Follow TV Tropes


Homing Projectile

Go To
"Our .50-caliber bullet can guide itself to a hit half a mile away."
Larry Shipers


A projectile or attack in interactive media (or a narrative description in non-interactive media) that homes in on its intended target. If you're firing it, it can be an effective means of eliminating targets without putting yourself in harm's way. If an enemy is firing it, you'll need to perform a High-Speed Missile Dodge, whip out a shield, trick its guidance system, Shoot the Bullet if it is destructible, or just outrun it until it loses steam.

A curious trait of most homing attacks is their inability to "lead" a moving target, resulting in them doggedly "trailing" behind if the target can move fast enough. Very few homing attacks will actually plot an intercept course on a moving target. This can often be justified, however, since "mere" tracking requires far less advanced software (and hardware) than proactive interception.


A fairly common projectile type in Shoot 'em Ups and Tabletop Games.

Compare and Contrast with Player-Guided Missile. See also Flying Weapon, which has a tendency to chase after the target.

Subtropes include:


    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • Wolf's Rain: the Nobles have access to laser weapons that home in on their targets, inexplicably.
  • Hellsing: Rip Van Winkle has a rifle that shoots magic bullets that can immediately home on a target or do very fancy Roboteching.
  • Dragon Ball Z: Goku (Kamehameha twin dragon shot), Krillin (Double Tsuihikidan), and Piccolo (Chasing Bullet) have all used homing Ki attacks at one time or another.
    • Android 13's S.S. Deadly Bomber takes this even further, as the energy ball is seen making sharp ninty-degree turns in its flight path to track its victim.
  • One Piece. Nami's Thunder Breed Tempo (a homing lightning bolt). Franky also claims that his shoulder cannons do this, but subverts it when it's really just himself running after the opponent.
    • Vander Decken IX ate the Mark Mark fruit, which allows him to "remember" one person per hand. If he then throws something with that same hand, he can make it chase the target until it hits or it's stopped. "Something" includes letters, arrows, giant axes, other people, a ship half the size of an island...
  • Toriko. Toriko can do this with his Flying Forks and Knives by using his sense of smell to track the targets scent.

  • Darkseid whose omega beams take great pains to hit their target.

    Fan Works 

  • Runaway: A gun is introduced that fires projectiles that act like a tiny guided missiles, homing in on an individual's thermal signature.
  • The same thing happens in Babylon A.D., with the missile homing in on the nanite-passport injected in the protagonist's neck.
  • Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country: While most torpedoes are guided, and therefore should be guided IN SPACE!, this movie had a particular photon torpedo that was explicitly modified to counter an invisible enemy. The torpedo had a scientific instrument used to "catalogue gaseous anomalies" grafted into its systems. After being fired, it did what it was designed to do and brought the "probe" it was attached to up to the gaseous anomaly that was the cloaked ship's impulse engine ionized exhaust trail, and then the torpedo did what it does best.
  • X-Men: Days of Future Past. Magneto uses his powers to send a bullet arching out the window after Mystique, hitting her in the leg as she's falling (how would he know her position though, if she wasn't in his line-of-sight?) He's also accused of doing this during the Kennedy assassination, though Magneto denies it.
  • The Fifth Element. In the famous scene where Zorg demos the ZF-1 for the Mangalores, he proudly shows off the "replay button" feature, firing a single bullet at the target, then pointing the gun in the opposite direction and firing on full auto; all the bullets curve backwards and hit the target where the first bullet did.
  • Present in GI Joe The Riseof Cobra and G.I. Joe: Retaliation in both arrow and bullet form respectively.
  • In The Hunt for Red October, after a live torpedo latches onto the Red October, the commander orders a course directly at the enemy sub that had launched the torpedo in the first place. When he dodges at the last minute, the torpedo acquires the other sub as the target, blowing the enemy out of the water.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Andromeda: The Force Lance from the series did a lot of things including launching homing projectiles.
  • Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers: Kimberly's arrows possess this ability, as memorably demonstrated in "Power Ranger Punks".
  • Almost Human: The episode "You are Here" featured a 50 caliber homing bullet fired out of a very nifty rifle, guided through a city by advertising software.
  • An episode of Flashpoint revolved around a thief aiming to steal a prototype smartgun, which (unrealistically) used radio waves to mark and track a target. This results in Ed Lane getting shot despite being behind cover. In the end, the SRU team uses a radio jammer to prevent the gun's bullets from tracking their targets, enabling them to take down the perp.
  • Fancy Lee of Killjoys made then used a non-lethal non-line-of-sight dart that was not only portable and concealable but smaller than most normal darts.
  • Blake's 7. Dayna's favourite weapon was a small wheeled robot that she could produce from nowhere and send around a corner or into a room to blow up some hapless mooks.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons: Ranged weapons with the "seeking" enchantment.
  • GURPS: Homing weapons can be purchased as equipment, some even with character stats, or with the right imbuement touched.
  • Mutants & Masterminds: An advantage one can buy allows any power an additional opportunity to hit fitting in the "attack" aspect.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • In the Gaiden Game Necromunda, and the background material of Warhammer 40,000 itself, the combat shotguns used by the law enforcement officers of the Adeptus Arbites and Necromunda Enforcers are equipped with special Executioner rounds as standard. These rare, adamantium-tipped projectiles contain sensors and a primitive robotic brain that allow it to lock onto energy patterns and seek them out with unerring accuracy.
    • The closest thing the orks have to a smart projectile is the Grot Bomb, essentially a missile with a cockpit piloted by a gretchin so it can make crude corrections to its trajectory. The gretchin is not informed of what happens once it hits the target, but it does give some semblance of accuracy to the army that named More Dakka.

    Video Games 
  • Jumpman has projectiles that move slowly from the side of the screen. Once they are aligned (i.e. same horizontal/vertical position), they accelerate and move towards Jumpman. They only make one turn, and thus are easily dodged by moving.
  • The Red Shells and Spiny (aka. "Death-on-Swift-Wings-Comes-for-You") Shells in Mario Kart.
  • Worms, of course, offers homing missiles as well as exploding homing pigeons and a magic bullet that spell's instant death to who-ever is locked onto. Worms 2 had some special weapons that included a homing airstrike and a homing cluster grenade.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog himself can become this through the Homing Attack. Other characters can do it as well, such as Shadow, Amy, and Espio.
  • The upgraded single missile in Diddy Kong Racing.
  • In Chimera Beast your eater could evolve to have Extra Eyes on its body, which could then be fired out when you did your Charged Attack. They homed in on enemies.
  • Einhänder had an awesome version of this- the Wasp missiles homed in on both background AND foreground targets as well!
  • The homing laser beams and balls in Recca.
  • Tyrian has Heavy Guided Bombs and Guided Micro Bombs, the latter of which is dangerously close to a Game-Breaker as it was akin to Macross Missile Massacre.
  • The chaser weapon in Gunstar Heroes and Alien Soldier.
  • The homing missiles in Bangai-O Spirits.
  • The H weapon in Contra III and subsequent Contra games.
  • 'Homing' is one of your three weapons in Over Horizon, but with Weapon Edit you can give your other weapons minor homing tendencies as well.
  • The high-level missiles in Darius Gaiden and R-Type III home in on targets.
  • In the Hunt had the missiles weapon, which would home in on targets above the water surface.
  • The central mechanic of Rayforce is its lock-on laser beams. Similar beams appear in Ikaruga and Genetos.
  • Two of the weapons in Radiant Silvergun shoot homing projectiles.
  • Anti-Aircraft missiles are one of the more useful subweapons in Tetrastar.
  • Pretty much all of the Touhou games have this as an available shot-type, usually held by Reimu. They also occasionally have homing projectiles as enemies' attacks — most often in the form of bullets that periodically reorient themselves, but there are also projectiles with true homing, like Seiga's ball lightning.
  • Bubble Tanks 2 and 3 have seeker missile sub-weapons, which do a good amount of damage.
    • There's also the Doomsday Infector, which infects an enemy with a homing virus. The virus then starts sapping the enemy of health, and when the enemy dies, it releases 1-3 more of the virus to infect more enemies.
  • Rise of the Triad has, what else, the Heatseeker.
  • One of the weapons in the arsenal of Descent is homing missiles.
  • Unreal and Unreal Tournament have a homing missile as an alternate fire for their rocket launcher.
  • Rare's Banjo-Tooie featured a Homing Egg code.
  • The Castlevania series has had multiple projectiles of this type, including the Thunder Orbs used by Sypha in Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse and Yoko in Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow, the Spirits summoned by Alucard in Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and Charlotte in Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin, Carrie's magical fireballs in Castlevania 64, and the Homing Daggers used by Nathan in Shooter Mode of Castlevania: Circle of the Moon.
  • The Sharpshooters in Dragon Nest combine this with Beam Spam.
  • Missile type weapons in [PROTOTYPE] will just home in on targets, which can be good or bad depending on who's shooting them.
  • The Homing Missiles in Heavy Weapon, which only home in on air targets. There were also two kinds of annoying helicopters that fire homing missiles at you, jets with Deflector Shields that do the same, and 13 of the 19 bosses have some kind of homing missile attack.
  • Sektor of Mortal Kombat fame shoots homing missiles as a special move in Mortal Kombat 3 and Mortal Kombat 9, although in the latter it uses up a third of the Super Meter.
  • Amazons in Diablo II can fire homing arrows. An early bug combined this with the Piercing skill to make the arrows home onto an enemy, hit them, pass through them, then turn around and do it again.
    • Demon Hunters in Diablo III can do the same. Overlaps with Pinball Projectile when done in narrow passages, as it will look like the arrow bounces off the walls. In open spaces, however, the Demon Hunter can fire an arrow in the complete opposite direction of an enemy and the arrow will simply make a sharp turn mid-air and hit the enemy anyhow. Furthermore, the Demon Hunter has various skills that can also be upgraded with runes to fire homing rockets.
  • Throughout Halo:
    • Halo: Combat Evolved introduced franchise staples the Needler and Plasma Pistol.
    • Halo 2's Rocket Launcher can home in on vehicles, turrets, and Sentinel Enforcers.
    • Halo 3 and Halo 3: ODST have the Missile Pod, which is capable of Roboteching.
    • In Halo: Reach, the Rocket Launcher and Rocket Hog turret can home in on aircraft (which has carried over into subsequent games), the Banshee Bomb can lock on to vehicles and turrets, and the Plasma Launcher can lock onto both vehicles and infantry.
    • In Halo 4, the campaign version of the Mantis can fire homing missiles.
    • In Halo 5: Guardians, the Suppressor and Boltshot now fire tracking shots, with the Scattershot also able to do so if you first ricochet its shots off something. The campaign version of the Mantis can now lock onto multiple enemies with its missiles at once, though the standard multiplayer version can only do so against aircraft. Additionally, several REQ variant weapons/vehicles in Warzone have special lock-on capabilities.
  • Guns of Icarus includes homing rocket turrets.
  • Ace Combat has a variety of missiles for the player, ranging from the standard generic Missiles that can target anything and come in large numbers to more specialized long-range missiles that may do extra damage or lock on to multiple targets. Enemy pilots, especially ace pilots, can evade shots that aren't lined up properly.
    • Enemy aircraft, ships, and SAM units can launch missiles at the player. Their homing capabilities are about equal to the player's standard missiles.
  • The Bullet Bills in various 3D Mario games home in on Mario to varying degrees.
    • As well as the Missile Bills in the 2D games.
    • In New Super Mario Bros. Wii, Ludwig Van Koopa can shoot homing fireballs (thankfully much slower than regular fireballs).
  • Donkey Kong Country
  • One of Gruntilda's spells in Banjo-Kazooie can't be avoided without using invincibility.
  • The boss of stage 5 of Mr. Gimmick shoots slow homing missiles that block your attacks.
  • A fairly annoying attack by bosses in Darius games.
  • Many enemies, minibosses and bosses in the Mega Man franchise fire homing projectiles.
  • Serious Sam I has reptiloids and final boss of The First Encounter shooting these. In Serious Sam II the enemies shooting homing missiles include witches, helicopters and two types of sci-fi orcs.
  • In the similar Will Rock, two bosses (Hephaestus and Medusa) uses this.
  • The revenants in Doom launch missiles that the player has to get real creative to avoid.
  • Nearly all secondary weapons in FreeSpace — and some do Lead the Target.
  • Several of Shepard's powers in Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect 3 fire projectiles that home in on the target, allowing the powers to be fired in an arc around obstacles. Almost all of these powers when used by Shepard's squadmates instantly hit the target instead.
  • Team Fortress 2: Custom game mode "Dodgeball" has rockets which, unlike normal ones fired by the Soldier, home in on a player. The game is to use the Pyro's compression blast to deflect the rocket at the enemy team, who are trying to do the same.
  • If you get your Dark-Elf's Disease Bolt spell high enough in Champions of Norrath, it will home in and hit the nearest enemy.
  • Dark Souls: Projectile sorceries usually home on the locked enemy.
    • And in this game, even arrows veer mid-flight to better hit you.
  • Gun-type God Arcs in Gods Eater Burst can be loaded with homing bullets and lasers. Saves some frustration when you're trying to hit something fast-moving, but homing attacks target center of mass and so can't be used to aim at specific points on the Aragami.
  • Achieved accidentally as an artifact of the rendering engine in City of Heroes. Most single-target attacks have a visible effect that take a short time to reach their target, so if an attack that has been determined to be a hit goes off against a moving target, the visible effect (fire beam, energy blast, etc.) will arc to follow the target, no matter how fast it moves or how many turns it makes. It is sometimes possible, with a travel power at the speed cap or with Teleportation, depending on where you start, to reach a street exit to another zone and exit the zone before the visible blast hits you, although you will still take the damage from the attack.
  • A quasi-example: Raptor: Call of the Shadows has orange flak balls that are shot at your plane instead of the normal ones that are shot straight. A large majority of Mooks, airborne and grounded, use these on you, especially on the later levels and harder difficulties; these make them Goddamned Bats.
  • The best weapon pickup of Prehistorik Man was an egg that allowed the player to fire homing (and very damaging) dinosaurs at enemies.
  • Steel Diver: Sub Wars has homing torpedoes. Each sub can only fire three before needing to pick up homing torpedo pickups to replenish them, and homing torpedoes fire much slower than their non-homing counterparts.
  • Missile-type weaponry in both BattleZone FPS/RTS games generally have some homing mechanic. Fire-And-Forget missiles and Swarm missiles can be dumbfired and will home in on the nearest target, whereas the Shadower and Comet require a target lock. Depending on the missile type, they require either a visual or radar contact, allowing infrared or visual cloaking to fool certain types of missiles. Seeker mines will float towards the nearest enemy and detonate on contact.
  • Warframe's Buzlok rifle can fire a homing dart onto an enemy, which then causes all subsequent shots to arc towards the dart - even if the gun is fired in the opposite direction.
  • Homing missiles are an option in most of the Twisted Metal series, and even fire missiles have a limited ability to veer towards targets close to their trajectory. Spectre's ghost missiles will home in on you even if doing so makes them pass harmlessly through walls and road.
  • From the Depths: Most of the weapons fired from the missile system are capable of homing in on their target.
  • Earthworm Jim 2 had a weapon that fired homing projectiles that looked like homes.
  • In Evolve, the support hunter Bucket has a laser guided missile launcher as his primary weapon. Because the projectiles home on the laser rather than the monster, clever players can use this to lead the target or even shoot around obstacles. Another hunter, Emet, has a variant where you first fire a pellet that the rest of his missiles will home in on.
  • All ships in Star Wars Battlefront (2015), from the standard Rebel X-Wing to Darth Vader's TIE Advanced, come equipped with homing proton torpedos that can be fired after locking onto an enemy ship for a few seconds.
  • In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim's Dragonborn DLC, Seekers are a Cthulhumanoid form of lesser Daedra in service to Hermaeus Mora, the Daedric Prince of Knowledge. Seekers, befitting their name, can use ranged Vampiric Draining spells which home in their targets.
  • All missile weapons in Stellaris have 100% tracking, meaning they'll virtually never miss their target, and they're even capable of going after another one if the original victim is destroyed before they reach it. The only way to get rid of such a Super-Persistent Missile is by shooting it down with fighters or point defences, and even that's not foolproof since high-level missiles and torpedos can be more resilient and nimble than fighter craft, allowing them to tank or evade defensive fire until they strike home.
  • Treasure Planet: Battle at Procyon has Torpedoes and Mines. Torpedoes follow their target until they either hit something, run out of time and detonate, or are shot down by Point Defence Lancers. Mines act the same way except they don't start moving until an enemy moves close enough to activate them.
  • TerraTech allows the player to attach missile launchers to their vehicle. Missiles aim towards the nearest enemy and track them at high speed.
  • The Combat Rifle in Deus Ex: Human Revolution doesn't fire bullets, but flechettes. The gun can be given a weapon mod to give it lock-on capabilities, making your shots much more accurate and even has the flechettes curve past cover.
  • Metal Slug: From Metal Slug X onward, there is the Enemy Chaser (represented by a C icon), which are homing missiles that targets the nearest enemy with deadly accuracy. The missiles are weaker than the more common Rocket Launcher, but can come in handy in extremely tricky situations (such as when there are three fast-moving enemy speedboats right below the player which are extremely difficult to hit).
  • Mega Man Legends: Late in the game, Megaman can gain access to the Active Buster, a missile launcher that fires extremely fast-moving projectiles, whose homing capabilities can be upgraded even further.
  • The Missile Launcher from Jazz Jackrabbit fires heat-seeking missiles which change their flight paths to hit the nearest enemy. It's especially useful against the type of enemies that chase and attack the player when he gets too close to them.
  • Hiss demolition experts in Control launch missiles with annoyingly good tracking capabilities at Jesse, and since she's on foot the whole time, performing a precisely timed Flash Step High-Speed Missile Dodge is her only countermeasure except for catching the missile telekinetically and throwing it back at the shooter, which requires a skill that must be unlocked first. The Charge form of her Service Weapon also launches hi-ex missiles that display minor homing capabilities if the reticule was over the target when the shot was launched, so at least the missile spam is not entirely one-sided.
  • Mukade from Oni can unleash a glowing red spherical bullet that will steadily chase after Konoko no matter how far she runs, taking a very long time to disappear. This can be mitigated by the force shield you can obtain right before the lift leading to Mukade.
  • Several weapons in Star Control possess homing capability, and they're balanced in various ways to compensate. The Mycon's homing plasmoids travel very slowly and are quite easy to redirect into their source ship if they're travelling too fast; The Mmrnmhrm's homing missiles are very weak; the Human Cruiser's nuclear missiles turn in wide trajectories; and the Spathi's B.U.T.T. missiles are strictly weapons to use while retreating.
  • Zone 66: From the first level onwards, your plane will at times be targeted with self-guiding missiles.
  • Centipede (1998): The Anti-Air rocket will home in on airborne enemies if there are any nearby.
  • Cube Colossus: Missiles home into the enemy's position, and if released before enemies appear, they perform Roboteching to hit them.

    Web Animation 
  • DSBT InsaniT: Robo-Wolf and Guardromon can shoot missiles. They aren't super-persistent though.
  • RWBY: Though he tends to fire off projectiles in a normal fashion from his boots, Mercury is capable of manipulating the Dust by breakdancing while simultaneously shooting numerous bullets into the air, causing them to circle above his opponents before crashing down on top of them.

    Western Animation 
  • Ben 10: The series and the movie Destroy All Aliens has both homing and non-homing projectiles.

    Real Life 
  • A group of engineers at Sandia National Laboratories are working on developing a homing .50 sniper's bullet. They started by removing the rifling from the barrel and adding movable stabilizer fins to the round. Electronics inside the bullet allow it to home on its target, to a point (it obviously won't be able to turn back around if you miss).
  • In the meantime, the Italian and French navies already field it in their artillery: as their CISW doctrine calls for larger and longer-ranged guns in place of faster-firing but shorter-ranged weapons, the Italian firm OTO Melara (through its Otobreda branch) developed guided shells for their 76mm Super Rapid multi-purpose guns used by both navies, and, as the Italian Navy wanted more, developed a 127mm-caliber version and the new 127/64 Lightweight gun to fire it.
    • And to continue the long Italian tradition of Combat Pragmatism in an era where some of the earlier tricks are done by everyone or would be war crimes, Iveco (maker of the Centauro tank destroyer) and OTO Melara gave us the Porcupine: a prototype consisting of a Centauro chassis mated with a 155mm howitzer capable of firing homing shells to targets up to 60 km away. And the ability to hit the poor target with four of them at the same time. Let's face it, when the Italians go at war they're assholes.
      • Multiple Rounds, Simultaneous Impact is common in modern artillery systems.


Video Example(s):


Splatoon 2 - Torpedo

When it detects an enemy after being thrown, the Torpedo unfolds in midair and homes in on the target.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (5 votes)

Example of:

Main / HomingProjectile

Media sources:

Main / HomingProjectile