Follow TV Tropes


Concealment Equals Cover

Go To
Radiation never thinks to check under the table.

"Thank God for these bulletproof tables they've got everywhere now."
Jigen, Lupin III: Part II (Geneon dub)

Concealment and cover are two totally different things. Yet Hollywood seems to get the two mixed up.

  • Concealment: You can't see through it. Walls, garbage cans, car doors, etc.
  • Cover: Stops the projectiles (typically bullets) in question.

Notice that one does not imply the other. Things that provide concealment may stop bullets, depending on the object and the bullet; others will not. The reverse is also true, things that provide cover might be transparent and thus incapable of providing concealment (bulletproof glass, for example)

Hollywood seems to apply this trope most egregiously to both car doors and flipped-over furniture. Car doors are designed to minimize weight and maximize protection against car crashes, and are thus mostly made from plastic with a thin metal plate on the outside; these materials do not, in fact, provide much protection against bullets. Other than police cars and armored cars for VIP protection, which have been specially designed to withstand the impact, there isn't a car on the market whose doors could stop even modern pistol fire. The prevalence of cars providing cover in a gunfight in fiction is probably a result of shootouts in the 1920s, when cars (including the doors) were made entirely of steel and most handguns fired subsonic ammunition. Even then a car provided much less protection against rifle shots, but Hollywood has always had a problem understanding the fact that rifles are much more powerful than pistols.

Flipped-over furniture, particularly large tables, is another object that Hollywood tends to treat as a bulletproof shield for protagonists, villains, and mooks alike, despite that being among some of the worst cover you could possibly choose from. More egregiously, when the overturned table does get hit with a barrage of bullets from a handgun, or a light machine gun, the only damage said gun does to the table is splintering the table at places where the shots would land, and leaving the table ruined forever because of it, yet the person hiding behind the table is no worse for wear. In real life, even relatively low calibre bullets will pierce a table because...well, it's a wooden table. Wood is well known for its sturdiness, which is why most furniture is made out of it, but it isn't all that strong of a material, especially when it comes to stopping a bullet. Basically, if a work is set before the 1900's, then tables will actually provide some decent cover due to the prevalence of sub-sonic ammunition. Otherwise, all bets are off.

The trope also applies to buildings, however. A bullet will generally be expected to manage 12 inches of penetration in ballistic gel to be considered a useful defense load, and this will generally allow it to penetrate any interior walls of an average American home. Even special frangible rounds are only designed to be stopped by the heavier brick exterior walls so they don't exit the building and hit random passers by.

This trope is powered by the Rule of Perception; if you can't see it, you can't hit it. Of course, it's true that it's harder to hit something you can't see, simply because you can't be sure where it is; this trope is about anything opaque being effectively bulletproof. In reality, the only good concealment does is if it is so total the shooter does not know you are there and only then if it is long enough for him/her to move on, for you to ready and use your own weapon, or for you to escape without being seen before you're out of range. Though if you have nothing better that qualifies as actual cover, getting as much mass (of any form from a building wall to a vehicle's engine block) between you and the shooter might turn what would be a fatal wound into a survivable one instead—especially with a lower-caliber bullet or weaker firearm, or it can make it harder for an inexperienced shooter not armed with an automatic weapon to properly aim for a fatal shot. (For example, running into a building won't do a thing for you against someone armed with an Uzi or AK/AR weapon, but it may well save your life against someone with a shotgun or some handguns, especially the further inside you run and the further away the shooter is—one wall between is concealment, two or three or four thick walls is solid cover depending on the weapon and the distance of the shooter.)

This can be considered an Acceptable Break From Reality in video games with cover systems, since it would be frustrating to get into what appeared to be cover only to find the enemy could still hit you just fine. Players tend to only object when things no reasonable person would try to hide behind like ordinary glass or picket fences are still totally bulletproof, or the cover system is inconsistent and unclear to use. It tends to be more of a problem when enemies can take cover in places that blatantly aren't cover, such as being protected from a hand grenade by hiding behind a rack of magazines or a handrail.

This is common enough that only aversions, subversions and justified cases should be listed. Contrast with The All-Seeing A.I., where cover doesn't equal concealment.

This trope has been tested by the Mythbusters. Whether this trope is busted or plausible depends on what the concealment is made of and what is hidden inside the concealment. It's mostly busted for walls vs. bullets.

Also see Bulletproof Human Shield, when bodies are used for cover, and Bombproof Appliance or Improbable Cover, for when tissue-paper stops explosions. If the bullet is stopped by some small object on the hero's person, that's Pocket Protector. Contrast Bullethole Door, where bullets are usually more effective than they really should be; having both tropes in the same work is a great way to induce Fridge Logic.


    open/close all folders 

  • Played with in an ad that has the police take cover behind their squad doors (as noted above, those are designed to stop bullets), only for them to run forward to take cover behind a CARDBOARD BOX. Of course, the stupidness of that action was the point of the ad.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Justified in one issue of Angel Heart, where the villains tried to shoot inside the Cat's Eye cafe through the windows to no effect: the owners being Umibozu and Miki, the windows were in bulletproof glass.
  • Lampshaded in Aria the Scarlet Ammo, where Aria and Kinji take shelter from a storm of bullets inside a wooden vaulting box… which Aria quickly reveals to be bulletproof.
  • Justified in Black Lagoon—the team's favorite drinking spot attracts dangerous weirdos from the whole neighbourhood, so the owner had his bar reinforced for use as cover. Also averted during the "Baile de la Muerte" arc, when the US Army unit "Grey Fox" slaughters the mercenaries hired to kill them by shooting through the walls and doors.
  • Justified in one instance in Case Closed. To prevent a politician from being assassinated by a sniper, a sprinkler is used to simulate rain so that the politician and those around him will open their umbrellas. The sniper is prepared to shoot through the umbrella, but her superior decides against it as the odds of a successful kill would be lower.
  • One issue of City Hunter, with a criminal in a cafe who tells Ryo he can't shoot him—because Ryo's gun is so powerful, the bullet will go through him and the window behind him, and risk hitting an innocent bystander outside. Ryo shoots through his own hand to slow down the bullet enough to avoid this.
  • Discussed in an extra episode of Full Metal Panic! where Melissa Mao and Tessa hold a mock Arm Slave battle. Mao gets tripped up because she tries to fire paint rounds through a small tree, and she complains that real guns would go straight through such a thing. Of course, then Tessa's return fire strikes the edge of the cliff Mao is sheltering on and it gets snarkily pointed out to her that real rounds would have gone through that and trashed her Arm Slave too.
  • Averted in the Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex episode "RE-VIEW", when Togusa finds himself under attack by a corrupt narcotics suppression squad during his Laughing Man investigation. When a reinforced cyborg starts hunting him down, Togusa hides behind a desk. The cyborg starts shooting all over the room, and a bullet hits Togusa in the gut when it passes through the desk.
  • Girls und Panzer. During the Final Battle, three of Ōarai's teams fire on the Maus super-heavy tank, then hide behind a small building. One shot from the Maus' 128mm gun blows away the building, leaving the three teams exposed and running for something bigger to hide behind.
  • Gunslinger Girl. A victim manages to hide behind a table from a burst of FN P90 high-velocity armor-piercing bullets.
  • Lupin III <Pilot Film> zig-zags the effectiveness of this trope, with Lupin's knife cutting through a tapestry to strike at Fujiko, only to be stopped by a playing card, and later, the policemen avoid Jigen's shots by hiding behind a table.
  • Subverted in one One Piece movie, where new hero Shuraiya takes cover behind a table during a bar fight, and the bullets punch right through the table beside his head. He then uses the table more as concealment and keeps moving it so they can't tell where he is behind it. Interestingly, since they were firing flintlocks, the heavy oak table probably would have stopped the bullet in real life.
  • Subverted in Sword Art Online; the VRMMOFPS Gun Gale Online has its environments designed with cover, which tends to detail things like stone structures and abandoned steampunk cities. Even then, heavy weapons guys like Behemoth and his minigun are able to shoot straight through cover, even of that sort.
  • Trigun often averts this, with everything that people try hiding behind getting torn to pieces by massive hails of bullets whether said object is a wooden table or a stone wall.
  • Averted in World Trigger during B-Rank Wars Round 4, where Azuma snipes Mikumo through a wall using Ibis, causing the latter to Bail Out instantly.

    Comic Books 
  • Hitman. Diving behind the bar in a dive would usually help as your opponent wouldn't quite know where to blast. However if he has X-Ray vision...
  • Averted in issue #53 of Garth Ennis's run on The Punisher MAX. The Punisher and Barracuda take cover behind their respective cars, but the artwork clearly shows the bullets easily punching through.
  • Averted in Road to Perdition, in which Michael O'Sullivan repeatedly takes down adversaries who are hiding behind doors or tables.

    Fan Works 
  • Repeatedly averted in Ambience: A Fleet Symphony starting from chapter 2, where bullets go through the decayed wood and brick Damon was hiding behind. Bullet (over)penetration is something that the author clearly bothers to take into account and both good and bad guys use it to their advantage.
  • Averted and lampshaded in Code Geass: Lelouch of Britannia. When an enemy ducks behind a couch, the minigun-wielding Darlton (disguised as "Zero") shoots him through the couch and remarks, "Lesson 2: Never confuse concealment with cover."
  • In the Discworld of A.A. Pessimal, the tale Hyperemesis Gravidarum sees a group of people defending a suburban house which is under attack from raiders. They overturn the big, sturdy, dining room table to provide some sort of protection against projectile weapons. Two of the defenders are student Assassins; both realise the biggest immediate danger is not from a gang of murder-minded thugs who are battering the door down, but from the normally mild-mannered Ponder Stibbons, a wizard who is nominally on their side. Ponder is boiling with fury that his home is under attack and behaves like an old-time wizard besieged in his high tower. As he goes into a beserker rage and begins throwing indiscriminate fireballs, both students duck down low behind the table, as this is far and away the safest place.
  • Averted in Recoil 5-3. One mook asks why they don't just shoot through the walls at Taylor and co. Another one has to tell him that the bullets might overpenetrate and cause Unfriendly Fire.
  • Averted in Shell Shock. A fleeing enemy soldier tries to take cover behind some bushes, only to be shot through them.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Played straight in the Spanish spy spoof Spy Time (a.k.a. Anacleto: Agente Secreto). That overturned kitchen table protects Anacleto and his son from pistols, machine guns—even a bomb exploding two feet away!
  • Alien Nation had bullets piercing all the way through a car (and the guy hiding behind it), but the bullets were revealed to be special, industrial-strength Dakka.
  • Assassins: Averted. Walls and other minor obstructions provide no innate cover throughout the film, and both assassins frequently try to kill each other by shooting right through them.
  • Invoked/averted in Major Payne. A kid complains about the monster in his closet, to which Payne responds by firing several pistol rounds into the closet. "If he's still in there, he ain't happy".
  • Also averted in The Book of Eli, in pretty much exactly the same way as the Die Hard example.
  • Averted in Bullshot (1983). The hero blasts away at a huge tarantula crawling across the floor, nearly killing several people in the dining room below. He then spends several minutes running about searching for the 'mad gunman' who's just shot up the place.
  • Danny Glover's character in Predator 2 gets it. Knowing perfectly well his car door doesn't provide cover, he hangs ballistic vests over it before driving his car into the mass of bad guys shooting at him while leaning out of the driver's seat to avail himself of the vests' cover.
  • Death Wish:
  • Averted in Den of Thieves. Merriman jumps over a thin metal fence and then gets shot through it. Of course, Merriman wasn't trying to use the fence as cover. He just jumped it because it was in his way.
  • Averted in Destroyer (2018). During the bank robbery, a cop gets shot through the couch he was hiding behind.
  • Averted in Dick Tracy's Dilemma. Tracy shoots at the Claw through the thin wooden paneling he is hiding behind; forcing him to dive for cover.
  • Die Hard:
    • Averted in the first film, including one scene where McClane shoots a mook through a table.
    • Also averted twice in Live Free or Die Hard. First when the two main characters are shot at not only through the window, but through the building's exterior walls, and when McClane shoots the Big Bad through himself (specifically, through a previously-existing gunshot wound).
  • Dredd:
    • Subverted when Ma-Ma uses M61 Vulcan cannons to kill Judge Dredd and Anderson, the civilians on that floor of the Peach Trees are seen taking cover in their concrete-enclosed apartments and behind tables but still get torn to shreds. Even when the two heroes and their detainee are taking cover on the complete opposite side of the floor, the rounds still penetrate through the walls, missing the three only because the path of firing is just too high to hit them. The rounds even open a hole in the reinforced metal blast doors at the very back.
    • Averted when Dredd takes cover behind a concrete wall, only for Lex to switch to armor-piercing rounds and shoot right through it. He didn't know exactly where Dredd was, though, so he just shot a line down the wall and got Dredd with the last round.
  • The Green Hornet. One of the reasons the heroes even consider being vigilantes is because the Hypercompetent Sidekick is very efficient at bullet-proofing cars. Then they invent offensive weaponry that requires them to open the car doors.
  • Averted in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 where Rocket uses security cameras to shoot several Ravagers through the walls of the room he's in.
  • Parodied in I'm Gonna Git You Sucka: at one point, the hero takes cover behind a chicken wire fence.
  • Averted early in Inglorious Basterds when Nazis machine-gun Jews through the floorboards of the farmhouse they've been hiding under.
  • Averted in the shootout from The International. One of the guys gets shot through a dresser he was using for cover.
  • Averted in the Jason Statham film Safe (2012). When a group of Chinese gangsters take cover behind an overturned table, Statham's character shoots them right through it.
  • Averted during the home invasion scene in John Wick. John and a mook take cover from each other on opposite sides of a wall, wait about a second for the other to come around, then try to shoot through the wall at the same time. John ducks, so the mook misses, but John's shot hits.
  • Averted in The Last Rites of Ransom Pride. Champ and Maria La Morena bouncer/bodyguard shoot at each other through the thin internal wall of the Pride house.
  • Lethal Weapon:
    • First played straight in a reasonable fashion than Averted in Lethal Weapon 3: Murtaugh was about to be crushed by one of the main villains driving a bulldozer. He shoots at the bulldozer with his standard 9mm handgun, but none of the bullets go through. Murtaugh then gives one of the villain a Karmic Death by shooting through a bulldozer using the same armour-piercing bullets he'd sold to Murtaugh's son's friend who he was forced to kill.
      • From the same: Murtaugh killed the friend of his son by shooting through his cover; and the villains killed a young cop by shooting him through both the oil drums he was hiding behind and his bullet proof vest.
    • Averted in Lethal Weapon 4. Riggs kills a man who was hiding behind some pipes, by using another pipe to deflect the bullet so the hiding guy stands up from the pain of getting shot.
  • Averted in Lord of War. The mobster who hides behind a restaurant table only has his luck to thank for escaping the assassination attempt. When we're shown the scene from behind him, it's clear the table has been shot clearly through—he's only alive because the gunmen are woefully incompetent and have sprayed and prayed instead of shooting the table in the center.
  • Averted in Lucy: Lucy shoots mooks straight through the door several times. (She can apparently see through walls, solving the problem of aiming).
  • Averted twice in Magnum Force when Harry shoots a hijacker who is hiding behind a thin partition in a airliner; and again when a cop is shot through a door.
  • Averted in an almost identical way in The Matrix, where Agent Smith fires through a wall to hit the leg of an escaping Morpheus.
  • Averted in Miller's Crossing, when The Dane shoots a thug through the wall.
  • Averted in a nifty little scene in Ministry of Fear. Willi the bad guy, who is trying to get away, leaves a darkened room and slams the door behind him. An instant later, Carla pulls the trigger, and a little hole appears in the door. The heroes find Willi on the other side of the door, dead.
  • In Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005), Brad Pitt takes shelter from Angelina Jolie's UMP45 by hiding behind a fridge door (though it was definitely a very expensive stainless steel fridge; the stopping effect on .45 ACP bullets on a particular fridge of this type can only be tested). Later, when he tries to peek around a corner, she shoots through the wall and almost hits him.
  • Mystery Road: During the shootout on Mystery Road, several bullets strike Jay's car door without seeming to pass through. This is strange as the rest of the film is extremely accurate in its portrayal of firearms.
  • Averted in No Country for Old Men, when the assassin blasts the hell out of a mook hiding behind in a closet behind a thin plywood wall. The assassin previously rented a room in the same motel and specifically inspected an identical closet wall in order to insure he could do this.
  • Princess Madam has one of the two titular Madams taking cover behind a trashcan during a shootout... and managed to use it as cover from more than 80 bullets.
  • Averted in The Professional. Matilda's little brother runs from the corrupt DEA agents, one of them starts spraying through the wall with a Kimmel AP-9 and manages to hit him. Later, when the police try to storm Leon's and Matilda's hideout, the bullets go through the wall, which makes the situation rather sticky for those inside.
  • Averted in Real Genius. The finished prototype laser goes through the blast shield, three walls, a statue, a billboard, a tree, and continues all the way to town.
  • Averted in Red (2010). The hit squad that goes to Frank's house tears it apart with a massive hale of gunfire. If Frank had been anywhere but his basement, he'd have been killed.
  • In Regeneration, Marie is killed by a bullet fired through a closet door.
  • Averted in Road to Perdition. Rance runs away and disappears behind a wall when the gunfight between Sullivan and Maguire breaks out, but the pellets from Maguire's shotgun easily penetrated the plaster wall and killed him anyway. However they fail to penetrate the [heavy, steel] strongbox that Sullivan is hiding behind.
  • Subverted in Sahara (2005). When the heroes take shelter from the villains inside a beached ironclad, the hero is confident the Civil War-era armor is thick enough to hold up to even against a modern gunship. Unfortunately, the villain is using armor-piercing rounds.
  • Averted in Saving Private Ryan, when a German soldier is killed through the interior wall of a building. The other Germans then shoot back through the wall and hit one of the Americans.
  • In the climactic gunfight scene at the end of The Shootist, J.B. Books (John Wayne) kills one of the bad guys (Richard Boone) by shooting through the barroom table top which the bad guy is holding in front of himself.
  • Averted in Snatch., Tony shouts through the wall for his boss to duck, then empties the magazine at body height through the wall. He successfully hits two of the four guys in the hallway besides his boss, and the other two decide to scram.
  • In Sonic the Hedgehog (2020), Tom and Sonic avoid the bullets from Robotnik's drone by... hiding behind the table. Even better, Robotnik (who had just been knocked out by Tom) is in the same room as them when Sonic causes the drone to go haywire, yet he's still completely untouched.
  • Subverted in Spectre. James Bond fires through a suitcase to hit a mook who's hiding behind it. Unfortunately the suitcase is being used to conceal a terrorist bomb and the entire building blows up. Oops!
  • Averted in Taken 2 where some mooks try to shoot Bryan through a wall.
  • Averted in The Terminator. When the Terminator attacks the police station, he shoots a cop right through the wall, as a cop realizes standing in the doorway is not a good idea and ducks behind the wall, to no avail.
  • Tremors 2: Aftershocks: Burt trains his anti-tank rifle, which he intended to use on the extremely-tough Graboids, on a significantly less tough Shrieker. The shot obliterates the Shrieker - and puts a hole in the wall behind it, the shed behind the wall, the barrels behind the shed, and eventually hitting the engine of the escape vehicle. Oops.
  • True Lies:
    • Played for laughs when Tom Arnold's character takes cover behind a lamp post against automatic fire; every bullet hits the post. Even he can't believe it (though it's perfectly plausible: an iron light post is more than enough to stop an AKS74U bullet, and the deduction of silhouette it provided against automatic fire is pretty substantial; moreover, the only parts that COULD be hit would be the agent's belly fat and butt fat).
    • Played straight in the opening chase sequence, where the bad guys' 5.56 rounds are stopped by a rather skinny softwood tree.
  • Defied in Veronica Mars: Veronica knows the her-sized plastic trash bins won't stop the Big Bad from shooting her, so she dupes him into thinking she's in the bins when she's actually hiding on the other side of the room, giving herself the drop on him.
  • The Chinese movie "Rescue Jedi" has a climactic shootout in a... reed field. With the reeds acting as completely bulletproof cover, the bad guys unable to walk or shoot through them.
  • In the 2023 film The Collective, the protagonist takes cover behind a park bench, which in fact stops a bullet headed for his face (resulting in a pinprick sized mark on the bench itself). Then again, a minute before that he uses a tiny trash can for concealment as he lines up a shot, about 20 yards away from a bunch of bad guys looking directly at him, so the laws of physics do not necessarily apply in this universe.

  • Justified in many of David Drake's novels. Plasma weapons lose containment if they hit anything but air, so even a twig will stop a plasma cannon shot. Once. This only works if you're way behind concealment. Hitting light cover doesn't "stop" the shot, it detonates it at that spot.
  • Blood Makes the Grass Grow Green, Johnny Rico's (real name) autobiographical account of a self-described hippie liberal serving as a US Infantryman in Afghanistan, subverts this trope. Johnny takes cover from incoming small arms fire to see his comrades staring him in shock. He's taken cover behind some hay and the enemy are shooting through it to try to hit him. Fortunately for Johnny, A-Team Firing is often Truth in Television.
  • Called out and railed against for doing in one of the BattleTech Expanded Universe novels, Hearts of Chaos, where "Cowboy" Payson dives into a car for cover in a firefight. After the shooting stops, his buddy Buck Evans chews him out for doing that, noting that any decent military-issued weapon would go easily through a car front-to-back, stopping only for the engine block, which he was on the wrong side of to be of any good. Cowboy claims that it seemed like a good idea at the time, but has the good grace to be sheepish, since, as a mercenary and general ne'er-do-well from a rough part of space, he should know better.
  • Averted in the Discworld novel Men at Arms, when Vimes is attacked: The Gonne clearly shoots through walls, and Vimes has to outwit its wielder.
    • It's explicitly noted that it is only a "lath and plaster" wall, and he knows this thing shoots heavy, lead projectiles with enough force to go inches into oak flooring...
    • What's really great is that he has to outwit his assassin twice—the assassin knows the old "use an arrow to hold your helmet up" trick. Vimes uses a pole used for opening windows.
  • Averted in the Dresden Files where Harry is often careful when either firing his revolver or using his shield to deflect bullets fired at him due to the risk of an overpenetrating bullet hitting a civilian. It does actually happen in Ghost Story where an unfortunate neighbour of Murphy is mentioned as having been killed from automatic weapons over-penetrating after an attack on her home.
  • In Red Square, a novel by Martin Cruz Smith (one of the sequels to Gorky Park), a German police officer opens fire on a group of suspected assassins (working for The Mafiya) without ever seeing them. He simply unloads a submachine gun through the wall. And then proceeds to do so again, aiming lower in case any of them decided to go prone. He doesn't report this, as his superiors might object to him just gunning down someone without warning or even seeing them.
  • Subverted in Retribution Falls by Chris Wooding. An enemy mook hides behind a large but empty wooden crate and is promptly shot dead.
  • Averted in the Spy Fiction novel Running Blind by Desmond Bagley, where the protagonist gets his hands on a high-powered sniper rifle and uses it to shoot through the walls of the house his KGB opponents are in, killing or wounding everyone inside.
  • Justified at least once in the Star Wars Expanded Universe—cantina owners are known for using reinforced chairs, tables, and such so that they won't have to replace it all after the Inevitable Bar Fight.
  • Discussed In-verse in A Storm of Swords as Jon warns a young inexperienced fighter not to stand behind the scarecrow sentinels they have guarding windows, as straw won't impede an arrow.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 24: One episode involves Jack Bauer and a hostile both taking cover behind various interior structures. Jack pops up from behind his railing, and shoots through the pillar his opponent is hiding behind, killing her.
  • Touched on (and generally averted) in Band of Brothers:
    • During the training montage in "Currahee", Sergeant Lipton talks about the advantages of prepared fighting positions, noting they provide both cover and concealment.
    • Played straight in "Replacements". When Sergeant Martin spots a German tank hidden from view around the corner of a building, he goes to warn the approaching British tanks and suggests they shoot through the building to disable it. The British tanker balks at the suggestion, noting the rules of engagement forbid "unnecessary destruction of property" and that he can't shoot what he can't see. His tank is destroyed as soon as it rounds the corner.
    • Subverted in "The Breaking Point". While the woods Easy Company is defending make their positions hard to spot, the surrounding trees actually make incoming artillery fire deadlier - shells bursting in the treetops will not only send shrapnel flying over a wider area, but also create even more shrapnel (and the occasional heavy blunt object) from the destroyed branches.
  • Bones: In one episode, a bad guy is taking cover behind a heavy steel door, only to learn that the Hand Cannon that he had mocked Agent Booth for carrying was sufficiently powerful to penetrate through the door and hit him anyways.
  • The Brave: Averted when terrorists hold hostages in a narrow hallway and the team needs to take out all the terrorists before they start killing hostages. They realize that the hallway is separated from the neighboring room by only a thin, flimsy wall so they shoot the hostage takers through the wall. The tricky part is that they cannot see into the hallway directly and their aim has to be guided by Mission Control which is accessing a security camera in the hallway. If their aim is off, they might hit a hostage or a terrorist might have the time to open fire on the hostages.
  • Breaking Bad:
    • Averted. Mike shoots a cartel henchman through a wall after being given subtle instructions from said henchman's hostage on how high to aim.
    • Averted in "Felina" when Walter White plans for bullets to successively pass through the side of a car trunk, the side of the car itself, and the walls of a building.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The episode "Homecoming" has Buffy trick the pair of assassins hunting her into shooting each other through a wall.
  • Burn Notice: The pilot episode lampshades this with a drug dealer's apartment, who has a reinforced door. Michael explains that most people ignore the fact that most walls are just drywall and plaster, which he uses to shoot the dealer in the knee from outside. Michael and Sam later deliberately armor a car with phone books and bulletproof glass, expecting to be hit by a gang. The outside of the car is still riddled with holes but none penetrate inside.
  • Community: Justified in the paintball episode (S1 eE3 Modern Warfare). In paintball concealment does equals cover, paintballs doesn't really go through anything.
  • CSI:
    • Averted Trope in one episode; a little girl is killed by a stray bullet from a drive-by, despite being inside her (brick) house sleeping on the bed.
    • And then another episode, Catherine Willows is hiding in the shipping container being shot at by one shooter from outside. Bullets penetrate the container with no problem, clueing her to shooter's position and allowing her to return fire killing him.
  • Played straight in the classic Doctor Who episode "The Talons of Weng-Chiang". A flimsy wooden table is enough to shield the protagonists from Slow Lasers. The laser beams at least start punching holes through the table, though.
  • Malcolm in the Middle: Averted (good work for a sitcom). In one episode, Malcolm tries to destroy a loaded pistol by sawing into it. When the pistol fires, the bullet penetrates several walls.
  • MythBusters:
    • They demonstrated that a car door stuffed with phone books will stop bullets fired from handguns. Low-calibre handguns.
    • They showed that a bullet from a handgun could penetrate standard household walls without slowing significantly. The only things that significantly affected the bullet's trajectory and speed were a copper plumbing fixture (deflected the bullet several degrees) and an electrical box (stopped the bullet entirely).
    • Surprisingly, they discovered if you could hold your breath, about 3 feet of water is good cover for modern high speed firearms. The best performer was a musket.
  • Adverted in Narcos : During a shootout, one of the gangsters hides behind a big wooden door... And immmediately gets shot through it.
  • Person of Interest: in one gun battle Root fires on Martine through the floor.
  • Revolution: Averted at least once: in episode 3, a member of the Monroe Militia tries to get cover from a sniper behind a car's door. The bullet finds him anyway.
  • Parodied in Seinfeld. George has been napping under his desk, and his boss George Steinbrenner, unable to find him, decides to hang out in his office until he comes back, even letting his grandchildren in when they drop by to visit him rather than leave the room. Desperate, George calls Jerry and convinces him to phone in a bomb threat. It doesn't quite go as planned:
    Secretary: Mr. Steinbrenner? We've just received a call. There's a bomb in the building.
    Steinbrenner: A bomb in the building! Oh my god! Quick, everybody under the desk!
  • Stargate SG-1: Averted. The heroes use C-4 to open a blast door (two blocks, because it's a blast door). The people trapped inside overturn a table to hide behind, but a massive spike of door is embedded in it anyway, nearly skewering someone on the other side.
  • Supernatural:
    • In the episode "All Hell Breaks Loose, Part Two" (S02, Ep22), Sam, Dean, Bobby, and Ellen, crouch behind gravestones as the forces of Hell explode from the Devil's Gate.
    • Averted in "How to Win Friends and Influence Monsters". Bobby Singer dives into a van, which is fired on by Dick Roman with a Colt .45 revolver. The Winchesters breath a sigh of relief over another narrow escape...only to realise Bobby hasn't responded.
  • Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles: Justified Trope. The first episode features a Terminator discovering the Connors' new apartment, and a shootout ensues, during which Sarah uses a recliner as cover, successfully. A couple scenes later, the police are examining the apartment and discover the chair had been lined with kevlar.
  • Top Gear:
    • In the 2010 Christmas special, the boys were instructed to drive through the worn-torn Middle East to Bethlehem. Security was high on their mind, and they drove around in Kevlar vests and helmets. At one point, Jeremy has an idea to stuff his doors with sandbags for additional protection. However, a 9mm handgun (albeit fired at close range) went through the reinforced door and out the other.
    • Taken to extremes in the Top Gear Range Rover vs. Challenger 2 main battle tank. The rules of the game: Jeremy has to escape and evade a single Challenger 2, traversing the Challenger's own training grounds of the Salisbury plain. The tank's job is to score a simulated kill on Jeremy using the tank's 120mm main gun. (allowing the crew to remember that they also had two 7.62mm machine guns and personal sidearms, although both are shown in the opening briefing, would have made it far too easy). Jeremy then proceeds to hide behind a bush before recalling the difference.
  • Twin Peaks: Averted in the third season. Two criminals armed with ordinary handguns are trying to escape from an altercation with another criminal by rushing off in their van. He sprays the van with bullets from a machine pistol and they both end up dying.
  • The Walking Dead: "Thank You" has an aversion. Rick kills several wolves by shooting them through the wall of the RV he's hiding in.
  • Westworld:
    • Averted in "Chestnut." When the Man in Black is gunning down a posse, one dives behind a adobe wall. He switches to the shotgun round in his revolver and shoots the guy right through the wall.
    • Averted in "Dissonance Theory" when Wiliam and Logan are involved in a shootout in a saloon and they hide behind a wooden cupboard. The bartender next to them dies by a headshot when one of their opponents' bullets passes through. However, it is all subverted by the fact that in Westworld humans cannot be hurt by bullets. William and Logan dived for cover out of instinct and would have been just as safe standing in the open. The bartender was a robot and programmed to die in that firefight.
  • Worst Case Scenarios: One episode of this TBS show based on the Worst Case Scenario Survival Guide and starring a guy named Mike Rowe featured a scene with a man taking cover behind a concrete pillar during a parking garage gunfight. We see a bullet hole burst through the pillar at head level, a few inches to one side of him.

    Tabletop Games 
  • BattleTech: Concealment, typically gained by parking your mech in woods, makes it harder to you. Cover also makes it harder to hit you, but on top of that it will block shots that would hit parts that are behind the cover. The most common example of this is a mech (which is two levels tall) standing behind a Level 1 hill or building. A shot that hits the mech and rolls a leg on the Hit Location Table instead strikes the cover.
  • Dungeons & Dragons: Averted and discussed. Cover and Concealment differ.
    • In AD&D 1 and 2, Cover penalizes attack roll more, gives the same adjustment to saving throws and 90% cover (i.e. peeking out) turns typical area affecting attacks from "save for half damage" into "half damage save for none".
    • In D&D3 they are entirely separate systems Cover gives a bonus to your Armour Class (with the logic that cover blocks some attacks completely), while Concealment gives a random, percentage-based chance that the attack missed (since it just makes aiming at your real location harder). The humour here is that, against a sufficiently skilled enemy, the bonus to armour class can be made irrelevant by a good enough attack, while the miss chance is virtually always relevant, so under some circumstances, having half of your body obscured by mist or swaying tree branches is better protection than having half of your body behind a stone wall.
    • The exception to this is 'total cover', which is when you are, well, totally covered by something that blocks line of sight (like standing behind a stone wall that completely obscures you from your foe). Characters behind total cover cannot be directly targeted or attacked.
      • This, however, has its own unusual interaction. Fact One: Tower Shields can be used to provide total cover. Fact Two: Equipment and other carried objects are under the same conditions as you if applicable, unless otherwise specified. So when you're hiding behind a tower shield, you have total cover. When you have total cover, so does your shield.
  • In GURPS cover and concealment are part of a single system. A big enough gun can simply shoot through cover but hitting the uncovered parts of the body comes at a penalty.
  • Warhammer 40,000 has a variation—while fortifications made to absorb attacks provide an excellent 'cover save' protection from ranged attacks, things like really high grass can still provide a lesser one. The rules explicitly say the reason for that is how it would make the victim of a ranged attack harder to target. It gets stranger with other units—units in front of other units provide a small 'cover save' for the units behind them, since they are in the way which makes it harder to hit the ones behind, even if the ranged weapons in question should be capable of annihilating the units in the way and then strike the ones behind them (there are no other rules for it, so a successful cover save in this manner would have no chance of harming the units in front of the others. An unsuccessful one would just have the units behind be hit.)
    • This (4+) cover save isn't small; it's as good as the save granted for holing up inside a building or hiding inside a treeline. Human Shield indeed! It's Handwaved with a "fouled aim" justification, and rarely justified why the enemy simply didn't shoot anyway.
      • And due to the fact that the narrative tabletop game Inquisitor might have only a handful of models in a given game, it can go into minute details. A character can take cover behind a wall, crate, fortified bunker or whatever they're near—it simply absorbs part of the damage from the shot like an additional layer of armour, so a person hiding behind a wooden crate and being shot at will almost certainly still be hit, but the crate will absorb some of the power and do marginally less damage (or, if they're really lucky, deplete enough of the energy and cause the shot to then deflect off their personal armour)
    • Warhammer Fantasy makes cover more difficult to hit a given unit with missiles (in the case of solid walls because they can duck, and in the case of "soft" cover such as fences or bushes because it's harder to hit something you can't see clearly), not to damage, and sometimes is ignored totally in some cases. So a unit behind a wall might be hit less often by the average guy with a handgun, but a superbly trained assassin will most likely not be bothered that much, and a gout of flaming chemicals will just roil over the cover. Units interposed between the shooter and victim unit have the same penalty as a brick wall because the firing unit either is put off by the nearer enemy, or has to stop themselves from accidentally firing into their own soldiers wandering into their sights.
  • In the Warhammer Roleplaying systems (Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, Dark Heresy and its spin-offs), cover adds a flat armour bonus to your character to any part that's behind it (although the cover is reduced every time it's penetrated) while concealment just gives your opponent penalties to hit. Being so covered you're not visible just makes it impossible for you to be hit except by indirect-fire weapons (like mortars).
  • Can naturally occur in games that put less focus on the physics of combat and run it more as a narrative exercise. For instance, in Wushu "I duck behind the car door" would be essentially just another detail earning a die towards the eventual resolution roll for that turn, the car door's in-universe ability or lack thereof to stop any incoming bullets wouldn't even enter into it because the game doesn't so much as try to resolve matters at that level—if the character doesn't take damage the turn he's behind that car door, then it obviously worked for some reason. (In fact, there'd be nothing mechanically mandating that that die would then even have to be used for defense—by the rules the player in question would be perfectly free to just put it into his "yang", i.e. attack, die pool for that turn along with any others.)

    Video Games 
  • Averted in ArmA, as finding what provides cover and what just provides concealment from specific weapons is tremendously variable. ACE takes this even further, as a projectile doesn't even need to penetrate all the way through a wall to damage someone on the other side; the shrapnel alone can kill someone.
  • Battlefield: Bad Company included a environment destruction system for breaking down things to hit the enemies behind them; though mostly just wood was easily destroyed from bullets, and explosives were generally needed to damage most things.
    • The sequel is even better about this, with almost no cover being permanent. An easy way to destroy an enemy objective guarded by hostiles in the same room is to destroy the entire building.
  • Battlefield Heroes, on the other hand, makes all the scenery indestructible. Might be considered a Justified Trope since the game is made for casual players who might not have the hardware for such a thing.
  • Averted in Black. Anything that can be hidden behind can be destroyed by gunfire. The game's main marketing point (apart from Gun Porn).
  • Played straight throughout all of Borderlands 2, but particularly notable in regards to Terramorphous The Invincible, who is fought in a wide open arena with various outcroppings of rocks that will be destroyed over the course of the fight. There's literally nowhere you can hide for cover, except for one tiny little rock located near the exit of the arena. A player can duck behind this and Terramorphous can't shoot you, even though it clearly knows you're there and literally sees you behind it because it towers over you. If you play as Axton or Gaige, you can deploy your sentry turret or Deathtrap robot to whittle down the boss for you. Time consuming, but doable.
  • Call of Duty: World at War and the Modern Warfare series allows you to shoot through certain objects (such as wood) with some reduced damage from the bullets; there's no system for actually destroying anything, though, and any form of divide between the player and the explosion will stop grenade shrapnel dead. In the singleplayer, this only benefits you however. The enemy NPCs simply can't damage you with cover in between you and them.
    • The trope is both played straight and averted in the original Nuketown map. Want to shoot someone through the ceiling with a pistol? Sure! Want to snipe someone through a curtain? Nope.
    • What is and is not bulletproof however seems to be completely random at best. In some places, thick, metal and concrete walls can be shot through for massive damage, but nowhere is there a melon leaf that can be penetrated by an anti-tank rifle in the first two thirds of the Modern Warfare trilogy. Also, vehicles will explode under heavy fire, killing you if you're too close.
    • Same with the Ghost Recon series, where enemies can easily be sniped through walls and other thin barriers, but not so much through thicker cover such as crates.
  • Command & Conquer: Garrisonable Structures provide cover regardless of whether it's a civilian house or a large hotel. They don't provide concealment, however (garrisoned buildings tend to have flags identifying the troops inside them), and every faction has a unit or ability that clears out the building of hostiles with minimal damage to the buiding.
  • Company of Heroes has the same cover system as Dawn of War 2, but letting wooden things provide cover bonuses is probably less justifiable to most people. Try to by assume the same potential explanation from Dawn of War 2.
    • Averted in the sense that ordering your men into flimsy cover is generally a very bad idea; it's relatively poor protection and will fall apart pretty damn fast under heavy fire. Applies to everything once the enemy starts getting tanks.
    • Units in the game have different levels of cover. Red being exposed, yellow being partially covered (reduced damage from small arms), green means fully covered (small arms can't do a damn thing, but explosions will hurt)
    • The game actually handles it somewhat realistically. To expound on the above: Light cover (e.g. wooden fences, hedgerows) and smoke cover will make infantry harder to hit with small arms, whereas heavy cover (e.g. sandbags, stone walls) will reduce both accuracy and damage done against them. There is also building, halftrack, trench, water, bunker and emplacement cover, all with varying effect on accuracy and damage depending on the weapon used.
  • Averted in Counter-Strike, where guns of sufficient power will penetrate some materials, albeit at reduced damage. This leads to some players spamming bullets through cover that is penetrable but still has a lot of traffic behind it.
  • Dawn of War 2:
    • The game has pretty much everything short of the ground providing cover bonuses—some stuff could justifiably be so, like plants that may be really tough due to being fictional. On the other hand, the barrels seem to be rather unlikely. Presumably, it uses the same justification as the original tabletop mentioned above.
    • It should also be mentioned that the ground can indeed provide cover bonuses provided you shell the area with high explosives prior to moving in. The troops will hunker down in the resulting craters.
    • Destroyed vehicles remain on the map until destroyed for good, (such as by being rammed by another vehicle) and provide cover in the meantime.
  • This trope applies in the first Delta Force game to the extent that even building-sized camouflage nets with fist-sized holes are perfectly bulletproof. Averted in the sequels, where it was even a selling point.
  • Played straight with offensive spells in EverQuest, however it's averted with beneficial spells like buffs or heals, which work through walls as long as the target is close enough. This was probably done intentionally to prevent characters from missing life-saving heals by accidentally stepping around a corner, or simply falling victim to the game engine's comparatively primitive line-of-sight checks.
  • Fallout series.
    • In Fallout 3, it is perfectly permissible to take cover behind lamp posts or thin trees in order to block gunfire as long as you're standing directly opposite the opponent, even though you should be broader than the cover. Many enemies may even lose track of you if they can't make direct eye contact. It's far from uncommon for a supermutant with a minigun to run up and look for you behind a lamp post. (Although supermutants aren't known to be very bright, so it fits.) Also, due to the general lack of destroyable landscape objects, everything is bulletproof and only takes a few cosmetic bullet holes (though hiding behind any kind of vehicle is usually a really bad idea.)
    • All of the above persists in Fallout 4, but now some objects (shrubs, chain link fences, floor grates) can be shot through. The game also adds the Penetrator perk as an option for characters with a high perception allowing them to shoot limbs through what would otherwise be hard cover, though there still must be enough of the foe visible to pick them up in VATS.
  • While most enemies in Far Cry 4 play the trope straight, the snipers, who can take about half your life meter per shot through almost any object in the game, are a rather jarring subversion. The .50 caliber sniper rifles CAN shoot through some forms of hard cover, but the 'conventional' rifles like the bolt-action, and the Dragunov can't.
  • More or less Averted in Full Spectrum Warrior. In those games, while wooden boxes and tables or couches can be used for cover, thinner materials deteriorate much faster than thicker ones. Also, due to how shooting works in the game, it's also entirely possible for a stray bullet to kill one of your teammates regardless of cover. Also, cover and concealment can be completely ignored by flanking. This is a central mechanic in the game.
  • Gears of War has destructible cover (like wood) and completely indestructible cover (pretty much everything else). Even a wardrobe will stop bullets until it's destroyed though.
  • Subverted in GoldenEye (1997), where crates and other scenery objects will explode if shot.
  • Half-Life had this, but many common covers such as crates get destroyed in a few hits. The exclusion being Tau Cannon, which on full charge can blast through a lot of non-destructible objects.
    • Half-Life 2 mostly plays this straight, but thanks to the Havok physics engine, allows objects being used for cover to themselves be used as weapons. Hide behind a stack of barrels, for example, and a charging Antlion Guardian will bash right through them to get at you. Hide behind a car, and it'll throw the car at you. On the same note though, being able to move objects around combined with somewhat crude AI code leads to some absolutely ridiculous uses of objects of dubious protective value, such as the saga of one mans successful assault on a machinegun nest armed with a small plastic jar.
    • Also, the patches of aluminum siding used as cover during the Strider fight at the end of Episode One do protect you from the minigun used by the Strider, but the siding can and will fall off after taking so many shots, exposing you to the Strider (which you were exposed to by climbing the ladder to the platform with the siding). At one point during the chase building up to the fight you can hide behind a shipping container. Sadly you cannot hide behind it for long as once you get behind it the Strider will try to kill you by shoving the shipping container into the wall behind it with its beam attack. The only part of the platform during the actual fight that you can reliably use as cover is the stone support beam just prior to the siding panels, from which you can reload the rocket launcher by grabbing stray rockets on the ground with the Gravity Gun (as the siding panels come off you will be exposed if you go for the ammo crate and if you're a good enough shot with the rocket launcher you should only need at most six rockets; possibly less if you scored successful hits on the Strider on the way to the platform with rockets or thrown Hopper mines (the Strider performs its hit animation when hit prior to reaching the main arena of the fight but it's not clear if the Strider's health is actually reduced).
  • In Indiana Jones' Greatest Adventures, the Club Obi-Wan stage has a Crosshair Aware Indy taking cover behind tables and grand pianos.
  • Averted in Killer7, when Kaede hides in a dresser to escape Emir. It does her no good.
  • Averted to the benefit of the player in Left 4 Dead. You can damage zombies through walls, furniture, and even other zombies.
  • Mass Effect 3 averts this with Armor-Piercing Attack that can penetrate some cover. In fact, with enough penetration enhancements it is possible to shoot clean through the floor or walls (though only the geth multiplayer characters really benefit from this: in Hunter Mode they can see enemies through solid objects). Oh, and penetration enhancements stack, so if you've got a gun with innate penetration ability equipped with a gun mod that improves penetration, you can shoot further through cover. In multiplayer mode, it's possible to, with the right combination of gun, gun mods, and ammunition, to have a sniper rifle that can send a bulleth through more than six meters worth of cover and still have enough power to kill a human. And if a gun can shoot through cover, it can shoot through enemies.
  • Max Payne 3 zig-zags this: Some things that obviously can't take bullets, like cubicle walls, will be destroyed by gunfire, but others, like yacht hull or the ever-popular residential walls, can take them seemingly forever.
  • In the Medal of Honor series, crates and wooden barricades can be shot through and destroyed.
  • Metal Gear:
    • In a particularly ridiculous example, in The Twin Snakes, you are attacked by a boss piloting an M1 Abrams tank firing high explosive rounds. You can avoid damage by hiding behind a snowbank.
    • Also averted to a certain extent in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots' online mode. You can hide behind wooden boxes and the like, but if somebody has a high powered weapon you can still get shot if they know where you are. With the right combination of feat and weapon, you can get shot in the head before you peek out of cover.
    • Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain: Averting this trope is basically the countermeasure to The Guards Must Be Crazy; enemy mooks have a hard time seeing a crouching gunman twenty meters away with flashlights, and even less when you're behind a wire mesh. Then they bring out the machine guns during red alert, and suddenly that wire mesh doesn't do shit. You'll want something that's a foot solid-thick if you want cover, especially against grenades.
  • Averted fairly well in Mirror's Edge. Bullets easily tear through most materials that they realistically should, such as metal gratings, rooftop solar panels, and the walls of air vents. Some materials such as reinforced plate glass initially block bullets, but still eventually shatter and break under sustained fire.
  • Particularly noticeable with certain line-of-sight based Ultimates in Overwatch (most infamously occurs with D.Va's, though it can also happen with a few others like Junkrat's and Tracer's). Something as insignificant as a light post can be the difference between getting blown to kingdom come and walking away without a scratch.
  • In People Playground, it's averted for conventional firearms. Most guns can easily pierce soft and thin objects like wooden sticks or tables, and powerful guns like the sniper rifle or minigun can even penetrate steel walls.
  • Averted—in a way—in Portal and Portal 2. Although the bullets fired by the turrets can most likely penetrate many surfaces (with some exceptions, like bulletproof glass, and heavy props! The various cubes can provide some protection, but Chell still gets hit), the Turrets can only fire at you when you are in direct line of sight. If they don't see you, they won't shoot at you. So, in this case, concealment does equal cover!
  • In the very first level of Psychonauts, you come up against a machine-gun bunker that can shred you to bits in seconds. Although you can activate a series of walls to serve as cover, nearly all of them save one are made of wood, which is destructible, and lasts only a second or two under the intense gunfire. However, this level is in one of the characters' dreams, where concealment = cover makes much more sense.
  • Rainbow Six:
    • In Rainbow Six 3: Raven Shield your bullets will pass through glass and chain-link fences, unless you load them with hollow point ammunition, in which case said chain-link fence suddenly becomes impervious to bullets, but only to your weapons and not those of any terrorists. Glass will similarly block a hollow point round, although it will break and allow subsequent shots to pass through.
    • In Rainbow Six Siege certain wooden walls and cover can be both shot and broken through with explosions or gunfire. However, other thicker walls or reinforced walls will stand strong no matter how much ordinance you fire at it.
  • Taken to an extreme in the Jet Li game Rise To Honor. During the gunplay segments you can hide behind anything (even garbage cans) while mooks shoot at you with their infinite ammo guns. You could literally hide behind a garbage can forever without ever taking damage.
  • Scarface: The World Is Yours. Shooting out the window of a well-armored car is a great tactic...oddly, your lackey in the passenger seat will (quite possibly) get ventilated and die while Tony remains untouched.
  • Averted in games using the Silent Storm engine, developed by Nival Interactive, such as Silent Storm, Silent Storm Sentinels, Hammer and Sickle, Night Watch, and Day Watch. Any object is destructible with sufficient firepower. While a wall may stop a bullet, it will be destroyed with several more, making cover irrelevant against heavy-cal guns. In fact, continuous fire from such a weapon can easily collapse an entire building, especially when wearing a Panzerklein.
    • Never mind the explosives, which will also level buildings when used.
  • Averted in S.T.A.L.K.E.R., where each ammunition type has a value for how far it can penetrate through scenery. This is most noticeable in the second level of the second game, where you have to run from a mounted machinegun capable of killing you in less than a second. Annoyingly because even through an entire tree, while the bullet trajectory and speed are reduced by a great deal, so much so that you can see them dropping to the ground, the bullets still do the same damage as when they were full speed. Made the area into That One Level.
  • Partially subverted in Star Wars: The Old Republic, where enemies can usually shoot you right through whatever you're standing behind. Imperial Agents, though, have a Cover ability that allows them to crouch behind certain objects to avoid harm from most fire.
  • Avoided in John Woo Presents Stranglehold, powerful weapons can—with repeat fire—tear through many walls and columns, including reinforced concrete in some cases. Means you can't hide behind that flimsy pillar forever… Tequila takes advantage of this in one scene, using his Beretta to carve out an outline of a mook hiding behind a table, before finishing him off with a bullet right in the middle of it.
  • Super Mario Bros. 3 has those white blocks. If you duck on them for a few seconds, you can go behind bushes and the like and enemies won't be able to hurt you as long as you're totally concealed. Yet if part of Mario is poking out, he can get hurt.
  • In the later Syphon Filter games, you can shoot enemies through false ceilings and other thin barriers.
  • In Time Crisis, being behind cover protects against grenades and rockets. The enemy mooks fire/throw them directly at your face, not at the crate you are hiding behind.
  • Averted in TimeShift of all things. Some cover will disintegrate under heavy fire, other times enemies will simply lob grenades or run to a better spot to shoot you. Boxes can also be knocked over, collapsing your cover.
  • Averted in the rebooted Tomb Raider (2013) as some of the cover Lara can hide behind can be destroyed or worn down by explosions and bullets, and thrown incendiary weapons can splash their contents over the cover onto her.
  • Zigzagged in Vanquish, where some pieces of cover are indestructible, while others are quickly destroyed by explosives and other heavy weapons, and some weapons, such as the Romanovs's Chest Death Ray, can penetrate cover.
  • Mostly averted in War Thunder Ground Forces - whilst bushes and walls are useful for concealing your tank and will cause HE, HESH and HEAT shells to detonate prematurely (owing to their fuzes' sensitivity), most AP or APHE shells (being a few to a few dozen kilograms of steel moving at over twice the speed of sound) wil pierce them (alongside things like trees or lamp posts) with ease. Played straight with non-destructible scenery objects such as destroyed tanks or buildings, which are perfectly bulletproof.
  • Averted in World of Tanks—if an enemy tank spots you behind a bush or fallen tree they can fire straight through at the thoughtfully provided outline the game shows them of your tank. And then played straight when AP and APCR shells are stopped dead by flimsy wooden structures like windmills and light houses scattered throughout some of the older maps when in real life those shells wouldn't even notice the obstacles. This offered a very unpleasant surprise when many of those obstacles were reworked, and AP and APCR rounds could go right through them.
  • In World of Warcraft, you can't even attempt to shoot or cast spells at anything that's out of your line of sight, which includes walls and such. What's odd about this is that some terrain features that you'd ordinarily expect to block line of sight, like trees and hills, don't, so you can shoot through them as easily as through air. Similarly, if a unit moves behind an obstacle after a projectile is launched, said projectile will happily curve to follow them even if it means passing through solid obstacles.
  • In the X-COM series, most objects or buildings on the battlefield will stop at least one bullet, usually getting blown to bits in the process. Shame the aliens tend to fire on full auto.
    • Cover will not make you immune from explosives, so a standard tactic is to just blast any building with high explosive rounds, rockets and grenades. In the early game, even high explosive packs: an agent opens the door in UFO, an alien faces the door and you know it will shoot before your puny bullets and bad aim may kill it. So this soldier runs away and another sets a charge right next to the enemy behind the wall—it can't breach UFO, but it can damage wall, floor behind it and kill the alien.
    • In XCOM: Enemy Unknown , plasma and laser weapons will destroy cover. The same cannot be said for your puny starting kinetics. Explosives will also destroy cover. Like the former games in the series, stuff that's cover is liable to stop at least one shooting attack at least before breaking... even if that stuff being used for cover is a mailbox or garbage can. Cars will also explode from being shot up, though after they explode the wreckage they leave behind is by all means unbreakable.
      • Actually enforced by the game's mechanics. Standing in a smoke-grenade cloud and hunkering down behind a waste-high chunk of concrete both give equivalent bonuses to defense.

    Web Animation 
  • Done for laughs in Red vs. Blue when Caboose's idea of hiding is essentially "I can't see them. They can't see me." The Reds could quite see him where he was standing, thus Tucker and Church are able to drag him over to them.
  • Subverted and Played for Drama in Lackadaisy, when trapped Getaway Driver Ivy suffers a comical Escape Route Surprise and slams a side door in rival gangster Nico's face, and things take a sudden dark turn when he doesn't hesitate to put two new bullet holes right where she was just standing. She's fast enough to bolt away just before they make impact and he kicks the door open.

    Web Comics 
  • Played pretty straight near the end of Act Two of Exploitation Now. Jordan goes through an extended monologue about her backstory while in a firefight with Bush against two government agents, all while protected from multiple gunshots with nothing but a wooden table. Near-misses and some external damage aside, the two are perfectly fine.
  • Averted on Goblins during the introduction of Kore. Tavern tables don't protect you from crossbow bolts.
  • In A Miracle of Science, Agent Prester gets in a gunfight with a mafioso in a cheap diner, and dives behind a turned-over table for cover. The wiseguy then proceeds to simply shoot through the table while making snide comments about how stupid it is to hide behind 'a flimsy fiberboard table'. Prester gets a bullet through the shoulder, but fortunately, he's Made of Iron...
  • In Schlock Mercenary, an unfortunate gunner believes that being behind two layers of hullmetal is sufficient protection to set up a weapons emplacement as part of an attempt to hijack a ship. He is extremely wrong.
    Lieutenant: What are they going to do? Take a potshot through two layers of hullmetal?
    Corporal: Correction. Two layers of hullmetal and one lieutenant.
  • About to be averted in this comic on in 3, 2, 1....

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • South Park parodied this by giving the "Duck & Cover" advice... as a means to avoid a lava floe. Suffice to say, it works in the film strip - not so much when put into practice later on.

    Real Life 
  • This trope has a very slight degree of Truth in Television, as the Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy trope page shows. It is in fact incredibly difficult to hit a person at any kind of range in the heat of a firefight (the overall success rate of hits in combat, as estimated on the page, is something like 200 rounds shot for every one hit). Being behind concealment of any kind, no matter how easy it is to shoot through, will degrade anyone's marksmanship even further (provided, of course, that the amount of cover you are behind is not so small as to make it blatantly obvious exactly where you are).
  • Justified in places where houses have interior walls as strong as the exterior ones, like large swaths of Europe. ISAF troops in Afghanistan have also reported similar problems with house walls being so overbuilt as to resist .50 cal shots, or even autocannon fire.
  • This has become a problem where combatants train with the MILES laser system as concealment will stop the laser hits, but would be ineffective against real projectiles thus which can lead to soldiers learning bad habits.
    • Similar to the above, airsoft bbs or paintballs will be stopped by almost anything including leaves or pieces of paper, so any concealment is effectively also cover. Many BB and paintball courses are built out of plywood or other thin materials that would not stop any bullet.
  • While light concealment may not stop bullets, it increases your chances of surviving since the person shooting can only fire where they think you are behind the cover. And since Bottomless Magazines don't exist in real life, the shooter might not have enough ammo on hand to shoot down the whole length of a wall to make sure they hit the person behind it. Also, lower caliber bullets can be blocked by less than what a larger caliber can go through. However, one should try to get behind the thickest piece of cover one can. It is also sometimes true with hollow point bullets that are designed to fragment upon hitting solid objects to avoid overpenetration. It is even more true with frangible bullets that are used by anyone who wants to avoid putting holes in things they otherwise shouldn't, most notably by air marshals.
  • Bullets will, of course, lose velocity traveling through concealment, possibly reducing the impact velocity enough to make a difference. Unfortunately, this difference is more likely to be that the bullet will get lodged in the victim's body rather than pass clean through, adding the dangers of having a foreign object in their body to the regular problem of having holes torn into it. It's fairly unlikely for any kind of concealment to reduce bullet velocity enough to meaningfully reduce (or affect at all) the damage done. Hence, this trope.
    • It can make the difference when the target is wearing armor, with the concealment reducing the velocity of the bullet just enough to allow the armor to absorb the shot. Still unlikely for most forms of concealment, but unlike above the difference between 'penetration' and 'no penetration' is much bigger (and more positive) than 'pass through' or 'lodged in body'.
      • Also, some types of concealment, while not enough to stop a bullet, are enough to at least have a chance of deflecting it.
      • Quite a problem for SWAT snipers: Shooting through glass can be sufficient to deflect the bullet those vital few centimeters.
      • Especially in case of shot at long or extremly long ranges, most often sniper fire, branches, leaves or blades of grass can be sufficient to deflect the bullet enough to prevent a hit, one of the reasons why sniping in heavily forested areas or in overgrown areas is much more difficult.
    • Rounds of a type that are known to tumble on impact also have issues with penetrating cover; they may well punch through, but they're liable to veer off-course somewhat as they exit. Russian 5.45x39mm rounds got an especially bad reputation for this in the Chechen Wars.
    • Another advantage is that if the round is so powerful that it transfers a large static shockwave through tissue, getting a stuck-in rather than a thru-and-thru (in the front, out the back) means that you have only a small entry wound and tapering permanent wound cavity, rather than a small entry wound, large permanent wound cavity, and gigantic exit wound. Most people killed by gunfire die by bleeding to death, so anything that reduces the total volume of severed tissue and the rate of bleeding will increase your odds of survival dramatically. You're going to need surgery either way, so removing the lodged projectile, while excruciating and inconvenient, might be worth it in the end... unless the bullet has tumbled enough that the process of removing it will be more likely to kill you than the wound itself. Which is certainly possible.
  • During one armored reconnaissance ("thunder run") mission in Baghdad in the early days of the Iraq war, some of the Iraqi resistance fighters showed the consequences of not being aware that this trope is averted in real life. When the tanks and APCs bore down on them, they jumped behind the cinderblock walls of nearby partially-constructed houses. The armored vehicles had .50-caliber machine guns ... to which cinderblock offers about as much resistance as a piece of paper. The gunners, knowing this, just basically lit up the walls these guys were behind and the resistance fighters didn't last long there after.
  • A couple weeks prior to this during a sandstorm which covered most of southern Iraq, Iraqi resistance teams attempted to rush American tank units thinking the sandstorm was good enough to keep the Americans from firing at all. Apparently they forgot that the Iraqi Army was soundly defeated in the first war due in part to American infrared targeting systems.
  • Similar to the above, one tank battle late in World War II had an American M26 Pershing trying to engage a German Panzer that had just rounded a corner to get out of the American's crosshairs. The tank gunner simply fired his 90mm gun through the building to hit the German tank on the other side.
  • Often averted even with heavy armor plates! Spalling, the phenomenon where the armor plate cracks and sprays the inside with deadly splinters when struck by a shell that fails to penetrate, has been a serious problem for armored ships and vehicles a long time. Certain weapons, such as HESH warheads, are actually designed to kill hostiles hiding behind heavy concealment through this effect. Many vehicles incorporate a layer of soft armor such as kevlar inside the vehicle to catch any fragments before they get into the crew compartment.
  • A justified case with Nuclear Weapons fireproof objects, even thin ones, can stop the immediate burns that the burst of heat causes at detonation as the burst of heat radiation travels like light. Then averted as that exact same wall is obliterated by the following blast wave.
  • According to this article written by a former Army Ranger, a lot of insurgents and terrorists seem to think this. They'll hide behind sheetrock, corrugated metal, and car doors, not realizing none of those will stop bullets. He specifically mentions one guy who fired then hid behind a couch.
  • Tragically averted with the shooting death of South African model Reeva Steenkamp, by her boyfriend Oscar Pistorious. She was hiding in the bathroom and he shot through the locked door, killing her.
  • A story from The Wild West: while staying at an inn, a gunfighter in Texas, kept awake by loud snoring in the room next door, fired his gun through the wall and killed the culprit in his sleep. It's not a legend: the man who did the shooting was Clay Allison, who was—as can be told by the tale—a thoroughly dangerous man, quick to anger and to shoot.
  • Totally true for radioactive alpha radiation. Even a sheet of paper will protect you.note 
  • Much truer for arrows than bullets. While wood won't stop a bullet and steel won't do so reliably, shields were used against archers for a reason.
  • The 180 .22LR Submachine Gun (which looks like a Tommy Gun but with the drum magazine turn on its side and placed on top of the gun) was a submachine gun that fired the tiny .22 LR round. It was marketed to police departments since the .22 LR would likely be stopped by thin plaster walls in apartment complexes so could "safely" be used in situations where there would be a risk of overpenetration with any larger round, but could still beat body armor through sheer volume of fire.
  • Sadly averted by an aspiring You Tube star. He was convinced that a thick book could stop a pistol round, and persuaded his reluctant girlfriend to participate in a stunt where she'd shoot said book while he held it in front of himself. The pistol he chose? A .50 Desert Eagle. They tried one "test" before filming and he was killed, leaving the poor girlfriend to be charged with manslaughter.
  • A viable tactic when facing an enemy sniper that can't be located is to call in heavy firepower on any and all suspected positions. It doesn't matter how good their camouflage skills are when artillery is raining down on them.


Video Example(s):


Bulletproof Diner Table

The Japan Safety and Promotion Company team in Chicago flips a diner table and use it as a shield after coming under attack by Thorne Mafia soldiers with Beretta PM12S submachine guns. It's "surprisingly effective".

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / ConcealmentEqualsCover

Media sources: