No Range Like Point-Blank Range

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"I've never fired a gun before, but I can't miss at point-blank range."
Takashi Komuro, High School Of The Dead

Guns are inherently awesome in their ability to make things significantly less alive from a distance. But every once in a while, firing from a distance just doesn't cut it. Maybe your opponent is really good at dodging bullets, or keeps putting up some kind of barrier, or your knowledge of guns is a bit... challenged. Never fret, for there is always one range that you can be sure will be effective against any opponent: two inches from their face.

This can obviously apply to things other than guns. While "point blank" has specific meanings in ballistics note  and in forensics note  anything sufficiently close qualifies for this trope.

May not apply to graduates of the Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy.

The phrase "point blank" originates as an artillery term for when the target is so close the gun isn't elevated to compensate for distance (it comes from the French "blanc", meaning white, refering to the white point in the centre of the target and was typically found experimentally, by test-firing a given weapon and adjusting the sights so the user has a reliable midpoint to aim with).

Also take note that firing blank rounds can still be harmful or even lethal at close ranges - they may not have proper projectiles but the pressure from the gunpowder detonation is sufficient to harm at very short ranges.

Compare Short-Range Long-Range Weapon for when you're not supposed to use guns at close range, but do anyway. Contrast Arbitrary Minimum Range. See Short-Range Shotgun for a class of guns that people expect to be this trope.


Examples:

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    Anime and Manga 
  • Mikan from Rising X Rydeen can fire powerful lightning blasts from her hands. The blasts have a lot range but instead of firing them from afar she uses her Super Speed to teleports right behind her opponents and electrocute them at point bank range. Most of her enemies don't have time to react and go down in one hit.
  • In Speed Grapher, Saiga encounters an opponent whose sonic abilities block his explosive photographs. So he does what any good war photographer does to get a better picture; he moves closer.
  • In the first story arc of Full Metal Panic!, Kurz finds Gauron's unusual Arm Slave too agile and elusive to get a clear shot at, so he fakes being out of ammo in order to lure Gauron into close-range combat so that he can hit him in the face with a round from his giant mech's rifle. Damn Lambda Driver...
  • Heavy Metal L-Gaim: In episode 12, a mecha is equiped with a deflector shield that stops L-Gaim's rifle beams, so Daba picks a bazooka and shoots its head at blank point range. It works.
  • In High School Of The Dead, Takashi is just an ordinary high school student who knows next to nothing about handling a firearm. So when he does get a gun, he uses this strategy more often than not.
  • Mazinger Z: In his battle against Debira X1, the flying Mechanical Beast was too quick for Kouji hitting, so Kouji waited as the Mechanical Beast lunged at him until the robot was at point-blank range to blast it with Mazinger's Breast Fire. Kouji used this tactic sometimes when an enemy was too fast or too sturdy.
  • In Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt, Panty, who uses a gun, often finishes off foes this way or fights foes who use melee attacks this way.
  • In Pumpkin Scissors, the main weapon of the 901st Anti-Tank Troopers was a 13mm handgun that can penetrate the weakest parts of a tank's armor, killing the operator(s). The catch is is that the only way to make effective use of the gun is to basically walk right up to the tank and blast away at point-blank-range. For obvious reasons, the weapon was considered too impractical (not to mention suicidal) for a normal human to use; but the 901st weren't normal humans anymore.
    • Incidentally, said handcannon is called the "Door-Knocker"; as in "Knocking on the door to Hell".
  • This happens in YuYu Hakusho during the dark tournament saga when Yusuke is facing Jin. Jin is using wind to deflect Yusuke's spirit gun blasts, so Yusuke blasts him point blank into a tornado swirling around Jin's arm.
    • This almost ends up killing them both which Jin then quickly lampshades by yelling, "you don't make bombs go boom in your face!" Hilarity Ensues.
  • In Mahou Sensei Negima!, Mana pulls this right out of the blue, complete with a Pre Ass Kicking One Liner.
  • The Gundam franchise has a few examples of this trope:
  • In Soul Eater, Kid delivers a double dose to Crona during their battle. In the face. In mid-air.
  • In Berserk, Gut's Arm Cannon is usually used point-blank, often as a fallback when he can't use his sword.
  • Naruto: Bee does this twice in the series. The first is when he fires his Bijuudama at Suigetsu who's protecting Team Taka. He's lucky there was plenty amount of water in the surrounding area and that his jutsu allows him to become intangible. Otherwise, there would've been nothing left of him afterwards. The second time he uses it is against the Juubi. He fires his own Bijuudama against its charged up Bijuudama right down its throat.
  • Dragon Ball Z
    • After failing to make much headway against Perfect Cell, Goku flies into the sky and starts charging a Kamehameha, which would destroy the Earth if fired from there. Cell assumes he's bluffing, then starts to actually consider it - and then Goku teleports right in front of him and fires, vaporizing Cell's entire upper torso. It would have worked if only Cell had needed his head to regenerate.
    • Subverted in the first Broly movie, in which a point-blank Kamehameha becomes The Worf Barrage.
  • In Rebuild of Evangelion 2.0 / 2.22, Mari Makinami, using Eva Unit 02, launches a diving attack against Zeruel with a handheld Pile Bunker, which doesn't manage anything, except bringing Unit 02 to within spitting distance of the Angel. So, she uses a spike launcher hidden in the right shoulder fin! And in the English dub, she even accompanies this with the words: "Point blank, shit-head!!!", but alas, it still doesn't break the AT Field.
  • Similarly in the original series, Neon Genesis Evangelion, when Armisael attacks Rei's Unit 00, she grabs it and presses the muzzle of her sniper rifle against it and fires repeatedly. As with the Rebuild example above, it does nothing.
  • In Code Geass R2, Luciano Bradley tries to fire a slash haken at Kallen's new Guren SEITEN at extremely close range. Unfortunately for him, catching slash harkens with her fork knife is something she's done before.
  • During her battle against The Book of Darkness in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's, Nanoha charges her opponent using Strike Flame, pierces their barrier, and fires a Wave Motion Gun directly at their face. It doesn't even leave a scratch.

    Comic Books 
  • In the first Gargoyles comic series note , Elisa uses this against a ninja, knocking him to the floor and sticking her gun in his face. While she doesn't fire, she tells him that she bets his 'fancy footwork' won't let him dodge a shot this close.

    Fan Works 

    Film 
  • The Matrix:
    • Trinity's famous "Dodge this." scene. Even an Agent can't dodge a bullet fired 2 inches from his ear. Well, technically he can, but only in a very roundabout way. Doesn't fare well to the poor person that the Agent had overridden. Though the bullet hole right between the eyes would say he certainly tried...
    • Subverted later when Neo and Agent Smith fight in the subway. They dive at each other, blasting away and missing until they are locked with their empty pistols at each other's heads. But they are both empty.
  • Pandorum features a non-lethal riot gun capable of blowing a person across a room. Now, the whole "non-lethal" aspect assumes that you're firing it from a safe distance away. If you're not, well...
  • Aliens:
    • Corporal Hicks jams a shotgun right into a xenomorph's mouth. Of course, the creature's acidic blood spatters everywhere, burning him and several other marines.
    • Vasquez manages to pin a Xenomorph's head against the wall and kill it with point blank pistol rounds, but the acid burns her ankle and incapacitates her.
  • The climax of Double Indemnity, when Walter shoots Phyllis in the abdomen at point-blank range.
  • In A New Hope, Greedo and Han Solo just happen to be conversing at a close enough distance for Han to shoot the bug-eyed green guy square in the abdomen to save his own skin. Amusingly, the infamous "Greedo shoots first" alteration to the George Lucas Altered Version has Greedo shoot at Han first and miss at this distance. Things then go Up to Eleven in the 2011 Blu-Ray re-release, where Han manages to somehow dodge Greedo's shot, still at point-blank.
  • Pulp Fiction: subverts this trope when Jules and Vincent are surprised by someone hiding in the bathroom when retrieving Wallace's briefcase - he bursts out of the bathroom, fires his .44 Magnum six times and then keeps dry-firing - and then the camera shows Jules and Vincent, unharmed, looking behind him at the bulletholes in the wall. Jules thinks that what happened was so unlikely that he takes it as a sign from God. After, of course, both Jules and Vincent raise their guns and demonstrate to Mr. Hand Cannon what "hitting your target at point blank" looks like.
  • Inglourious Basterds has a scene where two men have guns pointed directly at each other's testicles.
    At this range, I'm a real Frederick Zoller.
  • In X-Men: First Class, as requested by Erik, Charles holds the gun a couple of inches from his friend's forehead, but he can't bring himself to pull the trigger. Erik then grabs the barrel and places it right on the surface of his own skin, but Charles objects to the exercise and moves the firearm away.
  • Godzilla does this in Godzilla (2014) to the female MUTO. By opening her jaws and launching a Atomic Breath attack straight down her throat.
  • Presumably the logic behind the Jaegers in Pacific Rim. They're built to physically wrestle Kaiju, but frequently use ranged weapons at point blank as a Finishing Move. Presumably the weapons have huge damage falloff, and the Jaegers exist to get them to effective range.
  • In Battleship, although the 16 inch guns of the Missouri can easily engage at over 20 miles away, the battleship is practically spitting distance from the alien craft when they actually attack. Having only a small handful of shells, however, plus an undersized crew they could hardly afford to waste shots getting the range for a longer ranged engagement.
  • In Kill Bill, The Bride and Karen Kim have this exchange with their guns pointed at each other.
    The Bride: You any good with that shotgun?
    Karen Kim: Not that I have to be at this range, but I'm a fucking surgeon with this shotgun.
    The Bride: Well, guess what, bitch? I'm better than Annie Oakley and I've got you right in my sights, so let's talk.

    Literature 
  • In Inkheart, many of Capricorn's mooks carry shotguns or pistols, but in all the times someone has one pointed at them, it's never from more than about a foot away since hardly anyone knows how to handle them properly. Most memorably is Elinor shakily jabbing Basta in the ribs with his own shotgun, "I may have never held a gun before, but I'm sure I can manage to pull the trigger."
  • The Zombie Survival Guide advises keeping a pistol as a back-up weapon, to be used only in short-range encounters; it takes a professional pistol marksman to headshot a zombie at most ranges, but even a novice can put a pistol to a zombie's head at point-blank and pull the trigger. It also mentions getting closer to them can break the nerve of anyone, causing you to miss the critical headshot, get bitten, and be doomed to undeath. Of course, then you still have another option with them.
  • When A Brother's Price Jerin finally uses that derringer he's been mentioned to have at intervals throughout the book, it's at such a range. Then he freezes in horror.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Burn Notice
    • One episode advises against this, noting that pressing a gun against your target's head negates the single greatest advantage that a gun gives you. Michael demonstrates by slapping his enemy's gun off target and then disarming him.
    • In another episode, he deliberately does this to a hostage in order to allow the hostage to disarm him and appear to be the hostage-taker when the SWAT team bursts in.
  • Season One of Heroes:
    Thompson: What am I thinking now, Parkman?
    HRG: (cocks pistol) Your last thought. (Pulls trigger)
  • A thug from Smallville attempted to use this on the Flash, but was stopped before he could.
  • In an episode of Human Target, Winston shoots an enemy at close range to save Chance.
  • The Final Battle of Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger is decided by the heroes quite literally shoving their BFG into the Big Bad's gut and pulling the trigger. This was because Akudos Gills had already taken enough damage to kill most villains several dozen times over and wouldn't stay down.
  • The final battle of Power Rangers Lost Galaxy ends with Leo using his Super Mode armor's claw to grab Trakeena and hold her in place for a point-blank blast. The other Rangers aren't sure he survived until he climbs out of the rubble with a Broken Faceplate.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Call of Cthulhu shooting from point blank range doubles your skill for that roll (with d100), making it somehow impossible to fail in system designed for it.
  • In Dark Heresy, firing point-blank is a +30 to your to-hit chance (in a system where most characters try to roll less than 35-40 on a dice ranging from 1-100). It is also the default way of using shotguns, who only get their signature 'scatter' damage point-blank.
  • D20-style games allow a ranged weapon to deliver a 'coup de grace' attack (instant critical, can kill instantly) when up close and personal. The 'Point Blank Shot' feat (or similar) usually gives a bonus to attacks within 10m or so.
  • In Pathfinder, the ratfolk have a unique version of the gunslinger class developed for fighting in close warrens. They get bonus damage at contact range and the flash is used to throw off the opponents attacks a bit. Now, when you fire a ranged weapon at contact range, the target normally gets a free swing at you, and this doesn't negate that on its own, so it's a bit of asking for trouble.

    Video Games 
  • One of the new moves of Metroid: Other M involves Samus blowing the hell out of some enemies by standing on them and blasting them thusly.
  • In the Disgaea series, units with guns will eventually be able to learn the "Proximal Shot" ability, which allows them to fire at point blank range (i.e. in the next square, like most melee weapons) and blast themselves back to a safe distance with the recoil.
  • In Mass Effect 2, Thane Krios prefers to kill his targets up close (though he is pretty handy with a rifle too. Taken to extremes when he drops from the ceiling, kills some Mooks in hand to hand, then shoots a Corrupt Corporate Executive in the stomach from point-blank range. He puts off firing just long enough that she can realize what is about to happen.
    • In Mass Effect 3, Kai Leng proves so adept at dodging bullets that Thane is forced to try to use this technique. It doesn't end well for him, but he was already actively dying at the time and thinks Leng should be ashamed it worked as well as it did.
  • In Red Dead Redemption, approaching an enemy from the front with a gun out often shows Marson shoving his pistol straight into the chest or head of the enemy and killing them in one hit.
  • Guilder from Skies of Arcadia will occasionally use his guns on an enemy right next to him. He also fires it Gangsta Style.
  • Getting shot at point-blank range in Soldier of Fortune: Payback results in the player taking quadruple damage. This can be rather frustrating, as the enemy will sometimes banzai charge you just to melee you before remembering what their guns are for.
  • In Super Robot Wars, a mech that normally specializes in long-range Beam Spam and Wave Motion Gun attacks will have a short-range Super Attack that involves latching on to the enemy and unloading from point-blank range. It's usually called something like "Point Blank (name of weapon)".
  • Melee-switched Commissars in Dawn of War do this as their sync-kill. The enemy folds in a Pose of Supplication, at which point the commissar gives him a bullet between the eyes at point-blank range.
  • Guild Wars: Occasionlly comes up in discussions of Rangers (especially in PvP). Arrows, being projectiles, can often be dodged, so rangers will sometimes try to get close to a target to prevent this occuring.
  • Painfully, painfully subverted in Valkyria Chronicles II. Even if you are literally breathing on each other, there's still a chance that your target'll hit the deck and avoid all, or at least most, of the damage you just threw at their face. Particularly painful during certain missions that turn a normal Wakeup Call Boss into That One Boss.
  • "Nearsighted" Jeego from Ghost Trick is a hitman who can always hits his target... as long as they are at point blank range.
  • One of the many finisher moves in The Godfather video game.
  • Forced aversion and double aversion in Chrono Trigger. Marle (crossbow) and Lucca (gun) will use melee attacks (buttstroke, hammer) if too close, unless it's a critical hit; in those cases, they do the normal two-round shot.
  • Using "The Shot" as a finishing move in Red Steel 2 turns it into this, with point blank shots from either the revolver, shotgun, Johnnygun, or the rifle, depending on which is equipped.
  • Team Fortress 2: the taunt kill for the Scorch Shot has the Pyro adopting the same firing stance as Trinity's "Dodge this" scene (see above), then shooting a flare. At point blank the flare deals 500 damage (at longer ranges the flare deals the normal 15 damage, as if you were firing normally instead of using the taunt attack).
  • In Max Payne 3 Max caps off his Pistol-Whipping against enemies by pulling his gun on them. You can pull the trigger immediately or savour the look on the victim's face before firing. Only on standing enemies, though; if they're already on the ground, he just kicks them.
  • From Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood on, your Finishing Move animations include these.
  • In Alpha Protocol one of the lategame upgrades for the melee skill branch lets you complete a melee combo by pulling a gun and shooting the target up close.
  • In Devil May Cry, one of Dante's signature moves is the "Stinger," a charging stab with his broadsword. Devil May Cry 3 introduced the "Gunstinger," the same move performed with a charged shotgun blast.
  • Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep has Braig, Xigbar's Somebody, firing his crossbows repeatedly at Xehanort's head. All twenty shots are deflected at a range about half the length of his crossbow barrel; so he positions the bolt between Xehanort's eyes. In a subversion, he doesn't get the chance to fire before Xehanort levels his Keyblade at Braig's neck.
  • In MechWarrior, players tend to get real close to their target and unleash the full barrage of their battlemech.
  • In World of Tanks, heavily armored but inaccurate tanks can make up for the inaccuracy by getting right up in the opponent's face and making it almost impossible to miss weakpoints, which is often termed as "facehugging" once you start making contact. Also a favorite tactic of the ELC AMX (and occasionally the E 25), which is small enough that getting point blank often means the opponent cannot aim low enough to return fire. That and the gun's about as accurate as the aforementioned heavy tanks to begin with.
    • It is possible for the artillery tanks to fire directly in this game but they're at a big disadvantage in terms of mobility, aim time and reload time and are often positioned somewhere alone, thus entirely unsupported. They do have massive damage and large aoe on their shots, often killing themselves when shooting at a tank at cuddle distance.
  • Unreal franchise has the Flak Cannon, which can dispatch unarmoured target into gibs with one point blank hit.
  • In E.Y.E.: Divine Cybermancy, point-blank range attacks are only possible with single-handed pistols, as long-barreled weapons are, well, too long to use at point blank, and will result in the user lowering the gun and then blasting the target with a concussive Hand Blast from their free hand.
  • In Darkest Dungeon the Highwayman class and the Brigand Chieftain monster both have the Point Blank Shot skill, which can only be used when in the first rank on the enemy in their first rank. It deals extremely high damage and can knock the target back a rank, but when used by the Highwayman knocks him back too (which prevents you from spamming the ability, though it also puts him in a position to use skills with more flexible targeting). Many other people who focus on ranged attacks are severely disadvantaged by being brought to the front rank though.
  • In Xenoblade, one of the powerful attacks available to the player characters is Reyn's Sword Drive, a single point-blank shot fired from his gunlance.

    Web Originals 
  • On Red vs. Blue Church manages to subvert this trope hilariously in one episode of Reconstruction. Church normally uses the Sniper Rifle with comical inefficiency but surely he couldn't miss using a pistol from a foot away, right? WRONG! Not only does he fail to kill the target, he manages to empty an entire clip of ammo without even grazing his target (who is standing still) once.

    Real Life 
  • Truth in Television example: During the Normandy landings, the Navy ships found they were unable to give effective fire support because smoke from the heavy gunfire on the beaches was obscuring their view of the battlefield. A commander of a Destroyer decided to break through the smoke by sailing his ship dangerously close to the shore, delivering broadsides from his five inch guns at what most naval commanders of the day would consider distance more appropriate for a knife fight. In terms of naval combat, a destroyer's five inch gun wasn't all that big, but compared to many of the guns the German defenders had to fight back with, it was more than enough.
  • in the Burma campaign in 1945, attacking British forces were presented with a problem. Defending Japanese forces and their allies had entrenched themselves in a walled city with mediaeval fortifications more suited to an earlier age in warfare. Normal field weapons, including heavy tanks, were absolutely ineffective in breaching the defences. The British general decided he had to fight a battle more suited to Napoleonic siege, and brought forward some of the heaviest artillery weapons at his disposal - guns designed to fire from several miles away. These were advanced as near as he could get to the Japanese-held walls, and each gun was flanked closely by two tanks for close-in protection. The super-heavy artillery pieces then broke down the wall from two or three hundred yards away, firing over open sights, opening a breach for tanks and infantry to storm in a manner more suited to 1812.


http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/NoRangeLikePointBlankRange