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Bulletproof Human Shield

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Congratulations! You have been promoted from Mook to Human Shield!

Dixon: How did you know I was wearing a bulletproof vest?
MacGruber: You're wearing a bulletproof vest? Awesome.

Action Hero Bob is sneaking into the villain's secret base when he's suddenly spotted! As the enemies open fire with their automatic weapons, Bob grabs the nearest mook and lets him take the shots instead. While the hapless henchman soaks up the bullets and twitches like a marionette with tangled cords, Bob drags him along and heads for safety.

Fictional works love this trope, giving the hapless mook the stopping power of twelve inches of reinforced concrete. It's popular with anti-heroes, as it serves to show off the hero's cold-blooded resourcefulness. It's also a trope used by a Jerkass Technical Pacifist; they aren't supposed to kill people, so they grab the nearest enemy and let their opponents take out a few for them. "I didn't kill anybody," says the blood-covered pacifist, after dragging numerous enemies into the paths of other people's bullets.

In Real Life, a human shield would be good for a last resort and basically nothing else. You MIGHT be able to stop small-caliber hollow-point rounds, but even then it's a gamble; bullets are meant to pierce flesh after all, and humans aren't the thickest or the toughest pieces of meat around. Army engineer manuals state that it takes 60 cm (2 feet) of soft wood to stop an M16 and 120 cm (4 feet) to stop an M60.note  But that wouldn't look very cool without some big guns blazing, would it? This trope almost always involves at least one automatic weapon, and the more there are, the cooler it looks. So, in Real Life Bob is likely to find himself in serious trouble; though some shots might stop inside his co-opted mook, the automatics being fired would have enough power for others to pass through and into Bob. Also, considering the number of bullets usually taken by the mook, some would miss him and hit parts of Bob that are unprotected because Bob is now standing in one place, and his mook is unlikely to be bigger than Bob and able to cover him completely.

The trope can be justified somewhat if the mook is wearing protective gear like a Bulletproof Vest: the vest stops or slows the bullets on entry, they're slowed more by the body and stopped by the back of the vest. Unfortunately, this only works for the areas covered by a vest; furthermore, a mook wearing full body armour would probably survive as well, and won't appreciate being used in this fashion. It might also be somewhat justifiable if a mook is only being used to block one or two bullets instead of the usual fusillade of fire, though this would still entail an element of chance.

A Sister Trope to Human Shield, but where that trope talks about using bystanders as psychological protection, this trope covers the bullet-stopping tendencies of the bystander. Related to Concealment Equals Cover, with the mook serving as the eponymous Concealment.

If this results from a Video Game making units immune to fire from their own team, think of it as a Good Bad Bug.

Contrast with One-Hit Polykill, where the bullets do go through the mook to hit Bob, Grievous Harm with a Body, for when the mook is used as a weapon, Shoot the Hostage, and Shoot the Hostage Taker. Compare Taking the Bullet. Also see Annoying Arrows, Concealment Equals Cover, Improbable Cover, Magic Bullets, and Pocket Protector.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • During the big rooftop battle that opens Season 3 of Attack on Titan, Levi kills 3 mooks in quick succession by impaling one through the chest with his ODM gear, them reeling the corpse in close for cover while he charges the other two.
  • Played ridiculously straight in Brynhildr in the Darkness. When Chisato Ichijiku is Taking the Bullet for a fellow villain, Hexenjagd fill him with what probably is a few magazines' worth of More Dakka. Despite showing no signs of wearing any armour, not a single shot gets through.
  • In Chitose Get You!!, Chitose uses her friend Hinako this way in episode 26 to block the book bag Mika throws at them. It hits Hinako in the face.
  • Lucy does this more than once in Elfen Lied, including the memorable opening scene where she uses the Cute Clumsy Girl's decapitated corpse as said shield.
  • Exaggerated in Fullmetal Alchemist. During the Ishballan War, Kimblee uses one of his own Mooks to shield him from an explosion. Although the explosion killed the soldier instantly, the only thing Kimblee complained about was that his uniform was messed up.
  • Gantz as the picture above demonstrates. A barrage of full auto can be easily stopped by holding a random corpse in front of you.
  • Ghost in the Shell:
    • In Ghost in theShell, Batou casually stops high-velocity, very penetrative shots from an SMG using a silent, nameless civilian appearing onscreen for about one second, which is the only screen time of the civilian during the entire franchise. The shots could be interchangeable with shots that passed through a police car door. By the way, the protagonists are all cops.
    • In an episode of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, members of an anti-cybernetics terrorist/revolutionary group scale ropes during an attempt to stop Section 9's assault on their base. The first group are easily gunned down in large numbers trying this and hang limp on the ropes. The second group to scale the ropes simply pushes the corpses of their allies in front of them to act as shields, drawing surprised reactions from the Section 9 team. A comment suggests this may have been the terrorists' plan all along to level the playing field against the small number of heavily armed Section 9 agents.
  • In MD Geist II - Death Force Geist uses a soldier for this purpose. Then he pushes his own gun through the man's chest and returns fire.
  • Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind: When Nausicaä uses Siren shells to allow a Tourmekian cavalry company to escape encirclement, four riders from the company break off to shield her from gunfire as she rides to safety. Justified, since they and their mounts are far more heavily armored than she is. Nausicaä, however, wishes they hadn't joined her, as they slow her down.
  • Noir features this VERY often. Kirika is probably the one who pulls it off the most, but Mireille and Chloe have used meat shields as well.
  • One Piece:
    • Buggy The Clown uses one of his own Mooks to shield himself from a cannonball in his first appearance. Buggy later finds himself on the other end of this trope when Luffy uses him as a shield against Mihawk, a legendary swordsman. Mihawk proceeds to slice up Buggy anyway. This is okay, as Buggy's power allows him to separate himself into many pieces; all that happens is a thoroughly annoyed Buggy.
    • Hody Jones does this to a fellow fishman, what contrasts his personality to Arlong's, who was pissed when Luffy used one of his subordinates as a shield against him.
  • In Plastic Little:
    • Tita uses herself as one during the climax. Elysse does get a potentially permanent scar when one bullet manages to strike her, though. It's because her industrial-strength armor.
    • Nichol also does this for Tita in the manga. The two hook up not long after.
  • At the end of the Oniwabanshu arc of Rurouni Kenshin, Shikijo uses himself as one to protect Aoshi... against a Gatling gun.
  • Used strategically in Sword Art Online: Alternative Gun Gale Online. LLEN takes advantage of her small size to hide behind enemy corpses. By the second tournament, others have caught on to the tactic, even having teammates sacrifice themselves to provide a shield for others. In this case, it's justified by the system mechanics; player corpses don't despawn during the tournament and are registered as "Immortal Objects", which means they can't be damaged and thus projectiles won't pass through.
  • During the Action Prologue in the first episode of the Vinland Saga anime, Thorkell the Tall (who doesn't normally carry a shield), can be seen using the corpse of a dead enemy to protect himself from a volley of incoming arrows.

    Comic Books 
  • Batman:
    • Used utterly ridiculously in one story, where a character uses a crook as a shield against another, who appears to be shooting an assault rifle at him from point-blank range. What the hell was that guy made of?
    • In Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, a newly-resurgent Batman chases three bank robbers to an abandoned apartment complex. He pulls one robber beneath the floorboards, then uses him as a human shield while the other two open fire.
    • In Batgirl story The Attack of the Annihilator, Barbara Gordon uses an unconscious but still invulnerable Supergirl as a shield against the titular villain's psychic blasts.
  • Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith. A family team of bounty hunters ambush a man they've been told is a Jedi fugitive in a crowded bar. Unfortunately it's Darth Vader as they discover when he starts force-throwing Innocent Bystanders in the path of their fire.
  • The obscure Howard Chaykin comic Power & Glory featured a government agent with severe neurosis. He was a Corporate-Sponsored Superhero that looked good for the public while the agent was the real Badass Normal that was secretly taking down the bad guys. One image from that series involved the agent using the superhero in this fashion as seen on this cover.
  • Punisher:
  • In Star Wars (Marvel 2015), Darth Vader uses the Force to turn two Stormtroopers into his human shields.
  • Star Wars: Doctor Aphra
    • In "Dr Aphra and the Enormous Profit", while pinned down by Imperial stormtroopers, crime boss Yonak jams his sword into the back of a mook and forces him to walk out into the open as a Human Shield; the mook dies while Yonak escapes successfully. Dr Aphra lampshades this 'classic' trope, then forces a Hutt crime boss to do the same, figuring a giant (albeit slow-moving) slug will make an even better shield. Amazingly they both make it alive, only for the Hutt to get killed by a stray deflection shot while threatening to bring the wrath of Jabba down on Aphra for this stunt.
    • In "Remastered", Aphra finds herself being used as a Human Shield, but points out that with the weapons being used against them she'd only be good for one shot, so her captor had best concentrate on shooting while she gets them out of this mess.
  • Superman:
    • In Public Enemies, Metallo shoots Superman with a kryptonite bullet and knocks Batman out with a blow to the head and buries the two alive. Batman comes to and blows himself and Superman out of the ground with his utility belt plastique, using Superman as a literal bulletproof human (er, alien) shield (along with the fact his batsuit is fully armored and fireproof).
    • In 2005 storyline Girl Power, Supergirl uses herself as a shield to cover Batgirl from gunfire.
  • Wonder Woman:
    • Across continuities Diana uses herself to shield her human and other more vulnerable allies, though unlike the Supers she prefers to play "bullets and bracelets" and actually catch or control where the projectiles end up rather than letting them bounce wildly.
    • Wonder Woman (1942): When Queen Clea's plan to have Steve Trevor killed fighting giant beasts in her arena fails she has her archers loose a volley of arrows on him from all sides. Steve grabs the corpse of the last beast he killed to shield his front while Diana jumps in and protects his back.
  • X-Men:
    • In X-Men: Red, Laura uses herself as one in issue 7, physically covering the rest of her team when a passenger aboard the plane they're on is triggered by Cassandra Nova's nanoprobes and begins firing wildly into the aircraft's cargo deck. Strangely enough, this includes shielding Gabby, who not only can't feel the pain of being shot, but has the same Healing Factor she does.
    • All-New Wolverine:
      • Variant in issue 8. When Fin Fang Foom attacks Hill's helicarrier, Laura uses her own body to shield her and Gabby from Foom's Breath Weapon. Fortunately, her Healing Factor allows her to shrug it off.
      • Played with in the annual: Laura instinctively puts herself between Gwen and a flamethrower. However at the time Laura is in Gwen's body, and Gwen is in Laura's, meaning Laura has a very real possibility of suffering a lethal injury since Gwen lacks her healing factor. Gwen very quickly gives her a What the Hell, Hero? over it.
      • Averted to tragic effect in "Old Woman Laura:" Laura attempts to take a blast from a Doombot aiming at Maria Hill. She successfully tanks the hit...only for the blast to go clean through her and fatally wound Hill, anyway.

    Fan Works 
  • War of Remnant: A RWBY Anthology: When he is attacked by Winter, Adam cowardly grabs a female member of the White Fang and uses her block all of Winter’s shots, callously tossing her body to the floor afterwards.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Accident Man: As Mick opens on Mike with a light machine gun, Mike grabs Mac and spins around: holding Mac in front of him so Mick ends up emptying his clip into Mac. Mike then shoves Mac's bullet-riddled corpse in Mick.
  • Anna: Anna uses the corpse of a large man she just killed as a human shield while in a gunfight.
  • Spoofed in Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, where Austin uses Robin Swallows (one of Dr. Evil's agents) as a shield against a thrown knife, submachine gunfire, a bazooka round, and breaking his fall from a five-story building.
    • In a deleted scene, Austin and Felicity are driving around when Dr. Evil's hitmen drive up and spray their car with bullets — but Austin grabs Robin's body out of the trunk to block the salvo.
  • Played straight in Bangkok Knockout when Ao grabs one of the gamblers to use as a human body shield against Mr. Snead.
  • In Blade II, Blade uses a vampire as this when breaking into the base where Whistler is being held.
  • At the start of Blown Away, Ryan Gaerity's fellow prisoner is returned to their cell from solitary confinement, and thanks Gaerity for waiting until he returned before carrying out his escape plan. Gaerity tells him to get some rest, then murders his cellmate in his sleep before using his body to shield himself when he blasts a hole in the wall with an improvised bomb.
  • Brute Force: After learning that the guards know about the Great Escape, Joe works out who The Stool Pigeon is and ties him to the front of the mine cart to absorb bullets as they charge the machine gun.
  • In Coroner Creek, Chris uses Younger Miles' henchman Stu as a human shield when he storms Miles in the town hall. Miles cements his Bad Boss status by shooting at Chris through Stu.
  • In Crank, Chev Chelios uses his friend Kaylon's dead body as a shield.
  • In Demon Knight, the demon possessed Cordelia uses Wally's body to block Brayker's shots, and then throws the corpse at him.
  • In Django Unchained, Quentin Tarantino intentionally and very pointedly subverts another trope — the tendency for bullets that miss people to never hit the already dead or wounded characters in the scene (or hurt people through fragmentation and spalling), and the aversion of action heroes to use corpses as cover. To that effect, there is an extended scene where corpses are gorily pulverized by multiple hits while Django takes cover behind them. This, like many other entries here, is sort of reasonable in context: black-powder revolvers and rifles of the era had rather anemic muzzle velocities and fired heavy, soft lead bullets that tended to stop inside the body rather then overpenetrate.
  • Gramps Is in the Resistance: Adolfo Ramirez, Dirty Coward that he is, uses one of his own men as a human shield against gunfire from Super-Resistant and other freedom fighters during the shootout at club Le Marquis.
  • The Hitman's Bodyguard. Bryce uses a mook to shield himself when another unloads his pistol into him. The bullets actually end up going straight through the mook, but Bryce ends up unharmed because he was also using a steel lunch-tray as a second layer of protection.
  • I'm Gonna Git You Sucka. After an innocent bystander is killed by machine-gun fire, John Slade grabs his body and uses it as a shield against the incoming fire.
  • James Bond:
    • In Thunderball, Bond is dancing with villainess Fiona Volpe when one of her henchmen attempts to shoot him in the back. Bond spins her around at the exact right time that the bullet kills her instead. It's even more effective than usual because the panicked henchmen then flee the scene.
    • Bond also does it in The Spy Who Loved Me, quite disturbingly as the woman may have been meant to be working with the bad guys, but it isn't made clear.
  • John Carpenter's Vampires: During Valek's massacre at the motel, he grabs one of the hookers to have her soak up some bullets. He's not even doing this for protection but purely out of sadism, as he's actually immune to gunfire.
  • Shows up a couple times in Mad Max: Fury Road, done more realistically than most since most of the bullets being taken are handgun rounds fired from quite some distance across moving cars. Max uses the massively obese People Eater as a bullet sponge because there's a lot of meat to use in his meat shield.
  • In Payback, Porter briefly uses Stegman as this, although instead of just standing there and letting his shield soak up bullets, Porter is immediately moving out of the way.
  • Happens in Sherlock Holmes during the first fight scene, when Sherlock spots a mook coming towards him with a revolver and uses some fancy martial arts technique to maneuver the mook he is currently fighting into taking the bullet for him.
  • Shoot 'Em Up. During a skydiving battle Smith grabs a mook and uses him to protect against submachine gunfire as well as borrowing his pistol for a mid-air reload. When the gun gets shot out of his hand, Smith opens the man's parachute to envelope the shooter.
  • In the film version of Sin City, a federal agent is used as a shield while Sociopathic Hero Marv hacks up his teammates with a wood ax. This actually seems to be unintentional on Marv's part since he was busy killing one of the agents when the human shield basically ran into the path of the bullets.
  • In Sisu after Aatami has killed the three German soldiers on the rowboat that were sent after him (the last one indirectly), he uses the last one's corpse as protection when Wolf tries to use the tank's machine gun to take him down.
  • An accidental version in Soylent Green. An assassin tries to shoot Thorn during a riot, but he twice shoots other people who get in the way thanks to the jostling crowd.
  • In Ten Dead Men, Ryan grabs one of Franklin's thugs and uses him as a shield to soak up the bullets from the rest of Franklin's gang when he storms the tower where the Projects Manager is holed up.
  • The Terminator has an accidental version during the shoot-out in Tech Noir. The Terminator fires his Uzi at Sarah Connor as she flees the nightclub with the other patrons, but a woman behind Sarah catches the burst and her falling body knocks Sarah to the ground.
  • In Today We Kill... Tomorrow We Die!, O'Bannion pretends to be dead to lure the remaining Comancheros out to investigate, then grabs one of them to use as a shhield as Milton and Fox unload on them.
  • Total Recall (1990): Douglas Quaid is attacked by goons while on an escalator and an innocent bystander catches a bullet while next to him. Douglas grabs the man and uses him as a shield. He even spins the dead man around to block more gunfire from the other direction.
  • V for Vendetta: V uses this tactic to outmaneuver the constables in Jordan Tower. It appears the constables are wearing some thin armor which could be stopping the bullets, although it proves utterly useless against V's knives (which real-life Kevlar is ineffective against).
  • In Wanted, during his assault on the Fraternity's headquarters, Wesley shoots a guy in the head, jams a looted revolver through the hole, and fires through it, while carrying the body along to soak up rounds.
  • What Happened to Monday: One of the sisters pushes a goon out in front of her just as his buddy fires, and it works (at close range with a machine gun, too).

  • Inverted in Captain Corelli's Mandolin, when the Italian soldiers are executed, Carlo Guercio deliberately steps in front of Captain Corelli and holds him there, saving his life. His body doesn't completely stop the bullets, only absorbing enough of the force that the Captain's injuries aren't fatal.
  • In The Crossing (2015), bad guys Ellis and Long are engaged in a shootout with protagonist Harry Bosch. As Ellis turns to flee, he yanks Long over between himself and Bosch to serve as a shield. It works, as Long takes a couple of bullets in his bulletproof vest and one in the hip.
  • The Murderbot Diaries: Murderbot has captured Tlacey the Corrupt Corporate Executive, but finds her bodyguard has panicked and shot the woman Murderbot was protecting. Tlacey is trying to make excuses when Murderbot crushes her windpipe while simultaneously using her body to shield it from the bodyguard's gunfire. Not that Murderbot really needs this as it is somewhat Immune to Bullets—it takes a bullet while going to kill the bodyguard next.
  • The Sandokan novel The Tigers of Mompracem offers a strange example: Sandokan expects the commander of the ship he's using to shield him from incoming bullets (it's all but stated that it's part of their rules), and even reprimands him when he fails to do so, and another pirate dies in his place.
  • Vorkosigan Saga: In Shards of Honor, the heroine uses an unconscious enemy soldier to shield herself from a "nerve disruptor", a science fiction ray-gun that destroys nerve tissue but is evidently absorbed by human tissue in the process.
  • In Literature/Snake Eyes, Chris Gordon uses a vampire to catch bullets that were shot at him.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the pilot episode of Alphas, the Villain of the Week is holding Rachel as a Human Shield, forcing Hicks to use his Improbable Aiming Skills to save her, ricocheting a bullet off a nearby sign into the villain's back, luckily without it going through him.
  • Deadly Class: Mr. Lin uses a mook as a human shield while escaping the cartel as his house. It works to stop several bullets.
  • The Expanse: Rare example of played straight, done a lot, AND justified. In zero-g, bodies, especially with grav boots on tend to remain standing. People in general are easier to pick up. The bullets themselves need low penetration to avoid punching holes in the ship’s hull, out into space. This creates a lot of scenarios where dead bodies can be used as temporary cover, or someone can be grappled onto and used to absorb low penetration rounds.
  • John Crichton from Farscape, during an Enemy Mine situation with Magnificent Bastard Scorpius, grabs him and uses him as a walking talking piece of cover. Scorpius is half Scarran who are bulletproof to anything smaller than anti-tank weaponry, even before taking into account his body armor. Scorpius even compliments John on remembering this fact.
  • Lampshaded in the Human Target episode "Victoria", when Guerrero uses a startled mook as a human shield against a sniper on a nearby roof. When the EMT they're protecting at the time manages to drag the mook in for inspection, he comments that the bullets passed straight through the mook's bulletproof vest and that Guerrero's lucky they didn't hit him as well.
    • Happens again in the episode "Run," when Chance uses a mook both to shield himself from a guy who's firing at him from across the room and to fire at said guy via the mook's gun. There's no lampshade this time, though.
  • In Kamen Rider Ryuki, Ouja infamously uses Gai as a shield against Zolda's Final Vent, before killing Gai himself. This moment is so infamous that Human Shield is mostly referred to as Guard Vent in Japanese-speaking circles.
  • Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger:
    • Employed by Gokai Red with the help of a nearby Mook.
    • Also attempted by Kyousuke with Don in #14, but it doesn't quite work out.
  • Lost in Space: Dr. Smith, being a Dirty Coward, frequently uses young Will Robinson as a human shield to cower behind.
  • Luke Cage (2016): Luke himself is one, due to his unbreakable skin. In The Defenders (2017), we see a demonstration of this when he shields Danny Rand during the Midland Circle hallway fight.
  • The Mandalorian:
    • In "Chapter 12: The Siege", Cara Dune uses one of the Aqualish thugs' body to protects herself from the other's fire. Clearly, it works even better with blaster shots than with bullets.
    • In "The Pirate", the Armorer uses a Klatooinian pirate to intercept the blaster fire of an Aqualish pirate, before throwing her beskar hammer in the latter's face.
  • One of the many Tropes Examined by the MythBusters. Long story short, the MythBusters found that doing this is far too unreliable to be effective as a defensive technique. More often than not, it would just produce two gunshot victims instead of one.
  • Horribly subverted in Netflix's On My Block, where Ruby puts himself between Olivia and Latrelle as soon as he sees the gun. They're both severely injured, and Olivia dies. Ruby deals with serious survivor's guilt for the remainder of the series, and one of the reasons his wound wasn't fatal is because the bullet passed straight through, as opposed to Olivia's more serious injury.
  • Person of Interest: In "Asylum" Root uses a Samaritan mook this way when Martine shoots at her. It's possibly he's wearing a bulletproof vest however, and all her shots are to his chest.
  • Sense8: Wolfgang used a guy this way during a gunfight. Sun later does the same with one of her brother's goons.
  • In the final episode of Starsky & Hutch, Hutch is ambushed by two hitmen, one with a gun and one with a knife. He manages to take advantage of this by maneuvering the knife-wielder between himself and the gunman, just in time to take the shot.
  • In the final episode of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Weaver saves Sarah, John, and Ellison from a Skynet drone attack by shapeshifting into a manta ray-like form to block the bullets and explosion.
  • Walker, Texas Ranger has had this occur a few times:
    • In Season 5's "The Brotherhood", a Dirty Cop does this by mistake to one of his fellow dirty cops while attempting to snipe Walker during the final fight. The episode has Walker dealing with a pack of dirty cops killing off arrested people who got off on technicalities, having warned those cops their extremist and malicious actions would result in an innocent person being killed. Sure enough, it happens to a friend's son after he was acquitted of a rape he didn't commit, but the dirty cops didn't check, and Walker is now prepared to have arrest warrants issued for said cops, but they're not willing to go down without a fight. As Walker dukes it out with one of the Sergeants of the department following that, another Sergeant who tried to snipe him accidentally shoots and kills his fellow officer, at which point, he goes on to kill himself.
    • Played ridiculously straight during the final act of Season 9's "6 Hours". Wealthy 16½-year-old Heather Preston has been taken hostage by her traitorous bodyguard, McNeely, and strapped into an old broken electric chair placed in front of a shotgun set to go off and kill her within six hours, not to mention McNeely plans to broadcast his crime over the internet. Walker finds McNeely's hideout, beats him up, and drags him in front of the gun just in time to protect Heather and make him take the blast. Of a shotgun. True to form, only McNeely is killed, when in real life, the shot probably would have gone through him, Walker, and poor Heather.
  • The Walking Dead (2010):
    • In "Home", Carol uses a dead body (mainly, Axel's) this way after they're killed by the Governor; Played Straight as it blocks multiple rounds from an automatic rifle without her being hit. Although they were shot in the head, and may have been wearing a bulletproof vest, since they were in one of the former guards' uniforms, but this still probably wouldn't stop all of them.
    • In "Too Far Gone", Daryl uses a zombie he shot to provide cover from weapons fire from the Governor's forces when they were assaulting the prison in the mid-season finale for season four, as he ran from one shielded area to another. Bonus points in this case, as shortly before that, another character (Bob) catches a shot which goes right through him and he explicitly demands Maggie to examine the exit wound. Obviously that only happens if you're not an enforcer of Rule of Cool (like Daryl).
  • Wonder Woman (1975): In "The Man Who Could Not Die", Wonder Woman ducks behind the aforementioned man to throw her lasso of truth around a Mook. He blocks the bullets with his body which is slightly more efficient than letting her deflect the bullets with her bracelets and lassoing the thug as he runs away - as is done every other time this comes up.
  • You Can't Do That on Television's firing squad sketch usually depended on this trope, as a typical outcome had the chief executioner being tricked into saying "Fire!" while standing between his men and the condemned.

  • In The Gamer's Alliance, quite a few characters — heroic, villainous, and anything in-between — have no problem using people (whether humans or other races) as shields to get out of sticky situations. Sometimes it works, sometimes it...doesn't.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Played amusingly straight in indie Roleplaying Game @ctiv8, which has a section listing how much damage is stopped by various forms of cover. A human body used as a shield provides more protection than bulletproof glass.
  • The signature martial arts style of the Infernal Exalted, Infernal Monster Style, includes the charm Screaming Meat Shield, redirecting even magical attacks.
  • With the GMC update to New World of Darkness, human shields do provide cover equal to their Stamina. Anything that gets through goes to the guy using a human shield. This is also the update that made combat far more lethal. Make of that what you will.
  • Taken to disturbingly literal level with the Clan Tzimisce in Vampire: The Masquerade: with the Vicissitude power Living Testudo, one may grab any person and use flesh- and bonecrafting arts to lay open the victim's back in such a manner that her vertebrae are exposed. The vampire then grasps the spinal cord as a handle, turning the person into a weapon and shield all in one, reshaping the helpless victim's body into protective shielding and vicious bone weapons. Although it is technically possible fix whatever you do later with other Vicissitude powers, it's much more common that they are killed or injured beyond repair during the fighting, especially if they are a mortal or ghoul.

    Video Games 
  • In 25 to Life, criminals, both player-controlled and NPC, can grab civilians and use them as cover. AI-controlled law enforcement will hold their fire when presented with a hostage-taking player, only firing if the player fires a shot or releases the hostage. AI-controlled criminals and players have no such qualms, and will fire away without a care for civilian casualties.
  • A primary tactic of the ape in Ape Out; it can even force a hostage to fire at the other humans and then throw their body to kill some more.
  • Assassin's Creed III employs this as a combat mechanic. Connor can grab enemy soldiers and use them to absorb a volley of musket fire, then drop them to close on the remaining soldiers before they can reload. The E3 trailer also shows him using a horse for this purpose — while riding it. Even more far-fetched is Desmond being able to do this while storming the Abstergo HQ. The guards take as long to aim their sidearms as the 18th-century officers, allowing Desmind time to grab the nearest guard as a shield. You can also do this in Assassins Creed IV, with the process streamlined from the previous game.
  • BioShock and BioShock 2 lets players have fun with this: basically kill a splicer or big daddy, use telekinesis to lift body and you have an instant human shield, and when you're close enough, just toss that body at the attacker to hurt or kill them.
  • A wild variation occurs in the video game BloodRayne. There, one of the titular hero's special moves is to grasp an enemy goon, bite down on his neck (she is a vampire dhampir Dhampiresa, after all), and while wrapped around him, spin him around to block enemy shots, using him as a shield and gaining health at the same time.
  • In Borderlands 2, the Nomad Torturers carry massive, bulletproof riot shields with a hole in the center. A hole they patch up by strapping a Midget to the shield. (The Bandits are competent metalworkers, and could probably patch up the hole with a more conventional fix, but Nomads like to make Midgets suffer.)
  • A hilarious example occurs in Episode 4 of Tales from the Borderlands. During the finger-gun fight, "Rhys-quez" uses one of the accountants as a shield, and the fellow ends up getting 'shot' by his coworkers. Naturally, he's fine afterwards.
  • The video game adaptation of The Bourne Conspiracy uses both this trope and Human Shield, depending on the fire discipline of the enemy.
  • Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War actually introduces this into Single Player in-game mechanics where you can use nearby enemy as a shield and let the poor bastard soak up the bullets for you.
  • Crysis allows the player to use Korean soldiers as shields (and improvised throwing weapons if the situation calls for it).
  • Dead to Rights and the sequel have human shields as a major source of armor. Enemies don't stop shooting, but you really, really do need the shields. Really.
  • Gears of War 2: Marcus may actually randomly say "Hope you're bulletproof" when grabbing an enemy for this move. Just don't try it against a Grinder. That minigun will rip the guy in half in seconds.
    • Both COG and Locust players in multiplayer may pick up downed enemies as a "meatshield". The possibility to use them as hostages is impossible as the move causes the downed enemy to be dead for all intents and purposes, leaving it solely to be used by players soak up more bullets. Using this slows the player down and limits them to their pistol, though the meatshield can be instantly disposed of by swapping to another weapon (and more entertainingly disposed of by snapping their neck before dropping them).
  • Half-Life 2 lets you do this when you have the Super Gravity Gun. After you kill an enemy with the "pick up" function, his levitating corpse makes a great temporary shield against his friends' weapons. Especially the heavily armored Elites.
  • In Chapter 11 of Max Payne 3, Max cold-cocks an AUP mook on a zipline and uses his body to shield himself from the other mooks' gunfire while he rides the zipline. At least the mook he's holding onto has body armor.
  • The Metal Gear games use both this trope and Human Shield, depending on who you capture. In Portable Ops and 3, attempting to shield yourself with a higher-ranking officer would cause enemies to hesitate while shielding yourself with a scientist does nothing and they'll still shoot you freely.
  • Operation Thunderbolt (a sequel to Operation Wolf) had this at the end; the villain used the hijacked plane's pilot. You get the Bad Ending if you kill the pilot.
  • Painkiller has Skulls, enemy monsters who can pick up and use lesser mooks as shields.
  • The Punisher has both the hero and the bad guys able and willing to use Bulletproof Human Shields.
  • In the trailer for Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City, a member of the Special Forces is caught in the crossfire after dodging a grenade explosion. He grabs a convenient nearby zombie, which takes a few bullets for him, allowing him to run for cover.
  • Saints Row 2 allows you to use just about anyone as cover. Taking a Banger causes the others to open fire and kill their friends while you take them apart.
    • Enemy gang members will do this too. Unfortunately, they tend to grab random civilians rather than members of your gang, meaning there's little emotion and more "Man, having to waste random bullets". One boss fight does use Shaundi as a human shield to turn it into a sort of Puzzle Boss, though. Annoyingly, it also makes him immune to bullets while he's got his hostage, even if you manage to shoot him somewhere that he's not protect (like his head). The game really forces you to deal with that puzzle aspect.
    • The Boss in a cutscene uses a bartender he/she has just sat down in front of when a SWAT team begins raiding the place with lethal force.
    • Taking a cop or civilian will cause other cops to not shoot. Unless they're behind you. They also think nothing of running you both over with a car.
  • The Spider-Man 2 game allow you to use the grapple ability to use enemies as shields against other enemies.
  • All of the Splinter Cell games you can take guards hostage to protect yourself from their colleagues' fire.
  • Star Fox Adventures: When Fox confronts General Scales in the treasure room of the Cloud Runner Fortress, the latter picks up one of his soldiers to protect himself from Fox's fire.
  • Time Crisis 2 had part of the final boss battle feature him using Christy as this. You're penalised points if you tag her, and if you spend more time shooting her than the boss you get a time over, but that's about it.
  • Megatron does this in Transformers: Prime – The Game, using Starscream to take the full force of an energy blast.
  • In the FPS version of XIII, the titular character will use human shields without missing a beat.
  • Yakuza features a truly absurd example, in which the torso of a hapless waiter is sufficient to protect Kiryu when a triad mook opens fire with an assault rifle from a couple meters away. The scene was left untouched in the remake, as seen here.
  • In Zone of the Enders you can grab enemies and use them as Giant Robot versions of this trope. The enemies will still shoot, causing them to hurt their allies instead of you, and you still can hurl your grabbed foe and destroy both.

    Web Animation 
  • This happens in an early episode of Madness Combat, despite the characters being usually Made of Plasticine. Also happens many more times in future installments. Bullets can't seem to penetrate bodies very well but can tear through cover easily.
  • Agent South in Red vs. Blue picks up a soldier's corpse at one point and uses it as an impromptu shield against snipers. None of the bullets end up hitting her anyway, but even with the body armor soldiers wear, you have to wonder what good it would have done against a sniper.
  • Team Service Announcement showcased in "Sentry Knockback" an Ubercharged BLU Heavy was pinned against the wall by a RED Engineers' Sentry, only for the Ubercharged BLU Medic to come in and dance in front of the Sentrys' guns to allow his Heavy to get back to his feet again and simply punch the distracted Sentry.
  • A parody of the above example happens in TF2 Analysis where an Ubercharged Lightning Bliss is pinned against a wall by Dr. Wolfs' Sentry, only for Keyframe (under the effects of the Ubercharge) to dance in front of the turret while Lightning Bliss destroys it with a kick.

  • The Handbook of Heroes comic "Point Man" has the party use Fighter as a shield to block enemy arrows, as he has the highest Hit Points.
  • Terra: On page 243 a mook grabs the corpse of one Alex already shot and killed and uses him to block her fire while he returns it. This set off a brief bout of Wild Mass Guessing in the comments. Eventually, Holly put her foot down and pointed out that Alex never actually shot the human shield because the mook holding it was quicker on the trigger; therefore whether her rifle fire would or would not penetrate was a moot point.

    Western Animation 
  • Archer: In season 2, Archer reacts to a firefight by hiding behind Cheryl. She's pissed until he reminds her that the vest she's wearing is bulletproof. Then she's shot in the shoulder, which is not covered by the vest.
  • Drawn Together: Captain Hero's "Hero Shield" move. Depending on the episode, he himself should be immune to bullets.
  • Family Guy: In "And Then There Were Fewer", Stewie shoots through Diane Simmons with a sniper without hitting Lois who was standing right behind her. But hey, Rule of Funny.
  • Transformers:
    • Beast Wars: In "Code of Hero", Dinobot is under attack from Blackarachnia's eight machine guns. He grabs the already semi-bisected Inferno to absorb her last bullets before using Inferno's gun to shoot her down. Then he uses the poor Predacon's gun against him, blowing his head sky high.
    • Transformers: Animated: A three-way battle features Optimus Prime and Megatron fighting as Back-to-Back Badasses until Megatron grabs Optimus and uses him to absorb a hail of laser fire.
    • Transformers: Prime: Bulkhead does this with several Vehicons when he attacks the Nemesis in "Darkness Rising".

    Real Life 
  • BBC reporter Kate Adie was in Tiananmen Square when the army started shooting into the crowd of demonstrators. She was slightly injured by a bullet that had just killed the guy in front of her (and possibly others).
  • In David Simon's Homicide: A Year On The Killing Streets, Simon relates the story of detectives who were called to investigate the death of a man shot thirty-five times and the wounding of a man shot four times. It was ultimately revealed that a drug dealer and his muscle had gone to meet with another man. When an argument occurred, the dealer ordered his muscle to open up on the man with a MAC-10. Thinking fast, the man grabbed the dealer as a human shield, and the muscle ended up riddling his own boss with bullets. Only four passed through to wound the man, who survived the ordeal.
  • There were rumors that during the Iran–Iraq War, Iraqi engineers would pile up the bodies of Iranian soldiers after a failed attack to use as foundation materials for their troops' fortifications.
  • Similar, in the defense of "Pavlov's House" in the siege on Stalingrad during World War II, the Soviet troops holding the house, by the final weeks of the battle, would routinely have to run out after a German attack to kick over the piles of corpses, lest the German troops in the next attack be able to use them as protection. It's actually a trope in and of itself: any party in a prolonged war has claimed that sort of thing, among them all combatants in WWI and WWII, forces on both sides in the American Civil war, etc.


Video Example(s):


Body shield

Ahsoke uses her force to drag an Elsbeth mercenary in front of his comrade to serve as a shield against a blaster shot before discarding him.

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

Main / BulletproofHumanShield

Media sources: