"It is impossible to punch or kick someone while they are rolling. Try to time your somersaults so that you pass through your opponent's attempts to hit you. "
— Advice for a fighting game
For no apparent reason, the protagonist will tuck into a roll, coming out shooting. If this is during some sneaky activity, rather than outright combat, they may do the roll to cross any open space, for no apparent benefit. In Real Life of course, coming out of a roll into a shooting position puts the person in a less-stable stance, wastes a lot of time and energy, and is likely to be very disorienting. Often parodied, through sheer gratuity, through the rolling individual just being really bad at it, or through Lampshading.
Video games tend to fall victim to this as the negative consequences of rolling are often omitted as Acceptable Breaks from Reality. This often leads to repeated diving rolls being a better choice than flat-out running when moving from place to place, something especially evident in Speed Runs. It could be argued that in Real Life a single diving roll covers more distance than a large step- it's the recovery that takes a lot of time and the maneuver is likely to result in injury. Remove the need for recovery and make rolling safe, and we might as well roll rather than run or walk.
Closely related is the preferred method for passing through a Laser Hallway, only in that case the flipping and rolling makes perfect sense, it's the layout of the lasers that doesn't.
Note that rolling is acceptable when the character has fallen from a great height, as simply landing on one's feet hurts.
Not to be confused with Attack Roll or Rolling Attack. The Indy Hat Roll is a related trope.
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Anime and Manga
Parodied in Yotsuba&! (seen above) when the title character, after watching one too many gangster crime movies, decides to take out her neighbors on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge with a water pistol: she kicks open Ena's bedroom door, stops to crouch down, does an awkward somersault, and comes up gun squirting.
Subverted in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS: During a training session, Teana tries to avoid Nanoha's shots by making some rolls on the ground, and Nanoha criticizes her action ("Now, if you move like that, it's all over") and the point of the lesson is to teach her how to Shoot the Bullet instead as a way of defending without having to move.
Ritsu's Dynamic Entry into Yui's room involves a half-assed combat roll (shown in three different angles, to boot). She gets punched in the head for her troubles.
In the Axis Powers Hetalia movie, America pulls one off in the only action scene in the series.
Lampshaded in the movie Galaxy Quest, when Gwen DiMarco asks Jason Nesmith, "Does the rolling help?" when he suddenly does this while they're just walking along on the surface of an alien planet. Nesmith also loses his gun during the roll. This is, largely, a reference to the Star Trek example below. He also does it upon killing Sarris.
Trinity's unnecessary cartwheel through the subway turnstiles in The Matrix Revolutions. Later in the movie, Morpheus, Trinity, and Seraph get into a fight with some guys who can bend gravity. Said guys do things like cartwheeling on the ceiling from cover to cover. They die.
Subverted in the film version of S.W.A.T.. In the training exercises, one must tuck, roll, and hit a target as part of the exercise. When it's Sergeant Hondo's turn, he refuses to pull the unnecessary maneuver, stating "They only do that in John Woo movies, not real life."
Watch Ironhide in the '07 Transformers movie, particularly when he and Ratchet are covering Witwicky in the big city battle. It's practically all he does.
Used to hilarious effect in the film Burn After Reading by George Clooney's character, who is ostensibly using this technique on a guy he killed 5 minutes ago. This is justified, since he was diving for a gun that was lying on the floor, and by the fact that the character lacks any proper combat training, in addition to being a moron (like most of the rest of the cast)
See the diamond heist in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, in which Jay makes several clumsy rolls in the middle of open ground facing no threat whatsoever.
Senseless jumping and rolling makes up roughly half of the main character's fighting style in DŁnyayı Kurtaran Adam, (a.k.a. The Man Who Saves the World, a.k.a Turkish Star Wars. The other half consists of really inefficient flailing.
In the 1973 The Three Musketeers D'Artagnan's father shows his special move: rolling towards your opponent and thrusting as you come to a crouch. The father tells D'Artagnan to only use it as a last resort.
Lampshaded in Mr. and Mrs. Smith when John Smith does a dramatic dive roll into the bushes while trying to hide from his wife and rolls right into a tangled pile of branches with an appropriately annoyed hiss of "OW!"
A special move of Riggs in the Lethal Weapon series is to roll on the ground while unloading with his pistol.
Parodied in Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny when Jack Black is trying to stealthily break into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. While he is doing a sequence of these rolls (in between areas of "cover"), it is revealed to the viewer that the security cameras are picking up everything. Luckily, the guards match JB's level of competence by not noticing at all.
In another MST3K episode, The Final Sacrifice, one of the cultists does a hilariously slow roll. While running through a forest. Approaching a cabin with two unarmed people in it.
Parodied in the Land of the Lost film during Will Ferrell's fight with the T-Rex.
Used in the climax of Who Dares Wins, a 1982 SAS film starring Lewis Collins of The Professionals. Somewhat justified in that Collins uses the roll to take cover behind a table, although the enemy gunman reacts implausibly slowly to this (and is shot).
Police Academy Tackleberry can't help but do one over the hood of a parked cruiser during his Leeroy Jenkins charge through the cadet shoot house.
Mortal Kombat has Liu Kang do a half-assed semi-cartwheel over the side of some steps and whip around, combat ready, like it was the most spectacular move in the whole movie. Made even more jarring in that he was the only character on screen at the time and there was absolutely no reason for him to attempt the maneuver (i.e. nobody was attacking him on the steps and nobody attacked when he landed).
During one of the training sequences in How to Train Your Dragon, some of the students evade a Deadly Nadder by dodge rolling from one piece of cover to the next. When Hiccup tries it, he gets stuck and attracts the Nadder's attention. Oops.
Not used during combat in Remo Williams, but as the protagonist bounds down the side of a steep hill, at one point he drops into a roll and back up onto his feet and kept on going, presumably because he was going too fast or about to fall, and the roll converted the downward momentum into forward.
So Bad, It's Good Irish martial arts movie Fatal Deviation has the protagonist roll across the bonnet of a car and back in the middle of a fight for no real reason. It's one of the movie's many manyNarmful moments.
In Mostly Harmless, Ford does this to enter his editor's office, as his editor tends to greet lazy writers with laser fire. It turns out to be unnecessary, as his editor has been replaced, taking his temper and his drinks-trolley (handy as a mobile shield) with him. The trolley's absence is the first thing that throws Ford off his rhythm, but definitely not the last. Ford, for his part, opts to continue rolling around the room until a more intelligent option presents itself.
Live Action TV
Appears in the Doctor Who episode "The Girl in the Fireplace", although there's no shooting involved, it's done using a fire extinguisher and it's obviously for a laugh.
Used constantly in B-rated Sci-Fi Channel movies, to be later imitated/satirized by Joel McHale on The Soup.
Used a lot in Andromeda. On the other hand, when the characters were using the "Force Lances", they were firing "smart bullets", which were demonstrated to be able to make 90-degree turns in flight, negating the inaccuracy inherent in a roll.
In "War Stories," Zoe performs a profoundly ill-advised combat roll in front of one of Niska's goons, rolling under his fire and popping up to gun him down with two pistols. She does this in a narrow hallway, stands fully upright in front of the guy after the roll then pulls out the pistols excruciatingly slowly (considering he's probably just feet away now and was just firing half a second ago). Maybe he was between magazines.
Mal also pulls one during the fight in "Heart of Gold".
Played for laughs in the pilot episode of How I Met Your Mother, when Barney does a combat roll in the midst of a Laser Tag game.
Geordi does it yet again in Star Trek: Generations, although the door was considerably less ajar this time, almost justifying it.
Played for laughs in Spaced when Mike does a combat roll when leaving Brian's flat for absolutely no reason at all. And then Brian instinctively copies him.
Bear Grylls in Man vs. Wild did this during the episode in Copper Canyon, Mexico. The reason this is here is because he did it off a helicopter that was sitting on the ground. This might've been some sort of technique to get clear of the blades quickly.
Parodied in "Missing". It begins with the rangers looking for an enemy while the Green Ranger performs a series of incredibly over the top acrobatics, all while he casually discusses the target. They haven't even engaged the enemy at this point.
In keeping with the police theme, even their Megazord does this, as well as diving while shooting.
In an episode of Juken Sentai Gekiranger, The Starscream resurrects two monsters to go after the Big Bad while he's meditating. To show how sneaky they are, one of them dramatically rolls into place instead of quietly walking. If Rio wasn't so completely dead to the world while meditating, he'd have vaporized him right then and there instead of about two seconds after they started attacking. The scene is essentially identical (re-reading the paragraph with "Jarrod" instead of "Rio") in Power Rangers Jungle Fury.
Seen in Kamen Rider OOO, when a bumbling ex-con (the guy is very reminiscent of Adam Sandler in Little Nicky, just to give a notion) who had put himself under Shingo's "protection" (not knowing anything about Ankh) is walking the street with him, Eiji and Hina while relating his story (about how his former partner, who is the host to the Yummy Of The Fortnight, is targeting him and Shingo), then he stops and rolls ahead on the ground... To pick up a tack which someone could step on. Cue the protagonists groaning.
Done by one of the assassins in the MacGyver episode "Target MacGyver", entering the house where Mac is staying at and very silly he looks, too.
The Big Bang Theory: Howard does one to Raj when they're "wrestling" (i.e., dancing around each other in a gym wearing spandex) while trying to prove who would be the hero and who would be the sidekick.
Seth Green was on Punk'd where he had been tricked into believing that a craps game he was at was being raided by cops. One of them did a roll on the floor after crashing though a glass door. After learning it was all a prank Green commented about the guy doing the roll which he thought was "completely unnecessary" at the time!
The World of Warcraft expansion "Mists of Pandaria" adds the Monk as a playable class. One maneuver a Monk can perform is a forward roll. This somersault miraculously propels the Monk 20 yards forward at a pace far faster than the Monk's normal running speed. This can also be done underwater, propelling you exactly the same distance. With a glyph, you can even do it while you're dead!
More fitting in the sense of "Unnessesary" is the male nightelf randomly doing a somersault in his jump animation.
In Star Trek Online, the player character can throw themselves into a roll to get behind cover or away from an enemy (useful) or diveroll to a aiming crouch from a run (very useful). The player character's AI companions will put the Unnecessary in Unnecessary Combat Roll.
Champions Online has an unnecessary roll during the Holdout Shot maneuver. The character rolls to one side, pulls a gun from the lower leg and comes up firing a final shot. If executed in flight, the roll will be replaced by a mid-air pirouette.
In Dungeons & Dragons Online any character with ranks in the tumble skill can hold SHIFT while pressing move, to do a roll instead of normal movement. There is no limit to how much you can do that and it is as fast as regular movement. The downside is that you suffer a penalty to attack rolls shortly after moving, even by rolling, and you can't attack while rolling. You can also use it for Necessary Combat Rolls, when surrounded by a kobold horde to leave safely. Likewise, if you have the Mobility feat, such tumble rolls can offer a +4 bonus to Armor Class. And finally, if you have enough ranks in Tumble, the rolls turn into flips that take the character -just- enough distance from their starting point to be out of the radius of a Fireball, or similar spell.
Gratuitous somersaults are a trademark to high-flying wrestlers in order to show their agility. An especially popular lucha libre sequence involves two wrestlers charging against each other before one rolls across the ground and the another somersaults over him.
Doing a handspring or a rolling kip-up is a flashy way to get up. A match involving the old Tiger Mask or Dynamite Kid easily could have loads of those moves.
Played with in Max Payne. Max himself can either roll or (if using Bullet Time) do a sideways diving leap, while firing his guns (though it might be better described as falling over, with style). By contrast, the gangsters and other enemies Max fights WILL do a gun roll to leap in front of you before shooting... and, since they can't shoot at the same time as they roll, this gives you a few seconds to shoot them. In slow motion. While falling over.
Max Payne 3 ups the ante on this with its limited inventory system, which encourages the player to repeatedly discard and replace their firearms. When picking up a new gun on the move (something players will do about as much as shooting), Max will now tuck into a roll to grab it and can easily come up shooting.
Late 1990s Bruce Willis vehicle Apocalypse theoretically allows the player to spend the game's entire duration as a computer-generated, soundbyte-hurling, constantly-revolving Bruce Willis, which may be the most absurd example possible.
In Flashback, combat consists almost entirely of quick pot shots between carefully spaced Apparently-Necessary Combat Rolls.
Golden Eye 1997 has an odd take on this: if you shoot an enemy when he starts his side roll, he will complete the animation, stand up and then die (or flinch in pain if he's not killed).
Gears of War and Army Of Two allow your characters to roll, generally to avoid being hit and to quickly move in a direction. In Gears of War 2, this is actually the fastest way to move, roadie-running (essentially sprinting while crouching) when you're not rolling and attempting to roll as often as possible.
Subverted in Lugaru. Your character can roll with no recovery issues, but enemies will often take advantage of this and strike the player while they roll by, sometimes even resulting in a One-Hit Kill.
Its sequel, Overgrowth, continues to subvert this in that if you don't time your roll right, you can end up injuring yourself in some situations and breaking your own neck.
Link has been able to do this in most of the games. In some of the 2D games he could roll forward to move faster. The 3D games also allow this (the action to do so is labelled "attack" on the context sensitive display) as well as (in various iterations) dodge to the left or right (he can also backflip) or counter by rolling forward and slashing as he rises.
In The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass, rolling too much causes Link to get dizzy. Though Minish Cap was actually the first game to introduce the concept of Link getting dizzy after rolling too much, likely in response to the players who abused the rolling from previous games.
Players can also do this in the online game Gunz, which is one of the primary defensive techniques of the game. Also in S4 League.
The Jaden Korr from Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy can do both forward and backward rolls, and add a lightsaber stab at the end of a forward roll. Justified in the early stages of the game because a forward roll into stab is one of the few reliable ways to kill enemies with lightsabers (Reborn mostly, though it can work on cultists).
Given how painful a lightsaber to the crotch is, you'd think they'd learn to guard low when you crouch or roll. The slash marks left by this attack are somewhat buggy, because no other saber attack actually stabs your enemy. After one successful hit, it's possible for 9001 slash trails to appear, centered on where you hit them. Averted with later enemies in the game, who will attack you mid-roll or dodge your attack, making Unnecessary Combat Rolls unreliable.
Sora could do this in Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories and doing so allowed one to avoid certain attacks. Riku had the much preferred dodge jump, where he jumps... and lands behind the opponent, facing his back letting you unleash hell.
In the PS2 remake, Riku's dodge was changed to a lengthy backflip, while Dark Riku got a short-range teleport that functioned similarly to the dodge jump.
Lampshaded in the Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories manga where when Marluxia takes away all of Sora's skills, Sora comments, "So dodge roll is just a somersault now?"
Marluxia: "Like I care."
Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days gives the Dodge Roll to Roxas. In addition to the normal roll, you could upgrade it to: stagger enemies on contact, reflect projectiles, or activate automatically in response to attack. Made funnier in Mission Mode where you can choose to play as any of the Organization, and watch them roll about with weapons such as a shield, a book, a tomahawk, a claymore and a scythe.
Also of note, Mickey Mouse in the same game takes this trope Up to Eleven: being the smallest character in Mission Mode, his Dodge Roll is so tight that if the player hammers the button repeatedly, he appears to have turned into a Morph Ball... with a Keyblade sticking out the side.
Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep goes back-and-forth on this. Ven can use Dodge Roll just like Sora and Roxas (he can even upgrade it with a magic attack), while Terra gets a more reasonable forward charge. Aqua, however, gets a dodgecartwheel.
In Too Human, you are COMPLETELY invulnerable during the roll, including windup and winddown, making for a fairly long period of safety. Thus, it's not only quite useful despite making you unable to attack for the duration, you don't even have to worry about what DIRECTION you're rolling in.
The Tomb Raider games frequently feature this, along with plenty of She-Fu. Rolling into an enemy does knock him down, though.
The Roll move in the original Tomb Raider ends with Lara facing the opposite way, making it a quick way to change direction in combat.
Ryu Hayabusa did this in the first Ninja Gaiden on XBOX. The sequel removed it in favor of a quick step that does practically the same thing. He also does dodge rolls in Dragon Sword on the DS.
In Lego Starwars, Han Solo (and several other high-level gun characters, such as pre-Jedi Luke and Lando Calrissian) can roll during a run and fire off three perfectly aimed shots when he comes out of it. Not surprisingly a number of people love playing Solo in the game for just that move.
In Fable this is the fastest way to move around the game world that many speed runs make use of. You're also invulnerable to 99% of enemy attacks other than few special boss moves when rolling. It is also not only possible to keep your bow drawn, but to keep drawing your bowstring ever tighter to increase damage, all the while rolling to dodge counterattacks. Even if you're wielding an endgame bow that's as long as you are.
In The King of Fighters series, rolling allowed all fighters to bypass attacks and go behind opponents, adding another layer of movement in a 2D fighting game and subverting this trope.
Street Fighter: Joke Character Dan Hibiki actually teaches people to use Unnecessary Combat Rolls in his horrid fighting style, Saikyo. In some games (mostly the Versus series) Dan can drop all of his limit bars into a super taunt, which is just him rolling around and taunting at super speed with a glowing image trail. Parodying the KOF roll is part of his schtick as a SNK parody.
Vega both optimizes and subverts this at the same time.
In general, rolling is often used in the Street Fighter series to bypass projectile attacks; particularly for characters who lack a projectile of their own. Simply ducking, however, is more common.
The human marines would roll away from gunfire and grenades. It didn't really help much. In later games they would trade the rolling for actually useful combat behavior, such as firing while taking cover behind objects.
Elites would roll away from grenades as well, though one can consider the necessity of it considering Elites had energy shielding. Sometimes they would roll off cliffs too.
Instead of flinching and exposing themselves to your fire when you shoot their hand like in the subsequent games, Jackals would roll to the side instead, and this would often be the only time you get a clear shot on one of them other than catching one who's unaware of you.
As seen in the Multiplayer Beta, when Halo: Reach comes out, the "Evade" armor ability available to Elites in multiplayer means that now players will be able to do this trope as often as they'd like! It's a good way to cover ground quickly, too.
While the Evade covers less distance than Sprint if both are used until they are depleted, it covers the distance faster, which is important when fighting vehicles or someone with a power weapon. Try spritning away from a rocket's blast raidus. Probably won't work out.
Trilby in The Art of Theft can roll to make his way through vents and other openings. It's also useful for getting across open areas quickly. Since the guards take a few seconds to register Trilby's presence, it can be used to get past a guard you're standing close to right after they turn around.
In the God of War games, a gratuitous rolling dodge is a good way to move around without the combo counter resetting back to zero, which is desirable because longer combos yield more experience points to unlock powers. Essentially the game seem to treat chain-goring one guy, then dodging nothing at all in order to move up to another victim as a single combat event. This can be hilarious to watch.
Additionally, the winddown can be cancelled by pressing the Square button during a roll (or, in the first game, using the R1 shoulder bash attack) thus making rolling the fastest method of movement. This exploit has so far been in every game of the series, and can also be done in the current show-floor demo of Ascension.
In Monster Hunter, you can roll to get out of the way of a monster's attack, but you can't use it to reliably dodge through attacks unless you raise the Evade skill, which gives you more invincibility time while rolling. Against any boss monster that knows you're there and can see you, you can do a panic dive by sprinting away from it and attempting to roll. You'll be safe from damage for much longer than when rolling, but it takes a moment to get back up, and against monsters that don't locate you by sight, you can't dive because sprinting away doesn't make your character run in a panic.
Player characters (and, technically, enemies) in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion who are skilled in acrobatics can perform rolls and flips in order to dodge attacks. Now, much more useful is to engage in the traditional use of rolling in a video game: an unbroken series of Unnecessary Noncombat Rolls that scoot you around the countryside at a pace rivaling that of riding a horse.
Traditional Sonic the Hedgehog games invert this trope. Makes sense, as rolling up is an effective technique for real-life hedgehogs.
Metroid's Samus Aran does unnecessary combat rolls... in midair. At an RPM to make your average Ferrari jealous. Kind of annoying as it makes her hard to control compared to her straight jump, and throws off her aim. But it does activate the SCREW ATTACK when you get that powerup.
In the ''Super Smash Bros. series, she does this with her morph ball, making it more useful given how much more mobile it is and is unlikely to get her injured.
In Metroid: Other M, Samus can do this, in rapid succession even, to dodge attacks, and it even somehow charges her beam instantly.
In Quake IV, there is a certain kind of Mook that will roll toward the player if it comes under heavy fire. This actually makes it easier to kill it with a single shotgun blast.
Vayne the Night Hunter, a champion for League of Legends, has "Tumble" as one of her abilities. Far from being disoriented, it gives her first attack after the roll a damage bonus.
Mega Man Legends: Megaman Volnutt can dive into an evasive roll that makes him completely invincible. Seriously, he can pass through bullets, flamethrowers, and giagantic laser waves with it. There's a little lag when he comes out of it though and he can only roll to either side of where he's facing, so running is still plain better for getting around.
Like Volnutt, Spyro the Dragon could roll evasively to the left or right in his first game. He wasn't invincible during it, but he could do it as long as he wanted. Most players didn't use it though and it was removed from all future games.
Time Shift: Soldiers do this a lot, even with an explosive bolt stuck in them.
Adam Jensen of Deus Ex: Human Revolution combat rolls between cover, the actual roll can range between a quick shuffle (known as a SWAT turn) and a half somersault depending on how much distance he's trying to cover.
A technique found by the titular character in Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus is a skill that lets you roll through stages. Lampshaded when Bentley says that the creator of the technique could roll faster than she could run.
In Mass Effect 3, Commander Shepard can do combat rolls at any point while on a mission, although during combat they're useful for moving between cover and dodging enemy grenades.
In fact, in multiplayer rolling (though only some people actually roll, there's a wide variety of dodging animations) is considered useful enough that tougher characters lacking such moves are considered by some to be severely handicapped.
Darksiders II's roll is a clear example. Since Death runs at a slow speed and Despair is barely ever around, most players resort to rolling, and by the time the game ends, Death's grunts have been drilled into their memories.
It's even more egregious in Just Cause 2 than most examples, as in most situations, using the grappling hook is both faster and more efficient at getting you out of the line of fire than the combat roll will ever be.
In Perfect Dark Zero, you have the ability in-game to roll at any given moment. The rolls are extremely short and generally ridiculous looking, and would be laughably ineffective, if not for the use of one causing an enemy's lock on you to break.
The mooks have the ability to do it in the original, and it is still woefully ineffective.
James Bond is given this ability in Everything or Nothing. It doesn't protect you from fire, but it can help you get from cover to cover quickly. Doing it at the enemy mooks however is suicidal.
A constant factor in the Syphon Filter games is the ability to reduce the risk of getting hit by doing this.
Republic Heroes, a video-game tie-in to The Clone Wars, lets you do this whenever playing as a clone. It looks pretty epic, suffice to say.
This your primary means of evasion in Demons Souls, Dark Souls, and Dark Souls II. For part of the roll you'll be invincible even if the attack actually connects: how long this lasts depends on your equipment load in Dark Souls and your agility stat in Dark Souls II.
Former mook Max in Metacarpolis uses a "minion roll" to catch the flowers he was carrying after he trips over a garbage can, then lampshades it by musing that he'd always thought the day his training finally paid off would be more exciting.
One story had a highly-trained, government-sponsored superhero enter the lobby of a hostile-held building by cartwheeling through the door. She then walks across the lobby and executes a "tactical manoeuvre" by jumping, skipping, rolling, jumping again, then hiding behind a pillar. It becomes impossible to take the story seriously from that point on, especially since said lobby was completely empty. Did she know the lobby was empty? Was the point of the manoeuvre that no-one watching could take it seriously?
Rorscarch in Watchmen The High School Years does this badly when enters a room to interrogate Adrian Veidt. And it gets absolutely hilarious when he trails Dan- by doing nothing but combat rolls.
Red vs. Blue has these once they start using motion capture and animation. Mostly it's there for legitimate reasons, like the Freelancers dodging explosions or gunshots, but sometimes it's egregious.
Notably, done very reasonably by Washington to get to a heavy weapon lying on the ground, because the Pyro Maniac's fire was in the way.
In Avatar: The Last Airbender, an overly paranoid Sokka leaps over the heads of the rest of the Gaang as they're walking, slams into the ground, does a combat roll, and sits up, when the gang first enters Fire Nation lands/enemy territory.
Any attempt by Ron Stoppable to do one of these usually results in loss of pants, or at least some kind of painful fall. Unsurprisingly, Teen Cheerleader, Kim Possible can do these and include doing the splits for a finish.
Parodied in The Boondocks when Ed Wuncler the III, after a vicious attack on a bookstore, uses an Unnecessary Combat Roll as he leaves while yelling, "KIIYAAA BITCH!"
In "Lesson Zero" Rainbow Dash kicks open the door to the library and does a combat roll up to where Celestia and Twilight were talking.
There's also Twilight's gratuitous use of combat rolls in It's About Time to stay out of sight of the guards, while Pinkie Pie and Spike just walk normally. It turns out the guards were aware of them the entire time but ignored them since Twilight and her friends are always welcome in the palace, which makes the rolls even more unnecessary.
When Chief Wiggum of The Simpsons wanted to look cooler while making arrests, he did an Unnecessary Combat Roll... off a roof. He also does one when he thinks his house is being burgled... and does his back in.
In Transformers Animated, Sentinel Prime did this, as one more sign of just how much of a walking ego he is.
Done by Adam West in Family Guy (the episode where Peter establishes the country of Petoria) so he can get to his desk.
The Venture Bros.: 21 becomes Two-Ton 21 and invades the Venture compound to kidnap the eponymous twins. Bonus points for doing it when there's no enemy in sight and no need for stealth.
Attempted once by Finn in Storm Hawks, which led him to faceplant into a rock wall.
Done by Zak Saturday in the first episode of The Secret Saturdays; entering a room after the combat had finished. Forgivable because he is 11.
Part of the Spetznaz training programme in hand-to-hand combat and close quarters combat. Make of that what you want. Said training also involves accurately throwing a hatchet while doing a flip.
Learning to roll correctly is an integral part of learning how to breakfall. In addition to their obvious utility in preventing injury when being thrown, proficiency in breakfalling is frequently a prerequisite to being taught grappling techniques. Thus, many martial arts teach students how to roll so that they can avoid debilitating injuries during practice.
Parkour also relies on this technique to break long falls while maintaining forward momentum.
It's also part of the curriculum for Krav Maga. To be fair, it is useful if knocked over backwards.
Rolling in a combat situation occasionally lets an in individual get into cover faster, esspecially if said cover is low to the ground and requires the person to go prone. Seen with this combat engineer. However, it could be more accurately described as "combat tumbling," as it certainly wouldn't be of use in a heated gun battle if one intends to shoot back.
Rolling over the shoulder (not over the head) is actually a reliable way to go prone without losing hold of your gun or other object held in two hands, if you need to end up facing in a different direction. Unlike falling to the ground directly, you don't need to briefly drop whatever you were holding to land on your hands.