Because it's worked so well in the past, right?
Prince of Space
: Enough of this! When will you ever learn? Your guns won't work on me! Phantom of Krankor
: Shoot him!
The tendency for Mooks
, the military
, and other assorted gunmen to repeatedly attack
, alien, or Super Hero
with weapons that they themselves should know won't work
from either personal experience or at least from watching the news. What's worse, they'll simply stand in place and try the same thing over and over again
as the hero or other threat to their safety advances slowly towards them
, never trying something else or turning tail to run until the last possible second.
Sometimes it's explained as desperation, but most times, they really should know better and just accept the fact that their foe is (sigh) Immune to Bullets
. It makes a touch more sense with characters who have protective devices like Wonder Woman
's bracelets or Captain America
's shield. At least with those characters, the Mooks
can realistically think they have a chance at hurting them if only they could get that lucky shot
, which never happens.
Named for the countless times crooks and other low-level threats have attempted to stop Superman
by shooting him with regular guns. Often they'll even throw their empty gun at him
once they've emptied the magazine, to no effect. (Though old live-action Superman shows would sometimes have him duck or otherwise dodge the thrown prop guns.) Particularly dense examples
will then pull out another gun and try again, or pick up a chair and smash him over the head with it... And then do it AGAIN and again until Supes
has had his fun and proceeds to twist them up like a pretzel.
Justified in circumstances where the monster of the week just has lots of hitpoints, or in circumstances where the attackers have no reason to know or believe that the enemy is really totally immune to bullets; in real life it would be unlikely for the world's collective military to take one swipe and announce:
"Oh! He's obviously Immune to Bullets
! How could we been have so Genre Blind
Check out "Real Life" below for some examples where shooting Superman is still the best option.
Compare Five Rounds Rapid
, Never Bring a Knife to a Fist Fight
, Suicidal Overconfidence
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Anime and Manga
- Superman is of course the Trope Namer, and it's been happening since his very first adventure. To the point that, when a normal person punches him, he usually makes a point of rolling with the punch to keep the attacker from hurting themselves.
- Subversion: In "Night Olympics, part one", a Green Arrow comic by Alan Moore, two criminals give themselves up to Black Canary rather than fight her because they're so terrified of being beaten up by a female superhero. "We surrender, Wonder Woman!" She's a bit perturbed, but goes along with it.
- An interesting use of the trope in issue 1 of the second World's Finest miniseries. During The DCU's "Year One", twin mooks break into tech companies in Gotham and Metropolis and are stopped by the local hero. They both fire a gun repeatedly, to no effect. The Metropolis mook assumes Superman is wearing a Bullet Proof Vest, while his Gotham counterpart is so spooked by Batman's "Creature of the Night" image that this doesn't occur to him.
- In a decades-old issue of The Phantom comic book series a villainess laughs off the titular hero's reputation of being eternal. There's some kidnapping, romantic tension, reducing plans to ruins and holding the hero helpless at gunpoint. The usual, but the Phantom just stands there arms crossed and doesn't even flinch as he's shot. The woman commits suicide rather than face a genuine immortal. As it happens, the Phantom is the latest in a line of Badass normals with no superpowers whatsoever. He slinks away badly wounded, thanking his lucky stars that he was Bad Ass enough to keep stoic.
- Incredible Hulk - The Hulk's adversary General Thaddeus "Thunderbolt" Ross considers this standard operating procedure. Every time he finds Dr. Banner, he orders his battalion to open fire on his raging indestructible foe, conveniently forgetting the previous hundred or so times where this only served to piss him off. He made a grand return in World War Hulk and proceeded to… shoot the Hulk. It didn't really work, even with adamantium bullets.
- From the Batman storyline A Death in the Family. Batman, angry that Superman won't tell him what he knows about The Joker (who had just murdered Jason Todd), punches Superman in the face. The dialogue that follows is surprisingly funny, given the otherwise dark storyline.
: Are you all right? Batman
: [holding his hand in pain]
Think I broke a couple of knuckles... Superman
: No, but they're badly bruised.
You're lucky I rolled with that punch. You could have crippled yourself.
- There is a similar scene at the end of the Emperor Joker arc. After The Joker tricks Mr. Mxyzptlk into giving him reality warping abilities, he uses said abilities to continually kill and resurrect Batman, driving him utterly insane. After Superman makes a deal with Mxyzptlk after defeating The Joker, he takes Bruce's memories of the events. After Batman finds out and is furious at Clark for essentially robbing him of what makes him effective (psychosis, essentially), this exchange occurs, with Batman standing on the wing of his Batplane.
Superman: You can hit me if you want. I'll even make sure you don't break your hand
Batman: [glares at him] Pow.
[the Batplane fires four to five large missiles at Supes]
- Also in that arc, there's a part where the Joker is torturing both Superman and Batman by having the former relive the latter's backstory while the latter watches. At the scene where Bruce Wayne's parents get shot, the mooks actually shoot Superman, but the bullets ricochet and kill the parents.
- Oddly enough Batman has also been known to subvert and avert this trope as well as play it straight. In Batman Confidential 53, he subverts it after he attempts to punch Wonder Woman in the face. This being their first meeting he does not realize that she has super strength and super durability and he predictably ends up breaking his knuckles. However, he then quickly adapts with a significantly more effective kick to her diaphragm, deducing that even though she's super strong she still needs air. He averts it in Batman: Under the Red Hood, when he fights with Amazo, who at the time had the powers of both Superman and the Flash. Rather then trying to hurt Amazo with regular punches and weapons, he strikes exclusively with explosives and high momentum strikes to major weak points, e.g. a flying knee to the underside of the chin and plastique to the eyes.
- DC subverts this trope with the alien Daxamites, who have all powers of Superman but with a weakness to lead poisoning instead of Kryptonite. This means that shooting them is actually more effective than with a normal human.
- In one scene in Rising Stars, Pyre (who has power similar to the Human Torch) is getting shot at, which, of course, doesn't affect him. He says the following: "Y'know, I remember watching the old Superman TV series with George Reeves, and the bad guys would always shoot at Superman, when he showed up. I used to ask myself, why? They know it's not going to hurt him, at most, it'll piss him off, so why shoot at him? You know what it comes down to? The bad guys are always stupid. Dirt-stick-stone stupid." Unfortunately, right after that a device is used on him that defuses his powers, and he's shot to death.
- Lampshaded in Love and Capes #10 when Abby gains temporary superpowers and her fiancee Crusader (a Superman Expy) is schooling her in superheroing:
Abby: So, after they run out of bullets, why do they throw the empty guns?
Crusader: I've been trying to figure that out for years.
- During one Justice League of America arc, a General Ripper goes insane and orders a squad to kill the JLA. They comply, but after several minutes of watching bullets bounce off Superman's chest, they stop. One soldier explains why he won't follow the order: "I can't shoot #&*$ing Superman! What do you want me to do next, shove Mother Teresa in a gas chamber?" Didn't help that the JLA also had a (bulletproof) angel on their side at the time. The general had to tell his soldiers that the angel was "fallen" (sort of true but not the way they're implying). Subverted a few issues later, when several supervillains stage a prison break. Even though they are pretty successful (some stop rioting out of fear of Batman), they all stop immediately after Superman arrives. They just give up and go back to their cells. Even the guy who stole Green Lantern's ring just walks up and gives it back (although he'd been instructed to do so, as the ring had already been sabotaged).
- Ironically, one of Superman's recurring enemies, Bloodsport, knocks Superman around by shooting him with weapons powerful enough to stun, and in some cases even hurt, him. This is justified; Bloodsport has a literal Hyperspace Arsenal that can give him any firearm he can imagine.
- Luke Cage: Hero for Hire - Marvel super hero Luke Cage has super strength and unbreakable skin. Whenever someone tries to shoot or stab him, he'll just stand there and say "unbreakable skin." (Note, in the 70s, when Cage was a blaxploitation parody, he'd say "Unbreakable skin fool/turkey." And in the Max line, he says "Unbreakable skin motherfucker." A running gag is that people, mostly Spider-Man, will say that he needs unbreakable pants.
- In an issue of Daredevil, someone tries to stab Luke Cage. Since the knife stops at his skin but the guy keeps stabbing, his hand slides down the knife and gets cut open.
- Silver Sable once defeated him by knocking him down and clapping a pistol to his eye, betting that his eyeball wasn't as bulletproof as the rest of him.
- Subverted by Deadshot, who points out to a bulletproof mook that bulletproof doesn't mean invulnerable. Deadshot (who's an expert marksman) aims for the guy's eyes, mouth and balls. He also once fought a group of guys in Powered Armor, noting that all armor has seams. This was in a Suicide Squad excursion; his teammates Killer Frost and Firebug take out some of them by combining their efforts because the suits are resistant to extreme heat or cold, but not both at once.
- Supergirl - One comic had the situation plays out as normal, right until the mook throws the gun at her — the gun hits Supergirl in the head, and she collapses. Then, she gets back up in the next panel.
Supergirl: Just kidding!
- Some comics of Superman have him using his super speed to catch all the bullets being shot at him, not because they'd hurt him, but because he doesn't want them to bounce off and hurt bystanders. There is one Hulk story where a policeman shoots at him - Banner is in control of Hulk at the time and he hasn't done anything, but the policeman panicked - and Hulk disarms him and berates him because bullets bounce off him and there are lots of people around - the ricochets can easily kill them. Besides, if he has been his old self, bullets would have done nothing, as noted above.
- Kid Twist from Joss Whedon's run on Runaways killed two of the Street Arabs thanks to his Improbable Aiming Skills — his bullets never miss their target even if they have to change direction in midair. He thinks this is the most awesome power in the world, until he encounters another Arab, George "Deadman" Pelham. George, being a zombie, isn't affected by the bullets Kid Twist futilely fires at him. Then he bites into Kid Twist's skull to avenge the Arabs Twist killed.
George: I'm partial to brains myself. But you just emptied your gun into a dead man so I doubt this'll be much of a meal.
- Played with in the Don Rosa story The Vigilante of Pizen Bluff, wherein the Daltons (not them, the historical ones!) try to shoot a charging Scrooge McDuck. Although it should be impossible for them to miss Scrooge (he is directly in front of them, and coming closer), this has absolutely no effect on him. Sure, young Scrooge is Bad Ass, but that he even seems to be immune to bullets, comes as quite a surprise. The explanation: The Daltons where using pistols from Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show, which were only filled with blanks.
- Atomic Robo is a famous robot Action Scientist who is immune to small arms fire. That doesn't stop people from trying to shoot him.
Robo: Oh, come on. What did you think that would accomplish? I fell out of the sky!.
- After Marvel's Civil War crossover, a pissed off Thor picked a fight with Iron Man over Iron Man cloning him. Iron Man opens up by shooting at Thor with his repulsar rays and uni-beam, which Thor shrugs off like they weren't even there. Iron Man then decides to try fighting Thor hand-to-hand even though his armor's weapons failed to scratch him. It goes as well as you would expect.
- Performed and lampshaded in Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog. Super Sonic fights the equally powerful Enerjak to a standstill, greatly frustrating the latter. Fed up, Enerjak decides to simply teleport Sonic away... deep underground. Sonic's response is to instantly dig his way back up to the surface, remarking; "He seriously tries to imprison a burrowing species by burying him? At least his brain is still as clever as ever!"
- New 52: Superman #9 - Superman #10: Superman is fighting Anguish, a girl roughly as strong and fast as him and able to turn intangible. Even after Anguish demonstrates that not even Superman is fast enough to hit her before she turns intangible, the arriving police continue to shoot. Both fighters request for them to stop (Superman because the bullets that go through Anguish are wrecking everything, Anguish because she thinks the gunfire is annoying), but the police refuse to stop.
- Irredeemable's spin-off Incorruptible lampshades this when the invulnerable Max Damage punches a guard who was shooting him in the face, shouting "That's for wasting bullets!"
- Played with during a Spider-Man/Daredevil team-up, the villain Blindside—whose power is that he can blind people—grabs Daredevil's leg and declares to the world that he's robbed the vigilante of his sight. Spider-Man's response is to just sigh in disbelief. Blindside is thrown through a window in the next panel. since Daredevil keeps his blindness a secret in his superhero ID, this is not a full-on example of this trope.
- Happens in Paperinik New Adventures whenever the Evronians are unlucky enough to have a run-in with Xadhoom, as she's invulnerable to almost anything (you could knock her out with enough blunt strength, but it takes immense quantities of it for her to actually notice). It's usually Justified by them trying (and failing) to slow her down for the rest of the group to run away, but in one occasion she met a general that was stupid enough to shoot her and believe he killed her when she fell down (she was apparently trying to get him to call for reinforcements, as she stood back up when said reinforcements were refused by his Genre Savvy superiors), and in another she appeared to have been Brought Down to Normal.
- In two occasions Xadhoom was at the shooting end, namely when facing a new Evronian Super Prototype cruiser that could regenerate from whatever damage she dished out and when trying to execute an Evronian cyborg Super Soldier who could absorb the energy of her attacks and had his natural Emotion Eater powers brought Up to Eleven. She quickly worked around the problem in both occasions: with the cruiser she faked having been killed until they brought her 'body' in (the story ends with her remarking the cruiser was invulnerable from the outside), while the cyborg found out her hate for Evron and guilt complex are so immense that her releasing just a little part of it overloaded his ability to absorb emotions.
- In Origin Story, the SHIELD agents try to shoot Alex Harris with “Hulk Buster” bullets (designed to take down the roaring green rage-monster himself). As Alex is a Kryptonian, they have no effect at all. Alex even lectures them about how they are more likely to hurt themselves with a ricochet than hurt her with them.
- Even better, after their bullets prove utterly ineffective, a couple of agents try hitting her with expandable batons.
- Drizzt of R.A. Salvatore's Dark Elf series will punk a Mook who seems to think that he's got a shot against him. In Sea of Swords, for example, using just his scimitars, he twists the sword out of his opponent's hands, and then, still using just his scimitars, juggles it, before offering it back hilt first with some encouragement.
- In Witches Abroad, Granny Weatherwax seems to consider her sister to be doing this as soon as she tries a magical attack a second time on Baron Saturday, who was unaffected by the first.
- Nicodemus from The Dresden Files is Nigh Invulnerable. We find this out when someone empties her entire clip of bullets into him, reloads, and does it again, while he just stands there, sighs, and rolls his eyes. On the other hand, sufficient dakka proves to be capable of ripping him apart badly enough that he needs a minute to regenerate.
- In Lilith's Brood , the Oankali have a Healing Factor that renders them Nigh Invulnerable. This does not stop certain humans from trying to shoot them. Repeatedly.
- In John Ringo's "Space Bubbles" series, the good guys do this a lot. After the first Dreen war, the found that small caliber weapons were ineffective against the larger Dreen. So when they go exploring space, what do they bring? Small caliber Gatling guns, capable of shooting a whole lot of bullets that do nothing in a short period of time. While on this first mission, they encounter aliens with shells that only Bergs .50 cal can penetrate. Later, they go off on a mission again, still wielding the same underpowered guns.
- Justified, after the first Dreen war personal weapons were up gunned. During the second book they never return to Earth to re-arm, they only have the weapons that are on the ship. After the second book the marines up gun again to .50 Gatling guns.
- Near the climax of Bujold's The Spirit Ring… all right, the first vat of burning oil poured on the Living Statue of molten bronze is an acceptable result of soldiers resorting to training in a stressful situation. However the second and third vat used while said statue is laughing at them....
- In Ultimate Hero this trope is subverted; the title superhero, Ultimate, is killed by a pistol. On the other hand, it was a gun specially designed to kill him.
Live Action TV
- As mentioned in the Trope description, this initially came from the old live-action Superman movie serials and the George Reeves TV series. Superman would confront a crook, the crook would shoot at Superman, who stood there with his fists on his hips while the bullets bounced off his invulnerable skin. Then the crook would throw the now-empty gun at Superman, who would duck or dodge it. Of course, the real reason for this was that the "ricochet" effects were drawn onto the celluloid film stock after the fact, and the actors playing Superman had to duck so as not to get cracked in the head with a prop gun. Still, it does look quite silly… Later seasons, someone must have noticed and came up with having the mooks throw rubber or foam-shaped guns at Reeves so that they'd bounce off his padded chest. A Played With version occurs in "The Evil Three"; one of the villains tries to kill Superman with his sword, but he's unaware Superman is invulnerable.
- In Prince of Space, the villainous aliens constantly attack the eponymous hero with their laser weapons, despite his constant insistence (and demonstrations) that these weapons cannot harm him. His immunity is an invention of the American dub only. This is the result of a Dub Induced Plothole. In the original Japanese Language cut he was just really good at evading gunfire.
- Surprisingly subverted in the series finale of the Salkind's The Adventures of Superboy program. In the final episode, Superboy catches some crooks in the process of robbing a bank and they wisely put their guns down, something for which he compliments them. Ironically, his heat vision (as well as all his other powers) was going haywire that day and had to flare up just then, frying the surrendering crooks.
- Appropriately enough, lampshaded in Lois and Clark. When a secret agent pulls a gun on Superman, he just smiles sympathetically and says, "Let me guess, you're new in town."
- The final season of The X-Files has a heroic version: Doggett always tries to shoot the completely invulnerable Super Soldiers no matter how many times it doesn't work. Eventually one of them calls him on it. Doggett, being the skeptic, presumably does not believe in the Super Soldiers or their invulnerability. He probably assumes that, despite being an FBI agent who is probably a pretty good shot, he's just been missing them all this time.
- All over the place in The Sarah Connor Chronicles. In spite of the dozens of times it has been shown that nothing short of armor-piercing ammunition, high explosives or Cameron will even damage an enemy Terminator, let alone disable it, the main characters insist on plugging the latest implacable killing machine with as many bullets as they can before thinking "Oh shit, this might be a bad idea", then running. However, small arms fire in great quantities sometimes does have an affect, and shooting at a Terminator will often at least slow it down or distract it.
- In the Season 6 season premier of LOST, Bram and his team shoot at The-Man-in-Black-who-is-Masquerading-as-John-Locke, who then reveals himself to be the smoke monster, killing Bram and his team. While it is unknown if they actually knew what they were dealing with at the time, it's pretty obvious that the writers set up to prove exactly this point - that the Smoke Monster is invulnerable to bullets. Bram even picks up the bullet from the floor during a lull in the battle. Once the smoke monster gets a physical body, however, he's as vulnerable to bullets as anyone.
- While more technology than invulnerability, when going up against one of the Goa'uld in Stargate SG-1, the team unloads rounds of gun fire towards him, only to be deflected by the shield. Jack O'Neill then throws a blade (not the gun he was just firing, that would have probably fallen far short), which penetrates the shield.
- This is explained in show- certain kinds of personal shield can be penetrated by slow-moving objects. Useless shooting seems to be SGC standard procedure for dealing with both Kull warriors and human-form Replicators, both of whom are completely immune to bullets. It's possible that the bullet-shooters are trying to act as distractions for whoever has the gun that will actually kill the enemy, though.
- There is a straighter example in the episode where Teal'c is trapped in the virtual reality of the chair. The setting is an invasion by a Kull Warrior of Anubis. The military personnel keeps firing on it with ordinary weaponry (instead of doing something smart like evacuating or trapping the Kull Warrior in a corridor), completely ignoring the fact that the Kull Warrior can only killed by a special weapon. This includes O'Neill himself. For all its trying to be realistic, the program apparently makes its friendly AIs incredibly stupid.
- Too many Jaffa (and sometimes even SGC personnel) seem to forget that energy-based weapons can't work on Replicators, and they need to use bullets. (Especially after it being proven that the P90 is better than the staff weapon at everything besides melee and intimidation.)
- Staff weapons do work on Replicators (unlike Zats), but they're too imprecise for most warriors to have a shot at hitting a fast-moving target like a Replicator. Only someone as well-trained as Teal'c or Bra'tac can do so reliably (Teal'c once manages to hit a Replicator with a staff weapon without even looking).
- Doctor Who - No matter what century it is, and no matter how many times The Doctor tells them not to, people always unload clip after clip at Daleks, Cybermen, Sontarans, etc. when will they learn that Five Rounds Rapid doesn't work? Heck, the one time conventional weapons did work it got a Lampshade Hanging. On one occasion, the Brigadier commented, "Just once I would like to encounter an alien menace that wasn't immune to bullets."
This is subverted somewhat in the new series... there's an episode where armor successfully shoots down a spaceship hovering over London, and another where the U.N.I.T. forces make a good showing against Sontarans.
- A soldier also kills a cyberman in season two using a rocket. But are these subversions of the trope? No one had any reason to expect the spaceship, the Sontarans, or the cyberman to be immune to the weapons variously employed against them.
- In the novelization, of Remembrance of the Daleks (Seventh Doctor), but not the TV episode, recoilless rifles and shoulder-mounted rocket launchers are shown to be effective. While this subverts the trope, making the Daleks no longer invulnerable, the humans are still grossly overmatched. At least Gp Capt. Gilmour takes heed from his first experience and brings in some heavy weapons (and yet he is the Brigadier's immediate PREDECESSOR.
- Also, in the revived series 1st season, the episode "Dalek"'s eponymous character has a forcefield that melts the bullets before they hit. The Doctor tells them to concentrate their fire on the eyepiece, but the Dalek kills everyone before they can break through. In "The Parting of the Ways", the bullets DO eventually get through, but the other Daleks massacre the rest of the resistance before they can inflict more damage. In the 4th series episode "The Stolen Earth", the Daleks don't have the forcefields anymore, but their armour is too strong for modern earth weaponry ("The Parting of the Ways" took place in the year 200100, where guns use bullets with Bastic Heads). Peculiarly, no one thinks to aim for the eyepiece.
- Actually one person does think to aim for the eyepiece, with a paintgun of all things to try and blind them. And it almost works, until it's revealed that the Dalek's have the ability to dissolve liquid obstructing their eyepiece. Luckly,Rose suddenly appears and uses her BFG from the future to blow the Dalek up.
- That scene was actually the first time the Daleks were shown to have this ability. Previously, they were always vulnerable to being hit in the eyestalk. So that is actually the FIRST example of this in Doctor Who. "My vision is NOT impaired."
- There's a lampshaded aversion in the episode "Planet of the Dead". Giant flying stingray things that turn planets to sand have just arrived through a portal to Earth, and U.N.I.T. open fire. Amazingly, the aliens actually start dying. The U.N.I.T. commander says something along the lines of: "I can't believe it - guns that work!"
- Smallville: Occasionally trotted out in, particularly in "Exile," where Clark (infected with red kryptonite) robs a bank. When the cops get there, Clark pretends to go for a gun, and they shoot him. A lot. He just stands there for a while before getting bored and using heat vision to blow up a cop car. Although Clark seems to enjoy snatching bullets out of the air and showing them to look extra badass. Subverted in "Extinction." Clark hears someone shooting at him and turns to catch the bullet. He's visibly shocked when the kryptonite round goes through his hand and into his shoulder. Justified a lot, as a lot of criminals shoot at Clark, not knowing he's invulnerable. Also, in season one this trope would be played with, as Clark was only just developing his invulnerability, so he would be as surprised as the villains when Shooting Superman didn't work. For example, in "Pilot" he is surprised (and a bit scared) when he survives being hit by Lex's car, and in the episode "Hug" a Brainwashed and Crazy Lex tries to kill Clark with an automatic rifle, and both Clark and his parents are shocked to learn he can survive automatic weapon fire.
- Often played straight in Wonder Woman, thus giving Wonder Woman a chance to do her "bullets and bracelets" stunt. Hilariously subverted in the pilot, however, where Red Buttons plays a shady showbiz promoter working for the Nazis. Wonder Woman tracks down the Nazi agents, most of whom have yet to encounter her. Understandably, they therefore open fire at the strange chick in the bathing suit, with predictable results. Buttons' character, however, previously saw Wonder Woman deflect an entire magazine from a machine gun. He does unload his revolver at Wonder Woman, but doesn't even bother aiming, with an expression on his face that clearly shows he's just shooting for appearance's sake.
- In Supernatural using bullets or guns are generally completely useless. There can be exceptions such as the Colt and how various beings are't immune to specific types of bullets, there are beings immune to both. However in situations where bullets do not work it is usually when the shooter is not aware they won't work.
- Justified in Dungeons & Dragons - and many other role-playing-games - in which literally any attack will hurt literally anyone as long as the attacker rolls a 20 on a 20-sided die (or a similarly rare optimal roll in games that use different dice for resolution). For example, D&D rules permits 1 in 20 attacks to hit a high AC target, where 10 thugs empty out revolvers at Superman, an average three of those shots will qualify as a hit.
- Going by D&D rules, Superman would likely have a huge Damage Reduction (which a natural 20 does not nullify), rendering them just as ineffective as before. Furthermore, such high defenses would make it impossible to land a critical hit, resulting in no damage.
- Some more amorphous entities, like golems or the undead, are immune to critical hits. Since crits are supposed to represent getting a lucky hit through your target's defenses or directly in a weak spot, this obviously wouldn't apply to a Determinator that doesn't stop short of Critical Existence Failure. Creatures immune to such critical hits are just treated as receiving normal damage.
- This can happen with magic as well. Golems can only be affected by a tiny assortment of spells, and sometimes a creature has a quality which allows it a level-based chance to ignore a magical attack. A caster might have a zero-percent chance to affect an enemy. A spell caster can overcome this by using magic creatively, for example, disintegrating the bridge a golem is walking across rather than targeting the golem itself.
- Averted in Warhammer and possible but uncommon in Warhammer 40,000. In the current edition of the later, if a unit's toughness stat is four points higher than the strength of an attack thrown at it, the attack can't hurt it. In the former, any unit can be harmed by a hit if the attacker rolls a six on a six-sided dice to wound, and no matter what, armor has a minimum 1 in 6 chance to fail. After all saves, any attack has at least a tiny chance to hurt the enemy. Interestingly, the current editions actually favor a big group of Mooks attacking a single powerful unit, since not do their mass of attacks and numbers mean they can beat it a battle of attrition, but they get automatic bonuses to their combat resolution meaning they can win without inflicting any harm on target.
- Prior editions of Warhammer 40,000 did not allow troops to flee close combat from an enemy they have no chance in heck of hurting, meaning that the squad would refuse to try to flee an unwinnable combat and be locked in that fight until slaughtered or their morale broke and they fled. So if your Red Shirt Army Imperial Guardsmen - basically normal guys - were in close combat with a walking death tank they could not damage, they would continue to beat it with the stocks of their rifles for no damage until they were killed or their morale was broken. 6th Edition (current as of early 2013) allows tropes to choose to flee if they have exactly zero chance to damage an enemy in close combat. In either case, they have a chance to be swept off the table when they flee.
- Additionally, in 6th edition, a unit can charge a unit which they have zero chance to injure. This might be worthwhile if tying up the enemy in close combat is more important than whatever lambs are being sent to slaughter.
- In the associated Warhammer 40,000 RPGS Dark Heresy, Rogue Trader, Deathwatch, Black Crusade, and Only War, this can happen to the player characters or to the mooks. Many supernatural creatures, technologically advanced aliens, particularly wealthy and important Imperial citizens, and Space Marines are simply immune to the weapons available to flunkies by virtue of armor, force fields, and/or superhuman toughness. Since these things exist in one continuity, it is entirely possible for the players or the enemies to unload lasgun shot after lasgun shot with no chance to do damage at all.
- Definitely used against the player characters in Call of Cthulhu. Many of the monsters are horrifically powerful and have defenses which no player character can realistically hope to break. And if the near-impossible happens and you somehow defeat an Eldritch Abomination by, say, ramming it in the head with a ship, it usually has Plot Armor which means it will survive. Guns are useful only against the weakest Mythos creatures and cultists. And yourself. And whoever got you into this mess.
- In Assassins, Hinckley fires his gun repeatedly at a photograph of President Reagan. Each shot causes the Reagan photograph to disappear, then reappear brighter than before.
- Cops in the Katamari Damacy games will shoot at your mountain-sized katamari to no effect.
- In inFAMOUS, once you get Polarity Wall no bullet will ever hit you in that direction. Heck if you upgrade it getting shot gives you health.
- Sonic Adventure:
- The police attempts to shoot Chaos. Yeah, like shooting a humanoid blob of water would work. In their defense, they had never seen Chaos before and really had no clue he was made out of water and they quickly figure out that it's not going to work and back off, with the rather Narmful delivery of the line: "Oh no, our weapons are useless! Retreat! All personnel, fall back!" They then try to save face by moon-walking away. It sort of works.
- Also, obviously you can't hurt water. This doesn't stop the heroes from constantly hurting and defeating the various forms of Chaos however. Chaos has what looks like some sort of device on it's "head", which is what the heroes always use to hurt him. So it's likely that the police were aiming at the wrong part, his body, when they should have aimed at his head.
- Knights of the Old Republic:
- As Alex Mercer succinctly puts it: "Nothing can protect you from me! Not men! Not weapons! Not armor!" When Alex Mercer shows up, shooting is pretty much your only recourse. Running won't work either, nor will surrender. All tanks do is irritate him by knocking him over, he'll just hijack your helicopter — unless, of course, he decides to smash your tank in one blow and throw it at the chopper — and bullets might as well be Nerf darts. Hell, the guy survives a nuke to the face. While bullets are able to hurt you, the damage they deal is not significant unless you just stand there and let them shoot you.
- And then, in Prototype 2, this gets extended even further. Heller can acquire a passive power that works like Alex's shield, so anyone trying to shoot him with small arms will get killed by ricochets with no effort on his part. Heller then gets a shield that's improved over Alex's - it not only covers him completely, but it'll reflect tank rounds and rockets as well. Heller himself does this at the start of the game, when he decides he's going to try to stab Mercer to death.
- Also, any videogame that allows God Mode will effectively leave your enemies laying round after round of blanks into you, as they're not programmed to recognize invincibility. It's also quite amusing to notice how many rounds they go through, as the majority of enemies also aren't programmed to run out of ammo.
- Averted in World of Warcraft where enemies will not attack an invincible player if there are other players to attack. Other players in PvP however tend to whack at the invincible enemy for some time before realizing it isn't working and switch to hauling ass.
- Averted in Warcraft III, where invincible units can't be attacked at all. Similarly, it's impossible to directly target magic-immune units with spells. It is, however, possible to uselessly cast area effect spells on them.
- Also averted in the Super Smash Bros. series of games. Grabbing a star makes you immune to damage, knock-back, and hitstun, and all the CPU players will avoid you to the best of their ability rather than waste their time attacking. Some human players, however, have a hard time figuring that out.
- The DCAU-based game Superman: Shadow of Apokalips had an egregious example that, oddly enough, did not involve Superman. When Metallo comes gunning for Lex Luthor, Luthor's big plan is to have his bodyguard Mercy shoot Metallo with a machine gun. This isn't meant to distract Metallo so that Luthor can escape or anything like that, Luthor genuinely seemed to think this would work and had an Oh, Crap reaction when it didn't. What makes this worse is that in this continuity, Luthor was the one responsible for turning Metallo into a cyborg, would know exactly how tough he is, and has access to energy weapons powerful enough to hurt him. But no, just have Mercy use a machine gun.
- In too many action games to list, the player will be driving a tank while enemies stand in the open and uselessly fire their pistols into the armor until the player gets around to blowing them up. Which can be a subversion, as most games register that pistol hit and take the damage off your health, however little damage that might be. Meaning that while one mook with a pistol is highly ineffective, they can eventually kill you, which only makes this situation all the more humiliating. Mercenaries, however, knows that light arms do nothing to tanks, and as such plays this situation true to the trope. Until they bring out heavier weapons.
- Team Fortress 2 - Ubercharges are indestructible. You will accomplish absolutely nothing by blazing away with that pussy shotgun while that glowing blue Russian force of minigun-wielding death incarnate shoots you to bits with his much, much more effective minigun. Doesn't stop people from trying, though, God bless 'em. The only reasons to shoot at someone under the effects of a charge are to try and slow them down with knockback, airblast or knock them away from their medic to disrupt the charge, or try to distract them while your Medics and Engineers run for it.
- Explosive weapons with knockback, though — like a demoman's mines — can toss invulnerable players around and force them to waste time; if you manage to separate the medic from their target like this, their invulnerability ends.
- Some maps have bottomless pits. Using knockback and the Pyro's airblast to knock enemies off a cliff and to their deaths is a perfectly valid and rather effective tactic, regardless of invincibility.
- Another medigun, the Quickfix, doesn't make you invincible when the medic ubercharges but instead VERY rapidly heals the target. Things that kill in a single shot (sniper rifle headshots, crit rockets, enough stickies, or simply enough concentrated firepower to overwhelm the overheal), meaning that shooting them is still a smart idea. Although, if all you has is a shotgun, it is still a better idea to run.
- In the Generation 1 Pokémon games, this could be the case. Because of the programming, trainers would always use attacks super effective against your Pokemon's type...even if your Pokemon's other type was immune, and even if the "attack" isn't actually an attack, such as using Amnesia relentlessly against Fighting Pokemon. As such, one could sweep through the entire Celadon Gym with a Level 5 Bulbasaur because every trainer, seeing that he is Grass type, would use Poisonpowder every turn, despite the fact that his Poison half makes him immune to the attack. Generation VI introduces the grass starters final form Chesnaught who's hidden ability Bulletproof makes it immune to any bullet or bomb based moves. The AI will occasionally ignore this fact even after several applications of a move it is immune to.
- In various Fire Emblem games, the AI enemies will always attack one of your characters should someone be within range, regardless of their own accuracy against said character or whether or not they can inflict any damage at all. This can easily be played around with, allowing you to place a unit with insanely high defense in the way and allowing the enemy to repeatedly attack you, while you counterattack and your weaker characters are safely too far away/blocked off.
- In LEGO Batman 2, certain characters such as Superman and Wonder Woman are completely immune to all damage. This doesn't stop everyone from random street thugs to evil genius Lex Luthor trying to kill them.
- Used and subverted in the backstory to Batman: Arkham City. The Ratcatcher, a D-List supervillain with the power to control rats, ran afoul of the Penguin. For irony's sake, the Penguin tried to kill Ratcatcher by feeding him to hungry rats, only for the rodents to just leave him alone. The Penguin ended up settling for feeding Ratcatcher to his pet shark.
- In Fine Structure, the appropriately named "Fight Scene" chapter has Flying Brick Arika take on a squad of Flying Brick Super Soldiers and endure all manor of hurt at the command of their leader. After she survives a cruise missile, she hovers over him and he empties his clip at the hero in what is explicitly a mere show of defiance.
- In the Global Guardians PBEM Universe, this happened to The Shield all the time. The Shield's one schtick is being completely and totally invulnerable, so naturally mooks would empty clip after clip into him to no effect. Occasionally this would escalate and they'd use grenades, miniguns, and rocket launchers on him to equally no effect. Once, one villain even dropped him to Earth from orbit. To no effect. You'd think that sooner or later word would get around...
- Part of Lancer's backstory in the Whateley Universe. Lancer is a PK superboy type, who grew up as an Army brat. When a troop of soldiers thought he was a supervillain holding his family hostage, they tried to kill him with everything up to a couple shots from an Abrams M-1 tank. You'd think you wouldn't try to shoot a guy who could shrug off a tank round.
- Occurs in the Death Battle episode Robocop vs The Terminator. Robocop still tries using his giant pistol against the Terminator, despite understanding that he's essentially shooting at a titanium skeleton, and the Terminator tries using guns against Robocop despite knowing he's shooting at something covered in titanium and kelvar. This trope is ultimately one of the reasons for Robocop's victory, he uses a number of explosives, the Terminator mostly uses small arms.
- Barring a lucky shot, massive animals such as rhinos, grizzlies, or walruses can easily soak up bullets from small-caliber weapons without stopping. Large crocodilians, which have bony armor plates under their skin, can be virtually unkillable with light ammunition; during WWII, Japanese infantry who'd retreated into the Pacific islands' marshes could be heard throughout the night, screaming and firing in vain at bellowing crocodiles. A small few made it back to dry land, for once content to surrender.
- Pretty much all modern armoured vehicles are at the very least immune to attack from small arms. A few lighter vehicles are even capable of resisting mines and anti-tank rockets, though anything that isn't a tank is going to be taken apart by high velocity armour-piercing ammunition. In the case of main battle tanks, they're practically invulnerable to any anti-tank weapon that isn't current generation. The famed RPG-7 tends to have about the same effect on modern tanks as a pigeon, as proven in one case where a British Challenger 2 MBT took around seventy rockets and still managed to keep going. American M1 Abrams MBTs have been able to take multiple hits from their own gun in a number of friendly fire cases and are so difficult to destroy by their crews that it will often require the insides to be stuffed full of C4 to blow them apart. At least once, a crew had to abandon their tank and their fellow soldiers attempted to destroy it to prevent it from falling into enemy hands - an effort that proved to be entirely unsuccessful. Eventually, they gave up and the tank was later towed back to base to be restored to working condition.
- The common version seen in video games that seems suicidally useless actually does have a true purpose in reality. Shooting a tank with machine gun fire has the advantage of forcing the crew to button up and seal themselves up inside the tank which severely limits their situational awareness and forces them to look through small periscopes, thus making them more vulnerable to things such as anti-tank mines or soldiers sneaking up to plant charges on the tank's vulnerable treads or engine rear armor. This is less limiting with modern tanks due to their more sophisticated thermal sights and cameras. Before tanks had laser sights, machine gun fire was also used to "Zero in" the main cannon, as both were often mounted in the same Mantlet and were both aimed at once.
- Modern vehicles have relatively few vulnerable points thanks to the time and money spent in development by comparison, but pretty much every tank in history has been vulnerable to track or external optics damage that can render them immobile or blind with far less effort than it takes to actually pierce their armor. An RPG-7 is unlikely to penetrate a modern tank, but it can detrack one more often than not.
- Speaking of modern armour, there's also body armour too - there's this video showing a soldier in Iraq who gets sniped centre of mass, only to get up again. Cue freaked-out insurgents.
- Selecting the type and level of penetration a bullet can achieve is extremely important depending on the type of target. The lightest bullets tend to only be effective for target practice or extremely close range. Some of the most tragic police shootouts (for example, the North Hollywood shootout of 1997) have occurred because law enforcement had underpowered weapons against criminals with body armornote . Before the North Hollywood shootout, there was the Miami shootout of 1986, where the two criminals didn't have body armour but still survived multiple gunshot wounds long enough to kill two FBI agents and injure five more before they finally died.
- Standard operating procedure in the American Civil War when faced with an ironclad was to either gather many, many other ships to shoot it with, or get another ironclad and settle down into an hours-long duel. Thick armor of the time was effectively impenetrable, but the wood that supported it (usually oak) could only withstand so many blows before it broke. The classic example is the CSS Tennessee, which, after having her exposed steering chains shot away, was surrounded by the Union fleet and pounded on until the supports for her 6" thick iron armor started to break, forcing surrender.