"Friendly fire isn't."What to do when you've made an enemy on your own side? Good thing there is a convenient battle coming up... What's one more casualty between friends? The coroner will never know the difference. Shoot the guy yourself or push him into enemy fire, it makes little difference. Nobody's going to check. That annoying squadmate or sergeant is dead, and you can now resume shooting the enemy like nothing wrong happened. Even if someone recognizes that it was your side's ammunition, Friend or Foe might have happened; even if someone knows you shot him, you can feign bewilderment, claiming in a Friend or Foe situation you made a terrible but understandable mistake — sometimes. As you might imagine, this is Truth in Television. The military even has a name for it that stems from the use of a fragmentation grenade to kill someone on one's own side of the conflict: "fragging" (which has since become a part of the gamer's lexicon after its use in Doom's popular Deathmatch mode). This originally referred to the specific act of throwing a fragmentation grenadenote into the offending officer's tent, but soon spread to all methods. Sometimes even a junior officer, concerned of senseless waste of his men, would eliminate a glory-hungry or inefficient senior officer to save his unit. Contrast Trial by Friendly Fire, which is about the grisly mathematics of deciding when it's safe to risk accidental friendly fire in order to hit an enemy, or I Just Shot Marvin in the Face when accidental friendly fire was unexpected. The Team Killer is a character (or player) who engages in unfriendly fire. See also The Uriah Gambit for purposely sending an underling to his death. A video game's rules on the issue sometimes result in Friendly Fireproof or a Non-Standard Game Over.
— Military Proverb
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- Guts from the Berserk manga did this when he was only eight years old. He was raped by a pederast soldier named Donovan after his adoptive father Gambino sold him to the mercenary for three silver coins. Guts took violent revenge during the very next battle, shooting Donovan in the back with a crossbow and then laying into him with his sword, demanding to know who had sold him to him. Guts did not believe Donovan's final confession that it was Gambino who sold him until the fateful night when Gambino, who lost his leg to a cannonball during the battle in question, got drunk, confessed to the deed and then tried to murder him.
- In Martian Successor Nadesico, the eponymous battleship's main computer decides it doesn't like the Earth's military forces (the Nadesico's previous encounter with said military being when they shot at it to stop the ship from leaving Earth), causing allied systems to register them as enemies, causing much of this. Since it was a humorous episode, however, nobody actually died.
- Fullmetal Alchemist: During the Ishvalan War of Extermination, Basque Grand informs his superior officer that 60% of all Amestrian officer deaths are at the hands of their own soldiers. He then proceeds to nonchalantly shoot said superior at point-blank range in the chest with a rifle to stop him from ordering the death of the surrendering Ishvalan leader and wasting more lives. The nearby soldiers agree it was a stray bullet and then ask Basque for orders as he is now the highest ranked officer.
- In Macross Frontier, Mikhail's sister killed her commander with friendly fire, but because they were lovers and he had just recently dumped her, some suspected she did it on purpose as revenge. The series never reveals the truth, but obviously Mikhail thinks his sister was innocent.
- While they haven't exactly made an enemy of him, the World Government in One Piece decides that Gekko Moriah is too weak to represent them as one of the Seven Warlords of the Sea; after the Whitebeard War they try to kill him, intending to use the excuse that he died in the war.
- In the Napoleon manga by Tetsuya Hasegawa, Marmont is shown to be a specialist of this. His tendency to dispose of the superiors he doesn't like may be foreshadowing for his betrayal of Napoleon in 1814.
- Attack on Titan: Jean briefly discusses this in Episode 18, when they're ordered to stand guard in the forest of giant trees, mentioning that an unpopular commander may find themselves getting attacked from behind by one of their troops. Armin wonders if he's really going to do that, but Jean tells him he was just thinking out loud and will follow the orders.
- Bleach: Bankai is one of the most powerful abilities a Soul Reaper can use in battle, but it's also one of the most dangerous. Several Bankai have been confirmed to be so dangerous to both allies and enemies that the Soul Reapers either limit their activation or make sure they're isolated from allies before activating it. Yamamoto's Bankai begins destroying all moisture as a side-effect of activation (including within human bodies), and if active too long will destroy the world its active in. Hitsugaya was so concerned about his Bankai affecting allies on the battlefield, he waited until he was reduced to half power before daring to activate it; he also has this concern about the area of effect of his Shikai as well. Ukitake warns Kyouraku not to activate his Bankai when allies are in view of it, and when he does finally decide to use it, he flees as far away from his allies as he can get before activating it. Urahara never lightly activates his Bankai, once stating that it absolutely cannot be used for something like training colleagues and only using it when his opponent exhausted all other options for combat and his allies were either far away or unconscious.
- Occurs in volume four of The Walking Dead, "The Heart's Desire". Rick shoots Dexter, a prison inmate who stated his intent to forcibly evict Rick and his group from the well-stocked and spacious prison as soon as the zombie attack was quelled. It was under the cover of a heated, surprise zombie attack. This is one of the first incidents that show Rick is on a slippery slope. Executed in a somewhat Anvilicious manner as the victim taunted his murderer that he would have done the same thing if given the opportunity.
- In The Punisher: Born from Marvel MAX line, an account of Frank Castle's time in Vietnam before he became The Punisher, Frank eliminates an officer by recommending the view from a hilltop while standing in front of a sniper warning sign. Such situations are a Running Gag.
- In a one-off Rogue Trooper strip by Alan Moore, Rogue encountered a Souther scout who was intending to kill a busload of Nort civilians. The scout stole Gunnar to try and do this, but Gunnar responded by shooting the scout.
- In the Elseworlds series Superman & Batman: Generations, Superman's powerless son Joel Kent gets a bullet in the back after ordering his men to raze a Vietnamese village full of women, children, and the elderly, saying "In this country there's no such THING as 'non-combatants'!"
- In Preacher, Jesse's dad iced his racist commanding officer while serving in Vietnam, after the officer's sadism and stupidity got one of Jesse's friends killed.
- One issue of The Phantom Stranger involved a would-be revolutionary constructing a metal, robotic "god" (who could shoot and fight like a human) as a symbol of his people - unfortunately, said "god" got interested in the revolutionary's wife and decided to Murder the Hypotenuse this way.
- The Comedian does this to his commanding in the Pacific during World War II in Before Watchmen: Comedian.
- During the Thunderbolts tie-in to Secret Invasion, Bullseye kills one of his handlers with a dagger (Subverted, in that he does it right after their attackers are killed).
Bullseye: Whoops. Friendly fire. Or not. Does it really count as "friendly" if I hate you?
- In his origin story, the Crimebuster villain Iron Jaw "accidentally" shot his superior officer during a battle in World War I. Unfortunately for him, the man lived long enough to toss a grenade in his direction, which blew his lower face off and necessitated his moniker.
- In Demon Knights, Horsewoman shoots Exoristos non-fatally with an arrow after the latter encourages a young civilian to try and sneak through enemy lines during the siege of Little Spring, which resulted in the young girl being captured and beheaded.
- Conversational Troping in Beau Peep: When the fort chef Egon is sent out on patrol with Peep, Peep advises him not to wear his chef's hat since it could attract sniper fire. Egon replies that a chef's hat is like the red cross, and the enemy wouldn't dare shoot at it. Peep clarifies that the enemy might not, but they don't have to eat his food.
- In Aeon Entelechy Evangelion The Mole killed her own squad for the purpose of infiltration.
- In chapter 14 of Ace Combat: The Equestrian War, Night Raven kills Slip when he was trying to leave the battlefield. He absolves himself when Echo yells at him, saying he did Echo a favor!
- In the final chapters of Uplifted:Revolution, Kampfgruppe Hoch (a thrown together Battalion) learned that no matter what rank you are, you`re subject to summary execution at Joachim Hoch's own hand should you murder a civilian or a prisoner, even if you're a Major.
- Peace Forged in Fire: D'trel's former CO Ameh ir'Tanat reportedly spaced their Tal'Shiar Political Officer and sent fake reports using his gear. Admiral tr'Kererek calls this "efficient".
- Discworld fanfics:
- In Fresh Pair of Eyes by A.A. Pessimal, a group of Assassins' Guild pupils on a live field exercise find a way of placing a very large explosive device under the feet of two of their teachers. Granted, the bomb is "only" designed to generate a very large and disconcerting bang. But it gives their tutors pause for thought as to what those girls might have achieved with a real explosive device, and not a near-harmless munition designed for training purposes. The team decide to combine four separate thunderflashes into a larger bomb so as to really make the most of their resources.
- In the tale Bungle in the Jungle, a bush war erupts in Howondaland between two neighbors who do not see eye-to-eye. An unpopular political officer of the White Howondalandian Army is a casualty. The regular army lieutenant in command observes that the wound which killed him is so deep that it might have come from either direction — the front facing the enemy, or from the back. His sergeant laconically remarks that the tribal enemy they were facing are big powerful men who can put a lot of muscle behind a spear-thrust. The lieutenant shrugs and says he'll write a citation for a medal.
- In Guardians, Wizards, and Kung-Fu Fighters, Alistar Tharquin hates Jade, on account of her being a Shapeshifter. So, prior to the Rebellion's assault on Torus Finley, he makes the decision to have his ally Rhouglar assassinate her during the chaos of the battle, in order to eliminate her in a way that no one will suspect him for.
- The Flashpoint fanfic Belonging turns the canonical Friendly Fire incident in Sam's backstory into this. Though in this case, the primary victim is collateral damage; the actual target was Sam himself, but because Sam was a sniper (and thus not usually in the line of fire), to have him killed by friendly fire would be suspicious, so the Major who was behind the plan arranged instead for him to kill his best friend, thinking that Sam would kill himself over the guilt. It almost works.
- The backstory also reveals that said Major and one of his accomplices had arranged for a similar "accident" to befall a unit commander who was beginning to get suspicious. An investigation into the Major's past reveals that many of his enemies seem to die in mysterious "accidents".
- In the Moscow arc of Panopticon Quest, Panopticon drop a jamming field on Jamelia's location, then fake a distress signal calling for danger close fire support to give themselves an excuse to fire on her.
Films — Live-Action
- This was how Staff Sergeant Barnes disposed of Sergeant Elias in Platoon. And how Chris disposed of Barnes
- This happens in Cross of Iron near the end of the film.
- In Stanley Kubrick's film Paths of Glory, the incompetent general Mireau attempts to cover his failure by ordering an artillery barrage upon his own troops.
- The Beast of War (1988). The Soviet tank commander kills an Afghan member of his crew, convinced he's working for the mujahadeen pursuing them. Also lampshaded between two crewmembers who don't like each other much.
Kaminski: You better watch your ass, Koverchenko. You know, sometimes Afghan snipers pick off tank drivers.
Koverchenko: Sometimes tank drivers pick 'em off first, Kaminski.
- The Manchurian Candidate, both versions, feature this prominently.
- Perhaps narrowly averted in The Hurt Locker, where Sergeant James interrupts a bomb detonation because he thinks he left his gloves at the second bomb site. He takes the Humvee with him, leaving Sanborn and Eldritch alone in the sun. Sanborn toys with detonating the second bomb while James is there, speaking ominously with Eldritch about how they would be able to get away with it as well.
- Mongol. After the last battle, two men betray their Khan Targutai, the rival and opponent of Temudjin (Genghis Khan), and bring his corpse to Temudjin. Temudjin ignores the body, and orders the two men executed, because they "betrayed their Khan".
- Serpico. One of Serpico's fellow officers pleads with him to drop his corruption allegations because his life will be in danger. "They don't even have to shoot you. They just have to not be there when you need them." This is played out when Serpico is caught by a closing door during a drug bust, and his police colleagues don't do anything until after he's shot.
- In the late 70s, Carol Burnett starred in the movie Friendly Fire with the main plot being that her son was not killed by Vietnamese soldiers, but was instead killed by US artillery that was being operated by soldiers who were drunk.
- Subverted in Dark Blue World. One of the protagonists accuses a fellow Spitfire pilot of doing this (he'd been sleeping with his girlfriend); when they look at the gun camera footage later it turns out he'd actually been fired on by a German fighter, which was then shot down by his friend.
- In Animal House, Neidermeyer was eventually fragged by his own troops in Vietnam.
- A segment of Twilight Zone: The Movie directed by the same director actually focuses on those selfsame troops, based on an off-handed reference one makes to "fragging Neidermeyer".
- In the film Casualties of War, after the rape and murder of an innocent village girl, Eriksson is almost killed by a grenade in the American HQ because he was trying to tell someone what happened.
- Implied in the remake of Insomnia, as questions arise as to whether Dormer shooting fellow detective Eckhardt in the mist was truly an accident.
- The movie Assault, made in the 1950s, features a WWII CO whose raw incompetence keeps getting his men killed. At the end, as he climbs a staircase to surrender to the Germans, one of his men finally snaps and shoots him in the back. (This scene made Assault the first war movie to not receive support from the military.)
- Most probably happened in Ran, when the general rides up to the second oldest prince to tell him that his older brother was killed by a stray bullet. When the prince looks at the still-smoking musket in the general's hand, he wordlessly throws it away and they never speak of it again.
- The finale of Robert Aldrich's Vera Cruz features Burt Lancaster gunning down one of his henchmen for no reason. This finally sends erstwhile partner Gary Cooper over the edge.
- In Hornets' Nest done to SS Major Taussig by his colleague in the Wehrmacht, Captain von Hecht, after Taussig refuses to admit that the vulnerable Della Norte Dam is in danger.
- SS Major Kaempffer blows Captain Woermann away in the film version of The Keep.
- When two of Major Paul Kreuger's men attempt to desert and run away in The Bridge at Remagen, Kreuger shoots them in the back as they flee.
- In the Black Comedy How I Won The War (1967), a British platoon in WW2 keep trying to bump off their incompetent lieutenant, but he survives the war and gets them all killed instead.
- Attempted but not followed through on in The Last Jedi; after Snoke and his Praetorian Guard are killed, Hux walks in and discovers the carnage, as well as an unconscious Kylo Ren. Seeing an obvious opportunity, Hux gets ready to pull his blaster and use the chaos to bump off his only competitor for title of Supreme Leader. Unfortunately for him, Ren wakes up and Hux has to hurriedly holster his weapon.
- In Dragon Bones, that was how Ward's father got rid of Ward's grandfather. Not a real battle, though, they were fighting some bandits at the time.
- The preface to The Paths of the Dead confirms through denial that Adron did this in battle to a challenger to leadership for the House of the Dragon. The two were on the same side, but Adron hired the assassin Mario to kill the other guy during the battle. It's kind of important to learn this, as while Adron comes across as a Well-Intentioned Extremist when trying to seize the throne in the previous book, with the new information, he seems more clearly to be The Evil Prince.
- While it's not clear if he actually ordered the assassin in that situation, the conspiracy detailed in
- The Brother Cadfael book One Corpse Too Many uses a variation on both this and The Uriah Gambit. After a mass hanging there is an extra corpse hidden among them. The extra corpse was strangled, not hanged — but it turns out that one of those hanged was The Mole and was meant to have been spared, and the villain deliberately set him up to be hanged as well, so as not to have to share the treasure.
- The Father Brown mystery "The Sign of the Broken Sword" by G. K. Chesterton. An interesting twist on both tropes: Murderer, General St. Claire, killed his victim first, and then planned an otherwise pointless assault so that it would happen at exactly the same spot, thus hiding his victim among other casualties.
- In Sharpe's Waterloo, the Prince of Orange (a.k.a. "The Young Frog"), who happens to be Sharpe's immediate superior, is eventually shot by a Rifleman because he's too stupid to lead and is putting everyone's lives at risk.
- Sharpe himself was the target of this or The Uriah Gambit several times, usually by aristocratic officers who had been embarrassed by him.
- Given the number of enemies they make on their own side, Sharpe and his friends pull this quite a few times. Notable examples include the bullying and murderous Sergeant Lynch being beaten to death by his own men, Sharpe casually despatching Lieutenant Berry while on patrol (in his first very first appearance) and making it look like Lord Hale, who was actually killed by his wife and Sharpe's lover in self-defence, died in battle at Trafalgar.
- This happened at the city of Pale, in Genabackis, in the Malazan Book of the Fallen, during the fight with Anomander Rake and Moon's Spawn; Tayschrenn took advantage of the battle to kill two of the High Mages on his side, and Rake lost the battle because he was investing a lot of his energy just protecting mages on the opposing side from Tayschrenn. Or so it seemed at the time anyway. In truth Tayschrenn's involvement was a lot less of a simple attack on his own side than it appeared at first glance, and less pre-planned. He was in fact more of a good guy taking action against a third party which was interfering, which was misunderstood by the Pov character at the time in the chaos, not helped by those who seemed to believe her and subsequently rebelling against the empire (then appearing a lot more evil than in fact it is — though not being all sunshine and roses of course) being revealed a long way down the line to be involved in a very long term Gambit Roulette with Tayschrenn (although that incident was not a part of the plan) and in fact still loyal.
- The Anvilicious Strawman Political 'Operation Chickenhawk' segment of Al Franken's book Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot has a squad of Republicans who avoided service in Vietnam (Limbaugh, Newt Gingrich, Pat Buchanan, and a few others) fragging Lt. Oliver North. A prequel chapter in Lies And The Lying Liars that Tell Them has them do it to every commander until Capt. Max Cleland managed to crawl back to base, whereupon they fled into the jungle. And John Kerry's crew (George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Bill O'Reilly, and a few others) do it to him and Al Gore, who's on board as a journalist.
- Sandy Mitchell's Ciaphas Cain (HERO OF THE IMPERIUM) novels strongly imply that this is frequent practice in the Warhammer 40,000 universe. Commissars are frequent targets, primarily because shooting soldiers for crimes/cowardice in the field (or just to keep the others in line) is their job. In fact, Cain's motivation for NOT behaving like a stereotypical Commissar and shooting his men to inspire them is specifically to avoid little accidents like these.
- Lijah Cuu in Dan Abnett's Gaunt's Ghosts novel The Guns of Tanith uses this method to dispose of Bragg.
- In the next novel, Straight Silver, Cuu likewise uses this as cover to murder Sehra Muril. Larkin considers doing this to Cuu, even joining a patrol with his hated enemy to find the opportunity, but agonizes over the shot and ultimately can't take it, much to his later shame and regret.
- In Ghostmaker, Sturm ordered his artillery to open fire on the Ghosts because they were chasing enemies and he could claim it was a Friend or Foe situation
- At the end of Graham McNeill's Warhammer 40,000 Horus Heresy novel False Gods, Loken explains to Torgaddon that Varkasus had been killed with Imperial ammunition — and not a stray shot, but dead on.
- In Ben Counter's Galaxy In Flames, Loken tells this to two iterators and concludes it was because he wanted certain men courtmartialed. They conclude that nay-sayers are being eliminated. Later in the book, the Warmaster sends a third of his forces to a planet and virus-bombs them. Only Tarvitz's discovery let any of the betrayed men survive. After the attack, Tarvitz goes to join his Legion's survivors, partly in hope of reorganizing their forces, but part so that he could die with them at need, in defiance of the division the Warmaster had tried to bring.
- In James Swallow's Warhammer 40,000 Red Fury, Flesh Tearers fire on a location where they know Blood Angels are. While they know they will survive, being Astartes, they also know they will caught in the rubble. (The first of several unfriendly incidents.)
- Attempted by Captain Kila in The Lost Fleet who tried to have the fleet commander Captain Geary killed by some accident or another three times. She only gets discovered when she kills a former ally who managed to leave a message to Geary before her ship blew up.
- In the beginning of Homeland, Dinin kills his older brother during the battle with another house. Mind you, no one is fooled. Later, it is mentioned that wizards cannot participate in surface raids - because some guy killed a few drow with a fireball in a raid and claimed it was a malfunction of his magic due to the conditions (the investigators were in no hurry).
- In The Count of Monte Cristo, one of the characters tells a story (within another story) about a bandit lord named Cucumetto who pulls one of these, shooting a treacherous underling in the back during a skirmish with some soldiers.
- This is the final fate of Captain Fisher, a.k.a. "Billy Liar", in Kim Newman's Alternate History novella Teddy Bears' Picnic. His troops frag him by tossing a white phosphorus grenade into his tent while he is sleeping; a practice known as 'white saucing'.
- As detailed in "The Spell of War", the first mystery solved by Lord Darcy involved a case of this when he was an 18-year-old lieutenant in the autumn of the War of '39.
- The scoundrel Harry Flashman has many opportunities to do this over his scandalous career, but usually chickens out. A notable example is in Flashman and the Angel of the Lord, where he is blackmailed (by Northern Abolitionists and Southern Secessionists) into infiltrating John Brown's gang and assassinating him if his raid on Harper's Ferry looks like it might succeed. During the raid Flashman instead shoots his co-conspirator before he can kill Brown, saving Brown and still fulfilling the trope.
- In Memory, Sorrow and Thorn, this is how Duke Benigaris inherits the throne of Nabban, by stabbing his father in the back during the siege of Naglimund and claiming that it was due to enemy action. This later comes back to bite Benigaris when the testimony of a soldier who witnessed the event is used to incite rebellion against him.
- Easy Company were all but cutting cards for who got to inflict this trope on Captain Sobel. Ultimately averted after it became clear that not only was Sobel a martinet and a bully, he had No Sense of Direction and was completely out of his depth in a combat posting, at which point he was posted back to a training role. Some veterans interviewed for the book, presumably with the benefit of hindsight, even opined that his Drill Sergeant Nasty routine made them even more determined to pass Jump School just to annoy him.
- In a Star Wars Expanded Universe story, the "Look sir, droids!" stormtrooper does this. He had been a promising AT-AT pilot who was relegated to backwater stormtrooper duty after exposing a flaw in the AT-AT design to its creator. He is repeatedly confronted with the cruelty of the Empire, including the Lars murders and the massacre of the Jawas, and especially of his commanding officer. When he sees his captain draw a bead on Han Solo during the hangar bay fight, he calmly shoots him in the back. He later defected, and informed the rebels about that little flaw...
- In the Legends novel Shatterpoint, the trope is Invoked by Mace Windu. During the climatic battle, a horde of Separatist droid starfighters are decimating the clone ground forces. Mace manages to commandeer two gunships of the local militia, who are allied with the Separatists, and fires on the starfighters. The droids, not having the programming to understand hijacking, believe that the militia has turned on them, and promptly annihilate dozens of the gunships.
- This is one of Tigerclaw's methods in the Warrior Cats series, when he's still a Villain with Good Publicity before his exile:
- After a border fight, he kills the Clan deputy, Redtail, hopińg he'll be made deputy himself. He places the blame for Redtail's death on Oakheart, whom Redtail had been fighting against and who had been killed in the battle so he wouldn't be around to deny it. Too bad Ravenpaw had been hiding in the bushes and saw it happen...
- Wanting to kill his leader in order to become leader himself, Tigerclaw convinces a group of rogues to attack the camp. During the battle, he attacks Bluestar, hoping to make it look like a rogue had killed her.
- Near the climax of Prince Caspian, the Telmarine king Miraz duels Peter one-on-one. Peter knocks him unconscious and a full-scale battle ensues. In the confusion, a Telmarine Mauve Shirt Miraz insulted earlier delivers a Coup de Grâce.
- Discussed in Monstrous Regiment, but The Neidermeyer deserts before it actually comes to that. He turns out to be a Political Officer spying on Sergeant Jackrum, and the protagonists use this to their advantage.
- A non-lethal version in The Science of Discworld II: The Globe; Ridcully has taken the wizards paintballing as a team-building exercise, but the wizards have great difficulty with the concept of teams.
Dean: What? I'm on your side, you damn fool!
Chair: You can't be! You made such a good target!
- A Song of Ice and Fire: During the Battle of the Blackwater, a mysterious employer hires, Mandon Moore one of the kingsguard to deal with Tyrion. Were it not for Podrick Payne, Tyrion almost certainly would've been doomed. As it is, he now sports a truly hideous scar from the encounter, having only barely recognized the threat in time for the first blow.
- In The Short-Timers, a Vietnam War era novel by Gustav Hasford which famously inspired Full Metal Jacket, fragging of the Marines platoon leader is implied though not confirmed. It doesn't help that the character in question is both a sociopath and in habit of bragging about his alleged exploits in the area of killing his superiors.
Animal Mother spits a lot because he thinks it makes him look tough. "Lifers never get wasted. Just the ones I frag, that's all." [...] "The platoon radioman was down. Some redneck from Alabama. I forget his name. Took a sniper round through the knee. The Skipper went out to get him. A frag got him. A frag got them both. At least..." Cowboy turns to look at Animal Mother. "At least, that's how Mother tells it, and he was walking point."
- Corporal Himmelstoss from All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque becomes more cautious towards the protagonists after he's transfered to the front, partly because "surely someone fed him with this nonsense about shooting to the back".
- Also in The Black Obelisk by the same author, an ex-World War I soldier character remembers (in response to a Miles Gloriosus ex-officer extolling the virtues of friendship among the officers and enlisted soldiers on the front) "during the War the only officer who ever addressed us "My friends" was that tyrant lieutenant Helle, one evening before a planned attack, because he got frightened that the next day he could get a bullet to his back."
- In Sven Hassel's books, overzealous Nazi officers sometimes get knocked out and hoisted above the level of the trenches so that the Soviet troops can shoot them and relieve the Germans of their presence.
- Julian was struck by a spear and slain. As to who threw it...
- A pilot working for the bad guys in Win, Lose or Die tries to kill James Bond during a flight exercise with Sea Harrier jets.
- In The Stand, after Sergeant Peters executes DJ Ray Flowers, his own men, fed up with they see as senseless murdering of civilians, open up on him on the spot. One shocked private refers to it as "We just scragged Sergeant Peters!"
- In The Good Soldier Švejk, set during the World War I, sapper Vodička, an old comrade of the protagonist, is quite fond of recounting stories involving unfriendly fire in the Austro-Hungarian military.
"On the Przemyśl front we had Hauptmann Jetzbacher who was a swine, the like of which you won't find under the sun. He bullied us so much that one chap of our company, Bitterlich, a German but a very good fellow, shot himself. So we decided that when it began to whistle from a Russian side, it would be all up with our Hauptmann Jetzbacher. And as soon as the Russians started to fire at us, we peppered him with five shots in a cross-fire. The beast was still alive, like a cat, so we had to finish him with further two, to prevent any troubles. He just growled in a comic way, rather funny." Vodička laughed: "Such things happen daily on the front."
- In If I Die in a Combat Zone (Box Me Up and Ship Me Home) Tim O'Brien recounts a Vietnam War episode when a NCO who was assigning most dangerous missions to the black soldiers was disposed of in this way.
That evening we dug foxholes and cooked C rations over heat tabs. The night was hot, so instead of sleeping right away, I sat with a black friend and helped him pull his watch. He told me that one of the black guys had taken care of the first sergeant. It was an M-79 round, of a grenade launcher. Although the shot was meant only to scare the top sergeant, the blacks weren’t crying, he said.
- In Derek Robinson's Battle of Britain novel A Piece of Cake, the pilots of Hornet Squadron conspire to dispose of a commanding officer whose stubborn adherence to outmoded air-fighting tactics is getting pilots killed in droves. The one man who realises his comrades have murdered the c/o is then promoted to command the squadron. His Very Senior Officer curtly tells him to work out what Rex got wrong - and learn from that.
- In the novel Warrior: En Garde, a colonel hands a letter to his assistant informing his commander that a particularly arrogant Internal Security Force agent has died in a kendo practice accident, receiving a crushed windpipe... just as the agent walks in in his kendo armor.
- In the TV series Over There, The Neidermeyer is killed by friendly fire after sacrificing several soldiers to protect a money truck and threatening to arrest another who protested his orders. While the incident is officially labeled as accidental, it is implied that one of the soldiers in the squad shot him intentionally.
- In Ultimate Force, Henno clears a room with his commanding officer, picks up an enemy AK-47, and shoots half a clip into his back in retaliation for sleeping with the wife of one of his men. Afterwards he has a Coke.
- Battlestar Galactica. After demanding at gunpoint that his troops carry out an ill-conceived attack on Kobol, Crashdown gets shot in the back by Dr. Baltar, who later claims he died "in the best traditions of the service". None of the others dispute this version of events.
- Cally uses it to blackmail Baltar in the very next episode, however - displaying remarkable ingratitude, given that Crashdown was threatening to shoot her in the head when Baltar killed him.
- In the first episode of The Shield Vic does this to Terry Crowley
- In an episode of the German police series Polizeiruf 110, Hauptkommissarin Johanna Herz investigates a murder during a re-enactment of the battle of Großbeeren (near Berlin), while her husband, a historian, investigates a local legend that Napoleon had a young French officer killed by arranging for him to be shot in the back during the 1813 battle because he had cuckolded him with his mistress, Maria Walewska.
- Alluded to on Everybody Loves Raymond, regarding Frank Barone's military experiences.
"You ever heard of 'friendly fire'? Well, sometimes it ain't so friendly."
- Discussed by Leckie in The Pacific after his Jerkass CO steals a box Leckie looted from a Japanese camp on New Gloucester.
- Also discussed at various points in its predecessor, Band of Brothers. Sobel is the most popular subject.
- This gets mentioned in an episode of M*A*S*H when a wounded enlisted man dies on the table. When Hawkeye informs his squadmates one caustically questions whether it was an enemy soldier that killed him, or one of theirs. It turns out the soldier was a known thief and con-artist who had been targeting his own squad.
- Whodunnit? (UK): In "Goodbye Sarge", the Victim of the Week is a Drill Sergeant Nasty shot by one of his men who tried to make it look like the work of an enemy sniper.
- At the end of the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "To the Death", the Jem'Hadar First almost casually guns down his Vorta overseer (an early iteration of Weyoun) for impugning his loyalty to the Dominion earlier in the episode. When Sisko relays this to another First after the war starts (trying to convince him that the First's Vorta is pulling an Uriah Gambit), the latter decries it as a severe breach of discipline.
- On Better Call Saul Matt Ehrmantraut was an honest cop in a precinct full of dirty cops. He was killed in the line of duty by "an unkown drugdealer" while backed up by the two cops who feared that he would turn them in for taking bribes.
- The NUMB3RS episode aptly named "Friendly Fire" reveals that Don's mentor is a Crooked Cop who killed a member of his team after finding out he was an Internal Affairs informant and then killed a second agent to keep him from telling.
- In Game of Thrones, castellan Ralf Kenning is offed by his own men after he refuses to surrender the Greyjoy garrison of Moat Cailin to the Boltons (acting as vassals of the Iron Throne).
- Top Gear: During an episode where they face off against German car show rivals D Motor, the two teams use a paintball-shooting "tank" to try and shoot the other team's car. James proceeds to open fire against the their own car, being driven by Vitriolic Best Bud Jeremy:
Richard: James, what are you doing!?
James: Shooting at Jeremy.
Richard: But he's on our side!
James: Yeah, but why wouldn't you?
Richard: You're right, you would. Fire!
- The Cadfael episode "One Corpse Too Many" uses a variation on both this and The Uriah Gambit. After a mass hanging there is an extra corpse hidden among them. The extra corpse was strangled, not hanged — but it turns out that one of those hanged was The Mole and was meant to have been spared, and the villain deliberately set him up to be hanged as well, so as not to have to share the treasure.
- The famous socialist anthem "The Internationale" calls on soldiers to pull this on their officers, rather than shoot their "comrades" on the other side:
No more deluded by reaction,
On tyrants only we'll make war!
The soldiers too will take strike action;
They'll break ranks and fight no more!
And if those cannibals keep trying
To sacrifice us to their pride,
They soon will hear the bullets flying:
We'll shoot the generals on our own side!
- In Deadlands, Captain Jasper Stone threatened to shoot his own men for refusing his suicidal orders. They shot him first... then the Reckoning happened, and he promptly rose from the grave and became Death's right-hand man.
- Paranoia encourages PCs to take advantage of this: "You're not looking for an excuse to shoot your buddy, you're looking for an opportunity to shoot him while he's distracted." But of course no loyal citizen of Alpha Complex would do this.
- Skaven (rat-man) life is cheap in Warhammer Fantasy. The Skaven are the only Warhammer troops which can shoot into melee and deliberately kill their own. Casualties are divided evenly amongst the Skaven and the enemy. This is known as Corateral Damage.
- The special "misfire" charts of many skaven war machines (which the skaven player must roll on when things go horribly wrong with their shot) include a result where the enemy player can choose a nearby skaven unit to resolve the shot against, since someone on the skaven side is clearly trying to settle an old score (or has paid the war machine crew to do it for them).
- Orcs have the "animosity" rule that can lead them to (on a really bad roll) attack the nearest orc unit because of some perceived insult. Having a Black Orc around prevents this from happening.
- Warhammer 40,000: As mentioned under the Literature examples above, this is something that has a tendency to happen to Commissars, and is probably why all of the novel viewpoint characters are particularly trigger-unhappy when it comes to their own men. In fact, this was an actual rule for Imperial Guard armies in earlier editions when playing the Catachans, since they were based on Vietnam War American Troops, and this is where the practice became most common (in the public's eye, at least). You had to roll for every commissar in your army, with a one in six chance that he was fragged before the battle started. In addition, if a Guard unit with an attached Commissar does rout despite his presence, the Commissar is removed from that squad... because the Guardsmen shot and killed him before he could start killing them for cowardice.
- Also, a possible secret objective in games, particularly Apocalypse* battles, is to get an allied, but rival character or unit killed. Actually inverted in one White Dwarf battle report, though, where one player's objective was to make sure his commander died gloriously, while another one was tasked with keeping him alive!
- Kharn didn't get his title "the Betrayer" for nothing; the particular incident was when he grabbed a flamer and started attacking friendly and enemy forces alike after they had bunkered down to wait out a severe snowstorm (his actions shattered both the World Eaters and Emperor's Children Legions into small warbands). On the Tabletop, Kharn always hits in combat, but rolls of 1 mean he hits one of his retinue instead of the enemy.
- A bizarre instance of this is why the Crimson Fists nearly went extinct. During a siege against an Ork attack, a Crimson Fist missile somehow missed its target, bypassed the shields of the Fortress Monastery, and blew the whole thing to Kingdom Come when it struck their munitions stash. Several people question if it was an accident, or deliberate sabotage.
- The Hobbit Card Game features this as an unfortunate side effect of some characters' card-dealing abilities. With particularly bad tricks, they may not even get a choice in the matter.
- In X-COM: UFO Defense, if a trooper gets mind controlled by an Ethereal, you have to kill the soldiernote or else the Ethereal will use him to attack the rest of your team.
- This is basically what happens to Zack (and nearly Cloud) in Crisis Core. Both were loyal soldiers for Shinra, Inc., but after witnessing the Nibelheim Incident, discovering the truth about the Jenova Project, and being experimented on by Hojo, they were deemed to Know Too Much and a (massive) army of Shinra military police were sent to 'eliminate the escaped experiments', with tragic results.
- In Iji, Krotera is such an extreme General Ripper, that when he breaks the truce during a Pacifist Run, one of his troops happily takes it as an excuse to nail him with a BFG and blame it on the protagonist. Iosa The Invincible may also suffer the same fate, especially during a Pacifist Run, as a fellow Komato thinks that Iosa's aggressive nature is not a good thing (not to mention that Iosa knows about her illegal weapon smuggling activities on the side).
- Wing Commander:
- After Maniac is first introduced, the colonel giving the mission briefing tells Bluehair that he has permission to shoot Maniac if he "gives you any static". It prompts this exchange:
Bluehair: Should I use missiles or ship's guns, sir?
Colonel: Guns. Save your missiles for more important targets.
- Blair threatens Maniac with this in Wing Commander III, after the latter makes one of his usual snide remarks when Blair is still dealing with his girlfriend Angel having been disemboweled.
- After Maniac is first introduced, the colonel giving the mission briefing tells Bluehair that he has permission to shoot Maniac if he "gives you any static". It prompts this exchange:
- Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 has a huge twist towards the end, in which General Shepherd uses Roach and Ghost to obtain information implicating him as the mastermind behind the massive war breaking out between America and Russia, then suddenly executes both of them. He presumably covers it up by claiming they were killed in battle. Note that this is not an inversion since the trope criteria doesn't specify the direction ranks between the victim and perpetrator go, but a superior officer killing his own men in a way that fits this trope is fairly rare.
- Shepard tries to do this to everyone in the 141 after Russia declares war, becoming more blatant about it as the game goes on. After retrieving Rojas in Brazil, Shepard blocks the escape chopper, forcing the 141 to call Nikolai to evac them, and letting a few dozen of Rojas's men try to kill them in the meantime. While storming the Gulag, Shepard tries to bring down the castle with the Navy's missiles with the 141 still inside, halfheartedly apologizing by saying that "The Navy's not in a talking mood right now" when the walls start crumbling. In the airplane graveyard, Price and Soap get caught in the middle between Makarov's and Shepard's men, and in Shepard's Afghanistan base, Shepard activates the base's self-destruct mechanism and calls down artillery fire on his own troops to get Price and Soap, saying "For those of you still inside, your service will be noted."
- A similar thing happens earlier: Makarov shoots Joesph Allen after the massacring the Russian airport at the end of the mission No Russian, but that's because he knows Allen's The Mole. No, actually, it was part of the entire plan, making Allen a tragic Unwitting Pawn.
- Recursive example in the original Call of Duty, at the beginning of the Russian campaign, you (as an unarmed conscript) are directed by a sniper to move to a position where you and he can take out a German machine-gun team. Problem: the new position is slightly further off the line of battle, and Comrade Stalin's orders of "not one step back" are being enforced by The Political Officer, who is gunning down anyone who's moving backward even in a flanking maneuver. Solution: you go first, drawing the political officer's attention and aim, and the sniper clears the way for you.
- If you shoot an ally (even accidentally) in Soldier of Fortune II, the others will immediately execute you.
- In the Rainbow Six series starting with 3 at least, teammates shout "Murphy! Murphy!" when fired upon by friendly fire or if a grenade accidentally gets thrown near them.
- Any collateral damage in F/A-18 Hornet results in court-martialling of the player character.
- This method is one way of settling the difficulty with Urdnot Wrex during the Virmire mission in Mass Effect
- At the beginning of the Fallout: New Vegas DLC Honest Hearts, as you are fighting off the tribals that wiped out your caravan party, Follows-Chalk suddenly jumps into the fray. Unwary players with sniper rifles may accidentally shoot him, causing failure of the main quest.
- The main game has a sidequest with the Boomers where one of them has a crush on a member of the Crimson Caravan Company. You can lie to her and tell her that it's safe to travel to the Boomer's base, resulting in her being killed by their artillery defenses.
- It's heavily implied in Fallout 4 that this was how Sarah Lyons was killed after her father's death, which paved the way for Maxson's tenor as Elder, as appointed by the traditionalist Lost Hills branch.
- In Mission 09 of Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War, an allied comms during a massive beachhead operation Yuktobanian soil has one soldier request you bomb his own platoon's commander. If you say no, he said sorry to bother you, and immediately informs his friend to "look for another alternative". If you do say yes, he will attempt to give you the coordinates, before seemingly getting Killed Mid-Sentence.
- The first mission of Deus Ex has Denton trying to capture a barrel of Ambrosia and an NSF leader. After doing so, a soldier comes up to secure both. Denton can kill him, and that leads to this exchange:
Manderley: Do you know what happened to the soldier we sent in to retrieve the Ambrosia?
Denton: No sir. Friendly fire?
Manderley: Not so friendly, I'm afraid. I have opened an investigation. Dismissed.
- In L.A. Noire, during a flashback to World War 2, when Phelps orders his flamethrower to incinerate a Japanese cave full of injured soldiers and civilians, he is shot in the back by Courtney Sheldon. Sergeant Kelso then orders that he be brought to an aid station and that 'everything that happened in here stays in here'.
- The enemies in Charlie Murder attack lazily, and they deal damage to one another if they connect. Likewise, your team can also deal friendly fire damage to each other, but only if there are no enemies on screen.
- From Fire Emblem Fates Conquest we have a rare heroic example with Hans and Iago as the targets:
- In the Red vs. Blue miniseries "Recovery One", Agent South shoots Agent Wash to provide armor equipment as bait for the Meta and escape from the scene. In fact, she frequently puts her allies in a position to die. Her brother, for example, suffered such a fate, and she nearly gave Delta to the Meta to get away.
- Several of Sarge's plans start and finish with him shooting Grif. Slightly fewer start and finish with him directing someone else to shoot Grif.
- In Freeman's Mind, this is a Running Gag with the HECU marines, along with other military stupidities. The soldiers have a tendency to shoot, blow up, and call down airstrikes on their buddies. Freeman has four theories about this behavior: 1) The soldiers all hate each other and are shooting each other on purpose, 2) The military are being covered up along with the scientists, 3) Everyone's on drugs, and 4) The soldiers are just really, really stupid.
- Discussed in Schlock Mercenary, just after a wargame in which ex-General Karl Tagon called down an artillery strike on his own squad of hand-painted duck-lobber gnomes in order to ensure victory.
Karl Tagon: If you hate somebody, using them to bait a trap might as well be murder. If there has to be a sacrifice, and it can't be you, it had better be somebody you like.
Time-Clone Kevyn: Do you have many friends, General?
Karl: Living? No, not really.
- SeaNanners is guilty of this on a relatively frequent basis in Trouble In Terrorist Town and Garry's Mod in general. He has on occasion been banned from his own server for this.
- After Turpster presses Lewis Brindley's Berserk Button one time too many in Trouble In Terrorist Town, specifically by killing people with poor justification, the latter is eager to get their revenge on the former, and does so even though they're both innocent. This results in Lewis gunning down Sips, who was the detective and therefore innocent, in self-defence.
- Simon Lane has developed a tendency of buying suicide bombs in TTT and detonating them when a large group of people cluster, irrespective as to whether or not his comrades are amongst them.
- Strippin, while rarely playing TTT, ends up injuring or killing enough innocents that he ends up with lower karma than Simon Lane during the TTT Christmas livestreams. Given how badly Simon falls into this trope, that should tell you a lot.
- At the end of the mission Foymer's Barn published by Shack Tactical, an ARMA clan, a member of the group called Madcows not only carelessly mistakes a teammate for the enemy and kills him, but the teammate he killed was a team leader of one of the fire teams. Dslyecxi, the clan founder, happens to be standing nearby and is less than pleased that Madcows isn't showing much remorse for his actions, so he orders Madcows to stand over the body and not look away. Dslyecxi then stands behind Madcows, makes sure that nobody is looking directly at them, carefully lines up a shot to the back of Madcows' head... and the footage suddenly skips forward a few seconds and shows Madcows dead on the floor, apparently due to an "enemy sniper" in the nearby woods, despite the fact that Shack Tac doesn't play with snipers and mere seconds later a message from the computer will confirm that all of the enemy have been killed off. Convenient, that. And oddly enough, several other players from the group are thanking Dslyecxi for some reason, although they won't say why.
- In Avatar: The Last Airbender, some Jerk Ass Earth Kingdom soldiers come to inform a family that their son was captured in the line of duty. They then go on to taunt them with his most probable fate; that the Fire Nation will dress captives up in red, and place them in the battle-field without weapons, to be killed by their own side. And then they kidnap the younger son to forcibly enlist him.
- In Star Wars: The Clone Wars, the Umbaran troops, after employing guerrilla tactics for a few episodes, steal several Clone Trooper uniforms, leading to some cases of this. Except everyone killed in that battle was a Clone Trooper, and the Umbarans stealing uniforms story was entirely a ruse by their Smug Snake Jedi General, to make the Republic lose the battle, and help him prove himself to the Sith.
- Julian the Apostate was the only Roman emperor after Constantine to attempt to revive the pagan religions. He was killed in battle against the Persians, and some have alleged that it was one of his Christian soldiers who killed him. Others say he was simply Too Dumb to Live. He didn't wear armor that day (some say he thought he was a god and therefore invulnerable), and he led an attack against a Persian cataphract unit.
- Similarly, King Charles XII of Sweden dropped dead from a gunshot to the head while peering out of a trench during a battle in 1718. Rumour has always had it that one of his own officers was sick and tired of twenty years of uninterrupted war and blew the King's brains out (using a uniform button for a bullet).
- There were also rumors about the death of King Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden in the battle of Lützen (1632) being the work of a treacherous officer of his own army.
- Battle of Pelagonia 1259 between Nicaean Byzantines and Latin Empire. At the crucial moment when both armies were engaged, the Byzantine Emperor Michael VIII ordered his archers to shoot in the melee, risking his own German mercenaries. He trusted their heavy armour could withstand the arrows. In the end the gamble paid off: Byzantines won decisively, and two years later Michael reconquered Constantinople.
- Most infamously prevalent during The Vietnam War, where a specific set of informal rules developed surrounding it. For instance, incompetent and cruel officers could be fragged without warning, whilst it was considered fair to warn brave or overzealous officers by way of placing a grenade pin in their bed beforehand, giving them a chance to change their behavior. Some units even offered bounties for the deaths of particular officers. At least six hundred officers are confirmed to have been killed by their own men, while the deaths of another fourteen hundred are considered suspicious.
- Also something of a problem during the Wars of the Roses, largely due to the trust issues that were a feature of that conflict. The most spectacular example occurred during the Battle of Tewkesbury in 1471, when the Duke of Somerset confronted his own infantry commander, Lord Wenlock, and demanded to know why Wenlock hadn't committed his men. Before the latter could answer, Somerset dashed his subordinate's brains out with a battleaxe.
- During the Mexican War, some unhappy soldiers tried to blow up then-Lieutenant Braxton Bragg with an explosive shell under his bed.
- During World War I, many candidate officers of the Italian Army served on the frontline, and they were often excessively brutal to their men. During the retreat of Caporetto, losses among candidate officers were extremely high.
- Subverted by enlisted pilots of Imperial Japanese Navy Air Force in WWII. The officers were usually fresh from flight school while enlisted men could be battle-hardened veterans. If the officer wasn't nice enough for his men, they would simply abandon him in the middle of the battle, resulting him being shot down.
- The Austrian Army once fought a full-scale battle with itself. In 1788, the Austrians were scouting for the forces of the Ottoman Empire near the city of Karansebes, but two different divisions hindered by bad or non-existent scouting mistook each other for Ottomans, and fired on each other instead. 10,000 soldiers died, and two days later, the Ottomans showed up and captured the city. Apparently the two responsible generals loathed each other and may well have decided to have a duel on the grand scale.