Trick Bullet

Normally bullets are used to damage or kill whatever they hit, but there are special bullets that are not primarily intended to do that.

Compare Abnormal Ammo and Trick Arrow.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • In Ghost in the Shell, Togusa likes to put these in his gun. In the first movie and an episode of the series he does it with a tracking device (fired into a car).
  • Some of the caster shells in Outlaw Star do things other than kill the target. Early on in the series Aisha is shot with one and it only paralyzes her, despite being a rather large caliber. Then again, she's an alien Cat Girl ...
    • And that's ignoring the ones that create micro-black holes. Oh, and it's not enough to keep the Big Bad down for good, either.
  • Sven in Black Cat frequently supplies Train with these. Freeze bullets come to mind, as do paint bullets.
  • In the "Escape from Pain" episode of Trigun, Vash the Stampede is hired to kill a teenage runaway, but shoots the boy with rubber bullets to fool his employer.
  • One Piece's Usopp's "Stars" would fall into this category, fired from his preferred weapon, the slingshot. Standard ammunition include exploding pellets (needle and fire varieties), rotten eggs, Tabasco sauce, slippery oil, glue, and toy cockroaches. After the Time Skip, he gains seeds that form quick growing plants to terraform the battlefield or attack the enemy. Or make an emergency boat.
  • In the first chapter of City Hunter Ryo uses a gold-tipped .500 Nitro Express bullet so that, once shot in the ear of the target (Ryo is just that good), it won't leave the skull and use all of its enormous power (it's an elephant bullet) to move him. As the target is the challenger for a boxing championship who has murdered the previous challenger (leading to Ryo being hired by his fiancee to avenge him) and is threatening the life of the champion's daughter to fix the match, the well-timed shot has the effect of making it appear that the champion hit the challenger so hard it not only killed him, but sent him flying out of the ring.

  • Back before he got his own series. The Punisher would have to use non-lethal rounds to justify him teaming up with other heroes. These were eventually revealed to have a painful sedative in them.
  • The Gambler, foe of the Golden Age Green Lantern, carried a derringer that fired ammonia gas and blackout gas as well as regular bullets.
  • Judge Dredd:
    • During The Apocalypse War, Judge Dredd gets an armourer to reduce the charge of a standard execution round to penetrate his badge and an inch of flesh only so he can fake his suicide. It works, but the charge is still stronger than intended and ends up pressing on his heart, weakening him and making escape from the Grand Hall of Justice more difficult.
    • The Lawgiver's Abnormal Ammo. While canonically, the six rounds are Standard, Armour Piercing, Incendiary, Ricochet, Heat Seeker and Hi-Ex, some writers add different types such as marker shells, stumm gas rounds and electronic tagging rounds.
  • The entirely creepy infectious bullets from Crossed.
  • In Rocket Raccoon's solo title, a merchant in the background of a bazaar is selling plant-looking guns she claims impregnates living targets with their bullets to grow more guns.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Le Cercle Rouge: Jansen is shown smelting his own bullet. Later he explains to a mystified Corey that the idea is to make a special bullet that will be in a molten state when it hits the keyhole, which will allow it to fill up the space between the tumblers in the lock, thus acting like a key and deactivating the alarm system at the jewelry store. It works.
  • xXx features both standard tranq rounds and a "blood drop" round that not only delivers a dose of tranquilizer but includes a blood squib that makes it look like the tranq'd target is actually shot with a standard bullet.
  • Phone Booth: The cops shoot Stu with a rubber bullet to trick the sniper
  • X-Men Film Series
    • The mutant-cure delivering bullets from X-Men: The Last Stand.
    • Amnesia bullets in X-Men Origins: Wolverine.
      • Although technically those weren't "amnesia bullets", they were regular bullets made out of adamantium, thus the only thing they had that could pierce Logan's Nigh Invulnerable skull. They were supposed to kill him but his brain was able to regenerate, just without a huge chunk of his memories. Anyone else would fair far worse than just amnesia.
  • The bullets in Wanted; the conceit is that some are multiple-stage bullets, like an Apollo-era rocket, and are designed to be able to bend, manuever or otherwise change their course in flight.
  • In The Rundown, The Rock's character is shot with bean-bag rounds.
  • In Heathers, there are the Ich Luge bullets, which pierce the skin and tranquilize, without killing. Subverted in that they're actually completely ordinary bullets, and Veronica is being lied to.
  • Hellboy has the titular character shoot Sammael with a tracking bullet.
  • In Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Eddie use a gun that fires toon bullets: bullets that are self-aware cartoons and can steer themselves in flight. Unfortunately, they aren't the brightest of toons.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The security guard on Wonderfalls carries a gun with rubber bullets. The effect is that they knock the target off his feet without wounding him.
  • In the Law & Order: Special Victims Unit episode "Burned," a man wanted for setting fire to his ex holds off the cops by threatening to kill himself with a knife. Benson shoots him with rubber bullets in order to prevent a suicide and to take him in.
    • As the SVU cops had never used non-lethal bullets before this scene, and there's no set-up for it in the episode, it's close to being an Ass Pull.
  • Mission: Impossible: In "Gunslinger", Jim uses tranquilizer bullets to allow him to capture the Big Bad and The Dragon by staging a Showdown at High Noon.
  • In The Expanse the guards on Dresden's secret research station had guns loaded with gel rounds, that for some reason were colored blood red so that the already jumpy OPA boarding party (who weren't using gel rounds) panicked when one of them took a gel to the helmet. None of the guards survived.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Paranoia cone rifle shells.
    • ECM: electronic jamming equipment - any electrical equipment (including robots) in the Area of Effect stopped working.
    • Smoke: smoke cloud that blocked normal vision.
    • Corrosion gas: damaged all metal in the Area of Effect.
    • Vomit gas: caused severe nausea in victims.
    • Gauss gas: laser fire through the Area of Effect is more effective.
    • Dirt gas: made laser reflec armor less effective.
    • Hallucinogenic gas: Oh look! Beautiful pink unicorns!
  • Shadowrun
    • Paintball rounds - used to mark enemies for later identification.
    • Gel ammo: does stun damage instead of lethal.
    • Ex-Ex: or (extra) explosive rounds. For when a grenade is too lethal, but regular ammo isn't lethal enough—or illegal enough.
    • Capsule rounds: for delivering a drug cocktail of your choice directly into the bloodstream.
    • The following rounds also exist in the game, but have real life counterparts
      • Dragon's Breath: shotgun -> flamethrower
      • Stick 'n Shock: taser rounds
      • Shock Lock: for breaching doors
  • Eclipse Phase, being made by some of the Shadowrun devs and set just a little past the Technological Singularity, has several of these for Firearms, on top of the usual ammo types like Armor Piercing rounds. Railguns can only use regular and Armor Piercing rounds, though.
    • 'Flux' ammo, that can reconfigure itself, allowing users to inflict normal wounds, or inflict lesser injuries for crowd control.
    • Bug ammo, which tags the target and allows you to track them via the Mesh.
    • Capsule ammo, as per Shadowrun Capsule rounds above.
    • Jammer ammo, which sticks to the target and jams wireless signals.
    • Splash ammo, which is similar to Capsule, but splashes the contents on the target instead of injecting it directly into them.
    • Zap ammo, which stuns enemies like a taser shot.
      • There are also several 'smart' ammo types, which - with the exception of Biter, Flayer, and Proximity types, can be combined with the above-mentioned types.
    • Accushot ammo, which reconfigures itself in-flight to ignore the effects of wind, drag, and gravity - allowing users to ignore range penalties.
    • Biters and Flayers, which increase damage dealt, and Proximity ammo that can harm targets even if it doesn't strike them directly.
    • Homing and Laser-Guided ammo, Exactly What It Says on the Tin. 'Zero' ammo allows burst and full-auto weapons to 'zero in' on a target during extended firing.
    • Ultra-Tech has a truly amazing number: Aerosol, liquid, flare, memory baton, tangler, stingray (to disable robots), swarm, EMP, jammer, strobe, warbler, force, implosion, psibomb, stasis, vortex. Those are just the non-lethal ones.
    • High-Tech has basically everything realistic.
  • Warhammer40000 (of course) has the Imperium employ these, specifically for the Bolters. Because having full-auto .75 caliber RPG-bullets wasn't enough, they also come in super-armor-piercing, anti-materiel, anti-psyker, incendiary, sniper and "mutagenic acid" flavors. The last one is pretty much official terminology for "Tyranid killers".
    • Some Dark Eldar weapons aren't intended to kill, as they need to torture their victims in order to sustain their souls.
  • A scenario in the old Adventurer's Club magazine called for the PCs to be spies trying to infiltrate a company headquarters. This was actually a training mission, and the "guards" carried guns loaded with specialized ammo that felt like a normal bullet but didn't do the damage. The GM was told to tell the players they'd taken damage based on the caliber of gun they were shot with, but track the actual damage secretly until someone got around to checking the injury. (One option for this scenario involved real criminals trying to break into the "headquarters" while the PCs were in the middle of their infiltration ... and their weapons were real.)

  • Ghost Trick: Cabanela fires a special bullet into Yomiel's body, which can be tracked by a modified pocket watch.
  • Team Fortress 2: the Engineer's Rescue Ranger can fire a spike with a battery attached to it that can repair friendly buildings in addition to damaging targets.
  • Absolute Despair Girls: The Megaphone Hacking Gun uses a variety of Truth Bullets, including Move that activates machines and Dance that forces Monokuma units to dance.
  • West of Loathing has Silver Bullets that do double damage against undead and demons, incendiary bullets that ignite a target, and chemical bullets that poison their targets.

    Western Animation 
  • Hanna-Barbera's Ricochet Rabbit and Droop-a-Long Coyote had Ricochet fire bullets that - for example - would stop in front of the bad guy, open up to show a hand carrying a mallet, and bop the bad guy on the head.
  • In Duck Dodgers in the 24½th Century, Dodgers fires an Ultimatum Gun at Marvin, which shoots a bullet that stops in mid-air, opens and out pops a written ultimatum. Marvin responds with an Ultimatum Responder, which fires a bullet that stops and shoots a bullet of its own. Dodgers fires the Ultimatum gun again, and this time the bullet's message reads "Ouch!"
  • In one Halloween Episode of Gargoyles, Owen shoots a were-Fox with a gun, later revealing that it was neither a bullet nor a tranquilizer, but a tracking and monitoring device. There was also the episode where Dr. Sevarius shot Elisa's brother with a gun loaded with a vial of Mutagenic Goo that turned him into a pseudo-gargoyle (a flying cat-monster thing).

    Real Life 
See rubber bullets. This kind of thing can be found in most calibers but shotgun shells take the overall award; ignoring stuff like grenades and other weapons we have:
  • Rounds designed to breach doors.
  • Beanbag rounds (designed to be less-lethal).
  • More recently; Taser rounds, although they're still experimental (most recently seen in the case of Raul Moat.
  • Dragon's Breath, anyone?
  • There are also military training rounds that have the same results as paintballs but are sized like normal rounds and fired from standard issue weapons that has their entire upper receivers, barrels, operating parts, and magazines replaced, and often have portions of the weapons painted blue. They have the same general shape, but these changes are intentionally highly visible so that negligent mistakes and harmful accidents are not as likely to occur.
  • Grenade Launchers can fire signal flares when needed, and distress flares are often loaded into standard 12-gauge shotgun cases.
  • The Taser XREP is a miniaturized taser fitted within a 12 gauge shell with a range of 100 feet, primarily intended for use by police forces as a less-lethal incapacitation option.