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Taking the Bullet

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The customer is always right in the line of fire.

"That's how you recognize true heroes, my dear Anathar. They spend their time taking hits that aren't meant for them!"
Qilby, Wakfu

A form of Heroic Sacrifice where, when a villain fires a weapon at someone and another character leaps into the path of the weapon, receiving the injury instead.

Time often slows to a crawl, and the shielded one will shout a Big "NO!". The leaper will then have a scene where they weeping-ly tell the character how important they are before losing consciousness, while cradled in the arms of the survivor. Sometimes they get better, sometimes they don't, but it's close, either way. Usually results in tears and/or an angry How Dare You Die on Me! moment, especially if the person they took the bullet for loved them in any way. A More Hero than Thou dispute may result, even though it's obviously too late.

This may be a minor character protecting a major one, or sometimes a villain will do this following a Heel–Face Turn, in which case they're probably not going to pull through.

This turns into a Diving Save if the rescuer pushes the victim out of the way without being hit by the shot. Can be done with any other projectiles: a common gag is to do it with something utterly harmless, and really ham up the shot.

For some reason, the Big Bad rarely succeeds at any attempt to empty the next bullet into his original intended target. Nor will the diver not get there in time to stop the bullet, or the bullet continue through the diver to the original target. Considering how much could theoretically go wrong with this trope, it's almost surprising how (relatively) rarely it gets played with.

There might also be the possibility that the character who took the bullet is Immune to Bullets (or whatever it is that's thrown at them), has certain protection (usually a Bulletproof Vest) or at least can recover from the injury by themselves.

The United States Secret Service (which protects the president) calls this "catching the bullet", although it is rarely actually performed. In real life, the technique is obviously different, as bullets are far too fast to react to. Instead, the human shield will stand in front of the defended individual (hopefully) prior to the shot being fired. For instance, when Kennedy was shot, the agent with Johnson (the vice president) threw him to the floor of the car and then threw himself on top of him until they reached a secure location.

If this trope is executed poorly, usually because there were more intelligent alternatives to Taking The Bullet, it can come off as a Stupid Sacrifice. On the other hand, there may very well have been No Time to Think.

Compare Go Through Me, Jumping on a Grenade, Tuck and Cover, Load-Bearing Hero, Draw Aggro. Human Shield and Bulletproof Human Shield are the unwilling versions that often happens in hostage situations. Misguided Missile is when you do this with air-to-air weaponry.

In Real Life, this is another term for Taking the Heat. Try not to confuse the tropes, though. Note also that modern small arms munitions, especially military grade, are perfectly capable of penetrating right through someone and retaining sufficient energy to kill or severely injure the person being shielded, so this is very much a last resort tactic if trying to stop someone else being shot.

As this is a Death Trope, unmarked spoilers abound. Beware.

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Other Examples:

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    Asian Animation 
  • BoBoiBoy: In Season 2's penultimate episode, Probe is destroyed when he takes the blast from the PETAI destroyer robot which was meant for his boss Adu Du.

    Films — Animation 
  • 9: Multiple:
    • 1 pushes 9 out of the way of the soul-sucking ray... thing that the Fabrication machine unleashes.
    • And earlier, 2 does the exact same thing, pushing 9 down as the Fabrication machine initially powers up.
  • The Book of Life:
    • When Xibalba's snake first attacks Manolo, Maria pushes him out of the way and gets bitten herself, resulting in her apparent death.
    • Word of God confirmed that Scardelita lost her eye (and possibly her life) from taking a bullet for her sister.
  • Frozen (2013): Anna does this when Hans is about to cut down her sister, Elsa, with a sword. She rushes over in the nick of time while turning into solid ice. Instead of shattering from his sword, it's the sword that shatters and it knocks him backwards.
  • Ice Age has Diego taking the blow for Manny during the battle with Soto after his Heel–Face Turn.
  • The Incredibles has Mirage trying to pull this on Syndrome when Mr. Incredible, consumed with grief with the possible death of his entire family, and enraged at Syndrome shooting down their plane, lunges at him while confined to energy wires. Syndrome repays her by daring Mr. Incredible to kill her when he claims that he could crush her like a toothpick.
  • At the end of The Iron Giant, the title alien robot's original programming as a killing machine is restored, and he goes apeshit on the US military. The paranoid government official who calls in the troops grabs the general's radio and orders the nearby submarine to launch a nuke at the giant, not realizing that the giant is right in front of him. Realizing what the nuke is going to do, the giant flies off and intercepts the nuke on its way down. Slightly different in that the nuke was meant for him but was going to destroy the entire town.
  • In Kung Fu Panda 2, Shen fires his cannon at Po, only to have Tigress push him out of the way and take the blast herself. She survives, but is badly wounded.
  • In My Little Pony: The Movie (2017): Multiple, involving petrification grenades:
    • Derpy/Muffins pushes Twilight out of the way of one, allowing the Princess of Friendship to escape with her friends.
    • Tempest Shadow/Fizzlepop Berrytwist dives toward one to prevent the Storm King from petrifying Twilight and her friends.
  • In My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Forgotten Friendship, Sunset Shimmer takes a proverbial bullet for her friends at the climax of the story. Wallflower Blush uses the Memory Stone to cast a spell that would have wiped out all of the Humane Six's memories of high school. Sunset jumps in the way to take the hit instead, losing not just all her memories of being a high school student, but also her memories of being human. However, this act of sacrifice was so selfless that it convinced the Humane Six that Sunset was worth befriending, allowing them to destroy the Memory Stone and recover their memories.
  • Open Season: Shaw has Boog cornered and prepares to shoot him when Elliot leaps in front and the bullet hits him instead. Enraged, Boog pins Shaw to the ground and roars fiercely in his face, before tying him up with his own gun. Elliot's fine; the bullet only shot off his remaining antler.
  • In Pocahontas, John Smith does this for Chief Powhatan, who was about to be shot by Governor Ratcliffe. Although the shot itself ends in Bloodless Carnage, John is injured badly enough to warrant his return to Europe if he wants to have a chance at survival, forever separating him from Pocahontas.
  • Rock and Rule has Zip do this as a Mook–Face Turn when the demon tries hurling a blast of... um, something at the heroes.
  • King Harold in Shrek 2 jumps in front of Shrek when the Fairy Godmother shoots her wand at the ogre-turned-human. The spell bounces off his armor and hits her, reducing her to a mass of bubbles. Rather than killing Harold, the spell just turns him into a frog, which is what he really was to begin with.
  • Towards the end of Son of Batman, Talia takes a bullet meant for Damian.
  • Something of a reversal in The Transformers: The Movie: Optimus Prime has bested Megatron, and is about to finish him off with his gun. Megatron begs for mercy to buy time to try and get a nearby gun. Just as Optimus Prime is about to finally blast Megatron, Hot Rod jumps in the way to stop Megatron getting to it. Megatron simply overpowers Hot Rod, gets the gun, and mortally wounds Optimus Prime.
  • In the Hungarian animated film Vuk, or The Little Fox as it's known in the U.S., Vic or Vuk's uncle Karack sees a hunter from the distance pointing a gun at Vuk and his mate Foxy he dives in front of the bullet taking the hit for them.

  • Helloween's song, (The Departed) Sun is Going Down.
    I would die for you would you die with me?
    No, you can't deny!
    Would you catch the bullet that was meant for me?
    Blaze across the sky!!
  • The whole point of the song by The Rasmus called "Shot". Sample lyrics:
    ''I'll take the shot for you
    I'll be the shield for you
    Needless to say
    I'll stand in your way
    I'll take the shot for you
    I'll give my life for you"
  • The song "San Francisco Fan", performed by Cab Calloway among other singers, is about a female performer who takes 'a dozen slugs' for her no-good gambling boyfriend after he's caught cheating at a game and someone tries to shoot him for it.
    Once they caught him cheatin'
    And he knew that he was beaten
    When a miner aimed a pistol at his head.
    Fanny when she seen him
    Ran and jumped right in between 'em
    And she stopped a dozen slugs of poison lead.
  • The Smiths in "What Difference Does It Make?"
    But still I'd leap in front of a flying bullet for you
  • The Bruno Mars song "Grenade" references this trope in every chorus
    I'd catch a grenade for ya
    Throw my hand on a blade for ya
    I'd jump in front of a train for ya
    You know I'd do anything for ya
    I would go through all this pain
    Take a bullet straight through my brain
    Yes, I would die for you, baby
    But you won't do the same
  • The tragic conclusion of the David Geddes song "Run Joey Run" has Julie taking a bullet from her enraged father meant for her boyfriend Joey.

    Music Videos 
  • In the official video clip for Madonna's "Give Me All Your Luvin'", three of the quarterbacks throw themselves before the fire of a Tommy gun to save the singer.
  • Happens in One OK Rock's music video for Cry Out at the 3:20 mark, when the guy jumps in front of the girl and takes in the back a bullet intended for her.

  • Sister Cavernsfall in Dark Dice uses her magical Helm of the Martyr, which allows her to put herself in the path of an attack meant for an ally, to place herself between Father Westpike and his cousin Rowena, who is being forced by a cursed sword to swing a killing blow at him.

  • This is parodied several times over in Bleak Expectations:
    • Aunt Lily takes a sword blow meant for Pip in the first series finale and admits as she dies (for real this time) that she probably wouldn't have if she'd known it would hurt this much.
    • In the penultimate episode of series 3, Harry Biscuit steps in front of a bullet for Pip. Or, as he admits, slipped on a piece of custard, but Pip's version sounds more heroic. He gets better anyway.
    • Pip's wife Ripley, rather than throw herself in front of Gently Benevolent's shot, sensibly shoves his minion Grimpunch in the way instead.
    • Harry Biscuit intercepts another bullet himself seconds later, but he's covered in yogurt which is solidifying into cheese, protecting him from injury.
    • A couple of episodes later, Harry flings himself onto an operating table that Pip was strapped to and therefore has his own brain removed and placed in a dinosaur.

  • Dawn of a New Age: Oldport Blues:
    • Mirielle attempts to take a slew of attacks that are aimed towards Benjy. The attackers soften their blows when they realise they'll hit her, and Benjy ends up leaping forward to take the now lessened hits for her anyway.
    • Ciro urges a civilian to get to safety before him, leaving himself vulnerable to attack from Daigo's monster.
  • Survival of the Fittest:
    • Subverted in v1 with baseball players Michael Suarez and Scott Jameson. Barry Coleson High's baseball team was so close to each other that they were almost like brothers to each other, so when the two finally meet up and start to talk, Mike pushes Scott out of the way when he hears someone behind him, taking the bullets that would've killed Scott and being paralyzed by them (though he says "Scotty, look out!" not, "No!"). The subversion comes when Scott doesn't run like Mike tells him to, transfixed due to fear, and gets fatally shot anyway.
    • Played more straightly in v4, when Jonathan Jarocki shoots at Charlene Norris. Alex Campbell does indeed jump in front of her, getting a bullet to the shoulder. Charlene, however, was injured, but not as bad as Alex.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Several heroes in Sentinels of the Multiverse have cards that do this either by mechanics or in flavor.
    • Legacy's Heroic Interception depicts him catching a missile, and renders all heroes except himself immune to damage. His Lead from the Front card also lets him redirect damage meant for other heroes to himself.
    • Haka's Enduring Intercession redirects all damage from environment cards to Haka.
    • Fanatic's Divine Sacrifice forces enemies she attacks with it to focus on her exclusively until her next turn.
    • Unity's Stealth Bot has this as its only function, able to redirect any damage to itself, and reduce it by 1.
    • Sky Scraper's Thorathian Monolith basically has her stand in front of all her teammates in giant form, taking all damage directed at them and reducing it by 2. This can lead to her taking mammoth amounts of damage if, for example, she has some inconvenient titles against Kaargra Warfang and she uses her sonic clap power.
    • Two friendly civilian cards in the Rook City deck have provisions that at the end of their turn, the villain card damages either them or one of the heroes.
    • The heroes have the option to take on any environment-generated damage that would otherwise hit The Dreamer, since the heroes lose if she drops to 0 HP.
  • The BattleTech TCG had a card called Taking The Hit that redirects all damage from one target to another. Its card art shows a tiny 30-ton Spider taking several shots for an 85-ton Gunslinger. The Gunslinger is better equipped to take damage than the Spider, possessing something around five times the armor of the lighter 'Mech and is in cover to boot. The card text even lampshades the lack of sense in the decision, though in the game itself it was quite useful to be able to save your expensive assault mech by forcing your opponent to massively overkill the cheap scout mech and wasting all that extra damage.
    You've got to be pretty suicidal to pilot a Spider anyway.
  • Call of Cthulhu supplement "The Asylum and Other Tales", adventure "The Mauritania". A Russian count has six bodyguards who all have Block (a special skill appearing only in this product). It allows them to hurl their body in between an attacker and the person they're protecting to absorb the attack.
  • In d20 Modern, the Bodyguard advanced class gains an ability called Harm's Way, allowing him to take a hit meant for an adjacent ally as if he was the target instead. It's a Zig-Zagged Trope, as he takes the attack is made against his Defense instead of the target's, meaning that on a miss he probably just shoved the target out of the way, and on a hit you have this trope. Also interesting to note is that the Bodyguard has the highest amount of Hit Points out of any class in the game, and has a lot of synergy with the Trasher advanced class from the Urban Arcana setting (who get Super-Toughness as a class feature) meaning that even if the attack is a hit, it may fail to inflict damage.
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • Edition 3.5 contains the "Shield Other" spell, which shunts half of the damage the target takes onto the caster.
    • In the supplement Drow of the Underdark, the illustration for the feat "Constant Guardian" shows a drow male taking a crossbow bolt for a female. The feat doesn't actually consist of this, though it is a prerequisite for a feat that does. (Which probably means the illustration's caption is wrong.)
    • In General, this tends to be the job of whomever gets the duty of Tank (Strength-based Fighter, Paladin, Barbarian, Heavy-Armor wearing Cleric, Druid in a strong Wild Shape, or anyone with a high Armor Class or Hit Point count). They take the majority of the damage to protect the squishier magic users, who tend to have a lower Armor Class and Hit Point count. Then there's the guy who takes over the Tank's duty during the times the main Tank is low on Hit Points.
  • Can be done in GURPS where it is called a "sacrificial dodge". Unless you are playing in a cinematic campaign, or wear heavy body armor, or have at least some degree of Super-Toughness, it's usually just a good way for the enemy to pull off a One Hit Poly Kill though due to overpenatration rules.
  • In Hero Clix, this is the Titans' "team" ability. A Titan character can take damage meant for another one of their True Companions onto themselves.
  • Pathfinder, in addition to bringing back the "Shield Other" spell from Dungeons & Dragons, introduces the Oracle class, and one of the paths for this class allows the user to absorb damage that has afflicted their allies.
  • In Nomine Satanis / Magna Veritas: Jean-Luc, Archangel of Protectors, grants his servants the power "ultimate sacrifice", allowing them to magically redirect any harm from a single target to themselves, with some damage reduction at high levels.
  • Warhammer Fantasy Battles: The "look out sir!" rule allows a rank and file unit to take a blow for a leader who is in the same formation.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • The Imperial Guard has the "look out— ARGH!" rule to protect some of their COs.
    • The Ogryn bodyguard Nork Deddog can take blows for units that he's assigned to guard, and goes into a mad rage trying to protect his commander if Nork dies in close combat. The codex actually has IN HIS RULES "desperately attempts to 'smash dem wot is tryin ta 'urt da kernul'... slumps to the floor asking his officer 'did we win?' before passing out form his wounds."
    • Tau shield drones are programmed to get in the way of incoming fire to protect their user. They have Deflector Shields. Sometimes they don't effectively deflect the shot, but hey, a destroyed drone is better than a dead Tau.
    • The Genestealer Cult of the Pauper Princes takes the cults' typical self-sacrificing dedication to their leadership to extreme levels. They consider self-sacrifice and devotion to a higher cause to be the only true path to greatness, and are willing to create barricades with their own bodies or charge directly into war machines to gum their works with their own crushed remains so that their leaders have even the smallest of chances of surviving.
    • Sixth and Seventh Edition have a "Look Out, Sir!" rule similar to the rule in Warhammer Fantasy. In brief, when a character is hit, there is a die roll representing the chance for some sap in his unit to take the bullet. When protecting named characters, the mooks succeed with a 5 in 6 chance, while nameless squad leaders have a 1 in 2 chance of someone taking the hit for them. There are ways to alter the odds.
    • Dark Heresy: The Crusader class can shield an Inquisitor from any attack if they are within range.
  • In X-Wing Miniatures, Biggs Darklighter has to be the target of enemy attacks if he's near an ally. You can also take slightly less of the bullet with Draw Their Fire. Prince Xizor approaches it from the other end by making nearby allies take damage for him, generally leading to his nimble StarViper flying in formation with a pair of Y-wings or the like.
  • The One Ring: A hero in defensive stance can choose to intercept a hit against another hero and become its target instead. However, if the original attack roll isn't high enough to strike them, it misses entirely.
  • Res Arcana: Implied with The Phoenix, whose card lets you ignore an attack at the cost of destroying the Phoenix.
  • The Yu-Gi-Oh! spell card "My Body as a Shield" enables the player to protect one of the monsters on their side of their field from a spell or trap effect, by giving up 1500 Life Points. The card depicts the Marauding Captain taking a blast from Blazing Inpachi to protect Gagagigo, as part of the in-game lore around the latter.

  • In Cesare - Il Creatore che ha distrutto, the traitor Roberto is Not Quite Dead, and he gets up and attempts to stab Cesare. Angelo, who has until this point been the Distressed Dude that Cesare has had to rescue time and time again, steps between the attacker and Cesare, taking the knife. He survives.
  • In The Complete History of America (abridged), Uncle Sam fires a bullet at Spade, and Flush takes it. The bullet is an oversized prop on a stick—the same one used in the Lincoln assassination, in fact.
  • In The Golden Apple, when Circe hands the apple out to Ulysses, he turns to make his back an easy target for Paris's knife. Seeing this, Achilles calls out to Ulysses and intercepts the blow for him, dying in his place.


    Visual Novels 
  • In Yarudora series Vol. 3: Sampaguita, when you storm the Yakuza Headquarters with Boy and pals in order to save the kidnapped Maria, and you finally find her, the wounded Yakuza boss will try, in his last breath, to shoot her as she's running towards you. Depending on if you still have bullets in your gun or not, you will be treated with two possible Endings: Good End 3, where you have no choice but to perform this trope, and succeed in saving Maria, but at the cost of your life; however, you awake as a ghost two years later, and discover, to your joy, that Maria now lives a happy life with the baby boy born from you and her; or Normal End 2, where you can shoot the Yakuza boss, but choose to perform this trope instead: as a result, Maria is safe, but the game ends as you die, without the ghost story.
  • In Fantasia: Requiem of the Abyss, Faye jumps into the line of fire to save Cyrus and Valen from certain death.
  • In Ace Attorney Investigations, Shi-Long Lang takes a bullet meant for Shih-na, despite the fact that she's just been revealed as The Mole and as a murder they've been tracking for years. The reason? Lang still considers her part of his 'pack', even though she's a traitor. Don't worry, he was only shot in the leg and he's Made of Iron so it's not even mentioned again.
  • Hatoful Boyfriend:
    • During the BBL route, Yuuya takes the blade that cut at his brother. The attacker tried twice and was intercepted twice. Analysis of handedness and which shoulder the blood appeared on leads fans to believe that Yuuya basically acted a shield and covered Sakuya with his back turned on the attacker, focused purely on defense. Semi-official fanart of Yuuya's gijinka, created by someone who collaborates with the creator, shows a multitude of scars, but the attacker did decide to just leave after that.
      Suddenly, Sakazaki Yuuya blocks out the sun.
    • In the sequel AU game, Holiday Star, Yuuya pushes Hiyoko out of the way of a tank shell and is burned too badly to stand for his efforts.
  • Jessica in Umineko: When They Cry takes a flying stake in the back to protect Kanon. Touching, but ultimately senseless.
  • Danganronpa:
    • During Chapter 3 of Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair, Nekomaru takes a bazooka meant for Akane and lives to tell the tale (though he had to be converted into a Cyborg by Monokuma). As Nekomaru hadn't broken any rule, Monokuma couldn't just let him die.
    • In Chapter 5 of Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony, Kaito protects Kokichi from a poisoned arrow fired by Maki, who was afflicted with Fake Memories by The Mastermind.
  • Your Turn to Die has this as a 'perk' offered to one of the participants. One of the others is strapped to a target and is being shot with poison; the player with this perk can choose to switch places with them, putting themselves in the line of fire. Whether or not they decide to make the switch or not depends upon your decisions.

    Web Animation 
  • Happens constantly in Glitchtale. The most dramatic/tragic example is when, in "Dust", Sans dies protecting Asriel.
  • Subverted in the Space Tree episode "Kill or Kick": When Space Tree hears that Ghost Spider's plan went off without a hatch, Space Tree executes his plan. With a gun. The Commander leaps in front of Ghost Spider, slow motion, "NOOOO!" and all, but the gun hasn't even fired. Turns out Space Tree's plan was just to kick Ghost Spider.
  • During the final Dragon Shrine showdown of Bunnykill 4, Snowball, after defending an unconscious Ruby from a storm of giant shurikens hurled by Flint, gets his sword knocked out of his hands when Flint hurls a powered-up shuriken at him. Ruby wakes up as Flint hurls his final shuriken at him (complete with the requisite slow-mo), and sacrifices herself to save his life by taking the shuriken in the back. Snowball proceeds to go into "White Avenger" mode and proceeds to kick seven shades of hell out of Flint.
  • Everything Is Broken: Evil Pinkie Pie tries to kill LG Creepybloom with an axe but Flippy steps inbetween them in part 9.
  • In Red vs. Blue Felix avoids the sacrifice part by use of an energy shield, but the first of several times he dives in front of a bullet for someone he gets shot in the leg. He later lampshades how you'd need incredible reflexes to truly pull this trope off and reveals he staged the shootings, including his getting shot, to win the Reds and Blues' trust.


    Web Original 
  • SCP Foundation, SCP-999 ("The Tickle Monster"). SCP-999 loves all animals (including humans) so much that it will leap in front of a person to take a bullet fired at them.
    • SCP-2325 is peaked cap and several accompanying security headsets. If a person wearing the cap is shot at, anyone wearing the headsets will automatically leap to shield them from the bullet, regardless of distance or obstacles. To do so it moves the "taker" at the speed necessary to make the intercept, however it does not shield them from the laws of physics, which means after a certain distance, the taker will literally be vaporized by the forces exerted on them and therefore not be able to stop the bullet, since they've been turned into a red mist.
  • Subverted in the final chapter of Sailor Nothing, as Aki is merely wounded, not killed, in the process. It's also toyed with in that two people dive for the same bullet, the second pushing the first out of the way in addition to the original target.
  • In Interviewing Leather, when Todd Chapman is exploring the scenes of Dynamo Girl's heroics, he mentions seeing the city councilman she caught a bullet for.
  • Reddit has an entire subreddit dedicated to accidental examples of this trope, better known by the memetic phrase "Get down, Mr. President!"
    Web Videos 
  • In the final battle of There Will Be Brawl, the End of Days (a Game and Watch octopus) starts spearing everyone in sight. Fox pushes Marth out of the way of one tentacle, getting himself speared in the process. Made all the more significant because until that final battle, they were on opposite sides of the law.
  • In the Hitler Rants Downfall parody series, Llama Priest by YouTube user The Silver Universe, Gunsche does this to protect Hitler from being killed by Goebbels.

    Western Animation 
  • Done in the Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers episode "One Million Emotions". An alien artifact that is charitably described as "the emotional electric chair" essentially subjects anyone who touches it to Mind Rape as the stored emotions within blast into that person's mind and drive them insane. The object goes flying straight at Niko, causing Shane to leap in front of her and intercept it. He takes the full brunt of the emotional blast, but manages to retain his sanity because his altered genetics offered some protection. Fanon speculates that it changed him more than he admits.
  • In the Adventure Time episode "You Made Me!", Finn takes a blow from Lemongrab's Sound Sword for Princess Bubblegum. The resulting attack knocks him out and tears apart his hat.
  • American Dad!:
    • In the episode "Stannie, Get Your Gun", Stan (paralyzed by a gun accident) takes a bullet for Hayley when a fired gun mascot aims a sniper at her while she's singing an anti-gun song. The bullet helps to cure his paralysis when it dislodges the first bullet that hit him before.
    • A suicidal lemur takes a bullet for Francine in another episode.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: In the final battle against Azula in "Sozin's Comet, Part 3 - Into the Inferno", Zuko takes a full-on lightning blast (complete with a slow-motion Big "NO!") meant for Katara. He had been taught to redirect lightning, however, which meant that he was just badly injured instead of killed outright, since he couldn't fully redirect it in the middle of a Diving Save.
  • Ben 10: Ultimate Alien:
    • Squire Winston takes a lethal energy blast for Sir George.
    • In the episode "The Enemy of My Frenemy", Kevin takes a blow for Gwen; he recovers.
  • In Ben 10: Omniverse, Ben dies in a Heroic Sacrifice shielding his Alternate Universe counterpart No-Watch Ben from a Chronosapien Time Bomb intended to Ret-Gone all versions of him from the multiverse. While his body is being erased his Omnitrix lands on the other Ben, allowing him to Set Right What Once Went Wrong at the end of the arc.
  • Big City Greens: In the climax of "Skunked", when Gloria slips on the floor and is cornered by the skunks ready to launch their stink, Cricket jumps right in front of her and takes the whiff.
  • The first episode of Black Dynamite parodies the trope by having Cream Corn take a bullet for Michael Jackson. He survived; his timing was a little early and the bullet got lodged in his rear. Michael returned the favor towards the end.
  • In The Boondocks, Uncle Ruckus did for the mall Santa when Riley shoots multiple BB rounds.
  • Camp Lakebottom: In "Late Afternoon of the Living Gitch", Gitch (who is a pair of Squirt's underpants that has been brought to life) leaps in front of McGee to take a shot of super-strength fabric cleaner fired by Buttsquat. This is played exactly like this trope, including the dramatic slo-mo.
  • In one episode of Camp Lazlo, after Lazlo believes he has put Gretchen in danger, he rushes to see Edward firing a cannon at her and he jumps in to take the blow. Even though the "cannon" was actually a t-shirt cannon that only fired a shirt with an embarrassing phrase.
  • Captain Laser Hawk A Blood Dragon Remix: At the end of episode 3, the police open fire on a crowd of rioting hybrids with lethal intent. Pey'j throws himself in front of a young hybrid child to shield her from the hail of bullets and is cut down, saving her life at the cost of his own.
  • An episode of Care Bears has this. Wish Bear saved the distressed kid of the week by taking a blast from one of Professor Coldheart's inventions for him. It didn't kill her, just turn her grey and apathetic. Cue the Swiss-Army Tears.
  • Code Lyoko:
    • In Season 1, it's frequent for the Lyoko Warriors to be taking a laser beam to protect Aelita — especially Odd, since he is unable to block them at the time. Quite justified, since a devirtualization isn't fatal for them, while it would be for Aelita (and even if it weren't, only she can deactivate XANA's current scheme, often with mere seconds to spare). Much less prevalent starting Season 2, since XANA wants Aelita alive at this point.
    • In Season 3, it is Aelita's turn at taking the laser beam to save the Lyoko Core. (At this point, protecting her this way isn't always necessary, as she is no longer in danger of ceasing to exist if she "dies" on Lyoko.)
  • Parodied in the Codename: Kids Next Door episode "Operation: T.O.M.M.Y.", where Numbuh Two make a slow-motion dive to save his little brother Tommy from a snot bullet.
  • In the Dan Vs. episode "Elise's Parents", Dan takes a poisoned dart for his best friend's father-in-law, but is saved by several layers of duct tape he used to tape on the tape recorder the use of which got them into that mess to begin with.
  • Parodied in Dave the Barbarian. Candy had been kidnapped by a giant zit, brought to life by magic, and Dave was about to kill it with acne medication. Candy, having developed concern for the zit, attempted this, but timed her dive wrong, leaving the zit time for a Flat "What" facial expression as he is struck and killed by the cream.
  • In a flashback for an episode of Duckman back when Cornfed and Duckman first met, Cornfed takes many hits from a criminals gun, he survives.
  • Futurama:
    • In "The Sting", Fry saves Leela by taking a giant space bee sting meant for her. Fry ends up dying from this, and Leela starts to have hallucinations of him telling her to wake up. Ultimately, it is revealed that the space bee's stinger pierced right through Fry and nicked Leela, thus injecting its venom into her instead of him. She's been in a coma ever since, and the hallucinations are the real, healed-up, Fry. He's been at her bedside trying to wake her up. Quite touching, really.
    • In "Lrrreconcilable Ndndifferences", Fry leaps in front of Leela and takes it when she was about to be shot by a vaporizer. Subverted when everyone realizes it was actually a teleporter. Though at the time Fry was unaware of this.
  • In the Gravity Falls episode "Society of the Blind Eye", the titular Society uses a memory-wiping gun to erase people's memories of anomalies in Gravity Falls. They try to make Dipper forget pretty much his entire summer, and are going to do the same to Mabel, Wendy, and Soos, but Old Man McGucket jumps in front of Dipper to protect him from being zapped. Since McGucket is already nuts from having his memories erased so many times, nothing happens to him.
  • In House of Mouse, Timon and Pumbaa are both on stage when Pumbaa warns everyone that he has a "rumbly in his tumbly". Everyone runs for cover except for Sneezy, who due to his allergies, can’t smell anything anyway, and Donald, who proceeds to grab Pumbaa and make a mad dash for the door, taking the blast in the process. Pumbaa then calmly walks back inside, warning everyone not to go out there, he’s then followed by Donald, who definitely looks worse for wear.
  • Justice League:
    • In "Hereafter", Superman takes a ball that apparently annihilates matter for his friends. Luckily for him, it turns out to only be a time travel portal.
    • In "The Doomsday Sanction", Batman says this verbatim when he chews out Superman for sending Doomsday to a Prison Dimension. Granted, it isn't a literal bullet that he takes for him (he actually saves Superman from a kryptonite-lined nuke and nearly dies himself in the process), but the effect's the same.
  • Kaeloo has an episode where Kaeloo, Stumpy and Mr. Cat almost get impaled by a variety of sharp objects, but Quack Quack the indestructible duck jumps in front to save them. Mr. Cat responds by calling Quack Quack a show-off.
  • King of the Hill:
    • Parodied when Peggy starts throwing tomatoes at King Phillip at the Renaissance fair one of his men dives in front of him and takes a few hits.
    • In another episode ("Dog Dale Afternoon"), after Hank successfully escorted Dale out of the college watch tower in which the police mistaken him for a sniper when he was actually exterminating bugs, a vigilante sniper locked in on Dale and Hank jumped in taking the bullet for him. Good thing Hank was wearing a bulletproof vest.
  • The climactic moment of the The Legend of Korra series finale "The Last Stand" involves this with Korra against the Spirit Ray Cannon to save Kuvira when the cannon goes awry... except that Korra has the (correct) notion that she can withstand the beam in the spur of the moment.
  • Mega Man (Ruby-Spears) sees Proto Man invoking this trope. Mega Man keeps dodging Proto Man's shots, so Proto Man takes aim at the Lincoln Memorial instead. It works.
  • Metalocalypse: At the end of "Klokblocked", the extremist faction Succuboso Explosion fires their electrically charged "loin extractor" at Nathan — Murderface heroically dives in front of him and takes it full in the crotch.
  • Played for Laughs in The Penguins of Madagascar, with Skipper blocking an angry pigeon's droppings for the park commissioner.
  • Popeye: When Bluto finds out Olive has the hots for Superman, he dresses up as the hero and visits Olive who naturally swoons over him. Popeye says he can do anything Superman can. Among them is repelling gunfire which Bluto does with a bullet-proof shield in his costume. When Popeye is fired at, he apparently dies. But he rises soon after as his spinach can absorbed the bullets.
  • Princess Gwenevere and the Jewel Riders: During Part 1 of "Jewel Quest", Spike, Tamara's baby panther, leaps in front of Kale's wild magic to shield Tamara and is blasted down. He is luckily revived by the magic of Fallon, Tamara and The Pack altogether in Part 2.
  • Leonidas Van Rook does this to save Drew Saturday in The Secret Saturdays.
  • The Simpsons:
    • In "Homer and Apu", Apu takes a bullet for James Woods, only to find it bounced off another bullet that was still in him from a previous robbery.
    • In "Saturdays of Thunder", a McBain movie has McBain's sidekick Scoie protect McBain from an assassination attempt. This happens right after Scoie discusses his plans for retirement. It should be noted that this was a case of accidentally taking the bullet, at Scoie was shot because he leaned in front of his partner to grab his wallet photo back, right when the assassin pulled the trigger.
    • "Mayored to the Mob" has Homer attend bodyguard training, where he is tested for this. Attendants are marked on the effort put into their "Noooo!" among other things. The trainees are given melons with celebrity names on them to protect (Homer promptly eats his).
    • Yet another episode has elderly Springfieldian Cornelius Chapman, who won an award for being Springfields oldest resident (well into his 100s). Among his accomplishments (building Springfields first log cabin and introducing the tooth brush), Chapman once took a bullet for Huey Long. Unfortunatly, he only took one bullet, as Long was shot several times and Chapman only caught the last one.
    • Also parodied in an episode where Ned Flanders is going to baptize Bart and Lisa, only to have Homer leap in the way of the water at the last second, complete with slow-motion dive and Big "NO!".
      Bart: Homer, you took a baptism for me. How do you feel?
      Homer: Oh, Bartholomew, I feel like Saint Augustine of Hippo after his conversion by Ambrose of Milan.
      Flanders: [astonished] Homer, what did you just say?
  • SpongeBob SquarePants: An interesting inversion of this is played when SpongeBob leaps in front of Patrick just as a speeding car is about to spatter mud all over him, protecting the ultra-rare and super-valuable Mermaid Man trading card he's holding in his hand.
  • Star Trek: Lower Decks: In "Kayshon, His Eyes Open", when the holo-message is about to shoot a beam at Tendi and Siggi, Kayshon pushes them both out of the way and gets hit instead.
  • Steven Universe:
  • Terra in Teen Titans (2003) deliberately invokes this by aiming a boulder towards Robin and Starfire, knowing that one or the other would inevitably take the hit and only leave one titan to deal with afterwards.
  • Total Drama:
    • As the dodgeball challenge in "Dodgebrawl" reaches its deciding final minutes, both teams become more beaten and more vicious. One tough ball comes flying towards Gwen, so her suitor Cody jumps in front to protect her. All in all, the cost is higher than the gain. The ball hits him in the crotch and Gwen gets taken out by a ball to the face moments later.
    • The final challenge in "Sweden Sour" is formed by ship-to-ship combat with stale meatballs as cannonballs. Team CIRRRRH blasts their last one towards Team Amazon's ship while its crew is distracted by in-fighting. The only one still paying attention is Sierra and as soon as she realizes the meatball is going to hit her beloved Cody, she jumps in front of him to take the hit to her stomach. He thanks her for it, which she considers worth the potential surgery and physiotherapy.
    • During a battle of leechball between the teams in "Saving Private Leechball", Duncan notices Cameron taking aim. Because Cameron goes for a Pinball Projectile, Duncan can't immediately stop him, but the moment he notices the leech coming for his girlfriend Gwen, he jumps in front of her to take the hit instead. The sucker ends up stuck to his butt and Gwen gets hit by Mike when she takes care of Duncan.
  • Transformers: Animated:
    • Bumblebee takes a blast of Meltdown's acid (which melts through basically anything ever, including Cybertronians) for Bulkhead. Fortunately, the Autobots have Sari's key to repair him.
    • He did it in the three-episode pilot too, shielding most of the human supporting cast from Starscream.
  • Happens quite a few times in Wakfu:
    • During Season 1 Episode 25, Sadlygrove takes a lethal shot from Razortime aimed for Eva and Amalia.
    • Yugo and Phaeris do this to each other a whole season later while fighting Quilby, which lampshades it with the quote above.
    • During the last episode, Evangeline intercepts a shot from Remington Smisse meant for her sister Cleophelia. Fortunately, it just hits her shoulder.
  • Winx Club:
    • In the second season, Riven almost dies when he takes a blast from the Brainwashed and Crazy Bloom to save an already injured Musa. When Sky talks Bloom out of it, she uses her powers to heal him.
    • In an episode of the fifth season, Musa got turned into a giant mutant seal after getting hit by one of Tritannus' spells that was meant for Aisha.
    • In another episode of the fifth season, Icy actually takes one of Bloom's attacks that were meant for Tritannus, which Bloom considers an Out-of-Character Moment for Icy as she had clearly not expected her to do so.

    Real Life 
  • Alexis Goggins was a Real Life seven-year-old who took six bullets for her own mother. She also managed to survive.
  • Dr. Liviu Librescu, Romanian-born Holocaust survivor, scientist and academic professor. During the Virginia Tech massacre, Librescu personally kept the door shut to prevent gunman Seung-hui Cho from entering the classroom while his students escaped out the windows. He was shot through the door five times before finally succumbing to a shot to the head. Only one of his 23 students failed to escape.
  • The attempt on Ronald Reagan's life by John Hinckley Jr. might have succeeded had it not been for the actions of Secret Service agent Timothy J. McCarthy, who leapt in front of Reagan, receiving a wound in his abdomen. He survived. This remains the only time since the Secret Service was officially charged with protecting Presidents in 1906 that a Secret Serviceman has actually taken a bullet for the President.
  • All personnel recruited as agents in various police/military-based VIP protection units (with some exceptions like the Secret Service) are trained to do this if the worse should come to the worst when the VIP is in danger. Hence the nickname "Bulletcatchers".
  • A somewhat extreme example is Alexander Matrosov, a Red Army soldier during World War II. During an assault on Chernushki village, the Soviets were held off by a German MG 42 (which is the fastest firing single barreled machine gun in history) firing from a pill-box. Matrosov threw himself in front of the massive amount of dakka, blocking the fire and allowing his unit to advance. He was posthumously awarded Hero of the Soviet Union, the highest honour that can be bestowed by the USSR.
    • Matrosov's deed was praised and exemplified as a device for motivation and morale via newspapers, and afterwards entered the Soviet\Russian culture via the history books and propaganda (like several other greatly romanticized, though largely non-invented acts of heroism). What's interesting is the surfacing number of "firing-port jumpers" both before and after Matrosov. The rough estimate puts them at between 200 and 400. Note that the very definition of the feat means it was voluntary and by all means "above and beyond the call of duty" — which, combined with other realistic considerations, kinda goes against the whole "cannon fodder peasants 'motivated" into frontal assaults by machine-gun-armed NKVD squads" tripe that was once widespread in the USA and is occasionally touted as "the grim truth of the Eastern Front". It should be pointed out that the Germans had tried to conquer Russia: so the Soviet soldiers were out for revenge, whatever they might have thought of Joseph Stalin or the rest of their government. Many of them had personally lost family, friends and their previous livelihoods to Operation Barbarossa. Also, it's good to keep in mind that they were know...Nazi Germany. A good many soldiers from all of the Allied nations came away believing they had fought a holy war after seeing what the Nazis had been up to with their own eyes.
  • During the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan, Soviet aerial convoys were protected from Stinger-wielding Mujahideen fighters by Mi-24 Hind helicopter gunships. According to some, the pilots were instructed to use their helicopters to physically block the missiles should they get too close to the planes, earning them the nickname "Mandatory Matrosovs". Not as bad as it sounds, however; the Hind is built to stand up to considerable punishment.
  • After the July 20 Plot to kill Hitler failed, the plot's conspirators were arrested and placed in front of a firing squad. When Claus von Stauffenberg (one of the plot's ringleaders) was about to be shot, his adjutant, Werner von Haeften in a crowning moment of awesome defiantly placed himself in front of von Stauffenberg, taking the bullets intended for von Stauffenberg. Though the truth of this is disputed somewhat, as the bullets would have gone straight through him and still injured Stauffenberg.
  • Late in World War II, the Japanese destroyer Akikaze escorting the aircraft carrier Jun'yo, deliberately charged between the carrier and the attacking submarine USS Pintado, taking six torpedo hits in the process. Akikaze was lost with all hands, but the Jun'yo would remain afloat past the end of the war until finally scrapped in 1946-1947.
  • This happened to Jonathan Daniels in 1965 while trying to protect the life of 17 year old Ruby Sales from the gun of Deputy Tom L. Coleman. He was 26 years old.
  • Attempted but thankfully not necessary during The Gulf War when HMS Brazen boldly interposed herself in the line of fire from two Iraqi Mirages carrying Exocet anti-ship missiles, who had been targeting the hospital ship RFA Argus. As a hospital ship, Argus had little in the way of meaningful defense, and as a refitted cargo ship, no armor either. Brazen was prepared to take both missile attacks, a strike that would have surely sunk her as similar damage had damaged or destroyed other ships such as USS Clark or HMS Sheffield. Fortunately, allied F-15 fighter jets were able to intercept and destroy both Iraqi planes before they could launch their ship-killer missiles.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Takes The Bullet, Took The Bullet


N, Ghondor, and Na'el

Faced between the choice of his granddaughter Na'el, who has be possessed by an omnicidal entity, or his father, who has joined the ranks of Moebius and slaughtered the City just to draw out said entity, Ghondor jumps between the two and takes a fatal blow for Na'el, preventing N from killing his great granddaughter. N is horrified that his son died by his hand, but Ghondor chose to place his faith in the next generation to guide the world.

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Main / OffingTheOffspring

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