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Instant Death Bullet

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In works of fiction, guns behave in strange ways. Often, and especially in gritty action films and old-timey westerns, guns seem to fire not bullets but death itself. No one is ever seen to be wounded, attempts to limp or crawl away, or lies in pain on the ground. Mooks, Red Shirts, heroes, and Big Bads alike die instantly from a single bullet fired in their general direction, and the kill may even be bereft of blood. Sometimes this is employed slightly more realistically with bloody headshots, but they are just as instantly deadly as their weakly aimed counterparts.

In some works, this end is saved for mooks and actual villains, while a hero gets the benefit of a long, painful Dramatic Death complete with tears and sad music. Don't be surprised, though, if an instant death bullet finds its way to the hero's skull in the end just for shock value.

This trope is largely responsible for the tendency of mooks and red shirts to come from the Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy. If the hero or villain were killed or critically wounded early on in the story, it would have a drastic effect on the story's outcome. Additionally, heroes and villains alike may just be wearing Plot Armor to avoid being shot at only until their part in the story is completed.

Sister Trope to Instant Death Stab and Perfect Poison. Compare Static Stun Gun, for when tasers are depicted as a painless way to incapacitate somebody. Contrast Only a Flesh Wound and Almost Lethal Weapons where instead of instant death, gunshot wounds are merely inconvenient. There is also Rasputinian Death and Made of Iron. Often goes hand-in-hand with Bloodless Carnage. See Arbitrary Gun Power for actual implications of being shot.

Not to be confused with Shot to the Heart. Also not to be confused with Abnormal Ammo or Depleted Phlebotinum Shells where a unique property of the ammo makes it instantly lethal.

This is a Death Trope. Unmarked spoilers ahead.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Black Lagoon: Used a number of times usually with Mooks. This trope is playful lampshaded when Revy meets some kids playing with toy guns. Their deaths, like most kids'-game deaths, were drawn-out and ridiculous. Revy demonstrates the proper way of dying from a bullet. The kids point out how uncool it looks.
  • Code Geass: Unusual for the show, it happens when C.C. shoots and kills Mao with barely even a sound effect. Earlier, Mao has been shot multiple times and survived.
  • Ginga Densetsu Weed When the humans start exterminating the dogs of Futago Pass, most of the canines fall to a single bullet.
  • The Gundam franchise ZigZags with this trope, depending on both the importance of a character, as well as the budget allotted to the series. You can expect the main characters's mobile suits to survive a lot of damage, but for the Mooks, you might get equal treatment, like in the expensive Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn, or you can just take a shot to the reactor and explode into a neat incinerating sphere, like the unfortunate rank-and-file troops of the TV series Mobile Suit Gundam Wing. Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans is a notable aversion, despite being a TV series, as the main projectile weapons there are solid, so it often takes several shots to down a mobile suit there.
  • Higurashi: When They Cry:
    • In the Anime Shion and Satoko both take bullets directly to the head at point-blank range.
    • In the Manga everyone dies directly after being shot and unlike the Anime, everything is onscreen!
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion: Ritsuko meets her end this way. She dies half a second after being shot.
  • Noir: Expressed with a vengeance. Most episodes feature several cold-blooded instant deaths, often at the hands of the Professional Killer heroines.
  • Averted in Pluto; Gesicht is fatally shot with a cluster cannon during his battle with Pluto, but is so caught up in the moment that he doesn’t even realize it until after he’s seemingly escaped, at which point his injuries finally catch up to him and he falls over dead.
  • Trigun:
    • Normally deliberately subverted by Vash as he does not want to kill anyone and uses his extreme level of shooting skill to avoid killing anyone outright.
    • When Vash Is forced to kill Legato. Legato takes one shot to the head and falls over.

    Comic Books 
  • MAD: Don Martin spoofed this in a panel showing an arcade game console, where the player was supposed to take down robbers with a handgun. The game robber used a ridiculously long time to die, complete with coughing, falling over while clutching his chest (aarrgh) crawling painfully away while gargling and finally expiring outside the screen.
  • Preacher: Usually uses this straight, especially with the Saint of Killers, whose guns are forged from the sword of the former Angel of Death and can kill the Devil and God himself, but there are at least two subversions. In the first, a hulking cannibal takes a headshot, continues advancing and takes a second before dying. In the second, Herr Starr gets his head blown open. He has time to glance up and utter a final "shit" before expiring.
  • Storm Watch: In the Team Achilles volume, the team is up against a mad reality warper, and they don't shoot him dead on the spot specifically because there's no such thing as an instant death bullet. They're worried what will happen to the town the warper's manipulating if he drops dead, and what he might do in the seconds or minutes he has to live.
  • This trope works to the advantage of The Punisher when he's fighting things that's more superhuman than your average mugger, this is especially prevalent in the more recent comics. In older works, Frank would find his guns useless against even low-level mooks like AIM flunkies (their uniforms were high-tech armor). But these days - the moment Frank points his M-16 at anything, whether it's a Frost Giant the size of a sky-scraper or '70s C-list villains in power armor, they end up dying from a single burst.

    Fan Works 
  • Diamond's Cut: Pretty much the way every gun works in this James Bond fan film. A notable exception being the double-crossing informant, who was wounded in the leg by Bond before finally getting shot to death.
  • Revenge Road Hikaru shoots Madoka in the head, killing her instantly. She believes that Madoka has to die for stealing Kyosuke from her, but since she was her friend for so long, she deserves a degree of mercy, which she does not show to Kyosuke when torturing him to death with knives.

    Films — Animated 
  • Bambi: While the death of the title character's mother is not shown, at one point a bird is shot and dies instantly.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Back to the Future Part III: Subverted when Marty and Doc both assumed that Doc will be shot on Monday because that's when he dies. Turns out he got shot on Saturday in the original timeline and didn't succumb to his wound for another two days.
  • Blood Diamond: Happens in copious amounts. When Danny Archer pretends to be a prisoner to trick some guards, he shoots both in quick succession and they drop down immediately. Later, when covering Vandy and his son's escape, Archer again kills several approaching Mooks with a sniper rifle, to the same effect. But there are three exceptions: Colonel Coetzee, Kapanay, and Danny.
  • Blood Simple: Seemingly played straight when the private eye shoots Marty but is ultimately subverted when he regains consciousness just in time to be buried alive.
  • The Boondock Saints Almost everyone Connor and Murphy shoot dies immediately.
  • Boys Don't Cry: When Candace, Lecy Goranson from Roseanne, is shot she goes down like a sack of potatoes.
  • Bring Me the Head of the Machine Gun Woman: Almost any shot delivered in this movie is instantly fatal. The exceptions are the Machine Gun Lady herself, who is Made of Iron and survives being shot on multiple occasions; and Longara, whom the Machine Gun Woman deliberately shoots to cripple.
  • In Captain America: The First Avenger, HYDRA troops are supposed to be a serious threat because they use Death Rays as standard equipment. The effect is somewhat ruined, however, because the standard-issue Allied rifles seem to be equally deadly. Hell, they seem to be more dangerous, because HYDRA Mooks are completely clad in body armor and yet they still die in one hit.
  • Collateral:
    • Some of the Mooks in the club shootout scene are shown going down to a quick single shot while everyone else is usually shot several times.
    • Subverted in one scene where Vincent is menaced by two thugs with his briefcase. He uses a double tap with point shooting to drop the first guy note , then he performs the full Mozambique Drillnote  on the second. The one shot in the chest is still twitching as Vincent retrieves his briefcase before casually firing the finishing shot into his head.
  • The Dark Knight: In the opening sequence, several robbers are insta-killed by bullets.
  • Dead Man: Thel is shot in the chest by Charlie and she immediately falls over dead without any final death throes.
  • Deadpool 2
    • Many of the mooks shot are dead on the spot.
    • Subverted when Deadpool gets fatally shot while his Healing Factor has been deactivated by a Power Nullifier. It takes him a long time to die. He gives multiple Final Speeches, but each time he doesn't die at a dramatically appropriate moment and just keeps talking after a long pause.
  • The Departed: Played straight; even main and other important characters aren't safe from this end.
  • Inverted in Exam. The bullet White fires into Black actually heals him by triggering rapid cellular regeneration.
  • The Godfather Part III:
    • Subverted with Mary Corleone who is shot through the stomach and initially doesn't realize it. When she does, she says "Daddy?" in a perfectly normal way, drops on her knees, then dies.
      • The Assassin disguised as a priest in the scene is killed instantly in one shot.
    • Subverted in the original. Vito took five shots and lived. It took dozens to bring down Sonny.
    • Vincent kills two assassins sent by Joey Zasa with a single bullet each. The first one he executes to scare the other assassin who after he divulges the information Vincent needed is shot through his hand and is hit the head killing him.
  • James Bond:
    • The World Is Not Enough: While Mooks and bystanders die this way as a matter of course in the movie, a notable instance is when Bond shoots the alternate Big Bad Elektra in the face. She simply falls back onto a bed, dead.
    • The Man with the Golden Gun: Every single person shot by Scaramanga dies immediately. This is made more notable by the fact that Scaramanga's gun uses custom made bullets of an absurdly low caliber note , making them less likely to kill anyone they hit than bullets fired from a normal gun... unless the man firing it is a spectacularly skilled marksman, which it is established that Scaramanga is. There are places on the human body other than the head where a bullet will indeed kill instantly, and presumably, Scaramanga would know of them.
    • Skyfall: Averted with M's death. M is mortally wounded by gunfire but doesn't die until after Bond manages to kill Silva a considerable length of time later.
  • Witness: When McFee is shot at point-blank range in the chest with a shotgun, he appears to take only moments to die.
  • X-Men: First Class: Erik Lehnsherr's mother is shot dead with a handgun right in front of him to try and force the young Magneto to manifest and draw on his mutant powers.
  • The Numbers Station: Zig-zagged. Both the hero and heroine are shot towards the end of the film (with pistols, at close range), and he is able to drive them both to hospital. Everybody else drops dead.
  • Once Upon a Time in the West: The slaughter of the McBain family plays out like this, as does the shootout at the railroad in the opening scene.
  • Pineapple Express:
    • A humorous subversion in Red's case. The first time he's shot, he actually appears to die... Only to wake back up seemingly fine. They shoot him again, and he appears to die again. It's only later in the movie that it's revealed he was still alive.
    • The shootout in the barn over the abandoned military base has several of the rival gangs Mooks dying instantly when shot.
    • The hitman Budlofsky refuses to shoot Saul who witnessed an earlier kill shortly before is shot and killed instantly by his fellow hitman Matheson for "going soft".
  • Marvin from Pulp Fiction when he accidentally gets shot in the face. This is a change from the original script, where Marvin survives the first shot, forcing Jules and Vince to Mercy Kill him. In behind the scenes materials, Quentin Tarantino discusses this change and highlights why this trope is an Acceptable Break from Reality; the original version was too realistic and disturbing to be entertaining, it made the protagonists look like total bastards, and it was just a pointless waste of screentime in general.
  • Raiders of the Lost Ark: Used for comic effect when confronted by a swordsman all clad in black, instead of being intimidated by his fancy swordplay Indy just rolls his eyes and shoots him dead. Never bring a sword to a gunfight.
  • Reservoir Dogs:
    • Mr. White, Joe and Nice Guy Eddie play it straight after their Mexican Standoff takes a turn for the worse.
    • Subverted with Mr. Orange, as he spends most of the movie lying in a huge pool of his own blood, white as a sheet, from a shot to the gut.
  • RoboCop (1987):
    • Despite some of the bad guys being fired on by Murphy with a burst fire pistol some are shown only being hit once and going down instantly. Justified by Robo's Beretta 93-R Hand Cannon.
    • Inverted when Murphy, in his initial death, takes dozens of bullets from Boddicker's gang.
    • Subverted when the headshot that seeingly kills Murphy, only left him paralyzed.
    • Subverted when Dick Jones takes more than a dozen bullets at the end of the first film, and it's the fall through the window that kills him.
  • The Rundown: Mr. Beck (The Rock) takes down several henchmen this way using dual shotguns just before the place blows up in the ending shootout.
  • Zigzagged in Saving Private Ryan. Most of the soldiers who get shot don't die instantly unless they've been shot in the head. The opening scene on Omaha Beach is infamous for the levels of blood shown as a result of getting hit by machine gun fire, and not instantly dying. However, a few nameless extras do end up falling over dead when shot in the chest, arm, or shoulder.
  • Serenity: Mal shoots a man taken by the Reavers, killing him instantly.
  • Tears of the Sun:
    • One of the SEALS, Flea, takes a single shot to the chest during the final scene when the SEAL team is fleeing the rebels and dies pretty much instantly.
    • Several of the Mooks in the movie are killed by the SEAL team with nothing more than a single shot.
    • Subverted in a sequence where a soldier takes a sniper bullet through the shoulder and falls down. After a few tense seconds, it's revealed that he dropped down to avoid getting hit by another bullet.
  • Taken: Features three kinds of shots: bad guys miss, Bryan shoots a few people in the shoulder for interrogation purposes, and anyone Bryan wants dead dies instantly.
  • Utřya: July 22, a reenactment of the Breivik Massacre (which happened on the island Utøya on 22. July 2011) from the perspective of the victims aims for realism, so the trope is mostly averted with gunshot wounds either "only" crippling the characters (a boy and a girl from the group in the beginning) or causing them to bleed to death slowly (wounded girl). However, the trope is played straight with Kaja herself, who, after a split-second, collapses on the ground, apparently dead. In a film aimed at realism, the scene stands out as exceptionally hard to believe.

  • Death to the French:
    • Usually seen when Dodd uses his Baker rifle on the enemy characters. It forms part of his reputation as a devil or evil force in the eyes of the French soldiers in that nearly everyone he shoots is dead on the first shot.
    • An early aversion is from the group of French soldiers that pursue him through most of the book. Right after he is separated he mortally wounds one of the soldiers who takes a bit to die.
  • Of Mice and Men: This is an important point in the finale, when Curley in revenge for Lenny's accidental killing of his wife, plans to shoot him in the stomach so that he would die slowly and painfully. To prevent this, George shoots him in the back of the head, which was instantly fatal.
  • George Orwell's short story Shooting an Elephant: A horrible aversion, where he finds to his horror that he cannot get the elephant to drop dead, but only cause it more pain.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Angel: Averted when Lorne shoots Lindsey more than once in the chest, but not only does Lindsey manage to continue standing for a few moments, he also delivers about three lines before succumbing to his wounds, some before he even falls
  • The Barrier: The President is declared dead within seconds of getting shot.
  • Battlestar Galactica (2003): The show goes back and forth on this.
    • Tarn takes a while to bleed to death after being shot multiple times, but later in the same story arc, Crashdown dies immediately after being shot once.
    • Boomer shoots herself through the cheek and lives, but later is shot in the chest and only has time to say her last words before she dies.
    • Dee and several one-shot characters die instantly from gunshot wounds.
    • Adama gets shot twice in the chest and survives, although he spends several episodes unconscious and receiving emergency medical care.
    • Anders gets shot in the head and lives, but the brain damage eventually leaves him in a vegetative state.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: When she gets shot by a stray bullet from Warren, Tara is dead before she even hits the ground.
  • Fringe: The shapeshifters die instantly when shot in the middle of the forehead, but shooting them anywhere else has no effect.
  • Get Smart: Notably, this only happens to the KAOS agents. If a CONTROL agent is shot, they tend to say so.
  • Gimme a Break!: Invoked when Carl shot and killed a perp. He is extremely depressed about this, and when his youngest daughter acts like he was a hero for doing it, he explodes angrily at her that it was not like the movies. The perp died slowly and in pain, calling out for his mother.
  • Highlander: 'The Darkness'. Tessa pretty much dies instantly after Rozca shoots her. Richie, too, though he doesn't stay dead.
  • Hornblower: In the episode, "The Even Chance", After Jack Simpson is spared by Horatio in their duel, he tries to kill Hornblower with a dagger, but is then dropped with a single Musket shot from Captain Pellew.
  • Lost: Kate's Childhood Friend Tom dies instantly during a Chase Scene from a bullet fired by a police officer, shown in a flashback in season 1.
  • Max And Paddys Road To Nowhere: Almost displayed, but soon subverted. Paddy is seemingly shot in the back by a mentally deranged friend of Max's, tumbling out of frame. However, it is later shown that the gunshot was not fatal as he manages to sneak up and knock the assailant out with a traffic cone. It is later revealed he was shot right in the right buttock... Although this brings up whether being shot in such a place would really leave him able to walk around, never mind heave a traffic cone with enough force to knock someone out.
  • Averted at least twice in NCIS: Los Angeles:
    • In one Cold Open, Deeks is shot after stumbling into a wrong-place-wrong-time store robbery. After the credits it's revealed a low-calibre bullet to the chest bounced off his ribcage and did no lasting damage, though he's in no condition to be in the field for the rest of the episode.
    • Once again in a Cold Open, Kensi is shot during a bank robbery, and radios that she's down, holding her chest. The How We Got Here episode reveals NCIS are in cahoots with the robbers, Kensi was wearing Kevlar and the thief know to shoot her there. Such an impact still broke ribs and winded her, making the cherade much more convincing.
  • Studio C: Averted and parodied in a sketch. "Most Awkward Death Scene of All Time" where Cecilia's father gets shot and she keeps thinking he's giving his Last Words. For hours. Word of God says that he ends up outliving her by 15 years.
  • Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles: Derek dies instantly. Of course, he did get a bullet in the brain.
  • The Vampire Diaries: Jeremy is accidentally shot by Liz Forbes in the season 2 finale and dies on the spot.
  • Luke Cage (2016):
    • Subverted Cottonmouth shoots Rafael Scarfe, several times. Scarfe manages to last about 12 to 13 hours before he expires.
    • Subverted in the beginning when, during the gun heist, Shameek shoots Dante in the chest. He seems to have died instantly, but after Chico and Shameek leave, it's revealed that Dante is still alive, and he manages to call Cottonmouth's right-hand Tone and sell out his accomplices before he dies.
    • This becomes a plot point in the second season. Shades tries to arrange a scene to make it look like police captain Tom Ridenhour and his snitch inside Mariah's organization, Comanche, (who is a lifelong friend of Shades) killed each other. However, the attempt fails because while the wound Ridenhour took killed him almost instantly, the first shot Comanche takes is to the stomach, and Shades is unable to leave his friend to suffer and bleed out over the course of hours, so he puts Comanche out of his misery with a second shot. The cops investigating the scene quickly figure out that there is no way Ridenhour could have fired the second shot.
  • The Flash (2014)
    • Clyde Mardon takes two bullets from Joe's gun and dies instantly.
    • Subverted by Eddie, who shoots himself in the heart and lingers for another minute or so.
    • In the Flashpoint timeline, Joe kills Edward Clariss with one bullet in the back.
    • Savitar dies from one bullet in the back from Iris.
  • The Twilight Zone (1959) episode "Valley of the Shadow". After Phillip creates a .38 Special revolver, he shoots Dorn and his two aides with one bullet each, instantly killing them. They did not appear to be shot in an area which would kill them that quickly (head or heart) and there was no blood.
  • Averted in Love/Hate with Hughie's death. When messing around with his pistol, he removes the magazine, but doesn't clear the chamber. He puts the gun to his head and pulls the trigger with predictable results. However, he doesn't die immediately and is visibly bleeding out as opposed to being just dead to the point where Pottsie asks Elmo if they should call an ambulance. Nidge casually mentions later in the episode that it took Hughie a full five minutes to die.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Cyberpunk: Played straight in Cyberpunk 2020, where a bullet to the head is very likely to be an insta-kill for your character. Even if you're hit in another location you can be killed at the moment too if it causes enough damage, because of the shock.
  • Dungeons & Dragons: Specifically Advanced Dungeons and Dragons. In theory, a gun could deal endless damage. Much less can kill most NPCs and PCs alike, instantly.note 
  • GURPS: Hits to vital organs or the brain are liable to kill someone instantly. Even a gunshot not aimed at vitals can kill instantly if it does enough damage.
  • Ironclaw: It is very easy to score an Overkill when using a gun.note  Fortunately, given the Renaissance-level setting, guns are expensive and often illegal for commoners and fairly unreliable wheellocks.
  • Warhammer 40,000: According to the Regimental Standard community website, 99% of battlefield injuries will not require medical treatment due to 98% of those injuries being instant-death-inducing ones. Poor Imperial Guardsmen.

    Video Games 
  • Ace Attorney zigzags this trope.
    • There are several cases where a victim is killed instantaneously from a shot, case 2-2 and 4-2 specifically. Although these lean towards the more justified examples, seeing as how in both instances, the shot was to the head. And in one of these instances, the victim had been stabbed prior to the shot, making his instantaneous death seem more realistic.
    • It's averted just as often, though. 4-3 features someone who is shot with a magnum, and has time to give a dying clue before they actually perish. Also, in 1-4, someone is not only shot and survives, but lives with the bullet stuck inside of their body.
  • Assassin's Creed: For the games that include them, firearms, in general, are typically instantly fatal. There are some larger enemies that require multiple shots, but most Mooks will go down with just one. Muskets, in particular, are instantly fatal.
  • Borderlands 2: At the end of the mission "Where Angels Fear to Tread", Handsome Jack kills Roland with a single shot to the back from a purple-rarity Hyperion Vision pistol, as Lilith screams in grief and horror.
  • Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood: The boss fights are settled "Showdown at High Noon" style, which all run on this logic, in rather weird contrast to how guns work at all other times.
    • Save for the last few levels, where enemy riflemen can sometimes play this trope entirely straight on harder difficulties.
  • Call of Duty: The game mechanics using fixed damage and HP values for enemies causes many enemies to die in a single shot regardless of where they are shot. This is especially notable on the higher difficulties.
  • Company of Heroes: Downplayed, because of how the game's damage mechanics work, the majority of infantry are instantly killed by gunfire when they run out of health. Snipers also instantly kill (most) enemy infantry shot. Depending on assorted factors, some infantry may become incapacitated and recoverable by medic buildings, but the vast majority die instantly. This is further Downplayed in the sequel where mortally-wounded infantrymen can even crawl around - and potentially set off a nearby mine.
  • Ghost Trick: Everyone who dies of a bullet wound goes out this way, sometimes multiple times. Of course, it makes sense from a gameplay perspective, as Sissel's ability to go back in time to four minutes before a person's death would be sort of useless if they died after lingering for an hour in a hospital.
  • GoldenEye:
  • Hotline Miami and its sequel. The vast majority of both characters and enemies are One-Hit-Point Wonders, making this true for most deaths. The exception is bosses in the original game who will usually stay alive just long enough for Jacket to messily finish them off.
  • Perfect Dark:
  • Persona 3: Subverted with Junpei Iori, who goes down almost immediately to one shot and would have been dead within seconds without supernatural healing that results in the death of the healer.
  • Persona 5: Satanael kills the Big Bad with a single gunshot to the head, despite you littering the boss with other attacks during the actual Boss Fight. It probably helps that Satanael is a 50-foot tall demon king with a magical skyscraper-sized rifle powered by a belief in the heroes.
  • Rainbow Six: In the early games, any hit can be instant death for you or an enemy.
  • Red Dead Redemption: Enemies sometimes die from a single shot depending on the weapon and where they are shot. More powerful weapons against some of the weaker enemies frequently one shot the target. Shotguns and rifles also have a tendency to one shot at least weaker enemies. Headshots, of course, are usually fatal for the Mooks.
    • Red Dead Redemption II subverts this by having enemies survive plenty of bullets to the body, to the point that the killing shot will result in the enemy dropping their gun, running away whilst bleeding heavily from the wound and then fall to the floor writhing in pain for a rather long time before finally giving up the ghost. This means that the player is way more encouraged to aim for the head (or other lethal spots such as the heart) or use stronger ammunition, which will instantly kill a target most of the time.
  • Red Orchestra: Played straight when soldiers are killed with a headshot but otherwise averted for most other cases. For example, soldiers will lie on the floor moaning in agony, weakly murmuring that they don't want to die, bitterly cursing their enemies, crying that they just want to go home, and thinking about their parents. At some point, you will walk past downed enemy players and you will feel like a monster.
  • S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Because of how damage is handled it can be subverted or played straight. Weaker weapons can wound an enemy or player causing either to bleed to death. Sometimes when the enemies go down and are near death they will lay on the ground and cry out for help. Powerful guns like shotguns and sniper rifles, for example, can one-shot weaker enemies or if the player lands a headshot.
  • Team Fortress 2: A fully charged shot from a sniper rifle does 150 damage, enough to kill anyone weaker than a Demoman instantly without a headshot. However, most snipers aim for the head, which does triple damage with a sniper rifle, and a fully healed heavy with full overheal has 450 health...
  • Uncharted:
    • Two of the guns obtainable by the player, the WES-7 and the Desert-5, when they're introduced, one-shot any enemy even if you grazed their finger.
    • Sniper rifles have the same effect thanks to their high damage.
    • Uncharted 2: Among Thieves has the golden Crossbow, introduced late in the game.
  • Grand Theft Auto: Seemingly exaggerated to the point of comedy; NPCs die instantly from being shot in the head which makes sense at first but they also die instantly from a bullet through the side of the nose and through the ear. The police can even be killed by being shot through the top of their hat.
  • Wolf (DOS): Hunters flying in helicopters and planes always manage a One-Hit Kill. Hunters on the ground will get you in one or two. It's not stated whether this is due to a difference in rifle calibers or aiming skills. As far as the wolves are concerned, it doesn't matter anyway.

  • morphE opens with 8 captives being forced into 1-on-1 battles to the death. When a pair is not producing the right results Amical executes them with a bullet each. They are dead before they hit the ground.
  • Genocide Man: Jacob's handheld railgun appears to have this effect on everyone it hits, even though it only fires darts. However, the darts contain a neurotoxin that only paralyzes instantly but takes a few more minutes to cause death, to the absolute horror of The Empath on the team.

    Web Original 
  • Pamtri: The generic pistol used in the episodes usually kills the victims in a single shot.
    • Averted for Swiper in “Dora in a nutshell”, Gary in “Gary Needs A Bath”, The Lorax in “The Lorax in a nutshell”, Santiago in “Who Killed Santiago”, the cameraman in “Santiago’s strange addiction”, Patrick in “Dirty Dan”, and George in “Curious George in Nutshell”.

    Western Animation 
  • Ćon Flux:
    • In the episode "Tide", Aeon kills Trevor with a single shot while he is handcuffed to a railing during the mission.
    • In the episode "War", Aeon is trying to distract what looks like a faceless goon so an ally can sneak up on him and prevent her battlefield execution. Before she can be rescued she and her ally are both quickly killed by a shingle shot with the faceless goon turning out to be Trevor.
    • Subverted in the pilot episode. While most of the Mooks go down to even a single bullet there are two notable exceptions. A mortally wounded soldier is shown to be slowly dying in bloody water as well as being infected with a plague of some sort. A fellow soldier tries to make him more comfortable as he lays dying. Just as he expires either from the effects of the plague or wounds Aeon runs by and shoots the other soldier in the gut. She takes off her helmet and weeps. As Trevor collects a specimen of the plague-bearing bug from the bloody water, she is shown to collapse into the waters herself in the background presumably from her wounds and/or the effects of the plague.
  • South Park: Throughout the series, this is usually played for laughs in a Black Comedy fashion.
    • In "Grey Dawn", an elderly person shoots a hostage in the head at point blank range, killing him instantly.
    • In "Something Wall-Mart This Way Comes", a man shoots himself in the head, also killing himself instantly.
    • In "Night of the Living Homeless", one character is killed with a shotgun blast to the head and a few others are killed by single shots in a burned out town the boys visited. Also subverted in "Night of the Living Homeless". With the homeless people closing in on him, the scientist decides to kill himself by putting a bullet through his head. It takes four or five tries to finally get the job done, all Played for Laughs.
    • In "Le Petit Tourette", all these pedophiles who were tricked into invading Dateline with Chris Hansen all pull out guns and commit suicide- all of whom died instantly.
    • In "The Snuke", a Russian terrorist was shot by a sniper and killed instantly with the body falling off of a ladder and exploding all over the ground into several pieces.
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars plays with this quite a bit. Background clone troopers and Mauve Shirts tend to die in one hit, named characters usually get more dramatic deaths. Most notably, the traitorous General Pong Krell is shot In the Back and seemingly dies instantly, falling dead with no death throes whatsoever.

    Real Life 
  • Generally speaking, there is no such thing as "Instant Death Bullets". It is incredibly rare for victims of gunshots to die the moment the bullet comes in contact with them, even if they are hit in the brain, heart, and/or other vital organ. A bullet can cause its target to immediately hit the ground, but this is more of a case of the shot having enough force and causing enough trauma to make the victim collapse, which can give the impression the bullet causes instant death, especially if they fall unconscious from the shot. That being said, a shot that does indeed hit a vital organ would most likely kill its victim within minutes, if not seconds.
    • Of course, large & powerful bullets, like a .50 BMG, are perhaps the closest thing there is to "Instant Death Bullets', but this is largely because those bullets would eviscerate the body.

Alternative Title(s): Instantly Fatal Bullets