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Boom, Headshot!

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This is why he Doesn't Like Guns.
"You stand around in the open? I shoot you in the face! You try to hide? I shoot you in the face! You touch my parrot? Right in the face! And if I'm feeling a bit down, I say a prayer to the forest... and THEN I shoot you in the face!"

In real life, police and military personnel are trained to fire at the center of mass (read: chest/heart), as the head is a small target that likes moving around a lot, whereas the center of mass is a relatively easy target that moves with the subject and also has lots of vital organs in it. And even if you miss, you might hit a limb (or, yes, the head) instead.

However, since most games don't have problems with pesky gun sway and other stuff that screws with aiming and bullet trajectory, the head is the usual target of choice, a One-Hit Kill for most low-level mooks, which makes it something of a Chunky Salsa Rule. Even in more realistic series, it's better to go for the head instead of the chest. Although the Boom, Headshot was popularized by media depictions of Real Life events such as the Kennedy assassination, this is really a gameplay concept more than anything else, as rewarding the more difficult shot encourages the player to shoot accurately; it should be noted that in video games it tends to be easier to score a headshot since cycled walk animations are inherently more predictable than someone's real-life non-repeating movements would be. Additionally, because of Critical Existence Failure, it is important in games to kill targets as quickly as possible, whereas in real life a less lethal but more reliable shot might be enough to incapacitate opponents.

Rule of thumb: With weaker weapons (see Standard FPS Guns), people Cherry Tap via sending a weak pistol bullet into your noggin.

Gorier games may cause disproportionate amounts of blood coming out of people's heads from headshots, or might outright have the human skull be Made of Explodium. Otherwise, they'll probably have Pretty Little Headshots.

The Trope Name comes from a line spoken by "pro gamer" FPS_Doug on the Pure Pwnage web TV series.

There is also a common technique with semi-automatic firearms known as the Mozambique Drill (also occasionally called the Failure Drill, compare this to the Double Tap), wherein two shots are quickly placed at center of mass, followed by (if the target still seems to be a threat) a third, more carefully aimed shot to the head (this is Michael Mann's trademark execution technique in almost all of his movies, from Heat to Public Enemies). However, this is mostly employed in combat rifle and pistol shooting, and military sniper rifles generally aren't semi-automatic. In the event they need to make an immediately lethal shot from the front, real sharpshooters generally don't aim for the forehead, but rather what is sometimes called the "vermilion line", a T-shaped section that is approximately the area between the eyes and nose. Penetrating the skull here usually destroys the sections of the brain responsible for breathing and heartbeat, and is unlikely to cause a spasm to fire the target's own gun if he has one.

A Sub-Trope of Attack Its Weak Point. Compare with 'Tis Only a Bullet in the Brain. Someone who Ate His Gun by default has died to this trope. If this is the only way to kill a creature, then it's Removing the Head or Destroying the Brain and is one of the most solid pieces of advice for killing zombies. For unrealistic depictions of headshots, see Pretty Little Headshots. See also No Range Like Point-Blank Range.

As this is a Death Trope, unmarked spoilers abound. Beware.


Example subpages:

Other examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Aldnoah.Zero, Inaho and Asseylum both get shot in the head, almost fatally; Asseylum by Count Saazbaum, and Inaho by Slaine. They get better in the second season. Inaho comes back equipped with a cybernetic eye to replace his damaged eye, and Asseylum is seen again alive in stasis, being cared for by Slaine.
  • Subverted in Attack on Titan, many Titans get their heads blown off by explosive cannon shells, but they survive and regenerate. The only way to kill them is to slice (or punch, if you're the Rogue Titan) off a small area at the base of the neck. Turns out that Titan brains are located in their spines. Then played straight later on in the series, with the arrival of the 1st Central Squad. Their custom guns are designed for blowing a sizable chunk out of a human target's head, which they quickly display by shooting several unlucky soldiers in the head.
  • Code Geass: In the first episode, C.C. lets herself get shot in the head by the Royal Guard Commander, shielding Lelouch from certain death. She herself is immortal, so getting a bullet in the forehead isn't that much of an inconvenience to her.
  • Cowboy Bebop:
    • In "Ballad of Fallen Angels", a Red Dragon mook who takes Faye hostage gets a bullet right through his skull from Spike, setting off a furious Church Shootout that ends with Spike and Vicious clashing for the first time in the series.
    • The villain of "Sympathy for the Devil" also gets a bullet in the head. This bullet, however, is fashioned from a gem that was created from the energy released by the Gate explosion, the same energy which broke Wen's circadian rhythm and made him essentially immortal and unaging, and using it has the effect of rapidly aging him to death as Wen's true age is returned to him.
  • Cross Ange:
    • In Episode 13, "Arzenal Burns", Chris gets shot in the head while she's about to take off with Rosalie and Hilda. She gets better thanks to Embryo, who immediately heals her.
    • In Episode 23, a group of Misurugi citizens demand that Ange rescue them, even after they turned their back on her after she was outed as a Norma. She replies by blowing the brains out of one of them, sending the others running for their lives.
  • Dragon Ball: When Commander Red reveals that his goal in gathering the Dragon Balls was to make himself taller, his adjutant Black is naturally not happy about it, considering how many lives and resources they've thrown away for him, and shoots him in the forehead before taking over command of the Red Ribbon army.
  • Justifiably so in Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. As a significant amount of individuals have cyberized brains that can be transplanted into fully prosthetic bodies even if the rest of the body is gibbed, completely annihilating the brain case of a cyber-brain is often the only way to completely "kill" a person and is often heartily encouraged.
  • Golgo 13 almost always goes for a head shot.
  • In the 9th volume of High School D×D, Issei finishes the fight at Kyoto when he fires his Trianna Bishop Shoulder Cannons at Cao Cao in the face just when he was about to retreat. Cao Cao survived but is missing an eye thanks to it.
  • How Giorno Giovanna kills Polpo in JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Golden Wind. He turns one of the capo's guns into a banana and tricks him into putting it in his mouth so he ends up blowing his brains out. His death is ruled a suicide by the coroner.
  • Kiddy Grade pulls one off in the finale. Namely, Alv becomees one with the Deucalion so Lumiére hacks into the ship's left arm and uses the cannons on it to score a hit on the bridge.
  • Macross notably inverts the trope almost constantly, as headshots on Battroid-mode Valkyries don't kill (though they do render Valkyries almost completely blind unless they switch back to fighter jet mode), yet center of mass shots do (as that's where the cockpit is in Battroid mode).
  • Exaggerated in Macross: Do You Remember Love?, when Hikaru kills Baddole Zer by flying right up to him and unleashing a full Alpha Strike into his face.
  • Macross Frontier invokes yet inverts it even more with the Vajra when one of them gets its head blown off, leaving our heroes all thinking that the Vajra has been killed. Turns out it wasn't, and that the closest analogue to the brain the Vajra have is actually located in their digestive tract, right in their center of mass. The Grand Finale plays it straight though, with the death of the Big Bad who had inhabited the head of the err... Final Boss. Taking out the head killed the Big Bad but left the Vajra Queen thing alive, due to not having any vital organs in the head.
  • In the finale of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS, Teana takes out two Combat Cyborgs with this. Almost. Deed proved to be more durable than expected, requiring a second head shot from Vice. It doesn't kill them though.
  • Mazinger Z: Baremos Q7 was a Mechanical Beast built with stolen samples of Alloy Z. However, its head was made of a less sturdy metal since Dr. Hell had not enough alloy. During the battle, Kouji eventually noticed the Robeast was ALWAYS protecting its head. Logically, he aimed for it. Another example happened in one of the first chapters, when he was told Bikong O9 weak point were its horns.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam:
    • The series repeatedly subverts this trope as mobile suit cockpits are typically mounted in the torso, whereas the head normally contains sensors and (occasionally) vulcans and/or other weapons. As if that wasn't amusing enough, the first series reverts and then re-inverts the trope during the final battle: Amuro shoots the Zeong in the torso, thinking it a kill shot, only to realize upon seeing the head detach and fly up that the cockpit had, for once, been placed there instead. In turn, Char fires back and blows the Gundam's own head away, to which Amuro boasts that all Char did was cost him his main camera (and vulcans).
    • Destroying a Mobile Suit's head is ironically usually a non-lethal way of taking it out of the fight since the actual cockpit (with a few exceptions) is almost always in the abdomen. As noted with Amuro and the RX-78-2 above, some models have backup cameras and sensors, and can continue fighting even without a head.
    • Kycilia Zabi shoots her brother Gihren in the back of the head as payback for Gihren committing patricide. Char, in turn, takes out Kycilia by shooting her in the head with a rocket launcher as she tries to evacuate A Bao a Qu on her flagship.
    • Lady Une is no slouch in crazy headshots either, managing to hit General Septem after she drops him off her plane, while still in free fall.
    • One of the more notorious cases came in Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ, when the Zeta Gundam got its head shot off, and Iino decided to replace it with the head of a salvaged Zaku II until a proper replacement could be built, resulting in the infamous "Zeta Zaku".
    • In G Gundam it's an Enforced Trope since the rules of the Gundam Fight tournament say that losing your Gundam's head is instant disqualification; any other damage to the machine can be repaired without penalty. For a more literal version of this, England's warrior Sir Gentle Chapman almost takes France's fighter George de Sand out with his sniper rifle, but just grazes the head of George's Gundam due to age and illness hampering his skill.
  • Happens to Johan Liebert from Monster twice. Lampshaded by Martin mocking a gunman for not shooting someone in the head. That someone is him.
  • In Mother Keeper, Graham manages two head shots, once was one of Silas's men and later Silas himself.
  • Ami's dad in Occult Academy manages to decapitate a chupacabra in episode 8... with a nailgun.
  • In Psycho-Pass, Rikako gets shot in the face with a shotgun point blank.
  • Rebuild World: When dealing with a Full-Conversion Cyborg, this seems like the only way to win due their durability. Akira uses an anti-tank rifle round on the heads of the Double Agent relic thief Yajima, the leader of a robbery of Sheryl's shop Zelmo, as well as the experimental Tragic Monster Driven by Envy Tiol. The latter two, due to being Only Mostly Dead and living on digitally, try to get Resurrection Revenge, but finally die other ways.
  • In The Voynich Hotel, three drug dealers are taken out in this manner by an assassin who's a guest at the hotel. The ghosts of the first two go on to haunt the hotel, with one still missing half his head, while the third appears to briefly come back to life to chew out one of her fellow dealers for mooching their supply.

    Comic Books 
  • In the first issue of Avengers: The Initiative, MVP gets shot in the head on his first day in basic training.
  • Back to Brooklyn: Several times, notably on Penny.
  • The Batman: Black and White story "An Innocent Guy" tells of a young man who decides he's going to kill the Batman and goes into detail about how he'll do it, sniping him while he's preoccupied. An Imagine Spot shows the bullet plowing through Batman's head and causing a fountain of gore.
  • The Beauty: Some people in the comic are taken out this way.
    • Celebrity Jocelyn Grace was sniped in the head by one of Mr. Calaveras' men before she could reveal the truth about The Beauty to her viewers.
    • Timo kills the janitor of his gang by blowing the top of his head off.
  • Deadpool: Wade splatters Werewolf by Night's head with a shotgun for sleeping with his wife.
  • In Death & the Family, an ant-like monster is about to sting Gangbuster when Supergirl's heat-vision blows its head up.
  • The F1rst Hero: In issue #1, Jake Roth's friend Yoshi gets shot in the head, which alerts everyone of a sniper in the area.
  • G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero (Marvel): Subverted when Scarlett survives a point-blank shot to the head.
  • G.I. Zombie: Jared can take bullet shots to the head and, while they 'do kill him, his Healing Factor makes sure it's only temporary.
  • Iron Man:
    • This is how Obadiah Stane dies. Confronted by a recently returned Tony Stark armed with the Silver Centurian Armor and unable to fight Tony with his massive armor, he blasts his own head to spite Tony and rob him of a victory.
    • Tony is forced to do this to Mallen in the Extremis storyline to take him down for good. Tony's so pissed off having done this that he kicks Mallen's lifeless body in total spite.
  • In the Joker graphic novel, Joker henchman Johnny Frost shoots one of Harvey's cops in the face and saves Joker's life. The perspective makes it look like the hole takes up half his face.
  • In Justice League 3001, Superman spends so much time boasting how he's going to kill a couple of aliens that they shut him up by doing this.
  • Kid Colt (2009): When the body of 'Colt' (actually bounty hunter Sherman Wilks) is handed in for the bounty, the face is almost entirely gone. 'Wilks' (actually Colt's sidekick Hawk) explains that he was shot in the face during their duel, which isn't directly shown in the comics. Colt and Hawk later discuss the widow they're wiring the bounty to, who was named in Wilks's papers. There's a hole through the papers, suggesting that Wilks was actually shot in the chest, with the headshot a post-mortem tactic to disguise the corpse.
  • In issue #10 of Mega Man (Archie Comics), after defeating Heat Man and taking his weapon, Mega Man shoots him point-blank in the face, with an evil smile. This clued Dr. Light and the others that something was very wrong with Mega Man.
  • Preacher is in love with this trope. The results of headshots are always shown in the most graphic detail with skulls being obliterated, along with showing the victim's brains and eyeballs flying everywhere. Including a few darkly humorous scenes in which characters are shown surviving headshots despite having their entire jaw completely blown off.
  • Sin City does this a lot to gruesome effect. Since it often averts the Instant Death Bullet, almost any quick kills involve bullets to the brain.
    • Wallace was notorious about this; most of his kills being headshots. In fact, in the climax, he killed an entire warehouse full of assassins with headshots.
    • Miho, likewise, often hit mooks in the head with her throwing-stars and arrows or simply stabs in the head them with her swords. In fact, in one darkly humorous moment, she shot a neo-Nazi through the chest with an arrow and he remained standing, marveling at the entire situation while the rest of the villains ignored him. She then finished him off with a shot through the head.
    • In The Big Fat Kill, Dwight killed a few mercenaries via shots to the head.
    • Dwight also killed Ava Lord with a shot to the forehead.
    • In Silent Night, Marv killed the madame running the child-prostitution ring with a headshot.
    • In Marv's first story, he wakes up in a hospital after receiving several bullets to the chest. He complains that, in order to kill him, the bad guys should've shot him in the head — and enough times to make sure.
    • It should also be noted that when John Hartigan committed suicide, he shot himself in the head even though he had already been shot in the back (Sin City heroes tend to walk away from other shots with ease).
    • There are aversions, however:
      • When Jackie Boy's gun exploded, the slide went right through his forehead but he was alive for a few more minutes, prompting Miho to finish the job by chopping his head off completely.
      • Dwight was shot in the face with what appeared to be a glancing hit and while he needed immediate medical attention, he remained conscious and survived with a little surgery.
  • Snowman: A number of these happen in the comic:
    • A man from Snowman's old tribe is shot in the eye and killed.
    • The Snowman finds his daughter dead with a bullet hole in her forehead.
    • The Snowman's wife was shot through the head by the white man who raped her.
    • August shoots a man in the head because he was going to have sex with her, thinking that she was just a regular mannequin, and not a living one.
  • Thin Blue Line:
    • When Officer Maca is in a police car with Police Sergeant Mack, Officer Mikkelson, and the mayor, they find themselves cornered by a bunch of anti-police protestors. The protestors smash open some windows, and one of them shoots Mikkelson in the head, killing him.
    • When a Tattooed Crook and his posse show up at the police car containing Officer Maca and the mayor, the protestors attacking it try and get in good with them, saying they hate the police too. The crook asks the protestor a few questions about himself, and learns he's a college drop-out. When it seems like the crook is warming up to the protester, said crook brings out his gun and shoots the protestor right in the head.
  • The Transformers (IDW): Subverted in Spotlight: Hardhead. Hardhead is shot point-blank in the face by a mind-controlled Nightbeat and shrugs it off completely while pointing out that he has a Meaningful Name.
  • In The Transformers: Last Stand of the Wreckers, weapon designer Ironfist reveals that he invented "cerebro-sensitive bullets," which have an onboard computer and guidance system that causes them to automatically home in on the head of anyone they're fired at, insuring headshots with 100% success rates. However, because of their lethality, the Autobot Ethics Committee banned them and ordered him to turn in all the bullets and modified guns he'd produced. When he's packing to join the Wreckers, he decides to "accidentally" switch one case and bring it with him. He also reveals to his team that he was shot with a prototype of the bullet that's slowly burrowing through his head and will eventually kill him.
  • The Transformers: Till All Are One has Ironhide defeat Bruticus by launching a rocket into the giant's visor blowing his head apart and forcing him to separate into his individual components.
  • Ultimate Marvel:
    • The Ultimates (2002):
      • Hawkeye kills the man in the lobby of the building (actually an alien) with an arrow to the head.
      • Nick Fury tries to kill Herr Kleiser this way, but as he has a Healing Factor, it's Only a Flesh Wound.
    • Black Widow manages to escape from the defeat of the Liberators at the end of The Ultimates 2, but Hawkeye hunts her, found her, and kills her with a shot to the head. Still, she's Defiant to the End.
    • Cyclops is killed with one by the end of Ultimatum.
  • X-Men:
    • Wallflower of New X-Men: Academy X was shot through the head by a sniper as part of Stryker's preparations to attack the Xavier School in the aftermath of House of M.
    • Wolverine's adamantium-reinforced skull prevents this. Shooting him in the head is only likely to piss him off. By contrast, his daughter/Opposite-Sex Clone X-23's skull is not. As a consequence, a headshot is just as messy for her as it would be for any normal person. However, because of her Healing Factor, she'll get back up again, and then come gut her shooter. In All-New Wolverine, she even has a Waking Non Sequitur while her brain is knitting back together after being sniped. She delivers them, too. In Target: X, she drills a helicopter pilot right between the eyes (Laura was on the ground, the chopper pilot was in the air). She also uses this as an execution method with her claws against a Purifier goon during X-Men: Second Coming.

    Comic Strips 
  • Dick Tracy in its early decades had numerous villains taken down by Tracy by shooting them in the head.

    Fan Works 
  • Camp Nightmare: This is Jerome's fate, thanks to the police.
  • Child of the Storm:
    • The ability to do this almost casually is a trademark of the Winter Soldier - however, he'll frequently put someone down with bullets to the chest, then finish them off with a double-tap to the skull.
    • In the sequel, Harry Dresden puts three bullets from his .44 Magnum revolver into Voldemort's head from close range to kill him - or more accurately, get him out of the way, because Magneto's vengeance-driven method of killing him was too slow and they had other priorities. Magneto was not pleased, and to add insult to injury, it didn't even work.
  • Subverted in Code Geass: Paladins of Voltron. A Brittanian sniper tries pulling this on Kallen, but her armor's helmet effortlessly protects her. Played straight when Viletta Nu nailed V.V. when he tried to kill Nunnally and Euphemia after breaking into the Castle of Lions. While it might not have killed him, it kept him out of action long enough that it was a simple matter to imprison him.
  • In "Come Together", when the Howling Commandos (Captain America: The First Avenger) accompany Tom Riddle (Harry Potter) on the final assault on Grindlewald, while Tom wears Grindlewald down in a duel, ultimately Grindlewald is killed when Peggy Carter is revealed to have been hiding under the invisibility cloak and shoots Grindlewald in the head after Tom's worn him down.
  • In Dragon Ball fanfic The Warrior's Daughter, Gohan kills Cell by shooting one ki blast through his head. Unfortunately, the energy beam goes also through Bulla's head, who was holding Cell in place to give Gohan a shot at him, aware that it would kill her.
  • In Four Deadly Secrets Ruby demonstrates this several times against Grimm.
  • Frostbite has a few instances of this with Frickin' Laser Beams at close range, resulting in a number of exploding Breen heads.
  • In Half Life: Hero Begginning, when Henry Freeman's mom protests the Combines pointing their lasers at him, they shoot her and laugh at her. Despite this apparently destroying her head ("haha stupid humen girl with no head"), she's able to tell Henry Freeman to run away before she dies.
  • Hellsing Ultimate Abridged:
    • Alucard invokes this trope on numerous occasions, even quoting the trope verbatim during his first fight with Anderson. Subverted though when Anderson no-sells the shot seconds later.
    • Jeb Forrest decides to interrupt Integra's orders to Alucard, and Alucard nonchalantly gives him one of these. Nobody cared.
  • In Hyperemesis Gravidarum by A.A. Pessimal, Julian Smith-Rhodes escapes an assassination attempt simply because the attacker just had to try and make it as emphatic as possible by going for the head-shot: the crossbow bolt misses by a fraction of an inch. Julian was annoyed about this: an Army officer's cap does not come cheap and replacing one with a crossbow bolt-hole through the crown was going to cost him at least twenty dollars.
  • In I Did Not Want To Die, several soldiers are killed in this way.
  • Katzenjammer: Starscream quickly tires of Tidearrow poking fun at him post-inebriation and loses his patience when the other bot is unable to stop himself from laughing at the uncontrollable silly sounds he's making. Starscream takes care of the annoyance by shooting Tidearrow in the head, causing his cranium to explode.
  • In Neon Genesis Evangelion: Genocide, Ritsuko gets killed when Seele's agent Musashi Kluge puts one bullet through her head.
    Again Rei did not hear the shot. The back of Ritsuko Akagi's head exploded into a red mist and sprayed on the ground next to her dead body.
  • At the beginning of Old West, Rattlesnake Jake kills one of Tomson's fellow mercenaries this way. Later Tomson himself is killed this way by his boss. In the climax, Ramirez Arvenga gets his head blown to smithereens by Sheriff Rango of all people, just as the coyote is gloating that the chameleon is too spineless to kill anyone.
  • In Origins, a Mass Effect/Star Wars/Borderlands/Halo Massive Multiplayer Crossover, twice in one chapter! Tali shreds a commando's faceplate with a flechette shotgun followed by a heavier round to finish the job, and Legion follows up shortly thereafter with a "sickening 'pop'" from his railgun-amplified Widow.
  • In one of the Holiday Specials of Pokémon Reset Bloodlines, this is how Descant, the fourth of the Seven Brothers of Orre, kills off the original Pride Sniper, whose title he takes over for himself afterwards.
  • Pop Quiz: Don kills Robert Evans this way as the student was threatening Charlie with a knife to the throat.
  • In Recoil, Taylor Herbert actually gets real training, and she becomes very capable. Headshots are now the order of the day.
  • In Revenge Road, Hikaru shoots Madoka in the head, killing her instantly. She thinks Madoka has to die for stealing Kyosuke away but doesn't think she deserves to suffer because she was her friend for a long time. As for Kyosuke, she's nowhere near as merciful with him.
  • The Rise of Darth Vulcan: The titular Villain Protagonist ends his brief fight with Tirek by shoving a crude gun, forged by his Diamond Dog blacksmiths, into Tirek's face and firing off both barrels point-blank.
  • How Lyra kills two of Pyrrha's teammates in Ruby and Nora.
  • The Sweetie Chronicles: Fragments; Sweetie Belle takes a point-blank shotgun blast to the face courtesy of a Twilight-possessed Blackjack when visiting Fallout: Equestria - Project Horizons. She gets better when Twilight uses her soul to bring Sweetie back to life.
  • In Chapter 20 of Team 8, Kurenai is killed by being hit in the head with a kunai after breaking Tsukuyomi.
  • In Worldwar: War of Equals, Race landcruiser commanders stick their heads out of the hatch, making them prime targets for snipers.

    Films — Animated 
  • Frozen (2013) has a downplayed, PG-rated example, where Elsa accidentally shoots ice in Anna's head in an attempt to keep Anna from falling, which incapacitated her. Grandpabbie did tell their parents that Anna was lucky it wasn't in the heart, which would've been fatal both in the film and in Real Life.
  • Night of the Animated Dead: Plenty of undead get bullets to their heads when Ben brings out the rifle. It takes three bullets to kill the zombified Harry.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • American Gangster: When Frank demands Tango some money, Tango challenges him to shoot him in public, thus Frank coldbloodedly shoots Tango in the head at point blank range.
  • Antigang: When Margaux suffers a Dramatic Ammo Depletion while standing on the bonnet of Kasper's car, he kills her with a single shot to the middle of her forehead fired through the windscreen.
  • Bad Boys II:
    • The Big Bad, Johnny Tapia, shoots his own cousin as well as his right hand, Roberto, in the head for his recklessness.
    • In the final confrontation with Tapia, Marcus ends up shooting the latter in the forehead, finally killing him.
  • Balibo: Gary is shot in the head at point blank range by an Indonesian military officer while trying to negotiate the Balibo Five's safety.
  • Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice: During a melee, a mook runs up behind Batman and shoots him in the back of the head at point-blank range. Fortunately his cowl is bulletproof, though Batman flinches in visible pain.
  • Becky: Becky shoots Apex in the head from close range near the end.
  • Black Wake: When the door to the autopsy room has been opened, the two naked women who killed Dr. Jones each get a bullet to the head, which kills them.
  • Blood Bags: Antonio kills Vittoriao with a shot to the head in Tracy's Imagine Spot.
  • Blood Ransom: Bill kills two goons who failed Roman, a bartender, and one other patron with a bullet to the head.
  • Blue Velvet: Frank Booth is shot in the head with a gun. We even get to see brain matter shoot out of the back of his head. Can't say the bastard didn't deserve it.
  • Bring Me the Head of the Machine Gun Woman: Despite lying wounded and bleeding on the ground, the Machine Gun Woman saves Santiago by firing a shot that takes off the top of Panguinao's head; sending it flying high into the air.
  • Camel Spiders: One of the American soldiers in the prologue, Schwalb, is shot and killed by a bullet to the head.
  • In City of Life and Death, Kadokawa kills Mrs. Jiang by shooting her in the head.
  • Clown Motel: One of the clowns gets shot through the head.
  • Collateral features extensive use of the Mozambique drill, which is a double-tap to center of mass followed by a headshot, and is Vincent's signature killing technique.
  • Coming Home in the Dark: At the climax of the film, Tubs kills Mandrake by shooting him in the head with his own gun.
  • The Covenant (2023): Ahmed uses these in two instances, both while saving John's life. The first is after John was injured, and sees Ahmed wiedl to a pistol to finish off three Taliban soldiers he had shot with a rifle. The second instance is when a trip of Taliban soldiers come across him and the wagon hiding the wounded John. One Taliban sees John in the wagon and looks up to receive a bullet in the face. Ahmed immediately follows up by shooting the driver fo the truck they arrived in before the third forced hand-to-hand combat.
  • Curse of Chucky: After the credits, some guy gets a suspiciously sized package...Chucky cuts himself out of it, verifies he's at old nemesis Andy Barclay's place according to some old photos sitting around—And suddenly finds him standing there with a boomstick aimed point-blank. Bang to black.
  • Both Dawn of the Dead (1978) and its 2004 remake feature shotgun-blast-to-the-head scenes. The remake also has a scene where a character unerringly picks off a string of zombies with headshots, but he's a gun-store owner doing it from a safe rooftop, with a high-powered sniper rifle, while the zombies aimlessly mill around below. And it's all just a morbid way of killing time.
  • Dawning of the Dead: In one scene, someone shoots a zombie in the head, causing it to explode in a fantastic fashion.
  • Dirty Harry: Dirty Harry shoots the Scorpio killer in the head, sending him to fall into the body of water behind him.
    Dirty Harry: But being this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world that would blow your head clean off...
  • 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.
  • At the end of Fight Club, this comes into play in an odd fashion. The narrator puts a gun in his mouth and shoots himself through the back of the cheek. Because Tyler is his Split Personality, and this act symbolically kills him, this manifests as a massive subversion of Pretty Little Headshots in Tyler's case.
  • The Funhouse Massacre: Sheriff Kate manages to kill Manual Dyer by shooting him through the head. The aftermath includes blood coming out of a hole in the back of his head.
  • Future World: The Warlord shoots the Drug Lord right in the head at close range as they're grappling together.
  • Ghosts of War: Near the start of the movie, after a Nazi jeep is flipped by a land mine, a surviving Nazi soldier is shot in the head by one of the soldiers.
  • GoodFellas: The murder of Tommy DeVito is carried out via a bullet to the back of the head; Tommy himself kills a henchman the same way one scene prior.
  • In Guns, Girls and Gambling, The Cowboy kills Redfoot and Dark Eyes with simultaneous head shots through the windscreen of John Smith's car via Guns Akimbo.
  • Johnny Wong goes out this way by way of Moe Greene Special in the finale of Hard Boiled.
  • In Hellboy (2019), Hellboy is a crack shot with his massive Hand Cannon. Almost every hit he lands that is shown on-screen is a headshot with predictably gory results, and he rarely, if ever, seems to miss his target.
  • A non-lethal variation occurs in Home Alone, where Kevin McCallister manages to drive away Marv by shooting him between the eyes with a B.B. gun when he pokes his head through a doggie door.
  • The titular Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS gets her head blown off by some fellow Nazis who she thought were there to rescue her after she gets Chained to a Bed by Wolfe.
  • John Wick hands out a lot of these to those he kills, but his most prominent such kill is Iosef Tarasov, the little punk who killed his dog, who he gutshots, walks straight up to, and then finishes with a headshot as Iosef's trying to get his final words out.
    Iosef [in Russian]: It was just a fuckin'—! [BLAM!]
  • John Wick: Chapter 2 somehow manages to kick it up a notch, with over 100 headshots, 34.4% of Wick's shots going into someone's head.
  • Since the film Juan of the Dead is set in civilian Cuba, none of the main characters own guns or have access to them. Still, Lázaro manages to dispatch a zombie by a (blindly lucky) speargun shot to the head.
  • Kild TV: The crew finally manage to kill Adel with a bullet to the head.
  • Kingsman: The Golden Circle: It turns out these things are survivable: Statesman has developed Alpha Gel and nanomachine technology to cure headshots, at the cost of amnesia that requires reliving a traumatic experience to regain their memories. In Harry's case it was the prospect of shooting his beloved dog Mr. Pickle, and in Whiskey's case it was finding out his wife was dead. By the way, that gunshot to the head Whiskey got came from Harry, who realized Whiskey was a traitor.
  • Harry Hart delivers quite a few of these in Kingsman: The Secret Service, and dies by being on the receiving end of one of these, courtesy of Valentine.
  • The Last Jedi: Somehow, Kylo Ren manages to pull this off with a lightsaber by activating Rey's lightsaber through the head of one of Snoke's guards and deactivating it again so quickly it's almost imperceptible.
  • A Little Bit Zombie: Penelope kills Max by blowing a massive hole through the middle of his head. Tina kills Penelope the same way.
  • One of the most famous examples occurs in Maniac! (1980) when Tom Savini's character Disco Boy gets his head blown off at point-blank range with Frank's double-barrel shotgun.
  • In The Matrix, Trinity disposes of an agent this way by shoving the gun right against his head.
    Trinity: Dodge this.
  • Happens no less than four times in Momentum. In a movie where characters seem to be Made of Iron, it's better to make certain they're dead.
  • Mohawk: When Myles is torturing Calvin by pouring boiling water into his mouth, Joshua kills him with a single expertly place musket ball through the forehead.
  • Mystery Team implies the effects of a cherry bomb hitting someone in the face.
  • Navy Seals (1990) has Hawkins executing a terrorist, in retaliation for a Your Mom line his victim throws at him five seconds before his death.
    "NEVER. Talk. About. Mom."
  • Next of Kin (1982): Linda defeats Kelvin with a single shot to the head from a hunting rifle, fired at point-blank range.
  • Nobody Sleeps in the Woods Tonight II: Adas kills the first killer dancer in his dream by blowing his head off.
  • In Open Range, Butler has just had time to gloat about killing Moose and injuring Button for a second when Charley puts a bullet between his eyes.
  • Project A has Inspector Hong saving the hero, Ma, who's subjected to a Stock Clock Hand Hang while a mook tries shooting Ma, only for Hong to beat him to the draw.
  • Averted in Premium Rush. Corrupt Cop Robert Monday walks around almost normally for a while after being shot in the head. It takes about a minute for him to realize what happened, and another minute for him to start stumbling and die.
  • In Primal, Loffel makes almost of his kills via headshot so as to bypass the Bullet Proof Vests the US Marshals are wearing.
  • Redwood Massacre Annihilation: The soldier accompanying the government official at the end of the movie kills Laura and Gus with one bullet to each of their heads, as can be indicated by the bullet hole in each of their foreheads afterwards>
  • The Retreat (2021): Gavin shoots a compatriot in the head at close range who's got cold feet about their plan to murder gays and lesbians.
  • In R.I.P.D. the dead can only die from a headshot. Anything else is considered annoying.
  • How Charlie kills Carl in The Sadist, after first making him beg for his life on his knees.
  • Save Yourselves!: The pouffes manage to instantly kill multiple people by simply shooting their tendrils through their heads.
  • Naturally comes up in Saving Private Ryan, as many of the soldiers take rounds or even artillery to the head. However special mention goes to the German sniper; Jackson combines this with Scope Snipe to put a round right through his eye.
  • Happens several times in Scarface (1983).
  • SHAZAM! (2019): While still trying to figure out his new powers, Shazam interrupts a convenience store robbery. One of the robbers shoots him, with no effect. Freddie suggests giving the gun back and having the robber shoot him in the face to see if he's bulletproof, or if it's just the suit. Shazam does so, but belatedly objects when he realizes how horribly this could go wrong. Fortunately, the headshots do nothing but tickle a bit.
  • Stein's death in Silent Night (2012). Deputy Bradimore puts a shot between his eyes that splatters his brains over the wall behind him.
  • In The Suicide Theory, Steve uses headshots frequently, as he is a trained hitman. Three men he shoots go down with Pretty Little Headshots, while Percival, who hired him to help him commit suicide, survives three shots to the head.
  • S.W.A.T. (2003): During the opening, the two bank robbers outside the bank are killed with headshots by the SWAT Teams, one by a sniper when he tries to steal a car to escape, one in a close-range gun battle. Inside the bank, Gamble attempts a headshot on the third when he takes a hostage, but misses and hits the hostage in the shoulder instead. There is also a Deleted Scene where Hondo tells Chris Sanchez that when she goes for a headshot on a target, she needs to aim for the "vermilion line", i.e., shoot for the center of the face and not the forehead.
  • In Thor, the titular god performs one of these... as a Dynamic Entry.
  • Tombstone: Gets referenced after the shooting of Fred White, when Wyatt is holding a gun to Ike Clanton's forehead.
    "Your friends might get me in a rush, but not before I turn your head into a canoe, you understand me!?"
  • In the Transformers Film Series, Optimus Prime seems obsessed with destroying the heads of his enemies. Throughout the course of all three films, he decapitates Bonecrusher, shoots Demolisher in the head, tears Grindor's head in two, shoots off half of Megatron's face (with his own cannon), tears the skin off The Fallen's head, rips Shockwave's eye out of its socket, shoots Sentinel Prime twice in the head, and finally tears off Megatron's head and SPINE.
  • TRON: The titular character hits Sark in the forehead using his disc, which causes chunks of data to bleed from his head. This trope surprisingly appears quite a bit in the sequel, TRON: Legacy. The most notable example however was when Quorra shoots one of Clu's mooks, leaving a rather graphic headshot during the dogfight scene.
  • In Underworld: Awakening, an escaping Selene is shot in the head by a guard. Being a vampire, this just pisses her off. She proceeds to drain said guard, which quickly heals the wound.
  • Virus Shark: Anne is killed with a bullet to the head after she's been infected.
  • Werewolves Within: After accidentally hitting Marcus with her truck, Gwen is shot in the head and killed.
  • The Widow (2020): Zoya has Vika point a Flare Gun at her head under her chin, and fire it.
  • In Wild Wild West, Gordon has been taken captive, and Loveless will just have someone shoot him. Expecting this, Gordon attempts to trick the secessionist Loveless into shooting "[his] heart, that has loved this country so much", as Gordon is wearing the bulletproof vest he just invented. Response?
    Loveless: Shoot him in the head.
    Gordon: Damn.
  • Wonder Woman (2017): A patron at the bar Charlie is introduced in decides to shoot Charile in the head for taking a drink from his glass. Diana's speed allows her to intercept, but there was an attempt to murder him at point blank range.
  • In X-Men: First Class, Magneto kills Sebastian Shaw by telemagnetically pushing a coin through his brain.
  • Everyone in The Zombie Diaries seems to know that the only way to stop the zombies is to shoot them in the head.

    Literature 
  • The title character of the Dan Shamble, Zombie P.I. acquired his "zombie" moniker after dying of a Boom Headshot, inflicted from behind in a dark alley. He keeps the unsightly exit hole concealed with morticians' putty, and wears a hat over the entry hole.
  • Averted in The Dark Tower novel The Waste Lands. When The Tick Tock Man is shot in the head, the low caliber bullet only grazes the person's skull, a fact which allows someone to revive the person, later.
  • The Dresden Files:
    • Characters with firearms training occasionally double-tap their target if they can get away with it. The most impressive headshot in the series, however, was in Small Favor, when Kincaid dropped two Denarians with one shot, through their heads.
    • In Cold Days, Harry finishes off an Outsider after winning a Battle in the Center of the Mind by shoving his gun through its mouth, and firing a spell through it as he pulls the trigger. To the tune of Queen's "We Will Rock You".
  • At the end of Fevre Dream by George R. R. Martin, the Big Bad, thousands years old vampire Damon Julian, is killed with a point-blank headshot. From both shotgun barrels.
  • At the end of Honor Harrington "Ashes of Victory" Thomas Theisman puts an end to the Committee of Public Safety's Reign of Terror with one of these and one of the most immortal lines in science fiction.
  • Lampshaded In The Hunger Games trilogy when Peeta mentions his father liking buying game from Katniss because she always shoots the bird in the eye, thus preserving the edible part of the flesh - presumably included by the author to show what a good shot her heroine is, but one wonders how anyone, even such a star as Ms Everdeen, could guarantee to shoot at a bird on the wing so accurately!
  • Thomas Bernhard's The Lime Works: Before the beginning, the main character has shot his paraplegic wife in the head with the carbine he fitted to her wheelchair so she could fend off burglars.
  • The Marvellous Land of Snergs: Gorbo kills the ogre Golithos by embedding three arrows in his head.
  • In the Monument 14 Trilogy, Robbie gets shot in the head after the kids catch him trying to have sex with Sahalia.
  • The preferred method of hitman Sean Callan in Don Winslow's "The Power of The Dog". He sticks with a .22 pistol as his weapon of choice, since he knows the .22 load is powerful enough to pierce the skull, but not exit it. That means the bullet rattles around the skull like a "pinball", shredding grey matter the whole time. Combined with his habitual Double Tap, it makes him frighteningly efficient at killing.
  • In Renegades, Nova puts down the Detonator with a headshot, as anything less deadly would've given her enough time to detonate the bombs hidden around the amusement park.
  • Shattered Continent features these extensively, due to the abundance of things on Neue Erde that a center-mass hit will only slow down.
  • In Space Marine Battles, the Space Marines seem to prefer this, which combined with the fact that bolt rounds are explosive, leaves most of their targets headless.
  • The Sword of Saint Ferdinand: Fortún gets rid of one sentinel posted to guard the walls of Melgarejo Castle by putting a crossbow bolt in his head as the man is negligently sleeping.
  • Virgil Cole/Everett Hitch: Koy Wickman's fate, courtesy of Hitch's eight gauge.
    I hit him in the face with both barrels. It turned him completely around and propelled him about three steps before he went down. It didn't blow his head off like I'd said it would. But it was an awful mess.
  • In The War That Came Early series by Harry Turtledove, Czech sniper Vaclav Jezek irritated the Germans enough that they sent out a sniper to hunt him. However, Jezek got him on the "vermilion line" blowing off the top half of his head.
  • The Zombie Survival Guide and its companion novel World War Z: Brain destruction is the only way to kill a zombie (even fire needs to cause brain damage to be effective, and the heads survive after decapitation), but it's not as simple as "Shoot in head, head explodes." It's perfectly possible to miss and shoot off the jaw, and one of the many demoralizing incidents in the Battle of Yonkers was soldiers panicking at the sight of zombies apparently surviving head shots, not realizing that their poorly aimed bullets were glancing off the skull. The fact that real soldiers are trained to aim at the center of mass is also touched upon: they have trouble unlearning that particular rule, and torso hits don't really slow zombies down all that much. Everyone, even the experienced marksmen, has to re-train themselves to shoot for the head. Real soldiers are also trained to fire at the head in situations exactly like those described in the book, though, as part of failure drills, especially at close range. It's even lampshaded in an entry detailing how a Chinese Army unit was up against a horde of zombies, but put them down quickly and efficiently from long range with their snipers, never realizing they were zombies. The Chinese snipers were trained to always aim for the head, so the zombies never got close to them and the soldiers didn't know what they were dealing with and had no reason to try and find out.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Altered Carbon: Variant. Since everyone uses cortical stacks, they can survive any injury so long as their stack is resleeved in a new body. Therefore, it's very common for people to shoot at the base of their brainstem, where the stack sits, rather than the skull, since that's a Real Death. And is typical for this trope, some of these shots are a bit improbable. While Kovacs and the numerous assassins certainly have the skills to reliably pull off a stackshot, Ortega's partner Samir manages to get shot perfectly in the stack when he covers her from a stackshot with his own body.
  • Band of Brothers:
    • During the Brecourt Manner assault in "Day of Days," a lost GI pokes his head up at the wrong moment while getting his bearings, and takes a round through the brain pan. While the series made it In the Back instead because Reality Is Unrealistic, during the same engagement in Real Life Buck Compton pulled this off on a fleeing German soldier. With a grenade.
    • Sergeant Grant is shot in the head by a drunken replacement in "Points." He survives because they were able to rustle up a brain surgeon from one of the local German hospitals.
  • The Barrier: Alejo dies of a bullet in the head, after the armed guard restraining the person Alejo was insulting turns to be an ally of the restrained person taking advantage of Faceless Goons.
  • Better Call Saul: Howard Hamlin is shot in the head by Lalo Salamanca in Kim Wexler's apartment.
  • Big Sky: Cody gets killed by a shot to the head at close range by. Legarski is also downed by Cassie in the same way, though at a greater distance, later on.
  • A hostage situation in Blue Bloods is ended this way when Frank Reagan kills the crook with a knife to his daughter's throat. Jamie Reagan stops a criminal from blowing up a room full of people this way in "Occupational Hazards".
  • Bones:
    • In "The Bullet In The Brain" (guess what it's about), The Gravedigger is headed to an appeal. Outside the courthouse, she's shot in the head by a high-caliber rifle (as the name of the episode implied). The shot makes her head asplode.
    • Another episode deals with a victim possibly killed in this manner, but the team have to figure out how many gunmen and who the victim was. It might have been JFK.
  • In Breaking Bad:
    • Hank headshots one of the Mexican assassins sent to kill him. Made harder by the fact that Hank's been shot and is more or less paralyzed except for his arms. Made easier by the fact that the assassin is literally standing directly over Hank in order to kill him with an axe (it's kind of a thing with him), and messier by the bullet Hank used to put him down: a hollow-point.
    • Hank himself ultimately meets such a fate at the hands of Jack Welker. He's not the first person to meet this fate at the hands of Jack, as Jack had earlier ended Declan's life by shooting him in the face.
    • Ultimately, Jack dies the same way Declan and Hank died.
  • Played in Season 8 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, as it happens to Ethan Rayne and The General.
  • El Chapulín Colorado: Subverted and Played for Laughs in an episode where the titular hero is with a group of soldiers trapped in a wrecked fort, one of which goes deranged when he gets his water canteen taken from him (the last drinking water they had). At one point, one of the other soldiers is looking through his binoculars in case the deranged soldier is still around waiting to shoot them.
    Chapulin: Hey you! Is he still there?
    Soldier: Let me see. (looks through the binoculars)
    BANG!
    Soldier: (with a bullet mark on the helmet) I think he is.
  • Criminal Minds:
    • "Penelope": This is how J.J. takes down the crooked cop who nearly killed Garcia. She does so by shooting through a pane of glass while he isn't looking.
    • "L.D.S.K": Reid manages to take Hotch's ankle-holster gun while being kicked, and then shoot straight through the sniper's forehead.
  • Daredevil (2015):
    • Frank Castle was shot in the head at close-range by the operatives who were sent to kill him and his family when he was about to blow the whistle on war crimes his fellow Marines were involved in. Frank survived, as if by a miracle, but there's an implication that he's taken some brain damage as a result.
    • Frank practices one shot-one kill, so many of his targets get this fate: Finn Cooley, Colonel Schoonover, and one of the guys that he lures to a diner by using Karen Page as bait, among others.
    • Also within Daredevil season 3, this is the fate given to Jasper Evans and Ray Nadeem courtesy of Dex.
  • In Degrassi High, this is how Claude commits suicide. Snake, who found the body, mentioned later that only half his face was left.
  • The Devil Judge:
    • Minister Cha kills herself by shooting herself in the head.
    • Sun-ah shoots Heo Joong-se in the head, then kills herself the same way a few minutes later.
  • Bennett Halverson gets shot by Whiskey in this manner in Dollhouse. Cue the waterworks.
  • In the Emerald City episode "The Beast Forever", Dorothy manages the impressive feat of landing a bullet between the eyes of her target without even holding the gun. She tricks East into pointing the pistol at herself and pulling the trigger. When the other witches examine East's body, they wonder how someone carved a perfectly round hole into her forehead and wonder why anyone would do so.
  • In the sixth season finale of ER, a cop on the scene of a mass shooting is shown doing CPR on someone whose brains were splattered all over the concrete. This is the show's typical subversion of Worst Aid, since Dr. Kovac comes by and tells him to stop.
    Dr. Kovac: We'll never get her back with a head wound like that! Stop compressions!
  • Many characters in The Expanse get their craniums fatally ventilated, but special mention goes to Shed Garvey, who had the misfortune of getting his head taken clean off by a railgun round during a heated Space Battle.
  • Final Deployment 4: Queen Battle Walkthrough:
    • Scourge kills Xanxicon with a headshot.
    • Featured in a First-Person Shooter game near the end of the short film.
  • In the first episode of Firefly, Dobson, an Alliance agent, holds River hostage. He gets about halfway through his "nobody move or I kill her" rant when Mal, without even so much as breaking stride on his way back onto the ship, whips his revolver out and puts one right in Dobson's eye socket. The supplemental comic books reveal that Dobson somehow survives this, and gets tasked by the Hands of Blue with retrieving River, giving him a shot at revenge. He fails and gets shot in the other eye by Mal, along with a few more just to make sure he stays dead this time.
  • On Forever Knight, Nick gets one of these in 'Knight in Question'. He's a vampire, so he survives, but ends up with temporary Laser-Guided Amnesia. LaCroix has to help maintain the Masquerade by whammying the doctors with the idea that it bounced off Nick's 'very thick skull'.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Theon's rescuer kills the leader of his pursuers point-blank with an arrow to the face.
    • A peasant who makes fun of Cersei gets a taste of this from Gregor smashing the poor bastard's head to the wall.
  • The last season of Highlander had an episode where a guy was wearing a bomb vest wired to his heart rate. The female immortal bounty hunter guest-star shoots him in the head (she tells him that by shooting him there, she will have a few seconds before his heart stops and the bomb goes off), then tackles him out the window and into the water, where the bomb won't hurt anyone else.
  • Hightown: Osito uses this method on more than one occasion.
  • Homicide: Life on the Street:
    • Sam Thorne is shot in the head execution style by a hitman on the orders of a cartel he was investigating.
    • Felton's head is blown off after his undercover operation in a massive auto theft ring is uncovered by an information leak.
  • House of Saddam: The execution of several Baath loyalists. Even worse was that those that were spared were ordered to do the killing.
  • In iZombie, Blaine is fond of killing other zombies in this manner. Justified, since this is a surefire way of killing a zombie. He is shown doing this to two of his underlings who try to steal his clients from under him. He also kills Lowell in this manner, albeit in self-defense. Naturally, he doesn't do that to his human victims, since this would damage the brain, which is his primary commodity.
  • Let the Right One In:
    • In "Broken Glass" Naomi shoots the killer she's been tracking (really a vampire, though she isn't aware of that) in the chest multiple times (as she's trained to) before finally shooting him in the head after the rest don't even slow him. This kills him, with her being spooked about it.
    • Mark saves Eleanor from Matthew with a gunshot to his head.
  • The Mandalorian: In Chapter 1, Mando headshots IG-11 to keep the baby safe, as IG-11 was told to terminate the asset, while Mando will be paid better if he brings the baby back alive.
  • Midnight Sun (2016): Evalina was murdered with a bullet to the back of the head.
  • Murder in the First: Alfie Rentman dies this way, after holding a girl hostage and then threatening Hildy, at the hands of a police sniper.
  • In the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode featuring Gunslinger, heroine Rose delivers the final blow on antagonist Cain by shooting him in the head. However, thanks to a bit of Special Effect Failure...
    Joel: [Rose fires, knocks off Cain's hat, Cain slumps over] Oh, shot him right in the hat.
  • NCIS provides interesting variations of this.
    • In one episode, Gibbs stops a computer by shooting it. When the computer boots back up again, Gibbs shoots the monitor to permanently shut it down.
    • At the end of Season 2 Kate is killed by headshot courtesy of Ari after Taking the Bullet for Gibbs by means of body armor. The event is recreated with Gibbs's ex-wife Diane by Sergei Mishnev.
    • In a Moment of Awesome in the Season 7 premiere, Gibbs headshots a terrorist who had taken McGee, Tony, and Ziva hostage. From a half-mile away.
  • Deconstructed in 19-2, where Jean-Pierre Harvey gets shot in the eye during a police operation in response to an armed suspect, suffering severe brain damage that leaves him mentally and physically crippled before he passes away.
  • On Rookie Blue Andy is talking to a young woman when suddenly the woman gets shot in the head and Andy is splattered with the woman's blood and brain matter. The woman is brain dead and the doctors keep her body alive only because she is an organ donor and they need the police investigation to be closed before they can perform the transplants.
  • Sherlock: This is how Sherlock gets rid of Magnussen in "His Last Vow", after the latter is dumb enough to reveal that there are no hard copies of his Blackmail material, and it was all kept in his head.
  • The first episode of The Shield ends with Detective Terry Crowley being suddenly shot in the head by Vic Mackey during a raid.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation has a rather surprising (for the time) example in the first season episode "Conspiracy": when confronted by Commander Dexter Remmick, who had been possessed by a parasitic lifeform, Picard and Riker both set their phasers to kill and fire on Remmick, causing his head to melt and promptly explode.
  • Supernatural:
    • Ghouls can only be killed by a headshot. It is also a preferred method of killing Nazi necromancers.
    • In the episode "Bedtime Stories'', Sam uses the Colt to kill the Crossroads Demon this way.
  • In Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, the unceremonious death of Derek Reese after suddenly encountering an armed Terminator at close range.
  • True Blood: Jason Stackhouse and Jessica Hamby get into an argument when he realizes she's just fed on a complete stranger. It escalates to the point that Jessica bites Jason on the neck, prompting him to shoot her in the head with his duty gun to get her off him. As Jessica is a vampire, it heals instantly, but she is none too pleased. She later rants about it in one of her vlogs.
  • The Walking Dead (2010):
    • It's common to see walkers getting headshots, but a particularly brutal example on a human was the death of Axel, who was casually talking to Carol and is suddenly Killed Mid-Sentence by the Governor from afar. Mood Whiplash indeed.
    • In the episode "Coda", escaped-hostage Bob Lamson gets executed by Rick in this manner. Also, from the same episode, Beth's death. Dear God, Beth's death.
  • In The Wire Chris Partlow, The Dragon for sociopathic druglord Marlo, trains his soldiers to shoot for the head if they're close enough and have a clear shot, or low enough that they'll be able to kill or incapacitate even a target that wears a Bulletproof Vest, as several of the drug dealers and stick up artists tend to do. We see it play out several times, perhaps most memorably when Chris and Snoop distract Bodie so that one of their men can sneak up behind him and shoot him in the head. Twice. In Season 3, Tri takes out Jelly this way as well, starting a gang war.
  • Y: The Last Man (2021):
    • Roxanne euthanizes one of her women who's dying from a gunshot with a headshot from close range.
    • Regina is killed by a shot to the head after attempting to stop militia women storming the White House.
    • Roxanne is shot dead by Nora this way at the end of Season 1.

    Music 
  • "Aim For The Head" by Creature Feature is all about doing this to ghouls, and "A Gorey Demise" mentions "K is for Kim, who was shot in the head".
  • Dubstep/Electro house artist Feed Me made a Voice Clip Song for a rather exuberant FPS player (FPS Doug from Pure Pwnage again) going about how he pulls these off with gusto. It's aptly titled "One Click Headshot", and it's awesome.
  • The music video for "All About Us" by t.A.T.u., this is how one of the singers kills the man who almost raped, then beat and tried to kill her.
  • In Warren Zevon's "Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner": "That son-of-a-bitch Van Owen blew off Roland's head."
  • Played with in DECO*27's "Hibana", where the official art shows Miku's head on a gun's scope and one line of the song conversing it:
    Oh no! "This cannot be true"
    Oh no! "Understand, won't you?"
    ...If you shoot me in the head.

    Myths & Religion 
  • Older Than Feudalism. In The Bible, David hits Goliath right between his eyes with his slingshot. Then David goes up and behead Goliath with his own sword, just to make sure he was dead.
  • Celtic Mythology: Similarly, in the Lebor Gabala Erenn or Book of Invasions, an ancient Irish myth, Lugh of the Long Arm shoots a sling stone through his grandfather Balor's eye, driving it into his brain and killing him.

    Pinballs 

    Podcasts 
  • In The Fallen Gods, Solvin one-hit kills a draconian with an arrow directly through its head.
  • In the first episode of Jemjammer, Alana hits a giant spider right between the eyes with her gun—and it's strong enough to completely disintegrate it.
    Ælfgifu: Next time we let her go first.
  • The audio drama We're Alive is a story set during a Zombie Apocalypse with this being the most effective way to kill a zombie.

    Roleplay 
  • In Nan Quest, Pablo is killed this way. Justified, as the target was standing still and had to be killed as quickly as possible.

    Tabletop Games 
  • BattleTech: You can make a called shot at an enemy mech's head, but only if the mech is immobile due to being shut down or the pilot being unconsious. You take a mild penalty, but since the target typically won't have any defensive bonuses for movement this usually isn't too bad. In return, if you can deal at least 12 points of damage to the head you're guaranteed to kill the mech.
  • Cyberpunk: Headshots are either the best or worst combat option. There is an attack penalty, but most PCs are skilled enough at gunplay that missing is rare. On the other hand, helmets tended to be much sturdier than body armour, so the chance of doing damage is reduced. But it's often worth it since headshots give the possibility of an instant kill if your gun is powerful enough.
  • GURPS makes headshots a very tempting target with a 4x damage multiplier and even if the damage isn't lethal requires an immediate (nearly impossible) roll to avoid being stunned and knocked down. The penalty to hit, however, is very large.
  • Hc Svnt Dracones: A headshot deals triple damage if they're not wearing a helmet, but requires three successes on a Single Shot, in which case you don't get any extra dice for your gun's rate of fire and have to rely on your Trait dice (which have an unaugmented max of three dice). But you can still hit them somewhere else unarmored with just two successes, and the H-101 Long-arm deals 15 damage per hit, more than any other gun short of the V-801 Mag-Lance.
  • Hero System gives a -8 penalty to your roll if you're going for a head shot. For comparison, Blasting It Out of Their Hands is only a -6. But a head shot also does double BODY damage, and five times the STUN damage, so unless your target is wearing a helmet it's worth trying.
  • In Nomine: At the climax of their battle in The Final Trumpet, Jormungandr swallows Thor whole, but the god calls down a bolt of lightning that spears through the serpent's head and causes its skull and brain to explode.
  • Psionics: The Next Stage in Human Evolution" A combat technique of the same name allows you to aim at an opponent's head. You get a penalty to the attack but it does double damage if it hits.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!: This is depicted in the artwork of Graydle Combat. Graydle Slime is seen being shot in the head by a card effect, and Graydle Slime Jr. emerges from it as a result.

    Theatre 
  • Elisabeth: Crown Prince Rudolf dies via a self-inflicted headshot in Mayerling, as in real life.

    Theme Parks 

    Web Animation 
  • Club Penguin Shutdown:
    • Several members of the Cove Crew and RPF, including both groups' leaders, receive headshots from snowballs in their shootout in "The Sale".
    • In "The Reunion", the Survivor Boy gets a snowball thrown right in the face by a Purple Republic member.
  • DEATH BATTLE!: This happens a lot with the combatants.
    • Fox McCloud inflicting this on Bucky O'Hare with a charged pistol.
    • Deadpool gets hits by this courtesy of Deathstroke. However, Deadpool's healing factor meant it didn't last.
    • Green Arrow dies this way when his opponent, Hawkeye uses his Adamantium-tipped arrow to shoot through not just his head, but his Diamond-tipped arrow beforehand too.
    • Meta getting this when Caroline uses his own weapon to blow his head off.
    • Pit when Sora uses his pirecing laser keyblade on him.
    • Leon S. Kennedy to Frank West, though with a thrown knife. Considering Frank was a zombie, it was only fitting Leon killed him that way.
    • Donut, Church, Tucker, and Tex getting this when Caboose's richoetting bullet ends up hitting them.
    • Storm inflicting this on Korra, though using Korra's own lightning and through direct physical contact.
    • Tetsuo Shima suffers this when Magneto unleashes an energy beam through his head, as part of a Mercy Kill.
  • INVADER ZIM LOST EPISODE (RARE!!!): Dib gets a bloody hole blown in his forehead with a pistol courtesy of Zim-Zam, and then a second, even bigger one. This does not bother him in the slightest.
  • Lobo (Webseries): Lobo dispatches his enemies with headshots quite often.
  • Meta Runner
    • In "The Run", one of the elite Tempest players gets a finger-gun blast through the head thanks to Tari.
    • A much more fatal example occurs in "Fatal Error" with Lucks.
  • Red vs. Blue:
    • Sarge is struck down by Tex this way. He's revived by Grif. Giving him CPR. Yeah, it's like that.
    • In Season 14, this is how Daggerknife is killed, trying to show that he was so devoted to the Red cause that he shot himself to prove it. Sarge accepts it and decides he's the best man to have the title of Sergeant, but since he's dead, he gets it.
  • In Zero Punctuation's DayZ review, Yahtzee's Author Avatar is shot right between the eyes by a sniper after finding a cache of guns and ammo in an abandoned building in front of a conspicuously broken window and a dead player with the same injury.

    Webcomics 

    Web Original 

    Web Videos 
  • This is one of Percy's abilities in Critical Role. Mechanically, he can take a headshot to impose disadvantage on attack rolls; he's also killed a stitch monster in the Underdark and Clarota this way.
  • Messier headshots a Meyer Security prison guard while rescuing the rest of The Anarchists in Door Monster's The Guards Themselves.
  • Episode 2 of Missing Reel, "Zombies"!, since it emphasizes how Night of the Living Dead (1968) established the "aim for the head" method of killing zombies.
  • The Nostalgia Critic shoots Roger the Angel in the head to keep him from killing him in "You're a Rotten Dirty Bastard." Much to Roger's surprise since he thought angels couldn't be killed.
    Roger: Hmm... so God lied to me.... that seems like a bit of a dick move.
  • How Snake kills Liquid the second time around in Stupid Mario Brothers.
  • The Weather: "James" the hunter kills the talkative owl by shooting it in the head, accompanied with a shot of the owl's blown-off head.

    Western Animation 
  • In one episode of Ben 10, Gwen performs a G-rated version of this by using a squirt gun against aliens who are weak to water.
  • Another G-rated example occurs in the DuckTales (1987) episode "Where No Duck Has Gone Before"; Launchpad blasts Bulvan in the face with the food-maker he nabbed from the Kronks' robot, knocking him back and blurring his vision long enough for the party to escape.
  • In the Family Guy episode "Brian's a Bad Father", Quagmire shoots Peter through the skull (with his eyeball popping out) as payback for getting shot in the arm by him. Peter does survive, albeit left in a crippled state.
  • In The Legend of Vox Machina, Percy kills Professor Anders this way. First, he ricochets a bullet across the room that impacts Anders's face from the side and rips off his entire lower jaw, ensuring the hypnosis on the rest of Vox Machina fails. Then, Percy lifts Anders up by the collar, presses his gun against the roof of Anders's now destroyed mouth, and blows his brains out.
  • One episode of Metalocalypse has Mordhaus snipers blasting off Erik Jomfru's head, leaving just his tongue flailing.
  • In Men in Black: The Series, Agent K often does this to Jeebs. Being a slime-based alien, this causes his entire head to explode into green goo. Fortunately for Jeebs, he can regenerate his entire head, so this comes off more as Amusing Injuries.

Shot through the head, and you're to blame! Darling, you give guns--a bad name!

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New Jack City

This guy must've really wished he got the pink slip instead.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (8 votes)

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Main / BoomHeadshot

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