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Slower than a Speeding Bullet

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"If they've got a bazooka, don't run away, 'cause it's easier to hit someone from a distance. Run towards them! And grab hold of them. [trying to shoot the bazooka] 'Back off! Oh, we're both going together!' [explosion]"
Suzy Eddie Izzard, Glorious

A common demonstration of 1-Dimensional Thinking. Reacting to someone a few feet away from you drawing a handgun by running away, in a straight line, out in the open, without taking cover. Expect the gunman to be momentarily surprised and/or morally conflicted (long enough to give them a decent head start) and then, if they decide to shoot, take careful aim and fire. Whether they hit the fleeing person or not often depends on whether they remember to Lead the Target.

While this seems insane, running isn't always a bad idea (although taking an unpredictable zigzag path is better than a straight line). The effective range of a handgun, in the hands of a poorly trained fighter, is less than ten yards. Many people barely know how to hold or fire their weapons. Competent shooters may simply choose not to shoot someone who's running away (Even Evil Has Standards, plus it's hard to plead self-defense for shooting someone In the Back). In fact most survival guides recommend that if someone attempts to force you into a car with a gun, run away. If they're willing to shoot at you when you run away, they were probably going to kill you anyway.

At five yards or less, with someone determined to kill you whatever you do, it can be a better idea to duck, swoop in, grab their gun wrist, and push it up, since you actually going in is often the last thing your attacker expects. That way if they fire, it won't be at you. This has its dangers too, of course — see Gun Struggle.

Not to be confused with Painfully Slow Projectile.


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    Films — Live-Action 
  • Inglourious Basterds:
    • Subverted in the first scene, Shoshanna runs away from Hans Landa, who readies his gun... and doesn't shoot at the last second, bidding the target "AU REVOIR!" as they disappear behind a small hill.
    • Played straight in the first scene of the Basterds in action: after there are two Germans left, the first one tries to run away and is immediately gunned down.
  • The torpedo version. During the climactic submarine fight of The Hunt for Red October, Marko Ramius deliberately turns his boat toward the Alfa's second torpedo. This to take advantage of their safety features; that is to say, torpedoes only arm themselves after having run a pre-set distance, in order to avoid any risk of blowing up the ship that fired them — or worse, accidentally detonating inside their firing tubes.
    • Played straight — and successfully — in the earlier attack. Ramius does outrun a torpedo — long enough that when he makes his swerve to a new course, the torpedo doesn't have time to react before it runs into a rock wall.
  • Averted in State of Play — when Ben Affleck's character is being threatened by a soldier with a rifle (not aimed at him), the arrival of the cops distracts him for just long enough to throw himself to the ground. The soldier can't adjust his aim quickly enough at short range, and gets gunned down by the cops.
  • Played with in The In-Laws. Vince warns Sheldon not to run straight away from the gunmen ("Serpentine, Shel, serpentine!"). But Sheldon spends so much time dodging sideways that he doesn't make much distance away.
  • In The Quick and the Dead, Ratsy tries to run away from Herod and ends up getting shot in the back. Granted, Herod had just told him to get out of town...

  • In Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, Drawlight attempts to flee from Lascelles in this manner, who simply shoots him with both pistols. The first hits him in the leg, the second in the head.
  • ZigZagged in Generation Kill during the "serpentine fashion" scene. Reporter Evan Wright and some marines he was accompanying are ambushed by a sniper. To retreat, the marines simply sprint back into better cover as fast as possible. Wright meanwhile... awkwardly runs from side to side in the alley, apparently thinking this will make him harder to hit. Instead, he just gets shot at more with his Hollywood Tactics.
    "You know, the movie The In-laws? Peter Falk tells Alan Arkin, 'Always run in a serpentine fashion.' I was running evasively!"
    "The next time we come under fire, run in a straight line. You'll live longer."

    Live-Action TV 
  • Averted on the TV show The Master, starring Lee Van Cleef as a ninja. In the pilot, he is shown running away from gunfire in a zigzag pattern.
  • In The Wire:
    • In the episode "Unconfirmed Reports", a group of Marlo Stanfield's enforcers decide at the last second to try to kill their targets in a rival gang via a Drive-By Shooting. Being armed only with pistols, the result is that their aim becomes horribly inaccurate and they don't have the required Dakka to fill the air with enough bullets to make it effective. In short, they fail to hit anybody they set out to kill until Snoop jumps out of the car, takes aim, and kills one of their enemies as he tries to run directly away from her.
    • In an earlier episode, before the Stanfield gang became the dominant power in Baltimore, their biggest rival was the Barksdale Organization, who attempted a similar drive by against the Stanfields. However Marlo's men realized what was about to happen and managed to shoot the driver before the drive by could even properly start, sending the car out of control and crashing into a nearby parked car. The only gangster in the car who managed to survive did so by immediately getting out and running away straight down the block, and was lucky enough that the Stanfields missed him because of the distance he'd managed to put between them. A higher ranking member of the Barksdale gang humorously summed it up by joking that the guy who survived was racing the bullets down the block and winning.

    Tabletop Games 
  • If there's no cover to get behind this actually works somewhat in GURPS - you give the shooter a movement penalty to hit. In fact you can even get it when charging at someone.
  • Similarly, BattleTech gives an accuracy penalty for firing at a moving target, no matter what direction they're moving. A Fire Moth running full sprint is hard to hit, even if it's running in a straight line away from you. Or straight down your throat.
  • AMMO gives a penalty for ranged attacks against a moving target (or if the shooter is on a moving vehicle). The penalty is halved if the target is moving in a straight line that include the shooter, making the rule slightly realistic. Some "Director" (GM) likes to apply more maths to odd running paths, but it's optional.

    Video Games 
  • Played straight and subverted (via player action) in both the Tsukihime and Fate/stay night visual novels. Protagonists Shiki and Shirou are both at some point faced with a choice of where to dodge Ciel's pilebunker or Rin's gandr shots, respectively. Taking the obvious route (away) is a one-way stop to a Bad Ending, while choosing to dodge forward actually buys time.
  • Due to complicated firing angles and whatnot, every once in a while, this tactic succeeds in Armored Core series. Particularly in 4/for Answer when provided that the range is close and you have the height difference to quick boost forwards, thereby making the opponent overshoot the target. Moving away is generally a foolish move however, especially with the introduction of different bullet velocities in the same game series. Take note: if you are being attacked with a railgun or a sniper rifle, expect evasive maneuvers to work less; their muzzle velocity will close the gap almost immediately unless the distance is too great.
  • In City of Heroes, once you've fired your attack, you either hit or miss, regardless of where your enemy is when it strikes. The main trouble is that this deduction starts as soon as your attack animation starts - which may involve crouching, spinning and other acrobatics.
  • Fallout: New Vegas:
    • Human sized or larger enemies that fight at melee range can spoil a player's VATS shot by running directly towards him/her. The weapon's barrel will be pushed aside by the enemy's body, usually ending up pointed over the target's shoulder when it fires. This happens most often with fast enemies and large weapons. Deathclaws, for example, or Legate Lanius and the Anti-Materiel Rifle.
    • Plenty of slow-projectile weapons can be dodged with fair ease, too - a thrown grenade, or a missile from a launcher. Assuming you don't run directly into the projectile, you can often get out of the direct blast radius and close enough to attack the assailant while they reload.
  • On the medieval side of this trope, one might think that arrows have a relatively short accurate range, especially against a moving target. Perhaps. But one of your poor fellow condemned prisoners at the start of Skyrim finds out the hard way that running away and yelling "YOU'LL NEVER CATCH ME" isn't the best strategy when your escape route is a straight line that goes directly past three soldiers carrying longbows.
  • Later Mario Kart games have the infamous Blue Shell, which homes in on the person in first place. The only time it makes sense to run away from it is when you're close enough to the finish line that you might make it before it hits, or you might widen your lead enough to take the hit and still finish first. Otherwise, counter-intuitively, your best option is actually to brake and hope that the second-place racer will pull ahead of you and become the shell's target, or at least that they'll come close enough to get caught in the explosion.