[Flanders is knocked down]
Ned Flanders: Whew, good thing I always keep a Bible next to my ...
[Flanders is knocked down again]
Flanders: Whew, luckily I was wearing an extra large piece of the True Cross today.
[Flanders notices that he doesn't have any other religious symbols with him]
Flanders: I think I'll go inside.
Oh no! Our Hero just got shot! There's a hole in his shirt right over his heart ... but what's this? He has something in his pocket? It's stopped the bullet! He is saved!
He's got a Bible in there? It'll stop the bullet. Ditto for cellphones, and especially lockets; if it contains photographs of beloved ones, expect a large modifier (positive or negative, depending upon the scene) to the attack.
While it may have worked in the days when guns were extremely underpowered (relatively speaking), these days the life-saved-by-sentimental-object trope is discredited; it's rare to find a 21st century example that plays it straight. It's important to note that most real-world examples involve ricochets, spent bullets, shrapnel or other low-velocity projectiles. It's a very lucky break when the round is moving slow enough to be stopped by anything so small and thin as what you can fit in a pocket. Also, pretty much any real-life example of a bullet being stopped by a Bible or other book in the victim's pocket will involve the book being stored in a silver or steel box, which obviously provides more resistance than just paper.
One commonly-used justification is that it's an attempted assassination; Silencers only work with subsonic rounds (any supersonic round makes a loud crack as it breaks the sound barrier) meaning appropriate bullets can thus be rendered nonlethal by many everyday objects capable of fitting into a pocket.
This trope is usually an example of either Chekhov's Gun (if the object was introduced previously), Deus ex Machina (if the object was not previously introduced), or both (if the object was introduced, but couldn't be expected to stop a bullet.)
See Bulletproof Vest for things that are supposed to stop bullets.note Compare Concealment Equals Cover, where the hero is protected by something that isn't in their pocket. If bullets are stopped by an unwilling Mook or bystander, that's a Bulletproof Human Shield. For other uses for books, see Useful Book. For intentional versions with (usually) larger objects, see Improvised Armour. Invariably leads to a Wardrobe Wound.
- Akame ga Kill!: In their first meeting, Akame stabs Tatsumi, but he is saved by a small idol in his shirt.
- The Ambition of Oda Nobuna: Yoshiharu gives Nobuna his cellphone. It ends up blocking a bullet and then a sword strike, and doesn't even get damaged.
- In the final episode of the first season of Afro Samurai, the titular character is saved from being decapitated by the Big Bad's third arm by a comb he kept as a memento of a Girl of the Week from episode 2.
- The Berserk anime/manga has a poison arrow aimed at Griffith's heart blocked by his Behelit, or as the Abridged of that show calls it, the "Portable Deus Ex Machina Generator". Justified in that Behelits are supernatural instruments of fate that want to keep their owners alive until they can cross the Despair Event Horizon, and are likely Made of Indestructium to boot.
- Parodied in the manga, when the fanatically religious Knight Templar Bishop Mozgus is apparently stabbed with Guts' BFS, but then gets up and pulls out the book of scriptures he always keeps in his robes to show where it caught the thrust. He states that the scriptures are what his faith is based on, and that because of his faith he cannot be harmed by a "tainted blade". A couple characters point out this is complete nonsense, as the book was easily torn through and he was protected from the sword by his own incredibly hard scales. What's more, once he took his One-Winged Angel form, the Bible was incorporated into his flesh... making it the one part of his body not protected by scales and thus his Achilles' Heel for Guts to exploit.
- Played glaringly straight in and episode of Black Jack 21 when a single ace of spades and his mother's pendant stopped a bullet from piercing his left lung.
- Ichigo's Hollow mask saves him twice from otherwise fatal hits in Bleach, the second time being after being taken from him and thrown into a sewer.
- In Change 123 a bullet shot into the back of a girl gets stopped by a (hidden) combat knife tucked into her belt.
- In the first episode of Code Geass, Suzaku is shot in the back; in the second, we learn that the bullet hit a pocket watch that belonged to his Disappeared Dad. Unlike many examples, the bullet still injures him even if it's not fatal. Note also that Code Geass uses something that's basically low velocity railguns instead of actual gunpowder guns. Bullet weight and speed are significantly lower then in the real life.
- Played for laughs in Cross Ange. After Momoka gets shot by the Big Bad(then knocked off a cliff by a bus, which naturally explodes), she shows up alive in the following episode. When a shocked Ange asks how the hell she survived, Momoka reaches into her blouse and pulls out a cast-iron frying pan with a bullet in it. No that doesn't explain how she survived everything else(or why she's carrying a frying pan, or how the hell it fit in there), that's the joke.
- Detective Conan uses the trope once in a while:
- A mahjong tile in Takagi's breast pocket (taken as evidence) stops a bullet. Shiratori even lampshades how cliche it is. OTOH, Takagi did get injured anyway (due to quite the blunt trauma force to the chest) and had to be hospitalized and operated on.
- Also, once Conan almost gets stabbed in the gut by a suspect. He had an amulet with a piece of metal in his pocket (which he borrowed from Heiji), which stopped the knife. He still is in pain for a while and needed to rest up.
- And Megure's Nice Hat softens a blow to the head given to him with a metal pipe. It's not enough to avert the hospital trip, however.
- In one episode, a boy's life is saved because a knife hit a hat that he had inside his jacket. The hat had been a gift from is late mother and he always had it with him.
- In another case, a woman ( Sato, while in a disguise) gets stabbed when she's wearing a Fairytale Wedding Dress. The dress itself has a very thick corset so it stops the knife in itself.
- In Devil May Cry: The Animated Series, Dante gets possessed by a cursed pocket watch he was wearing as a necklace. Lady shoots him and he falls, but when the demon who set this up shows up to gloat, Dante gets up and reveals Lady's bullet destroyed the pocket watch and snapped him out of it. Slightly subverted because Dante points out the bullet actually penetrated the pocket watch and hit his heart anyway, but the bullet was slowed down enough that it just bruised his heart (which really hurt) instead of penetrating it. A simple matter for his Healing Factor to fix.
- In Dragon Ball, Goku survives Tao Pai Pai's Dodonpa to the chest because he had the 4-Star Dragon Ball (Sixingqiu) under his shirt. Although, considering those are said to be indestructible, it makes sense.
- In the movie 'Curse of the Blood Rubies', Yamcha's history as a thief pays off.
- In First Squad, the old monk survives an attack from Nazi ninja twins because his book took a bullet meant for him.
- Also done in an episode of Fullmetal Alchemist when a boy is saved from a bullet by having a locket with a picture of his deceased mother hidden underneath his shirt. Made more poignant by the fact that this locket had been a point of strife between the boy and his brother, who had held a grudge against their mother for a certain misunderstanding. Adding to the Emotional Torque is that the bullet causes the locket, which was stuck up to that point, to open, its contents clearing up the misunderstanding.
- Done in the bonus OVA Yet Another Man's Battlefield, with Mustang surviving because his state alchemist pocket watch stopped the bullet.
- A bag of gold coins takes a bullet for Tetsuro early in Galaxy Express 999.
- An episode of Gintama opens with Okita appearing to be fatally stabbed by a passerby on a busy street, only for him to catch his fall and suplex the offender into the dirt before revealing they had stabbed a bottle of Tabasco sauce he was concealing in the front of his pants. He was keeping it handy for the sake of playing a prank on Hijikata and others, as per usual.
- In GUN×SWORD, a turtle (conveniently hanging around her chest) saves Wendy's life within the first 2 minutes of the first episode, and the damned thing shows up in every episode with that hole in its shell.
- The Gunsmith Cats manga has Rally surviving a bullet to the side thanks to the bullet having to penetrate a collapsible rifle stowed in her jacket — along with her car's roll cage. The rifle is left with a bullet hole in the stock and barrel, and Rally is left with broken ribs as it was a fired from a fourteen-inch .45 Desert Eagle.
- Once Rally is forced to shoot Roy, but deliberately aims at the revolver in his shoulder holster.
- There's also one time when she takes control of an assassin's arm and forces her to empty her magazine right at her chest... where she put a paperback novel just for the purpose. Justified by the circumstances; May was being held hostage in their hotel room and started Talking Through Technique — referring to a "favorite piece" when she knows fully well that Rally is using a cheap throwaway gun due to her license being suspended. Rally thus realizes this, and makes the logical assumption of an assassin using a silenced small-caliber pistol.
- JoJo's Bizarre Adventure:
- In part 3 Jotaro survived a storm of knives thrown at him by Dio during a timestop because of his hat and several copies of Shonen Jump he had stuffed in his jacket (the fact his stand was able to move for 1 second during the timestop and deflect half of the knives helped, but he still would have died were it not for the hat and magazines).
- In Part 4, happen to Kira (the Big Bad). After Hayato Kawajiri uses the time loop caused by "Bites the Dust" to spill hot coffee on Kira, he puts his wrist watch inside of his shirt pocket instead of wearing it on his burned wrist. It saves his life when Hayato later tries to kill him with Stray Cat's air bullets. In the end, this destroyed watch makes Kira realize that his final desperate attempt to use Bites the Dust failed and he got turned into a ghost, as it should have been restored had the time loop succeeded.
- In Katekyō Hitman Reborn! while taking on Byakuran, Tsuna was losing badly. An attack from Byakuran almost pierced Tsuna through the heart, only to be stopped by Lanchia's Ring, an object last seen 140 chapters earlier.
- Lupin III:
- In Lupin III: Island of Assassins, Zenigata is shot in the opening segment, and the bullet hits the badge in his pocket. While it keeps the shot from being instantly fatal, it still injures him severely. He's hospitalized immediately, but still flatlines.
- The movie Lupin III: Missed by a Dollar has a more plausible example, with a bullet bouncing off of Lupin's gun. Unfortunately, the animators depict the bullet (in a slow-motion flashback) bouncing off at an angle that would have buried it in Lupin's head...
- In Maiden Rose, the textbook Taki wrote in slows down the bullets that Klaus takes at point-blank range in Volume 2, causing the wounds to be non-fatal.
- An example in a later episode of Miracle Girls where Mika gets saved from a knife hurled by Takamura using psychic powers because it hits the pocket watch she got from Chris.
- In a pinch, Rin Asougi of Mnemosyne uses a hotel Bible to block a bullet from an assassin's small caliber, silenced pistol. And then dug out the bullet and threw it into the assassin's face, blinding her in one eye.
- Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS Team gives us Aina's pocket watch/locket, which saves her from a bullet by hanging in front of her heart during the final episode.
- In Outlaw Star, Gene takes a surprise shot to the gut that fortunately only succeeds in ruining his rather bulky PDA.
- In Pokémon Adventures, Blue would have been killed off by a Razor Wind aimed at his heart had it not been blocked by a pendant given to him by his grandfather, Professor Oak.
- In Princess Tutu, Ahiru fends of a sword attack from Fakir (don't ask) with a Paper Fan of Doom.
- In the first episode of R.O.D the TV, the paper sisters are flying alongside Nenene's plane, trying to save the author from an assassin. The youngest pokes her head out to look in windows, and we see the assassin shoot at the girl a few times, breaking windows of the airplane. The girl ducks back into the paper beast, readying her rescue attempt, and, after Nenene is saved, reveals the signed copy of Nenene's book, with a huge bullet hole through the cover, digging down through most of the book. She then says, "You need to write thicker books, my defense isn't so good..." Subverted as the Paper Sisters have control over the elemental powers of paper, and use loose sheets of paper to stop bombs exploding, among other things.
- In the Red River manga, Kail was saved from a fatal arrow strike, thanks to Yuri's letter to him being conveniently kept and shattered near his heart. This letter was a clay tablet, however, and he still had a nasty wound from it afterwards.
- In Rurouni Kenshin, Sanosuke punches Anji in the heart, which should have killed or crippled him, but Anji's Buddhist prayer tablet inside his robes took the hit.
- Sailor Moon is forced to stab a Brainwashed and Crazy Mamoru in the chest, and she's so traumatized that she attempts suicide... except he lived because the sword was stopped by the crystallized forms of the Shitennou, and she did too because the blade hit the pocket watch Mamoru had let her borrow.
- One chapter of the Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei manga has a bullet intended for the title character getting stopped by a "No War" button one of his students pinned on his back.
- Parodied in Senyuu. A character claims to have been saved from a spear by a memento dagger in his front pocket, but Hero points out that everyone saw him get Impaled with Extreme Prejudice. He refuses to admit that he died and had an Unexplained Recovery.
- At the finale of the Sword Art Online Death Gun arc, Kirito is stabbed by Kyoji with a lethal drug. The syringe is stopped by an electrode that had been left on when he ran to Shino's house from the hospital.
- Sword Art Online: Alternative Gun Gale Online: In Sword Art Online and games developed from its engine, some things are coded as "Immortal Objects", meaning they can't be destroyed. One such item is the "Satellite Scan Terminal" in Gun Gale Online's Bullet of Bullet and Squad Jam tournaments. At least until LLEN survives a full clip to the heart because she had her Scan Terminal in her breast pocket. In the next game, the Scan Terminal is no longer an Immortal Object.
- At the end of Sword of the Stranger, Nanashi and Luo Lang's sword duel ends when they both stab each other in the chest at the same time, they collapse to the ground both seemingly dying, it is then revealed that Nanashi survived because Lang had stabbed the gem Kotaro had given him earlier as payment for being his bodyguard which caused his sword to miss his heart.
- In Trigun: Badlands Rumble, Vash is saved from a gunshot wound to the heart by a rock-hard chunk of Tomas meat that he'd tried and failed to get an edible knife scraping off of earlier in the movie.
- In The Unlimited Hyoubu Kyousuke, Andy's Power Limiter stops a bullet from his boss's attempt at You Have Outlived Your Usefulness. Rather impressive, since the savior trinket is about the size and shape of a quarter; he's lucky the bullet didn't force the whole thing partway into his chest.
- In Yu-Gi-Oh!, Joey uses the trap card "Silver Dollar" to stop Siegfried's attack. This results in a silver dollar in Sasuke Samurai's shirt blocking Valkyrie Erste's sword.
- In the Big Finish Doctor Who story "Return of the Rocket Men", Steven is able to survive a shot to the heart by stuffing a 1967 diary given to him as a birthday present into the front of his spacesuit, although this is Justified in two ways — first, he had already witnessed exactly where the bullet was going to hit him thanks to a Stable Time Loop, and second he put a sheet of improvised metal armour in the back cover (turning it into a Shout-Out to A Fistful of Dollars to match the story's Spaghetti Western theme).
- Brilliantly spoofed by Woody Allen in his monologue back in the days when he was a stand-up comic:
Woody: Years ago, my mother gave me a bullet... a bullet, and I put it in my breast pocket. Two years after that, I was walking down the street, when a berserk evangelist heaved a Gideon Bible out a hotel room window, hitting me in the chest. Bible would have gone through my heart if it wasn't for the bullet.
- Stand-up comic Anthony Jeselnik tells a story about this:
Anthony:' Now, I'm not a religious man. But my Uncle Tom? Super-religious. And one day, during a walk, he was mugged and shot in the chest. Now, miraculously — and I mean miraculously — he always kept a Bible in his left front pocket. And he had something to read while he bled to death.
- One Billy Connolly joke involves a soldier with a watch in his breast pocket. When fired upon the bullet would have pierced his heart had it not been for the watch case... which caused it to ricochet off and blast through his skull instead.
- I Killed Adolf Hitler: Hitler is saved by (of course) a copy of Mein Kampf in his pocket.
- Sin City plays this straight in the yarn The Big Fat Kill. Dwight is apparently killed by a shot to the heart, and we only realize he's alive when his attackers find the badge he'd lifted from a dead cop earlier...with the bullet lodged in it.
- In the Strontium Dog "Outlaw" story, Middenface's money belt saves him from Stix's blaster. Unfortunately, it costs him about 40,000 credits.
- Invoked in one Superman comic where Clark Kent has to explain why he is unharmed after apparently just being shot. He reaches into his jacket and pulls out a silver dollar, denting it with his Super Strength as he does so, and claims that the bullet deflected off the coin.
- In Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne, an amnesiac Bruce Wayne wakes up in hospital; his life apparently having been saved by Mordecai Wayne's journal he was carrying in his pocket.
- In a double-fictional version of Transmetropolitan called From the Mountain to the City, Spider Jerusalem (here imagined as a grizzled, musclebound pacifist) is saved from a cop's stray fire this way. Naturally, it's about as ham-handed as possible.
Alt-Spider: The steel hypodermic syringe case my best friend Mitch Royce gave me as a thank-you gift for taking on the column to save his career! It stopped the bullet!
- Happens in one early Batman story featuring Two-Face. Two-Face tosses his coin to decide if he should reform. The coin lands on its edge; stuck in a gap in the floorboards. Two-Face refuses to flip it again and puts the coin away in his breast pocket, saying it is now up to fate to determine if he should be good or evil. When a policeman shoots at Two-Face, the bullet deflects off the coin. When Two-Face looks at the coin, he sees that the bullet struck the scarred side of the coin. He takes this a sign that he is supposed to be a criminal.
- In the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles story arc "Body Count" near the end Casey Jones gets shot near the heart Raphael thinks he's dead and carries his body around with him, it is later revealed that he is alive his lucky Wayne Gretsky autographed hockey puck had been strapped to his chest for such an emergency.
- Jon Sable, Freelance: One of the evil poachers who killed Jon's family is saved from Jon's Roaring Rampage of Revenge by the AK-47 he was carrying at chest height. Jon's bullet hits the rifle and the impact is enough to knock the poacher out, leading Jon to assume he is dead.
- Used as the origin of the Marvel Noir-verse version of Luke Cage. Unlike his mainline counterpart he's not really invulnerable, people just think he is because he survived being shot in the chest, which turned out to be the result of the bullets lodging in a flask he was carrying.
- In Hack/Slash, one of the machetes Vlad keeps inside his coat saved his life when he was hit with a bolt from a magic wand.
- In Trigger, Carter Lennox is shot by an assassin he witnessed in the act. He's saved by a hardcover of The Long Goodbye that he had in his coat pocket, with the bullet not even getting through the whole book. He muses, "I think Phillip Marlowe just saved my life." Humorously, he isn't finished reading it and doesn't let the bullet hole stop him.
- Played for laughs in The Simping Detective. Jack and Demarco get into a firefight with some mooks, during which Jack takes a hit. Demarco asks him if it's bad, only for Jack to pull out his hipflask, which has a large hole in it and is now leaking whiskey.
Jack Point: It's worse!
- In a Dylan Dog story, Groucho gets saved from a bullet to the heart by the Bible he had previously stuffed in his jacket, and lampshades the cliche. Then he reveals that he has at least seven other books inside his jacket.
- In Bat Lash #2, a young girl is saved from a bullet when it hits the doll she is carrying. Earlier, her father (who was a U.S. Marshal) had hidden his metal cigar case inside the doll; the case containing proof that the local undertaker was running guns to the Indians. The bullet bounces off the case.
- Hack/Slash: In Fame Monster, Vlad is saved from a magical blast fired by an assassin when it strikes the machete he is carrying in the pocket of his Badass Longcoat.
- Spoofed in Rat-Man: when our hero was mistaken to have killed The Punisher's aunt, Castle eventually shot him, but a Bible stopped the bullet to the heart... And given Castle emptied a Colt 1911's magazine into him, a Quran stopped the one to the spleen, Das Kapital the one to the stomach, a copy of The Betrothed another, and so on.
- Star Wars: Tag & Bink: Tag is shot by Boba Fett but the blaster bolt bounces off Chewie's medal which he had just put on. Twice.
- Batman '66: The batarang in the back of Batman's utility belt prevented Bane from crushing his spine.
- Rough Riders: When General Linares shoots Annie Oakley, the bullet is stopped by a hip flask (a gift from Wild Bill Hickcock) that she has stuffed down her cleavage.
- Bill Mauldin drew a Willie And Joe cartoon during World War II that shows a soldier writing a letter to Margaret Mitchell, author of Gone with the Wind. The letter's opening makes it clear her book saved his life during the invasion of Italy.
- Modesty Blaise:
- In "The Vampire of Malvescu", Willy is saved when a bullet fired at him hit the tin mug he was holding. Justified by the bullet being a soft nose that deformed on hitting the mug and lodged in the far wall. The mug still hit him with enough force to knock him out and break a rib.
- In "The Killing Distance", Sir Gerald (barely) survives a sniper's bullet when it deflects off a medal on the costume he was wearing.
- In "The Hanging Judge", Willie is saved when a crossbow bolt deflects off the bandoleer of knives he is wearing. Again, he is left wounded, but alive and mobile.
- A variant in Diaries of a Madman, where a throwing knife aimed at Navarone is randomly deflected by a stud in his clothing. It doesn't do much to stop the next two aimed at his wings, though.
- Parodied in The Vinyl And Octavia Series. Vinyl survives a stabbing from a sword thanks to a miniature subwoofer she has strapped to her chest.
- In the A Certain Magical Index/The Familiar of Zero crossover HOPES and FEARS, a cross necklace Saito gives Prince Wales saves him from the sword stab that killed him in canon.
- In The Killer Dame (a parody of the Star Trek: Voyager episode "The Killing Game") a member of La Résistance has a bullet stopped by his cigarette case, only to drop dead from the blunt-force trauma to his heart.
- A side story of Pokémon Reset Bloodlines focused on Sanpei has him confronting a villain named Capriccio, who is part of Team Cipher. He takes his kunai and stabs him in the chest with it. Sanpei drops himself on the ground and plays dead until Capriccio leaves, revealing that a scroll he was keeping in his chest pouch saved him.
- In Hard Target it happens twice. The first time is a subversion since the homeless man's dog tags fail completely to stop an arrow fired at his heart. Later, it happens when Chance's uncle gets stabbed in the chest with an arrow. It it later revealed that the arrow only pierced the hip flask he kept some moonshine in.
- In Problem Child, Ben (John Ritter) survives a bullet to the chest because it hits an old, dried prune he had in his shirt pocket. In a slight subversion, the bullet goes straight through one or two other mementos in the same pocket.
Ben: It's all right, officer... he got me in the prune.
- In Reckless Kelly, an assassin sent by the villain shoots the hero in the chest with a stupidly big gun, and the bullet is stopped by the tacky oversized crucifix the hero had been wearing as part of a costume for a B-movie in which he was acting.
- A variation in Big Game, as Moore defends himself from a knife with a book so thick the blade isn't long enough to punch through.
- Subverted in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. Robert Downey Jr is shot by the bad guy and collapses; the love interest is afraid that he's been killed, but wait! He sits up, and pulls out from his pocket that trashy detective novel from earlier in the movie, with a bullet hole in it! But then she realises that, wait a minute — the bullet hole goes right through. He's been shot in the chest and is in dire need of an ambulance. (The bullet may have been slowed down by passing through his partner first.)
- Sleepy Hollow: Ichabod is saved from Lady Van Tassel's shot by Katrina's book in his jacket.
- Done straight in the Alfred Hitchcock film The 39 Steps with a hymn-book (which happened to be inside a coat that the hero has been given). Cue gag about some of the hymns being "awfully hard to get through".
- Hot Fuzz, with Nicholas' trusty police notebook! In this case, the knife wasn't blocked, but rather Danny faked stabbing Nicholas Angel and used the ketchup to make the deception more convincing.
- Shanghai Noon also subverts this; the corrupt sheriff dies when a bullet goes right through his sheriff star badge, which dramatically fails to stop it. There has to be An Aesop in there somewhere.
- Hard Boiled: A cigarette lighter blunts the force of a bullet enough that the guy shot only goes into intensive care after managing to relay important information to the cops. The lighter was sleight-of-handed into his pocket by an undercover cop, shortly before firing the "killing shot" into that area.
- Support Your Local Sheriff:
- Subverted in this western comedy when the newly-hired sheriff of a lawless Western town is given his badge, which has a nasty bullet-dent in it...
Sheriff: This must have saved the life of whoever was wearing it.
Mayor: Sure would have, if it hadn'ta been for all them other bullets flyin' in from everywhere!
- Later played straight: the outlaw patriarch gives his false teeth to his son for safekeeping during the firefight.
Danby Jr: Pa! Your teeth! They saved my life!
Danby Sr: Always worryin' about YOUR life! What am I going to chew with now?!
- Subverted in this western comedy when the newly-hired sheriff of a lawless Western town is given his badge, which has a nasty bullet-dent in it...
- In Octopussy, James Bond is saved from an assassin's knife by a wad of cash he had earlier won off the Big Bad Kamal Khan.
- A similar sequence happens in Rush Hour 2, where Carter is saved from a sword wound by a wad of counterfeit 100 dollar bills.
- The Spaghetti Western One Silver Dollar has the protagonist being saved by a bullet because of a... silver dollar in his pocket.
- In Batman (1989) with Michael Keaton, the Joker shoots Bruce Wayne in the chest at close range with a small pistol. Luckily Bruce had hidden a metal tray under his jacket in the scene before expecting just this (good thing the Joker didn't shoot for the head). There's a reason it's called a Batman Gambit.
- Another Michael Keaton movie, Johnny Dangerously, featured this trope, with Jack Dundee's cigarette case (which Johnny fills with chewing gum instead once Dundee gives it to him). It has a dent from an attempt on Dundee's life, and it later saves Johnny's brother Tommy from an assassin's bullet as well.
- Parodied in Hot Shots! Part Deux: Ramada is saved by a locket about the size of a dime, which upon examination still has the perfect condition, large caliber bullet — including the cartridge — lodged in it.
- In The Three Musketeers (1993), Aramis is shot, but his crucifix stops the bullet. He quips, "I told you there's a God!"
- Featured at the climax of a short film at a theme park (Disneyland?) A "please turn off your phone" ad plays, at which point an actor starts walking around talking loudly on his mobile. He's promptly punished by being pulled "into" the film, and cycles through several different genres. He ends up in a medieval battle and is only saved from death by arrow thanks to this trope.
- In The Fall, the Black Bandit tries to shoot his love (because she's engaged to be married to Odious, the man he's sworn to kill), but his bullet is stopped by her heart-shaped locket. It then falls open— she's been unable to open it for years—and reveals a message left by her father, telling her to marry for no reason other than love. The characters take this as a sign that they should get married. (Amusingly, the tale of the Black Bandit is actually a story being told to a young girl. At this point, she gets upset because she thinks people in love should get together. Since he has to keep his sole audience happy, the story teller winds up having to invoke this trope and everything afterwards as a blatant Ass Pull.)
- In Gettysburg, Jeff Daniels' character (a Union colonel) is hit and knocked down by a musket ball, but when he gets up he discovers that it merely dented his (very skinny) officers' scabbard (after which he merely comments, "I'll be damned."). This was loosely based on an actual incident which happened to the real Colonel Chamberlain
- Happens twice in The Returner. Miyamoto accidentally shoots Milly when she appears, but she's protected by a metal plate in her jacket. Justified by the fact that she's a time traveler from After the End and was probably wearing it for just such a reason. Later on, Miyamoto gets shot in the heart but is saved by the same metal plate, which a further-future version of Milly put in his jacket. Again justified, because Milly knew exactly where and when he was going to get shot (presumably from looking up his coroner's report).
- A story along these lines is told near the end of Heist when veteran thief Bobby (Delroy Lindo) is sitting in a van with a sort-of partner, Jimmy (Sam Rockwell) before a heist.
Bobby: Sometimes the adrenaline hits, it gives you the shakes.
Jimmy: I'm alright.
Bobby: No, I'm just saying, sometimes adrenaline gives people the shakes, some other people mistake it for cowardice, maybe you want to pray about it.
Jimmy: I'm not a religious man.
Bobby: There's nothing wrong with prayer.
Jimmy: You think so?
Bobby: I'm in this firefight, this trooper, always carried a Bible next to his heart, we used to mock him. That Bible stopped a bullet.
Jimmy: No shit.
Bobby: Hand to God, that Bible stopped a bullet, would've ruined that fucker's heart. And had he had another Bible in front of his face, that man would be alive today.
- The German western parody Der Schuh des Manitu has a character saved by a gingerbread heart, which is at least 10 years old and has become hard as rock.
- In Stranger Than Fiction, the main character doesn't stop a bullet, but rather a bus. The icing on the cake? It's with his watch. Granted, they slammed on the brakes, but the metal shards from the watch jammed into his veins and stopped him from bleeding to death. This was an absolutely shameless in-universe Author's Saving Throw.
- Happens twice in the Japanese film Branded to Kill. The main character gets shot by his psycho wife and falls over, but he was hit in his large belt buckle. Later, he figures out that the assassin hired to kill him always hits his victims with a perfect headshot to the center of the forehead. Just before entering the final showdown, he puts his girlfriend's hairband over his forehead. As he steps out of hiding, he's immediately shot and falls over. As the assassin turns to leave, we see the broken hairband on the floor as the hero jumps up and shoots the assassin.
- Referenced in Love at First Bite, where Dracula is revealed to have survived his 1931 staking by Van Helsing because of a cigarette case Renfield gave him for his birthday.
- A villan using this is in Plunkett & Macleane cheats death. General Chance manages to survive a duel to the death with a Bible over his heart.
- The Golden Child. When the demon tries to stab Chandler Jarrell with the Dagger it hits the medallion the old man/priest gave him.
- In The Legend of Zorro, Father Quintero appears to die from a shot, but then he comes back later and reveals that he was saved by his crucifix necklace.
- The Back to the Future trilogy features Marty taking a cue from Clint Eastwood (AS Clint Eastwood) using the front plate of a coal oven as an improvised Bulletproof Vest under his poncho. The actual event happens in Back to the Future Part III but Marty sees Clint do it in a movie in Biff's suite in Back to the Future Part II.
- The film Marty saw in the example above is A Fistful of Dollars, where Clint Eastwood as the Man with No Name hides a metal plate under his poncho before the final showdown. In that fight, Blondie deliberately goads his opponent to aim at his chest, which is the only part of his body that is armored.
- Sin City: Dwight is apparently killed by a shot to the heart, and we only realize he's alive when his attackers find the badge he'd lifted from a dead cop earlier...with the bullet lodged in it.
- The Elvis Presley film Frankie & Johnny has Elvis' Johnny survive being shot onstage by a Not-So-Fake Prop Weapon when the bullet is lodged in the lucky cricket pendant Frankie had given him earlier.
- Predator 2. Before going in to fight the Predator, Harrigan puts a metal plate in his shirt to protect against its attacks.
- Played straight in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes (2010) with a tobacco box.
- In Paul Ruth's father gets shot in the chest, only to show up later, showing the bullet lodged in his copy of The Bible.
- A variant appears in The Avengers. Loki needs to touch a person over their heart with his scepter to control them. He tries this on Iron Man, but the arc reactor in Tony's chest gets in the way.
- In White House Down, President Sawyer is saved from a bullet by Lincoln's pocket watch. Didn't stop him from getting shot earlier, but then those guys had automatic weapons that certainly wouldn't have been hampered by the watch.
- In Kung Pow! Enter the Fist, The Chosen One is saved from Master Betty's deadly technique by having... a squirrel hidden in his clothes. And the squirrel is still alive, accepting peanuts in his hand-shaped imprint of a body!
- In Once Upon a Time in China, Lian Quan is saved by the pocket watch Sun gave him earlier from a bullet. Luke lampshaded this. Subverted the next second where Luke himself was shot in an area that his own watch couldn't protect him.
- Suicide Squad: While assaulting the federal building, Captain Boomerang gets stabbed in the chest by one of the zombies. After he cuts the zombie's head off, it is revealed he was saved by a huge wad of cash he had apparently stashed in his jacket offscreen.
- In a crossover with Throw the Book at Them, Travis blocks an incoming chisel by throwing a Bible at the attacker in The Visitation and instead has the book blocking the incoming weapon.
- In The Asylum's Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes, Holmes is saved from Miss Ivory's bullet by his tobacco case. This is a call back to Thorpe's early comment that Sherlock's tobacco habit would be deleterious to his health.
- In Bringing Down the House, Charlene is saved by Peter's titanium-cased phone in her bra when her ex-boyfriend Widow is revealed as the Big Bad and shoots her. The impact is still bad enough to have briefly knocked her out and she wakes up groaning loudly about how much it hurt.
- Used as a plot point in The Man Who Would Be King. Danny's bandolier beneath his coat stops an arrow. All the villagers who see it assume that he's impervious to harm and worship him as a god. This gives them idea of using the God Guise trick that eventually causes their downfall.
- Trick 'r Treat: When Sam tries to stab Me. Kreeg with a sharpened lollipop, the lollipop impales a candy bar that had fallen on his chest. Sam takes this as an offering and leaves Kreeg alive.
- In Deewaar, Vijay's "786" badge saves him this way when he's shot by one of Samant's men while stealing the gold back.
- Invoked in Deadpool 2: After Deadpool gets fatally shot, Cable slips back in time to before the fight and sneaks Deadpool's Skee-Ball token keepsake into his chest pocket. Deadpool has enough of a Ripple Effect-Proof Memory to call him out on it.
- In Boone: The Bounty Hunter, Boone gets shot in the chest, but has only a bruise due to it being stopped by the metal case holding his "Boone Deputy" signed trading cards.
- Dora and the Lost City of Gold: Randy gets shot in the side with an arrow and freaks out when he sees red liquid spilling. Then it turns out the arrow hit a juice box in his pocket.
- Clue: At the end of book 5, Mr. Boddy is stabbed in the chest by Miss Scarlet... but the introduction of book 6 reveals that he wasn't hurt a bit because the Knife was stopped by his "custom-made, titanium-lined, mega-million sized" wallet.
- Spoofed in the Discworld novel Jingo: Sergeant Colon recalls how a book of prayers kept an arrow from entering his great-grandfather's chest. Unfortunately, said book didn't stop "the other seventeen arrows". In response, Nobby briefly wears the Book of Om, a holy book that is five inches thick and wide enough to cover his entire chest in this manner. He reckoned that "even a longbow could only get an arrow as far as the Apocrypha".
- Peter Pan: The arrow the Lost Boys shoot at Wendy doesn't kill her because it hits an acorn button Wendy was wearing around her neck after Peter gave it to her as a present.
- In The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13¾, Bert Baxter shows Adrian a pocket Bible with a bullet hole, which, he claims, saved his life in World War I. Adrian notices that the Bible was printed in 1956.
- Doctor Who Expanded Universe:
- Subverted in Death and Diplomacy: a character tells the story of his grandfather, who went away to war wearing a crucifix of great sentimental value. One day, a bullet fired at him hit the crucifix — which shattered, aggravating a wound that would otherwise not have been lethal.
- In the Short Trips: Past Tense story "All Done With Mirrors", the Doctor is saved from a stab to the heart due to a copy of the Complete Works of Shakespeare that he kept in his breast pocket. Then he gives the book as a parting gift to William Shakespeare himself, telling him 'only to look at it if he gets stuck'.
- In The Drawing of the Three, the second book of The Dark Tower series, Jack Mort is saved from a bullet by his cigarette lighter; the lighter, however, shatters, and Mort's shirt catches fire. Five minutes later, Roland makes him jump in front of a train.
- Stephen King used this in his early novel Rage: the protagonist survives being shot by a police sniper because he dropped the padlock from his locker into his breast pocket. Lampshaded as the protagonist has a Flash Forward to seeing a commercial where the same brand of padlock survives being shot with a rifle - and Stress Vomits as it reminds him of getting shot. Zig-Zagged in that he still suffers shrapnel damage and a broken rib.
- In Good Omens, a man is saved from a bullet by his wallet, but is still shocked at how many credit cards were ruined in the process. This is justified shortly afterwords as explicit supernatural intervention (which was, to be fair, the reason he was being shot at in the first place.)
- In the novel From Russia with Love, James Bond is saved from Red Grant's bullet by his trusty cigarette case. Which Bond surreptiously put in place while the mentally dubious Grant explained how they'd set him up: Grant was using a special gun disguised in a book. Meant for public executions, it used a special low-power cartridge for minimum noise, and an expanding (dum-dum) bullet for maximum damage from the low power.
- In Charles Stross' Halting State, Jack is saved from a stab wound by the foldup keyboard in his jacket. It later turns out that his jacket is practically lined with computer stuff, though.
- In Dan Abnett's Gaunt's Ghosts novel Necropolis, Gaunt's life is saved by a metallic rose he is wearing. (Though he is hurt. Badly.)
- Spoofed in North, where one character manages to convince another that he saved their life after accidentally shooting them, merely by grabbing the nearest Bible, writing "To my friend" in it, shooting it, and then telling them at it must have softened the blow.
- Subverted in The Power of One: Peekay's grandfather knew someone during the Boer War whose Bible blocked a bullet to the chest. He gave all the credit to having God in his pocket, then got shot in the head after underestimating the range of the Boer rifles.
- In The Eyre Affair, Thursday Next is saved from a bullet by a copy of Jane Eyre in her pocket. She still suffers serious injury, though, and received first aid from none other than Mr. Rochester himself.
- The protagonist of Labyrinths of Echo once was hit by a high-explosive slingshot pellet in the chest... pulverizing a bottle of psychostimulant he carried. In the same fight when a homing magical weapon instead of beheading him annihilated an amulet. So he had to sleep without any protection, which he normally avoided — Sir Max is supposed to be a Cosmic Plaything.
- In the Ben Snow short story "The Trail of the Golden Cross", Ben is saved from being shot in the back when the bullet deflects off the eponymous cross, which he had concealed by hiding it in the small of his back under his shirt.
- In the Matthew Hawkwood novel Resurrectionist by James McGee, what should have been a killing thrust from Colonel Hyde's Sword Cane deflects off the tipstaff Hawkwood carries inside his coat. This buys Hawkwood enough time to draw the tipsatff and start defending himself properly.
- In The Bad Bunch by J.T. Edson, Dusty Fog's life is saved when a bullet from a derringer strikes his belt buckle. The impact is still enough to lay him out in bed for several days.
- The Bible version happens again in Matthew Reilly's Temple. Justified in that the shot was from a flintlock.
- In The Winter Queen, Erast Fandorin's life is saved when an attacker's knife is turned away by his corset.
- In James P. Blaylock's Homunculus, Bill Kraken is shot at point-blank range and survives because the bullet is blocked by the book of philosophical anecdotes he's been reading. He takes it from his jacket and checks what phrase the bullet failed to penetrate, but to his disappointment, the quotation doesn't seem pertinent.
- Mentioned in The Long Earth: Private Percy remembers his sergeant being furious with new recruits who have armoured prayer books in their breast pockets, asking them if they have any idea what shrapnel is.
- Parker survives his wife's attempt to kill in The Hunter because her first shot hits his belt buckle. This knocks him down (and knocks him out) and causes her remaining five wild shots to pass over the top of him.
- Averted in Once There Was a War by John Steinbeck, a World War II non-fiction book.:
A novelty company in America has brought out a Testament bound in steel covers to be carried in the shirt pocket over the heart, a gruesome little piece of expediency which has faith in neither the metal nor the Testament but hopes that a combination may work. Many of these have been sold to parents of soldiers, but I have never seen one carried. That particular pocket is for cigarettes and those soldiers who carry Testaments, as many do, carry them in their pants pockets, and they are never considered as lucky pieces.
- The back cover of the book version of What If? warns that it will not stop a bullet, and anyone wanting to use it as armour should buy a lot more copies.
- In Slay and Rescue the prince mentions a soldier who carried a stack of love letters from his lady to battle, where it slowed down an arrow that hit him so that he only suffered a minor scratch ... but the wound got infected and he died anyway. War fortune is a fickle lady.
- In Expiration Date, the protagonist is shot by the villain in the final confrontation, but is saved by a memento of his father he's carrying inside his shirt.
- A Discussed Trope in the short story "Best of Luck" by David Drake. The protagonist is in the middle of 'Nam and carries a lucky silver dollar with him. He's heard stories of people being saved from a bullet by something they keep close to their chests and wonders if the dollar will save him in such a manner. He quickly dismisses the idea since a silver dollar by itself isn't going to stop bullets of the caliber being used by the Viet Cong. The silver dollar does save his life in a very different manner however.
- In End of Watch, the villain shoots a former co-worker point-blank and leaves her for dead. While the bullet did penetrate enough to cause blood loss, several layers of clothes and an almost absurd number of objects in her breast pocket kept the impact from being lethal.
- Invoked in The Land of Stories, in Connor's short story Starbordia , Admiral Jacobson is shot by Smoky-Sails Sam. He is saved by the massive ruby briefly discussed earlier. Invoked in that Connor actually wrote the trope into the story.
- Subverted in Fortune De France. "This medal would later save my life, but not in the manner that you think."
- NCIS: Gibbs keeps a silver flask with a bullet still embedded in the side.
- JAG: In "Déjà Vu", Colonel Patano's life is saved by a metal plate in his chest that stops a bullet. The plate itself was the result of an old war wound.
Blackadder: Excellent, it can be your lucky willy.
- In the second season, there's a scene where Blackadder and Percy are practicing archery with a target held by Baldrick. Blackadder psyches out Percy, who slips and accidentally fires an arrow into Baldrick's groin. Baldrick comments that fortunately, his "willy" prevented the arrow from going into his body.
Baldrick: Right! And years from now, I'll show it to my grandchildren!
Blackadder: I think children might be out of the question now, Balders. [pulls arrow out]
- Blackadder the Third has a parody example; Edmund manages to avoid death by cannonball thanks to a cigarillo case he had in his chest pocket. "I always knew smoking was good for you," he remarks. It is then immediately invoked when Prince George is shot (this time with a flintlock) for his insolence. He then gets up, explaining that he too has a cigarillo case in his breast pocket. While trying to show it off, however, he can't find it and realizes that he left it on his dresser that morning, and promptly dies.
- In Father Ted, a whistle has sentimental value because it saved a man from a firing squad in this way... except that they simply reloaded and shot again.
- In an episode of Power Rangers Lost Galaxy Leo is saved from the effects of a freezing monster due to the monster's weapon striking his brother's dog tags.
- In one of MacGyver's time-traveling dream sequences, he is saved from an assassin's bullet by the wooden swiss army knife he'd been given at the beginning of the sequence. For Or Was It a Dream? credit, when he wakes back in the real world, he finds that he's still carrying the knife, complete with bullet hole.
- DCI Gene Hunt of Life on Mars was saved from a bullet by a whiskey flask tucked in a pocket. Instantly parodied when, after being asked what the odds of such a thing are, he produces two more flasks from other pockets and states that the odds were quite good.
- The French TV series Le Retour d'Arsène Lupin has an episode titled "La Tabatière de l'Empereur" (The Emperor's snuff box) in which the title Gentleman Thief inherits from a friend a snuff box that saved that friend's life during the war.
- Spoofed in the Australian series The Adventures of Lano and Woodley . Col hits Frank in the chest with an arrow. Frank screams and staggers backwards, but then discovers his autumn leaf album was in his pocket and stopped the arrow. His massive autumn leaf album.
- In Chuck (2007), the titular character gets shot in his nerdy pocket protector, and the shot doesn't go through it. Luckily, it was only a tranquilizer dart.
- Inverted nonsensically in the pilot of A Bit of Fry and Laurie, in which Stephen Fry shows the undamaged cigarette case his grandfather carried into battle in World War I.
Stephen: He used to keep his cigarette case here in the breast pocket of field tunic or "battle blouse." Now, one day, Grandfather had to go over the top, out of the trenches, into action... and he was shot by a German sniper clear through the temple. Now if Grandfather had worn his cigarette case here (holds case to temple) it would have an unpleasant dent in it and I'd be alive today.
- The MythBusters pretty much proved this trope was a myth, at least with modern firearms in mind.
- They tested normal everyday items like a book, a deck of cards, and a Zippo lighter and showed that they were all ineffective at stopping bullets. They also tested police/sheriff badges (outcome depends on how the badge is made — they put holes in two test badges, but the third type stopped a handgun round). In another episode, they tried the same with knives. A book, or a thick pile of paper (e.g. money), can save you. It takes about 60 or so sheets thick to stop the hardest hit the build team managed.
- In an episode regarding myths from the American Civil War, they showed it was plausible for a silver dollar of the time to stop a bullet. A pocket Bible, not so much.
- In another episode, they tested urban legends involving stories of items that stopped bullets. A laptop computer wouldn't, unless the bullet hit the battery. A hair weave didn't even slow the thing down; if that story was close to true, the bullet probably ricocheted around inside the woman's car and then got caught in the weave once it was too slow to be dangerous. Three pepperoni pizzas in a deliveryman's warming bag blocked most of the pellets from a shotgun firing birdshot, so you might survive (as was claimed by a pizza delivery boy). Buckshot at the same range, however, required 14 pizzas distributed between 5 warming bags before they could be stopped.
- During a final season revisit, Jamie and Adam took a second look at "Zippo lighter stops a bullet". While a bullet fired straight at the lighter went straight through, a ricocheted shot only dented it, earning Zippos a "Plausible".
- In The Magnificent Seven TV series, Ezra Standish pulls this in two consecutive episodes. In one, the bullet hits a diamond he had in his shirt pocket (to his great distress), and in the other, it fails to penetrate a satchel of money he had under his coat.
- Married... with Children: In "Desperate Half-Hour", Al takes a bullet to the chest, however, the bullet was stopped by the lucky shoehorn in his shirt pocket.
- Get Smart:
- Parodied when a villain shoots at Agent Smart and he holds up a book to stop the bullet. The villain asks how Smart knew that would save him, and Smart says back, "Nobody gets through War and Peace!"
- He did again, with the same book and same quote, against a knife in the movie Get Smart Again!
- In the first episode of the 1995 Get Smart reboot, Zack Smart is shot but the bullet is stopped by his pocket copy of the CONTROL Field Manual, steel coated for just such an emergency.
- A similar joke is told among Mormons, with a missionary being shot at, and finding that his pocket copy of The Book of Mormon stopped the bullet. He jokes that the bullet couldn't get through 2 Nephi either.
- Inverted in an episode of the original live-action The Adventures of Superman series. The bad guys are holding Clark, Lois, and Jimmy hostage, and their boss insists Clark is Superman. The boss shoots Clark, who in turn reacts with surprise, and Lois and Jimmy are both convinced. Clark, however, reaches into his jacket and feels around thoughtfully. After the situation is resolved Clark reaches into his jacket, finds a silver dollar and dents it with his Super Strength before pulling it out and claiming the bullet deflected off the coin. This is actually a Call-Back to one of the Superman comics.
- Parodied on Only Fools and Horses. Grandad launches into the story about the cigarette case belonging to his grandfather, which deflected the bullet aimed at his heart, saving his life... at least, until it went up his nose and blew his brains out.
Grandad: I want you to have it. My grandmother always said it was lucky.
Rodney: Lucky? It went up his nose and blew his bloody brains out!
Del: Could have been worse? It could have shot downwards and ruined his entire life!
- Inverted on Lost: Locke survives a shooting because of the kidney that isn't there.
- The Beeb's Young Dracula has this happen when van Hellsing, by accident because he gets frightened by a loud noise, shooting Vlad's dad in the chest with a crossbow bolt. It is stopped by a small decanter of poisoned holy water which Hellsing tried to slip him earlier... which has a blood red liquid in it. Coincidental.
- Averted in Episode 1x10 of Warehouse 13: a convict is apparently shot. The team pulls a Bible from his pocket; it's bloody. The bullet went right through it.
- Psychoville has one character get saved by a watermelon he is carrying.
- At the end the first part of the Sci-Fi channel miniseries Tin Man, Wyatt Cain and Zero engage in a conversation of great revelation, with a side of epic battle, which ends with Zero trying to put a bullet through Cain's chest. This is conveniently stopped by his long lost son's small toy horse. The shot retains enough force to knock him backwards through a window and into a frozen lake. He survives anyway.
- Played with in one episode of Castle: a character has a copy of Crime and Punishment in his coat pocket that stopped a bullet.
Ryan: Good thing he reads Russian literature. If he was a Nicholas Sparks fan, he'd be dead.
- In the pilot of The Good Guys Dan's flask saves his life when it stops a knife that is thrown at him (the bad guy is out of bullets)
- In Episode 1, Short 2 of the Tenacious D television show Jack and Kyle have a falling out over a girl named Flarna. Kyle jumps in front of a robber's bullet, but is saved by a huge friendship medallion that was under his shirt. They proceed to perform the song "Kyle Took A Bullet For Me."
- In the second episode of Alphas, Marcus Ayers, whose Awesomeness by Analysis abilities have allowed him to set off Disaster Dominoes throughout the episode with as little as a single coin, is shot in the chest, but his body isn't found in the stream into which he fell. While the characters are searching, the camera pans down the side of the stream, where a shot of some pebbles reveals a coin like the one Ayers had been using, except now with a bullet-shaped dent.
- In an episode of McMillan & Wife, Sgt. Enright is saved by the very thick hero sandwich, wrapped in aluminum foil, that he'd stuffed in his jacket pocket.
- In the White Collar episode "Book of Hours", Neal manages to block a gunshot from the villain of the week by holding up a Renaissance-vintage Bible (that he's spent the entire episode looking for).
- Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger: In his final battle with Basco, Marvelous is saved from a fatal shot by part of the bomb necklace Basco had put on his sidekick Sally in an earlier attempt to kill him. Basco himself is amused by the irony in his last moments.
- Inverted in Forbrydelsen (The Killing): Jan Meyer is shot twice in the chest; the first bullet goes straight through, but the second is diverted by his cigarette lighter and nicks his lung. He doesn't survive.
- In a non-pocket variant, Bob on The Walking Dead gets chomped on the shoulder by a walker, making both the audience and his companions think he's done for. Lucky for him, closer inspection reveals it'd bit him directly on top of a thick gauze bandage he'd been wearing over a previous injury, so its teeth didn't penetrate.
- Doctor Who. The Doctor is zapped by a Sontaran, only to be saved by a gadget in his famous roomy pockets.
The Doctor: Piece of the locking system on Nerva. Popped it into my pocket.
The Doctor: Foresight. You never know when these bit and pieces will come in handy. Never throw anything away, Harry. [throws it away] Now, I remember jotting some notes about Sontarans in my diary... [searches himself] ... It's a mistake to clutter your pockets, Harry.
- The Doctor Blake Mysteries: In "Darkness Visible", when Clare Llewellyn attempts to stab Jock Clement, he is saved when Lucien deflects the knife and it hits him the wallet in his jacket pocket.
- Murdoch Mysteries:
- In "Anything You Can Do", a bullet hitting Murdoch is stopped by an English poetry analysis book that he borrowed from Dr. Ogden.
- In "Glory Days", Bat Masterson receives a bullet in the chest from a derringer, but it is stopped by his sport columnist notepad. Murdoch comments that he was lucky to have changed profession.
- Lampshaded in Raising Hope: when Burt becomes a Bounty Hunter, he reassures Virginia that until he's earned enough money for a Bulletproof Vest, he'll wear a fishing vest with the pockets filled with flasks and Bibles.
- The New Avengers:
- In "The Midas Touch," smuggler Hong Kong Harry is shot by an assassin to prevent him from reaching a meeting. He is saved because he is wearing a quarter of a million dollars' worth of gold dust inside a Fat Suit.
- In "Faces," Steed is saved when his doppelgänger's bullet hits the pocket watch given to him minutes earlier by his best friend's widow.
- In "K is for Kill: Tiger by the Tail," Steed is saved by because he is a gentleman. Although he doesn't smoke, he carries a cigarette case for those of his friends who do, and an assassin's bullet strikes the cigarette case.
- New Tricks: Ted Case's lucky charm is a cigarette case that stopped a bullet and saved his life (or so he claims - Sasha keeps pointing out that the bullet went straight through the case and he spent months in hospital, while Ted maintains that if the case hadn't slowed the round down, he'd have died). He goes into a mild panic when he loses it in "Life Expectancy."
- Murder, She Wrote: In "Lone Witness", a killer takes a shot at the grocery delivery boy who witnessed the crime. The bullet is stopped by the sack of sugar in the box of groceries he is carrying.
- Father Brown: In "The Penitent Man", Flambeau is saved from a warder's bullet by the gold medallion he is wearing around his neck.
- In Babylon Berlin, Kardakow survives being shot at close range due to a book in his pocket.
- In It's Garry Shandling's Show, Garry's life is saved when a bullet is stopped by a videocassette of the Bible in his pocket. Which he'd taped over.
- Hec Ramsey: In "The Century Turns", Hec blocks a bullet with the brass-bound trunk that holds his portable crime lab.
- In Spanish comedy TV series Plutón B.R.B. Nero (story arc "La Amenaza de Drungon"), NCO Querejeta survives a shot to his heart because he had a book under his uniform, "How to win friends in outer space."
- The "Bandits" episode of The Very World of Milton Jones ends with Milton surviving death by firing squid when the bullets are deflected by the Tesco Clubcard in his pocket. "Now that's what I call a saving!"
- Parodied in Bleak Expectations when Pip accidentally stabs through his nemesis and into his Love Interest. She apparently dies, but in true Cliffhanger fashion turns up all right late into the next episode because she'd been carrying Pip's letters with her everywhere. Though she is still pretty cross about having been stabbed.
- In the game War Zone, one of the hero characters has a special rule that essentially boils down to the fact he wears a locket as a memento of his dead family and therefore it might stop a bullet.
- In GURPS: Tactical Shooting disputes the realism of this, suggesting that the main factor is luck (angle of impact, incomplete burn, long range). However the steel magazines of the AK-47 give some real protection if they're hit.
- In Mage: The Ascension this is a popular method of stopping a bullet, since it is entirely coincidental if done properly (and thus incurs no Paradox) — as long as an observer cannot be fully certain the mage didn't have a Bible or cigarette case or other object there beforehand, it can happen. Even though both player and Storyteller will know that Bible never existed five seconds ago.
- While you need to have the necessary item on your person, this is the justification for Fate-based magical protection in its successor, Mage: The Awakening — bullets are attracted to items that can deflect them.
- Call of Cthulhu campaign Masks of Nyarlathotep. The NPC Jack "Brass" Brady has a magical metal plate that attracts attacks that can cause impaling, such as bullets.
- The BattleTech novels bring us a specialized assassin's laser that can only deal with flesh or regular clothing. Candace Liao is shot and goes down with a smoking hole in place of her right breast. The damage turns out to be purely cosmetic. She had an aggressive single mastectomy after being diagnosed with breast cancer, and they used myomer artificial muscle extensively in reconstructive surgery. Myomer is also known for its use as secondary armor and motive power on Humongous Mecha.
- Time Lord RPG, based on Doctor Who. A Player Character may trade in some of his initial ability scores for a pocket watch that will automatically stop the first bullet that hits the character.
- Paranoia XP. The Giant Metal Plate can be worn on the front or the back (or both) under a Troubleshooter's reflec armor. It provides extra protection against attacks and severe back injuries.
- In the Chaosium Tabletop Game based on the ElfQuest Comic Book, a piece of metal jewelry could stop weapon damage.
- Victory Games' James Bond 007 game, Heroes magazine Volume I #3 article "Accessories for Agents". Card Case Armor is a small armored case that holds business cards. The Player Character wearing it can spend a Hero Point to have a bullet hit the case instead of his body.
- Just like in the Hitchcock film, in the 2005 play The 39 Steps, one of the characters survives getting shot when a prayer-book in his coat pocket stops the bullet.
- Mickey of Too Many Cooks survives a gunshot due to the cigarette in his breast pocket.
- In Sera Myu: La Reconquista, when Zoisite dies, his body turns into a small crystal, which Queen Beryl gives to Endymion. Endymion later survives being slashed with the Holy Sword because Zoisite's crystal deflects the blade away from his heart.
- The NES version of Bionic Commando has an entire item dedicated to this trope. It's a tiny pendant which, by a certain chance, may or may not deflect an enemy shot. There's a helmet in the game too, which increases your odds, but the pendant is modeled after the trope.
- In Yakuza 4, in the finale, the defeated Munakata, in an angry fit after understanding Date's newspaper will ruin him, picks up Arai's weapon from the ground and shoots Akiyama in the chest. Akiyama falls down with all the drama necessary to the scene, and after a few seconds, pats his chest pocket, finding the bullet completely lodged inside a stack of dozens of yen bills. Money saves lives indeed.
- Tales of Symphonia can have this at some point, depending on a choice made earlier in the game: at one point, Lloyd maneuvers through a hallway full of arrows, dodging them all. At the end, one last arrow shoots straight at Lloyd, and either this happens (with a key item given to Lloyd by the character you chose earlier) or Lloyd just dodges it.
- The MOTHER series had the Franklin Badge which would deflect, respectively, a certain instant-kill attack and all lightning attacks just by having it in your inventory. In the first two games, it took up an inventory slot of the character you chose to equip it to, while, in MOTHER 3, it's classified as a key item, and is always equipped to Lucas once you acquire it. The badge returned in Super Smash Bros. Brawl. When worn, it deflects projectiles for a set period of time.
- In Uncharted: Drake's Fortune Sully gets a bullet to the chest early in the game then returns very much alive. It turns out he survived due to having Francis Drake's journal in his pocket. Nathan even lampshades the trope saying "I thought this only happened in the movies!"
- Spoofed and possibly lampshaded in Mercenaries when Fiona is telling Matthias about the PDA. When asked by Matthias if the "gadget" could stop a bullet, she responds by saying "No, but it can keep you from wandering around Korea like an idiot."
- In the female protagonist's route of the Persona 3 PSP remake, maxing Shinjiro's social link will save his life thanks to a pocket watch, although he remains in a coma until after the final battle.
- In the climax of Bayonetta, the titular witch unwittingly causes a Time Paradox by giving Cereza AKA herself as a child her metallic makeup canister, this results in Jeanne failing to fully seal Bayonetta away as her sword hits the canister, causing her to have all her memories in the present. It's a little hard to follow.
- In Dwarf Fortress, Dwarven mothers often carry something of great sentimental value into battle which sometimes takes a blow that would have otherwise struck them. This being Dwarf Fortress, the 'object' in question is their baby.
- One of the routes in Corpse Party: Blood Covered uses the cellphone variant when somebody is seemingly stabbed by a pair of scissors. This leads to a Bad Ending, as the cellphone is vital to preventing another character's death.
- In Final Fantasy VI, the Memento Ring protects against instant death, which may be a case of this.
- In Far Cry 3, after Vaas finally quits screwing around and straight-up shoots Jason in the chest, Jason's life is saved by a lighter in his chest pocket. Even better is that it's the same lighter Vaas had earlier tried to torch Jason with, and that he himself put it in that pocket when it wouldn't light up properly - Vaas even comments at the time "so much for poetics".
- In Rhythm Thief & the Emperor's Treasure, Elisabeth is shot by Napoleon, but her life is saved thanks to the bullet bouncing off a locket with Marie's picture.
- Averted in the penultimate cutscene of They Bleed Pixels, where our heroine stabs the Headmaster clean through the book.
- In Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Dual Destinies, Yuri Cosmos is shot by Candice Arme when she discovers the murder of Clay Terran, only to be saved by the medal on his jacket.
- In one The Adventures of Dr. McNinja arc, one of the good doctor's patients is shot by the velociraptor-riding banditos, and appears to be bleeding to death. However, in the next strip, it is revealed that the bullet had been stopped by a ketchup packet in his breast pocket.
- There's a non-canonical Goblins strip in which Dies-Horribly is saved from a stray arrow by a very thick book. We see the group again much later, with Dies-Horribly wearing the book on his chest, with various signs of damage, including what look like attempts to cut through it (and failed, obviously); the goblins find a merchant who carries another book by the same author, this one noticeably thicker still, making Dies immediately pick it up to replace his old "armor". This being an RPG-Mechanics Verse, they also say that, since the book are masterpieces, they have a bonus to Armor Class because of their quality.note
- Exaggerated in The B-Movie Comic, where A disguised Winston Churchill catches a Big Bertha shell with his cigar box.
- In these two Shortpacked! comics, a girl is saved from a bullet by her impromptu Batman chest insignia. Awesome, but unlikely.
- Girl Genius: Inverted.
Bang: ...um, what are you doing?
Mook: If you shoot, I may be able to protect the book by stopping the bullet with my heart!
Gil: See? I told you they were with the Library!
- In one horoscope from The Onion:
The Bible will stop the bullet dead in its tracks, though why you keep it fastened to your genitals like that is anyone's guess.
- 5 Second Films presents, "Assassination Attempt."
- Parodied in Golden Moustache's video "L'Otage" ("The Hostage"). A cop is shot by a hostage-taker but is saved by the police insignia. He is shot again and saved by the Holy Bible he had in his pocket. ("If that's not a proof that He exists!") The criminal keep shooting, only for a series of increasingly more unlikely items to save the cop's life (a gold tooth, a trombone, a set of keys, an inhaler...). He finally dies when he has an asthma attack and can't use his inhaler anymore.
- The Boondocks:
- In the third season finale, Gin Rummy is protected by his iPhone after being shot by a rogue government agent. After he spent the rest of the episode deriding the thing and even dismissing Ed's claim that it would stop a bullet.
- Ed III was saved by his chain when shot during Aggressive Negotiations with the chocolate mafia that proceeded to turn into a firefight with another gang and the FBI.
- Spoofed in Family Guy when Mayor Adam West tells a gunman (Brian) that he has, implanted somewhere in his body, a piece of bullet-proof armor ...the size of a bullet ... and if Brian happens to shoot him there, his plan will be foiled. The mayor tells him this before he tries shooting.
Bender: Too bad he didn't have his own Bible.
- In the episode "Insane in the Mainframe", Fry gets stabbed in the chest by Bender's crazy friend Roberto, but the knife hits an oil can that he picked up earlier. As an added bonus, in this episode Fry is convinced that he's a robot, and the sight of him "bleeding" oil makes Roberto Freak Out! and jump out the window.
- In "Benderama", Bender is shot and the bullet is stopped by a Bible he had in his compartment. The tiny Bender clone inside said Bible, however, wasn't so lucky.
- An impressive variation in Gargoyles where Demona shoots Elisa with a poisonous dart, then leaves with a challenge for Goliath to get the cure. Upon Demona's departure, Elisa opens her jacket to reveal that her police badge stopped the dart. Goliath still shows up for the challenge, because Elisa would just be targeted again if he doesn't. As it is, it probably takes a while for Demona to realize she is still alive.
- In the Danish CGI movie Journey to Saturn, the Iranian-Danish Jamil Ahmadinejad carries a huge collection of photos of his extended family under his shirt. Enough to subvert an impending Middle-Eastern Dude Dies First moment.
- In the second episode of The Pirates of Dark Water, Atani archers shoot at the Wraith, and Ioz apparently gets hit in the chest. It turns out that he had a golden gobletthe theft of which was one of the reasons the Atani were chasing them in the first placehidden under his robe.
- In a 1940s-era cartoon, Bluto pretended to be Superman in order to woo Olive Oyl. Popeye and "Superman" have a one-upsmanship contest culminating in shooting each other with a Thompson sub-machine gun. Popeye is left for dead, then slowly gets to his feet, reaches into his sailor suit, and pulls out the can of spinach that has been in front of his chest, now riddled with bullet holes. He gives a Popeye chuckle, and says, "Saved by me spinach!"
- Also in one episode, at the losing end of a fencing duel against Bluto, disguised as the International, Popeye is saved from a finishing thrust by none other than a can of spinach hidden in his shirt.
- The Simpsons:
- In one episode, a mobster accidentally shoots Ned Flanders in the chest. The bullet hits his Bible. The mobster shoots again, only to hit a piece of the True Cross he wears around his neck. Ned then flees before any more shots are fired, presumably because he realizes he's run out of religious objects.
- Parodied again in an episode when Homer is hit by a car — but is saved by the Bible in his crotch.
- This happens in another episode where Apu is shot in a Kwik-E-Mart robbery, with the bullet bouncing off another bullet that was previously lodged in him in a different robbery.
- In another episode, "The Ten-Per-Cent Solution", Bart accidentally fires a gun and the bullet fails to wound Homer because it is stopped by another gun Homer happens to have in his back pocket.
- In the Darkwing Duck episode "Bad Tidings", Darkwing is shot by a device from Steelbeak that will make his internal organs expand and explode. He is saved by the manual he had taken from Grizzlikoff earlier and put in his coat.
- London's Imperial War Museum has a pile of dummies showing off different nationalities' uniforms during the two world wars. The British World War I soldier showcases a pocket Bible ... with the bottom right quarter blown off and the rest drowned in blood...
- Many of the pocket Bibles carried by soldiers in World War II had metal-backed covers. As a consequence, even Jews, Atheists, and other non-Christians would carry them, as they did have the potential to stop a bullet. Many of the stories of Bibles stopping bullets come from this era, though with the storyteller forgetting to mention the composition of the cover.
- One bullet was documented to have stopped at the 91st Psalm ("...You need not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day... though thousands fall about you and ten thousand fall at your right hand, near you it shall not come....").
- Badges worn by police officers have been proven to be able to stop small arms fire: Here's a story of a cop saved by his badge. Proven true by the MythBusters above, though it depends on the materials used to make the badge. The YouTube channel TAOFLEDERMAUS also tested this and, so long as they actually hit the thing dead-on, were able to get a single badge to consistently stop multiple different types of handgun bullets with no damage to it that couldn't be undone with ten seconds of hammering it back into shape.
- An assassin shot Theodore Roosevelt in 1912. Fortunately, the bullet was prevented from penetrating too deeply by several layers of clothing, a steel eyeglass case and a massive folded speech in his jacket. The bullet penetrated him anyway and hit a rib, but since he wasn't coughing up any blood, he gave his 90-minute speech from memory anyway (the speech papers were ruined) before seeking treatment. He famously began his speech, "Ladies and gentlemen, I don't know whether you fully understand that I have just been shot; but it takes more than that to kill a Bull Moose!"
- A US soldier stationed in Iraq was wounded in a fire fight only to find out later that an ammo round had embedded itself in the copy of The Eye of the World (which is about 685 pages long depending on the version) he happened to be carrying in his pack, rather than embedding in his side.
- Another US soldier in Iraq was shot point-blank in the face by an insurgent, only realizing it later when the X-rays showed that the bullet had deflected off of one of his front teeth (knocking the tooth out) and lodging in his upper jaw.
- In addition to killing Abraham Lincoln, John Wilkes Booth and his co-conspirators were going to kill the bedridden Secretary of State, William Seward. Secretary Seward's jaw had a large splint on it at the time from an accident, and it allegedly saved his life by keeping his knife-wielding assassin from being able to hit him in the jugular, though he did suffer very serious wounds.
- The Australian War Memorial has a collection of such items that have saved the lives of Australian servicemen.
- Lt. George E. Dixon of the American Civil War submarine H. L. Hunley carried a gold coin that his sweetheart gave to him as a good luck charm, which later deflected a bullet at the Battle of Shiloh in April 1862 (not much it could do to save him from going down with the Hunley two years later, though). There were accusations that this was just a romantic story without basis in reality - but then in the year 2000, 136 years after it sank, the wreck of the Hunley was pulled out, containing the deteriorated, skeletal remains of her crew. On the remains identified as Dixon, they found his bent coin. Removing any doubt that it was just some other bent coin, Dixon apparently had it engraved after the bullet bent it, and the words were still legible: "Shiloh / April 6, 1862 / My life Preserver / G. E. D."
- A clerk in a grocery store being robbed was holding a box of Hamburger Helper when the robber shot him. The bullet did hit the poor guy, but the Hamburger Helper slowed the bullet down enough that it barely penetrated his skin, whereas it otherwise would have been a fatal shot.
- A man out mowing his lawn in backwoods Missouri was saved from a stray hunting bullet by his cellphone. The phone still works.
- In early 2009, a gun-wielding madman burst into a church in the American state of Illinois. The first few shots that he fired at the pastor were absorbed by the Bible that he was holding. Unfortunately, there were more bullets.
- An Iraqi woman apparently survived what would otherwise have been a potentially fatal gunshot wound when the bullet lodged in her silicone breast implant.
- This trope is explored at the Box o' Truth, where the site owner empties a lot of bullets into a stack of books.
- Behold the power of the brassiere. An older woman happened to be seen by fleeing burglars who had tried to break into the neighbor's house. One of them fired a round through her window, but the bullet was deflected by the underwire of her bra.
- James Doohan was hit by a burst of friendly fire during World War II, taking six bullets total. One of the bullets took off a finger. Another one struck him in the chest near his heart, where it was stopped by his silver cigarette case that was given to him by his brother.
- Rudyard Kipling was sent a copy of his book Kim (368 pages), complete with bullet hole stopping only at the last 20 pages, together with the Cross awarded to the soldier who owned it. He later became said soldier's son's godfather.
- When author Joe Haldeman was serving in Vietnam he knew a soldier whose life was saved by a pocket dictionary that stopped a bullet. Later Haldeman saw that the story had been written up in Stars and Stripes (a newspaper that serves the U.S. Armed Forces). In the story,, the dictionary had been changed to a Bible, and it was claimed that the word the bullet had stopped on was "peace."
- Mustafa Kemal, the founder of modern Turkey who is now better known as Ataturk, was saved by one of these during World War I. It was a watch in his chest pocket and while it didn't prevent injury, it reportedly blocked the worst of it. The watch was put in a museum after independence.
- In 1844, the Mormon prophet Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum were killed by an armed mob. There were a few other men with them at the time, including John Taylor (the third Mormon prophet), whose life was saved when a bullet hit his pocket watch. This story is unconfirmed, but the watch◊ provides some rather impressive evidence.
- In 1631, during the Sack of Magdeburg, the Lutheran priest Reinhard Bakes was slashed several times by a Catholic Croat soldier (in the Cathedral), but the Bible he was holding in his arms lasted long enough that the Croat abandoned the idea and let him live. The city still has the Bible.
- Daniel Inoyue, U.S. Senator from Hawaii, served in World War II in the famous 442nd Infantry Regiment. Once, while leading an attack, a shot struck him in the chest directly above his heart, but the bullet was stopped by the two silver dollars he had in his shirt pocket.
- Prince (later King) Hussein of Jordan survived the assassination of his grandfather, King Abdullah I, at Friday prayers in 1952 when a bullet bounced off of a medal that the King made him wear on his shirt.
- Woman saved from gunfire by breast implants. There was also a woman who was shot in a club, and her implants deflected the bullet and saved her life.
- Composer George Frederic Handel was once challenged to a sword duel. His opponent thrust, but the tip of the blade hit a large brass button on Handel's coat and snapped off.
- Colonel Joshua Chamberlain:
- During the Battle of Gettysburg, a bullet that would have hit his leg and likely crippled him ricocheted off his sheathed saber. He was left with a limp, but was still able to command his famous "swinging door" charge shortly afterward.
- Ironically, Chamberlain was later hit in almost the same spot at siege of Petersburg. That time he'd already drawn his sword and the bullet punched through his pelvis, nearly killing him. Later at the Battle of Quaker Road, he was hit by yet another bullet that went through his horse's neck, a bible and a framed picture of his wife in his breast pocket, wounding but not killing him. He appeared to onlookers to have been shot directly through the chest, but instead the bullet after being deflected by the picture frame pierced his skin but skirted around his ribs before exiting his back. His men called him "Bloody Chamberlain," not because he was bloodthirsty but because he kept getting hit - six times in all over the course of the war. All those wounds would eventually catch up with him, but not until much later in life. When he died 1914 at the age of 85, the medical examination revealed that he died not of old age but of complications from the wound he suffered at Petersburg fifty years earlier. As a result, he's considered the very last casualty of the Civil War.
- Tsar Nicholas II and his family were initially protected from the executioners' bullets by the gemstones and diamonds they had hidden in their underwear. Unfortunately the executioners decided to try again, in close range, with bayonets...
- In one highly anecdotal case, a Marine brony was once saved by a present from his sister, a Fluttershy toy, when it stopped a bullet fragment. There's no mention of it anywhere else, though. It might just be "Bro-paganda".
- One victim of the Dusseldorf Ripper was saved from serious injury when he was stabbed in the back with a pair of scissors, and the blades struck the heavy leather braces he was wearing.
- A Florida gas station clerk escaped serious injury during an attempted robbery when his HTC smartphone took a bullet from a fleeing perp's pistol.
- Lucien Neuwirth (French politician mostly know for the promulgation of a law allowing oral contraception in France), member of La Résistance than Free French Army during World War II, was shot by a German firing squad and survived thanks to his wallet.
- Back in 1881 a physician in Tombstone noticed that a silk handkerchief had stopped a bullet while treating the patient who took it. He experimented in developing bulletproof vests made of silk, and had some success, but they were far too expensive to be practical.
- Cell phones seem to be rather good for this:
- Daniel Kennedy survived a close-range shotgun blast in part due to his iPhone taking the brunt of the blast in 2015.
- One man was probably saved by his mobile phone during the 2015 Paris terror attacks.
- A Brazilian police officer had his Nokia cellphone stop a bullet.
- A Chilean young man is shot during a robbery, but his Samsung phone saves him. (Link's in Spanish)
- In the suicide bombing outside an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester in 2017, one woman was saved when a piece of shrapnel hit her iPhone.
- Imperial German soldier and author Ernst Jünger had his life saved this way (as dramatized in Storm of Steel). During a battle against a contingent from New Zealand during World War I, Jünger is almost killed by a sharp piece of shrapnel which hits him in the chest. Instead of penetrating his flesh, however, the shrapnel miraculously hits - and bounces off of - the clasp of one of his suspenders.
- This soldier in WWI had his position given away by the clink of six coins in his pocket. The bullet then deflected off of those same coins.