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Human Shield

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Unfortunately for him, Jack doesn't play by that rule.

Dobson: [holds a gun to River's head and uses her as a shield] I'm not playing anymore. If anyone so much as moves—
[Mal walks in and shoots Dobson in the eye]

A shield is a protective device, meant to intercept attacks. Attacks are usually accomplished with things such as bullets and swords, both of which are designed to penetrate flesh. So using a shield made out of flesh would seem like a fairly silly idea. However, make sure that the flesh belongs to someone important to your attacker, and all of a sudden, they become strangely reluctant to attack you.

If your attacker is heroic enough, then any old Innocent Bystander will do; their contract states that no matter how evil you might be, they can't even hurt the poor victim in order to get to you. For less idealistic opponents, you might need to go one better and capture their Sidekick, partner, friends or family. If you want to make really sure, make it their Love Interest.

If you've chosen wisely, then The Hero will now be unable to attack you without risking harm to your hostage. Hold a knife to their throat, and they can't even risk looking like they're going to attack. You now have the power to demand the hero disarms themselves, hands over anything you demand or even to die to save the hostage. And all you had to do was use some good old Cower Power. Hey, whatever works.

Don't let the power go to your head though. The Anti-Hero might just be tempted to shoot you anyway, even if it means a little collateral damage. And if The Hero is skilled enough or a good enough shot, they might just be able to take you out without harming your hostage. Also, actually following through with your "stop or I'll shoot" threat is seldom a good strategy, as this might lead to unfortunate repercussions; not only have you enraged the hero even more, but now you've literally wasted the one thing keeping him at bay (though for some reason the hero will almost never call your bluff on this one). And last, but not least, keep in mind that your "shield" is actually a living and usually hostile being, eager to bite you in the back of the hand or kick you in the groin the moment you lower your guard. Indeed, a knowledgeable hostage can feign fainting, and force you to not only control your weapon but a heavy chunk of deadweight; this is very effective but very rare, both in fiction and, alas, in Real Life.

Villains aren't the only ones who make use of Human Shields — Antiheroes are prone to using Mooks this way, especially as cover during the heat of a shootout, and the most vicious of them will use their enemy's loved ones to stay their hand long enough to get a shot in. A hero who tries this is apt to use it to try to defuse a villain's use of this by taking one of the villain's associates hostage, but as villains are a callous and vicious lot, expect the villain to put a bullet through the skull of the hero's hostage, just to illustrate just how evil he or she is.

A Sister Trope is Bulletproof Human Shield, where your attacker(s) callously open fire anyway — only to have their shots blocked by the victim you're holding. The distinction is psychological protection ("You wouldn't dare hurt this innocent victim!") versus physical protection. See also Safety in Muggles, where the mere presence of non-Masquerade persons stops a confrontation cold.

You don't have to be directly hiding behind someone for them to be a human shield. For example, filling your Supervillain Lair with kidnapped orphans is a good way of stopping the good guys from bombing it, so long as you remember to tell them about it. And if you want to pull a Wounded Gazelle Gambit against The Hero to turn the forces of good against him, you might use your own civilians as shields for something the hero cannot afford to let stand.

If someone suddenly volunteers to be a human shield by flinging themselves between what's shooting and what's being shot at, it's Go Through Me. If the human shield is ordered to stand there by a commander, that's Ordered to Die. This trope is the less deliberate cousin to Hostage Situation.

Contrast Draw Aggro (characters using themselves to get others out of danger).

Examples of psychological human shields:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Subverted at the beginning of Beet the Vandel Buster Beltorze grabs Beet during a battle with the Zenon Knights. They think he's trying to use Beet as a hostage. Beltorze dismisses that notion rather quickly when he mortally wounds Beet right off the bat and uses the distraction to launch a powerful attack against the Knights.
  • In the manga of Berserk Guts has used kids as a shield and/or hostage on at least two separate occasions. Puck objects quite strongly to both instances, though they do come out unscathe.
    • In the "Guardians of Desire", he used the Count's daughter Theresia to ward off an attack by her monstered-out father.
    • In the "Lost Children" arc, he used a kid to lure a bunch of child-abducting Apostle-spawn away from a village so he could kill them. The kids ends up wetting himself by the time it's over.
  • Subverted in the manga Black Cat. Eve (a nanomachine bioweapon who also happens to be a 7-year-old girl) convinces a criminal to let go of an infant and take her hostage instead, quickly saving the day.
  • The first episode of Black Lagoon has Revy using one of the Extra Order mercs as a shield during the shootout at the Yellow Flag, then killing him as they made their escape. Judging by the fact he was apparently uninjured until that point, the slightly-more-bad guys were probably reluctant to shoot him or had poor aim.
  • Played for laughs in Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo: Bobobo usually uses his own allies as the human shields, and the villains, more often than not, aim directly for their faces or completely ignore them and punch Bobobo (Usually the former, since the two he uses are the butt monkeys).
  • A favorite tactic against Mikoto in A Certain Scientific Railgun, who is sufficiently idealistic that people have successfully used their own Mooks
  • An interesting twist in City Hunter. Ryo Saeba gets the drop on a bad guy in a restaurant with his .357 Magnum. The Mook opens the curtains behind him, pointing out the crowded Tokyo street, and taunts Saeba with the fact that if he opens fire, the bullet will cut through the mook and undoubtedly hit a passer-by. Ryo proves how badass he is by shooting THROUGH his own hand, slowing the bullet down just enough to kill the bad guy and still not hurt any bystanders.
  • During the Final Battle of Code Geass, Lelouch uses a large group of world leaders he had kidnapped during a peace meeting (including women and children) as human shields to prevent Schneizel from using his super weapon on him right from the start of the battle. The twist is that while Schneizel couldn't care less about the hostages, his new allies, The Black Knights, do. In the end, The Black Knights get Schneizel to refrain from using his super-weapon in favor of more conventional tactics, while Lelouch is sitting on the bridge of his flagship sneering with glee.
  • Subverted in the Cowboy Bebop episode "Ballad of Fallen Angels", in which one of Vicious' henchmen thinks he can convince Spike to surrender by using Faye as a human shield, without realizing Spike has no qualms about such things. He ends up with a bullet in his head mid-sentence. It happens again at the beginning of Cowboy Bebop: Knockin' on Heaven's Door.
  • Used twice in Deadman Wonderland: Shiro is Ganta's human shield during the Dog Race (he doesn't realize it and is shocked when he sees how much damage she took for him); Minatsuki uses her own brother as a human shield during her Carnival Corpse match against Ganta.
  • Dragon Ball:
    • In the Red Ribbon Army Saga, Goku once went to rescue the leader of Jingle Village. At some point, General White used the leader as a human shield. Said leader then delivered a "Don't mind me" speech but changed his mind upon seeing Goku's reaction.
    • At the climax of the Great Demon King Piccolo Saga, Piccolo used Tenshinhan as a meat shield and threatened to crush the latter's skull if Goku attacked him. While Tenshinhan also delivered a "Don't mind me" speech, Goku considered attacking Piccolo on the basis that Shenlong could revive Tenshinhan. Unfortunately, Great Demon King Piccolo told Goku that he already killed Shenlong, thus preventing him from attacking him. While all of that was happening, Piccolo blew rocks at Goku to injure two of his limbs and making them unusable for the remainder of the fight.
    • Done in the Dragon Ball Super manga by Zamasu during the final showdown with Goku. As the former is slowly being disintegrated by an imitation of a God of Destruction's Hakai technique, he takes Future Mai and places her in front of him, forcing Goku to cancel the attack and back away.
  • In the manga of Elfen Lied, Lucy uses the Cute Clumsy Girl secretary Kisaragi in this fashion just before decapitating her. In the anime, it's reversed: she kills poor Kisaragi, then uses her corpse as a shield. Of course, in both cases this is merely an act of cruelty, as her vectors protected her from gunfire.
  • Subverted in Fullmetal Alchemist, where a weakened Envy tries to take over Yoki's body but finds that everyone else simply does not care about his fate, with even the cheerful Al and May Chang cheering his "heroic sacrifice".
    • Also used twice in later chapters as a subterfuge, with Scar pretending to run off with Winry and Edward's 'bodyguards' taking him hostage in front of soldiers who couldn't recognize him. ("How could you involve such a small child!")
  • Hougen does this in Ginga Densetsu Weed by using another dog from his pack as a shield to stop Weed's Battouga. Hougen survives the attack. His packmate, however...doesn't.
  • Goblin Slayer: When the goblin horde are about to invade Cow Girl's village, the goblins use shields with their naked, raped, and tortured prisoners attached to them. However, Goblin Slayer already anticipated their strategy and with the help of the guild adventurers, they used sleep magic to make the frontline goblins fall asleep and bring the girls to safety (while they are still attached to the shields) before the battle can begin. This strategy seems to be very common among the goblins, considering that the Goblin Lord's entire plan was completely predicted by Goblin Slayer who has fought so many of them that he knows exactly what they are going to do, even without confirming beforehand that they would use meat shields. Hobgoblins have resorted to this trope more than once, but since they are not used to wielding shields at all, they are susceptible to Groin Attacks, which is pretty fatal for goblins.
  • Gunslinger Girl:
    • Marco finds himself facing a Padania terrorist holding his ex-girlfriend, knowing that Marco's eye damage will prevent him risking a shot. Angelica blinds the terrorist with a torch attached to her handgun, providing a distraction so the hostage can break free.
    • When Dante uses Jean as a shield, Jean orders Rico to kill him so she can get her shot at killing the most wanted man in Italy as well in the process.
  • Subverted in Hellsing. The first baddie we're introduced to takes future co-star, Seras Victoria hostage as a human shield... only to have Badass Longcoat Alucard blast a gaping hole through her chest to kill him, and then turn her into a vampire afterwards. Granted, he did have to confirm that she was a virgin first. If she wasn't, she would've become a ghoul instead.
  • J. Geil in JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders is somewhat fond a variation on this tactic. Since his stand, the Hanged Man, can only manifest and attack people through reflections, he causes his stand to jump into the reflections in people's eyes, holding them hostage and allowing him to attack his victims with impunity unless they're fine with killing innocent people. Fortunately, when he tries the same stunt on Polnareff and Kakyoin, they eventually just kick sand into the hostage's eyes, causing them to close their eyes and forcing the Hanged Man to jump to a different reflection (while being vulnerable in-between reflections.)
  • Ayano uses Ren as a human shield against Kazuma in episode 7 of Kaze no Stigma. However, the scene is largely played for laughs, and neither Ren nor Kazuma take her seriously.
  • A Flash Back in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS shows a desperate knife-wielding thug using a little girl as a Human Shield to hold back the police. The police do the smart thing and let the sniper with Improbable Aiming Skills secretly take him out with a bullet that does Magical Damage. Unfortunately the guy turns at just the wrong moment and the sniper hits the little girl in the eye. Worse, the hostage was the sniper's little sister, causing much emotional trauma.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny had the unusual twist of Shinn Asuka using himself as a Human Shield during his attempt to defeat Kira Yamato. Shinn's friend and teammate Rey, after studying data from past battles, realized that Kira has a no-kill policy, instead trying to disable enemy mecha. Shinn takes advantage of this by deliberately positioning his Gundam so that Kira's attacks would become deathblows if they connected, which forced Kira to constantly second-guess his actions and contributed to his defeat.
  • My Hero Academia: Overhaul uses a little girl as a shield against Mirio. But since Mirio has Intangibility, he just punches through the girl, leaving her completely unharmed.
  • Naruto: In a desperate move, and after he runs out of Sharingan to spam Izanagi, Danzo takes Karin hostage and hides behind her to prevent Sasuke from attacking him. Sasuke simply stabs through them both without a care.
  • During the Kyoto Arc of Negima! Magister Negi Magi, Chigusa tries to use a kidnapped Konoka as a human shield. Unfortunately for her, it backfired in a rather spectacular fashion, as Setsuna takes threatening Konoka really personal.
    • It happens again much later in the manga when Tsukiyomi Attacks the crew on Haru's airship, but is stopped by Negi, fresh from his training to complete Magia Erebia. She escapes Negi's grip by trying to cut his arm off, which he dodges by turning into lightning. She then tries to use Nodoka as a Human Shield, but before the can follow through is punched in the gut by the arm she just tried to sever.
  • In Noir Kirika grabs a Soldat mook for this while dispatching his comrades, and then once they're all dead offs him with a bullet to the head without missing a beat or even bothering to glance at him. Given Kirika is in "True Noir" mode while this happens it clearly communicates that she's not fucking around.
  • Luffy from One Piece is a rare example of a protagonist who has done this on occasion. But then again, he IS a pirate. Even one of his attacks is called Gomu Gomu no Human Shield, where he grabs someone by random to block an attack.
    • When Luffy uses his Gomu Gomu no Baloon to bounce one of Buggy's town-destroying cannonballs back, Buggy and Cabaji use their own men as shields to take the brunt of the explosion.
    • Not quite "human", but Nami uses Chopper as a shield when she thinks Zoro is about to attack her in the Punk Hazard arc.
    • To show just what kind of people the Vinsmokes are, they have a technique called "Shield", where one of their men will automatically leap in front of them to take whatever blow is coming their way. It's later revealed that the Vinsmoke children are genetically enhanced fighters with incredibly tough skin that's Immune to Bullets, which makes this technique outright petty.
  • Cattleya of Queen's Blade often uses a small boy as her shield. Said small boy is her son Rana. The weird part is that Rana agrees to this tactic.
  • Rebuild World:
    • In an incident when Sheryl's base is being robbed, this is used twice. Akira kicks a robber in a Ceiling Smash and then uses his unconscious body as this before attacking the other three in the first fire team. When Akira ambushes the other four robbers stacked up to breach a door, the leader Zelmo uses the other three as human shields who get turned to Ludicrous Gibs or Blown Across the Room despite their Powered Armor. Zelmo criticizes Akira for the cruelty of using Anti-Armor rounds on them like that, to which Akira calls him out for being a Hypocrite since he just used his own men as shields.
    • Tiol ends up using Yumina as one of these and The Bait to lure Katsuya, but Akira manages to shoot around her and free her.
  • Played for Laughs in Saber Marionette J Again. Bloodberry gets into a fight with Panther, who grabs a support beam to use as a weapon. Bloodberry breaks into Hanagata's house and after asking Yumeji to "borrow his brother for a bit", uses Hanagata as a shield from Panther's attacks.
  • Saint Seiya: During the Poseidon arc (at least in the anime), every time Seiya tried to hit Poseidon with an arrow, the arrow came back at him. At some time, Shaina volunteered herself as a shield but he switched positions so he'd be her shield. Shiryu then served as a shield for both while complimenting Seiya for refusing to use a woman as a human shield.
  • To Love Ru Darkness: Azenda the Tyrant telekinetically interposes an unconscious Mikan between herself and Yami whenever the latter tries to attack her. Since Mikan is Yami's best friend and Yami could kill her with a single hit, this forces Yami to fight defensively in a losing battle.

    Comic Books 
  • Victor Ray from 100 Bullets uses the dying body of one of his criminal partners as a human shield while fighting off numerous armed thugs.
  • Played straight and subverted in the Astro City "Confessor" story arc. Kevin, the protagonist, is working as a busboy when a C-rate villain attacks and grabs him as a Human Shield. The patrons (who are all superheroes in civilian guise) hesitate to attack, but Kevin breaks free and knocks out the crook with a roundhouse kick.
  • In the Batman story arc Lovers and Madmen, Jack, a new and upcoming criminal, and his gang are robbing a fundraiser when Batman arrives. Jack rushes to find a human shield, taking care to choose. By complete coincidence, the person he finally chooses is Bruce Wayne's current Love Interest. Batman backs off, but Jack stabs her anyway, then flees. Batman doesn't give chase, instead rushing to the injured woman's side, but, in a fit of rage, he uses a Batarang to give Jack a large Glasgow Smile. Guess which well-known villain Jack soon becomes?
  • Code Name: Gravedigger: In Men of War #16, Von King ties Gravedigger to main gun of a panzer as a human shield: forcing his allies to either kill him by firing at the tank or risk their own lives by holding off.
  • In Copperhead Clay takes his interviewer Martineau hostage and menaces her to get past the guards and escape. It's made all the more frustrating because she specifically signed away her right to protection so exactly this wouldn't happen.
  • In ElfQuest, Big Bad Winnowill uses the main character's child this way. Amusingly, she goes on insisting her elfin shield is foolproof even after series badass Strongbow has proven otherwise in a fairly significant manner.
  • In Judge Dredd, the Judges' standard sidearm has a special ammunition for this situation, Ricochet, which is specifically designed to do special trick shots to hit a hostage-taker by bouncing the rounds off a back wall to hit the assailant. Depending on the writer, they might not even care. Taking down a perp is more important than not hurting a bystander (most judges consider non-judge citizens "potential perps" anyway). And, of course, its usefulness depends on the judge. While Dredd is able to get this trick to work every time he tries it, to a point where it's considered a trademark shot of his in the department, other judges are not guaranteed to pull this off.
    • Judge Heller, for example, totally messes this up and hits a seemingly random bystander, who turns out to be the perp's accomplice by sheer luck.
    • Judge Anderson is so concerned about protecting innocents that she didn't dare it when Judge Death (who requires some extraordinary firepower to take down to begin with, being undead) used a mother and her baby as a meat shield, which ended quite badly.
    • Dredd himself is one of the rare cases to call the bluff, as mentioned above: if the hostage dies, the hostage-taker has no protection and another murder rap.
  • Nexus's beam power has a special property to deal with a human shield: the beam can literally steer around any obstacle to hit its target.
  • Subverted in the back story of the Saint of Killers from Garth Ennis's Preacher. When the Saint (not yet known as such) tracks down the gang leader indirectly responsible for the death of his family, the gang leader shields himself with an Innocent Bystander. However, by this time the Saint has become so completely consumed with hate that he shoots the bystander anyway. Doubly subverted when it turns out that was his last bullet, and the gang leader shoots him dead, sending him to Hell to become the Saint. When he comes back as the Saint he butchers the entire town. One guy even shoves his own daughter in front of him, begging the Saint to take her and let him live. Doesn't save any of them.
  • Garth Ennis' run on The Punisher featured two notable instances: the first from The Punisher: Welcome Back, Frank where a mook in a morgue hides behind a dead body (Frank shoots up both), and later when facing the Russian on a skyscraper and Spider-Man keeps trying to intervene, getting knocked out. Frank grabs Spidey and uses his Made of Iron body to absorb the Russian's blows until he can get him off balance.
  • In Ratchet & Clank (2010) Artemis Zogg threatens to shoot Talwyn Apogee, (in front of the galactic authorities and Ratchet) whom he just escaped with along with Vorn Garblak, in an escape pod which crashed in her space station moments before the ship it came from got blown up by missiles.
  • Red Sonja often fights outnumbered. She uses this trope tactically, keeping a melee-fighting enemy between herself and archers in the back row. She will sometimes hold an enemy body to block such fire, but usually after she's killed it herself.
  • In the IDW Transformers graphic novel Autocracy, an almost exact duplicate of the scene from the movie occurs. However, in this continuity, Hot Rod has Super-Speed, and ducks out of Megatron's grasp after sticking about a dozen grenades to him. (The author also worked on the movie and felt bad that he'd made Hot Rod look like an idiot.)
  • One of the superheroes trying out for the team in Wildguard: Casting Call is called Human Shield, an invulnerable man who can create powerful forcefields.
  • X-Men:
    • Morbius the Living Vampire does this once when he faces off with the X-Men. He snatches Jean Grey and threatens to snap her neck unless Cyclops backs off. Scott just adjusts his glasses a bit and fires behind Morbius, striking a mirror and causing his eye-beams to re-direct into the vampire's back.
    • The situation is reversed in Ultimate X-Men when Cyclops is taken as the Human Shield. This time, he bounces the beam off of Colossus' face.
    • Another baddie tries to use Cyclops' brother, Havok, as a hostage which results in Cyclops blasting both of them without hesitation. The brothers are immune to each other's powers.

    Fan Works 
  • In Aeon Entelechy Evangelion the soldiers are trained to ignore human hostages.
  • Cheating Death: Those That Lived: While fleeing from the Capitol during the Rebellion, Ron ties loyalist victor Anchor to his back as a human shield, with Anchor being hit by dozens of shots that were meant for Ron.
  • In the RWBY fanfic Black Rose Admirer the title team arrives at a bank robbery and proceeds to beat the thieves. One is left standing and takes one of the hostages as a shield. Ruby uses her semblance to neutralize the criminal. Unfortunately for her this has a downside.
  • In chapter 15 of Blind Courage, a lizalfos grabs Baby to use as a shield against Ganondorf. When Baby bites him, he drops her.
  • Dungeon Keeper Ami: In Ambush, when the party is being ambushed by goblins:
    [Ami] felt herself pulled toward [Jared] roughly, and then used as a human shield.
    “EVERYONE STOP!” Jered shouted, causing an interruption in the melee as the combatants turned to look at him. Incidentally, this also postponed the meeting between the blue-haired girl’s heel and his crotch.
    “GOBLINS! Harm this girl, and you will draw the direct and personal ire of a Keeper!” he shouted.
  • Tom describes himself as one a few times in Eleutherophobia; the Yeerks used him to get the morphing tech because none of them expected Jake to be willing to (almost) kill his own brother.
  • In Getting It Right, Aizen tries to use Orihime as a shield against Ichigo; it works, but his plan still backfires on him when Orihime grabs Zangetsu and plunges it through her chest into Aizen leaving him seriously wounded. Sadly Orihime's wound is fatal and she soon dies afterwards.
  • With This Ring: Sabbac Three uses a human, transformed by Devil Jizz into a giant centipede, as a shield against Paul (who doesn't want to kill bystanders, even if they've been stupid enough to use Devil Jizz). Sabbac's own disregard for his shield is clear when he pulls out handfuls of its corrosive internal fluids to throw at Paul, and Paul actually has to shield the centipede to stop him. However, the transformation also means that the centipede can survive being shot, provided it receives prompt medical attention, so Paul doesn't have much trouble shooting Sabbac anyway.

    Films — Animation 
  • In Hey Arnold! The Jungle Movie, Lasombra comes across the same traps Arnold, Helga, and Gerald got through while trying to hunt them down. He gets through the arrow trap by using one of his lackeys to shield himself from the poison arrows so that he dies instead of Lasombra.
  • The Incredibles:
    • An inverted example: Mr. Incredible takes Syndrome's right-hand woman Mirage hostage in retribution for the "death" of his family. Syndrome, being a narcissistic and sociopathic villain showed his true colours and called his bluff, saying she meant nothing to him. Of course being a hero, Mr. Incredible didn't kill her, and she went on to betray Syndrome for total lack of caring by helping Mr. Incredible and his family escape. When she calls Syndrome out on this, his response is basically to shrug and say that he knew Mr. Incredible wouldn't really hurt her, but his callous attitude cements her later decision to betray him.
    Mirage: Next time you gamble, bet your own life!
    • Helen stretches herself over Violet and Dash to protect them when her plane explodes.
    • At the end of the movie, Syndrome's plane comes crashing down on The Incredibles. Although Violet was able to put up a force field in the nick of time, when the smoke clears, you can see that Bob has thrown himself around his entire family, cradling them and fully expecting to take the brunt of the impact.
  • In Lilo & Stitch, to prevent from being captured by Jumba, Stitch disguises himself as a dog and gets himself adopted by Lilo, knowing that Pleakley wouldn't let Jumba use his Plasma Cannon while he was with a human.
  • At the climax of The Powerpuff Girls Movie, Mojo Jojo drags Professor Utonium back to his lair in order to use him for this purpose after realizing that the girls are quickly discovering the full, butt-kicking potential of their powers and there's no way he'll stand a chance against them in his current state. He even refers to the man out loud as a "good Powerproof vest." It ends up working, as the girls are scared enough to not attack, and Mojo buys himself enough time to inject himself with a ton of additional Chemical X, becoming a gigantic, all-powerful beast that's more than strong enough to fight them.
  • In South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut, the General of the American forces reveals that he's planning to use all colored soldiers as human shields to protect the white soldiers from the Canadian forces. He goes so far as to call it "Operation: Human Shield" and "Operation: Get Behind the Darkies" respectively. Chef obviously takes offense at that and commands his men to duck.
  • In Transformers: The Movie, Megatron does this with Hot Rod when he foolishly tackles the bigger and stronger Decepticon leader to prevent him from pulling a concealed weapon on Optimus Prime. This causes Optimus to hesitate and allows Megatron to fatally wound him.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Very much subverted in 3:10 to Yuma (2007), where a Pinkerton Detective Faking the Dead attempts to use a member of Magnificent Bastard Ben Wade's gang as a human shield. Since Wade figures that the mook should have checked to be sure the Pinkerton was dead before he started looting and made himself vulnerable, he calmly shoots them both.
  • While not exactly a Human Shield, in 48 Hrs., Ganz gets Jack to drop his gun by threatening a wounded cop. Since Ganz kills the cop anyway, when he uses Reggie as a true Human Shield at the end of the movie, Jack just kills him.
  • Another 48 Hours: Jack shoots the bad guy through Reggie.
  • Against All Flags: As Roc attempts to sail out of Diego Suarez under the British guns, he has the Princess Patma tied to the rails of his ship so that the British dare not fire.
  • Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery. Alotta Fagina captures Vanessa Kensington off-camera and brings her along to use as a shield while facing off with Austin. Austin retaliates by taking Dr. Evil's son Scott Evil as a hostage, whereupon Dr. Evil tells Austin to "Kill the little bastard. See what I care".
  • Beverly Hills Cop. Axel Foley finds the Big Bad Victor Maitland holding Axel's friend Jenny Summers in front of him.
    Maitland: Be careful, old boy. You might hit me.
  • One of the most brilliant subversions is Blazing Saddles. To escape the bigoted mob of the town that he has just been appointed sheriff of, Bart takes himself hostage. The townspeople, of course, believe that he'll actually do it and stand down. "Ooh, baby, you are so talented! And they are so dumb!"
  • Blind Fury:
    • Nick grabs Lyle Pike and holds him in front of him when Lyle's brother Tector is trying to shoot him. Tector ends up shooting Lyle by mistake.
    • Cobb shoves another Mook in front of him to try and keep Nick from stabbing him in the climax. It only delays the inevitable.
  • An interesting variant in Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter, in which Kronos finds himself in a swordfight with a vampire while his opponent's mesmerised daughter is standing motionless nearby. After losing his sword, Kronos dodges behind the daughter and uses her as cover.
  • Discussed and applied in Con Air by Cyrus during the shootout between him and the DEA agent on board.
    Cyrus: "You know, the next time you choose a human shield, you're better off not picking a two-bit negro crackhead."
  • The 1988 film Deadly Pursuit (aka Shoot to Kill). The antagonist has the elderly wife of a jeweler hostage, threatening to kill her unless he gets a cache of diamonds. FBI agent Warren Stantin walks over to make the exchange, tossing the bag towards the door, but only a short distance so he'll be forced to leave cover to get it. Instead the villain picks up the small, frail woman and carries her to the bag. This has the added advantage of preventing the police (and the audience) from seeing his face, saving The Reveal for later on in the film.
  • Evil candidate Stillson in The Dead Zone does this by holding a baby in front of himself to stop Johnny from assassinating him (in an attempt to save humanity, as Stillson was going to start World War III once in office). This both saves and dooms him, with an iconic photo of the incident appearing on the cover of Newsweek under the headline "No Future for Stillson", leading him to commit suicide.
  • Played with by Phoenix in Demolition Man. Rather than let the militaristic LAPD of the time just blow up his absurdly conspicuous mansion hideout, he takes a Bus Full of Innocents hostage. He uses this to stay Spartan's hand when they encounter one another. When Phoenix blows the building, Spartan gets the blame for killing the civilians. Turns out the hostages were already dead. But given that it just results in Spartan being available to release and fight him in the future it didn't go so well for Phoenix.
  • In Dennis the Menace, this is Switchblade Sam's motive for kidnapping the titular character.
    Dennis: What does a hostage have to do?
    Sam: Nothing.
    Dennis: Then how come you need one?
    Sam: In case the cops show up!
    Dennis: Do I get to use a gun?
    Sam: No, you get to stand in front of me in case the cops use a gun.
  • In Die Another Day, James Bond is using a virtual reality training simulation in which a terrorist uses M as a Human Shield. His solution is to shoot M in the arm, causing her to jerk out of the way enough for him to get a clean shot at the terrorist.
  • Dirty Harry:
    • At the end of the first film, the Ax-Crazy Scorpio Killer uses a boy as a human shield. Detective Callahan simply shoots him in the shoulder (given the range and the fact that the boy was too small to provide a lot of protection, Callahan could've put a bullet in Scorpio's chest or his head). Callahan then proceeds to give Scorpio one last chance to surrender and then puts a bullet through him.
    • In The Enforcer, the terrorist leader tries using the Mayor as a human shield, dragging him up a guard tower on Alcatraz. Fortunately the Mayor refuses to go all the way up the ladder, enabling Dirty Harry to blow the terrorist up with a LAWS rocket.
  • In District 9, Wikus grabs a scientist who was about to eviscerate him around the neck and keeps him there under the threat of cutting out his eyes with a scalpel. The guns that are trained on him are put down.
  • What about Lieutenant Sheckil, using Princess Leia as a shield during The Empire Strikes Back, while she screamed, "Luke, don't, it's a trap!"
  • Escape to Athena (1979). During the uprising in the village, the SS officer seizes a young Greek boy as cover, only to have him saved by the German officer played by Roger Moore, who's so outraged he knocks out the SS officer and herds the boy to safety.
  • An interesting variation in Exam with the security guard, who is more of a Living Prop whom White drags around with him so he can manipulate the guard's weapon.
  • Lampshaded in Fear is the Key (1973). The Villain Protagonist is in a parking lot with the woman he's just taken hostage. She gets her hopes up when she sees two policemen checking out the cars. The villain promptly does a Fakeout Makeout, whispering in her ear, "First I'll shoot the fat one. And when the other's trying to figure out how to shoot me without hitting you, I'll shoot him." As a result, she doesn't shout for help.
  • Cornelius ends up being one of these in The Fifth Element. He was saved by Korben's Improbable Aiming Skills.
    • "Anybody else want to negotiate?"
  • In the final showdown in Forty Guns, Brockie uses Jessica as a human shield: mockingly telling Griff that he wants to see him shoot through her to get to him. To Brockie's surprise, Griff does just that: wounding Jessica in such a way that Brockie cannot hold her up. This forces him to drop her and leave himself exposed.
  • The Fugitive. While the U.S. Marshals are searching a house for one of the fugitive prisoners, the prisoner grabs one of them and uses him to prevent Gerard from shooting him. Gerard uses basic tactical skills to flank the hostage-taker and shoot him from the side not covered by the hostage.
  • The Funhouse Massacre: When Morgan and Gerardo confront Jeffrey "Animal The Cannibal" Rameses, Morgan immediately hides behind Gerardo, who asks why he's using him as this.
  • At the end of The Great St. Louis Bank Robbery, Egan forces his way out of the bank, using a teller as a human shield, but is shot down by the police.
  • The Green Mile - a well done adaptation from its entry in 'literature', below. It features Tom Hanks as the guard captain (who also receives a Groin Attack to ensure his aim is spoiled) and David Morse as "Brutal" Howell.
  • In Heat, Michael Cheritto attempts this as a means of last resort during a chase. Lt. Hanna shoots him anyway.
  • Simon Skinner from Hot Fuzz tries this by grabbing a random child and pointing a gun at his head. The kid promptly bites him on the hand, whereupon Angel jumps him.
    "Don't move or the ginger nut gets it...ARRGH, YOU LITTLE FUCKER!"
    • There's a couple of these. Angel tries taking Danny hostage when the truth about the NWA is revealed, but Danny's father the Chief Inspector calls his bluff. After his Face–Heel Turn the Inspector does the same thing to his son. Angel also doesn't think he'll do it; instead CI Butterman tries to shoot Angel, giving Danny a chance to disarm him.
  • Cato manages to do this with the implied intention of invoking a Taking You with Me to Peeta against Katniss in the film adaptation of The Hunger Games near the climax.
  • In Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Indy's love interest (Dr Elsa Schneider) is used as a human shield by one of the Nazis, prompting Indy to drop his gun and surrender. She is immediately revealed to be a 'Nazi Stooge'.
  • Subverted in Iron Man; when Tony starts laying into the terrorists attacking Gulmira, a bunch of them grab some nearby unarmed women and children and hold them at gunpoint. Unfortunately for them, Tony designed his armor with such a situation in mind and promptly uses his targeting system to shoot them all without touching the hostages at all.
  • Johnny Mnemonic: Unlike most examples of this trope, where a villain resorting to this would typically appear to be already beaten, at a point during the movie's action climax when Shinji already has the upper hand and an unarmed Johnny at bay, one of his Mooks carries out Jane, now a hostage, held at gunpoint. Humorously, this situation ends with Jane elbowing her captor in the abdomen, who folds up like an umbrella—without also reflexively tensing up his trigger finger and subsequently blowing Jane's head off and despite wearing a full upper body bullet-proof vest, which is designed, after all, to absorb and redistribute kinetic energy.
  • Played tactically in Kate near the end, when she grabs a mook who gets too close, uses him to block shots while she fires on distant enemies, then kicks him back for his own kill shot.
  • Last Train from Gun Hill: When Belden's men try shooting at Morgan through the hotel window, Morgan pushes the bed that he has handcuffed Belden's son Rick to in front of the window to get them to stop.
  • Subverted in Lethal Weapon when Riggs is taken hostage during a drug bust by one of the dealers. Riggs immediately starts shouting at the officers to just shoot him, which caused the situation to get chaotic enough to distract the dealer enough for Riggs to take him down. (Of course, it bears mentioning that Riggs is suicidal...)
  • Both heroes and villains use this tactic in Mad Max: Fury Road. The most notable occasion is when Splendid Angharad opens the War Rig's door and displays her pregnant body, knowing Immortan Joe won't risk shooting his unborn child. Furiosa uses the opportunity to shoot Joe instead, only for one of his fanatical followers to throw himself in front of the bullets. Another notable occasion is in the Final Battle, where Max uses the People Eater as his human shield when Joe shoots at him.
  • A Man Called Sledge: When he and gang are caught scouting out the town of Rockville, Sledge grabs Sheriff Ripley and uses him as a human shield to force his way out of town; knowing that the deputies won't dare shoot at him while he is holding the sheriff.
  • Men in Black. In the morgue, the Bug grabs Laurel (the medical examiner) and uses her as a shield to prevent being shot by Agents J and K.
  • In the final battle in Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, Ethan knows Lane wants him alive so Ethan makes himself the shield between Lane's men and Ilsa, shielding her while she stands behind him picking them off until they get the room to make a break for it.
  • The Mountie opens In Medias Res with Pachek using Cleora as a human shield and demanding that Corporal Grayling reveal himself.
  • Played with in The Naked Gun movies. In one scene, the villain grabs the hero's girlfriend and places a gun to her head prompting Leslie Nielsen (the hero) to grab a random woman and place a gun to her head, as if such an act would stop the villain. In another scene, the heroes interrupt a formal banquet and announce their intention to capture the villain. This prompts about half a dozen suited men in the audience to stand up and grab the women closest to them to use as human shields. When the suited men finally realize the heroes aren't talking about them they release the women and sheepishly sit back down.
  • In Night of the Comet, two Valley girls help themselves to some merch in a department store, not knowing that the former stockboys, now "owners of the store," can see them. When one of the girls is taken hostage, the other takes one of the stockboys hostage, using him as a shield. When their leader mentions "I can't have you holding one of my men hostage," he proceeds to kill the guy.
  • Nikita. After waking up Not Quite Dead, Nikita beats up her captor, grabs his pistol and forces him at gunpoint to take her to the entrance, a locked steel door.
    Nikita: Open the door.
    Bob: I can't.
    Nikita: Tell them to open the door!
    Bob: They won't.
    Nikita: I'll blow your brains out!
  • Pirates of the Caribbean:
  • During the Bank Robbery at the start of Prairie Fever, one of the robbers grabs a woman to use as a human shield, not realising that she is the sheriff's wife. This ends badly for everyone.
  • In Red 2, after Jack Horton and his men storm the facility where Frank is being interrogated to do his own interrogation, Frank is able to take one of his men hostage to avoid being first. Jack quickly points out that Frank is outnumbered, still handcuffed, and doesn't have a weapon, so he elects to just Shoot the Hostage and then try to kill Frank.
  • The leader of the raiders in The Road Warrior decorated his vehicle with a pair of living captives, both as a show of power and human shields. One of the captives defiantly attempts to subvert this trope, calling for his comrades in the compound to fight on, while the other is more cowardly and begs them not to shoot.
  • In the 1922 Robin Hood, Robin is choking out one of Prince John's mooks when another mook appears on the wall with a bow and arrow. Robin whips the mook around just in time for the mook to take the arrow in the back.
  • In RoboCop, the eponymous hero has a great targeting system to deal with this kind of situation. For instance, in the first film when a male assailant is using a woman as a human shield, Robocop carefully shoots the crook between the hostages' legs in a successful gamble to hit his groin with just enough clearance with female human anatomy to miss her. Later, Leon uses Joe as a shield. The second film has him dealing with the similar situation by arranging a ricochet shot to hit the assailant from behind.
  • Towards the end of Rush Hour, Sang threatens that if Carter doesn't let him go, he'd shoot an FBI agent hostage. Of course, this fails, as the same agent had spent the entire film underestimating and antagonizing Carter, and being a racist asshole to Carter's Fire-Forged Friend Lee. So, Carter simply says "Go ahead, I don't even like him. Go ahead!", while smiling the entire time. Sang immediately tries a different escape plan.
  • A minor criminal tries this at the start of The Shadow. He even points out that the guards aren't good enough shots to hit only him. Ying Ko's response is to complement the human shield on his years of service, then says "shoot through him".
  • Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Silk Stocking: When Holmes confronts Charles in his lair and pulls a gun on him, Charles grabs the unconscious Roberta and uses her as a shield as he attempts to escape.
  • Played for laughs in Sleepy Hollow (1999), in which Ichabod Crane — who is something of a Lovable Coward — has a tendency to subtly position himself behind other people or gently manoeuvre them in front of him in times of crisis. This includes women and children. And did we mention that Ichabod is the hero?
  • Soldier: Someone tries to use a woman as a shield, but the titular, emotionless soldier empties his machine gun into both of them, then moves on.
  • Speed: When Jack is asked what he would do in a Human Shield situation, he replies, "Shoot the Hostage, take her out of the equation." He faces the human shield situation twice in the movie, and one of those times he actually does shoot the hostage, but only in the leg, which surprises the villain enough to get the drop on him. It's worth noting that by the second human shield scenario, the villain has put explosives on the hostage and is carrying a dead man's switch to stop him from doing this.
  • Swashbuckler: Lord Durant grabs Jane and uses her as a human shield when he attempts to escape during the final battle. Too bad for him Lynch chooses to Shoot the Hostage Taker.
  • Taken to the extreme in the finale of The Sword of Swords, to depict the villain Fang Shih-hsiung sprinting over the Moral Event H Orizon. The hero, Lin Jen-shiau, is blind at this point but can still kick ass and cut down several of Fang's mooks, so Fang and his mooks reveals they've abducted around twenty innocent civilains, tied up and gagged - including Li's Love Interest, as well as a little girl Lin befriended after he lost his eyesight - and uses everyone as meatshields. Lin ends up killing everyone except his girlfriend, who managed to chew through her gag and shout at Lin to stop.
  • In Sympathy for Lady Vengeance, one of Mr. Baek's assassins uses Jenny as a human shield to hold Geum-ja at bay. He soon regrets this. Briefly.
  • At the end of Taken, Mills's daughter Kimmy is being held hostage by an evil old rich dude who had her purchased from the Human Traffickers; Mills has a handgun aimed. The old man tries to say "We can negotiate," but Mills puts a slug in his head mid-sentence.
  • In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990), the Shredder holds a spearpoint to Leonardo's throat and forces the other turtles to throw aside their weapons. After they do so, he says, "Fools! The three of you might have overpowered me with the loss of but one. Now your fate... shall be HIS!"
  • Valdez is Coming: After breaking into Tanner's compound, Valdez grabs Gay Erin and uses her as a human shield to make his escape: knowing that Tanner's hired guns won't dare shoot at them for fear of hitting Tanner's woman.
  • Vigilante Diaries: When Andreas gets away from him at the opera house, the Vigilante grabs Red and uses her as a human shield: both to stop Andreas from shooting him and as a bargaining chip. Andreas proves that he doesn't care and shoots her.
  • Twice in Yellow Hair and the Fortress of Gold Yellow Hair and Pecos use Colonel Torres as a human shield to prevent his troops from firing on them: first when they are escaping after busting Pecos out of prison, and again at the end when they are surrounded in the Mexican village.

  • In Alloy of Law, multiple baddies do pull this on Waxillium, with various women.
    • A serial killer in the beginning pulls this on his wife, Lessie. Wax takes the shot, and the killer twists Lessie in the way, killing her and traumatizing Wax. He then shoots the killer in the head.
    • Marasi also gets a gun to her head multiple times. It never really stops Wax from taking action. Especially the second time, when Wax just ricochets a bullet off another bullet to kill the man holding her.
  • In their final fight against the mercenary unit Avanti's Angels in the BattleTech novel Double Blind, the antagonists' leader and two of his underlings chain captive members of said unit to the outsides of their BattleMechs, gambling that the mercenaries won't fire on them for fear of killing their comrades. The tactic works painfully well, too, until the mercs' native allies show up and manage to swarm and climb the 'Mechs (at considerable cost to themselves, but that's a price they're already used to paying for a shot at capturing new war machines for their own tribes) and free the hostages.
  • Ciaphas Cain subverts this twice:
    • In Cain's Last Stand, once he realizes Varan is a psyker with the ability to make anyone serve him loyally, he sets up the final confrontation so no one but Jurgen will be around. Having extra bodies to hide behind, his favored tactic for decades, would backfire the moment Varan told them to arrest/kill Cain.
    • A Blazing Saddles subversion in the audio drama The Devil You Know. Cain is dueling a Dark Eldar who's freely admitted she intends to capture Cain for torture. Cain points his laspistol at his head and pulls the trigger. The Eldar note  lunges forward to deflect the lasbolt, and leaves herself wide open for a chainsword through the chest. (From Cain's viewpoint, he won either way — he'd been a captive of the Dark Eldar before; either she dropped her guard to prevent his suicide and he killed her, or she didn't and he got a clean and painless death.)
  • Another heroic example shows itself in Dance Of The Butterfly as the vigilante often uses this tactic, employing a held or semi-conscious enemy as obstacle or distraction against other targets.
  • In Stephen King's novel The Dead Zone, the protagonist tries to assassinate an evil politician, Greg Stillson. He fails because Stillson uses a child as a human shield; however, a photographer takes a picture of this moment and publishes it, ending Stillson's career.
  • From the Deryni works by Katherine Kurtz:
    • Deryni Checkmate: While fighting his way out of St. Torin's shrine to rescue Morgan, Duncam grabs Gorony, holds him at swordpoint, and demands Warin unlock the door. Warin refuses, so Duncan uses his Deryni powers on the lock, and he and Morgan take Gorony with them, leaving Warin and his remaining men locked inside.
    • The Bishop's Heir: Dhugal MacArdry leads a band of men to investigate another band of armed trespassers on Transha land. The two groups get into a skirmish and the leader of the other group, Brice of Trurill, grabs an injured Dhugal and holds him as a shield with a sword to Dhugal's throat to end the skirmish and allow him to escape with his men. Brice brings Dhugal all the way to Ratharkin, where he's held captive by Loris and the Mearan Pretender.
    • Also in The Bishop's Heir: Dhugal uses Sidana as a shield, taking her before him on horseback as he's fleeing the city of Ratharkin after Judhael's consecration as bishop. Her father and brothers lead some of their troops in pursuit until they unexpectedly encounter Kelson and his forces.
  • In The Dinosaur Lords, once The Mole in Garden's ranks is outed, he takes the nearest Gardener hostage. Unfortunately for him, one of the men present has Improbable Aiming Skills.
  • In the climax of Gone, Caine realizes he is losing the fight, so he uses his telekinetic powers to move Astrid between himself and Sam. He tells Sam to kill him, but he'll have to kill Astrid, too, because she is in the line of fire. Literally, the line of fire, considering his powers.
  • In The Green Mile, psychopathic prisoner William Wharton plays drugged during an interprison transfer until his new guards fail to pay attention. At which point he jumps up and starts beating the crap out of them. The guard captain draws his service pistol, so Wharton uses a guard as a human shield while continuing to wreak havoc. The stalemate is broken when an additional guard appears on the scene and ambushes Wharton from behind with a baton to the head. Extra balls points to Brutal Howell for advancing into his boss's gun.
  • Horribly subverted in H.I.V.E. Series book eight with Tom and Nigel. Tom takes Nigel hostage and threatens to kill him unless he is let out of the Glasshouse. Unfortunately, he overestimates his own value to Anastasia Furan, who just shoots Tom in the chest.
  • In The Kingdom and the Crown when the bandit Moeshe Ya'abin's raid on a traveling camp is interrupted by an arrow announcing the presence of Zealots, he holds the girl he was dragging to a tent in front of him.
  • In Last Sacrifice, when Tasha Ozera is exposed as the new main suspect for regicide, the guardians present are ordered to arrest her. She manages to take possession of a handgun and chooses a hostage (Mia Rinaldi) to use as her Human Shield. This works well enough to make the guardians stop moving. But Mia knows self-defense and manages to get out of Tasha's grasp.
  • In Mockingjay, President Snow puts a shield made of Capitol children around his mansion to deter attack. It didn't work out too well...
  • A captured enemy officer tries to pull this one on Sergeant Jackrum in Monstrous Regiment after he tricks Blouse into making Polly untie him. Using Blouse as his human shield, he tries to force them to let him go ... However, he underestimates Jackrum, and the sergeant puts an arrow into him—barely even wounding Blouse in the process.
  • In the Pilgrennon's Children novel Pilgrennon's Beacon, Jananin aims a rocket launcher at a helicopter that contains Pilgrennon and Dana. Pilgrennon grabs Dana and leans out of the helicopter, holding her in front of him, to show Jananin that there are children on board. Jananin fires anyway because her desire for revenge is stronger than her concern for human life.
  • In the first Sandokan novel, the captain of whatever ship of his fleet Sandokan is using has the standing order to put himself between him and anyone trying to shoot him, as Sandokan knows that all the sword-fighting skills in the world are worthless against being gunned down. This doesn't appear again in the following novels.
  • Someone Else's War: The LRA uses Child Soldiers to do the bulk of their fighting because they know that most people will hesitate to hurt a child. Sad case of Truth in Television.
  • In the climactic battle in Andre Norton's Star Mans Son, the hero is used as this, tied to the barricade the mutant Beast Things have set up for their Last Stand. He manages to get loose and crawls to rescue another fellow in the same situation, but finds the man already dead.
  • The Speed of Sound: In The Sound of Echoes, Skylar's kidnapper hides behind her when McHenry comes to her rescue. McHenry responds by throwing a flashbang grenade into the room, causing the kidnapper to fall to the ground.
  • Star Wars Legends:
    • In Outbound Flight, Commander Thrawn is coldly angry to see that his newest enemy likes to station captives in clear bubbles on the outsides of their ships; despite the pleas of the Wide-Eyed Idealist who likes him, he fires anyway.
      Thrawn: Understand the reality of the situation. The Vagaari have killed them, all of them, if not in this battle then in battles to come. There's nothing we can do to help them. All we can do is focus our resources toward the Vagaari's ultimate destruction, so that others may live.
    Notably, he despises having to go through with it—so in his rematch with the Vagaari, he arranges for an entire swarm of Trade Federation droid starfighters to close to point-blank range and shoot between the cells.
    • In Star Wars: Allegiance, the corrupt administrator being confronted by five stormtroopers tries to pull this with one of his subordinates. Grave, the sniper, just shoots past the hostage's ear.
    • The Han Solo Trilogy: When the bank manager on Coruscant tells Han his account's been frozen, then also attempts to keep him there until he's arrested, Han takes him hostage instead and uses the guy this way. It ends up with the guy dead as stormtroopers shoot at them while Han is making his escape.
    • Black Fleet Crisis: The Yevetha hold hostages from the colonists they attacked and have them broadcast to the New Republic ships, pleading for their lives because if the Yevethan ships were fired on they'll die too. It works, as enough New Republic ships hesitate or don't fire to give the Yevethan fleet an advantage.
  • In Naked Empire, the eighth book of the Sword of Truth series, the Hero has a problem. He has to get a MacGuffin from a fortress that the Bad Guys are occupying, but it's surrounded by unarmed "peace protesters" from a society of Straw Pacifists that the Bad Guys have persuaded to act as human shields. After all, a hero wouldn't kill unarmed civilians, right? Wrong! The hero decides to take the small group of soldiers he has with him and mount a surprise attack on the fortress, killing any of the "peace protesters" who don't get out of the way in time. Which, as it happens, turns out to be nearly all of them. The resulting slaughter is portrayed not as a tragedy, but as the morally correct outcome: they chose to side with the Bad Guys, so they deserved to die along with them.
  • Rare heroic example in Victoria where hostages and human shields are used in abundance to prevent the US Government from invading Maine and deter a bombing campaign.
  • In Dan Abnett's Warhammer 40,000 Gaunt's Ghosts novel Blood Pact, Xomat takes Elodie hostage against Daur. Daur declares his indifference and that he just might shoot Xomat through Elodie — which distracts him enough for Daur to get off a head shot. Elodie is muchly upset; Daur tries arguing before resorting to a "Shut Up" Kiss — their First Kiss.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Done in an episode of Alias in Mexico, where a criminal grabbed a daughter away from a mother and threatened to shoot her if Sydney didn't comply. Luckily the CIA was able to hack into the guy's earpiece to make it shriek in order to daze him giving her the chance to shoot the other guys and rescue the girl.
  • In the pilot episode of Alphas, the Ghost uses Rachel as a human shield to prevent Hicks from shooting him. Unfortunately for him, Hicks' superpower gives him Improbable Aiming Skills, allowing him to shoot a metal sign behind the Ghost, the ricochet hitting the villain In the Back and killing him.
  • Andromeda: The heir to a planet's throne ends up aboard the titular ship and arrives to his planet, which is currently in the hands of the corrupt aristocrats (who have orchestrated his father's death). Since the planet's Space Navy is horribly primitive compared to the Andromeda, he threatens the aristocrat, prompting the aristocrat to order that civilian observers be posted on all of his ships and on all military bases from now on, knowing that Dylan would never fire on innocent civilians. Tyr praises the aristocrat for his choice of tactics.
  • Angel: In "Offspring", a vampire cult wants to worship Darla's baby, and intend to sacrifice everyone in the room to it, including Darla. Fred holds a knife to Darla's stomach and threatens to kill the child even though it's protected by a spell that prevents harm, as Fred whispers in Darla's ear. She retorts that he just revealed the scheme to the vampires as they have great hearing.
  • During The Mutiny in Season 4 of the rebooted Battlestar Galactica, President Laura Roslin, currently resident on a Cylon Basestar, uses the entire Colonial Fleet as a massive Human Shield - and then has the gall to sneer that Gaeta, the commander of the mutineers, hasn't got enough guts to shoot through the fleet to get to her. This despite knowing that the whole point of the mutiny is to protect the survivors of the Cylon occupation of New Caprica from a new, Roslin- and Adama- sponsored Cylon occupation of the only homes they have left... Her tactics work, but that fact is to Gaeta's credit, not Roslin's.
  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine: In "Windbreaker City", Jake becomes a human shield by an ATF officer in a game of paintball. The team would've lost the game if not for Terry joining in last-minute and shooting the officer in the back.
  • Burn Notice:
    • Done once or twice, and Michael gives a tip on what to do if taken hostage in this manner: go limp — it's hard to both lift and carry a body.
    • Also happens in a cliffhanger season finale, with a bad guy holding Michael hostage. How does Jesse save him? By shooting Michael in the shoulder with a high-powered sniper rifle, so that the bullet would pass through the shoulder and kill the bad guy.
  • Once in a while on CSI: Miami the episode's villain or one of their mooks will take a hostage. Unfortunately for them, if it's Horatio Caine the villain/mook is up against, he's a sharpshooter who often shoots the hostage-taker, without the hostage being harmed, before they can even finish threatening him.
  • CSI: NY:
    • In "Down the Rabbit Hole," a perp known only as Suspect X grabs a guy and holds him between herself and Mac in order to prevent him from shooting her. She then shoots the man in his side and runs away, correctly surmising that Mac would tend to him rather than giving chase.
    • In an early one of Shane Casey's episodes, he grabs a young woman on a busy street and holds her at gunpoint so Mac & Stella won't shoot at him. As he crosses to the other side, a bus passes between them. When it's gone, the woman is standing with her hands in the air and Casey is nowhere to be seen.
    • In the season six finale/season seven opening, Serial Killer Shane Casey does this when he breaks into Danny's and Lindsay's apartment, holding their infant daughter Lucy between himself and them. Unfortunately for Casey, Lindsay is a good shot, able to shoot him dead while not harming her daughter at all.
  • Chuck: A somewhat comedic example occurs in "Chuck Vs The Suitcase". Chuck and Sarah infiltrate Sofia's apartment while she's showering to steal the episode's MacGuffin. Sarah leaves to deal with the bodyguard and while Chuck is trying to open the safe, Sofia suddenly appears behind him holding a gun and nothing else. When Sarah comes back, Sofia takes Chuck as her Human Shield (doubling as Hand-or-Object Underwear and with a shot of her bare back to show she's indeed nude) and Sarah seems actually more pissed off that Chuck is wrapped up against a naked woman than worried over his safety. The situation is resolved when Sarah shoots the shower door behind Sophia and Chuck manages to free himself from her grip and they both escape, but not before Sarah quips that Sofia should "Put Some Clothes On".
  • The Defenders (2017): Danny Rand confronts the executive board of Midland Circle Financial only to find they are all Hand operatives out to capture him. When a woman puts a silenced pistol to his head, Danny disarms her and holds her as a shield against the others. Alexandra informs him that it won't do any good as the others will "cut right through her to get to you." So Danny throws her at the other mooks so his hands will be free for fighting. Shortly after this Luke Cage turns up to rescue Danny, and as he's a literal Bulletproof Human Shield Danny ducks behind him when a couple of mooks open up with automatic weapons.
  • Doctor Who:
    • Done by the Doctor of all people in "The Face of Evil". When confronted by the savage Sevateem tribe, the Doctor threatens to kill one of them "with this deadly jelly baby" if they don't back off. The Sevateem surprise the Doctor by responding, "Kill him, then." Determined not to be upstaged, the Doctor simply eats the jelly baby instead. "I don't take orders from anyone. Take Me to Your Leader."
    • In "The Caves of Androzani", the Mecha-Mooks are programmed not to fire on anyone wearing a belt transmitter, so Peri (who is wearing one of the belts) is used as a shield by someone firing at an android soldier.
  • FBI: Most Wanted: When the FBI catch Cleo in the middle of her attempted heist in "Caesar", she grabs Sandra and puts a gun to her head.
  • The Fed at the end of the Firefly pilot episode "Serenity" tries this, taking River hostage with one gun, holding his other out, and yelling at the crew on the ship that if anyone moves... well, he doesn't get to finish his sentence, because right at that moment, Mal comes aboard, pulls out his heavily-used revolver, and puts a round in the Fed's head without a word. Or breaking stride.
  • In the Australian mini-series For the Term of His Natural Life there's an attempted breakout on the convict ship. The marines bring up a small cannon, only to find their sergeant being held in front of them as a hostage. The sergeant orders his men to light the cannon's fuse. When the marines reluctantly obey the order, the convicts are forced to surrender rather than be blasted to bits.
  • The Glamorous Imperial Concubine: A rare heroic version. When she's cornered Fu Ya pretends she's going to kill Lian Cheng unless the soldiers let her go. Since he's a foreign royal and letting him be harmed would cause chaos, the soldiers stand back and let both of them escape.
  • Hilariously done in Grey's Anatomy once. "Love is never using your girlfriend as a human shield!"
  • Hogan's Heroes frequently uses the "If it's close to a prison camp the Allies won't bomb it" reasoning to justify putting the target of the week in Hogan's reach, sometimes even inside the camp.
  • JAG: In "Tribunal", Mac is made a human shield by a suspected Taliban in Afghanistan with a knife aimed at her throat. She manages to get out of his grip and beats him up.
  • The Legend of Xiao Chuo: Yelü Jing uses a maid as a shield when he's attacked by assassins.
  • Happens on NUMB3RS at least twice, both times to Colby Granger. Both times he tells a fellow agent to shoot, but neither does.
  • One episode of Psych has a group of prisoners on work release stage an escape on a ferry, taking all the passengers hostage in the process. When the police refuse to call off their snipers, the prisoners force all the hostages to form a ring around the prisoners.
  • The Punisher (2017): In "The Whirlwind", worried that Frank Castle has only a pistol against the More Dakka she can hear Pilgrim is using, Amy goes to help with her shotgun only to be grabbed as a hostage by Pilgrim. There follows a hallway scene where Frank is trying to Shoot the Hostage Taker while Pilgrim is maneuvering to keep her between them until Pilgrim is able to duck into an elevator with his hostage. Ironically, we later learn that Pilgrim's gun was empty by that point.
  • Pushing Daisies: In one episode, the Killer of the Week tries to use Olive Snook as a shield after his crimes are exposed. Since Olive is played by the 4'11" Kristin Chenoweth, and the killer is considerably taller, she isn't much of a shield as Emerson Cod quickly lampshades.
    Emerson: You need a bigger human shield or something. You're hanging out all sorts of places I can shoot!
  • The Rise of Phoenixes: The Crown Prince uses Shao Ning and Zhi Wei as human shields when Ning Yi comes to kill him. Ning Yi shoots Zhi Wei in the leg, then orders his men to shoot the Crown Prince after she collapses.
  • Rizzoli & Isles at the end of Season 1 an unarmed Rizzoli was grabbed by the bad guy and used to protect him from several dozen cops, including many of her close friends. She is screaming at them to "Shoot him!", apparently believing that if both she and the bad guy were shot, the EMTs in the group would save her. She and the bad guy were shot, and the audience had to wait for the Season 2 opener to find out what happens.
  • Stargate Atlantis has one of the Genii use Dr. Weir, commander of the Atlantis expedition, as a human shield so he can get safely to the gate and escape. Shepherd, being a good marksman, puts a bullet into his shoulder, allowing Weir to get clear. And it turns out he survives in a later episode.
  • Star Trek: Enterprise: In "North Star", the hostage situation ends when the hero shoots the hostage, distracting the baddie long enough to then shoot him too. This only works because of the setup; the heroes use phasers on stun, while the baddies use projectile weaponry and have never considered weapons that don't actually harm people. The cowboy is also shocked that Reed would shoot one of his own.
  • Star Trek: Picard: More like Romulan Shield in "Nepenthe"; Elnor places one of Narissa's underlings in front of him to discourage her from firing her disruptor pistol. The strategy works because she lowers her handgun and returns it to its holster.
  • Strike Back generally has terrorists employ this from time to time, as a means of gaining an advantage over Section 20. That said, Scott has absolutely zero problems with using a terrorist leader as a human shield.
  • Used in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles where a hero and a villain stand off, holding hostages they think is the other's child.
    Villain; Not my kid.
    Hero: Not mine either.
  • Torchwood: In "Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang", a Blowfish tries to escape the Torchwood Three by fleeing into a house, where he shoots a resident and holds another hostage. Torchwood hesitates to act against the Blowfish until Jack Harkness enters the scene and shoots the Blowfish dead without harming the hostage.

  • The Six Shooter: In "Red Lawson's Revenge", Red kidnaps Dan and Mary's infant son and keeps them and Britt at bay but holding a gun to the baby's head.

  • Occurs early on in Survival of the Fittest v4, where Gracie Wainright attempts to rob Anna Chase (who is not wearing her glasses) and Kitty Gittschall, and after being threatened by Kitty and hit by Kyle Portman, Gracie is just distracted enough for Anna to attempt to run away. However, she is quickly caught and held by the hair by Gracie, as an attempt to get Kitty and Kyle to stop attacking her and to rob Anna in peace.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The Dread Emperor in Dungeons & Dragons hauls around children chained by the neck to his armor, draining their health when he's injured to cast spells. He never appears with the same children twice.

    Theme Parks 
  • In Waterworld: A Live Sea War Spectacular at Universal Studios, when the Deacon begins firing at the Mariner with a bazooka, the latter attempts to use one of the Smokers (named Chuck) as a shield. The Deacon simply remarks that he never liked Chuck anyway and shoots the both of them.

    Video Games 
  • The Bourne Conspiracy allows you to more subtly use a human shield when engaged in melee - enemies with fire discipline will cease fire if you put a friendly between you and them. Enemies without fire discipline use the Bulletproof Human Shield trope instead.
  • Call of Duty:
    • Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare has the last terrorist grab the anonymous VIP as a shield at the end of Mile High Club. The player has a few seconds to shoot one of his exposed body parts as he jerks around, and if you're playing on the hardest difficulty, you have to go for the headshot.
    • The opening mission of Call of Duty: Black Ops sees Mason and his team being sent to assassinate Fidel Castro, who promptly grabs his mistress and shields himself with her as soon as he and Woods enter his room. The mistress, in a show of fanatical devotion to Castro, grabs a nearby shotgun after he's killed and gets herself shot by Woods, much to his chagrin.
      Woods: Crazy bitch! He uses a human shield, and she still protects him?
  • Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun: In the final GDI cinematic Kane holds Umagon hostage when Michael McNeil storms his HQ to rescue her. She manages to break free after an outside explosion shocks the building.
  • In Cyberpunk 2077, Mitch get used as a shield by the pilot of the downed Kang Tao AV in "Life During Wartime". He manages to elbow the pilot and break free, giving Panam an opening to shoot him in the head.
  • The extended flashback sequence at the end of Death Stranding reveals that Cliff, when trying to escape the Bridges medical facility with his BB, used both the BB and then-security chief Die-Hardman/John McClane in this way.
  • Detroit: Become Human presents a variation on this in the opening chapter, where Connor is sent to negotiate with a deviant android who is holding a little girl hostage on the edge of a balcony. The SWAT officers at the scene could easily shoot the android without harming the girl, but he would most likely fall from the balcony and take her with him as a result, hence why Connor needs to go in and talk him down.
    • Connor himself can use a dead body as a shield later on when infiltrating CyberLife Tower, in order to deter a group of security guards from shooting him.
  • Devil May Cry 4: In a cutscene, Agnus hides behind Kyrie to stop Nero from attacking him.
  • In Drakengard 2, during one scene, The Hero, Nowe, is about to stab the Big Bad, when he pulls Eris, The Hero's Unlucky Childhood Friend, directly into the path of The Hero's attack, causing him to kill her instead.
  • Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance in Ch. 22 (Solo), the enemy pulls this off by using priests as these.
  • Fuse Dalton Brooks former mentor Meilin Mao does this to a target his team is supposed to rescue.
  • The Getaway: Mark Hammond can grab anyone as a hostage if he is close enough, and if you grab a gang member or PC their faction will cease fire and plead for you not to shoot - until you start picking them off like a coward. Once the hostage has outlived their usefulness you can choose to shoot them, snap their neck, or let them go. This is also carried over in The Getaway: Black Monday.
  • The boss of the 2nd Mission of the arcade game GHOST Squad requires you to take him out with a single headshot while he's holding the President of the USA as a human shield.
  • Grand Theft Auto:
    • During the mission "Hostile Negotiation" in Grand Theft Auto IV, Niko has to rescue his cousin Roman from a group of kidnappers, the last of whom will use Roman as a shield. If Niko doesn't land a headshot on the kidnapper after several tries, he'll execute Roman.
    • In Grand Theft Auto V, a Merryweather soldier does this to Michael's daughter Tracey during the mission "Meltdown", which requires him to shoot the soldier in the head to free her.
  • In Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, Marluxia teleports Namine into his arms to try to ward off Axel from attacking him, but Axel laughs and says he doesn't care. At that moment, Sora, Donald, and Goofy show up to stop Axel.
  • In L.A. Noire criminals will do this to hostages sometimes in which Cole Phelps will have to shoot them at his current distance in the head when they peek themselves out.
  • Din gets used as one during the final battle of The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons. Attacking her shocks you, so you have to use the Rod of Seasons to knock her away. Or you could just transfer a Green Holy Ring (which grants immunity to electricity) over from Oracle of Ages and ignore her completely.
  • Mass Effect 2 in Lair of the Shadow Broker, Shepard has to deal with a hostage situation against Tela Vasir, another Spectre agent. You can do what she says(drop your thermal clips and power cells), harm the hostage and Tela, gloat about your accomplishments and ask if her plan involves hesitating to shoot a hostage, or to use faux racism against her.
    Shepard: Is that it?
    Tela: What?
    Shepard: Vasir, I sacrificed hundreds of human lives to save the Destiny Ascension. I unleashed the Rachni on the galaxy. So for your sake, I hope your escape plan doesn't hinge on me hesitating to shoot a damn hostage.
  • In the first chapter of Max Payne 3, one of the kidnappers handling Fabiana ends up cornered on a balcony and uses her as a shield against the security guards pursuing him. Cue Max sliding down a nearby roof to get the angle for a clean headshot on him.
  • Justified in the Day of Sigma OVA in the remake of the first Mega Man X game, Mega Man: Maverick Hunter X. Although more like "robot shield", Big Bad Sigma used Zero as a shield and even taunted The Hero X about it.
    Sigma: If you really want to stop me, you'll have to shoot, destroying Zero in the process!
    • The Big Bad took advantage of X's tendency to hesitate in attacking due to circumstances that can destroy an ally/innocent one if he does so. It's also some sort of test that proves that he really is a special reploid, capable of worrying and portraying other various emotions that a common reploid can't.
  • Metal Gear use both the psychological human shield and Bulletproof Human Shield, depending on who you capture. In Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater and Portable Ops, attempting to shield yourself with a higher-ranking officer gave you a better chance of success, as the enemies would hesitate for a lot longer - and shielding yourself with a scientist does nothing and they'll still shoot you freely.
    • However, in Portable Ops Plus, they pull out a knife and slash you, freeing their comrade and knocking you down.
    • Interestingly, you can interrogate your hostage while you're staring down other goons. And, in some cases, you can gun down the other mooks without retaliation if your hostage is of a high enough rank!
    • In Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, as Ocelot and Colonel Gurlukovich are infiltrating the cargo hold of the Marine tanker, the latter uses Commander Dolph as a shield against his men, only for Ocelot to double-cross him and shoot both him and Dolph.
    • In a cutscene midway through Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, Snake pulls off a decidedly elaborate variation. He chicken-wings a mook by threading a rifle through the guy's arm. Not only that, but he has a knife to the mook's throat using his other hand. He's thus able to compromise his balance and advance on the other mooks, remaining a deadly threat to everyone concerned.
    • In Metal Gear Solid V, enemy soldiers will always hesitate to shoot at you while you're using a human shield regardless of who it is, so long as you don't give them a clear shot at you. They can call you out on your cowardice for doing this, though, and like in Portable Ops Plus they may try to run up and slash you to free their ally.
  • In Nexus, the titular hero's main blast power is steerable which means the beam can maneuver around a shield person to hit the target cleanly.
  • The boss of the Jungle level in Operation Wolf uses a female villager as a human shield. Accidentally shooting her (in the NES version, at least) will cause a lot of damage to the player. Kill him without hitting her, though, and she will wave at you happily as the level ends.
  • Reservoir Dogs: You can take human shields and hit or threaten them to disarm cops. An even more notable example is when you are confronted by multiple cops and your adrenaline meter is full you can perform a special torture (offscreen of course) called a "Signature Move" (which range from Pistol-Whipping the hostage to cutting off the hostage's ear) that is so brutal that it will cause every cop in the area to drop their weapons and surrender.
  • Saints Row 2 allows you to use just about anyone as cover. Taking a civilian (or a cop) hostage generally means the cops will look for a way around you. Gang members treat the hostage as a Bulletproof Human Shield instead. Veteran Child, a Sons of Samedi lieutenant, also uses Shaundi as a human shield during his boss fight; you'll have to use flashbangs to separate them so you can get hits in.
  • Many of the levels in the Silent Scope games require you to take out Bosses who have taken Human shields with a single headshot.
  • Soul Nomad & the World Eaters: Thuris attempts this in both the Normal Path and the alternate Demon Path. Both fail spectacularly, the former being ruined by an Applied Phlebotinum and in the latter, the protagonist couldn't give two shits about the hostage.
  • Spelling Jungle: Bribing an animal (or in some cases, just walking beside them) and putting them between Wali and another animal or a Trickster protects Wali from harm, as the Tricksters will not fire on them.
  • Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow: Sam has to sneak into a TV studio and capture the terrorist leader while he's recording a speech in front of his own goons. This audacious act causes all the goons to point their guns, but not fire...unless Sam makes the mistake of turning his back on them to see where he's going.
  • To capture Noriko and the Gunbuster in Third Super Robot Wars Z: Tengoku-hen, Barbiel used human shields to force a surrender from Noriko. As a result, Noriko (like the rest of Z-BLUE) has a grudge against Barbiel.
  • Super Smash Bros.: Toad serves as one (apparently unwillingly) for Princess Peach in earlier installments of the series. In Ultimate, Toad instead willingly takes the bullet for her; the same applies for Blue Toad, who is protecting Daisy.
  • In Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World, Hawk attacks Emil and just as it appears Brute is going to use the opening to kill Emil, Emil actually throws Hawk at Brute's sword. The result is that Brute has just killed Hawk and there is an opening for the heroes to escape.
  • In Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, Drake decides to take a Mook as a human shield when cornered by Lazarevic. It doesn't work.
  • The Walking Dead (Telltale):
    • Brenda St.John did this to Katja in which Lee would have to slowly walk up to her and talk each time, until she finally got too close to Mark who is now a walker, from having his legs cut off and eaten who then proceeds to bite her and turn her into a walker.
    • Kenny did this to Arvo in season 2 episode 4 to try and get the Russians to back off.
  • In A Way Out:
    • Whichever player approaches Harvey in the big final confrontation with him will get used as a shield by him against the other; they will then have to figure out how to create an opening for their partner to shoot Harvey.
    • Leo uses a cop as a shield against his squadmates during the hospital escape sequence. He also takes Vincent hostage in the final chapter to gain passage to a nearby police car and make an escape.
  • A quest in World of Warcraft sends you off to rescue some webbed-up friendly soldiers being used as "living shields". Laterthe webbing they're trapped in is opaque and disguises silhouettes, and many of the "shields" are fakes, i.e., genuine hostiles. The only way to discover this is to open one up...
  • The second and third stage of Xena: Warrior Princess have Xena fighting a group of pirates who's pulling a Rape, Pillage, and Burn on the fishing village of Oaebalus. Enemy pirates will regularly grab civilians and hold swords on their throats while using them as shields, and the only way to save them is by using Xena's trusty Chakram to hit the pirates from a distance without hurting civilians.
  • In Street Fighter X Tekken Ibuki and Rolento are both partners but when she defeats him in battle she emphasizes she is not a human shield. Though this isn't shown in-game and when one compares the size difference between them the tactic might not be too effective anyway.

    Web Animation 

  • Ariel in Drowtales winds up using Ydna, the "pet" of the Ax-Crazy Kalki who is also her half-sister this way against a tainted mana attack. For bonus points normally tainted mana can't be blocked at all, even by solid walls, yet Ariel manages to improvise a perfect defense on the spot. Earlier she was holding Ydna By the Hair away from her body in an attempt to use her as a hostage instead of a shield.
  • Similarly subverted in Errant Story, when Jon takes Meji hostage to try to stop a bunch of Red Shirt Veracian militia. This starts to go badly when the red shirts decide to shoot him through Meji — although they apologize to her first. But then comes the big Oh, Crap!, when Meji remembers she's incredibly good with destructive, violent magic...
  • In Homestuck, Dave uses Jade for this purpose at one point, since Bec Noir is psychologically incapable of hurting her directly. AUTO-HARLEY!
  • In Juathuur, Rowasu does this with Juinn. He still insists he's not a hostage.
  • Subverted in The Last Days of Foxhound. Liquid Snake is taken hostage by a random Mook, in the hope that it will stop Revolver Ocelot. Ocelot, being the Magnificent Bastard he is, simply shoots through Liquid without actually hitting him! Liquid is of course perplexed by the ballistics of this.
  • Metompsychosis Union: Tilo grabs Larry and yanks him in front of him after Killit breaks out and is advancing towards him. Larry is unimpressed and would not have made a very effective shield if Killit had not decided they were friends for breaching the security of his containment pod.
  • The Order of the Stick: During the Order's fight against Hel's vampires, after dominating her, the master vampire orders Hilgya to give him her baby son Kudzu to dissuade Roy from throwing his sword again. Coupled with an Anti-Life Shell, the heroes are left with no safe way of hurting the master vampire.
    Master Vampire: Don't look at me like that. I promised not to harm the baby personally. If Roy throws his sword and hits the squirmy little brat, that's on him.
  • Schlock Mercenary: Variant. A crazy AI has guns that can fire from anywhere in the galaxy to anywhere in the galaxy, but accurate targeting data is still needed. She puts her targeting drones on unsuspecting civilian ships so that Petey, the local god AI, won't just blow them up. He has to convince the targets to evacuate instead.
    Petey: The longer you think about whether you'd have made the same decision, the happier I am that I didn't let you.
  • In Tower of God, the finale of the Workshop Battle, Reflejo holds Hwaryun hostage to get the heroes to come to him, and then uses her as a shield. Khun sees that the situation is hopeless and stabs her... with a magic knife that harmlessly traps inside it anyone it stabs.

    Web Original 
  • Used as a stalling tactic in the appropriately named "Fight Scene" chapter of Fine Structure.
  • Completely subverted in "Boston Brawl 2" in the Whateley Universe. The heroes (a bunch of teenagers from the Super Hero School Whateley Academy) are fighting a Big Bad, his hardened super-criminals, and some mercenaries the Big Bad brought along too. One mercenary with flying power armor grabs the weakest-looking heroine (Generator is 14, but looks like a short 11-year-old girl) and threatens her with a knife. Generator's powers are a phenomenal healing rate and the ability to cast a psychokinetic copy of herself into objects. She embeds herself on the knife and casts a copy of herself into Ironhawk's armor, taking it over and using it as a weapon against the other bad guys.

    Western Animation 
  • Archer: Similar to The Naked Gun example, Archer responds to the villain of the pilot episode taking his mother hostage by doing the same to Lana.
  • Happens in World's Finest, the Batman / Superman crossover film. After being knocked out by Harley Quinn, Mercy Graves is briefly shown tied up with her mouth taped shut, and taped to some strange object. During the movie's climax, we discover that she has been strategically taped to a killer android so that Superman cannot destroy the machine without killing Mercy as well.
  • Batman: The Brave and the Bold: In "The Last Patrol", the Doom Patrol broke up after the supervillain General Zahl took a woman hostage and threatened to shoot her if the Patrol didn't let him go. The Patrol refused to let him go, and he followed through. The Patrol felt so guilty about letting an innocent person die that they went their separate ways and resigned themselves to languish in obscurity.
  • During The Boondocks Christmas special "A Huey Freeman Christmas", a mall Santa uses a little girl as a human shield against Riley, who went on a rampage firing airsoft guns at Santa, in retaliation for years of Riley not getting what he wanted for Christmas.
  • Used in Drawn Together by Captain Hero, after shouting "Activate Hero Shield!" He probably could have survived the gunfire anyway.
  • Family Guy: In "Love Thy Trophy", Peter tries to use Stewie as a shield when his new foster parents point a gun at him.
    Stewie: Don't shoot! [escapes from his clothing and runs away naked] Now shoot!
  • In a flashback in Gargoyles, Gilcomgeigne uses Gruach as such a shield to force MacBeth to surrender.
  • Jonny Quest: The Real Adventures: In a case of a hero doing this, Jonny once grabbed Jeremiah Surd (who while evil is wheelchair-bound) and used him as a shield to stop Lorenzo from shooting him. Lorenzo backed down rather than risk hitting Surd.
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars:
    • "Cloak of Darkness": The traitor Argyus uses Nute Gunray as a shield during his fight with Commander Gree, knowing that the clone trooper won't dare shoot such an important prisoner. Gree takes a different option.
    • "Innocents of Ryloth" and "Liberty on Ryloth" have Separatists using captive Twi'lek civilians to prevent Republic forces from taking them out by forcing the civilians between the Separatists and the line of fire of any attacking forces.
  • Star Wars Rebels:

    Real Life 
  • Countless Truth in Television examples during bank hold-ups and various hostage situations. Also, unfortunately, used by terrorist groups, who will occasionally launch attacks from civilian areas in the hope that the attacked nation will withhold retaliation.
    • Or just as often in the hope that they will retaliate; the deaths of civilians gaining them sympathy and recruits for their cause.
    • Also a favored tactic of dictators facing superior air power and/or artillery. They grow fond of parades and refugee camps, trusting the other nation to become enough of a Slave to PR to not simply bomb them.
      • There is also a more sympathetic version of just keeping your troops so close to enemy forces (especially while engaging) that the enemy can't risk the use of airstrikes or artillery as it'll get just as many friendlies as hostiles. This has led to the occasional subversion of Shoot the Hostage where the "hostage", about to be overrun, requests an artillery strike of his own position, knowing that he can take a great deal of attackers down with him.
    • Probably the weirdest example was various American and British anti-war activists volunteering as human shields during the Iraq war. They gave up on the idea when it became clear Saddam Hussein was only prepared to let them shield military and government facilities rather than civilians, almost as if he was some kind of evil dictator.
    • Forcing civilians under your control in a war situation is a war crime; people have been tried for it before the Yugoslavia war crimes tribunal. Of course, so is shooting them from the offending side, making the whole deal Dirty Business for everyone involved.
    • Similarly, any otherwise protected place (hospitals, churches, etc.) lose their protection when armed forces are based in them (such as putting an anti-aircraft gun on a hospital).
  • Early reports soon after his death indicated that Osama bin Laden tried this with one of his wives just before he was killed. Later clarified that while there were two women present they apparently were trying to protect him, though they may also have just been trying to give him enough time to grab the two guns next to him. When the SEALs burst in, the women were just pushed aside and bin Laden was shot.
  • One of the techniques taught to the Russian Spetsnaz is how to use their rifle's sling to disable and use someone as a human shield.
  • The Westboro Baptist Church employs these, usually children, because they know vigilantes can and will try to kill them whenever they demonstrate. Innocents tend to get caught in the crossfire, anyways. Many of the documentaries about them point out this only victimizes the civilians, not demonizes the attackers.

Examples of any other human shields:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 

    Fan Works 
  • Guys Being Dudes: When Rhi jokingly, without anyone knowing it's a joke, threatens Arlo with their plasma cannons, he ducks behind Spark as a meat shield.
  • The Night Unfurls:
    • During the orc ambush in Chapter 2 of the remastered version, Kyril grabs an orc's wrist, then swings it around, right into the path of an axe of another mook.
    • After killing an orc in Chapter 5 of the remastered version, Kyril shoves the body forward to block the incoming spear points.

  • In Woken Furies, when the villain Anton comes under fire, his first reaction is to grab one of his own allies and use her as a human shield.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Bulldog, in an episode of Frasier, used Roz (who was pregnant at the time) as a shield when someone pulls out a gun. It ends up looking like he tried to push her out of the way and is hailed as a hero. Only Frasier knows the truth but is unable to get him to confess. It all comes to a head at the ceremony in Bulldog's honor. Martin, who was just tired of listening to Frasier complain about it, randomly shouts, "HE'S GOT A GUN!" Sure enough, Bulldog does it again, this time using his own mother as a shield.
  • JAG: In "War Cries", one of the Marines throws himself over the Ambassador in the car to shield her during the ambush while they make their escape.
  • In Vikings, Ragnar uses himself as one of these to protect Athelstan from Horik's hidden archer in "The Choice". He knows that Horik will attempt to kill the priest as soon as he's out of sight, so Ragnar offers to escort Athelstan back to King Ecbert's territory and physically shields him from any kind of attack.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In BattleTech, Omniechs can carry friendly BattleArmor into battle, at the cost of being unable to fire their torso-mounted weapons, and the battle armor were vulnerable to being hit if attacks struck the mech's torso. Players quickly realized that you could pile battlearmor onto your mech and use them as free torso armor because the mech's torso would take not damage until all the battlearmor were shot off. Rectified in an Obvious Rule Patch, which changed it to a dice roll to see whether the mech or the carried battle armor would take the hit, and in the event that they started taking damage battle armor had to make a roll or dismount automatically.
  • Sentinels of the Multiverse plays with this for resident evil alien overlord Grand Warlord Voss. For each Minion he controls, Voss takes 2 less damage on his front side (Conquering Alien Warlord) and 1 less on his back side (Super-Thoranian Warrior). However, Voss's minions are capable of attacking the heroes so it's less like Voss is using them as a shield and more like Voss simply standing behind them while still allowing them to soak the hits for him like meat shields until they die and Voss has to fight on his own.

    Video Games 
  • Parodied in Borderlands 2. A Nomad variant called the Torturer wields a riot shield with a hole in the center, which their idea of repairing involves tying a midget to the front. It's totally unnecessary-bandits are capable of metalwork-they just have it in for midgets. If you manage to shoot off the chains holding down the midget, they will immediately go after the Nomad, leaving him vulnerable as he's distracted by the angry midgets.
  • In ClaDun, party members serve as human shields for your Player Character, providing an extra layer (or two, depending on the layout of the Magic Circle) of HP protection. Once they're all defeated, the player takes direct damage and will lose if he/she is incapacitated.
  • Devil May Cry 4: In what's more like a "monster shield" variant, Nero can use a demon as a shield after unlocking the "Hold" ability for his Devil Bringer. Although since demon mooks are mindless, they don't care about the "hostage" being from their own kin and still attempt to attack him. The demon shield takes the damage instead. This ability returns in the endgame and New Game Plus playthroughs of Devil May Cry 5 when Nero acquires his physical Devil Trigger transformation and regrows his arm, along with many of his old Devil Bringer abilities.
  • A few players have had this happen in Dwarf Fortress. One story goes that one of their best soldiers GAVE BIRTH, quite literally whilst still fighting, they then promptly held up the child and used it to block an incoming arrow.
  • Hitman: Blood Money lets you use anyone, including Innocent Bystanders, as human shields. However, the ability to take a human shield is far more useful to the stealthy player as a way to knock someone out when you want to take their clothes without taking their life. That is, it's not very common to use your shield to, you know, actually shield you.
  • In Kirby Star Allies, Hyness will summon his three defeated and unconscious minions to use them as weapons/shields after he gets roughed up, though after placing some manner of protective enchantment on them that makes Kirby's attacks glance off them harmlessly. They mostly block things indirectly while Hyness throws and swings them around, but if the fight drags on long enough, he'll eventually have them form a wall and start hiding behind them, occasionally popping out to lob projectiles. However, applying enough abuse will break the formation and expose the cowardly mage to attacks.
  • In The Last of Us Joel can grab hostile survivors and use them as shields, keep in mind though you have to rotate the right analogue stick accordingly to keep them in line otherwise they'll break free and attack you. When Joel grabs someone he can shoot them, shoot other enemies while holding them, or do an instant finishing move when the other enemies are alerted, or silently strangle them, or slit their throat with a shiv when not alerted.
  • Laid-back Miis in Miitopia tend to hide behind their own teammates so they receive the blows meant to themselves. Needless to say, it is less than appreciated.
  • Nexus Clash: The Wyrm Master demon orders its imp minions to position themselves in the path of incoming attacks, forcing enemies to mow through dozens of Mooks to attack the demon. Given the setting, most enemies aren't likely to care about the body count, but the Wyrm Master is aiming to exhaust attackers, not guilt-trip them.

  • Played for Laughs in Grrl Power. Achilles is completely invulnerable, though that is his only super strength. Prior to going down a trap-filled corridor, Sydney grabs him and uses him as a probe to test for traps. He doesn't seem to mind.
  • Used in the Insecticomics when Thrust protects Dreadmoon from the brunt of the Fallen's blast.
    Starscream: You used her as a shield, didn't you?
    Dreadmoon: I'm a Decepticon! It was reflex!

    Western Animation 
  • The Fairly OddParents!: Chester uses AJ as a shield against a barrage of spitballs.
  • In Futurama, Zapp does this with Kif when some aliens hold them at gunpoint. Kif is so lightweight that Zapp easily picks him up and holds him in the air.
  • Monsuno: Early in the series, Bren hides behind Jinja, who stated she always wanted to be a human shield.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic: Prince Blueblood uses Rarity to shield himself from a falling layer cake. Rarity, her last nerve snapped, chews him out for it and then shakes herself at him so he ends up Covered in Gunge anyway.
  • Star Wars Resistance: In the short "Dart and Cover", Neeku moves to stand behind Torra the instant he sees that Bucket is taking the next turn at darts. It ends up that the only person struck by a dart is Kaz, who was standing nowhere near them.
  • Total Drama:
    • Owen volunteers as a human shield to keep his team safe from a barrage of golf balls during the obstacle course in "Masters of Disasters".
    • In "African Lying Safari", Sierra carries a drugged-up Cody around in a backpack. During the first challenge where she has to avoid soccer balls being shot at her, she is unaware Cody takes hit after hit. However, when Duncan is up next and kicks the ball she shoots at him right back to her, she turns around, this time being aware that Cody gets hit due to her actions.
    • As snowballs, some normal and some containing surprises, are flung around, Brick and Zoey use Anne-Maria's hairspray-hardened hair to cross the no man's land between their team's and the enemy team's fortresses in "Ice Ice Baby".
    • Courtney holds up a sleep-deprived and injured Sam as a human shield against a barrage of leeches shot at her in "Saving Private Leechball". For the vileness of this act, she's switched over from the Heroic Hamsters to the Villainous Vultures.
    • Amy uses Samey to shield herself from a barrage of tennis balls in "So, Uh This Is My Team?". She additionally has the nerve to berate Samey for screaming in pain.
    • In "I Love You, Grease Pig!", Amy holds Samey in front of her when the pig of the Pimâpotew Kinosewak, made evil by Max's helmet, slings grease at them.
    • Happens to Priya in "Numbskull Island", courtesy of Ripper, so he could get the Frogs of Death's skull.

    Real Life 
  • When advancing on a city, a tactic the Mongols often employed was to force hostages to march ahead of their regular forces. From a distance, they just looked like part of the army, thus confusing the city defenders as to the size of the force advancing on them. And those hostages were pretty handy when it came to absorbing the first round of arrows...
  • Lifeguards and rescue divers who work in choppy waters are supposed to resort to this trope if they're about to be dashed against rocks or other obstacles while hauling an unconscious person to safety. It makes sense in theory — if the rescuer gets knocked out also, both of them will surely drown — but most people in that line of work admit that they doubt they could go through with it.
    • Addressed in an episode of Baywatch, when Mitch reveals that when faced with a situation like this, he couldn't bring himself to let the victim take the hit. Sure enough, he was knocked out, nearly drowned himself, and the victim died. Years later, he still had trouble dealing with it and Fridge Brilliance kicks in as the viewer realizes just why he was so stern a few episodes earlier when lecturing a rookie lifeguard about this, obviously not wanting him to repeat his mistake.


Conforth shoots

With two precise shots, Conforth disarms Longsdale and arms Shawn.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / BlastingItOutOfTheirHands

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