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Bulletproof Vest

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It's not enough to stop shrapnelnote  — notice the bloodstain — but it's better than nothing.

Artemus Gordon: If I may make one last request? That she aim for my heart... the heart that loved this country so much.
Loveless: Shoot him in the head.
Gordon: Damn!

They cost between $100 and $600. They will (usually) save your life. Few non-military/police heroes ever wear one, unless they are a major character and it is dramatically required that they get shot. Then we're not told about it in advance and they'll look dead for a few moments.

In military or combat fiction, the bulletproof vest goes hand-in-hand with the Kevlar helmet. Any character who removes their helmet when a gunfight has seemingly stopped automatically takes a round in the head, unless that character is a hero, and needs to show his face for some dialogue. A common way for the military Red Shirt to bite it.

In fiction, a concealable soft vest is capable of stopping anything up to and including magnum centerfire armour piercing rifle rounds. The shot might knock you down and leave you with a hole in your shirt, but you'll get up just fine. In games, vests either stop all damage or reduce it, but are often destroyed when they take enough damage (See Body Armor as Hit Points). Video game injuries are a matter of mathematical equation, whereas in Real Life there is a great deal of randomness involved.

In reality, the kevlar armour issued to police, some close protection details, and VIPs will only cover them against handgun ammunition. Shotgun rounds are largely ineffective against armor, due to even the stiffer shot loads being only equivalent to 30-something caliber spherical balls — not good for piercing. Top tier soft armor will stop all but the nastiest handgun rounds, and hard armor is functionally impervious to pistol rounds. To defeat rifle ammunition, you'll need armour plates made of steel or ceramic.

The difference is that steel and other metal inserts are more multihit resistant, while ceramic has the advantage of sheer strength, and higher strength per area, as well as weight. Plates designed to stop the bigger bullets are also very bulky and not very form-fitting, thus unlikely to be worn underneath clothing. Soft armor imparts great impact, but hard armor plates are basically immune to it, only really bruising with heavier rounds from snipers.

Fictional bulletproof vests may also stop blades, ice picks, or similar weapons; however, in real life, soft armor vests intended only for protection against bullets are ineffective against stabbing. This is because the armor uses high-strength fiber cloth to spread out the impact of a bullet, but the point and edge of a knife can slip between the weave of the fabric and cut it open. There are actually vests for defending against stabs, though. There are two different stab vest styles. One is designed to protected against engineered blades, such as those belonging to knives. The other is meant to protect against spike type blades, like those typical of improvised stabbing weapons, such as screwdrivers and shivs. Most military body armor will hold up fairly well against slashing attacks, though, because the designs are meant to protect against fragments, which are flying, sharp bits of metal. Hard ballistic plates will defeat any kind of blade attack, however.

And don't forget, when someone does get shot when wearing a vest, has been mistaken for dead, gets emotionalized over and then sits up with a bewildered look on their face, they will always, ALWAYS part their shirt to reveal the vest, usually with bullets showing in it. They will then immediately remove the vest, even if the danger might not be over.

When bullets are stopped by things that cover very little area in addition to being unlikely to be effective if hit, yet do so by sheer force of sentimentality, that's a Pocket Protector. Bulletproof Human Shield is the trope when bullets are stopped by an unwilling Mook or bystander. If a vest is worn by a Badass in a Nice Suit, it will overlap with Waistcoat of Style.

Nowadays, modern vests of various types can double as bulletproof vests by having armor plates inserted into it.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In all three editions of Battle Royale (Book, film and manga) the bulletproof vest acts as one of the strongest items in the event, saving the lives of the people who carry it numerous times. In the manga this is treated reasonably well, in that when hit with a shotgun (at long range) it hurts quite a bit, the wearer obviously bleeding through the ruined vest. One scene earlier on when the vest takes a close-range shot with a .45 caliber revolver with no effect is a little less defensible. It should be noted .45 isn't the, uh, most high-velocity hit, but, still...
  • Rotton the Wizard is probably one of the few people in Black Lagoon with the sense to wear one. Shouting out your presence when you have the jump on the enemy, not so much.
  • Government-sponsored Devil Hunters in Chainsaw Man wear business suits which are actually bulletproof and able to reduce slashing damage. That said, against most devils this just means an attack will leave a Devil Hunter seriously injured rather than instantly dead.
  • Hei's coat in Darker than Black is bulletproof.
  • The primary function of the full-body desert suits most characters in Desert Punk wear are to protect from the weather, but they provide decent protection from bullets and fragmentation as well. One mook's vest let him take about a half dozen rounds from Kosuna's handgun at very close range and Kanta's helmet on two separate occasions protected him from sniper rifle fire. Basically, every part of the suits are stated to be made of some kind of Aramid (a classification of strong, heat-resistance material that Kevlar belongs to), even the hats.
  • Ura the armor cat in El-Hazard: The Magnificent World is a living version of this. He's the cutest flak jacket you'll ever wear!
  • In Future Diary, Keigo Kurusu wears one. It doesn't do much good since Yuno fires at his head.
  • In the anime of Golgo 13, a Mafia boss thinks he's protected from the master assassin by his bulletproof glass, which he even tests by firing at it with a pistol. Duke empties his M-16 rifle into the glass, cracking it so the final bullet can pass through the hole unimpeded and kill his target. This scene is basically a rehash of one from The Professional, Golgo 13's first appearance in anime. In The Professional, Golgo 13 also shot clean through the windows of another building that was between him and his target (he couldn't shoot directly from that building because the feds were staking it out).
  • Gunslinger Girl. Sandro and his cyborg Petra find themselves attacked by a car armored with the same Carbon Fibre Reinforced Polymer used to ensure the cyborgs are Made of Iron. Petra uses a slingshot firing a metal ball to star the windshield enough obscure their vision and make the car crash.
  • Gunsmith Cats: Bean Bandit's moose leather jacket is an Nigh-Invulnerable monstrosity filled with ceramic plates and chain mail. It's demonstrated to protect Bean from a barrage of assault rifle fire and multiple shotgun slugs. Downside? Only an utter monster like Bean can wear something so absurdly heavy; when Misty nudges it off a dresser, it breaks her foot. On top of that, Bean wears a headband of the same construction. It deflects a 9mm contact shot.
  • Heat Guy J: Daisuke attacks the Mafia group's headquarters, Company Vita. Long story short, he ends up giving a "The Reason You Suck" Speech to Clair, which involved mentioning Clair's abusive father. This earns Daisuke three bullets, but he was wearing a bulletproof vest. It still knocked him back, and he commented, "That's going to leave a mark."
  • Ooishi, that fat cop from Higurashi: When They Cry, wears a stab-proof vest at one point.
  • Played With in Monster Musume, where Zombina unzips her jacket to show that she wasn't wearing a vest.
  • In Pokémon Adventures, what appears to be a wetsuit that Blake wears underneath his clothing is actually some kind of armor that allowed him to survive Genesect's Technoblast head on.

    Comic Books 
  • Batman:
    • Most modern incarnations of the character have him wear batsuits that are essentially advanced suits of lightweight armor that also allow him to be as nimble as he ever is. Furthermore, in the classic comic, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, the yellow ellipse bat chest symbol is explained as a psychological lure for criminals to shoot at his heavy chest armor and away from his head. Why he tends to wear a similarly bright yellow belt has never been explained.
    • In the Golden Age Batman story "The Curse of the Four Fates," one of the criminals has been told that "Metal will still your beating heart." He naturally dons a protective vest. But he's forgotten that he has a bullet lodged in his chest from an earlier shooting. A strong blow against the vest dislodges the old bullet and drives it into his heart.
    • Another Golden Age story plays with this trope. Batman and Robin remember a case of three brothers who wore steel chainmail vests. The Dynamic Duo fight one brother in a junkyard. He's hoisted by an electromagnet and killed when dropped on scrap metal as a goon unwittingly shuts it off. A later fight at the docks drowns the second brother; the vest made him too heavy to float. The last brother, who wanted to go straight when the others found him, left the gang. He died when he took his vest off to connect downed powerlines to help an emergency surgery and was gunned down by a vengeful goon. Batman and Robin acknowledge the last brother's good nature before he dies.
    • Yet another Golden Age story Batman comic subverts this trope. Batman is shot by a one-time villain who has a Napoleon complex and tries to conquer the world using a dirigible equipped with death rays. Batman escapes and is later seen nursing a wound from where he was shot. He even comments he lost a lot of blood.
    • Batman's armour is indeed very powerful (he takes a shot to the head from a sniper in No Man's Land on purpose), but it also has the flexibility of simple cloth fabric.
  • Batwoman's standard uniform uses a shear-thicking compound for its armor, which also allows it to protect from blunt injuries. During her coerced partnership with the DEO, she gets a more high-tech bulletproof suit that can easily stand up to assault rifles and bladed weapons.
    "I'm a damn superwoman."
  • The English Comic strip Captain Hurricane featured the eponymous Captain's "batman", "Maggots" Malone, displaying uncharacteristic courage in battle; upon "Demob" day, Maggots reveals his secret; he has been wearing a brass Cuirassier's breastplate under his battledress, found in a bombed-out chateau on D-Day, and considers himself indestructible; Hurricane responds by taking the breastplate and putting three rounds from his service Browning through it; demonstrating that it provided no protection from modern weapons. Malone responds by fainting dead away.
  • Played painfully realistically in Copperhead: Sheriff Bronson and her deputy wear armor that's resistant to small arms, but the previous sheriff was shot right through it with a weapon stronger than it was designed to stop. Bronson still wears the armor he died in due to lack of funds.
  • G.I. Joe: Bulletproof vests naturally show up several times in the comics. Here they avert the "stop everything" aspect, and it is several times discussed how different firearm rounds have different levels of penetration.
  • Hawkeye: Treated fairly realistically in Hawkeye (2012) when Clint is shot at close range by Madame Masque, and despite wearing a SHIELD-issue vest he's knocked flat and is next seen in a medical ward. He outright says it felt like being hit by a truck.
  • Kid Colt: Iron Mask, Kid Colt's Arch-Enemy, was a blacksmith who constructed a suit of bulletproof armour for his career of crime. Initially consisting of just a helmet and chest piece, he kept adding to it following his encounters with Colt until it was a full suit.
  • In one MAD "Spy vs. Spy" strip, the black spy welds together a thick metal vest and tests it against bullets, knives, etc; it's invulnerable. He confidently approaches the white spy, who is leaning on a bridge railing. The white spy tosses a large magnet off the bridge into the water below, dragging the vest and its wearer along.
  • The Punisher:
    • The main character originally used this as a trick, wearing heavy body-armor with a white skull that drew attention - and fire — away from his head (and the symbol's "teeth" section is a handy place to have ammo clips). Later incarnations are simply too badass to die.
    • Spoofed with his parody Frank Casket (nom de guerre: the Pulveriser) in the parody comic What The...?!.
      Pulveriser: Bet you punks can't hit the skull!
      Pulveriser's VO Box: I won the bet. My medical bills told me that after criminals, doctors would be the next to go.
    • Played with during The Punisher MAX arc Up is Down and Black is White, where the Punisher survives being shot at near point blank range by a shotgun with no apparent serious injuries due to his bulletproof vest. Averted in the sense that although it didn't kill him, it hurt like hell, and it leaves him completely unable to move until help arrived.
    • Other instances can be explained by the fact that Frank has unbelievable pain tolerance.
  • In Red Robin Tim expounds on the bullet resistant nature of his suit and cowl, and he picks up a temporary uneasy ally in Russia who eventually reveals her true colors as a somewhat reluctant villain who always wears a ballistic vest.
  • Ultimate X Men: Cyclops was shot by an angry mob while they tried to rescue the daughter of the president. Thank God for Kevlar.
  • The Walking Dead: There is a fairly realistic portrayal of a bulletproof vest in action. Glenn is shot with a shotgun at fairly close range while wearing a suit of riot gear (including the vest) and while he does survive, he is injured quite badly with broken ribs and possible internal bleeding.
  • Wolverine: Starting in issue 19 of All-New Wolverine, Laura starts wearing one with her new costume based on a suggestion by Gabby that just because she can heal doesn't mean she shouldn't protect herself.
  • Wonder Woman: Even in continuities where Diana is nearly as bullet-resistant as Superman her red bustier is bulletproof.

    Fan Works 
  • In Boys do Tankary?, while the boys are going to rescue Anglerfish Team, from Ami Chouno, who has inexplicably become evil, Ami shoots Ian in the chest, but his comrades then capture Ami. As Ian's girlfriend Hana cries over him, Vincent starts laughing and Ian gets up, before revealing that they wear bulletproof vests all the time.
  • The Borderline Caper has a straight example of this trope. Main character shot and we're not told she has a bulletproof vest for a short while? Check. Knocked down with one hole in her shirt for each bullet? Check. Reality compliant: with no plates, it only stopped handgun bullets. Mistaken for dead (almost touching off a Roaring Rampage of Revenge if not for The Cavalry arriving), emotionalized over and then sits up? Two out of three (having her head in her love interest's lap is a good excuse to not sit up). Part shirt to reveal vest? Check. The scene ends before she can remove the vest, but she is shown without the vest in the next scene.
  • In the last few chapters of There's No One Like You, Luz is giving testimony to convict Odalia Blight of grooming her daughter Amity. Odalia, having undergone a Villainous Breakdown, smuggles a gun into the courtroom and shoots Luz. However, Luz gets up quickly and is revealed to have been wearing a Kevlar vest at the urging of Odalia's other daughter, Amelia. It's treated realistically in that Luz is still seriously hurt by the gunshot, and requires months of physical therapy.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Played for Laughs in 22 Jump Street, Jonah Hill's character Schmidt wears one in his first meeting with his boss Dickson after the latter finds out that he had slept with his daughter and had a pistol aimed at him on the table.
    Jenko: Are you wearing a kevlar?
  • Several characters in The Adventures of Pluto Nash wear bulletproof undershirts under their clothing. These include Pluto himself, the robot Bruno, and Rex Crater.
  • In the beginning of Alien Nation, Sykes and his partner interrupt an armed robbery. One crook starts shooting a shotgun at the partner, who's not only wearing a bulletproof vest but is also crouched behind a car. With all that protection he should be safe, right? The shotgun's shots go right through the car and the guy's vest, killing him. Sykes later finds out the shotgun was firing special armor piercing slugs. Later, Sykes gets a .454 Casul Hand Cannon and puts a kevlar vest over his shooting range target, blowing holes straight through it.
  • In Assassins a bulletproof glass divider in a taxi cab provides a realistic Gunpoint Banter moment, though at one point the villain tries a shot anyway just in case the glass isn't as tough as it was advertised. Also a person Rath was shown sniping in the opening scene turns out to have faked his death. The man knew where Rath would be shooting from and with what weapon, so he wore a vest capable of stopping the bullet.
  • The Avengers. After Mrs. Peel's clone shoots him, Steed reveals that his Trubshaw waistcoat is bulletproof.
  • The Back to the Future trilogy has bulletproof vests as a recurring element:
    • In Back to the Future, Doc Brown gets gunned down by some vengeful Libyan terrorists for swindling them of their plutonium at the beginning of the movie. After Marty time travels back to the 1955, he keeps trying to warn him, but Doc refuses, citing the integrity of the space-time continuum. Marty travels back to the present (1985)... just in time to see Doc get shot again. Marty runs over, mourning him... but, of course, Doc finally took the warning, and was wearing a bulletproof vest, which he probably modified to stop rifle fire (this type of vest won't do so in real life).
    • In Back to the Future Part II, Biff Tannen watches a movie set in the Wild West where a man survives gun shots thanks to this, as foreshadowing for the next sequel; In Back to the Future Part III, Marty hides a stove door under his shirt just in case, and being Genre Savvy, acts out a scene from A Fistful of Dollars with Buford "Mad Dog" Tannen.
  • The Batsuit in Batman (1989) appears to be made of a rubber-like material. In the film's opening a random mugger empties his gun at batman and while it knocks him down, he's immediately on his feet a moment later none the worse for wear. Although Batman Returns shows that Catwoman's claws go right through.
  • Batman Begins establishes that the Batman's suit is a $300k body armor, so it's somewhat justified that it works pretty well. In The Dark Knight, Bruce asks Fox to redesign the suit to be more resistant to dog bites, realistically showing a common weakness in ballistic armor. In The Dark Knight, Gordon takes a bullet for the mayor while wearing a standard kevlar vest and is injured badly enough to convince everyone he's dead. He's away for some time before coming back into action.
  • Ballistic Kiss has a standoff where both shooters managed to gun down each other... but they both have vests.
    Wesley: [rips open his shirt to expose vest] I've got a vest, so fuck you!
    Cat: [rips his shirt open to reveal another vest] I also have a vest, so fuck you too!
  • In Battle Royale, one student is gunned down by Kiriyama and collapses, apparently dead. The moment Kiriyama's out of sight, however, the victim jumps to his feet and gleefully declares that he's been saved by his awesome bulletproof vest. It turns out that Kiriyama was hiding nearby while stalking someone else; he hears this and uses a katana to slice the student's head off. Kiriyama then puts on the bulletproof vest, which somehow protects him from being stabbed.
  • In Big Game, Morris wears a bulletproof vest, although the strongest it's pitted against is an arrow. It bounces off harmlessly, even though the type of vest he's wearing doesn't stop sharp objects in reality. Double subverted, as the arrow managed to hit a bullet fragment embedded in the bad guy's chest, and the vest doesn't protect from the force of the impact, which is enough to dislodge this bullet splinter into his heart.
  • In Black Angel Vol. 1, Onda sets up Ikko by telling her where Nogi is going to be. Ikko turns up and shoots Nogi, but he survives because he wearing a bulletproof vest. After she is captured, she accuses him of being a coward for wearing one. In response, he takes the vest off, puts it on her, and shoots her several times in the chest.
  • Notably averted in Black Hawk Down, when the US soldiers remove the reinforced steel plate from their kevlar body armor before the mission to lighten their load. Because past experience had led them to assume that they would not be fired upon, the soldiers chose to sacrifice protection for maneuverability. Ultimately they find themselves in a heavy fire-fight and suffer casualties that might have been prevented by the steel plating. Ultimately the real event helped create a restructuring of military policy that prohibits soldiers in combat zones from leaving behind their assigned equipment, though some still do.
  • As a variation, The Ching Emperor in Blazing Temple wears a sword-proof vest. It doesn't protect him from being attacked from behind by the Shaolin monk playing both sides and doesn't protect his throat from being slit by a small dagger.
  • Batman's batsuit in the DC Extended Universe is, like the comics, flexible fabric-like body armor. It works well against gunfire, as in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Batman's cowl even deflects a point-blank gunshot to the back of his head, although it clearly still hurts. The same fight also shows that like a real bulletproof vest, the batsuit is less resistant to knives, since Batman gets stabbed through it.
  • Near the end of Death Wish 3, the gang leader is revealed to be wearing a vest after Paul Kersey empties his gun at him. So Kersey follows it up with a small rocket launcher.
  • In The Devil's Rejects opening shootout scene, Sheriff Wydell takes either a shot from a rifle, shotgun, or revolver to his vest outside his uniform. It merely knocks him back slightly. He looks pissed, shakes it off and keeps up with his assault. Some of the Fireflys themselves wear homemade full body armor out of sheets of metal, complete with helmet. This might be based on the historical Kelly Gang's homemade armor.
  • The only partners of Inspector Callahan who survive are those savvy enough to wear a bulletproof vest — Chico in Dirty Harry and Quan in The Dead Pool.
  • District 9. Wikus is hit while infiltrating MNU. After he kills the offending shooter, he looks at the bullets left in his vest.
  • In Dredd, all judges wear body armour. It does save Anderson when she's hit during the final confrontation, though she is still hurt in the process. Dredd himself is shot by a Dirty Judge who uses armor-piercing rounds and the round not only penetrates the back of his vest but goes all the way through him and out the front.
  • Lampshaded in Dumb and Dumber when Harry is shot by the villain, gets up and reveals the vest, and Lloyd immediately asks "What if he shot you in the face?" The cops blithely respond that that was a risk they were willing to take.
  • Subverted in Epoch Evolution, where the mercenary leader shoots Tower twice in the stomach. When asked about the bullets, he replies that his vest only stopped one. Realizing that they won't be able to get him medical attention, Tower asks to be read The Bible one last time. He dies from bleeding a few minutes later.
  • In The Evil That Men Do Charles Bronson shoots a CIA man with a shotgun, only for him to get up again. This time Bronson shoots him in the face.
  • In the final scene of A Fistful of Dollars, Joe wears a piece of metal boiler plate under his serape. He goads Ramone to shoot him in the heart, which Ramone does repeatedly to little effect. Ramone is terrified and quickly wastes all his bullets. It's portrayed pretty accurately; boiler plate, being made to handle steam boilers, is strong enough to block a bullet, and Joe does get knocked back from the hits. He just gets back up afterwards. Also, rifle rounds of the period, while still more powerful than pistol rounds, were round-nosed and comparable to modern-day high-power pistol rounds like a .357 magnum, which a sufficiently thick boiler plate could stop.
  • The Heroic Bloodshed film, Flaming Brothers, has the older of the brother waging a one-man war against the main villain and his army of mooks while wearing a vest. Said vest saves him from being shot at least 8 times during the ensuing gunfight, but it certainly doesn't save him as he commits Suicide by Cop, with a dozen police officers emptying their automatic weapons on him.
  • Gangland Odyssey has the sidekick wearing a vest in the finale as he took down various Yakuza mooks... and is quickly subverted that the vest appears to be made of cheap material. He discards it after being shot four times.
  • Gomorrah: Children applying to join a Camorra clan are made to wear a heavy bulletproof vest which is then shot, to test their courage.
  • In In the Line of Fire, Frank takes a bullet for the President, but survives as he was wearing a bulletproof vest. However, he does get a few cracked ribs.
  • Interceptor: On realising that they're in a Die Hard on the SBX-1 plot, Captain Collins and Corporal Shah get plate carriers from a locker and put them on, as well as placing one on the unconscious Corporal Beaver. However, Beaver turns out to be The Mole and when he wakes up, he shoots the others at short range in the vest to temporarily immobilize them so they can be captured.
  • James Bond:
    • Goldfinger: When Bond is at Q Branch a man wearing an overcoat is shot with a machine gun. He opens the overcoat, revealing a bulletproof vest — it was being tested under fire, as it were.
    • Licence to Kill: Pam Bouvier is shot in the back while fleeing a nightclub with Bond and tumbles into the boat they're using to flee. It's revealed a few seconds later she is wearing a vest under her dress.
    • In the Action Prologue of Quantum of Solace, Bond car is armoured enough to resist multiple bullets fired from a light machine gun used by the mooks in the pursuing vehicle. However early in the Car Chase Bond's car is sideswiped by a truck which tears the driver side door off, leaving a massive hole in his protection.
  • John Wick:
    • John wears a bulletproof vest beneath his nice suit in the first movie, and while it stops penetration, the force of the impact still gets through; Kiril knocks John down by shooting him twice in the chest. It's also not knife-proof. In spite of these limits, it saves his life several times.
    • In John Wick: Chapter 2, John has a tailor who specializes in crafting custom suits for assassins and bodyguards. Said tailor introduces him to a new set of cutting edge flexible, cloth-thin body armor that is sewn into the lining of said suits, though it's still "quite painful", as the tailor says. Again, it saves John's ass multiple times, and he's still wearing it come Parabellum. He also learns that only the jacket is armored.
    • A Sorting Algorithm of Evil leads to Elite Mooks armoring up to scale in threat in John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum and John Wick: Chapter 4. The High Table's soldiers are covered head to toe in plating and helmets, while the Marquis de Gramont's enforcers wear the same armor-lined suits John has. This makes them immune to small caliber rounds, leading to a lot of elaborate fights where John has to stun multiple enemies with gunfire until he can get close enough to shoot them point-blank in exposed spots.
  • In Kick-Ass, the introductory scene for Big Daddy and Hit Girl. Later she mentions that she wears kevlar all the way down to her underwear.
  • The main villain in Kickboxer's Tears, which he reveals after he's shot several times in the chest by the plucky sidekick.
  • In Kingsman: The Secret Service, Kingsman agents wear suits and carry umbrellas, both of which are impervious to small-arms fire.
  • The main villain, Wong Hoi from The Killer (1989), wears a vest, after barely surviving an assassination attempt on his life by the titular hero. He even taunts the hero's bestie while beating the man into a pulp, "Why don't you aim for the head?"... taken to ridiculous extremes in the film's iconic ten-minute-long church shootout, the vest absorbs what appears to be twenty gunshot rounds before finally getting penetrated by an exploding bandoleer of shotgun shells.
  • Lethal Weapon:
    • In Lethal Weapon (1987), Riggs is apparently killed during a drive-by shooting and does the "vest reveal" bit to explain his survival. He also makes a big production about how much it hurt.
    • In Lethal Weapon 3, the plot revolves around the sale of "cop killer" bullets that pierce through police armor. In one scene, a character survives by simply wearing two vests on top of each other. This is made more baffling by the fact that earlier in the same scene the bullets are shown shooting through the front plate of a bulldozer. The bullets are also demonstrated by being fired into a vest hung on a stand. The bullet easily passes through both the front and back sides of the hanging vest, thus proving the bullets could easily penetrate a double thickness of vest.
  • The Longest Nite has the corrupt cop protagonist, Sam, wearing a vest which saves him from an ambush and later in the final shootout. But he still gets betrayed by his superiors, who in the second attempt on his life, decide to aim for the head.
  • London Has Fallen: The terrorists are disguised as either police or military forces, so they're naturally wearing vests complicating the fight. In a realistic touch, Banning is able to stab one terrorist to death through the vest, as they aren't knife proof. Banning himself later gets stabbed for the same reason.
  • A fantasy version appears in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, in the Mines of Moria. Frodo appears to be fatally stabbed by a cave troll, but soon after reveals that he's wearing an impenetrable shirt of mithril beneath his coat. This also happens in the book, though he is stabbed by an orc and suffers a greater injury from the impact: the mithril coat prevents him from being stabbed, sure, but the sheer force from the spear thrust still knocks him out, drives the rings of the mail coat into his body and badly bruises him. Frodo needed medical attention from Aragorn soon afterward or he would not have been able to keep up with the company in their journey.
  • In Lucky Number Slevin, Lindsey appears to have been shot and killed by Goodkat, but it turns out she knew he was coming for her, and was wearing a bulletproof vest and a couple of blood packs for protection. Justified, in that Goodkat thought she would be unprotected and was using relatively small caliber ammunition, and in that Lindsey was very, very sore afterwards.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Subverted in Iron Man: Stark is near an exploding shell and gets knocked to the ground, seemingly dead. In standard trope fashion, he tears open his shirt to reveal his vest... but not before blood begins oozing from the holes punched in his vest by the high-velocity shrapnel.
    • The Avengers:
      • After getting shot, Fury makes it a point to extract the bullet from the vest and show it to the camera as per trope tradition.
      • Cap also gets shot during the battle, but survives thanks to his armor.
  • The film Missing in Action features an on-the-run Chuck Norris buying a large raft-like speedboat made from "the same stuff that bulletproof vests are made of" (presumably kevlar). The salesman demonstrates this by getting into his handy-dandy rotating turret machine gun and putting a few hundred rounds into it, not getting a scratch on it. In reality, some boats are made from such material, but are hardly bulletproof. Chuck Norris heroically steals the super-boat by holding up the salesman with his own turret gun and forcing him to accept a nominal sum.
  • The Monster Club: A sympathetic vampire character survives a Van Helsing Hate Crimes attack by wearing a "stake-proof vest".
  • The final battle scene in Mr. and Mrs. Smith has both protagonists take multiple bursts from submachine guns and close-range rocket strikes and they suffer almost no ill effects whatsoever. These vests are borderline Pocket Protectors as neither character takes any hits to their arms or legs.
  • In the remake of New Police Story, Jackie Chan's character takes a gunshot point-blank to the chest while negotiating with a hostage taker, and is able to take the guy down immediately after. Subverted immediately after, in which it's indicated that he was lucky he was wearing two bulletproof vests or the first wouldn't have protected him at that range.
  • The suit Jack wears for most of Oblivion is a pretty effective Space Clothes kind of armor. We see how effective it is when Sergeant Sykes shoots him in the chest during the interrogation scene. At the least, it can take 9mm rounds with nothing to show for it but one hell of a scare.
  • The cops at the beginning of The One wear body armor that appears to be impenetrable to small arms. The first slo-mo scene shows Gabriel picking up a cop and using him as a Bulletproof Human Shield against the other cops firing rifles at full auto with all bullets bouncing off his back armor. The cop is shown to be hurt (with all the impacts still doing plenty of internal damage) but alive. Their helmet visors, though, aren't that strong. This is quite obviously not our universe, though (the guns have more electronics in them and Gore is the president).
  • In the beginning of Predator 2, Danny Glover armors his car by hanging kevlar vests over the side windows. During a later Lock-and-Load Montage, he puts a metal plate insert into his vest that saves his life when the Predator shoots his plasma caster at it — in this case the 'tearing off the vest afterwards' is justified as the explosive impact sets the vest on fire.
  • Princess Madam has one of the two heroines donning a vest and taking on a horde of triads, alone. She managed to kill everyone except two random mooks armed with automatic weapons, and unfortunately ends up being killed while in the process of executing the main villain when the two escaped mooks empties their bullets through her vest.
  • Raw Deal: A mafia hit squad decides to murder a rival mob boss by running their car off the road. When Mark points out that the limo is heavier than their vehicle, the leader replies: "Not if you shoot the driver." Cue an Oh, Crap! moment when the bullets are seen bouncing off window glass marked BULLET RESISTANT.
  • In Resident Evil: The Final Chapter, Alice shoots a mook with a shotgun. His vest saves him, but he's knocked down and in so much pain that he's easily captured.
  • In Richie Rich, one of Professor Keenbean's inventions is a spray that makes clothes bulletproof (plus stain-proof and waterproof). Which comes in handy for Richie when the Big Bad tries to shoot him near the end of the film (which naturally freaks his parents outRichie simply tanks it and quips with an impressed "Cool!").
  • The climax of Return to a Better Tomorrow has the hero (played by Ekin Cheng) being pinned down under rubble, and trying to shoot the main villain, who's wearing a vest. Gloating that he's protected from bullets, the villain grabs a long rebar and tries to impale the hero, but fortunately, Ekin remembers he have a set of armor-piercing rounds he kept from a botched assassination earlier, which is still in his pockets.
  • Subverted in RoboCop. Murphy, wearing full body armor, is shot dozens of times and the vest gets shredded from it. It keeps him alive, but in horrible agony long enough for Boddicker to finish him off (temporarily) with a headshot.
  • In Ronin, Sam wears a vest, but gets shot with an armor-piercing bullet and needs medical attention.
  • Running Scared: One of the protagonists is going to retire and, getting nervous, starts wearing a bulletproof vest. There's a stigma against wearing vests in the Force, so he claims that it's because he's got a bad back. His partner snarks him on it, until an accidental discharge causes him to go for a vest, whereupon the issuing sergeant says: "Let me guess, you've got a bad back too." Also, when the protagonists are driving a car which has been bulletproofed, the only problem is that they can't wind down the windows to shoot back at the Big Bad who's firing at them.
  • In Saving Private Ryan, a soldier's helmet is grazed by a bullet, he takes it off to gape at the hole... and gets a second bullet in the forehead. To be fair, though, the second bullet would have killed him anyway, seeing as how WWII (and modern) helmets primarily protected against fragmentation.
  • Scream 3: The killer's "super-human" abilities to take bullets are reaveled to be due to a bulletproof vest. Dewey ultimately kills him by shooting him in the head. Sydney was wearing one too, which saves her life.
  • Scream 4 has once Judy gets back up after being shot, her opening her shirt and saying "Wear the vest, save your chest!" before fainting in exhaustion.
  • In Sherlock: Case of Evil, Moriarty wears body armour beneath his clothes, which is how he fakes his death when Holmes shoots him in the opening scenes of the movie. Holmes discovers this when he later shoots Moriarty with Watson's .45 calibre rifle cane and Moriarty goes down, only to stand up again a few seconds later commenting that he had not been expecting that.
  • Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows: Sherlock's typical badass takedown of a Cossack assassin is interrupted by a Simza throwing several knives into the Cossack's chest. Cue Eye Awaken as it's revealed that the assassin has wooden boards sewn into his coat as protection. In retrospect, it's probably a good thing she did so, as Sherlock apparently didn't know about the armor and would've hurt his hand if he struck the assassin in the chest.
  • Shooter: FBI agent Nick Memphis is shot by a sniper, then (after Bob Lee counter-snipes the shooter) gets up and removes a steel trauma plate from under his overcoat, saying "I think I broke a rib." Snipers aim for center of mass, especially at such ranges, so Memphis must have relied on the professional sniper being able to hit him accurately.
  • In Snakes on a Plane, the witness is wearing a bulletproof vest, which later comes in handy.
  • In Super, the Crimson Bolt and Boltie wear bulletproof vests before going to the final battle, but Surprisingly Realistic Outcome happens. Boltie's vest is too large and heavy for her small body, slowing her down. When Crimson Bolt gets shot in the chest, the force of the bullet knocks him down and knocks the wind out of him for several minutes. Afterwards, the bad guys aim for his unprotected areas like his arms. The bad guys shoot Boltie in the head at the first opportunity, killing her instantly.
  • Super Troopers:
    • One of the troopers insists on testing a bulletproof jockstrap. While wearing it.
    Ramathorn: [after shooting Mac in the jockstrap, knocking Mac on his back] How do you feel?
    Mac: Good enough... to fuck... your mother!
    • O'Hagen shows up and assumes it's a trick being played on the rookie trooper, claims that he invented this gag, and that it involves the gun being loaded with blanks. (The only thing he's puzzled about is why it's Mac who is naked aside from the jockstrap, since in his day they would have forced the rookie to do it as part of rookie hazing.) He then takes the gun they were using and fires it to the side to demonstrate that it's not loaded with real bullets, but winds up shooting out a window of one of the patrol cars and revealing that they really were using live ammo.
    O'Hagen: [obviously horrified] You're a sick motherfucker, Mac.
    Mac: Thanks, Chief!
  • In Ten Dead Men, Ryan pulls on a flak vest as part of his Lock-and-Load Montage, and it absorbs several shots that get past his Bullet Proof Human Shield.
  • Tiger on Beat has the two protagonists, Francis and Michael, on their way to rescue Francis' sister (also Michael's love interest). They unfortunately gets ambushed and shot, but their mini-vests saves them allowing them to play dead and ambush their captors back. The vest proves useful later on in the ensuing climax - Francis took down the main villain in a Single-Stroke Battle involving bayonets and would've died, but his vest saves him from a slash through the chest whilst he cut the villain's throat. Michael's vest on the other hand saves him from being gored by a chainsaw.
  • Terminator 2: Judgment Day: During the highway chase scene at the end of the movie, Sarah, John, and the T-800 commandeer an armored SWAT truck while the T-1000 pursues in a helicopter. Sarah puts John into the back and piles him under a heap of bullet proof vests, then hangs several more from the back door to use as cover while trading fire with the T-1000. It works pretty well. At least until the T-1000 manages to walk his fire into Sarah's exposed leg.
  • Subverted in Three Days of the Condor. A CIA clerk who is a friend of the protagonist Turner is asked to help bring him in for debriefing and is issued a bulletproof vest "just in case". In reality the meeting is a set-up to kill Turner — when it goes wrong the wounded killer aims carefully and shoots the clerk in the throat.
  • In Training Day, where one of the crooked cops is shot in the bulletproof vest in order to set up a crime scene. Unfortunately, they realize a few seconds later that some bullets got through the vest. Since Alonzo is a dick, he insists they finish getting their stories straight before doing anything about it.
  • Hannibal, the main villain of Undeclared War, turns out to have a vest with him, which he reveals to the heroes who thought they had killed him with a snarky comment, "Vests. It's like the American Express Card, you never leave home without it." The heroes kill him anyway by shoving a grenade in that vest.
  • The killer in Varsity Blood is wearing one underneath the poncho which is revealed when Hannah's mom shoots him.
  • V in V for Vendetta wears a steel breastplate under his clothing when confronting Creedy and his men. He lets them unload their magazines into him and then proceeds to slaughter them all while they're reloading with his knives. However, steel armor has its limits, and that many bullets is enough to make sure V doesn't live long after winning.
  • A Walk Among the Tombstones. When a hostage for ransom exchange goes wrong, private eye Scudder immediately shoots the kidnapper who's holding him at gunpoint. Cue the man ducking behind cover and lifting his shirt to examine the injury, revealing he has a vest. However, when he tries to get into his van to escape, Scudder shoots him in the side, which is unprotected by the vest.
  • Wild Wild West: Gordon's partner is shot in the chest but survives because of the vest sewn into his clothes without his knowledge.
  • William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet: The younger Capulets wear bulletproof vests styled to look like waistcoats. By contrast the Montagues don't bother wearing these, mostly favouring unbuttoned Hawaiian shirts as a sign that they're not intimidated by the Capulets' marksmanship abilities.
  • Wind River: Everyone is wearing one in the Blast Out, leaving them on the ground and in pain but alive...until someone shoots them in the head.

  • In the Alex Rider book Snakehead:
    • Ash reveals that his entire team was wearing bulletproof vests, and the mission completely went wrong because when Yassen shot him in the chest, he got back up. Yassen, being smarter than the average bear, then proceeds to shoot the rest of the team in the head. And then Ash screwed up the mission even more.
    • Alex himself is equipped with two variants in different books: a bulletproof ski suit in Point Blanc, and a bulletproof cycle jersey (as part of a bike with about a dozen different gadgets hidden in it) in Eagle Strike.
  • In Artemis Fowl: The Eternity Code, Butler is shot point-blank while wearing a Kevlar vest. He dies. But he gets better. Justified, since as Artemis' bodyguard he has to be constantly prepared for danger. Also, the "I" printed on the inside (as in FBI) imprints on his chest.
  • Something like the silk armour in the Real Life section shows up in the Ashtown Burials series, but with a magical twist. The spider silk shirt Antigone wears under her clothes not only won't break, but instantly heals any wound it's pushed into, which saves Antigone's life when she gets chomped by a dragon. Justified since it was woven by Arachne, the spider goddess.
  • Axis of Time has nigh-impenetrable nano-weave body armor used by "uptime" troops, which stops any round that isn't aimed at the head or extremities. Julia Duffy's personal armor is actually of a much higher quality than standard-issue 21st century military. It saves her countless times, especially when the Waffen-SS put her and a bunch of US Army Rangers in a line and machinegun them all. She still requires immediate medical attention from hydrostatic shock (even though the armor is also designed to spread the force of the impact) and spends weeks recovering.
  • One character in Battle Royale gets one of these instead of a weapon and survives pretty well through Faking the Dead and the use of a belt as an improvised weapon. Then the main villain turns his head into "a bowl of sauce" with a machine gun and takes the vest for himself.
  • The eponymous protagonist of Andrew Vachss' Burke books often wears Kevlar, but consistently notes that it still hurts to be shot.
  • Broken Princess: Himiko's sailor fuku was woven from the silk of Jorogumo the Spider-Woman herself, so it is practically indestructible and can stop bullets and lasers. However, getting shot will knock her down and hurts like hell.
  • In By Royal Command, Babushka's life is saved twice by the bulletproof corset she wears under in her clothes.
  • In the Ciaphas Cain novel For The Emperor, Gunner Ferik Jurgen proves that imperial guard armor is not as useless as some people say: His helmet allows him to survive a bolternote  shot to the head, though it's made clear that a second shot would have killed him (the helmet is destroyed). Granted, it was stormtrooper Carapace armor, not standard-issue Flak armor.
  • Clue: In book 15, chapter 5 ("Door Prize"), Mr. Boddy provides his guests with hats and smocks that turn out to be slashproof, crashproof and bulletproof. He gives them quilts with the same traits in book 16, chapter 9 ("A Sour Note"). The guests aren't aware of it until afterward in either case.
  • The nightsilk garments of the Corean Chronicles series is impact-resistant when worn in a skintight outfit, making a body stocking of this material effectively a set of bulletproof underwear. The material is very expensive though, so the reason the hero of the first trilogy can afford to wear it constantly is because his family manufactures it.
  • DFZ:
    • Opal's mother bought her an enchanted poncho that can protect her from basically anything. Opal uses it when Cleaning to protect from diseases, minor magic, and small animals, but it can also survive a bullet. One bullet, and then it needs to be recharged.
    • Nik's coat is a more traditional bulletproof vest. Funnily enough, he rarely needs it, as he himself is bulletproof.
  • The Dresden Files:
    • Harry Dresden has his duster enchanted to be very resilient, to the point that the only thing that has penetrated it after enchantment is a shot from a .50 caliber rifle. In an aversion, the readers find out that his duster was enchanted pretty early in the book. Played straight with Murphy's reaction to the shot, however.
    • Butters is luckily wearing a conventional vest when he's shot in Changes.
    • Murphy, a professional Action Girl, never forgets to wear her vest when it's time to do some ass-kicking. As "Aftermath" reveals, working with Dresden has convinced her to also let Charity Carpenter (wife of a modern-day Paladin) reinforce her vest with chainmail to deflect bladed weapons.
    • In Death Masks, there's some discussion between Ms. Carpenter's husband Michael and fellow Knight of the Cross Sanya, about the latter's use of a Kevlar tactical vest and an AK47, and the former relying on his platemail and sword exclusively. Later on, Michael takes several bullets to the chest and falls out of sight, apparently dead. Later on, he explains that Charity had gone the extra mile on his armor.
      Michael: My faith protects me. My Kevlar helps.
    • In Small Favor, Michael is permanently put out of commission when someone shoots him in the lower back and side from below, and his reinforced Kevlar vest keeps the bullets from simply exiting on the other side, causing what the medical help estimated to be far more damage than if he hadn't been wearing a vest in the first place. When Jim Butcher plays with a trope, he plays hard.
    • In Skin Game, Murphy gets shot six times at point-blank range with a small-caliber revolver. After the fight, Butters insists on getting her to a hospital, pointing out that in spite of her vest catching all six bullets, she could very well die from swelling, broken ribs and internal bleeding instead — in spite of being a doctor, there is no way he can treat such injuries without access to an X-ray machine and a fully stocked surgical ward.
  • Encyclopedia Brown: A variant appears in book 2's last chapter, "The Case of the Stomach Puncher". Encyclopedia and his client Herb Stein go up against a bully, sixteen-year-old Biff Logan, who stole Herb's bicycle and threatens to punch anyone in the stomach if he doesn't like them (and has carried it out a few times); Encyclopedia prepares for this encounter by donning a piece of sheet metal and covering it with his clothes. It nearly doesn't work because Biff's switched to punching in the eye after the last kid he hit couldn't eat for a week and almost starved, but Encyclopedia dupes him into aiming for the stomach instead, since that way it won't leave evidence. Biff falls for it and badly hurts his hand as a result.
  • The Executioner: Members of Able Team wear Kevlar vests with a steel trauma plate insert, which comes in handy when Carl Lyons is shot at point-blank range with an AK47 in Cairo, leading to quips that he'd been shot in the head, and the terrorists had better issue armor-piercing ammo when 'The Ironman' came around.
  • Fate/Zero reveals that in the Nasuverse, Church Executioners like Kirei Kotomine wear bulletproof priest robes (they're reinforced with Kevlar), which shows just how Crazy-Prepared he is for hunting enemy magi.
  • Greg Mandel Trilogy: A Future Spandex dissipater suit is used as a defense against Energy Weapons, transferring heat away from the body (including body heat, which makes the wearer feel rather cold). It doesn't work against bullets or shrapnel though, so for hardliner tekmerc jobs muscle-armour suits are used.
  • In The Guns of the South, a Confederate soldier is surprised when one of the time-travelers survives a musket ball to the chest because of what he calls a 'flak jacket'.
  • In Halting State, one of the main characters, Sue, is described as wearing an "anti-stabbie" vest as part of her standard policewoman's kit. That said, she never ends up needing to use it for protection.
  • Honor Harrington: Honor has to wear specially reinforced clothing because her Sphynxian Treecat tends to ride around on her shoulders, using his rather long and sharp claws to maintain his grip. The special fabric, while strong, won't stop a Pulser Dart, the standard ammo used in modern sidearms in that universe (At least, not in anything above the smallest calibers). However, for several of the earlier books, Pulsers are not common weapons on the planet Grayson, and the clothing turns out to be at least moderately bullet resistant when an assassin attempts to kill her—and it helped that the bullets were slowed down by someone else's body before they hit her. She still looks like hell when she makes it to a very important meeting soon after, but that has slightly more to do with her being in an aircar crash before she was shot. In addition, various more robust forms of armor are seen, ranging from the protective skinsuits to Powered Armor, and also including robust, low-tech "clamshell" torso armor.
  • Hoshi from Hoshi and the Red City Circuit wears a nanocloth bolero jacket that can only be destroyed by acid or extreme temperatures. It protects her when someone tries to stab her.
  • In King Solomon's Mines, a character is saved by an armored shirt (a gift from the man who is now trying to kill him), making this trope Older Than Radio.
  • Kris Longknife: Kris and her companions have survived several assassination attempts with bulletproof lingerie of various kinds (provided by her maid/bodyguard Abby), most commonly body stockings woven from spider silk. This is usually backed up with a spider silk girdle reinforced with ceramic slats to stop heavier caliber rounds.
  • Mike Hammer: Subverted in the novel "Kiss Her Goodbye" (started by Mickey Spillane, completed by Max Allan Collins). Hammer, knowing the damage the force of the bullets' impact can cause, shoots a vested killer several times at close range in the stomach and chest. It causes massive internal damage, and Hammer leaves him dying in agony on the floor.
  • In a couple of Mercedes Lackey's Urban Fantasy books, the hero has not just a vest, but a bodysuit made out of dragon scales. These are resistant to cutting, will stop bullets, and also have some protection against magic, but he can still be crushed through them.
  • Quiller: In Quiller's Run, the protagonist runs into a problem when he wears an anti-knife vest to a confrontation with a villainess who, up till now, has used knives — only she pulls out a revolver and blasts him six times in the chest. Fortunately, the vest still stops the bullets.
  • Matthew Reilly usually averts this trope by having most characters wear body armor that don't provide complete protection (bullets mostly go through it). It does occur with the Black Knight's utility vests.
  • Toward the end of one of the Retief books, Retief's immediate boss Magnan shows up because Retief had notified him of corruption among certain Terran officials. One of the criminals pulls a needler; Magnan demands his surrender, and the man instead shoots. Magnan glances down at the needles sticking out of his chest and sniffs, "I had a feeling this chest armor might be useful in dealing with a bounder of your stripe."
  • In Rivers of London, Peter Grant — as a member of the London Metropolitan Police — has a Metvest. It's not a great help when it comes to magical foes, but it also serves as something of a Utility Belt, and most importantly, clearly states "This person can, if you make him think he has reason, arrest you."
  • Snow Crash: Hiro Protagonist has a full set of motorbike "leathers" made of Arachnofiber, which appears to be Kevlar in space. While wearing them, he is hit in the back by a volley of small arms fire, which he describes as like being massaged with several ball-peen hammers. And, of course, there is Raven, whose monomolecular-edged glass daggers and spears slice right through kevlar armor.
  • A few characters wear vests in Time Scout. It's a realistic portrayal in that only one character actually gets shot wearing them and when he does, it's with a handgun, and the force knocks him down and stuns him.
  • In the Underdogs novel Tooth and Nail, Ewan shoots Roth four times in the chest and then leaves him in a burning room. He assumes Roth is dead, but in fact Roth was wearing a bulletproof vest, and escapes with burns.
  • Used in Unseen Academicals when a character is given "micromail" trousers which prove extremely handy later.
  • Vorkosigan Saga: A high-tech version of the bulletproof vest is a plot point in Mirror Dance. There's a brief rundown of all the different types of armor available to combat soldiers of the day, from neural netting which protects against energy weapons to plasma mirror shields. Unfortunately for Miles, the anti-ballistic chestplate which he borrows is not rated for anti-personnel grenades...
  • V Wars: Luther Swann joins a SWAT Team that storms a building used by vampire terrorists. He mentions that the enemy is using teflon-coated "cop killer" bullets that go right through a bulletproof vest, as demonstrated, when one kills a SWAT team member, before striking Swann. Fortunately for him, the bullet has already lost much of its momentum, and his vest held, although he still had broken bones from the impact.
  • In the Dick Francis book Wild Horses, the protagonist attempts to protect himself from knife attacks by wearing a jockey's body armor (apparently plastic slabs in some kind of fabric vest) and later by having a doctor make him a removable body cast, complete with throat protection. He survives the attacks, but just barely.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Bulletproof vest are standard-issue on 1-800-Missing when storming buildings, usually worn underneath the FBI jackets. Notably, after Jess has a vision that showed that either her or Scott would get shot rescuing a hostage, she doubles up on body armour and forces the issue, knowing that she would be shot in the chest. Realistically, she later notes massive bruising on her chest.
  • 24:
    • The sequence where Jack was forced to shoot Nina. She had fortunately been given a bulletproof vest before hand. Tony Almeida's line asking why this had happened (when he saw the giving on CCTV) was one that many a fan would ask when she was revealed to be The Mole. She did receive some bad bruising from being shot, though, giving the writers a reason for her to examine herself and thus a Lingerie Scene. In addition, Jack was shot while wearing a vest in season four, where he and Secretary Of Defense James Heller are trapped behind a vehicle while terrorists are shooting at them. Once hit (in the shoulder), Jack exclaims that he's fine, and then keeps shooting.
    • In Season 7, Larry Moss takes a shotgun blast to the vest. The impact lays Moss flat on his back and obviously in a great deal of pain, but still alive. Until Tony smothers him, helped by the fact that Moss still can't move.
    • Subverted in Season 8. Jack is shot by an assault rifle while wearing a bulletproof vest. The impact knocks him down, and temporarily unconscious. Renee Walker and a field medic are both worried that it may have broken a few ribs, or even collapsed a lung. Whether or not it did, Jack insists that he's "fine".
  • Season two of Alias, when Jack, Irina and Sydney were in Kashmir. Jack is shot, is knocked to the ground. It turns out he was wearing a bulletproof vest, but he is on top of a landmine.
  • Altered Carbon. Because the only way to Real Death someone is to destroy their cortical stack, police and military body armor includes a panel that covers the neck where the stack is implanted.
  • Barney Miller: In one episode the squad gets issued bulletproof vests, which only appear in that episode.
  • Batwoman (2019). The Batsuit is this to an insane degree. Described by Luke Fox as multi-million dollar "military-grade kevlar woven with enriched carbon nanotubes of [his] dad's own design," it can stop a test-fired .50 caliber round from a Desert Eagle without a scratch, making the wearer effectively immune to handguns. Kate Kane does mention that getting shot still stings, though. Its toughness is such that Bruce Wayne designed a handheld railgun so he'd have a weapon capable of piercing the armor if it was stolen.
  • Better Call Saul: After finding out Lalo survived his assassination attempt somehow, Gus starts getting paranoid and begins wearing a bulletproof vest under his suit at all times. This ends up saving his life when he's cornered by Lalo in the laundromat. Lalo fires one shot into his vest as a warning (which leaves Gus gasping for breath), and during a desperate last stand exchange of gunfire, Gus manages to kill Lalo with a bullet to the neck, while his vest saves him from two shots in the gut (although he's still wounded and requires immediate medical attention afterwards).
  • Rarely seen on Blue Bloods, but whenever Danny wears a vest, it's because he expects trouble, and ESU is right behind him.
  • Used commonly and (more or less) sensibly in Bones. Expect the characters to break them out whenever Booth is raiding something.
  • In Breaking Bad two assassins chose to test out a bullet proof vest by shooting the Arms Dealer who's trying to sell it. After seeing that he's still alive, (albeit hurt and complaining about broken ribs) they decide to purchase two, tossing the money down on the moaning arms dealer's chest. Later, one of them is shot several times in the vest from just a few feet away and No Sells it, presumably because he's such a badass that he just doesn't get broken ribs and bruising like the dealer did.
  • On The Bridge (US) Billy, a police officer, is wearing her vest when doing a routine traffic stop and gets shot with a shotgun to the chest at close range. She survives that but the pellets the vest did not stop did some serious damage and she is in critical condition in the hospital for the rest of the season.
  • Castle:
    • Richard has one, as do the NYPD cops he hangs out with, but nobody's been shot while wearing one. Not yet anyway.
    • When Beckett says he doesn't have a vest, Castle breaks his out - and it says "writer" where the cops' say "police." It's actually returned several times!
    • Castle's vest finally sees use in Season 6. The bullet dots the "I" in "Writer".
  • Chuck: Bryce shoots Chuck, who's wearing a bulletproof vest. It makes sense, since Chuck is an important government resource, but the viewer doesn't know about the vest until afterwards. A semi-subversion, since Chuck complains that it still hurts. Something of an Unspoken Plan Guarantee; Bryce asks Chuck "Are you wearing a vest?" but he says it in Klingon.
  • The Closer: In the episode "Time Bomb", domestic terrorist wearing body armor is hit by police gunfire and doesn't even flinch.
  • On Continuum, the high-tech Spy Catsuits worn by police in 2077, including Kiera after she time-travels back to 2012, are bulletproof.
  • The Criminal Minds team suit up in Kevlar vests Once an Episode. Garcia even addresses this when Morgan gets shot by an Unsub, but leaves with some bruises
    Garcia: They told me you got shot...with bullets.
    Morgan: I got shot in my bulletproof vest babygirl, I'm fine.
    Garcia: Why don't they make better vests? That's not bulletproof. It's like when you fall in the pool and your watch stops working, that's water resistant not water proof.
  • CSI: Miami features Calleigh getting shot and us discovering that she was wearing a (rather low-cut) vest, after the obligatory "Is she dead?" moment.
  • CSI: NY features vests on a number of occasions. Stella Bonasera's is low-cut.
    • There's an interesting play with this in "Point of No Return. Upon arriving at a crime scene, Danny discovers he forgot his vest. Mac and Flack, knowing the suspect is present and has a gun, armor up and go inside, telling Danny to stay by the SUV. There is the sound of gunfire. Danny draws his weapon and goes inside. He exchanges fire with the suspect - and does not get hit, but he mortally wounds the suspect and gets a dying confession. Later, Mac does let him have it about defying orders though.
    • The 333 Stalker's brother is given one to wear along with the rest of the team including Chief Sinclair before confronting him at the end of the arc (in "The Thing About Heroes"). It's what saves his life when he accidentally triggers a rifle that the stalker had rigged to shoot the first member of the team who came through the door.
    • At the beginning of season 7's "Exit Strategy," Mac and Danny are shown getting ready to apprehend a suspect. Danny kisses a picture of Lucy before sticking it in his vest pocket while Mac, also wearing a vest, kisses his crucifix before dropping it down his shirt. Half-way thru, the episode has a Call-Back scene.
  • An episode of Crossing Jordan subverts the vest's effectiveness. A cop died when he got shot. The bullet bounced around inside his body because it couldn't penetrate the vest.
  • Daredevil (2015). In Season One, Matt Murdock doesn't want to wear body armor because it will slow him down during a fight, causing him to get patched up a lot. On confronting Wilson Fisk however, he notes the man has a lightweight and flexible body armor incorporated into his suit. He tracks down the man who makes it and has him create his iconic outfit which he wears on confronting Fisk again in the season finale. He's warned that it doesn't offer complete protection; only the black portions of the suit are bullet resistant, and the red portions (most of the suit) will only stop a knife coming in at certain angles.
  • The District: Sgt Brander wears one when he's shot by a panicked driver during a routine traffic stop, due to a rapist disguising himself as a Metro PD officer to get close to his victims. Unlike many shows, though, they skip the part about ripping open the outer shirt to reveal the vest, which is only mentioned after the fact in a "he would've been dead if..." comment.
  • In Family Matters, the bulletproof vest which Eddie wears during his beginnings as a police officer had its abilities accurately portrayed.
  • Farscape:
    • In the third season, it's revealed that Scorpius, on top of being Made of Iron, wears body armour under his gimp suit. This leads to a rather interesting scene in which Crichton uses him as an invincible human shield while trading smartass remarks with him:
    "That's some damn nice set of body armour! Does that come in blue?"
    • There's an episode where one character is forced to shoot Scorpius, then crouches by the "body" later to apologize:
      Scorpius: How did you know I was wearing body armor?
      Rygel: I wasn't sure, but... Not so bad for me either way.
  • Firefly: During a gunfight in the pilot the second in command goes down hard from what looks to be a shotgun blast and is out for awhile, but later comes to and manages to shoot a fleeing villain. As she's getting up she grunts "Armor's dented" but shows no ill effects and is able to ride a horse back to their ship just fine. The movie plays with this later on: When Mal confronts the Operative, the Operative tells him that he's unarmed. Mal shoots him, turns around to leave, and is jumped from behind. The Operative is of course wearing full body armor; he is not a moron.
  • In The Flash (2014), the Earth-2 Dr. Light's helmet protects her from when Iris tries to give her a Boom, Headshot! in retaliation for killing her boss.
  • Flashpoint:
    • Jules gets shot by a sniper and the bullet penetrates her vest, and she nearly dies. The team then uses heavy ballistic shields to cover them while they get her to safety, which do stop the sniper's fire (it had actually been stated earlier in the episode that "shields are safe, but that [ammunition] will crack body armor). Averted again in the Season 3 finale, when Ed is shot several times while wearing a vest and has to be hospitalized.
    • In the episode First in Line, Wordy is shot by the subject, and the bullet does little more than make him sit out the rest of the episode. Wordy is hit again in season 2, and is in considerable pain but still participates in the take-down of the subject at the end of the episode. Also seen in the ridiculously fast recovery of Roy Lane after being hit in the vest in "The Other Lane."
    • Subverted in the series finale when Parker gets shot in the vest by a Mad Bomber which briefly stuns him but he then gets up and continues to disarm the bomb. However, the next shot hits him in the leg and is followed by a shot that hits just under the armpit in an area not protected by the vest. He survives but it is a Career-Ending Injury
  • A rare lapse of realism in Forbrydelsen in the second-season finale. Lund gets shot three times at point-blank range while faking Exposition Victim to bait the murderer, and five minutes later is mobile enough to knock them out from behind.
  • Leo McCarthy from F/X: The Series stated that a bulletproof vest would not help against the sniper that he's trying to catch.
  • The Greatest American Hero: Ralph typically wears his supersuit underneath his regular clothes, which makes him truly Immune to Bullets over that portion of his body considering even the kinetic force of the bullets' impact doesn't harm him.
  • In Haven, Dwight Hendrickson wears a vest at all times because he attracts bullets to himself. Getting shot in the vest still knocks him down and hurts.
  • Subverted in cop show High Incident, in which a police officer is fatally shot in the chest with a 9mm pistol, despite wearing a vest. Another officer later examines the vest and comments on its futility.
  • Hogan's Heroes; one episode centers around the heroes receiving an air drop of bulletproof vests from London with orders to deliver them to La Résistance (the original drop point having been compromised). The vests are noted to be quite heavy, as Lebeau has to be carried around when smuggling the vests in lest he collapse underneath their weight.
  • Homicide: Life on the Street:
    • Subverted in the finale of season six, in which Det Bayliss is shot through his vest.
    • Subverted when Detectives Bolander, Felton, and Howard were all seriously wounded despite their vests, by an insane gun-nut conspiracy theorist who "probably used Teflon bullets".
    • In the non-fiction book on which the series is based, one of the detectives was wounded in the line of duty when he was shot through his department issue vest.
  • Human Target: Chance buys one, and tests it by putting it on and having Guererro shoot him.
  • Hunter (1984)
    • In "The Shooter", the Villain of the Week is a Cop Killer using silicone bullets that go right through their vests. Hunter goes on a rant about how such bullets should be outlawed because the only reason for owning them is to kill cops. Apparently no-one told Hunter that they were originally developed for cops, for better penetration of windshields and automobile doors.
    • In "The Beach Boy", Dee Dee McCall puts a couple of bullets into a hitman from Hawaii and he doesn't even flinch. Hunter comments that he must have been wearing a bulletproof vest, but that doesn't explain why the audience doesn't see it given that the hitman spends the entire episode with his Hawaiian shirt half unbuttoned to show his Carpet of Virility. After that Hunter gets out a Desert Eagle to take the hitman on, and uses it to Shoot the Fuel Tank and blow him up, vest and all.
  • JAG: In "War Cries", the vest's lack of protection for the wearer's head is lampshaded.
    Ambassador Bartlett: What if someone aims at my head?
    Gunnery Sgt. Granger: Duck, ma'am.
  • A very unusual subversion in the Jonathan Creek episode "The Coonskin Cap", in which the police all wear bulletproof vests to pursue an armed killer, only for one officer to be strangled in an empty room. Jonathan eventually realises she was strangled by a device built into the vest itself.
  • Raylan gets one in the vest in an early episode of Justified. He's in some pain, but still manages to gun down the shooter. Afterwards he's coughing up blood.
  • In Law & Order, the featured detectives usually don vests when they have time to prepare for a raid, or a similar dangerous situation on the job. The series also subverts it in an episode where a defective military vest that failed to protect its user is a key plot point.
  • Lost:
    • Right after Charlotte is introduced in the episode "Confirmed Dead," Ben shoots her. Because Anyone Can Die, the audience believes she's dead, but then it turns out she was wearing a vest. A few lines are dedicated to her resulting pain and nausea.
    • Later, in "There's No Place Like Home," Richard shoots Keamy several times at close range, and Keamy appears dead, but it turns out his body armor saved his life.
  • In The Lost Room miniseries, the Coat is not shown to have any special powers. However, since it's an Object and is, therefore, indestructible, it can be used as a bulletproof vest, although it still hurts like hell, and you can probably still die from internal bleeding. After all, it does nothing to spread the impact of the bullet.
  • Knife variant: In the second season The Man from U.N.C.L.E. episode "Alexander the Greater Affair, Part II", the titular villain Alexander moves to complete his plot by stabbing the premier of an Asian country at a diplomatic reception, the first step in a coup attempt. The premier, knife sticking in his chest, falls off the dais onto a cart and cake as the U.N.C.L.E. agents rush into the room to apprehend Alexander. It is then that the premier rises from the cart, and reveals that, having been warned of the murder attempt, he was wearing body armor that saved him.
  • MacGyver (1985): In "The Coltons" we learn that both Frank and Jesse wear these: a fact that saves their lives. The usual reveal is subverted in "For Love or Money": after surviving a shot to the chest, Anton Dubcek merely mentions the vest, without ripping his shirt open to prove it.
  • In one episode of The Mentalist, Van Pelt is shot in the vest during a canvas. The vest does its job in preventing life-threatning injuries, but she still sustains some injuries from the impact force. (Rigsby, who had declined to wear a vest because he didn't want to look weak, is understandably shaken up, as he realizes he would have been killed if he'd been the one who happened to knock on that door.)
  • Subverted in the Monk episode "Mr. Monk Gets Jury Duty". The two FBI agents escorting the captured drug dealer are shot by his fiance, who was on the jury as a way to free him. Both are saved by their bulletproof vests, but are left incapacitated from the impact of the gunshots.
  • In Murdoch Mysteries, Science Hero Detective Murdoch develops a proto-version in episode "Big Murderer on Campus". It's used on Constable Crabtree during a lecture in which the criminal is revealed, saving him from being killed instantly when he's shot by the villain's Mooks. However, he's still seriously injured and would have bled to death if Rebecca James hadn't done some Roadside Surgery to extract the bullet and stop the bleeding.
  • In Narcos, bulletproof vests are not very effective, spelling disaster for Colombian politics. One politician refuses a vest. He gets gunned down. Another wears one, but is shot just below the vest and bleeds to death minutes later. His successor agrees to wear bulletproof pants.
  • NCIS:
    • Toyed with in the season 2 finale when Kate takes a bullet for Gibbs, protected by her bulletproof vest. The characters spend some time joking about it, until Kate is shot in the head.
    • In "Devil's Trifecta", an assassin shoots Fornell in the chest while he's at a fast-food drive-thru. Fortunately, Fornell was wearing a bulletproof vest because he was at an FBI take-down earlier and was too tired to take it off; not only does it save Fornell's life, but it gives him the chance to grab his gun and shoot back.
    • In "Bulletproof", the team investigates a number of defective vests that were worn by soldiers who died or were crippled in combat because of the faulty vests’ ceramic plates shattering into shards and digging into the body upon bullet impact, making their wounds worse. The vests were from a batch that should have been destroyed, but were sold on the grey market as surplus body armor instead. When confronted, the person responsible dons body armor and opens fire on Team Gibbs. Bishop is shot but survives with only bruised ribs because she was wearing a working bulletproof vest. The perp is also shot in the vest, but because she was wearing one of the defective vests - which were worse than useless - she bleeds out.
  • NCIS: Los Angeles:
    • The series is very good about characters wearing their vests, as well as showing the limitations. When Kensi is shot in "Blye, K Part One", she's in a lot of pain and with obvious bruising through the next episode. She also makes reference to the shot being off-center (she was running) or the sniper bullet would have torn through the vest and killed her.
    • Averted in "Parley." The criminal assisting them is gunned down and shown to be wearing a bulletproof vest. While the vest clearly stopped the bullet, she is still badly injured and unable to get up, requiring the agents to call an ambulance for her.
    • In "SEAL Hunter", Sam takes a bullet to the vest. Because he's a badass who's Made of Iron, he's able to keep fighting along with the rest of the team, even dealing a Curb-Stomp Battle to a failed marine who spent the episode posing as him.
  • Person of Interest:
    • Depicted very realistically. Both the good guys and the bad guys survive getting shot in the vest but it knocks them out of the fight and leaves them seriously bruised afterwards.
    • When Reese goes undercover as an armored truck guard, he is shot in the back. While he survives due to his vest, he loses consciousness and wakes up in the hospital. The other guard also survived getting shot in the vest but while he was lying stunned and defenseless on the ground, the bad guy finished him off.
    • When Reese is fighting a sniper, he grabs the guy's sniper rifle and shoots him from close range. He is astounded when the sniper's vest absorbs the shot. The sniper's boss is Crazy-Prepared and made the guy wear a top-of-the-line vest that can stand up to a rifle bullet. However, the sniper is still completely knocked out by the force of the bullet and is likely to have internal injuries.
    • After Joss Carter saves Harold Finch by shooting the identity-stealing Serial Killer in 'Proteus', Finch mentions how good the man was at impersonating an FBI agent and realises that included the body armour. Cue the man getting to his feet, immediately followed by Beecher shooting him in the head.
  • The Professionals
    • In "Kickback", CI5 have to fake the assassination of a British government official. He's shown putting on the vest and being surprised that it's not as heavy as he expected, but when he's struck by a couple of rifle bullets he convulses in agony, which only helps maintain the illusion.
    • In "Stopover" it's George Cowley wearing a vest to fake his death. Bodie and Doyle (who weren't in on his plan) are furious at the risk he took.
      Bodie: What if he'd gone for a headshot?!
      Cowley: At twenty yards, in poor light with a handgun?
  • Mocked on Reno 911!. The ladies are all issued new vests in the form of Kevlar corsets. Pleased with the amount of attention they're getting, they just pin their badge to the vest itself and go out on patrol. They're loving it until, on a drunken dare, Junior shoots at Kimball and it goes right through the vest like butter. Parodied another time where the department is testing new bulletproof vests. Suffice it to say, the shot landed elsewhere.
  • Rookie Blue has two incidents where officers wearing vests are shot, leaving bruising and broken ribs. Hence played fairly realistically.
  • An episode of SEAL Team includes Clay's taking a hit dead center on his chest plate. He temporarily can't breathe because the impact paralyzes his diaphragm and he sustains a concussion. The large ugly bruise remains on his chest over the course of the next few episodes.
  • Sense8: In the first season finale Wolfgang's confrontation with his uncle devolves into a massive shootout. Will works out that the uncle is wearing a bulletproof vest because the shots that hit him sound like they're hitting kevlar and not flesh. Turns out the uncle was just playing dead to buy time for more boydguards to arrive.
    Wolfgang: How was I supposed to know he'd be wearing a bulletproof vest? Who wears a bulletproof vest in real life?!
  • Subverted in The Shield, when Shane is shot through a door during a raid, while wearing a Kevlar vest. He is knocked down by the impact, and sustains heavy bruising from the impact (it's noted in the show that the door slowed down the bullet, which prevented him from sustaining broken ribs on top of the bruising).
  • Early in one episode of The Six Million Dollar Man, one of Steve Austin's friends had developed a vest of new design and asked Austin to give it a try. The new design proved its worth later in the episode when a heavy-machine-gun burst at pointblank range knocked Steve down but didn't penetrate. He made a point of murmuring a "Thanks" directed at the inventor.
  • Played With in the Smallville episode "Shield". Clark catches a bullet just before it can hit Cat Grant, then proceeds to imbed it into her vest while pretending to tackle her to the ground, allowing him to save her life without revealing his superpowers.
  • Stargate SG-1:
    • In "Smoke and Mirrors", when Senator Kinsey is shot by a sniper. Anticipating the attack, he was wearing a bulletproof vest that saved his life... though the shot still dropped him like a sack of hammers, and necessitated that he be hospitalized and operated upon.
    • "Heroes Part 1" had Sgt. Siler demonstrate new body armor made to resist Jaffa weapons (the regular sort don't- in fact making it worse). A test shot blasts him clear off his feet and lightly sets him on fire, but he's able to get back up with help. The new armor saves Col. O'Neill when he's shot later on, but he still gets knocked out, and has to spend quite some time in the infirmary afterward. It also saves Mitchell, when they are ambushed by the Sodan Jaffa.
    • This becomes a major plot point when Anubis' Kull Warriors are introduced. Their armor disperses energy blasts and is also made of a kevlar-like material to stop ballistics. In order to capture one, the SGC resorts to tranquilizer guns, on the logic that the darts will penetrate between the fibers, and tipped with the strongest metal in the known universe (still doesn't work because of their metabolism).
    • Another episode plays with it, where toward the end O'Neill, who was clearly wearing a vest, is shot in the arm to prevent him from capturing an escaped Goa'uld. Carter reaches him, and O'Neill groans that next time, he wants sleeves on his bulletproof vest.
    • Inverted in later seasons. During Earth-based operations, strike teams often wore Kevlar vests over their shirts instead of hiding them. Naturally, they never get shot (with bullets, anyway—and Kevlar is useless against zat'n'ktel).
  • In the Supernatural episode "Devil May Care" (S09, Ep02), the demons who possessed Navy soldiers put these on, which is odd since demons can only be killed by bullets from the Colt. Maybe they were trying to be nice to their meat suit.
  • In an early episode of Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger, Commander Doggie "Boss" Kruger is shot right as he returns home from an off-world Deka meeting by Monster of the Week Gigantes (AKA Hoji/Deka Blue's old friend Vino), immediately after Hoji realizes what Gigantes was up to. Fortunately, he was wearing a Bulletproof Vest and survived little less for wear (it's implied that Hoji warned Swan about Gigantes and she alerted Doggie just in time), though considering how he's shown to be Made of Iron in later episodes, one wonders if he really needed it...
  • Top Gear: The presenters are presented with and wear them on the first part of the Middle East special as they travel through Iraq. As they travel through the Kurdistan region, they discover it is actually quite peaceful and decide not to wear them anymore. However, when they get to the Turkish border, they are horrified to discover their poorly planned route to Bethlehem puts them back in an active warzone and so they have to don them again.
  • One episode in True Blue had two criminals rob a bank wearing full body armor, requiring the police forces to use a high-powered rifle to take down one of the criminals.
  • A realistic portrayal in the otherwise very-non-naturalistic Twin Peaks. Agent Cooper's life is saved by a bulletproof vest when he is shot in the first-season cliffhanger ending, although he is wounded by one of the bullets because he had pulled the vest up to get at a wood-tick. He describes the experience as "the sensation of having three bowling-balls dropped onto your chest from a height of about nine feet.", and suffers broken ribs from the impact.
  • One character on The Unusuals is paranoid about dying (he's 42, his father was 42 when he died, his father was 42, etc.) so he always wears his vest.
  • Walker, Texas Ranger: Any main character who wears a bulletproof vest will take the shot, recoil, then continue, while any secondary character or redshirt will either have the round penetrate the vest anyway via "cop killer" armor piercing bullets or just get shot in the head instead. Other times, it's a case of Faking the Dead.
    • Played more realistically in the last episode of the Chairman arc, when Trivette actually goes down from a shot to the chest. After about a minute of appearing to be dead, he manages to recover and get up.
    • This occurs again in "Unsafe Speed" when a State Trooper (played by Adam Vernier) agrees to assist the Rangers in their covert operation against an outlaw biker gang known as the Raptors, whereupon Gage and Sydney supposedly kill him in order to pass their initiation and gain access to their meth lab in order to bust it up. The plan works, and when he gets back up, this is lampshaded by him and Trivette:
      Trooper Freels: This bulletproof vest worked, but it sure does hurt. (gets back up after being shot)
      Trivette: It hurts a lot more without one.
      Trooper Freels: I hear that.
  • V (1983). At the start of V: The Final Battle, a raid by the Los Angeles resistance group goes wrong when they discover that Visitor body armor is now impervious to conventional bullets. Fortunately, a member of a previously unrevealed worldwide resistance network then makes contact with Teflon-coated bullets they have developed.
  • The Wire has a tendency of making bulletproof vests useless. In season 1 it's noted that while a bulletproof vest was found on one of Omar's men, it didn't do him much good against the 46 spent shell casings found around him. In season 4, The Dragon for Marlo teaches his soldiers to aim for the head if close enough, or to shoot low enough to get under where a vest would protect. And ultimate badass Omar, who seemingly never leaves home without his vest on, gets killed by a kid that shoots him in the back of the head while buying a pack of cigarettes.
  • The X-Files: In "Young at Heart", Scully is shot by a criminal during a sting operation, but she's saved by a hidden vest.

  • A bulletproof vest is one of 50 Cent's signature pieces of clothing. Since he based his entire schtick on surviving 9 gunshot wounds, it made sense. Reportedly, the men that murdered Jam Master Jay were actually looking for him, and also supposedly the first runs of G-Unit clothing only came in XXL specifically so they could be worn over the top of the vest.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Cyberpunk 2020 describes bulletproof vests along with bulletproof trousers and kevlar helmets as mandated protection for soldiers (and usually cops). They are portrayed quite realistically being very good against shrapnel as well as against small and medium-calibre weapons fire, but just slowing down assault rifle bullets. Heavier armor types are available but are marginally better, and of course armor-piercing bullets make short work of all types of armor.
  • The bulletproof vests available in GURPS do not inspire confidence, but they can make the difference between dead and dying.
  • In Hc Svnt Dracones a bulletproof vest has hit points equal to a physically weak character, but covers very little and is easily bypassed by aiming single shots. However, there are also far heavier armors.
  • Flak vests (and flak helmets, jackets, pants, and suits in the expanded 2nd and 3rd editions) are the most widely available armor in the MechWarrior tabletop role playing game and are actually reasonably useful against most of the common weapons a player character might face, such as slugthrower pistols and melee weapons. Once lasers and other exotic weapons come into play (particularly flamers and heavy needlers, basic flak armor generally falls by the wayside for something sturdier.
  • The second edition of the role-playing game Recon had a somewhat confusing discussion of body armor. In a description of a soldier getting ready for a mission, he chooses not to take body armor, it being "useless dead weight". However, he does volunteer to carry the squad's machinegun ammo belts, because they provide good protection from bullets. (The rules didn't actually rate ammo belts as protection.)
  • Expatriette from Sentinels of the Multiverse can wear one (it's called a Flak Jacket in game). It has the effect of completely nullifying any attack that does three or more points of damage before being discarded. This includes everything from mundane gunfire to a 9999 damage energy blast from the setting's universe-destroying Big Bad.
    I swear boss, we got her this time! An enforcer, Justice Comics #634
  • Body armor in Shadowrun just gives you a better chance of shrugging off injury, rather than actually preventing damage per se. Unless one has a ridiculously high Body attribute (easily gained by, say, being a Troll), just one layer of ballistic armor won't cut it against anything above light pistol fire. But that's civilian- and security-grade armour. Military-grade armor makes one totally immune to anything of too low a penetrating power, but still does not save one against being shot with an Assault Cannon set to full-auto.
  • Flak jackets in Warhammer 40,000 are standard equipment for basic Imperial Guard units. They're nicknamed "T-shirts" because they're so flimsy in comparison to the much heavier armors available in the game.
    • In the RPG Dark Heresy, guardsman flak is actually one of the best armours that can be obtained regularly. Mesh armour is a little worse, but weighs around 2kg for a full-body suit (and is ridiculously hard to get without the right connections), carapace armour is heavier and a little stronger (and about equally hard to get) and Powered Armour finally means nothing short of anti-vehicle/anti-materiel even can touch you - if you can get your hands on a set and are not too distraught about the civilian capacitors only lasting for between one and five hours of operation... Still, against normal weapons (autoguns and lasguns), flak armour works pretty well.
    • Imperial Guard flak armour shines through in Only War. In fact, it's even better this time round, because you can acquire it right from the get-go if you choose/create the right regiment for your characters, and upgrading the armour to Good Craftsmanship is relatively inexpensive - even Best Craftmanship is somewhat reasonable. This is countered by the fact that should your regiment not specify full Imperial Flak on creation, then they start with just the vest and helmet, leaving your arms and legs vulnerable.
    • Flak Armor has been stated to be impervious to bullets from stubbers, resistant to autogun fire, and might save you from a lasblast, if it's a glancing hit. Considering that Imperial Autoguns fire 8.25x56mm note  bullets with muzzle velocity slightly lower than the average 7.62x51, it's actually arguably better than modern armor. Of course, there's also the theory of the entire uniform being to that standard of stubber immunity, which would mean that the entire uniform is made up of ballistic textiles capable of shrugging off bullets from modern rifles, and that the hard portions are quite possibly able to take a hit from a HMG at some angles. Something to think about.

    Video Games 
  • 7.62 High Calibre has several types of armor and helmets available. The first one available, the M200 Concealable Vest, is stated as being suitable for stopping small caliber ammunition. Unfortunately, 50% of the bandits you're likely to run across are carrying sawed-off Mosin Nagants, which fire a (admittedly slower velocity) 7.62x54mm rifle round, meaning the vest is almost worthless. Later vests are slightly better at stopping higher caliber ammunition, and can include ceramic or titanium inserts for better protection (ceramic is stronger, but breaks after a few shots, while titanium is weaker, but more durable). There's also a game setting that can be toggled on so that vests actually provide full body protection. Otherwise, in addition to considering how heavy and protective a vest is, you also have to take into account just how much of your body that vest actually covers. Vests are also depicted very realistically: they can only protect from a handful of shots, some damage can still get through, and even if they protect you from any damage you'll still get stunned by the impact. The concealable vests without the ability to accept plates are especially weak, and typically they're only good enough to protect the victim from being instantly killed or incapacitated. And since they don't last forever, your mercs will need to constantly buy, find, or scavenge new vests (hope you missed the armor when you killed that soldier!).
  • The Adventures of Bayou Billy: Two purposes, depending on where you find one. Deflects bullets and knives and breaks sticks in the beat-em-up stages, and gives temporary invincibility in the shooting stages.
  • In Alpha Protocol, bulletproof vests are generic sources of Hit Points, which also block knives and fists and explosions. You can also convince Ronald Sung to wear a bulletproof vest if you uncover a plan to assassinate him. Doing so will save him from being killed by a sniper with a high-powered rifle, which makes one wonder just how much kevlar was in that vest.
  • In the Army Men series, Sarge can pick up "flak jackets", which take up an equipment slot and reduce damage until destroyed. Though in real life, "flak jackets" were too bulky for regular troops.
  • Huge, heavy, and customized battle armor is worn by both Rios and Salem in Army of Two. This includes steel masks to protect the face.
  • In Batman: Arkham Origins, James Gordon takes a bullet for Warden Joseph during the climax. While it clearly still hurts, he gets back up and is still in good enough shape to fight side-by-side with Batman.
    Warden Joseph: Thank God you had your vest on.
  • A certain type of soldier in Blake Stone: Aliens of Gold wears a bulletproof vest; the machine gun-type weapons are the only ones that can hurt them. And even then, the first burst only knocks the soldier down, and you have to wait until he gets back up to finish the job. Makes you wonder what Blake himself is wearing.
  • Counter-Strike: Just like in real life, kevlar armors do little more than increasing your firefight life expectancy from 2 seconds to 3 seconds. Kevlar helmets, meanwhile, are only effective against pistols and maybe against 5.56 mm rifles. See this list for all weapons stats. Basically, every weapon has a pre-assigned damage value for each part with and without armor. Against grenades and most sub-machine guns, shotguns, and pistol it can reduce damage by 40-50%, but only reduces damage from rifles by about 20-30% and does basically nothing against sniper rifles. Armor does however prevent aimpunch (meaning you crosshair isn't randomly thrown off when you get shot) making it a crucial buy.
  • Played fairly realistically in Crysis. All of the American soldiers and about half of the North Korean soldiers wear kevlar vests, helmets, and ceramic plating on their torsos. Rather than simply giving them more health, as in most other FPS games, Crysis actually models subsystem damage as well as velocity loss over range for the sake of verisimilitude. For reference, the basic rifle-caliber firearms (FY-71, SCAR, Hurricane, Shi Ten) deal 90 to 120 damage, and lose 0.1 points of damage for every 1 meter past 50 meters (meaning that at, say, 300 meters, they lose 25 damage per shot). By default, shots to the head deal 5000% damage (i.e. instant kill), torso shots 120%, leg/arm shots 65%, and feet/hand shots 30%. Body armor reduces the torso damage multiplier from 120% to 75%, meaning that North Korean soldiers (who have from 180 to 250 health points) go from taking one or two assault rifle bullets to the torso kill to taking two to six, depending on the soldier, caliber, and distance. However, body armor obviously does not affect the multipliers to the legs, head, and hands, as those parts of the body remain exposed (except for the helmet which is only designed to stop shrapnel and pistol rounds and would be useless against a rifle anyway).
  • In Door Kickers, body armor has limited coverage direction wise and most bullets are assumed to go into your chest, but the depiction is very realistic, with very effective NIJ Level 4 body armor (essentially) being extremely heavy and cumbersome, making it usually worth more to just not get shot at all, which is typically possible with good planning anyway.
  • Escape from Tarkov's armour is in a strange place due to using a mix of realism and balance. Since it has no distinction between hard plate and soft armour zones, GOST 6A body armour somehow encases the limbs as well, when the plate is merely a thorax protective.
  • Final Fantasy XIV:
    • The level 50 armorer quest has Merlwyb test the efficacy of the Warrior's cobalt haubergeon by shooting at it while one of her own men is wearing it. Luckily for the Maelstrom soldier, it's well-made enough that the bullet pings harmlessly off the chainmail. Unfortunately for the soldier wearing Blanstyr's armor, the bullet goes right through it.
    • Yotsuyu goe Brutus wears a full kimono, but hides in the clothing a layer of Garlean carbon fiber, incredibly durable fabric. This layer of protection is what saved her life when she was seemingly cut down by Hien's katana.
  • In First Encounter Assault Recon, the player can pick up protective helmets and vests which not only protect him from pistol rounds, but also from rifled rounds, shotgun blasts, explosives and laser guns! However, melee attacks still do a great deal of damage. All of the standard Replica Soldiers and ATC guards wear armor too, ranging from only soft vests to vests backed with ceramic plating to stop rifle rounds.
  • Body armor in Girls' Frontline can only be equipped by shotguns (and M16A1). They increase the armor stat at the cost of evasion, which isn't important for shotguns anyway. Since armor directly subtracts the damage taken, a shotgun equipped with decent body armor can essentially shrug off anything smaller than Jaeger fire, making them excellent against general enemy formations.
  • The Godfather 2 has bulletproof vests as a reward for completing the diamond smuggling crime ring. They only reduce damage and don't guard the head or limbs; fortunately, this also applies to mooks wearing them. As a result, you can kill armoured mooks much faster by going for Boom, Headshot!.
  • GoldenEye (1997) and NightFire: You can pick up a bulletproof vest that essentially acts as a second health bar. Headshots still hurt, though. Additionally, Nightfire plays it with surprising realism. It's only durable against handguns and small semi-automatics like the Storm M32. One sniper round or shotgun blast is enough to wipe out half the armor; another shot will erase it completely and take some of your regular health with it. Obviously, you're dead meat against explosives and grenades.
  • All the Grand Theft Auto games have body armor that act as a second health bar. Depending on the game, it won't protect you from drowning, hunger, car explosions (while inside them) and high falls.
  • Jagged Alliance:
    • The games come with a range of body armour, helmets and, in Jagged Alliance 2, armoured trousers, as well as handy chemicals with which to reinforce them. These range from the common or garden flak jacket and steel helmet, which is about as effective as putting on an extra T-shirt, to full-body Spectra, which will let you survive a point-blank burst from an M16 with only multiple flesh wounds (and sudden severe exhaustion on account of having the wind knocked out of you). There's also a kevlar-reinforced leather biker jacket, which is the only body armour upgrade one character will agree to wear.
    • Jagged Alliance 2 also allows various attachments to armour like knee protectors and armour plate inserts. Full SWAT gear with inserts and no damage gives an insane amount of damage resistance that can make non-armour-piercing rounds do 0 damage if they hit. You don't even want to know how much damage the EOD Suits can resist. Really.
  • The Long Dark: The Ballistic Vest is a unique item that offers more than twice the protection bonus of any other item of clothing or accessory, effectively halving any damage taken from wildlife attacks. It won't be stopping bullets anytime soon (since players aren't facing off against armed opponents) but paired with the right gear a Ballistic Vest can make a player nigh invulnerable to ravenous bears, marauding packs of wolves, and the ocassional cranky moose.
  • Mega Man:
    • Mega Man Legends and its sequel has the Flak Jacket, the Kevlar Jacket, and the Kevlar Jacket Ω, which can be bought in succession and provide a 25%, 50%, and 75% reduction in damage respectively.
    • A good number of Mega Man X games feature body armor that gives 50% damage reduction, but not invincibility. It started in the X series, and in some games gave a new weapon, but later spread out into the other series.
  • Metal Gear:
    • Snake can find a bulletproof vest in Metal Gear Solid which cuts all damage taken in half while it's equipped. It is fairly useless as it's far more economic to keep rations equipped which automatically get used if your health reaches zero.
    • In Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, Raiden's sword easily damages Solidus Snake through his armored suit, although the sword is, itself, made of Phlebotinum. Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots gives Raiden some karmic payback; the non-metal parts of his armor don't stop Vamp's blades. Minutes before is a subversion, if a thin one; Old Snake, unseen by the enemy, takes the time to line up a perfect shot with his M4 on Vamp's un-armored head. His shot hits dead-center in the forehead, but Vamp, effectively immortal, spins around once as a startled reaction to the momentum, lands on one knee, catches his cell phone from falling to finish talking, gives his troops an order, and then informs them he'll be "taking a nap" before falling over dead. He re-animates shortly thereafter.
  • PAYDAY 2 has several tiers of body armor, ranging from the classic bulletproof vest to a fully decked-out suit of ceramic-plated armor. Heavier armor offers more protection, while lighter armor lets you move faster and possibly dodge bullets. Like in real life, armor offers little protection from melee attacks and is vulnerable to high-caliber sniper fire; unlike real life, it can repair itself after a few seconds in cover. On the cops' side, Maximum Force Response units have ceramic chestplates that are completely invulnerable to normal gunfire. Their helmets, however, are not so bulletproof.
  • PAYDAY 3 has four tiers - Standard Lining offers a single armor chunk and maximum movement speed, Heavy Ballistic Lining offers four chunks at the cost of some movement speed, and Light and Medium Ballistic Lining fall somewhere in between.
  • Perfect Dark uses an energy shield that has this effect, except that it does block head shots.
  • Pokémon has a held item called the "Assault Vest", which raises the holder's Special Defense by 50%, at the cost of locking out status moves such as Thunder Wave.
  • Postal 2 has Kevlar and Ceramic Armor, which reduce damage until destroyed.
  • The Rainbow Six franchise plays the bulletproof vest trope fairly realistically, even in the more action oriented games, such as Vegas. Light body armor will not save a player from most types of gunfire, and armor that can reliably stop bullets is bulky and slows the wearer down.
  • Resident Evil:
    • Rebecca Chambers wears one which effectively stops a bullet, but is otherwise realistically useless against the monster slashing slaws. The fifth game plays with this by allowing different types of armor for gunshots and knife attacks.
    • As does Brad Vickers who wears a bright yellow ballistic vest, the type meant to resist debris kicked up by blasts and which fits a metal or ceramic plate over center-of-mass front and back. It makes his zombified self in Resident Evil 2 highly resistant to your guns and notoriously difficult to kill, unless you put two-and-two together and let him bite onto your foot after knocking him down which lets you stomp his unprotected head or find a shotgun in the Police Station and aim for his head at point-blank range. Both of these are a one-hit kill.
  • RimWorld has various pieces of Boring, but Practical flak armor that are a lot easier to outfit colonists with than the game's Powered Armor. Flak vests obviously don't protect the wearer's neck or arms from Subsystem Damage, but can be worn under outerwear like parkas or dusters that help a colonist survive in hostile temperatures. Flak jackets protect a wearer's entire upper torso, and can even be worn over a flak vest for extra protection, but will slow a wearer down. At any rate, while quality armor may prevent an attack from penetrating and causing a bleeding injury, the wearer will still suffer bruises and cracked bones from the impacts, and too many blunted attacks will still deplete a character's health bar and eventually disable them from overwhelming pain.
  • Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory actually plays this quite realistically; if Sam triggers two or more alarms, guards will don body armor and helmets. While the armor is relatively effective against his rifle and renders his pistol practically useless except for headshots below the helmets' brims, his knife goes straight through their armor, and his nonlethal unarmed attacks, which aim for the base of the skull or nose, still knock enemies unconscious.
  • The final boss of Sunset Riders, kind of. All bosses can take some 20 bullets before dying; the final boss takes about 30, then his bulletproof vest falls out, and then he needs 30 more before he drops.
  • SWAT 4 has you and your team wear light Kevlar vests and helmets by default. You can take heavy armor in multiplayer, and the expansion pack allows you use no armor if you so please. AI-controlled suspects also get armor in some missions, again just kevlar vests; the bulk of them just go around in their clothes though. Due to the game being big on realism, the vests (not being hard rifle-proof plates) can stop only a few pistol rounds and are as useful as paper against rifles. Notably, the game also lets you pick whether to use FMJ or JHP rounds, with the former being more effective against suspects in bulletproof vests, but slightly less effective at inflicting wounds and prone to overpenetrating walls, which could potentially lead to civilians getting hit accidentally.
  • Syphon Filter plays this fairly realistically.
    • The player always comes equipped with a flak jacket which will completely protect you from bullets until destroyed, with headshots being the only exception. Armored enemies, on the other hand, can be damaged by shots to the extremities, and can be taken down with headshots. This is usually how you want to kill them, since you can take their flak jackets to restore your armor.
    • The final boss of the second game is equipped with Nigh Invulnerable full body armor that is apparently impervious to even grenade blasts and doesn't seem to slow him down (impossible).
  • In the XCOM games unarmoured soldiers will die with disgusting ease, but armor won't necessarily increase their chances of survival. The first tier of armor (Personal Armor in the first game, Plastic Aqua-Armor in the second) is significantly better, more than 4 times more protective, than no armor at all, and second tier armor (Power Armor/Ion Armor) is twice as protective as tier one. The issue is that the RNG can decrease damage to 0% or increase it to 200%, or anywhere in between, so that you're never safe. In addition, all armor has "resistances", where they take less damage from certain sources outright. Tier 1 armor, for example, takes far less damage (25% less) from ballistic weapons. Unfortunately, the aliens don't use ballistic weapons, and damage reduction from alien sources is scarce until tier 2. The biggest advantage of tier 3 armor (Flying Armor/Magnetic Ion Armor) is not the 10% increase in armor over Tier 2, or even the ability to fly, but rather the fact that it has much better resistance to alien weapons than tier 2, which is similarly much better than tier 1.
    • Apocalypse, the third game in the series, breaks from the mold of the previous two by giving your characters armor at the beginning of the game, rather than forcing you to send your troops into battle wearing cloth jumpsuits. However, the armor still isn't very effective: the aliens will start the game firing Brainsuckers at your troops, which are completely unfazed by armor, and spitting acid, which the armor isn't effective against. In addition, the armor either slows soldiers down (standard Marsec armor), or is prohibitively expensive while being barely more protective (flying armor).
    • XCOM: Enemy Unknown changes how armor works entirely: rather than providing damage reduction, armor is a straight HP buff. Even basic kevlar armor provides a +1 bonus to a soldier's HP. In addition, if a soldier takes less damage than the bonus provided by armor, they are considered uninjured and don't need any time recovering from a mission before they can be redeployed. While this more or less isn't possible for basic armor, the Tier 2 upgrade armor means a soldier can take a shot from a plasma pistol and not be hurt.
    • XCOM 2 changed armor again: it still provides an HP boost, but there's different grades available as well, with light armor providing less of a boost but a better chance to dodge, and heavy armor providing plating, which reducing damage taken entirely. However, any injury, no matter how minor, will need recovery time, and with the Tired mechanic introduced in War of the Chosen, even injuries that cause no damagenote  will severely affect the energy level of a soldier, requiring downtime before they're able to effectively deploy again.
  • Xenonauts, a Spiritual Successor to the original XCOM games, also starts off with effectively no armor. Justified by the fact that the aliens are using plasma weapons as standard, against which most conventional body armor is nigh-useless. Fortunately, one of the first research projects that becomes available once you capture an intact enemy weapon is some body armor specifically designed to resist it.
  • XIII lets you and other characters wear vests and helmets to soak up extra damage. If you shoot an armored opponent to death, their armor will disintegrate, so sneaking up to take them down from behind is the best way to loot pristine armor.

    Visual Novels 

  • Nearly all the soldiers, mercenaries, and guards in Cry 'Havoc' wear body armor, most of it military grade plate armor. It also becomes a plot point when Freyja develops a 'formula' for armor that adapts to changes in its wearers physiology (an important issue for werewolves).
  • Black Monday Blues, the "Cleaner" from Dead Winter wears one underneath his shirt. Which is somehow strong enough to save his life from a point blank shotgun blast courtesy of Ron. Leaving Monday dazed and bruised yet still kept on trucking on because he's just that badass. Alongside Monday some of the soldiers from the Army/National Guard wear these as well. One of them protecting the soldier from Monday's Mauser C96.
  • Girl Genius: Bang is furious when she realizes that Martellus' shirt is somehow armored. Which helps explain how he survived getting shot point blank in the chest with a giant clank gun a few pages earlier.
  • In Grrl Power, Maxima lets Sydney know on no uncertain terms that they have bullet resistant armor, not bullet proof armor. A powerful enough bullet will penetrate her armor, no matter how tough it is. Sydney takes this lesson to heart. She does get a vest that contains non-newtonian fluids that will solidify when under pressure, which saves her life from a piece of shrapnel.
  • Riff from Sluggy Freelance wears one during the "Dangerous Days" arc. Since he took the blast from a shotgun, however, it still hurts like hell. Later on there's a bit of discussion about the difference between "bulletproof" and "knife proof" vests.

    Web Original 
  • Subverted in a Cheat Commandos toon, where Gunhaver shoots Flashfight playfully, falsely believing that the latter is wearing a bulletproof vest that they were playing around with at the beginning of the toon.
  • In The Return Darkstar's Brood are eventually convinced to replace their Stripperiffic outfits with more sensible ones with bulletproofing.
  • Subverted for the most part in Survival of the Fittest; while bulletproof vests appear rather often they tend to be treated very realistically, and indeed, in many instances have been no use at all - the foe of the vest's owner just aims for the head for the most part or the vest just has no effect. However, this is also played straight in the case of Shannon McLocke, who takes a close range shotgun blast to the chest and gets up with barely a scratch. Bobby Jacks also takes a carbine round to the chest and gets up relatively unharmed a minute or two later in v3, but the carbine used weak enough ammunition for this to be justified.

    Western Animation 
  • In American Dad!, Stan has to wear braces to prevent teeth grinding, making him sound like a geek. His coworkers plant a "Shoot Me" sign on him, and then shoot at him.
    Stan: Oh, ha ha! Very funny guys! You're lucky I'm wearing my vest!!
  • Archer:
    • Cyril wears one regularly, so Archer occasionally shoots him to shut him up. At one point, Pam reveals she's wearing one of Cyril's used vests. This confuses Archer since the fibers break upon being used. She admits it hurts a lot.
    • In a flashback in "Movie Star", Krieger tests armour on a new intern, Chet. It doesn't go so well for Chet.
      Krieger: Now, normally I don't let an intern do this on his first day, but... [cut to Chet slumped over, dead, with multiple bullet wounds] Chet? Buddy? How's it hanging?
    • In "El Secuestro", Cheryl is given a vest to keep her safe from kidnappers. When the kidnappers storm the building Archer reminds her she's wearing it to stop her screaming...only for her to immediately get shot in the bicep as it's still a vest that leaves her arms exposed.
  • Who could forget Duck Dodgers' Disintegration-Proof Vest from Duck Dodgers in the 24½th Century. It can survive a blast from a Martian disintegrating pistol very well - which is more than can be said for the wearer. (Good thing the Eager Young Space Cadet had a reintegrating gun handy.)
  • Futurama:
    • In Bender's Big Score, the lead nudist scammer wears a platinum doom-proof vest. So that's what the purple thing he was wearing was. Afterwards he regrets he hadn't been wearing doom-proof pants too.
    • Futurama also has an odd moment when Fry becomes a cop and tries to foil Bender stealing the Maltese Liquor. The robot that predicted the robbery notes that it was a trap - then Bender gets shot by Fry accidentally when his shot ricochets off the safe, and the predictor robot shoots Fry. However, it's really a sting to catch the predictor robot, since Fry reveals he's wearing a bulletproof vest, and Bender - opens his door to show his bulletproof vest with a bullet lodged in it on a clothes hanger.
  • Daffy Duck advertises one in the Looney Tunes episode The Stupor Salesman adding, "Guaranteed to get your money back if it fails to work!"
  • Parodied in Robot Chicken, where in the spoof of Police Academy and X-Men movies, one of the graduates shoots himself in the head after Xavier's introduction of the bulletproof uniforms. After which, Xavier says "Of course, they can only protect the parts of you that are covered."
  • The Simpsons:
    • In "The Monkey Suit", Homer is shown being allowed to wear one of these and repeatedly shoot himself for the fun of it at a weapons exhibit at the local museum.
    • In another episode, Chief Wiggum gets shot while trying to wrestle a gun away from a criminal. He laughs, saying, "That's what bulletproof vests are for!" — and then realizes that he left his vest in the car.

    Real Life 
  • The phrase "bulletproof vest" is often a misnomer. Many military vests or helmets, particularly those made before the modern era, are actually intended to prevent injury from the fragmentation cast about by explosions. Some observers have commented that helmets or vests were "useless" because they did not stop rifle ammunition. This is a fallacy, as most injuries in warfare are caused by fragmentation, against which helmets and armor were rather effective. The term "proof" historically referred to being tested (as in proof reading), not being invulnerable — indeed, it is so statistically difficult to say that any piece of armor is guaranteed to stop a given bullet that vests usually report what test loadings the vest has a 50% chance of stopping. The shift in meaning has led to conscientious makers and writers calling the vests "bullet resistant". Like any other type of armor, ballistic armor is not supposed to prevent you from being hurt; it's to prevent you from being killed.
  • Not all body armor is created equal. Different levels are made to resist different calibers of ammunition; Levels I, IIA, II, and IIIA will resist most pistol rounds, but only levels III and IV will resist rifle rounds.
  • Anti-ballistic armor works by dispersing the force applied to the person by the bullet across a wide area of the body, preventing the bullet from piercing the body and wreaking havoc on blood vessels and organs. Compare the lethality of fists with knives: They deliver about the same amount of energy to the target, but the latter attacks a much smaller area. For the same reason, bullet resistant armor protects nicely against shrapnel produced by fragmentation explosives like typical grenades, but is far less effective against an explosion itself (which will apply the same amount of force anyway).
  • Bulletproof vests and stab-proof vests require a rather different Kevlar weave, which can be a problem if you're wearing the sort that's not optimal for the weapon you're being attacked with: A stab vest will do very little to protect against even small-calibre bullets, and ballistic Kevlar only offers as much resistance to a sharp blade as the equivalent thickness of dense cloth by itself.
  • Modern military body armor:
    • The Soviet Union did perhaps more than any other nation in the development of the modern military body armor, especially thanks to the development of three specific pieces. The 6B2 (6Б2) was introduced in March of 1979. While it used the traditional flack jacket formula of metal plates and aramid fibres, it set the style for future armors, vests, and plate carriers by having solid front and rear sides, and being donned over the head and adjusted by straps on the shoulders. The 6B3 (6Б3) and 6B4 (6Б4) were introduced in the summer of 1979, and were revolutionary advances in body armor. These were the first widely-used systems to offer more than just protection. They came with integrated pockets for magazines, grenades, and other items. They had projections on the shoulders to allow soldiers to comfortably sling weapons and equipment over their shoulders without it falling off, the vests could be adjusted from both the shoulders and sides, and they were modular, with a baseline amount of soft armor integrated into the vests, with the option for soldiers to add more or less armor as they wished, thanks to using smaller plates housed in internal pockets, meaning that protection could be precisely tailored and taking a hit did not necessitate replacement of all the armor. The supplemental armor plates were also made of materials which would become global mainstays. The 6Б3 used titanium plates and the 6Б4 used ceramic plates. Lastly, the 6Б3 was the first vest in the world to be widely supplied with camouflage covers which could easily be added and removed as needed in the field.
    • U.S. soldiers in Iraq have reported being hit by rifle fire and not knowing they were hit, due to the modern heavy body armor they are wearing. Many injuries are due to explosives, which pierce the armor, or more often, damage parts of the body which are not protected. The force of the blast also is not reduced by much, which can cause brain damage when the brain is bruised against the skull. However, such body armor can only withstand one or two hits - at medium range.
    • The effectiveness of body armor is highly underestimated. As this article demonstrates, modern body armor can receive a full-contact grenade blast.
    • Many army medics in Iraq reported that soldiers who survived an IED blast would often have shrapnel injuries on the limbs that would stop in a very neat line where their body armor started.
    • The latest trend in body armor? Ballistic shorts which provide coverage to the groin area. This being intended to address a major problem for troops riding in vehicles that roll over landmines or IEDs. Various styles are being evaluated, including "ballistic boxers" to shorts made from more conventional body armor materials. Puns abound, obviously.
    • Several variations of armor are used by US personnel, the most common ESAPI stopping two 30.06 AP hits, while the best stopping three M993 hits.
  • A black joke appreciated by British troops in Northern Ireland (and probably today in the Sandpit) is that wearing the issue flak jacket/protective armour ensures that if you are blown up by a terrorist bomb, at least the jacket will keep enough of you together in the same place afterwards to justify a coffin at your funeral, and make it easier for Forensics to identify the bits. So always paint your name on the flak jacket to make sure your family get the right corpse.
  • A primitive version of such a vest is reputed to have been used by tax-gatherers. It consisted of a plank of wood hanging under the clothes on their back, and apparently it was not unknown for them to go about their business with arrows sticking out of it.
  • Ned Kelly, outlaw and Australian Folk Hero, is famous for his standoff with the police with him and his gang dressed in body armor made out of plow parts. Unfortunately for the gang, they didn't armor their legs and only Ned survived to sit trial...
  • The infamous shootout in North Hollywood persisted because the two robbers were well-armored. Police, unable to penetrate their armor with their service pistols and shotguns, nonetheless put up great resistance without any loss of life; several officers also went to a nearby gunshop to procure rifles that could penetrate the armour. Then the SWAT team arrived. Like Ned Kelly above, these guys suffered from both a lack of mobility and leg protection, which is how they got cornered. Phillips eventually committed suicide (and was shot in the spine with a rifle) after his gun jammed and he was shot in the arm. Matasareanu was crippled by gunfire to his legs and died before aid reached him.
  • People who make mail as a hobby can make good money not only by making costume-armor for Renaissance fairs but also selling mail vests to police officers looking for greater knife-protection than what their standard-issue body armor provides. However, according to research carried out by the British army in WW1, mail will actually make a gunshot worse. It's not strong enough to stop a bullet and will actually fragment, carrying more shrapnel into the body, as well as making it hard to reach the wound for treatment. Additionally, any stabs that do get through the mail will drive part of the mail into the wound, which can easily lead to infection. Also, while high quality mail coupled with effective padding is effectively knife proof, lower grade mail is not. Mail is also pretty heavy and cumbersome as it hangs from the shoulders. Thin steel panels are much lighter and provide comparable knife protection. Modern aluminum alloys are stronger than low-grade steel and weigh one-third as much. Titanium weighs 2/3rds as much as steel and is stronger by weight but not volume; however, unlike aluminum, which can be reasonably priced, titanium is ludicrously expensive.
  • The popular Society for Creative Anachronism song "I'll See Your Six" tells of Sir Trude, the first of the Lady Knights, who wore her SCA armor home through the streets of New York City. She was accosted by a mugger and his three cronies... whose switchblade failed to so much as faze her due to the heavy mail she wore. All four were chased off when she responded by drawing and brandishing a three foot broadsword at them that they hadn't noticed her carrying earlier. Mugging the Monster at its finest as well as an example of how mail can at the very least reduce damage from blade slashes.
  • A story is told about an early 90s Russian LARP enthusiast who wore a mail shirt under his jacket. Only in that case, the story has a punchline: the muggers thought that the "victim" was Duncan McLeod the Immortal because of the guy's immunity to knives and him carrying a sword.
  • Silk armor:
    • Silk was used in various items of medieval armour, notably by the Samurai and the Mongol warriors. Though it wouldn't stop a blade or arrow, rather than being cut it would stretch and be pushed into the wound allowing for easier extraction of arrowheads which would otherwise require (probably fatal) surgery or result in (also probably fatal) infections.
    • When he was shot dead in 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand was wearing a silk bulletproof vest. These vests were starting to become obsolete due to faster bullets, but the point was moot because he was shot in the throat. In other words, if he had worn a bulletproof scarf, he could have saved thousands.
    • A new method of making bulletproof vests with layers of silk was adopted by the Thai police, in an effort to reduce costs in having to import kevlar by using their own Thai silk instead. Thailand is a rare case of a country using silk because it is cheaper for them to do so, since they have a thriving silk production industry.
  • During the USA's campaign to subjugate the Philippines, natives would wrap thick ropes around themselves as armor against the the standard .38 Long Colt revolver round the Army had at the time. This led the Army to temporarily bring the Single Action Army in .45 Colt back into service, and led to the development of the more powerful .38 Special round and the M1911 pistol with its even more powerful .45 ACP rounds. The ropes actually didn't provide much protection against bullets, but they did restrict circulation, making it take longer to bleed to death from bullet wounds.
  • During the 1920s/30s, a typical bulletproof vest worn by a bank robber or bootlegger was just a vest with thick layers of cotton padding and cloth. These vests, up to 20 layers of cotton, with a few thin steel plates, were still quite effective against the standard issue .38 Special revolvers used by most police officers at the time. One rather well known hitman was killed while wearing one by a officer using a BAR, essentially a light machine gun. These vests had a very unfortunate consequence for the criminals wearing them: to not lose the police market to Colt and a M1911 pistol variant chambered for the proprietary .38 Super round (that could pierce those bulletproof vests), Smith & Wesson and Winchester developed the .357 Magnum round (including armour-piercing variants) with the Registered Magnum revolver, renamed the Model 27 in 1957. The bulletproof vest disappeared very quickly. Lastly, many types of ammo were less powerful than their modern-day counterparts, due to newer guns being made of stronger materials. Very important if you buy a vintage gun and try loading it with modern ammunition, which can easily overpressurize the firing chamber and cause the gun to explode.
  • Scientists from China, the US, and Switzerland developed a body armor made from cotton t-shirts. The process involves soaking the shirts in a boron/nickel catalyst, then heating them to over 2,000 degrees Farenheit, which turns the fibers into boron carbide, the third-hardest material on Earth. Nobody Doesn't Like Molten Boron? Not as effective as it sounds, because the material's hardness means it would fracture where softer materials like steel would bend against similar impacts, but boron carbide is one of the materials used to make the "trauma plates" that are placed within a ballistic vest.
  • In Mexico, there is a clothes designer who specializes in making very stylish, bulletproof sports jackets, coats, T-shirts and the likes which cannot be easily visually distinguished from their normal brethren.
  • Dragon Skin armor was an armor made by Pinnacle, which went under afer a massive controversy, where they claimed superior multiple and high power hit protection to standard armor, but the military reported massive issues such as over twice the weight, and horrible reliability issues. The point is now moot due to the fact that armors today achieve better protection than both the IBA and the DS armor.
  • Bulletproof armor is much Older Than They Think, and than steam. Back in the Middle Ages, the invention of firearms didn't immediately end the use of armor. Blacksmiths actually shot their own armor, showing their customers that the armor would protect them — The marks left by the bullets being deflected off the plate would be the 'proof' of the armor's ability to stop bullets. However, the steel plating used in typical infantry armor did get almost twice as thick up until about 1600. This still wasn't enough to keep pace with the developments in musket power, so in the 17th century infantry slowly began abandoning armor altogether. Even for cavalry, a full suit of knight-style armor got too heavy and expensive to be practical. But as they could take a heavier loadout with them than infantry heavy cavalry compromised on slowly decreasing the amount of armor being worn, and armor survived in the form of breastplates worn by heavy cavalry (and cuirassiers in particular) in many countries throughout the 19th century and into WW1. While it was vulnerable to medium and short-range musket fire during the Napoleonic Wars, it was effective against swords, lances, and bayonets, and also had a great psychological effect on both cuirassiers and the enemy. Also note that throughout this period, the armor had exactly the same problems the modern variant does: it was more often than not ineffective at stopping a musket ball at short range, but with some luck protected against attacks at larger ranges, or with pistols or non-firearm weapons.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Flak Jacket


Luke's vest

Luke is shot in the vest while trying to check a room in a deserted house during a call-in. Sabrina and Vince were able to get him to safety.

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Example of:

Main / BulletproofVest

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