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Destructible Projectiles

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In most Video Games, projectiles are intangible things whose only interaction with the outside world is that they inflict their damaging payload on the first thing they touch and then promptly cease to exist.

But sometimes the projectile is indeed a tangible object that can be attacked or affected by other projectiles or attacks. Can't dodge an incoming attack, for example? Try shooting it down before it hits you!

This mechanic is also known as "bullet canceling." Painfully Slow Projectiles or Bullet Time are usually the reason this is possible. Homing Projectiles and grenades are the most common targets for this. In some games, this also provides a renewable source of health or ammo pickups, especially in extended Boss Battles (where it may overlap with Boss Arena Recovery).

A Smart Bomb often (especially in Bullet Hell games) has the secondary effect of destroying all projectiles on screen, even when this is not usually possible.

Compare the Tennis Boss, where projectiles can be reflected back at the boss rather than destroyed. Contrast Shoot the Bullet, in which this is an extraordinary Moment of Awesome / Cutscene Power to the Max feat instead of a normal gameplay mechanic. For the melee version, see Parrying Bullets.


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    Action Adventure 
  • In various Metroid games (Super Metroid in particular), certain projectiles can be destroyed for health or Missile refills during boss battles.
  • The last Ganondorf fight in Ocarina of Time uses this. You have to play "tennis" with his energy balls.

    Beat Em Up 
  • In Viewtiful Joe, the player can punch or kick bullets and missiles back at targets while using slow motion, and can shoot them while in the Six Machine. This is crucial for defeating several bosses, including the Helicopter, Harrier Jet and both tanks.
  • A standard part of gameplay in the Touhou fighting side-games. An important part of play skill is knowing which bullets are "tough" enough to cancel which ones.
  • Energy projectiles usually cancel each other out in the Street Fighter-games. Rose is special in that she can reflect energy projectiles back at her opponent or even absorbe them to charge her special meter and make her next projectile deal more damage.

    First Person Shooter 
  • The Redeemer in Unreal Tournament, UT2004 and UT3, can be shot down with a well-placed shot, as well as the AVRiL missiles in 2004 and III.
  • Team Fortress 2:
    • The Pyro's flamethrower's alternate fire shoots out a gust of air that can deflect most non-hitscan projectile, bouncing it right to wherever the Pyro's aiming at. Among the deflectables are rockets, grenades, stickybombs, cleavers, baseballs, jars of urine... Really, the only reason the kitchen sink isn't included is because no class has it as a weapon.
    • Secondary Fire from the Engineer's Short Circuit is a slow-moving orb of electricity that destroys projectiles in its path.
    • An upgraded minigun for the Heavy during Mann vs Machine mode can stop enemy projectiles in midair as well. Instead of being disintegrated, they simply limply fall to the ground.
  • In Serious Sam series, the rockets fired from major biomechanoids can be shot down. In Serious Sam 1, alduran reptiloids' slimeballs and many other projectiles are also destructible.
  • The rocks the Tank throws in Left 4 Dead can be shot down by gunfire, but it requires precise aim and a good amount of bullets to shoot a thrown rock slab out.
  • In Half-Life 2, both Combine vehicles and Gordon Freeman's vehicles are quite capable of shooting down incoming missiles. In fact this is the reason La Résistance came up with a laser-steered missile launcher: it lets them fire the missile past a gunship or strider (which only have chin guns), then have the missile circle back around and hit from behind.
  • Constructors in Borderlands 2 have the ability to fire what basically amounts to a nuke. This will send you into Fight for your Life mode (or reduce you to a sliver of health if you were above half, to prevent a One-Hit Kill), and has a gigantic radius. Thus, the best way to avoid this attack is to shoot the nuke in mid-air.
  • Doom³ includes this for both enemy projectiles and the player's. While one of the video logs mentions the BFG's shots being vulnerable to stray fire, the ability to destroy other types of projectiles is something you'll have to find out on your own. In fact, destroying a projectile will cause it to explode, allowing you to kill a demon with its own fireball. That said, except for the Revenant's homing missiles and the Cacodemon's giant straight-flying energy balls, the majority of projectiles you'll be faced with are tossed fireballs flying in parabolic trajectories, so it's easier to step aside and dodge them.
  • The Spitball Infector in Deep Rock Galactic is a stationary enemy whose only attack is to launch a highly damaging acid spit at you and it can be shot out of the air to negate it.

  • In Battlestar Galactica Online, you can destroy missiles. Normal bullets are no-go though. Strikes usually are relegated to this role in big battles, where the presence of Escorts makes it hard for them to get any useful licks in.
  • Star Trek Online features several types of destructible projectiles. Players and some NPC's can use mines which, if not taken care of, will home in on the enemy and explode on contact. There's also torpedoes; while most types are indestructible, there are a handful that are destructible, but deal more damage than ordinary torpedoes. Some Borg NPC's can use a destructible projectile which is so powerful that, in most cases, it will vaporize your starship if you don't shoot it down in time.

  • Many projectiles in La-Mulana can be destroyed by hitting them: for example thrown bones, fire chunks, and even the burning excrements bonnacons attack with.
  • In Cave Story, many projectiles can be shot and drop hearts, energy crystals or ammo, which makes them a useful source of Boss Arena Recovery. Inverted on a few occasions, with enemy bullets that can block the player's.
  • In the Clonk military packs "Eke Reloaded" and "Codename: Modern Combat", grenades and rockets can be shot to safely destroy them.
  • Some Mega Man projectiles are like this, typically coming in the form of homing missiles. In some cases, they won't leave you alone until you shoot them down, and doing so is actually necessary to beat a particular boss in Mega Man 10, as it's only vulnerable while deploying a new set of missiles, which will only be done once all of them have been shot down.
  • Most projectiles in Castlevania games.
  • In the Super Smash Bros. series, every character can activate their shield to deflect projectiles, and can reflect them directly with perfect timing. Multiple characters like Fox, Ness, Mr. Game and Watch and Mario possess moves that can reflect or absorb projectiles. Most projectiles can also be canceled out by simply hitting them with an attack that has a higher priority.
  • Bullet Bills in the Super Mario Bros. series are a gray area between "lifeless projectile" and "enemy character", considering that in the sidescrolling games you can Goomba Stomp them like any other enemy. However, it might be worth noting that in New Super Mario Bros., Bullet Bills can deflect off each other, whereas in the 8- and 16- bit sidescrollers they simply passed through. Bullet Bills in Super Mario Sunshine can be destroyed by spraying water at them.
  • In Super Mario World, you can destroy certain projectiles (like the fireballs and bones enemies throw) with the cape spin, which is useful if you've got nowhere to run.

  • Shielded tears in The Binding of Isaac destroy projectiles they come in contact with. This carries over with any tear effects that Isaac gets, such as lasers from Technology items or Trisagion's light blasts. The Bot Fly familiar is very specifically this trope, as it circles around Isaac and fires shielded tears to intercept any projectiles that come near him, but otherwise ignores enemies.

    Role-Playing Games 
  • Pink projectiles in NieR can be destroyed by attacking them. Black ones will go right through your weapon.
  • In the second Drakengard, attacks from enemy mages and archers can be blocked by striking them with an attack, although the precise timing for this can be difficult to accomplish when fending off swarms of other Mooks at the same time. Some projectiles (like the bounty hunters' knives) can even be deflected back at the thrower for massive damage.
  • In Fallout 3, held and thrown grenades can be shot to make them detonate prematurely. Of course, it's darn near impossible what with combat being so hectic and them being so small and fast. However, using VATS mode allows you to select them and shoot them with far greater accuracy. There's something special about the first time you detonate a wastelanders arm by shooting the grenade they planned to lob at you. And the following fifty as well.
  • Most projectiles in the Kingdom Hearts series can be batted back at their senders or at least canceled out with a well-timed Keyblade. swing. Guarding is a more practical method of disposing of them, though, as it achieves the same result with less effort.
  • In Mass Effect 3, it's difficult but possible to shoot down Geth Rocket Trooper rockets.


  • Many Shoot 'Em Up games have oval- or oblong-shaped projectiles that the player can shoot down. Homing missiles in such games are usually destructible too.
  • Most enemy projectiles in Cabal and Blood Bros are destructible. Shooting the bombs in Blood Bros. causes them to drop a bomb item the player can throw.
  • Guxt missiles can be shot.
  • Homing missiles in Solar Jetman.
  • Hero Core homing missiles.
  • Certain projectiles act this way in the Star Fox games, allowing you to destroy them for health power-ups.
  • Most projectiles in Beat Hazard can be shot.
  • Terminator 2: Judgment Day Arcade Game. During the sequence in the future, the enemy regularly throws bombs at you. You can shoot and detonate them before they hit you.
  • Several shooters by cactus feature projectiles that are destructible one way or another.
    • The player's ship in Burn The Trash has a secondary weapon that destroys all enemy bullets in its path.
    • The "ship" from Deep/Wing/Break can shoot and destroy enemy bullets with its regular weapon.
    • Minubeat has a weapon that instantly destroys all enemy bullets on screen, in what would be otherwise a typical Bullet Hell game.
    • In Protoganda II, you are able to destroy the homing missiles that the enemies sometimes shoot.
  • This is the only way to damage enemies in the otherwise Bullet Hell Arc Angle. By catching the enemy's bullet spam within your "angle", you transform them into your own homing bullets that go back and destroy them.
  • This trope is the entire point of Missile Command and the LazerBlazer: Intercept mode of Super Scope 6. The object of both games is to destroy the incoming missiles by leading the target.
    • Super Scope 6 also has the Engage mode, whose main objective is to destroy enemy ships, while keeping yourself alive by also shooting down the missiles targeting you.
  • Justified in In the Hunt. Most enemies fires missiles and explosives, which can be destroyed by your submarine's torpedoes, anti-air weapons and depth charges. The ones to watch out for are those whose projectiles are not destructible.
  • Enemy fighters' homing missiles in Top Gun for NES.
  • Heavy Weapon has most of the enemies trying to drop destructible bombs and missiles on your tank. And a good thing they're destructible, because one of them drops instant-kill atomic bombs that will blow you up if they hit the ground.
  • In the games of Battle City series, one of the main gameplay mechanics is being able to shoot down enemy projectiles.
  • In RefleX, purple bullets can be shot away. Missiles can also be destroyed in this manner, which is important because unlike bullets, missiles bypass shields.
  • Final Legacy has this as a required part of gameplay. You need to shoot missiles out of the sky before they hit the cities you're trying to protect.

  • In EV Nova, homing weapons can be destroyed with point-defense weapons (the quad light blaster turret and Storm chaingun in an unmodded game).
  • Missiles in the X-Universe series can be destroyed with either gunfire or another missile (usually the otherwise uselessnote  Mosquito missile). Missiles are one hitpoint wonders in most of the series, but gain a health bar in X3: Albion Prelude.
  • Missiles in MechWarrior can be shot down, but only by the automated (Laser) Anti-Missile System. In MechWarrior Living Legends, the LAMS is an actual turret mounted on battlemech's head which benefits from steady piloting, so staring down incoming missiles can increase the number shut down. Static LAMS mounted in bases can even shoot down Long Tom Artillery shells to prevent camping with the finger-of-god artillery tank.
  • In FTL: Faster Than Light, it's possible for both player's and enemy's projectiles to collide with each after being shot, resulting in destruction of both bullets. Useful if you manage to destroy the enemy's shield-ignoring missile, but it can be annoying if your remaining salvo does not suffice to punch through enemy's shields.
  • Missiles in Rodina that lock on your ship can be reliably destroyed by shooting them. So can be your missiles, however. Don't count on your missile reaching the target if said target is accompanied by a squadron of scouts firing a flurry of bullets in your general direction.

  • In Mini Robot Wars, enemy projectiles can be destroyed. This is an important mechanic, because if any projectile gets past your defense line, you lose health!
  • Command & Conquer:
    • Command & Conquer: Generals: The Paladin tank has a laser that shoots down enemy missiles. Problem is, the laser's rate of fire is slower than most missiles, so countering a Macross Missile Massacre requires Beam Spam. Base defenses will also try to shoot down GLA Scud missiles and Chinese nukes, but they're onscreen for too little time for it to matter.
    • Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2: Large artillery missiles like the V3 missile and the missiles fired from Dreadnought ships and Boomer submarines can be shot down by Anti-Air to avoid becoming overpowered. Smaller missiles (the ones from the IFV, Guardian GIs, Aegis cruisers and the Apocalypse tank "Mammoth Tusks" anti-air missiles) cannot be shot down note .
    • Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3:
      • With enough Anti-Air defenses (or Yuriko), it's possible to shoot an aircraft carrier's drones midair. This won't prevent the carrier from attacking since it just produces new ones, but will prevent it from doing damage.
      • With a ridiculous amount of anti-air defenses, it's possible to shoot down the delivery aircraft for support powers (the bombers for Precision Strike and Desolator airstrikes, Sunburst Drones).
  • Empire Earth: Projectiles will self-destruct in midair if their target is destroyed before they reach it.

    Third Person Shooter 
  • In Resident Evil 4 and 5 you can shoot down thrown weapons like sickles or crossbow bolts. There is even an achievement/trophy for using your knife to deflect a crossbow bolt in Resident Evil 5.
  • The Torpedo sub weapon in Splatoon 2 can be shot down, causing it to explode harmlessly in midair. While it only takes a small amount of damage to destroy it, doing so is definitely in your best interest if you find one is targeting you — aside from this weakness, it is otherwise a rather devastating Homing Projectile that not only explodes non-harmlessly on impact, but also spreads several explosive pellets into the area around it.

    Other Media 
  • Big Eyes, Small Mouth has the "Stoppable" restriction for customizing ranged attacks, meaning that the projectile is slow enough that other characters can intercept it with other attacks, possibly destroying it before it reaches its intended target.
  • In The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Aragorn deflects a thrown knife with his sword — a moment not in the script, as the throw was supposed to miss, but Viggo Mortensen managed to bat it out of the air on reflex.

Alternative Title(s): Bullet Canceling