bullets going the wrong way kills off a bank robber - he had the bank behind his back. It earns him the promotion to sheriff.
- Nazis in Black Terror — how do they manage to miss?
- Anyone who tries to fire at Tintin will either miss or only graze him. If they graze him, they will only ever graze his skull, and he'll be unconscious/in hospital long enough for them to make a plot-relevant getaway.
- The MAD parody "Bat Boy and Rubin!", from back when it was a comic, lampshaded a since-forgotten subtrope of this, where the heroes charge straight at villains who miss them with every shot:
Rubin: Poor fools! Don't you know us comic book characters are always missed when we run at the guns?
- In the Italian comic Sturmtruppen, the new snipers and the execution team play this trope for laughs, often bordering with Epic Fail (for example they miss the Jewish prisoner they were supposed to execute while he was standing right in front of the gun's muzzles and holding them still against his chest.)
- "Marvel What-The" lampshades it (like 100 other comic tropes):
Wolverine Parody: How come they don't hit us?Punisher Parody: We got Good Guy bullets! They got the Bad Guy bullets!
Punisher Parody: Bet you can't hit the skull! noteBad Guys: BLAM! BLAM! BLAM!Punisher Parody: (is riddled with holes everywhere, EXCEPT at his skull emblem)
- In the same series, the trope backfires for the hero:
- The Unbelievable Gwenpool is revealed to have this as one of her new powers: because she's the star of her book, her assailants' shots all miss her. Her powers are granting her Plot Armor and allowing her to escape them.
- My Immortal: Enoby shoots at Snape and Lupin "a gazillion times" and fails to cause them any actual harm beyond making them fall off their broomsticks and break their camera lens.
- Calvin and Hobbes: The Series: The guns in Brainstorm's lair have terrible aim. Possibly justified as Brainstorm's terrible programming.
Films — Animated
- In BIONICLE 3: Web of Shadows, the Visorak only ever land a hit when the target's not expecting it, yet the heroes' blasts hit almost always. That's 'cause the Visorak can only shoot upwards, and being quadrupeds, have difficulty bending forward. Sidorak, the King of the Visorak, meanwhile misses his huge target to demonstrate what a nobody he is.
Films — Live-Action
- Star Wars is the (inspiration for the) Trope Namer.
- The Imperial Stormtroopers are notorious, even among casual Star Wars fans, for their inability to hit the heroes, particularly in A New Hope or Return of the Jedi. This is probably helped by how in the first film Obi-Wan makes a point of what incomparably good shots they're supposed to be. In the prequel trilogy, the standard battle droids are arguably even worse than the Stormtroopers, while, oddly enough, the Clone Troopers (predecessors of the Stormtroopers) tend to be much better shots than the Stormtroopers. A lot of ink has been spilled on this subject, both in official Expanded Universe publications and by fans and critics, either lampshading or attempting to rationalize this shoddy marksmanship. Click here for a more detailed analysis of the issue. Ironically, there's evidence to excuse them in the movies themselves, as noted below and in the link at the top of the page.
- The whole "stormtroopers being unable to shoot" is so infamous that there are now multiple jokes for it. One of them is "A Stormtrooper and a Red Shirt get into a firefight. The Stormtrooper misses all the shots. The Red Shirt dies anyway".
- Interestingly in the two instances used as examples of their ineptitude (the Death Star escape, and the Cloud City rescue) the Stormtroopers are under orders not to kill the heroes, as Vader wants them alive for various reasons. Return of the Jedi doesn't have such a justification and they noticeably manage to hit both R2 and Leia, albeit non-lethally.
- Also, we see instances of stormtroopers being very lethal. They took the Blockade Runner - a fortified position through a choke point - routing the enemy with very few casualties.
- In the special edition, Greedo misses Han while he is sitting across a tiny TABLE from him. They tried to fix it later by having Han dodge it, which raises all kinds of other issues. Since Han shot Greedo in the original without Greedo ever taking a shot on his own, the Retcon allows for some logical handwaving. One of the better choices is that Han would draw a bigger bounty alive than dead (Boba Fett said as much to Vader in Cloud City) so Greedo's shot was a deliberate near-miss to scare Han into compliance.
- The Battle Droids from films 1-3 can only hit anything when in formations that number in the thousands. EU sources indicate this was an intentional design feature, the Neimoidian didn't want an army that would be effective against them if they were hacked or rebelled. (Also, they were built on the cheap to impose superiority through numbers.) The other droids are much more accurate.
- Averted with the 501st Legion, Darth Vader's formation of clones/stormtroopers named after the fan club. This is because the legion does not take on recruits after the Empire opened up the ranks and remains purely composed of clone troops, who are much better shots.
- Averted in The Force Awakens as the First Order's Stormtroopers are shown to be much better shots than their Imperial counterparts (except against main characters of course). And for his part, ex-Stormtrooper Finn is actually a pretty good shot, though he was explicitly mentioned as having placed very highly in training, and it might just be a Redemption Promotion.
- When asked about it, Pablo Hidalgo explained that Storm Troopers are not uniformly trained. Elite units like the 501st can wreck their opponents, while non-elite can be comparatively clumsy.
- Averted with the Death Troopers in Rogue One, they retained the brutal efficiency of how a Stormtrooper is supposed to be and are known for scoring numerous kill counts of the rebels as well as two of the main casts, Baze and Chirrut.
- Rogue One also finally gives us a potential in-universe explanation: Force-sensitives seem to have the latent ability to cause blaster shots to narrowly miss, almost as though the Force willed it. There are plenty of hints (though no confirmation) that Chirrut is a Force-sensitive that was not selected to be trained as a Jedi, and is able to, through great concentration, walk through a field of Death Troopers unscathed. Notably, the Stormtroopers encountered in the original trilogy are much more capable of hitting a Red Shirt rebel soldier than any of the plot characters.
- Common in James Bond films. Bond frequently walks alone into a massive group of enemies with AKA47s of some description, carrying nothing but his trusty Walther PPK, and caps every single one of them with precise single shots whilst they all blaze away and hit nothing but air, or with extreme accuracy, any metal railings between Bond and the gun.
- Averted just once, in Thunderball, where Bond gets shot in the leg trying to lose pursuers in the Junkanoo parade. It's not even a Game-Breaking Injury, to add insult to that.
- Eric Kriegler from For Your Eyes Only is an Olympic biathlon competitor, who gets the drop on 007 with a rifle, and still can't hit him. This may possibly be justified since Kriegler, as a biathlon competitor, would have been used to hitting a stationary target, rather than a middle-aged Englishman careening down an alpine slope. When Bond takes cover and tries to retrieve his fallen pistol, Kriegler is able to shoot his ski pole in half at a decent distance.
- At one point in Quantum of Solace Bond's car and the bad guy's drive side-by-side for several seconds. The bad guy riddles Bond's car with bullets but never touches Bond. The cars separate. Bond retrieves his own machine gun. The other car comes back into view. Bond immediately puts three bullets into the bad guy, killing him instantly.
- In Tomorrow Never Dies, Bond uses his PPK in conjunction with a captured MP5 SMG for suppressive fire. A good portion of the climax is both of them forcing the baddies to keep their heads down.
- In the chase sequence of Casino Royale (2006), Bond and his hostage run desperately through an embassy with lots of enemy troops firing on them. Bond is going all out with tactics and hand-to-hand to avoid being shot, and the troops outside can't see very well.
- Spectre: Pretty evident during Bond and Madeline's escape from the SPECTRE base in Morocco, where Bond mows down Mooks left and right without getting so much as a scratch. Particularly noticeable since when Bond breaks cover he steps completely out into the open rather than lean out from behind cover.
- In Four Brothers, Sweed's assassins have a huge advantage over the Mercer brothers in numbers and firepower. But they get slaughtered by the Mercers during the home shootout, mainly because most of them just stand out in the open and mindlessly "spray and pray" all their shots.
- In The Matrix, as the agents chase the heroes through the program, they fire repeatedly but are unable to inflict more than minor wounds except when shooting at point-blank range. Also, Agent Smith misses throwing a knife at Neo by a rather wide margin. This is made all the more ironic since the agents are computer programs with presumably superior aiming skills. Their poor aiming skills could be attributed as just another glitch in the Matrix.
- In the Clint Eastwood film The Gauntlet, Eastwood and costar Sondra Locke are in a bus, driving not very fast down a street lined with cop-mooks on both sides firing automatic weapons at the bus. The bus is shot full of holes, but neither Eastwood nor Locke are hit.
- This is more an inversion of Armor Is Useless, as the Improvised Armor compartment Eastwood's character builds around the driver's seat does take its share of hits. On the other hand, it does raise the question of why none of Phoenix's finest, virtually all 2900 of whom are lining the bus route, think to shoot out the tires.
- The Nazis, Thuggee cult, and the Russians in the Indiana Jones films follow this trend, except for the shootout at Marion's bar in Raiders of the Lost Ark (which involved locally hired henchmen, not Nazis). Also the Hovitos in the first film. Not one of their arrows or darts hits Indy as he flees the jungle. Not that they seemed able to aim well in the first place.
- Parodied in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, where Arthur, Trillian, Zaphod, and Marvin are surrounded by blaster-wielding Vogon soldiers. All of them take cover in Arthur's caravan except Marvin, who remarks, "I don't know what all the fuss is about. Vogons are the worst marksmen in the universe," and is immediately shot in the back of the head. This isn't a real accomplishment though, since this version of Marvin has a huge head, and gets back up after a minute. However, Marvin's tempting fate is justified by the fact that in all previous scenes of the movie where we see the Vogons shooting, they use weapons which have multiple barrels which shoot loads of laser blasts in every direction except towards the characters; the design is physically impossible to aim and lacks sights in any case. In fact, this one time where they hit Marvin is their only hit in the entire movie. Plus, they never would have made that hit if a less genre-savvy character hadn't screamed "don't hit the robot!"
- Ruthlessly mocked in the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode Space Mutiny. Especially remarkable considering they're aiming at Big McLargehuge:
Crow: Here's a little free advice for the mutineers: Just stop and aim, you idiots!
Tom: Why is [the hero] so impossible to hit? How can they keep missing this slow, giant white thing?
Mike: Y'know, they shouldn't have set their phasers to miss.
- Parodied (along with a lot of other Star Wars tropes) in Spaceballs. During the "escape from prison" sequence, the only shot of the evil stormtroopers which hits true is one which just barely singes Princess Vespa's hair. This launches her into an Unstoppable Rage in which she guns down all of the enemy stormtroopers, Rambo-style. Also spoofed earlier in the movie when "Gunner's Mate First Class Phillip Asshole" is asked to fire across the nose of a princess Vespa's ship, and almost hits her. When told "I said across her nose, not up it!", it is revealed that the gunner is cross-eyed. As is the rest of his family (most of which are on the crew), prompting this quote:
Dark Helmet: I knew it! I'm surrounded by Assholes! (slams his visor back down) Keep firing, Assholes!
- In Equilibrium, which features a fair number of demonstrations of the Academy's graduates in action. In one particularly (in)famous scene, protagonist Preston stood still in the middle of a crossfire while his opposition opened up and failed to hit him anyway. This was explained away by virtue of the fictional "Gun Kata" martial art, which teaches its practitioners to seek locations with minimum probability of getting fired at. (...Like the middle of a room?)
- Parodied spectacularly in UHF's Rambo homage, where George strolls towards an enemy soldier while the latter is desperately firing an assault rifle directly at him. Even after George stops with only a few feet between him and the goon... and proceeds to slowly ready his bow, the enemy still can't land any hits.
- Judge Dredd justifies this to a certain extent in an early scene, with Dredd pointing out to the other Judges (who are hiding behind cover while Dredd is out in the open) that despite the large quantity of gunfire coming down around him, apparently they're well beyond the manufacturer-listed "lethal range" for the guns that are being used, and so Dredd doesn't see the need to hide.
- In the Blaxploitation film Three the Hard Way, the three heroes, armed with single-shot cap pistols from a considerable distance, defeat a larger group of men, who are armed with fully automatic machine guns, killing all but one of them (whom they capture to interrogate). One of the heroes gets a small flesh wound, the others are untouched.
- The end of Behind Enemy Lines, when Owen Wilson's character is fleeing through open ground IN THE BLEEPING SNOW but isn't hit once by the fire from dozens of Serbian paramilitary troops, mobile anti-aircraft batteries, snipers, and a tank. Instead only one poor U.S. Red Shirt in a helicopter is hit by the salvo of destruction.
- Arnold Schwarzenegger in the film Commando. He stands on the lawn picking off guys one by one while little squibs go off all around him. Also has him running on an open field while his enemies, maybe 30 meters behind him, shoot uselessly in his vague direction. Arnold, on the other hand, is the Anti-Stormtrooper in that movie, as he hits goons he's not even aiming at!
- Even The Nostalgia Critic makes fun of these...
STOP SHOOTING AT THE GROUND YA MORONS!Look at this...it's an entire army and they can't hit this ONE GUY! How hard is it to hit ONE GIANT AUSTRIAN MAN!? He's the size of A MOUNTAIN! In fact when they say that 'you can't hit the broad side of a mountain, THIS is the mountain they're talking about!About Arnold's Improbable Aiming Skills: I don't even think Arnold's aiming anymore. He knows that if he points a gun in any general direction, he'll hit something.
- Even The Nostalgia Critic makes fun of these...
- In Predator the American soldiers kill a camp of South American guerillas without losing a single man. Only one gets hit, but he completely ignores the injury. And they did not really try to get into cover most of the time.
- The entire U.S. military in the 1998 Godzilla. Having lured out the title creature, an immense artillery barrage begins, firing at a target several stories tall. The small arms fire may have been ineffective, but several dozen missiles all miss from a range of half a block to a hundred feet or so. The missiles do manage to hit something, though. Namely, the Chrysler Building, after the giant reptile dodges them. The mayor of New York is not happy.
- Even in the original Japanese movies, the military were exceptionally bad shots. If you watch closely during some of the older movies, their missiles normally just fly right past Godzilla and his mates and hit the buildings. They probably caused more property damage then Godzilla did. Toho seems to have caught on to this by the Heisei and Millennium films, so they make it where the military have 95% accuracy but still don't do any damage.
- The Musketeers in The Man in the Iron Mask. Justified in that they were shooting with their eyes closed, so that they wouldn't have to see the original Three Musketeers die.
- Once Upon a Time in Mexico protagonist El Mariachi has spent the last two movies diving for cover when the shooting starts. In this movie, maybe because he's got a death wish, maybe he's just spent so much time fighting the last several years he's just that much of a badass, he tends to stand in the wide open areas and massacre his opponents.
- The enemies in the Arnold Schwarzenegger Affectionate Parody movie True Lies fit this trope perfectly. Even when using submachineguns at close range they cannot hit the hero, (while the hero manages to take them out with a pistol). At one point, the guards jump through the air, on skis, A-Team Firing, and hit nothing. Meanwhile, Arnold's character is able to roll backwards through the snow and fire perfectly aimed shots before hitting the ground. His wife fares even better, managing to kill a dozen enemies simply by dropping her Mac 10 down a staircase. There's also the part where Gib uses a light pole as cover while standing straight up, à la Looney Tunes, and the Big Bad standing several feet away doesn't hit him, even though he empties a submachine gun clip at him.
- Lampshaded in Shoot 'em Up by the villain Hertz: "My God. Do we just suck, or is this guy really that good?"
- The British Royal Navy sailors are kind of useless at their jobs in Pirates of the Caribbean. They become a little competent in At World's End but become useless again in the fourth film.
- Parodied nicely by Die Hard 2: Die Harder, where there's a massive fire fight outside a church between good guys and bad guys where nobody gets hurt despite the enormous amount of gunpowder being discharged. The fact is they were all shooting with blanks, since they were all bad guys.
- In the DVD commentary of The Kingdom, the director mentions that he asked a group of ex-special forces people watching a preview if it wasn't a bit too implausible that none of the good guys were getting hit by the terrorists in the final shootout. They assured him that such lousy accuracy was nothing unusual. You can see in that movie how often the special forces take position and then aim deliberately while the untrained terrorists just point their guns in the general direction and fire.
- Justified in Iron Man: Obadiah Stane has difficulty hitting Tony Stark in the final battle because Tony had disabled his targeting computers. Though due to the Iron Man armour being bulletproof, most of the time bad guys are a pretty good shot. An improbably good shot in the case of the tank.
- Star Trek
- The Remans in Star Trek: Nemesis are supposedly the fearsome shocktroops of the Romulan Star Empire, and yet an army of them pursue Picard and Data through their ship for several minutes without hitting either of them.
- Justified in the 2009 Star Trek film, where Kirk and Spock are involved in a running gun battle with the Romulan crew of the Narada. The Romulans can't hit anything, while Kirk and Spock are wasting them with precise shots. However, these Romulans are former miners with no military education and just barely got out 25 years on Rura Penthe, while Kirk and Spock are Starfleet and trained in combat and tactics. It can be assumed that marksmanship is a requirement for any Starfleet officer.
- Somewhat less justified in Star Trek Into Darkness, when four main characters go up against an entire squad of Klingon warriors. The Klingons don't get a single hit in. At most, they might have managed to kill the two Red Shirts that accompanied Kirk's team, but even that isn't clear. They fare a little better when they switch to melee weapons, but that doesn't stop Khan from slaughtering them all singlehandedly.
- The battle robots in The Black Hole are frequently described in reviews as being bar none the worst shots of anything ever committed to celluloid. They don't even seem to be aiming at anything. This is made all the more jarring by a scene near the beginning where some unseen attacker blasts the gun out of one person's hands and effortlessly disables only the laser systems on the robot.
- Played with in Pulp Fiction, where Vince and Jules are shot at with a handcannon at point-blank range and missed. Vincent calls it a freak occurrence, Jules is convinced it is a miracle. Subsequent events seem to favor Jules.
- The Lord of the Rings has this. In the book, it's not made clear how accurate orcs are with bows and arrows, yet in the movies it's apparent that you won't get hit unless you're heir to the line of Stewards of Gondor. They're actually shown to be quite competent marksmen in the books, both at shooting down fleeing enemies at Cirith Ungol and when a scout orc shoots an arrow into the eye of a warrior Uruk after an argument, killing him. Although for some reason, their marksmanship isn't quite good enough to hit Faramir fatally in either battle at Osgiliath in which he's involved, even though everyone else dies on the second attempt.
- Used straight in Falling Down. A carful of thugs tries to kill the main character in a drive-by, spraying bullets everywhere and hit, but not kill about half a dozen pedestrians before dying in a car crash themselves. The protagonist walks away without so much as a scratch. He didn't even duck.
- Parodied in The Naked Gun films, when Lt. Frank Drebin and one of the bad guys are shown firing at each other from behind trash cans in separate shots, before it is revealed in a wide-angle shot that they are three to four feet apart.
- ¡Three Amigos!. In the battle between El Guapo's banditos and the villagers, the criminals don't manage to hit a single villager while the villagers kill about ten of the bandits. This despite the fact that the bandits are a lot more familiar with using guns than the villagers. The villagers were all dressed like the Amigos to mess with the banditos' heads, and were picking them off from random locations, then ducking out of sight before they the bad guys could get a bead on them.
- Played ridiculously straight in Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005) with a squadron of expert mercenary snipers. Who have circled said eponymous characters. Who, while completely missing John and Jane (STILL FIRING AT THEM IN A CIRCLE!), proceed to then get completely gunned down by two people hiding behind nothing more than each other.
- Lampshaded and justified in The Men Who Stare at Goats. During a flashback to Bill Django's time in the Vietnam War, he orders his soldiers to fire on a single Viet Cong soldier. While they do open fire, every shot misses. The main character's voiceover reveals that the men were aiming high on purpose, because they didn't actually want to kill anybody. It's also stated that only about twenty percent of all soldiers in the war actually shot to kill. Naturally the Viet Cong were quick to take advantage of this. The incident was what inspired Django to create the New Earth Army.
- Justified in Sin City; Roark Jr. is firing at Hartigan and Nancy and not hitting a goddamn thing. Hartigan notes that he is a good shot, but says he's missing because he's throwing away bullets, and not taking the time to aim.
- Used for both sides in Shanghai Noon during the final gunfight between Roy O'Bannon and Sheriff Van Cleef. In O'Bannon's case it makes some sense as he's a lot more talk than he is ability; but he HAS shown some gun skill in the film, yet his shots are hilariously wild and off the mark, never hitting anything. Van Cleef, however, is meant to be a highly skilled and ruthless killer of bandits. O'Bannon ends up with one last bullet while Van Cleef has two full revolvers, every single shot of which misses, if just barely. O'Bannon thinks he's invincible after he notices in awe that such a renowned marksman missed him that often from that close. He then tries doing a slow walk into thugs who are firing at him (from behind the door anyway) after noticing there are so many bullet holes in his robes, and yet he was unscratched, saying they can't hit him.
- Played to its most comedic end in the banjo-laden chase scene in Raising Arizona, in which H.I. is chased by a police officer who fires at him constantly for at least five minutes of film, and never once hits him. The cop must fire 300 rounds from his sidearm, and yet you never see him reload.
- The Predator from Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem has really bad aim when trying to hit aliens with his double shoulder cannons, at one point accidentally blowing out the power to the entire city. He does better with his pistol however.
- Everyone who tries to shoot at The Blues Brothers. Especially Carrie Fisher's Mystery Woman. In fact, the character with the best aim (although an example of A-Team Firing) was Ray Charles.
Jake: Ma'am, would it make you feel any better if you knew that what we're asking Matt here to do is a holy thing?Elwood: You see, we're on a mission from God.
- Beverly Hills Cop and its sequel both play this absolutely straight during the films' respective final shootouts. In both cases, the bad guys have a dozen or more machinegun-equipped goons who are completely incapable of hitting the pistol-armed heroes. It even rubs off onto the good guys in the first film, although it's at least justifiable in this case by the Beverly Hills police using service revolvers far beyond their effective range.
- Parodied in OSS 117: Lost in Rio: the hero reacts to heavy gunfire by crouching slightly and holding his arm up above his eyes like he's shielding himself from rain. During one scene, while fleeing from a barrage of gunfire, he stops and goes back to retrieve some pocket items he left behind, twice. He even pauses a third time as if trying to remember whether he's forgotten anything else, while still getting shot at, before finally leaving.
- In George A. Romero's The Crazies the soldiers seem to completely ignore all military training and very rarely take cover and can never seem to hit poorly trained Civilians even when the soldiers drastically outnumber them and have better rifles.
- Stephen suffers from this at the beginning of Dawn of the Dead (1978). He gets better as the film goes on, though.
- This trope is played with quite deftly with the character of English Bob. When we first see him, he displays quite a bit of aptitude with a pistol during a pheasant shooting contest (on a moving train, no less). Later, we learn that he is a bounty hunter of great acclaim for killing outlaws in honorable combat, most notably "Two Gun" Corky. The character of Little Bill soon reveals this to be false. According to him, Bob just happened to be drinking in the bar that Corky walked into and took a shot at him and missed because he was so drunk. Corky gets startled and shoots himself in the foot trying to draw his (only) gun. Bob carefully aims his second shot, but misses again because he is that damn drunk. Corky recovers, takes his time and aims carefully, but the gun blows up in his hand. Bob only lands a shot when Corky is wounded and defenseless.
- Again in the final shooting. Most of the gunmen in the saloon don't hit Munny from even a few meters away in the chaos. Even though it's practically a Mexican Standoff, the shooting lasts for a full half minute.
- The Lady Vanishes inadvertently draws attention to this by letting the villains kill the train conductors with one shot each. Naturally, the only other good guy who gets shot makes a blatant target of himself.
- Parodied in Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, during the final raid of Dr. Evil's base. The bad guys are shooting submachineguns at the agents and Austin, never hitting anything. Austin just picks them off with his tiny pistol.
- A particularly egregious example is Jet Li's Danny the Dog, during Raffles' ambush of Bart. Three men armed with military-grade assault rifles empty them at a stricken car with four helpless men inside that's maybe fifteen feet away. The result? Flesh wounds. And do they bother administering a Coup de Grâce, or do they just run as soon as their guns click empty? Three guesses, first two don't count...
- All of the villains in The Mummy Trilogy. The mook with a machine gun who manages to miss the heroes hiding behind a couch two meters in front of him in a bedroom in The Mummy Returns deserves a special mention; either he was secretly on their side all along or a wall killed his parents when he was a kid and he swore vengeance on their kind.
- The Sweeney suffers from this, with the bad guys firing hundreds of bullets from assault rifles, submachine guns and handguns only to hit nothing but the various walls and windows surrounding the protagonists.
- In the documentary Bus 174, an officer fires three bullets from less than a foot away, and misses. The hostage-taker turned and flinched just enough to avoid being shot.
- Street Fighter: towards the end, the Mooks are trying to machine-gun hostages tightly packed in a pit and failing, which is very close to trying to shoot fish in a barrel and messing it up. They also notably fail to hit Guile when he's sitting out in the open.
- Red ends with Frank and Marvin fleeing across an empty field in Monrovia pursued by an entire wide line of soldiers who are not only firing at the two but lobbing shells at them as well. Nothing ever hits them. Marvin even shouts back "Monrovia SUCKS!" at the soldiers.
- This is all part of the fun of being a Ghostbuster. The Proton Pack's ion stream is, according to Word of God, "a thousand times more powerful than a fire hose." Also, the idea is not to hit the ghost, but to get it running from the streams long enough to tire it out.
- The Mooks in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen are utterly incapable of hitting anything with their automatic weapons (in 1899!), except for some old men in Kenya at the start of the film. Also applies to Secret Service Agent Sawyer. You'd think marksmanship would be something a Secret Service agent would need to pass before being sent into the field. Instead, he prefers the same spray'n'pray approach as the Mooks. One of the story arcs is Quartermain teaching Sawyer how to shoot the proper way - by aiming and leading the target. Naturally, this ends up being useful when Quartermain has been stabbed, and Sawyer is the one who has to shoot Moriarty in the back of the head from quite a distance away.
- In both of The Green Hornet Serials, if the Hornet is involved in the gunfight none of the gangsters are capable of hitting him. And most of those gunfights are taking place indoors, at roughly 10-20 foot ranges. (If the Hornet's not involved, they're good shots.)
- Tombstone, where during the Iron Springs shootout, the bad guys could not hit Wyatt Earp despite him just slowly walking towards them. He winds up killing several of them, driving them off. This was what happened in real life too; Wyatt himself was notoriously Immune to Bullets, and despite wading into the river in the middle of a shootout was completely uninjured, even with bullets coming close enough to riddle his coat full of holes.
- Played straight in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider. An entire squad of mercs with assault rifles and fancy night-vision equipment break into Lara's mansion and somehow never manage to shoot her as she's jumping and running around, taking them out with karate kicks.
- In X-Men: First Class, when Havok starts to practice controlling his powers, he first ends up shooting everything EXCEPT his intended target. While he really was trying to aim, he couldn't control the sheer force of his powers yet. After some training, he becomes much better at targeting and controlling his blasts.
- The Terminator and Terminator 2: Judgment Day deserve mention as examples because both movies entirely avert this trope. Why? Because their central characters just don't die that way.
- Overdone in Where Eagles Dare. Mooks from THREE Nazi groups (SS, Luftwaffe, and Heer) can't hit any of the heroes (except for Major Smith, but it's just a flesh wound).
- A variant in Attack of the Killer Tomatoes!. The villain tries to assassinate Mason Dixon. The assassination is shown by a hand wielding a gun aiming and firing at the hero walking down the street, and getting a perfect one hit kill on some random person that Dixon is walking past. This continues until the villain's pistol runs out of ammunition.
- The mooks in Mercenaries couldn't hit the broad side of a barn with their machine guns.
- The terrorists in The Delta Force and Delta Force 2: The Colombian Connection are such ridiculously bad shots that we'd have to call this trope "The Delta Force Effect" if it hadn't already been named.
- Both sides in Delta Farce also had horrible shots. Bill is the only one to get hit, and he gets Shot in the Ass of all places.
- Averted in Apocalypto. No longer needed for human sacrifice, the captives are ostensibly allowed to run free, but are used for target practice with a variety of weapons, including spears, arrows and slings. They are deadly accurate. When it's Jaguar Paw's turn to run, he zigzags across the field and successfully dodges several shots but eventually is hit in the gut with an arrow.
- Jurassic World: The movie would have ended halfway through if the veteran soldier with the Gatling gun had been able to hit the sixty foot long I. Rex. And if the mercenaries could hit raptors charging straight at them at close range when they have automatic weapons and night vision sights.
- In U571, a submarine is within close range of a destroyer and manages to survive long enough to dive without getting ripped to shreds.
- Played with in The Patriot, where the militiamen led by Benjamin Martin effortlessly cut down several companies of British regulars with precision aim, yet the regulars in question often fail to deal significant casualties in turn to the rebels. In one scene, Ben and his two youngest sons are able to wipe out an entire supply column all by themselves in their bid to save Gabriel; Colonel Tavington and his royal dragoons don't show half as much difficulty in combating their American foes.
- Purgatory: People die, but it takes a lot of firing to do it. Except when the plot calls for it, of course.
- The only time any of the Destroyers manage to hit anybody in Mom and Dad Save the World is when Emperor Tod orders two of them to shoot themselves in the head for disagreeing with him on a matter of fashion. The fact that their weapons discharges appear to corkscrew outward from the gun rather than travel in a straight line might have something to do with this.
- Played with in Kingsman: The Secret Service: Valentine's mooks empty magazine after magazine at Eggsy, but they don't miss; his suit is bulletproof. A deleted clip shows him shrugging off a ton of flattened bullets. All of them do, however, manage to miss his unprotected head.
- There was an urban legend that went something like this: In 1971 a marshal and a general in Uruguay decided to settle a conflict the old fashioned way; with a gun duel. After standing back to back, they walked twelve steps, turned around, and started shooting. First once. Then twice. Nothing happened. They ended up firing 37 shots each without hitting each other before the duel stopped by itself due to the lack of ammo. The explanation the men gave? They forgot to put on their glasses, apparently.
- Another variation of this story has an alternate ending: After seeing that all their shots missed, they decided to call off the duel and shake hands. As they were approaching each other, one of them let out a yelp — his foot had been burned by stepping on a mass of lead where their bullets had hit each other and fused together.
- Andreas Hofer was sentenced to death for his rebellion against Napoleon, and legend has it that after the first salvo of the shooting squad barely wounded him, Hofer — an experienced sharpshooter — mocked them for it.
- Until the last book, the Death Eaters of the Harry Potter series were generally poor shots, although with wands rather than guns. Actually justified in Half-Blood Prince in which Harry's friends happened to have all taken a rare luck potion before the Death Eaters showed up, which is an example of One-Shot Revisionism. Since, unlike guns, wands can do more than just kill, there's a Harry Potter-specific corollary to this trope, which we shall define thusly: "the more deadly and/or permanent the curse is, the less likely it is to hit its target."
- This happens in Animorphs, whenever the Yeerks (human- and Hork-Bajir-Controllers) fire Dracon beams at the Animorphs, they will usually (but not always) miss. In book 29, Visser Three even yells <Would it be asking too much for one of you to actually hit something?!!>
- Star Wars Expanded Universe:
- Very often subverted in the books, especially when the protagonist is on the same side or at least neutral towards the Empire. It is not completely uncommon to see the Stormtroopers really are the best of the best. The Timothy Zahn novels in particular tend to portray Stormtroopers (and other Imperial personnel) as highly competent professionals.
- Subverted and lampshaded in Legacy of the Force: Invincible. Jaina Solo and Boba Fett are defending Roche against an Imperial assault. The stormtroopers first shoot Boba's gun, causing him to raise his hand, then blow a hole through it. Jaina is thinking "these weren't her mother's stormtroopers."
- The Lord of the Rings features this in The Two Towers. Orcs are incompetent soldiers but are known to be good shots with arrows throughout the literature; however, during the Battle of Helm's Deep, thousands of Uruk-hai rain down what are described as black clouds of arrows on the Rohirrim defenders... and very, very few even get injured, let alone killed.
- In a Tim Dorsey novel, this happens for justifiable reasons in an incident that is largely irrelevant to the plot. A man who was denied a driver's license for failing a vision test walked into a DMV and emptied a pistol at the clerks, hitting nobody.
- In Les Misérables, in an inverted version of this trope, the students, who are the good guys, fire massive volleys of shots at the National Guard, and don't manage to hit any of them.
- In Andre Norton's Ordeal In Otherwhere, Shann, only brushed by the weapon fire, comments to Charis on how badly they are shooting. Charis suggests that they might not be shooting to kill.
- Most of DERSO in The Leonard Regime.
- The Ciaphas Cain novel The Last Ditch lampshades Ork lack of marksmanship. The troop transport carrying the Valhallan 597th has arrived via crashlanding, and the battalion is bracing for an Ork attack in the wreckage.
Corporal Magot: Always knew the greenies couldn't hit the broad side of a starship, but I never expected to see it for myself.
- Whenever Orks or Chaos cultists appear in a Cain novel, Cain will snark about their poor aim at least once. He has a minor freakout in Cain's Last Stand when he realizes the Chaos invaders are actually aiming their shots.
- The Cylons from Battlestar Galactica (1978) — killer combat robots that almost wiped out the entire human race — couldn't hit the broad side of a barn with their toes up against the shingles. The silver Cylons robots were the dumbest type and they almost always reacted the same way to the same type of attack. The humans could usually guess which way they would turn in a battle and shoot where they were going to be. Watch a space battle and you can see that the vipers don't shoot at the cylon ships, but at where they will be. The same could be said about gun fights with hand guns. At one time, it was common in some BG and SW fan circles to refer to the "Imperial/Cylon School of Gunnery" to refer to the lack of accuracy of both Stormtroopers and the original Centurions — except when the plot called for them to actually hit someone (e.g., to kill Serena). Reference to the School was generally followed by the tag-line "Could not hit the side of a Death Star."
- The ones from Battlestar Galactica (2003) are hardly expert shots, though it's not like they were needed to nuke the colonies to extinction. The sentient Raiders suffer this pretty badly it would seem with one notable exception, which became well known even among the human fleet. Considering in almost every engagement the human pilots, flying 40-year-old machines remember, are extremely outnumbered and have a very limited number of people they can call up, casualties are usually very light compared to what they should be were the Raiders any good. It's possible that despite death being "a learning experience" for the Raiders, they just did not learn anything so long as they had the ability to resurrect. The humanoid Cylons may have figured this out given later episodes of the first half of season 4 showed some had been training as colonial style pilots.
- In the short-lived TV show Police Squad!, Frank and a villain are shooting at each other on a street, each using a trash can for cover. The camera pulls back to reveal that they're hiding behind opposite sides of the same trash can; they're shooting at each other from handshaking range and missing. (Note: The show was a Parody, so jokes such as this are normal).
- One Monty Python's Flying Circus skit had a bicycler eventually wind up in front of a firing squad. They give the order to fire, and everyone misses. They try a few more times, and everyone misses again. The officer tries to give advice about how to aim, but they still miss. The last time, the Russian soldiers just decide to bayonet the man, and he survives, although the audience doesn't know how, because the scene cuts to a title card labeled "Scene Missing" followed by the bicycler exclaiming "What an amazing escape!"
- Farscape has the supposedly feared and elite Peacekeepers. One of the main characters in the show, Aeryn Sun, is nothing more than a PK grunt, and is still one of the deadliest crew members of Moya. She frequently goes on about the harshness of her training in the early episodes. Her former comrades, however, get easily killed off by the dozens, and not by just our heroes either. For a good example, see the ending trilogy of the second season, "Liars, Guns, and Money".
- There are mooks that are both hilariously incompetent and amazingly adept shots. One particular standout moment is in the final shootout in the pilot, where Mal and Zoe are standing in the open, against a numerically superior enemy force and with no cover. When the gunfight starts up, Zoe gets hit dead center in the chest, but Mal only gets winged, even when he's standing only a dozen meters away and only walking slowly forward and sideways. On the other hand, Rance Burgess' collection of militia and goons can hit prostitutes firing back at them from a good twenty to thirty meters away behind cover, firing rifles one-handed, on the backs of moving horses.
- Hilariously inverted in "War Stories". When the gang invades Niska's sky complex to rescue Mal and not a single one of them gets hit (even when Zoe stops bothering to use cover), it looks like a straight example of this trope. However, after it's all over, the ensuing conversation reveals it wasn't just the bad guys who couldn't hit the broad side of a barn... Simon couldn't either.
Mal: So, I hear you all took up arms in that little piece of action back there... how you faring with that, doctor?
Simon: I don’t know... I... er... yeah, I never shot anyone before.
Book: I was there, son. I’m fair sure you haven’t shot anyone yet.
- The Jaffa in Stargate SG-1. Well, at least when they're evil. A Jaffa's aim gets much better after turning to the good side. They do have those bulky staff weapons, but good Jaffa seem to be pretty proficient with them. In the episode "The Warrior", O'Neill hangs a lampshade on this by describing the staff weapon as "a weapon of terror: it's made to intimidate the enemy." and compares it with the P-90, a submachine gun which he says is "a weapon of war: it's made to kill the enemy." He then goes on to demonstrate that the power and accuracy of a staff weapon is pitiful compared to the P-90. That would make this a Justified Trope, if it weren't for the sheer number of times SG-1 manage to escape unharmed despite being shot at by an army of Jaffa at close range.
- In the pilot of BBC's Robin Hood, several guards miss shooting an escaping Robin and his group when they are galloping towards them!
- Came up in Conversational Troping when the aliens watched a movie on 3rd Rock from the Sun:
Tommy: Now, how did he beat those guys? I mean c'mon, it was twelve against one.
Harry: Well, he has the advantage. You see, they only have machine guns while he has the broken pool cue.
- The A-Team. Every episode features a gun battle with every character, hero and villain, emptying hundreds of thousands of rounds at each other — and no-one ever got shot. This was because The A-Team was nominally a kid's show in prime time. At the time, it was overlooked due to the Rule of Cool, but now it's amazingly funny to consider The A-Team were a bunch of Vietnam War Special Ops veterans who couldn't hit their targets at all. A popular interpretation is that the good guys, at least, missed on purpose, following the trope named after them. They never wanted to hurt anybody, they only wanted to make the bad guys think they were going to hurt them.
- In the Syfy miniseries Alice all of the suits are horrible shots until it is convenient for the plot, like shooting the motor of the flying flamingos.
- The Spanish troops in Queen of Swords are spectacularly bad shots, especially when shooting at the heroine. They usually manage to gun down unarmed peasants without problem.
- Red Dwarf:
- Lampshaded. When the crew are being chased by a hologram in the episode "Quarantine", Cat references the fact that they haven't met anyone who can shoot straight.
- Ace Rimmer can take down whole hordes of rifle-bearing Nazi mooks with nothing but his trusty pistol while saving the princess. That's Ace being Ace—he's such a damned awesome hero he just can't be hurt by gunfire. The one time they graze his jacket, he's more pissed off about them ruining his clothes.
- On 24, no matter what kind of military-grade assault weapons the villains have at their disposal, Jack Bauer can always defeat them with his trusty handgun. And sometimes with a knife.
- The bad guy in The Invisible Man has presumably-trained guards with submachineguns that can't hit the hero standing three metres away from them.
- Justified in Castle, when Castle and Beckett test out antique flintlock pistols allegedly used as a murder weapon. They each take one, go out to the firing range, and miss. There's even a montage just showing dozens of impacts on the padded area behind the paper targets. The justification is that flintlock pistols were often inaccurate, and the ones used were worse than most. Not only that, the cop right next to Castle goes to help him after all Castle's shots kept messing with his own target practice. This goes from the cop giving Castle stable platforms to shoot from, to strapping a scope and a laser pointer on the pistol, taping it down zeroed on the center of the target and pulling the trigger with a string. Still misses, with the only hit being to the target next to the one aimed for. This is all used to prove that the weapon was highly unlikely to have been the murder weapon. In fact, the two guys specifically dueled with them in order to "satisfy their honor" without anyone actually being harmed. The real culprit is someone using a modern smoothbore weapon with an old-fashioned steel ball.
- In the pilot episode of NCIS, the would-be-terrorist brings a machine gun to bear on Gibbs... firing it single-handedly, starting from the hip and going up. The distance he misses by is almost the width of the Air Force One corridor they were in. (Gibbs, by contrast, puts 2 rounds from a semi-auto square in his chest, dropping him to his knees, followed by a third to flatten him. Game over.)
- In the DVD commentary for the last episode of season 4 of Burn Notice, Matt Nix and several of the actors were sporking the entire episode, and anytime Michael was being shot at, they would joke that Vaughn's men were only able to hit their target when they were aiming at tires. Considering the number of times a special forces sniper missed Michael, they weren't too far off.
Robert Wisdom: Hire burned spies and blind gunmen. What Could Possibly Go Wrong?
- On the SyFy series Warehouse 13, this was brought up as the agents had target practice. Steve said something to the effect of "It's not this difficult to fire a ray gun in movies" to which Pete replied "Actually it's very difficult to fire a raygun in the movies. The stormtroopers hardly hit anything."
- Most of the men from F Troop graduated from there.
O'Rourke: Don't worry. We're perfectly safe as long as they're aiming at us.
- This is made clear in an episode where Agarn was brought before a firing squad and all the soldiers shot the water tower he was standing next to. Lampshaded in the ballad sung in the black-and-white first season with the line, "...and nobody takes a lickin'."
- Lampshaded again in several episodes as well, including a memorable scene where O'Rourke and Agarn are, by themselves, staging an attack on their own base (It Makes Sense in Context, we swear). When Agarn complains that they are certain to be shot by their own team...
(a shot hits the ground near them)
Agarn: Oh yeah, what was that?
O'Rourke: That was Vanderbilt aiming at something else.
- M*A*S*H has every North Korean and Chinese soldier missing stationary targets at relatively close range, including supposed snipers, almost to the point of wondering how the Communist armies inflicted any casualties at all.
- The most jarring example is Hawkeye climbing down a rope, from a helicopter, on Christmas, dressed as Santa, to treat wounded pinned down in a foxhole, all the while under fire. He isn't hit once.
- "5 o'clock Charlie" would attempt to bomb them every day at 5 o'clock. He was so bad the M*A*S*H staff had to leave instructions and pointers to get him to blow up the ammo dump so that Frank couldn't organise some shooting back, which would have escalated things.
- He still never hit the dump. Instead, Trapper and Hawkeye's interference leads to Frank ordering a 40mm anti-aircraft gun to fire without knowing where the shell is aimed. Between the Korean operators' confusion and Frank's impatience, the 4077th blows up the ammo dump itself.
- In a later episode, Charlie redeems himself by at least being competent enough to drop propaganda fliers on the camp.
- It's noted that at least one of the snipers that attacked the unit - the one who had an entire episode dedicated to his siege of the camp - was nothing more than a scared kid with a rifle. Doesn't excuse the sheer number of misses (only one person is hit, and dozens and dozens of rounds are fired) but it explains it to a degree.
- Lampshaded and justified in an episode of Andromeda when a Nightsider dragging Harper and Trance along asks why the bounty hunters shooting at them only seem to be aiming for him. Trance then reveals that her and Harper are wearing personal High Guard ECM generators that prevent smart bullets from locking on. The Nightsider thanks her and promptly confiscates Harper's bracelet. It's easy to imagine the look Harper gives Trance.
- In the episode introducing the Borg in Star Trek: The Next Generation, the captain orders the enemy ship's tractor beam to be destroyed. Multiple phaser shots are then fired with no apparent attempt to aim at the tractor beam, and inflicts minimal damage on random spots of the enemy ship. Only the last shot lands squarely on the tractor beam and destroys it.
- The live action Teddy Ruxpin special lampshades and invokes this. One character states, when the cannon fire begins, that the bad guy is the worst shot in the world, and that as long as he's trying to blow up the cabin, the cabin is the safest place they could be.
- On Doctor Who:
- The President of Gallifrey orders a squad of soldiers to execute the Doctor. The soldiers fire from a few feet away and all miss. This is subverted as the camera zooms in and we see that the missed shots formed a person-shaped outline on the wall behind the Doctor. The soldiers are all elite veterans and very good shots but they all aimed just a tiny bit to the side because they revere the Doctor and did not want to shoot him.
- Inverted in the new series with the Daleks, who land almost every shot they make with pin-point precision, and miss very rarely and only in highly chaotic situations. This fits their characterization as omnicidal EX-TER-MIN-ATORS, and guarantees that anyone, even heroic characters, foolish enough to fight them openly is going to be dead in short order. Even the Doctor himself has been tagged by their shots when any other villain would have played the trope straight.
- One Star Wars-themed episode of Mythbusters tested if the beams from a Stormtrooper's blasters could be physically dodged. On average, each shot from a Stormtrooper's blaster is calculated to be between 130-135 mph (209-217 km/h). Despite testing from both ready and holstered positions, the shots were proven much too fast to dodge. Maybe the Stormtroopers really are blind.
- The Flash (2014): While the Earth 1 version of Floyd Lawton / Deadshot is a master marksman, his Earth 2 counterpart is such a horrible shot that he empties an entire clip at a man from a few feet away and fails to hit him, a rare case of a good guy (he's a policeman on Earth 2) suffering from this syndrome.
- In Legends of Tomorrow, all Mooks throughout the ages appear to be graduates of the academy, as their aim is notoriously bad. The flying 22nd century robots must also have downloaded all the relevant coursework, the first chapter is, of course, "How to Always Miss When Shooting at Heroes".
- The New Avengers: The border guards in "Dead Men are Dangerous" show some spectacularly bad aim when they manage to miss Steed despite him lying prone on the ground no more than 20 or 30 feet away.
- In Generation Kill, the Iraqi jihadists that ambush the Hitman platoon aren't able to wound (minorly) more than one American soldier when four of the platoon's Humvees are trapped on a bridge, while the Americans have no trouble taking the snipers out. Justified partially because it's dark and the Americans have night vision and laser sights, and partly due to Truth in Television; most of the jihadists were civilians who had been hastily recruited and had little weapons training, particularly with hard-to-control machine guns.
- NCIS: New Orleans: "Means to an End" features some spectacularly bad shooting from the bad guys. Despite Pride being an narrow alley that means he cannot dodge sideways, and the villains being militia members who are presumably trained in weapons use, they still manage to miss him while firing at him with automatic weapons.
- The Wire: While the gangbangers may have access to firearms and not be shy about using them, they don't really know much about shooting accurately. A prime and tragic example is in Season 2, where Bodie's crew and another gang unload dozens of rounds at each other in a running shootout. The only resulting damage is a bunch of shattered car windows... and a little boy in an upstairs bedroom who gets a stray bullet through the head. Most of the bangers don't even aim properly when they shoot, and have their eyes closed when they pull the trigger. The only real exception is Marlo Stanfield's crew, as Marlo often takes his men out into the woods for target practice.
- GURPS. The trope takes its name from a "Cinematic" rule in GURPS, where the first shot the bad guys take always misses. Further, in the Bunnies & Burrows supplement, where a gun is an incomprehensibly dangerous weapon that the equally incomprehensibly dangerous humans use from time to time, the PCs (all rabbits) are given some comfort by this rule, which states that the first shot fired by a gun always misses. It's also available as a Silly Combat Rule in any other campaign.
- This will also inevitably get played straight in a realistic campaign involving untrained shooters (such as civilians with stolen guns or insurgents): shooting an average gun without any points in the Guns skill means that you roll at DX-4. The average human score for any stat is 10, so an average human without training needs a whole lot of luck to hit the target in combat conditions (this increases at point blank range or during a careful range session, of course). Even for professional soldiers, range and vision penalties and various other factors (such as being under suppression fire at the time) can heavily reduce accuracy. In an ultra-realistic campaign where one or two bullets can take even a PC out of the game, making everyone a terrible shot is often the only way to keep everyone alive.
- Warhammer 40,000:
- Da Orks love their A-Team Firing, not considering aiming to be that important and so being universally hilariously bad shots (their basic troops have the lowest Ballistic Skill in the game by comparison, getting a mere two out of six chance to hit anything). They make up for this with a great deal of enthusiasm, more, more and more dakka, huge, noisy and ludicrously rapid-firing guns — and sheer numbers, reasoning that if you point enough dakka at something, some of it will stick.
- Averted by the setting's Red Shirts, the Imperial Guard. About half their shots will land (and like the Orks, they make many, many of them. Actual Stormtroopers (elites) match Space Marines in their good 2-hit-out-of-3-fired accuracy.
- Feng Shui's mooks typically have low combat AVs, meaning the only time they actually hit named characters is on a series of sixes, which doesn't happen too often. Mooks with better AVs are more dangerous.
- Hong Kong Action Theatre's Importance system is not very kind to those of Minor importance. With their typical stats, they can take out characters of no importance, Minor importance, and Moderate importance with some effort, but anyone higher up on the Importance scale (such as many Player Characters) is going to need a natural 20 in order to even hit them at all.
- In Tale From The Floating Vagabond, characters with the Rambo effect can't be hit with guns at all from Point Blank or Close range (which means there's always a penalty to attack them with ranged weapons), and gives an 80% chance that enemies will try to shoot the character anyway.
- With the sole exception of Inspector Fox, all ranged enemies in Sly Cooper games avert this. Even the ones who throw rocks. Given that the Inspector is perfectly capable of shooting straight when she's playable, one explanation is that she's so incensed by Sly's presence that her aim goes to pot.
- Star Wars
- Goofing on this trope, the Star Wars First-Person Shooter games often feature the Stormtroopers' blaster rifle as the least accurate weapon in the game. Some Lampshade Hanging in Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast: troopers can be overheard talking about how difficult it is to see out of their helmets, how badly designed their rifles are to control recoil, etc. "I'd like to see you come down here and try to hit something while you're wearing this damn helmet so I can sit in an air conditioned office and tell you how stupid you are!"
- In Star Wars: Battlefront 2, the medal for horrific inaccuracy has to go to the A.I. Sand People on Mos Eisley in Hunt mode. If the Sand People had a modicum of intellect and some power of aiming, their sniper rifles would give them a tremendous advantage over the Jawas' lightning guns, but as-is it is nearly impossible to win that map single player as the Sand People, because the A.I. is so horrible. Justified in universe, however. The Sand People eschew technology aside from what they can scavenge and use against invaders. That means they're using guns that have probably spent too long in the sand, baking in the Tattooine suns, and weren't trained to fight with firearms past "point and shoot."
- In Star Wars: Battlefront 2015, Stormtrooper marksmanship is uncannily like the films if this clip is anything to go on.
- Most AI players on your team cannot shoot, making this an almost literal case if you play as the Empire, either in campaign or in a different game mode.
- Averted with Star Wars: The Old Republic where the Imperials are more than capable of gunning down Republic characters.
- Also averted in The Force Unleashed where the Stormtroopers are much better shots towards Galen Marek. They pose a big threat in numbers and when not dispatched quickly. Especially in the higher difficulties.
- Star Wars: Republic Commando has an interactive prologue where you get to watch your character, RC-1138, living out his first couple of years as a budding clone commando. The whole sequence is narrated by one of the Kaminoan cloners, but if you ignore her and pay attention to what's going on in the background, you actually get to see one of the mass-produced clone troopers at a firing range. He is literally five paces away from his target drone, which is in a small, enclosed shooting alcove, and is hitting everything but the target. These guys are on your side, but obviously they will become the core of the Stormtrooper corps later. Also in the game, B1 battle droids appear en masse and can't hit the broad side of a clone commando at almost point blank range. it's not unusual for you or one of your fellow commandos to run right up to one without taking a hit and take it apart with your vibro-knuckler blade.
- Bots in Unreal Tournament can go anywhere from exaggerating to inverting this depending on difficulty. On the Novice setting, bots often miss virtually point blank shots with hitscan weapons. On Godlike, bots can land headshots from all the way across the map immediately after turning around to face the player.
- Lady in Devil May Cry 3 is initially portrayed as a competent gunslinger capable of gunning down demons and incompetent players. After defeating her in a boss fight, however, the ensuing cutscene shows her missing her shots at Dante even as he walks closer and closer to her. Possibly justified if you cut her some slack for the massive loss of blood.
- In World of Warcraft, Sunblade Lookouts are placed in such a position in order to shoot down anyone attempting to make a bombing run along the Dead Scar of the Isle of Quel'danas. While they do respond to each threat with an impressive volley of flaming arrows, they simply couldn't hit the broad side of a barn if it painted a bullseye onto itself. Who said that elves are good archers?
- The Vault-Tek Assisted Targeting System in Fallout 3 gives you a percentage chance (which is usually believable) to hit any specific limb of the enemy. Should you miss that limb, your shot will miss the enemy altogether. Two things make this worse: first, even if the enemy is shoving his head into the barrel of the gun, your character still has that 5% chance of missing (there is no guaranteed hit in VATS). Second: if you somehow (*cough*cheater*cough*) manage to have enough Action Points to have a long series of attacks, it still uses the exact probabilities given to you when you set up your shot sequence, even if the enemy has managed to get out from behind cover, walk right in front of the player, and done everything short of sticking his/her/its finger-analogue down the gun's barrel. Want to hit that person right in front of you? Don't use VATS. Concentrated Fire gives your character a 5% higher to-hit chance for each consecutive time you target a limb in VATS. Without cheats, this can give your last shot a 71% chance to hit an enemy from 10 kilometres away.
- In Space Quest IV the Sequel Police Cyborgs are lethally accurate most of the time, but still suffer occasions of Stormtrooper Syndrome when the plot calls for it.
- They're actually playing with you because you're so fun to shoot at, they could hit you on the first shot if they wanted to.
- The Krimzon Guard from Jak II had this trouble if you stood still. They tended to have better aim at moving targets, but that follows this trope closely anyway.
- Final Fantasy
- Used in Final Fantasy VII, when the Shinra soldiers are firing at Barret and Dyne and Scarlet yells at them "Kyaa haa, ha!! You can shoot all day and never hit them with an aim like that." Then quickly subverted when one of them manages to hit Dyne.
- At the beginning of its PSP prequel, Crisis Core, Zack is speaking to his mentor about his current mission on a cellphone, while being fired at by a squad of soldiers. The fact that he's perfectly apathetic to the gunfire and calmly speaks on the phone before killing them just shows how much Shinra soldiers suck. Sure, it was a virtual reality mission, but still, that means Shinra programs virtual representations of their own grunts with the faith that they couldn't hit a mark bigger than Mt. Fuji if the fate of their company would depend on it.
- Rafa and Malak in Final Fantasy Tactics have skills that are horrifyingly inaccurate. They fire off one to six times, but there is an extremely high chance of the attacks only firing off once, on a spot completely off your intended target. The kicker? They're trained assassins. One has to wonder just how ineffective the rest of Barrington's military forces are... Reis, as a human, has a similar skill that fires only up to four attacks over an area up to thirteen tiles wide. Yeah. Good luck hitting anything with that. The Hydra family has two similar skills that tend to be MUCH more accurate due to that it's easy to limit the number of panels it can target (and thus are actually usable some of the time), so nobody knows why these special character skills are worse than what a generic monster can perform.
- Played straight as an arrow in any Call of Duty game. A.I. accuracy is terrible more than a few meters away, while your weapons seem to fire magical homing bullets. That is, until you play on the Veteran difficulty. In later games, it depends on who you are fighting (whether they depend on quantity or quality to overwhelm you). Random Viet Congs and Guerrillas play this straight since their main challenge is that there are a crapload of them firing at you, but averted by Elite Mooks such as Spetsnaz commandos who are deadly accurate, and can shoot you in the face from across the yard right after performing an Unnecessary Combat Roll (even on early missions!) and requires you to take cover regularly.
- Beyond Good & Evil, the chase scenes. They blow up some serious crap, bring along a couple of ships, and soldiers appear within breathing distance of you, but they'll most likely miss, even when you're leisurely climbing a box at a snail's pace. Subverted/averted with the turret-laser that is present on levels that require stealth to pass. No matter where you are and what obstacle is between you and it, if Jade's detected, that laser will hit and kill you.
- James Bond
- Mooks in Agent Under Fire are like this. It's not entirely their fault as each and every one of the numerous automatic weapons they employ have horrendous accuracy past five meters or so, and they can usually hit reliably with most handguns... after a few shots... assuming they live that long.
- This trope can be played with in GoldenEye 64. Unlocking the 007 difficulty allows players to manually determine the enemy's accuracy before starting a mission. When set to the lowest value, it's possible to stand point-blank in front on an enemy wielding an assault rifle for almost an entire minute, and he won't get a single hit.
- The lesser enemies in the Time Crisis series are often like this, but when you're about to get hit in the later games, a "Crisis Sight" is shown. The Elite Mooks (such as red soldiers) almost always score a hit on the first or second shot.
- Most gunpowder-based units and siege weapons in Age of Empires are quite inaccurate. Trebuchets are probably the best example of this; they do huge amounts of damage, but seem to miss just as often as they hit. Siege weapons are meant for attacking stationary targets i.e. builds, except for the onagers which are short range anti-infantry/ship. They don't really have the projectile velocity to hit a moving target but once you've gotten them in range will nail builds every time (there is a tiny variation, but unless your attacking a house you'll never miss). Hand cannons are more truth in television as those era firearm ares were horribly inaccurate due to the way it was held, no rifling, variable quality gunpowder, and inconsistently shaped projectiles.
- In Battlefield Heroes, the Commando's sniper rifles are so inaccurate when they're not zoomed in that it is actually possible to hit something behind the player.
- Alfred Ashford in Resident Evil – Code: Veronica can't seem to snipe a target to save his life. Ditto for Annette in Resident Evil 2, who suffers from this when she tries to shoot Ada in the sewers, although she accidentally hits Leon when he jumps in the way.
- Soldiers in the X-COM games are notoriously bad shots. Given that skills grow in proportion with their successful use, constant misses can result in even worse accuracy. Unfortunately, the aliens suffer a lot less from this than the soldiers. Interestingly, given the game mechanics, you never have a 100% chance of hitting anything. At most, the chance is always 95%. This means that, even if the target is right in front of the soldier, there is still a 1 in 20 chance he will miss. Furthermore, since a 'miss' means your bullet is fired at a tile adjacent to your actual target, you can miss your target by up to 45 degrees.
- Played straight and subverted in the remake: Rookies have horrid aiming at targets in cover (and horrid aim against targets in the open, too) but if you manage to flank an enemy and negate their cover, your soldiers get a sizable accuracy boost. Even better, being point blank can grant not only a 100% chance to hit, but up to a 60% chance to critically hit.
- Enemies in the early Syphon Filter games can't hit you until the Danger meter fills up. Which it does much faster on the Hard difficulty.
- Even on Impossible difficulty, Red Faction's mooks have pretty lame accuracy at long range, not counting snipers and Elite Mooks.
- A playable example happens in Silent Hill 2. James has never held a gun before in his life, so he's a crap shot at it, being incapable of hitting a non-boss enemy from a room's length. With his flashlight off, you're lucky if you can hit a mannequin at arm's length. When he gets the hunting rifle this changes, though the ammo is so limited that the only enemy you'd use it against is Pyramid Head and Mary, both of which are fought in an arena.
- Mass Effect subverts this. Enemies will blaze away at cover that they can't hit you through, but this is intentionally done in order to pin you down.
- Played straight in many cutscenes. For example, on Arrae in Mass Effect 3, Cerberus troopers repeatedly fail to hit several slow moving targets ten feet away from them while said targets slowly walk away. This is especially jarring since the average Cerberus soldier can shoot the wings off of a fly in normal gameplay, especially on Insanity.
- The player can also end up hit with this when it comes to assault rifles, which tend to rely on More Dakka to do any damage at all, or low-level sniper rifle use in Mass Effect, where even an Infiltrator will be swaying around like a drunken sailor.
- In Return to Castle Wolfenstein, this trope affects the run-of-the-mill Nazi mooks, but not the female SS Paranormal Elite Mooks, who are deadly accurate even with automatic weapons.
- In Perfect Dark, there is a solo mission called "The Duel" where if you play in Special Agent or higher, you will face against a Jonathan simulant and pretty much his aim is so terrible that no matter how close you are to him, he will ALWAYS miss you.
- In Perfect Dark Zero, Maihem is the undefeated champion of Death Match, but she can rarely hit the broad side of a barn at long range, even on Perfect Agent difficulty. Thus, the best strategy is to fire bursts from the balcony, and go full-auto or use the Superdragon's noob tube when she or her clones try to flank. The mooks have even worse accuracy with automatics.
- In Assassin's Creed III, this trope surprisingly does not affect the Colonial-era soldiers you fight in the historical missions, who are fairly good shots with their flintlock pistols and muskets. Ironically, it is most prevalent in the modern-era missions when Desmond faces Abstergo security guards. Apparently, their training involves wielding semi-auto pistols like flintlocks (complete with cocking/pulling the slide after every shot) and being unable to hit a human target at two paces. They are remarkably good at shooting each other, though.
- Rosie Big Daddies in the BioShock series, while lethal within a few meters, are horrible shots at longer distance. Justified in the fact that they're using modified rivet guns.
- Inverted in Injustice: Gods Among Us during Story Mode, wherein Bane is too accurate when shooting at Wonder Woman, given that he keeps shooting at her indestructible bracers, rather than shifting his aim to anywhere else on her person.
- Invoked with the Partial Invisibility power-up in Doom, which doesn't stop enemies from seeing you, but instead causes them to fire wildly in your general direction. In some cases, though, this can make enemies even more dangerous, as it becomes harder to dodge the shots that do come your way without running into one of the wild ones.
- Inverted in Valkyria Chronicles, due to the computer's blatant cheating. Enemy tanks will effortlessly headshot your guys from the other side of the map with their main guns, and enemy Lancers will ram an anti-tank lance into your tank's radiator if they ever get so much as a quick peak at it (which means instant game over). Your guys, meanwhile, can barely hit the broad side of a barn, at least in the early game.
- Enemy archers in Vindictus will only ever hit you if you're moving or attacking because those actions makes your hitbox larger. Arrows will trace an outline around you if you stand still (or dance), as though they're trying to anticipate the movement... of a stationary target. Sitting down causes arrows to sail harmlessly above your head, suggesting they aren't programmed to recognize your change in height.
- In the fourth Dark Tales game, The Gold Bug, the villain is practically within arm's reach of LeGrand when he fires his pistol... and he still misses. He acknowledges later that he's a terrible shot.
- In a strange heroic inversion, the border guards in Papers, Please can't seem to hit a target to save their lives, even when said target is running headlong towards them in a straight line. It eventually gets to the point where you're given authorization to shoot terrorists yourself, presumably in an effort to help stave off some of the casualties.
- Averted in the Batman: Arkham Series. Attacking armed mooks head-on is usually suicide, Batman says (more or less), and he's correct. If you're spotted, the game encourages you to grapple up to a gargoyle and then swing between different gargoyles to lose the mooks. While you're doing this, they'll nail every single shot on Batman until they somehow lose sight of him.
- Any of the ranged units in Totally Accurate Battle Simulator have terrible aim, as the player finds out quickly. While most of the time they're able to hit their mark, a badly placed unit is more likely to kill their own allies than the enemy.
- In one of the trailers for Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Dante and Deadpool shoot at each other at point blank range yet none of their bullets seem to hit their mark.
- Starscream is noted to have this trait in Death Battle. It's a large part of why he lost to Rainbow Dash- Starscream has trouble hitting giant robots, so there's no way he's going to be able to land a hit on the much smaller and more agile pony.
- The popular flash series Madness Combat features Faceless Goons that couldn't hit a sleeping elephant with a sniper rifle. This is arguably done for black humor as its obvious the series takes place in a Crapsack World. If you look closely at the beginning of Madness Depredation there's a Lampshade Hanging. One of the henchmen clumsily shoots himself. Still, a few mooks do get lucky and have managed to hit the protagonists... Not that it helps them.
- A running gag in Red vs. Blue is that Church simply can never, ever hit anything. In the first season he merely has the (fairly common among some players) problem of being a lousy sniper (despite bogarting the sniper rifle constantly). Later it's Flanderized to the point that he empties an entire clip trying to shoot someone that he is kneeling in front of, less than two feet away and then has to ask someone else to do it for him. Partially justified in that Church is the copy of a man who was rejected for military service, and never received training. Plus he was using a body built by someone with questionable electrical, mechanical, and programming skills. But mainly just played for laughs.
- Haloid, where it takes a mob of Covenant (including Banshees) to drop the SPARTAN-II armor's force field. Once.
- In Legendary frog's Code Veronica flash, Alfred Ashford is shooting at Claire with his sniper rifle but keeps missing, and when she's right in front of him he shoots at her several times point blank and misses every shot, including one time when he hits the wall behind him. In fact, the only time he hits his target is when he shoots at the ceiling to make a point and a piece of the ceiling falls down and hits him on the head.
- In X-Ray & Vav, X-Ray gains Eye Beams, but he can't hit the broad side of a barn, blowing up the entire city while trying to hit two robbers who were forced to move in slow motion. He eventually improves as the series progresses.
- This animation from Brazilian website wwwdotchargesdotcomdotbr features theories on why the intruder who broke into the President of Brazil's Palace wasn't killed. One of the theories is that the guards are Stormtroopers. One of them even says Stormtroopers never hit their targets.
- 8-Bit Theater
Thief: Not that I'm complaining about it, but HOW DO YOU MISS A VOLCANO?!
- Black Mage firing his Hadoken spell at a volcano and somehow... MISSING IT.
"How can you not only manage to miss us, but also zap yourself?"
- Another instance is when that same person tried to attack his friends and kill them. Good news, it hit. Bad news:
- The trope picture is from The Dog House Diaries. Every inch of the target is hit outside the shape of the person.
- The penguins in Fluble are apparently the worst shots in the world: they can't hit the protagonist with tommy guns from two feet away.
- Frighteningly enough, the title character of Furmentation not only sucks at firearms, but with incredibly dangerous magical discharges as well. The head Professor of the Magic School is also responsible for hospitalizing students.
- In Girl Genius. Gil is left standing apparently unscathed after a hail of bullets, but soldiers mostly blame bobbing of their Walking Tank. Subverted, as after Gil "Deals With It" it turned out that he actually was wearing body armor and still got injured.
- Justified (and a little lampshaded) in Goblins. Two of the protagonists are having an argument about who creeps through a pipe first, while under attack by crossbow-wielding guards, and stand completely unharmed. The guard who appears to be in charge ask; "What's the matter with you!? Can't you even hit one of them?" To which the shooting guard replies "At this angle, the pipe is giving them some cover, sir."
- The Aimless Renegade of Homestuck believes his marksmanship skills to be impeccable. In practice, not so much... Oddly fitting, considering his title.
- Although The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob!'s MIB Agent Jerry is certainly triggerhappy, it has been established that he can't hit the side of a barn. Even the one time he actually hits what he's aiming at, it produces the opposite result of what he wants.
- In Irregular Webcomic!, the true reason for the Stormtroopers' poor marksmanship is revealed. The results are demonstrated earlier, with characters casually carrying on a conversation while two Stormtroopers attempt to shoot them.
- Minions At Work: They've got guns to do it! Another page explains that the traditional villainous incentive can improve the situation only when the minimum skill level is already better than this.
- A group of smugglers with automatic weapons in Wapsi Square can't hit Monica at all, even at rather close range. We later find out that there is a slightly more complicated reason than just bad aim.
- One strip of Weregeek has a tabletop game where the dices are true to the fiction.
- Lampshaded and justified in Ball and Chain as being due to Vidoc mostly hiring stuntmen as his goons.
- Darths & Droids
- The Clone Troopers (they're still called that in Episode IV) are under the impression Han is a tourist visiting the Peace Moon. They're perplexed that he's shooting them, but they'll only fire warning shots back until they've clarified the situation.
- In another strip, Obi-Wan remarks that the slaughter of the Jawas can't be due to the clone troopers, as the shots are too precise for their rubbish aim.
- Later Obi-Wan claims suggests that the clones inherited a nervous twitch Jango Fett had when firing at living targets, hence why they're more effective against the droid armies than against the rebels.
- Subverted in Full Frontal Nerdity when Lewis proposes that the Stormtroopers were being supplied incredibly shoddy weapons. When they complained about the quality to the Emperor, the supplier's sales rep convinced him the clones were just trying to cover up their own ineptitude.
- Lampshaded in a CollegeHumor video. Stormtroopers are okay shots until they put on their helmets.
- Angry Joe in Kickassia, which eventually got lampshaded by Linkara:
Linkara: Excellent job, Mr. Joe. Except for the fact that you missed.
- Exaggerated in the last episode of season 4 of Chad Vader, when Jeremy and a Stormtrooper fail to shoot each other, even though they're standing about four feet apart.
Jeremy: These blasters are terrible!
- Downplayed in The Pirates Covered in Fur. Most of Lyle's soldiers shoot erratically at the protagonists and hope for the best. Nevertheless, some of them end up catching a stray bullet.
- Parodied in Cracked's 42 Sci-Fi Movies (If They Were Updated for Realism), which shows a Star Wars stormtrooper losing his job for missing a paper target.
- Played straight in the Nostalgia Critic's review of Catwoman. A load cat-women storm into his room and try to gun him down with guns concealed in their high-heels. Despite the action taking place in a relatively small room, none of the women manage to hit the Critic
- The Sombreros from the Sombrero Hattist War blog are living embodiments of this, not only rarely hitting anything, but also managing to hit each other.
- Taken Up to Eleven in the Guardians of the Galaxy review: Jeremy claims that the guards at the Kylnnote are such terrible shots that even Stormtroopers are laughing at them for it.
- In the review of A New Hope, during the scene where Luke's home is found in ruins and made to look like the Sand People did it, Obi-Wan notes that the blast markings on the Sandcrawler are too accurate for them and that only Stormtroopers are that precise. The reviewer simply laughs for a few seconds before adding a sin.
- Resident Evil Abridged presents an egregious example by having Wesker fire a shot at Rebecca and miss, even though she was standing perfectly still - only 5ft. in front of him! She falls down and plays dead anyway.
- Blastronaut in the Adventure Time episode "Hitman". Blastronaut was hired to "hit the hitman" and swooped in, all guns blazing, and missed every shot, before Scorcher destroyed his outfit.
- In one episode of Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic is made sheriff of an old-western town and is set up to participate in a shoot-out with some of Robotnik's robots. However, Sonic reveals that he's a real poor shot - he can't even hit the broad side of a barn - literally; Tails takes him to a broad side of a barn, Sonic shoots at it and it's completely unscathed! It takes some quick maneuvering for the hedgehog to take out his foes.
- Lampshaded in an episode of American Dad! where three Chinese Mafia members fail to hit Stan. One remarks on how unlikely it is that they'd all miss, and another says that not killing people is his New Year's Resolution.
- Most police officers in superhero series. Surely some police officer would think of just shooting Joker as soon as he shows up and giggles. (Especially given that he's a known cop-killer and mass murderer.) Granted, killing him would kill the series but most of Batman's enemies are not bullet-proof. (Of course, with the Joker, it's hard to tell whether a gunshot would stop him for long.) Theoretically, it would take just one person with a good shot. (Or an NRA member.) In an episode of Batman: The Animated Series, Batman himself realizes that he's been very lucky in avoiding death, and wonders aloud if The Joker, Two-Face, or "some punk" will get lucky someday. In many episodes, thugs armed with Thompson machine guns will fire nonstop at a hero or innocent and still miss every shot.
- Speaking of Batman: The Animated Series, Mooks can be all over the map in terms of aim (though it's safe to assume they never actually kill an enemy, considering the show's intended age group), but one henchman in the episode POV makes Darth Vader himself proud. He catches Batman and Montoya off-guard and proceeds to shoot around them in a near-perfect outline. He then continues to fire above them for about three straight seconds while Batman pulls out his grapple gun and repels away still without getting hit. It has to be seen to be believed◊. Guys like this make you wonder if Bruce Wayne pays off some of these henchmen to intentionally miss.
- Averted in Batman: Gotham Knight; at first, the shootouts look like the typical "Mooks open fire with automatic weapons, Batman dodges them all easily". However, later in the movie it's explained that Batman actually does get hit with a few bullets whenever faced with automatic fire, it's just that his armored suit protects him as long as he's at long range.
- Beware the Batman: In "Hero", the crooks who take over the restaurant unload hundreds of shots at Deathstroke and somehow miss with all of them, even when he is standing at point blank range.
- Nobody on The Boondocks ever gets hit by bullets (unless their name is Gangstalicious).
"Shit we missed!"
- Very much lampshaded when a gang tries to execute Gangstalicious and shoots him up at point-blank range... only to still miss every shot prompting this exchange:
"I can't believe this man we suck."
- Earlier in the same episode, Gangstalicious gets into a fight with rival rapper Eat Dirt in which they draw their guns and accidentally shoot themselves.
- Another great example of this trope is when Huey is explaining that the 3rd leading cause of death for black men (aside from pork chops and FEMA) are Nigga Moments. A scenario shows two otherwise intelligent black men become stupid and they unload Uzis and pistols at each other from point-blank range and miss every shot, only to get instantly shot and killed by white policemen after they apologized to each other and said the whole thing was ridiculous.
- In another episode, Uncle Ruckus is shot at over a hundred times by police officers because they thought his wallet was a gun. Unsurprisingly, he lives.
- In the Classic Disney Short Commando Duck, several Japanese soldiers shoot thousands of shots at Donald Duck. He merely waves his hands, dismissing them as mosquitoes.
- Code Lyoko
- XANA's monsters are really horrendous shots at times; they rarely hit the heroes with their Frickin' Laser Beams... even sometimes at close range or when they are stationary targets. (Odd even lampshades this in one episode, claiming that the only thing dumber than a Blok is two of them together.)
- The heroes with ranged weapons tend to have very bad aim as well, though this is more within "realistic aiming skills". Yumi generally hits after her fans return, rather than after the throw. Odd seems to go between being great and missing everything (considering that his weapon doesn't have Infinite Ammo, this is a bad thing). Aelita can't fight until Season 3, and it turns out that her Energy Balls are the most powerful weapon, but she frequently misses too, especially when panicking.
- The guards in the Cubby Bear cartoon "Goode Knight" are all cross eyed, and thus are terrible shots with their arrows when they're going after Cubby.
- In the Daffy Duck short Daffy Duck and Egghead, Egghead must have been a top graduate of the Academy. His aim is so awful that he can't hit the apple on Daffy's head, even when he's standing right in front of the gun. Amusingly, he can hit the broad side of a barn. For this Epic Fail, Daffy promptly puts a "blind" sign on Egghead, and walks off in shame.
- Hilariously parodied in one Duck Dodgers cartoon. Two Martian robots are pursuing Cadet (Porky) with jetpacks, only for one of them to lose him, unaware that Porky is standing on his back. The other one, however:
Robot: I see him. Hold still, hold very still… (Fires his weapon and then scene shifts, showing that he blew the other robot’s head off.) Oops… You moved! I said hold still! He moved, right? You saw him!
- This continues in the next scene where the robot confronts Porky again:
- …and this time, his misfire only manages to take himself out.
- Family Guy
Stormtrooper 1: Did we ever hit anything with these guns?
- The episode "And the Wiener Is..." pokes fun at this: in a shooting range, various extras are shooting targets specific to their character: a track referee shoots a starter pistol at a target on the ceiling, a blind man shoots at the side of a barn, and an Imperial Stormtrooper shoots at a cardboard cutout of Luke Skywalker — and misses with every shot.
- Another example happened in Family Guy Presents: Laugh It Up, Fuzzball. When the group are fleeing the Death Star, no one is ever hit, even when Han (Peter) and Chewie (Brian) spend about 25 seconds standing at the doorway trying to get a couch through the door.
- In the retelling of The Empire Strikes Back:
Stormtrooper 2: I hit a bird once.
- In "Cool Hand Peter", Peter, Quagmire, Joe, and Cleveland are escaping from a Southern prison, whose warden has arbitrarily extended their sentence (apparently, no one ever leaves the prison). As they're running for the train, they're chased by the guards, who are shooting at them. When the others express concern over this, Peter calms them down by saying that the bad guys never hit the good guys. Cue the guards firing every which way (including pointing the rifle backwards) but at the escapees.
- In an episode of Filmation's Ghostbusters, Jake's attempt to use the Dematerializer on a dragon melting the Arctic results in an Epic Fail because, as he claims, he misses. (The dragon is the size of a mountain, as Eddie quickly mentioned; exactly how he could miss isn't clear, as it happened offscreen, but it was obviously a Plot Tunnel to make the heroes' job harder.)
- G.I. Joe:
- Most cartoon Mooks can't hit for crap either. Whenever Cobra and G.I. Joe faced off in battle, firearms proved completely worthless in shooting down anything smaller than a helicopter, and most ground engagements ended in a massive fistfight. Twisted Toyfare Theatre mocks this when the two factions are facing off inside Mego Spidey's house. Spidey notices that both sides are aiming unusually high, and reaches out to pull Duke's rifle barrel down to an effective angle; Joes and Cobra alike are horrified when this results in a dead Cobra soldier.
- One episode of G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero has Flint use the bad aim of a group of Mecha-Mooks to insult Cobra Commander, asking the villain if he programmed them himself. (And in said scene, Flint is able to fight back efficiently after stealing one of their weapons, proving that the rifles themselves aren't the problem.)
- As a general rule, the only thing either side can reliably hit are each other's vehicles, which get hit with attacks slow enough that the people in them can see it coming and bail out before the explosion.
- G.I. Joe: Resolute
- A particularly bizarre example in episode 6: Duke and Scarlett are walking down a corridor when they trip an alarm. Some COBRA troops come out of a door at the end of the hallway, and our heroes walk backwards to take cover behind some pillars while bullets miss them by feet. The second they make it there, the pillars start taking hits from the COBRA forces. Strangely, neither Duke nor Scarlett are able to hit the mooks either, despite sniping several outside minutes before, and the troops being backlit and standing in the open. Scarlett actually notes that she and Duke are pinned down.
- The even more egregious instance of a Cobra Trooper missing Snake Eyes with every shot from a long burst of his SMG, starting at less than a dozen metres away and steadily decreasing as Snake Eyes runs directly towards him, not even managing to place a single shot on target when the other's gotten close enough to kill him with his sword.
- There's also the absurd firefight with the Baroness and Destro against Gung-Ho and Roadblock at the HAARP facility. Where either side is about five feet apart, not in cover, shooting each other with automatic weapons, and still don't hit each other.
- Robot Chicken
- Parodied in one short where two 18th century gentlemen proceed to conduct a firing duel but miss every time because of the lack of accuracy of their period weapons. They finally give up to just shake hands and walk away. Too bad that didn't happen in real life.
- They parodied the G.I. Joe tendency toward A-Team Firing as well, showing the Joe's "Wall of Fallen Heroes." The wall was empty. Cobra's wall only had one name, under "Injured", which was just a root canal.
- The Secret Saturdays: Epsilon's agents could stand to spend a lot more time on the range, given the number of shots they fire without hitting anyone in "Paris is Melting". Maybe they've come to rely on their sonic screams a little too much.
- The Simpsons
- The episode "Homer of Seville" is a stark example: After Homer becomes a famous opera star, a fanatic of his attempts to kill him after being rejected. At one of his performances, Marge is able to stop the would be killer with her own poison dart. Then Chief Wiggum gives the go ahead for the Police Department snipers to fire. Each sniper fires multiple times — only one hits her and it may have been fired by a guy covering his eyes. She even looks at her watch for a moment.
- Another episode has a hitman storming the retirement castle with an assault rifle to kill Grampa and missing every shot before a nurse drives him off with a shotgun.
- In "Homie the Clown" Fat Tony tries to have Krusty (who is actually Homer) assassinated but both Legs and Louie are unable to pull it off (Louie burning through an entire magazine and destroying a car but unable to hit his target standing directly next to it).
- South Park:
- Happens often with automatic weapons. Particular examples include:
- "Wing," where multiple Chinese thugs fire at the boys and miss completely from mere feet away, even when the boys are in the open with no cover at all. This doesn't stop the boys from killing the same thugs with blind fire from guns they found lying around.
- "Medicinal Fried Chicken," when a bunch of heavily-armed gangsters are taken down slowly and one by one, in a close-range gunfight with South Park's incompetent police force, who are wielding only pistols.
- Taken Up to Eleven in "Little Crime Stoppers," where the boys' presence incites nearby gangs to accidentally shoot each other to death.
- This trope shows up a few times in the Star Wars: Clone Wars miniseries. For example, at one point Padmé uses Threepio as a target to make an invisible battle droid reveal its position. The droid fails to land a single shot on this shiny target walking slowly in a straight line.
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars: The battle droids are also prone to this, but with so many of them firing at once they tend to hit things anyway. The droids even lampshade it a few times:
Droid 1: What a terrible shot!
Droid 2: Ah well, it's my programming.
Droid 1: This is too easy!
Droid 2: I still can't hit anything!
- The series also includes a bit attempting to explain why the Stormtroopers were so much worse than the badass Clone Troopers: Apparently Jango Fett's cloned DNA was getting "stretched thin" by the end of the war, resulting in soldiers with worse combat abilities and marksmanship.
- Star Wars Rebels:
Kanan: Wow, you really do shoot like a Stormtrooper. Guess I don't have too much to worry about.
- The stormtroopers here were clearly some of the Academy's finest. This is actually invoked in an episode centered on the actual academy, where one of the cadets that Erza befriended chose to say behind and help cover Erza's escape by deliberately missing the escape vehicle.
- Averted by Sabine. Despite being trained in an Imperial academy, she's an excellent shot.
- Played beautifully straight in the first episode. During a firefight, the heroes and some Wookiees are pinned down by a squad of stormtroopers. It's very obvious that, despite both the troopers and the heroes being completely stationary, most of the troopers' shots are all over the place, not hitting a thing, let alone the crates the heroes are hiding behind. Then Kanan decides to reveal himself as a Jedi in order to draw fire and protect everyone. He does this by climbing on top of a crate and standing there for a full two seconds before slowly walking towards the stormtroopers, all while they are STILL FIRING. He does dodge a whopping two shots by slightly moving his head to the side, but otherwise most of the shots don't even come close to hitting him.
- Lampshaded by Kanan in regards to Captain Rex's substandard aim while disguised as a Stormtrooper in "Stealth Strike". When Rex takes the helmet off, he quickly goes back to his usual standard of marksmanship.
- Thundercats 2011: The Lizards are pretty bad shots when it comes to dealing with Lion-O and the surviving ThunderCats. The Cats themselves almost equally so, the arrows fired against the Lizards hit a grand total of two targets on-screen.
- Later Transformers series handle this somewhat differently. While shots hit often enough, Transformers are very hard to kill as, not only are they heavily armored robots, but the only sure way to put one down for good is to crack their Spark Chamber.
- Often taken to ridiculous levels, though. In one episode of Transformers Prime, a Mook starts shooting at Raf, steadily walking towards him. Not one piece of ammo touches Raf, even when the mook gets close.
- The Vehicon armies in Beast Machines could not hit a target that was standing still. Even if the target was running, hundreds of robotic soldiers should have had no trouble getting a few shots in just shooting at random.
- Turtles Forever has this in the most absurd way. Hundreds of Foot Soldiers piling out of the Technodrome versus 9 stationary targets in a clump... and not only does no one get hit, but the turtles actually charge in, closing the distance to mere inches, and still the heroes are no worse for wear! There was some laser-dodging, and the Conservation of Ninjutsu was obviously at work, but come on! Though, these are the '80s Foot Soldiers we are talking about here. Despite being (in theory) killer robots programmed to fight with ninja effectiveness; the chances of them actually killing everything was low. They were even less dangerous than any of the Human Foot Ninja throughout the franchise history. Karai from the 2003 series even comments on their poor combat effectiveness (calling them "almost cartoonish") whilst in the process of upgrading them with the 03' series tech. After that, they become much more deadly and almost succeed in killing the whole group of Turtles when they are led to attack the 03' Turtles lair. Yet they still can't shoot anything worth a damn, ironically.
- Wander over Yonder: Lord Hater's Watchdogs have trouble even hitting a stationary target! Although it could be Hand-Waved by their lack of depth perception since they just have an eyeball for a head. Lord Dominator's Mecha-Mooks have much better aim by the sheer virtue of just shooting at everything in sight, reflecting their creator's love of destruction and chaos.
- In X-Men: Evolution, when Duncan and co. attack Spyke and the other Morlocks only a few of their shots came close to hitting their targets (and those were blocked), even when the target was standing still. The members of The Rippers in "Cajun Spice" weren't much better.
- On 23 September, 1989, in Tacoma, Washinton, US Army Ranger Staff Sergeant Bill Foulk was having a cookout with several of his Army Ranger friends and their families. Unexpectedly, drug dealers attacked the party in retaliation for Foulk organizing a neighborhood watch and other protection programs, which included videotaping a nearby crack house. Although more than 300 rounds were reportedly fired from semiautomatic firearms, not a single injury resulted on either side. Nobody from Foulk's party was prosecuted — being an open-shut case of self-defense — but their commanding officer ordered them to spend several months of extended time on the firing range for not hitting their targets.
- John Foley, a British tank commander in WW2, related how he was graded "marksman" with the Webley pistol, and that his men frequently cleaned up on bets on his winning shooting contests on the ranges. But in the aftermath of his tank being destroyed in Normandy, he was leading the remnant of his crew back to British lines and safety, to encounter a group of German soldiers trying to emplace a machine-gun. In the heat of battle, he shot at the Germans from barely six feet away - and missed by miles. (They did abandon the MG and run for it, though).
- In the infamous Miami-Dade and North Hollywood shootouts thousands of shots were fired by both the perps and officers/agents,note with only about dozens connecting in both cases, neatly fitting in the common ~1% hit rate of the modern gun battles. North Hollywood shootout also averts Armor Is Useless, as both robbers wore body armor and shrugged off several otherwise incapacitating hits.
- happens quite a lot with poorer states and, even more commonly, non-state militants. Setting up firing ranges, giving soldiers practice rounds, and dealing with the added cost of gun maintenance all cost money that isn't readily available. Insurgents not only have to deal with these issues, but also with the fact practice firing is noisy and even rudimentary training bases make tempting targets for enemy strike aircraft. Many of these fighters are only given a quick lesson about how their guns work and how to properly aim without firing rounds, which, combined with often poorly maintained and improperly sighted guns, leads to wildly inaccurate fire.