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- Signum of Lyrical Nanoha. In a world where others use blasters, guns, rifles, and Wave Motion Guns, she, as an old knight, prefers to use a bow and arrow that packs enough explosive whallop to destroy a Humongous Mecha's Deflector Shields when going long-range. Although, it is merely a (rarely used) form of her Cool Sword.
- Played with in One Piece. In a world where every pirate seems to carry a pistol and the Marines use muskets, the marksman of the Straw Hat Crew is a deadeye with a slingshot. Which, the particular weapon apart, keeps him within the trope: with the modifications (magic seashells to increase the speed and power of his projectiles and a variety of weaponized plants as Abnormal Ammo), his slingshot is better than most firearms, and he has the training.
- Angewomon of Digimon Adventure can shoot arrows of light from a bow attached to one of her gloves and first appears in the human world. Digimon Tamers has Pajiramon, a Villain of the Week who wields a crossbow in a setting where guns can't hurt Digimon. Digimon Xros Wars has Zamielmon, a bow-wielding Size Shifter elf who hunts other Digimon for his own amusement while Revolmon, a living gun, is on the heroes' side and doesn't get to fight very often.
- Guts of Berserk is an interesting case, in that he has both a gun and a crossbow. While gunpowder weapons are limited to bombards (that we can see), his artificial arm carries a small cannon inside it, and has an Automatic Crossbow that can be attached on it.
Where to begin? As mentioned above, this is a common trope in comics, though that's really putting it lightly. There's 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 With a Crush.
- The Huntress, whether the Post-Crisis Helena Bertinelli or the Pre-Crisis (and New 52) 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 Society of 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.
- Scarlett, the intelligence officer of the Joes, uses a crossbow as her main weapon. She gets by thru not being a primary combatant amongst the team.
- 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. Surprisingly justified for an action movie as he makes two silent kills against body armor, since the armor is not arrow proof, and ditches the bow once the building's alarms trip.
- 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.
- Assassin's Creed (2016): Abstergo Rehabilitation Center guards use crossbows against the Assassins during the prison break. Callum uses a bow meanwhile. The in-universe reason is that Callum's training comes from his 15th century ancestor and the bow was much easier to get his hands on than another long-range weapon but doesn't he look heroic with Connor's bow?
- 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 super-powered 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.
- Frank Zhang, to characterize him as a more cerebral child of Mars rather than a brutish child of Ares, is not only talented at archery but also strong enough to use Trick Arrows.
- 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.
- In The Girl from the Miracles District, Robin uses a crossbow despite guns being readily available, likely because it's quieter and as an immortal creature, he likely has more proficiency with it than he would with a gun.
Live Action TV
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer has used a crossbow on occasion, though justified in that her vampires are Immune to Bullets, as well as the fact that wooden crossbow bolts qualify as a "stake through the heart".
- 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.)
- Oddly enough, Kelly proves a natural at archery trick-shooting in a late-season episode of Married... with Children.
- Firefly gives us Inara Serra, who, in keeping with her graceful pedigree, prefers using a bow and arrow over the combustible firearms that the rest of the crew uses, although she's not bad with guns or unarmed combat when she needs to be.
- 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.
- Although most people who use bows find themselves seriously outclassed in Rocket Age Martian Chanari tribesmen who use the Bone Bow are generally far more dangerous, due to the sheer power of the weapon in the hands of a strong archer.
- Warhammer 40,000, one variation of Combi-weapon is a Bolter with a crossbow attachment. It sounds ridiculous, but the crossbow shoots consecrated stakes built to violently disrupt a psychic's power, making the crossbow part a good, if situational, specialist weapon.
- 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 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 (in the first game) or red-hot lengths of iron rebar (in 2 and on) for bolts. Both are extremely deadly against mostly 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.
- Team Fortress 2
- Instead of his Sniper Rifle, the Sniper can use the Huntsman, a bow and arrow. The bow has slightly lower maximum damage, but charges to maximum damage much faster than the rifle. 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 the Crusader's Crossbow (with healing bolts). There's only one shot per clip but its reload is quick and its accuracy.
- 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 crossbownote in combat. It makes sense, as real Japanese princesses were often trained in archery for both self-defense and character-building reasons. She's not afraid of using it as a blunt weapon against any enemy that's too close to shoot at.
- 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. 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.
- 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.
- Played even straighter by The Stalker, a special enemy who hunts down players if they kill a lot of bosses. While the Tenno can use any weapon they choose, the Stalker is always armed with a bow and kunai as his ranged weapon.
- Despite looking like Automatic Crossbows, Bowguns in Monster Hunter behave just like regular guns, muzzle flash included. You still have the option of using regular Bows though, and they're just as effective as every other weapon.
- Resident Evil
- Claire can find and make good use of a crossbow (Bowgun) in both Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil – Code: Veronica.
- In 2 it behaves kind of like Leon's shotgun, firing three bolts in a lateral spread and loading six shots total, and is silent enough to confuse a Licker (it'll home in on any gunfire it hears).
- In Code: Veronica it behaves differently, fitting all the ammo in it at once and behaving like a semi-automatic handgun with weak damage per shot, though it fires them so fast, plus the need for only one inventory slot, make it a worthy weapon to have. You can combine arrows with gunpowder as well for considerably more damage.
- Resident Evil 4 has a few. In none of them do the arrows arc at any distance.
- Regular ranged Mooks carry two-shot crossbows, loaded with Arrows on Fire. It sort of makes sense, as the first two parts of the game take place in an isolated village and a centuries-old castle, though in the military-like island base comprising the final third of the game that also features rotary autocannons and miniguns and electrical stun rods, it gets kind of strange. The "on fire" part seems to be only to make them and the arrows themselves visible at a distance.
- Ada gets access to a bowgun for herself, operated as slowly you'd expect a normal crossbow. The main advantage of it is that the bolts are explosive, with about the same power as a hand grenade.
- In Mercenaries mode, you can play as Krauser. His only ranged weapon is a compound bow as powerful as a Sniper Rifle.
- Resident Evil 5
- The crossbows with flaming arrows make a comeback in the opening parts of the game in a dilapidated shanty town.
- The wetlands tribesmen in the second part of the game use regular bows fitted with explosive arrowheads.
- Sheva can herself get into the archery business with the unlockable Longbow bonus weapon, that behaves just like Krauser's bow except the arrows arc at range and there's no aiming reticle of any kind, so drawing a bead is quite difficult. In Mercenaries mode, if she's in the Tribal costume, she plays a lot like Krauser.
- Claire can find and make good use of a crossbow (Bowgun) in both Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil – Code: Veronica.
- The hunter Simon in Bloodborne Doesn't Like Guns, so he had a special bow crafted for him by the workshop which also doubles as a sword. While said weapon's description suggests he was scoffed at by most for trying to fight horrific (and sometimes gigantic) beasts with a bow, the mere fact you can meet him at all suggests he made it work at least as well as the guns he hated.
- Contagion has both a scoped crossbow and a compound bow. Reusable ammo, powerful shotsnote and almost totally silent operation are very useful in a Zombie Apocalypse, and indeed they are excellent weapons once you get past the initial difficulty of aiming compared to guns. A skilled user is deadly against zombie and human opponent alike, able to clear out vast expanses of the map without attracting any attention, and indeed only really has to switch out in the finales of a map when the hordes come, as the slow operation and low ammo capacity of the archery weapons make them impractical and their inherent stealth is worthless because the walkers know exactly where you are at any given moment.
- 7 Days to Die has three archery weapons: the wooden bow, the crossbow, and the compound bow. All three operate in total silence, not alerting nearby zombies and being hard to hear by players, and do decent-to-devastating damage per shot depending on what ammo you load them with. The wooden bow is the first ranged weapon you're likely to get for yourself (the tutorial missions tell you how to craft it) and it's piss-easy to craft, but isn't particularly powerful even with high-tier ammunition; the crossbow uses a different ammo type (bolts instead of arrows) and requires a schematic to be made, but it's easier to handle, has way more stopping power and can be loaded with explosive ammunition; and finally, the compound bow, the late-game option, is divided in parts like all firearms, needs the schematic to be put together and can only accept steel or flaming arrows, but it's the most potent of the three and the easiest to aim, as it has an actual sight.
- Hanzo Shimada in Overwatch brings a bow to an arena full of modern weapons and futuristic Ray Guns. He rounds out the repertoire with Trick Arrows, ricocheting shots, and occasionally using dragon magic to chase the arrow with a Kamehame Hadoken.
- Bows and arrows are regularly seen alongside guns and grenades in Nexus Clash owing to the Urban Fantasy of the setting and the fact that some of the Planes of Existence visited in the series aren't part of the modern world. The Redeemed in particular has supernaturally good skill with a bow that allow them to match all but the most capable users of firearms.
- Metro 2033 and Metro: Last Light feature the Helsing, a pneumatically-driven revolver arrowgun. It is quiet to Hollywood Silencer levels, powerful in the proper pressure level (one-shots an armored human on a bodyshot) and absurdly so when overpressurized (on harder difficulties it can kill a Black Librarian in little more than a full reload if it's overpressurized at the start), and the arrows can be retrieved for later use. The downsides are that its pressure gauge is hard to read at a glance, it's very slow to fire, and unlike most of the trope's examples, it's pretty inaccurate at longer ranges, so much so that a scope is next-to-useless on it.
- Magick Chicks: Justified in the case of Callista Archer, who's the captain of Artemis Academy's Archery Club. As such, she has the distinction of being the best shot at the school and she has the trophies to prove it.
- There is an archer among the Regulars of the second test in Tower of God. He manages to kill a few enemies, but in turn is taken out by Levin and his sniper rifle. So this trope gets subverted pretty quickly.
- Transformers Animated:
- Despite living in the 22nd Century in a city that's the heart of the robotic revolution, the Angry Archer still uses a bow and trick arrows (albeit with some sort of robotic gauntlet on one hand). While he's hardly the most competent of supervillains, he does manage to put them to good use.
- Rodimus Prime as well, though he uses an Energy Bow.
- As with their comic counterparts, Green Arrow and Speedy/Red Arrow in Justice League, Teen Titans (though only for Speedy), and Young Justice. Young Justice also has, as a main character, Artemis Crock, who in the comics usually uses a crossbow, but is an Olympic level archer. In the series the longbow is her primary weapon, as Green Arrow's second sidekick.
- As does Hawkeye in The Avengers: United They Stand, The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes!, and Avengers, Assemble!, as well as in Iron Man: Armored Adventures and Ultimate Spider-Man. And Francis Barton, his son, in Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow.
- "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 fabric-based ballistic vests work, sharp-edged projectiles like crossbow bolts or arrows can pierce them.
- They're not nearly as loud as most service weapons, and can make for a more-or-less silent kill if need be.
- They have more nonlethal ammo options.
- They can be fired at a target with a bomb strapped to them with much less risk of detonation, a real concern with suicide bombers today.
- When assaulting places with flammable or explosive materials like oil terminals, chemical factories, ammo dumps, etc., there's no muzzle flash to ignite fumes or vapors, and the risk of a projectile spark that can do the same is zero instead of very small.
- The high weight and low velocity of the arrows make them less likely to ricochet than bullets.
- 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.