[[quoteright:204:[[TabletopGame/{{Munchkin}} http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/hokc204_1438.png]]]]

->'''Zoe''': Preacher, don't Literature/TheBible have some pretty specific things to say about killin'?\\
'''Book''': [[ThouShaltNotKill Quite specific.]] [[LoopholeAbuse It is, however, somewhat fuzzier]] [[TechnicalPacifist on the subject of kneecaps.]]
-->--''Series/{{Firefly}}'', "War Stories"
%% One page quote is enough - don't put THAT quote from Skyrim here. Use the Quotes/ page instead.

The act of deliberately damaging someone's knees to incapacitate them or limit their mobility. This can be performed by shooting the victim's kneecaps, or by striking them with kicks, melee weapons, or other up close and personal means.

Since this is an extremely painful type of injury, knee-capping can be used as a brutal form of MutilationInterrogation. This can kill two birds with one stone for the savvy torturer, as the permanently debilitating nature of the injury makes it much more difficult for the victim to escape. Tearing up all that muscle, those sinews and those complicated bones with a bullet would in RealLife probably leave you crippled for life, if you weren't killed by blood loss or shock.

Knee-capping can also be used as a tactic in combat to drastically hamper the mobility of an opponent. Needless to say, this type of fighting is a bit too dirty for most upstanding protagonists, so it is often reserved for villains, {{Anti Hero}}es, and {{Combat Pragmatist}}s.

In real life, it is often not the kneecap itself that is the target of these attacks, as opposed to the joint and tissue beneath it. A piece of CommonKnowledge is that kneecaps don't repair when broken/shattered. They do when treated properly, it just takes a ''very'' long time. Additionally, unlike in film and television, you would ''never'' actually aim to shoot out someone's kneecap or leg to disable a target in such a manner (see the RealLife section below).

A sub-trope of TryingToCatchMeFightingDirty. Compare AgonyOfTheFeet for other mobility hampering injuries, and AnArmAndALeg for occasions when the legs are lost completely.


[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* In the first episode of ''Manga/BlackLagoon'', Revy reveals herself to be a fan of the act, and suggests performing it on Rock just for the hell of it.
* Chinatsu from ''Manga/{{Jormungand}}'' brings us a particularly zealous example: When she's not gunning people down as part of her hitman duties, she apparently likes to build complex mechanical torture devices... including one designed to shoot a bound captive in the knee. In the same spot. ''[[ThereIsNoKillLikeOverkill 27 times]]''.
* ''Manga/{{Ibitsu}}'': When the Strange Lolita corners Hikari and a classmate in the gym after school one night, she takes the classmate out of the picture by smashing her kneecap with a sledgehammer.
* In ''Manga/RurouniKenshin'', [[TheChick Kaoru]] ends up fighting [[VillainousCrossdresser Kamatari]] in a one-on-one matchup after Misao is taken out. Her final move (after her bokken and Kamatari's scythe are both broken) is to break Kamatari's kneecap with the handle of her wooden sword.
* ''Manga/{{Bleach}}'': Happened to Hiyori after she did a GroinAttack on Urahara. He was unhurt, she was hurt instead.

[[folder:Card Games]]
* The ''TabletopGame/{{Munchkin}}'' card game gives us the Hammer of Knee-capping, usable only by dwarves.

[[folder: Comic Books]]
* In the ''{{Spawn}}'' comic, Twitch shoots Spawn in the knee to stop him from escaping. He is rather shaken when Al doesn't even slow down -- Hellspawn have amazing regenerative abilites.
* In ''ComicBook/BatmanNoMansLand'', Jim Gordon does this to TheJoker after he kills his wife, Sarah Essen.
* Impulse is once shot in the knee-cap by Deathstroke in ''ComicBook/TeenTitans''. And, given the accelerated healing abilities of [[TheFlash The Flash Family]], the doctors in the ER have to ''re-break it repeatedly'' because it keeps healing automatically but incorrectly.
* Franchise/{{Batman}}'s BattleButler Alfred once threatened to knee-cap {{Nightwing}} in his good leg to stop him [[TheDeterminator running back into battle with a bad leg]].
* Used twice in TheFarSide: one is two goons threatening to "persuade" a guy with a wiffle bat (captioned "Ineffective tools of persuasion"), while another has goons waiting outside a guy's window, one doubting they're up to the task, as the guy has "kneecaps from hell" (they're each about the size of his head).
* This seemed to be BuckyBarnes's preferred method in dealing with enemy agents during his tenure as CaptainAmerica.
* In ''UltimateXMen'', Magneto was disappointed with his children for weakening the Brotherhood in his absence. So he knee-caps Pietro, ''his own son'', with a shotgun and forces his daughter Wanda to watch.
* During the finale of ''ComicBook/{{NYX}}'', Bobby {{Body Surf}}s into one of Zebra Daddy's mooks, and forces the guy to shoot ''himself'' in the knee. And oh yeah, he feels ''everything'' that the people he takes control of do.

* In the ''Franchise/MassEffect''[=/=]''VideoGame/CommandAndConquerTiberianSeries'' crossover ''Fanfic/{{Renegade}}'', Spectre Garrus Vakarian doles out plentiful kneecaps to his opponents.
* In ''FanFic/NewKidOnTheBlock'', the Kid accidentally does this to Zoom. He wasn't expecting Zoom to be as breakable as he was.

* ''Film/DjangoUnchained'': [[spoiler:Django]] does this to [[spoiler:Stephen in the climax. [[UpToEleven BOTH knees.]]]]
* In ''Film/UndeadOrAlive'', after the protagonists find out that the zombies pursuing them can't be killed with a bullet to the brain as one would expect, Sue opts to shoot out the zombified sheriff's kneecaps to make it much harder for him to catch up. This leads to a humorous scene later in which Cletus is forced to carry him piggy-back while chasing the heroes.
* There's an ''ensemble'' knee-capping scene in ''Film/Terminator2JudgmentDay''. The Terminator has promised John Connor he won't kill anyone. But they still need to get into heavily guarded areas, so he starts shooting people in the knee instead.
-->'''T-800''': He'll live.
* The protagonist of ''Film/NobodyWillSpeakOfUsWhenWereDead'' gets her knee corkscrewed during a torture scene.
* ''Film/CasinoRoyale'' ends with Bond locating and knee-capping TheManBehindTheMan.
* ''Film/DieHardWithAVengeance'': "[[NotWithTheSafetyOnYouWont Have to take the safety catch off]]." ''Dakka''
** In the next film, the BigBad again does this to the sidekick.
* A new and unusually intelligent mook looking to join [[BigBad Bucho's]] drug gang in ''Film/{{Desperado}}'' gets put into a savage GangInitiationFight against an [[ThresholdGuardian established member]] of the cartel. He gets his knee cap completely smashed during the fight, (prompting Bucho to quip "He'll never dance again") but manages to win and earn a spot anyway. For the rest of the movie he wears a crude brace by his knee and has issues moving around.
** In ''Film/OnceUponATimeInMexico'', when the Mariachi finally confronts Marquez, he blows both of the evil general's kneecaps out with a sawed-off shotgun before delivering final vengeance by blowing his head off.
* Referenced in ''Film/ReservoirDogs'', where Mr. White tells Mr. Orange that his gut wound is the second most painful place to be shot after the kneecap.
* Meg shoots a mook in the knee at one point in ''TheReplacementKillers''. She later sees the same mook when she's captured and makes a smartass quip about it, to which he responds by kicking out one of her knees and making a quip of his own.
* In the beginning of ''Film/{{Inception}}'', [[FemmeFatale Mal]] is threatening Arthur with a gun in order to get Cobb to talk. Cobb points out killing him won't actually work in a dream. "But pain...? Pain is in the mind," Mal says sweetly, and shoots Arthur in the knee. Luckily for him, Cobb kills him, instantly waking him up.
* In the climax of ''Film/JackieBrown'', Ordell threatens to shoot both of Jackie's kneecaps if she doesn't give him back his money.
* Near the beginning of ''Film/TheSubstitute'', Shale's girlfriend is kneecapped by a street gang, setting the plot in motion.
* During the Spanish Inquisition segment of ''Film/HistoryOfTheWorldPartI'', Torquemada plays kneecaps like a xylophone. [[EarWorm In song!]]
-->'''[[Creator/MelBrooks Torquemada]]''': I asked in a nice way, I said pretty please! I bent their ears, now I'll work on their knees!
* ''Welcome to the Punch'' (2013). The CowboyCop protagonist Max Lewinsky grabs the VillainProtagonist Jacob Sternwood as he's fleeing a heist, only to get shot in the knee. Three years later when the main events of the movie take place, the constant pain and psychological trauma fuel Lewinsky's obsession with catching Sternwood when he returns to London.

* In one of the Creator/RaymondChandler short stories, the protagonist stops one of the crooks from escaping by shooting in the most painful spot he could think of that wouldn't kill him: the back of the knee.
* In Todd Strasser's book ''Literature/GiveABoyAGun'', the two boys who shoot up the dance shot the star quarterback in the knees. Since he's a football player, this is one of the most damaging things they could do to him without killing him.
* In ''Literature/TheDresdenFiles'': ''Literature/DeathMasks'', [[AntiHero Harry]] favors this method when dealing with a SmugSnake of a Denarian.
** Harry does this again to a minor league threat, Binder in ''Literature/TurnCoat''. He was trying to hit him center of mass but was feeling the effects of being close to a grenade exploding, so his aim was understandably off.
* In ''[[{{Stardoc}} Blade Dancer]]'', this has ''already'' happened a few times to Jory, over the course of her [[BloodSport shockball career]], by the time the story begins. [[spoiler:[[FromBadToWorse And then]], it happens a few ''more'' times. By the last chapter, the [[AnArmAndALeg leg has to be amputated from the knee down]].]]
* Tywin Lannister from ''ASongOfIceAndFire'' issues this as punishment to deserters.
* Tenel Ka does this to [[TheDragon Tamith Kai]] in ''[[Literature/YoungJediKnights Shadow Academy]]''.
* In ''[[TheColSecTrilogy Exiles of ColSec]]'', Samella threatens Lamprey with this [[spoiler:when she's got him at gunpoint after he's just [[CurbStompBattle beaten the snot out of]] [[TheHero Cord]]]].
* In ''Discworld/FeetOfClay'', Angua explains that dwarves are so prone to "running at people and trying to bite their knees off" that [[PoliceCodeForEverything the Watch have a code for it.]]

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* ''Series/CriminalMinds'': In the season 6 episode "Today I Do", a self-ascribed motivational speaker turned serial killer shatters the kneecap of her most recent victim with a hammer after the victim refuses to eat the popcorn she made for her. She later turns this into a self-help lesson, by teaching the victim to "walk in the face of adversity".
* In ''Series/TwentyFour'', Jack Bauer shoots a terrorist in the kneecap to get him to talk. In another season, he shoots TheDragon's wife near the kneecap to get him to talk.
* In the ''Series/{{Firefly}}'' episode "War Stories", this is how [[BadassPreacher Shephard Book]] gets around the whole "don't kill" rule.
* In ''Series/{{Carnivale}}'', Jonesy's limp is the result of being kneecapped by mobsters when he refused to [[ThrowingTheFight take a dive]].
* ''Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer''
** Darla threatens to do this to Buffy in the episode "Angel":
--->'''Darla''': So many body parts, so few bullets. Let's begin with the kneecaps. No fun dancing without them.
** The demon Balthazaar also orders it done to Wesley in the episode "Bad Girls", but Wesley wiggles his way out of it.
** Possibly slightly ironic, Wesley does it to a guy at Wolfram and Hart in season 5 of Angel, when he finds the guy isn't working to save Fred.
* This was threatened on ''Series/VeronicaMars'' when Logan was being tortured. His tormentors were playing Russian roulette with him, pulling the trigger after each "wrong" (i.e. not what they were looking for) answer given. After two "wrong" answers, they moved from his arms to his knees.
* ''Series/LoveHate''. The IRA do this to Aido, kicking off the plot of series 3.
* ''Series/PersonOfInterest''. John Reese frequently shoots assorted bad guys in the knee to stop them from pursuing him rather than killing them.
* ''Series/{{Scandal}}'': Olivia, apparently, to Abby's abusive husband. With a tire iron. Yay!

* The Capitol Steps' song parody "Breakin' Knees Is Hard To Do" mocks the Tonya Harding/Nancy Kerrigan incident (see RealLife below).

* In ''VideoGame/TheElderScrollsVSkyrim'', an unusually high number of generic guards will sometimes tell you that "I used to be an adventurer like you. Then I took an arrow in the knee."
* In ''KingdomOfLoathing'', this is the general modus operandi of the [[EverythingsBetterWithPenguins Penguin Mafia]]. You can even acquire one of their kneecapping sticks for your own use as a weapon.
-->This is a stick used by the Penguin Mafia to break the knees of those who fail to bend to their whim. Because if you're not going to bend to the Penguin Mafia's whims, your knees are not going to bend in the right direction anymore.
* In the ''Franchise/ResidentEvil'' series, the player can kneecap the infected/infested/zombies/abominations to pull off kicks and tricks against the enemy although kneecapping is also arguably justified when fighting zombies. This is especially useful in ''VideoGame/ResidentEvil4'' where Leon (and Ashley) can suplex the infested after a kneecap shot.
* ''VideoGame/{{CarnEvil}}'' specifically models damage to the kneecaps, with a successful blowout treated as a kill. Oddly, shooting one kneecap will visibly and gruesomely damage both of them simultaneously.
* Gnomes in ''WorldOfWarcraft'', being, well... [[OurGnomesAreWeirder gnomes]], tends to set them at about kneecap height, one NPC even does threaten this when you fight her in northrend.
** A post one the roleplaying forums on 'rogue cant' (criminal jargon) suggested gnome rogues can be called "Kneecappers" for the above reason.
* In ''VideoGame/{{Fallout 3}}'', the unique sawed-off shotgun is called "The Kneecapper".
** Also, throughout the series aiming at a leg has always been a viable strategy.
* Renegade!Shepard threatens this near the beginning of ''VideoGame/MassEffect1'' to get Fist to tell him/her where Tali is.
* The Scout in ''VideoGame/TeamFortress2'' has an aluminum bat melee weapon, and one of his common catchphrases is "Say goodbye to your kneecaps, [[GoshdangItToHeck chucklehead!]]" There's no in-game difference when you attack someone's kneecaps, though, so his taunt is a bit meaningless.
* On the other hand, ''VideoGame/TeamFortressClassic'' allows the Sniper to cut an enemy's speed in half with a leg hit, and the effect is permanent until healed by a medic. Most thigh-area shots seem to hit [[GroinAttack the pelvic region]] instead due to HitboxDissonance, so the safest way to cripple an enemy player is a rifle bullet in the knee. This especially infuriates and hamstrings medics and heavy weapons guys.
* ''MetalGearSolid3'': [[spoiler: Happened to both Sokolov's kneecap by Colonel Volgin's handgun.]]
* ''Videogame/MechWarrior'' has a long and rich history of {{Kneecapping}}. Depending on which game you're playing, it can either turn enemy [[HumongousMecha BattleMechs]] into limping wrecks (Such as ''MechWarrior 4'' and it's subgames) or [[CriticalExistenceFailure straight out destroy the enemy]] (Such as ''MechWarrior 3'' and it's expansion). In ''Mechwarrior Living Legends'', kneecapping an enemy mech (or yourself) will cause the mech to [[RagdollPhysics ragdoll]], but leave the pilot completely in control of the torso, weapons, and jumpjets; which can lead to players being killed by a crippled mech propped up against a building, or by a kneecapped mech flailing wildly end-over-end through the sky with its jumpjets on full blast. Kneecapped mechs are irreparable once they've gone ragdoll, though crippled legs (which greatly slow down the mech and prevent it from walking backwards) can be repaired.
* Kneecaps can be targeted in both ''VideoGame/TheGodfather'' games, temporarily making the victim kneel haplessly.
* In ''VideoGame/SplinterCell: Conviction'', Sam does this to both knees of [[spoiler:[[CorruptPolitician Vice President Samson]]]] when he says he is diplomatically bulletproof.
* Kneecapping is pretty much Raul Menendez's favourite tactic in ''VideoGame/CallOfDutyBlackOps2''; he cripples Woods for life by blasting him in both knees with a combat shotgun, and in an infinitely more sadistic instance, does the same to [[spoiler:Hudson]] even though the latter is already restrained, unable to escape, and has just volunteered to die in order to save his comrades. The [[AllThereInTheManual supplemental story]] "Rightful King" explains that he first learned to do this ''as a child'', while helping his dad sell drugs for easy money in an earthquake-ravaged 1970's Nicaragua.
* This is [[ArmsDealer Marcus Kincaid's]] [[EstablishingCharacterMoment intro]] in ''VideoGame/{{Borderlands 2}}''. A hapless NPC asks for a refund on one of his guns, claiming it doesn't work. Marcus responds, "Hmm, I dunno...", and proceeds to kneecap the guy with the weapon in question. Then he gives a big grin and adds "Looks like it works to me."
-->'''[[BossSubtitles Marcus - No Refunds!]]'''

* ''Webcomic/TheBeastLegion'' : In issue 4, [[http://www.thebeastlegion.com/issue-04-page-44gorgoraths-final-wish/ Dragos intentionally breaks Xeus' knee after defeating him so that he cannot escape]].
* In ''Webcomic/GirlGenius'', Higgs uses this move against Zola. Unfortunately for him, she is too high on combat drugs to fall down.
* In a March 2011 ''Webcomic/WapsiSquare'' there's a distant flashback that shows Jin, before she became part of the Chimera, being shot through the back of the knee with an arrow. {{Squick}}.
** It gets worse on the next page where her feet/ankles are knifed.
* ''Webcomic/LifeAndDeath'': [[http://www.drunkduck.com/Life_and_Death/index.php?p=804249 Death disables someone this way.]]
* Viktor in ''Webcomic/{{Lackadaisy}}'' had this happen to him in the recent past, courtesy of former [[PsychoForHire associate]] [[FourEyesZeroSoul Mordecai]].
-->'''Mordecai''': That is how one reasons with Viktor.
* [[spoiler: Gamzee]] in ''Webcomic/{{Homestuck}}'' shot [[TheBigGuy Equius]] through the knee with an arrow to [[KneelBeforeZod force him to kneel.]]
* [[Webcomic/VGCats Leo]] finds out [[VideoGame/AnimalCrossing Tom Nook]] isn't a raccoon to trifle with. 'My leg-benders!'

[[folder:Web Original]]
* In the deleted scenes montage in ''WebVideo/YuGiOhTheAbridgedSeries'', Yugi threatens Tristan with this with a wrench.
** And follows through it on the end [[FelonyMisdemeanor when Tristan quotes]] ''WebVideo/DragonBallZAbridged'' too many times.

[[folder:Real Life]]
* Figure skater and Olympic hopeful Tonya Harding's then-husband attempted to help her [[IncrediblyLamePun get a leg up]] on rival skater Nancy Kerrigan by paying off her bodyguard to attack Kerrigan's knee shortly before the 1994 Winter Olympics, in hopes of taking Kerrigan out of competition. The attempt failed, since Kerrigan still won the silver medal; Harding came in 10th.
* Knee-capping was often used as a punishment by the IRA and other Northern Irish paramilitary groups. There were two versions of it. One involved [[ThisIsADrill a drill]], the other involved putting a gun at the back of the knee and firing forward. Many patients from the UK and Ireland will travel to have every day hip or knee replacement surgeries in Northern Ireland because the surgeons there... well, let's just say they've had plenty of practice.
** A third method, originating with Protestant terrorists and gleefully adopted by their Republican counterparts, involved application of a sledgehammer.
* Historically, kneecap mutilation was a possible punishment in ancient Dynastic China. One of the authors of a tome of military strategy was subject to this punishment as a result of court politics.
* It's generally averted in real life, however. All reputable firearms training (civilian, police, and military) teach to aim center-of-mass at the torso, as it's a much larger and easier target to hit, and contains most of the body's vital organs. Even assuming you actually ''hit'' them, shooting someone in the knee may still not be enough to incapacitate them, at least not quickly enough to be of value. If you ever have to fire a weapon at another human being, you ''always'' shoot to kill.