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Point Defenseless

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Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: Failing to hit anything since 1977.

General Dodonna: The battle station is heavily shielded and carries a firepower greater than half the star fleet. Its defenses are designed around a direct, large-scale assault. A small one-man fighter should be able to penetrate the outer defense.
Gold Leader: Pardon me for asking, sir, but what good are snub fighters going to be against that?
General Dodonna: Well, the Empire doesn't consider a small one-man fighter to be any threat, or they'd have a tighter defense.

"Point defense" is a military term referring to the active protection of a single asset, such as a ship or a building. In modern terms, this means computerized systems with sophisticated targeting sensors that automatically engage incoming enemy aircraft or missiles. In fiction, this can apply to space combat as well. When a target is Point Defenseless, these systems never work. They may be able to swat Mook swarms from the sky or slag a Red Shirt or two, but even in the best of cases they're mysteriously unable to touch any main character. Their primary purpose seems to be offering an impressive light show.

This may be in part because many fictional point defense system still use WWII-style manually operated, visually targeted cannons instead of the automatic systems that replaced them (even when the story ostensibly has a higher tech level than modern day), but even the most futuristic AI-controlled laser-firing point defenses can fall victim to this trope. Attackers may be forced to jink and dodge, or they may be able to cruise in straight and level while bullets whizz past them, but even if the point defenses manage to take out some of the attackers, it will never be able to stop them all.

This is an application of the Rule of Drama; it's far more dramatic when people have to defend a target, rather than faceless machinery. It can also be a form of Plot Armor and Conservation of Ninjutsu, when point defense can shoot down Mooks and Red Shirts but not main characters. After all, how ignoble would it be for The Hero to get shot down by something as abrupt and impersonal as an automated turret, without even a chance to demonstrate their Improbable Piloting Skills in an Old-School Dogfight? It can be part of Acceptable Breaks from Reality if the game system explicitly intends for a Tactical Rock–Paper–Scissors scheme. At its simplest, you could have something like big-gun battleships getting nibbled to death by fighter/torpedo boat wolfpacks (IN SPACE!), which in turn get shredded by PD-heavy escorts or screening elements, which in turn get blown away by battleships...

In gaming, an Arbitrary Weapon Range may be implemented because of this trope, to prevent them from getting stuck by tracking an enemy that's too close for them to actually hit, which in turn will also give a guaranteed safe spot for attackers (but likely very, very dangerous to get to it in the first place).

See also A-Team Firing and Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy. If the point defense guns blaze away at where the hero just was, that's a Hero-Tracking Failure.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Generally speaking, point defenses in the various Gundam series do little but provide visual spectacle, but every so often they actually manage to accomplish something useful.
    • Quite a few mobile suits (including almost every single Gundam) have vulcan guns mounted in their heads or chests. These rarely ever get used, since all they're good for is taking out cameras or the occasional Critical Hit; they don't even get used to shoot down missiles, their intended function. The only aversion comes in Gundam SEED C.E.73 Stargazer, where we get a very visceral demonstration of anti-personnel machineguns mounted in the Slaughter Daggers' feet. Exceptions also occur in Char's Counterattack, where the Nu Gundam shreds a Geara Doga with its head vulcans, and in Gundam X, where the Double X defeats a Monster of the Week mobile suit with vulcans because it was the most fragile of Fragile Speedsters.note 
    • Also in Char's Counterattack, a Neo-Zeon ace is killed by the Ra-Cailum's point defenses after getting cocky and attacking the ship by herself.
    • Gundam SEED and Gundam SEED Destiny are better about this than most other Gundam series, as the main ships of the series are frequently seen shooting down incoming missiles and at least deterring enemies from attacking, though they ultimately play the trope straight, as they never manage to so much as damage any character with a name.
    • The CG opening movie for the video game Generation of C.E. shows a Murasame getting rather painfully torn to pieces by the Minerva's CIWS.
  • In the Macross franchise, like Gundam, the point-defense guns light space up like a Christmas tree without actually accomplishing much, with a few exceptions;
    • In Macross Plus, the latest Super Prototype goes up against the thirty year old guns on the Macross, and ends up having chunks of armor shot off.
    • In Macross Zero, minor battleship Algeciras managed to shoot down at least two mooks and two missiles before being sunk by the remaining two ASMs launched by the enemy Ace Pilot and his wing(wo)man. The carrier Asuka herself has several Destroids as point-defense. Predictably, they're chow food for the baddies as well.
    • In Macross Frontier, Alto, also in a Super Prototype, is nearly shot down (and has his FAST pack blown off) by the CIDS on a Vajra ship.
  • Played with in Crest of the Stars: while most ships aren't much in point defense department, they created a class of ship solely as a point defense platform, which mounts CIWS note  stations by the hundred in order to create a veritable (and almost impenetrable) Bullet Hell around its charges.
  • While the Neuroi in Strike Witches had defense arsenals after the manner of Real Life aircraft (with Energy Weapons, no less), they could seldom overcome the heroines' dodge-fu, and the stuff that did hit was harmless (except when dramatically appropriate).
  • Amaterasu's point defense system in Starship Operators seems to unable to hit the laser module. Though it might be that PDS can't turn fast enough, since the module is moving quite fast and sliding on the side of the ship, not moving towards it.
  • In My-HiME, a Searrs ship is prominently seen failing to nail Midori and Gakutenou even when they're moving in predictable straight-line paths. When Mai and Kagutsuchi attack some ships, some time is spent showing one SAM going after them. Not even one per ship; one total.
  • The Phalanx CIWS on one of the Arleigh Burke-class destroyers in Operation 04 of Sentou Yousei Yukikaze could not take down the JAM fighter heading straight for it. The JAM fighter was supposedly flying lower than the gun's maximum depression point, but in reality the CIWS mount has sufficient depression to fire all the way down to the surface of the ocean. However, the JAM was emitting a massive burst of ECM making it harder to target. The second JAM fighter seemed to have been brought down by another cruiser, but chances are it was Yukikaze's kill.
  • During Ivanovic's invasion in Dance in the Vampire Bund, the Phalanx CIWS guns on the island's perimeter are unable to stop incoming cruise missiles because they were sabotaged. Then saboteur then turns them on Bund-controlled helicopter gunships, proving this instance is also an aversion.
  • Mortar Headds in The Five Star Stories are a major exception to this, being covered head to overly long and pointy Mamoru Nagano-designed toe in small-caliber laser emitters and micromissile launchers with firing ports inconspicuously recessed into their armor that routinely make mincemeat out of enemy tankbusters who think going for their legs is a good idea. The author's design sketches show that at least one type of Hover Tank has them, too.
  • Zig-zagged in Attack on Titan with the "fixed cannons," which in most cases are virtually useless against Titans due to their Healing Factor and/or armor, but are sometimes used to slaughter hundreds of them with special Titan-killing cannonballs.
  • Usually Averted in Robotech, as point defences are present and do prove themselves capable (the only target that couldn't be reliably taken down unless in large numbers is the Tirolian destroyer, and that's more because it's large and tough enough to survive and fire back). Then played painfully straight in the "New Generation" saga, when the Robotech Expeditionary Force fights the Invid, who rely exclusively on massive waves of flying mechas, with ships equipped with insufficient numbers of point defense guns (the Ikazuchi and Shimakaze classes) or had none at all (the Garfish-class light cruiser, their most numerous ship, is equipped with six slow-firing anti-aircraft missile launchers and no point defence gun), resulting in the quick destruction of the Mars Division in their attempt at raiding Reflex Point. In their defence, the previously encountered faction of Invid had smaller numbers of fighters and used gun-armed ships too, and this faction never left survivors that could warn REF command of this fact.
  • Generally averted in Heavy Object. Objects are equipped with hundreds of point defense weapons backed with a variety of sensors and a reaction speed allowing them to shoot missiles and planes out of the air. Quenser does manage to slip past them on occasion but it's dependent on finding a blindspot in the sensors and keeping to them. Even then this only works on Second Generation Objects which are specialized to fight other Objects and as a result end up with some gaps a single person can exploit. By contrast First Generation Objects are designed to counter any threat and have rock solid point defenses.
  • Strongly averted in Outlaw Star. Most ships have such strong anti-missile defenses that not even a Macross Missile Massacre can get through. The few times that a ship actually is struck by a missile, it's usually the result of a sneak attack at close range or because the ship has already suffered serious damage that disabled most of its anti-missile capability.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Red Tails more or less plays this straight, especially for the hapless crews of the Flying Fortress bombers. More or less Truth in Television there.
  • Star Trek:
    • Star Trek: Generations mentions that targeting and shooting a single missile aimed at the sun would have taken "eight to fifteen seconds". Though this may be justified because the missile is clearly Faster Than Light. It should be noted that is also because they were unsure where the missile would be launched from, and the Enterprise while heavily armed isn't actually a warship.
    • This trope is averted in the climactic battle of the 2009 reboot. The Enterprise uses its phaser mounts to stop an entire salvo of missiles from the Narada from hitting the Jellyfish. Part of that is because the missiles haven't yet split into multiple warheads, which would make targeting them very difficult.
    • Played straight in Star Trek Beyond when the Enterprise encounters the Swarm Ships. The Swarm Ships are tiny (just big enough to fit both Spock and McCoy) and extremely agile, thus anything the Enterprise throws at them, they expertly dodge. This allows them to destroy the poor Enterprise.
  • The Star Wars franchise does this frequently. The setting's space combat generally abides by the logic of World War II IN SPACE, so the ability of fighter squadrons to cause damage to capital ships is grievously disproportionate with said ships' ability to fend them off (at least without their own fighter screens, which most of them have). Anti-aircraft guns even create explosions in mid-air that resemble flak puffs, to drive the visual similarity home.
    • The climactic battle in A New Hope has the Death Star's (manually aimed) point defense unable to hit more than one or two Red Shirts, forcing Darth Vader and his TIE fighters to go out and take on the Rebels in an Old-School Dogfight. This is noted in the Rebel mission briefing as the reason they sent only fighters: the Empire considered one-man craft to be a negligible threat to the station and so they're basically taking potshots with anti-capital ship weapons (the EU clarifies that the Death Star's towers are mounting XX-9 turbolasers, the secondary anti-ship weapons of Star Destroyers), with their accuracy made even worse by a terrifying jamming. In Return of the Jedi, the Empire learns its lesson and builds its second Death Star with thick anti-fighter defenses, including multiple Star Destroyers with full complements of their own starfighters, and surrounds the whole station in a massive energy shield during construction.
      • The jamming actually explains many instances, making even dedicated point defense weapons less accurate than they should. A comic in the old Expanded Universe even shows dedicated military fighters being completely invisible to the scanners of a large pirate gang even when they're firing on said pirates' fighters.
    • Similarly, the space battle at the end of The Phantom Menace shows the guns of the droid control ship are ineffective against the Naboo fighters and, most importantly, can't stop Anakin from landing in their hangar. Justified as it's actually a giant merchant ship that was originally unarmed (the powerful shields and the sheer size being its best defense against attacks from under-equipped pirates) and has been hastily refitted with some weapons before the invasion of Naboo (as a planetary government would have access to better weapons than pirates). They weren't even expecting any resistance, given that Naboo technically has no military at all. The ineffectiveness of the point-defense of dedicated warships in the opening to Revenge of the Sith is instead explained by the immense jamming hundreds of warships in a pitched battle are throwing around, but at least they do better than said merchant ships.
    • The Millennium Falcon and Poe Dameron's stolen Tie Fighter both survive being right next to a capital ship for very significant amounts of time in The Force Awakens, even taking out several turreted mounts with their own cannons on the way out, and Vader's Super Star Destroyer in Return of the Jedi is eventually taken down by fighters (specifically one that did get hit once by point defense, but then crashed into the bridge).
    • The point-defense guns of the Star Destroyers at Scarif in Rogue One score a bare handful of kills, and are unable to prevent said fighters from discharging their guns and torpedoes and dealing significant damage to them. Hence why they're protected by about a hundred TIE fighters deployed from the nearby station.
    • Averted in the climax of The Force Awakens; First Order ground fire downs just as many Resistance pilots as their fighters do, though it still doesn't seem to be as effective as modern SAM systems (again, manually aimed turrets).
    • Played straight in The Last Jedi, when a First Order Dreadnought Star Destroyer's turrets fail to hit Poe Dameron's X-wing, who proceeds to destroy the turrets. Mind, he does need a super-booster on his fighter in order to fly fast enough to evade them in the first place, but it's still a rather pathetic showing considering this is one fighter.
  • The film version of Tom Clancy's The Sum of All Fears had a scene where an American carrier (unrealistically traveling without escorts) is set upon by Russian aircraft. It is seen firing its CIWS at the incoming missiles, to little effect. This was actually something of a transplant of a scene from another Tom Clancy novel (see the Literature entry).
  • Done well in Battle Ship. The invading aliens send out a electromagnetic wave that disables the targeting computers on the destroyers and forces them to eyeball. Despite this many enemy projectiles are shot down and the ships are taken out with sheer weight of enemy fire.
  • Averted in G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra with the Cobra gunship, which shoots down several SAMs going for it.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • In Thor: The Dark World, when the Dark Elves attack Asgard. Asgard has anti-aircraft guns (that, going by their effects on the environment, seem about on par with WWII flak guns, down to generating flak puffs), but they don't do much. In fact the Dark Elf craft lack any weapon, and simply ram their targets.
    • Captain America: The Winter Soldier: In the final battle, three fully-automatic ship mounted flak turrets (all of which are computer controlled) fail to liquidate a guy with a jetpack. Doing continuous barrel rolls allows him to remain untouched for several minutes. Perhaps it should have packed missile point-defense instead, like modern warships. It is especially odd because they are clearly exploding flak shells, bizarrely without the actually shrapnel caused by this effect. On the other hand, Falcon is the only member of his team left and he explicitly mentions that this sort of thing killed his partner.
  • Averted in Iron Sky. The US spacecraft deployed against the Moon Nazis effortlessly shoots down any missile that comes near it, and the Nazis only manage to do damage through a Zerg Rush that overwhelms their defenses.
  • The Icarus Kill Sat in Die Another Day is programmed to automatically target and destroy incoming missiles. When the Big Bad's tech guy tells him of the anti-satellite missile launched at Icarus, the Big Bad isn't worried at all and just lets Icarus do its thing. It was only one missile.

  • The USS Nimitz in Red Storm Rising gets hit by two anti-ship missiles in the first major engagement of World War III due to a targeting conflict; the last two missiles are approaching so close together that the fire-control software, programmed to target the closest incoming threat first, glitches out. (Possibly inspired by Real Life; see below.) The battle is actually a pretty realistic depiction of point defenses on modern ships, describing the various defensive measures the fleet takes to shoot down the incoming missiles. The CIWS shot down three other missiles, and many more missiles were shot down before they got that close. Too bad there were a couple of hundred missiles launched, each of them effectively a One-Hit Kill on anything smaller than Nimitz herself.
  • Zig-zagged in Legacy of the Aldenata, where Posleen defensive hardware is very dangerous to anything flying under its own power (even stealth equipment and hero characters), but completely useless against unguided rockets or artillery shells.
  • Invoked in some of the Star Wars Expanded Universe books, particularly the X-Wing Series. Though lucky shots will probably take a few out, the only really effective way to keep Space Fighters from battering capital ships to death is other space fighters.
    • Zig-zagged with the Lancer-class frigate in Rogue Squadron, the first book of the X-Wing Series. Lancer-class frigates are stated to be designed specifically as anti-starfighter ships, and even Wedge Antilles himself gets a knot in his stomach when one ambushes his squadron. However, said frigate fails to shoot down the lone X-Wing that gets within gun range, and its defenses are soon overwhelmed by a slight variation of a Macross Missile Massacre.
  • In Tad Williams's Otherland, during the climax, the mile-high tower that is the headquarters of J Corp is revealed to possess surface-to-air missile defenses to complement its private army. Considering that they are employed to deal not with aircraft but with a massive satellite falling from orbit, it's unsurprising that they prove ineffective.
  • Honor Harrington, being relatively-realistically-extrapolated Space Opera Military Science Fiction, plays with this in fifteen different ways. Firstly, no one is ever actually flying in any sort of Space Fighter that would be vulnerable to point defense systemsnote , but they use many different layers of missile defense to deal with the Macross Missile Massacre that becomes the standard method of attack. Of course, actual point defense systems as we know them are only one layer of this shield, and not nearly the most effective one. On the other hand, they do form one of the final lines of defense against enemy fire. Of course, the older ships of the Solarian League use autocannon point defense (as opposed to laser) which is horribly obsolete compared to Manticoran or Havenite multi-drive missiles, and so will play the trope straight (so it's pretty much a Running Gag within the series to provide the number of missiles incoming and the multiple countermeasures that prevent 'X' number from hitting the ship over many paragraphs... only to end with "one got through". And that 'one' makes all the dramatic catastrophe that the whole barrage probably wouldn't have).
    • The important parts of the point defence systems of up to date ships in the settings are counter-missiles, very small, very fast missiles with no warhead who take out attacking missiles by simply ramming it at a closing speed very close to the speed of light and laser clusters that shoot down missiles before they can attack. The reason autocannon became useless at the job is because of the development of laser warheads that use an explosion to generate several powerful x-ray or gamma-ray lasers as their main means of attack. Since they don't have to get up close to attack, autocannon were just too slow and too short ranged to be effective anymore.
    • It's also noted that one of the key reasons point defenses fail in the series is pure math: If your point defenses can shoot down X missiles per second under ideal conditions and you have Y seconds to shoot down an incoming salvo, then if you are faced with an incoming salvo of X*Y+1 missiles, at least one missile is going to get through no matter what you do. With the introduction of missile pods allowing the use of the Macross Missile Massacre as a standard tactic, ships are regularly faced with more missiles than they can possible hope to stop.
  • Generally averted in Dale Brown books, where Macross Missile Massacres and stealth have to be used to get munitions past layers on layers of enemy PD.
  • Averted in David Drake's Hammer's Slammers stories because the availability of near-light-speed energy weapons has rendered aircraft and slow-flying missiles obsolete in a combat zone; if you can see it, you can kill it. Though against artillery shells it's somewhat 50-50, in Rolling Hot a Slammers artillery crew accidentally launches two anti-tank seeking shells at a battlefield where they're the only ones with tanks and even with advance warning they still lose one tank to friendly fire.
  • In the assorted Starfire books by Steven White (and David Weber), point defense against fighters and missiles is a critical part of combat but doesn't work nearly as well as you'd think their technology should allow.
  • In Harry Turtledove's Worldwar books, the Race uses anti-missile missiles to shoot down World War II-era human missiles. However, human missiles get better and better as the war rages on, and the Race is incapable of manufacturing more missiles. These AM missiles generally have a good track record, with the notable exception of the Dora railway gun, which managed to fire two shots and blow up two Race starships. The large Dora rounds are misidentified by a Race radar technician as missiles, who engages standard anti-missile defenses. However, the rounds' thick shells prevent them from being shot down by the AM missiles. Then again, there's nothing that the lizards could've done at this point, as their starships are merely interstellar troop transports with no armor or armaments of their own. By the Colonization series, though, the Race adds a secondary autocannon layer of defenses to their spacecraft, just in case their AM missiles fail to take out enemy nukes.
  • Partly averted in The Nameless War setting where human point defense is able to stop all but Macross Missile Massacre of smaller missiles but the larger Cap-ship missiles can generally close though the fire from point defense.
  • In Ark Royal, the alien capital ships are very good at taking out not only human missiles and fighters but also Magnetic Weapon rounds, requiring Macross Missile Massacres and shotgun-like spreads of railgun fire to get past their extremely accurate plasma defenses. It's stated that the aliens build their cap ship hulls out of a superconducting material that allows plasma to be generated at any point along the hull, turning the entire ship into a versatile point-defense turret (however, even a single successful direct railgun hit can cripple or destroy an alien ship). By contrast, the titular ship is a 70-year-old relic from the time when the Royal Space Navy's military doctrine was all about Battlestar-type ships (modern carriers are practically unarmored and lack any serious weapons). The heavily-armored Ark Royal is capable of taking damage that would easily kill any modern carrier and also dish out damage of its own, while her fighters try to keep the alien fighters from getting too close. However, the carrier's sensors are so out-of-date that there is real danger of the point-defense turrets mistaking a friendly fighter for an enemy.
  • Averted in Axis of Time, where "uptime" ships are equipped with two types of CIWS: laser pods and Metal Storm turrets (Metal Storm Limited is a Real Life weapons company, by the way). The systems are good enough to intercept regular shells in addition to missiles. In fact, their initial use against the "temp" Pacific Fleet makes the "temps" initially assume a Some Kind Of Forcefield situation, with the shells exploding the moment they leave the barrel. However, since the purpose of those CIWS is to intercept occasional missiles, they simply don't have enough ammo to be able to handle the sustained levels of shelling a WW2 ship can put out. By the third novel, the Metal Storm ammo is exhausted, as is whatever they use to keep the lasers working, so they have to go back to the less effective Vulcan autocannons.
  • Realistically averted in The Expanse. Point Defense Cannons, or PDC as they are usually called in the novels, are an integral part of every ship's armament. Not only are they essential for defense against torpedoes, but PDC are also frequently used as impromptu offensive weapons at close quarters, especially for ships lacking gauss cannons. Standard ammo for PDC arrays is Teflon-coated tungsten, which are often depicted as penetrating through a ship's hull and going all the way through whatever is in the round's path and out the other side. The results can sometimes be devastating.
  • Averted in one instance in Harry Turtledove's Great War series. A fighting scout plan is shot down by a person in an observation balloon with a handheld rifle. The other members of the pilot's wing are stunned.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Happens frequently to bomber aircraft in Dogfights, as they're usually attacked at angles where their gunners are unable to track the aircraft attacking them.
  • This appears to be the case for both the Colonials and the Cylons in Battlestar Galactica (1978). Both sides use slow-firing, slow-tracking gun turrets that are easily overwhelmed by the fast-moving Raiders and Vipers and depend on their embarked fighter wings for effective defense.
  • In Battlestar Galactica (2003), the Cylon Basestars are literally point defenseless, with sound justification. They rely on their Raiders to intercept enemy missiles and fighters (although they can shoot enemy missiles with their own missiles), as well as get in the way of enemy shells. The Raiders are even capable of faster-than-light travel, allowing the Cylons to engage the Colonials without ever bringing their motherships close. If they find themselves in a fight sans Raiders, however, the Colonial ships usually end up pounding them into scrap. The Battlestars, by contrast, have massive gun batteries to lay down Defensive Supression Barrages to force the Cylons to give them some breathing room. The Cylon "Colony", their biggest ship and makeshift homeworld, averts this. It's defended by so many turrets controlled by multiple hybrids that even the Galactica with its massive armor has only about two minutes before they're toast. Luckily, they're able to hack into the hybrid network to shut them down.
  • Zig-zagged in Andromeda, the titular ship has both Point-Defense Lasers and remote drones but enemy missiles still manage to hit it often. A big reason for this is that a Glorious Heritage-class cruiser like the Andromeda Ascendant is supposed to have a crew complement of 4132, with the crew operating most of the PDLs and flying the slipfighters. With a crew of less than a dozen, the Andromeda herself is forced to handle most of the work with predictable results.
  • A common battle tactic in the Star Trek universe (especially with small, nimble ships like the Defiant) is to fly so close to enemy ships that it is impossible to get a target lock.
  • In Lexx, the titular starship's defenselessness is justified. It is a Planet Destroyer meant to be the jewel of The Empire's fleet before the Nominal Heroes hijack it. Lexx has only one weapon: its Wave-Motion Gun. The blast it fires is slow enough for a small craft to evade, and it takes time to recharge. Because of this weakness, enemies frequently and easily board the ship.
  • Babylon 5:
    • Utterly averted. The first time we see the station use their Defense Grid in action against a large force of attacking raiders, two of the enemy fighters get swatted within seconds, even with most of the Interceptor guns aimed at their mothership; once they realize the mothership is disarmed, the Interceptors are aimed at the raider fighters, who are annihilated within a few more seconds. In the second season, the audience is informed that B5's Defense Grid is considered substandard, and they receive a Mid-Season Upgrade. That said, even the upgraded defense grid could be overwhelmed with sheer weight of fire.
    • They even use point defense against enemy energy weapons (hence why they dedicated only a couple guns to point defense duty when the raiders attacked: if their mothership was armed, they would have had to intercept its fire). In "A Voice in the Wilderness, Part II" the heavy cruiser EAS Hyperion blocks fire from alien warships with its dorsal turrets (not even the dedicated Interceptors!), and the Babylon 5 station itself does it every time it's attacked.
    • One episode in season 4 has the Minbari employ a technique they literally call "skin dancing": basically using this trope against the Drakh by hugging the hull of their mothership to pick up the speed they need to escape an ambush. It works.
    • Expanded Universe sources show that point defenses are quite effective, with almost any secondary weapon doubling as a formidable point defense weapon capable of taking out any non-laser attack until it's overwhelmed. Earth is simply notable for being much better at it than their technological level should allow thanks to sheer weight of fire (as they added the dedicated Interceptors on top of the secondary weapons and, somehow, can use even primary weapons that are far too large) and reverse-engineering technology from a derelict warship from an unidentified species (the Interceptor is said technology, which they adapted to everything they could). If fighters get through, it means the weapons from their support ship are keeping the enemy sufficiently busy.
  • Stargate SG-1: The Goa'uld motherships have this flaw. They rely on a Force Field for defense while their weapon systems are designed to target other capital ships and provide orbital bombardment ability. In instances where one is caught with its shields down, even a single one-man fighter is capable of blasting it with near impunity.

    Tabletop Games 
  • d20 System:
    • A third-party supplement for d20 Anime used this trope in order to match the feel of real anime. One of the settings, a Serial Numbers Filed Off version of Macross, has a sidebar describing the capabilities of the heroes' home base ship, saying that it has no stats due to "dramatic immunity" (except in the final battle) and that its point defenses can mow down hordes of cannon fodder mecha, but are useless against the enemy commanders (who will no doubt develop rivalries with the protagonists).
    • Averted with one of the other settings, a Serial Numbers Filed Off version of Gundam, where one of the robots has multiple laser turrets all over its body coordinated by high-power sensors and can shred anyone foolish enough to get too close.
  • Anti-missile systems in BattleTech have aspects of this. Depending on the ruleset, they either run out of ammo almost instantly or are actually forbidden from being 100% effective — i.e. if the attacker succeeded on his to-hit roll, at least one missile will hit the target, regardless of how good its point defense is. Averted by the Laser Anti-missile system, which as an energy weapon never runs out of ammo and is always capable of destroying an entire cluster of missiles, but also generates quite a bit of heat as a consequence.
  • Surprisingly an Averted Trope in Mekton. A well-designed point-defense system can shred virtually any Mekton in only a few hits. For this reason, point defense is very often left out of warship designs...
  • Averted in Battlefleet Gothic. Most starships have at least one point of Turrets that can hold off torpedoes and bombers. Though most ships only have one or two points of turrets, meaning that on average a Lunar-class cruiser attacked by four bomber squadrons is still going to take three of the attacks.
  • The point defense in GURPS: Spaceships is not terribly effective, very dangerous when combined with the massive damage missiles can do. A later supplement in the series added the Missile Shield design switch to let beam weapons hit as many incoming objects per second as they can fire shots.
  • Averted in Dropzone Commander, all the races including the least advanced one have a defensive system called the Missile Halo. It's a collection of satellite and ground-based lasers that targets incoming missiles. The Missile Halo is so effective that missiles are only deployed at short range and even artillery shells have a good chance of getting shot down, this led to all races having to develop at least one type of energy weapon to bypass it.

    Video Games 
  • In general, any game where the player controls a single fighter (optionally Recycled In Space) will likely feature large (space)ships with highly ineffective point defenses. Probably because a halfway efficient point defense would send the player back to the loading screen fast and often. This is zig-zagged with many Shoot Em Ups; turrets can often put up a deadly barrage of fire, but this is mitigated by the fact that they don't start shooting until they're onscreen, i.e.: when the player's fighter is right on top of them.
  • In the first Crysis game, the US fleet isn't the least bit able to defend itself against the slow moving hordes of alien ships. Worse, the fleet gets only a 5 second warning about the approaching ships before they wreck the carrier's flight deck by simply crashing into it. A later cutscene shows many more alien craft in the background, and a nuclear warhead had just been detonated, so they could've easily told us the aliens did a Zerg Rush and 99% were shot down before getting close and have the damage done by the remaining 1%, or that the systems were blinded by the nuke's EMP waves. The CIWS turrets do score some kills, but the RIM-7 missile point-defense seems to be totally absent. Perhaps they fired off all 24 SAMs while you were below the deck, taking out 24 Alien Scouts yet not really denting their numbers.
  • In the various Star Wars space sim games, there are often laser turrets that are more specifically designed for swatting X-wings. They tend to fail horribly at their jobs when you learn how to handle them.
    • In the X-Wing and Tie Fighter games, you can simply jiggle the stick while moving in any direction but directly at a turret to evade all fire — the Slow Lasers move so slowly that the slightest deviation in direction will throw a shot off.
    • In X-Wing Alliance, the danger to the player's fighter from a given capital ship seems to be inversely proportional to its size - corvettes, gunships, and Lancer-class frigates (see the X-Wing Series entry above) are particularly deadly, while the player can make endless attack runs on a Super Star Destroyer without fear of being blasted by its guns. Ship defenses are perfectly capable of defeating the player's missiles and torpedoes however... unless they take the simple expedient of firing them as unguided rockets, in which case they will be completely ignored.note 
    • The Rogue Squadron games often forced you to directly confront these laser turrets, which is suicidal to do head-on, but if you can get below their firing arc (and they're often on top of hills or on canyon ledges to facilitate this), they're completely helpless.
    • Star Wars: Battlefront II's Space Combat mode avoided player immunity to AA by having the automated turrets of capital ships shoot lasers which exploded when near their target (don't think about how this is supposed to work). This made up for their poor accuracy by making it extremely difficult for small fighters like A-Wings to fly within range of them, lest they run into a flak barrage and immediately explode, but for anything bigger (especially a heavily-armored bomber, the only type of ship expected to get in and stay close to the enemy capital ship) they barely even qualified as a nuisance. It is possible to kill these guns by either landing inside the enemy ship and blowing up the turret control computer (since it's the first thing beyond the hangar, this is more a matter of time than anything else), or just blow up the ship's shields and then take out the guns themselves. Note that there are automatic guns inside the ships with regenerative health. And they are very good at making life hell for infiltrators.
    • Human players can actually take control of smaller point defense guns in multiplayer. It's not popular for a number of reasons. It doesn't score many points, it's boring, it's difficult to do, and you have a tendency to die at random for no reason whatsoever while at the AA gun controls thanks to a bug.
  • Mostly averted in Privateer 2: The Darkening, in which even cargo freighters are at Gunship Rescue level thanks to their relentless, targeted, and high-powered turret fire. Either you're constantly evading, you get out of range, or you get shredded. Depending on the ship, you might be able to take it out by getting into that blind spot.
  • Capital ships in Homeworld almost invariably need escorts against waves of fighters, as they have little or no point defense. This is a deliberate part of the Tactical Rock–Paper–Scissors, and a few capital ships are effective against fighters at the cost of not countering what capital ships normally counter — Missile Destroyers, for instance, will shred fighter fleets. On the other hand, the Mothership itself is armed with some serious point defenses that can repel anything short of a massed bomber attack.
    • In Homeworld Cataclysm, most of the ships end up averting this trope. All of the larger capital ships are at least armed with homing energy cannons or precise guns that severely negate the usefulness of fighter squadrons against them. The Somtaaw capital ships carry missile launchers in addition to the rest of their guns, killing off any chance of a serious fighter attack.
    • Homeworld 2's capital ships takes this trope down half a notch. Battlecruisers and Destroyers, especially of the Hiigaran kind, have developed pretty potent antifighter defense for ships that are built from the ground-up to pick on others their own size. This perk gives capital ships an edge against lone fighter squadrons, forcing the opponent to utilize numbers if he wants his winning edge back.
  • Ships in Nexus: The Jupiter Incident can be equipped with rapid-fire flak lasers that can destroy enemy fighters and incoming missiles (but not torpedoes, they are too fast) — though you're better off with fighter escort since they break off and intercept threats automatically.
  • Gratuitous Space Battles has this as one aspect. Fighters/Bombers can easily destroy even biggest ship since to BFG cannons can't lock and fire fast enough. On the other hand, if fleet has even decent Point Defence systems, fighters are having hard time. All part of Tactical Rock–Paper–Scissors.
  • The original FreeSpace played this very straight, with even the heaviest Destroyers packing no more than a few easily-dodgeable "blob turrets" and puny missile launchers. In response, the sequel loaded every capital ship down with exploding flak and hitscan Anti-Fighter Beams. If the player doesn't approach the ship carefully, blasting off a few turrets to create a blind spot, they will die in short order. For the most part this was an improvement, but it also gave birth to the Aeolus-Class Cruiser, a Demonic Spider so tough it never makes an un-nerfed appearance at any point in the campaign. The turret AI was also made a bit more intelligent: it will now attempt to shoot down incoming bombs, and even prioritize them over nearby enemy fighters.
  • Ace Combat's flying fortresses and naval ships frequently carry AA guns, but they're mostly harmless except at the very highest difficulty levels because of how the games handle damage. They're also completely unable to shoot down the player's missiles. On the other hand, flying fortresses and ships can also launch missiles, which can knock you right out of the sky.
    • In Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War, the heroes' aircraft carrier is damaged by a sea-skimming anti-ship missile during a cutscene, despite its CIWS's attempts to shoot it down. This is actually fairly realistic — see Real Life, below. Also Played for Laughs in an early mission, where you hear over the radar a ship crewman ordering Phalanx fire in response to enemy missiles, a second or two of it firing, and then "No! Stop! You're firing on the docks!" There is likewise one mission where the player is able to imitate the real-world Wild Weasel role (see the real-life folder) - the enemy's air defense for that mission primarily consists of shoulder-fired SAMs that don't show up on radar and can't be targeted, but if you bait one into firing and then dodge the missile, you can then lob a bomb or dumb-fire a missile at its position to destroy it anyway, prompting a bit of a freak-out from them.
    • Ace Combat X: Skies of Deception includes "high-performance" AAA that is able to intercept your bombs and missiles in one mission (two, actually... sort of). This is so significant for the series that the mission briefing and Mission Control specifically point out the aversion.
    • In Ace Combat: Joint Assault Sulejmani's Varcolac has a rear-facing gatling that shoots missiles aimed at his six out of the air.
    • In Ace Combat: Assault Horizon, when attacking Renegade Russian ships, a few of the larger ships ships are actually able to successfully defend against uncoordinated missile strikes with their CIWS, requiring the player to use overwhelm the point defenses by striking simultaneously with other aircraft.
    • Ace Combat Infinity includes drones which carry highly-effective anti-missile lasers. They also show up on the strongest variant of Ace Combat 6's Aigaion, though they have rather easy to abuse blind spots, especially if you've managed to take care of the AAM's and other guns first. Naval Fleet Assault mode also somewhat averts this, as Aegis ships have a set of respawning point-defense guns that can shoot down missiles aimed at themselves or other ships in their fleet... but if you're within a decent distance they won't have time to shoot down the missiles (no matter how much your AWACS insists they were intercepted). Not to mention as well that missiles are apparently the only weapons they can intercept - all manner of bombs and other ground munitions, even ones like stand-off dispensers that essentially work exactly like a missile without actually being one, are entirely untouchable.
    • Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown to a degree averts the trope. Ship based close-in weapons systems and land-based counterparts will do more than just target the player's aircraft (where while the amount of damage they do is significantly lessened, anti-aircraft guns are also far more accurate than in past games, requiring the player stand off to actually avoid taking damage), certain ones will also shoot down the player's missiles. When active, point defenses are actually quite apt at forcing the player to expend more munitions than would usually be required to kill a given target (AD Tanks in particular need careful timing and positioning to kill without them shooting down at least one missile). However, they can't target dumb weapons such as bombs, potentially opening up the player to play it straight. Finally, there's the Arsenal Birds, which, while primarily defended by their fleets of MQ-101 drones and nigh-impenetrable Active Protection System forcefield, are also armed to the teeth with Vertical Launching Systems loaded with countless missiles. Approaching an Arsenal Bird up close often results in the game practically screaming with missile alerts; be too careless and your plane will be blown out of the sky by a metric ton of incoming air-to-air missiles.
  • Point defense guns in Sigma Star Saga fire at a 45-degree angle that can't be altered.
  • Sins of a Solar Empire has starbases, massive structures bristling with weapons, thick armor and powerful shields... but nothing that can target strikecraft. In fact, most ships lack anti-fighter weapons. The TEC Kol-class battleships do have a special ability that allows them to destroy every enemy fighter craft near them... by loading their autocannons with shrapnel and firing all at the same time, basically, creating a wall of death for any enemy fighter.
  • Sword of the Stars features point defense guns. Ballistics are optimized to shoot down down drones and mines, whereas Laser Point Defenses are best against torpedoes and missiles. High-tech Phasers are more effective and can kill multiple targets in one sweep, but are a late-game tech that is rarely available. Argos Naval Yard introduced Interceptor Missiles, which are even better at nailing drones, mines and torpedoes but cannot hit missiles. Take note, though, that the necessary research option is only randomly available and the Random Number God may not like you. Any weapon can be used for point defense in a pinch, even Mass Drivers and Heavy Combat Lasers, but the faster turret tracking of dedicated PD weapons is preferred. Furthermore, ship design firing arcs affect the usefulness of PD - Tarka in particular are very bad at nailing munitions coming in from above or below the plane of combat.
    • There are also "light emitters" (they don't emit light; they're just a smaller version of the standard "emitter"). A single blast can eliminate several missiles close by. Their fire rate is a little slow.
    • The best way to deal with missiles seems to be is to use a dedicated Wild Weasel destroyer, which attracts most of the enemy missiles toward it while sending the rest back at the enemy (and the enemy won't try to destroy them, as they don't classify as "foe"). Of course, if you want your Wild Weasel to survive the battle (or even the first volley), you better keep a few dedicated PD ships nearby to swat all the missiles before they hit. Argos Naval Yard adds the Electronic Warfare command section, which includes the Wild Weasel function. Since this is a dreadnought section, it can take a lot of punishment and can also be equipped with lots of PD weapons.
    • The sequel mixes it up by nerfing Phaser PD to have lower rate of fire, so it's not so good against waves of hardened heavy missiles or battleriders. Also, while Interceptor Missiles can now hit other missiles, but the low rate of fire makes them better against few hardened ordnance than swarms of normal missiles and can also be spoofed unlike the other direct-fire options. Furthermore, missiles have new tricks such as launching uninterceptable submunitions from standoff range, reducing the size of the intercept window.
  • Averted in Meta Knight's Revenge from Kirby Super Star: The Halberd's gun batteries are able to shoot down Kirby's Warp Star and swat him off the bridge, forcing him to assault it again with Dyna Blade. Even then, she gets shot down almost instantly and barely manages to get Kirby on board.
  • Supreme Commander provides an aversion. Between the availability of base-covering shields, artillery emplacements and long range radar, base defenses can do an acceptable job of holding off an attack.
    • In the Forged Alliance expansion, the UEF gained a new unit type specifically designed to overwhelm tactical missile defenses through sheer numbers.
  • Same for its predecessor Total Annihilation, which even featured a couple of very powerful turrets that were expensive and slow to build, but would One-Hit Kill anything short of a superheavy tank.
    • Total Annihilation adds an interesting wrinkle to its point defenses, in that their effective firing range often significantly exceeds their own visual range, and they won't automatically target enemies on radar detection. Thus, in order to make a base's point-defences effective, it's necessary to supplement them with patrolling vehicles to keep the surrounding terrain in sight, acting as spotters for the defensive emplacements.
  • While autofiring Point Defense cannons didn't appear until SE4, in the Space Empires games point defense cannons will generally rip apart missiles and fighters.
  • In Super Smash Bros. Brawl, The Subspace Gunship has enough auto-turrets to literally fill the sky with projectiles.... yet they can't hit the broad side of a barn door. The destruction of the Halberd was implied to be a deliberate action on part of the heroes; once the smaller ships are released, the Gunship's turrets are suddenly slightly less accurate than your average Imperial Stormtrooper. Even Olimar's ship (shown later as barely capable of keeping up with the other ships) has little trouble avoiding the enemy fire.
  • In Infinite Space, AA lasers avert this in that they can and do shred fighters, but they're just not as useful as having a fighter complement of your own since the game prevents you from moving if you're under attack from fighters. One instance where this is best averted is in your first fight with Oisin, where he shoots tracker mines that keep your ship from moving and just blow up your fighters, whereas using your AA lasers finishes the fight in a few seconds.
  • Starcraft plays it straight with the Protoss Carrier which launches waves of small drones to attack the target, but itself has no weaponry of any kind. StarCraft II averts it with the Terrans' new Raven, which is able to deploy a Point Defense Laser drone to hover over your forces shooting down a good percentage of enemy missile/beam attacks until it runs out of energy.
    • Played with for the Battlecruisers in Starcraft II. In game they fire single blasts, but during the cutscenes they are shown to have numerous turrets designed to shoot down small enemy craft. However, despite the significant defenses, battlecruisers tend to be overwhelmed by mutalisks regardless.
  • In EVE Online, larger ships tend to cart around larger weapons. Makes sense, yes? Larger weapon turrets unfortunately track more slowly than smaller ones. This results in battleships that can slug it out with another battleship, but can't manage to pick off the swarms of frigates that will attack because its anti-battleship cannons track too slowly. This can be fixed by having some ships in the fleet outfitted with smaller weapons specifically to deal with the smaller ships, functioning as roving point-defense ships, often using smaller, cheaper ships for this duty since they're just about as effective as using something bigger would be. Destroyers are designed to mount the maximum number of small turrets possible and are thus the ideal anti-frigate escort and will cost a couple of orders of magnitude less than a battleship. Often, however, the battleships will simply load up on multiple flights or drones to deal with smaller annoyances.
  • X-Universe series:
    • Possible. Some ships may have only larger guns that can't track faster fighters or missiles. In X3 the Kha'ak have an inverted version, suffering from Crippling Overspecialization where, while their weapons make great point defense, they don't scale well and their capital ships can't stand up to their peers. On the other hand, certain weapons (chiefly the Flak Artillery Array and Starburst Shockwave Cannon) are extremely effective against fighters (rapid fire, high shot speed, large hitbox, heavy damage) but their range is too short to use against capitals unless you get to point-blank range.
    • The Split Python destroyer of X3: Terran Conflict is completely lacking in flak weapons after it was nerfed from X3: Reunion. At best, it can mount fighter-class weapons that are extremely clumsy when mounted on capital ship turrets, or the Scrappy Weapon Fragmentation Bomb Launcher. The traditional Split Fragile Speedster Glass Cannon school of thought doesn't help it, as its comparatively pathetic shielding means that fighter swarms (AKA, every Xenon or Kha'ak sector) can tear it apart with few losses bar the fighters plowing into the hull in a beautiful display of their trademark Artificial Stupidity
    • With the Bonus Pack scripts installed, the trope is thoroughly averted for player-owned ships of Commonwealth design. Mosquito Missile Defense uses the otherwise worthless Mosquito missile to intercept incoming ordnance. Capital ships can potentially carry thousands, making for an all but impenetrable missile shield. But the script doesn't work on ships that can't normally fire Mosquitoes, making it useless on M7M Missile Frigates and anything built by the Terrans. X3: Albion Prelude allows every ship to use Mosquitoes.
  • As expected from its source material, most battleships in Super Robot Wars have terrible utility when used against anything besides Mecha-Mooks, and basically any boss will freaking laugh at any weapon they'd be hit by except ones that are so huge they have sections of their ship built around them. It should be noted that in many cases it's not so much a matter of accuracy, but the guns are so weak that they barely do any damage, even when the weapons are canonically supposed to be as big as the guns said mooks carry into battle. This also counts for most Mobile Suit vulcans, with the exception of pilots with the later "Shoot Down" skill, which allows them to blast incoming missile attacks.
  • The Human Cruiser from Star Control has point defense lasers as a secondary weapon to compliment its nuclear missile launcher, but they're only really useful on the interstellar equivalent of peashooters (or possibly Cherry Tapping). Anything thicker will cruise right through to hit the ship. The Precursor flagship can be outfitted with P.D. lasers with similar properties.
    • On the other hand, their PD system absolutely pissed off the Ur-Quan, who use swarms of fighters. And in Star Control 2, the Orz Marines would have fits trying to get through Cruiser Point Defense, though you have to annoy them pretty bad before they'll attack at all. In most other circumstances though, the Cruiser is better off spamming nukes.
    • A computer-controlled Ur-Quan Dreadnought will not launch fighters at an Earthling Cruiser. Then again, it doesn't have to. It can just close in and blast the Puny Earthlings into atoms. Computer is also quite adept at shooting down the slow missiles with the Dreadnought's main gun or the primary weapon of other ships.
  • Gravity Crash's levels are strewn with fixed cannons; due to a combination of aiming issues and extreme vulnerability to your ship's gun (they often go down in a single shot), they provide the bad guys practically no defense to speak of.
  • Anti missile guns in MechWarrior 3 shoot down incoming missiles, if you remember to turn them on. Enemies seem to lack them.
    • Mechwarrior Online also has Anti-Missile systems as an available modification for every 'Mech. Larger missile flights tend to overwhelm them but they are somewhat effective, particularly when combined with Electronic Countermeasures.
  • The aggressive defence augmentation of Deus Ex destroys missiles before they can hit you. At higher levels it can actually hurt enemies by making their rockets explode near them.
  • Dead Space has automated asteroid defence guns which are supposed to protect the ship from bits and pieces of the planet it's cracking. It fails, requiring you to manually operate one until it can be rebooted.
  • Battlestar Galactica Online: Lines are generally bad at targetting small, agile Strikes. Flyswatting is the job of Escorts, but a good or much higher-level Strike pilot can still give them a run for their money.
  • City of Heroes has an aversion with the Vanguard Base in the Rikti Warzone. The turrets around the base are level 54, generally Lieutenants and Bosses, are backed up by a pair of level 54 Humongous Mecha, whereas the nearest enemies are, at maximum, level 38. The said, it is played straight during missions involving the Vanguard base, as those selfsame turrets are spawned to the level of the mission, alongside notably more enemies than they can usually successfully take on, and the mecha are taken out before the mission. Similarly, the turrets in the Shadow Shard are never shown firing on anything (because they actually predate the Turrets enemy group).
  • Nearly every Core (torso, that is) unit from Armored Core carried a point-defense unit against incoming missile, from the first game. This explains the barrel-like protrusions from many Cores. Starting from Armored Core 2, shoulder-mounted CIWS systems start to be introduced, from missile, laser and gun-based interception, to simple missile misdirection. Their effectiveness range from "acceptable", "total protection", and "dead weight".
    • Oddly, the only game that lacks any point defence system is Armored Core 4 and for Answer, relegating anti-missile to flares only. This being 4/fA, that seldom works due to the sheer Macross Missile Massacre feats that other AC units can pull off.
  • Somewhat averted in Strike Suit Zero as every capital ship is armed with point defense systems. Flak cannons however only have a short range, and are far more effective on shields than armor. Enemy flak cannons are only a real threat to the player early on, until the player realises that they can strike from out of range (or when the turrets are facing away from the player). The point defense on allied ships is damaged in the first few missions, so the player is relied upon to eliminate enemy torpedoes, and the flak defenses can be overwhelmed by multiple attackers. When there are only one or two attackers, or multiple defending ships, flak can be very effective at defense.
    • Enemy point defense becomes far more effective when you face the Black Fleet, as their ships are armed with anti-fighter lasers that out-range all of the players weapons, though they do become less accurate and easier to dodge at range.
  • Very much averted with Team Fortress 2's sentry guns, which can shred an entire team of enemy players in seconds if they go toe-to-toe or try to just run past. Due to this, it's considered one of the few counters to a decent Scout, since they can dodge everything except a sentry's auto-targeting if it's close enough to spotting them. Of course, this is to compensate for their Artificial Stupidity — they are plenty of ways to outwit them, although the gun's owner can make this more difficult if he's nearby.
  • Averted in Earth 2150 where Morphidian aliens can breed a type of airship fitted with dozens of lasers able to shoot down any amount of missiles.
  • Averted in Mass Effect. Ships mount GARDIAN laser turrets to destroy incoming ordnance and fighters. At close range they double as an offensive weapon, since kinetic barriers are useless against energy weapons. This made missiles more or less outdated in-universe; the sole way of using them is to discharge them at point-blank range (usually with fighters) so there literally isn't enough time for the point-defense systems to get all of them before some hit.
    • Notably, the series explicitly states that laser point defense is almost completely reliable. Since the lasers travel at essentially lightspeed and the setting's computers are so powerful, GARDIAN systems will functionally always destroy fighters and ordnance within range. Different ship design philosophies use different kinds of point defense, but the thing they all have in common is that they're functionally flawless until they overheat or are somehow damaged.
  • About the only thing reducing Polaris warships' status as game breakers in EV Nova is the fact that, unlike Federation and Auroran ships, they have no point defense guns, making them vulnerable to long range missile barrages (and only slightly, since they can return fire with their own missiles). By contrast some Federation capital ships carry quad light blaster turrets, and some Auroran ships mount Storm chainguns.
  • While most of the Wing Commander series plays this trope straight, there are two exceptions:
    • In Armada, the carrier flak cannons are very dangerous, and exceedingly accurate. They can shred even heavy fighters in a small handful of shots. Should a torpedo-equipped fighter run into an unescorted carrier on the strategic map, however, the torpedo run is a cutscene where the attack always succeeds.
    • In Prophecy, the rear gun turret on the Triton transports isn't necessarily fatal to the player's fighter, but it is quite good at shooting down torpedoes launched at the engine, required to kill them. The positioning also makes the turret difficult to destroy so that it won't interfere with an attack.
  • Star Trek Online has a partial example. While standard torpedoes cannot be targeted by your guns, you can shoot down heavy torpedoes, boarding shuttles, mines, and fighters.
  • In Jeff Wayne's War of the Worlds, the counter to fast-moving Martian flying machines is theoretically the AA gun and its vehicular counterpart, the mobile anti-aircraft array. However, the comparatively short range and low damage of these weapons mean that it's often just as effective (if not more so) to use a unit or two of armoured track layers, whose weapons also hit instantly and do more damage.
  • Short-range weapons in Strange Adventures In Infinite Space automatically target enemy missiles. Depending on how good the weapon is, it may stop every missile, unless the enemy (or you) is using the Multi-Missile Launcher. Fighters are also fairly easy to kill and can be specifically targeted.
  • Tales of Honor: The Secret Fleet is based on the Honorverse but takes great liberties when portraying battles (in fact, most ships have shapes that are vastly different from the double-cone shapes all ships in the books have). Basically, all battles are one-on-one, and ships hang in space and exchange volleys of missiles. All ships have sidewalls, but they can be easily overwhelmed with enough hits. Ships can also roll to present their dorsal wedges that completely block any incoming missile for a few seconds (the "roll" ability must recharge). The three point-defense systems available on larger ships are lasers (the final layer before impact), counter-missiles (middle layer), and ECM (first layer). ECM sends some missiles off-course, while lasers and counter-missiles destroy a certain number of missiles. Each point-defense system can be defied by special missiles that also damage this particular system if they hit the hull (e.g. red missiles are immune to point-defense lasers and damage the laser system on impact). All point-defense systems must recharge after use.
  • In Halo's Expanded Universe, it's explained that one of the reasons why the UNSC has difficulty in space is because the Covenant avert this trope with their highly accurate pulse lasers, forcing them to resort to trope namer levels of Macross Missile Massacre to get missiles through. The UNSC themselves play this straight; their point-defense systems use chemically-propelled autocannons, which aren't particularly useful against modern anti-ship missiles, much less futuristic ones. Any Insurrectionist or Covenant missile/torpedo fired at a UNSC ship pretty much always hits as a result, unless the captain manages to dodge it. There's also several scenes in the games of Banshees and Seraphs lazily flying around UNSC ships, seemingly unconcerned with said guns.
  • In Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, "Honey Badger", the Stryker ICV you escort through half of the level "Exodus", has an active protection system to shoot down enemy RPG's fired at it; it's actually effective at defending itself, but there are a lot of Russian soldiers with RPG's, so the Stryker still needs your help thinning the enemies out before it's overwhelmed.
  • In From the Depths, most ships mount negligible Anti-Air weaponry bar lucky shots from their BFG anti-ship cannons. The Deepwater Guard — the first encountered enemy faction — in particular have a designed weakness to missiles and planes due to very few DWG ships mounting laser weaponry or anti-missile systems. It comes as a rude awakening when players take on the Onyx Watch, whose ships mount heavy armor, often possess anti-missile systems, and have a dedicated anti-air boat that can melt any fighter out of the sky through massed hitscan Beam Spam.
  • Zigzaged in Battlefleet Gothic: Armada, where the usefulness of interception fire varies a great deal. Every ship in the game has in built turrets that attempt to stop incoming bombers, torpedo's and boarding parties, usualy with a decent degree of success, and the turrets of two friendly ships in close proximity will cover each other. However, there are many factors that may reduce the effectiveness of turrets, from increasing the speed of your torpedoes (so they spend less time in range of the turrets), to giving all your fighters and bombers a chance to dodge destruction (with the Eldar faction's bombers having an insane 50% dodge chance) to the fact that ships lose one turret for every 100 health they lose.
  • Averted in Naval Ops. Point defense weapons run the gamut from machine guns to lasers to rapid-fire missiles and can be mounted in very large numbers. The player ship can fill the air with a barrage that will completely pulp any incoming missiles and aircraft. Mines and torpedoes can only be intercepted by machine guns, and mines must be targeted manually. Enemy ships generally mount a handful of AA guns that occasionally intercept something.
  • Command & Conquer: Generals has a few American units like the Paladin Tank equipped with point defense lasers that do a very good job at targeting enemy missiles and neutralizing them, though they can still be overwhelmed by sufficient fire.
  • Medium AFV's in Ring of Red have a machine gun turret intended to deter the kind brass-balled individual who'll run up and throw a grenade at them. This machine gun is a complete and utter waste of space that can only hit the ground due to gravity.

    Visual Novels 
  • Sunrider generally averts this, as many ships and some Ryders have flak guns that they use to shoot down incoming missiles and fire at any unit that moves into an adjacent hex. They’re quite good at their job, and any friendly flak-equipped unit can shoot down missiles so long as they’re adjacent to the missiles’ trajectory, though their effectiveness decreases as they intercept more and more missiles. Chigara can also invoke this trope with her Flakoff ability, which completely shuts down a single unit’s flak guns for one turn. Late in the game, PACT Support Ryders which can do the same thing to you start showing up.

  • Downplayed and justified in Schlock Mercenary: Touch-and-Go wouldn't be able to scratch UNS battleplate Morokweng if the latter's annie-plants and shields weren't down in an attempt to hide from a Pa'anuri, and the remaining point defenses were ineffective against Tagii who had her shield still up as she rammed the battleplate and smashed clear through before the Pa'anuri she lured in tore Morokweng apart like a wet tissue. And still, Touch-and-Go was rendered barely mobile and irreparably damaged by the PDs in the process.

    Western Animation 
  • Gargoyles: One wonders why Xanatos and Macbeth invested so much money in their respective point-defense systems, given that the turrets were invariably too slow to track gargoyles in Not Quite Flight and were made short work of.
  • Averted in Disney's TaleSpin: the only entrance to Cape Suzette by air or sea is through a long, narrow canyon cut into a sheer cliff. To protect the city against invasion, the top of the cliff, as well as the canyon walls, are littered with dozens of manned anti-air flak guns. Although individually they're not very accurate, the sheer number of them makes their barrage so fearsome even the Air Pirates in their flying fortress would rather turn tail than face them.
  • Il était une fois... l'Espace: A Cassiopeian "Nautilus" warship, described as more than a match for all Omega ship classes and nigh invulnerable, cannot hit Pierrot's ship and avoid the latter closing at point-blank range to torpedo her down the throat.

    Real Life 
  • In reality, modern point-defense systems are last-ditch desperation weapons primarily intended for use against incoming missiles; a missile only gets close enough to be engaged by point defenses if someone else has already screwed up and let that missile be launched in the first place. Given the difficulty of hitting a relatively small target hurtling toward you at multiple times the speed of sound in the few seconds between when you can first detect it and when it hits you, even modern anti-missile systems are far from foolproof, though they certainly aren't useless.
  • It should be noted that the US Phalanx CIWS is actually very accurate and effective when automated. The downside is that it can't be kept automated for long periods of time due to the chance of false positives and friendly fire. Most systems will alert a human operator before actually engaging a potential threat. Its biggest weakness is its range, relative to the speed of its targets: an incoming missile will often be close enough that burning fragments might still hit the ship anyway.
  • A notable cause of failure in modern point defense is actually programming errors.
    • Older model Patriot systems used in the first Gulf War had a critical rounding oversight in the internal clock, totally insignificant at first, but which snowballed hour after hour until they couldn't hit an idling Zeppelin. Until the software was patched, they had to be manually rebooted every few hours to stay accurate.
    • Because they were originally designed to engage planes, Patriot missiles tended to detonate too late — after the point where the blast would destroy its target — when fired at SCUD missiles (which travel much faster than manned aircraft), resulting in actual performance falling short of test results until a later software update. In fact, Coalition propaganda aside, the Patriot missiles were proving so useless in stopping the SCUDs from hitting Israeli targets that Israel was preparing its own military retaliation over the pleas of the US Government to hold back, and managed to stay out of the fighting only because Saddam Hussein admitted defeat and pulled out of Kuwait before they were ready.
    • Another big problem the Patriots had was where they were hitting the SCUDs. Not only did the Patriot's warheads detonate too late, they were also indiscriminate about what part of the SCUD they hit — as mentioned, they were designed to hit planes, where the point is largely moot. Many SCUDs were hit by Patriots, but only the rocket was destroyed. The SCUD's warhead remained intact, and would then fall to Earth. If that plummeting warhead happened to land on a populated area, it may as well have not been intercepted at all. Later updates to the system designed specifically to intercept ballistic missiles were made to ensure that the interceptor exploded ahead of the missile it was intercepting, thus maximizing the odds of destroying the warhead.
    • In the Falklands War, a number of British Type 42 destroyers got hit by not only guided anti-ship missiles, but also Argentine aircraft lobbing unguided munitions at them. The early iterations of the class were fitted with GWS30 Sea Dart surface-to-air missile system for anti-air defense; problem was, if aircraft or missiles managed to close to within a certain range, software issues with the SAM system caused them to be unable to properly track and fire at targets because they were too close. This limitation was the reason why the class was latter fitted with two Mk.15 Phalanx CIWS.
    • The newer Sea Wolf SAM fitted to a few ships in the fleet had a problem with its fire-control software that most likely inspired the example in Red Storm Rising described above; when multiple Argentine fighter-bombers approached in line-abreast formation, the program threw a fit because it was supposed to target the closest threat first. On the other hand, when the Sea Wolf's automated system did work properly, it was often so effective that the first inkling British sailors had of an Argentine attack was when enemy planes they weren't yet aware of started blowing up.
  • The Israeli Iron Dome missile defence system proved so effective (up to around 90% success rate) at shooting down rockets that the Palestinians were forced to change tactics from firing one or two at a time to a real-world Macross Missile Massacre. The success rate for interceptions has since dropped to around 75%.
    • Since initial deployment, considerable doubt has surfaced about the efficacy of the system. And while it is almost certainly the most effective (and certainly most tested) missile interception system in the world, its interception rates are far below those numbers. The system has had particular issues with detonating the warheads of incoming rockets. For one reason or another, however, it is apparently impossible to know just how effective it really is.
    • An even more interesting drawback of the Iron Dome system, which has fallen under much academic scrutiny since it was first employed, was that in many of the cases it actually proved too effective for the Israeli public's good. The Israelis, used until then to live in fear of rocket attacks and run to underground shelters at the first sound of alarms, witnessed one successful interception after another in the first months of the Iron Dome's run, and eventually grew so confident in its infallibility that they turned complacent. Instead of running for shelters, people would just stand outside staring with mild interest as rockets hurtled towards them, often not bothering to even stop what they were doing or pulling out their phones to video the interception. The IDF had to spend significant PR resources on campaigns reminding the public that the Iron Dome was good, but not that good, and that they still needed to run away when rockets were fired at them. It was also hard for Israel to present the image to the world of a population living in fear and terror of Palestinian rocket attacks - when the population living nearest to Gaza, therefore the most at threat, were having picnics in the open where they could watch Israeli retaliatory attacks, and cheer every time an IDF plane dropped a bomb on the Palestinians.
  • There's actually a group of people dedicated to making this trope Truth in Television — the Wild Weasel units' mission is the suppression of enemy anti-air fire. They do this primarily by deliberately drawing fire and then letting other members of the team destroy the AA facilities that revealed themselves by attacking. Appropriately, their unofficial motto is "YGBSM", which stands for "you gotta be shittin' me", supposedly the response of one of the original Wild Weasel team members upon being told the details of his new assignment.
  • This trope probably originates in WWII. The targeting computers of the time were no match for the speed and agility of small aircraft; flak could shoot down level bombers (at least if you used enough flak), but against small craft, the best you could really hope for was to make them flinch. But if they flinched and messed up their attack run, you were just as alive as you would have been had you shot them down. There were several cases in the Pacific of heroic pilots pushing through the flak screen, and others of pilots trying to do so and failing.
    • The Battle of the Eastern Solomons provides a good example: the last of Imperial Japan's pre-war carrier pilots pressed their attack home into the teeth of flak from both Enterprise and the new battleship North Carolina and several other ships. They got three hits on Enterprise, but three quarters of them died to do it.
    • Kamikazes were the ultimate recognition that it was impossible to accurately aim a bomb or torpedo under fire from US ships. Turning the aircraft itself into the weapon meant it had to be hard-killed to stop it, and consequently upped the percentage of hits; the US even had to make the switch from previously-popular Oerlikon 20mm cannons to larger Bofors 40mm ones, because the Oerlikon simply didn't have the stopping power to hard-kill an approaching kamikaze.
    • Strategic bombers, most famously the American B-17 Flying Fortress, were armed to the teeth, with more and more defensive firepower added in later models. Compare the B Model to the G Model. Formations of these planes were very difficult to approach. The Luftwaffe's early-war tactic was to make head-on strafing runsnote , exploiting how early B-17s didn't have a chin turret for firing directly forward; once it added one, the Germans switched to trying to break up the formation with rockets. Against Royal Air Force night bombers they used Schräge "Musik" guns, firing upwards from the fighter instead of in its direction of flight; unlike American bombers, which had a belly turret, RAF Lancasters and Halifaxes devoted their belly space to radar in order to attack more accurately. Without look-outs beneath, the German pilots sidled into place in the dark and attacked at their leisure.
      • Attacking American bombers from behind was never a good idea. The attacking fighter's closing speed was lower, and the B-17s could bring almost their full complement of guns to bear. One account relates that an ME-262 that tried this disintegrated under the sheer volume of heavy machine-gun fire as several hundred airmen all trained their guns on the target which had presented itself.
      • Ultimately, defensive guns on bombers were themselves a good example of this. Defensive fire, especially from an entire formation, might with some luck (keeping in mind that these were for the most part "mere" machine guns in single or at best dual mounts against entire fighter planes with varying degrees of armor themselves) deter or even bring down a few interceptors, but the weight of the guns and extra crew needed to man them also slowed the bombers down and thereby made them easier to intercept; and friendly fire could also be a problem, especially in large formations. It was always far more effective to put the anti-fighter guns on separate escort fighters that could tangle with the interceptors on their own terms and ideally draw them off altogether; early in the war, those just didn't have the operative range to accompany the bombers all the way.
    • A number of major warships were lost on both sides during the war as a result of anti-aircraft fire being vastly inferior to a screen of actual fighter planes, which underlined the rise of the Aircraft Carrier and the fall of conventional big-gun battleships. After 1941, it would be sensible to consider any major warship operating outside of the range of land-based or carrier-based aircraft to be a sitting duck.
      • HMS Repulse and HMS Prince of Wales were sunk in 1941 by land-based Japanese aircraft, and became the first capital ships to be sunk purely by air-power. They were operating without the support of any smaller vessels or fighter cover. The early loss of electrical power on the modern Prince of Wales didn't help, as its anti-aircraft turrets were rendered inoperative. It also helped the Japanese a lot that the 40 mm shells had suffered from heat and humidity and the electronics and fine mechanics of the HACS anti-aircraft fire control system was designed for operating in cold and temperate climates, such as the Atlantic and Mediterranean, and was rendered inoperable in the heat and humidity of the tropics. Both ships could have just as well thrown rocks against the attacking Japanese. On the other hand, RN capital ships had successfully defended themselves against German and Italian land-based bombers for two years at the Atlantic and Mediterranean before the Force Z disaster.
      • The Bismarck was famously crippled by carrier-based Swordfish aircraft before being sunk by a Naval taskforce, but the Germans made several other attempts to break out into the Atlantic with "lone wolf" warships without air support. Her sister ship, Tirpitz, was sunk by land-based bombers. During the last attack waves, the main 15" guns were used in an anti-aircraft role but didn't have much effect. In Bismarck's case, ironically enough part of the problem was that the turrets for its 3.7cm anti-aircraft cannons couldn't traverse slowly enough to effectively target the obsolescent Swordfish biplanes, resulting in the guns repeatedly overshooting their targets.
      • The Yamato was sent out towards the end of the war in a last ditch attempt to delay the US advance, and was sunk by carrier based aircraft. Her sister ship, the Musashi, was sunk several months previously by a concerted carrier-based air attack and also had no available fighter cover. Both ships attempted to use their main armament (18"!) as antiaircraft guns firing specialised shells, but to no good effect. And despite having literally hundreds of anti-aircraft cannons, the Japanese 25mm autocannon was far inferior to contemporary weapons like the German 3.7cm or the Allied 40mm Bofors.
    • And of course, as mentioned above, the purpose of all these defensive armaments wasn't so much to destroy the enemy as it was to defend the aircraft or ship or facility equipped with them. By having to deal with the defensive fire, the attacking pilots would have a much more difficult time engaging their targets. If the bombers could release their payloads over the target because their guns bought them a few more seconds, then it didn't matter that the fighter pilots shot them down moments later. Similarly, if a bomber pilot missed his target because the defenders' Anti-Air fire prevented him from flying straight at the target, or spooked him into dropping early, then it didn't really matter if the bomber never got shot down.
      • This also described by Hans-Ulrich Rudel in the book Stuka Pilot: AA fire was largely ineffective at shooting down attacking bombers, but would frighten inexperienced pilots enough to take evasive maneuvers or release their bombs too early. Rudel himself was shot down or forced to land 30 times by AA fire — through the course of 2,530 combat missions. He also claims that later in WWII, as planes got faster, the then-unusual slowness of his propeller aircraft made targeting him more difficult.
      • However, this was averted by US Navy warships after early 1944. That was when the Navy perfected "proximity-armed" antiaircraft ammunition — first 5-inch shells, and later 40mm shells, were built with tiny radar units inside the shell. Assuming it worked right, the radar unit would explode the shell when it was close to the target aircraft, vastly increasing the chances of a kill. With several ships all firing proximity-armed shells from radar-guided antiaircraft guns, the chance that any one enemy plane could get through dropped to almost nil. Even kamikazes had to expend dozens of aircraft to get just one through the AA fire.
  • This had been much less the case in WWI.
    • Zeppelins look floaty, vulnerable, and helpless, but they were the most heavily armed aircraft that have ever been fielded. The British R38 patrol airship fielded 24 machine guns and an autocannon.
    • Observation balloons were unarmed, but very heavily protected by fighters and flak; the few pilots who specialized in fighting them had a reputation for suicidal courage, by the standards of a profession in which one's life expectancy was about a week. Even if they survived the fighters and flak, they were at risk from being killed when the hydrogen balloon exploded, which is all the more dangerous when you consider that most planes at the time were practically made out of cloth and wood.
  • One arena in which this has largely been true is submarine warfare in which torpedoes cannot be intercepted, only dodged. The game is thus all about detecting the other side first. Though this might change in a similar manner to the rest of naval warfare, as anti-torpedo systems are being somewhat successfully tested, which would complicate things for an attacker.
    • The primary purpose of the VA-111 Shkval supercavitating torpedoes is to force the enemy sub which has already fired a torpedo to attempt to dodge, hopefully cutting the wire used to guide the enemy torpedo. If the Shkval also hits, great. Of course, the Shkval itself is unguided, as we're not even sure how to change direction while moving that fast underwater.
      • Later models are guided. A similar (prototype) design, the German Superkavitierende Unterwasserlaufkörper, is even claimed to be so agile that it could, in theory, even be used to intercept other supercavitating torpedoes. Note that some early models of the VA-111 Shkval were equipped with a nuclear warhead.
      • For reference, "supercavitation" refers to creating water-vapour bubbles around the torpedo in order to reduce the water drag, thus allowing the torpedo to accelerate much faster than a normal torpedo. The water is essentially "boiling" around the torpedo, but due to a low pressure rather than the usual high temperature. There are plans to use the same technology for manned submersible craft as well as for surface transport ships in order to reduce fuel costs.
  • The Moskva, a Russian Federation guided missile cruiser and the flagship of the Russian Navy's Black Sea Fleet, was sunk in the waters south of Odesa on April 14th, 2022. While most non-Russian analysts dismiss the Russian claim that the fire and explosion which precipitated the sinking were caused by an onboard accident, and believe Ukraine's claim that they successfully hit the cruiser with two Neptune anti-ship cruise missiles, there's been considerable discussion about how the Russian ship that was supposed to have a triple layer of air defenses could have failed to shoot down the Ukrainian missiles. It's been variously speculated that the crew were poorly trained on their equipment, got distracted by a Bayraktar TB2 drone, or possibly didn't even have the necessary systems switched on because of technical difficulties.

Alternative Title(s): Point Defenceless