Follow TV Tropes


Super-Persistent Missile

Go To

The Homing Projectile equivalent of the Super-Persistent Predator, this weapon just will not give up. High-Speed Missile Dodge? It'll just come back for another try. Hide behind something? It'll go around. Try to mess with its targeting? It's not fooled. You can't even outrun it, because it has truly boggling range. Basically, when a Super Persistent Missile is chasing you, the only things you can do are shoot it down or die.

If a swarm of these are going after you, it's Macross Missile Massacre.

Homing Boulders are supposedly unguided projectiles with this capability.


    open/close all folders 

     Anime & Manga  
  • Doraemon has a mini-missile as a gadget-of-the-week, used to target a troublemaker stray cat who ate Shizuka's canary, stole Doraemon's beloved Dorayaki and made a mess of Nobita's backyard. Said missile pursues the cat for more than a page in the manga, even getting back up after hitting a wall, before blowing up said cat (in a comedic Non-Fatal Explosions kind of way, since it's a PG manga and they're only trying to teach the stray a lesson). Nobita later asks for another missile to get back at Gian for picking on him, where said missile actually infiltrates Gian's house by hiding among the groceries, until Gian managed to trick the missile into flying outside and then bolting all the windows and doors in his house. It backfires hilariously on Nobita (as usual) when in an attempt to trick Gian into opening the windows, Nobita accidentally disturbs a beehive causing bees to swarm over him, until his face is all swollen and looking like Gian - then Nobita starts running like crazy when his missile mistook him for Gian.
  • In Hunter × Hunter, missiles launched by Welfin's Missileman ability will pursue their targets unceasingly and endlessly with seemingly no energy source required. They have a very unusual drawback, however, in that the target has to hear Welfin ask a question, and they will explode only if the target lies when answering. As a result, until the target actually attempts to answer, the missiles just kind of hover in the air a very close distance from the target, following the target wherever they go, until the target actually answers. The missiles can't simply be destroyed by shooting something at it either, since the missiles hover too close to the target to avoid getting harmed and they can move at seemingly limitless speed. That being said, both times Missileman was used, they were easily countered: Jail, as a Hollywood Chameleon, was able to erase all presence of himself and actually fool the targeting system; and Ikalgo, as a Friendly Sniper, could shoot the missiles down before Welfin could ask a question, causing them to explode with very little force.

    Fan Works 

  • The seeker torpedo that Jango Fett fires at Obi-Wan in Star Wars: Attack of the Clones actually chases Obi-Wan's starfighter through an asteroid field. Obi-Wan barely managed to escape from said missile, with the assistance of his protocol droid R4 dislodging debris to finally take out said missile.
    • Revenge of the Sith has some that are too persistent; a pair of missiles are launched at Anakin's fighter, and when he spins it they corkscrew around to match until they collide and explode.
  • A really persistent one in Hot Shots!, later used by Topper himself to destroy Saddam Husseins Lair/Nuclear Plant.
  • Behind Enemy Lines: Has a wonderful example of not one, but TWO missiles being launched on an F18 Super Hornet, and chasing it for almost four minutes. While it is certainly filled with drama, in real-life those missiles would've burned out after about 30 seconds. However, the launcher (an SA-13) does carry four such missiles, so it could've easily unloaded all four, but we only see two launched. However, given that the range of the system is only about 3 miles, one has to wonder why the protagonists didn't just dive for the deck and leave the area...
  • Octopussy has a guided missile in the film's Action Prologue that pursues James Bond as he tried making a getaway on his miniature one-man jet. Bond spends maybe more than 2 minutes trying to lose it, before he eventually tricks the missile into flying through the very warehouse where the colonel who unmasked him as well as the radar that's the target of his mission stood and causing the missile to crash into the warehouse's closing doors, blowing everything up there and accomplishing Bond's mission.
  • The eponymous vessel in Death Ship behaves like one of these in the film's opening scenes — despite the crew's best efforts to evade it, it continues to match their heading until the two ships finally collide.

  • In the Harry Potter series the sport Quidditch features two Bludgers, what amount to enchanted cannonballs that attempt to smash up any player in the vicinity. During a match against Slytherin in Chamber of Secrets one of the Bludgers is tampered with, causing it to persistently seek out Harry in particular regardless of any obstacles.
  • Missiles in the Star Carrier series are stated outright in the very first dogfight to be nearly impossible to shake with passive systems such as ECM or with a High-Speed Missile Dodge. They're flown by weak Artificial Intelligences, use a huge variety of sensors to track targets, and can easily out-accelerate any fighter. The only viable countermeasure are active systems. Human and Turusch ships dump "sand" (granules of gravitically compressed lead) into space to serve as a physical barrier or shoot them down with energy weapons, and they're little threat to Beam Spammers like the Sora, Slan, and Sh'daar.
  • In Fail Safe, the Soviets have a relatively slow air-air missile that's hard to shake and has a very long range.
  • In the Rihannsu series the Romulans deploy a variant: it acts like a Super-Persistent Missile, but it's actually a warp-capable Wave-Motion Gun shot. Thankfully the Enterprise managed to avoid getting hit long enough that by the time it impacted it had lost too much energy to cause more than some shield drain...
  • The novel Patton's Spaceship and its sequels have the SHAKK, a gun that fires projectiles that look like miniature B Bs at Mach 10. They automatically home into whatever they're aimed at (though given their speed they don't really need to home too much), and when they hit they'll automatically burrow through the body to the target's head and will start circling around inside it until they've used up all their remaining velocity. Or, if they hit a nonhuman target, they'll travel to its center of mass, automatically attacking any important organs or pieces of equipment (if a machine) and swirl around in there. And they don't lose any momentum while changing direction, either. They're probably second only to Darkseid's Omega Beams in power as far as this trope goes.

     Live Action TV  
  • The bazookoid missiles from the Red Dwarf episode "Polymorph", which were actually locked in a room and kept flying around in there for a week, until the heroes opened the door just in time for them to hit the Polymorph and kill it.
  • An episode of Star Trek: Voyager featured a star ship sized missile intended to wipe out a planet. The ship/missile had on board weapons to wipe out any ship that tried to intercept it, and an AI system that compensated for any interference in its mission, including orders by its programer to deactivate. And then it was hijacked by an enemy program, fooling its AI into thinking the "new" target was the normal one...
  • In an episode of Drop the Dead Donkey, a character mentions Henry's story about seeing a missile pass his hotel window when he was reporting from a warzone. Dave claims that when Henry gets drunk, he starts claiming the missile acted like this, thereby getting even closer to the window. (And when he's really drunk, it was a super-smart missile that knocked on the window and asked for directions.)

     Newspaper Comics  
  • Happens a lot in FoxTrot with Jason and Marcus' toy rockets. Even though the rockets are completely unguided, and in fact are supposed to go straight up.

     Tabletop Games  
  • Tabletop RPGs, especially ones with build-your-own-attack rules, will sometimes allow for attacks that can try again on the next turn (and possibly the one after that, and so on) if the initial to-hit roll misses. For example, the "Guided Missiles" stunt in Starblazer Adventures will allow a starship to use its Projectile Weapons skill to fire, well, guided missiles that will keep attacking their target on successive turns until they hit, are shot down, or their effective skill (which drops a bit with each attack) is reduced to zero.

     Video Games  
  • Digital Combat Simulator largely averts this trope because its missiles are easier to lose than real ones, but plays it straight in that long range missiles can continue tracking your aircraft even behind mountains that would realistically block all signals emissions.
  • The higher-end missiles from Frontier: Elite II and Frontier: First Encounters cannot be stopped by any kind of ECM. They still have only 60 seconds of fuel, but if you are in range, they WILL hit you.
  • In Freelancer, Cruise Disruptor missiles have incredible range, blinding speed, and aren't fooled by chaff.
  • The QAAM (Quick Maneuver Air-to-Air Missile) from the later Ace Combat games is one of the only missiles in the game that can turn around, and is incredibly hard for the AI to dodge.
    • They were literally impossible to dodge in Ace Combat 04: Shattered Skies, making all boss fights laughably easy after you unlocked a plane equipped with them. Thank the skies the enemies never used them due to faulty AI. Ironically, the one thing (aside from you) that can dodge it in that installment is itself a missile. One that's persistent for a different reason entirely.
    • Cutscene missiles do this too - in a zigzagged example, Bartlett gets shot down by a SAM even after performing tricks that would shed most other missiles in the series, after drawing it off of Edge.
    • Ace Combat Infinity allows for the standard missiles to have this sort of behavior, thanks to the ability to upgrade your aircraft. Put enough homing-enhancement parts on your plane and your missiles will actively turn around and continue chasing the target for close to half a minute. Absolutely deadly in Team Deathmatch modes.
    • Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown has the HVAA (Hyper Velocity Air-to-Air Missile), which is faster than the QAAM and has a longer firing range.
  • Vector Thrust, another flight sim heavily inspired by Ace Combat, brings QAAMs back. Older models like the R-60 will just lead their targets for a higher chance of hitting, but more sophisticated models like the Japanese XAAM-5 will come back for one more pass if you manage to wriggle out of its sights.
  • In Escape Velocity, it is all but impossible to avoid missiles without a Missile Jammer or a sufficiently thick asteroid field.
    • Averted by contrast in its open-source clone Naev. Missiles end up being more or less useless because you have to keep your nose pointed at the target long enough to get a lock before you can even fire, and if they miss they won't curve back around.
  • Worms: A cutscene shows a worm outrunning a missile before it sniffs it back out in a cartoonish, dog-like fashion, the unfortunate worm gives up at this point.
  • N features banks of missile launchers that fire nasty homing missiles that never stop trying to kill you, ever. In the event you get one to smash into a wall all you've achieved is having another one sent after you.
  • Anti-air missiles in Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun. They will chase your aircraft across the entire map and they will hit since you don't have time to land before they catch up with you. Oddly enough though, this doesn't happen if they're firing at jump jet infantry and the target moves out of range.
    • Somewhat averted in Command & Conquer: Generals though: If the player is skilled at micromanaging air units or is using Fragile Speedster units such as Auroras, then they can evade anti-air missiles long enough to watch them lose power and eventually plummet to the ground without an explosion.
  • Occasionally occurs in World of Warcraft, but only visually. If you are on a high-speed flying mount, missile effects (magical and physical alike) are just about as fast as you, or even slightly slower. The damage itself always lands, but the graphic effect may end up chasing you for ages until you let it catch up to you.
    • Not a missile per se, but you can buy Toy Zeppelins from the few toy vendors in-game. These are used for casual fun, and once thrown to other players, it leaves your inventory and appears in theirs (assuming they have enough space). The Toy Zeppelins are very possibly the most super-persistent "missiles" in gaming history, as they will follow you very slowly wherever you go - there have been cases where a Zeppelin has been thrown to a player, the player then teleports to another continent, and finds a Zeppelin approaching him four hours later.
  • Mario Kart has two variations on this... the Red Shell, which homes in directly on the next person ahead (and in later games, will maneuver itself through the course until it finds its target). The Blue/Spiny Shell fires relentlessly toward the leader with practically no way to stop it (and in later games causes a huge, blue explosion to damage nearby drivers as well)
  • In Ratchet & Clank, as well as other games, some homing attacks can be dodged and others will keep coming until they hit something.
  • Multiple enemies in the Mega Man series use these. It's made worse by the fact that some of them don't explode on contact, and will pester you until you shoot them down.
  • In EVE Online, missiles fired at you within their engine range always hit, even if they have to engage in Roboteching maneuvers to do so. You can reduce their damage to practically nil depending on the size of your ship (larger missiles are less effective against smaller ships), the speed at which your ship moves, and its signature size, but the only way to generate a clean miss is to get outside the missile's maximum range.
  • Missiles in the X-Universe will always continue to pursue their targets, so long as they have fuel and they're not dumbfire. The only way to stop a missile is to shoot it down or outrun it. Missile Frigates fire especially long-ranged missiles which are Robo Teching, recursive, and will target new enemies upon the destruction of their original target; which can lead to fighter craft spinning around wildly, attempting to avoid the hundreds of missiles spinning around them furiously and attempting to out-turn the fighter.
  • The exploding spiky balls thrown by Vores in Quake will continually follow you quite smartly no matter how far you run away, since they're programmed to have a slight delay before changing their path when the target changes direction, a Simple, yet Awesome gimmick that ensures it'll be able to turn most corners. The only way to escape it is by legging it far away from a corner you just turned while it's still a ways away. Sounds easy? Well, they travel just slightly faster than you can run...
  • Total Annihilation. Especially noticeable if you fly a super-fast spy plane over the top of a bunch of enemy anti-air units: their missiles will chase after you halfway across the map.
  • Dota 2 features the Bungling Inventor Gyrocopter's homing missile—a comically large bomb with a fuse that doggedly tracks its target. It picks up speed and hurts more the farther it goes.
  • God Eater Burst has the Quadriga series of enemies — they look like tanks and can fire missiles, including a homing death bullet. At first, the attack can be dodged, but when the Tezcatlipoca comes marching in, you can only defend. The game kindly places a missile warhead over the head of the targeted player, warning you that the Tezcatlipoca wants you dead and now is the time to hit the guard button.
  • Star Fox:
    • Star Fox 64: Several bosses fire missiles that track you continuously. It's usually not too difficult to knock out the boss before it floods the area with missiles, but for less experienced players this could be an issue.
    • Star Fox: Assault: Predator Rockets. These are one of the few, if not the only, weapon that will hunt down Arwings and Wolfens even if the target does a loop.
  • Star Trek: Bridge Commander has the Kessok Positron Missile. Once it has a target lock, it will track you forever, even if you turn invisible. The only way to escape is to warp out of the system.
  • The Homing Pidgit Bills in Something. They're featured in Hell Ship in the Sky and they will always aim for Mario's position, no matter what. Later on in the level, Spikitus start throwing them.
  • Bullet Bills in Super Mario Galaxy become like this when you get close. You can use it to your advantage.
  • Star Trek Online plays this oddly, as whether or not a given torpedo hits the target is predetermined by the RNG when it's fired. So you can have one torpedo fired at an escort or Space Fighter follow its every maneuver until it hits the range cutoff, and then aim your next shot at a stationary target and have it randomly careen off into space...
  • Rogue Squadron: Enemy missiles, as well as your own, will loop around for another pass if they happen to miss the first time around. If you're flying a ship that can outrun the missiles, you can switch your camera view and look at the trail of missiles following you around. The missiles do run out of fuel eventually though, so you're not doomed to be hit by them. It's particularly funny during the Moff Seerdon battle, where your missiles have a tendency to miss Seerdon himself and then start to fly around him in rings.
  • World in Conflict: anti-air missiles will occasionally bug out and physically fail to impact their intended target even though the game intends for it to register as a hit. The missile will then fly around the target in rings until it eventually hits.
  • From the Depths: Due to the missiles being custom-built, it is not uncommon for a missile to make multiple attack passes on the target as long as its fuel holds out.
  • In PlanetSide 2, the Swarm handheld missile launcher can fire slow and maneuverable or fast and unmaneuverable missiles. Both missiles are incredibly persistent and it's not uncommon for them to chase fighters for kilometers. If they overshoot, they'll turn around and make another pass. The only hope to evade them is to use flares, wait for their huge fuel tanks to run out, or try to bait them into smashing into a wall.
  • Every missile in XCOM Interceptor engages in ridiculous turns to try to hit the target, and if they miss, they swing around to try again. They can be avoided by outrunning them, shooting them down, or successfully side-slipping away from the with thrust vector engines. The problem is that enemies are really good about using their thrust vector engines on a moment's notice, making hitting the enemy fighters with missiles a dubious prospect at best, even though the missiles are super persistent. That, and the fact that missiles have limited ammunition, while beam weapons have infinite ammo, more consistent damage potential, and far more characteristicsnote , makes missiles basically worthlessnote .
  • Doom II: The Revenant enemy has two attacks: fast dumbfire rockets, and slow seeker missiles. The latter are particularly hard to dodge, especially if you're playing Brutal Doom or its spinoff Project Brutality, both of which have all attacks boosted and improved. You can save your skin if you manage to put something between you and the rockets while they're still at a distance, but if they're close they have a way of following you around surprisingly narrow corners - and even if they don't hit directly they have a wide splash damage area, so it's almost inevitable to take at least a few points of damage. The only feasible way to dodge Revenant seekers is to run into them and dodge at the last second, and they won't maneuver fast enough to hit you. But if you don't get to safety immediately they'll resume hunting you as soon as they complete the U-turn, and it takes a long time for them to eventually start running out of steam and losing altitude.
  • The ICA Executive Briefcase MKII in Hitman 2 is the byproduct of an Ascended Glitch that enforces this. While all thrown items home onto their targets, the briefcase travels much slower than anything else and will pursue its target no matter where they go.
  • In Sunrider 4: The Captain's Return, missiles and torpedoes will keep chasing their targets until they hit them, no matter how many turns it takes to reach them. The only way to stop them is to shoot them down, or to hack them so they switch targets and go after their own launchers.

     Western Animation 
  • Happens to Wile E Coyote, a lot.
  • In the Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines episode "Follow That Feather", the Vulture Squadron used a feather-seeking missile to pursue the pigeon.
  • In Superman: The Animated Series, Mr. Mxyzptlk turns himself into a Super Persistent Missile (with a kryptonite warhead) to chase down Superman. Superman leads him on a merry chase, causing Mxy's smoke contrail to write his own name in the sky, backwards, twice (which Mr. Mxyzptlk agreed to leave forever if done).
  • In Justice League, Darkseid's Omega Beam will NOT stop following its target (they will even change directions at a corner) until they hit something, which will almost always be the intended victim.
  • In SWAT Kats, the Metalikats once fired "The Relentless Missile" at the hero's jet; eventually they do get rid of it by using a decoy while turning off their engines.
  • In one episode of The Powerpuff Girls, Bubbles's birthday present is an empty box with a target painted on the inside of its lid. As she and the other girls soon discover, opening the box activates a missile that will rocket itself toward that target, no matter what, and it travels as quickly as Bubbles can fly. It takes Bubbles a few moments to realize she can just toss the lid far away so the missile will collide with the target and explode where it won't harm anyone.
  • The Perils of Penelope Pitstop: The conclusion of the debut episode "Jungle Jeopardy" put Penelope en route to China while tied to a torpedo. The Ant Hill Mob rescue Penelope, then they write "The Hooded Claw" on the torpedo's indicator, sending the torpedo towards the Claw's submarine.
     Real Life 
  • While missiles haven't gotten to this extent yet, we are very close. New Infrared Guided Missiles are either in service, or are being researched, that are able to tell the difference between a decoy flare and a jet engine, and won't 'go stupid' and chase after bogus heat signatures note . To add insult to injury, even being on an enemy planes Six won't protect you, as the missiles can 'look' behind them, and whip around to hit targets behind the launching aircraft. Worse yet, as the computers get smarter, the missiles will as well, and they'll get increased range and agility. With all of this in the works, future air battles could very well become a mix of this, and Macross Missile Massacre.
  • It is theorized that when battles go into space, Missiles will become this by default. The reason? Because in space, their speed and acceleration will allow them to out-pace any manned craft, while their agility would turn the pilot of a manned craft to paste. In effect, when war goes to space, the only way to deal with a missile will be to shoot it down.
  • The S.L.A.M. (Super-Sonic Low Altitude Missile) was a concept by the air force conceived as back up plan in case ICBMs didn't pan out. It would have been powered by a nuclear Ramjet, allowing the thing to fly for upwards of three years before the reactor failed. It was also would have been one of the smartest missiles of its time, as it would have had a very large "brain" to go with its large size. In its anti-ship mode it would have effectively been this, not only would it not have given up, it would have had up to sixty warheads.