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Coincidental Dodge

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Ooh, penny!

A murder attempt that should have succeeded but fails through outrageous misfortune. For example, the target trips and falls or bends down to tie his shoelaces at the exact moment the bullet zips by overhead, unheeded.

A common variation is for the intended attack to miss the target and instead kill another person, thus forcing the murderer to cover up his tracks for a murder he didn't want to commit. Very well known for throwing off even the greatest detectives (at least until the end of the episode).

Sometimes paired with the Plank Gag for extra slapstick effect. Can lead to the target being Mistaken for Badass, if the assassin thinks the dodge was intentional. See also Deadly Dodging, which is usually deliberate.


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  • An old Australian television ad for insurance had some average Joe walking along the street, narrowly avoiding accidents. One of the accidents he ducks (literally) is the Plank Gag. He drops the coin he is flipping and bends down to pick it up just as the workman with the plank turns around, the plank passing harmlessly over the top of him.
  • This Mountain Dew commercial has Steven Seagal foil an armed robbery without paying attention.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Bad Company: Ryuji is about to punch Eikichi in the face when Eikichi suddenly turns to hear what his friend said, causing Ryuji to hit his own face.
  • In Black Clover, Asta sneezes in his sleep hard enough to push himself out of the way of a magic blast from Gauche.
  • In Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope's Peak High School, as the 78th Class students are locking themselves inside Hope's Peak Academy, Junko Enoshima throws a large wrench at Makoto Naegi's head, but, being the Ultimate Lucky Student, he slips on a piece of paper and falls on his ass, not even noticing the wrench as it sails over his head and embeds itself into the wall.
  • In Digimon Ghost Game, Jellymon narrowly avoids becoming the next victim of the Serial Killer Sealsdramon by phasing through a glass wall right when he tosses one of his throwing knives from behind her.
  • GTO: The Early Years: When Nanno tries to bash Eikichi's head in with a baseball bat, he misses because Eikichi noticed a 10,000 yen bill on the ground and bent over to pick it up.
  • Naruto:
    • When drunk, Rock Lee blends fluid motion, economy of movement, and a number of minor accidents to dodge almost any attack launched at him. How many of his accidents are real or faked is hard to tell.
    • Episode 101 shows a group of filler ninja who are after Kakashi. While at a hotsprings, they decide to use a poisonous dart against him. Just as the blow dart is flying toward Kakashi, there's a slow-motion shot of him bowing down to get into the water and avoiding it completely. The funny part comes when during the scene, he actually states that he's going in slow motion.
      Kakashi: And slowly, I sink in...
  • In One Piece, Ivankov invokes this in his fight with Magellan, when he bends down to tie his bootlaces, avoiding the opponent's poison spit attack. This is solely to taunt Magellan, since he notes that the boots are laceless.
  • In Pokémon the Series: Ruby and Sapphire, when May attempts to catch Munchlax, all of Combusken's attacks are dodged by Munchlax by... picking up Pokéblocks, and lying down to take a nap.
  • Used in Ranma ˝, when Akane is possessed by a doll determined to murder Ranma. Throughout most of the arc, he doesn't realize "Akane" is trying to kill him and keeps dodging her attacks through mere coincidence. Not unprecedented, either — he's shown even in the manga to be capable of doing the same in his sleep.
  • Used to hilarious effect in School Rumble where Tenma is trying to deliver a love note directly to Karasuma by arrow, and he spontaneously Flash Steps out of the way, and goes into more and more crazy positions as the Macross Missile Massacres of arrows miss him by millimeters.
  • This happens in Skip Beat! when Kanae's rival tries to injure her and steal her spot in an ad, only to be foiled by Kyoko, who keeps pulling Kanae out of danger without knowing it. Hilarity Ensues, with the rival and her mooks getting off worst.
  • In Sumomo Mo Momo Mo, Sanae is walking with Kushi when Iroha throws a pencil at the back of her head at breakneck speed. Sanae sneezes and the pencil misses leading you to believe she dodged it on accident. Later at the end of that same chapter, Iroha tries the same method only for Sanae to sneeze again and give Iroha a glare, telling Iroha that she's actually dodging on purpose, however everyone else still takes it as a moment of luck dodge.
  • Invoked in Trigun, when Vash pretends to be dodging bullets accidentally as he dances into a captured bank, in accordance with his Obfuscating Stupidity.
    Deputy: He's dodging the bullets!
    Mayor: Dodging!? That brick doesn't realize he's being shot at!

    Board Games 
  • The premise behind Kill Doctor Lucky is that you are trying to, well, Kill Doctor Lucky. Nobody can directly stop an assassination attempt since they're always done out of sight, but other players can play "fail cards" that cause your plan to fail due to Doctor Lucky's luck.

    Comic Strips 
  • Calvin and Hobbes: Hobbes, as is his imaginary tiger nature, would have pounced on Calvin from behind if Calvin didn't bend down at the last moment to pick up a dime.
  • A running gag in Krazy Kat. Krazy would bend down to talk to a smaller creature, such as a "woim", just as Ignatz was throwing his customary brick. If Ignatz was lucky, it would merely have to be retrieved and thrown again. On a bad day, it would hit Officer Pupp.
  • Used in a 2012 comic of Pearls Before Swine.

    Fan Works 
  • It Gets Worse: Taylor's super luck powers prompt her to tie her shoe right in time to avoid a throwing star from Cricket, who gets hit by a bus before she can try again.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The climax of The Day of the Jackal: General De Gaulle escape the first shot by leaning to give an accolade, a French tradition the foreign killer isn't familiar with. The entire rest of the film focuses on the assassin's build-up to the attempt. Same goes for the Book on which the Film is based on.
  • The Old Lady in A Fish Called Wanda, who survives several attempts on her life... at the cost of one after another of her pack of lap dogs. Worse: the assassin is an animal lover.
  • In Forty Guns, Brockie attempts to murder Griff at Wes's wedding. However, at the moment Brockie fires, Griff bends forward to kiss the bride. Brockie's shot goes over and kills Wes.
  • Hot Shots! Part Deux: A guard that Rambo... er, Topper is shooting arrows at does this a dozen times, only realizing it after Topper ran out of ammunition when he turns around and sees the door behind him filled with arrows. Then Topper improvises.
  • Wally Ritchie in The Man Who Knew Too Little is the avatar of this trope. Good God.
  • The Pink Panther series:
    • Inspector Clouseau is a target of this in A Shot in the Dark.
    • In The Pink Panther Strikes Again, Dreyfus puts a price on Clouseau's head. An insane number of hitmen try to kill him at the same time; Clouseau dodges them and they all kill each other. It's not certain how much of the assassins killing each other is unintentional, though, since they're all competing to kill Clouseau; killing each other is also removing the competition, and is probably a secondary goal for all of them.
  • In The Pit and the Pendulum (1991), Torquemada is lying atop Maria on his bed, strangling her. In his fury, he sits upright, yanking her with him. As he does so the thread holding the sword dangling above the bed (It Makes Sense in Context) snaps and the sword plunges down on to the bed, stabbing through where they were lying a second ago. Torquemada takes this as a sign from God.
  • In French comedy The Return of the Tall Blond Man, a sniper tries to shoot François in his apartment in Rio but the attempt fails because the latter bows down to spit out his drink.
  • Terminator:
    • In The Terminator, Sarah narrowly escapes being noticed by the Terminator when she knocks a water bottle off her table at the TechNoir night club.
    • Miles Dyson escapes assassination by Sarah Connor in Terminator 2: Judgment Day, when he is disturbed by his son's remote control truck.
  • In Tucker & Dale vs. Evil, one of the titular pair is on the receiving end of a flying tackle meant to push him into a running woodchipper. Instead, he pulls this trope and his wood-be killer ends up suffering that fate instead.
  • Happens in the French movie La Vengeance du serpent à plumes. The protagonist is trailed by an assassin in the Parisian subway while eating a banana. You'd expect the Banana Peel trope to come into play, but the bad guy instead slips on a discarded metal can just as he's about to strike, and falls on his own blade. The clueless "hero" then discard the banana peel, which lands on the face of the dying assassin.
  • The killer in What a Carve Up! attempts to drop a Falling Chandelier of Doom on Ernie's head, but has to abandon the attempt because Ernie's nervous pacing keeps carrying him out of the drop zone before he can trigger it.

  • Grandpa Smedry in the Alcatraz Series does this consistently; he has the power to always be late which effectively makes him invincible as he always arrives late to his own death, such as bullets always missing him because he was too late to enter their path.
  • In the first Artemis Fowl book, just as Butler fired a tranquilizer dart at Holly, she had just chosen that moment to bend down to plant the acorn needed to restore her magic. This promptly alerts her to his and Artemis' presence, though they eventually manage to capture her anyway.
  • In Big Trouble, when Matt, aiming to "kill" Jenny, barges into the Herk residence, Leeroy Jenkins style, Arthur Herk ducks instinctively at the sight of Matt's SquirtMaster Model 9000, thereby dodging a very real bullet fired at him by a hitman lurking outside.
  • This and similar unlikelihood occurs a lot in The Wheel of Time series, where the universe runs on Contrived Coincidence. It's especially common around the main characters who are explicitly surrounded by a whirlwind of altered probability. Aside from bending down, characters have been saved by a flock of birds bursting out of a tree and startling the bowman, a fletching inexplicably coming loose and causing the arrow to go awry, an assassin slipping on a roof tile and falling to his death, or the target stopping in shock because he was asked an Armor-Piercing Question.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Dead Man's Gun: In "The Impostor", Leo's deputy Floyd leads him into an ambush at the corral. Floyd drops his hat as a signal for his partner on the roof opposite to shoot. Leo's sees this and bends over to pick up the hat just as the rifleman fires. The shot kills Floyd and, in his panic to get away, the assassin falls off the roof and dies.
  • During a fight in Cutie Honey: THE LIVE, at one point Honey Kisaragi politely bows when one of the bad guys calls out her name, making one of the mooks trying to do a flying kick goes past above her head.
  • Generation Kill shows that in the chaos of a firefight, this can happen even to competent people. Ray Person puts his head down a fraction of a second before a bullet zips through his windshield where his head would have been. He doesn't realize it at the time, but sees the bullet hole the next day and does a sort of Australia/America: "Now I'm I'm alive..."
  • Get Smart: In "Someone Down Here Hates Me", a KAOS agent posing as a surveyor asks Max for a cigarette in order to get him in position for his partner to take a shot at him. However, Max fumbles the pack as he extends to the agent, spilling the cigarettes on the ground. As he bends down to pick them up, the other KAOS agent fires, missing Max and wounding his partner.
  • In one Monk episode, Monk avoids being shot by a drive-by shooter just because he was bending down to pick something up.
  • My Name Is Earl: Happens to Earl when he's listening to a "stop smoking" cassette. His ex-wife Joy wants to get her hands on the lotto money (that he claimed just after she divorced him for Darnell), and to do that, she tries to murder him (because she's the beneficiary in his (illegitimate) will). She tried to buy a gun, but since there was a three-day waiting period, she bought herself a crossbow to shoot Earl with. She misses him three times while he moves around without even realizing he's being shot at or who's doing it.
  • In an episode of Power Rangers Wild Force, Jindrax attempts to off Taylor by throwing daggers at her, but, because she is playing whack-a-mole, she unintentionally dodges them all.
  • In an early episode of Sledge Hammer!, Sledge is unaware a price of $1M has been put on his head. As he's waiting at a red light, two assassins, each hoping to claim the bounty for their own, pull up on either side of Sledge's car and take aim. Sledge invokes this trope and the hapless would-be assassins shoot each other.
  • When Quark from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine gets named as the Grand Nagus's successor, an attempt is made on his life at his predecessor's funeral with a ridiculously accurate autonomous flying missile device. Just as it locks on and fires off its thrusters full strength for the kill, he spots a coin on the floor and he dodges the deadly attack just as he bends over to pick it up.

    Music Videos 
  • LMFAO's members accidentally fend off a group of vampires by dancing, taking shots, and general partying in the video for "Champagne Showers".

    Puppet Shows 
  • In the Leslie Uggams episode of The Muppet Show, Miss Piggy meets Big Bird. When she says she's the singing star of the show, Big Bird finds it funny and starts laughing. An angry Piggy tries to karate chop him, but Big Bird doubles over just as she swings, and she falls off the second floor.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Kindred of the East this is the most common effect of Passive Joss for all Dhampyr. With the Poison Joss flaw the bystander getting in the way becomes commonplace.
  • Sentinels of the Multiverse: Setback, a hero who has powers based around luck manipulation, has a card called Plucky Break. In the art of this card he’s doing exactly this, bending down to pick up a penny and accidentally avoiding a lightning strike in the process.

    Video Games 
  • In Avernum, drawn by Phil Foglio, the picture drawn to illustrate the Luck Stat shows a character bending to pick up a coin while, unbeknownst to him, an arrow whistles over his head. This is true to the game; the Luck stat (among other things) increases the chance that a fatal blow won't actually kill you.
  • In Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories, pseudo-subverted with an unlucky Sindacco being run over by Salvatore Leone while bending over to pick up a dollar.
  • In Hypnospace Outlaw, it is possible to get two users permanently banned from the titular network on the second and third days: BurninRubber50 and zane_rocks_14, respectively. If this happens, they won't be killed by the the Mindcrash incident later in the game.
  • In an episode of Sam & Max: Freelance Police, the heroes use Max's newfound psychic powers to see that Flint Paper will receive a hatchet to the head in the near future. When Sam gives him a helmet without explaining why, the helmet's light illuminates Flint's lunch, causing him to notice the peanuts he didn't see before... and as he bends over to examine, the hatchet flies over Flint's head.
  • In Threads of Fate Rue leans down to tie his shoelaces just as Mint tries to high-jump kick him into a lake. Naturally, she falls in instead.

    Web Animation 
  • In the Happy Tree Friends episode "Pitchin' Impossible", a non-assassination attempt example occurs. The Mole leaning down to get the ball he accidentally knocked to the ground allows him to dodge the falling booth window caused by his ricocheting previous ball which cuts Petunia's head in half.
  • Red vs. Blue: Recreation: In "Well Hello", Donut meets The Meta, but has no idea how dangerous the latter is. The Meta keeps trying to attack Donut, but Donut ends up ducking and moving to the side at the last moment, completely oblivious to the Freelancer's murder attempts.


    Web Videos 
  • In Noob, this happens at least once while Sparadrap is fighting against Dark Avenger, contributing to the long-standing Mistaken for Badass situation between the two.

    Western Animation 
  • Duck Dodgers: Can happen to Dodgers when he's in full The Fool mode. In "The Wrath of Canasta", he avoids a laser shot by leaning to pick an apple, and said laser ricochets until it cuts a rope, leading to Nasty Canasta being crushed by a ton of bricks.
  • Family Guy: Lois Griffin is the target of a mob contract foiled by chance.
  • Futurama: During "The Duh-Vinci Code" Animatronio blows a dart towards Farnsworth, who bends down noticing something. Perhaps a subversion because the dart hits Bender in the eye, but due to his being a robot and all, doesn't faze him.
  • Inspector Gadget: Happens approximately Once per Episode, with Gadget blissfully unaware of the MAD agents out to do him in.
  • Kappa Mikey: Mikey does this while being targeted by agents from Mitsuki's old spy job.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: In "Inspiration Manifestation", Spike is oblivious to the room crumbling as he walks away with an ancient tome, and only dodges falling chunks of masonry and avoids falling from the rapidly-collapsing staircase through simple coincidence.
  • Rocky and Bullwinkle: In "Goof Gas Attack", Boris watches Rocky and Bullwinkle go into their house. He stretches a rope across the door and ties one end to the trigger of a shotgun, reasoning that when Bullwinkle opens the door, he'll trip over the rope, and the gun will fire and do him in.
    Narrator: But Boris was wrong again—for when Bullwinkle came out, he didn't just trip over the rope, he fell over it.
    [The gun goes off right over the head of Bullwinkle, who is sprawled across the rope.]
    Rocky: Boy, a good thing you fell, Bullwinkle! That thing went off right over your head.
    Bullwinkle: Let's look on the bright side, Rock. It missed!
    [The camera moves to Boris, now barefoot and in tattered clothes.]
    Boris: Not quite!
  • The Simpsons:
    • Grampa Simpson and Homer have both done this a few times. The most famous (and tragic, and permanent) example being when Homer bending over for a bobby pin gets Maude Flanders killed.
    • Snake attempts to kill Homer for driving his sports car. He ties a piano wire between two trees to off Homer's head. As Homer drives standing up, he ducks down to pick up a gumball thus, missing the wire, but Kirk lost his arm while holding a sandwich in the air (he gets better).
  • A not-so-coincidental example in Wander over Yonder, when a bounty hunter fires Tranquilizer Darts at Wander and Sylvia, who keep bending down to pick up coins at just the right moment. The coins are being tossed by Commander Peepers, who is determined to capture them himself.

    Real Life 
  • Mobster Mickey Cohen survived any number of attempts on his life by such means as bending down at the last second to check a scratch on his car.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Gardener Contract


Koala Man Vs The Tradies

The Tradies ends up being beaten by Koala Man because Koala Man dodges Lady Tradie's time powers by tripping on his cape, causing her powers to miss him and hit Brickie who falls on top of them.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (2 votes)

Example of:

Main / CoincidentalDodge

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