Where a character gets stabbed or shot - usually in the kidney - and it should be fatal. Only it isn't, because they donated that kidney. Or they have dextrocardia. Or that limb was actually prosthetic. Usually given as justification for Only a Flesh Wound
, but sometimes the central conceit around which a climax - or entire plot - is built. Usually used as an ironic counterpoint to the original injury. This is all but guaranteed to happen to people cheated out of organs earlier in the plot, because it's a good way of suggesting ambiguity - after all, if they still had that kidney they were tricked into donating, they'd be dead now.
If a character is shown to have donated an organ and the genre isn't Medical Drama
, they're extremely likely to suffer injury to that area later in the work. Anyone with dextrocardia - where the heart is on the right side of the body instead of the left - is virtually guaranteed to be shot or stabbed where the heart "should be" at some point.
The inverse, where a character who's learned to cope with a handicap or life-altering injury is injured in a way that makes the handicap worse
, is fairly common in Darker and Edgier
works. This is where, for example, a character who's just undergone extensive cosmetic surgery to repair fire scarring gets caught in another disfiguring fire
. Sometimes applies to wheelchairs, canes, and other forms of assistive technology as well, where the short-term consequences can be dire without automatically leading to Nightmare Fuel
. Noticeably more common in Police Procedural
and Medical Drama
genres, if only because this usually shows up as a plot twist in a mystery story.
Another version is when a character's organs would
have been in the right place, but they were deliberately moved
before the injury in question.
Subtrope of Disability Immunity
. Compare with Chekhov's Skill
if the audience is told about the condition in advance.
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Anime and Manga
- The Parasyte "Jaws" can reach into his host's upper torso and move, say, the heart to avoid an otherwise fatal stab.
- Happens early on in Fullmetal Alchemist, revealing Ed's arm to be automail.
- Happens quite frequently, actually.
- It's also implied that Frank Archer from the first anime had Dextrocardia, since the side of his body that got vaporized and replaced with automail was the one his heart was supposed to be on.
- Andrew Waltfeld does the prosthetic limb version in Gundam Seed Destiny, blocking a knife with his arm and then revealing the gun hidden underneath to finish off the attacker. The damage from the knife doesn't appear to do more than cosmetic damage to the prosthetic either.
- Damuramu survives being stabbed in the head with his own energy blade, because his brain is that small - and he is the most stupid character in a show that handled out idiot balls to everyone!
- In one of Kazuki's fights in Busou Renkin, he gets stabbed in the heart. But it doesn't do anything, because he had already been stabbed in the heart and had it replaced with a Kakugane, which is now in his hand as his Busou Renkin.
- And at another time he is wounded in the chest and survives because the Kakugane stops the blade before it can cut too deeply.
- Ani Toguro of YuYu Hakusho could rearrange the organs in his body at will, theoretically making it impossible to strike a fatal blow to him. Kuwabara just finds a way to hit every single point on his body simultaneously. That is enough to stun Toguro, yet still winds up being nonfatal.
- Souther in Fist of the North Star is immune to Kenshiro's pressure-point attacks in their first battle because he was born with dextrocardia with situs inversus totalis, which completely reverses the position of all his internal organs and pressure points. When Kenshiro learns Souther's secret during their final battle, Souther's doom is sealed.
- Before the events of Full Metal Panic!, Sousuke had thought Gauron dead after shooting him in the head, only for him to show up and hijack his flight during the first story arc. It turned out that Gauron had been injured there before, and had a metal plate in his skull from the treatment of that earlier injury that stopped the bullet.
- Bleach has the deliberate version in the fight between Mayuri and Szayel Aporro Granz. Szayel had the ability to make dolls of people containing bits labelled with organs, then break them to destroy the corresponding organs in their actual bodies. Mayuri heard about this power in advance and prepared for it by replacing all of his organs so Szayel would instead just break the old ones.
- Kenpachi also tried to stab Nnoitra through his eyepatch-covered eye, but that was where his hollow hole was located.
- Kara no Kyoukai's Shiki does this with her arm
- Happens occasionally with Professor X's wheelchair/hoverchair in X-Men.
- Also Played With: Mystique once managed to move her organs around in order to survive an attack that should have been lethal.
- During the Unification War, Mal Reynolds of Firefly had a certain cluster of nerves moved due to getting torn up by a piece of shrapnel. As a result, during the Big Damn Movie Serenity, the nerve strike that the Operative uses to paralyze people and set them up for being killed with his sword doesn't work on him.
- A major plot point and running theme in Ninja Assassin.
- The glass eye in Water World.
- The Monster tries to rip off Inspector Krogh's arm in Son of Frankenstein, but since he had ripped off the same arm before, he just removes his wooden arm.
- The main character in HellBent gets stabbed in his fake eye with a sickle.
- Another instance of a glass eye dodge is in Black Christmas (2006) remake. There, a two-pronged barbecue fork is the penetrating object.
- Inversion: Elle Driver from Kill Bill. Starts out with just one eye... and then loses the other to the Bride.
- Played with in You Only Live Twice - Bond meets contact Dikko Henderson, borrows his walking stick, and smacks him hard in the leg - which is wooden and proves it really is him. Henderson is just glad he got the correct leg.
- Ragetti in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl takes a fork to the eye after the opposing ship fires a round of shrapnel after running out of cannonballs. Fortunately, the eye that gets hit is wooden.
- Trina tries to stab the killer in the leg at the climax of Iced, but he doesn't even flinch since the said leg is a prosthetic.
- In Cockneys Vs Zombies, a zombie bites one of the pensioners on the ankle, only for the man to remove the bitten prosthetic leg and beat its head in with it.
- In The Avengers, Loki's mind-control staff works by poking the target over the heart. It doesn't work on Tony Stark because his implanted arc reactor is in the way.
- In the novel Dr. No, the eponymous doctor explains how he survived being shot through the heart by his former Tong masters because of his dextrocardia.
- The Mad Scientist du jour in Jason X Planet Of The Beast gets his artificial arm ripped off, though this trope is averted in the proceeding book, Jason X Death Moon, where the latest Mad Scientist is stabbed in his fake eye, but Jason just drives the blade in deeper and deeper until it reaches the guy's brain.
- In Steve Harriman's thriller novel Sleeper, the escaped monster tears off government bureaucrat Ed Jeffers' arm, and succeeds, as the arm is a prosthetic that he wears to cover up a birth defect(a small, only partially formed arm) caused by Thalidomide.
- A literal Organ Dodge is performed by a pair of wizards in The Legend of Drizzt series of novels. They prepare for an upcoming battle with mind flayers (squid-faced monsters that eat brains) by switching around their brains and their buttocks.
Live Action TV
- A major plot point in an episode of Arrested Development is repeatedly simulating the loss of an arm. Also shows up in subtle forms after Buster's run-in with a certain performing animal.
- Star Trek: The Original Series has a couple of these due to Mr. Spock's half-Vulcan ancestry.
- "A Private Little War". Spock is shot but survives because his heart is where is liver would be if he were fully human.
- "Operation: Annihilate!". Spock is hit with a brilliant light and is apparently blinded. Later it's revealed that he has an extra eyelid that protected him and made the effect only temporary.
- Sylar from Heroes can avoid mortal harm by using his shapeshifting powers to move his organs around.
- A missing organ is a pretty standard revelation in the Autopsy Scene, although CSI has also done at least two episodes about ironically-fatal dextrocardia.
- On LOST, Locke survives being gut-shot by Ben because he donated his kidney. Though the Island's healing powers and Taller Ghost Walt may have been involved.
- The Doctor suddenly revealing he has a respiratory bypass system' as an explanation for him surviving strangulation in the Doctor Who serial "Pyramids of Mars".
- In Stargate SG-1, the most painful way to kill Jaffa is to aim for the symbiote pouch in their abdomen, which both kills the symbiote and causes a serious gut injury ... unless said Jaffa uses tretonin, a drug that obviates the need for a symbiote. Thus in "Lost City", Bra'tac survived being stabbed in his pouch by The Mole.
- Something added rather than removed, namely a steel plate in his skull, saved Vietnam veteran and undercover cop Michael Long from what would have been a fatal gunshot wound in the pilot episode of Knight Rider. Magic Plastic Surgery and a new surname ensued.
- Helena's survival of being shot in the chest at the end of the first season of Orphan Black is ascribed to dextrocardia, although a Healing Factor may also have been involved.
- Invoked Trope in the d20 Modern sourcebook Cyberscape with the cybernetic implant Organ Remapping. This implant "is an extensive set of minor cybernetic devices that relocate a recipientís internal organs and addsafety valves, cutoffs, back-ups, and alternatives to many of the more critical and fragile organic systems." In game, it increases the recipient's massive damage threshold, and gives him/her an increased save bonus against massive damage (that is to say, an increased probability to survive extremely damaging attacks).
- Something similar in Cyberpunk2020, with the implant 'decentralized heart'. Instead of one single heart, one has a number of individual pumping chambers scattered around the major arteries and veins.
- In a deliberate version, powerful members of the Setite clan in Vampire: The Masquerade can remove their hearts and store them for safekeeping, which prevents the automatic paralysis that results from a stake through the heart (unless an enemy can find where the heart is being kept).
- In the endgame of Metal Gear Solid 2, Ocelot disables the electromagnetic force field that protects Fortune from gunfire, and shoots her straight through the heart...which doesn't seem to faze her at all, because as Ocelot remembers afterwards, her heart is on the right. Of course, she still dies from the gaping hole in her chest some minutes later, but not before figuratively flipping him the bird.
- In the first X-COM, Etherals have the highest hitpoint and armor value of all the non terror unit aliens. Their UFOPaedia entry after an autopsy reads "The muscles are severely atrophied and the internal organs appear to be under-developed. The sensory organs, including the eyes, do not appear to function at all. The brain, however, is well developed and draws on a high proportion of the body's blood supply. It is a mystery as to how this creature can sustain itself without external support." They are that tough because they don't have many organs to damage.
- In The Adventures of Dr. McNinja the evil ninja master Frans Rayner had learned a technique to move his internal parts around. This is first revealed when a pressure point strike has no effect on him; later he uses this to survive apparent certain death.
- Jasper (the old guy with the long beard) on The Simpsons was shot by Waylon Smithers (offscreen) in "Who Shot Mr. Burns Part 1." It was revealed in Part 2 that he was shot in his heretofore unrevealed wooden leg, and didn't even know it. (Didn't know that he was shot that is; he knew he had a wooden leg.)
- Another Simpsons example: Apu survives being shot in a burglary because the bullet bounced off another bullet in his chest from a prior robbery.
- There is a lateral thinking puzzle about a man who 'lived because his brother nearly died' which when solved is revealed to be a man stabbed who managed to survive due to an organ dodge; having donated his kidney to his brother earlier when his brother was sick.
- Another more gruesome and challenging puzzle is the exact inverse of this. I don't recall the setup, but the final reveal ends up involving three scientists who were studying some newly discovered primitive/superstitious peoples culture when they accidentally anger the primitives and are going to be killed for it. In an attempt to save the others one of the men claimed that they were special beings sent by the gods and that they only look like humans, when the primitives don't believe him he tells them to kill him first. When they do they discover the man had four kidneys(from kidney transplants he had received, they leave the old ones in and keep adding new ones). Since the primitive people consider kidneys to be the source of power in a man they conclude that any man with four must be special and thus this man was telling the truth about being sent by the gods. The primitives let the other two scientists go in hopes of not angering the gods any more then they already had by killing one of their representatives.
- for added fun combine the two above puzzles by having one brother donate a kidney to the other, then have the first life saved when he is stabbed but lacks a kidney and the other sacrifice himself to the primitives. Properly phrased this puzzle will take many hours to solve and drive even the most skilled puzzler crazy.
- In one Story Corps piece, a man tells the story of his father's wooden leg and different potentially-dangerous scenarios where he avoided pain because of his leg.