On television, as well as in movies, there seems to be this general idea that if someone is shot in the shoulder, or in the leg, then the worst that happens will be that the person will grimace and go on with what he was doing before he was shot. Getting shot in the leg may cause him to hobble around a bit, but no worse than a knee sprain. A "good guy" will sometimes shoot someone in the leg or shoulder, "just to stop him," and in television and movies, this is almost always nonlethal.
However, a bullet wound to the left shoulder will usually prove to be lethal while a character will survive the same wound to the right shoulder or even the right chest, presumably because the heart (allegedly) is on the left side.
In reality, there's no "safe" place to shoot a person, not even in a seemingly non-vital extremity like a leg or arm. There are huge blood vessels in a human being's shoulder as well as lots of very delicate nerves and a very complex ball-and-socket joint that no surgeon on Earth can put back together once it's smashed by a bullet. The legs also contain large blood vessels; a shot that nicks the femoral artery will cause a fatal loss of blood in only a few minutes. And this is all assuming a "clean" through-and-through wound, disregarding the possibility of the bullet glancing off a bone or joint and deflecting or fragmenting into pieces, of which each can then hit something else more important inside. In short, there's no way for anyone, good or bad, to shoot someone and know that they will survive the wound. As they say, if you're shooting at all, you're shooting to kill.
But this trope is so widespread that it's caused people to assume that it's an accurate reflection of reality. In truth, since there isn't any safe place to shoot at, police and soldiers usually aim for the center of mass (i.e. the torso) simply to increase the odds of hitting the person in the first place. Trying to intentionally wing a target increases the odds that you'll miss entirely or end up hitting someone else. When dealing with dangerous criminals and where innocent lives are on the line, presumably, hitting the target, and only the target, should be top priority.
Insofar as this trope has any truth to it at all, it comes from the fact that the largest muscle pads on the human body — about the only type of tissue which can take a wound of impressive visual nastiness that isn't necessarily incapacitating or life-threatening — are in the thighs and the outside (not the center) of the shoulder. The gluteus maximi also suffice, but that particular target zone is often felt to lack dramatic gravitas, though getting Shot in the Ass is many times Played for Laughs. This is despite it being a relatively common wound among retired soldiers - because of its size, and because getting hit there is (comparatively) less lethal. Hitting someone on the other side of their body, in the groin, on the other hand, pretty much guarantees they will bleed out very quickly.
When the character insists on this, regardless of evidence to the contrary, he is saying I Can Still Fight (which he does not, in fact, have to survive).
Video Games are usually an exception/subversion. Draining a game target's HP is quasi-realistic enough to kill/destroy it even if all damage was to the legs or arms. In games with dismemberment, taking off a limb may lead to instant death. Very few video games actually feature bleeding though, but those that do tend to be Overdrawn at the Blood Bank. Surprisingly, a person suffering a traumatic amputation in Real Life is often less likely to bleed out due to an autonomic muscle clamping response that closes major blood vessels. In these cases a clean cut or puncture is actually more dangerous.
Do note that many of the examples below, especially ones from more recent media, are subversions or outright aversions. A small part of Reality Ensues
See also Major Injury Underreaction, Hollywood Healing, Critical Existence Failure, Didn't Need Those Anyway, Unexplained Recovery, and 'Tis Only a Bullet in the Brain. Contrast with Instant Death Bullet.
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During the Compare the Meerkat advert, "Battle Of Fearlessness", Alexandr's grandfather is wounded and Sergei's grandfather holds him and screams to the sky. Alexandr's grandfather sits up and says:
"Quiet down! It's just a fur wound."
Anime and Manga
During Genesis' assault on Trident in the Air Gear manga, Benkei cuts off her own leg at the thigh. She later explains that she's not losing much blood because of her vegetarianism, and that she needed to lose some blood to lower her blood pressure anyways.
Averted several times in Black Lagoon, notably when creepy twinHansel gets shot in the leg and in the wrist, blowing his hand off. He dies within minutes (or even seconds) from the immense blood loss.
In spite of the series's attempts to keep to realism in regards to battle wounds, major characters tend to survive more grievous injuries. This may be justified, since those characters often note how lucky they were, or others remark that they must be superhuman (* cough* Roberta* cough* ). In one example, Rock once points out that although one of Revy's injuries wasn't fatal, it was deep enough where it wouldn't clot, so she would need medical attention as soon as possible.
Played slightly more realistically in regards to Roberta in the Roberta's Blood Trail OVA, where after being shot in her left shoulder during the final episode she can barely lift the arm, and the ending credits reveals it — as well as a right leg that was also shot — was later amputated. Normally you'd expect someone that badly injured to bleed out, however.
There are barely any fights in Bleach that don't involve a character getting cut through one or both shoulders (and eventually everywhere else). This is usually the first wound inflicted in the whole fight and the only explanation for this is that spirits don't suffer as much from wounds, being spirits and all.
See also: Kenpachi Zaraki.
Averted when Ichigo surviving Ulquiorra blowing a hole the size of his fist into his chest, lying there and breathing with a torn trachea for at least fifteen minutes or so before Orihime and Grimmjow arrive. However, as it turns out, Ichigo actually died in this instance, and only survives thanks to Orihime playing her "I Reject Your Reality And Substitute My Own" card and resurrecting him.
Ishida, despite fighting in his human body, seems to possess unbelievable hardiness as well, as he survives Szayel crushing his internal organs and still finds time to play comic relief for Mayuri (Renji observes how energetic he is despite his ah, condition). More recently, Ishida kept going against Ulquiorra, who had blown an even bigger hole in Ichigo's chest, in spite of having his hand blown off. It took Ichigo in psycho neo-Hollow mode to made Ishida fall over by stabbing him with his Zanpakuto. And Uryu still wouldn't shut up. Heroic Resolve, indeed.
Later in the series, a human — that is to say, not a ghost or reiatsu-powered superbeing — gets his arm cleaved off right at the elbow. He barely flinches. Although Inoue restores it moments later, those 'moments' would have been more than enough for a bleed-out if not instant death by systemic shock.
"<injury> is not enough to kill a Bleach character!"
In Change 123, there is a scene where one kunoichi threatens to another by stabbing her in the chest with a scalpel. It's a surgically precise stab done so that the scalpel, while not doing any critical damage, goes so near the heart that it's on the very edge of stabbing it. Justified by the fact that the kunoichi who does the stabbing has a formal training in medicine.
Happens to Mao in Code Geass, who is shot multiple times and comes back perfectly fine (albeit bandaged up a little bit) the very next episode; it's Hand Waved by mentioning advanced Britannian medicine and pointing out that the policemen were not ordered to shoot to kill. YMMV on whether or not this is bad writing, but it's later shown that Geass is a LiteralGenie and has ties to the collective subconscious of humanity, possibly being more influenced by its intent than the individual user's. It is also established that Geass can be defied by an unusually strong will, so another explanation is that each policeman's subconscious engaged in Loophole Abuse.
Used a second time with Cornelia, who was shot multiple times in the leg.
Averted with Nunnally, though. She was crippled for life due to nerve damage to her legs from submachinegun fire. Or so it was set up to seem.
Subverted in Darker Than Black Season II, when Dr. Pavlichenko, Suou's father is hit in the leg by a spear-like weapon. Although Suou manages to tightly bind the wound, it doesn't completely stop the bleeding, and he eventually dies from blood loss.
However, all bets are off when it comes to the resident Badass, Hei. He once limped about halfway across town after being shot through the leg (unsurprisingly, Amber was involved), and in the interquel OVAs isn't even slowed down when he gets a foot-long shard of wood through his shoulder. He just pulls it out and walks off. Oh, and he managed to do a Ceiling Cling with a knife embedded in his arm.
Manga//Deadman Wonderland contains a particularly ridiculous example. When Genkaku wants you incapacitated rather than killed, he will impale you through the chest with a katana. And it will damned well work. Incidentally, he claimed to have missed his victim's heart and lungs with the blow, presumably because basic biology was scared enough of him to raise no objection.
In Goku's fight with Piccolo, he was shot by a ki blast that punched clean through his shoulder. He got back up, much to Piccolo's shock, saying that he missed his vital organs. He was also shot in his other limbs, and suffering from heavy blood loss. One senzu bean later and Goku is perfectly healed. He takes a similar beating from Vegeta, and until he gets another senzu, he's stuck in the hospital.
Frieza has it as an ability: he is able to survive and function in the most horrible conditions: He got his tail chopped off twice, got vivisected and lost his left arm, then was caught in the explosion of the planet he was in, resulting in the loss of half his head. When he was found floating among the debris, he was (semi-)conscious. And as if that weren't enough he survives for at least a few seconds after being vivisected AGAIN, vertically this time.
It gets really nasty when the next major villain combines that power with regeneration, and the ability to get stronger from being near death: Cell survives getting half of his torso and his full upper body blown up, and HIS OWN SELF-DESTRUCTION as well.
Lampshaded in Durarara!!, when Shizuo nonchalantly shows up on Shinra's doorstep with a bullet in his side and leg, Shinra is understandably confused as to how he manages to even walk with so much muscle damage to his leg. Shizuo simply shrugs and says "'Cause I can."
In Elfen Lied, Nana loses all of her limbs while fighting Lucy, but she doesn't bleed to death even though it takes a while for her to get medical attention.
In Fullmetal Alchemist there is a scene of Mustang's crew going out of their way to avoid shooting soldiers in vital areas, but still shooting them just the same. You'd think being soldiers they'd know better.
When Ling and Lan Fan are being pursued by Wrath, Lan Fan manages to save Ling by cutting off her own arm. She survives by using her shirt to make a tourniquet, and it is mentioned several times that she nearly died.
Subverted during the fight between Ed and Kimblee. Kimblee blows up the building they're fighting in, and Ed gets blasted thirty feet down the shaft.
Ed (slowly pushing himself off the ground): I must have fallen down the mine shaft. Dammit… I can't let Kimblee get away…! *coughs blood, looks back, sees he's been impaled by a girder*
Ed (eyes widen): Y-you're kidding… No!… *collapses*
Ed's arm and leg are both severed from his body, but he still manages to live long enough for the machine replacements to be attached.
The above statement is not quite true. During a flashback, Ed is shown in a wheelchair, stumps bound, before he receives the surgery. It IS worth noting though that, with two limbs completely severed, he still has time to bond his brother's soul to a suit of armor, his brother adjusting to being bound in said armor, the reasonable expectation of panic from such a young child in such a situation, and the fairly long run to the Rockbell house. Trope thoroughly in effect.
In the 2003 anime version, Scar gets both of his arms severed through alchemy. Globs of blood splash down for a few seconds, then the bleeding miraculously stops.
Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex plays it realistically with gunshot wounds, at least on non-cyborged individuals. In one episode, a soldier is shot in his upper-thigh by a sniper and bleeds to death on the ground while his squadmates are pinned down.
Quite nicely, there is also an episode that plays with the concept in 2ndGiG. Togusa, while off duty, stumbles upon a violent domestic dispute. The attacker is a cyborg who turned off his pain receptors, and, despite Togusa just wanting the guy to calm/stand down, requires multiple shots of small arms fire to immobilize. In the farce of a preliminary examination that follows, he is forced to justify the number of times he shot by the resilience of cyborgs and the lawyer from the other side tries to turn that argument against him as prejudice towards cyborgs.
Cyborgs on the other hand often play this straight, such as Hideo Kuze in the 2nd Gig', who in an early episode get shot into Swiss cheese, with visible bullet holes even on his face, but thanks to his subdermal armour isn't even slowed down. All in all,the only way to actually hurt "full" cyborgs is to damage their still organic brain, which is encased in a heavily armored shell that can resist being crushed by the weight of a 4 meter tall walking tank.
Averted in Infinite Ryvius. A character is shot in the shoulder and only survives because he's given emergency surgery right away. Even then, he has to undergo months of physical therapy, and is never again able to raise his arm above his head.
The titler cyborg assassins in Gunslinger Girl are for all practical purposes Made of Iron. During gunfights they tend to keep their arms up high to protect their eyes (the only weak spot). We've seen several of them shrug off multiple shots in the arms, Rico a shot in the neck and seen Triela stand up after taking a bullet in the gut. The mooks they fight go down pretty realistically. Triela ends up dying due to bleeding out from a gunshot wound.
In Gunslinger Girl - Il Teatrino, Guise is caught in a car bomb explosion and is quick to tell Henrietta that his wound is only a scratch. But then again, he'd noticed her finger tightening on the trigger of her handgun, so it was probably a good idea to do so.
Gray from Gunsmith Cats. Apparently getting shot half a dozen times in the arm isn't that big of a deal for him. He just flexes them out, and bandages it up.
The same applies to Bean Bandit.
Averted in GUN×SWORD - Michael takes a bullet to the arm, and despite pulling his sleeve tighter to stop the blood flow, collapses from blood loss, possibly dying in Fasalina's arms.
A variant of the 'Intentionally Shooting To Wound' theme occured in Hellsing, when Knight Templar Alexander Anderson introduced himself by putting about a score of blessed bayonets through Seras Victoria's neck and torso while missing her heart to incapacitate her (and leave her in agony) while he entertained himself with Alucard. Heroic Willpower is invoked when she surprises Anderson by dragging herself away with her master's head.
Seras and Alucard are both vampires, Alucard in particular has no trouble healing himself after being chopped into dozens of pieces, decapitated etc. Even if Anderson was just aiming to incapacitate, he has no particular reason to care if she does get permanently destroyed, since his mission is to obliterate her eventually anyway.
Averted in Kinnikuman; Terryman takes a bullet to the leg, and it costs him the leg.
In Kodomo no Omocha, Hayama doesn't try to resist Komori's attempt to kill him by stabbing Hayama with a knife. Komori only stabs Hayama in the arm, prompting Hayama to remove the knife and give it back to him, telling him to do it properly. He then walks around for over two hours with a severed artery before passing out from blood loss. He still almost dies on the operating table and loses a good deal of mobility in said arm until the Distant Finale.
Averted many times in Legend of Galactic Heroes: characters who get wounded in a limb either lose said limb or die, sometimes even after having received futuristic medical treatment. This is played in a very cruel way with one of the main characters, especially since the WHOLE episode of his death was made in a way that lead many viewers to believe he would still get out of this alive and keep playing a large role in the next season.
They play with it even further near the end of the show, blending it with The Determinator and I Can Still Fight to good effect. Another main character is impaled through the chest with a massive sliver of glass, yet calmly pulls it out and tells his subordinate to stop shouting. Minutes later, it turns out the spike actually severed an artery between a lung and his heart, and though the doctors can stop the bleeding he will die without surgery and will probably die regardless. He ignores his doctors and keeps going in order to manage a withdrawal from a disastrous battle with such steely composure it seems he won't die, and then waits almost a whole day for his friend to return with such steely composure it seems he'll be fine, until he dies less than an hour before his friend arrives.
Hit and miss in Mahou Sensei Negima!. The really nasty wounds received are generally portrayed as such, but they're not very incapacitating once heroic resolve enters the equation. It's occasionally outright averted, however, such as when Fate spears Negi through the shoulder with a rock lance, and he instantly collapses into a bleeding pile. Then hits Fate with it and passes out again. The next 'three minutes' are a race against time to get Konoka's artifact out so he doesn't bleed to death while a semiconscious Negi holds himself together with what magic he can.
Played straight later on when Tsukuyomi cuts Fate's arm off. He's completely unfazed, although his subordinates freak out when they see him. Justified in that he is a doll. Also, he pats the head of one of his servants - with his cut-off arm hold in his other hand. Lampshaded in that his servants wonder if he is attempting physical humour.
In the finale of Mobile Suit Gundam, Amuro is stabbed clean through the arm with a rapier. It doesn't seem to affect his piloting skills at all when he resurfaces in seven years later Zeta Gundam (although he is slightly superhuman & medical technology is presumably more advanced in the Universal Century).
Amuro also became rich during those seven years by patenting Haro's design, so it's not as if he was settling for minimum coverage, either. Char, though, survived just fine after getting stabbed in the face.
In Gundam Wing, Heero Yuy gets shot, blown up, drowned, etc, and does not die. Ever.
Averted in Mobile Suit Gundam 00 when Setsuna get's shot in the shoulder it severly debilitates him despite his best efforts to tougth it out. It eventually leads him to loose consiousness two times before he get's the propper medical attention.
Sleepy is frequent shot repeatedly in Mad Bull 34, but he shrugs off each injury like it's minor. This includes getting shot in the shoulder, shot in the arm, shot in the leg, and shot in the chest. During one shootout he's shot six times in the ass, but he just stands up and starts throwing grenades he'd tied to his pubic hair!!
Averted repeatedly in Monster. One character is shot in the shoulder and survives — but his arm is rendered useless for the rest of his life. Other characters bleed to death from a thigh wounds, stomach wounds, and shoulder wounds. For those that did survive, it was because a medical professional (usually Tenma) stopped the bleeding.
On the other hand, Johan gets shot in the head and survives (though only after intense surgery; the bullet was low-calibre and got lodged in his brain). He later has the same thing happen to him again and survives.
In addition, it's pointed out that Tenma, the doctor who safely removed the bullet, is the best neurosurgeon in Germany, if not the world, and that he's the only one capable of such a feat.
Naruto frequently does this when applied to the likes of stab wounds, the most blatant being Neji surviving being impaled just because he prevented it from injuring any vital organs and Kiba surviving stabbing himself in the chest (though the main character at least has the excuse of a Healing Factor). Subverted in that they spent weeks in the hospital afterwords. In Neji's case this came after a three hour surgery.
Happens pretty often in One Piece. At one point, Sanji takes a couple of Mr. 2 Bon Clay's kicks, which put big holes in whatever they strike, and doesn't need any medical attention afterwards.
Zoro is the king of this trope - in the Arlong arc, Word of God is that he lost 5 liters of blood. The human body can hold up to six liters of blood at the very most. Let's assume Zoro has six liters at the very most. Zoro is stated to have lost nearly 90% of blood in the arc. That's more than twice the amount of loss to be considered fatal. Yet, a few stitches later, he's up and partying with the gang.
In the flashback to Luffy's childhood, this happens majorly to Shanks, who gets his arm bitten off by a Sea Monster, but then shrugs it off, saying that he still has another one.
Luffy manages to avoid this, but in a stranger matter. Being made of rubber, bullets simply bounce off of him with little push to Luffy himself. Semi-justified in that the bullets used are still round, which means that less pressure is focused on Luffy when he receives a bullet. That still isn't sufficient enough to explain why they just bounce off him given the force involved when they are fired. But then all readers would know that One Piece is too cool to be tied to the laws of physics anyway.
Also happens in more mundane forms like when Usopp was shot in the arm during his first appearance and it looked more like an animal bite than anything else. In the Funimation Dub, Chopper says the trope name word for word to a wounded Ussop after the battle with Mr. 4 and Ms. Merry Christmas.
If Zoro is "king", then Whitebeard is god. Even though he's been treated to 267 sword wounds, 562 bullets, 46 cannonballs and having half his face melted off he is still able to kick ass until his dying breath.
Rurouni Kenshin is fairly realistic with limb injuries even though the cast is normally Made of Iron: In the Rajuuta arc, the first victim of his sword technique becomes almost permanently crippled (though he apparently recovers enough use of his arm in the Distant Finale to become an assistant dojo-master for Kaoru), and Kenshin himself doesn't react to being hit because he's doped up with painkillers; in the Kyoto arc, Saitou is injured in the legs and this reduces his efficacy, especially when Shishio attack him a second time in that area, and Kaoru breaks the knee of one member of the Quirky Miniboss Squad; by the time of the Enishi arc, Badass Normal Sano has to contend with the fact that using his ultimate technique shatters every bone in his hand since it still hadn't healed from trying it on Shishio right after his fight with Anji.
Used in fights in Soul Eater on characters lacking the advantage of the black blood. Black Star in every encounter with Mifune, Stein with Medusa (at one point I'm pretty sure she drills a hole in him or at least stabs him badly). Avoided somewhat when Mosquito cuts Kid's arm off. He's noticeably shocked (about the lack of symmetry), bleeding a lot, and unable to stop Mosquito injuring him further until Brew kicks in. When it does, marginally reasonable responses no longer apply - Rule of Cool and CMOA do.
Played straight with Yuki Nagato, who gets impaled by six sharp poles. Her reaction? "I am fine." Of course, she is invincible, so...
In Those Who Hunt Elves, an inconclusive fight scene between Junpei and an elf ends with Junpei's arm bleeding. The English dub has him blow it off as "just a flesh wound".
Anak Zahard from Tower of God is stabbed in the shoulder by her mother's killer right above the heart. Three days later, she is a fit as a fiddle and has no problem moving.
Wounding to stop or incapacitate (temporarily) is Vash's main offensive tactic in Trigun. He may be justified in that he's incredibly old and an experienced crackshot, so he knows exactly where to hit... but once he hit a Mook in a non-vital area that still resulted in severe bleeding, and Vash was terrified at the extent of the damage. The most annoying example was in the final duel with Knives in the animated series, where Vash shot his opponent Knives through both shoulders (closer to the chest than to the outsides,) and through both legs. He survived and didn't even bleed much, just needing a few bandages to cover his wounds. It is made explicit in the Manga that Knives and Vash can heal themselves through their plant abilities. At one point Knives mocks Vash for carrying scars from encounters with humans instead of healing himself.
Averted in Vagabond. Kanemaki Jisai receives a slash to the arm and remarks after the fight that he'll never be able to swing a sword properly again. Also, during the fight with Inshun, Musashi gets cut across the face and eventually passes out from the blood loss after a few minutes.
Played straight: Musashi gets sliced up pretty good in his 70-man brawl, and yet is on the road to a full recovery.
Linkara fell into this trope in his review of Athena #1, where he claimed that Athena being shot in the arm isn't worth serious medical attention. While this is, well, Athena, at the time none of the cast actually knew this. Granted the bullet seemed to just graze her, explaining his objection, but women do typically have less muscle mass than men, so take it how you will.
There's a Golden AgeBatman story that averts this trope. Batman takes a round in the shoulder; it missed his vest and he drops like a rock and is thought dead. He survives, obviously, but needs to break off from the fight to get immediate medical attention. Oh and for those wondering, Robin did not take Batman's "death" well.
Averted in one of the last Batman: No Man's Land comics. The Joker once paralysed Barbara Gordon (turning her into the Oracle), and has just shot and killed Commissioner Gordon's wife, and is facing down a furious Gordon with a gun. Commissioner Gordon shoots him in the knee. Unlike Barbara the Joker was walking around without any problems in later appearances. Comics being still frames, he might have a limp we aren't seeing.
Joker: My knee! I may never walk again! I- Oh, I get it! Just like your daughter! (bursts into laughter)
There was a later issue where someone visits him in Arkham and he's wearing a leg brace and walking with a cane. He may have recovered completely, but it wasn't immediate.
In an issue of Captain America, Crossbones takes three bullets to the chest and the Black Widow diagnoses the wounds as nonfatal less than two minutes later. Crossbones is merely Badass Normal, so three gunshot wounds to the center body mass is a cointoss on whether he'll live long enough to get medical treatment, but for some reason everyone is confident that he'll be fine. Particularly egregious in that three bullets to the chest is what killed the original Cap just a few issues prior.
Averted in an issue of The Mysterious Darkhawk; the hero Chris Powell is shot in the leg and passes out from loss of blood and has to go to the hospital. He's later told that it was in fact just a flesh wound.
In the otherwise classic Popeye Wild West continuity "Skullyville", a gang of more than two dozen bandits are each shot in the shoulder and together dumped in a basement, the stated intent being to put them out of action without really hurting them.
The climax of Rawhide Kid: The Sensational Seven comes when the Kid confronts Big Bad Cresto Pike. Pike is holding two hostages in front of him: Wyatt Earp himself, and the Kid's own father. The Kid shoots them both, hitting them just so they would drop, eliminating Cresto's advantage before killing him. The unlikelihood is lampshaded, as the rest of the Kid's posse state in awe that no one else in the world could have pulled that off.
The Red Lantern Bleez takes a pretty hefty energy attack — Saint Walker offers to heal her, but being healed is apparently for bitches. "Pain is power to a Red Lantern!"
In one of the Serenity comic books, we discover that Agent Dobson managed to survive being shot in the eye by Mal, and had been rather obsessively plotting revenge ever since.
In Sin City, Marv is clipped by a barrage of gunfire while escaping from a hotel. He only needs a few band-aids and he's fine. In a later story, Dwight McCarthy is shot in the face and chest. While he has to be rushed to Old Town to receive emergency aid, including reconstructive surgery, he remains conscious and doesn't receive any long-lasting injuries. Likewise, John Hartigan, an old man suffering from heart problems, is shot many times in the beginning of That Yellow Bastard but it takes a while for him to go down. A brief stay in the hospital and he's fine.
This is also the same guy who took two jolts of electricity from an electric chair to go down, making the first, arguably, "Just a flesh wound."
Tintin has a habit of surviving mere flesh wounds. In Destination Moon he's shot in the head, but the bullet only grazed his skull, so he's fine and back to the base in a couple of days.
Sometimes subverted in Ultimate Spider-Man. When Peter was shot in the shoulder, while he does possess super strength and resilience so it's not as bad as it should be, it's still treated as a very serious injury that may have been slowly killing him. But in a later story, Ox, who does not have any super powers, is shot in what seems to be his Achilles tendon and is still able to walk. Holy smokes.
Y: The Last Man: Yorick Brown tried to do this when confronted with an armed young Militia-woman in Arizona; they face each other, guns drawn, and they both fire. She manages to completely miss him and he only wings her in the leg. At first he cannot stop laughing - he is just so happy that neither of them is dead - until she begins to scream and bleed. He tries to patch the wound, but she is dead from blood loss before he can even get it covered (he hit an artery). He does not take it well: her death added to his already considerable emotional issues.
Light and Dark The Adventures of Dark Yagami features a final battle in which Soichiro Yagami and Watari, having been irradiated, set on fire and taken unholy amounts of punishment beforehand, continue to fight each other after having hacked each other's arms off.
"Well you are WORTHIER!" soichiro ground back doing a headbutt right into watari's face.
In a James BondFan FilmProperty of A Lady, one of the mooks is shot in the leg, interrogated (without the wound being bandaged or anything) and is then able to walk not 15 min. later.
Warriors of the World: Soldiers of Fortune averts this trope when Valkron gets a blade in his left shoulder. His left arm is rendered completely useless for the remainder of the time, he can't fight, he's bleeding profusely and the only thing stopping him from falling unconscious from shock is adrenaline - and even that was only for a while, since he eventually passes out.
When Tails refuses to hand over Cosmo to him in Episode 73 of Sonic X: Dark Chaos, Tsali throws him to the floor and rips his heart and lungs out of his chest with his bare hands. Tails responds by turning into Shroud Tails, immediately regenerates his wounds, and retaliates in kind.
Played straight in Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa, where Alan gets shot non-fatally in the shoulder and is able to continue his confrontation with Pat.
Angels Revenge: While she's clearly affected by being shot, Trish is shown caring more about whether her actions earn her a spot among the Angels.
Beverly Hills Cop: Protagonist Axel Foley is shot through his right shoulder during the final confrontation with the film's Big Bad. After quite realistically falling over in pain, he manages to drag himself to his feet (leaving a trail of blood) and continues to pursue the villain, with the sole concession to the injury being to hold his gun in his left hand. Afterwards, Foley is seen hanging out with his friends, apparently oblivious to the gunshot wound, and hangs a lampshade on it when Chief Hubbard shows up. They do eventually convince him to go to the hospital, but not until long after he should have passed out or died from blood loss.
In Cars, a totaled racecar insists that he can still race as he's being towed away.
Awesomely inverted in Cellular, after Jessica Martin, a biology teacher, manages to rig up a phone line to make a call. Then one of the kidnappers stumbles upon the phone, and she slices him in the upper arm. As he looks at the wound, he asks "What did you do to me?" She informs him that she sliced open his brachial artery and he'll be dead in less than a minute.
Cloverfield. After searching for Beth throughout most of the movie, they find her impaled through the shoulder with a an iron bar. Realistically, they assume she's dead as soon as they see her, but she's just passed out and comes to shortly after they arrive. They pick her up and force her off the bar, and she runs down more than thirty stories of stairs and boards a helicopter, and only needing to lean on her boyfriend for support.
Which only made it all the more lopsided, considering the documentary and realistic nature of the film, and earlier Marlena was just bitten by a creature and it's treated as if it's a horrible injury. Granted, it did turn out to be fatal, but only because of some sort of venom. They were acting like the bite wound itself would be enough to kill her.
At no point did anyone act like the bite wound itself would be enough to kill her - the medics in the field hospital went batshit when they realized she'd been bitten because they'd seen it before (a dead soldier with an exploded chest cavity had been wheeled past the camera on a stretcher moments before, cluing the viewers in). Beth's injury definitely falls into this trope, though.
Subverted in Commando. Arnold's right shoulder is hit by a bullet, and his right arm is useless for most of the last fight. It's mostly fine by the end though.
In the Schwarzenegger movie End of Days, his character Jericho Caine shoots his friend Bobby in the arm to confirm that he's not actually Satan in disguise. When Bobby rants at him afterwards for shooting him, Jericho tells him to stop whining because it's "just a scratch".
Played ridiculously straight in the otherwise excellent film Copycat. Holly Hunter's police detective character is seen at a shooting range with her rookie partner, actually lecturing him on aiming for a criminal's shoulder rather than the torso. Nevermind that as stated, this would be extremely hard for even an experienced cop to do, it's also completely the opposite of what's taught in the police academy. To make matters worse, she suggests that he do this so as not to kill the criminal (but still disable him so that he's no longer a danger to others)—when a shot to the shoulder is almost guaranteed to hit the brachial artery, which would be fatal within minutes. It comes back to bite her in the ass later in the film when she attempts to disable a suspect this way—and he's able to use his uninjured arm to pick up a gun and kill another officer.
The Counselor had one occur in its only proper shoot-out. Two cartel members try to hijack a drug-smuggling truck. One is shot dead, another in the hip and takes cover by the roadside. He then proceeds to shoot the driver and the second guy dead, then gets up with no bleeding or even a limp gets into the truck and drives away. Later scenes show he's fine with his leg being only slightly patched up.
Averted in The Crow. After getting shot in the leg with a .357 Magnum, Fun boy passes out almost instantly from the pain and shock. Eric doesn't seem bothered by gunshots but that probably comes from being an undead superhero with an accelerated healing ability.
Daredevil. In the fight between Matt and Elektra, he ends up pinned to a wall by one of her sai. Minutes later, he's fighting an acrobatic battle with Bullseye, apparently little worse for the wear.
Averted? Elektra wasn't actively trying to kill him yet and had been trained for years so she knew EXACTLY where to stab him where it would incapacitate him but not kill him. Also the fight with Bullseye is after he's killed Elektra (stabbing her with her own sai, she's dead in minutes) and Matt is running on Unstoppable Rage. In his battle with the Kingpin afterwards he's clearly worse for the wear and is getting his ass handed to him; Kingpin even lampshades the fact his foe should be able to beat him easily.
Averted in the original Day of the Dead, Rhodes is shot in the right shoulder and unable to do anything with that side of his torso (especially when he tries to open a door with that arm). Then he's shot in the left leg and essentially gets crippled.
The Die Hard franchise can't seem to decide how it feels about this trope, and will play it straight and avert it sometimes within the same movie. A gunshot to the leg is treated as horribly painful and keeping the character from being able to stand without leaning heavily on something, but blood loss also doesn't seem to be a problem for him. At the same time, when a character is shot in the shoulder, he hits the floor and can't move, and has to be dragged to his feet and held up by another character.
Averted in the classic noir flick Double Indemnity, which opens as the lead character has just been shot in the shoulder/upper arm area. While he doesn't pass out for an implied hour or so at least - long enough to narrate the rest of the film in flashback, anyway - he is shown staggering, bleeding and otherwise in steadily increasing distress from then on, even while seated. When he jumps up and tries to escape at the end of the movie (despite being told "You'll never make it!") he collapses almost immediately.
In Dresden the main character manages to escape the bombing of Dresden with serious injuries. As in, he digs himself out of rubble, runs and climbs a 40-50ft set of iron rungs... with a gaping wound in his side, a crushed foot, and while seriously drugged. Oh, and he also takes a detour in order to climb to the top of a cathedral in order to view the destruction.
Both averted, and played straight in the classic western El Dorado. John Wayne's character, Cole Thornton is shot in the back, and while survives, suffers periodic attacks of paralysis. Later when Robert Mitchum's character is shot in the leg, the doctor tells him it's just a flesh wound, and he walks pretty well with a crutch, sometimes even switching sides. (lampshaded in the film itself)
In Eraser, Arnie gets shot in the leg and second later he's running and jumping. He also gets shot in the shoulder during the final action sequence, yet is able to continue fighting, hold on to a chain to keep from falling several stories, and catch the heroine to keep her from falling as well.
In Escape Plan, Schwarzenegger's character Rottmayer only grunts in pain when shot in the shoulder and continues to fight no other consequences.
In Fast & Furious, Letty shoots Dom in the shoulder. He just digs the bullet out by himself, slaps a Band-Aid on top and acts the rest of the film as if it never even happened.
Played straight to a horrifying level in Fight Club. The Narrator shoots himself in the mouth to kill his alter ego. When his troops come to his aid, he insists he's fine, and stands calmly with his girl to watch the buildings around them get demolished by the explosives they planted.
Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children features Cloud getting stabbed in the shoulder by Sephiroth with no ill effects, and worse, a few minutes later, Yazoo shoot's him in the back, with the bullet coming right out of his chest. He doesn't even get healed or anything...
Advent Children Complete is even more guilty of this. After Cloud gets stabbed in the shoulder by Sephiroth, He gets thrown into the air, stabbed around 7 times (through the arms, shoulders, chest, one stab going THROUGH his knee and continuing into his shoulder). He then falls to the ground in a puddle of his own blood, pulls out Omnislash and is apparently fine except for being exhausted and having a few cuts ....Until Yazoo fires at him. He gets a HEADSHOT and doesn't really care about it. His glasses are gone though...
There's a hint of fridge brilliance there in that these are RPG characters. RPG characters get stabbed, shot, burnt, poisoned, frozen, and on occasion even punched but can continue on at full capability as long as that HP meter isn't at 0/2000.
In Forrest Gump, the titular character is lucky enough to be shot in the buttocks during the early part of the Vietnam War, ensuring that he'll be given medical leave for the rest of the fighting while still being able to make a full and relatively painless recovery.
In the Soviet film Grozovye Vorota (Thunder Gate), 1st Lt. Doronin is shot in the lower abdomen (most probably with a bullet from an assault rifle) yet he is able to dress the wound, walk and give the rallying speech to his soldiers (he may be using combat analgesics though). However, when Pvt. Vyetrov is shot in the thigh, he is forced to hobble leaning heavily on the stick and when Pvt. Gorshkov is shot in the arm, he loses control over the injured limb what renders him unable to reload his machine gun. Moreover, all wounded protagonists are still crippled when shown in hospital.
Taken to absurd heights in the 1994 film Gunmen where the running gag between the Strange Bedfellows will have one trying to convince the other on a course of action, the other refusing, and the first shooting him in the arm or leg and tossing him the first aid kit, then demanding he "try and keep up".
Strangely, this might be a case of Truth in Television. Head wounds are funny—some are fatal, obviously, others are not, depending on the angle of entry, etc. Plus, in his case, it appears the bullet just grazed him rather than entering the skull.
In the final game of Happy Gilmore, Happy is hit with a car. The only loss he suffers is his ability to hit the long drive; he soon shrugs off his injuries and is able to win the tournament.
This works absurdly well in John Woo film Heroes Shed No Tears . One of the main characters, Big Dog gets stabbed in the leg with a spear at one point, but walks fine in the next scene. Similarly, Chin gets shot in the chest, then apparently hung up by his eyelids (or something of a kind), yet still lives.
Done to the point of absurdity in the climax of Hot Fuzz, where nobody was killed by the massive gun battle the heroes embark on—except maybe for the guy who triggered the sea mine, but that was a case of Karmic Death. This in itself may be part of the film's blatant but loving parody.
Parodied in the Hot Shots! franchise with Lloyd Bridges' character, "Tug" Benson. He's an old military man who's taken so many flesh wounds that he's practically artificial.
Admiral Benson: Didn't see ya there. My eyes are ceramic. Caught a bazooka round at Little Big Horn. Or was it Okinawa? The one without the Indians.
Admiral Benson: I don't have a clue what you're talkin' about, Phil. Not a fucking clue. I have a shell the size of a fist in my head. Pork Chop Hill. The only way I can make this goddamn toupee to stay on is by magnetizing the entire upper left quadrant of my skull, so you just go ahead and do what you do.
I'm Gonna Git You Sucka pushes this line to the limit, as one of the heroes leaves for the final confrontation with more pistols than any sane being would take ("You can never have too many guns,") then promptly trips, falls on the ground, and shakes as an unknown amount of his guns go off. After a quick check, one of the other heroes declares, "They're all flesh wounds," and they walk off.
Spoofed a bit in Die Another Day. In a simulated hostage situation Bond shoots M's shoulder as a diversion to shoot her hostage taker. When Q comes in saying something like "You just shot your superior, Bond!" 007 answers with the trope. Funny in that Q is Monty Python's John Cleese (who played the Black Knight referred to above).
Skyfall: Unique inversion in a Bond film, since multiple people are suffering from bullet "flesh wounds" that don't go away in the next scene. James Bond's shoulder wound from the failed Turkey mission months before the bulk of the movie gives him trouble aiming his gun, hanging on to a lift, and affects his mental performance. Mallory's arm wound from the inquiry persists till after the movie ends. M meets an ignominious end, slowly bleeding to death from a stray bullet wound.
Although it seems to be played rather straight with his other wound that he sustained in Turkey: he doesn’t even slow down after he’s shot somewhere in the right side of the chest.
In Last Action Hero, a character who's been realistically shot and is dying is relocated into the movie universe where, as Danny notes, "that'd just be a flesh wound" and not anything to worry about. The instant the victim swaps realities, a doctor scoffs at the flesh wound and he's healthy again.
Boromir in The Fellowship of the Ringgets hit by three arrows near the end of the movie. Granted, the wounds were eventually fatal, but he fights orcs for a good few minutes after, and survives long enough afterwards for Aragorn to kill his killer and then give a death speech.
Adrenaline is something. After he takes an arrow to his shoulder, the corresponding arm is more or less useless.
The fact that he's shot with arrows is important. Because the arrow fills the entire wound, there is, initially, very little bleeding so it takes quite a while to bleed out. Being shot with bullets often kills much faster because the wound is open and can bleed much more freely.
Completely averted in the Mad Max films. The director, George Miller, was a practicing emergency medicine doctor and made sure the wounds that Max received were treated realistically. Example: he gets shot in the leg near the end of the first movie, and for the rest of the series he walks with a noticeable limp.
Not merely a limp. He's shot in the knee, and after that point he's clearly able to walk only because he wears a highly visible brace to keep the leg from collapsing. There are shots in each of the later films that highlight the brace for viewers who haven't seen the first film.
Completely averted in For The Boys. Seemingly healthy soldiers die from complications, to the shock of Dixie and Leonard. And despite being a good 30 feet (at least) from a shell explosion, Dixie's son is killed by what in most action films would be considered minor shrapnel. (Especially since he continues to walk in shock, and collapses a few minutes after being struck.)
In The Man Who Knew Too Much, the heroine's scream messes up the assassin's aim, and he ends up shooting the prime minister in the arm instead of the heart. One of the other characters then uses almost this exact phrase to let people know that the prime minister won't die.
This trope is named after the famous sketch of Arthur's confrontation with the Black Knight in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Even after having his limbs consecutively severed by Arthur, the Black Knight downplays his obvious injuries and attempts to fight. It's something of a subversion, since Arthur clearly intended to end the fight without killing the knight, but the profuse bleeding clearly indicates he's bleeding out, but the knight's reactions are completely incongruous (which is the joke, of course).
It is likely, however, that the Pythons stole it from The Goon Show, which they have freely confessed to being influenced by; the line appears in an episode of the show entitled The Giant Bombardon.
It's older than that. In the Li'l Abner comic within a comic, police detective Fearless Fosdick would regularly come out of shootouts looking like Swiss cheese, and declare "It's only a flesh wound."
In Mr. & Mrs. Smith, John Smith is stabbed in the leg with a very large knife. He grimaces in pain and the wound doesn't bother him any more after that.
In The Naked Gun, Nordberg is shot up badly and ends up in the hospital. While he does spend the film recovering, Frank Drebin points out that luckily "the bullets missed every major organ", and indeed Nordberg is back in the next movie, none the worse for wear.
Averted in No Country for Old Men. Chigurh is shot in the leg and its clearly a very serious, nasty-looking wound. His complete indifference to its seriousness is merely a part of his character and clearly something no one else would have.
127 Hours, as pointed out below in the Real Life examples.
The finale of Ong Bak sees Tony Jaa's character get shot in the shoulder with a pistol by the Big Bad at near point-blank range, but remains spry enough to vault off a piece of scenery and deliver dual-downward-knees to The Dragonhard enough to break through the piece of scaffolding they're standing on. This isTony Jaa.
In the climactic battle of The Patriot, Benjamin Martin shoots Colonel Tavington in the left shoulder and the audience is treated to a slow-motion spray of blood out of the wound. Worse, bullets back then were softer, so they were likely to break apart in the body. It would have torn his shoulder to ribbons from within. Tavington just shrugs it off and almost beats Martin in hand-to-hand combat.
A Running Gag in Pineapple Express has Red seemingly die multiple times throughout the film, only to wake up and carry on with only minor discomfort and some crude bandages. In the end, after one final fakeout, the heroes agree that they really ought to get him to a hospital.
In Predator, Jesse Ventura's character got shot while raiding the guerrilla camp, leading to his incredibly awesome response "I ain't got time to bleed".
Dutch is also wounded by gun shrapnel from his M16 when it's struck by the Predator's plasmacaster. As in Commando the impairment to the arm is only temporary, later allowing Dutch to make and use a longbow.
Averted in The Proposition: Charlie gets a spear through the shoulder ("How extraordinarily quaint!"), and spends several days in the care of a very talented healer before he can move, and he's crippled for the rest of the movie.
In 2008's Rambo, the title character is shot through the shoulder with a round from a large machine gun mounted on a nearby boat. He yells in pain, drops to the ground, then sees a truckload of soldiers coming towards him. He jumps back up, uses the machine gun he was mounting to shoot down trees and liquefy the soldiers, then continues mowing down more enemies. After the final confrontation, he simply frowns while holding his injured shoulder (which is really huge, thanks to Sylvester Stallone taking human growth hormone at the time of filming)
In Rambo III, our hero had a chunk of debris embedded in his abdomen after an explosion and (after pulling it out) cauterized the wound by dumping the propellant from a large bullet into it and setting it on fire. Given that he was climbing mountains the next day, nothing John Rambo does can surprise me.
Subverted in a Harrison Ford film, Regarding Henry. The title character is shot twice during a robbery, once in the shoulder and once in the head. It is later explained to him that the fact he was shot in the shoulder first probably saved his life by reducing the blood pressure in his head. The lower blood pressure then prevented him from bleeding to death before he could get to a hospital. What's more, it's the wound to his shoulder that caused the brain damage, because it prevented oxygen from reaching his brain.
Return of the Jedi. Throughout the trilogy we see armies of Mooks getting blown away from a single blaster bolt. Leia takes one smack in the arm and grits out, "It's not bad." She then blasts two Stormtroopers.
Averted in the 1991 film Rush, Raynor is shot in the thigh and bleeds out through his femoral artery long before help can arrive.
In the closing fight scene of Serenity, Mal gets a sword through the gut, then (after fighting for a moment with it still stuck there!) pulls it out again. And after that, he seems to suffer no ill effects. During the opening robbery scene, Mal and the vault guard are discussing where the guard could be shot to make it look like he resisted, but keeping the risk of serious injury minimal.
Double-subverted in Seven Psychopaths. When Charlie arrives to reclaim his dog, he makes a show of being unarmed. Billy shoots him in the spine, and then is disgusted to find he was unarmed (save for a flare gun). For the next few minutes, Charlie's paralyzed and helpless, unable to move his legs... until Marty helps him back to his car. Then he's back to normal, revealing that Billy only clipped him ("Just a flesh wound, kid"), and grabs a gun from his glove compartment, as this is when the film hits the Decon-Recon Switch.
In The Sixth Sense: Subverting this is essential to the movie's big twist, although it isn't obvious when it happens. When an action-movie star like Bruce Willis gets shot, you just assume that it's just going to be a flesh wound... to the point where when it turns out he actually dies of it, it's a twist.
Happens twice in Sleepy Hollow. The first time, Ichabod is stabbed in the right shoulder, which is handwaved by the blade in question being supernaturally (and undetectably) hot, and thus it instantly cauterized the wound. The second time it happens, no supernatural entities are involved. He manages to take a bullet to the shoulder and hardly worries about it the rest of the movie.
At first seemingly avoided in the film Speed. Jeff Daniels' character is shot in the leg near the beginning; he carries a cane and walks with a limp for the rest of the movie. Later, he somehow manages to dress in SWAT gear and enter a house with a team.
A particularly ridiculous example comes from Starship Troopers. Carmen, the hero's girlfriend, suffers an alien pincer attack which impales her directly through the ball-and-socket joint in her shoulder. Yet she has no trouble handling a weapon with the afflicted arm. And she suffers very little blood loss. And she's able to Outrun the Fireball at the end of the movie. And happily skip away from the final scene as if she had completely forgotten about the gaping wound in her shoulder.
In Taken, Brian disarms a corrupt cop before casually shooting the man's wife in the arm to demonstrate how serious he is about recovering his kidnapped daughter.
Brian: It's a flesh wound. But if you don't get me what I need, the last thing you'll see before I make your children orphans is the bullet I put between her eyes.
In the original The Terminator Kyle Reese takes quite a pounding before going down.
Then, in Terminator 2: Judgment Day, John Connor makes the T-800 promise not to kill anyone anymore. The T-800 from that moment on only shoots people in the legs to cause incapacitating but non-fatal flesh wounds. Hand Waved by the T-800 later explaining that it has detailed files on human anatomy in its memory.
Sarah Connor is shot in the leg (and loses a lot of blood) and impaled in the shoulder. While the shoulder wound does realistically cripple the arm, the leg wound only makes her limp a little. This is ignoring the fact that the wounds plus blood loss should be sending her into shock.
In Terminator Salvation, John Connor gets impaled through his chest with a blunt object and stays conscious and talking. Later we learn that this did massive mechanical damage to his heart, and he has an impromptu heart transplant in a field hospital, and appears to recover instantly.
¡Three Amigos!: Steve Martin's character gets shot in the arm which doesn't bother him any more after that.
Three Kings plays with this trope. Two of the good guys get shot, one in the gut and the other in the shoulder. The one with the gut wound survives, the other does not. Not only is it directly called out in the beginning of the movie, but the fatal effects of such a wound on one's organs are explained at length, with a very detailed visual aid. That exact scenario (with the same level of visual detail) plays out when the wound is actually inflicted later. The guy with the gut wound survives thanks to a mixture of on-the-spot and later treatment. The other guy was dead within the minute from septic poisoning.
In the final fight of The Three Musketeers (2011), D'Artagnan is cut several times with a rapier across his limbs, at one point even gripping onto his enemy's blade and slicing his hand open across the full length, but afterwards requires no bandages or let alone a limp, with the wounds resembling minor papercuts.
In the 2010 version of True Grit, LaBoeuf is shot straight through the shoulder but is unhindered by it for the rest of the film. The only reason we even remember him getting shot are the bloodless holes on the front and back of his coat.
Both played straight and subverted in 28 Days Later, when the protagonist is shot in a vital area but seems to be able to survive with minimal health care from a non-qualified woman and a girl. The aversion comes from the original ending where the protagonist dies.
In 28 Weeks Later, Scarlet, one of the main group of survivors, gets shot in the leg and says "it's only a flesh wound". Although she uses the phrase, this may qualify as an aversion, since we don't get to see if the wound would kill her or the like. She does walk with a limp for the rest of the movie.
Averted in Welcome to the Punch (2013). The Cowboy Cop protagonist Max Lewinsky is shot in the knee by the Villain Protagonist Jacob Sternwood. Three years later Max is shown with a nasty surgical scar, draining fluid from his knee with a syringe. He walks with a limp, is affected psychologically, and his injury works against him when running or fighting.
Douglas from Where the Wild Things Are gets his entire arm ripped off. Ironically, he's the only one who doesn't react that strongly to it.
The film Rush depicts an example from real life, where Formula One driver Niki Lauda crashed and was caught in his burning car for over a minute, suffering severe burns and inhaling toxic fumes, and returned to the tracks after only six weeks. When he first arrived to the hospital he wasn't expected to survive at all, and Last Rites were administered by a priest.
Averted in Erich Maria Remarque's All Quiet on the Western Front. A character dies from a leg injury; another is hit by a shrapnel on his hip, and quickly bleeds to death.
Averted in Animorphs because of the Phlebotinum of the morphing ability. Marco does once go into shock, after his dolphin body is sliced in two, but the others are able to coax him to demorph in time to save himself.
Regularly averted in A Song of Ice and Fire, where minor wounds routinely become infected and either kill the person who suffered them or become a major issue, regardless of how badass the wounded person is. This carries over to the television adaption Game of Thrones as well, most notably with Khal Drogo's death from a minor scratch, and a scene where Yoren holds a knife to the leg of a City Watch officer and informs the man of how quickly he'll die if Yoren goes ahead and nicks the artery his knife is resting on.
Subverted in the novel Tandia by Bryce Courtenay. One of the protagonists, Pee Kay is shot in the shoulder and is able to put the arm in a sling and stop the bleeding and seems to be okay. However when he tries to climb up a mountain side to escape the shooter, the wounds begin to bleed again profusely and the pain becomes so unbearable that he collapses and soon after dies from blood loss.
Averted in "The Hunger Games". One of the characters is cut in the leg, but this actually becomes a life-threatening injury.
Subverted in A World Gone Mad. After Griffin's partner is able to continue fighting normally for more than half an hour after being shot a couple times in the arm and once in the leg (with an assault rifle), Griffin walks up behind him and empties his pistol into the back of the guy's head as his failure to respond negatively to bullets suggests that he's not human. Then again, the author hedges his bets with regards to this trope since it's never clearly indicated whether Griffin was right, and one of the major plot points is that his Jack Bauer methods occasionally results in false positives.
Averted in Battleground, by W.E.B. Griffin:
Major Jake Dillon:"I'm not going to show them movies of dead Marines. I'm going to find me a couple, maybe three, four, good-looking Marines who get themselves lightly wounded, like in the movies, a shoulder wound..."
Major Jack Stecker:"A shoulder wound is one of the worst kinds, nearly as bad as the belly, you know that."
Dillon:"I know that, you know that, civilians don't know that."
Partially justified in some Ciaphas Cain books: most people don't bleed to death from a shot in a "non-lethal" area because the heat of the laser almost immediately cauterises the wound.
Subverted in Michael Connelly's City of Bones, a cop wants to know what it's like to get shot, so she shoots herself in the shoulder while apprehending a suspect, and ends up dying from her wound within minutes. It is an interesting case because she does it after hearing from Bosch that he was shot in his shoulder and survived, though he was hospitalized, averting the trope.
Subverted heavily in David Benioff's City of Thieves, in which a potentially humorous injury ends up causing the death of a major character. The handsome Russian soldier, Kolya, is shot in the buttocks by friendly fire. At first the situation seems mildly funny ("You know how much shit I'm going to get from my battalion? Shot in the ass by fucking amateurs straight off the assembly line!"), and Kolya tries to downplay the injury, but this seriousness sets in when it's clear just how much blood he's losing. As Kolya says, just before he dies: "not quite the way I pictured it."
Dave Barry's Guide To Guys has this anecdote about the co-founder of the World Famous Lawn Rangers Precision Lawnmower Drill Team of Arcola, Illinois and his manly attitude toward serious personal injury:
But my immediate anecdote concerns Ranger co-founder co-founder Ted Shields, who was with some other Ranger on a fishing trip off the coast of Louisiana when he came down wrong on his ankle and broke it. Naturally he told everybody it was just a sprain. Guys always say it's "just a sprain," because this way they can avoid falling into the clutches of medical care. A guy could have one major limb lying on the ground a full ten feet from the rest of his body, and he'd claim it was "just a sprain." So, although Ted's ankle was painful and swelling rapidly and turning some nonstandard colors, Ted chose to remain on the boat and treat the injury himself.
'There's no need,' said Vetinari, trying to smile and stand up. 'It's just a flesh-'
The leg collapsed under him.
Subverted further in that future books have Vetinari walking with a cane.
Inverted in False Gods where Horus isn't dying from being impaled through his chest on a piece of crashed starship, but rather from a comparatively minor stab wound to his shoulder that his superhuman healing factor should have handled independently. The shoulder wound came from an anathame, so it's supernaturally resisting said healing factor.
Subverted in Fool Moon, when Dresden is shot in the shoulder. The werewolf notes that he was shot in the shoulder instead of the leg, and that the only advantage in this is that he can still run. He bleeds severely until finally passing out from blood loss. When he wakes and finds that the werewolf has dressed his wound, she notes that he was very lucky that the bullet passed right through muscle while missing both the bone and artery. The injury troubles him for the remainder of the book.
Also defied in Turn Coat. On the third time Harry shows up to find Molly, Mouse, and Morgan in a Mexican Standoff, he finds that Mouse had been wounded with a small caliber pistol Morgan had somehow hidden from him, taking the bullet for Molly. Harry's companion (can't recall if it was Murphy or Butters) says that Morgan using such a small caliber meant he didn't really mean to kill Molly with the shot. Harry immediately shoots this down, saying the only reason he used a small gun was because it was the only one he had on him, and he was certainly shooting to kill.
The second book of The Millennium Trilogy, The Girl Who Played With Fire, had Lisbeth Salander shot three times: in the leg, in the shoulder and in the head, then Buried Alive. She manages to crawl her way out of the grave and hit Zalachenko, who shot her with the axe twice before finally collapsing unconscious. She lives because the bullets were low-caliber, she was found soon afterwards by Blomkvist, who taped over her wounds and she was operated on by one of the best surgeons in Sweden. However, it still takes her several months to recover, and the wound in the shoulder gets severely infected a week after the act.
This trope shows up - of all places - in Georgette Heyer's classic regency romance The Grand Sophy. Sophy's friend is worried that her cousin might challenge him to a duel, so Sophy shoots him in the arm, then bandages him up. It's only a flesh wound, and blood poisoning isn't even mentioned.
Heroes getting shot in the shoulder is also a recurring plot point throughout her novels.
Ayatani Zweil: Flesh wound? Flesh wound? They're all flesh wounds! No one ever says "Ooh look! I've just been shot in the bones, but it missed my flesh completely!"
Necrons do, with the exception of the Flayed Ones: rounds might not hit THEIR flesh, but they’ll still go through someone's dead flesh that they wear over the metal to intimidate their enemies.
In the Chris Ryan novel "The Increment", Ryan describes a tactic supposedly used by UK forces in Northern Ireland (and by the SAS's elite assassination squad, "the Increment", when killing a Bosnian war criminal in the novel) called a "fight-back", in a suspect is assasinated in cold blood, but in such a way as to make it seem like they resisted capture and had to be killed. This involved not only barring any "clean" shots to the suspect's heart, with them having to be allowed to bleed to death from leg wounds and chest wounds (averting the trope), but also requires the "clipping" of an Increment team member with a deliberate flesh wound to the calf by his own side after the mission, in order to make it appear that the suspect fired back and resisted (perhaps playing the trope straight, though given Ryan's military background, this may be Truth in Fiction for all we know)
Averted in Infinite Jest, when the largest, most physically imposing character in the story is shot in the shoulder and has to be hospitalized.
In the Star WarsX-Wing novel Isard's Revenge'', Corran Horn is grazed by a blastershot from behind him. Though only a graze, it has enough force to ragdoll him to the floor and make his body seriously unhappy with the current state of affairs. Even as he berates himself for carelessness, he mentally insults the guy that had plenty of time to aim a proper shot at his back and very nearly missed him entirely.
Averted in Ellis Peters' George Felse novel The Knocker on Death's Door. One character is shot through the shoulder in the final showdown with the murderer. He is rushed to hospital, and one of the surgeons spends most of the night getting the bullet "out of the wreckage of his left shoulder". He's expected to be in hospital (and later, physical therapy) for months afterward, but to make at least an 80 percent recovery eventually.
In Zane Grey's novel, The Last Trail, Jonathan Zane gets one of these in the shoulder. Somewhat averted—at least he falls unconscious—but is soon up and about. Blood loss doesn't seem to be a problem.
A particularly ridiculous case is when D'Artagnan firstly lightly wounds an opponent in the duel three times in unspecified spots, then rams the sword into his belly. All the opponent does is closes his eyes, and D’Artagnan proceeds to tie his unconscious body up and leaves him expecting him to survive and he does!
Annoyingly played straight in Mastiff, the third Provost's Dog book. After many, many books where the protagonists are forced to spend a realistic time recovering, Beka cheerfully throws off concussions, broken bones, and torture. (At least partially Justified by the fact that their party now contains a highly skilled mage who knows healing magic, admittedly.)
In the Tom Clancy novel Patriot Games, Jack Ryan is caught up in an assassination attempt on a member of the Royal Family, in the process getting shot in the shoulder. Clancy both averts and lampshades this trope in the book: Ryan nearly dies from the shoulder wound during the attack, and takes several weeks in the hospital to recover, with several more weeks of wearing a cast before he can use it again. Later novels mention that he still has some reduced mobility in that shoulder, years after the event. During his stay in the hospital, Ryan ponders how the heroes in fiction always seem to recover from a shoulder injury by the end of the show or novel or whatever.
Nelson DeMille's "Plum Island", wherein the antagonist is slashed through the abdomen, allowing his guts to spill out. This gives the protagonist enough time to pull some of the guts, place them on the antagonist's face and quip "Your guts." Later on we find out that the antagonist survived and is on trial. Nelson DeMille fails to understand things such as blood loss, infection (as this happens in a dark, underground, abandoned barrack near a disease research facility), the excruciating pain that would have caused the antagonist to pass out immediately.
Averted yet somewhat handwaved in Charlie Brooks' novel Reality Check. Multiple characters get shot, with all of them being fatal except for one. The one exception comes when Greg Crispin, the novel's protagonist, is shot in the leg. He passes out from blood loss, but is soon up and walking again thanks to some futuristic medical attention.
Actually, late in the story, Crispin shoots Mannus repeatedly without killing him, although it is suggested that medical attention arrives before he dies of blood loss.
Averted in Septimus Heap, when the Boggart is shot in the belly he only barely gets back to Keeper's hut and survives.
In the Sherlock Holmes stories, Dr. Watson's injury in Afghanistan is depicted accurately, as a contrast. He is slightly crippled for life, and is very weakened immediately afterward; the "bullet" he was hit with was probably a mixture of nails and other scrap metal, even a "minor" injury from which could easily result in an amputated limb or death from infection... His creator was actually a doctor, which likely helped. The fact that the wound randomly moves from his shoulder to his leg doesn't help though — continuity wasn't Arthur Conan Doyle's strong suit, unless it’s interpreted as Watson getting shot "twice".
Subverted in ''The Subtle Knife'', in which a character tries to inflict a non-fatal leg injury on his enemy only to nick an artery and end up killing him anyway.
Tarzan's injuries tend to be treated this way. Notably in The Return of Tarzan he takes two shots to the shoulder and side during a duel and just stands there.
In The Three Musketeers, wounds are usually enough of a problem to still hurt people after several weeks (D'Artagnan ramming Athos in his already-injured shoulder in a Crash into Hello is the base for the duel that ends up sealing their friendship), but some injuries to D'Artagnan definitely fall in this category and are Hand Waved away by claiming that they closed very quickly due to the weapon used. Since all the protagonists like to put on a Made of Iron persona, they still occur to shrug off stab wounds to in-universe spectators.
Lampshaded in Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis: Orual sticks a dagger clean through her own arm to blackmail her sister and does not suffer permanent harm—but gives us an aside in her narration saying that if she had known then what she knows now about the inside of an arm, she might not have dared to do it, implying that she was extremely lucky.
A lot in Warrior Cats, mainly because their way of life essentially revolves around fighting, and everytime a fight breaks out, everyone ends up bleeding from at least one gash. It's justified because we assume they're used to it.
Averted in The Wheel of Time: Over the course of the story Rand and Perrin get impaled in the side by a Trolloc arrow and Ishamael's fighting staff respectively. Tinkers treat Perrin's wound provisionally but still the ride to safety the next day very nearly kills him. He wouldn't even have survived the day if not for Aes Sedai Healing. Rand passes out upon being wounded and only survives long enough to be Healed because the wound is cauterized immediately. Even so it takes five days before he even regains consciousness...
In Keith Laumer's Worlds Of The Imperium, the alternate-world "Toth Convention" for duelists has the object of not killing the opponent, but inflicting painful (and humiliating) wounds. The hero subverts this by dropping his gun and punching the opponent out.
Played bizarrely in Tyrannosaur Canyon, when a character is shot in the head and comes away just fine. The bullet skimmed his skull and may have caused a concussion, but that's it.
Live Action TV
Subverted in the short-lived Series/10-8: Deputy Amonte intentionally shoots a suspect in the leg and is immediately chewed out by his experienced partner Barnes - deadly force is in play once guns are drawn, and aiming anywhere other than center-mass with intent to kill is dangerously irresponsible.
Averted by the Babylon 5 episode Grail, where the grail seeker is killed by a bullet to the shoulder, and the episode The Quality of Mercy, in which the killer must seek medical attention for his arm wound while he is on the run.
Justified in the D-Day episode. During the assault on the guns at Brecourt Manor, Private 'Popeye' Wynn gets a true flesh wound as he is Shot Inthe Ass, and has to make his own way back to HQ to receive treatment. He doesn't appear again standing up until the Arnhem drop, having been recovering in hospital during this time.
Repeated during the Arnhem invasion, where Buck Compton is also shot in the buttocks (lengthwise). He survives and recovers, but has to be dragged off the battlefield (and seems only semi-conscious). One soldier later comments to a replacement that getting "shot in the ass" is an Easy Company tradition.
Handily averted by the 2000s Battlestar Galactica on several occasions, most noticeably with the fallout from Anders shooting Gaeta during the Demetrius mutiny arc, and the subsequent amputation of Gaeta's leg...itself resulting in Gaeta becoming embittered and ready to snap with just one more revelation.
Adama's shooting in the stomach at the end of Season 1 takes several episodes before he's even conscious again. He’s lucky that he survived it at all, as it was at point blank range with a gun designed to penetrate armor plating. He should have had both rounds blow right through him.
This trope is referenced in the 2001 The Bill (which has never suffered this trope, the one time where a wound is referred to as "a flesh wound" - in the 2005 Live Episode - the PC still has to go to hospital) episode "Gun Crazy". A character, who has just been shot in the leg by an AK-47 is being taken to hospital. DCI Meadows says to DS McAllister, "He says it's only a flesh wound. There's someone who's been watching too many dodgy videos." (Maybe he'd been watching Monty Python and the Holy Grail.)
Averted in Breaking Bad, which depicts Hank's long, painful hospitalization and recuperation from a gunshot over the course of multiple seasons.
Mostly averted in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel where, except for Giles' ability to be repeatedly knocked unconscious without ill effect, people who are injured will be hospitalized and are frequently shown recovering in later episodes. Even vampires, who can recover from anything that doesn't kill them outright, are seen having to heal from their injuries (Spike in the wheelchair, Drusilla after she had been tortured by an angry inquisitor). Played straight a couple of times, for example in the finale, where Buffy is impaled with a sword and shrugs it off, and Giles when he's stabbed in the side with a lance by one of the Knights of Byzantium. He appears near death during most of "Spiral", but is up and fighting the next day.
In the Burn Notice season one finale, Mike manages to shoot the bad guy in the stomach with his own gun. He mentions that if the gun uses normal bullets, he might make it. If they're hollow points..."I wouldn't make any plans."
Earlier in the series, he manages to get an assassin with roughly the same type of wound. The killer manages to get out of his house and dies later.
A later episode has Agent Bly get shot in the shoulder during a bank robbery, and is played fairly realistically; Bly is shown to be in danger of bleeding to death, and though he manages to disable two of the bank robbers later, he uses his other arm. He has his arm in a sling at the end of the episode.
In the series pilot, Michael finally deals with an annoying drug pusher by ambushing him and shooting him in the leg. He hands him some bandages and says if he binds the wound and calls an ambulance immediately, he stands a good chance of survival. The pusher is writhing on the floor in pain and obviously is unable to do much of anything but comply. He's fine the next time we see him, a month or two later.
Mike Batman GambitsThe Dragon of one of the marks into shooting his boss. He gives more or less the same "get to a hospital speech". As he's leaving, he says quietly to the client that he was lying; the bad guy is going to die.
During one of the season 4 episodes Jesse is forced to shoot a guard who had Micheal in a death grip and in the process it hits Micheal in the shoulder. Micheal realistically bleeds out within a few minutes and loses consciousness and later on takes several weeks to heal from the wound in a hospital.
Spoofed on Chappelle's Show. One of the sketches was mock ESPN coverage of guys shooting dice in an alley, interrupted by gang members robbing them. When Dave's character talks back, the gangster shoots him in the leg. The "analysts" replay the shooting in slow motion with a football-style telestrator and comment "Smart play by the young man, shooting him below the waist, that is not attempted murder. This man knows the law."
Averted in Cold Case, where Lt. Jeffries is shot twice at the beginning of an episode, spends the entire episode until the end in a hospital, and as of two episodes later, is still using a cane to get around and is under doctor's orders to take it easy.
Heavily averted in Criminal Minds, where during one episode early in the fifth season, Dr. Reid takes a bullet in the leg. Although the wound is not immediately life-threatening, he needs medical care, and is still using a cane many episodes later.
Written-In Infirmity. Matthew Gray Gubler hurt his leg in Real Life, so there really was no option other than a realistic healing time frame. On the other hand, there are many times when the characters are on the brink of death. Most of the time they spend at least half an episode unconscious in the hospital. Another episode is dedicated to their recovery. They may still suffer some trauma but for the most part can return to work afterward typically with some pain but more often than not the focus is on the psychological damage. For the record, their "flesh wounds" typically involve near-fatal gunshots/stab wounds to the stomach, shoulder, or in Hotch's case all over his chest. Considerably worse than a bullet to the leg.
With regards to Hotch, in that case he was stabbed repeatedly at the beginning or season 5 (as it happens, the very same episode Reid gets shot in the leg), but is back to work in the following episode (though not yet fully recovered). But this is Subverted all the way in season 9, when Hotch suddenly collapses and it turns out to be because those same old stab injuries have ruptured again.
The man who stabbed him was a Serial Killer who had stabbed himself repeatedly years before in order to (successfully) throw the police off his tail by pretending to be the only survivor of his own killing spree. He specifically tells Hotch that he is going to avoid hitting any major internal organs because he doesn't want him to die yet, and he considers himself an "expert" on the subject- based on the evidence, he is.
Unlike the other CSI shows, CSI NY mostly averted it. The one character who's been shot (to date) is Danny, and he spent several months paralyzed before getting back on his feet. There was still a bit of Hollywood Healing involved, though, as he recovered a bit fast.
A truly ludicrous example shows up in CSI: Miami: In one episode, Delko is shot in the head with a nail gun. In the very next episode, stated to be some six weeks later, he is back at work with a shaved head and some minor memory problems.
In an episode of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation there was a man selling illegally converted full-auto machine guns who accidentally shoots himself in the leg, and bleeds to death almost immediately.
Nick Stokes referred to a man with a GSW to the shoulder as having taken a "John Wayne shot", explaining that the Duke's shootouts often ended with this trope.
A straighter version in "Willows In The Wind". Catherine was shot in the side, but kept on going, just getting it cauterized with a curling iron. Doc did take a look at it later, and said she should be on some major antibiotics, but still...
In a episode of Dollhouse, Adelle DeWitt gets shot in the stomach and barely flinches. Later she is being stitched up by Dr. Claire Saunders. Granted, it really does look like a graze but Adelle acts as if it's nothing. At least the doc does tell her that she should go to the hospital.
Unimpairing gut shots seem to be a motif in this show. Agent Ballard gets shot in the stomach in an early Season 1 episode (though admittedly he quickly passes out and takes few episodes to heal fully), and in another, Boyd Langton walks several miles out of the woods after taking a hunting arrow all the way through his abdomen.
Averted in the Farscape arc "Look At The Princess". Braca is threatening John to get him to cooperate, and says that while he can't kill him, he can shoot him in the leg. John points out that as he's human and not Sebacean, doing this will likely cause him to bleed out.
Done straight with Chiana being shot by Durka in "Durka Returns", although slightly justified by her survival being a hasty rewrite so that she could be made a regular character instead of dying as originally intended.
A complex example in The Finder. First, averted, as a rapper is shot in the leg and bleeds to death. Then subverted, as he had asked his brother to shoot him in the leg in order to gain street cred from a flesh wound. Later zig-zagged as it turns out a record exec had put the idea in his head with the intention of him dying.
Subverted in Firefly - Book gets shot in the shoulder in the episode "Safe" and is quite seriously wounded. As a result Simon and River are left to fend for themselves most of the episode leading up to the famous Big Damn Heroes moment at the climax.
Also subverted in the episode "Shindig", where Mal, rather than doing the whole tough-guy "flesh wound" act, stresses to Inara how he was stabbed and that it hurt.
Averted in "Out of Gas", where Mal gets shot in the stomach. He immediately collapsed, but stood up long enough to scare off the guys who shot him, collapsed again, and then dragged himself to the infirmary to inject himself with adrenaline just so he wouldn't pass out before fixing the ship. He is in agonizing pain throughout. He passes out before sending back for the crew anyway, and wakes up some time later with just enough energy to mumble some thanks to the crew for coming back.
In the pilot for Firefly, Kaylee is shot in the stomach and the same doctor emphasizes how critical treating her soon is. Somewhat justified, as she's shot roughly in the middle of her stomach, while Mal's wound is almost in his side, where there are significantly less vital organs to worry about. In addition, Kaylee isn't used to such injury, and quickly starts going into shock.
In the pilot episode, Mal is shot but it actually is just a flesh would as explained in the end when Simon offers to look at it and Mal says "it's just a graze."
In the episode "Train Job" during the fight scene Mal has a knife thrown at him hard enough to stick into his shoulder, he then goes to pull it out and the episode closes with him whining while Simon stitches him up. You even see the scar in the movie during his Shirtless Scene.
Played straight when Book volunteers to help rescue Mal. 'Preacher, don't the Bible have some pretty specific things to say about killing?' 'Quite specific. It is, however, somewhat fuzzier on the subject of kneecaps'.
Surprisingly averted in the otherwise ridiculous Harper's Island when Booth accidentally shoots himself in the leg and dies within minutes.
In the second season episode of Hawaii Five-O, entitled, "All the King's Horses" an ambitious politician arranges for an crack shot assassin to shoot him with a rifle in the upper chest in a fake assassination plot to advance his credentials as a tough anti-crime candidate for a district attorney's job. Supposedly the bullet was aimed at a precise spot where there were no arteries, bones or internal organs to be damaged by its passage through the body, allowing the politician to be the apparent beneficiary of miraculous luck. However, the hydrostatic shock alone from a rifle bullet would be enough to cause a fatal injury, whether it struck anything other than "flesh and muscle" or not.
Subverted in Heroes by Claire Good Thing You Can Heal Bennet, of all people. She gets shot in the shoulder during the eclipse, and it's initially treated as just a flesh wound. However, later on she dies due to the infection, since her immune system is completely undeveloped because of her power. When the eclipse is over, her healing kicks in, resurrecting her.
Horatio Hornblower averts this trope on a regular basis. Firstly, there are many instances of cannon balls blowing off characters' legs and blowing them into smithereens.
In "The Even Chance", the villain Jack Simpson is shot at the duel and wounded in the shoulder. He keeps screaming horribly for a rather long time and it takes even longer until the wound heals. During the second duel of the episode, Horatio is shot in his armpit and his pain is excruciating.
Taken to extremes in an episode of Human Target where a Russian spy shoots her husband in the middle of the chest, "an inch from his heart", to make it look like she's trying to kill him without actually doing any damage. Chance repays the favor a few minutes later by doing the same to her. Both man & wife are shown to be fine in the last scene, although both have one arm in a sling.
On In Plain Sight: Marshall gets shot in the lung, and promptly falls down. He manages to get up long enough to drive the bad guys off, then collapses and is incapacitated for the rest of the episode. He wears a sling for the next few episodes.
And in the Season 2 finale Mary is shot in the gut, arrives at the hospital without a heartbeat, and as the episode closes, it's still not clear if she'll survive.
She does. And She makes a full recovery, though admittedly after a bit of time has passed. One scene during her taking-it-easy period has Marshal cracking a joke about her hobbling after a bad guy who is rather morbidly obese.
Averted in Legend of the Seeker. Richard gets a deep cut in the arm during a sword fight, and it's treated as a fairly serious wound, making him collapse, and needing immediate attention.
Averted on LOST: Sawyer is shot in the shoulder in the last episode of season 1 and spends the first half of season 2 bleeding, in pain, and nearly dying from infection. After that he's OK, but then again, the island has healing powers.
He's pretty spry up until it gets septic. Right after he's shot, the worst he does is faint after ripping the bullet out with his fingers, an act which would have damaged a LOT of blood vessels and probably caused him to bleed to death. Then he goes swimming, tries to fight Eko and Ana Maria, and generally acts like normal, aside from holding his arm close to his body. He does collapse eventually, but not until days later, from infection, after hiking halfway across the island.
More often, LOST typifies the trope. Henry Gale gets shot through the shoulder. Granted, it was an arrow, not a bullet, but it did go all the way through. Michael shoots himself in the shoulder. Next episode he's leading a trek across the island. Sayid gets shot in the bicep in "Enter 77". Next episode he's leading a trek through the jungle. In "The Economist", he’s shot in the shoulder and a scar from the bullet wound (which was in same arm) is not visible.
Generally averted in Merlin, in which relatively minor wounds tend to get infected and become life-threatening when left untreated. Of course, this mainly happens when it suits the writers to leave Arthus out in the cold.
'In 'The Last Dragonlord'', Arthur is dealt a fairly vicious-looking blow from a rampaging dragon. After it is treated, it causes him very little obvious pain and leaves him able to eat, sleep, ride a horse for miles and attack a would-be-burglar. A day later, it turns out he didn’t change the bandage and so is struck with the faints, allowing Merlin to do some serious wizard plot-expo without being overheard.
In the Mission: Impossible episode "Encounter," Casey (Lynda Day George) is shot in the shoulder by an assassin and says she's more surprised than hurt. She refuses any treatment, even a bandage, for the rest of the mission, and yet suffers no significant blood loss or mobility issues and only feels pain when her shoulder is touched.
A variation of this appeared in an episode of My Name Is Earl, when Earl not only got stabbed in the leg by a foot-long knife without losing consciousness, but actually encouraged the girl who stabbed him to do so, claiming that he had been stabbed in the leg before. He did complain about the pain and had to go to the hospital afterwards, though.
Averted in NCIS. In the middle of the first season, the coroner's assistant gets shot in the shoulder. It then becomes a race against time to keep him from bleeding to death. Although he survives due to the doctor's treatment, he has to leave his position to go into physical therapy. We finally see him again in the third season premiere, a year and a half later... and his arm and hand still jitter due to nerve damage.
Another off-island aversion occurs in season 5 when Desmond is shot in the shoulder and nearly dies.
One case on New Tricks had a security guard helped some robbers rob the armored truck he was guarding and had them shoot him in the leg to throw suspicion off him. The leg wound healed fine but the bullet ricocheted and hit him in the back. He is paralyzed from the waist down until doctors are finally able to remove the bullet and he will be a cripple for the rest of his life.
On NUMB3RS, Agent Ian Edgerton seems to "shoot to wound" in most of the episodes he appears in. He is stated to be the third best sniper in the country, and he does tend to shoot at the hand or forearm rather than the shoulder...
Averted in Oz. After getting Shot in the shoulder, Keller is hospitalized for the next few episodes and there are even mentions of him being briefly dead. Similarly in his first few appearances, he still has a cast on his arm from the motorcycle accident in his flashback.
Played straight repeatedly on Person of Interest: Reese is constantly shooting people in the thighs or extremities as a "non-lethal" takedown. Slightly averted when he advises that the people he shoots should get prompt medical attention.
Averted, then played straight on Prison Break when Nick Savrinn got shot in the shoulder. After he got shot, he tried to lift piece of lumber to hit his captor with, but he couldn't because it felt like his arm was ripping out of its socket. He also had to be helped to the escape car because could barely move after the blood loss he suffered. Fast forward to after the hiatus (which was a week max in their time), he's in the courtroom no worse for the wear and his gunshot wound is never mentioned again.
Psych Season 4, Ep 9 involves Shawn texting, using a crow bar to pry open a trunk, running through the woods, sitting around talking through the logistics of a robbery, scooting around on a garage dolly braced on his shoudler and holding onto the hood of a car in a high speed chase, all with a gun shot wound to the shoulder and a magically clean and blood free shirt. He makes it through the whole night and the next day without any medical attention other than a chamois and some duct tape.
Averted in The Sarah Connor Chronicles, very consistently. For example, when a character is shot near the shoulder, the bullet perforates the lung. The treatment for the sucking wound is also shown realistically (tube in a jar of water into the lung). Also, an episode is devoted to the aftermath of Derek being shot in the gut. Finally, When Sarah takes a bullet in the leg, she instantly falls down, and passes out from blood loss within a couple of minutes.
Played straight with the Terminators themselves, who routinely get filled with lead and keep on going. Because, y'know... robots, and all. Terminators have no internal organs whatsoever, but they do have living flesh over a near-indestructible metal combat chassis. Bullets fired at them usually just stop when they hit the metal part and have to be pried out before the flesh can heal over the wound. Therefore, any injuries they suffer are just a flesh wound.
In one 7th Heaven episode, Eric is shot in the shoulder at fairly close range. Aside from complaining to the doctor that it "really hurts," Eric seems to suffer no adverse effects at all. His doctor puts a bandage on it gives him an arm sling, and then sends him home.
Early in The Shield, Vic was shot in the abdomen during one of his "extracurricular activities". He lived, but was shown to be recovering from his wounds for the next five or six episodes.
Spoofed in Jeff Dunham's stand-up Spark Of Insanity. While trying to convince Achmed that he was really dead and just a bunch of bones, Achmed replied that it was "only a flesh wound."
Averted in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine when Nog is shot in the leg by a Jem'Hadar phaser, and ends up losing everything below the knee - (although the fact that he manages to survive long enough for a medevac following the amputation might also be simultaneously playing the trope straight...)
Partly averted in Stargate SG-1, episode "Spirits" - at the start of the episode, O'Neill takes a metal arrow (size of a crossbow bolt) through the bicep. He falls down immediately, and is in significant pain for the rest of the scene (he has to be helped to sit upright, leaning on someone, and while he can talk, he is visibly woozy); a subsequent scene shows him lying in a bed in the infirmary, and he has to skip the mission that SG-1 was going to go on. (Later in the episode, however - either later the same day, or as little as a day later - he is up and walking around, with his arm in a sling, and he is able to participate in the action without much visible discomfort.
(This was a plot device used to allow actor Richard Dean Anderson to bow out of part of the episode so that he could attend the birth of his daughter. So they clearly needed a wound that would fully incapacitate O'Neill temporarily, but would allow him to be moving around later.)
Also averted in the episode "Desperate Measures" - O'Neill is shot with a pistol twice from behind by Simmons; he falls down immediately, and seems to lose consciousness, allowing the bad guys to get away. (He also does not answer attempts to contact him by radio.) By the time Carter finds him, he seems to be just coming around. He was wearing a bullet-proof vest (which he was shown putting on earlier in the episode), which stopped the shot to his torso, but the second shot went through his upper right arm. A later scene shows him in a bed in the infirmary.
Carter: Sir, are you okay?
O'Neill: I've been * shot* , Carter.
Carter: I know. Your vest stopped one of the bullets.
O'Neill: I want sleeves on my vest.
Carter:You're going to be fine. Help's on the way.
O'Neill: I'm not kidding. They should put sleeves on these things.
Also done yet again in "Lockdown" - Jack shoots Daniel (who, unknown to all, is possessed by Anubis) in the shoulder to stop him from escaping through the Stargate, and he passes out almost immediately from the pain. In the next scene, he's still unconscious, and the doctor is reassuring the rest of SG-1 that "he's a lost a lot of blood, but his life is no longer in immediate danger," implying not only that the shoulder wound would have been fatal without treatment, but that there remains a possibility that complications can still do him in.
This trope is played semi-straight however with injuries sustained by the enemy energy weapons. Admittedly the wounds they make are basically large burns, and would cauterize the moment they hit, but a shot to the torso area is usually treated as instant death and the shot often goes right through the person. The main cast however are shot on a regular basis in the shoulders and rarely seem to suffer ill from it. Possible justification again in the cauterization, and in the fact the weapons are purposefully poorly designed for the tech-primitive slaves by their controlling masters, intended for use in putting down equally primitive rebellions. Human weapons are technologically inferior, but the design emphasises killing lots and lots of people very quickly, instead of enslaving them.
In one episode of Stargate Atlantis, Kolya, a villain who was shot in a previous episode, unexpectedly shows up, and Sheppard is surprised that he is still alive. Kolya replies by invoking this trope — "did you actually think a single bullet to the shoulder would kill me? I always thought you were smarter than that..." Realistically, it was perfectly reasonable to expect a single bullet to the shoulder to kill him.
In season 3 of Stargate Atlantis Colonel Sheppard, under the influence of a wraith hallucination device, shoots Rodney in the left shoulder. He then leaves him there and goes into a cave with Teyla, with Rodney lying on the groud bleeding to death from what appears to be a fatal wound. Later, after shutting off the device, we see Carson tending to Rodney, but he's apparently fine, already coherent and complaining about being shot. From a wound that, from all accounts, missed his heart by about four inches. Seriously?
In a season 1 episode, Rodney put on a device that creates an impenetrable personal shield, and he and Sheppard reveal that they tested it by Sheppard shooting Rodney. On the others' looks, Sheppard amends that to "in the leg".
Averted on Star Trek: Enterprise. In the pilot, Archer is shot in the leg, and requires serious medical attention.
Subverted in "United"—the Andorian officer Talas is shot in the shoulder with a human phase rifle. At first, it seems to be a flesh wound and she is taken to Sickbay. It turns out that Andorians can get infected from phaser burns, and Talas dies.
But Played Straight in "North Star"—Archer takes a bullet to the shoulder and can still run and fight.
In the Star Trek: Voyager episode "The Killing Game", Captain Janeway was shot in the thigh by a 1940's-era handgun and still able to run/hobble-at-a-ludicrous-speed.
Played annoyingly straight on Supernatural in more than a few instances—for example, when the possessed sheriff's deputy shoots Dean in the shoulder in the episode where Agent Hendricks has finally caught and arrested the boys, they put pressure on the wound for a little bit (by themselves, with a towel. The cops ignore the fact that one of their prisoners has a life-threatening injury) and then he's fine to do battle with a vast horde of demons not an hour later. Yet, the show is otherwise pretty realistic about bruises, scarring, etc., but gunshot and knife wounds are often treated like minor injuries, only killing people when the plot needs them to.
In one episode, Bela shoots Sam in the shoulder to get Dean to give her something. When Dean freaks out (understandably) she says "I shot him in the shoulder. I know how to aim."
The trope was averted in the short lived Rescue show, Trauma Center. In that series, of all the injuries that happen in the stories, gunshot wounds are always considered a major medical emergency and the paramedics and medical staff characters have to go full bore to save the patient's life.
Generally averted on The Wire. Just in Season 1 - Prez pistol whips a teenager in the projects, who we later learn lost his eye as a result. While robbing the Barksdale crew, Omar Little shoots Sterling in the knee. Sterling limps and uses a cane for subsequent episodes. Omar later shoots Wee-Bey in the leg, who also is seen limping and using a cane for several episodes.
Omar has something of a tendency to shoot for either the knee or ass if one of his targets resists during a holdup. This is done to avoid a potential murder charge while also showing his targets he means business.
In the Torchwood episode "Captain Jack Harkness", Owen is attempting to open the Rift, so Ianto shoots him in the shoulder. Owen opens the Rift anyway, treats the wound himself and mocks Ianto's aim.
He gets shot again in the first episode of season two, with about the same result.
Rhys takes a bullet in the shoulder in the season 2 episode "Meat." While it initially looks like he's pretty bad off, Owen fixes him up pretty quickly and he's pretty much fine, except for having his arm in a sling, by the end of the episode.
Gwen also gets shot in the midriff in Series 1 (Countrycide). Owen lampshades how easily he patched her up with "Could have been a lot worse. You've been bloody lucky, girl." She's up and about ten minutes later, albeit a bit limpy.
Played with in 'Fragments'. Jack actually says "Its just a flesh wound", in reference to the giant hole in his stomach. Suffice to say, early Torchwood are not fooled.
The trope was averted in the short lived Rescue show, Trauma Center. In that series, of all the injuries that happen in the stories, gunshot wounds are always considered a major medical emergency and the paramedics and medical staff characters have to go full bore to save the patient's life.
Used heavily in 24—too many examples to list extensively, most recently Jack shooting Tonytwice in the latest season finale in order to stop him, once in the leg to knock him down and then in the hand to keep him from picking up his gun.
A character in Season 3 is shot at close range in the back of the neck and not only lives, but is out of surgery, conscious, released from the hospital, and back at work a few hours later.
Averted in The West Wing - when President Bartlet is shot, although his wound is relatively minor he's still immediately rushed to hospital and undergoes immediate surgery to determine the extent of the injury. The doctors even note how miraculous it seems that the bullet didn't strike any major organs or do any damage, and he still has to spend several days in hospital and longer to recuperate. Josh Lyman's injuries are more severe - he takes a bullet in the stomach - but a similar principle is present; it's touch and go whether he'll even survive the night, it takes hours of surgery to save his life, and the next episode deals with his gradual, months-long recovery.
Generally averted on The Wire. Just in Season 1 - Prez pistol whips a teenager in the projects, who we later learn lost his eye as a result. While robbing the Barksdale crew, Omar Little shoots Sterling in the knee. Sterling limps and uses a cane for subsequent episodes. Omar later shoots Wee-Bey in the leg, who also is seen limping and using a cane for several episodes.
In "Pine-Bluff Variant", Mulder's pinky finger is broken while he's undercover with a terrorist group. He initially passes out from the pain and Scully later treats it by putting a splint on it. In the next episode his fingers are taped together, thus showing a rare example of injury-related continuity for the show.
In another episode Scully shoots someone in the shoulder, severing the nerve and paralyzing their arm.
Averted in The Musketeers where Porthos is injured in episode 3 and has to be treated immediately to save his life and spends the rest of the episode severely restricted by the wound, even to the end of the episode (where some time is implied to has passed), where he reprimands someone for patting him on the wounded shoulder.
Averted in True Blood. Lafayette is shot in the leg trying to escape from Fangtasia. Later, after Sookie secures his release, he's seen at home, he can barely walk, and he's taking tons of prescription painkillers. Eric makes it explicit that his leg has become infected, and he'll lose it without the Eric's regenerating blood.
Oh, I accidentally shot Daddy last night in the den
I mistook him in the dark for a drug-crazed Nazi again
Now why'd you have to get so mad?
It's just a lousy flesh wound, Dad
You know I'm trigger happy, trigger happy every day
Stand Up Comedy
Eddie Murphy deconstructs this trope in a bit from his club days captured on his eponymous debut album. He tells the audience about having seen a friend get shot, and contrasts how it happens in the movies with all the standard clichés, ("I'll be OK ... go on without me") including the name of this trope with how it happened in real life: his friend screaming endlessly and yelling "Motherfucker, I've been shot!"
In one of ventriloquist Jeff Dunham's concert films, "Spark of Insanity", this comes up when one his puppets, Achmed the Dead Terrorist, explains that he has finished his job as a suicide bomber but insists that he feels fine and is not dead.
Jeff: But you're all bone! Achmed: It's a flesh wound.
Averted in Aces And Eights. There are damage charts detailing four possible damage types: Gunshot, Slashing, Piercing, and Bludgeoning, and effects of different levels of damage inflicted depending on the body part. Typically anything around 7 and higher results either in a broken bone, severe bleeding, or a permanent injury regardless of location.
Dark Heresy's (fairly absurd) Critical Damage tables avert this. It's about as easy to kill someone with a leg shot as one to the torso, and hitting anywhere can often cause blood loss (and resulting death...).
GURPS has an optional "Only a Flesh Wound" rule to deliberately invoke this trope in less-gritty games.
Damage charts in The Riddle of Steel are quite brutal; even glancing blows have the ability to knock out the target, and lower levels of damage still have the ability of tearing a muscle or breaking a bone. All damage dealt also causes the recipient to lose dice in their dice pools, effectively weakening their combat proficiency and further increasing the risk of injury or death.
Witch Hunter: The Invisible World has the "It's Just A Scratch" talent, which allows the user to ignore the penalties from Light and Medium wounds.
Averted in Cyberpunk. Much damage to an extremity will leave it useless, with the extra bonus of a saving throw to survive the shock. Besides this, damage is treated the same way as if you were hit on the torso (not in the head.)
Romeo and Juliet has a very great example of this in the scene where Mercutio loses a duel. He assures his friends that the wound is "nothing but a cat scratch" (playing on the joke that Tybalt shares the same name with "The Prince of Cats" in another story). Mercutio then realizes that he's dying, so he curses Tybalt's family (the Capulets) and Romeo's family (the Montagues) and then dies.
Just about every video game where the player's character has to fight someone, especially shooters. Bullet wounds are treated like nothing until your character runs out of HP and suffers a Critical Existence Failure. It is considered one of the most universally recognized Acceptable Breaks from Reality that make such games playable.
Area51 had especially gruesome death animations for its enemies after a single shot. More often than not, they would have their upper body explode, regardless of where they were shot.
Assassin's Creed invokes this trope when dealing with the main targets. After Altair delivers mortal damage to his targets, he then stabs them in the throat - whereupon every single target goes into a Hannibal Lecture. Granted, they do die within a couple of minutes, but exactly how can you give a (not even remotely rasping) speech immediately after being stabbed in the throat?
Possibly justified by the implication that the Animus is reconstructing memories based on what actually happened, with the player's actions only affecting how they're reached. All the speeches take place in a blue background, and if you press a button when the screen glitches, you see the men walking around as though nothing happened. So it's very possible that the men simply hadn't been stabbed yet when Altair actually encountered them.
Hilariously in Brütal Legend, if a Headbanger unit is set on fire by an enemy fire unit, sometimes they'll say "I don't care, I like being on fire!
The Bushido Blade series for the PlayStation had a "body-damage" system: if you were slashed in the arm, it became useless and your attacks were less effective one-handed. In the first game, you could be crippled in the legs, but this was removed in the sequel since it was no fun spending half the game crawling around trying to wield a katana.
Averted in Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth. In which the character bleeds out, speed and aiming is reduced, color drains from vision, and bullets break bones which in turn slows down movement/ruins aiming(Depending on the limb)
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare subverts this trope. During one scene in which the USMC and SAS are attempting to capture a young Russian man that is vital to their efforts to stop the game's antagonist, a standoff ensues. The commander orders the Russian man to put his weapon down, but the language barrier prevents him from understanding. Frustrated, the commander orders the player to disarm him, but not before Sergeant Griggs, a Marine support gunner, offers to shoot the Russian in the leg. That prompts a quick and sharp reply from the commander: "No, we can't risk it!" Though it makes sense: Griggs normally wields a M249 SAW, and it's likely Griggs would end up putting more than one in his leg, leaving him to die from shock or blood loss.
Played straight in one mission of Modern Warfare 2, where you're trying to capture an associate of Rojas alive to get information from him. A "non-lethal takedown" consists of shooting him in the leg to stop him from running. Justified in that they don't really care about his long-term well-being; all they need out of him is the location of his boss.
Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 has two sections where you have a choice of shooting someone in the head and killing them, or shooting them in a leg or other "non-fatal" area and merely wounding them. Both cases are rather ridiculous given you are using a verylarge gun for the job - either a .50-caliber sniper rifle for Mason, or a shotshell-firing revolver for Briggs. In the latter case, however, you do have the option simply not'' to shoot him, which has the same net result as a non-fatal shot.
Conkers Bad Fur Day and Conker: Live and Reloaded, during the parody of the SPR Omaha battle above.
Averted in most games in the Delta Force series. You can survive three bullet hits maximum, and there are no instant heals.
In Devil May Cry 3, Lady — the only entirely human character in the game — gets stabbed through the thigh with an enormous bayonet. She's still up for a boss fight not long afterward, and then climbs up a building!
Downplayed in Deus Ex. Damage done to the player is seen in a damage readouts display for the various parts of your body. If the player's legs are injured severely, they won't be able to move quickly, and if damaged badly enough will have to crawl along the ground instead. Since JC is a nano-augmented superagent, lack of death from blood loss is understandable: nanites seem capable of stopping bleeding by themselves but require application of medkits, specialized programming from the Regeneratio augment or even energy from ingested food in order to properly reconstruct JC's damaged body.
Played straight, however, in that shooting enemies in the arm often makes them drop their weapons and flee. Shooting exclusively in one limb is lethal, however.
Die By The Sword, a 3rd person swordfighting game cheerfully plays this trope to its fullest with its detailed damage system that tracks the status of individual body segments while also retaining a traditional global HP bar. This makes it possible to lop off bits of characters without them immediately dying, to the point that you can end up with a Pythonesque, armless, one legged knight.
Dino Crisis has a damage system where the protagonist's mobility is impaired the more they are injured, ie broken ribs, limping. In addition, you can start losing blood and eventually bleed to death without treatment.
Averted in Drakan. Don't wanna deal with the scavenger? Hack its arm off and find somewhere to sit so it can't bite you while it's dying.
Doom, being a health-bar-based shooter, plays this straight with tougher enemies and averts with weaker ones: the latter have gruesome, exploding body death animations for grazing shots with small caliber arms.
Dwarf Fortress averts this. It has an absurdly detailed wound mechanism, so it's quite possible to bleed to death from a large wound, to pass out from pain, or to go into shock.
It's also possible for characters to lose arms and legs and continue fighting with their teeth. They can also survive disembowelment, recover from the blood loss, and trail their entrails for the rest of their lives.
Averted in Ever17. We're used to injuries to the legs and arms not being very serious, so when Tsugumi gets stabbed in the leg by a falling pole you might not think it's that serious. However, it's noted that it ought to require months of hospitalization before she can walk again and she nearly dies of blood loss. The fact thatTsugumiis the one hit is kind of important.
Halo'' series justifies the trope: Flood zombies are people whose bodies have been infected by the Flood parasite, to which pain has no meaning. It's possible to shoot off the appendages of Flood, but they'll just either attack you with their remaining limbs or grow tentacles.
The Fallout series has status effects for critical hits, depending on where the character was hit, but the characters do not die until Critical Existence Failure. A hit to the eyes could cause blindness and any of your four limbs can be crippled and require real medical care, not just Stimpaks or rest.
Zig-zagged in Far Cry 2. Your character can absorb dozens of bullets on lowest difficulty, then heal instantly with a painkiller syringe. If you get down to your last 1/5 of health, your health will constantly decrease until you fix yourself up, by removing a ''single'' bullet from some part of your body., not even bandaging the wound in many cases.
Enemies get in on the act too. Bare-chested mercenaries can absorb 5-6 assault rifle bullets to the chest before dying. It’s not unusual to see one go down after 3-4 shots from a weak gun, then get up and continue shooting.
Two examples in Fire Emblem Tellius: First, Micaiah takes a full force knife wound to the upper chest and continues to stand, and only falls down after she tells Pelleas (who was being given euthanasia) not to kill himself. Also, when Deghinsea is defeated, he shrugs his wounds off as nothing, and dies after everyone leaves. But all your units in the series can take so much damage as to be on 1HP, and still fight at full ability.
Subverted in Hakuōki: Chizuru learns that Sannan was injured in battle while away on a mission, and is relieved when she hears that it was only his left arm that was injured. The other captains of the Shinsengumi, however, see nothing to be relieved about, and explain to Chizuru that the injury is more than enough to end Sannan's career as a swordsman.
It doesn't matter where you hit an enemy in Hitman: Blood Money—they still die. In fact, the only body part that receives damage differently is the head; headshots amplify the damage. Further, the game is nice enough to include a slightly squicky animation wherein a wounded character falls to the ground and pitifully rolls around a bit before bleeding out. This can even occur several seconds after being shot.
Averted in the Jagged Alliance games, where you can bleed to death from any unbandaged wound, become considerably less effective after even a minor injury due to stamina (and therefore action point) loss, and can be crippled by permanent stat decrease that remains even after the wound has healed. Healing also requires time and close medical attention - or a couple of weeks of bed rest.
In Mass Effect, shots to the legs will slow down organic enemies and make them stagger. That's the extent of it, though; there's no persistent bleeding, and they don't even fall to the ground. Partially justified with the built-in medical systems in everybody's armor. Also, it can be seen as an Acceptable Break from Reality in a game where enemies have health bars rather than simply dying when shot - if the killing shot is to the leg, enemies will collapse clutching their leg, dying seconds later.
It's also a well-known racial ability of krogan; each of their vital organs have backups, some of those have backups, and their Hyperactive Metabolism draws nutrients from the hump on their back so they can just Walk It Off.
Also averted in Garrus's and Zaeed's loyalty missions - if you don't pick the Paragon interrupt to stop Garrus shooting Harkin, Garrus will shoot him in the leg. Harkin is visibly in pain and unable to move faster than crawling. In Zaeed's loyalty mission, taking the Renegade option results in Zaeed catching Vido, who is already limping from light injuries from an explosion. Again, a leg shot results in the target going down and staying down. In this instance, the shot man even points out that he will die from his wounds in a few moments. He dies, but in a rather nastier way. Zaeed burns him to death in a pool of spent fuel
Max takes a .50 caliber BMG round from a Barrett M107 sniper rifle in his shoulder in Max Payne 3. Keep in mind this is an anti-materiel weapon, meant to be used to disable transport vehicles (not to mention the same kind of rifle that completely severed Zakhaev's arm in Call of Duty 4, which is a not-unrealistic depiction of the power of such a firearm). Max does start to bleed out following the shot so he doesn't escape entirely unscathed but some bandages from Passos and a few painkillers later and he can move and shoot once more (with his bad arm, no less).
Exaggerated in the opening cinematic for Mercenary Kings, where your chosen character survives plenty of usually-fatal injuries, including head wounds.
Metal Gear Solid 2 allows you to shoot soldiers in the limbs to limit their movement/combat ability, but if you take out both arms or both legs, or shoot them repeatedly in the single limb, they die (instantly from arms, from blood loss from legs). Later zig-zagged in one of the series’ biggest Tear Jerkers when Vamp deals Emma a single stab wound to the stomach before being shot by Raiden. Without any means to get her to a hospital immediately, she stays barely conscious before dying 20 minutes later.
Metal Gear Solid 3 has the injury system designed to avert this, but it was hilariously underdeloped. It's entirely possible to treat a bolt wound without removing the bolt itself, and letting the last bit of health damage heal 'naturally', leaving Snake running around with a number of crossbow bolts lodged in his body that cannot be removed.
Averted and played straight in Metal Gear Solid 4. Being a cyborg kind of justifies how Raiden survived cutting of one of his own arms and having the other crushed by getting buried under a battle cruiser. This does not stop him from showing up for the showdown, saving Snake while wielding a katana with his mouth and the ability to use electricity as a weapon, somehow.
Played massively straight when Big Mama gets shot in the chest during the motorcycle chase. Despite being hit by a .300 Win Mag round (a magnum rifle round that can drop a moose with one shot) on her bare chest, she seems to completely ignore it. Also played straight again in their final battle against the FROGs, when Johnny and Meryl each take at least half a dozen bullet wounds but continue fighting until they run out of ammo, completely ignoring the first one or two shots and being completely recoverable at the end.
In Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, your enemies are combat cyborgs, that are specifically designed to be able to continue functioning for at least a week as long as their brain is intact. As such, non-lethal takedowns consist of chopping off the enemy's legs and then running far away enough that they give up on trying to kill you and de-spawn.
Mortal Kombat 9's X-Ray attacks, which let you watch as your blows shatter opponents bones and/or rupture their internal organs, but don't impede their ability to fight once the attack has ended.
Ninja Gaiden II for the Xbox 360 plays this one seriously. Enemies whose arms Ryu has chopped off will assault him with kicks, while those missing legs will crawl up and attempt to kill Ryu with a suicide explosion. There is nothing Narmful about getting suicide-bombed by a Determinator that keeps going after losing his legs.
No More Heroes is well known for the killings of each boss. The first boss, Death Metal, gets his arms cut off while in mid-swing of his giant sword which would get stuck in the ceiling. Death Metal then has time to talk to Travis, but is later decapitated. An even better example would be Bad Girl's death. Travis completely pushed his light saber through her back and twists it. Bad Girl turns around, whacks Travis across the head, and continues to pummel him while on the ground so hard that Travis actually gives up, luckily, Bad Girl dies seconds later on top of Travis. During the second-to-last boss battle, Jeane punches Travis through the heart. Travis doesn't die, or show any pain, and instead is able to land the finishing blows on Jeane.
There’s also Shinobu. Travis, unable to kill a girl at this point, simply cuts off her arm. Granted, he does use a laser katana, so the wound was probably cauterised.
Continued in the sequel. The first boss, Skelter Helter, lives for about a minute after being decapitated by Travis, long enough to give a Hot-Blooded speech to him about revenge, then dies by tearing off his head again. Million Gunman also lives and speaks for some time after Shinobu sliced his head off.
During one of the court phases (either the first or second) of 'Rise from the Ashes' on Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, the prosecution deals what seems to be a crushing blow to the defense's case, after which Ema will quip, "It's merely a flesh wound!" Naturally, it gets better. Later during the same round and after another seemingly crippling point is made, she says it again, with Phoenix even saying, "You just said that!" Again, you pull through even though these points could probably have brought the case down.
Semi-averted around the end of the fourth case in the first game, it's revealed that Manfred Von Karma was shot in the shoulder some time ago, and was still able to shoot Gregory Edgeworth. However, he had to take a few months time of vacation to let the wound heal over the bullet since he didn't undergo surgery in order to not become implicated in the murder.
A more literal example can be seen with Franziska Von Karma in 2-4. During the case she's shot in the shoulder. After several hours in the hospital she seems completely fine, and is even swinging around her signature whip as if nothing had ever happened.
Then in AAI we have Lang in case 5 who takes a bullet to the leg, and then seems to completely forget about it after removing Shih-na from the scene
This trope is subverted in case three of Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney, in which the victim Romein LeTouse is shot in his right shoulder, yet he dies of blood loss hours later.
At the end of the final case of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Dual Destinies , after the Phantom is caught, he's shot by a sniper rifle before he can reveal his identity to the court, yet the sniper hit him in a "non-vital area" and the Phantom was rushed to the hospital quick enough to survive.
Postal 2 zig-zags this trope. For civilians and weaker enemies, being set on fire, having their limbs hacked off, tazed for several seconds, stabbed with a knife, and more will either kill them on the spot or leave them bleeding to death while they run away in terror/crawl on the ground. Stronger enemies, however, can take a fair amount of punishment before these effects kick in, and the player is immune to all of it. Bullet weapons don't have any special effects and any character will stay in perfect condition no matter where they get shot, until their health reaches zero.
Subversion: In PSP game Pursuit Force, falling of a car you are trying to hijack (normally falling off due to being shot repeatedly) will often result in your commander telling you over the radio that "it's just a flesh wound!". Unfortunately, it never is and you always have to restart the mission.
Averted in Saints Row. In the first game, Johnny Gat gets shot in the leg with a shotgun and needs to walk with a leg brace. In the sequel, he gets stabbed in the stomach with a sword and needs to be rushed to a hospital before he bleeds out. He's out of action for the next few missions.
Silent Hill: Homecoming plays this one so straight it'll make you go "Wait, what?" Alex has no trouble walking or running after Judge Hallowayshoves a spinning power drill through his leg. It's Gameplay and Story Segregation at its finest, too, because he limps heavily during a later cutscene.
Subverted in the first two Soldier of Fortune games, where severing an enemy's limb causes instant death, but in the third game, they can sometimes fight back after losing an arm or leg.
In Star Fox 64, the boss of Solar gets both of its arms shot off, and still keeps trying to kill you afterwards despite essentially being a giant flaming bug torso. Even more extreme is the boss of Titania, whose severed bits of arm will float up and reattach to the boss's body if you take too long to kill it after blasting all its extremities off.
Namco's Soul Series, massively. Any of the complicated throws, stabs, etc. would easily kill a normal human being. Yet no matter if the fighters are guillotined, skewered, shish-kebabbed and then dragged across the floor, they stand right back up, unscathed, ready for the next hit. And the game's bloodless. The irony can be summed up by one of Siegfried's victory lines: "I avoided your vitals. You'll live."
Taken to rather horrifying extremes in TheLegendOfSpyro: A New Beginning when fighting the Ice King. As you whittle away his health, you also whittle away his skin... near the end of the battle, his limbs are hardly more than stumps of exposed bone, and he's still able to fight you as well as or even better than before.
Averted in SWAT 4. Taking a round to the shoulder will degrade your already-suspect aim severely. Taking a round to the leg will reduce your movement speed from "leisurely stroll" to "barely above a crawl". On the other hand, you'll never bleed out as a result of being shot, and it's possible (although really not recommended) to convince suspects to give up by taking a leg shot and then shouting at them. Provided they survive the initial wounding, they can be handcuffed and left for several minutes without being any the worse for wear.
In the little-known Fighting GameTime Killers, it is possible to slice the opponent's arms off in the middle of a battle. Its semi-sequel, Bloodstorm, not only retains this but introduces the sunder, which, if performed at the right time, will destroy the opponent's legs. Neither technique stops the fight, and in addition, players will actually be rewarded if they win with missing limbs.
Double subverted in Tomb Raider (2013) when Lara is critically injured when she first goes to Shantytown. She is still able to fight enemies and perform basic movement due to her Determinator status, but when is unable to climb and otherwise do LeParkour. She heals herself with some medicine she finds in a downed aircraft. Otherwise played straight with Lara.
Surt from Treasure of the Rudra loses the lower half of his left arm at the start of Sion's Scenario and returns later with a claw replacing the severed arm.
Taken to extremes in True Crime: Streets of LA. After levelling up your shooting skills, you gain good cop points by shooting criminals in the legs, thereby disabling them to be arrested safely. You gain bad cop points by taking lethal blows to the head or torso. This ability carries over to include the trope Every Car Is a Pinto.
However, that with the Hollow Point Bullet upgrade and with the best pair of pistols available, your shots start doing so much damage that you may end up killing them with shots to the legs anyway.
In Transformers: War for Cybertron, there is a Multiplayer XP award named after this trope, for when you successfully kill another player despite being near death.
In Uncharted 2, Chloe has a buller graze to the shoulder from an AK-47 while rescuing Drake and Sully. She almost completely ignores it, and it barely bleeds.
World of Warcraft has an ability that death knights complain about constantly because of its logic failure. Death Knight ghoul pets can use an ability to "gnaw a limb off the target". It does ridiculously small amounts of damage. One would think that if you got your arm chewed off by a zombie, you'd do a little more than be stunned for 3 seconds and only minimal damage.
Probably the best example in World of Warcraft is a weapon, or a small number of rare weapons, with a random chance to do a substantial amount of extra damage on each hit. Sort of like a critical strike, but not affected by your critical strike chance or any of the usual damage modifiers. Seems normal enough so far, right? But the problem is, the item text describes the effect as follows: "Decapitate the target". One would think that even in a world with magical healing, decapitation would be more... final.
A boss in the 5-man Trial of the Champion is called "Black Knight", and he nonchalantly disregards damage to himself ("My rotting flesh was only getting in the way!") Justified in that he really is undead, and the moment he says it is when he turns into a ghost, who then resumes fighting you.
If it doesn't kill outright, getting hit in X-COM is certainly not just a flesh wound. It will greatly reduce the soldier's fighting abilities depending on where he was hit and he will eventually bleed to death. He won't be fully effective even after stopping the bleeding and will require a long rest in the infirmary upon returning to base.
The best armor you get in the original game is a huge powered flying superthick shell impervious to all damage... wait, what did I say? Yeah, a pistol shot can still kill you (it does make you essentially immune to early human weaponry, but even the weakest alien weapon can kill the by-that-time superhuman soldiers in two shots. And since every shot has a chance to damage the armor, reducing it's effectiveness, it is still possible to get killed by a human pistol). The best way to survive is not to get shot. The best way not to get shot is to shoot (and kill) first. Even with extreme caution, you are likely to get gruesome casualties on the early missions. Once you get armor (the default one is a kevlar vest, which gives you near nil chance of survival if shot), it gets very slightly better - mostly, singular wounds will not be fatal. It still means a few weeks in infirmary though. And you can bleed out if you don't finish the fight soon enough or have medkits.
In the third game, Apocalypse, you start with armor on the level of the power armor from the first game. It means your soldiers rarely die if you're cautious enough. If you don't even have this basic armor, good luck - singular hits are very dangerous again and you are often caught in autofire. So you're comfy in your suit of armor, only giving in to heavy fire or heavy weaponry (rocket launchers and mines tend to mess up your day). Then, the aliens bring devastator cannons - a gun on the level of a human rifle. It just goes right through the armor, often incapacitating or killing with a single hit, possessing deadly accuracy and recharging ammo and autofire. On the other hand, your soldiers heal very quickly (using nanotechnology healing machines) - the worst non-killing injuries just mean a few days of healing. However, since the time scope of the game changed quite a bit since the original game, having realistic (without the nanomachines) healing times would mean you'd have to hire a replacement for the soldier anyway, since there are going to be hundreds of incidents in the time of his healing. Actually, even with this rate of healing you often send wounded soldiers to battle. And when it's base defense time, you sometimes have blood soaked soldiers trying to hold the base, easy to kill with single shots and having their stamina, accuracy etc. severely impaired by their wounds. X-COM is serious about wounds.
Taken to near extremes in Dead Space 2: IssacClarke takes a Javelin spear straight through his palm, dropping his RIG into yellow. And he pulls it out, albeit with some difficulty. But that's not the worst part: he takes a second spear to the upper chest, collapsing his lung, and appearing to narrowly miss his heart. And even though his RIG is in the red with that second spear, he pulls it out, steals the gun, and finishes off his foe with a spear to the throat.
Forcibly played straight in The Adventures of Dr. McNinja. Doc is shot multiple times, passes out, and nearly dies of blood loss. He avoids death by convincing the Grim Reaper that none of his wounds are fatal and missed all his vital organs (and then immediately drags himself back to the clinic for stitches and a quick blood transfusion). When Death mentions his arteries, the good Doctor responds by ripping off his head and batting it away with his body.
Averted in Get Medieval: Asher suffers a shoulder wound and is reduced to talking status for a while.
Averted in It's Walky!: Jason is shot in the arm trying to help Sal escape prison. The wound becomes infected (Since caring for a bullet wound isn't like caring for a shallow cut) and gets steadily worse until he can be convinced to see a doctor.
In the Little Worlds comic named "Breaking In," Derby incredulously asks Eightball, "Aren't you supposed to be SHOT?" to which Eightball replies, "It didn't take." Apparently, a bullet wound ain't no thang.
Averted in River Passage, when a character bled to death from a single stab wound.
This happens to Set in Sonic the Comic – Online!. Tekno tries to murder him, by bashing his head in with a metal bar, and a few issues later he comes back and says that she didn't hit any major organs. He lacks any scars too..
Soul Symphony: John fractures his arm in battle, preventing him from playing basketball for the rest of the season. He says the injury is "totally worth it."
Terrence of KateModern gets shot in the shoulder in "Answers". The pain causes him to pass out almost instantly, but he's up and about, and apparently unimpaired, a couple of days later. He isa former Shadow, though.
In the First season of Red vs. Blue, Sarge receives a bullet wound to the head, and is ressucitated with standard CPR. Later in the early Second season, Caboose's toe is shot off, and is rendered fine after being rubbed with some aloe-vera. In season 3, we come across a group of 'capture the flag' players, who get up after a trumpet is played, even after being shot point blank with a sniper rifle. Even later, it is practice for the Red team to shoot Private Grif before enacting any plans. Regardless, it seems no injury is sufficient to render someone in the series dead indefinitely.
In most cases, this is just Rule of Funny, although sometimes it's played a little more seriously. During Reconstruction, Caboose shoots Agent South Dakota. After a few minutes of battle, they approach her. She says she can't walk on her own, but appears to be perfectly capable of standing (though that's partly due to the limitations of machinima).
Tying in with Made of Iron, Survival of the Fittest often has characters shrug off wounds which, in real life, would be either severely debilitating or outright fatal. Jacob Starr is a good example of this, as he was able to take injury after injury yet just keep on coming.
Averted in the Batman Gotham Knight segment Field Test. A bullet gets deflected off of Batman's new forcefield and into a gang member. What does he do? He rushes the guy at top speed to the ER and upon getting there says he has a gunshot victim with severe bleeding from the left shoulder.
In The Boondocks during a shootout with some Islamic convenience store owners, a police officer gets shot with a shotgun. Ed Wuncler III and the officer then begin quoting Holy Grail, with Ed grieving while the officer insists his bulletproof vest saved him. Then he gets riddled with more bullets. He survives that too.
In the Family Guy episode "Believe it or Not, Joe's Walking on Air" features Joe being shot several times in various parts of his body while his wife attempts to re-cripple him. All he ever does is scream or yell "DAMN IT!!" before asking for the gun so he can properly shoot himself.
Subverted in the later Family Guy episode "Joe's Revenge", in which Joe shoots a criminal in the legs and then says he's going to arrest him. He looks away for a minute and when he turns back, the guy has bled out. "Must've shot a femoral artery." Oops.
Spoofed in Futurama: the Robot Mafia guns down a fellow robot in cold blood. The robot then gets up, and the Donbot tells him that's a warning. (Robots can't bleed to death.)
Zoidberg: Well, if it isn't the hypochondriac. What is it this time?
Fry: My lead pipe hurts a little.
Zoidberg: That's normal. Next patient!
Zoidberg may be basing this on his own species' physiology, which, if "Roswell That Ends Well" is any indication, has several redundant organs. As he is being vivisected by scientists at Area 51, he chummily tells them (referring to his heart), "Take, I've got four of them."
The Gargoyles episode "Deadly Force" is famous (infamous) for treating gunshot wounds in a mature and reasonable manner. The bullet wound that nearly kills a major character is very graphically described to have been to the collar bone, ricocheting off the bone, spiraling through her right lung and nicking the heart muscle. She's furthermore shown undergoing extensive surgery at hospital for the wound and is later seen on crutches as she recovers.
Other episodes of Gargoyles avert this trope while playing it straight. Though the heroes only have to put up with wounds until the sun rises, anything more serious than a graze tends to leave them incapacitated for the rest of the night. It's also implied in the comics, and in "Hunter's Moon," that really nasty wounds will leave them weaker than usual for a time even though they're technically healed.
In G.I. Joe: Renegades, Major Bludd has his right arm bitten off by an alligator in a swamp, only to calmly walk out of the river holding his stump, pausing only long enough to look back and say, "Hope ya choke on it!"
Averted in the Season Two finale of Moral Orel. While drunk, Clay accidently shoots his son Orel in the leg. He is able to stop the bleeding by taking off a piece of Orel's shirt and tying it to his leg. Afterwards, he has to wear a cast over his leg. In the series finale, the cast is finally removed, but Orel walks with a limp for the rest of his life.
On The Penguins of Madagascar, Skipper's wing is badly broken after a fall, but insists that he's fine, and that his flipper is bent like that because he's double-jointed. And he keeps insisting it even as he's in obvious pain while playing volleyball. And arm wrestling. And practicing hi-fiving.
In the first Shrek, Shrek is shot in the ass with an arrow. After Fiona pulls it out, without any other first aid, he's fine. He didn't know it was even there until Fiona pointed it out.
Spoofed on The Simpsons where Homer gets a job at the Kwik-E-Mart and Apu tells him that "in this job, you WILL get shot. Here's a tip: try to take it in the shoulder."
Apu himself is a walking parody/example of this trope. He's been shot seemingly dozens of times over the course of his convenience store career yet has suffered no permanent effects or even scars. In one ep, he is shot yet again, and poetically muses, "Ah, the searing kiss of hot lead! How I've missed you! Wait...I think I'm dying." However, he does survive since the bullet ricocheted on another bullet that was lodged there in a previous robbery.
Apu has numerous scars from his bullet wounds. He actually pulls up his shirt to show them off in one episode, complaining that the Springfield police need more funding so he won't get shot so much on the job.
Homer spoofs it again when he gets himself into a duel with a Southern gentleman. When he's shot in the arm he starts screaming like a stuck pig, but promptly forgets all about it when pie enters the conversation.
Averted in a Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! parody infomercial for the "Tairy Greene Machine". At the start of it, Eric says his hands have been cut badly and has gauze applied. It somehow doesn't help, and the amount of gauze on his hands increases as the sketch continues - by the end, he ends up bleeding to death despite having boxing glove-sized mounds of gauze over his hands.
Arcee: I'm fine, Daniel. It's only an exostructure wound.
Possibly the most famous legend about this trope is that of Grigori Rasputin, a Russian mystic famous for being able to survive deadly wounds. According to the legend, after surviving an assassination involving a stabbing, Rasputin's killers then sent cake and wine containing poison to a recovering Rasputin in a further attempt to kill him. After poison failed to kill him, he was then found and shot in the back and left bleeding to death on the floor; however, when the assassins returned to the scene to collect a coat left behind, Rasputin attempted to strangle one of his assailants, and was promptly shot in the back three more times, before Rasputin's killers attempted to pummel him to death when he survived the additional shots. After this then failed, Rasputin's killers eventually tied him in several sheets and threw him into the Neva river; Rasputin was found near the Neva several days later, wrapped in sheets he had managed to partially claw his way out of, dead from hypothermia. This is mostly exaggeration, but the tale is certainly this trope taken Up to Eleven.
The autopsy report says he couldn't have survived the single gunshot to the head inflicted by the sole English conspirator (who had a gun with a caliber unique among the assailants). However, Rasputin would hardly be the only person reported to have survived for substantial periods according to eye witnesses after injuries that a medical examiner insists would have been instantly fatal.
Earlier Rasputin survived being stabbed in the stomach by a crazed woman and fully recovered. In the early 20th century, before the discovery of antibiotics.
Still earlier he supposedly was beaten to near death (or beaten and left for dead) for being involved in horse theft, possibly more than once. Unlike the stabbing, there are no police records to confirm the severity of those beatings.
Many warrior cultures have existed throughout the ages, with numbers of tough men from Spartans to Samurai gracing this trope. However, honourable mention must be made for the Viking Berserker, a class of warrior repeatedly mentioned in historical accounts of friends and foes alike for never feeling pain and continuing to fight despite incurring mortal wounds. They were also extremely dangerous with such strong bloodlust that they could turn on their own men in battle, leading to eventual outlawing across the Norse world. Explanations from modern experts have ranged from them getting too drunk to reason or feel pain to using psychoactive mushrooms to a bizarre form of functional and conscious epilepsy. Whatever the cause, the effect was clear - they treated everything as just a flesh wound.
However, a less known explanation is that because of adrenaline, people do not collapse from the pain of a mortal wound but continue to fight until the damage finally takes it toll on the body. This video explains it all.
Military history is full of accounts of men who died from apparently minor injuries, but there's also not a few who actually seem to embody the straight version of this trope. Lachhiman Gurung reputedly killed 31 Japanese soldiers left handed. Why left handed? Because his right arm (and one eye) had just been completely destroyed by a grenade that went off in his hand. He didn't let that stop him. Yogendra Singh Yadav killed seven Pakistani insurgents in close quarters and hand-to-hand combat after taking three bullets in the groin and shoulder along with heavy fire from rocket launchers during the Kargil War. According to Cracked, he is one of "5 Real-life soldiers who make Rambo look like a pussy"
The venerable Colt M1911 .45 was adopted by the US military because the Moro warriors of the Philippines were apparently shrugging off the smaller .38 Long Colt.
As one historian put it, "You shoot a man with a .38, and he'll be bloody angry at you. You shoot him with a .45, and he'll be angry on his back." There is still some debate over the legitimacy of this argument; hit a man in the right place with a .38, and he'll go down same as with a .45.
There is more at play in this particular case. .38 Long Colt was notoriously underpowered as a result of some quirks regarding the bullet diameter compared to the chamber throat. The bullet was supposed to expand in the throat and then be swaged down as it entered the barrel. However, expansion was uneven, resulting in very poor accuracy and terminal performance. Without accuracy, it became understandably more difficult to get good shot placement. See also Antonio Caspi's attempted prison escape for another example of .38 Long Colt failing to be an effective stopper.
US Army procurement during the 1911 procurement trials was convinced that the reason that .38 Long was weaker than the older .45 was purely a matter of diameter, when .45 Colt was also significantly faster than .38LC (a situation that was reversed with 9mm parabellum and .45 Auto). People have shrugged off fire from and people have died from single shots from all four of these calibers.
US President Andrew Jackson got into a duel over his wife's honor. He was so angry that he allowed the other man to fire first so that he could take his time with his shot and kill him for sure. The other man's bullet hit him in the lung. Unfazed, Jackson aimed carefully and killed the man. All told, Jackson acquired several bullets and a bayonet tip in his body. One of his secretaries wrote that he "rattled like a bag of marbles" when he walked.
He is reputed to have once become so bored during a Cabinet meeting that he pulled out a knife and dug one of the slugs out, and later sent it back to the man who put it in him with a note to the effect of "I believe this is yours."
Theodore Roosevelt was shot by an assassin right before giving a campaign speech. It would have killed him if not for the eyeglass case and folded-up speech in his jacket pocket, which slowed the bullet down enough for it to only become lodged in his lung instead of passing clean through. And in one of the most famous of his many feats of badassery, went ahead and gave the 90-minute long speech as planned, with the opening line, "Ladies and gentlemen, I don't know whether you fully understand that I have just been shot; but it takes more than that to kill a Bull Moose." Later, Roosevelt reasoned that it was safer to tell his doctors not to remove the bullet due to the crude level of surgery in those days. He survived.
The worst of Chamberlain's wounds (a bullet that traversed his pelvis from hip to hip, severely damaging his urinary system) caused him lifelong pain and eventually did end up killing him...49 years later at the age of 86.
At the 1811 Battle of Albuera, Lieutenant-Colonel William Inglis of the 57th Regiment was hit in the neck by a four-ounce grapeshot. Believing the wound would kill him soon, he propped himself up on an elbow and shouted to his troops: "Die hard, Fifty-Seventh! Die hard!" For the next century and a half that regiment was nicknamed the Diehards. Inglis lived another twenty-four years.
Washington police shot and killed a knife-wielding man outside the White House in the 1990s. One of the CNN anchors reporting the story asked the police spokesman "Why didn't they just shoot him in the shoulder?" Co-anchor Bernard Shaw, a former Marine, looked properly disgusted at the question. The answer is that firearms are lethal weapons.
Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigations are trained to shoot only to kill, never to warn or wound, because the FBI's viewpoint is that "The person who is not justified in killing is not justified in shooting at all."
Interestingly, the guards at the Berlin Wall were ordered to shoot at the target's legs if possible (after giving a verbal warning and firing a warning shot). Civilian gun laws of Communist countries (and of modern 2000s Eastern Europe) say it explicitly, if firing the gun in self-defense or police action, the legs of the target have to be shot if possible. It has something to do with the need to interrogate the guy afterwards by very Communistic methods. In modern Eastern Europe, the laws regarding self defense are a bit different. Shooting someone in the legs (even if they end up dying) makes it much easier to claim reasonable self defense in court later on. Police tend to go for the legs, when possible, because of humanistic concerns- better to 'possibly' kill someone than to kill someone. Important in countries where there is no death penalty. Besides, a knee-shot from a sniper rifle will incapacitate everyone.
In a widely publicised case, in 1992 North Dakota teen John Thompson had both arms ripped off by a piece of farm equipment. He walked back to his house, dialed the phone with a pencil in his teeth, then stood in the bathtub so as to not bloody his mother's carpet. His arms were reattached that night. Again, one is more likely to survive a limb being torn off then a clean slice, due to the clamping effect this has on blood vessels.
Louis Barthou, the French foreign minister who accompanied king Alexander of Yugoslavia at the time of the latter's assassination, was shot in the upper arm. Despite managing to run away from the scene and getting to a hospital, he still died of blood loss within less than an hour. Later forensic evidence showed that the fatal bullet was not fired by the assassin, but rather by one of the French gendarmes.
The difficulty associated with discouraging or injuring human subjects in non-lethal or non-crippling ways is one of the primary motivations behind the development of less-lethal weapons (such as Tazers or riot guns), though these weapons are still capable of causing serious injury or death even when properly used (and especially so if used improperly).
It is suggested that Neanderthals had a much higher pain threshold than Homo sapiens, and were able to shrug off broken limbs and carry on about their business (assuming the fracture wouldn't physically immobilise them). According to a coroner, the group of modern humans who have injuries most similar to Neanderthals are rodeo clowns.
For those who've never seen one in action, rodeo clowns are part of the safety crew in many animal riding events, and are traditionally dressed and made up as a sort of cowboy clown cross. Standard job hazards include being gored by a bull, repeatedly jumped on by a bull, repeatedly trampled by a bull, kicked in various parts of the body by an enraged stallion, repeatedly stomped on by an enraged stallion, and fallen on by an enraged stallion. This is risked to prevent it happening to the competitor who just fell off the animal in question. While police, firefighters, and soldiers are not normally put in jeopardy by their job every day, these guys have a very real chance of one or more of these things happening to them every working day.
Phineas Gage. The "American Crowbar Case", in which Gage, setting charges for blasting rock during railroad construction, had a large iron bar (not actually a crowbar but a tamping rod) driven through his face, through his brain, and out the top of his head when the gunpowder went off prematurely. Not only did he live for 12 more years, he was functional, although apparently he had some personality changes due to brain damage.
This guy walked out of a sandwich shop, got shot twice, and instead of going straight to the hospital, he decided to go home and eat his sandwich first. Bullets in the leg and groin? Psh! I've got a sandwich to eat, fool!
Confederate General Albert Sidney Johnston, commanding at the Battle of Shiloh in 1862, foolishly led a charge against the Union army. He rode out of the shooting apparently unaware that a bullet had struck him in the back of the knee, nicking an artery that was bleeding profusely. No one knew that Johnston was wounded until he swayed in the saddle, at the point of passing out. His staff set Johnston down next to a tree, where he promptly bled to death. He was the highest-ranking officer to be killed in combat in the war.
British naval hero Lord Nelson lost an arm, sight in one eye, and finally died, quite slowly and painfully, to a musket ball in the shoulder: it drove inwards and broke his spine. Even with modern treatment, none of his injuries would be treatable. He might have been able to survive his last fatal shot, but he would have never been able to walk again.
NFL player Sean Taylor was murdered in his home in late 2007 by a would-be robber. Taylor was shot in the thigh, the bullet severing his femoral artery. He eventually died from severe blood loss.
If it is an actual flesh wound, then by definition it will not have hit anything of importance besides flesh and muscle. The only way that could happen is if it had just barely grazed you, or if it had (by some miracle) gone through your lower abdomen in the perfect spot to avoid any internal organs or bones. While both scenarios are possible, they aren't likely to happen often. But then, what tropes in movies are?
Or, as mentioned in the Forrest Gump example, in the buttocks. As they contain no vital organs or major arteries, consisting entirely of flesh and muscle, it's one of the few places that would reliably be called a flesh wound.
A man named Don Hamilton accidentally shot himself in the leg in a hunting accident, losing 60 percent of his blood. When he got into the hospital, doctors had declared him brain dead. His family refused to shut off life support, which was a good thing, since Don woke up and had a full recovery. It was considered so miraculous and improbable, it was put into an episode of Unsolved Mysteries.
As shown in the movie 127 Hours, Aron Ralston had his arm pinned under a boulder in an accident and had to cut his own arm off and then start walking to save himself. He did it, and it doesn't take a lot to realize he had to take on this mindset when he did so.
He first had to break his own forearm bones, then take an hour to cut through the flesh with what amounts to a dull pocket knife. It's amazing what you can do when you've realized you're going to die if you don't.
During the 1886 Homestead Strike, anarchist Alexander Berkman stabbed and shot Henry Clay Frick. Not only did Frick survive; he insisted on staying at work for the rest of the day, impressing even the strikers and blunting their public support.
Modern medical care makes arrow wounds much less lethal (the presence of the arrow itself greatly slows bleeding, so the main problem if the initial strike is survived is reaching adequate high-level medical care before anything else happens). Konstantine Myakush took a flesh wound in the upper neck (side to side, clean through) that missed (barely) all major blood vessels and his brain. Liu Cheong survived an arrow through an eye socket that penetrated to the back of his skull and somehow missed his brain. Yasser Lopez survived being accidentally shot in the head with a spear gun because the spear missed all the major blood vessels. And the ultimate in flesh wounds, a boy who survived three days with an arrow in his heart before reaching medical care able to remove it safely, and made a full recovery.
This Irishman fought a sword-welding attacker before going to the hospital to have his severed hand reattached.
Austrian Formula One driver Niki Lauda. In 1976 at the racetrack Nürburgring Lauda crashed and was trapped in his burning car for over a minute, suffering severe burns and damage to his lungs from inhaling toxic fumes. When he arrived at the hospital Last Rites were administered due to the severity of his injuries. After only 42 days Lauda was back in his car, placing fourth in the Italian Grand Prix.
Sadly averted with another driver, Ronnie Peterson, who crashed on the Monza track in 1978. Peterson suffered injuries to his legs and minor burns but his life was not thought to be in any danger (the situation seemed much graver for the other driver involved in the crash, Vittorio Brambilla). Brambilla suffered serious head injuries and was initially comatose but made a full recovery. Peterson, who suffered several fractures to his legs, developed a fat embolism during the night and passed away less than 24 hours after the crash.
Oh, runnin' away eh? COME BACK 'ERE YOU YELLOW BASTARDS! I'LL BITE YOUR LEGS OFF!