Ahchoo: To tell you the truth, I was aiming for the hangman.
We've all seen people hit impossible targets at great lengths under unbelievable circumstances. But occasionally, a hero will make a seemingly impossible shot, be congratulated on his awesomeness, and admit that he was aiming for something else entirely.
Often used to subvert an awesome moment into a funny one. May be the result of the Pinball Projectile. Common when something needs to be hit by a character with legendarily lousy aim.
Contrast Exactly What I Aimed At (although that trope may sometimes be an example of this one covered up with a hasty excuse).
- City Hunter has Kaori, whose aim is so bad she never hits the target unless with this. In Bloody Mary's introduction arc, Kaori tried to fire a bazooka at the hideout of the enemy, but was holding it backwards and hit the enemies who were about to ambush her, and when Ryo and Umibozu show up they notice that all her following bazooka shots were out of target just enough to only knock out the enemies. Justified with the handgun, as Ryo had the iron sight of her gun misaligned so she would never kill anyone. Not so justified with the bazooka...
- Sōsuke Sagara uses this trope during Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu. After firing a grenade at his opponent, which is subsequently dodged, the grenade lodges itself into a pillar and explodes. Debris lands on and disables the opponent, who then praises Sōsuke for analyzing both his position after the dodge and calculating the trajectory of the debris. Sōsuke then denies the action and states that he accidentally fired a live round instead of a practice one.
- Momo from Girls und Panzer is a chronically terrible shot, to the point where Turtle Team is only able to rack up kills when Anzu takes over for the gun. She finally manages her first kill in Der Film when her shot veers way off target, that being Darjeeling's Churchill, and instead hits Rosehip's Crusader trying to make a Dynamic Entry.
- The title heroine of Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind finds herself in a besieged city, halfway through the manga. As enemy soldiers approach, she intends to fire a shot across the field to startle their mounts and force them back to their encampment —she does have Improbable Aiming Skills, after all. But, as luck would have it, she misses, and instead kills one of the soldiers with a flawless shot. This traumatizes her so severely she goes into Heroic BSoD for quite a while afterwards.
- During an early episode of One Piece, while testing out the Going Merry's cannon, Usopp (known more for his Improbable Aiming Skills than his Accidental) manages to nail a far away rock formation sticking out of the ocean. He's actually surprised he managed to hit it, though that's primarily because he's never actually aimed a cannon before in his life.
- In PandoraHearts, we get a variant of this: When Oz is kidnapped by the Baskervilles, Elliot and Leo come to rescue him. Toward the end of the ensuing battle, Leo fires his gun at Lottie and manages to skim her arm and cause enough of a distraction for them to escape. Directly afterwards, he reveals that he is genuinely surprised that he actually managed to hit her, as, according to Elliot, he's "hopeless with guns and swords."
- Mihoshi of Tenchi Muyo! does this a lot, or at least enough fans associate her with this.
- Tousen and Shinji have a brief battle, and Tousen congratulates him for dodging an attack. Shinji turns his head to show a small cut above his eye and notes that Tousen had actually hit him. Tousen replies that he'd been trying to cut Shinji's head off from the eyes up, so that little scratch counts as a miss. It should be noted that Tousen is blind.
- A badly poisoned Uryuu is able to take out the majority of Mayuri's body and his entire bankai in a single hit. Mayuri has no choice but to use phlebotinum to flee the fight. Nemu, Mayuri's lieutenant, ends up giving him the antidote for the poison in return for the fact that he spared the captain's life by not aiming for his head (judging by the injuries Uryuu's attack inflicted on Mayuri, a hit to the head would have killed him instantly). Uryuu corrects her by saying he hadn't spared Mayuri's life, he had truly intended to kill him.
- Ayakashi Triangle: When Haya has trouble practicing shuriken throwing, Ponosuke tries to show her up. He throws a kunai in entirely the wrong direction, but it still manages to hit Shadow Mei square in the head. Fortunately, her Battle Aura destroys the weapon on contact, but she still almost kills them over it.
- In De Cape et de Crocs, the pirate Captain shoots the rope Armand was dangling from, then comments to one of his subordinates who compliments him on the shot that he was actually aiming for Armand.
- A Lucky Luke story had the title character encountering a guy trying to become a gunfighter to impress his girlfriend. Problem is, he's an atrociously bad shot. He convinces Luke to participate in a mock gun battle in front of his girlfriend only to want to fight for real once she shows interest in Luke. The guy fires... and manages to kill legendary outlaw "Texas Killer" who happened to be robbing a bank a block away. Luke rolls with it and lets everyone believe it was all part of a plan, and the guy gets the girl and becomes Sheriff of the town (his aim doesn't become a problem seeing as apparently everyone is scared of "the guy who killed Texas Killer").
- In one Spirou and Fantasio comic, one of the characters (a circus-trained knife-throwing bear with permanent hiccups — long story) throws a knife so it cuts off a rope holding several empty oil drums in place, and they roll downhill to knock out a guard. Spirou tells his trainer it was an amazing throw, but the trainer replies that he told the bear to aim for the guard directly.
- In the climax of the Garth Ennis comic Tankies, when a British Tank and a German tank run into each other in the forest, being separated by perhaps fifteen feet, and swing their guns towards each other almost in sync with no time left to really aim, the British gunner, Robbo ends up firing a shot with his eyes closed that hits the barrel of the German tank's gun right as a shell is coming out, utterly destroying their gun, and saving the British tank. This causes everyone to gape in shock, then start congratulating an utterly surprised Robbo as the Germans abandon their tank and run.
- X-Factor (2006): In Issue #8, Siryn fires a "sonic lance" at a gunman's hand to disarm him. When Spider-Man congratulates her on her aim, she admits she was actually aiming for his head. Considering the sonic lance destroyed the gun and broke the man's hand, one gets the feeling she wasn't all that concerned about killing the guy.
- Y: The Last Man
- Hero shattering Toyota's sword with a bullet, and admits she was aiming for the head when complimented on it. (She was heavily tranqued up on painkillers at the time).
- In an earlier issue, she was riding with the Daughters of the Amazon who were chasing a woman riding on a bike. Hero fires an arrow that hits the woman's leg and causes her to spill. Victoria compliments her on this, but Hero sadly mutters she was aiming for the tyre. This doesn't help with her depression over killing another woman.
- A FoxTrot strip plays with this. Peter throws a baseball at an apparently far-off tin can sitting on a fence post. In the final panel, we see that he was actually aiming for Roger's much closer glove.
- In Knights of the Dinner Table, Bob's dad displays accidental aiming skills during his first (and only) game of Cattlepunk.
Brian: Whooooah, dude. Yer dad shot 'im in the face.
Bob's Dad: I wasn't going for the face. He walked into it. That's all. the damn fool. Those were warning shots I was firing.
- There was a Shoe strip where the main character hits a golf ball past a seemingly impossible to get past tree. When asked how he did it, his answer was something along the lines of "I aimed for the tree."
- In The Boy Who Kept Dying Harry bats aside a cruciatus curse cast by Voldemort and it hits Bellatrix.
Ron: Wow, that was some impressive aim.
Harry: Uhm, actually that was a lucky accident. I wasn't actually aiming. Pretty sweet though.
- In Death is a Blessing Harry throws his Potions knife at Pansy and pins her robe sleeve to the cabinet behind her.
Ron: Wow remind me not to get on the wrong side of you if your aims that good.
Harry: I missed.
- In Family Magic Mrs. Weasley tries to cast a spell in Gringotts and a goblin spear slices her wand in two.
Goblin: Damnation, I missed.
Mr. Weasley: Missed?
Goblin: I meant to take off her hand just above the wrist...
- Gundam 00: CB that cannot carry out armed intervention 2nd has Lockon Stratos (Lyle Dylandy) shown to have extremely lousy aiming skill with an accuracy of 8%. When he turns his guns onto Setsuna though, he starts hitting A-Laws with extreme accidental accuracy.
- Halo: A Fistful of Arrows: Jun-A266, Noble Team's sniper, aims for a car's driver, but hits the tire instead, causing it to plunge off a bridge. The rebel leader they were after still lives and is caught, but to him, it's his greatest failure.
- Harry Five-0:
Angela: Ok this has to be impossible. There is no way that anyone can have made that shot. It was noon and the sun was in the shooter's eyes and how the hell would they have hit the scope!
Harry: If it helps, I wasn't aiming for the scope, that was a fluke. I was just shooting at his head.
- In A Kingdom Divided Vinyl Scratch after becoming an airship gunner. During her first flight, she somehow manages to injure Cloud Kicker while aiming at Star Hunter.
- In The Legend of Total Drama Island, the dodgeball match has a couple of examples:
- Played for drama when Lindsay scores the first kill of the match, hitting Bridgette despite aiming for the nearby D.J.
- Played for laughs when the last ball of Tyler's wild fusillade comes hurtling straight for Leshawna's head. Tyler was actually trying to hit Cody, who was halfway across the court.
- Summer Days and Evening Flames: Gilda needs to disable an escaping criminal kidnapper with a crossbow from his compatriot, despite never having wielded on in her life. She disables him, alright.
- In Brave, thanks to Fergus startling him at just the right time, Wee Dingwall is the only suitor whose arrow hits a bulls-eye in the archery competition.
- The Iron Giant: Hogarth tosses a penny across his home to distract his mom from the titular giant's hand while trying to escape. It hits a cupboard that then falls, breaking numerous kitchen appliances.
- It helps Rango convince the people of Dirt that he killed seven people with one bullet when he accidentally kills a giant hawk with one. He'd been meaning to hit the candy shoelace tied to his foot that the hawk was pulling on.
- Treasure Planet: Dr. Doppler (who doesn't seem to have any gun experience) nervously pulls the trigger and it hits a metal chandelier, which falls and breaks open the shaft the pirates are standing on, sending them plummeting thousands of meters below.
Captain Amelia: Did you actually aim for that?
Dr. Doppler: You know, actually, I did.
- In the final shootout scene of Beverly Hills Cop II, Cloudcuckoolander cop Rosewood manages to take out a truck that is fleeing the scene with the bad guy's load of illicit armaments by shooting it with a LAW anti-tank rocket that he is holding in his lap and reading the instructions to out loud.
Rosewood: ...Aim through here, push this.
Taggart: Fuck Rambo.
- Commando: Cindy holds a four-barreled rocket launcher backward and manages to nail a phone booth dead on.
- Coroner Creek: During the shootout in the freight station, Kate picks up Ernie's dropped gun. Obviously never having fired a gun in her life, she closes her eyes and turns her head away when she pulls the trigger. Her shot misses Stu, but hits a block-and-tackle which breaks and drops a load of tack on top of him, knocking him to the floor.
- In Diamonds Are Forever, some mooks come into a hotel room where James Bond is meeting with a woman, grab the woman, and toss her out through the glass doors of the balcony of a high-rise hotel. Lampshaded by Bond, who notes that it was a fantastic shot as she falls dead center into the pool about 100 feet below. The astonished head mook says, "I didn't know there was a pool there!"
- 5 Card Stud has Dean Martin try to impress another guy with his aiming skills, shoots at a windmill. 5 shots, we hear 4 "pings" as they hit the blades. Robert Mitchum is impressed that he got 4 out of 5; Guy 1 says he was aiming between the blades and only got 1.
- In Geronimo: An American Legend, the title character manages to shatter a jar of whiskey just as an opponent is taking a drink from several hundred yards away. When he's commended for a good shot, Geronimo unabashedly admits, "Not so good. I was aiming for his head."
- Ghost Town (1988): After Kate's bomb takes out most of the gang, Devlin and one of his henchmen emerge from the flames. Langley spins round and fires with the sheriff's gun, plugging the henchman square in the middle of the forehead. As he and Kate dive for cover from Devlin's return fire, this exchange occurs (possibly a joke given the accuracy Langley has displayed previously):
Kate: That was a great shot shot!
Langley: I was aiming for Devlin!
- Also seen in The Golden Voyage of Sinbad where-in the mostly useless comic relief stuns everybody by felling a threatening Bad Guy with a crossbow. Afterward admitting he did it by aiming "at everything else"!
- Older Than Television: During one drawn-out scene in Charlie Chaplin's The Gold Rush, 1925, two people grapple over a shotgun. The entire time, the gun happens to be aimed squarely at the Little Tramp, no matter how he squirrels about the shack.
- In Harlem Nights, Quick (Eddie Murphy) is pinned down in an alley by a trio of gangsters (led by Arsenio Hall). Out of desperation, he fires off three quick shots to try and back the gangsters off. When he doesn't hear any return fire, he looks up from behind his cover and discovers he'd nailed all three men.
- Accidental Aiming Skills in completely the wrong direction. In the Abbott and Costello film Here Come the Co-Eds, Oliver Quackenbush (Lou Costello) loses a tied basketball game when his shot at goal misses, bounces of the backboard and flies the entire length of the court to land in the opposition's basket.
- In Heroes Wanted, Santi knows his aim is lousy, so he aims for a point on the hostage, which lets him miss and take out the hostage-taker instead.
- In I, Robot, the doctor managed to kill two robots next to the hero with her eyes closed and firing full auto. She is severely admonished by the hero afterwards to never close her eyes when shooting again.
- In the 2013 version of The Lone Ranger, he starts off as a City Mouse who Doesn't Like Guns. When facing a couple of armed mooks, he tries to fire a warning shot, and the resulting Pinball Projectile lands a heavy beam on their heads, killing them. Their friend runs away, convinced that he's a crack shot.
- In The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, the Uruk-hai army gathers in front of Helm's Deep in the dark of a rainy night and the orcs begin drumming their spears on the ground in anticipation of battle. Suddenly an arrow flies from the wall and strikes one unlucky orc in the throat, and he falls dead. Aragorn, who had given orders not to fire yet, yells to hold fire in Elvish, as he assumes that one of the superhumanly-accurate elf archers had made that amazing shot. They he sees that the archer was a bearded old man who lost his grip on the arrow and got first blood entirely by accident.
- From The Magnificent Seven (1960) movie:
(Britt has just shot a fleeing bandit off his horse)
Chico: Ah, that was the greatest shot I've ever seen.
Britt: The worst! I was aiming at the horse.
- Most of the time this trope is invoked, they are directly referencing this scene. Especially if it is a Western movie.
- In Mystery Murder, Nick is acknowledged as an incredibly lousy shot, which he proves by shooting at a killer and not hitting anywhere close to them. When, during the climax, one of the murderers takes his wife Audrey hostage, he shoots them in the shoulder. He claims he doesn't fail when it comes to protecting his wife, but he whispers to her that he was aiming at the murderer's foot.
- In The Mummy Returns, Rick's son Alex is kidnapped and gets on the bad side of Lock-Nah by asking him repeatedly "are we there yet?" during a long train ride. To shut him up, Lock-Nah pulls out a knife and quickly stabs it into the table between Alex's fingers. When congratulated for his 'perfect aim' Lock-Nah replies "What are you talking about? I missed."
- The Outlaws IS Coming!: Although most of Ken Cabot's fantastic shots were actually secretly performed by Annie Oakley, during the final Showdown at High Noon against the assembled outlaws one of Ken's wild shots knocks a fire bucket off a balcony that lands on Johnny Ringo's head and knocks him out.
- Robin Hood: Men in Tights. Ahchoo saves Robin from being hanged by shooting through the rope with an arrow. After receiving congratulations from Robin, Ahchoo replies "To tell you the truth, I was aiming for the hangman."
- Probably picked up from Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.'s Sinbad the Sailor, in which Melik claims to have arrow'd the steersman of a following warship, "By aiming at everyone else but the steersman."
- Rustlers' Rhapsody: Rex O'Herlahan is always Blasting It Out of Their Hands. But in the climactic showdown:
Peter: "Rex, you shot him in the head! How do you feel about that?"
Rex: "I missed his hand."
- Seven Ways from Sundown: When Seven is first given a revolver, Henessey tells him to aim at a gong hanging on a tree. His first shot hits the gong by ricocheting off a rock, and Henessey comments "That's doin' it the hard way". Every other shot misses not only the gong but the tree.
- This is the entire point of The Shakiest Gun in the West, starring Don Knotts as the subsequent gunslinger.
- True Lies; automatic weapon fired once, dropped down a staircase, firing randomly with every bounce. And it wipes out the bad guys.
- In his autobiography About Face, Colonel Hackworth mentions how he accidentally added to his badass reputation by shooting the head off an axe on the downswing. In truth, he didn't even know the pistol had a round in the chamber.
- Kip in The Black Prism fires a flintlock at a musketeer at the bow of a ship, only to snipe the captain off the wheel at the stern. Bonus points as his reply when asked is "Aiming?"
- In the third Brotherband book, Lydia brings down an escaping prisoner by sending an atlatl dart between his legs, causing him to trip. When Thorn congratulates her on the incredible shot, she admits she meant to send the dart into his leg.
- Ciaphas Cain (HERO OF THE - ah, what's the use) managed a headshot while aiming for the chest. Well, if you're going to duck when being shot at...
- Jurgen managed an inversion once- while aiming for a ginormous fuel hundreds of meters away, a take a shot or two, grunting that he missed, but the third one is on the mark, causing a cataclysmic explosion. When Cain congratulates him on hitting the tank, Jurgen reveals that he'd hit the tank every time- he was aiming for the release valve.
- In Pyramids the main character can't work up the will to actually shoot someone for his Assassin's Guild test and decides to fail with style, by firing away from the victim. The arrow bounces off a nail (and a few other things) before embedding itself in the (dummy) victim. The exam proctor passes him but marks down that Teppic was showing off.
- In Reaper Man, Death can hit anything he aims at the first try, but uses this ability to pretend he has Accidental Aiming Skills after he realizes that people resent people who are too good at something. He even ponders the implications of this, he manages some utterly improbably bad shots "by mistake" that would require far more skill than "good" shots, but no one notices.
- Sam Vimes's own brief experience with this trope in The Fifth Elephant when he shoots a bandit (who is holding his wife hostage) in the head with a small, concealable crossbow. He later reveals that he was aiming for the man's shoulder. Another character mentions that a particular crossbow "tends to pull a little to the left." Not that that would have helped.
- Vimes and others within the series also have a tendency to make cracks about this trope, often warning the current antagonist about rookies; "You never know where it might hit..."
- Kurik in David Eddings' The Elenium series does this when he hits an enemy officer right between the eyes with his crossbow, only to admit that he was aiming for the chest.
- The long and illustrious, and undeserved, reputation of Flashman in the series of novels started when he was trapped into a duel. He arranged for the pistol of his opponent to be loaded without a ball (bullet), while his was. Then he aimed away from his opponent and hit the top off a whiskey bottle. He had only intended to miss his opponent. However, this incident was interpreted as Flashman intending to show that he was an expert marksman by intentionally shooting the whiskey bottle, and missing his opponent.
- In the Harry Potter series, Ron is praised for beautifully stopping a Quaffle from hitting a Quidditch goal with some kind of airborne barrel roll... except he later reveals that was a complete accident, and Ron himself believes that he's a horrible Keeper. He kicks the Quaffle (not that Quaffles really matter, but whatever) while dangling from his broom. In truth, he'd fallen off and was climbing back onto his broom - the ball happened to fly into his foot.
- In Lawrence Block's Here Comes a Hero Evan shoots at a man who's aiming a rifle at him and nicks the guy's ear. The rifleman praises Evan's marksmanship and gives him the horse Evan was trying to buy, along with the rifleman's gun and clothing as a bonus.
I forebore telling him that I was not a superb marksman at all. I had not been aiming for his earlobe. I had been aiming for the center of his forehead because when someone draws a rifle to shoot me with I want to do more than scare him a little. My rotten shooting was his good fortune.
- The main character of Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse threatens a cannibalistic farmer by shooting his ear off. He aimed for the man's knee, but the ear's better motivation.
- Holmes on the Range: In 'World's Greatest Sleuth Big Red shoots the gun out of a bad guys hand, but later whispers to Old Red that he was aiming for his head.
- The fantasy novel Knights Of Dark Renown features a swordsman- formerly the King's Champion, and one of the greatest warriors around- who's lost his right hand, and is having serious trouble training himself to be left-handed. At one point he's facing some charging cavalry, throws an axe and kills a soldier. "I was aiming for the horse."
- In The Hunger Games, Katniss threw a knife at a wall and it landed in the seam between two panels making her, in her words, "seem a lot better than she was" at knife throwing.
- Jake Spoon of Lonesome Dove gets a reputation as a deadly marksman after shooting a bandit in the throat at an extremely long-range, but the shot was really just a lucky fluke. This trope also bites him, as he is introduced while on the run from the law after firing a buffalo rifle during a bar fight, which completely failed to hit Spoon's antagonist and instead went through the wall and killed the mayor of the town, who was walking down the opposite side of the street.
- Mr Monk Goes To The Firehouse: Disher shoots the killer's gun out of his hand, then admits he was aiming for his chest.
- In The Reluctant Widow by Georgette Heyer, Nicky regrets having missed a housebreaker:
I never touched him, but I did shatter his lantern, and that would have been pretty fair shooting, I can tell you if I had been aiming at it.
- The Worst Shots in the West has Tim and Tom using this to kill a hundred men bandit gang. Without noticing.
- Done a couple of times in Wyrm; the other characters compliment Ragnar on his good aim only for him to admit each time that he was aiming at something else entirely.
- In Alphas Dr. Rosen shoots an enemy at close range in the head, firing through his cheek. Later Bill tells him that he should have shot at the center mass, especially as an inexperienced shooter and Rosen admits that he was trying to.
- In a sketch from The Benny Hill Show, a firing squad, of which Benny is the commander, is to execute a pretty girl in a bra-like top and short skirt. She wants a blindfold, but Benny's handkerchief is too small. So he takes off her top and ties it around her eyes. The men, looking at the now topless girl let their aims wander to always follow Benny. Then they shoot.
- In the Blake's 7 episode "Orac", Avon saves Blake's life by shooting out The Dragon Travis' gun hand from a considerable distance. When Blake compliments him on the shot, Avon bitterly replies that "I was aiming for his head". Rumour has it that this was an ad-lib by Paul Darrow, who's rather fond of Westerns and couldn't resist the Shout-Out.
- In Bored to Death: "I wasn't aiming for the boss." "What?" "Never mind."
- In an episode of Castle, Rick Castle shoots a gun out of a serial killer's hand. When Beckett compliments his aim, Castle replies that he was aiming for his head (a reference to Firefly).
- El Chavo del ocho is legendary for this. Invariably, he hits Mr. Barriga when he arrives to the vecindad to collect the rent.
- On one episode of Criminal Minds, while in a hostage crisis, Spencer Reid shoots the crook and mass murderer dead center of the forehead. Not only was he said to have failed his firearms qualification at the start of the episode, he claimed he'd been aiming for the guy's knee. At a distance of about six feet, that's a spectacularly bad shot. Given that it was established in the same scene that if Reid didn't kill him in one shot, they were probably all going to die (the words "Better be a headshot" were uttered) this was probably a joke on the character's part. It still, however, fulfills the trope.
- Crossing Lines Season 1 Episode 7 Animals — Carl Hickman shoots the gun out of suspect's hand. Tommy says "That was pretty impressive, shot the gun right out of his hand" Hickman replies "Yeah, well I was aiming for his head. I told you I'm not left-handed." (Hickman's right hand was injured and he can not use it.)
- Dead Man's Gun: In "The Impostor", Leo reluctantly draws the gun and fires at at a fleeing bank robber. Despite not even looking where he is aiming, he hits the man at the far end of the street on a galloping horse. Of course, the gun itself may have had something to do with it.
- In the second episode of Firefly, Jayne Cobb, having been drugged earlier, shows up in the middle of a firefight still doped out of his mind, and shoots a villain in the leg. After he's complimented on the shot, he promptly slurs "I was aiming for his head..." which is a bit concerning, as Jayne could have accidentally shot a member of the crew if he had missed by that much in any other direction.
- Frasier: Attending a basketball game with Martin, Niles wins a draw to attempt a free-throw for a prize, and by sheer luck throws a perfect three-point shot. The next day, "Half-Court Crane" is hailed as a local hero, and Martin is thrilled to finally have a son he can be proud of athletically (plus his favorite sports bar gives him free beer now), and Niles lets all the adulation go to his head, much to Frasier's annoyance. After a full episode of Niles refusing to admit the shot was a fluke, Frasier publically challenges him to a shootout and Niles accepts - and hours later, neither brother has made a single basket. As the episode ends, it's clear that "Half-Court Crane's" fifteen minutes are up (and Martin has to pay for his beer again).
- In F Troop, Captain Wilton Parmenter is notorious for his inability to hit a target. Instead, he wins gunfights by accidentally making ludicrously complicated trick shots, followed by his men pretending they were deliberate. "Scourge of the West" Parmenter's gained quite the reputation as a sharpshooter.
- In Get Smart, a villain launches an explosive table tennis ball into a room where the heroes are being kept. Maxwell Smart uses his paddle to hit it into a slot to the next room, whereupon it explodes and presumably kills the villain. Impressed, the chief of Control asks Max how he did it. Max says he was aiming for a window a way from the slot. Only afterward does he realize how incompetent he now sounds.
- On Instinct a woman is shot at night from a building across the street so the investigators start looking for experienced marksmen who could make that kind of shot. However, they then realize that they had the scenario wrong. They are looking for a complete amateur who was trying to scare the victim and was aiming a few meters away from her. The bullet hit a steel plate on a telephone post and ricocheted into the victim.
- In Jonathan Creek, Jonathan flicks a playing card into the face of a man holding a gun to Madeline, stunning him.
Madeline: If you'd missed, he would have killed me!
Jonathan: I did miss. I was aiming for his balls.
- In an episode of Leverage, Hardison steals an unconscious Mook's gun and fires a shot into the hood of the bad guys' car, causing smoke to start rolling out. The following exchange occurs:
Eliot: Good thinking, shooting out the engine block.
Hardison: I was aiming for his leg.
Eliot: Give me the gun, Hardison!
- The Mandalorian: In "The Tragedy", Boba Fett targets one of the two fleeing Imperial transports with his rocket launcher, and sure enough his rocket hits one of the transports, which then crashes into the other one below it and sends both plummeting back to the ground. When Din commends him on the shot, Boba replies "I was aiming for the other one."
- In the Pilot episode of The Magnificent Seven, Ezra pulls this twice; first in a saloon where he uses a mirror to perform a gun version of an Offhand Backhand to wound an attacker, and again in the climax with a cannon.
Vin: Nice shot, pard.
- After Ezra shoots a man from a mirror's reflection.
Ezra: Dreadful. I was aiming to kill him but the mirror was cracked.
Vin: You shoot a cannon pretty well, pard.
- And later:
Ezra: Dreadful. I was trying to hit Anderson.
- Done in an episode of The Mentalist, where Jane is partnered with Hightower instead of Lisbon (who is injured). Jane is grabbed by the episode's killer and held as a human shield. Hightower comes out of a rock and starts shooting, unloading most of the clip without hitting anything with the last bullet hitting the bad guy in the leg. She finished him off with several shots to the chest, when he tries to shoot her. When Jane commends her aim, she replies that she was aiming for the head.
- Nichols: In "Nichols", Ruth shoots Mitch in the arm with her derringer. When Nichols says he is surprised she didn't shoot Ketcham, Ruth replies "Who do think I was aiming at?".
- In an episode of The Red Green Show after trying and failing to destroy a lamp with a number of ranged weapons, a frustrated Mike flings a 2x4 and finally destroys it.
- In a Season 2 episode of Sledge Hammer! a drugged-up Sledge is complimented by his captain for disabling the criminal and says "I was aiming for his head."
- In the pilot episode of Sons Of Thunder, it's made clear that the main character is ridiculously skilled in the martial arts... except he can't aim a throwing star worth a damn. So when he's facing off against the Villain of the Week and nails him in the gun hand with a throwing star, both the audience and his partner are suitably impressed (and surprised). However, when he's congratulated on his improved accuracy he states, "I was aiming for his throat".
- Decidedly not played for laughs in an episode of Spartacus: Vengeance. Mira shoots someone right through the throat, in the rain, through a crowd of people. Her archery teacher congratulates her on the brilliant shot, only for Mira to tearfully admit she was trying to non-fatally wound her target.
- Happened a few times on Third Watch with different cops.
(Jelly shoots the gunman in the head)
Sully: Nice shot, Jelly.
Jelly: I was aiming for his leg.
- When Johnny Carson's version of The Tonight Show still featured some of the more circus-style variety acts. An old black-and-white clip that was featured in many a "best of Johnny Carson" collection features Ed Ames throwing tomahawks at a wooden plank with a drawn-on outline of a man. One of those axes nails the target right in the crotch, with the handle pointing up. Made even funnier because the intent stated at the beginning of the bit was that Ames was just warming up and that after he did so Carson would be standing in front of the target.
- In V.I.P., Vallery Irons took off her headband and threw it. The instant chakram knocked out four enemies with head blows despite them wearing helmets. Since she'd just a figurehead, she was surprised it worked.
- In Jaga Jazzist's "Airborne" music video, the protagonist is completely unaware that he's being pursued by a gun-wielding assassin. Just as the gunman is about the fire at him, he opens a champagne bottle. The cork flies off and hits the assassin's head, knocking him out.
- Pathfinder Second edition has the Unexpected Sharpshooter archetype, which is themed around this trope. The best fits are the "I Meant to Do That" and "Chain Reaction" feats, the former of which allowing the character to make a missed shot end up accidentally impeding a foe indirectly and the latter allowing the character to set off a wildly improbably chain of events that creates significant challenges for their enemies across a wide area while leaving everyone else alone. Though it is also suggested that the player can instead flavor their Unexpected Sharpshooter to actually have Improbable Aiming Skills and just be Obfuscating Stupidity.
- In AdventureQuest Worlds, in the Dwarfhold Boss fight cutscene, the Hero picks up Vath's sword of dragon control and throws it Vath, which hits the Dragon Amulet and shatters it. However, the Hero clarifies that he was actually aiming for Vath and not the amulet.
- Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. See this. Welcome to war, soldier. Beware of random flying knives.
- In the original Doom games, picking up a "partial invisibility" item had a chance of giving this to your enemies. What it does is add up to 20 degrees to the spread of every enemy's attack, which is good against bullet-firing enemies but very bad against fireball- and rocket-shooting ones; veteran players will find themselves dodging into the projectile at the worst of times.
- Gameplay example only. In Halo, sniper/beam rifle shots will deflect off surfaces, even multiple times, if the angle of incidence is large enough; some videos show that that the angle can even be around 35 degrees and still work. And yes, this has resulted in some players accidentally killing multiple people with a single sniper shot. This mostly comes into play in games from Halo 3 onward, where sniper shots will ricochet off pretty much every type of surface, but even Halo: Combat Evolved and Halo 2 has a few surface types that will deflect sniper shots.
- In the old Text Parser Adventure Game Hugo 2: Whuddonit, one of the items you collect is a handgun. Whatever you try to use it on, you get the message "Sheesh, you missed." However, during a sequence when you mysteriously teleport into an episode of Doctor Who, you're supposed to use it on a Dalek (who are Immune to Bullets). Doing so results in the message "Sheesh, you missed... no wait, the bullet rebounded off a rock and hit the only vulnerable spot on the robot! It explodes!"
- Happens now and then in League of Legends, especially champions with a long-range "skill shot" attack such as Ashe or Ziggs.
- In the Sniper Elite series, it's entirely possible to miss a shot and wind up hitting another enemy by accident - or even better, an explosive. This is more likely on higher difficulties, where wind and gravity must be accounted for - ignoring the wind could have you aiming for an enemy and hitting his partner beside him, for instance.
- Star Wars: The Old Republic: A cutscene in the Imperial Agent storyline on Taris has a scientist that Cipher Nine is looking for take several blaster pistol shots at them at about ten paces. She misses every single one—by her own admission she barely knows which end of the gun to hold—but as a Funny Background Event, one shot blows apart a droid on the other side of the room, of the same type Cipher Nine was fighting to reach her only minutes earlier.
- Team Fortress 2:
- During "Meet the Sniper", we get a POV of Sniper deliberately aiming at Heavy's head and taking him out in one hit. Less deliberate is how the bullet continues through and hits a bottle being held by Demoman while he's drinking it, shattering glass all over Demo's face, causing him to panic and blindly fire several grenades before he stumbles off his canopy and onto several explosives below. Based on Sniper's surprised little "Oh...", he really wasn't expecting all that.
- In game, Sniper has an achievement for delivering a One-Hit Kill on a fully invisible Spy, which is almost bound to happen entirely by complete luck.
- In Warbears Mission 2, throwing the rock at the target mook will cause Agent Kla to complain "I was trying to hit myself and play dead!"
- World of Warships: A major contributor to Torpedo kills, primarily caused when a ship comes sailing around an island only to discover torpedoes now less than 3 seconds from impact intended for an entirely different target.
- The AI players in the Worms franchise are notorious for making astoundingly stupid shots, failing to take into account things like intervening obstacles, bouncing of weapons, and the presence of their own teammates in the line of fire. Occasionally these will result in some hilariously spectacular shots, wiping out half the worms in the level or killing their entire team. Human players have been known to pull off some of these as well.
- Unless they decide to use a grenade. Then they can bounce it off more than eight different walls and the fuse burns out just as the 'nade hits the player.
- One Let's Player of XCOM 2 managed to win Avenger Defense in 2 turns thanks to a missed Overwatch shot from a turret destroying an environmental explosive near the disruptor.
- On the team's first combat mission in gen:LOCK, Cammie comes up against a squad of Union infantry and their Spider Tank. Still squeamish about shooting people, she aims her mech's pistol at the tank... only for her shot to ricochet and knock down a massive antenna tower, which takes out the entire squad.
- This is the only way that Church from Red vs. Blue can hit a target. At one point, he fires a sniper shot, misses badly, sets off a series of ricochets, and only then hits his intended target. To further add insult to injury, that same ricocheted shot only manages to hit the ankle of the target as he's walking away. Adding further insult to that, Church is then told that it only counts if you call it.
- In Bobwhite, young Lewis has a near-supernatural ability to shoot animals without trying.
- In Commander Kitty, while aiming for a skyfly, CK puts a torpedo right into the exhaust port of a Triple-I space station.
- In Concerned (pictured above), at one point Gordon Frohman is pinned down by three Civil Protection officers who believe him to be a rebel. Fed up with being victimized, Gordon lashes out and blind fires three rounds out from cover, and kills all three officers by accident.
- A Running Gag from Exterminatus Now is Eastwood being a terrible shot except when he's aiming to miss, in which case the laws of physics will bend to make sure he hits something. Eastwood has managed to nearly blow Lothar's head off though Lothar's cybernetics were possessed by a technology daemon, who blocked the shot, and accidentally shot a fellow Inquisitor in the arm when aiming for Silas Morth.
- In Exiern, Peonie strikes Alicia with an arrow in the ribs from horseback, a fair distance away.
Peonie : Step away from my friend and I won't put this next arrow in your ear!
Captain Phi : I didn't know you were so good with a bow and arrow.
Peonie : I'm not. That first one was a lucky shot.
- Invoked in Furmentation when Xodin goes off the beat up the demons. "Yes, but now I'm a coward with unpredictable disastrous magical discharges".
- If there is a trope that perfectly describes Vallant from Teh Gladiators, it's this one. Entire Arena matches have been won on the strength of his Pinball Projectile. A raid group was defeated because he accidentally hit the tank with Tranquilizing Shot. He is a living example of why you don't hand a gun to a complete idiot.
- One xkcd strip had NASA succeed in having a probe on Jupiter orbit within one second of scheduled time... despite probe being aimed to Saturn orbit.
- Parodied in Scott The Woz. Scott throws his Sega Classic box of Sonic the Hedgehog and it "accidentally" (as in, through a series of Jump Cuts) plunges into his toilet, which Scott chalks up to luck. He later throws the game cartridge, which ends up landing right on the cartridge slot of his Sega Genesis that he inexplicably had set up inside his bathroom.
Scott: Son of a bitch I'm so lucky!
- In The Slow Mo Guys episode "Cannon Firing In Slow Motion", Dan manages to hit one of their GoPro cameras dead center without even trying. He nailed it so hard, there was nothing left but flattened chunks of plastic; not even the memory card could be salvaged. One of the slow-mo shots is of his reaction as caught by the Phantom.
- More recently, he's started to become scarily accurate with swords, managing to slice several high-speed arrows in half, and using a saber to take the cork out of a bottle of champagne while he was trying to break it.
- Ben 10: Ultimate Alien: In "Hit 'Em Where They Live", Ben (in the form of Rath) takes down Rojo by destroying her flying bike with a well-aimed piece of debris, leading this exchange:
Gwen: Nice shot.
Rath: I was kinda aimin' for her head!
- In Dan Vs. "Technology", Dan throws a hatchet at a brainwashed Elise trying to kill him, and he breaks the Mind Control headband without hurting her. His comment afterward makes it clear to the audience that he was aiming to kill.
- A Cutaway Gag on Family Guy has a Black Comedy example. Lee Harvey Oswald sees someone in the grassy knoll about to shoot President Kennedy. Drawing a rifle, he takes aim and says "Alright, Lee, time to become an American hero!"
- In an episode of King of the Hill, Dale having seen his father hold his wife's hand and remembering the time he kissed her on their wedding day, he throws a knife off-screen and emphatically impaling it on a mannequin right next to his dad in what is actually a pretty dramatic and intimidating moment for Dale (Dude, he's throwing knives, it's badass). He then yells something along the lines of, "Watch yourself, old man, or next time I'll aim for the mannequin and hit YOU!"
- A character like this appeared in one episode of Lucky Luke. He ended accidentally defeating a famous villain. By firing in the opposite direction. His aiming skills were so hilariously poor, at one point, he attempted to commit suicide by putting the gun to his head - and missed.
- In Disney's short film Paperman, the male protagonist ("George," name unstated) throws countless paper airplanes at the window of a neighboring skyscraper across the street, attempting to catch a girl's attention. He doesn't succeed but manages some pretty impressive shots in the process, such as a waste bin in the same room as the girl, and the open window directly below the window he is aiming for.
- The Pink Panther cartoon from the '90s (where the panther spoke) had the eponymous panther playing a cowboy for an episode. All throughout the episode, he'd catch something useful with his lasso that allowed him to pull cool tricks that helped him out… only every single time, he'd comment that he was actually aiming for something more conventional, such as the villains.
- The Simpsons
- In the episode "Bart the Mother", Bart is given a gun to shoot at a robin and tries to intentionally miss.. only to be congratulated on compensating for the crooked sight and making a perfect kill.
- In an earlier episode, Nelson uses a BB gun to puncture Martin's hot air balloon at a science fair, causing it to collapse on him. It turns out that wasn't his intention though, as he remarks "Dang, I was aiming for his head!".
- Butters from South Park, no matter how hard he tries to aim somewhere else, will always make a perfect shot to his opponent's dick every time he fires a gun. Shooting a man in the dick is also one of the very few actions that Cartman finds morally reprehensible.
- Stroker and Hoop: "That was just a warning shot! The next one will be in your chest!" "You idiot, the warning shot was in his chest!" Hoop is afraid of killing people, so he always aims right over their heads; this didn't work out so well for him when he fought some ninjas and one of them jumped high in the air.
- The titular duo was once forced to drop their guns by a drug lord and his wife who had them outgunned. When their guns hit the ground, they went off, killing the drug lord and his wife instantly. Stroker angrily lampshaded that they don't have nearly that kind of accuracy when they actually try.
- This trope is the reason you have to call your shot when hitting the 8 ball in pool.
- This man shoots his earmuffs off with a .50 BMG rifle.
- Another one is from Kansas where the basketball coach is set up for a prank where he is blindfolded and asked to shoot. The crowd would then cheer no matter how badly he missed so that they can screw with him when he starts to believe that he actually made the shot. He actually does make the shot. Funny thing is, a reporter making a report on it, for emphasis, tosses the ball behind him without looking and it goes in the basket.
- In Spike Milligan's war memoir Monty: his Part in my Victory, Milligan recalls being in an artillery observation point in the front lines when German tanks attack. The imperturbable officer with him in the foxhole radios co-ordinates and calls in an artillery strike. Within two shots, a direct hit has landed right on top of a moving German tank, totally destroying it. Heavy artillery pieces are not designed to be used in an anti-tank role with this sort of pinpoint accuracy - the feat was akin to scoring a bullseye, blindfold, on a moving dartboard. Milligan recalls saying "bloody good shot, sir!" at which the officer shrugged modestly and replied, "It wasn't the one I was aiming for." Actually an Enforced Trope given that the battery would've kept on firing until they disabled or destroyed it.
- One high school kid in Canada was recording himself (using his cellphone) trying to dunk a basketball and failing miserably. Disappointed, he went to retrieve his phone from the stands and threw the basketball backward over his shoulder in disgust...and saw the ball hit nothing but net on the screen.
- This wannabe Brazilian singer tosses the shoe he was holding as a microphone. It hits the fabric roll behind him, a thin target. But that's not all: the way the shoe hit was perfect for making the roll teeter unstably and fall... exactly onto the shoe tosser's head.
- Zig-zagged with Japanese artillery (in World War Two) and North Vietnamese artillery (during the Vietnam War) fighting the Americans. Both forces had a penchant for hitting Headquarters or supply dumps (especially ammo dumps) with suspiciously few artillery rounds and quite regularly.note Zig-zagged because there have been theories that these "lucky hits" were actually timed explosives hidden in the HQs or dumps by infiltrating sappers, masked by a few rounds of artillery around the location and time of the planned explosion.
- Purportedly, the sinking of USS Juneau at Guadalcanal was this. Japanese submarine I-26 fired torpedoes at USS San Francisco, only for the latter to dodge. San Francisco's radio wasn't working, so her warning to Juneau didn't get transmitted, and so Juneau was hit by one of the torpedoes that missed San Francisco. Not only that, but one of the torpedoes hit Juneau in the part where she was already hit & damaged from the earlier naval battle. This caused the ship to explode, break in two, and sink within twenty seconds.
- This is one theory of why the HMS Hood blew up the way it did when facing off against the German Bismarck. While Bismarck certainly had the Hood in her sights already, there should have been no reason for the catastrophic explosion resulting from an apparently minor hit, as Hood had modern safety bulkheads, passable armor, and was engaging at a range that protected her vulnerable decks. The theory goes that with Hood moving at full throttle during the battle, the waves made by the hull created a dip in the water surface level along her hull. One of Bismarck's shells happened to come up just short of an intended hit, but due to this dip, encountered little enough water resistance to punch through Hood's hull below her belt armor and detonate within the workspaces of the ship — and just so happened that was exactly where the forward turret's ammunition was stored, setting off a magazine explosion that turned what should have been some scratched paint at the waterline into a One-Hit Kill. This is so completely improbable that there's no way Bismarck's gunners could have intended it; indeed accounts from both sides were rather confused as to the exact cause of the sinking.