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One-Hit Polykill

Liara: Is it true you once killed three Blue Suns mercenaries with one bullet?
Garrus: No, of course not. The third guy had a heart attack. Not fair to count him.

Otherwise known as overpenetration in gun-play circles, this happens when a bullet doesn't stop in a body or object once fired.

This can happen when one uses armor piercing rounds on soft targets, but it is more Truth in Television than you might think, even without rifles explicitly using high-powered armor piercing rounds. One of the rules of weapons safety requires a shooter to know what is behind a target and always assume that a bullet will always overpenetrate the first target and still retain lethal velocity.

Also a common weapon or Power-Up in Shoot 'em Up games, especially when you've got a Charged Attack.

Contrast Bulletproof Human Shield, where the bullets should be able to do this but somehow don't. Also contrast Guns Are Worthless; a game's failure to implement (over)penetration may be a contributing factor to that.


Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • The Variable Shoot attack Teana used in the third episode of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS, which takes an ordinary magical bullet and coats it with a barrier, letting it penetrate a Mecha-Mook's Anti-Magic Field to shoot through the Mecha-Mook itself, and then continues flying to shoot through another Mecha-Mook behind it..
    • Way back in the first season, Chrono's projectile attack, Stinger Snipe, was a tightly-focused guided bolt of blazing blue destruction, cutting through several large mecha in a single pass.
  • This is how Katsushiro accidentally kills Kyuzo in Samurai 7. Though it wasn't just one shot, he was firing a machine gun for at least five seconds before he stopped.
  • How does Alucard kill a vampire hiding behind a hostage? Shoot through the hostage.
  • This is how the first battle in Dragon Ball Z ends, with Piccolo firing his Special Beam Cannon through both Raditz and Goku, killing both.
  • Similar to the Hellsing example, Akumetsu, also doubling as Shoot the Hostage, Jinguuji, in his "new body", held Sachiko against the Perfect One. The Perfect One, however, managed to hit him through Sachiko... without killing her.
  • Subverted in City Hunter when Ryo deliberately shoots through his hand before hitting a bad guy who thinks hes safe being around people.
  • In Gamaran there's Zenmaru's Gurensen (Crinsom Lotus Slash) coupled with the Sadanaga Kutaragi, which is used to kill something like 6 or 7 mooks in a single strike. Iori has also used a similar technique to slay two powerful enemies in one blow before they could actually whip out their techniques. An unseen example is given by Shingo Midou, who used his giant spear to skewer several mooks in apparently one thrust.

    Film 
  • Indiana Jones accidentally pulls this on Those Wacky Nazis in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade because of the gun used. Indy is visibly surprised when it happens.
  • In Quigley Down Under, the title character does this with an experimental 1800s sniper rifle.
    "That bastard's been sitting up in the rocks all morning just waiting for two idiots to line up in his sights."
  • Kiss Kiss Bang Bang: they both survive.
  • In Bruges: two people end up accidentally killed because of this.
  • Wanted turns this trope Up to Eleven and uses it as a means of suicide near the end: a bullet fired at an angle in a circular room goes through several people's brains before finally lodging itself in the shooter's head.
  • In one of the Tremors movies Burt fired an armor piercing bullet at one of the Shriekers. The little monster exploded from the impact; the bullet continued through a concrete slab and several empty oil drums, finally using up its energy by destroying the engine of the car Burt was going to escape in. Justified in that the gun and ammo used were designed with the intent of going through tanks.
  • Insinuated in Shaun of the Dead, where after Shaun and Liz manage to evade the zombies in the bar (after accidentally torching the majority of rifle shells), Liz mentions they only have two shells, and Shaun thinks out loud, "Maybe we could take most of them out if they stand in a line."
  • In Schindler's List, during the raid of the ghetto, a group of soldiers force several Jewish civilians to line up chest-to-back-to-chest-to-back...so they can see how many of them a rifle can penetrate. This happens in the BACKGROUND. It's incidental.
  • Invoked for dramatic tension in the Johnny Depp movie Nick of Time: The Dragon and Johnny are in a van, guns drawn. He has his weapon aimed at her head, she has hers aimed at his five-year-old daughter in the seat in front of her. The woman says something to effect of her gun being strong enough to not only blow away the daughter, but the bullets will be able to travel another two miles and kill a few people on the street.
  • In Live Free Or Die Hard, John McClane defeats the Big Bad by shooting a gun through himself into the big bad directly behind him, killing him.
  • The idea is toyed with by the main character in Freejack, who only has one bullet left and knows he will be greeted by a squad of Mooks once his elevator gets to the lobby. Obviously, it is not likely that they would helpfully line up in front of an elevator they're supposed to surround.
  • Gruesomely illustrated by Revolutionary War era cannon (firing a 6 lb solid chunk of pig iron) in Mel Gibson's The Patriot. Wherein a cannonball pulverized its first target, then proceeded to roll on the ground-crushing feet as it went, while coated with the entrails of its first target. It is arguable which soldier had the worse death: the one instantly reduced to chunky salsa, or the one that got to view the rest of the battle while screaming and trying not to bleed out from the stump where his ankle was, just to die from gangrene days later from the infected wound.
  • Done by accident in Killer Elite by the new guy, killing one of his associates.
  • In Return of the King, Éomer kills two enormous war elephants with one thrown spear - killing the rider of the first, causing it to veer off course and smash into the second.
  • In The Avengers, Hawkeye has a trick arrow that fires submunitions to achieve this effect.
  • Billy Zane's character does this in Sniper after Tom Berenger, while being tortured, sees him looking through his scope and mouths to him to take "One shot, two kills." Tom survives.

    Literature 
  • Used in the climax of the first Left Behind book, where the Antichrist displays his power by shooting two people with one bullet... and then makes everyone forget that this happened. Don't question how something that nobody remembers counts as a display of power.
    • Also don't question how he pulled of this trick with a low-caliber hollow-point bullet, or how everyone accepted it was a murder-suicide.
    • Jesus using The Word of God to slay the Unity Army soldiers en masse also qualifies as this.
  • In The Ballad of Lucy Whipple, there's a story-within-a-story about an outlaw called Rattlesnake Jake. At one point he shoots a sheriff with a bullet which goes right through the sheriff and ricochets off several other objects before hitting (and killing) a bear.
  • In John Ringo's Legacy of the Aldenata, rounds fired from the rail guns used by the ACS, traveling not much slower than the speed of light, will rip through multiple Posleen before running out of kinetic energy.
  • Daffyd manages to pull this off with a longbow in The Dragon On The Border. It's only possible because the Hollow Men are suits of armor with no body in them, and he designed a special arrow intended to pierce armor and keep going, which would be useless against any other opponent.
  • Barely averted in Flag in Exile. During Honor's exile on the planet Grayson, an attempt is made on her life. An assassin fires at her, hitting her in the chest. Her jerkin is fortunately thick enough to stop the bullet, but only because it went through someone else first and was slowed enough by passing through one body that it lost a lot of its penetrating force.
  • "Muck-a-Muck," Bret Harte's parody of The Leatherstocking Tales, exaggerates Natty Bumppo's marksmanship this way:
    The crack of a rifle rang through the woods. Three frightful yells were heard, and two sullen roars. Five animals bounded into the air and five lifeless bodies lay upon the plain. The well-aimed bullet had done its work. Entering the open throat of the grizzly it had traversed his body only to enter the throat of the California lion, and in like manner the catamount, until it passed through into the respective foreheads of the bull and the buffalo, and finally fell flattened from the rocky hillside.

    Live Action TV 
  • This trope is used to set up the big drama featuring Carl in the second season of The Walking Dead; trying to get close to a deer, Carl gets hit by a fragmented bullet when a hunter who hadn't seen the kid shoots the deer.
    • Rick has two dead walkers laying on top of him, with a live one on top of that. He is unable to directly shoot the third, so he shoots through the skull of one of the dead walkers. It should be noted that he fired multiple times, initially to get the barrel of his gun out through the other side of the skull, then the final shot killing the walker.
  • Xena: Warrior Princess has a bow and arrow example. After returning home from 10 years at sea, Odysseus has to fight off an army of mooks with his famous bow capable of cutting through 3 men. Cue a horrific set up where three randoms stand in a straight line behind each other with a precision and timing that would be the envy of any footballing defense, just in time to have a single arrow kill all of them.
  • In the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica, during the liberation of New Caprica, Galactica is heavily outnumbered by FOUR Cylon baseships. Then Lee pulls a Big Damn Heroes by bringing in the Pegasus. Eventually the Pegasus gets torn up so Lee orders an evacuation and points the Pegasus right at a baseship. Not only does the Pegasus destroy the baseship it rams into but its hanger bay, which was blown off during the ramming, flies into another baseship destroying it as well.
  • Occurs in the season 1 finale of Rizzoli & Isles where Rizzoli shoots herself through the abdomen while grappling with the corrupt cop in order to shoot him.
  • Both Hernán Cortés' and Ivan the Terrible's guns were able to kill two dummies with one shot in Deadliest Warrior.
  • Occurs in a season 6 Burn Notice episode when a bullet intended for Anson overpenetrates and kills Nate.
    • To a (slightly) less lethal degree when in an earlier season, Jesse shoots Michael through the shoulder to kill a bad guy.
  • In Criminal Minds 8x12: "Zugzwang", when the round fired by the unsub while committing suicide overpenetrates and kills Reid's girlfriend, done on purpose by the unsub.
  • Non-lethal version in the Angel episode "The Magic Bullet". Fred manages to free Angel from Jasmine's spell by shooting a bullet through Jasmine and into Angel, thus exposing him to her blood. Yes, it's named after the Kennedy bullet theory.
    • An earlier episode had Angel's cop friend going after a serial-killer vampire shortly after she discovered Angel's past (and thus no longer trusted him). Angel is also trying to stop the other vampire and struggling with him when the cop takes a rather large wooden beam and shoves it through both of their abdomens. She hits the serial-killer in the heart (turning him to dust), but Angel survives the blow and comments that she missed his heart. Turns out she wasn't going for this trope after all and missed on purpose because she had decided to trust him again.
  • An episode of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation involves a shoot-out at a store between a cop and several armed robbers. At the end, the cop manages to kill all the robbers, but an innocent woman is also killed. At the end, it's revealed that the cop was tracking a moving robber and fired when he cleared an aisle. The bullet passed through the running robber and hit the woman standing behind him. The cop didn't see her because he was too focused on the robber. The cop got a medal.
  • In Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Lost World, this was Lord John Roxton's greatest failure. While on safari, his brother William started getting mauled by a gorilla. John shot it, but the bullet went through and killed William as well.
  • In Strike Back: Vengeance, Scott kills two Mossad agents this way. For bonus points, it was a headshot.

    Mythology 

    Tabletop Games 
  • Some RPGs (including Spirit Of The Century and Diana Warrior Princess) have special rules for mooks that allows damage to overflow if you take one out on to the next. This doesn't always represent shooting through someone, but if you're using a gun and you can't think of anything cooler, it often does.
  • Any sufficiently powerful gun, laser, arrow or such can overpenetrate in GURPS but (if you're shooting it at appropriate targets) it's likely to be weakened considerably by doing so.
  • Cannons in Warhammer act somewhat realistically (as noted below). When the shot is fired, a landing point is determined, then the bounce. It's the bounce that usually does all the damage, especially against infantry.
    • Bolt throwers and certain magic bows also have a possibility to kill multiple units, but the bolt/arrow stops dead in its tracks if it doesn't kill anything.
  • Certain weapons in Warhammer 40,000 use special rules that specifically draws a line from the gun in the direction the player wants to fire for the duration of the range (or infinite in the case of heavier weapons or psychic powers). These were specifically made to hit multiple targets, and given that most of them either tear a hole in reality or create a black hole in the shape of a line, it tends to result in the death of its targets. In the game, it's actually harder to land multiple kills with these, as a unit is never in a straight enough line to cause enough hits to justify it; conventional ordinance weapons tend to have a larger chance to kill and hit more targets.
  • Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 has a feat and a magical weapon enhancement, either of which allows an archer to do this as long as they can keep making the attack rolls.
    • The game also has a melee version: Cleave. There's even a unique weapon called The Lance of the Unending Charge that lets you keep on charging until you fail to gib someone.
    • One of the supplement books had a spell called Greater Disrupt Undead. It was a single target spell that only hurt undead but if it killed the target and had damage leftover, the caster was allowed to make a second attack roll against another undead enemy that was on a straight-line path beyond the target, applying the excess damage to that target. This effect could keep going until you had used up all the excess damage, missed an attack, ran out of valid targets, or reached the end of the spell's range.
  • Completely averted in Star Fleet Battles, although this is quite reasonable when one considers that even two starships in the same hex are probably hundreds of kilometers apart—the precise lineup necessary for a polykill would be incredibly unlikely. On the other hand, if a shot does enough damage to completely destroy its target, the resulting explosion could do some hefty damage to nearby ships.
  • In Brikwars, if you do enough damage to count as Overkill, you not only annihilate the thing you were aiming at, but the shot also goes on to damage or destroy whatever was behind your target.
  • The big monsters in Call of Cthulhu don't do damage per se, they just kill a random number of victims per round (not counting the ones who are dying just by being near them).
  • Cthulhu-like monsters in Pathfinder don't have automatic kills, but their melee hits attack anyone in the vicinity of their nominal target, and do such monumental damage that anyone not godly or epic is squished. (And, again, this is not counting the people who die or go insane simply from perceiving the monster.)

    Video Games 
  • In Crysis 2 you get an achievement for killing two enemies with one bullet.
  • In Mass Effect 3 it's possible to do this with the Javelin, Widow, and Black Widow sniper rifle models by default. Add the Rifle Piercing mod and suddenly every sniper rifle becomes at least capable of doing this, the probability increasing with the higher damaging rifles like the Valiant or the Mantis.
    • Not to mention the off-screen incident mentioned in the page quote.
    • Multiplayer adds penetration upgrades for all weapons, plus the potential for ridiculous damage when catching a group of enemies at close range with the Claymore is always entertaining.
  • Bloodline Champions has a number of abilities that pierce through enemies - most ultimates are capable of this. Always watch out about the formation your team is making.
  • Any game that features a Quake-style railgun will be able to hit multiple people, often through walls.
  • The Metroid games' Plasma Beam.
  • The powered-up shot in Cosmic Gate.
  • Resident Evil 4:
    • The "Punisher" pistol (which can be obtained as a bonus for shooting out several blue targets hidden around the early levels) has the ability to shoot through multiple enemies as its special ability.
    • Although this is already achievable with the more mundane (but still awesome) rifle.
    • Most of the games in the series have at least one gun capable of this. Usually the magnum can plow through multiple zombies, and the shotgun can occasionally manage it.
  • GoldenEye: there are several guns that can shoot through bodies, so if the mooks are lined up right you can easily takes down multiple ones with a single shot, occasionally facilitating accuracy scores above 100%.
    • Same applies in the Online (and local) multiplayer. The Golden Gun has infinite penetration of players (but not walls) and is a One-Hit Kill. Even the weakest Sniper Rifle (Silenced Pavlov ASR) can go for multikills, especially if one of them is a Boom, Headshot.
      • Makes some game modes, such as the Protection Mission (for the bad guys, MI6 needs to destroy it) of "Black Box" fairly easy for MI6 on the wider maps. Mainly because the default gameplay is to have one person with said box (who then moves slowly and can only use a pistol), and everybody else clusters around bristling with automatic weapons to ward off surge attacks, cue 3 or 4 deaths with a single silenced round.
  • Halo:
    • This can happen in with the sniper rifle, and you can download several people's replays of it.
    • Even more impressively, a single spartan laser shot in Halo 3 can demolish 10 jeeps at once.
    • On a larger scale, UNSC Super MAC orbital defense stations carry a railgun that fires slugs with sufficient force to overpenetrate a fully shielded Covenant capital ship and retain enough velocity to also kill the one behind it.
  • Warcraft 3 units with the Missile (Line) attribute can do this.
    • The same attribute is present in StarCraft II. There is even an achievement for killing 50 mooks with a single penetrating shot in campaign.
  • Hunters in World of Warcraft can pull this off using the Power Shot talent which hits a target and all enemies between the Hunter and them for significant damage. Bonus points for knocking everyone it hits back a few yards.
  • The hunting rifle in Left 4 Dead.
    • All of the stronger weapons in Left 4 Dead can overpenetrate, with varying amounts of effectiveness, from the "goes through anything, including walls" hunting rifle to the "as many zombies are within 50 meters" shotguns. Makes fighting those 30+ hordes of zombies easier than you'd think.
  • Team Fortress 2:
    • While this feature has since been patched out of the game proper, in the "Meet the Sniper" video, the Sniper fires a bullet through a Heavy's head and into the Demoman's bottle, shattering it and causing him to panic (and then strike a wall while holding the bottle close to his face, getting the neck stuck in his eye, draw his grenade launcher and fire randomly, then fall off a ledge into a bunch of Exploding Barrels under it as his grenades fall there as well, and explode.)
    • The Sydney Sleeper used to be able to do this with a full charge, but the ability was removed shortly after its release (and a while later it was given a shorter charging time to compensate).
    • One of the Soldier's secondary weapons, the Righteous Bison, fires energy bolts that never stop until they hit a wall, making it great for bottlenecks. Interestingly, the weapon deals damage to each target multiple times (one hit every 45 milliseconds), which allows it to deal more damage to targets running away.
      • An unlockable weapon for the Engineer, the Pomson 6000, used to have the same projectiles with an added Mana Burn attribute. Eventually this ability was removed in exchange for a non-penetrating but more powerful projectile.
    • The Sniper's new weapon, The Machina, penetrates all targets—except buildings—with fully-charged shots, and unlike the old Sleeper it can still get headshots. It even has separate kills icons for bodyshots and headshots that went through someone else first, and a special sound that plays to everyone in the server when you actually manage to get either (whether or not the target it went through died).
    • The Spy's first unlockable revolver, The Ambassador, had piercing bullets and made it possible to headshot multiple snipers. Unfortunately, it was patched out (multiple times) soon afterwards.
    • In Mann Vs. Machine, this is a purchasable upgrade for any weapon that uses bullets as well as the Huntsman. For most weapons this is a single upgrade giving penetration through any number of enemies, but the Heavy's miniguns instead needs to be upgraded once for each additional enemy an attack is able to go through.
  • In Diablo II, the Amazon has a Bow skill called Pierce, which causes arrows to pass through multiple enemies. When combined with Strafe, which splits an arrow to hit multiple targets... carnage ensues.
    • In older versions, this produced amusing results when used with the "guided arrow" skill - the arrow would hit the target, fly out the other side, and immediately turn around to have another go (and possibly repeat up to 5 times).
    • Some projectile weapons also have the Piercing Attack trait, rated 1 to 100% chance to pierce a target. The Buriza-Do Kyanon unique crossbow was the preferred weapon of many Amazons, called "Burizons", who specialized in Strafe and (when it worked) Guided Arrow.
      • As well as this works with bows, it works much better when the Amazon uses a Javelin. Her Lightning Fury skill makes a number of lightning bolts fly out towards the enemies and at high levels you get a very high number of bolts. Combine it with piercing and the javelin will go on to hit another target... and release the entire volley of lightning bolts again. And again. And again. The more enemies you have together the faster all of them will drop dead, making this perhaps the ultimate example.
  • In Diablo III, the Demon Hunter has several abilities that work like this. The Elemental Arrow, regardless of rune, is basically Area of Effect damage in a line, and some runes make that line narrow enough to resemble this. Some other shots can be modified by runes to hit multiple enemies in a straight line. However, it's unlikely to be a one hit polykill unless your character greatly outlevels the content or your targets are a very weak type of enemy.
  • Bullets do this sometimes in Jagged Alliance 2. In keeping with the game's complex, pseudo-realistic mechanics, this mostly happens with heavier bullets, armor-piercing rounds, and hits to unarmored enemies.
  • In Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun, GDI railguns would penetrate through anything standing between the shooter and the target (read: Friendly Fireproof isn't in effect here), dealing equal damage along anything in that line. Because of the extremely high damage output invested in every shot, a railgun is quite lethal to fragile targets. Canny gamers would then set these weapons to force-fire behind the unit or structure they wanted to kill.
    • Another weapon that polykills is the GDI sonic emitter, first used by GDI Disruptor tanks from the same game. It's essentially a railgun with more sophisticated rules: the emitted sonic beam takes time to reach its target, hurts less to anything in between that's not an intended target, and hurts friends and foes alike, unless it's another Disruptor. In short, it's safe to cluster Disruptors among themselves, but not with other kinds of things. This reappears as the Shatterer (and upgraded ZOCOM-only version, the Zone Shatterer) in Kane's Wrath.
    • Command & Conquer: Renegade's multiplayer has Nod's railgun used by Raveshaw that passes through multiple enemy infantry/vehicles that are hit by it (but not through the terrain), this gives it a distinct advantage over GDI's personal ion cannon used by Sydney.
    • In Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3, Natasha's sniper shots kill any and all infantry units in their path. Force-Wave Artillery is capable of it as well, albeit every target past the first unit hit will suffer less damage.
  • In the original Unreal Tournament, it was not possible to do this with the InstaGib weapon (the modified Shock Rifle). However, UT2004 changed this weapon by allowing the beam to pass through multiple characters. This took away the satisfying effect of the beam stopping at the location of the hit.
    • The Ballistic Weapons mod takes this one step further: the Tactical Infantry Cannon (big-ass scoped railgun), at full charge and using the scope, can shoot through the entire map and still overpenetrate a tank, insta-killing both the tank and whoever was standing behind it. And that's a man-portable weapon we're talking about here. Now imagine what it does against man-sized targets or lighter vehicles...
  • Call of Duty series:
    • Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare has this in spades, and players die from the effects of this trope all the time. The body of a fellow player will weaken bullets, but it won't stop them unless they have already lost a lot of momentum. For the more powerful firearms, such as the sniper rifles and the light machine guns, overpenetration is the norm.
    • In Modern Warfare 2, there are multiplayer challenges requiring the player to get two headshots with one bullet or two kills with one sniper shot.
    • Call of Duty: Black Ops ups the ante with an achievement for getting three kills with one bullet.
    • Many players of Call of Duty know of terrible impending deaths in multiplayer in which they saw an enemy player be in a position to shoot at them, but an ally (or allies) of the player was in the way. Due to Friendly Fireproof, you cannot harm your allies or anything behind them with bullets. The enemy can harm your allies and everything behind them (like you), though.
  • Though not actually a single shot in most cases, the turn-based nature of Fallout means that it's very rewarding to run right up close to a cluster or row of enemies with your minigun and tear their torsos to shreds in one attack (or, even more hilariously, go hand-to-hand in heavy armor amongst enemies so armed and watch as they obliterate each other.) Sadly, this also means that your "buddies" are often prone to hosing you down from behind if you give them automatics.
    • One NPC in Fallout: New Vegas claims to have done this if you ask how he killed 4 men with only 3 shots. It turns out that the men are just playing dead and are in on the scam.
  • Somewhat similarly, since dying enemies in early games became nonentities physics-wise (that is, immediately upon dropping below 1HP, all shots go right through them,) multi-pellet shotguns in FPSs like Doom and Marathon 2: Durandal punched through whole columns of weak or damaged enemies in a single shot.
  • The rocket launcher in Wolfenstein 3D's Mac and IIgs ports.
  • The fusion cannon in Descent. Not only does it go through an enemy robot, the shot actually becomes stronger after doing so.
  • Fully charged arrows from the Bow of Light in any The Legend of Zelda game where they're featured.
  • Silent Storm. Oh boy. The realistic damage modelling means it is entirely possible to kill someone standing behind a wall with a high-caliber bullet. And if there's no wall, the bullet can still penetrate multiple mooks and knock them back a few metres (bear in mind these are WW2 weapons we are talking about). Aaaand there's where the sniper's Shoot Through Cover (completely removes the advantage of cover for the target) and Always Inflict Ranged Critical perks come in handy...
    • It helps that your soldiers can still hear targets they can't see. The game displays a red outline where the enemy is supposed to be with an "ear" bubble. However, the outline is always standing even if the Mook isn't.
  • The fully Charged Attack of Mega Man's Buster weapon is capable of doing this, provided it doesn't hit a durable target.
    • 1's Thunder Beam is another notable example, as are the Rolling Cutter and Fire Storm. The Ice Slasher is a semi-example; it doesn't kill most targets, but it doesn't stop when it hits them, either.
    • Same with 2's Metal Blade, as long as it destroys the target. Most other weapons in 2 act this way, but most are too weak to destroy most targets with one hit. The Leaf Shield, most notably, tends to be either a one-hit kill or completely ineffective against normal enemies, with nothing in between.
    • ROM Hack Rockman 4 Minus Infinity has the Drill Torpedo and the Water Cutter. Drill Torpedo is justified because Mega Man fires drills. Water Cutter is an ultra-focused and ultra-quick water blast.
  • In the Munitions powerset of Champions Online, the Sniper Rifle power can take an advantage called "Tungsten Rounds", which enables it to hit up to three targets in a line up to the maximum range of the attack - against Mooks, this is often one hit polykills.
  • One level in Hitman 2 allows you to kill two targets with one shot if you line it up just right.
  • The original(pre-source) versions of Counter-Strike and Day of Defeat (and probably other games on GoldSrc) both exhibited this with some weapons, mostly Rifles. These weapons could penetrate doors, crates, ventilation ducts, and other 'thin' or 'soft' materials... including players. With Day of Defeat's one-hit-kill (even in the TOES) bolt-action rifles, this occasionally resulted in two Players literally being killed by one shot. THREE with one shot was perfectly possible, but very rare and requiring more luck than skill.
  • The Demonspine spell in Hellgate: London penetrates with perfect accuracy up to 30 meters, potentially killing anything in its path.
  • Unlocking the Terror Scoped Rifle in The Saboteur requires the player to make ten such shots.
  • The Sniper Rifle-type weapons in the Ratchet & Clank series are generally capable of this when upgraded.
  • The Special Weapons class in Alien Swarm gets the Piercing Bullets ability, which gives each shot fired a chance to do this.
  • The laser in Duke Nukem II.
  • In Tyrian, the Mega Cannon did this. It could even damage larger enemies more than once as it passed through them.
    • Same goes for the Plasma Storm, a giant cloud of fire that did continuous damage to whatever passed through it.
  • Essential in Survivor The Living Dead, as your have to carefully ration your ammo. It's also one of the determining factors in your score at the end of the game, and since getting a high score, or high number of kills is how you unlock some of the weapons and bonuses you'll need for the harder difficulty settings this makes mastering the One-Hit Polykill the most important skill the player can master.
  • The massively powerful maximum-level ability for archers in ADOM is just this, enabling their arrows (or even just rocks) to go on as long as they please without being stopped by creatures in their path.
  • Kiai Scrolls in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles penetrate everything and can 1-shot all but strongest foes. Boomerangs can also do this on weak enemies.
  • The Sawblade Cannon in Gun Girl 2 exists purely to do this. One of the upgrades also increases the number of enemies the sawblade can chew through before being destroyed. Useful, since a major source of danger is gigantic hordes of zombies spawned from Clown Car Graves.
  • In Silent Scope, it's possible to hit two or even three targets at once if the Mooks are standing in front of each other.
  • Some weapons in Cave Story can do this, most notably the Spur, which functions as a Frickin' Laser Beam or a Wave Motion Gun depending on how long you charge it.
  • In Dragon Age II, Varric describes himself doing this in one of his Unreliable Narrator moments. Any rogue (besides Isabela, who cannot equip bows) can also do this in-game with the upgraded Archer's Lance talent, which travels through enemies and one-shots all "weaker opponents" it comes in contact with.
    • The Scattershot archer talent in the first game also allows this, provided the enemies are weak enough. An archer can clear a whole group of Grunt type enemies with one shot—though a quirk of the mechanics means that that first shot has to targeted at something that will survive it, otherwise the spread effect doesn't happen.
    • Also in the first game, the majority of blood magic seems based around crowd control. One of the most dangerous spells is one that does an ungodly large amount of damage, and spreads to other targets. Casting said spell on a crowd of Mooks usually results in a lot of dead mooks, and severely injured Elite Mooks.
  • One fully charged cannonball from Serious Sam's cannon can penetrate dozens of enemies of size up to 5 meters.
  • Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks has a version of this. When the time comes to Finish Him!, you have a couple of Multalities you can perform, which will kill all enemies within range.
  • In Jamestown: Legend of the Lost Colony, the Beam (continuous fire) and Charge weapons (single shot) can do this.
  • Bulletstorm has multiple weapons that can do this. Pulling off these One Hit Polykills results in an exponential increase in points for each extra mook beyond the first two.
  • In Super Smash Bros.. Brawl, Zelda's and Sheik's Final Smash, the "Light Arrow", will hit any characters in their line of sight, passing through everybody until it hits a wall or the boundaries of the stage, and gives enough knockback to Ring Out even the heaviest of characters at 0% damage, except on the very largest of stages. Not to mention it has the series' trademark satisfying "KREEEENG!" sound effect.
    • Ganon's final has him go Load-of-Bull One-Winged Angel, stomp, stunning everyone on the stage, and charge forward for a one-hit kill everyone in front of him.
    • Similarly, ROB's laser attack hits through anyone in the line of fire, making for a useful kill move, or at least knocking back several foes at the same time.
  • Armor Games' The Last Stand Web Game series. Bullets from several weapons can go through (and kill) more than one zombie at a time.
    • The Last Stand: the sniper rifle and the Barrett rifle.
    • The Last Stand 2: the sniper rifle.
  • Crazy Monkey Games' web game Zombie Horde 2. The Decapitator can fire through (and kill) more than one zombie at a time.
  • The Bridge level in Syphon Filter 2 requires you to get a double kill with the sniper rifle to save a pair of hostages.
  • The Line Gun in Dead Space fires off a meter wide cutting laser. Unlike its kid brother the Plasma Cutter, this cutting laser is not stopped when it hits a target. A well aimed shot can take off both legs of several necromorphs.
  • In the opening to Tales of the Abyss, Natalia skewers several flying monsters with a single arrow.
  • In Crimson Land, some of the weapons can, either by nature or with the help of perks, fire bullets that go through the creatures they hit, which can be quite useful when the battlefield is swarming with monsters.
  • Zer0 of Borderlands 2 has a skill called "B0re" which allows for this to happen by allowing bullets to pierce through enemies to hit ones behind them. When this occurs the bullet also gets a massive damage buff for each enemy it pierces, making this trope even easier to pull off. It is also amazingly useful at killing gigantic bosses since it's possible for the damage bonus to apply on them multiple times.
  • Each weapon in Kid Icarus: Uprising has a hidden statistic that determines how many times it can pass through another target before it stops. Staves are well-known for this, being essentially the sniper weapons of the game, and so are Clubs, which can often pass through walls even without the use of special powers.
  • This is very possible in JFK: Reloaded, since the point of the game is to recreate the magic bullet.
  • In Nintendo Land's Zelda-based attraction, it's possible to do this with a charged arrow. If it kills the enemy it hits, it will continue on its trajectory without losing any momentum or damage. As there are more enemies if you play with a friend/s, co-op play gives plenty of opportunities to do this. Mastering this technique is absolutely necessarynote  if you want to, well, master each level.
  • Sniper Elite V2 grants an achievement ("Double Dose") for killing two opponents with one shot. Given that the game's main selling point is realistic bullet physics, we shouldn't be surprised the devs included this.
  • Star Wars: The Old Republic's first expansion, Rise of the Hutt Cartel, has a strange version of this. The expansion pack upped the game's level cap from 50 to 55, and each class was given a new ability at level 51. For the Dual Lightsaber Wielding Jedi Sentinels and Sith Marauders, they have "Twin Saber Throw", a long ranged attack that consists of them throwing both lightsabers at a target. The attack penetrates any enemies within 30 meters of the thrower, not just the actual target.
  • The first Vectorman game has a power-up called the bolo gun, a slow-moving shot which "crashes through enemy orbots" and continues going through any enemies until offscreen or hitting a wall. It also has the possibility to push the enemy and hit it multiple times.
  • A large number of Champions in League of Legends have attacks that hit like this, but the most infamous is Ezreal's ultimate which, unlike most other projectiles, crosses the entire map, making it one of the few ultimates that can hit (and rarely kill) an enemy from one fountain to another, or earn a pentakill from a blind shot.
  • In the Rainbow Six series, tangoes can wipe out an entire team with a single shot, especially on Elite difficulty.
  • The Railgun/Mass Driver in Marathon: EVIL penetrates multiple targets, however it also causes splash damage, so don't use it in close quarters.
  • In Gatling Gears, getting a Cannon Booster powerup turns your cannon into a painful piercing 3-way shooter.
  • In Warframe, the Shred and Metal Augur mods grant this effect for assault rifles and are absolutely crucial for Defense and Survival missions, where enemies will spawn in bunched-up fireteams, or when making a fighting retreat in narrow corridors to the extraction point.
  • In Star Wars Battlefront II, the Beam Rifle can pierce enemies, and generally is strong enough to one-shot its target (though at the cost of inconsistent hit detection).
  • In Ghost Recon: Future Soldier, one of the side-effects of the sync-shot mechanics (that is, a target will die in a single bullet no matter what once you've marked and are locked onto them) allows for, with luck, players to kill an extra enemy or two beyond the maximum of four marked targets in some circumstances.

    Web Original 
  • Halo x Metroid Fan Vid Haloid takes this to the max with a combination of two thrown energy shields (the kind that reflect bullets) and one sniper round result in a massacre of several dozen mooks. Probably all head-shots, too.

    Western Animation 
  • Parodied in Rango, where Rango claims to have killed the Jenkins brothers with one bullet only to find out there were seven of them. He then has to make up an incredibly contrived tale of how such a thing could possibly happened. And they believed him.
  • The Simpsons did a spoof of The Odyssey with Homer as Odysseus, Marge as Penelope, etc. When Homer returns home, he kills all the evil suitors with a single spear throw, because they were standing in a line.

    Real Life 
  • Some musket-balls do this. Historically, given that they were shot at two and three rank lines (or even eight-deep columns) it doesn't seem all that hard to believe.
    • One rule of Roger's Rangers was to march far enough apart such to prevent a musket ball taking out two soldiers at once, so it's very probable.
    • It is pretty hard to achieve through-and-through hit with relatively low-powered lead spherical projectiles. Glancing multi-hits on the other hand were pretty probable.
      • Military historian John Keegan was once visiting a museum with a collection of weapons and armor. He remarked to the curator, an expert in historic firearms, that through most of the Gunpowder Age, the most common debris cleaned out of battlefield wounds was the bones and teeth of the victim's fellow soldiers. "I constantly recall the look of disgust that passed over [his] face .... He had simply never considered what was the effect of the weapons about which he knew so much, as artifacts, on the bodies of the soldiers who used them."
  • Round-shot ("cannonballs") very often did that, often getting an average of more kills than rounds fired. As they had more heft than musket-balls, it isn't hard to imagine. Perhaps you do not wish to imagine what it looked like.
    • By "more heft", it means "a 20 lb sphere of pig iron". One-shot polykills were common. Even 6-lb field artillery projectiles were known to drill a straight line through the enemy, not difficult when the enemy is standing in massed ranks before you.
  • This trope is the reason why "crossing the T" was a favored tactic in ship-to-ship naval battles as late as World War II. it involved positioning your ship to fire across the length of the enemy ship rather than broadsiding, the idea being that a 20+ pound high-velocity ball of iron bouncing along a ship's decknote  is going to cause more collateral damage than if it simply went through and fell into the ocean on the other side. Also, in this position, it's harder for the enemy ship to retaliate - Age of Sail ships had most of their guns in broadside mounts, with only a handful of "chase" guns, while later warships, mounting their guns in turrets, could still only direct a portion of their firepower forward or aft.
  • The "single bullet theory" of John F. Kennedy's assassination, which argues that a single bullet passed through the president's body and then struck John Connally, who was seated below and forwards of Kennedy. Recently demonstrated on the History Channel via computer simulation to be relatively plausible.
    • Also almost entirely replicated by an expert sharpshooter for a Discovery Channel special. The only difference between his shot and the real one was that the bullet didn't have quite enough energy to get into the Connally model's "leg" at the end of the trajectory. Examination of the models showed why: Connally had a single rib broken by the bullet as it went through him, while the replicated shot had hit two ribs as it tumbled, losing just enough energy to prevent the additional penetration.
    • The tendency to do it was a known flaw of the rifle used: most variants of the Carcano Modello 91 rifle (like the 91/38 used by Oswald) were chambered for the 6.5x52mm Carcano cartridge, which, when produced with decent quality, was extremely accurate but tended to pierce the target without inflicting incapacitating damage unless it hit a vital spot (like the neck and the lung), hence a short-lived attempt at replacing it with a variant chambered for a bigger bullet abandoned due simple lack of time.
    • There is a game based entirely around recreating the shot. It's not an easy task..
      • Then again, most people don't qualify as sharpshooters in the Marine Corps, as Oswald did.
  • Rather chillingly invoked by the Nazis for mass executions, in order to save bullets. Turned out it was still too traumatic for the soldiers tasked to do it, hence the development of the Final Solution.
  • Simo Häyhä once shot eight Russian soldiers with one bullet. They thought they were being attacked by multiple snipers and ran away.
  • This is the reason why police (unlike soldiers) use hollowpoint and other such controlled expansion/frangible rounds. In war it's assumed that the man behind an enemy will usually be another enemy, and in any case even a relatively primitive Bullet Proof Vest will No Sell a hollowpoint without doing much more than bruising the target. The police shoot people in an environment where the person behind their target is likely to be an innocent bystander, and body armour is fairly uncommon in the hands of criminals.
  • This was pretty common in jungle combat during the Pacific Theater of World War II, especially on the American side. The 30-06 cartridge the American guns used was absurdly overpowered for short-range use, and no one had body armor, so firing into a tightly packed mass of Japanese troops could cause two or three casualties with ease. The Japanese guns, having only about half the muzzle energy, were much less likely to do this.
  • A hunter in Sweden got into trouble with the law, because he killed two moose with one shot. He was only allowed to kill one.
  • Can sometimes occur when using a shotgun. The spread from the pellets can often hit multiple targets grouped closely together.
  • Heavy machineguns used on troops in the open can result in this, given the size and weight of .50cal and 14.5mm rounds.
  • A German sniper in North Africa, with a warped sense of humour, painfully surprised a British officer who had left his trench and walked downwind with a shovel and a roll of toilet paper. Although he could have killed his mark outright at any time, he chose to wait until the British colonel had dug a hole, dropped his shorts, and squatted. The German bullet passed through the fleshy part of both buttocks, leaving, as the target ruefully described later, One bullet. Four holes. We knew the Jerries were short of ammo, but that was taking it to extremes.
    • There is a serious side to this. Snipers are taught that if their presence makes it impossible for enemy soldiers to leave their protective foxholes to perform latrine functions, it has a massive demoralisation effect and lowers the will to fight - as it would do if you are forced to take a dump in your own foxhole. British snipers in the Falklands War knew this and made a point of targeting Argentinians caught in the open for necessary personal administration of this sort.
  • In December 2013, a British sniper in Afghanistan killed six Taliban fighters from a range of 930 yards away with a single shot. The sniper identified a potential suicide bomber from long range and shot the trigger switch on the bomber's explosive vest. The resulting explosion killed the bomber and five other insurgents.


One-Hit KillFight SceneOpponent Switch
Not the Intended UseVideogame TropesOne Stat to Rule Them All
One-Hit KillFor Massive DamagePenultimate Weapon
One-Hit KillCombat TropesThe Only One
Guide Dang ItImageSource/Video GamesWorthless Yellow Rocks

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