Follow TV Tropes


Organ Dodge

Go To

"Piece of shrapnel tore up that nerve cluster my first tour. I had it moved."
Malcolm Reynolds, Serenity

Where a character gets stabbed or shot — usually in the kidney — and it should be fatal. Only it isn't, because they donated that kidney. Or they have dextrocardia. Or that limb was actually prosthetic. Or they only look human when their insides are decidedly not. Or they're a Master of Your Domain who can literally move their organs around. Hell, even if they're not humanoid, the placement of certain organs (e.g. brain and heart) is practically universal among real-life non-microscopic animals that possess them, so an alien having their brain in their foot rather than their head would be completely unexpected, to the misfortune of anyone who tries to kill them by headshot.

Usually given as justification for Only a Flesh Wound, but sometimes the central conceit around which a climax - or entire plot - is built. Usually used as an ironic counterpoint to the original injury. This is all but guaranteed to happen to people cheated out of organs earlier in the plot, because it's a good way of suggesting ambiguity - after all, if they still had that kidney they were tricked into donating, they'd be dead now.

If a character is shown to have donated an organ and the genre isn't Medical Drama, they're extremely likely to suffer injury to that area later in the work. Anyone with dextrocardia - where the heart is on the right side of the body instead of the left - is virtually guaranteed to be shot or stabbed where the heart "should be" at some point.

The inverse, where a character who's learned to cope with a handicap or life-altering injury is injured in a way that makes the handicap worse, is fairly common in Darker and Edgier works. This is where, for example, a character who's just undergone extensive cosmetic surgery to repair fire scarring gets caught in another disfiguring fire. Sometimes applies to wheelchairs, canes, and other forms of assistive technology as well, where the short-term consequences can be dire without automatically leading to Nightmare Fuel. Noticeably more common in Police Procedural and Medical Drama genres, if only because this usually shows up as a plot twist in a mystery story.

Another version is when a character's organs would have been in the right place, but they were deliberately moved before the injury in question.

Overlaps with Disability Immunity in cases where the trope happens due to the original organ being missing. Compare with Chekhov's Skill if the audience is told about the condition in advance.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • In Attack on Titan, all Titans have a strong Healing Factor allowing them to recover from any damage and regenerate damaged tissue; so long as it's not directed at the back of their napes where the Titan can be killed if cut or blown up at, and this is a shared weakness for Titan-Shifters; whose bodies are actually contained in this region. During the fight at Shiganshina; the Scout Corps. manage to corner Reiner Braun, The Armored Titan and deploy their Thunder Spears to shatter his thick armor and destroy most of Reiners' actual head. The trope comes into play when its' discovered that before the explosion did him in, Reiner actually shifted his entire conscious mind throughout the nervous system of his Titan body before laying on his back in order for the damage to heal.
  • The Parasyte "Jaws" can reach into his host's upper torso and move, say, the heart to avoid an otherwise fatal stab.
  • Happens early on in Fullmetal Alchemist, revealing Ed's arm to be automail.
    • Happens quite frequently, actually.
  • Andrew Waltfeld does the prosthetic limb version in Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny, blocking a knife with his arm and then revealing the gun hidden underneath to finish off the attacker. The damage from the knife doesn't appear to do more than cosmetic damage to the prosthetic either.
  • Dragon Half: Damuramu survives being stabbed in the head with his own energy blade, because his brain is that small - and he is the most stupid character in a show that handled out idiot balls to everyone!
  • The English dub of Dragon Ball has this as a reason why Piccolo Junior's attack didn't kill Goku.
    Goku: A good thing you aim as bad as you fight! You missed my vital organs!
    Piccolo: ALL OF THEM?!
  • Buso Renkin: In at least one of his fights, Kazuki gets stabbed in the heart, only for it not to do anything as his heart had already been destroyed and replaced with a Kakugane that can transform into the Magitek weapon that he was holding in his hand at the time.
  • Elder Toguro of YuYu Hakusho could rearrange the organs in his body at will, theoretically making it impossible to strike a fatal blow to him. Kuwabara just finds a way to hit every single point on his body simultaneously. That is enough to stun Toguro, yet still winds up being nonfatal. His survival forces Kurama to use a more permanent means to dispose of him in the next arc, feeding him to a demonic tree, which bypasses both his shapeshifting and his regeneration.
  • Souther in Fist of the North Star is immune to Kenshiro's pressure-point attacks in their first battle because he was born with dextrocardia with situs inversus totalis, which completely reverses the position of all his internal organs and pressure points. When Kenshiro learns Souther's secret during their final battle, Souther's doom is sealed.
  • Before the events of Full Metal Panic!, Sousuke had thought Gauron dead after shooting him in the head, only for him to show up and hijack his flight during the first story arc. It turned out that Gauron had been injured there before, and had a metal plate in his skull from the treatment of that earlier injury that stopped the bullet.
  • Bleach:
    • Szayel had the ability to make dolls of people containing bits labelled with organs, then break them to destroy the corresponding organs in their actual bodies. Mayuri heard about this power in advance and prepared for it by replacing all of his organs so Szayel would instead just break the old ones.
    • Kenpachi attempts to end his fight with Nnoitra by stabbing Nnoitra through his eye-patch covered eye and into the brain. The tactic completely fails because the eyepatch is hiding Nnoitra's hollow hole, so all Kenpachi hit was air.
  • The Garden of Sinners's Shiki does this with her arm.
  • In Holy Corpse Rising, Ezelvald shoots Cybelle with a magic arrow right through where her heart would be. It is painful and a Wound That Will Not Heal, but Cybelle reveals she doesn't have a heart, so it fails to incapacitate her.
  • Fate/kaleid liner PRISMA☆ILLYA: Miyu tries to use Gae Bolg, a spear that will always pierce its target's heart when activated, on Sakura Matou. It impales her, but it has no effect because she is really a doll with no heart.
  • In Akuma no Riddle, Haru survives the final Assassination because a previous Assassination attempt had caused doctors to insert metal plating to reinforce her damaged ribcage. When Tokaku stabs her in the chest, the blade is deflected away from her heart.
  • Samurai Deeper Kyo: While the Former Crimson King watches over the final duel between Kyo and Kyoshiro, Shihodo approaches him and tries to make good on her promise to Mercy Kill him before he completely loses himself. The Former Crimson King allows her to stab him in the chest, but it amounts to nothing, because his heart is not even in his body.

    Comic Books 
  • X-Men:
    • Happens occasionally with Professor X's wheelchair/hoverchair.
    • Also Played With: Mystique once managed to move her organs around in order to survive an attack that should have been lethal.
  • When Skrull-Kree hybrid Hulkling was drugged unconscious and being vivisected, his organs instinctively moved to avoid fatal damage.
  • The Transformers: Robots in Disguise: Ironhide finds the severed head of Sludge's beast mode yet the frenzied Sludge attacks him later, this is because his brain module is in the head of his robot mode.

    Fan Works 
  • Fate/Stay Night: Ultimate Master: Lancer's spear, Gae Bolg, will always pierce its target's heart. Fortunately for Ben Tennyson, when Lancer tries to use it on him, he was in the form of NRG, a creature that does not have a heart.
  • Fates Collide:
    • Cu Chulainn impales Ruby Rose with his spear Gae Bolg, and was skilled enough to deliberately miss all her organs.
    • When Mordred impales Edmond Dantes, she says she made sure to miss all his organs, which is amazing considering how large her sword Clarent is.
  • Two Sides of a Coin: Lieutenant McMillan has a Minor Injury Overreaction when she's shot in the leg with a disruptor. Her prosthetic leg, that is.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • During the Unification War, Mal Reynolds of Firefly had a certain cluster of nerves moved due to getting torn up by a piece of shrapnel. As a result, during the Big Damn Movie Serenity, the nerve strike that the Operative uses to paralyze people and set them up for being killed with his sword has far less of an effect that expected (Mal does noticeably freeze up, but it doesn't last long at all and he's able to move after just a few seconds while the Operative takes his time going back for his sword confident he has the fight well in hand).
  • Hot Shots!: Admiral/President Benson takes this trope to absurdity for laughs. He has apparently been through so many conflicts and sustained so many injuries that his entire body is artificial and immune to damage. For example, he survives being thrown into a fireplace because his skin is made of asbestos owing to a tanning parlour accident at Dien Bien Phu. He can also pass a handkerchief in one ear and out the other because a bullet once went through his brain. At the Little Big Horn.
  • A major plot point and running theme in Ninja Assassin.
  • The glass eye in Water World.
  • The Monster tries to rip off Inspector Krogh's arm in Son of Frankenstein, but since he had ripped off the same arm before, he just removes his wooden arm.
  • The main character in HellBent gets stabbed in his fake eye with a sickle.
  • Another instance of a glass eye dodge is in Black Christmas (2006) remake. There, a two-pronged barbecue fork is the penetrating object.
  • Inversion: Elle Driver from Kill Bill. Starts out with just one eye... and then loses the other to the Bride.
  • Played with in You Only Live Twice - Bond meets contact Dikko Henderson, borrows his walking stick, and smacks him hard in the leg - which is wooden and proves it really is him. Henderson is just glad he got the correct leg.
  • Ragetti in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl takes a fork to the eye after the opposing ship fires a round of shrapnel after running out of cannonballs. Fortunately, the eye that gets hit is wooden.
  • Trina tries to stab the killer in the leg at the climax of Iced, but he doesn't even flinch since the said leg is a prosthetic.
  • In Cockneys vs. Zombies, a zombie bites one of the pensioners on the ankle, only for the man to remove the bitten prosthetic leg and beat its head in with it.
  • Played for Laughs in The Avengers (2012). Loki's mind-control staff works by poking the target over the heart. It doesn't work on Tony Stark because his implanted arc reactor is in the way. Loki mutters, "This usually works," and Tony makes a crack about Loki having "performance issues".
  • In Revenge of the Sith, Darth Vader's prosthetic arm lets him climb to safety even when the rest of his body is burned by lava. Its also the only limb that wasn't cut off, but it being metal (and as such not burning) helped.
  • Played for Laughs in Men in Black II. After Kay regains his memory, he starts fighting the aliens attacking Jay and tries for a Groin Attack on one of them. The alien shrugs it off, only for Jay to yell, "Kay, he's a Ballchinnian!" Kay consequently aims higher the second time.

  • In the novel Dr. No, the eponymous doctor explains how he survived being shot through the heart by his former Tong masters because of his dextrocardia.
  • The Mad Scientist du jour in Jason X: Planet of the Beast gets his artificial arm ripped off, though this trope is averted in the proceeding book, Jason X: Death Moon, where the latest Mad Scientist is stabbed in his fake eye, but Jason just drives the blade in deeper and deeper until it reaches the guy's brain.
  • In Steve Harriman's thriller novel Sleeper, the escaped monster tears off government bureaucrat Ed Jeffers' arm, and succeeds, as the arm is a prosthetic that he wears to cover up a birth defect(a small, only partially formed arm) caused by Thalidomide.
  • A literal Organ Dodge is performed by a pair of wizards in The Legend of Drizzt series of novels. They prepare for an upcoming battle with mind flayers (squid-faced monsters that eat brains) by switching around their brains and their buttocks.
  • In Doorways in the Sand, Fred Cassidy survives a close-range gunshot to the chest because of temporary dextrocardia — a few chapter earlier, he went through a machine that mirror-reversed his body.
  • Simon R. Green:
    • In "Appetite For Murder", a short story from Tales From The Nightside, a magically-enhanced Serial Killer attempts to use his Super-Strength to rip open the buxom chest of Ms. Fate, the Nightside's resident superheroine. As the killer in question hadn't realized just how unexpected Ms. Fate's Secret Identity is, he's befuddled to find that he's merely torn off one of the Wholesome Crossdresser crime-fighter's falsies.
    • Forest Kingdom: At one point in book 4 (Beyond the Blue Moon), the sorceress Mistique, who's fighting a zombie horde, is attacked from behind by one of their number. It grabs her lush mane of curly black hair... only to find itself holding a wig, which confuses the slow-witted undead long enough for Mistique, now outraged because it had exposed her baldness, to blast it.
  • In Aeon 14: Destiny Lost, Tanis Richards nearly dies from a railgun shot through the chest that obliterates her heart. Her nanotechnology-induced Healing Factor lets her survive it, but in between books she has an auxiliary heart installed at about hip level, which lets her survive a knifing in New Canaan.

    Live-Action TV 
  • A major plot point in an episode of Arrested Development is repeatedly simulating the loss of an arm. Also shows up in subtle forms after Buster's run-in with a certain performing animal.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series has a couple of these due to Mr. Spock's half-Vulcan ancestry.
    • In "Operation: Annihilate!", Spock is hit with a brilliant light and is apparently blinded. Later it's revealed that he has an extra eyelid that protected him and made the effect only temporary.
    • In "A Private Little War", Spock is shot but survives because his heart is where his liver would be if he were fully human.
  • Sylar from Heroes can avoid mortal harm by using his shapeshifting powers to move his organs around. When he gains a healing factor, this makes him even more invulnerable than others, because he can move around the one spot in all healers' brains that would make death permanent.
  • A missing organ is a pretty standard revelation in the Autopsy Scene, although CSI has also done at least two episodes about ironically-fatal dextrocardia.
  • In Lost, Locke survives being gut-shot by Ben because he donated his kidney. Though the Island's healing powers and Taller Ghost Walt may have been involved.
  • The Doctor suddenly revealing he has a "respiratory bypass system" as an explanation for him surviving strangulation in the Doctor Who serial "Pyramids of Mars".
  • In Stargate SG-1, the most painful way to kill Jaffa is to aim for the symbiote pouch in their abdomen, which both kills the symbiote and causes a serious gut injury... unless said Jaffa uses tretonin, a drug that obviates the need for a symbiote. Thus in "Lost City", Bra'tac survives being stabbed in his pouch by The Mole. Mind you, being stabbed in the gut is still pretty bad, but the fact that the symbiote wasnít killed lets him keep going a bit longer. Using tretonin instead of a symbiote also renders Jaffa immune to a Tok'ra-developed chemical weapon that targets Goa'uld symbiotes (the dying symbiote unfortunately produces a toxin that also kills the host).
  • Something added rather than removed, namely a steel plate in his skull, saved Vietnam veteran and undercover cop Michael Long from what would have been a fatal gunshot wound in the pilot episode of Knight Rider. Magic Plastic Surgery and a new surname ensued.
  • Helena's survival of being shot in the chest at the end of the first season of Orphan Black is ascribed to dextrocardia, although a Healing Factor may also have been involved.
  • Criminal Minds: The team realize that the sniper that are chasing in the "Final Shot" episode is not a run-of-the-mill Spree Killer because his victims were hit by kill shots directly to the head, base of neck, and heart. The only reason that the sixth victim survived the mass shooting was because he had dextrocardia. However, it is ultimately subverted, since the bullet still tore through major arteries and the doctors couldn't save him.
  • In Angel, a vampire named James who wanted revenge on Angel and felt he had nothing to lose had his heart surgically removed so that he could not be defeated by staking (and sunlight). The reason why vampires don't do this more often is because after six hours, the vampire will automatically turn to dust and nothing can prevent this.
  • Variation in Hercules. Hercules is challenged to shoot the Ceryneian Hind with an arrow, but it is a sacred animal and to spill its blood is an offense punishable by the gods. Hercules proves skilled enough to shoot it without hitting any blood vessels, so it doesn't bleed.
  • Theon on Game of Thrones shrugs off a Groin Attack in the seventh season because he was castrated during a period of Cold-Blooded Torture in the third season.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Invoked Trope in the d20 Modern sourcebook Cyberscape with the cybernetic implant Organ Remapping. This implant "is an extensive set of minor cybernetic devices that relocate a recipientís internal organs and adds safety valves, cutoffs, back-ups, and alternatives to many of the more critical and fragile organic systems." In game, it increases the recipient's massive damage threshold, and gives him/her an increased save bonus against massive damage (that is to say, an increased probability to survive extremely damaging attacks).
  • Something similar in Cyberpunk 2020, with the implant 'decentralized heart'. Instead of one single heart, one has a number of individual pumping chambers scattered around the major arteries and veins.
  • In a deliberate version, powerful members of the Setite clan in Vampire: The Masquerade can remove their hearts and store them for safekeeping, which prevents the automatic paralysis that results from a stake through the heart (unless an enemy can find where the heart is being kept).
  • Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition: The Warshaper is a Prestige Class open to shapeshifters. One of the first powers gained is "Morphic Immunities", which allows them to redistribute vital organs whenever in a different form than their own, gaining immunity to stunning and critical hits.

    Video Games 
  • AI: The Somnium Files: Near the end of one route, Date gets shot in the eye. Specifically, he gets shot where Aiba, his cybernetic assistant AI eyeball, lives. While Aiba is out of commission for a while and Date is rendered comatose, at least the bullet didn't reach his brain.
  • In the endgame of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, Ocelot disables the electromagnetic force field that protects Fortune from gunfire, and shoots her straight through the heart... which doesn't seem to faze her at all, because as Ocelot remembers afterwards, her heart is on the right. Of course, she still dies from the gaping hole in her chest some minutes later, but not before figuratively flipping him the bird by deflecting several missiles from Metal Gear RAY anyway.
    • Similarly, during a fistfight at the end of Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, Ocelot attempts to jab a finger into Naked Snake's eye during a close-quarters fight... the same eye that Ocelot shot out by accident earlier in the story. Snake just gives him a smug little grin for a second before continuing the fight.
  • In Soulcalibur III, Siegfried says he Invoked this for his opponent in one of his win quotes. One has to wonder how he did it, though, with his weapon of choice being a BFS.
    "I avoided your vital organs. You'll live."
  • In Team Fortress 2's "Expiration Date" short, the RED Scout accidentally throws a fork into the RED Demoman's left eye. However, that eye was already gone due to a childhood incident with a wizard, so Demo's only injury is a few tiny holes in his Eyepatch of Power.
  • In X-COM: UFO Defense, Ethereals have the highest hitpoint and armor value of all the non terror unit aliens. Their UFOPaedia entry after an autopsy reads "The muscles are severely atrophied and the internal organs appear to be under-developed. The sensory organs, including the eyes, do not appear to function at all. The brain, however, is well developed and draws on a high proportion of the body's blood supply. It is a mystery as to how this creature can sustain itself without external support." They are that tough because they don't have many organs to damage.

    Web Comics 
  • In The Adventures of Dr. McNinja the evil ninja master Frans Rayner had learned a technique to move his internal parts around. This is first revealed when a pressure point strike has no effect on him; later he uses this to survive apparent certain death.

    Web Original 
  • There is a lateral thinking puzzle about a man who "lived because his brother nearly died" which when solved is revealed to be a man stabbed who managed to survive due to an organ dodge; having donated his kidney to his brother earlier when his brother was sick.
    • Another more gruesome and challenging puzzle is the exact inverse of this. Don't recall the setup, but the final reveal ends up involving three scientists who were studying some newly discovered primitive/superstitious peoples culture when they accidentally anger the primitives and are going to be killed for it. In an attempt to save the others one of the men claimed that they were special beings sent by the gods and that they only look like humans, when the primitives don't believe him he tells them to kill him first. When they do they discover the man had four kidneys(from kidney transplants he had received, they leave the old ones in and keep adding new ones). Since the primitive people consider kidneys to be the source of power in a man they conclude that any man with four must be special and thus this man was telling the truth about being sent by the gods. The primitives let the other two scientists go in hopes of not angering the gods any more then they already had by killing one of their representatives.
    • For added fun, combine the two above puzzles by having one brother donate a kidney to the other, then have the first's life saved when he is stabbed, but lacks a kidney, and the other sacrifices himself to the primitives. Properly phrased, this puzzle will take many hours to solve and drive even the most skilled puzzler crazy.
  • In one StoryCorps piece, a man tells the story of his father's wooden leg and different potentially-dangerous scenarios where he avoided pain because of his leg.

    Western Animation 
  • Adventure Time: In the episode "Evicted!", Jake survives a vampire bite by using his shape-shifting powers to move all his blood and guts into his thumb.
    • He (sort of) does it again in "Jake Vs Me-Mow", where he survives a poison by enlarging his liver enough so that it will absorb all the poison.

  • The Simpsons:
    • Jasper (the old guy with the long beard) is shot by Waylon Smithers (offscreen) in "Who Shot Mr. Burns Part 1". It is revealed in Part 2 that he was shot in his heretofore unrevealed wooden leg, and didn't even know it. (Didn't know that he was shot, that is; he knew he had a wooden leg.)
    • Another Simpsons example: Apu survives being shot in a burglary because the bullet bounced off another bullet in his chest from a prior robbery.


Video Example(s):


Reiner Braun

Due to the healing factors of Titan-Shifters allowing them to recover from any grievous or fatal wounds so long as it's not directed at the nape. Reiner takes this a step further by shifting out his own human bodies' consciousness throughout his Titan bodies' nervous system while his exposed human body is healing.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / OrganDodge

Media sources: