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Stab the Scorpion

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A mysterious character, sometimes a temporary ally or enemy, sneaks behind the protagonist. We see as they lift a knife, take careful aim at the hero, and strike.

Only to see it wasn't the hero they struck, but a scorpion or snake poised to strike, or even an actual enemy. Either way, rather than killing the hero, the stranger has just saved their life. Sometimes, the target isn't even a threat but is used to gain trust, the message being "If I Wanted You Dead..., you would be by now".

Note that they aren't necessarily being sneaky about it — just less than straightforward. A hero cringing in fear or trying to reason with their ally happens just as often. Equally doable with a gun, or by throwing a knife which barely misses.

If misunderstood, it becomes a usual — if not outright mandatory — set-up for the Hero with Bad Publicity.

Only somewhat justified by the fact that telling someone there's a scorpion on them may cause them to panic, which in turn may make the scorpion panic and sting — and walking up to someone with a knife raised will have certain other implications, hence the sneaking.

If the characters know each other, the stabber may respond to any thanks they get with "I missed."

Can be parodied in more mundane series with a mosquito.

See also Stab the Salad, Bait-and-Switch Gunshot, and Blofeld Ploy. A possible form of Superdickery. Compare Attack Hello.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Played for Drama in the manga version of Battle Royale. During Shogo's previous stint in the royale, he found his girlfriend Keiko, when she suddenly raises her gun at him and yells, "Stay away!". Thinking that she's actually playing the game, he shoots her, only to realize that she was actually aiming and shouting at another classmate behind Shogo, who was trying to kill him.
  • Revy and Dutch from Black Lagoon manage to pull this one each other simultaneously when Dutch is chewing her out for acting unprofessionally and they're pointing their guns at each other when more Neo-Nazis try to sneak up on them. Both mention they thought the other was really going to shot him/her, though Dutch said he was joking.
  • Candy & Cigarettes: At first, it seems like Governor Okita is Miharu's next target, with her pulling out a gun and pointing it at her, but then she shoots a guy behind the governor, who had just pulled out a knife.
  • In Case Closed, Ai and Tsuburaya are scared away from a crime scene by a gunshot, but Conan eventually deduces that the man who shot at them did it to keep them from being mauled by a pissed off (literal) Mama Bear.
  • Chainsaw Man: Fumiko makes it look like she's about to attack Denji with a baseball bat, only for her to throw it at an attacker who was pointing a gun at Denji. She's disappointed to find out the gun was only a model and afterwards is introduced as Denji's bodyguard.
  • In the second episode of Claymore, Claire throws her BFS at a lizard behind Raki — barely missing him in the process — when he admits to being hungry. Dinner!
  • Played with in the Cowboy Bebop episode "Jupiter Jazz (Part 2)". Vicious throws a big old bowie knife to save Gren from a literal scorpion during the war on Titan. This was just to gain his trust before framing Gren for Vicious' spy activities.
  • Dr. STONE: When Yo tests out Senku's primitive firearm he completely misses the line of bottles he was targeting, only for a poisonous snake to fall down dead behind the bottles. Then subverted by a thought bubble revealing that he muffed the shot and hitting the snake was purely accidental. He quickly realizes that he needs to practice a bit more.
  • In Fairy Tail, after Mest is supposedly revealed to be the final member of Grimoire Heart's Seven Kin of Purgatory by way of an Answer Cut, he teleports next to Wendy, grabs her, and then pulls her out of the way of an attack from the real 7th Kin. It turns out he was a spy, but for the mage council, and much later, revealed to be loyal to Fairy Tail all along.
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist (2003), Marta, one of the chimera allied with Greed, does this to a snake that was threatening Edward. It's also a touching Call-Back to Ed and Al's month stranded on an uninhabited island: on the last day, Ed makes the last notch in the tree by throwing his knife through a snake.
  • In Fushigi Yuugi, after Miaka runs away from Tamahome out of shame by the pretense that she had been raped by Nakago, Amiboshi shows up, raises his dagger, and aims at Miaka.... or rather the huge ass polecat that was behind her.
  • Getter Robo Armageddon has Ryoma Nagare, his Getter 1 shot down, confront Jin Hayato's Getter 2. After a heated exchange between them, Hayato launches the Getter 2's Drill Missile...and shoots the Invader that has snuck up behind Ryoma.
  • In GTO: The Early Years, Joey acts like he's about to stab Saejima, but instead impales a cockroach on the table. Subverted in that Joey is very much an Ax-Crazy villain (as opposed to Saejima, an Ax-Crazy antihero).
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure:
  • A variation in Love Hina when Keitaro and Naru are stranded on Pararakelse when the mood seems to finally be getting romantic...Squish. Naru's gratefulness at being saved from the scorpion doesn't last long, though.
  • In the Magi: Labyrinth of Magic Prequel Adventures of Sinbad, Drakon is introduced by throwing a knife at the back of his subordinate's seat in the wagon, and surly telling them to keep their eyes on the road. A later panel reveals a scorpion pinned by the knife, a hint that he's actually not a bad guy.
  • In an early episode of Mobile Suit Gundam Wing before the pilots become allies, Heero points his BFG at Duo's Gundam during a battle. Duo assumes that the other pilot has turned on him and they get into a Humongous Mecha standoff... only for Heero to blast the enemy machine that was sneaking up on Duo before flying off.
  • In Rising × Rydeen when Aria first introduces herself to Takara she kicks dangerously close to his head. The next panel shows that she was aiming for a bee right behind him.
  • At one point in Samurai 7, the heroes are hiding out in the Guardians' underground city, and attempting to treat a gravely wounded Katsushiro. The Guardians are creepy-looking Gas Mask Mooks and one of them has been observing the group and crawls up to the ceiling and fires a dart into Katsushiro. It turns out the dart was some kind of advanced medicine that saves Katsushiro and reveals the Guardians are along the lines of Misunderstood Loner with a Heart of Gold — creepy looking but benevolent.
  • Happens twice in the third episode of Sol Bianca: The Legacy. First, it looks as if Gwen wants to shoot Janny, but both times he actually saves her by shooting Booster's big monster minion standing behind her.
  • In episode 36 of Sonic X Sonic has reunited with Knuckles and suddenly it looks like Knuckles is going to attack him, it turns out he punched a robot that was going to shoot Sonic.
  • When the titular Starship Girl Yohko beats Rouge in the race to the top of the watchtower, Rouge suddenly draws her gun and seemingly points it at Yohko. The heroine pauses for a moment of confusion and the gun is heard firing offscreen. Then the scene switches to a view of twitching scorpion near Yohko's feet.
  • In Transformers: Super-God Masterforce, Mr. Ricky shoots a scorpion that was about to sting Minerva. Naturally, Shuta immediately jumps to the conclusion that he's a Decepticon.
  • In one episode of the anime adaptation of Valkyria Chronicles, Isara looks likes she's going to shoot Alicia. Instead, she shoots through a window and takes out an Imperial soldier on the other side.
  • In Virtua Fighter, shortly after Akira meets Lion Raffale, at one point he briefly looks like he's going to punch Lion (for insisting on buying Alexander from him), but it turns out he was aiming for Lion's bodyguards, who were coming from behind to take him back.
  • In an episode of Voltron: Defender of the Universe, the Voltron Force frees a slave and meets up with the woman who leads the rebellion against the Big Bad on some Death World where the population is being forced to mine a dangerous substance through slave labor. The slave knows the layout of the enemy base, but he initially refuses to help and reveals he was a traitor and a soldier for the bad guys. The rebel leader draws her laser pistol and tells him not to move, and he tells her to go ahead and kill him. She then fires - and kills the roughly two-foot scorpion on the wall behind him. She then delivers the obligatory Patrick Stewart Speech.

    Comic Books 
  • Batman (Grant Morrison): During the Club of Heroes reunion that turned sour with the murder of host John Mayhew, el Gaucho stabbed the robot scorpion creeping up on the Musketeer, recognizing it not only as deadly but as the calling card of his enemy Scorpiana.
  • In Beasts of Burden: Occupied Territory, Emrys and Mullins come across some hostile Shibas who charge toward them... only to run right by them, their real target being the oni behind them.
  • Conan the Barbarian: A Marvel Comics issue had an ally pull his dagger when Conan revealed he was carrying the MacGuffin. Cocking his arm back, he announced that he was doing something he should've long since. Conan started to warn him off, and then the blade flew past him to impale a fat lizard. The look on the Cimmerian's face as the other fellow held up the meat for their dinner was priceless.
  • In the 1997 Deadpool/Daredevil Annual, the two reluctantly team up to take down Serial Killer Typhoid Mary. During a brawl with hired mob muscle, Deadpool concludes out loud that he'd quite like to kill DD himself and throws a knife...right into a huge henchman who was about to cut Daredevil in two.
  • In Doomsday Clock, Doctor Manhattan thinks that Superman will either kill him or (Doctor Manhattan) will destroy the metaverse in retaliation (or possibly in self-defence). Luckily, Superman just knocks down Pozhar, who was trying to pounce on Doctor Manhattan, which leads the latter to realise that the former's purpose in the metaverse and therefore retcons the entire history of the universe, at the cost of his own.
  • Gargoyles: Bad Guys: During a battle, Yama throws two throwing stars at Fang, who dodges, and they hit the mook that was sneaking up behind him.
  • Happens in The Legend of Red Wolf by Enrique Villagrin. Jessica Hartmann and her maid are having sex by the swimming pool when Red Wolf creeps up on them. Instead of attacking them, however, he crushes a scorpion that was about to sting them.
  • The Sandman (1989): The second Corinthian pulls this on Matthew, whom he had previously sworn to kill. Dream later tells Matthew that the Corinthian had genuinely intended to kill him, but Dream had exerted his influence to alter the event and save Matthew's life. Author Neil Gaiman later explained that this was a retcon of sort; the Corinthian was originally scripted to kill Matthew, but Sandman's editor requested that he change it, so Dream is speaking as Gaiman's mouthpiece in this moment.
  • Subverted in the Sin City story, "A Dame to Kill For," where Ava appears to have Dwight McCarthy at point-blank range and instead aims upward and shoots Manute in the face. She then claims mind control so as to regain his already once-misplaced trust. It doesn't work, as evidenced by the last page where Ava has a bullet through her head.
  • Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen: In one issue, Jimmy experiences previous lives, including one Janus Ocellus, who was a favorite of Julius Caesar's. To his horror, he discovers that Janus was apparently involved in Caesar's assassination; in fact, he jumps forward into the future just as Janus raises his dagger. However, Superman checks this out and uncovers that Janus had infiltrated the conspiracy to save Caesar. His raising his dagger was supposed to signal Caesar's guards, who were delayed by a group of escaped gladiatorial lions.
  • In the Tintin adventure The Secret of the Unicorn, Captain Haddock (who by now was well-established as a friend of Tintin) charges with a whiskey bottle raised. Tintin assumes that the captain is coming for him, possibly drunk or crazy, until the bottle flies and hits Gustav Bird, who was about to shoot Tintin from behind.
  • The Transformers (Marvel): A Decepticon is given a gun by an Autobot while the latter tries to switch off a Transformer zombie signal. After it's off, the Decepticon shoots—a zombie that evidently didn't need the signal and had gotten really close to the Autobot.
  • Subverted in an early X-Wing Rogue Squadron comic. Two New Republic pilots holed up in a cave have been found rather suddenly by a New Republic agent, who holds a blaster on them as they work through suspicions. A pilot tells the agent that there's a predator creeping up behind her; she asks if he really thinks she'll fall for that. The pilot tells his friend to reach for his gun, so one of the two has a chance to wing it, if the agent doesn't fry them. The next page has the agent firing behind herself without looking, hitting the predator. "I believe you," she says.

    Fan Works 
  • Be Careful: During a round of Quidditch, Draco's about to catch the Snitch when Harry abruptly grabs his broom, attempting to yank him back. Draco mistakes this for a brazen attempt at cheating, unaware that he was about to fly outside the lights, unaware of what lurked beyond them.
  • During Confrontation (ack1308), Shadow Stalker abruptly tells Buzz not to move before firing her crossbow at point-blank range. However, Shadow Stalker had phased first, so the bolt goes right through Buzz's chest, turning solid on the other side and hitting a gang member behind her.
    Shadow Stalker: You missed one. And you should really learn to trust me.
  • Destiny's Divide has Neo and Penny get stuck in the Po-Wahi scorpion nest together, leading to Neo stabbing a Nui-Jaga in this fashion.
  • The Elements of Harmony and the Savior of Worlds: During The Conversion Bureau: United We Stand, the Autobots and Starscream's faction of the Decepticons work together to protect Autobot City. During this skirmish, Shockwave aims his cannon in Optimus Prime's direction and blasts away an enemy behind him.
    Shockwave: You did not flinch.
    Optimus Prime: Shooting me would be... illogical in this location, Shockwave.
  • Feralnette AU: Ladybug calmly berates Lila and Alya in Enough Rope — Lila for attempting to turn Marinette rejecting one of Hawkmoth's akumatizing butterflies into "evidence" that Marinette's somehow working with the villain, and Alya for her Skewed Priorities and providing Lila with a platform for her Blatant Lies. In the middle of her "The Reason You Suck" Speech, she abruptly uses her yo-yo to snag another butterfly which was approaching Lila; the weapon flies right past Alya's ear in the process.
    Ladybug: You can earn back my trust when your blog features legitimate articles again and no longer panders to social media and gossip. However, as it stands now, it's a safety hazard to those who think everything on your blog is fact. An event that was distinctly created for children, for fun, is now brimming to the thousands. Specifically, from people who want to see me and Chat. Your blog has put a target on everyone here for Hawkmoth to take advantage of, do you understand? Furthermore—
    (her yo-yo flies out, winding past Alya's ear to snag a butterfly that was aiming for Lila)
    Ladybug: You kids ought to stay out of superheroes' ways. Hawkmoth isn't above real atrocities, in my experience.
  • Used in chapter 13 of First on Five. The Tracy boys are playing paintball.
  • The Steep Path Ahead: After fighting off some wolves, Saito rushes towards Luise with dagger in hand. She assumes the worst, only for him to shove her out of the way so that he can take down the last wolf before it bites her.
  • Used in chapter 22 of Rosario Vampire: Brightest Darkness Act II. Dark seemingly aims a gun at Rason, about to shoot him, to which Rason yells, "Whoa, whoa! Same team!" Dark fires... and headshots a Fairy Tale operative that had snuck up behind Rason.

    Films — Animated 
  • Doraemon: Nobita and the Knights on Dinosaurs does this with the titular Knight, Banhou's introduction. Doraemon and friends are captured by Naga tribespeople from an underground world when Banhou, on a scouting mission, rides to the rescue on his trusty velociraptor steed and beats off the Naga, and then draws a knife... to cut the bonds on Doraemon and gang. Doraemon then realize Banhou isn't an enemy and grabs a piece of Translation Jelly.
  • Harlock: Space Pirate: Shortly after undercover agent Logan is shown contemplating shooting Kei, he shoves her over a railing to her apparent death, only to be shown he's throwing her into the mecha hand of a spacecraft which lifts her away to safety.
  • In Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island, Beau is suspected by Velma to be somehow involved in the onset of the zombies. At one point, Beau lifts up a large rock and appears ready to chuck it at her, but he instead throws it further out to show Velma that she was about to walk into quicksand. Velma's suspicions are somewhat mitigated.
  • The Secret of NIMH sees Mrs. Brisby, a frightened mouse, entering the Great Owl's den. At the mercy of her natural predator, she is then additionally stalked by a large spider... before the Great Owl appears and crushes the spider.
  • Titan A.E.:
    Cale: You're never gonna have a better shot, Korso.
    Korso: No. I won't.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Braveheart, the Irishman is portrayed as a belligerent (and crazy) person in his first scene. In the very next scene, he charges towards the unsuspecting William Wallace... only to throw his sword at The Mole instead.
    Stephen: You sure the Almighty didn't send me to watch your back?
  • Cargo (2013): Vic is introduced having been crouching down, then firing a shot in Andy's direction that was actually aimed at zombie coming at Andy from behind.
  • Meg Ryan does this during an argument with Lou Diamond Philips in Courage Under Fire. Tragically, he believed that she was shooting at him, and he shoots her in the stomach.
  • Demolition Man. Lenina Huxley and John Spartan have just taken out a bunch of mooks and Spartan thinks they're safe, but then Huxley suddenly picks up a gun and points it at Spartan. Spartan gets a millisecond of shock before she saves his life by shooting the mook who was sneaking up on Spartan with a knife.
  • Lampshaded in the German police-spoof Der Wixxer. The protagonist was trapped in a bathtub and was attempted to kill á la Saw. He manages to defeat the trap, upon which a suspect (whom the building belongs) enters the room, sternly glancing at the protagonist, approaches him slowly and ominously, pulls up his sleeves, complete with a Now-I'm-Going-To-Finish-You-Off - expression. Then, out of the blue, he quips, "Jesus Christ, what's going on here?!" and helps him out of the tub.
  • The Eiger Sanction. Jon Hemlock knows that one of his fellow climbers is an enemy agent, but doesn't know who. A man called Meyer has a Sinister Switchblade of the type used for the Plot-Triggering Death; at one point Hemlock is sleeping when Meyer creeps up holding the knife...and cuts the end off a climbing rope that had frayed. Then later Hemlock is on the edge of a cliff when Meyer comes up behind him with hand outstretched...only to grab hold of him for support.
  • Melina's introduction in For Your Eyes Only - She's hunting the men chasing Bond, with a crossbow.
  • Averted in Gamera vs. Barugon. One of the treasure hunters notices a cave scorpion making its way up his partner's leg but does nothing to stop it. After all, it's one less mook to split the take with!
  • Done early on in Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla. The victim, in this case, is a poisonous spider. In a twist on the usual formula, the stabber grabs the stabbee from behind and stabs the spider off his neck, drawing blood from him as well.
  • In Green for Danger, Inspector Cockrill sees Mr. Eden secretly loading a syringe while Sanson is confessing. When Sanson flees the room, Eden follows them and tries to inject them with the syringe. Cockrill stops him from injecting her. Sanson then collapses and dies; she had poisoned herself with the missing pills, and Eden was trying to give her the antidote.
  • Her Alibi. Tom Selleck, smitten with a murder suspect, crafts an alibi for her and lets her stay at his secluded home. Cue her tossing a huge Bowie knife at him... to pin the enormous beetle climbing the wall behind him. She does this again at the end of the movie.
  • Hobbs & Shaw: After Hattie escapes from some goons in front of their hostage, the professor, he moves toward her with a scalpel but is just using it to cut an escape hatch through a tarp.
  • Holes: Stanley (Caveman) is returning to his sleeping quarters after a late night of digging early on in his stay at Camp Greenlake. He turns to find Mr. Sir pointing his revolver seemingly at him and thinks it's all over when Mr. Sir fires. Mr. Sir was not aiming at him, however, but at the deadly and extremely poisonous yellow-spotted lizard that had snuck up behind him. In a display of both how dangerous the lizards are and how Mr. Sir takes his duties of looking after his wards, he shoots off its head right as it leapt to bite the fleeing Stanley.
    • Earlier in the movie and in the book, Mr. Sir says, when Stanley is seen eyeing his revolver nervously, "Don’t worry. This is for yellow-spotted lizards; I wouldn't waste a bullet on you." And when he chases after Zero during the latter’s fleeing Camp Green Lake, he seems to take legitimate offense at the apparent assumption of the warden that he would shoot the fleeing Zero.
  • Done in a hilarious verbal version in Hot Fuzz, when Sgt. Angel first arrives at his hotel in Sandford:
    Joyce Cooper: I trust you had a pleasant trip. Fascist!
    Sgt. Angel: I beg your pardon?
    Joyce Cooper: [writes in her Crossword Puzzle] "System of Government characterised by extreme dictatorship." Seven across.
    Sgt. Angel: Oh, I see. It's "fascism."
    Joyce Cooper: Fascism. Wonderful. Now, we've put you in the Castle Suite. Bernard will escort you up there.
    Sgt. Angel: Well, actually, I could probably make my own way up. Hag!
    Joyce Cooper: I beg your pardon?
    Sgt. Angel: "Evil old woman considered frightful or ugly." It's 12 down.
    Joyce Cooper: Oh, bless you!
    • This gets an Ironic Echo later when they're actually shooting at each other and dispense with the subtext to levy the insults directly.
  • Into the Grizzly Maze: When Beckett confronts Sully on the beach, Sully suddenly raises his shotgun and aims it directly at him. Then Sully yells "Get down!" and it is revealed that Sully is actually aiming at the bear that has appeared behind Beckett.
  • In I Saw What You Did, Tess is running for the garage where her sister Libby is trying to start the car. The viewer (but not Libby) sees an arm reach out and grab her and drag her behind the garage. While it looks like the murderer Steve Marek has grabbed her, it is actually Mr. Austin who is stopping her from getting to the car because Steve Marek is hiding in the back seat.
  • The Island (1980): When Maynard is leaning over, about to ignite the Powder Trail to destroy the magazine, Beth walks out holding a crossbow that she levels at Maynard. She then raises the crossbow several inches and fires: shooting Windsor who is standing behind Maynard with an axe.
  • An assassin in John Wick does a variant where the "scorpion" is not directly "stabbed": he appears to be setting up a sniper shot at a sleeping Wick, but he instead shoots Wick's pillow with the intent of making Wick aware of a hostile assassin in the room.
  • Hot Shots! Part Deux. But with a screwdriver and squeaky bed. Yeah...
  • In The Karate Kid Part II, Mr. Miyagi and Daniel stumble upon Miyagi's rival, Sato, trapped and helpless under a storm-felled wooden beam. Daniel looks on in horror as Miyagi raises his hand to strike (with Sato cursing him for a coward the whole time) only to have Miyagi strike the beam, splitting it and allowing them to pull Sato free.
  • The beach house shootout from The Killer (1989) is kicked off by one of these. Specifically, Jeff and Lee are holding guns on each other, when Jeff fires off a shot... at an assassin approaching the house outside the window. This unfortunately leads to Lee shooting Jeff in the arm in retaliation, though it isn't fatal.
  • In Land of the Dead, when Charlie ominously aims his rifle at Slack's head and shoots, missing her head by barely an inch to hit the zombie that was sneaking up on her.
    • Then Slack gets to return the favor later, but nicks poor Charlie's ear in the process.
  • In Legend (1985), Lily is apparently about to kill the unicorn with its mate's horn. Instead, she uses the horn to strike at and break the chain holding the unicorn, freeing it. Likewise, at the last moment Jack (Lily's lover), who had been trying to decide whether to shoot her with an arrow to prevent her, instead decides to shoot the evil being Darkness.
  • Nightwish (1989): Dean suddenly approaches his girlfriend Kim with a tire iron to kill a rattlesnake that was sneaking up on her.
  • In Operation Delta Force, Major Tipton is constantly at odds with Delta Force Captain Lang, because a mistake on Tipton's part years ago lead to the death of Lang's brother. But at the end of the movie, Tipton realized he's been forgiven when Lang suddenly fires a shot in his direction... and kills General Praetorian, the film's Mook Lieutenant, who is about to shoot Tipton.
  • Paradise Road has a scene in which a Japanese prison guard dramatically holds up a sword as though about to decapitate Cate Blanchett's character after subjecting her to a day and night of torture, but brings the sword down and slices off a lock of hair instead.
  • Pig Hunt: At the gas station, the hippie stranger suddenly steps towards Brooks and draws his kukri. But instead of attacking her, he uses it to flick away a rattlesnake on the ground she was just about to tread on.
  • The Trope Namer is Predator. Dillon has been annoying the rest of the team for the entire mission so far, including demonstrating dangerous incompetence, as well as recently revealing that he set them up on what they believed to be a rescue mission. In a lull in the jungle action, Mac, who had earlier threatened Dillon "You give away our position again, I'll bleed you", gestures to him to come close and turn around. Dillon does, and Mac's combat knife takes careful aim at the base of Dillon's neck. There's a stab. Dillon jumps and sticks his pistol in Mac's face-and Mac displays the scorpion he had just picked off Dillon's back, now impaled on the knife.
  • Princess of Mars: While being held prisoner, Dejah Thoris snatches a knife from Tars Tarkas' belt and stabs at his back. She then holds up the knife, showing the spiderling impaled on the tip.
  • Pulp Fiction: After Butch kills Maynard with a katana in order to save Marsellus, he proceeds to threaten Zed. Before Butch can touch Zed, Marsellus (who had earlier been trying to kill Butch) cocks a shotgun and aims it towards Butch... before telling him to get out of the way. Butch complies, and Marsellus immediately shoots Zed directly in the crotch.
  • Resident Evil Film Series:
    • In Resident Evil (2002), the Red Queen offers to provide a code to let the party escape a lab they're trapped in if they kill Rain Ocampo, who's infected with the T-virus. Rain kneels down and orders the others to accept the deal and kill her by cutting her head off with a fire axe. As she and the Red Queen shout for Alice to do so, Alice raises the axe high in the air and... hits the television monitor the Red Queen is shouting through, cutting her off, and refuses to kill Rain.
    • Used in Resident Evil: Apocalypse, where a STARS sniper with several redneck attributes is shooting zombies from his rooftop position. L.J., a black man, comes into his view and obliviously attempts to open a deserted car, while the sniper takes aim at his head and hit another zombie directly behind L.J.
  • Romancing the Stone—Jack and Joan are waiting out a rainstorm in Colombia in the wreckage of an old plane. He whips out his machete and cuts the head off of a very long snake that was right behind Joan. Then he cooks it for them.
  • The Sting, when a man steps around the corner into an alley and fires a silenced gun, apparently at Hooker. He kills Loretta, the waitress from the diner, then reveals that she's actually the assassin Loretta Salino, who's been assigned the hit on Hooker and was about to kill him.
  • In Terminator 2: Judgment Day, this accompanies The Reveal that the T-800 is on John Connor's side:
    "Get down."
  • Undercover Brother: Undercover Brother has a mook on the floor, at his mercy. He then stomps down at the mook's head, and a Sickening "Crunch!" is heard. It's revealed UB had... smashed his chips. The mook is still unhappy about it — they were his snack.
  • Van Helsing: When Van Helsing arrives in the village and tries to tell Anna he has come to help her, she asks him to prove it. He responds by suddenly points his crossbow at her. As she ducks, he pulls the trigger and fires at the incoming vampire brides.
  • Who Framed Roger Rabbit: Jessica ultimately proves her trustworthiness when she shoots an unseen assailant behind Eddie (Judge Doom) just after it looked like she was holding him at gunpoint.
    Jessica Rabbit: (Aims a gun at Eddie Valiant) Valiant.
    Eddie Valiant: I always knew I'd get it in Toontown.
    (as he turns around, A shadow of Judge Doom with a gun appears on the wall)
    Jessica Rabbit: Behind you!
    (Shoots at the shadow; it falls back and the gun drops on the floor)
  • Windtalkers: During the village battle halfway into the film, the borderline racist Sergeant Hjelmsted, in the midst of battling Japanese soldiers, sees the Native American Private Whitehorse (whom he insulted with some racial slurs earlier on) hurling a huge-ass bowie knife at his direction... into a Japanese soldier sneaking up behind Hjelmsted. After exchanging a knowing glance at Whitehorse, Hjelmsted mellows out towards his fellow Native American squadmates.
  • Z for Zachariah: A variant occurs where the "scorpion" isn't dangerous. Romantic rivals Loomis and Caleb go on a turkey hunt, and Caleb falls several steps behind Loomis and shifts his rifle in the direction of Loomis's back before the two fire at the turkey. However, he really is only shooting at the turkey.

  • In A Brother's Price, Eldest Whistler seemingly attacks Princess Ren, throwing her to the ground. It turns out this was because Ren was standing in an inconvenient position and would have been killed by a trap without Eldest's intervention. Ren, having already drawn her knife, is ashamed of her suspicions.
  • Rennie does this to Wick in The Crush. "Move and you're a dead man." He does move, prompting Rennie to shoot the bobcat about to pounce on Wick from behind.
  • In Deryni Rising, Morgan kills a Stenrect crawler that was inches from Kelson's hand. A lady-in-waiting sees him draw and use his sword, but not the creature; she screams, guards come, and Morgan's reputation is invoked.
  • In a rare double-sided version, the climax of Fool Moon has Harry and Karrin Murphy at odds for the majority of the book because Harry kept finding himself suspiciously linked to a series of attacks around the city. Later, they find themselves hunted by two of the three kinds of werewolf, and they run into each other, only for Harry to see the more dangerous of the two sorts of werewolf coming up behind Murphy. When he prepares to attack it, she raises a gun and begs him to get down. He doesn't, thinking he'll go out in a blaze of misunderstood glory. When he wakes up after the event, thinking he's dying of a gunshot wound, she tells him that she shot at one of the other werewolves that was behind him and he was only hit on the head, and promptly mocks him for being such a melodramatic idiot.
  • Gate offers us a rare mutual Scorpion-stabbing: as Sergeant Kuribayashi of the JSDF aims her pistol at Rory Mercury, a Gateworlder Priestess who immediately charges at Kuribayashi with her Halberd drawn to impale. The pair of them were actually attacking a group of Bandits that had surrounded them both, with Kuribayashi shooting a spearman that was about to toss a spear at Rory, while Rory actually charged at another bandit behind Kuribayashi that was armed with a sword that was about to take a slice at the sergeants' neck. The pair resolved to stand with their backs to one-another after this, grinning like mad.
  • Interesting Times: Lord Hong kinda; at one point a servant brings him bad news while he's forging a sword. He orders the guy to stand up straight and open his eyes wide as if he's about to Shoot the Messenger. Turns out he was using the guy's eyes as a mirror to target the assassin sneaking up on him ('him' being Lord Hong).
  • Journey to Chaos: Siron Esrah and Culmus Stratos are rivals, both as proxies for their families and personally over the love of Princess Kasile. It is so intense that they are not allowed to joust each other. Then, at the conclusion of a Rescue Arc, Siron abruptly draws his sword on Culmus. It was to attack a monster that spawned behind him.
  • In a Sarah Dessen novel Just Listen, Annabel gets into a car with Owen, who has a reputation for anger management issues. He takes out a hammer and she starts imagining headlines of her murder when he carefully buckles her in—the passenger seat's seat belt is broken.
  • The Man with the Terrible Eyes: Early on in their relationship Dog growls and lunges at the Man after he walks home in the dark. The Man thinks he's about to get mauled, but Dog is actually after the shadow being that was standing right behind him that he hadn't known was there. This is what convinces the Man that Dog can be trusted.
  • Will shows off his archery skills by shooting an arrow close to Useikh, Amar's daughter, in Ranger's Apprentice Book 7. After he gets punched for his foolhardiness, it turns out that he'd actually shot a snake that was about to bite the girl.
  • Happens in A Song of Ice and Fire.
    • Daenerys is given a box from a stranger. She opens it, when an old man hits her hands with a staff, knocking the box out of them. It turns out that the box contained a manticore, a highly venomous, (possibly) scorpion-like creature.
    • Inverted in A Clash of Kings with Theon. He sees some of his reavers scuffling over some plunder, one of whom, a man named Todric, was drunk. In an attempt to impress his men with his prowess and "leadership", he decides he'll shoot the horn of ale out of the drunk man's hand. Unfortunately for both of them, the man moved as Theon loosed the arrow, and Todric got shot in the belly instead. To save face, he tells the rest of his men that he does not tolerate drunkards or fighting over plunder.
  • In the second Sword of Truth book, Richard, during archery practice with the Mud People, suddenly shoots at one of them (who really doesn't like him). The misunderstanding is cleared up once they find an armed trespasser behind the guy... well, mostly cleared up, because in order to ensure a kill, Richard was forced to give him a cut on the shoulder.
  • In User Unfriendly, Nocona, who was previously bitten by a werewolf, swings his knife at Thea. This causes Arvin to think that Nocona has succumbed to lycanthropy and turned evil. However, it turns out Nocona was actually stabbing at a goblin behind Thea.
  • In the Warhammer 40,000: Gaunt's Ghosts novel Sabbat Martyr, Milo raises his lasgun and appears to fire at Saint Sabbat. It turns out that he hits a Chaos trooper who had survived the Saint's attack on a Baneblade.
    • Earlier, in Ghostmaker, Rawne (who despises Gaunt and wants him dead) sneaks up on Gaunt while he's sleeping, holds his knife to Gaunt's throat, and quickly brings it up — so he could throw it into the eye of an Ork that was sneaking up on them. Slightly subverted in that Rawne would have killed Gaunt, but the Commissar apparently having nightmares of Tanith burning convinced him to stay his hand.
  • The Wheel of Time: In A Memory of Light, this happens between Matrim Cauthon and Tuon, where Tuon only has time to react to Mat throwing a knife directly at her, but immediately turns around when she recognizes his face. Mat later uses this as evidence that she loves him.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Kate Lockley pulls a really violent version of this on Angel, stabbing both him and his vampire spawn with a (very long) wooden stake. The other vampire dusts, but Kate reveals that she deliberately avoided Angel's heart.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Despite the fact that she is working with the Mayor at the time (and accompanying him at that particular moment), Faith throws a knife in Wesley's direction...which kills a rabbit-sized spider that was near his head.
    • Also done by the Master as a threat to a lesser vampire. He makes a swift motion that could've easily left a nasty mark, and then says "bug".
    • In "Spiral" Ben appears to be about to kill Dawn with a fatal injection, having been told doing so would give him a normal Glory-less life, but it turns out to be a morphine shot for Giles.
  • The season three premiere of Castle has a double Stab The Scorpion. Beckett and Castle are facing each other, both apparently pointing guns at the other. They fire simultaneously, and both hit a bad guy that was sneaking up to take the other unawares.
    • For impact, the setup to this — them aiming weapons at each other — was the episode's Cold Open, and it was followed by an episode of Castle showing up in suspicious circumstances near a bunch of murders that seemed to have been perpetrated by him. They weren't.
  • CSI: NY: "Sangre por Sangre," opens with Mac chasing a gang member with whom he has a respectful rivalry through an abandoned building. The other man raises a gun in Mac's general direction and fires, then the scene cuts back to some days earlier. The scene is revisited near the end, revealing that he had been aiming at another gang member, whom he'd been trying to kill earlier and who was sneaking up on Mac.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The cliffhanger for episode 3 of "Trial of a Time Lord" involves Merdeen seemingly firing his crossbow at the Doctor. However, the reprise in episode 4, reveals he was actually aiming at the traitor Grell, lurking behind the Doctor and Peri.
    • "The End of Time" probably counts. The Doctor seems to be forced into shooting either Rassilon or the Master in order to save the universe. Finally, he seems to settle on the Master, and aims the gun at him... then says "Get out of the way", and shoots the machine behind him instead. A minute later, the Master does the exact same thing, telling the Doctor to get out of the way so he can attack Rassilon himself.
    • The older Amy's introduction in "The Girl Who Waited" involves stabbing a Handbot over Rory's shoulder.
  • In the pilot for Firefly, Jayne has been offered a lot of money to betray Mal. We see him knocking out a sniper, taking careful aim at Mal... and shooting someone who had a gun trained on the captain.
  • In season 4 of Fringe, Peter travels to the other universe after time reboots itself. Because Walter Prime won't help him get back, he goes to beg Walternate - who previously tried to destroy our universe in an attempt to save his own - for help. During Peter's plea, Walter grins insanely and plays with an ominous bit of machinery. Finally he uses it to expose and destroy Alternate Brandon Fayette, who had been his dragon before the reboot but is now a shapeshifter.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • In season 3, Barristan Selmy does this literally. He approaches Daenerys Targaryen from behind while holding a knife, but he uses it to stab a scorpion that was about to attack her.
    • In season 5, Bronn appears standing above Jaime Lannister with his kukri ready, seemingly to kill him, and a few moments later he kills a snake that was about to bite the Kingslayer.
    • Later, Jorah Mormont enters the fighting pits to fight before Daenerys one last time, having been dismissed from her service due to her finding out about him spying on her for Robert. After killing the men in the arena, his face contorts with anger and he grabs a spear and throws it into her viewing box - killing an assassin who was sneaking up behind her.
  • Seriously, almost every time anyone does anything in Harper's Island it seems to be following this trope. That's what you get when you have 22 characters and every single one of them is a murder suspect.
  • Hercules: The Legendary Journeys: In "The March to Freedom", a woman (played by Lucy Liu) who had constantly shown disdain for Hercules raises a rock over his head while he's sleeping and brings it down. Hercules rolls out of the way, but she reveals that she has crushed a huge tarantula that was next to him.
  • Kamen Rider Zero-One: In Episode 2, Isamu Fuwa ignores his supervisor Yua Yaiba's orders and takes an untested gun/Transformation Trinket. When she goes to stop him, he points the gun at her, but then shoots the robot that was about to attack her from behind, then goes out and uses it to transform into Kamen Rider Vulcan.
  • Lost.
    • Michael approaches handcuffed Jin with an axe. He looks angry. He's going to kill him! Nope. He's going to chop the cuffs open.
    • In a later episode, Ana-Lucia approaches tied-up Sayid with a knife. She's going to kill him! Nope. She's going to cut his ropes and free him.
  • In the first few minutes of the pilot of The Man in the High Castle, a character just introduced to La Résistance is given a mission to transport a shipment to a neutral zone. Just as he is about to leave, Nazi troops storm the facility. At one point, the aforementioned character — who was considered a possible Nazi spy by the Resistance leader — points a gun the leader's way and... shoots one of the soldiers rushing toward them. This keeps his cover intact.
  • Murder, She Wrote: In "The Murder Channel" one of Jessica's friends has been kidnapped and is lying Bound and Gagged in the back of the kidnappers' van. One of the kidnappers advances menacingly, takes out a switchblade, and flicks the blade out. She then uses the knife to cut the victim's bonds and release her.
  • Princess Agents: Chu Qiao stands over an ill and unarmed Yuwen Yue, sword in hand, remembering how he killed Lin Xi. She raises the sword... and uses it to shove away the snake about to bite Yuwen Yue.
  • Queen of Swords: Done in "The Serpent" by Doctor Helm. In this case, he deliberately meant to scare Tessa, as a challenge to her casual (by his standards) attitude toward killing.
  • Taken to extremes in Stargate Atlantis. Having been forced to team up with a Wraith in order to escape a prison, Sheppard wakes up as the Wraith starts sucking the life out of him. It turns out he needed the strength to defeat a group of soldiers about to discover their position. After sucking the life out of them he returns Sheppard's youth.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series. In "Dagger of the Mind", a Mad Doctor has used his Mind-Control Device to make Captain Kirk become obsessed with Dr Helen Noel. They're locked in a room together and Helen watches in fear as a Brainwashed and Crazy Kirk advances on her...because he's seen the air vent she's standing in front of.
  • In Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Phantasms", Data, currently prey to nightmares and hallucinations, suddenly stabs Troi in the shoulder. When Dr. Crusher examines the wound, one of her scanners detects an invisible alien parasite exactly where he stabbed.
  • Wanted: Dead or Alive: In "Dead End", Josh is holding a Mexican cowhand he suspected of attempting to bushwhack him at gunpoint. The Mexican pulls a hidden knife and throws it at Josh. The knife goes over his shoulder and impales the rattlesnake slithering on the log behind him.

    Video Games 
  • Baten Kaitos: After a boss battle, the characters start talking about the possibility that there might be a spy for The Empire among them who is leaking their locations to the villains and allowing them to steal the Plot Coupons. Lyude declares that there is a spy, and turns his gun on the party, leading you to believe for a moment that he's the traitor (which would make sense, since he did work for The Empire before he joined you). But it turns out that he's specifically pointing it at Savyna, accusing her. (It turns out he's wrong though.)
  • Devil May Cry:
    • Devil May Cry 2: Dante points his handgun towards Lucia in the prologue cutscene, only to reveal that he's about to shoot the Puia demon behind her.
    • Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening: In the opening cutscene of Mission 9, Dante points his handgun to Lady while they were having a conversation. The camera then adjusts itself to reveal several demons surrounding them, and Dante was actually aiming at one of them all along. Lady moves her head out of Dante's gun and she returns the favor by shooting another demon behind him. The two then briefly go back to back while shooting some more.
  • Enemy Zero: Kimberly draws a knife, advances on Laura, and slits the side of her neck — freeing the alien worm that had been implanted there so that Kimberly can safely kill it without killing her friend in the process.
  • Fire Emblem:
    • Fire Emblem: Awakening has "Marth" draw his blade, prompting Chrom to do the same. However, "Marth" says, "I'm about to save your life... from him," just as an assassin charges out of a bush and is cut down by the warrior. Unfortunately, "Marth" didn't account for the second one hiding in the bush, who manages to cut "Marth's" mask in two before being killed by Chrom and reveal he's a she.
    • Shamir from Fire Emblem: Three Houses kills spiders and other insects by throwing her knife at them in multiple support conversations. The other person in the conversation often doesn't notice the bug until Shamir points it out. While some people thank her for it, it's implied she does it simply because she hates bugs more than anything.
      • This gets flipped on Shamir in Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes when Shez, sensing an assassin in the room, darts toward Edelgard seemingly in a fasion to turn on her, only to deflect an arrow loosed by the other mercenary that would have killed Edelgard. This gets deconstructed, however, as this leads to Hubert and Monica getting into a nasty argument about how useless the other one was in protecting Edelgard (either due to Shez if Shez had indeed turned traitor or because of neither of them having sensed the real assailant in the room) while the spooked emperor of Adrestia further starts doubting Shez from their sudden move toward her in combination with how close to death she was.
    • At the beginning of Fire Emblem Engage, Alear and their stewards Vander, Clanne and Framme are surrounded by the Corrupted, undead Mooks. Things seem to be going From Bad to Worse when a white dragon appears and unleashes her Breath Weapon, but the dragon does it to destroy the Corrupted. The dragon turns out to be Queen Lumera, Alear's mother and the Divine Dragon whom the stewards serve.
  • Galaxy Angel: In Moonlit Lovers, a double example happens in Chapter 2 of Forte's route. Chitose goes out and points her gun at her, so Forte responds in kind, and both shoot the enemy probe that was about to sneak up behind the other.
  • In Kingdom Hearts 3D [Dream Drop Distance], Rinzler looks poised to attack Sora again after Sora tries reverting his code to normal. In truth, he pushes him aside before CLU can get him.
  • Mass Effect 2: The first time Legion appears, it's aiming at Shepard with a sniper rifle. The second time we see Legion, it's shifted its aim to take out some Husks who have crept up on him/her.
  • In Ninja Gaiden II: The Dark Sword of Chaos, the first time Ryu meets Robert, he pulls a gun on him and fires. But his target isn't Ryu, but the nasty demonic creature that was sneaking up behind the ninja. (This is in contrast to the first NES game, where the first time Ryu meets Irene, she pulls a gun on him and shoots him...with a tranquilizer.)
  • Amaterasu in Ōkami snarls, growls, leaps up and catches Mr. Orange by the head — and uses him to fend off three imps who were about to attack him.
  • At the start of Persona 5 Royal, the protagonist is in the middle of his escape from the casino heist when he encounters Kasumi Yoshizawa, a character who debuted in Royal. Kasumi strides up to Joker, saying she'll "end this right now," then throws her sword in his direction. The sword is actually aimed at one of the Shadows behind Joker, and Kasumi proceeds to fight the others with him.
  • Prince of Persia:
  • Resident Evil:
    • In Resident Evil 2, Claire Redfield comes running out of a zombie-infested gas station and ends up staring down the barrel of rookie cop Leon Kennedy's gun. She throws her hands up and says "Don't shoot!", but Leon yells "Get down!" and blasts the zombie creeping up behind her, before the two team up to find out what the hell is going on in Raccoon City.
    • In Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles Krauser sneaks up on Leon with a knife, only to toss it at a snake that was about to attack Leon's back.
  • Crops up twice in the Transylvania arc of The Secret World.
    • In the introduction to "Ripples," the nameless Vampire Hunter points a crossbow in your direction. Given that he's clearly resentful of you for being a powerful representative of the Big Three among unaffiliated underdogs, it actually seems as though he might hate you enough to shoot you... only for him to reveal that he was aiming at the vampire creeping up behind you.
    • The Iele introduces herself in "The Wild Hunt" by dropping from the treetops, raising a spear, giving every impression of being about to attack you, before neatly impaling the fungal monster behind you.
  • Yakumo in Shin Megami Tensei V subverts this in the encounter leading up to his boss battle. He suddenly appears behind the Nahobino, shooting down a pack of demons that nearly get the drop on him... before shooting at him too, forcing him to block the bullet with his blade.
  • In Star Wars: The Old Republic, the Jedi Knight player character arrives on Corellia and begins rescuing other Jedi who have been scattered across the Republic's beachhead. Arriving at the third Jedi's location, they find a Sith, who ignites his lightsaber as two Imperial droids sneak up behind the Knight, then throws the lightsaber at the droids. (The Sith is Lord Praven, whom the Knight had earlier persuaded to defect to the Jedi.)
  • In Time Crisis 5: True Mastermind Edition, the end of stage 4 has Keith Martin firing at what appears to be the two heroes, but was actually aiming at the two knives that were actually being tossed at both of them. The one who tried to attack them was Robert Baxter, who up to this point was serving as Mission Control and turned out to be Evil All Along.
  • TimeSplitters: Future Perfect plays with this. In the second Haunted Mansion level, after the mine cart sequence, a future version of Cortez charges toward your version of Cortez, wielding an oversized gun. He fires a beam of red energy behind "your" shoulder. Turns out there was a ghost behind you and Future!Cortez has a "ghost gun" that can get rid of them.
  • The Walking Dead (Telltale): At the end of Episode 1, Kenny is about drop an axe supposedly on Lee, then it's shown he was aiming for the Walker that was besides Lee.
  • The World Ends with You:
    • Neku recovers a missing piece of his memory and thinks that Joshua ran up to him and shot him, but he later recovers more showing that Joshua was aiming at Minamimoto who had a gun and was standing behind Neku. Only much later does Neku discover that actually, Minamimoto was aiming at Joshua but failed and fled, and then Joshua finally shot Neku.
    • In "A New Day" of Final Remix, Neku has a vision of Joshua shooting at him. This time, it really is a Stab the Scorpion situation, as Joshua was shooting at the woman who just fatally shot Neku.
  • In XCOM 2: War of the Chosen, one mission has you trying to broker an Enemy Mine alliance between two resistance factions fighting against the greater alien threat. When the two faction reps, Elena and Mox, meet each other, they exchange insults before Elena takes aim with her sniper rifle... and fires a shot that flies over Mox's shoulder and towards the assassin that just teleported behind him.

    Web Animation 
  • Smoke of Bunnykill 3 does this with Snowball, killing a bunny mook that was sneaking up behind him, before the two join forces.
  • RWBY: In "Heroes and Monsters", Qrow unveils his full scythe and charges at Ironwood, who is initially shocked but then stands guard as he thinks Qrow is about to attack him. As he jumps into the air, Qrow flies right past Ironwood and bisects the Griffon lunging towards him. Justified Trope: Qrow's Semblance is being The Jinx and had he not personally dealt with it, Ironwood could have been seriously hurt due to the bad luck Qrow could have brought him.

    Web Comics 
  • Happens in Buck Godot, after Al manages to knock out the assassin that was sent to seduce and trick him into selling his bar wakes up again in the middle of a big fight, gun aimed at Al. She angrily states no-one ever managed to knock her out. Because she never let anyone get close! She then shoots an enemy behind Al.
  • Feralnette AU: After Alya unintentionally admits that she knows about Lila's 'lying disease', Ladybug spells out how her Skewed Priorities have turned her Ladyblog into a glorified gossip mill and endangered others. In this middle of this speech, she throws her yo-yo out. The string curves around Alya's neck and over her shoulder on its way to snap up an akuma that was beelining towards Lila.
  • In General Protection Fault, this is subverted when Fooker and Maddie are on a mission against Dr. Nefarious; a scuba diver comes up behind them, but then gets shot by a woman. Fooker later reveals that he knew that the woman was one of Dr. Nefarious' men because the diver belonged to a friendly intelligence agency.
  • Hemlock: Sindri stalks wordlessly up to Lumi with his sword raised, and swings it down towards her in order to kill the disguised Day soldier that snuck in by disguising himself as Lumi's cloak. Lumi is still traumatized by this and runs outside because she thought Sindri was going to kill her and she's upset even after Sindri's motive is revealed.
  • Parodied with a fake cliffhanger in The Non-Adventures of Wonderella: "I NEED TO SHOOT YOU—TO SAVE YOUR LIFE!"
  • In The Order of the Stick, Elan politely informs Therkla that he already has a girlfriend and isn't looking for a relationship. She gets an angry look on her face and draws her weapons... then throws a shuriken at the demon she spotted sneaking up behind him.
  • In Sluggy Freelance, during the Dangerous Days arc, an unusually dark and vengeful Torg walks up to Riff, who'd previously confessed to giving information about Aylee to Hereti-Corp(the villains) and wordlessly levels a shotgun at him. Then he actually does shoot Riff, but immediately apologizes and says he was aiming for the bad guy behind him. It turns out Riff was wearing a bulletproof vest.
  • In this The Sword Interval strip, Agent Porter (who Fall knows and is not happy to see) points a gun at her while saying her surname... then shoots the plant monster sneaking up behind her.

    Web Originals 
  • In Trinton Chronicles, Aurora performs this act in the first scene of her meeting Sara. While in the ice maze Sara is walking by herself after leaving another group of people in a huff. She runs into Aurora, who promptly throws a knife at Sara's head. The knife misses by a few centimeters and it turns out Aurora saved her from some Big Creepy-Crawlies that had been poised for an attack on her.

    Western Animation 
  • In the American Dad! episode "Camp Refoogie," Steve is sent to Africa and is currently moping by the river. He suddenly sees a random girl running at him with a weapon—then just past him into the river to kill the giant snake rising up behind him, which she drags home for her family's dinner. (She winds up being his Love Interest for the episode, by the way.)
  • Arcane: League of Legends: At the end of Season 1, it looks like Sevika is trying to kill Silco with her sword but when the dust settles after her stroke, it's revealed that her target was Finn who threatened Silco with death.
  • Archer has Conway Stern finally gain Archer's trust by pulling a gun on him, but shooting someone behind him. Then they share a Man Hug.
    (stabbing sound)
    Archer: Conway?
    Conway: Yeah, buddy?
    Archer: Are there more bad guys behind me?
    Conway: Nope.
    Archer: You dick. (collapses to the floor)
  • In Batman Beyond, an aged Bruce Wayne is about to be attacked by a random criminal when a dog jumps towards Wayne...and attacks the criminal instead. Bruce adopts the dog and names him Ace. Because when a dog is badass enough to save BATMAN you know he's awesome.
  • In Ben 10: Alien Force, Ben and a Highbreed get stuck on an alien planet together and have to team up to survive, though the Highbreed makes his disdain of Ben repeatedly clear. When camping out, Ben wakes up suddenly to see the Highbreed shooting at...the creature right behind him.
  • In Codename: Kids Next Door, Numbuh 1 teams up with an adult named Moosk to hunt evil, snakelike ties, and when it looks like Moosk is about to betray Numbuh 1 and shoot him; he actually shoots a tie behind him.
    Moosk: Pure Polyester. Would have turned bald-headed friend into office flunky for sure if caught round neck.
  • In one episode of DuckTales (1987), when Scrooge is in the Australian outback with a ranch hand of his sheep ranch, he suspects that he might be involved in the mysterious willie-wisps that are attacking his flock. Right before a commercial break, the rancher chucks his boomerang right at Scrooge when he's not looking. Then when the break ends, it's revealed that he was actually stopping the cobra that was about to attack Scrooge.
  • Jonny Quest episode "A Small Matter of Pygmies". A man under a basket approaches Hadji (who's tied to a stake) and pulls out a knife. Hadji squirms to try to escape, and the man cuts the rope tying Hadji to the stake. He was the pygmy the protagonists had earlier saved from being sacrificed.
  • In the Justice League Unlimited episode "Ancient History" Shadow Thief binds Green Lantern, Hawkman, and Hawkgirl so they can see a flashback of the past romance between Chay-Ara Hol and Bashari, an ancestor of John Stewart. In order to prevent history from repeating itself and to reclaim Shayera, Shadow Thief gives Carter his mace to Murder the Hypotenuse. Hawkman raises the weapon over Green Lantern - and frees him.
  • In an episode of King of the Hill, everyone fears that Bobby's "pet" raccoon has given Ladybird rabies, which causes friction between Hank and Bobby when each of them is concerned for their own pet's well-being more than the other. At the end of the episode, Ladybird shows up and Bobby is prepared to shoot her if she is rabid in order to protect his father. As she leaps at Hank, Bobby fires; initially it looks like he missed, but he reveals that he shot the raccoon, which was sneaking up on Hank. (For the curious, it turned out not to be rabid.)
  • In The Legend of Tarzan, the title character is presented with one in regards to bullish rhinos that have forcefully moved into the apes' territory after being driven out of their homes by human civilization. After learning that he purchased large amounts of dynamite to resolve the rhino issue, Jane and the others rush to stop Tarzan from doing the deed, which turns out to be blowing up a new section of river. Aware that he could've killed them all if he wanted to, the rhinos accept their new home.
  • Done in an episode of Mighty Max. When the main heroes are gathering a team of heroes, one of them is an old man with a bow. When Max tries to doubt his skills, the guy aims the bow in his direction...
  • Towards the end of Ōban Star-Racers, during a race down a canyon, Jordan opens fire on Prince Aikka after he's wiped out. He gets a "What the hell?" look from Eva until she sees the corpse of the giant bug thing that was stalking Aikka.
  • Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated: In "The Midnight Zone", Cassidy levels a shotgun at Mystery, Inc. with a Dramatic Gun Cock. She then uses it to shoot the robot coming up behind them.
  • She-Ra and the Princesses of Power: In the episode "Huntara", the title character explains that most people in the Crimson Waste are running away from something. When Adora probes further by asking what Huntara is running away from, Huntara grabs Adora, pulls out her spear - and impales a large bug next to Adora's head. Which she then proceeds to eat.
  • In the second season opening for The Superhero Squad Show, Hulk and Thor look like they're about to beat the crap out of each other. The camera backs away just as the two heroes attack... the previously-offscreen villains they were actually getting ready to duke it out with.
  • In the cult classic series SWAT Kats, this is the scene that introduces Lt. Felina Feral, one of the show's supporting characters, in the second season premiere "Mutation City". As she is rescuing Deputy Mayor Callie Briggs, Felina points a laser at the Deputy Mayor - and shoots a man-eating plant that was about to eat Callie.
  • During the Transformers: Prime three-parter "One Shall Rise", Unicron attempts to use his connection with Megatron to get the Decepticon leader to murder Optimus. While it at first appears that he's going to kill Optimus from behind, Megatron simply shoves him out of the way so he can destroy one of Unicron's antibody drones.
  • The Venture Bros.: In "Tag Sale, You're It", while in Dr. Venture's lab, Doctor Girlfriend tries to start a relationship conversation. The Monarch appears to react very badly, pointing his wrist launcher at her, but he's actually tranquillizing the agents behind her.
  • In one episode of Voltron: Legendary Defender, Keith meets Axca in the belly of a weblum and initially thinks she is hostile when she aims her gun at him. It turns out she was aiming it at the monsters behind him, thus saving his life.


Video Example(s):


Hiromi and Orteca

During a fight with some mooks, Hiromi, a person with a preference for bows, aims his at someone who would usually be his arch enemy, Orteca... However, his arrow hits one of the mooks that was going to attack him, as the situation they're in forces them to work together, all while the opening theme is playing in the background.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / StabTheScorpion

Media sources: