Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy aka: Principle Of Evil Marksmanship
"My Legion 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."
— Evil Overlord List resolution #56
When only the Bad Guys suffer from A-Team Firing. Also called The Principle of Evil Marksmanship. The good guys (the non-Red Shirt ones, at least, and sometimes even they) 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. The bad guys can't hit anything that moves, even if it is moving toward them.
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 accuracy; rather, the heroes's fictional performance would count as Improbable Aiming Skills in real life.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Inverse Ninja Law.
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.
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.)
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, and besides, most of the named characters are known in universe for being near unkillable anyway because they are just THAT good at surviving.
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.
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.
Happens fairly regularly in Cowboy Bebop... only to be dramatically subverted at the worst possible moment.
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."
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.
Hol Horse from JoJo's Bizarre Adventure. Bonus points for managing to shoot like crap while having the ability to control the direction of his bullets!
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! Stormtrooper:Wow.
AIMLESS 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."
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.
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.)
My Immortal: Ebony 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.
This is actually played several ways in the movies. First, they do demonstrate excellent shooting abilities, storming aboard a Rebel ship and dominating the Rebels in seconds. On the Death Star is when they demonstrate their inability to hit their enemies (though a later scene shows that Tarkin wanted them to escape, so that they may be led to the Rebel base), they take over a Rebel base in moments in the beginning of Episode V, but they again lose their ability to hit the protagonists in Cloud City, and as stated below, they are able to land hard-to-hit shots on Leia and R2.
Also, from the special edition, Greedo misses Han while he is sitting from across a tiny TABLE. 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.
Subverted somewhat in Episode VI, when Princess Leia is shot in the arm while attempting to open the door to the shield generator, then R2-D2 is also shot trying to open said door. Played straight by the fact that neither were seriously injured.
Possibly double-subverted, as R2 is a droid, and thus able to be repaired to full strength, given enough time, and Leia was ducking behind cover at the time she was hit.
To be fair, much of this is also exaggerated by popular culture. If you really pay attention to the original three films the good guys do a lot of shooting and missing as well. In particular watch the shootout between Han and the Stormtroopers trying to board the Falcon on Tatooine, the firefights in the detention block, and Luke/Leia exchanging fire with Stormtroopers across the chasm.
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 army that would be effective against them if they were hacked or rebelled. (also, they were built on the cheap to imposesuperiority through numbers) The other droids are much more accurate.
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 the James Bond film For Your Eyes Only. 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, 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.
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 mooks on both sides firing automatic weapons at the bus. The bus is shot full of holes, but neither Eastwood nor Locke are hit.
It's even worse when you realize that the Hovitos hunt to live. In other words, the Hovitos do almost nothing else besides shoot arrows and darts at living creatures or practice doing so, yet they still were unable to hit Indy. If they were really such poor shots they would have starved to death long ago.
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!"
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 the movie 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'sRambo 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!
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.
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 Bad Ass, 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, ŗ 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?"
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 the film version ofIron Man: Obadiah Stane has difficulty hitting Tony Stark in the final battle because Tony had disabled the 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.
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.
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 And Mrs Smith 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 says it's 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 they can't hit him.
There actually is a bit of justification: O'Bannon is dressed into large, shape-distorting robe, is moving and is carefully aiming his only shot, while Van Cleef just stands there in the open, unleashing More Dakka onto the moving target as a perfect example of "spray'n'pray".
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 Alien vs. Predator 2 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...
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 goodguys 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 (hey, it's a James BondAffectionate Parody): the hero is never shot, while he doesn't even bother to go into cover, alone against a handful of bad guys (OK, a lot of unarmed red shirts are killed). In another scene, when he is running away because an autogun is firing at him, he makes a dramatic pause and go back, because he has forgotten something. Twice.
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. 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 takes a second shot and misses again. 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 shoting last for a full half minute.
Parodied in Austin Powers, 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 Degrace, 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 2012 film version of 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. To be fair, the good guys are equally poor shots.
In the documentaryBus 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.
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.
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?!!>
Justified in that most of the Yeerk Laser weapons were developed for Hork-Bajir use and humans find them unwieldy to aim and use.
And to be fair, they hit more often than most "Stormtroopers" they just never get a kill.
Very often subverted in Star Wars Expanded Universe 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.
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."
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 Misťrables", in an inverted version of this trope, the student, who are the good guys, fire massive volleys of shots at the National Guard, and don't manage to hit any of them.
The Cylons from the original Battlestar Galactica — 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 reimagined are hardly expert shots, thought to be fair its 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.
Yet strangely averted by the prototype Cylon in Capria, as shown by a teaser scene on a robot Shooting Range.
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".
Firefly includes 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 donít know... I... er... yeah, I never shot anyone before. Book: I was there, son. Iím fair sure you havenít 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!
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.
Lampshaded on Red Dwarf. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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...
O'Rourke: Don't worry. We're perfectly safe as long as they're aiming at us. (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 AA gun so that Frank couldn't organise some shooting back, which would have escalated things.
Justified in that "5 o'clock Charlie" was just some guy going up in an old plane and dropping bombs by hand. Additionally, this is also long before the era of precision-guided munitions, so optical bomb sights were still the norm even if he was flying a more "modern" bomber.
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. Harper then shows off his personal High Guard ECM generator that prevents smart bullets from locking on.
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.
In fairness, Borg tractor beams have been shown to interfere with ship systems. Also, they could have needed to destroy a shield generator before they could destroy the tractor beam.
Voltaire's "Expendable" from the album "BiTrektual" references this trope, along with Red Shirt. According to the song, Imperial recruiters were part of the rebellion and intentionally signed up the worst people.
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 And 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.
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.
Sly Cooper: With the sole exeption of Inspector Fox, all ranged enemies 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.
Goofing on this trope, the Star WarsFirst-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.
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.
Used in Final Fantasy VII, when the Shinra soldiers are firing in 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 is 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 Veterandifficulty. 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 And 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.
Mooks in James Bond 007: Agent Under Fire are like this. To be fair, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Assassins 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.
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.
Church managed to empty a pistol clip at a soldier standing two feet in front of him and miss every shot. That has got to take some kind of skill.
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.
The penguins in Fluble are apparently the worst shots in the world: they can't hit the protagonsist 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.
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."
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 markmanship is revealed. The results are demonstrated earlier, with characters casually carrying on a conversation while two Stormtroopers attempt to shoot them.
In 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.
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.
Exaggerated in the last episode of season 4 of Chad Vader, when Jeremy and a Stormtrooper fail to shoot each other, even though their standing about four feet apart.
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.
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.
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 1: Did we ever hit anything with these guns? 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 artibrarily extended their sentence (apparently, not 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 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 — none of the shots hit her. She even looks at her watch for a moment.
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.
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. 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.
Nobody on The Boondocks ever gets hit by bullets (unless their name is Gangstalicious).
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:
"We missed?" "Damn... we suck, man."
And there's the time when Gangstalicious gets into a fight with rival rapper E-Dirt. They draw their guns, and then each of them accidentally shoots himself.
Oh and that crazy rich white boy, who got shot point blank with a shotgun, but he was wearing a vest and wanted to get shot.
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.
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.
This trope shows up a few times in the Star Wars: Clone Wars miniseries. For example, at one point Padme 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Parodied in one Robot Chicken 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.
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.
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! 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.
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.
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.
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.
When you think about it, a gun is a metal tube that you put a projectile in, backed by a very fast burning (NOT exploding) fuel. You pull a trigger, a complex set of machinery is set into motion, and this super-fast burning fuel produces intense gas pressures that send the bullet flinging away like shrapnel in an explosion. It's a small miracle that it hits anything you intend it to.
Only in case of guns with smoothbore barrels. A metal projectile pressed through a rifled tube recieves a spin to keep a certain gyroscopical balance after leaving the tube, so it stays on the same course until it either hits something in it's flight path or is dragged down by gravity. If the tube is directed towards something it will hit unless the bullet is dragged down too much by gravity or loses its momentum from the explosion. That's the reason why musketeers, whose weapons had smoothbore barrels, had to be grouped in large formations in order to hit an enemy which stood right in front of them. The introduction of rifled weapons in combination with musket tactics was part of the reason for the Civil War's devastating battles and the introduction of trench warfare.
Taken to hilarious levels during the execution of Andreas Hofer, who was sentenced to death for his rebellion against Napoleon. After the first salvo of the shooting squad barely wounded him, he even mocked them for it...
The real-world A-Team Firing can at least partly attributed to the widespread use of automatic weapons — the recoil from multiple cartridges tends to push the gun barrel upwards and toward the shoulder the buttstock rests against, resulting in an overall decrease in accuracy.
Actually, that's because the majority of bullets fired in any gunfight are suppression fire, intended to pin down and intimidate an opponent so that troops can maneuver into position to shoot them from a better location. Machineguns, in particular, are designed for this role. Properly trained soldiers who can deal with the stress of combat are extremely accurate shooters.
Even highly trained and experienced soldiers can find themselves emulating Stormtroopers on occasion. On September 23, 1989, in the Hilltop neighborhood of Tacoma, Washington, resident Bill Foulk, a US Army Ranger Staff Sergeant, was having a cookout with several of his friends (also Army Rangers) and their families. He and his party were attacked by local drug dealers in retaliation for Foulk's attempts to organize neighborhood watch and protection programs, which included videotaping of a nearby "crack house". In a gun battle lasting more than 10 minutes, over 300 rounds were reported to have been fired from semiautomatic pistols, rifles, and shotguns; without a single injury resulting on either side. Foulk's party was not prosecuted for their participation in the shooting, as city officials deemed it a clear case of self defense. Their commanding officer was less forgiving, however; and ordered them to spend several months of extended time on the firing range for failing to hit their targets.
Note: the battle took place at night. The rangers were firing from concealment in the house, and the dealers were firing from cover, and both were essentially shooting at muzzle flashes. Also The Rangers may have also been attempting to avoid killing anybody; if they had actually shot and killed one of the dealers, then they might have been faced with homicide charges.