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Shoot the Medic First

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"Technically, field medics are protected as noncombatants under the Geneva Convention. The next time you get shot be sure to tell your killer. It's a conversation starter!"

In Real Life war, medics are supposed to be special: The Laws and Customs of War, specifically the Geneva Convention, dictate that medical personnel are non-combatants and shooting one is a serious war crime. So is impersonating one so that the enemy won't shoot you. And it's just as illegal for a medic to shoot at you — while they have weapons to defend themselves with, the moment they initiate combat, they are classed as combatants and can be freely shot at in response. And it is just as much a war crime to fake being a medic for the purposes of initiating violence.

For tactical reasons, there's no real point in shooting at medics either (well, except psychological reasons); in combat, a downed soldier usually remains down for the current battle (with medical treatment and recovery occurring slowly over the days, weeks, and even months that follow — and there's no guarantee that a wounded soldier will even be able to return to combat after recovery is over), and medics are also trained to treat the enemy as well as their own comrades if at all possible, provided that they aren't presenting a threat. And they can only assist one soldier at a time anyway. In fact, you usually want to leave medics well alone since retrieving a fallen comrade usually requires the help of an additional person, so this puts at least one other potential enemy out of action, making the fight easier — to say nothing of the fact that, even after they're rescued, wounded soldiers laid up in hospitals drain resources and money, making it useful on a strategic level, too.note 

But if you're in a Video Game, you can forget all about that, because video game medics are magical. And we don't just mean the White Mages.

Unlike Real Life, a video game medic will magically heal critically wounded soldiers back to full combat effectiveness in a matter of seconds — and in many cases, reviving soldiers Back from the Dead isn't too much more difficult. This makes an enemy healer a primary target, because when left alone, they will ultimately start reviving and healing your enemies almost as fast as you can take them out; enemies accompanied by healers effectively become Nigh-Invulnerable so long as the healer is present, so if you want to have any hope of winning, you must Shoot the Medic First.

Just be prepared for an occasional Roaring Rampage of Revenge from the medic's True Companions, or that the boss may spontaneously Turn Red when he learns his healer has been taken out.

Having an ally who can Draw Aggro is a useful way to defy this, and this tactic forms the core of the Damager, Healer, Tank setup common to MMOs.

When medics won't put up with getting attacked first and actually start fighting back, they become a Combat Medic. Straight for the Commander is the same idea, but applied to the commander instead of medics. See also Shoot the Mage First.

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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Akudama Drive, Doctor is capable of immediately putting her allies back in fighting shape through a mix of combat drugs and instant surgery (she is also a Deadly Doctor who knows how to fight). By the third fight Master has started to catch on to this and bisects her early on in the fight, but even then he fails to take out her head and as such she fixes herself and ensures the Executioner fails again.
  • In Bleach, the Vandenreich member Mask De Masculine has the Sobriquet "The Superstar", which means he Hulks Out, becoming much stronger and healing from all damage, when he's cheered and applauded. His Sidekick named "James" has to be taken out first for this very reason, although that information came too late for five shinigami opponents. Unfortunately for the heroes, this is easier said than done, as James can regenerate from almost anything, even being chopped to pieces or burned to ashes, as long as Mask is still alive.
  • In Dragon Ball Z, during the battle against Freeza, the fighters exploit Dende's healing ability by having him covertly heal an injured fighter. So what does Frieza do when he first spots this while transforming into his final form? He promptly kills the little Namekian. It works to his advantage too, because Gohan and Vegeta, being Saiyans, receive a power-up after recovering from serious injuries (an ability referred to as zenkai by fans). Them acting as a tag team could convert the battle into one of attrition: one gets beat up and then the other keeps Frieza busy while Dende heals the downed Saiyan to boost them, and then they switch. Repeat until it makes one or both of them stronger than Freeza.
  • Despite her being more of a Combat Medic, Wendy from Fairy Tail gets targeted by Faust once he figures out that she's enhancing Natsu and Gajeel's powers. She's also the first target when she and her friends battle Hades. She's rescued both times by Natsu and Horologium, respectively.
  • In the Fullmetal Alchemist manga, Doctor Marcoh uses a Philosopher's Stone to heal an incapacitated ally mid-battle. When Pride figures out what's happening he starts attacking Marcoh instead of his more dangerous and battle-ready opponents Alphonse and Heinkel.
  • In Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash, the priests are often targeted in battle. Enemies are generally smart enough to realise that killing the healer will seriously hinder a party's chances of survival. Therefore, the physical fighters must protect the party's healer while also damaging enemies.
  • In High School D×D, the enemy aims for Asia the first chance they get, and the heroes know it and take measures to make sure she's protected.
  • Naruto:
    • Naruto's battle with Pain is complicated by the fact that one of his six bodies can revive the others. After seeing the previously-defeated Energy Absorption body back in action, this trope comes into play.
    • Tsunade's abilities were developed with this trope in mind: give the medics absolutely lethal close-combat abilities and enemies won't target them for their vulnerability, and give them training in evasion so they can also avoid attacks. Indeed, when training Sakura, she drills into the younger girl's head that a medic nin's most important ability is not their ability to heal but their ability to dodge.
    • Madara announces that he will target Tsunade first when fighting all the five kages. This is a subversion though, as his reasons for targeting her first have nothing to do with her status as The Medic and he sneers at the idea that her medical skills are of concern to him. He actually attacks her first out of spite for her grandfather.
  • Negima! Magister Negi Magi:
    • During a massive disturbance at the Gateport when Negi was critically injured, the perpetrator Fate went for Konoka next. Of course, he doesn't manage it thanks to Setsuna using herself as a block.
    • Nodoka isn't a healer, but her mind-reading abilities often make her a target as well.
  • In One Piece, Brook's original crew, the Rumbar Pirates, perished after being fatally poisoned because their doctor was killed during the battle.
    • It's fair to note Ridiculously Cute Critter (and doctor) Chopper is usually the first crew mate to be taken out leaving the crew without medical care. When Chopper is cut down in the Skypiea arc Master Swordsmen, Zoro lets out some Tranquil Fury on the guy who did it.
    • In the long battle at Dressrosa, little dwarf princess Mansherry (more like a fairy) has Swiss-Army Tears which the villains plan to uses on their fallen comrades. While the heroes target Mansherry, they rescue her instead of hurting her, somewhat inverting this trope.
  • In Pokémon Adventures, one of the first things Sird does when she comes up against Yellow and Red is manipulate Yellow into using her powers vainly, knowing that she'd have a much better chance at victory if Yellow (who is capable of both Super-Empowering and Healing Hands) is unconscious.
  • More often than not, Princess Amelia from Slayers usually winds up as the first target when the main party faces a major foe (if not her, heavy-hitting magic user Lina is the first target). Amelia is a monk variant of a Magic Knight, but when Sylphiel, who is more this trope (and downright horrible with offensive magic), is not with them, she serves as the group's healer.
  • Sword Art Online: In the Mother's Rosario arc, when Asuna and the Sleeping Knights have to fight against another clan for the right to challenge the floor's boss, Asuna quickly realizes she has to take out the healers first so they won't waste anymore of their time. Though to reach them she first needs to charge through the enemies between them, knocking them away.

  • Bill Cosby did a stand-up routine based on his time in the navy and his decision to become a corpsman as he thought it meant he wouldn't get shot at. His instructors quickly disabused him of this notion.

    Comic Books 

    Fan Works 
  • Last Rights: Offscreen, Chief Hospital Corpsman Anoeza Watkins apparently got hit in the arm while dragging a gut-shot Klingon into a crater (she's got one arm in a sling in the present).
  • Son of the Sannin: Sasuke is assigned to the Medical Ninja Squad, under Shizune and with Sakura and Karin as his teammates. He immediately asks why he was assigned to that particular squad if he's not a medic-nin, to which Shizune replies that his role is to protect his teammates while they perform their medical duties on the battlefield so this trope doesn't occur.
  • Wings to Fly features Flight Officer Searcy; he flew Combat Search And Rescue shuttles before his transfer to Mobile Suits. When asked why he switched, he explains that everyone shot at him anyways; he transferred so he could shoot back.
  • In Dragon Ball Z Abridged, Dende ends up Tempting Fate when he revives Vegeta and boasts that he's their White Mage and you don't fuck with the White Mage. A split second later, Freeza blows him up, taking out the heroes' advantage over the overlord.
  • Lampshaded in A Skittering Heart: When Gilgamesh in the body of Danny fights the heroes, he immediately targets Keynote after seeing her use a Shield spell, shouting "Gotta gank the White Mage"!
  • In Roulette Wheel Of Fate, the second demon invasion of Cang Qiong Mountain happens to mainly target the Qian Cao Peak — the healers' residence. Note that Liu Qingge gets furious in front of such cowardliness and lack of honour.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Inverted in The Bridge on the River Kwai: The Medic is the only named character to make it out of the film in one piece (all except one other person is killed, and the only other survivor already has a serious wound in the foot).
  • In the second Dungeons & Dragons (2000) film (the one that everyone didn't hate quite so much), the group's cleric is the first to get himself killed. Gary Gygax, on the DVD commentary, sums it up for us: "They are doomed without a cleric!"
  • In Flags of Our Fathers, during the build up to the Battle of Iwo Jima, the Navy Corpsman is told: "when we land, try not to wave this kit around too much. They got sharpshooters that are trained to look for them. And they know that if they take out a corpsman, another dozen Marines will die unattended."
  • In Full Metal Jacket, one of Cowboy's men gets caught in a Viet Cong sniper ambush. The squad's medic runs in to save him, disobeying Cowboy's orders, and is also shot and wounded. The sniper kills them both when he tries to indicate her position.
  • In Hacksaw Ridge, upon arrival at Okinawa, Desmond Doss is told to lose any part of his uniform that would mark him out as a medic, as the Japanese explicitly target them.
  • In Letters from Iwo Jima, the Japanese soldiers are shown a photo of a medic and explicitly told: "This is your target. The enemy will sacrifice many lives to save this one." Truth in Television, as noted below.
  • Saving Private Ryan:
    • In a notable scene at the beginning, a medic is trying to stabilize a fallen soldier on Omaha Beach, seemingly without concern for the sheer number of bullets flying around. After he stabilizes the soldier, he makes the mistake of getting too excited, at which point a bullet goes right through the wounded soldier's helmet, killing him instantly. The medic gets very upset. That same medic later kinda-sorta takes part in combat by making an unarmed distraction run towards a machine gun nest and gets shot and killed. His squad gets very upset.
    • Later in the film, Technician Irwin Wade is purposely shot by a Nazi machine-gunner because of his medical position in the squad. It's particularly horrific because Wade knows exactly how fatal his wound is and asks the team to Mercy Kill him with an overdose of morphine that will deliver a quick, painless death.
      Wade: Oh God, I can feel my liver!
  • Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country: The assassins who beam aboard Kronos One take out the Klingon surgeon before assassinating the Klingon Chancellor Gorkon, so that Gorkon can't receive medical care if he survives the assassination. He does, but the only medical attention Gorkon can receive is from Dr. McCoy, who has no experience treating Klingons and is rather drunk from the state dinner earlier. Gorkon dies, and McCoy is charged with what we'd essentially consider manslaughter.
  • The younger General Zevo from Toys plays an arcade game in which destroying a UN aid truck incurred a score penalty of a thousand points, but destroying an enemy tank only scored a hundred. After one too many trucks drove in between him and an enemy tank, he started going after the trucks exclusively.

  • Chrysalis (RinoZ): Once Anthony bullies his bodyguards into participating more actively instead of always hiding and watching for threats, they start to take actions like sneak-attacking the healer of groups he meets.
    Protectant: Exterminate the healer! Rapid take down protocol!
  • In Fire & Blood, a mystery illness claims several lives on Dragonstone, with its first victim being the island fortress's elderly Maester. When the death toll continues rising, one of King Jaehaerys's courtiers realises the deaths are not from a disease, but the work of a Serial Killer using poison, and concludes the maester was the first to die because the killer knew he was the only one who could identify the poison being used.
    Rego Draz: We know more of such things in the Free Cities. It is the [Tears of Lys], never doubt it. The old maester would have seen it soon enough, so he had to die first.
  • Tortall Universe: Keladry of Mindelan wants to remind you all that when in doubt, shoot the wizard. In this verse, any given enemy wizard could know healing magic. So killing them first is always a good idea.
  • During one of the first battles with the Vord in the Codex Alera series, the Vord send their Takers to infest Aleran knights and legionaires. The hosts make the Legion's healers their primary target. Justified, in that Aleran healers are watercrafters who can restore soldiers with minor to moderate injuries to fighting condition in minutes. Later, when the Vord Queen herself infiltrates a Legion camp, she makes a beeline to the healer tents to raise some hell.
  • Inverted in The Twilight Saga with Carlisle. The Quileute have a standing policy that he is the lowest-priority target if the two groups should ever escalate to open war against each other. (Since he's a regular doctor, without any magical healing abilities, this makes sense.)
  • In the Warrior Cats book Bluestar's Prophecy, ThunderClan leads an attack on the WindClan camp with the priority of attacking the medicine den and destroying their supplies, which is viewed as underhanded and cowardly. However, WindClan's medicine cat used to be a warrior, and he kills the cat who attempts it.

    Live-Action TV 
  • M*A*S*H:
    • The protection afforded to medics also extends to hospitals, thus the 4077th is almost never targeted directly throughout the series. The few times it is, it's mentioned. Notably, during the series finale, a runaway tank rolls into camp and has to be left there until a unit can come pick it up. A weapon that big does trump the hospital protection, and the North Koreans start shelling the camp. Klinger covers it with a tent, but it doesn't fool the North Koreans for long because they haven't seen or heard the tank leave. Eventually, Hawkeye drives it into the camp garbage dump, far enough away from the hospital so that any further shelling won't put the doctors and patients at risk.
    • In one episode, an incompetent North Korean bomber pilot nicknamed "5 O'Clock Charlie" flies over the camp every day, trying to hit its ammo dump with a hand-thrown bomb while the staff members bet among themselves as to how badly he'll miss it. Burns, annoyed at Charlie's persistence, sets up an anti-aircraft gun to try and shoot him down. However, due to his inexperience, Burns accidentally destroys the ammo dump instead. Thinking that he finally hit his mark, Charlie flies away and never returns.
    • 5 O'clock Charlie in fact may not have been a pilot for the North Korean air force, but instead a local with an ancient plane and home-made bombs. Once the U.S. gained control of the sky the main bomber used by N.K. (and possibly Russian) pilots was the PO-2 bomber, an ancient wood and canvas biplane that was so slow most U.S. planes zoomed past it (so fast they couldn't pull a shot before overshooting it)
    • The episode "C*A*V*E" features the camp having to bug out due to shelling from their own side. It was a paper work mix-up and since they were unable to find the proper codes to prove they were who they said they were they couldn't convince anyone that they were a) a US unit or b) a medical unit.
    • Yet another episode had the camp attacked by a sniper, who fired on their attempt at waving a white flag (a serious violation of the Geneva Convention). Eventually, the sniper was shot by a helicopter pilot, and when Hawkeye found and treated his wound, it turned out he was just a confused North Korean recruit who thought the 4077th was General MacArthur's base.
  • Played straight in The Pacific when a wounded Japanese soldier detonates a hand grenade, killing himself and two medics trying to help him. Given Japanese honor codes of the time, it was probably more about committing "honorable" suicide, rather than suffer the indignity of being taken captive, and not about the medics themselves.
  • Happens in an episode of Sons of Anarchy. Jax is visiting Alvarez at the Mayans clubhouse when someone attacks shooting at everyone in sight. Alvarez is shot and Jax scrambles to help. He asks where the club doctor is so they can go get him. Alvarez points to the guy laying dead about ten feet away.
  • In a rather shocking 7th season episode of Stargate SG-1, during a massive battle Dr. Janet Fraiser is struck by a Jaffa staff weapon blast in the middle of reviving a fallen soldier. He makes it, she didn't. The fallen soldier names his newborn baby daughter after her.
  • The Klingons and Jem'Hadar in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine don't exactly target medics first, but they have no qualms about killing them. This leads to a number of scenes where Starfleet doctors and medics are firing phasers and beating up people. Grimly lampshaded by Doctor Bashir in a seventh-season episode; a seasoned soldier comments on his proficiency with a phaser, and Bashir responds that he's had to use one far too many times, which he considered ironic since he joined Starfleet to heal people.
  • In the season 6 episode "Twice As Far" of The Walking Dead this happens by accident when Dwight accidentally shoots an arrow through Denise's eye from behind when he was aiming for Daryl. Despite it being an accident, it leaves Alexandria at a drive disadvantage because Denise was their only medic, and to later to treat a pregnant Maggie they are forced to head for the Hilltop community. Plus, it's not good to not have anyone with medical experience when going to war with a community of over a hundred people like the Saviors.

  • Invoked in Dino Attack RPG. Though there were only two medics actually Killed Off for Real over the course of the RPG (out of a total of fifteen characters with medical skills), it was made clear that the main antagonist, Baron Typhonus had no problem targeting them. However, neither was killed specifically because they were a medic. J.D. was killed because he had started to find a possible cure to the Maelstrom, while Deitrich "Medic" Luzwheit was killed because he came close to identifying The Mole.
    • Part of the reason for the low casualties may simply be that only four of the medics (Wade, Zenna, Martinet, and... well... Medic) actually work in the field. The rest of them tend to work off the battlefield.
    • In the alternate ending December 21, 2010 it's mentioned briefly that all the medics are dead, with explicit references to several major characters including fan favorites Pierce and Zenna, and it has been suggested that this was a deliberate strategy by the Maelstrom.
    • There was one scene, though it was never written due to unexpected character developments, which would have seen Pierce angrily threaten Rotor only to accidentally stab Crusher with a scalpel when she and Wade tried to restrain him.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons: The rule is generally "Shoot the Mage First" rather than this trope because clerics are not as juicy a target. Unlike wizards, which are squishy, clerics generally have solid armor class and hit points as well as specialize in defensive magic, making them tougher to take down quickly. It's also often not particularly tactical, because clerics can't heal as fast as most other classes can dish out damage, so a cleric spending the whole combat healing is generally already fighting a losing battle.
  • Pathfinder attempted to rectify this problem by making clerics and their buffs less potent as a means to kill the enemy while giving clerics the power to heal multiple party members in a single round several times a day — without using their spell slots. This allows clerics to heal a larger total number of hit points across the party and makes it more advantageous to heal during combat, thus making it more tactical to take out the cleric first.
  • Shadowrun:
    • One of the common bits of street wisdom is "Geek the mage/shaman first." Not just because of the healing, but because an angry mage can dish out more hurt than most firearms. Hurt that ignores most conventional forms of armor, if they use mana-damage rather than physical-damage spells.
    • The resident roving medics of DocWagon can rescue party members who have been dropped, but because they're heavily armed and cannot heal party members so quickly that they can rejoin the fight, it's generally a bad idea to start shooting at them.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • Medic type models that are often part of units and can prevent a lot of deaths. If the rules weren't preventing most existing units from picking out certain models of a unit, these would die first. In fact a few units, like the Vindicare Assassin and Eldar Farseers with the Mind War power are able to pick out enemy models from units. In these cases the "medics" are the first to die. Examples of medics in Warhammer 40,000 are Ork Pain Boyz, Space Marine Apothecaries and Imperial Guard Medics (or more precisely Veterans with medi-packs).
    • Inverted when fighting Grey Knights. See, the medics we described above can't save allies from One-Hit Kill attacks. A Grey Knight Paladin will normally die in two hits and has such strong armor that those hits rarely deal actual damage; as a result, most players will stack what few One-Hit Kill attacks they have onto any Paladin in sight, thus giving the Apothecary no chance to save him. Said Apothecary becomes Awesome, but Impractical, and thus a low-priority target, in a codex otherwise considered a Game-Breaker.
    • This was part of the reason why Blood Angels were considered OP during 5th edition; unlike other chapters they can field their Apothecaries (called Sanguinary Priests) as independent characters. This means they can add the apothecary to any infantry squad rather than be just limited to the Command Squad. In addition, they can field multiple priests per elite slot, effectively allowing them to grant a priest for every squad if they're willing to pay the points. As Feel No Pain (the rule granted by all medics at the time) was considerably stronger during 5th edition, this made Blood Angel armies ridiculously durable and fast.
  • Warhammer Fantasy:
    • Vampires and Necromancers. Vampire Counts army can bring back destroyed undead infantry and make units bigger; needless to say most games involving a Vampire Counts army rapidly turns into a "kill all their casters before the endless hordes of zombies overwhelm me".
    • Undead Armies (Tomb Kings and Vampire Counts) in earlier editions require someone to act as the hierophant, the guy who initially summoned the undead horde and is maintaining them. For Vampire Counts, this is usually the same as the general. For the Tomb Kings (where the titular kings themselves are inept at magic) this is usually some variant of the Liche Priest (with Settra being a sole exception to this). If this guy dies, your army has to take a leadership test every turn and (due to the comically low leadership) suffers damage equal to how much you failed by to represent the army slowly crumbling back to dust without its hierophant. Even if you have other spellcasters in the army, they can't stop this. This means that the usual tactic for dealing with undead armies is to make a beeline for its hierophant (which the opponent has to disclose to you). For Vampire Counts, this is slightly less of a problem: Vampire Lords are the strongest Vampires you can take and are generally the best spellcasters too, but they are almost on par with Chaos Lords in terms of combat ability and can ride Zombie Dragons, making them incredibly hard to take down. For Tomb Kings though, they basically have to shove their best spellcaster way behind everyone since they are not combatants and are just about as squishy as you'd expect a mummy mage to be (i.e: slightly better than dried parchment in a sandstorm).
    • In a wider sense, there are various rules in play to prevent players from specifically targeting a given unit's standard bearer, musician or leader (who are in effect "morale medics")... not that it stops players from trying.
  • AT-43: Pretty much the main tactic for snipers, as medics can bring anyone back form the dead regardless of what shot them. (Also officers, but that's for other reasons, namely the fact that without officers your army cannot be used.) Lampshaded in the game's fluff: one of the UNA's leaders was forced to ride in a mech after almost dying twice in a week from sniper fire, namely sniper fire coming from tanks.
  • Magic: The Gathering: Most healing is either attached to creatures as an incidental ability or coming from players in the form of spells. What this means is experienced players will typically zero in on any dedicated healing creatures, as they are most likely in the deck for a specific reason that will lead to problems later (or at least lead to Why Won't You Die? if the healing can keep up with damage output)

  • Adventurers!:
    • There's a short sequence in the webcomic where a villain recommends this strategy, but the other villain scoffs it off because "the other guy does more damage" or the like.
    • Later in the story the Final Boss thinks he's invincible because his "Bytes" (weird spellcasting turnip-things) keep reviving him whenever he gets beat up. That the heroes would realize they just need to destroy the Bytes first apparently hadn't occurred to him.
  • In this Concerned strip, Genre Blind Gordon Frohman believes he won't be shot at because he's a medic, due to the belief that he is protected by subsection B of the resolutions of the Geneva International Conference. Of October. 1863.
  • In Drowtales, the Sharen, who are being badly beaten in their war against the Sarghress, are getting more and more desperate as the war drags on and they lose more and more ground. They are beginning to use more dirty and underhanded methods in an attempt to gain as much an advantage as possible. One of their favourite ones is to open a gate to the demon realm, unleashing demons capable of killing and taking over any drow in the area. To counter these gates, the Sarghress employ sealers, whose job it is to locate these gates, close them, and then seal all the demons in the area. To counter these, the Sharen set up snipers and traps to kill the Sealers fast and first.
  • In Flintlocke's Guide to Azeroth, Schweitzer cites this as the reason he never does anything to help the party. Well, except that one heal... which he cast on himself.
  • The Order of the Stick:
    • Played with early on, when a monster tries to attack two characters... who were both clerics. They end up winning by attrition by healing each other until the monster gets bored and leaves.
    • A notable aversion during the second battle between Miko Miyazaki and the Order — while the comic itself skipped straight to the Order's defeat, Rich Burlew outlined one way the battle could've gone to prove it wasn't just a Diabolus ex Machina, and in this outline, Miko does not attack Durkon because he only provides healing to his other party members and does not attack her. In this case, she actually does follow so-called rules of war because Durkon is acting strictly in the capacity of being a traditional medic.
  • Averted in the battle between Julie's group and Kayla's group in Our Little Adventure. Julie told her group not to attack Kayla (who is a healer and didn't directly attack Julie's group once in the whole battle). Naturally, by not attacking Kayla, the battle became harder and much longer.
  • This Penny Arcade strip on the Team Fortress 2 Medic happens to be the Trope Namer and article image.
  • Schlock Mercenary: When the heroes discover that the planet-sized warship they've been fighting is not in fact a tank, but a healer, outright resurrecting dead Eldritch Abominations.
    Ufu: I believe the correct war cry for this kind of fight is target the healer.
  • This is a constant occupational hazard for Annie Belnades in the roleplays of White Dark Life. (Luckily for her, she's Made of Iron, quite capable of defending herself, and generally has lots of backup.) It happens to Matt, too, but he shrugs it off (assuming that he doesn't leave his attacker unconscious).

    Real Life 
  • Truth in Television: the Japanese in World War II (having no medics themselves) were infamous for targeting medics. They didn't sign the Geneva Conventions until 1953.
  • The Americans and British and Germans, in regards to each other, did not deliberately target enemy medics... but Germany and Russianote  did not honor these rules in their battles and the fighting, in general, was a lot more vicious.
  • Erwin Rommel, Nazi Germany's famed "Desert Fox", once exploded at an Italian naval official who proudly told him that the navy had sneaked a load of gasoline across the Mediterranean by hiding it in a hospital ship. Rommel was pissed, because he had been trying to convince his British enemies to stop bombing those hospital ships.
  • In the Korean War, medics were often targeted first by the Chinese forces in what the U.S. forces claimed were dirty tactics. It was so bad that one veteran said that of the twelve medics that graduated in his class, only two came back.
  • In the Vietnam War, the Viet Cong shot down the U.S. forces' medical evacuation helicopters first.
    • The VC's uncaring attitude towards noncombatants is why most medics were given shotguns for their own protection. Combat Medic indeed. Unfortunately, because of the Double Standard, female nurses were not allowed to carry guns even though they were put in the same dangerous situations.
    • The VC often left their own wounded where they fell (although obviously not always), since they knew their enemies had better health care and were obliged to take care of them if possible.
    • Insofar as men themselves, neither the NVA nor the VC consistently targeted medics. Instead, they would purposely wound soldiers, rather than kill them, and allow them to be extracted, since they knew that wounded soldiers took more resources to remove from the battlefield and treat than it took for dead soldiers to be declared MIA or recovered later and buried. This is one of the reasons why the U.S. lost public support for the Vietnam War, since the number of wounded G.I.'s became a serious drain on American resources.
  • The Wilhelm Gustloff (note that according to the article, it was not "legally" a hospital ship). It is generally accepted that the Gustloff carried combat troops (though most had been wounded; the German army cut off in East Prussia wasn’t keen on sending able-bodied troops away) on its last journey, making it legitimately a military target, that sadly also transported droves of innocent civilians. It remains to this day the largest loss of life on any single ship in history, dwarfing even RMS Titanic's death toll.
  • While not actually dealing with medics per se, recent studies suggest that some antibiotic-resistant microbial populations came about because some individuals with the resistance gene expended resources in order to protect non-resistant individuals.
  • The elementary school game Doctor Dodgeball. Instead of leaving the field when they're hit, players sit down until their team's designated "doctor" touches them to bring them back into the game. Not surprisingly, the "doctor" tends to run around with a whole team of decoys. Alternatively, both teams keep it a secret who their doctor is, and several other people intentionally run around towards players sitting down as sacrificial lambs and decoys to suck fire up while the doctor runs around and tags them.
  • Palestinian terrorist groups have been filmednote  using UN ambulances to transport uninjured gunmen, rifles, and rocket launchers throughout the Gaza Strip. UN spokespersons have claimed the drivers were forced to assist the terrorists, but UN ambulance drivers are required to report all such violations immediately to their superiors, and the drivers of the videotaped ambulances did not. Instead, the drivers insisted they were not coerced by terrorists in any way until after they were made aware of the existence of the videotape.
  • Terrorists took it to a whole other level when the concept of "secondary" explosives was put into play. The first one blows up and causes the usual death and injury. Then the second one sits and waits until the rescuers show and blows them up.
  • IDF snipers target medics at the Gaza border protest of 2018. One victim, Razan al-Najjar, IDF claimed it was an accident, then claimed she was a terrorist. Furthermore, the IDF policy of "Shoot to Wound" complements the killing of medics by making medical staff more in demand.
  • HIV targets many cells, but the most closely watched are the CD4+ TH-2 cells. These cells are essential for an effective immune response. Without a lengthy discourse on immunology, let's summarize TH-2 cells as "command and control" for the rest of the immune response team. The infection usually starts off in macrophage variants (such dendritic cells) and successfully jumps to TH-2 cells. It also infects neurons. However, in medicine we follow the CD4+ T-helper cell count to follow the progress of the disease, because when they go down too low, the remaining immune cells can't function. We can predict which opportunists are likely to strike based on the cell count of T-helper cells, and these are the diseases that kill the patient.
  • Attempted by an Iraqi sniper during combat operations in Iraq. He had targeted a USMC Corpsman, and aimed center-mass. The round hit the body armor of the Marine in question, saving his life. What's funny is that not only did the corpsman live through the event, he got back up, took cover behind his vehicle, returned fire, wounded the sniper in question, and then proceeded to treat the very person who just minutes ago tried to kill him. The whole incident was recorded by the Sniper in question, and can be viewed here.
  • During the 2020 racial justice protests in the U.S., human rights watchdogs and "street medics" accused police of deliberately targeting people providing medical assistance to protesters.
  • During The Gulf War, Iraqi Mirage strike aircraft deliberately targeted the coalition vessel RFA Argus with Exocet anti-ship missiles. There is little doubt that this was deliberate, as Argus was an obvious target: a former container ship converted into a large auxiliary vessel with no offensive armament and minimal defensive measures, and a known hospital ship to boot as she was positioned nearer to the shore to receive and treat wounded. Exocet missiles had previously damaged or sunk warships such as USS Clark or HMS Sheffield, so the risk to Argus was very real. Fortunately for Argus, HMS Brazen had placed herself in harm's way to absorb the missile strike if needed, and allied F-15 fighters serving an interception role were able to splash both Mirages before they could close to the proper launch range.


Video Example(s):


Dragon Ball - BANG!

After Freeza transforms into his final form, the first thing he does is kill Dende, a Namekian with the power of healing.

How well does it match the trope?

4.94 (16 votes)

Example of:

Main / ShootTheMedicFirst

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