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Shoot the Bullet
A bullet is fired and you don't want it to reach its target, so what can you do? You could Take The Bullet yourself, of course, but if you are The Gunslinger, there's no better way to show off your Improbable Aiming Skills than to shoot that bullet instead. The Rule of Cool will make that happen, rest assured.

Examples of bullets fused by (accidental) head-on collision have been found on American Civil War battlefields, so the idea in general is not impossible, just so improbable it requires two armies' worth of fired ammunition to result in a few collisions. The idea of destroying projectiles, however, is regularly used on a much bigger scale: anti-ballistic missiles and lasers have been put into service for the purpose of destroying incoming nuclear missiles before they could detonate, and smaller variants exist for shooting down smaller projectiles like tactical missiles and artillery shells. Naval vessels now commonly make use of gatling-type or other types of Close In Weapons Systems to defend themselves against low-flying aircraft and missiles, and are definitely not Point Defenseless. Tank-based systems are also being developed, as a counter to RPGs and anti-tank missiles.

A related trope is Bullet Catch. Compare Destructible Projectiles, in which this is a normal gameplay mechanic instead of an extraordinary feat.

Not to be confused with the Touhou game of the same name.

Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Madlax does it to save Elenore.
  • Rushuna from Grenadier does this all the time. At one point, she even stops an entire machinegun salvo with a single revolver bullet (by making it ricochet).
  • Vash the Stampede from Trigun can do this - but he also takes it a step further into insanity by deflecting bullets by flicking pebbles at them.
    • He keeps his eyes closed/squinted, and blinks them open right when he throws. You can tell by the sound that he's flicking before the shot is fired. The deflected bullet always hits the intended target non-fatally. Since he's interfering with a duel, he might be doing this to both bullets with two rocks, or he might deflect one bullet into a path that will deflect both bullets into non-fatal or missing paths.
  • In Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex this is tried twice, and doesn't succeed in both cases.
  • Gandolfini, one of the mage teachers in Mahou Sensei Negima!, intercepts Mana's time-displacement bullet in this way with his handgun. Unfortunately, he did it a tad too late as the displacement magic's area of effect was still large enough to swallow him up.
  • Lyrical Nanoha
  • Batman does this in Gotham Knight, except since he doesn't use guns, he simply punches the bullet out of the air with the armored part of his gauntlet (because, you know, a batarang wouldn't be half as badass). A bullet fired from a high powered sniper rifle, from a train moving at full speed, towards a moving target.
  • In Mobile Suit Gundam …cole Du Ciel, Asuna does this in a practice duel. In a Humongous Mecha. With beam rifles.
    • Done earlier by Kamille Bidan and Jerid Messa in Zeta Gundam, during the AEUG's operation in Jaburo.
      • In the final battle, Kamille and Paptimus Scirocco fire beam rifle shots that hit each other dead on, causing a kind of backlash explosion
    • Also done by Uso Evin to defend from Katejina's beam rifle while he is fighting Chronocle Asher for the last time. Also, note that all the previous examples were done by newtypes, who can sense the intention to fire before the actual shot rather than simply react with impossible speed.
    • In Mobile Suit Gundam SEED the Archangel's guns are used to to take out incoming enemy missiles.
  • In Zipang, the crew of the Mirai use the RIM-7 Sea Sparrow point-defense system to shoot down 18 inch shells fired by the battleship Yamato. In one case, they even cause a chain-reaction that takes out an entire salvo with one missile.
  • Sho does this unconsciously in an early episode of The Guyver OVA, when one of the bad guys tries to shoot his friend. Justified because he is wearing a suit of biological armour that can shoot laserbeams from its forehead, and that is automatically responding to protect Sho and his friends.
  • Train Heartnet from Black Cat does this a lot in his fights.
  • Several vampires in Hellsing shoot projectiles out of the air. Alucard and Seras are impressive enough, but Tubalcain Alhanbra really takes the cake by shooting a 30mm depleted uranium shell out of the air with a playing card.
  • Panty and Scanty can both do this in Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt. At one point, Panty does it with a sniper rifle
  • Kinji from Hidan no Aria does this in the final episode to redirect an ally's bullet to hit a different target. Using it to parry bullets aimed for him becomes a virtual trademark of his in the light novels.
  • In Mai-HiME, Natsuki uses her Element to shoot down many of the projectiles Shiho's Child fires at Mai.
  • Naruto often uses this with kunai or shuriken, the most notable occasion being part of the battle between Sasuke and Itachi in Shippuden. Since both are equipped with Sharingan, each deflects the other's dozens of shuriken, which pile on the floor between them.
  • Done in Puella Magi Madoka Magica The Movie: Rebellion as part of an epic gun fight between Mami and Homura. Justified due to Homura's Time Stands Still ability; the bullets impact each other when Homura restarts time, causing something like fireworks.

    Comic Books 
  • Green Arrow did it with arrows against his robot doppelganger.
  • Hawkeye has been known to do this with arrows, such as one instance where he couldn't dodge an arrow with dynamite strapped to it without getting caught in the blast range, so he shot it in midair instead. Naturally, when he and Green Arrow meet up in Marvel/DC Crossovers, they do it to each other quite often.
  • Lucky Luke does this at least once, to protect someone. Since he's able to literally shoot faster than his shadow, it's not that surprising of him.

    Fanfic 

    Film 
  • WANTED! The movie is freaking full of bullets hitting each other.
  • In the Heroic Bloodshed movie Full Contact, Chow Yun-Fat shoots Simon Yam's bullet out of the air during the nightclub scene.
  • This happened in the movie adaptation of The Shadow. Minor variation in that neither shooter is trying to hit the other's bullet; it happens by accident as a result of their Not So Different / Evil Counterpart nature.
  • Alluded to in Star Trek: Teleporting from a ship moving at warp speed to another is compared to "trying to shoot a bullet with a smaller bullet, blindfolded, while riding a horse".
  • Happens during the final duel in Versus, when KSC 2-303 and The Man pull guns on each other during the sword fight and empty their clips at each other, followed by a shot of the collided bullets falling to the ground.
  • A character in RED shoots an RPG out of the air. Mythbusters also examined this scene, and found that it would have killed just the target, but only if it were a faulty warhead for a couple of reasons. First, being a shaped charge it would have sprayed forward anyway. Second, a RPG round is only armed after 60 feet, when it's reached a certain velocity. It is possible to shoot it out of the air though.
  • The Heroic Trio has more than one scene in which Anita Mui's character knocks bullets out of the air with a thrown blade.
  • Disney's Robin Hood adaptation has one with arrows. In the archery competition, the sheriff has just scored a bullseye (by cheating). To make sure Robin (in disguise) can't win, the sheriff taps Robin's bow as he releases. The arrow goes in a high arc. Undaunted, Robin nocks another arrow and fires at the first arrow. It hits, changing its direction such that it too hits a perfect bullseye, right through the sheriff's arrow.
  • Missile-to-missile version in The Return Of Godzilla, a Japanese ground-launched missile is sent to intercept an incoming Russian space-launched thermonuclear missile. It succeeds, but the radiation cloud created revives an unconscious Godzilla.
  • G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, Destro launches three missiles targeted at Moscow, Beijing, and Washington. Snake Eyes was able to take one out with a missile before it could get higher. Ripcord was able to shoot one down, and intercept the last one before it could hit the ground.
  • In The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Tauriel saves Legolas from an arrow by firing her own arrow to intercept it.

    Literature 
  • A particular sect of the Jedi are specifically trained to do this. They want to prove a point about relying too much on one weapon, so instead of blocking plasma bolts with lightsabers, they learn to shoot them down with a blaster pistol.
  • This happens often in Dale Brown books with missiles getting shot down, sometimes with other missiles, sometimes with Frickin' Laser Beams. Sometimes, though, it fails.
  • In the Star Trek novel Dreadnought, some Klingons are firing torpedoes at the Enterprise from long range and Kirk asks Sulu to try and hit the torpedoes and detonate them before they reach the ship. Sulu protests that that's never been done. Of course, having Improbable Aiming Skills, he does manage to hit at least one out of the three of the salvoes.
  • In The Alloy of Law Wax confronts a villain who's holding a human shield in front of him, preventing Wax from getting a clean shot. So Wax fires a bullet a little to one side of the villain, then fires a second bullet that collides with the first, changing its trajectory so that it hits the villain from an angle that doesn't go through the hostage. Granted, time was slowed down for Wax when this happened, but still!
  • A realistic version occurs in one of the Sharpe novels. Hagman, The Squad's Friendly Sniper, tries to take down a fleeing enemy spy. Unfortunately, at the same time, a cannon fires a load of grapeshot that intersects with his shot and knocks it awry.
  • A less-ridiculous-than-usual variant in Seven Deadly Wonders by Matthew Reilly; Stretch, the team sniper, covers allies against incoming RPG rounds by shooting them out of the air with a sniper rifle. RPG rounds, of course, are much bigger and slower than bullets. So it's less ridiculous than usual. Kind of.
  • The CIWS employed by the Multinational Fleet in the Axis of Time trilogy (consisting of MetalStorm and laser pods) are AI-guided and have a near-100% intercept ratio. While they're meant to intercept missiles and aircraft, they prove themselves just as capable of taking out naval artillery shells fired by World War II-era ships. Many times, the shots detonate almost as soon as they leave the barrel. Admiral Spruance thinks that it looks like Some Kind of Force Field is at work. The real problem is the fact that the CIWS can't sustain this level of defense for very long. MetalStorm turrets run out of ammo and laser pods burn out fairly quickly when in constant use. Eventually, they're forced to downgrade these systems to Vulcan cannons (still better than what was used in the 40s).
  • The Worst Shots In The West has Tim and Tom doing this a few times, by complete accident.

    Live Action TV 
  • Done (and Lampshadednote ) in "Gunmen of the Apocalypse", within an artificial reality environment where Cat is (Music sting!) The Riviera Kid!. The outtakes video features a montage of the many, many attempts to film the bullets falling out of the air. It takes several minutes...
  • Get Smart had the anti-anti-anti-anti-anti-missile-missile, which was Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
    • That's just silly. We all know that there must be only one more "anti" than "missile" or nothing happens. Clearly, Get Smart had the anti-anti-anti-anti-anti-missile-missile-missile-missile.
  • A standard part of DekaRed's fighting style.
  • Mythbusters tested a version of this. They found that it would be impossible to do deliberately, even with perfect aim and perfect timing, because the time lag between pulling the trigger and the bullet firing is unpredictable. They did find, however, that two Miniť balls would fuse together if they did collide, and it might have happened by accident given the volley fire tactics of the period the Miniť came from.
  • Done in the "Modern Warfare" (1.23) episode of Community, the gets Britta and Chang out when their paintballs collide in midair, spraying them both with paint.
  • Done in Babylon 5 several times. Station weapons, when set to "intercept" mode, automatically target incoming energy blasts and take them out with their own.
  • In RoboCop: Prime Directives, a Guns Akimbo version of RoboCop is designed. When it's inevitably hijacked and sent against the real Murphy he's obviously outgunned. As RoboCable tries to shoot two of Murphy's friends, how does he get out of it? By shooting Cable's first bullet and causing it to ricochet the second off course as well.
  • On Alphas Hicks's control over his Alpha powers has grown to the point that he can do it with pistol rounds.
  • Done in Star Trek: Voyager by the Doctor, of all "people". Of course, he's in his Emergency Command Hologram mode at the time and thus has access to the tactical and strategic database instead of his normal medical one. When being chased by two enemy ships, he fires a torpedo backwards and then shoots it with a phaser as it passes between them. The resulting shockwave disables the enemy ships. He notes that this was first done by a Romulan commander in such-and-such battle.
  • In an episode of Crossbow, the king is offering amnesty to all outlaws. In reality, the idea belongs to The Dragon who wishes to kill the king and blame William Tell. For this purpose, he had a weaponsmith build him a wrist-mounted crossbow that he can hide with loose clothing. Just as Tell kneels in front of the king to accept amnesty, The Dragon fires a bolt at the king. Somehow, Tell manages to intercept it with his own bolt (obviously, The Dragon didn't have the guards disarm him in order to frame him), which knocks the first bolt out of the air. Somehow, The Dragon manages to spin it to lay the blame for attempted regicide on Tell.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Exalted, Dragon-Blooded archers have several techniques for shooting down projectiles with their own arrows. At higher levels of skill, they can use this to protect their allies, or hit the attacker with their counter-arrows.
    • Lunars have a similar ability... except they can use their bare hands to make the deflection. This also explicitly allows them to use the ability on attacks of pure essence.
  • GURPS: Gun Fu has a perk that allows the character to try doing this. Of course, GURPS is pretty unforgiving when it comes to actually hitting that bullet.
  • If a Legend character has the Reign of Arrows track (usually a Ranger track, but as fits the nature of the game, available to anyone), the Ricochet ability does this: "Make an attack roll with a ranged weapon of your choice. Your attack roll replaces the targetís Armor Class, Fortitude, Reflex, or Will save, depending on the defense threatened by the particular attack." More plainly, if your shot beats their shot, it doesn't hit. This ability affects spells and supernatural abilities as well, so if you've always wanted to block a bolt of lightning with a longbow shot, here's your ridiculous-but-awesome chance.
  • Relatively easily implemented in the Hero System by purchasing the Deflection power (which allows ranged attacks to be blocked at range, as opposed to only when they would otherwise hit the blocking character him- or herself, though the attempt itself then still has to succeed) through a suitably gun-shaped Focus, possibly with additional modifiers to fine-tune it as desired. Or at least that's "relatively easily" in a suitably superheroic or otherwise over-the-top campaign; that there are mechanics for it doesn't automatically mean the GM has to allow it.

    Video Games 
  • It is possible in Halo3 to shoot out grenades and rockets with a powerful enough precision weapon, such as the Sniper Rifle.
  • Dante from the Devil May Cry series is a pro at this. In DMC3, he does it during the cutscene where he and Lady find the body of Arkham. In DMC4, he uses his handguns to cancel out Nero's revolver shots.
    • Indeed you can do it during her boss battle by firing when she does, which also gives you a nice Style boost.
  • In Disgaea 3, Salvatore's "Duel!" attack has her do this to her target's bullet to misdirect it so that it ends up missing, while hers still connects.
    • The Bullet Kiss gun skill in Disgaea 4 has the user do this with their own bullet, which ends up creating an explosion when the two bullet collide head-on in the target's proximity, as well as with the Deadly Pierce gun skill, which has the user headshot multiple targets by shooting the initial bullet that gets lodged in the skull of the first victim so that it flies into the head of the next, and repeating until all of them have been hit.
  • Virtua Cop 3 gives you Very High Velocity Rounds with which to do this.
  • Quest for Glory I has what might be considered a low-tech variant on this. One of the puzzles involves somehow procuring a tiny seed that's being launched between several plants, and one of the solutions is to intercept it mid-flight... by throwing a rock and knocking it out of the air.
  • In Viewtiful Joe, the player can punch or kick bullets and missiles back at targets while using slow motion, and can shoot them while in the Six Machine. This is crucial for defeating several bosses, including the Helicopter, Harrier Jet and both tanks.
  • During a siege in Chapter 2 of Tales of Monkey Island, if you ever try to fire your cannon at your opponent, he will counter it with his own cannon.
  • Paranoia let you do this with blaster shots.
  • Happens in Space Invaders. Very annoying when you wanted your bullet to go on and into the enemy.
    • In Space Invaders Extreme, shooting a bullet or laser won't add to your combo, but it will reset the combo timer.
  • Not quite bullets, but in many fighting games projectiles will cancel each other out—your Hadouken can knock down your enemy's Sonic Boom in Street Fighter II, while flaming paper fans in Samurai Shodown 2 will knock away a summonned demon.
  • Although it does not involve fighting bullets with bullets, in Team Fortress 2, the Pyro's flamethrower's alternate fire shoots out a gust of air that can deflect a soldier's fired rocket, bouncing it right back where it came from. This even works with the Sniper's arrows with fast enough reflexes.
    • However, the Sniper's arrows can break if they hit another arrow.
  • In theory, you can shoot down incoming missiles in Escape Velocity: Nova by hand. It's nigh-on impossible, though, unless you purchase one of the point-defense turrets (which works out shooting them down without any input from you).
  • A variation in Metal Gear Solid 3; When Volgin fires his electricity at Ocelot, Ocelot manages to deflect the electricity by firing a bullet at it. The metal bullet conducts the the electricity, sending it safely off course.
  • In Resident Evil 4 you can shoot crossbow bolts out of the air. And more reliably Molotov cocktails.
  • Wild Guns allows you to do this. Keep doing it enough and you'll fill out that gauge at the bottom of the screen which gives you temporary invincibility and an awesome weapon.
  • DoDonPachi Dai-Fukkatsu introduces a new mechanic to the DonPachi series: purple enemy lasers. You can shoot these withh your laser to block them. When you go into Hyper Counter mode, you can use your shots to cancel bullets.
  • MASK de Smith from killer7 headbutts a bullet out of the air.
  • It's one of the main game mechanics in Battle City series.
  • This is a trait seen in varying amounts in almost every shoot-em-up developed by Compile.
    • Virtually every bullet in Zanac series is destroyable. The most common type not with main gun and non-fully upgraded default weapons though.
    • In Super Aleste, the spinning oval bullets can be destroyed with any weapon, you can use the Laser to blunt certain bullets, and the Circle can block just about any bullet.
  • In Fallout 3, it was possible to target missiles and grenades in midflight with VATS; a patch removed this.
    • Its not like the feature was all that useful. Unless the timing was absolutely perfect, it just plain and simple wouldn't work. VATS has a slight aiming delay, which when combined with grenades being used only up close and missiles traveling very quickly meant that it simply wouldn't be able to hit them on time. Being very small targets with typically poor hit chances didn't help. Grenades can still be shot and detonated while the enemy is still holding them, but thats another trope altogether.
    • It was brought back for Grenades and Dynamite in Fallout: New Vegas. Easier with a shot gun, though in the hand it would often kill the user.
  • Intercepting and shooting down anti-warship torpedoes is an essential skill in the FreeSpace series and is vital to successfully completing an Escort Mission. Fortunately torpedoes are fairly large and slower than most fighters.
  • Before Freespace, there were the X-Wing and TIE Fighter games, which implemented similar mechanics.
  • In the Touhou games Shoot the Bullet (appropriately enough) and Double Spoiler, you knock bullets out of the air by shooting them... with a camera.
  • The NES port of 1943: The Battle of Midway has a spread-shooting special weapon, which in its upgraded form can blunt enemy bullets.
  • Heavy Weapon has your tank able to shoot down incoming enemy missiles. Required against Atomic Bombers, because if their bomb manages to hit you or the ground, you're toast no matter how many shields you have!
  • The Super Robot Wars series has the ability "Shoot Down", created as a gun-based counterpart to "Sword Cut"; however, it only works on missiles, grenades, and Attack Drones.
  • Defense drones in FTL: Faster Than Light can shoot down incoming missiles and boarding drones; advanced models can also shoot incoming laser rounds. An interesting subversion in that the "advanced" defense drone is less desirable than the basic model because it will often fail to shoot down missiles (which can penetrate shields) because it's too busy shooting down lasers (which cannot and are mostly harmless in the late game). It's also possible for lasers and missiles to collide with each other before reaching their target, although this cannot be done intentionally.
  • In Vanquish, you can shoot down projectiles while in Bullet Time.
  • Likewise in Max Payne 3, Max can shoot grenades and rockets out of the air, which is sometimes mandatory to avoid instant death.
  • It's possible in Mega Man Zero to slash bullets out of the air with a special skill equipped., but with enough precision you can even shoot them, though it's not really recommended.
  • You can expect any Rail Shooter that doesn't let you dodge enemy fire to have this. Used a lot in House Of Dead since the zombies love throwing hatchets.

    Web Original 
  • In Diabolical Delightment with the final duel between Gustave and Johnny. Gustave's and Johnny's bullet collide, both ricocheting off each other. Gustave's bullet lands in the snow, while Johnny's gets shot right back at him between the eyes.

    Western Animation 
  • Used in Peabody's Improbable History, in particular in that episode about a guy who couldn't hit the broad side of a barn, but his gun was crooked so that made him a great shooter. However the gun got fixed just before the big competition, so Peabody shot his own bullet to correct the trajectory in flight. Inverted the Unspoken Plan Guarantee and lampshaded the improbability of this trope while explaining the plan.
  • In DC Showcase: Green Arrow, Green Arrow and Merlyn shoot simultaneous shots at each other. Green Arrow's arrow shatters Merlyn's, cuts his bowstring, slices his cheek and hits the wall behind him and releases a cloud of knockout gas.

    Real Life 
  • Close-in Weapons Systems do this, the most well-known of which is the American Phalanx CIWS. CIWS guns that use a hit-to-kill system actually track both the incoming projectile and their own outbound projectiles on radar and "walk" the bullets towards the target. Many modern CIWS guns have started to use explosive proximity rounds, rather than hit-to-kill penetrators, in order to conserve ammunition so they may not qualify as "shooting the bullet" (or missile, in this case.) CIWS ('sea-whiz') are ubiquitous these days. Other examples include Kashtan, employed by Navy of Russia; and Hong Qi, employed by Navy of China and Navy of Iran.
    • They are unfortunately becoming useless due to the high speed of missiles. Sufficiently fast missiles would still hit the ship even if destroyed by gun hits due to their short range. This has actually happened in tests, questioning whether such systems would even do anything in actual combat. It is also notable that they have never successfully engaged anti-ship missiles despite being fired upon repeatedly.
  • Another full version of this trope is the use of such weapons to target artillery shells. Some use guns while others use missiles.
  • On a larger scale, this is the basic idea behind PATRIOT systems that were deployed in Israel to protect it from Iraqi SCUD missiles that were launched by Saddam Hussein in the First Gulf War in an attempt to goad the IDF into attacking Iraq and causing the Coalition's Arab members to withdraw. The idea was that, when an Iraqi SCUD was detected, the PATRIOT would launch its own missile so that it would detonate when the two crossed paths and destroy the SCUD before it could reach its target. The US military touted it as a great success, but its effectiveness has been contested by outside experts. Later versions are much better optimized for shooting down missiles rather than airplanes, actually fulfilling this trope by going for a skin hit rather than proximity detonation.
    • While untested in actual combat the US Navy's Standard missiles are probably better overall as they were designed from the beginning to shoot down anti-ship missiles. This is also backed up by the brilliant AEGIS system that allows multiple targets with a single search radar.
  • Also the YAL-1, Which is a 747 modified to contain a huge Laser that destroys missles. Some want to improve it to shoot down Fighter Jets and to destroy tanks!
    • A smaller and less awesome version is the use of lasers to passively kill(without permanently damaging) incoming anti-aircraft missiles by blinding the seekers.

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