The Straight and Arrow Path

In some modern day settings, the normal human members of either side will use guns, and often with less than stellar accuracy, regardless of allegiance. Combined with the idea that guns are easy point and click weapons, how do you set apart your ranged combat hero with no cool looking superpowers?

Why, give them a bow and arrow, of course! Not only will it prove that they're a lot better shot than everyone else, but are cool under pressure as well. Usually, the coolness factor will be ramped up by giving them all sorts of neat arrows that'll come in handy for any situation they might encounter. And of course, their arrows will always be more effective than guns. Crossbows can fit this trope as well, though they're not quite as cool. This also lets you replace the negative violent connotations that guns bring with them and replace them with the positive violent connotations of the bow and arrow. It's also more believable if not necessarily more true) to invoke Thou Shall Not Kill with a bow and arrow than with a gun.

Unlimited supply of arrows often included. A common trope in comics.

Before the widespread adoption of breechloading rifles, the trope had some accuracy. The crossbow replaced the longbow and the musket because while the replacement weapon was inferior, it was also much easier to train people to use it. It literally took a lifetime of training to create a skilled longbowman - with another skilled longbowman to train him. An old phrase about training longbowmen is: Start with his grandfather. However, the breech-loading repeating rifles invented during the 19th century matched the longbow in range, accuracy, and rate of fire, and a moderately healthy man could learn to use one in a manner of weeks of simple instruction.

Of course, that applies to general deployment, where the disadvantages of guns aren't a constantly glaring flaw. Take noise as an example: Hollywood Silencer, put simply, doesn't exist any gun will make a distinct, very audible noise when fired. The only question is how much and whether or not you can pinpoint where the shot came from. Conversely, bows and crossbows are dead silent, and furthermore, have no muzzle flash to reveal the shooter's position. In a situation where that matters, such as stealthy military operations or just plain ol' hunting, the "archaic" arrow/bolt-throwers are much more preferable.

Close relative of the Archer Archetype, sometimes overlapping it, though one can exist without the other. This trope regards situations where someone manages to make a bow and arrows a better choice than other, more modern weapons like guns. Often, a hero (or villain) who follows the Straight and Arrow Path can be pretty dangerous with his fists as well.

Subtrope of Archaic Weapon for an Advanced Age. Also related to Guns Are Worthless. Name not to be confused with No Arc in Archery.


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    Comic Books 
Where to begin? As mentioned above, this is a common trope in comics, though that's really putting it lightly. There's pretty much an entire sub-class of heroes known as archers.
  • DC's Green Arrow and his former sidekicks and associated characters. The second Green Arrow (the first's son Connor Hawke) was a variant in which the archer is also good in close combat. Connor is one of the six best martial artists in the DC Universe.
    • The first Green Arrow's sidekick Speedy (first Roy Harper, who has since operated as Red Arrow and Arsenal, and then his replacement Mia Dearden) also qualify, as do his enemies Shado and Merlyn as well as Young Justice's Arrowette, whose mother Miss Arrowette was Ollie Queen's Stalker Witha Crush.
  • The Huntress, whether the Post-Crisis Helena Bertinelli or the Pre-Crisis (and New52) Helena Wayne. The former is a Gotham vigilante and a prominent member of Birds of Prey, and the latter is Batman and Catwoman's daughter and a member of the Justice Societyof America.
  • Marvel has Hawkeye, who trained under fellow trope-qualifier Trickshot and performed in the circus before turning to crime and then heroics. He later took up the identity of Ronin, a close-combat fighter.
    • In a subversion of this trope, the Ultimate version of Hawkeye ditched the bow and arrows for guns, and manages to be just as accurate with them.
    • Kate Bishop also currently uses the name Hawkeye. Notably she first took the alias when Clint Barton was dead, but later he gave her permission to use the codename as well.
  • Yondu of the Guardians of the Galaxy
  • Celestial Archer of the Great Ten, who was probably intended to fill the traditional superteam role established by Green Arrow and Hawkeye.
  • Hercules is known to be a master archer, but because the bow serves as a reminder of Nessus' treachery and Deianira's suicide, he rarely uses one.
  • A villainous example: the Spider, formerly of Quality Comics, who replaced Green Arrow in the post-Crisis version of the original Seven Soldiers of Victory and only fought crime to eliminate competition. His sons, the second Spider and Spyder, are another villain and an anti-hero, respectively.
  • Golden Age hero the Arrow was the first superhero to use archery as his primary gimmick. First appearing in 1938, he was actually one of the first superheroes. Now in the public domain he currently appears in the Project Superpowers series from Dynamite Entertainment.
  • Another early example is Fawcett's Golden Archer. The name being the same as the GA Captain Ersatz from Squadron Supreme is likely a coincidence.
  • Even Rob Liefeld had to get in on the act—his series Youngblood had Shaft, who used a high-tech gravity-catapult longbow because he thought it looked cooler than a gun. In later series, he's not above using guns depending on the situation, but still strongly prefers the bow because he considers it to be irrevocably his "thing".
  • In G.I. Joe, Storm Shadow is shown to have carried a bow into Vietnam, which he uses because it happens to be quieter than even a silenced gun. He's considered the best archer in the world in the Marvel G.I. Joe comic. The second-best is Zartan, who uses technological aids to achieve high accuracy.
  • Sonya Savage in the later series of Danger Girl. She manages to make a bow seem like a sensible choice in a setting where most of your foes are toting automatic weapons (or worse).

  • The professor in Diary of the Dead was killing zombies at 50 feet and farther with bow and arrow.
  • Blade: Trinity has Abby Whistler using a bow and arrow as her weapon of choice against vampires.
  • Rambo, definitely. Including high-explosive arrowheads.
  • Likewise, Arnie's powder-headed arrows from Predator.
  • Melina Havelock, from James Bond For Your Eyes Only uses a crossbow as a way of demonstrating just how badass she is.
  • Inara, in the final fight sequence of Serenity was to have used a bow and arrow, but it didn't look right in the final cut, so was digitally replaced with a sort of bolt gun. Which explains the apparently weird firing mechanism of that gun. They only did the replacement on the close-ups, though, so she's still got the bow in long shots.
  • In The Punisher (2004), the Punisher uses a bow and arrow at one point.
  • Justified in The Avengers (2012). Clint Barton, aka Hawkeye, uses a bow because his variety of arrow heads come with secondary functions that a bullet could never have, such as explosive, second stage projectile, and grappling. Barton is also an impeccable shot with his bow, as shown by him casually hitting a moving target while looking the other way. He does use a sidearm in the beginning of the film however, and eventually runs out of arrows during the assault on New York.
  • In Thor, a S.H.I.E.L.D. sniper passes over a Wall Of Guns in favor of a bow, revealing himself to be Hawkeye pulling a cameo.
  • Brenda from the 1984 vigilante film Savage Streets uses a crossbow and some bear traps to deadly effect against three of the members of the vicious street gang responsible for raping her sister and murdering her best friend.
  • Rudy of The Monster Squad similarly uses a crossbow loaded with wooden stakes against the female vampires during the final battle.

  • Mack of Louis Lamour's Last of the Breed very capably uses his bow to defeat any number of armed Russian soldiers. He was a perfectly capable gun user when he got his hands on one. His use of the bow was a combination of its increased stealth, the fact that it could be made on the fly (Mack being on the run from a Russian gulag and crossing Siberia), and that it brought him closer to his Native American heritage.
  • Yeoman from the Wild Cards universe is the setting's premier Badass Normal, capable of taking on superpowered opponents wielding nothing more than a bow. Or less- he's a master martial artist and has killed with just a bowstring.
  • The children of Apollo and Artemis' hunters in Percy Jackson and the Olympians will both use bows and arrows with far more efficiency than guns.
  • Wahrwoorde from Malevil. An Evil Poacher, he preferred to use a bow to commit his crimes in secret and he was a champion archer to boot.
  • In The Mouse That Roared, the Grand Fenwick expeditionary force invades New York City with just a handful of longbowmen.
    Count of Mountjoy: Our national weapon, the longbow, has been out of date for so long that it has become, in many ways, a super weapon. It can kill at a range of five hundred yards. It is completely accurate in skilled hands. It is silent. It requires a low expenditure for ammunition, and lends itself excellently to mass fire.
  • In Neuromancer 3Jane's vat-grown ninja bodyguard uses a bow and arrow, with enough accuracy to shoot a gun out of someone's hand and only slice the gunman's thumb a little, and even then the cut thumb was an accident caused by the coriolis forces of Centrifugal Gravity. Then he's blinded and is still able to shoot them thanks to a Zen archery trick.

    Live Action TV 
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer has used a crossbow on occasion, though justified in that her vampires are Immune to Bullets.
    • Faith used a modern compound bow in season 3 of the series, contrasting her with the relatively medieval weaponry that the rest of the Scooby Gang used.
  • The Dukes of Hazzard Justified in that Bo & Luke were on probation and couldn't have guns.
  • The second Yellow Four of Choudenshi Bioman. Oh sure, she could use the standard issue blaster that everyone has, but perforating Mecha-Mooks with arrows looks cooler.
  • In The Walking Dead, resident redneck Daryl is usually seen preferring his crossbow to firearms. This makes sense as ammunition for guns is becoming scarce and the crossbow has less chance of alerting other walkers. That and crossbow bolts can be easily retrieved after being fired.
  • Oliver Queen, The Hood, in Arrow. He justifies it later, explaining that the bow represents self-control, over the chaotic nature of a gun, though the real reason he uses a bow is that's the weapon he learned to use while trapped on an island for five years. Because of his signature color and MO, this is combined to make people believe he's a modern day Robin Hood.
  • And before Arrow, Smallville's Ollie didn't shy away from his trademark bow. As his live action debut and as it was going for a more fancy, Batman-esque take on him, instead of his usual longbows, Green Arrow made use of Compound Bows (which have the advantage of being easier to fire with) and handheld crossbows, which included such features as grappling gun mechanisms for him to get about. He tended to use the bow for surprise attacks, stronger threats, or for non-attacking purposes, and use the crossbow when shooting at people, due to the fact he could use non-lethal boltheads with this one that the bow wouldn't allow.
  • In Haven, Dwight Hendrickson wields a crossbow, which weirds the others out. This is out of necessity because his Trouble makes it so bullets are attracted to him, so he can't use a gun.
  • In the Supernatural episode "Devil May Care" (S09, Ep02), Kevin uses a crossbow to defend himself.
  • The Power Bow was the signature weapon of the Pink Ranger in Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, although Kimberly used it far more often than Kat did. (And in far more memorable occasions; the time she used it to slay the Terror Toad is one that stands out.)

     Tabletop Games 
  • In Hc Svnt Dracones a compound bow deals more damage than handguns, is perfectly silent, doesn't require an action to reload, and arrows maintain a stable flight path further than bullets and can be poisoned. Though it requires a minimum of two dots in the Ranged Combat proficiency to use and arrows cost half a credit apiece while 3 clips of ammo cost 5 credits. note 
  • Bows in Shadowrun have experienced something of a renaissance, both because many of the native american successor states of the US have elevated them to the status of a cultural icon and because with trolls, strength-boosting adept magic and cyberware added into the mix, it is possible to use bows that deal damage comparable to modern sniper rifles while also remaining silent and impervious to hacking. Poisoned, explosive and Trick Arrows are also popular on the streets.

    Video Games 
  • Every Turok game ever.
  • Following the Archer character type, City of Heroes has the powersets Archery and Trick Arrows, both used by Manticore. It's at least on par with the Assault Rifle powerset.
    • The Trick Arrow powerset stacks its powers into the most powerful debuffing set in the game, making it highly desired against Giant Monsters and Arch Villains.
  • When placed in a First-Person Shooter, the bow or crossbow can pretty much be counted on to be as powerful as a sniper rifle, such as the scoped crossbow in the Half-Life series, which uses tranquilizer darts meant for large animals or red-hot lengths of iron rebar for bolts. Both are extremely deadly against pretty much anything Gordon Freeman comes to face.
  • In the Star Ocean The Last Hope, Reimi uses a bow. Unusually for the trope, the game takes steps to justify/Hand Wave it: she took classes in both eastern and western archery as a curiosity and to distract herself from her Dark and Troubled Past, and was initially on the ship as a Bridge Bunny, not for her weapon skills. It's only after it's discovered that the alien wildlife is immune to the standard-issue railgunsnote  that she starts backing Edge up in the field.
  • The Sniper of Team Fortress 2 can use a bow and arrow instead of his Sniper Rifle. The bow has slightly lower maximum damage, but charges to maximum damage much faster than the gun in question. It fires in an arc and there's a definite delay between the arrow leaving the bow and landing on the target, so using it successfully is seen as a matter of luck rather than skill. The "arrows from nowhere" bit is averted, as he can only carry about half as many arrows as sniper rifle rounds.
    • The Medic can equip a Crossbow (with healing bolts). There's only one shot per clip but it reloads so quickly, is more accurate, and looks so much cooler than the Syringe Gun that it's worth it.
  • Connor of Assassin's Creed III uses one, though he mainly uses it for hunting. He can use flintlock pistols, but they end up damaging his quarry's pelt, reducing the value.
  • In Chrono Trigger, Marle uses a crossbow and Lucca a gun. Somewhat justified in that Lucca's an inventor, but then there's the fact that every shop seems to sell guns for Lucca, the party time travel to the future where guns are common, and it's not particularly likely that archery is a part of Marle's princess training. (Of course, it helps that Marle's a Rebellious Princess, and Japanese princesses were often trained in bow archery for both self defense and character building reasons.)
  • In Ninja Gaiden, Ryu's main ranged weapons are either shurikens or a bow and yet he can still kill mooks armed with machine guns as well as helicopters, though it's better trying to use your speed to close the distance and attack them in close quarters than it is to try and shoot them with your bow.
  • The advertising campaign for Crysis 3, a game set in 2047, puts quite a lot of emphasis on the new bow weapon and its arsenal of Trick Arrows.
    • Somewhat justified, in this case, as it's the one weapon that Prophet can use while cloaked.
  • I Am Alive and The Last of Us use bows as stealthy weapons with retrievable arrows (in the latter game, the arrows might break). They help emphasise the scavenger world where every bullet and weapon counts.
  • In the 2013 reboot of Tomb Raider, Lara Croft's most iconic weapon in the game is her hunting bow, which begins as a makeshift longbow and ends as a professional sports bow. She has access to a nice assortment of guns as well, but for most of the game the bow is preferable due to its relatively high damage output and the fact that it's completely silent (stealth greatly helps in keeping Lara alive), whereas her other weapons make quite some noise.
  • In Warframe the Tenno are avid users of bows, albeit ones often equipped with fancy tech to make the arrows deadlier or fly faster than normally possible. Their usage is justified in that the Tenno fought against enemies that could corrupt most high-tech weaponry, which bows and low-tech percussion rifles were immune or highly resistant to. Bows are completely silent, deal monstrous amounts of damage, can use a variety of Trick Arrows, and often come with innate punch-through power.


    Web Original 
  • Riley from We're Alive was trained as a pro archer and prefers to use a bow since it's quiet and doesn't alert the zombies.
  • Worm has two superheroes who are known for their crossbows:
    • Shadow Stalker, who has one in each hand.
    • Flechette, who has a single, extra-large one.

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • "Fighting Jack" Churchill fought with a bow and a claymore in World War 2. He's thus the only person to have made a confirmed kill with a bow in said war.
  • Modern crossbows are gaining some currency among police and special forces for a number of reasons: because of the way many ballistic vests work, subsonic weaponry like crossbow bolts or arrows can pierce them; they're not nearly as loud and can make for a silent kill if need be; they have more nonlethal ammo options; and they can be fired at a target with a bomb strapped to them without risk of detonation, a real concern with suicide bombers today.
  • Modern archery is a very popular pastime in South Korea, whose team has won 34 medals (19 of them gold) in the event at the Olympics since 1972.