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In-Vehicle Invulnerability
In video games, particularly in driving games, it doesn't matter how fast you crash into a wall or an obstacle; as long as the vehicle doesn't explode, the driver not only survives, but is completely uninjured. It's even stranger that the vehicles in video games don't seem to have airbags or, if they do, they just don't activate. This, in most cases, is one of the Acceptable Breaks from Reality.

It comes in two types:
  1. Crash-proof: Where vehicle collision does nothing to the driver, as long as the vehicle remains intact.
  2. Attack-proof: Where the vehicle absorbs all damage done by weapons, environmental hazards and so on, and no damage is done to the driver as long as it remains intact.

Conversely, some video games have the player and vehicle share the same health bar, so the vehicle will be fine until the player is out of health (at which point it usually blows up). Whereas in most racing games, the player effectively is the car, with no separate character to get hurt. Some older games didn't even draw the now-standard dummy in the driver's seat, for performance reasons.

It arrived with the very first racing games, making it Older Than the NES.

Contrast Sniping the Cockpit.

Examples:

  • Justified in any Formula One game. In Real Life F1, it's probably difficult to seriously injure yourself if you were trying on most modern circuits.
    • As demonstrated by Richard Hammond in Top Gear, though, it's insanely easy to injure yourself due to exhaustion and the incredible G-forces generated by acceleration, turning, and braking.
  • Need for Speed
  • Gran Turismo
  • Carmageddon
  • Pole Position
  • In Rigs Of Rods, a hatchback can be flattened by a tractor, crash headlong into a wall, or be dropped from a crane and the driver can still get out without harm, even if the cab were the driver sits is decimated
  • In Saints Row 2, the best way to fight a gang with assault rifles is by acquiring a tough SUV, upgrading its armor and driving it into the gang hideout and shooting your guns out of the window. The enemies will take an eternity to whittle down your vehicle and only shoot you through the open window by accident (when they aim for the car and miss). This is why outdoors missions have many more enemies than indoors ones, but there is nothing to prevent you from using your car for indoors missions as well, provided it is small enough to fit through the door.
    • There exists a mod for the game that among other things has a new car garage on the top floor of the city's tallest skyscraper, at a height where even a helicopter struggles. You can take the elevator on foot, summon a car up there, but the only way out with your car is through the window. Assuming your car is properly armored, it will have only cosmetic damage and you will have nothing.
  • Big Rigs: Over the Road Racing takes this to a glitchily hilarious extreme. Barreling through buildings, off of bridges, and even over the mountains in the distance and into infinity will not destroy your truck. The only thing that will stop you is when you crash... the game.
  • Gran Trak 10 is one of the oldest examples in here, dating back into 1974.
  • Night Driver, released in 1976, brought that kind of invulnerability into first-person perspective.
  • Grand Theft Auto in its earlier incarnations, unless you were on a motorcycle. In Grand Theft Auto IV, this gets averted with cars as well; you can get thrown from the car if you crash hard enough, and enemies can shoot you through the windows. If you delay after mounting a bike, Niko'll pull a helmet from Hammerspace, which lessens the damage taken when he's thrown from a bike. Being in a vehicle does still negate fall damage even in the latest games, as long as the vehicle itself doesn't explode. This includes a sidequest in Grand Theft Auto V where you skydive with an ATV and can survive a water landing without using your parachute if you stay on the vehicle all the way.
  • Likewise, cars in Just Cause 2 seem to be made of Swiss cheese for all the protection it does you (read, almost none). That is, until you get to an APC-grade vehicles. Then again, why bother driving a vehicle when your primary means of getaway involves infinitely respawning parachutes and a grappling hook?
  • Flatout tries to be an aversion, although it's more to see your driver fly like a rag doll.
  • Red Faction: Guerrilla. Even if you are one shot away from death, the moment you get into a vehicle, it takes all the damage which comes your way. Don't be inside a vehicle that is taken to zero hit points, though: it will explode and hurt or kill you.
  • The Saboteur follows this trope to the letter. Unfortunately, being in a vehicle also prevents you from regenerating any health you may have lost before entering the vehicle.
  • Dick Tracy on the NES is an unusual example: if bullets or other cars touch Tracy's car while he's inside, he takes damage. When he's out of the car, it still intercepts bullets but neither it nor Tracy suffers lasting damage. Essentially the car is an extension of Tracy's body when he's inside of it.
  • The same applies to the Halo series, although the second game onwards lets people clearly damage and outright destroy vehicles. However, vehicles NEVER explode and become unusable unless the occupants die first.
  • Justified in Mass Effect where your vehicle is an IFV which is effortlessly capable of surviving everything from 400 foot drops off mountains to orbital re-entry and is equipped with Inertial Dampening to soften the blow for the passengers.
  • Most, but not all vehicles in World of Warcraft make anyone riding in them invulnerable, although they still take damage from debuffs active on them while they entered. This is particularly odd with the Demolisher, as both the driver and his two passengers are completely exposed (and the passengers can even use their normal attacks and spells). The few vehicles that avert this trope are not used in PvP and monsters will generally only attack the vehicle, which does the damage.
    • Mounts, on the other hand, offer no protection whatsoever. Even though they will shriek in pain when attacked, they have no health by themselves and all damage goes to the rider. Some classes are even more vulnerable while mounted, for various reasons. Druids can't make advantage of the armor boni most of their forms grant, and some protective hunter and warlock talents are only in effect with their pet active, which disappears when they mount (and returns when they dismount). A few mounts initially were effectively vehicles, offering some of these benefits, but had rather low health and some drawbacks of their own.
  • Almost all RTS games follow this rule, for both vehicle crews and units in a transport. Company of Heroes is a semi-exception, as the various crew members are treated like vehicle subsystems, and if they die the vehicle ability they were responsible for stops working.
    • The early Command & Conquer games, when an infantry who piloted the vehicle would come out when the vehicle is destroyed, although if there was an overkill, the pilot would also die.
  • In Battlefield series, this holds true if your model is not visible from the outside, as with tanks or ships. However, if your character can be seen, either through the hatch on a tank or in an exposed driving position, you are vulnerable to being headshot by snipers (or anyone else, if they get close enough). Helicopter pilots in Battlefield 2 are immune to ordinary small arms, thanks to their armored canopies, but the unlockable .50 anti-materiel sniper rifle can punch right through.
    • By Battlefield: Bad Company, many vehicles are now immune to small arms fire (previously they suffer Scratch Damage). However, those .50 cal machine guns on vehicles can damage them, and likewise, sniper rifles can be used to kill the pilot on a helicopter. Played with scout helicopters in later games however, since while the helicopter body is usually immune to small arms fire, the windscreen is not bulletproof.
  • In the Mercenaries games, you take no damage while in a vehicle, so if you're badly wounded it's usually a good idea to hop into the nearest car and let it soak damage while your character slowly heals. Of course, when the car hits about 20% health, it catches fire and starts "bleeding" health until it blows up when it hits 0%, so don't sit in there too long...
  • Averted in The Getaway. It's entirely possible to be shot and killed from inside the car, though collisions don't seem to do the player character any harm unless it catches fire.
  • Fully averted in Driver 3 (Driv3r, according to the official title). Crashing into things damages you. It's entirely possible to kill yourself by crashing into a wall. Or, if you've been shot a couple of times before getting into the car, just by backing into another car trying to get out of a parking space.
  • Averted in the Operation Flashpoint series, in which occupants of vehicles are vulnerable to damage from collisions, bullets and explosions alike. This leads to events such occupants of vehicles such as military trucks being shot through the canvas, tanks being disabled after one hit because the shell penetrated and killed the crew, and even helicopter pilots being shot through the windshield of their aircraft.
  • In Blaster Master, not only is Jason invulnerable inside Sophia, it even refills his health completely.
  • Dubloon. Not only your crew is invulnerable while inside the ship, the ship itself is invulnerable as well, until the ship-to-ship boss battle comes.
  • Xpand Rally - a Polish racing game from the folks that would later bring you Call of Juarez - averts this to the point that even features locational damage on a pilot.
  • The first Mafia averted this as well, coming complete with collisions damaging anybody inside the vehicle. Played kinda straight with Mafia II though.
  • Averting this trope paves the way to defeat the final boss of both the NES Bionic Commando and Rearmed.
  • Averted in recent combat flight sims such as IL-2 Sturmovik, where pilots can and will be wounded if not outright killed, and an ace's kill count will most likely have a significant portion of that consist of pilot kills. In WWI-era sims like Red Baron 3D and Rise Of Flight, the typical advice is to "aim for meat or metal"-the pilot and engine, respectively, as hits in other areas would likely just punch through cloth and do relatively little damage.
  • Steel Battalion will not have the pilot injured from concussion no matter how many times the VT gets shaken, slammed, and/or knocked down. However, pilots can still die in their VTs if they asphyxiate from keeping them shut down too long. Yes, like all other pilot deaths such as not ejecting when your VT is about to explode or flood, this counts as a Final Death.
  • Some The Legend of Zelda games have this when Link is on his horse, Epona.
  • Flash game Road of the Dead is a bit confusing about this. The player takes no damage from collisions until the car explodes. However, the car takes no damage from bullets... while the player does.
  • Averted in Steve Jackson Games' Car Wars, in which the driver (and passengers, if any) are treated as one of several items which may take weapon damage if a shot gets through the car's armor.
  • While the player character and named crew members cannot be hurt outside of cutscenes, Red Shirt crew in Infinite Space can die by the hundreds when their ship is shot up. And, somehow, you're able to hire hundreds more at any starport. On the other hand, they may just be incapacitated and treated in the sick bay since your fleet recovers crew as it flies.
  • Speaking of crew and spaceships, in Star Control, the health for ships and landers IS its crew count, and you can move crew between the ships in your fleet as needed. Note that the captain is always the final hit point keeping the ship from Critical Existence Failure, though the only plot-relevant captain is the Player Character in the flagship.
    • Space combat in the Rogue Trader RPG works similarly; ships can suffer "damage" to their crew population as well as their hull integrity and specific systems. The player characters are generally held to be immune, though, as it would take a serious Diabolus ex Machina for them to be hit at such a scale (and would be nigh-instantly fatal).
  • Played straight in All Points Bulletin. The only exception happens when you lean out to fire as a passenger - then, you're fair game. Especially to Friendly Fire from other passengers.
  • Trackmania Nations is a bad, bad offender. This is the game where cars can go Mach 5, crash into the pavement, remain airborne for half a minute after the crash, land on four wheels, and move on as if nothing has happened.
  • The Twisted Metal series. Mr. Grimm even manages to lose an arm when he's damaged on his motorcycle but still goes on. Then again, he is undead.
  • Warhammer 40,000: in addition to the vehicle tanking the physical hits for the crew, both crew and any passengers are immune to morale damage while the vehicle remains alive. The official rulebook actually says "It is assumed in all cases that the crew's faith in their vehicle is absolute. Therefore, vehicles [and, under normal circumstances, all passengers] never take morale checks for any reason."
    • There are exceptions: the Crew Shaken and Crew Stunned results can represent a vehicle crew temporarily panicking or fleeing, although the "typical" explanation is that its targeting or drive systems were knocked about. However, those only occur in specific circumstances and cannot result in the all-important falling back that the infantry rules provide for.
  • A rare film example is Death Proof, where Kurt Russell's character, a Hollywood stunt driver and Serial Killer, has his car specially reinforced to be... the title of the film.
  • All vehicles in Unreal Tournament 2004 and Unreal Tournament III are crash-proof, but the ones that don't completely encase the driver allow you to take damage from weapons.
  • Averted for the most part in the MechWarrior series, where BattleMech pilots can be blasted through the mech's cockpit. Played straight in Mechwarrior Living Legends with the tanks, aerospace fighters, and VTOLs; all of which have invulnerable pilots (barring the very rare "Sudden Pilot Death Syndrome" bug when landing in aircraft) - tanks almost never have visible cockpits, aerospace move too fast for sniping the pilot to be practical, and VTOLs are too unpredictable for reliable sniping, so none of them have cockpit hitboxes.
  • Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag: You and your crew members are never injured in naval combat unless your ship itself is sunk. Rather, your crew act as a resource to enable boarding other vessels, so having them all die in the exchange of cannon-fire before boarding would be annoying as a game mechanic. There's also an inversion of the trope: while you aren't at the helm of the Jackdaw, it is completely invulnerable, even if there's a raging battle going on around you.

Interface ScrewOlder Than the NESInventory Management Puzzle
Instant-Win ConditionAcceptable Breaks from RealityIron Butt Monkey

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