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Blown Across the Room

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The bullet flies out of the gun into her and sends her flying back!
"Any outdoorsman will tell you the most frustrating part of hunting is when a deer simply FALLS DOWN when shot, and doesn't FLY BACKWARD into the forest. Those days are over. Anything this baby hits better PACK A LUNCH, cause it is going for a ride!"

In a movie, you can reasonably expect a gun to be able to do anything, be it firing shots that travel faster than sound without making any, sounding like it's about to fall apart while working normally, fire all day long without a reload, or, as here, throwing a normal-sized human clean across a room with a single shot. Preferably through a Sheet of Glass while it's at it.

This trope exists because, as humans, we tend to associate power with muscle strength, and thus the ability to move things. A heavyweight boxer, we reason, can lift a grown man off his feet with a powerful uppercut and a car can throw an unfortunate pedestrian into the air over its hood, so surely a gun, which we see as more powerful, would be able to produce an even more devastating blow on impact.

However, there are massive mechanical differences between the types of collision. A bullet is a streamlined, hard object which focuses a large amount of kinetic energy onto a small area, but has relatively little momentum due to its small size in comparison to a human, meaning it has little ability to drive an object back. A boxer's fist, on the other hand, has far more momentum and a much broader contact area. The much higher pressure will cause the bullet to impart massive stress to a tiny area, causing it to penetrate rather than shove backwards; conversely, you are unlikely to see a boxer put his fist through his opponent's torso because of the very low pressure caused by the large contact area. High-powered rifles just make the bullet still more likely to go through the target rather than be stopped and have to shove it back.

Additionally, the laws of physics guarantee that in a hand-held firearm the shooter must deal with a backward force equal to the force of the projectile being fired; a gun capable of blowing the target across the room would need to blow the shooter back with even greater force, when you account for the energy the bullet lost due to friction on the way to the target. The Law of Inverse Recoil tends to be in full effect regarding this.note 

A theoretical situation where this trope might occur would be if the target were wearing a very strong suit of armor and were hit by a very large, heavy projectile (or self-propelled rocket) made of equally strong material; with neither body able to give way, the target would be forced back by the impact. It is possible for a disproportionate response to an impact to result from involuntary muscle spasms, in the same way that an electric shock can "knock you over". However, while that explanation could reasonably cover "the victim's limbs flew out and he crashed over on his back," and there are cases of people staggering back, sometimes for several meters, after being pushed off balance by a bullet impact, it kind of falls apart when you try to stretch it into "the victim hurtled fifteen feet backward."

The core of this is the law of conservation of momentum. Mass times velocity must equal mass times velocity. As noted above, some losses occur due to air friction, but the other key is elasticity. In elastic collisions (where neither object is penetrated or deformed) every bit of energy is transferred at the moment of collision (think pool balls). In inelastic collisions (where one of the objects gets deformed), some of the energy gets "used up" deforming the object (it's why cars have crumple zones — better that the energy is used to twist steel instead of you).

Of course, this doesn't apply in Hollywood. Bullets can throw you spinning into the air and still leave exit wounds, throw some targets violently across rooms while others fall forwards due to the availability of a Railing Kill [the force which causes this phenomenon is called Ledge Gravity], or more or less whatever else the director thinks they should be able to do; likewise, frag grenades will send people hurtling across the room instead of simply filling them with red-hot shrapnel like in Real Life. The results may, however, end up falling under Rule of Cool if done right.

In reality, this effect is accomplished by a stuntman wearing a harness pulled backwards by a hydraulic or pneumatic machine. However, recently, similar to The CSI Effect, there has been instances where people have actually thrown themselves backwards when shot/shot at even if it's a low velocity round like a beanbag.

Subtrope of Knockback. See also Bang, Bang, BANG, Railing Kill, and Punched Across the Room. Add Surprisingly Realistic Outcome to get Recoiled Across the Room. Not a porn trope.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Black Lagoon usually preferred Rule of Cool to realism, but they got this one right.
    • In Episode 19, they even parodied it, when Sociopathic Hero Revy explains the details about being shot to some children playing with toy guns. When she demonstrates how it looks like to be hit by a gun, the children even complain that it is "not very cool-looking."
    • The Roberta bar shootout has the eponymous maid from hell blowing cartel goons across the common room of the Yellow Flag with her deadly shotgun umbrella.
    • In the Fujiyama Gangsta Paradise arc, they proceed to use the same trope during the assault on the bowling alley where Yukio is being held, which has Revy blowing a mook down the nearest lane and scoring a strike.
  • Also subverted in Wicked City, where the Hand Cannon actually has enough recoil to justify the impact — the protagonist has to brace himself against a wall to fire it.
  • The Cowboy Bebop episode "Sympathy for the Devil" has a man being blown across the room and blown out a window, and it turns out that the gun was fired by a guy with the body of a small child.
  • Happens to Ritsuko in End of Evangelion when Gendo shoots her.
  • Justified in the manga series Cannon God Exaxxion, where the main character wears a special powersuit to keep his magnetic acceleration/chemical propellant hybrid handguns from knocking him around the way they do his enemies. And that's on the few occasions it uses this trope at all. Most of the guns they use seem to be designed for penetration rather than stopping power and more often than not will just tear clean through enemies.
  • Regularly taken to a ridiculous degree with Yoko of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, who frequently uses a railgun to send freaking Gunmen flying all over the place. If the railgun's power was not a problem, recoil would be. Going by conservation of momentum, if the Gunmen weighs 20 tons, Yoko weighs 100 lbs, the bullet bounces on impact, and ignoring friction, for every 1 mile per hour change in velocity the Gunmen experiences, Yoko would be propelled backwards at 400 miles per hour. Which is the reason that railguns are being developed not for use by GI, but as the main cannons on battleships.
  • In Eden: It's an Endless World!, Marihan gets a heavily armed police force to shoot her through a window, though going by the author's record, it is almost equally probable that she got shot to break the window, and then jumped out.
  • Averted in Angel Cop. The special gun the mad scientist develops to fight Lucifer has enough recoil to tear the arm off a normal person. Even wearing Space Marine power armor and a bracing cast, it breaks the arm of the heroine once fired. Also inverted when the cyborg shoots Lucifer in the head with a point-defense laser system; the minuscule line of light pierces her skull and she doesn't recoil in the slightest. What follows is a Curb-Stomp Battle of epic magnitude as she just shrugs it off and tears apart the cyborg anyway.
  • In Chapter 38 of Fullmetal Alchemist, Riza and Fury managed to almost force Gluttony out of a window with revolver fire. They run out of ammo before he can fall out.
  • Blame has a reversal of this trope. Whenever Killy fires the Graviton Beam Emitter, he gets blown back by the recoil, while the GBE beam punches clean through whatever it hits.
  • AKIRA has a very noticeable examples near the end.
    • The Colonel shoots Tetsuo with a handgun and he gets blown sideways a dozen feet.
    • Kaneda shoots Tetsuo in the Artificial Limb with a laser rifle and knocks him down. Especially noteworthy since laser beams have no impact at all.
  • Mostly averted in One Piece, where characters who get shot either don't react, or fall to the ground. However, a flashback shows that Bellemere was sent a fair distance back when she was shot in the head/chest. Though that particular example might be justified by the fact that she was shot at point-blank range.
  • Rebuild World: When Sheryl’s base is being raided to steal the relics she’s selling, Akira waits behind a door in ambush wielding two assault rifles loaded with Armor Piercing rounds, while four robbers in Powered Armor stack up to breach it. Before they can open it, Akira lets loose, turning two robbers to Ludicrous Gibs, and sending a third flying up against a wall until he stops shooting.

    Comic Books 
  • X-Men: Emma Frost confronts her older Alpha Bitch sister Adrienne in Generation X. Adrienne had used a bomb on the school that killed Generation X member Synch and has no remorse over this, bragging about other terrible things she plans to do. She is immune to Emma's mind powers, so in a Shoot the Dog moment, Emma takes out a gun and shoots Adrienne. Adrienne is sent flying backwards into a wall.
  • In Bookhunter, Agent Bay deliberately exploits this. He gets the drop on a criminal by firing in the opposite direction with a shotgun; the over-the-top recoil hurls Bay across the room, landing him in the perfect spot to shoot the criminal in the back.
  • Amulet: When hit by his own redirected magic, courtesy of Gabilan, Trellis is not only blown across the room, but smashes through the wall and is almost sent flying off the island completely.
  • In Legion of Super-Heroes storyline The Great Darkness Saga, Cosmic Boy is heading into the Tower of London when he gets blasted across the street by a Servant of Darkness' psychic blast. Later, Darkseid blasts Mon-El into the ground all the way from the upper atmosphere.
  • Cyclops' eye beams knock bad guys back, but not Cyclops himself. It's one of the ways he's immune to his own power.

  • Happens to Slaanesh in Everqueen once Khaine shatters apart.
    Films — Animation 
  • Woody Woodpecker demonstrates Newton's Law with an excessively-recoiling shotgun in the cartoon in Destination Moon in order to demonstrate how a rocket works.
  • In Monsters vs. Aliens, the recoil on an alien plasma gun is strong enough to throw a normal-sized Susan across the Unnecessarily Large Interior of a spaceship, knocking about several dozen aliens along the way.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Deconstructed in Sweet Liberty. The Smug Snake stuntmen tell the Civil War recreators that they die well, but they don't know how to go flying back when shot. They demonstrate as one of the stuntmen is secretly outfitted with the rig that snaps him backward throw the air. When the recreator "shoots" him with his finger, the stuntman flies dramatically back through the doorway. The recreator is astonished, so tries the same thing... only he isn't attached to the rig, so when he gets shot, he flails about as he falls backward — and keeps on trying to fly backward until the stuntmen laughingly tell him to stop.
  • John Woo is the patron saint of this trope. In his movies, anyone hit with a shotgun blast is bound to be propelled backwards a few feet, occasionally crashing through a bench or plated glass windows. And pigeons. In A Better Tomorrow 2, you can actually see the cable pulling the stuntman backwards.
  • Taken to an extreme with the very first kill in Last Man Standing, where Bruce Willis draws and empties two .45 pistols into a man standing a few feet from him inside a saloon and ends up blowing him right out the door and into the middle of the street. It's a backflip.
  • Inverted in Men in Black, in which Agent J's tiny "Noisy Cricket" gun packs enough kick to destroy a truck but knocks the shooter off his feet and onto the hood of a car several yards behind him from recoil (despite it being an energy weapon).
  • The weak spot in one of the better shoot out scenes in movie history: the disco scene in The Terminator. The Terminator, being an android with an armored chassis and probably weighing several hundred kilograms, is knocked about repeatedly by blasts from a 12 gauge shotgun. The impact should not have done more than mess up his skin a bit. (If the Terminator weighs the same amount as a human, he still shouldn't have been thrown around the way he was.)
  • Parodied in Last Action Hero, where in the film world a bad guy is flung out of the car by the force of a shot, and crashes into an ice-cream van. Which promptly explodes. But used somewhat straight in the 'real world'.
  • In Kindergarten Cop, Kimble takes a break from blowing people across the room and instead blasts a freshly-vacated sofa through the air.
  • In Desperado, in the opening scene the hero kills numerous goons in a bar with his Hand Cannon, sending them flying at the walls, out of the doors, etc.. In this case the trope is justified by the fact that this is simply the exaggerated fashion in which Steve Buscemi's character tells the story.
  • In Once Upon a Time in Mexico, the hero and his friends not only blow bad guys through walls et al, but also shoot them (just to be safe) after they've been hit and are lying on the floor. This causes their bodies to skid and roll all over the floor.
  • A particularly blatant example can be seen in The Mask of Zorro. The Legendary Three-Fingered Jack rolls down a track in a mining cart and jumps out, flying through the air toward Captain Love (the movie's Dragon) while wielding a pickaxe. Captain Love pulls a pistol and shoots him. Love suffers no recoil from the pistol, yet Jack's momentum is reversed in midair, and he is sent to the ground in a broken heap.
  • Averted in an otherwise trope-filled film by Con Air, when Nicholas Cage's character takes a bullet to the shoulder while advancing towards a villain and doesn't even blink. Then again, this was almost certainly done for Rule of Cool.
  • The movie Shoot 'Em Up goes to town with most gunplay tropes. This one is included as well: bullets from a handgun cause a merry-go-round to spin wildly.
  • Eraser has the bad guys equipped with handheld recoilless rail guns that can apparently shoot straight through walls but cause people to fly across the room.
  • In Smokin' Aces, one of the lesbian hitwomen bring along a Barrett M82A1 (causing her partner-in-crime to complain). When FBI agents surround the non-sniper, she appears to be killed, causing her partner to open fire, with people being blasted across the room.
  • Subverted in the movie Witness. Harrison Ford's character, John Book, is ambushed by the bad guys. There is an exchange of fire, and the bad guys retreat. Book comes out from cover, looks down and only then realizes that he'd been hit in the gut early on in the shoot-out.
  • Minority Report:
    • A point-blank shot makes the person that was hit get blown backwards towards a window, while the shooter stands still. Considering the shot only occurred because the victim pressed the hand holding the gun until it fired, it doesn't make much sense.
    • There's also a nonlethal weapon that seems to be specifically designed to incapacitate people by blowing them across rooms with a huge shockwave of air.
  • Although usually averted by The Mummy Trilogy, where shooting people causes them to jerk from impact and fall over. At one point, probably just for Rule of Cool in The Mummy Returns, Rick shoots a mook with a shotgun, who flies back at least two feet, into another mook, and their combined momentum carries them into a pit of fire. Though usually shooting people or the mummy has very little physical effect.
  • It wasn't done with a gun, but in Back to the Future Marty tries to use an electric guitar attached to a huge amplifier and speaker. After he does one strum on his guitar, the audio from the speaker blows him across the room.
  • Another amplifier-based blown across the room appears in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze, where a power-chord delivered by Michaelangelo on a key-tar succeeds in blowing Shredder out the window of a nightclub and into the docks, where the Super Shredder battle would take place. Though that was not so much the sound of the chord, as the speaker exploding right beside Shredder from how high the volume was set (which is a different kind of of "huh?" for the electronically savvy, I'm sure).
  • An interesting case involving an amplifier arises in The Italian Job (2003). Lyle wants a sound system that can play so loud, it can blow women's clothes off. In the end credits, it's shown that he gets it and it works, though we just get to see his reaction as it happens.
  • Subverted in The Movie version of Charlie's Angels (2000). When Eric Knox is revealed as the Big Bad after sleeping with Dylan, he shoots her, propelling her through a massive window. But later, we flashback to that gunshot and see that the shot missed, flying right by Dylan's ear. Dylan actually mimics this trope, propelling herself backwards as if she'd been shot, allowing herself to head backwards through the glass window - which had been shattered by the unblocked bullet. Two tropes subverted for the price of one.
  • Rather bizarrely applied in the final gunfight in The Quick and the Dead: Sharon Stone and Gene Hackman both draw and fire simultaneously. Sharon is hit in the chest and staggers back, wincing in pain. Gene grins, appearing unfazed... until he looks down at the sunlight shining through a bloodless hole through his chest. Sharon then shoots him in the eye, sending him cartwheeling backwards.
  • Taken to ridiculous extremes in the French film Dobermann, where the main character's gun blows a couple of cops out of a nightclub and into a river.
  • In Fright Night (1985) Jerry Dandridge dies in this manner when Charlie yanks the huge curtain from a big picture window and he's hit by a blast of sunlight.
  • In Sukiyaki Western Django, a dying man is Mercy Killed with a single shot to the chest from a revolver that blows him out of frame.
  • Max Payne has rather egregious examples, especially with the shotgun.
  • Beautifully averted in the movie No Country for Old Men, where the protagonist shoots a dog (who has considerably less mass than a human) who is jumping towards him, and this doesn't affect the trajectory of the dog's body.
  • In Kung Fu Hustle, Brother Sum sends a woman flying halfway across the street after shooting her in the back with a shotgun.
  • The Matrix: "Dodge this!" BANG!
  • In Hudson Hawk, this is taken to an even more ludicrous extreme, with a falling bedsheet knocking over a guard who seems to weigh about 200 pounds.
  • In the final fight scene of The Sons of Katie Elder, where the good guys are pinned down by the bad guys, one of the sons (I think it was Bud) jumped over a wagon to get to some additional ammunition that they needed. He was shot in the air, completely reversed his direction and was flung backward behind the wagon.
  • Inverted for laughs in ¡Three Amigos! when Ned is thrown twenty feet backwards after he finally shoots with a "real man's" gun.
  • Iron Man shows terrorists getting blown a few feet backwards by repulsor blasts, with a single blast having enough power to partially demolish a brick wall when the victim collides. It makes a bit more sense since the repulsors were originally meant to be flight stabilizers, as Tony explains to Pepper when she finds him playing around with them — and we see that an un-armored Tony firing one off is also blown clear across the room.
  • Toward the end of Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, James T. Kirk and company find Saavik and Spock and two Klingon warriors on the Genesis planet. Kirk shoots one of the Klingons with a phaser, and the Klingon is picked up and flung backwards 25 feet or more. (In agonizing slow-motion. Like he was an actor attached to a harness.) This, despite the fact that no phaser blast in any previous movie or television episode ever had this effect: Phaser victims either dematerialized (phaser set to kill) or crumpled to the ground, unconscious (phaser set to stun).
  • In Resident Evil (2002), when a zombie is hit by machine gun fire it flies through the air about 20 feet.
  • Rambo IV: Several times, but mainly when the sniper starts shooting the baddies inside the camp. The bullets cause his targets to rocket backwards like they've been hit by a giant battering ram.
  • A man is blown across an alley with a shotgun (shot through a wooden wall) in Open Range.
  • In Sin City, the twin henchmen at the beginning of the film are launched across the room by Hartigan's revolver.
  • Happens at least twice in the "Smooth Criminal" segment of Moonwalker. In the second case, the gangster is thrown through a brick wall and makes a person-shaped hole.
  • In Blade (1998), when Blade shoots the redneck vampire with his stake-launcher on his shotgun, the redneck flies across the room and it pinned to the wall with the stake. Blade felt nothing - I think he was even one-handing the shot gun.
  • Averted in A Boy Ten Feet Tall, the title character is walking 4500 miles across Africa, and encounters Cocky Wainright (Edgar G. Robinson), who has an elephant gun. He demonstrates it by sitting down and having one of his helpers sit braced against his back. They are both knocked over by the recoil.
  • The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension. When John Bigbooté spits a tiny starfish at the nameless Jet Car mechanic, the mechanic is blasted backwards as if hit by a cannon shell.
  • In Battle: Los Angeles, this actually a characteristic of the alien weapons; humans hit by a direct shot from the alien weapons are thrown off their feet consistently; for example, a glancing blow that deflects of a Marine's backpack throws him off his feet, and a civilian who gets hit by a round gets tossed back several feet. The only times alien weapons don't throw someone back is when they overpenetrate and go straight through the body.
  • One of the alien weapons in District 9 blows you across the room using either wind or gravity.
  • Blade Runner: Near the beginning of the movie, Holden is interrogating the replicant Leon. When Leon fires a gun at him under a table, Holden doesn't just get blown across the room, he gets blown right through the wall behind him.
  • Lethal Weapon hits all the high points when Riggs is hit by a shotgun blast and thrown backwards through a plate glass window. Fortunately, he was wearing a vest, which somehow protected him from broken ribs. And broken glass.
  • Inception has a nice aversion of this. During the hotel fight sequence, Arthur and a projection are wrestling for a gun. Gravity shifts and the gun slides towards Arthur, so the projection makes a desperate lunge for it—and Arthur fires. The shot doesn't affect the projection's direction at all, it simply slides, crumpled, into the corner of the room.
  • Bane's death in The Dark Knight Rises is a memorable and literal example of this. Justified in that he was shot not by a handgun, but by the Batpod's cannons which were earlier seen destroying the commandeered Tumblers.
  • Vito Corleone's mother's death in The Godfather Part II. At least she bought enough time for her son to get away, so that one day he may come back to avenge his family's death by personally knifing the mafia boss, a la Hannibal Lecter to Will Graham.
  • Quentin Tarantino wanted to do this in Pulp Fiction, with one version of the script outlining John Travolta's character flying through the air in a deliberately over the top fashion after Bruce Willis shoots him with a sub-machine gun. This was toned down in the final version where he merely stumbles backward in shock.
  • And then he did pull it off in Django Unchained, with an example so absurd that it's plausible he was messing with the trope; when Django shoots Lara in the final scene, she's blown out of the room at a right angle to the direction of the bullet, as if someone yanked her with a rope. The actual layout of the scene more or less makes it hilarious through sheer comedic timing.
  • He also managed to do this in Kill Bill, When the Bride opens up the door to Budd's camper only to be fired at by Budd with a shotgun. The blast causes her to get knocked back several feet away from the camper's entrance.
  • The Adventures of Baron Munchausen brings us Adolphus, the World's greatest marksman. His baroque, oversized rifle is as powerful as his skills: when he fires it, he is immediately and violently flung backwards. If he happens to be standing on a tower when he does so, then he'd better have something there to break his fall...
  • Goodfellas is less flagrant than most films, but there is one extreme example. A character, Stacks, is murdered by a single pistol shot to the back of the head. He is seated in a chair, with his bed a few feet away. There is a massive spray of blood, averting Pretty Little Head Shots, and then a full half-second later it's obvious the actor throws himself out of his chair and onto the bed. The bullet would not be able to transfer enough energy to the victim for him to fly out of his chair. Even if it somehow could, there wouldn't be a delay. Finally, the victim was tying his shoes when he was shot. Despite having his brainstem blown out, when he leaps he throws his arm out to catch himself on the bed.
  • Independence Day: When the captured alien breaks loose in the Area 51 laboratory, several guards open fire on it through a glass window. When the bullets hit the alien, it's blown backward across the laboratory.
  • Necromonger guns in The Chronicles of Riddick (2004), which have no regard for "equal and opposite reactions". Apparently, they use gravity.
  • In Harry Potter (the books less so), the Expelliarmus spell tends to do this. It's called a Disarming Spell, meaning it really only has to knock your opponent's wand out of their hand, but the Rule of Cool led to it becoming the Blown Across the Room Spell when Snape first used itnote  and ever since. Rather harder to explain are hexes like Rictusempra and Tarantallegra, which drop their original effects of tickling and uncontrollable dancing in favour of... oh, you know how it goes.
  • Happens all the time in Dead in Tombstone. A shot from Guerrero's Hand Cannon is shown to fling one mook backwards through a closed door.
  • Done in V for Vendetta with thrown knives!
  • In Big Game, when Hazar has an entire Uzi magazine pumped into him, he flies a good three metres back.
  • Hellraiser: Inferno has the protagonist use a shotgun which can apparently send a grown man flying a dozen feet or so. A Justified Trope, in this case, since it's used during a Journey to the Center of the Mind that reveals the protagonist is in an Ironic Hell.
  • In the 1991 film Stone Cold, anyone hit with a shotgun blast endures this trope. The opening credits sequence in particular shows a biker gang member in a church using a sawed-off shotgun to shoot a minister, who proceeds to fly into the air and through a stained glass window.
  • The Mask. When Dorian (in his Mask-enhanced form) shoots bullets out of his mouth and kills Niko, Niko is thrown into the air and several feet backwards.
  • The ABCs of Death: When the patient shoots one of the guards in the "R" segment, the guard is blown backwards across the corridor and smashes out through a window.
  • Martyrs: This happens right after the father opens the door for Lucie, at which she shoots him with a shotgun. It also occurs when the rest of the family are shot.
  • In Beverly Hills Cop III a mechanic is shot with a 9 millimeter pistol and goes flying backwards. His associates shot with heavier weapons do not.
  • Along Came a Spider has a scene of Alex blasting Gary with a 12 gauge shotgun. He goes flying back in comical manner betraying the rather serious nature of the film up to that point.
  • In The Day of the Jackal, when the titular assassin is shot with a submachine gun, he's lifted at least two feet into the air and hurled back against the wall.
  • The Last Rites of Ransom Pride: The first two bidders who attempt to storm Juliette's room at the brothel are sent flying backwards when they are blasted by The Dwarf's twin Sawed Off Shotguns wielded Guns Akimbo.
  • Les Visiteurs: Godefroy de Montmirail punches Ginette hard enough to send her flying into a table, which in turn causes a soup tureen to end up on someone's head.
  • In the climax of Eyes of a Stranger, Damsel in Distress Tracy has failed to kill the Serial Killer with a mere shot to the gut, so it's left to her sister Jane to finish the job. She snatches up the gun from the floor and delivers a shot right in the center of the forehead - one of those Pretty Little Headshots that is accentuated by the target being blown across the room into the glass door of a shower stall.

  • Perhaps somewhat strange for a gunplay trope, but this one is Older Than Feudalism: in one scene in the Iliad, Diomedes hits a Trojan in the chest with a javelin, hurling him backwards out of his chariot. Justified in that anyone would fall out of a chariot if no longer able to hold on, but the wording implies that it's the force of Diomedes' throw that does the trick; in Greek epic poetry, 'hero' was akin to having superhuman ability, even if they weren't explicitly being helped by the gods.
  • Two particularly over-the-top examples shows up in the Private Detective Joe Copp novel Copp In Shock. The first shows up during a shootout in a hospital. While Copp and the local police chief fire at a pair of shotgun-wielding hitmen who are running away from them. The police chief blasted one of the hitmen through a glass wall with his .357 Magnum while Copp shoots the other hitman and caused him to be "catapulted into a death slide that came to rest inside the waiting room." Then later in the novel, while in a shootout with another hitman, the hitman tries to drive away only to have Joe Copp shoot at him with a Colt .45 and have one of the .45 caliber bullets blast the hitman out the windshield of the jeep, land in front of the jeep, AND THEN GET RUN OVER BY HIS OWN JEEP!
  • Lampshaded in The Dresden Files. Harry once mentions upon shooting someone, "He didn't go flying backward. That's for movies and TV. Real bullets just go through people like a lead weight through cheesecloth." This is true for any time anyone gets shot with any firearm in the series, including Harry's magnum or an M4 (which some people probably have a hard time with).
    • When Harry was shot, he didn't get knocked backwards, even though it was an extremely high-powered rifle. He just sorta slipped over. Exactly as would happen if a moving target got shot.
  • Dashiell Hammett, though he worked as a Pinkerton Detective and had firearms training from his military service, happily embraced this trope for dramatic effect, particularly in his Continental Op stories.
  • Hilariously skewered in Rainbow Six, the novel. John Clark and family watch a movie where this occurs, causing John to wonder where such ammo can be bought. Ding's comeback is that the crew cannot afford them.
  • Inverted in Area 7, when Book kills Goliath by firing his grappling hook while it was magnetically attatched to Goliath's steel skull plate. The recoil was enough blow him across the room.
  • The Howdunit series book, "Armed and Dangerous: A Writer's Guide to Weapons" by Michael Newton carefully explains the difference between reality and the trope, and how to use the trope for good dramatic effect.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Pick a Cop Show, Any Cop Show.
    • The Wire largely avoided this trope (except in "Middle Ground", when Omar's shotgun sends someone flying onto Disintegrating Furniture).
  • Stargate SG-1 features a Goa'uld hand device that picks people and throws them against the nearest wall.
    • That being said, normal firearms in Stargate tends to avoid this trope (though people do jerk back at being shot, they'll simply collapse most of the time). Jaffa staff weapons however can often blow people some considerable distance. Handwaved that they are energy weapons who were specifically designed to be as impressive as possible when fired (so much that they aren't as lethal as human weapons, on account of having no provision for aiming).
  • Justified in Firefly, where the weapons used are high-tech future guns, and the only times someone is knocked backward is when they are wearing armor, which absorbs all the impact. Zoe gets shot in the chest in the pilot by a very high powered rifle, and Mal shoots the Operative while he is leaning back in a chair and thus off-balance when the unexpected quick-draw occurs.
  • Heroes:
    • In one episode, Badass Normal Noah Bennet shoots the villain Sylar. Sylar is sent hurling through the air and slams into the fridge in the next room.
    • In another instance, Sylar has Psycho Electro Elle pinned to the floor and starts to cut her head open when the pain causes her to unleash a powerful blast of electricity and sends him flying across the hall.
    • Elle did it again when Sylar is locked up in the same cell with her. The second he was in her sight, Elle unleashes several bolts of electricity so powerful that not only is Sylar blown across the cell and slammed into the cell door, the electricity rips off his shirt and his flesh.
  • Frequently averted on The West Wing:
    • Nobody even realizes President Bartlet has been hit until he's being rushed to safety in the limo and gets woozy from blood loss. Truth in Television, as the same thing happened in the Real Life shooting of Ronald Reagan.
    • When Simon Donovan is shot dead, he merely falls to the ground.
    • The episode "Noel", where the bullet rips into Josh's chest, but only causes his body to jerk slightly. He collapses a few seconds later.
  • Ted Turner's Andersonville features a Civil War soldier being shot backwards with enough force to break a wood beam. The soldier behind the trigger is a child, proving that the Law of Inverse Recoil is in effect.
  • Discussed in Inspector Morse. Morse asks Doctor Hobson if being shot could have spun the murder victim around. She replies that if you shoot someone, they drop, not spin.
  • MythBusters:
    • The team thoroughly disproved this trope in an episode broadcast in early 2005. Later, so many people complained, that they re-tested the trope, with a test target that was nigh identical to a human in mass and proportion and had a natural center of gravity. Even a high-powered armor-piercing riflenote  didn't knock their target back any significant amount.
    • They also busted the 'shoot the villain's hat off' myth — using several guns (one of which included handmade silver bullets) the 'Busters proved that not only is it not possible to shoot a hat off of someone's head, but that 'someone' would most likely be shot in the head and killed. They did get it off - using a shotgun. It put more than a few holes in the dummy's head, but the target still moved only a fraction of an inch.
  • On trivia show QI, one question was "Why do people fall down when they get shot?" The klaxon answer was "Because they've been shot." The reality is that people only fall down after being shot because media has trained them to, citing cases where people who were shot but remained unaware of what caused the biting sensation remained standing long after impact.
  • Played straight in a rather silly way in CSI: Miami with the DX4 "Vaporizer", a fictional multi-barreled gun that fires a gigantic hail of lead that turns the target into nothing but a red mist. The targets are still thrown into the air by the impact, one person being seen visibly screaming and flailing in the air before suddenly disintegrating and going through a fence.
  • In the otherwise classic 1985 thriller Edge of Darkness, the lead character's daughter is shot by both barrels of a double-barreled shotgun and ends up being lifted up in the air, her legs about three feet off the ground... in slow-motion.
  • The TV series Fargo appears to run on this trope as well, with characters who get hit by shotgun blasts flying backwards as if being jerked by wires.
  • In the Arrow episode "Vigilante", two of the human trafficers shot by Vigilante are sent flying across the room by the force of the shots.
  • Sherlock: Subverted and Lampshaded. In the episode "His Last Vow," when Sherlock is shot, he uses his Mind Palace to logically assess his injury. His projection of medical examiner Molly tells him "it's not like the movies." He isn't thrown across the room and has to make the conscious decision of which direction to fall in order to keep from bleeding out.


  • Survival of the Fittest:
    • Subverted: Anti-Villain Bobby Jacks is shot whilst wearing a Bulletproof Vest and actually hurls himself backwards bodily in order to fool his assailant into thinking he had been killed. Considering the bullet was fired from a carbine, the natural impact would barely have rocked him. Most of the time, this tends to be averted, with characters being shot tending to just drop dead rather than being blown away.
    • Played straight, though, in a particularly hilarious example: Xian Chun of V1 is killed when Angelina Kaige lobs a grenade into the lavatory where Chun is resting. The resulting explosion propels her mangled and bloody body several feet out of the building.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The cinematic knockback rules in GURPS allow this. Otherwise specifically averted, bullets use a type of damage that doesn't cause knockback at all.
  • Cyberpunk also averts this, but includes a similar (optional) rule. The random table you roll against to see the effect is even called the "Hollywood Overacting Effects Table".
  • The World of Darkness Armory book correctly points out that although no handheld weapon has the capacity to send an adult human flying, involuntary muscle spasms may sometimes make it look like this has happened - "after all, getting shot is generally a huge surprise."
  • Hero System has "Knockback" as an optional combat rule that many groups treat as standard. But the system did start out as the superhero game Champions, and superpowered attacks sending opponents flying is a part of comic book battles. In more realistic genres, GMs are advised to use Knockdown instead. Even if Knockback is in use, Killing attacks such as gunfire do less Knockback on average.

    Video Games 
  • BattleForge: An essential advantage of ranged AOE attacks is the knockback effects they can have on varying sizes of units; since units that get knocked around get both relocated (bad for a formation) and stunned until they've gotten up (bad in general), a decent enough artillery array can keep much of an army in a Cycle of Hurting they won't get up from. Higher levels of knockback are appreciated for this reason; T4 Frost's Constructs and their giant arcane cannon for example can knock anything in the game into the ground, even XL units, and so having two of them in one army can be a massive problem for any enemy.
  • Strong attacks in the Touhou Project fighting games have the hilarious effect of sending characters flying across the screen, smashing into the side of it, and then ricocheting into a high powered spin before hitting the ground.
  • Something of the sort can happen in a sidequest in Mass Effect... When dealing with Major Kyle, you can shoot him, causing him to fall down at a speed which either seems like this trope came into effect, or he had a slowed reaction to being shot.
    • Not only that, you can actually buy weapon upgrades specifically designed to knock enemies flying across the room, such as sledgehammer rounds (or any add-on that bumps up the "weapon force" stat). Though according to the manual, the game's particular variety of phlebetonium (element zero) greatly reduces kickback of the weapon (and upgrades can be bought to deal with that factor as well).
    • The explosive rounds mod will do this not only to your target, but everyone else around them.
    • In the second game this trope is mostly averted, both in cutscenes and gameplay - enemies tend to clutch their wounded area and then collapse, or simply fall to the ground. However, if you hit an enemy at close range with a powerful shotgun they look like they have been hit by a train.
  • Devil May Cry:
    • Most guns in-game can send lesser demons flying back, but it usually depends on the firearm and the attack. Rocket and missile launchers like the Kalina Ann and Pandora easily accomplish this feat with just their normal shots, shotguns tend to do this at point-blank range, while handguns need stronger attacks such as Charge Shots in order to do so. Nero's revolver and Lady's handguns are equipped with explosive ammo to justify the latter kind. The in-game physics can come into play as the target is thrown at a greater distance if it's launched airborne beforehand. You can also be on the receiving end of being pushed back in games where The Gunslingers Dante and Lady are individually fought as bosses.
    • Devil May Cry 2: As Dante "crowns" him by shooting with Ebony & Ivory, Arius' body is blown backwards, shattering the wall behind him.
    • Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening: When Lady starts fighting some lesser demons in a cutscene, her rocket pushes a Hell Pride all the way towards the wall before exploding.
    • Devil May Cry 4: In some cutscenes, a single shot from Dante's handguns is strong enough to knock the target backwards. It's most evident when he kills Agnus in Mission 17; the latter's body flies back to the nearest bench behind. When Dante does a quick-draw against the Alto Angelo armor controlled by Sanctus in Mission 18, the armor gets dismantled by the force and its pieces bounce back to the gargantuan Savior's "wall"-like body.
    • Devil May Cry 5:
      • The Tomboy Devil Breaker allows Nero to charge up Blue Rose to such a degree that the fired shots send the smaller demons flying backwards several feet.
      • In the last two missions, the Final Boss Vergil is scripted to be knocked back by force after taking a certain amount of hits from your combo, complete with a Hit Stop effect for a dramatic finish. This can apply to any attack, so the player can deliberately invoke the trope by hitting the boss with any other attack for a while, then with proper timing, send the boss flying back by finishing the combo with a gunshot.
  • Max Payne 2: The Fall Of Max Payne plays this trope up as far as it will go, allowing the eponymous protagonist to air juggle enemies with his guns in Bullet Time Mode, just like Dante. In one level midway through the game, you can launch a Mook standing on a ledge all the way across a construction site with a few rapid-fire M5 rounds to the back. The first Max Payne game actually had specific death animations for kills with the shotgun and Desert Eagle where enemies usually get sent flying.
  • Enemies in the singleplayer mode of Goldeneye Wii will be blown backwards a good distance when shot with any shotgun or with the Wolfe. 44 Magnum.
  • The Hunting Rifle in the first Left 4 Dead can send Hunters soaring even farther than their own ridiculous jumps. The same applies to Smokers. Admittedly, this is due to a bug, but nonetheless, the trope is played so straight it's almost an exaggeration.
  • In Resident Evil 4, shooting an enemy at close range with a shotgun would send them flying back, as would hitting them with a grenade, even though most of the damage of a grenade is done with the shrapnel, not the explosion, which is merely a method for delivering said shrapnel. Unless Leon's grenades are concussion grenades, which specifically do damage through explosive force and pressure waves. The enemy's explosives also throw Leon backwards.
    • Shooting them with non-shotgun rounds will generally make them recoil in pain, trip, or collapse to the ground if killed. However, there's a small chance that it'll blow them back several feet, which looks particularly odd when you've shot an enemy in the foot with your level 1 pistol.
  • Hitman was one of the very first games to utilize "Ragdoll Physics" and attempt to have enemies react realistically to being shot. As this was the early stages, shooting someone with, say, an elephant gun could very easily launch them across the level.
    • Played well in Codename 47 with the sawed-off double-barreled shotgun. Not only were people blown across the room when both shots were fired at once, bodies were sometimes wedged in ceiling lights, pipes, or just the ceiling corner. Being classified as pistols, the shotguns can be dual wielded, giving them four times the force of a normal shotgun.The trick worked so well, a fat bodyguard was blown out the window and into the South China Sea.
    • Also in Codename 47 was a man portable M134 Minigun. Firing at 10,000 RPM and each bullet inflicting the force of a sniper rifle, it can force a pile of dead bodies (which it made) into spaces in between crates or under heavy furniture.
  • Inverted with the Proximity Shot special attack from Disgaea, which actually knocks the user back three spaces while not moving the target.
  • Rather bizarrely applied in the N64 game Mission: Impossible, where a headshot to the back of someones head will result in said person performing a magnificent backflip. Towards the player. With a delay of about half a second between the impact and the actual knockback.
    • Enemies in WinBack also backflip if headshot while running towards you.
  • Fallout:
    • Fallout and Fallout 2 subvert this trope pretty consistently. You can send someone across the room with a sledgehammer hit, but the most you can hope for with a gun is to knock them back a space when they die.
    • Fallout 3:
      • Shooting a huge mutant in the face with a tiny pistol can result in the body, and the head (severed somehow) flying 20 feet in the air.
      • The massive disbursement of extremities in Fallout 3 is usually a result of the Bloody Mess perk - designed entirely with the intention of doing exactly that, and not so much in blatant defiance of physics...
      • However, blatant defiance of physics comes into play with the Yao Guai (mutated bears) enemies, who, thanks to a rather stiff character model, react to just about every death strike as though they were full of helium. Its not uncommon to send them barrelling over the width of the Potomac with a shot from a small handgun.
      • The Victory Rifle knocks enemies down and a large distance back on critical hits, as does the Gauss Rifle from the Operation Anchorage expansion pack.
    • Fallout: New Vegas:
      • The Gauss Rifle, in particular, tends to launch its targets into the nearest wall (even if that happens to be eighty feet or so behind). Ditto the Anti-Materiel Rifle. Enemies can do the same to you, usually with fatal results.
      • With the "And Stay Back!" perk from Dead Money, every shotgun pellet has a 10% chance of knocking a target back. Handy for getting some free hits in or just taking some pressure off of yourself.
      • Inverted in the Old World Blues DLC: shooting charging Nightstalkers frequently causes them to gain speed, making their lifeless bodies go flying past you.
    • In Fallout 4, killing enemies using guns with the "Explosive" legendary mod will result in their body parts flying everywhere, especially if said gun is an automatic rifle or a minigun. This goes for all weapons as well if you have the "Bloody Mess" perk. Hilarity Ensues when you load the Junk Jet with teddy bears, use it to kill a Super Mutant, and the impact causes it to explode into chunky salsa.
  • In Team Fortress 2, one of the Scout's alternate weapons is the Force-A-Nature, a shotgun whose purpose is to do precisely this, coupled with a wicked kickback that's likely to send the Scout flying just as far.
    • The backstab is only marginally better. Even if the person survives, such as due to invulnerability, if they happened to be lifted off the ground even slightly for any reason, they go flying across the map due to getting stabbed in the back. This is because of how the game calculates damage and knockback: a backstab is always a One-Hit Kill, basically an attack that always does much more damage than the enemy has health. All this overkill damage is converted into knockback, so the enemy's corpse goes flying away at high speeds.
    • Becuse it meets certain important numerical thresholds (dealing enough damage to kill a 125-HP class in a single shot at close range) while not crossing other important thresholds (not dealing more than 10 damage above their health pool), the Direct Hit rocket launcher can reliably blast the corpses of lightweight classes into the distance rather than gibbing them. This is especially hilarious with Scouts and Spies, two classes who have to get in close to the Soldier to fight, but whose stick-thin bodies get launched the furthest when subjected to firepower of this magnitude.
    • Critical Hits (including mini-crits) in general have a lot of push behind them, especially on mid-air targets. One particularly amusing use of this is that a Pyro can use his airblast to push someone into the air then use the Reserve Shooter (a shotgun that gets mini-crits on mid-air targets) to send them flying even further.
      • This is due to how knockback in relation to damage is calculated in games using the Source engine. Kind of like the Skyrim example further down, any damage exceeding a player's amount of health upon death is converted into force, which would explain why getting backstabbed as the low-health Scout would occasionally send him careening through the area at the speed of a F1 race car.
      • In Mann Vs. Machine you will sometimes face swarms of enemies who all have permament crit-boosts. While upgrades can reduce damage from critical hits so much they do considerably less damage than a regular attack, this doesn't reduce the extra knockback crits get. So if you ever jump while in front of a wall of crit boosted Scouts using their scatterguns, be ready to go all the hell over.
      • The Liberty Launcher-wielding Blast Soldiers and their giant counterparts, whose entire schtick is the greatly increased knockback of their rockets and their ability to unload an entire clip of rockets in quick succession. Anyone who's standing in front of these guys will not be standing there very much longer, one way or another.
    • The target doesn't necessarily have to die to get knocked back by bullets, either. Even when invincible, getting shot while airborne will push you around. As a result, if you're trying to wreck an engie nest while ubercharged, you must never jump, or you'll be launched across the map at best, and pinned against the roof until the charge wears off at worst.
    • One of the game mechanics is that client-side player deaths invoke this trope; while you may see yourself flying back over 30 feet after being headshot by a sniper, other players on the server will see you fall over far less dramatically. Same can be said for the Left 4 Dead example above in Versus where dying as a Hunter right as you leap will show you slumping to the ground while your buddy bursts into laughter because your corpse was launched into the sky on their end.
  • Ratchet: Deadlocked featured the "impact mod", which would knock back your opponent more if you put more on your gun.
  • Changing one tag on one entry in the raws files in Dwarf Fortress causes fired crossbow bolts to produce this effect on occasion. (It's changing the damage type for the bolts from piercing type to blunt type, if you're interested.) You can also send people flying across a room and paste them all over the wall in adventure mode by throwing vomit at them, if you're strong enough. Any non-sharp projectile in the game can achieve this so long as there's enough force involved; particularly heavy catapult strikes and modded material emissions (like cannonballs) can often send enemies skidding across the floor.
  • In Fable II, at the end of the beginning sequence, the player's sister is killed and simply slumps to the ground from the bullet wound. However the bullet shot at the player character seems to have a much greater effect and in fact launches the character out of a window in an unrealistic, albeit artistic, grandiose display of Peter Molyneux's cinematic cut-scene prowess.
  • One of the guns you can trade for in Cave Story can be pointed at the ground and used chain-gun style as a makeshift rocket pack before you get a real rocket pack.
  • Inverted in Eternal Darkness, where in one chapter the protagonist can get an elephant gun which knocks him on his ass every time he fires it.
  • No More Heroes uses this pretty blatantly (although the bullet is explosive) in the scene where Travis confronts Dr. Peace. For the sake of drama, Travis hits one of Peace's bullets with his Beam Katana and is rocketed into the wall with such force that his body smashes an outline into it.
  • Played surprisingly straight in the otherwise quite realistic Source engine mod Insurgency: Modern Infantry Combat.
  • Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic and its sequel have a feat dedicated to this, the idea of using it is not only the stun that it produces but the knockback that is sometimes even greater than Force Push.
  • Justified in Jak and Daxter, where the bullets are made of eco, and thus have more concussive force behind them.
  • In the earlier Grand Theft Auto games, any bodies on the ground would merely twitch if shot. With the addition of ragdoll physics in GTA IV, however, this means that a submachine gun firing 9mm pistol rounds can cause a body to slide across the ground from a long burst, to say nothing of 7.62mm assault rifles. Despite this, the use of Euphoria means that shooting someone still on their feet is very realistic, and they'll generally just fall backwards or slump against a wall when killed or hit with enough bullets.
  • Shotguns and the Magnum in Uncharted tend to have this effect - whether the enemy is hit in the chest, head, or foot, they'll go flying.
  • In the Metroid Prime series, Samus' basic Power Beam can toss Space Pirates around even when it isn't charged (though only in cutscenes.)
  • Played with and inverted in Super Smash Bros.. Every attack and weapon in the game, including swords, knocks the enemy back, except Fox's laser gun. But then the ray gun and super scope (read: energy ball launcher) knock enemies away. The trope is also a staple in the series, as defeating other players involves knocking them out of the playing field to win.
  • Done in all Smash fan projects to keep the Original Flavor, but taken to ridiculous levels in the first Super Smash Flash, where a bug caused at least one attack for every character to have a One-Hit Kill effect when hitting an opponent with over 50% damage, sending them flying all over the place. Arguably, it's game-defining enough to make it goofily enjoyable in its own right despite its failure to emulate Smash.
  • Nearly all recent fighting games manage to pull off this trope. Particularly notable offenders are Street Fighter IV and the various incarnations of Melty Blood, in which strategically placed attacks or counters can blow the opposition clear across the screen.
  • Almost every single weapon in Painkiller takes this to ridiculous levels. One can practically practice (huh) "blast the baddie out of the map boundaries" in the first minute of the game. In addition to the straightforward pieces of your arsenal, such as the shotgun and rocket launcher, there's also the eponymous Painkiller's secondary mode which is an interesting reversal of this trope, rather pulling enemies flying towards you at even more ridiculous speeds.
  • Saints Row: The Third gives players high-tech acoustic weapon called the "Sonic Boom" which can send its victims flying back several meters when fired at half-charge. Full charge will liquify its victims, but still send cars flying back.
  • The shotguns in the Syphon Filter games do this, in fact you use one to knock the second game's Final Boss into a helicopter rotor.
  • In Jagged Alliance 2, thru use of certain cheat, it's possible to shoot a mook point-blank with a machine gun, asploding his head and causing his body to fly backwards a small distance.
  • In Inquisitor, characters have a "Knockback" value equal to 1/10th their Strength. If you get hit with a shot that does at least that much damage, you go flying or (just as often) get knocked down. There exists the Punched Across the Room variant, as well.
  • In Medal of Honor, the guns avert this, but explosions sometimes cause enemies to backflip. More amusingly, in Airborne, enemies frequently cartwheel backwards when killed with the sniper rifle.
  • Any Dragon Age II ability with a physical force multiplier is intended to do this, but the one non-magical projectile, Varric's Kickback crossbow bolt, also has the highest body-flinging potential.
  • City of Heroes has what could be the poster child for this trope, the Force Bolt power; at its most extreme (max level, powered up, and against low-level mooks) it could launch the luckless target somewhere close to five miles. Fitting for a superhero game, in that it's less 'blown across the room' and more 'blown across the city'. Gun-based attacks in the game tend to have "knockback" as one of the effects of the attack also, albeit to a much milder degree. It is highly disputed among the playerbase if this is a good thing or not.
  • Just Cause 2 fully endorses this trope with "juggle kills". If you yank an enemy into the air with your grappling hook, you can keep them there for a short while by shooting them. Automatic weapons or shotguns tend to work the best.
  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim:
    • In a not projectile-related entry we have the Unrelenting Force shout. A single word in the shout makes the enemy stagger. Two words, they may fall to their knees. Utter the full three words? They fly ass-over-head backwards for twenty yards, into walls, off of cliffs, and tumbling down stairs. And it's so entertaining to watch.
    • The Giants of Skyrim have clubs for use in launching things (such as your character) into orbit.
    • Kill Impulse (the physics engine force put on the ragdoll of a newly dead actor) also seems to be related to excess damage inflicted on the killing blow; the more excess damage you deal in the deathblow, the farther the ragdoll flies. A powerful enough weapon can send an enemy careening through the air, especially if you hit them with a horizontal power attack.
  • Generally averted in Call of Duty. Even when shot with a light machinegun or a shotgun, enemies will either collapse or topple backwards. High-caliber sniper rifles like the Barrett .50cal and Intervention will knock people clean off their feet, but they won't send them flying backwards.
  • Metal Gear Solid handles things fairly realistically, if an enemy is shot with most weapons then they grasp their wounds in pain and dramatically fall to their death, or if shot in the head they flop to the ground instantly. Shotguns at close range (and the M82 .50 cal sniper rifle, at long range they die normally) always send the enemy flying off their feet, but they don't fly back far only a few feet at most. Explosions from rocket launchers and explosions send enemies flying but that is a little bit more believable.
  • In Doom³, melee attacks will send zombies flying. The shotgun Z-secs will do this to you and possibly "juggle" you to death.
  • Halo had avoided this trope for some time after Halo: Combat Evolved, but it was put back in from Halo: Reach onward to make it more clear your enemy had died. Reality Is Unrealistic indeed.
  • Dark Souls has several weapons with special attacks send enemies flying. Melee special attacks.
  • Mission Impossible 1997. Headshots would generate another force to fire a person of their feet, do a back-flip anf land flat on their face. Every time. Corridors would be filled with back flipping guards.
  • FEAR's Penetrator blows enemies backwards and impales them to the wall.
  • The more damaging enemy attacks in P.N.03 will do this to Vanessa, if they don't kill her outright.
  • Occurs ridiculously in Perfect Dark Zero, where corpses sent flying by explosions or heavy weapons will sometimes bounce around like they're in zero gravity on the space shuttle.
  • Magicka has a water spell which can push enemies enough to kill them with damage from smashing into walls. This also happens with mines which often kill enemies then leave their body falling back down which is quite satisfying, especially when the body takes so much damage from falling it is gibbed.
  • Sunset Riders, wavering as it does between gently parodying the spaghetti Western genre and playing its setting straight, has plenty of this trope behind it. There is no death by gunshot which cannot be made more dramatic by flinging the victim ten feet in any given direction, fighting for prominence with the also-omnipresent Railing Kill.
  • Nuclear Throne takes this to the logical extreme; enemies that are travelling fast enough from being shot will hit and damage other enemies, to the point where this actually becomes an important gameplay mechanic when faced with large groups of small enemies.
  • Played for laughs in Kingdom Hearts 3D [Dream Drop Distance], when a powerful Dream Eater called the Spellican attacks Sora and kicks him out of the book it's possessing. In the very next cutscene, Sora attacks the book with his Keyblade... and is again send flying!
  • Hogs of War, being as ridiculous as it is, features a weapon called the Super Shotgun, capable of knocking your targets backwards for quite some distance. Firing this weapon up a slope at an enemy standing above can send them skywards and possibly even completely off the map, where they will explode of course. A demonstration can be seen in this video.
  • Terraria:
    • Any weapon with extremely high knockback can send enemies flying.
    • The Snow Flinx enemy has such low knockback resistance that a hit from any weapon will likely knock it a large distance.
  • Tomb Raider: Legend is mostly realistic when shooting enemies, except for in once cutscene when Lara shoots at a soldier with her signature handguns. The result is the soldier flying across the room and into the wall.
  • In From the Depths, ships are rarely ever rocked around by incoming cannon fire, but Advanced Cannons have a special ammo case geared specifically for shoving enemies around: the Graviton ram. Graviton ram equipped bullets convert most of their kinetic energy into a force impulse rather than damage, allowing an 18mm gatling gun to say, lift a enemy battleship out of the water.
  • Inverted in Hyrule Warriors; Tetra is so young and small that some of the shots she fires from her flintlock pistol send her flying back a bit from the recoil.
  • In Pulp Adventures, Jungle Jim has the ability to shoot a target with his .30-06 rifle (his standard ranged attack uses a pistol). Mooks hit by the bullet do a huge backflip, as if they have been punched by Superman.
  • In Atlas Reactor, Elle's ultimate fires a very wide-ranging and damaging shell that also blasts all its targets away several spaces... Including Elle from the recoil.
  • In the arcade version of Data East's Heavy Barrel, any Mook shot with any weapon, including the flamethrower, will perform two complete somersaults through the air before falling to the ground. Combine it with the numbers sent after you, and you can fill the entire screen with backflipping goons. Averted in the NES port where they simply fall on their backs instead.
  • In Grim Dawn, an enemy killed by a sufficient impact will eiher be blown away or vaporized entirely. The skill "Blackwater Cocktail," for example, sends ragdolls flying at higher levels despite not having any actual explosives.
  • Most of the guns in Xenoblade Chronicles X don't noticeably knock down or back enemies on their own, but one sniper rifle art, "First Down," has a chance of inflicting the Topple status on humanoid enemies hit with it, knocking them off their feet and making them vulnerable for a few seconds.
  • Fighting Force All of the few guns in the game whether the player does it to an enemy or vice versa do this which indicates these weapons are powerful weapons.
  • Borderlands 3: A blast from a shotgun has a chance to send smaller enemies flying, leaving them briefly vulnerable to attack.
  • Some Warframe weapons deal an obscene amount of knockback, typically those with a significant investment in impact or blast damage. The Sonicor in particular used to be quite popular for sending people flying with its impact ability, before nerfs weakened it to more of a novelty. It is still possible to launch enemies out of the skybox with a sufficiently high powered weapon, most notably the Tombfinger and Catchmoon kitguns.

    Web Animation 


    Web Videos 
  • In Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, this happens to Captain Hammer upon firing the Death Ray. Justified in this case because the gun exploded rather than firing normally, due to having been dropped earlier, and Captain Hammer is Nigh-Invulnerable - at least up until that point.
  • Regular bullets not doing the job for you? Then try new Overacting Bullets! Also available: Bad Acting Bullets and Do an Impersonation of Al Pacino Bullets.
  • Played straight in Shock Troopers when the defibrillators the soldiers are using instead of guns launches the enemy soldiers at least two stories into the air (with no recoil, either!). Later invoked when the protagonists combine the power of two defibrillators to "boost" one of their number over a small hill.

    Western Animation 
  • Mai of Avatar: The Last Airbender takes this to its logical conclusion as she can knock someone across the room and pin them to the wall with throwing knives.
  • The Boondocks:
    • Subverted in "The Garden Party". Riley shoots Ed Wuncler III with a SPAS-12 combat shotgun (requested by Ed to prove his body armor works) and only makes him fall backwards (albeit out a window) but sends Riley — who is only eight — flying backward and injures his arm.
    • Played straight in a later episode where Riley and Huey knocked each other over using airsoft guns.
  • The DCAU was pretty bad at this:
    • Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker twice had a person getting him with a small spear gun getting shot several feet into the air, and one of those times it was fired by a small person without any significant backlash.
    • One episode of Justice League Unlimited has Devil Ray dying by getting shot and knocked into some exposed wires. Even weirder, there's a brief pause after he's shot but before he's flung back. It also had Luthor shooting Grodd in the head and knock the giant Gorilla over while he was in a chair.
  • Star Trek: Lower Decks: In "Temporal Edict", when Ensign Brad Boimler tests the integrity of a force field from the inside of a brig, his body flies through the air and smashes against the back wall.
  • Tiny Toon Adventures: How I Spent My Vacation has the THUD Sound System promo blowing people out of their seat when it kicks on. It's that powerful.
  • Work It Out Wombats!: In "Junior Supers," Zadie tries to use a fan to clean up the mess, but it ends up blowing the trash (and Malik) across the room.

    Real Life 
  • People shot when standing still tend to simply drop to the ground. This can be seen (unfortunately) in many WW2 era reels involving executions.
  • This video from the 80s demonstrates the use of a .44 magnum and a 7.62 x 51 NATO rifle against a person wearing body armor. There's not enough mass or force to knock a person off their feet, but instead, it's the person's reaction to the impact that knocks them down. (Please do not try this yourself, those two guys did it so you don't have to.)
  • A round from an AK-47 imparts less than 1500 foot-pounds at the muzzle, decreasing with distance; a M-16 will impart about 1300 foot-pounds at the muzzle. For reference, a 200 pound human being jumping high enough to move their center of mass a foot further away from the ground in earth gravity is doing roughly 6400 foot-pounds of work, so a shot from a M16 is about equivalent to the amount of work necessary to jump three inches off the ground; an AK-47, about 4 inches. A 100 mile per hour fastball has 3330 foot-pounds behind it, and catchers can catch them and stay on their feet without too much difficulty. So why do people fall over when they're shot (or for that matter, get beaned by a baseball)? The answer lies in the fact that people who are shot typically aren't expecting it, and very frequently are moving already, meaning that they aren't braced for it and may stumble or be pushed over as a result. Add to that the pain of being shot (even if you're wearing body armor, it is still a considerable amount of force over a small area for a shot from a rifle), reflexive reaction (which may be them diving for cover, dropping to the ground, or jumping in fright), and other factors (for instance, being shot in the head or limb means that the force is being applied unevenly, which throws said body part out of alignment with the rest of you, resulting in a loss of balance - doubly so for headshots, which are likely to mess up your actual sense of balance, and there's potential damage to the nervous system), and it is easy to see why some people move a fair distance after being shot - and in real life, people actually DO sometimes move a fair bit after being shot. However, the movement is not primarily from the impact of the bullet, but their reaction to it, and being "flung across the room" movie style is highly unrealistic.
  • Ironically averted by the apparatus used in "Human Cannonball" acts, which are specifically designed to send someone flying across the stadium. They aren't really firearms, they're compressed-air or spring-operated launch platforms with a cannon-like facade and pyrotechnic special effects that don't actually contribute any significant thrust.
  • Inverted, or something: People try to fire a T-Rex rifle and are blown across the room, often due to improper firing stance.
  • People hit while running sometimes look as if they've been blown across the room due to violent staggering caused by involuntary muscle contraction.
  • Explosions, on the other hand, play this trope straight, as anyone caught in the direct path of a sufficiently large blast or its resultant shockwave can be blown off their feet and sent flying. A notable example took place during the 1968 partial collapse of Ronan Point, a tower block in Newham, London. Ivy Hodge, a resident of the building, had gone to her kitchen at 5:45 am to make a cup of tea, when a gas explosion took place, originating from a leaky stovetop. Ironically, this explosion saved Hodge's life, and her stove; while the explosion blew out the supporting walls, sending the entire corner of the building crashing down and killing four people, Hodge and the stove were blown clear of the collapse, the former surviving with only minor injuries.
  • Hunters have been badly hurt because they believed in "stopping power". If a bear is charging you, a few yards away, and you shoot it in the lung, it's probably going to die, but it's going to have motive and opportunity to mess you up good in the meantime.
  • Between the wars, the Italian military tried to replace its 6.5 Carcano round with a much beefier 7.31mm round to try to invoke this trope, after complaints that enemy soldiers were still fighting after being shot. The logic was that 6.5 Carcano was a too small and fast and therefore simply over-penetrated it target, only imparting a fraction of its kinetic energy onto them. It probably wouldn't have made much difference.
  • Actual battle footage from WW2 (as opposed to propaganda re-enactments) supports the contention that men hit by bullets will generally just drop in their tracks. WW2 documentary The World At War took pains to source genuine combat footage; images from the battle of Stalingrad show Russian and German soldiers simply slumping down when hit, or at most registering a jerk of possible surprise. Footage deemed too demoralising to show in the USA, of American marines hit during beach assaults in the Pacific, shows the same effect.
  • Christopher Lee once criticized this trope, while working on the set of an action movie. He had been involved in black ops in WW2 and knew first-hand what happened to a person when they got shot. The crew asked him to demonstrate, so "I put an expression of mild surprise on my face and sank to my knees with great dignity", which caused everyone watching to burst out laughing.


Video Example(s):


Avak's New Blaster

Avak's new gun has a bit too much recoil.

How well does it match the trope?

4.82 (11 votes)

Example of:

Main / BlownAcrossTheRoom

Media sources: