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Shooting Superman
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 a monster, 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.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • Both an example and a subversion, in AKIRA when regular people, such as Yamagata attempt to shoot Tetsuo, he either deflects the shot, or reverses its direction. However, because of Kaneda's connection to Tetsuo, when Kaneda shoots him the bullet isn't deflected, with Tetsuo's reaction to being shot in the first volume implying that he HAD meant to deflect the shot and failed.
  • The Mazinger series: Whenever a human army turns on Mazinger Z, Great Mazinger or UFO Robo Grendizer, they always shot round after of round of ammo in spite of they should already know conventional weaponry not even scratches them (it was kind of subverted the first time Mazinger-Z was activated in the manga. The army could not know what that Humongous Mecha was made of. And in that time, the dome protected Kouji inside the cockpit was still open, so the pilot was still vulnerable. Shooting Superman in that situation could have worked). Also, when a Robeast appears, the army insists on attacking them in spite of they should know after the first few times they are wasting ammo, men and money. It was kind of subverted in a Mazinger-Z episode, though: a squad of Iron Masks surrounded Aphrodite-A and threw a hail of spears against the Fem Bot. They very obviously did not damage it, but they managed to slow Sayaka down (they were so many they were very distracting) what was their intention.
  • Early in Neon Genesis Evangelion, it's established that all conventional weapons are useless against the angels and even the "Non-nuclear" N2 mines may or may not slow one down, depending on the episode and angel. Yet the military insists on shooting at them anyway, presumably to distract them.
    • Some lines from Rebuild of Evangelion suggest that the military stubbornly insists on having their shot at killing an Angel to feel satisfied. Ritsuko quips that the only thing they're doing is wasting money. There are, however, some occasions where NERV fires huge amounts of ordinance at an Angel to distract it or slow it down while they get the Evas ready.
  • The mooks of Elfen Lied do this a lot. Mind you, part of this could be because their superiors might not have fully informed them about the massive Psychic Powers of the diclonius. Also, since they have to deflect every individual bullet, it's theoretically possible for one to get through.
  • This happens during Dragon Ball Z's Buu Saga. Fat Buu has pretty much trashed the world at this point, laughing off whole armies like they were cheap toys and wrecking cities at will. So naturally, when Mr. Satan (with the help of a stray puppy) manage to talk him down and get him on the verge of a full Heel-Face Turn... two mooks with sniper rifles decide to be An Hero and snipe the creature that laughed off tank fire on national TV. It didn't end well.
    • It's pretty much a Running Gag to have Earth's military assemble against the latest Big Bad with a hail of firepower, only to be wiped out in return. Nappa (though only in the anime), Androids 17 and 18, Cell, Buu... even back in Dragon Ball with King Piccolo.
    • His children too, when Launch attempts to save Yamcha from Tambourine she shoots him with a machine gun, the bullets just bounce off him.
    • The very first episode of Dragon Ball Z has a farmer firing his shotgun at Raditz, who proceeds to pluck the shell right out of the air and flick it back with enough force to kill the farmer. In this case, the farmer had no idea who or what the hell Raditz was, so shooting him would seem like a reasonable response to the threat.
    • Played heroically in the Great Saiyaman saga, when Gohan catches a hail of machine gun fire and drops them demonstratively in front of a robber. He flees.
    • Very first episodes/chapter of Dragon Ball, Bulma panicked and shot a 12 year old Goku. Right in the head. Goku hopped up and said that hurt, and all he had was a small bump on his forehead. From the very first chapter, we have the establishment of Goku's bulletproofness.
      • When on a mission to find the Dragon Balls near the end of the Cell Saga, Goku finds one in the possession of a greedy businessman (whom he treats with the naive kindness that is typical of his character). When one of the businessman's bodyguards takes it upon himself to shoot at Goku, he plucks the bullet out of the air without even LOOKING and continues to talk calmly, not even acknowledging the shot.
    • Even energy weapons can have this happen. One of Frieza's men shot Trunks with an energy cannon, which Trunks effortlessly deflected into a nearby plateau.
  • Lampshaded in one episode of Tokko. When a handful of Muggle rookie cops are being dispatched to a phantom attack site, one of them points out that bullets don't work against the monsters. Da Chief angrily snaps back "I STILL WANT YOU TO SHOOT AT THEM!"
  • In Mobile Suit Gundam, after the titular Humongous Mecha cripples his own mech, Admiral Dozel climbs out of the cockpit & begins shooting at it with a rifle. This is more a final symbolic act of defiance, though.
    • Funny thing is, Dozel's Mobile Armour, the Big Zam (no, there is no Small Zam), is the target of Shooting Superman just a few moments earlier. With a Nigh Invulnerable barrier called an I-Field Barrier that can block all beam attacks even from capital ships main guns, he just flies around and slaughtered dozens of Space Cruisers and Battleships along with its 28 beam guns mounted all over and with auto lock on capability. Thus it takes the sacrifice of a comrade so The Hero can get in close and stab the Mobile Armour with a beam sabre.
      • Though the I-Field Generator on the Big Zam can only last for 20 mins and cannot block solid ammunition, All In The Manual.
    • More along the lines of the trope: Gundam 0080 demonstrates that even a single Mook piloted by a rookie can do significant damage to a Gundam if they use strategy and tactics. However, more often than not the enemy will just fire blindly and get trashed, with the Gundam receiving only light damage at worst.
  • A Certain Magical Index:
    • Accelerator's past where everyone uses him as a Shooting Superman. It didn't work in the past, why would work in the present? Most of the time, Accelerator flat out ignores the majority of his attackers; his passive defenses will slaughter them all, they're not worth actually fighting.
    • People often ineffectually blast Touma Kamijou with magic or esper powers despite his ability to negate them with his right hand, Imagine Breaker. Ironically, it's easier to attack him with regular weapons because he can't negate them. Touma is also sometimes forced to run when faced with multiple attackers as he points out he only has one right hand.
  • Alucard of Hellsing, pretty much all the time. Even enemies who know he's an immortal vampire still try. Though they may imagine they have a chance of slowing him down, it's likely that all the drama surrounding his regeneration is purely for his amusement.
    Alucard: You'll need more than guns to stop me!
    • Also occurs towards the end of the series when Integra shoots Schrodinger, even though she had already seen Alcuard blow his head off a few volumes early, so unless she was doing it because she didn't like him, she was wasting her time.
  • One Piece - Considering he has a four hundred million beli bounty and is one of the most infamous pirates in the world, you'd think people would know better than to try shooting at Luffy. It's not like he hides the fact that he's made of rubber, either. Bullets that hit him tend to bounce right back at the same speed they hit him at while he just ignores them. It's particularly bad during Enies Lobby when literally thousands of marines are trying to shoot him and he doesn't even seem to notice. Maybe they're aiming for his oddly indestructible hat to go for emotional damage?
    • It gets even worse in the Marineford Arc. After Luffy freed Ace, the Marines proceed to shoot Luffy and Ace. Keep in mind that Ace can turn into intangible fire, so while bullets just bounce off Luffy, they simply pass through Ace.
      • Some of the Marines seem to notice this during the arc and how the sheer number of superhuman combatants means all they're going to do is add more dead bodies, but Akainu killed any who did, so it was either the pirates, or him.
    • Subverted to high hell in One Piece Film: Z. The main villain, Genre Savvy former admiral Z, first shoots Luffy with a regular gun; Luffy, predictably, does his usual "bullets can't hurt me!" boasting... which gives Z enough time to whip out a revolver loaded with sea-stone bullets and shoot him with it. Naturally, Luffy quickly loses his strength and eventually can no longer even move with the sea-stone lodged in his shoulder and collapses, while Z chuckles at his arrogance.
  • Death Note: In the manga and movie, the SPK/task force members think Ryuk is writing their names in the title book, and try to stop him. Bullets don't do jack against shinigami.
  • Heroman - In true comic book fashion, this is how it turns out when the police and the army shoot the Skrugg, and also when the Skrugg shoot Heroman.
  • Ichiban Ushiro no Daimaou: Ganging up on the guy destined to become the Demon King—bringer of death and destruction, eater of babies, and ravisher of women—with pipes and other assorted items is one thing. He's not a demon king yet, and he might be all show. However, when said guy shrugs off a heavy blow to the back, mocks your efforts, and proceeds to turn your friends' feet into bloody pretzels with the power of his mind, charging in with a metal chain and cheap magical barrage probably isn't going to help you much either.
  • Averted, subverted, or maybe just zig-zagged in Princess Mononoke. Ashitaka uses his demon-enhanced reflexes to knock arrows fired at him out of the air while riding a swimming elk. One mook tells the others not to waste their arrows, and they stop firing. An odd example as this would seem to be a defense that should be penetrable; after all, he only has to miss deflecting one arrow.
  • Played with in Yu-Gi-Oh!. Occasionally the bad guy will have an unassailable combo put together, but that won't stop the hero from sending in an attack, summoning a monster, or triggering whatever effect the opponent wants to activate. Most intelligent duelists are too smart to fall for the same trick twice. But a truly skilled duelist will fall into the trap on purpose, only to break down the strategy at some fundamental oversight.
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, when a scientist fires multiple rounds at what he was just told was an army of immortal beings.
    • You have to feel sorry for Hawkeye: despite her being the badass gunslinger of the series, the main scenes in which she gets to show off her skills are against Homunculi who have more power to regenerate themselves than she has ammo.
    • Played for Laughs in another story, where a group of train robbers keeps encountering Al one-by-one and deciding that firing their machineguns at the big suit of armor is a good idea, DESPITE Al attempting to warn them. As it wears on, Anime!Al just keeps trying, while Manga!Al is a little more snarky (in the sense of "It worked out so well for your three friends...").
    • Turns out to ultimately be subverted with the homunculi. The Healing Factor they display initially make it look like shooting them is futile, but the ability to regenerate is powered by their Philosopher's Stones, which have a finite amount of energy. The result is that even if bullets don't look like they do anything, they still use up some of the Philosopher's Stone's power, it's just that other forms of attack obviously work better.
  • Zig-zaggy in Eureka Seven AO. The G-Monsters have some kind of energy field that makes them immune to non-mecha weapons. Sometimes the military listens to Bleu's warnings and holds their fire, but other times they cluelessly shoot at the monsters, which merely draws their attention and gets the shooter(s) obliterated. In one episode they try to capture one of the monsters, with predictable results. Pied Piper's AI lampshades their stupidity at least once.
  • In Saiyuki, the villains keep sending wave after wave of underpowered Mooks to get slaughtered by the heroes...er, protagonists. Subverted in that their leader doesn't actually expect this to work - she just doesn't want her forces standing around doing nothing, and doesn't care about their survival one way or another. This is a significant point of conflict between her and Noble Demon Kougaiji, who actually does care about the safety of his troops and despises the senseless waste of life.
  • In Tiger & Bunny episode 9, the villain of the week attempts to use a taser on Dragon Kid.

    Comic Books 
  • 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.
    Superman: 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.

    Film 
  • In Superman Returns, a criminal turns a freaking Gatling gun (and not just the usual 7.62mm minigun - this was a full-on 20mm M61!) on Superman. Even after he's emptied an entire belt of high-powered ammunition into the guy's chest without so much as scuffing the insignia, he still thinks it's a bright idea to move on to a regular pistol and try to shoot for Superman's eyes. We're then treated to a Bullet Time effect of the bullet actually bouncing off Superman's eyeball. Golly. Superman takes a moment to flash a sardonic, "how dumb can you get?" smile at the thug just before giving him great quantities of what-for. Offscreen, however.
    • Admittedly, it was a valiant effort by the mook, at least trying for what would seemingly be an obvious weak spot. It's not exactly like Superman's exact abilities and limits are well documented and published in that universe, and remember, even the mighty Achilles had a heel.
  • The platoon protecting the president in Superman II does this with the Krypton Criminals. They empty their clips into General Zod and company, and when the bullets all bounce off harmlessly, they reload and shoot at the three Kryptonians some more.
  • Generally speaking, there is no point in shooting at Robocop with anything less than anti-tank weaponry. Of course this makes Robocop's eventual fall all the more shocking. In RoboCop 2, Robocop does this when shooting at…Robocop II, as his replacement is even more heavily armored than he is. Noticing that doesn't work, even with big gun he's using, he at least shoots off his replacement's Shoulder Cannon since it fired explosive bullets. Robocop II notices that the minigun it was using was useless in the fight so he resorted to using his hands.
  • The Matrix and its sequels has this, first with the Agents, who are established early on as being programmed to be fast enough to dodge bullets. This doesn't stop the heroes unloading clips on them. Then, in the sequel, we have Neo, who is at this point a Physical God with the ability to raise his hand and stop bullets in the air. The Merovingian, who has encountered numerous of Neo's predecessors as The One and therefore is completely aware of how futile it will be, orders his henchmen to open fire.
  • Godzilla faces the standard doomed assault by the Japanese military almost every time he appears (as an antagonist, at least), even though by the time of the sequels, they've had many opportunities to see just how utterly useless that is. Add to this the tendency in Kaiju films for the army's unloading of ordinance into the monster to do as much collateral damage as the monster itself (or more, in American films like 1998's Godzilla, King Kong, and Cloverfield.) The most shooting the monster ever seems to do is make it angry, except in Godzilla 2000, a set of MLRS fired at Godzilla do appear to actually hurt him, but he just heals from the injuries right afterwards.
    • In The Return Of Godzilla, somebody has the brilliant idea of dropping a nuclear bomb on him. Think about that for a minute.
      • Particularly glaring example is when the army tries fighting King Ghidorah and Gigan in Godzilla vs. Gigan. They could never stop one monster, and here they go trying to stop two.
    • Godzilla vs. Megaguirus has Japan trying to use a Kill Sat that fires an Unrealistic Black Hole to kill Godzilla late in the film, even though the first time it didn't work and brought the other titular monster in the film, which was only stopped by Godzilla himself.
    • In Godzilla (2014), the military continues to use conventional weapons against Godzilla, who has survived multiple nuclear strikes. They eventually seem to wise up, however. Justified against the MUTOs. The conventional weapons are no more effective against them than against Godzilla, but they are capable of distracting the creatures.
  • Hancock is constantly being threatened with violence from people who know firsthand that he's a Flying Brick. Even when he's in prison, inmates think they can beat him up with their bare hands. Although he gets weaker over the course of the film, none of these people actually know that.
  • Iron Man 1 - This routine runs throughout Tony Stark's escape from his captors: the guys shoot at his colossal suit of armor with rifles, to no effect, when one guy gets the brilliant idea to fire a pistol at him while he has his hand stuck in a wall. Cue the round deflecting and killing him note  Then, outside the complex, another group of guys try doing the exact same thing, even when they're standing next to stockpiles of rocket launchers and explosives. One of them finally has the presence of mind to load a .50 Browning fixed machine gun, and even the luck to disable the actuator on his right leg. He still ends up dead from flamethrower and multiple explosions. You can at least understand the guy who shot Tony in the headline of thinking. He was going for a hopeful weak spot.
  • In a non-superhero example, it's a Friday the 13th tradition for Jason Voorhees, in the event his intended victims actually see him approach, to stand perfectly still as they shoot, strike, and/or throw things at him. If they put up a really feisty show of it, he might even tilt his head a bit, as if to confirm they're all done, before he strides forward, unaffected. However, in the beginning of Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday, Jason is tricked into an ambush by FBI, where dozens of agents shoot him before finally killing him with an airstrike.
  • Michael Myers of Halloween. This trope gets referenced in the commentary of Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers - in a scene where a cop clumsily shoots at Michael, one of the commentators mentions that, as a lifelong resident of Haddonfield, the guy should have realized shooting Michael just pisses him off. Although from the very first movie, shooting Myers does work, as he does get knocked back by bullets. In the fourth Halloween movie, Michael is similarly riddled with bullets, until he falls down a mine. It takes a full year of medical care by a hobo who found him before he fully heals.
  • The Curse of Frankenstein concludes with Baron Frankenstein fighting the monster, shooting it with pistol to no effect. He then throws the pistol at the monster. Again, no effect. Thankfully he throws a lantern next time and that seems to work.
  • V for Vendetta - Downplayed: at the finale Creedy's men and eventually Creedy himself shoot at V only to find that he was wearing a metal plate the whole time. However, in a subversion, it was still enough to critically wound him and he dies shortly afterwards.
  • Rick O'Connell and various other characters in The Mummy waste many bullets shooting at Imhotep until they are informed by the local Mr. Exposition that the title mummy is, in fact, Immune to Bullets.
    • At least the shotgun can knock him over or make him flinch.
    • Done as well in the classic Universal Mummy movies, such as "Abbott and Costello Meet The Mummy".
  • Big Trouble in Little China
    Jack Burton: Well, it was worth a shot.
  • Played straight in the Terminator films. Small arms guns like pistols, shotguns and machineguns, at best, only stun the Terminator and knock it off balance. The only way to defeat them is with the use of explosives and the environment.
  • Played with in Megamind. After discovering Metro Man is still alive after Megamind supposedly killed him, Roxanne is furious he deserted the people of Metro City and begins throwing furniture at him. Nothing happens except the furniture getting smashed, naturally.
  • X-Men
    • In X2: X-Men United, after using their tranq darts on some of the students, two of Stryker's men are confronted by Colossus. The big guy activates his power, but the agents try firing anyway. After the darts bounce off of him, Colossus throws the agents through a wall.
    • Subverted in X-Men: The Last Stand, where the military attempting to stop Magneto built guns without any magnetic materials in them to keep his powers from affecting them, and late in the film when they suggest sending reinforcements against a losing battle against him, it's brought up that anything metal will just give him more weapons.
    • X-Men Origins: Wolverine. The military scientists who made Wolverine immune to bullets decide to stop him by sending an assassin, armed with bullets, to kill the man who is immune to bullets. As they watch their plan fail, they comment on the fact that the assassin never stood a chance because he wasn't using the special adamantium bullets they had right there next to them!
    • In X-Men: First Class, Magneto isn't bulletproof, but he can deflect any metal projectile he knows is coming. At least one character who really should have known better tries to shoot him. Though it did achieve her goal, albeit by way of crippling Xavier, which took Erik's attention away from the missiles - and one shot does noticeably hit him while he isn't paying attention, but his helmet turns out to be bulletproof.
      • The lead-up to that counts, too. Stryker convinces the government to join with the Russians to take out the mutants on the beach. He should know for a fact that one of these mutants is a powerful telepath and the other controls metal. Both fleets just saw the latter lift a submarine out of the water. There's no reason for them to believe their metal weapons would be any more effective. They're lucky Moira came in with that distraction.
  • Done really oddly in Syngenor. Some mooks stand and shoot at the Super Soldier monsters that are supposed to be Immune to Bullets, only to find that... bullets work on them. But then they get killed anyway because they keep standing still so that the surviving monsters are able to lumber up to them and attack at close range.
  • A non-human example pops up in Saving Private Ryan, where a critically wounded character fires his pistol at an approaching tank, since there's nothing else he can do.
  • The battle droids and their ilk in the Star Wars prequel trilogy just can't get enough of shooting their blasters at Jedi — who routinely deflect the relatively slow blasts away with their super-reflexes and lightsabres, often right back at the shooter. Of course, it's not like they have any better alternative. It does work sometimes, mostly when having an overwhelming advantage and not targeting main characters. Jango Fett manages to shoot a nameless Jedi knight (but has no luck against Mace Windu) in episode II, and overwhelming numbers of clone troopers successfully attack the Jedi temple in episode III, while at the same time a number of surprised Jedi around the galaxy are killed by their own troopers who suddenly turn on them. But normally, the average mook can never realistically expect such an outcome.
    • The original trilogy depicts fighters attacking large ships as this, when in The Empire Strikes Back a transport being sent out with only a couple of X-Wings to protect it against a Star Destroyer doesn't get much confidence from the pilots until it's brought that a giant Ion Cannon will be covering them.
  • In The Amazing Spider-Man, The Lizard gets one of these moments as an opportunity to prove his ability to regenerate. It's downplayed compared to previous examples in that sustained gunfire does hurt him; it's just that a gap in the firing allows him to heal his wounds and keep fighting. It's later played straight when Captain Stacy confronts the Lizard.
  • Taken all the way past eleven to somewhere around 35 in Man of Steel. Largely justified too. The military doesn't know about the Kryptonians' invulnerability at the start of the battle in Smallville; and they actually manage to knock out Faora with an A-10 Thunderbolt missile. Colonel Hardy can be chalked up to determination. At the finale, their weapons' fire doesn't hurt Faora, but it does delay her long enough for their actual plan to work. But then again; they set infantry on the ground to fire assault rifles at targets that just survived anti-tank fire. And the men make no attempt to retreat after seeing the Kryptonians ignore their fire and punch their buddies into orbit. They just keep shooting their obviously useless weapons.
  • Captain America and his impenetrable shield get many such moments in both of his movies. In the latter Cap gets a minigun turned on him, and simply deflects the shots into the baddie's partners, then charges at the minigun toter and knocks him down. At least only one of his sides at a time is going to be invulnerable, which justifies the attempts. Additionally, there is the rare time where Captain America does get shot in the body without his shield being in the way in time. Usually then he's winded but his body armor is enough to save him.

    Literature 
  • 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.
  • 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.)
  • 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.

    New Media 
  • I'm a Marvel... and I'm a DC
    • Hilariously lampshaded in the short in which Rorschach shoots Deadpool only to find out-
      Rorschach: You don't die, do you?
      Deadpool: Nope.
    • Rorschach then continues to shoot Deadpool throughout the series. However, he never really seems to expect it to have an effect (though once he caused impact by shooting Deadpool's guitar). He usually just does it to shut Deadpool up.

    Tabletop Games 
  • 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.

    Theatre 
  • 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.

    Video Games 
  • 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:
    • This trope angers the Genre Savvy HK-47. When asked how he would kill a Jedi, the start of his response is as follows.
      HK-47: Weapon selection is critical. If I see one more idiot attacking a Jedi with a blaster pistol, I'll kill them myself!
    • Atton's response to the Exile's question about how he killed Jedi was an aversion; the trick is using things like poisons, not coming face-to-face with the Jedi, and, above all, no blasters.
    • Ironically, both of them use blasters against Dark Jedi and Sith all the time if the player chooses to do so, and both characters are built mostly for using blasters at default, at least until Atton becomes a Jedi/Sith. Also ironically, since both games work off of modified D&D rules blasters actually are effective against Jedi and Sith, only slightly less so than against everybody else.
  • Prototype - 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.
    • Also with the shield, you can just watch as their bullet ricochet and kill themselves.
    • Though the bullets can and do hurt Alex, quite a lot if you actually try to superman through them by standing in one place, but it's nothing Alex's healing factor or other way of regaining health can't fix.
    • Might as well be played completely straight. Unless you're surrounded be about 30 guys, bullets do no noticeable damage to your health.
    • 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.
  • 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.

    Webcomics 

    Web Original 
  • 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.

    Western Animation 
  • Parodied in Robot Chicken. Red Skull is firing a machine gun at Captain America, who is clearly bored as he simply lets the shots bounce off his shield...unfortunately, all the richocheting bullets are hitting civilians.
  • This happens rather frequently throughout the DCAU, as the different shows feature many heroes that are immune to one attack or another, including the eponymous Superman:
    • Superman: The Animated Series:
      • Towards the beginning S:TAS, when people are still getting used to what Superman can do, he stops a museum heist in "A Little Piece of Home." When he appears, the thieves start throwing spears at him, grabbing them off the displays and hurling with all their might. The thieves do manage to escape the museum, since Kryptonite made its first appearance and conveniently knocked Superman out, but the hand-thrown weapons worked about as well as you would expect.
      • In "Superman's Pal" a thug who was attacking Jimmy Olsen actually attacks Superman with a nightstick. Supes simply snatches it off him saying "You're kidding, right?" before flinging it into orbit.
      • In the next episode, "A Fish Story", Superman is drawn by the sound of gunfire to two of Lex Luthor's mooks who are trying to kill Lois Lane. They promptly turn their guns on Superman and start pulling the trigger. He waits for a few seconds as they waste their ammo, then reaches forward and crushes their guns, explaining that "That's enough."
      • In the episode "My Girl", one of Lex Luthor's lackeys is selling a bunch of futuristic guns that can make anything explode to a couple of crooks when Superman suddenly shows up. The crooks shoot Superman...and nothing happens. After Supes incapacitates the crooks, the lackey points the gun at him only for the latter to say "I should warn you: it's been done." The lackey then spots a train in the distance heading towards a bridge and shoots said bridge forcing Superman to save the train while he gets away.
      • There's one hilarious instance where a mook is threatening Superman with a gun that he boasts can kill him - instead of pulling the trigger, the mook gloats about how he can kill Superman with the futuristic raygun. Cue Super Speed. What an Idiot.
      • This trope wasn't limited to Superman himself in this series, in "The Way of All Flesh", we have the police shooting at Metallo, after he had walked in front of train and stopped with his hands without getting so much as a scratch on him. Superman himself, desperate enough to try anything due Metallo's kryptonite power source, resorts to something along these lines by ramming Metallo with a car, which does at least push him off the highway bridge they were fighting on, though it doesn't hurt him.
    • Turns up in "The Late Mr. Kent" when Detective Bowman, a rogue cop, fired at Superman with a rocket launcher. While not powerful enough to kill, or even harm him, it was able to knock him off course.
    • Justice League Unlimited:
      • In "Hawk and Dove", a thug empties his gun at Wonder Woman, who contemptuously deflects all the rounds. When he runs out of bullets he prepares to throw the gun at her and earns a contemptuous, "Yeah, like that's gonna work."
      • Supergirl is at one point threatened by a man with a single-shot kryptonite gun which probably would have killed her. Green Arrow intervenes by standing between them, leaving his only option to waste the shot on an ordinary human while leaving a pissed off Supergirl unharmed. Later on, Galatea confronts the man and casually disarms him before he even has a chance to fire.
      • In "Ultimatum", an unstable metahuman with hydrokinetic abilities tries to kill Aquaman after he harms his sister; however, his method is to try to drown him with a jet of water. Granted the blast was powerful enough to punch a huge hole in the wall behind him, but Aquaman stands unaffected: "King of the Seas, remember?" The meta refuses to relent and tries a few swings; gets kinda sad after that.
      • Another Wonder Woman example: In '"The Once and Future Thing, Part I", Green Lantern, Batman and Wonder Woman are transported back in time to The Wild West, whereupon they are immediately ambushed by local bandits. Since they obviously refuse to part with their valuables, a couple of bandits with period revolvers shoot at Wonder Woman. She simply smirks as she bats the shots aside effortlessly, commenting, "Those are the biggest, slowest bullets I've ever seen."
      • Lampshaded (and justified) in "Hereafter" by a pair of police officers as they lament the useless of their guns against a group of super villains during Superman's absence :
        Officer 1: This is hopeless, we might as well be throwing candy corn at them!
        Officer 2: So what do you want to do? Give them the city?!
      • In "To Another Shore" Agent Faraday casually warns Wonder Woman that if she threatens the US Vice President a second time, he's under orders to shoot her down, and mimes doing so. She just raises her arm and points to her bracelets. He wisely leaves it at that.
      • Subverted in "Question Authority", where a bunch of security guards shoot Superman with automatic weapons to no effect. Superman does not let them just run out of bullets, but immediately uses his heat-vision to melt their guns, since he does not want Huntress to be hit by a ricochet. The guards immediately pull out tazers and batons and dogpile Superman, but that does not work either. A few minutes later people seem to finally catch on: When Superman has finally found where The Question is being tortured, the technician pulls out a pistol to point at the bulletproof hero, who by this point is pretty fed up with the entire situation. "Don't be stupid. Drop it." He does.
      • At the climax of the multi-season Cadmus Arc of JLU, several clones of Wind Dragon (an expy of the Super Friends character Samurai, a wind-powered super hero) try to blast Red Tornado (a robot who, you guessed it, creates tornadoes) with gusts of winds. Red Tornado overpowers all three mooks at once in a contest of brute wind-strength and literally blows them off their feet. He didn't even have to make an effort.
      • With all of that to the contrary, there's one instance where this actually worked—concentrated fire brought down Solomon Grundy in "The Terror Beyond". Presumably, the only reason we don't see that more often is that when the cops actually beat the supervillain, the superheroes never get involved (and in this case, Aquaman was forced to save Grundy in order to make use of his unique nature.)
      • Similarly in Static Shock, the Joker attempts to kill Batman with an "electrical buzzer." Unfortunately for him, he took Static's hand, who absorbs it and sends it back to Joker ten fold.
  • In the 2007 Superman animated film Doomsday, this is actually lampshaded when a group of soldiers are about to attack Superman's clone.
    Soldier 1: This is crazy! We can't kill Superman!
    Soldier 2: You're right. We can't kill Superman.
  • In the 1941 Fleischer Superman cartoon Billion Dollar Limited. train-hijackers start out by shooting Superman. Fair enough, naturally it doesn't work. Then they start tossing tear-gas grenades at him. Since Supes hadn't yet gained Super Breath or the like in his power set, they work surprisingly well. THEN they go back to shooting at him again. Sigh.
  • In the 60's Spider-Man cartoon, Doctor Octopus throws Spider-Man out of a window and promptly declares him dead, before Spider-Man immediately returns through the same window.
  • It's become something of a Running Gag in Transformers Animated that Bumblebee will always try to use his stingers (weapons that shoot beams of electricity) on Decepticons even though they never do anything (until he fought Swindle which was in the 24th episode).
    • There's also the time Sari tried to take on the Constructicons with a hockey stick.
    • Averted in the Animated game for the DS. If you shoot an enemy with your stingers for a little while they eventually do die.
    • In the third season premiere, it was revealed that the stingers have two settings, the higher one meant for combat bots which Bumblebee currently is not. Optimus gives Ratchet a little flak for changing the setting, but Ratchet simply snaps back that Optimus is hardly in a position to complain, given the situation.
  • Happens in every episode of the spoof series Batfink, giving the chance for the titular superhero to use his Catch Phrase: "Your bullets cannot harm me! My wings are like a shield of steel!"
  • Parodied in an episode of South Park where Butters, as Professor Chaos, is fighting Mysterion on a construction platform. One of the officers says he has a clean shot of Professor Chaos, but the captain stops him saying, "You think your bullets can hurt him?" In reality, "Professor Chaos" is just a nine-year-old boy in a costume; the fact that people suddenly thought he had taken a level in badass was meant to be a joke.
  • The Simpsons - In "Treehouse of Horror X'', Bart and Lisa get superpowers and have to fight 'The Collector' (I.E Comic Book Guy). He shoots Bart (with a laser!) who manages to dodge every shot. In a subversion though, when he throws the gun, it hits Bart and knocks him out.
  • Happens in The Powerpuff Girls's episode "Stuck Up, Up and Away" when the girls arrive to stop a bank robbery. Naturally the robbers open fire on them to no effect.
  • In a Whole Episode Flashback of Defenders of the Earth, one of the past Phantoms teamed with a woman he didn't fully trust, so he replaced the bullets in her guns with blanks. When they're in a plane and she eventually does turn on him, she's so horrified by how ineffectual the weapon is, seemingly confirming the whole "Ghost Who Walks" myth, that she jumps to her death.
  • In an episode of Batman: The Brave and the Bold, two crooks aim their guns at Batman... only to give up, being Genre Savvy enough to know that, no matter what they do, Batman will beat them up anyway. And if they can avoid getting beaten up, they will. Bat-Mite, however, has other plans for them.
  • Queen Veranke remarkably subverts this trope when attacking Nick Fury and Iron Man in The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes. After she took down the former with a big gun, Iron Man points out she will only hurt herself more than him if she shoots at him. She answers she knows… and then reveals she already had a virus uploaded inside his armor, thus incapacitating him without a shot.
  • In Ben 10, Ben becomes Genre Savvy of this trope in subsequent fights with Vilgax and mostly runs from him or relies on tricks to defeat him rather than fighting him head on since Vilgax is Nigh Invulnerable.
  • In Archer, the protagonist often forgets that Barry Dillon is a bulletproof cyborg, usually with an immediate Lampshade Hanging.
  • As part of a plan to steal Olive Oyl's heart, Bluto disguised himself as Superman and used several tricks to make it look like he had Supes' powers. That included wearing a metal plate under his costume and daring Popeye to shoot him. As part of the Popeye vs. Bluto/Superman challenge, Bluto got to shoot Popeye back but the bullets were stopped by Popeye's spinach can. (Did Popeye eat those bullets with the spinach?) It's Popeye. He easily could.

    Real Life 
  • 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.


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