-> ''"Damn straight! I dare to assume you ignorant jackasses know that space is empty! Once you fire this hunk of metal, it keeps going 'til it hits something! That can be a ship, or the planet behind that ship. It might go off into deep space and hit somebody else in ten thousand years! If you pull the trigger on this, you are ruining someone's day, somewhere and sometime. '''That''' is why you check your damn targets! '''That''' is why you wait for the computer to give you a damn firing solution! '''That''' is why, Serviceman Chung, we do not "eyeball it!" This is a weapon of mass destruction. You are not a cowboy shooting from the hip!"''
-->-- '''Gunnery Chief,''' ''VideoGame/MassEffect2''

In fiction, a bullet is a very simple thing. A bullet is a device that has some percentage chance of causing damage to a specific target. This chance can be reduced by interposing solid objects -- like cars, or walls, or [[BulletproofHumanShield random bad guys]] -- between the shooter and the target, but otherwise a bullet either hits the target or misses entirely.

And "misses entirely" means ''no longer exists''. Unlike actual supersonic pieces of metal, a fictional bullet doesn't hit whatever lies along its trajectory in the mile or more that it can travel while retaining lethal power -- it just vanishes, as if every target had something behind it to catch stray rounds (what recreational shooters refer to as a "backstop"). Even if hundreds of bullets are fired during a {{fight scene}}, there will be no casualties we don't see on screen.

This applies to far more than just bullets -- {{Macross Missile Massacre}}s and FrickinLaserBeams are equally vulnerable. And, of course, it applies to more contexts than simple gunfights -- first, that which is [[FiringInTheAirALot Fired In The Air A Lot]] must come down, and second, except when by pure coincidence they intersect some larger celestial body, missed shots fired during a SpaceBattle could keep travelling with the same energy for ''millennia.'' This trope [[SisterTrope tends to go hand-in-hand]] with ArbitraryMaximumRange for that very reason.

Another consequence of the RuleOfPerception. See also BulletsDoNotWorkThatWay and ImperialStormtrooperMarksmanshipAcademy. One of the many factors contributing to cases of ArtisticLicenseGunSafety and RecklessGunUsage -- there is a very good reason why one of the most important rules of gun safety in real life is "Know your target, and what is beyond." Contrast with PrecisionCrash, where stray shots in space are practically guaranteed to strike something important. Also contrast with SpectatorCasualty, where they actually hit something.

Because this trope is [[OmnipresentTropes so common]], only lampshades and aversions shall be listed.



[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* Averted in ''Anime/DragonBallZBattleOfGods'', of all places. Mai shoots several times at Gohan, who, being the superpowered warrior he is, deflects the bullets effortlessly. However, one of said bullets then goes on to hit Videl in the leg. Fortunately, Dende is on hand to immediately heal her, but Gohan is chewed out for showing off and not disarming Mai immediately. (Worth noting that nobody thought the gun was real until it was fired.)
* Averted in ''Anime/AldnoahZero'' Episode 15. We open with Slaine seemingly firing his Kataphrakt's weapons into nothing while in space. It takes [[ChekhovsGun until the end of the episode]] that those shots return because he had fired them in such a way that they would be pulled into low Earth orbit and he was using the time delay of their return trajectory (approximately 6 hours) to plan out a trap for the upcoming space battle.
* Frequently averted in the ''Franchise/{{Gundam}}'' series:
** Those set in the [[Anime/MobileSuitGundam Universal Century timeline]], at least, tend to note that beam-firing weapons are a bad idea when fighting inside of a colony - since [[ArmorPiercingAttack nothing will stop a shot from one]], that means that any ones fired within the colony will quickly puncture it and start sucking out the oxygen. Mobile suits going up will cause even ''bigger'' holes and exacerbate the problem, so fighting in colonies at all is a rare prospect (it only happens twice in the original series, and the issues are ignored in the latter case only because the colony had been abandoned at some point before the war).
** ''Anime/MobileSuitGundamSeedDestiny'' has an aversion that hit Shinn Asuka hard. His family was killed in the Battle of Orb, by a stray shot from one of Kira's duels with the pre-Extended. It isn't clear whether it was Kira or his opponent who fired the shot, but during the battle itself Kira never realized this had happened.
** ''Anime/MobileSuitGundam00'' pulls an aversion in an early episode where the news reporters shows images of buildings hit by both stray gunfire and mobile suit wrecks from a battle earlier that day. They also mention that there were casualties due to this as well.
* In ''Manga/OutlawStar'', this is why guns (but not [[{{Magitek}} Casters]], for some reason) are banned on board most space stations - it only takes one stray shot punching a hole in the hull to asphyxiate the entire area.
* [[MilitaryMaverick Teana]] nearly ends up hitting her best friend Subaru with a stray shot (which was only deflected at the last second by Vita) in ''Anime/MagicalGirlLyricalNanohaStrikers'' and is understandably [[MyGodWhatHaveIDone horrified]]. Unfortunately, her solution to make sure it never happens again is to subject herself to TrainingFromHell (on top of the already rigorous training Nanoha was putting her through), which ends up leading to the "[[RageAgainstTheMentor White Devil Incident]]".

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* In the first ''ComicBook/QueenAndCountry'' story, Tara Chace is ambushed by two goons with guns while unarmed. She rushes one, makes it within hand-to-hand range before he can hit her, and takes him down. After which she discovers that one of his shots hit the other one.
* In ''ComicBook/SinCity: Family Values'', the RoaringRampageOfRevenge is to avenge a woman killed by stray bullets from a hitman taking potshots at a stray dog.
* ''Comicbook/WelcomeBackFrank'' story arc of ''Comicbook/ThePunisher'' has three vigilantes team up to remove crime from the streets. One is a priest who goes nuts after hearing one too many confessions/bragging sessions, another is a RichBastard who shoots pot dealers near his upper-class neighborhood, and the third breaks into a CorruptCorporateExecutive meeting, ranting about their plans to close jobs to preserve their salaries, then opens fire. When Frank runs into them, he calls out the first two because of their twisted visions of justice, and the third because he unknowingly shot an innocent cleaning lady during his rampage.
* ComicBook/ThePunisher himself generally invokes this trope by taking on gangsters and other criminals on their own territory -- with his training he doesn't miss often, but if he does accidentally hit someone else, well, they deserved it anyway.
* ''ComicBook/ThePunisherMAX'': Frank nearly shoots himself when he thinks he's done this after finding a little girl's corpse in a drug factory. The gun's in his mouth when he sees the girl's ghost show him a bullet, he digs up the body and realizes it wasn't one of his bullets.
* ''ComicBook/PaperGirls'': When Mac tries to wrestle her father's gun away from her suicidal stepmother it goes off and the bullet strikes Erin in the stomach.

[[folder:Fan Works]]
* As the opening move in the attack on Utopia Planitia Fleet Yards in ''Fanfic/RedFireRedPlanet'', the IKS ''mupwI[='=]'' drops a ten ton block of uranium out of a cargo bay while moving at 25,000 kilometers per second.[[note]]750.7 megatons of kinetic energy, give or take.[[/note]] It hits its target dead center, but at least part of the weapon keeps going and hits the planet Mars behind the target.
* In ''Fanfic/StupidDevilDog'' the spells fired by a pair of nobles miss Saito but hit several homes in the area and kill at least one man.
* TheReveal in ''[[http://www.tthfanfic.org/Story-27631/cmdruhura+What+Goes+Up.htm What Goes Up]]'' is that all the gunshot victims [[spoiler:including Buffy who's now blind, Joyce who's paralyzed, and Willow who died]] were all hit by bullets fired from Xander/Soldier Guy's gun when he [[FiringInTheAirALot fired into the air]] to scare off kids turned into their costumes.
* In ''Fanfic/ADragonInShiningArmour'' when Examon fires into a cloud of smoke in an attempt to hit a [=BlackMetalGarurumon=]. He misses and hits the guy's brother, [[StarterVillain an Anubismon]], instead.
* In ''[[https://www.tthfanfic.org/Story-30442-9/Traszgo+In+Stark+Contrast.htm In Stark Contrast]]'' Xander fires a mini-stake with a railgun at Spike and successfully dusts him. He also hits Drusilla (non-fatally) who was standing on the other side of him, and Buffy (also non-fatally) who was holding Drusilla hostage.
* Luffy in ''[[https://www.fanfiction.net/s/11961369/5/Blood-Man-Luffy Blood Man Luffy]]'' takes out several marines by letting them stand in a circle around him and fire at him. Since he's a logia, the bullets pass right through him and hit the marines on the other side.
* In ''WebVideo/DragonBallZAbridged'', Goku disintegrates Cell with a point-blank range Kamehameha judged strong enough to destroy a planet, and the leftover energy is blasted into space. In TheStinger, Krillin wonders if it [[LampshadeHanging ever hit anything]]. The scene then cuts to a planet five seconds before its destruction.

[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* In ''Film/TheMexican'', [[spoiler:the man from whom Jerry picks up the eponymous gun]] is killed by a falling bullet from people FiringInTheAirALot elsewhere in the town.
* In ''Film/{{Snatch}}'', when Avi is trying to shoot [[spoiler:the dog with the diamond in him]], he ends up accidentally killing [[spoiler:Bullet-Tooth Tony]].
* In ''Film/MulhollandDrive'', a hitman's efforts to make a hit look like suicide are complicated when the gun misfires and hits a woman in the next room over.
* ''Film/{{Ronin}}'' features a car chase through a picturesque French town with the protagonists and antagonists emptying magazine after magazine from their automatic weapons at each other. Dozens of innocent bystanders are left bleeding on the sidewalk.
* An Uzi-wielding goon in ''The Corruptor'' fails to hit Detectives Wallace and Chen during the big CarChase, but he does mow down several innocent bystanders in the process.
* ''Film/TinkerTailorSoldierSpy''. British spy Jim Prideaux realises he's been LuredIntoATrap starts walking way from his contact. A Hungarian counter-intelligence agent panics, rushes into the street and fires a warning shot...[[PrettyLittleHeadshots right into the head]] of a woman breast-feeding a baby.
* ''Film/TheCottonClub'' gives us gangster Vincent "Mad Dog" Dwyer, who got his nickname after his cohorts machine-gunned several innocent bystanders along with their target.
* ''Film/PulpFiction'': in addition to the trope namer for IJustShotMarvinInTheFace, it's also subverted when a disoriented Marcellus fires his pistol into the crowd surrounding Butch's wrecked car and hits a bystander who goes down and screams for the rest of the scene.
* In ''Film/TrueLies'', when Harry attempts to shoot down a terrorist helicopter using his "borrowed" Harrier's cannon and misses, the rounds are seen hitting the water - and then taking a chunk out of an office building...
* ''Film/AWalkAmongTheTombstones''. Scudder's badass credentials are shown in the opening shoot-out in which he defeats several criminals in a gunfight, while drunk. However later on in the movie, it's revealed that a stray shot from said gunfight hit a 7-year old girl in the eye. Worse, [[YourApprovalFillsMeWithShame Scudder was decorated for bravery.]]
* ''Film/TheNakedGun'' 33 1/3 has this exchange when villain Rocco Dillon takes a theater of people hostage:
-->'''Rocco''': ''fires warning shot straight up'' "Freeze and nobody gets hurt!"\\
''stagehand falls onto stage from the rafters''\\
'''Rocco''': "...From now on!"

* In ''Literature/DocSidhe'', at [[spoiler:the summoning circle]] in Central Park, Harris Greene intentionally shoots at the ground rather than at the oncoming goons because any misses would be raining down on the museum.
* In the ''Literature/HonorHarrington'' books, particularly given how much energy is dedicated to anti-missile ECM, the various {{Space Nav|y}}ies are quite conscious of the danger of misses striking the wrong target. The tactics in a number of battles are shaped by the need to be sure that a missile fired at a defending fleet doesn't [[ColonyDrop accidentally hit a planet]]. To avert the "racing on for millennia" part of this trope, it is mentioned that missiles usually auto-destruct after a programmed time if they miss their target so they don't ruin somebody's day down the road. And when it ''[[ColonyDrop does]]'' [[ColonyDrop hit the planet]] -- it is [[AMillionIsAStatistic five million dead]], including [[ItsPersonal most of the protagonist's extended family]], and that was not as much from an actual stray shot, but rather from just ''general debris'' it generated.
* In ''Literature/GhostStory'', a handful of kids open fire on Karin Murphy's home while there's a meeting of the Better Future Society, a group of supernaturally inclined people (and [[OurVampiresAreDifferent not-quite-people]]) who've banded together to fight supernatural threats [[OurHeroIsDead in Harry Dresden's absence]]. When Harry (who follows the kids and learns they're being abused and manipulated) tries to soften Murphy's wrath by pointing out the kids were spraying and praying and were unlikely to hit anyone, Murphy points out that not only did Abby, one of the BFS members, get hit in the gut and may not survive, but a stray bullet hit her neighbor and he bled out before anyone could find him.
* In ''Literature/DeathIsForever'', [[spoiler:The GirlOfTheWeek]] dies when a henchman, blinded by the flashbang trap that Literature/JamesBond built into a lightbulb, fires two shots at a random direction with his pistol.
* In ''Literature/{{Animorphs}}'' ''The Encounter'', a Hork Bajir shoots at Tobias with his Dracon Beam. The shot misses, keeps going, and eventually hits and damages the critical "truck ship" resupplying behind Tobias. The Hork Bajir is subsequently executed by [[{{BigBad}} Visser Three]] for his incompetence, in a manner too horrifying for Tobias to describe.
** In ''The Forgotten'', the Animorphs and Yeerks are stranded in the rain forest. Some Hork Bajir start shooting every monkey they see, until Visser Three suddenly attacks them pointing out a stray shot could hit their ship; or they could have killed ''him'' since he had also morphed a local animal.
* ''Literature/HarryPotterAndTheHalfBloodPrince'': [[RedShirt Gibbon]], one of [[BigBad Voldemort's]] Death Eaters, is accidentally killed by a stray spell from another Death Eater during a pitched battle.

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* There was an episode of ''Series/{{CSI}}'' where a man was shooting at a makeshift handgun target and talked his girlfriend into having a go. She fired over the target and accidentally killed a woman on the beach several blocks away. Sadly, it was probably inspired by one of a number of cases in RealLife where people carelessly firing off guns in celebration have killed innocent bystanders.
-->'''Nick Stokes:''' Well, that's why it's illegal to shoot guns within city limits, Genius!
* This is how [[spoiler:Willow's girlfriend Tara]] dies in ''Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer'' +- hit by a stray bullet meant for Buffy.
* In one episode of ''Series/TheCloser'', a man fires a warning shot at a couple of gang members who are trying to steal his car at a gas station. The bullet flies two blocks and kills a kid. The gang members are charged with FelonyMurder, since they instigated the crime that led to the kid's death, and the actual shooter, while not charged with anything, is appropriately horrified when he finds out what happened.
* ''Series/TheWire'':
** At one point, two drug gangs get into a ([[GangstaStyle laughably]] [[ImperialStormtrooperMarksmanshipAcademy bad]]) shootout. There don't appear to be any casualties... until an InnocentBystander mom tries to get her kids ready for school after the shooting dies down and finds her 9 year old son shot.
** In season 4, there's another inversion that plays an important role in the mayoral race. Carcetti tries to beat the incumbent Royce by promising to lower crime and focusing on the issue of how no witnesses will come forward to testify against criminals because Baltimore's witness protection fails them. This seems to be confirmed when a witness in an important case is killed in the weeks leading up to the primary. After the election is over and Carcetti has won, [[spoiler:it turns out that the witness was killed by a stray bullet. A guy several blocks away was shooting at bottles, and the witness had tremendously bad luck. The irony is not lost on anyone.]]
* Averted in an episode of ''Series/NoOrdinaryFamily''. Jim deflects a bullet a criminal fires at him, and it winds up hitting a child in the next room. While he initially goes into a HeroicBSOD, it's later revealed that being hospitalized for the bullet allowed the child's doctors to catch and treat a much more serious disease. This manages to snap him out of it, and he is more careful in the future.
* Averted in ''Series/{{Eureka}}''. A blast of radiation from the artifact kills [[spoiler:Kim]], and residual radiation infects and slowly kills a few more people. Carter even compares it to a stray bullet, saying a woman was killed by a stray bullet on a raid he once went on.
* Discussed and averted in ''Series/GoldenBoy''. In the opening scene of the pilot, the protagonist cop and his partner get into a gun fight with some robbers. Despite the tense situation, the cops are very careful with their shots and only one bullet misses its target. When he is later accused of being reckless during the shootout, the protagonist freely admits that having the gun fight out on the street was a bad idea but the robbers gave them little choice when they opened fire first. He then reveals that after got out of the hospital, he personally went back to the crime scene and spent hours tracking down that single stray bullet. He was greatly relieved when he discovered that it was lodged in a wall and did not hit any bystanders.
* A tragic aversion in an epsiode of ''Series/NYPDBlue'': A bodega owner who has been robbed several times buys a handgun to protect himself. The next time he is robbed, he fires at - and misses - the fleeing robbers. Since he didn't have a permit for the gun, and shooting at the fleeing perps wasn't justifiable self-defence, the investigating detectives advise him to say that he had picked up the robber's discarded gun. Next day, a man is found dead in an apartment facing the bodega, hit by the stray bullet. The owner now faces felony charges and the detectives have to take back their advice to avoid perjuring both him and themselves.
* PlayedForLaughs in ''Series/ArrestedDevelopment'': every time someone is shown firing into the air, you will see some extra in the background drop after getting hit by the bullet coming down.
* This is why [=PPGs=] (pulse plasma guns) are used aboard ''Series/BabylonFive''. A bullet that misses or goes through its target has the potential to either ricochet and hit someone else or puncture the hull. A PPG blast is stopped by the first solid object it encounters. Additionally, at low power, they can be used as StunGuns of sorts. Planetside, regular guns are still common.

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* As with all tropes concerning violence in TabletopGames, Creator/GregCostikyan's ''Violence'' RPG has its vicious way with this little trope in the section of Combat marked "Innocent Bystanders", and points out the consequences of a gun battle ([[CurbStompBattle if it can really be called such]]) between a violent scumbag with an Uzi (your typical ''Violence'' PC) and a little old lady with a revolver in her apartment. The old lady got two shots off before getting cut down, and neither one of them hit Uzi guy, but they did go through the wall (made of cheap modern wallboard which can't stop bullets worth crap), and now some poor immigrant in another apartment packed full of them is now without much of her lower arm. Meanwhile, Uzi guy got off twenty shots of which maybe three hit the old lady. The prewar brick wall behind her absorbed the impact of most of the bullets, but the rest went through a window, shattering it and resulting in casualty number two, a bike messenger who was riding below the window when it shattered and is now bleeding on the sidewalk and screaming bloody murder. Meanwhile, whatever bullets didn't go halfway through the bricks of a building across the street went through another window along the way, grazing the head of the kitty sleeping on the windowsill and possibly hitting the personal trainer who lives there, who is now prone on the floor and calling 911 on his cellphone. Needless to say, there's a reason that the law frowns upon firing weapons in city limits.
* ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer 40000}}'':
** Averted (though with a melee weapon) with Kharn the Betrayer. Such is his devotion to Khorne (of "Khorne cares not from where the blood flows, as long as it flows" fame) that if he misses in close combat against an enemy he automatically hits the ally next to him.
** Averted, sort of, with Orks, who simply don't ''care'' whether or not they hit something, it only means they need MoreDakka.
** Blast Weapons in general avert this. The template will never just "disappear", but rather can land on a patch of land that has no models. This means that firing them into clusters of enemies is usually the best way to use them; you will never get a full squad unless you are extremely lucky, but you are almost guaranteed to hit something when the enemy is spread out. The same goes for ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer}}'' Cannons; they explicitly embed themselves into the ground after their final "bounce" distance is determined, and if that position happens to be on top of something, it's going to end very badly for said something. The only exception to both is if the template's hole lands off of the table (even if the rest of the template would still hit something). This is the only time where it will simply "vanish".
* ''TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons'':
** 3rd edition has a [[HouseRules variant rule]] suggested in one of the books, offering tables and rules to determine the outcome of range attacks which miss. [[DoubleSubversion The sidebar advises the Dungeon Master to ignore this suggestion]], [[JustifiedTrope since it involves a tremendous amount of calculation and rolling]] to be done for ''every'' ranged attack, which would bog the game down, and be no fun for players uninterested in a simulation-style game. [[AnAesop The entire exercise is offered as an example of the dangers inherent to house rules:]] [[RuleOfFun It might be what you and your group really want, or it might make the game less fun for everyone involved.]]
** Earlier editions had this as a standard, however: firing into melee and missing the original target would instead hit someone next to them.
** Although Edition 3.5 doesn't have such a rule, unless you have the appropriate feat you do take a penalty to ranged attacks against an opponent engaged in melee with a friendly character, to avoid the risk of hitting your ally.
* The ''TabletopGame/{{BattleTech}}'' advanced rulebook ''Tactical Operations'' unsurprisingly includes some rules on how to handle missed attacks more "realistically" (optional, like everything else in it) and like ''D&D'' above cautions against overusing them because they can easily slow down the game. There's also a minor aversion even in the standard rules -- buildings used for cover ''can'' take damage from attacks that technically "miss" the covered target and may even end up eventually destroyed by it.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* Averted in ''VideoGame/JaggedAlliance'' and its sequels, where stray shots most certainly can and often do strike friendlies, civilians, explosive scenery objects...
* The Gunnery Chief in ''VideoGame/MassEffect2'' delivers [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sCoHT_cHPzY the quoted epic rant against careless firing of the mass accelerator]] for this very reason. Sadly, the people in charge of making space combat cutscenes did not listen to the Gunnery Chief, leading to some [[InferredHolocaust rather ugly inferences]] for [[spoiler:Earth]] after the massive space battle in ''VideoGame/MassEffect3''. Creator/BioWare had to step in to [[NoEndorHolocaust specifically clarify]] than in a conflict between cutscenes and Codex, the Codex wins, meaning that the anti-Reaper forces involved in the battle did not actually fight as if this trope was in effect.
* ''VideoGame/XCom'':
** In the original games ([[VideoGame/XCOMUFODefense UFO]] and [[VideoGame/XCOMTerrorFromTheDeep TFTD]]), there's an invisible backstop at the edges of the map, but otherwise any shot fired will be traced across the map until it hits something -- be that a wall, an alien, a civilian, or an X-COM operative -- regardless of what it was aimed at.
** In the remake, ''[[VideoGame/XCOMEnemyUnknown Enemy Unknown]]'', stray shots from laser or plasma weapons have a penchant for wearing down most cover.[[note]]High cover is reducedto low cover, and low cover gets destroyed completely.[[/note]] On the other hand, it's jarring ([[GoodBadBugs and hilarious]]) that a miss deals zero damage to anything living the actual shots hit, be it a friendly, an enemy who wasn't being aimed at, ''or even the target itself''[[note]]striking a ''perfect'' headshot on a technical miss is a surprisingly common incident[[/note]].
* Partially averted in the 2D ''VideoGame/{{Fallout}}'' titles. Accidentally hitting a friendly character is a common CriticalMiss, and any weapon fired in bursts has a chance to hit characters close to the line of fire. In ''Fallout Tactics'', this can create the odd sight of the player character emerging unscathed from machine gun fire while squadmates to left and right are reduced to LudicrousGibs.
* Missed shots in ''{{VideoGame/Deadnaut}}'' cause gradual damage against the derelict ship you're on, and once the ship has reached zero hull integrity, you lose your entire squad.
* Missed shots in ''VideoGame/WorldOfTanks'' usually just hit the ground or other obstacles near the target, but stray rounds occasionally strike an unlucky vehicle behind the intended target.
* The trope is fully averted In ''VideoGame/WorldOfWarships'', most often with torpedoes. These have very long range, and will travel in a straight line until they hit something or run out of fuel. When fired carelessly, any nearby friendlies who aren't cautious can (and often do) run into them, whether before or after they miss the intended target. It's possible with gun shells as well, occasionally with other enemy ships in the target area, but most often when a friendly ship sails close in front of the shooter, who is "scoped in" and doesn't notice that the line of fire to the target is not clear.
* Averted in ''VideoGame/{{Dominions}}''. Arrows (and other projectiles) will aim at a specific square, even if it's not exactly the one intended. So if they're aimed at a single enemy from far enough away, they have a good chance of landing in an empty square (and, naturally, hitting nothing), but if they're aimed at a squad of fifty soldiers, the "stray" shot may easily target a square with different soldiers (and, quite possibly, hit one). Of course, if you're aiming at melee soldiers, in both cases there's the chance you'll hit [[FriendlyFire one of your units]]...
* Averted in ''VideoGame/PiratesVikingsAndKnights''. All Projectiles can ricochet and still hit someone, though pulling it off deliberately is near impossible.
* Averted in ''VideoGame/GroundControl''. In higher difficulties stray and missed shots [[UnfriendlyFire can and will harm your own units]] if you don't check if the line of fire and you can use the blind fire option to hit unspotted enemy units or buildings, in fact it isn't uncommon to enter a prolonged slugfest and see a large building blowing up before you noticed it was there in the campaign.
* Averted in case 1-4 of ''VideoGame/PhoenixWrightAceAttorney''. A bullet accidentally fired through the door of an elevator struck a person on the other side of the doors. [[spoiler:The gun had been thrown by a young Miles Edgeworth in an attempt to break up a fight. He thought the accidental discharge of the gun had killed his father, but this was not the case--the gun had been fired through the door of the elevator he, his father Gregory, and bailiff Yanni Yogi had been stuck in. The person struck by the bullet was Manfred von Karma...who, moments later, was still present when the door opened, showing the three people inside unconscious from either hypoxia[[note]]Lack of oxygen[[/note]], hypercapnia[[note]]Carbon dioxide poisoning[[/note]], or a combination of the two. Seeing an opportunity for revenge against Miles's father, who had managed to prove misconduct by von Karma earlier that day, Manfred seized the gun that Miles had thrown and shot Gregory Edgeworth. The bullet remained in von Karma's arm for fifteen years.]]
* Referenced in a possible random event in ''VideoGame/{{Stellaris}}'', where a science vessel can be struck by stray mass driver rounds fired from another galaxy billions of years ago. Actual combat in this game plays the trope straight though - any shot that doesn't hit its intended target will simply not hit ''anything''.
* Averted in WarhammerDarkOmen: ''Every'' arrow, crossbow bolt or cannon ball is a bona fide physical object with its own trajectory, and it can hit anything behind the target as well as the target itself.

[[folder:Web Animation]]
* Subverted in ''WebAnimation/BadDays''. After Franchise/WonderWoman deflects bullets with her bracelets, the bullets ricochet into the wall she's next to and nearly hit several policemen, as well as breaking one's coffee cup.

[[folder:Web Comic]]
* Played with in ''WebComic/TheOrderOfTheStick'', when Belkar kills an assassin who was preparing to fire a poisoned arrow at Hinjo. As he does so, the arrow gets shot in a random direction. The next comic shows the arrow fly, narrowly missing several main characters before hitting Vaarsuvius... who had cast "Protection from Arrows" earlier in the arc, so the arrow bounces off the magical barrier and harmlessly hits the ground.
* During the Credomar arc of ''WebComic/SchlockMercenary'', Elf is a guest on a TV show when two cops burst onto the set and try to arrest her, guns drawn. She calmly asks the filming crew to turn on the lights, so "Credomar's finest" can see what they're using as a backstop... namely ''the live audience''.
* In ''WebComic/GrrlPower'', Max gives Sydney a lengthy lecture on the superpower variant of this trope: If you fire a blast of something destructive at a foe and miss, it's going to hit whatever's behind them, so make sure it's something (or ''someone'') that can weather the hit, and not an innocent bystander or an orphanage or something.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* In the ''WesternAnimation/BatmanGothamKnight'' episode "Field Test", Batman tests out a device that redirects bullets; but when a mobster gets hit by a deflected bullet, Batman realizes that ricocheted bullets are still dangerous, and doesn't use the deflector again.

[[folder:Real Life]]
* Because this trope is averted by RealLife bullets, a standard rule of UsefulNotes/{{gun safety}} is to be certain both that there is nothing behind or beside your target that you are unwilling to shoot and that there ''is'' something behind your target that can absorb your bullets safely (the aforementioned backstop).
* Unfortunately, some ''police officers'' in real life don't seem to understand how problematic stray gunfire is, when they open fire on suspects in a phenomenon called "contagious fire," which is basically ''every cop on a scene'' becoming TriggerHappy. At least one incident involving the Miami-Dade Police Department involved ''[[NoKillLikeOverkill 377 rounds]]'' shot at ''[[PoliceBrutality unarmed suspects]]'' -- with plenty of collateral damage to property and injuries to other innocent bystanders and even other officers themselves.
* The NYPD is particularly notorious for this, due to a very low standard for weapons qualification, lax enforcement of that standard, and officers who want to practice but can't get time on the department's crowded and overworked range (NYPD has over ''40,000 sworn officers'') find it nearly impossible to find a public range, thanks to excessively-strict city and state antigun laws. The alarming frequency of bystanders getting struck by police bullets has led some New Yorkers to accuse their police department of being "New York's largest street gang."
* Horrifically averted with casualties caused by [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Celebratory_gunfire#Notable_incidents celebratory gunfire.]] Repeat after me, boys and girls: Guns are NOT party poppers.
* In military operations, reports on casualties from missed shots are not commonly tallied (most people who die in bombing raids are considered to be casualties of bombs), but there are a few exceptions: at Pearl Harbor, between 48 and 68 civilians were killed by unexploded AA ammunition that landed outside of the military bases.
* Another exceptional case was the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Los_Angeles Great Los Angeles "Air Raid"]] that occurred in early 1942, where a suspicious radar contact thought to be a Japanese attack force triggered an hour-long salvo of anti-aircraft fire. Five civilians died as a result, and the rain of metal did cause some rather extensive property damage.
* Perhaps the best UsefulNotes/WorldWarII example occurred shortly after midnight on March 1, 1942 during the Battle of Sunda Strait when the Japanese cruiser ''Mogami'' launched the deadliest torpedo salvo in history, sinking five ships with one spread of Type 93 "Long Lance" torpedoes. Unfortunately, they were the ''Japanese'' ships that she was there to protect: one minesweeper and four Japanese Army transports carrying the Java invasion force. The six torpedoes, fired at the cruiser ''Houston'' at a range of about 3,000 meters, struck the Japanese ships 11,800 meters down range about eight minutes later. The Type 93 had a 20,000 meter range at 48 knots, more than double any other torpedo in service at the time, and the transports would have been invisible to ''Mogami'' in the dark. The kicker to all this? One of the survivors was a high-ranking [=IJA=] officer, who managed to swim to shore and was picked up by friendlies. He blamed the ''Houston'' for the sinking of the transport he was on, only to be told that the neither the ''Houston'', nor any of her sister ships, was armed with torpedoes. He asked them to "credit" the kill to the ''Houston'' anyway.
* Actually TruthInTelevision when it comes to [[SpaceBattle space battles]], despite the speech of the [[VideoGame/MassEffect2 Gunnery Chief]]. Space is just [[SciFiWritersHaveNoSenseOfScale so goddamn big]] that if you fire something with a random trajectory, it's extremely unlikely that it will hit anything before the heat death of the universe, and significantly more unlikely even if it does that it will hit anything important, rather than a star, black hole, or uninhabited piece of rock. Of course, none of this applies when the battle is happening right next to a planet, as with the [[VideoGame/MassEffect3 Battle for Earth]] - every shell that missed will get picked up by Earth's gravity, though they might be weakened by Earth's electromagnetic field and burn up in the atmosphere.