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"Drill Arrow: This fits into the category of 'arrows that really don't need to be arrows.' There's precious little call for long-distance carpentry. Most people who need to make a birdhouse or a replica colonial rocking chair or something are pretty content to actually be next to the item they're drilling."
Lore Sjöberg, The Book of Ratings

It seems that there is no end to the inventiveness of bowmen, especially in Super Hero comics. If a character uses a bow as their main weapon, you can expect that their quiver will hold, at the very least: explosive arrows, arrows which split into nets for capturing opponents, and knockout gas arrows. Furthermore, they will undoubtedly be masters of trick shots, hitting targets around corners or rebounding from behind.

While some other types of weapons get similar treatment (boomerangs and yoyos especially), the Trick Arrow is a trope in its own right that seems to appear anywhere there are bows and arrows. Doubly so if the characters are honor-bound not to kill, since there's very little bows are normally designed to do except shove sharp projectiles into bodies. Deconstructing the trope suggests that trick arrows are almost inevitable with superheroic archer characters. They are useful and straightforward starting points for superheroic characters for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that Robin Hood is a cultural icon in the English-speaking world. In addition, references for the poses and equipment are fairly easy to come by, as well as being readily identifiable by readers. And therein lies the problem: We Have Seen ALL Of This Before, at least with respect to plain vanilla archery. Hence, trick arrows to surprise the readers and to break up the tedium of writing/drawing ordinary pointy-arrow-work. Finally, there is the issue of having an archer as part of a superhero squad whose members include mostly characters with explicit superhuman abilities. Expertise with trick arrows would work to set them apart from "others who just shoot arrows".

Characters who use boring old flaming arrows don't fall under this, unless the arrows are otherwise complex and/or unlikely. They may be pointless, but at least they're possible. A character who uses trick arrows is almost always capable of successfully pulling off a multishot.

Contrast Archer Archetype: simple and sane. Compare Trick Bullet. See also Mage Marksman, who may be capable of creating these through magic. The more bizarre trick arrow types often head into Bows and Errors territory.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Bleach Uryu at one point used an arrow that was also a chainsaw. A spiritual chainsaw ''sword''.
  • The Nakaizumi Ryuu from Gamaran is renowned for the Kyokyu (Mad Bow) and their Kuruiya (Crazy Arrows), arrows specifically made to make the school as deadly as possible. They include Ha (Destruction), a special arrow with a blunt reinforced head which can crack barkskin open, En (Circle), an asymmetrical arrow which can curve midflight, Kiba (Fang), a monstrous arrow with a bladed head and fletching all over the shaft made to spin as it flies towards a target, shredding it to pieces, at the cost of being lethal only at close range. After the timeskip, Nakaizumi Arata comes up with an explosive arrows to send signals and Hao (Lord of Destruction), a monstrous arrow with a huge metal head which is basically a maul and, with the right bow and strength, can rip off limbs and blow gates open.
  • Himiko "Lady Poison" Kudo of Get Backers has trick perfumes, which can do anything from corrode metal to allow fire breath to Mind Control to... she's actually got hundreds of varieties, though she only carries seven at a time.
  • The Bow form of Signum's Laevatein in Lyrical Nanoha uses explosive arrows that are powerful enough to shatter a Humongous Mecha's Deflector Shields. In the movie adaptation of the second season, it turns into a flaming bird when fired.
  • In a parody of the trope, Akane Tendo of Ranma ˝ fame once loaded a traditional archery arrow (the kind used at schools, but with a piercing tip) with a sack of catnip, several times wider than the length of the arrow, and which was heavy enough to bend the arrow as she aimed it at a fast-moving, unpredictable, Cat-Fist Ranma. Amazingly, she hit her mark straight on (even though Cat-Ranma batted the arrow away with his paw.)
  • Michelle in Read or Die uses paper arrows which can do pretty much anything (being a Paper Master) — the example that springs to mind was an arrow whose tip split in two, allowing it to wrap around the target (a book) and carry on with it securely held.

    Comic Books 
  • The Street Angel in Astro City used to use gimmicked throwing rings ("halos") before he turned Darker and Edgier, after which he used halos made of high impact ceramics with a steel core. This fact drives one character into virtual catatonia; the only person who calls himself an angel in Astro City hits people in the mouth with his steel-cored halo.
    • Quarrel is a more straight forward example of the 'archer with trick arrows' archetype in Astro City. In this case, they're launched from a wrist-mounted mechanism similar to a crossbow.
  • Batman has occasionally been depicted as using trick Batarangs when the situation calls for it. Batman Returns had him use a programmable Batarang to knock out a large group of Mooks, while a Gamebook featuring the Caped Crusader had him using a "Flash-Batarang" (which emitted a bright flash of light when it was thrown, blinding the Joker in the process) and a "Sprinkler-Batarang" (which sprayed fire retardant to extinguish a fire started by the Riddler) in different storylines.
    • During the brief period when the villain the Signalman restyled himself as the Blue Bowman, he carried a quiverful of trick arrows copied directly from Green Arrow.
  • Big Bang Comics: The robot archer Robo-Hood wears a high-tech quiver that can manufacture whatever trick arrow he needs when he needs it.
  • Blackhawk fought a one-shot villain called the Shaft whose gimmick was trick arrows.
  • Raptorella uses arrows with explosive heads when she is Hunting the Most Dangerous Game, using Miriem as her prey, in Cavewoman: Raptorella.
  • Celestial Archer of the Great Ten doesn't technically use trick arrows, but because his bow is a peerless magical weapon created by the gods, he can basically do anything with his arrows anyway — for instance, he can create a bridge or walkway by shooting an arrow that leaves solid terrain behind it as it flies.
  • Titular Deadpool once made trick arrows during a team up with Hawkeye, riffing on Green Arrow's boxing glove arrow by using Hulk Hands (one even went "Hulk smash!" on impact). However the real trick was that these arrows were all explosive.
  • Green Arrow and the extended Arrow-family have codified this. Among others, they've used handcuff arrows, jiu-jitsu arrows, and boxing glove arrows.
    • When questioned about the boxing glove arrow by Harley Quinn in Injustice, he explains himself:
    Green Arrow: Because sometimes I want to punch someone who's a really long way away.
    • At one point, he adapted Doctor Mid-Nite's blackout bomb into an arrow.
    • He's been seen to use oxygen-mask arrows; particularly puzzling since they are never seen to be fired (that would be impractical), simply used as ordinary oxygen-masks... with the rest of the arrow sticking out of them. This is in keeping with "arrow themed" gadgets, much in the same way Batman had boomerangs shaped like bats.
    • Perhaps his most outrageous trick arrow in the Silver Age was one that hovered in midair on a miniature helicopter rotor, and then deployed three mirrors around the shaft, allowing Green Arrow to look at the people hidden in the middle of a crowd.
    • During the early seventies, in the pages of JLA, he claimed — apparently in all seriousness — to have a nuclear warhead arrow. This was before GA went hippie, of course. How he planned on setting off a nuclear bomb arrow and not being incinerated by it is unclear.
      • In his appearance along with Speedy in the DC Animated Universe, they both have quantum arrows, which seem to act as a really tiny nuke when fired at the same time.
    • Mike Grell's run of the character in the late 80s and early 90s was notable in part for refusing to use these—his closest equivalent was swapping out the arrowheads for certain targets. This meant, naturally, that he had a bit of a kill count.
    • Lampshaded in JLA when the new Green Arrow (previously-unseen son of the original Green Arrow who died but came back later) has his regular pointed arrows destroyed by a supervillain and is forced to make do with his father's ridiculous trick arrows, pilfered from the trophy room.
      Green Arrow: Net arrows! Boxing glove arrows! How about just one! Pointed! Arrow! Dad!
    • Three Words: Phantom Zone Arrow. Speedy (Roy Harper version) stole it from the Fortress of Solitude.
    • Best lampshading was probably when Ollie reached for a random arrow and found the Boxing Glove Arrow instead of what he wanted prompting him to refer to it as his "old nemesis". Complete with a hushed whisper of "We meet again" before hurrying to avoid letting Connor, his son and erstwhile replacement, see him use it.
    • He used a Kryptonite arrow in Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, with only one remaining arm, no less. (He pulled the string back with his teeth).
    • In Oliver Queen's Silver Age origin story, he manages to make a drill arrow while marooned on an island. It's powered by a wound-up elastic (rubber band), which came from his socks.
    • In "Green Arrow: Year One" (a "serious" retelling of the above), Ollie is trapped on a deserted island and his only arrows are improvised and decidedly pointy. He just uses them for Only a Flesh Wound shots. Later on he gets an actual bow and arrows. At one point he can't get a non-lethal shot(underside of the bad guy's chin, which would punch straight into their brain), so he removes the head of his arrow. His first non-lethal arrow appears later in the same story: He demonstrates his skill by impaling a golf ball with a pointy arrow, then is forced to fire it again in combat. Hitting someone in the groin with a high-velocity golf-ball-arrow apparently works just fine.
    • This was lampshaded in a comic, with (paraphrased) 'One day I'll need an arrow I've never thought of.' He then shoots an arrow that creates a net that they can drop from a burning building into. 'But that day isn't today.'
    • At one point, GA and Batman faced off against a fire-breathing demon. Thus:
      Etrigan: [incoherent gargling]
      Batman: What the hell kind of—
      Ollie: Fire extinguisher arrow.
      Batman: I will never — ever — make fun of your trick arrows again.
    • Also during the well-known "junkie Speedy" arc in the Seventies, GA has an acetylene torch arrow — which comes in handy when he's thrown from a pier, chained to an anchor. The torch cuts the chain and he swims back up in time for Green Lantern to dispose of the crooks who threw him in the water.
    • Lampshaded in the DC Showcase: Green Arrow film. Ollie still used special arrows, but they were far more realistic and practical. For instance, his trademark boxing glove arrows were replaced with shafts fitted with rounded rubber arrowheads, which served the same function without looking quite as silly.
    • Post-Crisis, the Golden Age Green Arrow's spot on the Seven Soldiers of Victory was taken by an obscure hero, the Spider. The Spider mostly used regular arrows, but had one special trick in his arsenal — an arrow with a heavy plate for a head, used to disarm gun-wielding foes.
    • This article lists no less than 16 of Ollie's trick arrows that make the boxing glove arrow look downright sane.
    • Lampshaded in an episode of Justice League Unlimited. After releasing himself from a block of ice:
      Green Arrow: And Black Canary said a buzzsaw arrow was self-indulgent.
  • Yondu from the original Guardians of the Galaxy has sound-sensitive arrows that he can control by whistling.
  • Hawkeye in the Marvel Universe. Once you discover just how varied his arsenal is, including acid, rocket, putty, explosive, bola, and suction arrows, you realize that most of the time he's in a jam it can be easily solved with one of them, but writers tend to not remember that. Exploding arrows seem to be his favorites, at least of the ones that have gimmicks.
    • One advantage that Hawkeye has is that he keeps the heads separate from the arrows. Those bandoliers he wears? The capsules along them contain the arrow heads, allowing him to change them in and out at will.
    • One issue of Matt Fraction's series had Hawkeye (in a new costume without the bandoliers) get into a scrape as he was about to label all of his trick arrows. Consequentially, he had no idea which was which until he either took a good look at the head or just shot them and saw what they did.
    • In Ultimate War, he used a localised mini-nuke arrow on Colossus. Pity that it didn't work.
  • Hawkeye's mentor Trick Shot used trick arrows as well, such as a sleeping-gas arrow he used to knock out some clowns so that his Mooks could steal their costumes.
    • The second Trickshot (Hawkeye's brother Barney) uses trick arrows as well.
    • During the period he impersonated Hawkeye as a member of the Dark Avengers, Bullseye used them as well.
  • The NSFW fumetti "Karzan" (now guess who is subtly parodied) once had a cover where a native is going to shoot a dildo arrow. a) Don't Try This at Home. b) NO Exceptions.
  • Parodied by Legion of Super-Heroes minor villain Ze Tongue, who had — you guessed it — trick tongues.
  • Various minor Marvel Comics villains have their own special gimmick weapons that have varying special effects. The Ringer uses large, hula hoop-sized rings, Boomerang throws special gimmick boomerangs (like the "razorang" and "gasarang"), and Oddball throws specially made juggling balls. Oddball's brother and Death Throws teammate Tenpin uses gimmicked bowling pins, as well; the other Death Throws just used relatively normal stuff (Ringleader stuck with razor sharp rings, Knicknack used various heavy objects, and Bombshell simply had bombs).
    • Boomerang has a DC comics equivalent in Captain Boomerang, who even has boomerangs that explode. His son, the second Captain Boomerang, only used "regular" Precision Guided Boomerangs.
    • Aside from Captain Boomerang, DC has comparatively few villainous users of trick weaponry; you have to dig fairly deep to find the next most notable one, an obscure Green Lantern villain called Javelin who used gimmicked javelins. And there was that one time Signalman became the Blue Bowman, as well.
  • Red Hood and the Outlaws: Though Arsenal has mostly avoided these, he has used a bomb arrow.
    • Went all out with trick arrows in Issue 5, which has him taking down Crux with an electric arrow, and making a fire with a fire arrow. And when he destroyed most of his arrows to stop Crux, we get brief glimpses at a bunch of other trick arrows that haven't been used yet.
  • Several trick arrows are shown in Treefoot's workshop in Thorgal. They are pretty down to earth though; harpooned, whistling, stunning (with a ball wrapped in some cloth instead of the point), crescent-shaped and saddleshaped, an inverted crescent on a broadpoint, supposedly for cutting ropes. In the same book Kris de Valnor uses an crescent arrow to cut off a man's hand.
  • Wonder Woman Vol 1: Nymphs use lasso arrows to try and capture Diana and Paula in issue 5.
  • Shaft from Rob Liefeld's Youngblood plays with the trope. His arrows are the standard pointy variety, but he has a trick bow that doesn't require a string.note  (According to the tech manual, it uses focused artificial gravity to fire the arrows.) During Alan Moore's run on Youngblood, Golden Age hero Waxman tried to get Shaft to consider using trick arrows, giving examples of older archer heroes who used them. Not one of which had survived the experience.
    • Alan Moore's run on Supreme introduced the Fisherman and Skipper, Captain Ersatz versions of the Green Arrow and Speedy who used trick fishing lures.
  • Played straight for the first time in Youngblood (2017). Shaft uses an explosive arrow to take down Suprema, and an arrow that releases a gas to break a villain's mind-control over Sentinel, Suprema and Doc Rocket.

    Fan Works 
  • The Blue Avenger is a story based on this Champions character, who is a Captain Ersatz of the Green Arrow. In addition to regular arrows, knockout arrows (with a boxing glove that makes a sound like a fight bell when it hits), net arrows, blinding flash arrows, smoke grenade arrows, grenade grenade arrows, flight arrows, tunnelling arrows, and healing arrows, he has a once-in-a-blue-moon Death Arrow, which does enough damage to kill a Tyrannosaurus rex.
  • In The Eternal Tale by Manhattan Theory, Anaya uses arrows with explosive enchantments casted on them.
  • In Fire Emblem: Three Houses: Fifth Path, Claude is turned from an Archer Archetype to a user of trick arrows such as knockout gas arrows, rope arrows, and foam arrows.
  • Vow of Nudity: Qalek, the corrupt owner of Spectra's circus, owns several arrows with magnetized tips that repel themselves away from the targets at his archery range, to give to customers who are winning too much. He uses one to ensure she fails when she gambles her right to switch jobs on a single shot at the range.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Army of Darkness, as part of a last stand against the Deadites, Ash teaches the wise men in the middle ages how to make gunpowder, which leads to them creating exploding arrows. Not only that, but they don't explode on impact — bowmen have to light the fuse, wait about twenty seconds for the fuse to burn down, and then fire.
  • In Blade: Trinity, Vampire Hunter Abigail Whistler uses various trick arrows. Including ultra violet flashbang arrows, for dusting Vamps. A drill arrow, for penetrating cover. And A virus delivery arrow for taking out the films Big Bad, Drake.
  • Conan the Barbarian (1982): Thulsa Doom has snake arrows. He uses one to kill Valeria as Conan's party are making their getaway with the Princess, and he tries to use one on the Princess as well, only to be stopped by Subotai, who stops the arrow with his shield.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Hawkeye of The Avengers (2012) uses these to devastating effect. Mostly he sticks with normal broadheads and explosive arrows, but he also has some that hack computers, melt steel, or act as a grappling hook. He has a special quiver that attaches the desired heads to the arrows selected via pressing buttons on his bow. This comes in handy when he runs out of arrows, he simply grabs a close one and changes the head as needed. From the director commentary:
      Joss Whedon: Yeah, it's a virus arrow. What? That could totally happen.
    • Guardians of the Galaxy (2014): Yondu Udonta's signature weapon is a self-propelled, armor-piercing arrow controlled via a piece of cyberware and his whistling. He shows it's the only weapon he needs when he uses it to take out an entire squad of Kree goons and one ship in the climax. In the sequel, he uses it to take out every single mutineer on his own Ravager ship in a matter of minutes. And he even uses it as Not Quite Flight simply by holding onto it in midair.
  • King Arthur: Legend of the Sword. The blacklegs use signal arrows; first to spring the trap and then during the subsequent chase through the streets of Londinium to show which way La Résistance after fleeing and call more soldiers to that area. They appear to have charges of gunpowder that explode in a cloud of black smoke after being shot into the air.
  • No Retreat, No Surrender 2: In the final battle, Scott takes out the last platoon of Yuri's soldiers from a distance away by firing a grenade-tipped arrow from his crossbow.
  • Rambo character John Rambo has them.
    • Parodied as Jimbo in an issue of Green Arrow.
    • Also parodied in Hot Shots! Part Deux with the chicken arrow. That's a live chicken — or, at least, it was when it was fired.
  • Parodied in Robin Hood: Men in Tights which has Robin using a Patriot Arrow. As in Patriot Missile. Robin also uses a set of arrows tied in the fashion of a Venetian blind, which when shot separated to pin one of the sheriff's men to a tree by his clothing.
  • In The Wild Geese, Coetzee uses crossbow bolts with cyanide canisters affixed to the tips to ensure that his shots will be immediately lethal.
  • Wonder Woman (2017): Several Amazons shoot a rope arrow to swing down from the cliff to fight the invading Germans on the shore.

  • In Codex Alera, Bernard is seen using arrows coated with rock salt (which hurts wind furies) against some wild wind furies and later shoots High Lord Kalarus out of the sky with one. In the last book, he upgrades to exploding arrows.
  • In The Dragon on the Border, Daffydd creates an armor-piercing arrow, designed to pierce armor, go through an empty space, and then pierce an additional layer of armor, as opposed to piercing armor and wounding the person wearing it like a normal arrow. Because the enemy of this book, the Hollow Men, are effectively animated suits of armor with no body inside, this enables him to kill three opponents in a single shot, with the arrow going through the first target to hit the target behind him. The arrows are never used in later books, as the design isn't very good at wounding flesh and blood enemies.
  • In The Hunger Games Mockingjay, Katniss gets some exploding arrows.
  • In Garth Nix's Keys to the Kingdom novel Superior Saturday, there is a sentient RAT with a bow that shot arrows with a glass tip containing Nothing, basically nothingness that acts like acid, eating away until the target ceases to exist.
  • In Percy Jackson and the Olympians and The Heroes of Olympus there are a few different varieties of trick arrows, which are most often used by children of Apollo. There are sonic arrows, that incapacitate targets (and outright destroy weaker monsters), arrows that release a noxious yellow cloud dubbed "fart arrows" that are effectively tear gas, and hydra arrows that split apart to create a rope ladder. Later we see Orion use arrows that have built-in time bombs. And in The Trials of Apollo we have the Arrow of Dondona, which, because it was made from a special tree, had the ability to speak (but only to Apollo. And it talks like a pseudo-Shakespearian ham).
  • Yeoman, the Badass Normal archer of the Wild Cards universe, has homemade explosive arrows, but makes sure to point out that they are shorter ranged and less accurate than his normal arrows due to their weight and poor balance.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Unsurprisingly we see Oliver Queen using a few of these in Arrow. But only rarely in combat; he prefers killing (now wounding) his enemies the old-fashioned way. They get more use when he needs to set up ziplines, or bugs. Most of his normal arrows are handwaved as being "tranq arrows." Although we never see what the arrowhead looks like on screen, and adding tranquilizer to a normal arrowhead wouldn't decrease its lethality. And in a Mythology Gag he uses an improvised boxing glove arrow in "Guilty".
  • The Adam West Batman (1966) series had Art Carney as "The Archer," (with henchfolks Maid Marilyn and Crier Tuck), who had (among other things) arrows with a 90° bend in them that went around corners.
  • The Dukes of Hazzard had dynamite arrows, which were often fired from a moving car.
  • Hawkeye (2021): Clint Barton's arrows gets a tour de force in the third episode with the help of Kate Bishop. Which includes but aren't limited to goo, explosive, plunger, grappling line, USB, and even a Pym Particle arrow. Kate tries to pitch a boomerang arrow, but Clint shoots it down on the basis of having a deadly projectile coming back to you is not a very desirable outcome. The finale of the mini-series has Clint and Kate work together to make a bunch of them when having to face the Tracksuit Mafia. The series also has Clint explain that it's easy for him to make new arrow heads but that he requires specialized shafts which are hard to come by and his current supply is in NYPD custody.
  • The Legend of William Tell: William Tell shoots net arrows a couple of times. Note that his usual bolts are very light anyway and are mostly used for trick shots; it's rare to see him actually injure someone with them.
  • The villains in The Magician episode "The Illusion of the Fatal Arrow" are a pair of Professional Killers who uses bows and arrows: including some 'realistic' explosive arrows.
  • Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers: The arrows from Kimberly's Power Bow make an explosion when they hit, and can home in on an enemy.

    Myths & Religion 
  • The astras from Hindu Mythology are every trick arrow, ever. Natural disasters and instant death are some of the milder effects. And for the love of Brahma, don't let them hit each other.
  • Hercules used the blood of the hydra to make poison arrows. Eventually his own death indirectly resulted from this.
  • Eros, the god of love, acquired a bow and arrow to represent his power during the Hellenistic period. He is mostly known for his golden arrow, which makes people feel love (usually for one specific person), but he also has a leaden arrow, which makes people feel aversion to love. This was used to tragic effect when used on Apollo and Daphne.
    • Apollo himself is sometimes described as firing arrows that release disease upon impact as a part of his sphere as god of both healing and plagues.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Champions universe
    • Multiple characters, including Crossbow (a hero) and Rainbow Archer (a villain).
    • This sort of character is generally easy to build in systems with "effect-based" power creation rules like Champions or Mutants & Masterminds. Take an attack power with multiple alternate modes (which generally come at a significant discount for only being usable one at a time), give it the special effect "bow and trick arrows", add the necessary drawbacks if it's actual equipment that can be taken away, and you're basically done.
  • Dungeons & Dragons has, over the years, introduced scores of different magic arrows. At least they've got A Wizard Did It to back them up.
    • Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition also saw the Arcane Archer prestige class, with the ability to put spell effects into arrows and create a few other trick arrows on the spot once per day each.
    • The Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition Ranger is an archery fanatic, surpassing previous incarnations. While not using trick arrows per se, the nature of the powers certainly has much the same effect. Notable effects include arrows splitting into two shots mid-flight, knocking enemies back several squares, or outright stunning or dazing opponents. Of course, pretty much every other class can also knock back, stun, or daze opponents, without using arrows.
    • The later-added Seeker embodies this trope even more -– a member of that class can shoot things such as vines or fairies.
    • The Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st Edition Oriental Adventures supplement had several non-damaging arrows, including the "frog crotch" (cuts rope) and "humming bulb" (whistles loudly in flight); all of these are based on history, believe it or not.
    • Unlike the healing arrow. Which was invented to heal front rank fighters. Most of the time it'd heal more damage than it did.
    • Then there's the infamous hollow arrow constructed by engineer players, containing a Portable Hole and Bag of Holding which are pushed into each other on impact. Awesome, but Impractical due to the high cost and the relative ease with which most powerful enemies can escape.
  • Exalted:
    • Siderials have two charms to do this. The first allows them to fire anything shorter then their arm as an arrow, the second transforms arrows in flight into such things as glass, boulders, enough grain to feed a person, snow, or raw life force.
    • Solars similarly have an Archery Charm that allows them to infuse their arrows with purified Solar Essence, leading to a number of effects ranging from a burning mandala of Essence that detonates on collision to hot steaming death for the undead.
  • Some editions of Warhammer takes a page from Conan's book and gives the Tomb Kings snake arrows.
  • GURPS 4th edition Imbluements system, when applied to archery, allows an archer to do pretty much anything with arrows, be it disintegrating swords, paralyzing enemies, or shooting a cone of destruction.
    • In Low-Tech including humming bulb, flight (super long range), cutting and "fire cage".
    • Pyramid #3/39 has an article called "The Arrow of Progress" featuring Ultra-Tech archery. Trick arrows include ones with sensors, ones that trail a rope, ones that have rockets in the shaft, ones that use memory-material to alter the arrowhead, and ones that do all the above and are basically autonomous drones that you only fire from a bow because Rule of Cool. Plus you can include all the Ultra-Tech ammo options up to and including antimatter bomb arrows.
  • Red Dragon Inn: Piper is an elven archer whose character gimmick is her special arrow cards which she can play multiple of on the same turn if they're Action cards. Her arrows are all puns involving the word "arrow" with some implausible designs, like "Millionairerow" (gives her 1 Gold), "Pairrow" (an arrow that hits another player with its own bow), "Elsewhererow" (it went missing...), and "Sparrow".
  • Rifts has magic and/or high-tech explosive arrows in just about every setting, for those who cannot or will not use laser rifles like everyone else.
  • Some Inquisitors in Warhammer40000 use "Stake Crossbows", which fire, well, stakes. They're especially effective against Psykers.
  • The Archer class in World of Synnibarr is quite naturally all about this, though most of its "tricks" are actually magical — pardon, based on "Earthpower" — rather than the more mundane type.

    Video Games 
  • BioShock's crossbow, which, along with firing steel bolts, could fire both incendiary bolts, and bolts which themselves fired deadly electric tripwires.
    • The tranquilizer crossbow in BioShock Infinite: Burial at Sea — Episode 2 can also fire noisemaker and gas bolts.
  • Champions Online has the Archery powerset which combines trick arrows (Sonic Arrow, Taser Arrow, Explosive Arrow) with trick shooting (Multiple arrows shot at once, Storm of Arrows, and Focused Shot can be upgraded to go through several targets in one shot).
  • The "Trick Arrow" support powerset in City of Heroes included, among others, Glue Arrow, Poison Gas Arrow, Oil Slick Arrow, and Electromagnetic Pulse Arrow.
    • For direct damage, Blasters, Corruptors, and Defenders got access to the Archery power set, which allowed for flaming arrows and blunt arrows that stunned opponents, plus firing multiple arrows at once (Fistful of Arrows and Arrow Rain).
    • Plus, the oil made by the Oil Slick Arrow could catch on fire if a fire or energy attack hit the pool.
    • And then there's canon character Manticore: millionaire playboy, Badass Normal, and perpetual snarker. Oh, yes, he uses Trick Arrows as well. Teleporting trick arrows, achieved through hacking into the city's Emergency Teleportation Network.
  • Dark Messiah of Might and Magic gives you the Rope Bow a short ways into the game. It shoots arrows that, upon striking a wooden surface, deploy a rope you can then climb. It becomes a key gameplay mechanic from that point on, allowing you to get into and out of places that would otherwise be unreachable.
  • In Dead Rising 2, you can combine a bow and arrow with dynamite to create the Blambow, which is just as ridiculous as it sounds, but surprisingly effective. Chuck even got the idea from looking at a poster for an action movie.
  • Deep Rock Galactic: The Scout's Nishanka Boltshark X-80 crossbow has a wide selection of arrows to pick from, though you can only access certain arrows at a given time. Normal bolts (which by themselves can be magnetized to hit electrified enemies harder and can have radio receivers for retrieval) can be traded for bouncing Bodkin Points, firestarting Fire Bolts, chilling Cryo Bolts and the tripling Trifork Volley. You also have a stock of Special Bolts that can either be a Pheromone Dart (which makes enemies fight each other), a Chemical Explosion bolt that sickens an enemy until it bursts in a puff of horrid toxins, or a Taser bolt that connects with other Tasers to make damaging electric arcs. Not bad for a medieval weapon!
  • The Amazon of Diablo II has an entire skill-tab dedicated to these, including arrows that explode, arrows that freeze everything, arrows that split into multiple smaller arrows, and of course the Guided Arrow.
  • There is a metric crapton of trick arrow varieties in Divinity: Original Sin, as they are the main means of delivering elemental effects onto enemies for non-magical player characters. They also have a slight tactical advantage over magical spells in that their trajectories are not blocked by friendly combatants, so an archer can fire elemental arrows at the enemy from behind the tank's back without having to expose themselves.
  • Some archery skills in Dragon's Dogma seems to come off as this with the character pulling stuff out of their pocket to ready the skill. Such arrows include Drills, Flash bangs, Poisons, and Whistles.
  • In addition to normal, pointy arrows, Dungeons of Dredmor features a number of increasingly improbable ammunition. In particular: nuclear warhead arrows, and arrows that fire an Eldritch Abomination.
  • The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion has a wide variety of enchanted arrows, from standard elemental damage and stat debuffs to making enemies run away in fear or creating an area of light around the arrow when fired. Bows themselves can be enchanted as well, providing even more effects for would-be Crazy-Prepared archers.
    • Skyrim also features Trick Crossbow Bolts, added in the Dawnguard DLC; by mixing up some crossbow bolts with elemental salts dropped from Atronachs, you can get exploding fire, frost or shock bolts.
    • Dawnguard's main quest centers around Auriel's Bow, a weapon supposedly used by the god Auri-El, which by itself burns the targets of its arrows with sunlight, dealing triple damage to undead. However, it becomes powerful enough to affect the Sun itself when combined with one of two trick arrows; Bloodcursed Arrows, made by dipping regular Elven Arrows in the blood of a Daughter of Coldharbour, blot out the Sun for one day and lets the various monsters of the night (including you, if you became a Vampire Lord) move and attack freely. On the other hand, Sunhallowed Elven Arrows, blessed by the last priest of the Snow Elves, rains down beams of divine light from the Sun and damages every enemy in the vicinity, again dealing even greater damage to the undead.
  • The Evil Within and its sequel have the Agony and Warden Crossbows respectively. They fire various utility projectiles like explosive bolts, freeze bolts, flash bolts, smoke bolts, and others.
  • Fable had a spell which split one arrow into three; they then Roboteched their way to the target.
  • Fallout 3 has the Dart Gun, which is essentially a crossbow that fires pre-war throwing darts... dipped in radscorpion venom. While it does extremely little real damage, the poison immediately cripples the target's legs, drastically reducing its mobility. Extremely effective against Deathclaws, which are rendered pretty much helpless. Deathclaws are one of the deadliest creatures in the entire game otherwise.
  • In Fate/stay night, one of Servant Archer's favourite tricks is to make sword arrows: He can create a sword and transform it into a slimmer, aerodynamic shape, which he then fires from his long bow as an arrow. This has various effects, depending on the nature of the sword, and can cause them to explode on contact by overloading them with mana. In the original Visual Novel he uses a sword that can twists space around it as it flies, allowing it to pierce any target; in Fate/hollow ataraxia he uses a sword that moves at ten times the speed of sound and will change course to hit its target, even if it's already missed.
  • In Guild Wars 2, the thief shortbow skills in particular show off variations of this trope. Some warrior and ranger bow skills also fit.
  • Gun had dynamite arrows.
  • Heroes of Might and Magic 4 features several different kinds of arrows that add special effects to ranged attacks, including the Arrow of Stunning (stuns enemies), Arrow of Slaying (does extra damage to the most powerful creatures like dragons), Poison Arrow (poisons enemies), Silk Arrow (restrains fliers) or the Flame Arrow (Area of Effect damage).
    • Heroes of Might and Magic 5: The Rangers racial ability is largely based around this. Imbue Arrow lets him put any offensive spell on his arrows, who deal more damage by default if they hit one of his chosen favored enemies. For extra fun, he can fire arrows that will hit any enemy stack of favored enemies for full damage each.
  • Horizon Zero Dawn: Fire arrows, frost arrows, and shock arrows are your standard elemental ammo. Tearblaster arrows will explode into a sonic scream that vibrates the components and armor off a machine (or stuns a human for a few seconds from the blaring noise), Harvest arrows are weak but will cause torn-off materials to somehow triple their yield, and Corruption arrows drive enemies mad enough to fight among themselves.
  • Link in The Legend of Zelda has used silver arrows, fire arrows, ice arrows, bomb arrows, and light arrows. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild adds electric arrows and ancient arrows to the mix, the latter being a rarer one-hit-kill attack.
  • Massive Chalice has a six armed bow that fires bone shards from a particular enemy. It reduces damage but enables the "arrow" to pierce enemies hitting everything in its path.
  • The MediEvil games featured a fairly normal longbow weapon (which came in flaming and "magic" varieties), plus a crossbow whose bolts would ricochet off walls at any angle until they reached their maximum flight time and disappeared. Medievil 2 even had a flame crossbow which was basically the same, but it fired flaming bolts. Funnily enough, you get the crossbow before the longbow.
  • Monster Hunter normally doesn't do this, instead giving bows "coating" that lets them inflict status ailments like Poison and Paralyze, but they do have a few tricks in their quiver. The Arc Shot is an arrow carrying a payload of spiked ball bearings, which is fired upwards and then subsequently rains down on the map. The Hunter Art Haste Rain fires an arrow that sprays the user with a stimulant that makes them faster, while Blade Wire fires two arrows tied together with Razor Floss that makes them function as Slashing attacks rather than Piercing. Finally, the Dragon Piercer is essentially a firework arrow that hits multiple times as it drills through the monster.
  • Ninja Gaiden's Xbox remake had armour-piercing arrows. There is also the "standard" explosive varieties.
    • It should be pointed out that the armour-piercing arrows were not technically "arrows" as such. Rather, they were the cores of Armour-Piercing Fin-Stabalized Discarding Sabot rounds for tank cannons.
  • Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath has the main character use a crossbow that fires critters that have various different effects, such as baiting the enemies towards them via Trash Talk, a skunk that serves as a stink bomb, bats that serve as explosives and others.
  • Hanzo of Overwatch is an Archer Archetype with an arsenal: Sonic Arrow, which grants you echo-location with a noticable radius; Scatter Arrow, which splits into many arrows on impact; and finally, Dragonstrike — a slow-moving, spirit-charged, wall-clipping arrow that looks like two coiled dragons.
  • In PAYDAY 2, both the bow and crossbow-type weapons can be modified to use explosive or poison-tipped arrows.
  • In Planescape: Torment, Nordom's crossbows usually shoot regular, pointy bolts, but you can find and/or buy all sorts of variations (and even tell the crossbows to make some specific types themselves), such as acid-filled sponge bolts, bolts containing insane wind spirits in the tips, cubic bolts incorporating the essence of order, frog-crotch bolts, and the ever-popular "Rule-Of-Three" pyramid bolts that separate into three bolts.
  • Redneck Rampage had dynamite arrows, and a... peculiar... variant in which the arrow was stuck up the bottom of a chicken. It basically amounted to a guided rocket: upon launching it, the whole thing would fly to the target and explode with a loud shriek and a puff of feathers.
  • Resident Evil:
    • Resident Evil – Code: Veronica has gunpowder that can be added to crossbow bolts. They cause a small explosion on impact that deals higher damage.
    • In Resident Evil 4 and 6, Ada uses explosive bolts with her crossbow. Unlike the Code: Veronica, the bolts' explosion is about equal to a hand grenade and can harm Ada with Splash Damage if they hit too close to her.
  • The standard ammo for the crossbow in Strife is electric bolts, which are a good choice to destroy robotic enemies, though they are useful all around. Poisoned bolts are a completely silent One-Hit Kill on any organic mook and don't raise any alarms, though using them against anything else is a No-Sell.
  • Raven from Tales of Vesperia's arrows do everything from laying explosives to healing. His bow can even be used as a double-bladed sword, since it's got sharp edges.
    • And while we're on the subject of the Tales Series, Woodrow Kelvin from the Tales of Destiny remake has a very interesting move called Bassaiga. He sets up his bow so that it looks like he's going to shoot his enemy, but then he pulls his sword out at the last moment and slashes them. How's that for a Trick Arrow?
  • Terraria allows you to be quite a good archer, providing you with automatic crossbows and arrows ranging from flaming to firework ones.
  • Garrett in the Thief series has a fairly wide arsenal of both magical and gadget arrows he can use — most notably the water arrow, used for dousing torches at long range. The first game is unwinnable without them.
  • The new Tomb Raider reboot gives Lara several different arrow types to play with, primarily fire arrows for extra damage and rope arrows which serve as grappling hooks, to bridge gaps and pull distant objects. The fire arrows can be upgraded into napalm and explosive arrows, whilst the rope arrows can be upgraded with a rope ascender, letting Lara pull heavy objects.
  • Unreal Tournament's sanctioned mod Chaos UT introduced a crossbow which could fire exploding arrows or poisoned arrows in addition to the regular pointy kind.
    • The Chaos Unreal 2: Evolution mod for Unreal Tournament 2004 upgraded both the bolt selection, to include flaming arrows, and the crossbow itself, allowing it to be "charged up" to make regular pointy bolts more useful (they could head-shot unlike the other kinds and when charged would fly further and faster, dealing proportionately more damage as well). It could also fire up to five bolts simultaneously, another staple of trick-shooters.
    • Another Unreal Tournament Game Mod had a bow that had even more arrow options from normal flaming poison exploding (both small frag grenade and Nuke 'em levels of explodyness ) And finally Black Hole and Disintegration Arrows
  • In Warframe, Ivara has access to a quiver of four special arrows: one can cloak her and allies, one that creates a tightrope for her and allies to walk across, another that creates noise and attracts enemies, and one which puts enemies to sleep.
  • The Hunter class in World of Warcraft has numerous different "shots" (they can be used with guns as well as bows but otherwise fit the trope). These include several variants of poison shots (scorpid sting, viper sting, wyvern sting etc.), an "arcane shot" that deals magic damage, a shot that dazes the enemy, and the Aimed Shot (which reduces healing on its target). There's also a trap-throwing arrow, which lays any of the hunter's 5 different kinds of traps where it lands, a flare which reveals nearby stealthed opponents, and Explosive Shot.


    Web Original 
  • So far in Critical Role, Vex has used burning arrows, lightning arrows, grappling arrows, exploding arrows and more.
  • Darkhood in Interviewing Leather is a Bad Ass Normal, probably based on Green Arrow. So obviously he has a bunch of different arrows like taser arrows, grappling arrows and even *gasp* normal arrows.
  • Neopets has various arrows that range from serious to silly, for example the Lava Arrow, "Dipped in smouldering lava this arrow will burn its way through anything," Lovestruck Arrow, like what Cupid has, Arrows of Happiness, which causes happiness, Frozen Bow and Arrows, an arrow tipped with an ice cube, and the Marshmallow Bow and Arrow, an arrow tipped with a marshmallow.
  • In Noob, Gaëa, the archer reroll of Gaea's player, is sometimes seen using element-imbued arrows.
  • RWBY: Robyn Hill primarily uses regular metal bolts for her crossbow, but she has a few Dust-based ones up her sleeve for special occasions, as Tyrian learned the hard way when he caught an explosive bolt with his teeth.
  • Trick Moon: In addition to normal arrows, Trickshot has magic arrows that turn into bursts of ice and acid.
  • In Worm, both crossbow-wielding superheroes, Shadow Stalker and Flechette, have trick arrows: the former has her tranquilizer bolts, the latter has a chain-generator she can use to turn her arbalest into a Grappling-Hook Pistol.

    Western Animation 
  • Aladdin: The Series: the Galafems use magic arrows that can change into anything (water, rope, etc.) with a thought.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender's Yu-Yan Archers used net arrows, and arrows with tow lines for rappelling and stuff. The one in the Rough Rhinos used flaming arrows by actually equipping his bow with a pilot light for arrows.
  • In Darkwing Duck, Gosalyn's hero identity was Quiverwing Quack in the episode "The Quiverwing Quack". Among her trick arrows were glue arrows, boxing glove arrows, and at least one pencil sharpener arrow.
  • Hank the Ranger, one of the lead characters of the Dungeons & Dragons (1983) animated series, has a magic bow that seems to be able to fire any sort of bolt.
  • In Flash Gordon (1979), the Arborians used ''ice arrows'' as their weapon of choice. Interestingly, there was never any indication that this was anything less than lethal (no Harmless Freezing here), it was simply a way to avoid the ugly messiness of a conventional arrow. Though the ice arrows did turn out to be very handy for putting out fires, especially the larger variant that Vultan and his Hawkman are able to throw down from the air without needing bows.
  • Scarlett from G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero has a quiver full of Trick Quarrels for her crossbow, and Lady Jaye used Trick Javelins.
  • Green Arrow is a recurring character in the Justice League cartoon from Unlimited onwards, and naturally gets to show off his collection of trick arrows. Huntress, by contrast, prefers "the pointy kind that go right through you."
    GA: (freeing himself from ice) And Black Canary said a buzzsaw arrow was self-indulgent.
  • In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "Equestria Games", the final event in the games is an archery contest. The twist is that the arrowheads freeze what they hit, and the goal is to cover the entire target in ice before the other ponies. Chaos ensues when one participant trips up and fires one into a cloud, turning the entire thing into an ice ball which nearly crushes the audience.
  • In one episode of Samurai Jack, Jack is pursued by the greatest hunters in the universe, each armed with a different weapon. One of them is an expert archer — among his arsenal are arrows that are actually petrified snakes, which proves Jack's undoing when he performs an Arrow Catch.
  • Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated: The Obliteratrix uses them to attack Mystery, Inc. in "Pawns of Shadow".
  • Bow in She-Ra and the Princesses of Power describes himself as a member of the "maker's community" because of his knack for building specialist arrows, including dedicated message arrows, sonic arrows that make a loud noise on impact, and arrows that explode into a gooey net.
    • This is lampshaded in one episode when Bow pulls out a magnifying glass arrow leaving Catra incredulous as to how the Horde had been losing to them.
  • Superfriends 1973-74 season episode "Gulliver's Gigantic Goof". Green Arrow makes good use of his trademark trick arrows to save the other Superfriends, who have been reduced to tiny size by a Shrink Ray.
  • Speedy from Teen Titans (2003), who is a (possibly former) sidekick of Green Arrow. In one episode, unable to use his trick arrows or bow, he uses nearby vehicles and supplies to make a giant bow, firing himself as a trick arrow to defuse Control Freak's threat.
  • The Angry Archer from Transformers: Animated. (He's basically a villainous version of Green Arrow, though he's also a homage to staff member Aaron Archer and a fan of Robin Hood.)
  • In Wakfu, pretty much all of the Cra race has these.
  • Green Arrow, Artemis, and Red Arrow all use trick arrows as their primary weapons in Young Justice (2010). In addition, Artemis uses trick bolts for the compact crossbow she carries while in her civilian gear.

    Real Life 
  • Mongols and other Eurasian nomadic people had many specialized arrow heads (and occasionally arrows). Some were designed to whistle (both to communicate with troops and to scare the enemy), some for hunting, some to pierce armor, short range arrows, long range arrows, barbed arrow heads, (allegedly) poisoned ones, even some that aren't even pointed (for stunning people). Iranians had a two pronged arrow for hunting, while Turks had a really small arrow for use with a wooden guide that would essentially turn a regular composite bow into a crossbow. So quite clearly, Truth in Television (just not in the way they show it).
  • Much like the Mongols, Japanese archers used whistling arrowheads for signalling, for religious rituals, and for scaring the enemy. They were mainly employed in warfare during the Heian period, when battles were more often a series of individual duels. Firing such an arrow would signal the beginning of a battle.
  • A South American tribe once made arrows for detaching feathers from bird mid-flight, while leaving the bird relatively unharmed.
  • In Ancient Persia, returning arrows were known, and have been reconstructed and used. They're light, and have very short range, and are strictly for showing off the fletcher's and archer's skill, but they do indeed return.
  • There's a tutorial for making explosive arrows or crossbow bolts in The Anarchist's Cookbook (look it up if you really want to know), albeit both Awesome, but Impractical and highly dangerous to the user.
  • Flu-flu arrows are blunt arrows, designed to travel only short distances. They were meant for hunting small game and birds, which they could kill or cripple without causing substantial damage to flesh. They are also a lot easier to retrieve, since they don't end up burying themselves in whatever they end up hitting.
  • On the other hand, there are hypodermic arrowheads like the Toxic, the Rage and others that are designed to rip heavily into tissue around the arrow's shaft and cause extensive hemorrhage, both for a quicker death as well as making the blood trail easier to follow. They're used almost exclusively for larger game like moose, deer and bears — not only is it a costly overkill for smaller animalsnote , they tend to be torn wide open and end up unfit for consumption, which is counterproductive if the user is hunting for food.


Video Example(s):


Hawkeye's special arrows

Clint gives Kate some special arrows to use. They include arrows that explode into either light or sound, electrocute, freeze, shoot paralytic darts, inflate a balloon, attach a rocket, and shrink their opponents.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / TrickArrow

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