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Unnecessary Combat Roll

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"Unnecessary: (adj.) not necessary."
Gwen: [exasperated] Does the rolling help?
Jason: Yeah, it helps.
Gwen: Where's your gun?
Jason: ...Shoot!

For no apparent reason, the protagonist will tuck into a roll, coming out shooting. If this is during some sneaky activity, rather than outright combat, they may do the roll to cross any open space, for no apparent benefit. In Real Life of course, coming out of a roll into a shooting position puts the person in a less-stable stance, wastes a lot of time and energy, and is likely to be very disorienting. Not only that unlike in fiction, there usually nothing stopping your attacker from just changing directions mid-attack and invincibility frames obviously don't exist. Often parodied, through sheer gratuity, through the rolling individual just being really bad at it, or through lampshading.

Video games tend to fall victim to this as the negative consequences of rolling are often omitted as Acceptable Breaks from Reality. This often leads to repeated diving rolls being a better choice than flat-out running when moving from place to place, something especially evident in Speed Runs. It could be argued that in Real Life a single diving roll covers more distance than a large step — it's the recovery that takes a lot of time and the maneuver is likely to result in injury. Remove the need for recovery and make rolling safe, and we might as well roll rather than run or walk. Of course, if you DO have the agility and balance to pull it off and recover on landing, it suddenly becomes a really effective method of outmaneuvering someone. The level of athletics needed to pull that feat off is probably why it is left to the high Dex classes.

Closely related is the preferred method for passing through a Laser Hallway, only in that case the flipping and rolling makes perfect sense, it's the layout of the lasers that doesn't.

Note that rolling is acceptable when the character has fallen from a great height, as otherwise piling the weight of of one's entire upper body on one's legs is a good way to cause injury or break the bones holding them together. Rolling from a less great height does this as well, but also makes it less likely for you to hit the ground, lose your footing and break your your sacrum or coccyx by landing on your ass with the remaining momentum you have.

Not to be confused with Attack Roll, Roll-and-Move or Rolling Attack. The Indy Hat Roll is a related trope.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In the anime of Golgo 13 Duke Togo does this and of course is able to kill several guards while doing so.
  • Done a few times in Grenadier, simultaneously with Unorthodox Reload as bullets fall out of her cleavage, are bounced into the air, and caught by the empty revolver.
  • In K-On!, Ritsu's Dynamic Entry into Yui's room involves a half-assed combat roll (shown in three different angles, to boot). She gets punched in the head for her troubles.
  • Subverted in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Striker S: During a training session, Teana tries to avoid Nanoha's shots by making some rolls on the ground, and Nanoha criticizes her action ("Now, if you move like that, it's all over") and the point of the lesson is to teach her how to Shoot the Bullet instead as a way of defending without having to move.
  • In My-HiME, Akira does a roll when bursting into her and Takumi's room after hearing a suspicious sounding conversation between Takumi and Mai.
  • At the school sports festival relay in School Rumble, Imadori (who is an idiot but is supposedly a good sprinter) attempts to improve his run by doing a roll after receiving the baton and then beginning his run. Unfortunately for him, the roll takes up too much time and he gets quickly overtaken by his opponent as a result.
  • Spy X Family: Agent Daybreak does this whenever he "sneaks" around. Obviously, this does nothing but make him stand out even more.
  • Parodied in Yotsuba&! when the title character, after watching one too many gangster crime movies, decides to take out her neighbors on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge with a water pistol: she kicks open Ena's bedroom door, stops to crouch down, does an awkward somersault, and comes up gun squirting.
    Yotsuba: Freeze! Nonstop!

    Fan Works 
  • Dark of Light and Dark The Adventures of Dark Yagami, while jumping out of a train at Whales, does one such roll "to be cool".
  • In The Many Worlds Interpretation, the Assassins who are guiding visitors from Caltech to the Discworld do this when crossing the magical portal/Einstein-Bosen Bridgenote  that directly links Caltech and Unseen University. They don't have to do the flying forward rolls in mid-air. It just looks cool.

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Used to hilarious effect in the film Burn After Reading by George Clooney's character, who is ostensibly using this technique on a guy he killed 5 minutes ago. This is justified, since he was diving for a gun that was lying on the floor, and by the fact that the character lacks any proper combat training, in addition to being a moron (like most of the rest of the cast).
  • In Fair Game, Ringo does one when he jumps the moving Beast on to the verandah of Jessica's house.
  • So Bad, It's Good Irish martial arts movie Fatal Deviation has the protagonist roll across the bonnet of a car and back in the middle of a fight for no real reason. It's one of the movie's many many Narmful moments.
  • In The Final Sacrifice, one of the cultists does a hilariously slow roll. While running through a forest. Approaching a cabin with two unarmed people in it.
  • Lampshaded in Galaxy Quest, when Gwen DiMarco asks Jason Nesmith, "Does the rolling help?" when he suddenly does this while they're just walking along on the surface of an alien planet. Nesmith also loses his gun during the roll. This is, largely, a reference to the Star Trek example below. He also does it upon killing Sarris.
  • Played for Laughs in Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters when Hansel does a combat roll into a room only for the Big Bad to hit him in the face with a shovel as soon as he finishes.
  • James Bond pulls this off in A View to a Kill, before he blasts a few fellows away with a shotgun. It's loaded with rock salt, though.
  • See the diamond heist in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, in which Jay makes several clumsy rolls in the middle of open ground facing no threat whatsoever.
  • Parodied in the Land of the Lost film during Will Ferrell's fight with the T. rex.
  • A special move of Riggs in the Lethal Weapon series is to roll on the ground while unloading with his pistol.
  • Loaded Weapon 1 parodies Rigg's rolling-gunfire trick.
  • Senseless jumping and rolling makes up roughly half of the main character's fighting style in Dünyayı Kurtaran Adam, (a.k.a. The Man Who Saves the World, a.k.a Turkish Star Wars. The other half consists of really inefficient flailing.
  • Trinity's unnecessary cartwheel through the subway turnstiles in The Matrix Revolutions. Later in the movie, Morpheus, Trinity, and Seraph get into a fight with some guys who can bend gravity. Said guys do things like cartwheeling on the ceiling from cover to cover. They die.
  • Mortal Kombat: The Movie:
    • Liu Kang does a half-assed semi-cartwheel over the side of some steps and whip around, combat ready, like it was the most spectacular move in the whole movie. Made even more jarring in that he was the only character on screen at the time and there was absolutely no reason for him to attempt the maneuver (i.e. nobody was attacking him on the steps and nobody attacked when he landed).
    • In Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, Shao Kahn does one of these to talk to his dad. "And it. Was! GLORIOUS!" Shinnok responds by standing still and rushing the camera.
  • Lampshaded in Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005) when John Smith does a dramatic dive roll into the bushes while trying to hide from his wife and rolls right into a tangled pile of branches with an appropriately annoyed hiss of "OW!"
  • Parodied in The Naked Gun, where Frank Drebin uses an obvious stunt double gymnast to somersault and hand-spring around his home.
  • Police Academy: Tackleberry can't help but do one over the hood of a parked cruiser during his Leeroy Jenkins charge through the cadet shoot house.
  • Not used during combat in Remo Williams, but as the protagonist bounds down the side of a steep hill, at one point he drops into a roll and back up onto his feet and kept on going, presumably because he was going too fast or about to fall, and the roll converted the downward momentum into forward.
  • Although not strictly a combat roll, Space Mutiny has Reb Brown screaming like a girl before jumping off an incredibly slow-moving floor-polisher-thing and rolling twice. The MSTers dub him 'Roll Fizzlebeef'.
  • Sneakily referenced in Star Trek when Kirk is on the ice planet Delta Vega, running away from a giant monster on a flat plain of ice. Then there's suddenly a downhill slope, so Kirk trips, falls, and rolls away from the monster. He escaped certain death with several combat rolls (making this a justifiable trope).
  • Subverted in S.W.A.T. (2003). In the training exercises, one must tuck, roll, and hit a target as part of the exercise. When it's Sergeant Hondo's turn, he refuses to pull the unnecessary maneuver, stating "They only do that in John Woo movies, not real life."
  • Parodied in Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny when Jack Black is trying to stealthily break into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. While he is doing a sequence of these rolls (in between areas of "cover"), it is revealed to the viewer that the security cameras are picking up everything. Luckily, the guards match JB's level of competence by not noticing at all.
  • Watch Ironhide in the '07 Transformers movie, particularly when he and Ratchet are covering Witwicky in the big city battle. It's practically all he does.
  • In the 1973 The Three Musketeers D'Artagnan's father shows his special move: rolling towards your opponent and thrusting as you come to a crouch. The father tells D'Artagnan to only use it as a last resort. The one time he actually uses it it's effortlessly countered and almost gets him killed.
  • Used in the climax of Who Dares Wins, a 1982 SAS film starring Lewis Collins of The Professionals. Somewhat justified in that Collins uses the roll to take cover behind a table, although the enemy gunman reacts implausibly slowly to this (and is shot).
  • In Watchmen, When Silk Spectre jumps out of an airship onto a rooftop, she does a combat roll despite only dropping a few feet and landing perfectly in Combat Stilettos.

  • The Maze Runner: In his introduction/Dynamic Entry in The Scorch Trials, Jorge pulls this off in front of the Gladers, possibly to highlight how insane he's becoming due to being an early-stage Crank. Except that it's all an act, and he's been Immune the whole time...
  • In Mostly Harmless, Ford does this to enter his editor's office, as his editor tends to greet lazy writers with laser fire. It turns out to be unnecessary, as his editor has been replaced, taking his temper and his drinks-trolley (handy as a mobile shield) with him. The trolley's absence is the first thing that throws Ford off his rhythm, but definitely not the last. Ford, for his part, opts to continue rolling around the room until a more intelligent option presents itself.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Used a lot in Andromeda. On the other hand, when the characters were using the "Force Lances", they were firing "smart bullets", which were demonstrated to be able to make 90-degree turns in flight, negating the inaccuracy inherent in a roll.
  • Detective Geils turns this into an entire gymnastics routine in the pilot episode of Angie Tribeca during a Chase Scene. Strangely enough, he manages to remain right on the perp's tail the entire time.
  • The Big Bang Theory: Howard does one to Raj when they're "wrestling" (i.e., dancing around each other in a gym wearing spandex) while trying to prove who would be the hero and who would be the sidekick.
  • Blake's 7:
  • Played for laughs in Community. In the more action-oriented episodes like "Modern Warfare", Jeff Winger has a tendency to get into cover by doing a leaping forward roll.
  • Deadliest Warrior discussed this in the Green Berets vs Spetsnaz episode, where the Spetsnaz specialist showed off a version of this they're taught in training. It involves quickly dropping down into a crouch with one leg extended out, then quickly rolling to the side. The Green Beret specialist does make fun of it though, noting that in the time it takes to drop down and then roll, he can just lift his gun and shoot the guy.
  • Doctor Who: In "The Girl in the Fireplace", Mickey indulges in one, although there's no shooting involved, it's done using a fire extinguisher and it's obviously for a laugh.
  • Firefly:
    • In "War Stories," Zoe performs a profoundly ill-advised combat roll in front of one of Niska's goons, rolling under his fire and popping up to gun him down with two pistols. She does this in a narrow hallway, stands fully upright in front of the guy after the roll then pulls out the pistols excruciatingly slowly (considering he's probably just feet away now and was just firing half a second ago). Maybe he was between magazines.
    • Mal also pulls one during the fight in "Heart of Gold".
  • Game of Thrones: During his duel with Gregor, Oberyn is constantly rolling, somersaulting and spinning his weapon to annoy Gregor and play to the crowd. His goal is to humiliate Tywin, so it's all part of the show.
  • Played for laughs in the pilot episode of How I Met Your Mother, when Barney does a combat roll in the midst of a Laser Tag game.
  • In the first episode of Jason King, King is pitching the story of his adventures to a TV executive. At one point a criminal emerges from his lair, only to be shot by another criminal waiting in ambush. The executive decides this isn't exciting enough, so this trope happens instead, with the two men using up all their ammunition trying to hit each other as they jump about.
  • In an episode of Juken Sentai Gekiranger, The Starscream resurrects two monsters to go after the Big Bad while he's meditating. To show how sneaky they are, one of them dramatically rolls into place instead of quietly walking. If Rio wasn't so completely dead to the world while meditating, he'd have vaporized him right then and there instead of about two seconds after they started attacking. The scene is essentially identical (re-reading the paragraph with "Jarrod" instead of "Rio") in Power Rangers Jungle Fury.
  • Seen in Kamen Rider OOO, when a bumbling ex-con (the guy is very reminiscent of Adam Sandler in Little Nicky, just to give a notion) who had put himself under Shingo's "protection" (not knowing anything about Ankh) is walking the street with him, Eiji and Hina while relating his story (about how his former partner, who is the host to the Yummy Of The Fortnight, is targeting him and Shingo), then he stops and rolls ahead on the ground... To pick up a tack which someone could step on. Cue the protagonists groaning.
  • LazyTown: Sportacus gets around 80% of the time via backflips, handsprings, and other showy moves. His zeppelin is even designed around this, with his acrobatic moves activating panels throughout the ship.
  • Done by one of the assassins in the MacGyver episode "Target MacGyver", entering the house where Mac is staying at and very silly he looks, too.
  • Bear Grylls in Man vs. Wild did this during the episode in Copper Canyon, Mexico. The reason this is here is because he did it off a helicopter that was sitting on the ground. This might've been some sort of technique to get clear of the blades quickly.
  • The Office: Dwight does one of these in "Heavy Competition" when he's competing with Michael over a client, HarperCollins, and goes bursting into the office, cleverly avoiding the confused secretary.
  • Power Rangers S.P.D.
    • Parodied in "Missing". It begins with the rangers looking for an enemy while the Green Ranger performs a series of incredibly over the top acrobatics, all while he casually discusses the target. They haven't even engaged the enemy at this point.
    • In "Perspective", where each Ranger tells their version of a fight, Bridge starts off by pointing out that he was the only one who entered the fight as they were taught in "Special Entrance Class".
    • In keeping with the police theme, even their Megazord does this, as well as diving while shooting.
  • Seth Green was on Punk'd where he had been tricked into believing that a craps game he was at was being raided by cops. One of them did a roll on the floor after crashing though a glass door. After learning it was all a prank Green commented about the guy doing the roll which he thought was "completely unnecessary" at the time!
  • Subverted on Scream Queens when Zayday has her second encounter with the Red Devil — combat rolls saved her life.
  • Used constantly in B-rated Sci-Fi Channel movies, to be later imitated/satirized by Joel McHale on The Soup.
  • Played for laughs in Spaced when Mike does a combat roll when leaving Brian's flat for absolutely no reason at all. And then Brian instinctively copies him.
  • Star Trek:
  • In the Supernatural episode "All Hell Breaks Loose, Part Two" (S02, Ep22), Dean does a somersault in the air before diving behind a tombstone as the Devil's Gate opens.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • CIMA likes to roll in his Dragon Gate matches. Sometimes it will be an evasive or recovery move but just as likely it's something he does before his upper cut or something, even though doing such after makes him more likely to miss than simply running or even jumping. Looks cool when he pulls it off, admittedly.
  • Jay Lethal and KUSHIDA do cartwheels and these are better than most examples in that they do keep their eyes on their opponent and do transition into an advantageous position while doing so, but all the same they almost never really need to.
  • Gratuitous somersaults are a trademark to high-flying wrestlers in order to show their agility. An especially popular lucha libre sequence involves two wrestlers charging against each other before one rolls across the ground and the another somersaults over him. Konnan is especially known for these, because most men with his bulk can't pull it off.
  • Doing a handspring or a rolling kip-up can be somewhat useful for creating space but 9 times out of 10 is a flashy way to get up. A match involving the old Tiger Mask or Dynamite Kid easily could have loads of those moves.
  • Xic Xavant sometimes rolls in a fairly sensible manner, such as to his feet after a monkey flip. Most of the time though this is just to show off before an attack.

    Video Games 
  • ANNO: Mutationem: Ann can perform a combat roll to dodge enemy attacks, and is also invincible for the brief duration of the roll.
  • In Another World, Lester does this to an alien after kicking him in the balls.
  • Apocalypse theoretically allows the player to spend the game's entire duration as a Motion Captured, soundbyte-hurling, constantly-revolving Bruce Willis, which may be the most absurd example possible.
  • Elle in Atlas Reactor has a combat roll (called "Combat Roll") as a dash phase move, allowing her to move a single square and then fire her shotgun. Unlike most dashes it is almost useless at dodging damage due to its short range (most dashes cover at least four squares, and many far more than that), and is more useful as an offensive tool.
  • While you can roll in Bloodborne outside combat, if you locked onto your foes, you do a sidestep instead of rolling. And speaking of rolling, the mace-wielding naked Watchers in Chalice Dungeon will do this against you, with a literal fat roll, no less.
  • CABAL Online: There is a "Roll" emote that makes the player characters tuck and roll on the ground at a certain distance. This might look like it's unnecessary at first glance as it's an emote and not a skill, but this emote can break enemy targetting and savvy players use this emote to break combos during PVP.
  • Enemies gain the ability to do this in Call of Duty: Black Ops. Justified in that the only enemies who do it are Spetsnaz, who are actually trained to quickly get behind cover in that manner.
  • Capcom vs. SNK 2: Mark of the Millennium has a glitch called roll cancelling. By cancelling a roll into a special move, the invulnerable property of the roll carried over to the special move.
  • Castle Wolfenstein: The Elite Guard in Return to Castle Wolfenstein roll around a lot. It really doesn't help.
  • Champions Online has an unnecessary roll during the Holdout Shot maneuver. The character rolls to one side, pulls a gun from the lower leg and comes up firing a final shot. If executed in flight, the roll will be replaced by a mid-air pirouette.
  • Chzo Mythos: Trilby in The Art of Theft can roll to make his way through vents and other openings. It's also useful for getting across open areas quickly. Since the guards take a few seconds to register Trilby's presence, it can be used to get past a guard you're standing close to right after they turn around.
  • Crossbow Crusade: The game allows you to be able to perform a combat roll that you can use to squeeze through tight spaces.
  • Rolling in Dead Cells is the most important defensive mechanic at your disposal. It's fast, goes through enemies, and has invincibility frames all the way through, although not against some attacks that wouldn't make logical sense to roll past it, like explosions and spikes. It has a small cooldown between each use. Some mutations also lets you attack with a weapon or parry with a shield you have stored in your backpack when you roll.
  • Darksiders II's roll is a clear example. Since Death runs at a slow speed and Despair is barely ever around, most players resort to rolling, and by the time the game ends, Death's grunts have been drilled into their memories.
  • This is your primary means of evasion in Demon's Souls and the Dark Souls trilogy. How quickly you can roll and how many invincibility frames your roll has depends on your equipment load, except in Dark Souls II where equipment load only determines the speed of the roll and the Agility stat determines i-frames. In Demon's Souls and Dark Souls 1, staying below 25% of your total equip load will provide you with the fastest roll with the most i-frames, while staying between 25% and 50% provides a standard roll. Above 50% you are stuck with a slow, useless flop on the ground. Dark Souls 3 has these breakpoints at 30% and 70% respectively, while Dark Souls 2 has your roll simply get progressively slower until the 70% breakpoint where you begin fat rolling. In any of these games, if you go above 100% of your equip load, you can't roll at all and you can barely even walk.
  • In Dex, this is the only movement you're allowed to make with your gun drawn.
  • Dicey Dungeons: This trope is parodied with the Warrior's special ability being "Combat Roll", allowing him to reroll a die. In Reunion, he can reroll all his unused dice up to twice per turn, while the Inventor gets his standard Combat Roll.
  • In Dungeons & Dragons Online any character with ranks in the tumble skill can hold SHIFT while pressing move, to do a roll instead of normal movement. There is no limit to how much you can do that and it is as fast as regular movement (faster in water of a very specific depth). The downside is that you suffer a penalty to attack rolls shortly after moving, even by rolling, and you can't attack while rolling. You can also use it for Necessary Combat Rolls, when surrounded by a kobold horde to leave safely. Likewise, if you have the Mobility feat, such tumble rolls can offer a +4 bonus to Armor Class. And finally, if you have enough ranks in Tumble, the rolls turn into flips that take the character just enough distance from their starting point to be out of the radius of a Fireball, or similar spell.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • Player characters (and, technically, enemies) in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion who are skilled in acrobatics can perform rolls and flips in order to dodge attacks. Now, much more useful is to engage in the traditional use of rolling in a video game: an unbroken series of Unnecessary Noncombat Rolls that scoot you around the countryside at a pace rivaling that of riding a horse.
    • Players can again roll to dodge in The Elder Scrolls Online, and are often encouraged to in certain situations, as rolling not only displaces you quickly, but also makes every incoming attack, either physical or projectile based, miss. However, the fact that it takes a whole chunk of stamina to do so makes most players think twice before rolling, since that is a resource that can be used for a bunch of other different functions.
  • This is what you will do excessively in Enter the Gungeon. If there's a pit you need to cross or an impenetrable wall of bullets you can't walk around or take cover from, you have to perform a lumbering leap forward that travels at a fixed distance with invincibility frames that ends in with a vulnerable landing roll to avoid getting hit. To really drive the point, the game's studio is named after the mechanic.
  • In Fable rolling is the fastest way to move around the game world. You're also invulnerable to 99% of enemy attacks other than few special boss moves when rolling. It is also not only possible to keep your bow drawn, but to keep drawing your bowstring ever tighter to increase damage, all the while rolling to dodge counterattacks. Even if you're wielding an endgame bow that's as long as you are.
  • In Flashback, combat consists almost entirely of quick pot shots between carefully spaced Apparently Necessary Combat Rolls.
  • Forge Quest: You can do this by pressing the space bar. It's called a "dodge roll".
  • The Elite Mooks in Freedom Fighters (2003) have a dodge roll as a special animation move. The female Black Ops Elite Mooks have an Unnecessary Combat Cartwheel move.
  • Gears of War and Army of Two allow your characters to roll, generally to avoid being hit and to quickly move in a direction. In Gears of War 2, this is actually the fastest way to move, roadie-running (essentially sprinting while crouching) when you're not rolling and attempting to roll as often as possible.
  • The titular Ghost of Ghost 1.0 can roll to pass under certain traps. She can spend skill points in Boogan’s skill tree to take less damage while rolling, and to damage enemies when rolling through them.
  • God of War:
    • In the games, a gratuitous rolling dodge is a good way to move around without the combo counter resetting back to zero, which is desirable because longer combos yield more experience points to unlock powers. Essentially the game seems to treat chain-goring one guy, then dodging nothing at all in order to move up to another victim as a single combat event. This can be hilarious to watch.
    • Additionally, the wind-down can be cancelled by pressing the Square button during a roll (or, in the first game, using the R1 shoulder bash attack) thus making rolling the fastest method of movement. This exploit has so far been in every game of the series, and can also be done in the current show-floor demo of Ascension.
  • GoldenEye has an odd take on this: if you shoot an enemy when he starts his side roll, he will complete the animation, immediately snap into a standing position and then die (or flinch in pain if he's not killed).
  • Grand Theft Auto:
    • Surprisingly, many of the games subvert this. Due to the way the AI is designed, rolling your way into a safespot can save you from gunfire on critical situations (assuming you're on a mission and not fending off the cops) . Also, the same AI stupidity also manages to play this trope straight as many NPCs roll their way straight into your path on an attempt to screw you over with a surprise attack... giving you enough time to kill them before they even try to shoot you (and in some games, they make a look around for danger animation while hiding behind a wall, easily giving away their location before they even start shooting)
    • This trope is usually averted in the multiplayer of the game. If an enemy player targets you, you can immediatelly roll so that their lock on is removed, giving you enough time to kill them before they kill you. Though, in free aim lobbies where there is no such thing as lock on, this trope gets played pretty straight.
  • Players can also do this in the online game Gunz, which is one of the primary defensive techniques of the game. Also in S4 League.
  • Halo:
    • Halo: Combat Evolved:
      • The human marines would roll away from gunfire and grenades. It didn't really help much. In later games they would trade the rolling for actually useful combat behavior, such as firing while taking cover behind objects.
      • Elites would roll away from grenades as well, though one can consider the necessity of it considering Elites had energy shielding. Sometimes they would roll off cliffs too.
      • Instead of flinching and exposing themselves to your fire when you shoot their hand like in the subsequent games, Jackals would roll to the side instead, and this would often be the only time you get a clear shot on one of them other than catching one who's unaware of you.
    • In Halo: Reach, the "Evade" armor ability available to Elites in multiplayer means that players can do this trope as often as they'd like! It's a very useful ability, as it can save your butt if you run into too many enemies at once, are about to get hit by the game's different BFGs, or, as players figured out in Forge mode/Custom games, set the speed higher than normal and fly across Forge World in your glitching glory! It's a good way to cover ground quickly, too; while the Evade covers less distance than Sprint if both are used until they are depleted, it covers the distance faster, which is important when fighting vehicles or someone with a power weapon. Try sprinting away from a rocket's blast radius. Probably won't work out.
  • Dodge-rolling is Corey's special ability in Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number. It grants you invincibility frames to help you dodge bullets, useful in a game where everything is a One-Hit-Point Wonder. The Son can choose this ability as one of his loadouts as well.
  • James Bond is given this ability in Everything or Nothing. It doesn't protect you from fire, but it can help you get from cover to cover quickly. Doing it at the enemy mooks however is suicidal. Also, if he rolls three times in rapid succession, he'll have to catch himself and hold his knee in apparent pain.
  • Parodied in Jazzpunk: when the protagonist steps through a window to infiltrate a Soviet Consulate, he does a somersault punctuated by a brass sting for no reason whatsoever.
  • It's even more egregious in Just Cause 2 than most examples, as in most situations, using the grappling hook is both faster and more efficient at getting you out of the line of fire than the combat roll will ever be.
  • Kingdom Hearts:
    • Sora can do this in the first game. In the sequel it is removed in favor of a new ability called the Quick Run, which had a somewhat different feel to it and minor lag issues. In the Updated Re-release Limited Special Collector's Ultimate Edition, Japanese gamers saw the beloved rolling maneuver return as well and rejoiced.
    • Sora can do this in Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories and doing so allowed one to avoid certain attacks. Riku has the much-preferred dodge jump, where he jumps... and lands behind the opponent, facing his back and letting you unleash hell.
    • In the PS2 remake, Riku's dodge was changed to a lengthy backflip, while Dark Riku got a short-range teleport that functioned similarly to the dodge jump.
    • Lampshaded in the Chain of Memories manga where when Marluxia takes away all of Sora's skills, Sora comments, "So dodge roll is just a somersault now?"
      Marluxia: Like I care.
    • Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days gives the Dodge Roll to Roxas. In addition to the normal roll, you could upgrade it to: stagger enemies on contact, reflect projectiles, or activate automatically in response to attack. Made funnier in Mission Mode where you can choose to play as any of the Organization, and watch them roll about with weapons such as a shield, a book, a tomahawk, a claymore and a scythe.
    • Also of note, Mickey Mouse in the same game is the smallest character in Mission Mode. His Dodge Roll is so tight that if the player hammers the button repeatedly, he appears to have turned into a Morph Ball... with a Keyblade sticking out the side.
    • Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep goes back-and-forth on this. Ven can use Dodge Roll just like Sora and Roxas (he can even upgrade it with a magic attack), while Terra gets a more reasonable forward charge. Aqua, however, gets a dodge cartwheel.
  • In The King of Fighters series, rolling allows all fighters to bypass attacks and go behind opponents, adding another layer of movement in a 2D fighting game and subverting this trope.
  • Vayne the Night Hunter, a champion for League of Legends, has "Tumble" as one of her abilities. Far from being disoriented, it gives her first attack after the roll a damage bonus.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
  • LEGO Adaptation Game:
    • In LEGO Star Wars, Han Solo (and several other high-level gun characters, such as pre-Jedi Luke and Lando Calrissian) can roll during a run and fire off three perfectly aimed shots when he comes out of it. Not surprisingly a number of people love playing Solo in the game for just that move.
    • LEGO Harry Potter ups the ante with the Muggles, who roll around to attack!
  • Most characters do this as their dodge in Lufia: Curse of the Sinistrals. Guy and Dekar also perform one as part of their special attacks.
  • Lethal Enforcers 1: Enemies will often roll out of cover to attack you. The Triad enemies in Stage 2 are especially dramatic about it, cartwheeling out of cover to throw knives.
  • Lugaru:
    • Subverted; your character can roll with no recovery issues, but enemies will often take advantage of this and strike the player while they roll by, sometimes even resulting in a One-Hit Kill.
    • Its sequel, Overgrowth, continues to subvert this in that if you don't time your roll right, you can end up injuring yourself in some situations and breaking your own neck.
  • In Mass Effect 3, Commander Shepard can do combat rolls at any point while on a mission, although during combat they're useful for moving between cover and dodging enemy grenades. In fact, in multiplayer rolling (though only some people actually roll, there's a wide variety of dodging animations) is considered useful enough that tougher characters lacking such moves are considered by some to be severely handicapped.
  • The Matrix: Path of Neo has more guys like the ones in the above The Matrix Reloaded example. They run around and flip on the ceiling of a different club, yet, again, they die.
  • Max Payne:
    • Max himself can either roll to the sides or backwards by jumpingnote , during which he is completely immune to bullets (but not explosions or fire). Rolling to the sides also slows down time, though the utility of it is questionable at best since it's nowhere near as radical as Bullet Time proper and only acts for a split second. In a pinch, Max can leap and roll every which way until he reaches good cover or until the mooks run out of ammo and have to reload.
    • If using Bullet Time, Max can also do a diving leap while firing his guns. While Max is in the air, he can take damage, but will not die even when his silhouette is brimming with red; all bets are off after he impacts the ground, though. If your Bullet Time gauge is dry, Max will default to a roll that can also go forwards after the 'click' of an empty weapon.
    • Max Payne 3 ups the ante on this with its limited inventory system, which encourages the player to repeatedly discard and replace their firearms. When picking up a new gun on the move, something players will do about as much as shooting, Max will tuck into a roll to grab it and can easily come up shooting. In addition to Max himself, the more well-trained enemy factions (the Crachá Preto, AUP, and UFE) will occasionally roll sideways to get out of your crosshairs.
  • Mega Man:
    • Mega Man Legends: Megaman Volnutt can dive into an evasive roll that makes him completely invincible. Seriously, he can pass through bullets, flamethrowers, and giagantic laser waves with it. There's a little lag when he comes out of it though and he can only roll to either side of where he's facing, so running is still plain better for getting around.
    • Axl gains the same roll in his Mega Man X8 appearance.
    • In most of the Mega Man X and Mega Man Zero games where he's playable, Zero can learn a move where he rolls with his saber out. It's completely insane and actually tends to be less useful than his normal dash-slash, but man, does it look cool. (In the Zero games, if you keep tapping B, you can roll-slash continuously as long as the terrain and enemies allow. Good thing Reploids don't get dizzy!)
  • In Mercenary Kings, you can perform one to avoid some attacks. It can also be used to break your fall and thus prevent suffering falling damage.
  • Metal Gear
    • In Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater (more so in Snake's Super Smash Bros. appearance), it's more of a tackle than a roll, and can actually be pretty useful... or just cool.
    • One possible way to beat Null in Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops is to roll under Null's sword swing and then immediately blast him with your shotgun as he just blocks everything else with his machete.
    • Meryl and Akiba do this during the final shootout in the Outer Haven command center in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots.
    • Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain replaces the dodge roll with a dodge hit-the-deck. It's a vital skill in covert operations; since you're likely to be out of cover while sneaking up behind an enemy, if they spot you, your best bet is to jump into the nearest cover while minimizing the amount of time it takes to lower yourself in the event that your cover is just a foot-high sand bar. Also, aiming at a dodging player in Multiplayer is a bitch.
  • Metallic Child: Rona can use a roll to dodge underneath missiles.
  • Metroid:
    • Samus Aran does unnecessary somerssaults while in midair. At an RPM to make your average Ferrari jealous. Kind of annoying as it makes her hard to control compared to her straight jump, and throws off her aim. But it does activate the SCREW ATTACK when you get that powerup.
    • In the Super Smash Bros. series, she does this with her morph ball, making it more useful given how much more mobile it is and is unlikely to get her injured.
    • In Metroid: Other M, Samus can do this, in rapid succession even, to dodge attacks, and it even somehow charges her beam instantly.
  • In Monster Hunter, you can roll to get out of the way of a monster's attack, but you can't use it to reliably dodge through attacks unless you raise the Evade skill, which gives you more invincibility time while rolling. Against any boss monster that knows you're there and can see you, you can do a panic dive by sprinting away from it and attempting to roll. You'll be safe from damage for much longer than when rolling, but it takes a moment to get back up, and against monsters that don't locate you by sight, you can't dive because sprinting away doesn't make your character run in a panic.
  • Ryu Hayabusa did this in the first Ninja Gaiden on XBOX. The sequel removed it in favor of a quick step that does practically the same thing. He also does dodge rolls in Dragon Sword on the DS.
  • The player can do it in Oni — though it actually is justified in that most weapon fire is slow-moving and most combat is hand-to-hand.
  • Fish from Nuclear Throne can roll. He can upgrade it to roll continously. Unlike most examples, apart from giving him a slight speed boost, it really is unnecessary.
  • Former outlaw Cole Cassidy (renamed from McCree) of Overwatch has Combat Roll as one of his abilities. Interesting in that it automatically reloads his Peacemaker, allowing him to chain together nasty rapid-fire combos with his skill that lets him automatically unload all of his remaining bullets into an enemy. He can kill most non-Tank heroes in seconds this way.
  • Perfect Dark:
    • In Perfect Dark Zero, you have the ability in-game to roll at any given moment. The rolls are extremely short and generally ridiculous looking, and would be laughably ineffective, if not for the use of one causing an enemy's lock on you to break.
    • The mooks have the ability to do it in the original Perfect Dark, and it is still woefully ineffective.
  • Pokémon:
    • Parodied in Detective Pikachu; Pikachu will occasionally do a combat roll if you use a Pika Prompt, which just means Tim is having a conversation with him. "Just in case!" in his words.
    • And played straight in Pokémon Legends: Arceus, which gives you a dodge-roll that you will quickly learn to abuse, Zelda-style, to move a bit faster.
  • In Potion Permit, you can dodge-roll out of the way of monster attacks while fighting them to collect potion ingredients from them. It makes you temporarily invincible, but there's a short cooldown period before you can dodge-roll again.
  • In Quake IV, there is a certain kind of Mook that will roll toward the player if it comes under heavy fire. This actually makes it easier to kill it with a single shotgun blast.
  • In Sin and Punishment, you can use a roll attack to dodge enemy attacks, and are invincible for the duration of the roll animation. However, you're unable to attack during the animation.
  • A technique found by the titular character in Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus is a skill that lets you roll through stages. Lampshaded when Bentley says that the creator of the technique could roll faster than she could run.
  • Traditional Sonic the Hedgehog games invert this trope. Makes sense, as rolling up is an effective technique for real-life hedgehogs.
  • In Splatoon 2, dodge rolling is the unique feature of the Dualies weapon class, justified by the guns having inbuilt ink jets that propel the wielder in the desired direction. You can roll up to twice in a row, except with the Tetra Dualies, which allow as many as four consecutive dodge rolls, and the Dualie Squelchers, which allows you to jump out of a dodge roll for continuous movement as long as you have ink. You're fixed in a crouching stance for a moment after rolling, during which the weapon's accuracy is increased, so a well-timed dodge will afford you the chance to counter but a poorly-timed one will just leave you more vulnerable.
  • Spyro the Dragon can roll evasively to the left or right in his first game. He isn't invincible during it, but he can do it as long as he wants. Most players didn't use it though and it was removed from all future games.
  • In Star Trek Online, the player character can throw themselves into a roll to get behind cover or away from an enemy (useful) or diveroll to a aiming crouch from a run (very useful). The player character's AI companions will put the Unnecessary in Unnecessary Combat Roll. Present in the game because of Kirk, of course (see Live-Action TV above).
  • Star Wars games:
    • Jaden Korr from Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy can do both forward and backward rolls, and add a lightsaber stab at the end of a forward roll. Justified in the early stages of the game because a forward roll into stab is one of the few reliable ways to kill enemies with lightsabers (Reborn mostly, though it can work on cultists). Given how painful a lightsaber to the crotch is, you'd think they'd learn to guard low when you crouch or roll. The slash marks left by this attack are somewhat buggy, because no other saber attack actually stabs your enemy. After one successful hit, it's possible for 9001 slash trails to appear, centered on where you hit them. Averted with later enemies in the game, who will attack you mid-roll or dodge your attack, making Unnecessary Combat Rolls unreliable.
    • Republic Heroes, a video-game tie-in to The Clone Wars, lets you do this whenever playing as a clone. It looks pretty epic, suffice to say.
  • Street Fighter:
    • Joke Character Dan Hibiki actually teaches people to use Unnecessary Combat Rolls in his horrid fighting style, Saikyo. In some games (mostly the Capcom Versus series) Dan can drop all of his limit bars into a super taunt, which is just him rolling around and taunting at super speed with a glowing image trail. Parodying the KOF roll is part of his schtick as a SNK parody.
    • Vega both optimizes and subverts this at the same time.
    • In general, rolling is often used in the Street Fighter series to bypass projectile attacks; particularly for characters who lack a projectile of their own. Simply ducking, however, is more common.
  • King Dedede is able to roll forward as his down-tilt attack in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U/3DS, from a lounging position. It looks fairly goofy, but it has a quick start up and can often be chained into other rolls.
  • In Sundered, Eshe can avoid all enemy attacks—up to and including getting shot at by a Wave-Motion Gun—with a well-timed dodge-roll. Taking the Resist path allows the player to upgrade this dodge-roll into Othaloth’s Demise, which damages enemies as Eshe passes through them.
  • A constant factor in the Syphon Filter games is the ability to reduce the risk of getting hit by doing this.
  • Parodied by Tales from the Borderlands. During an action packed chase scene, Rhys winds up falling on the hood of August's car, at which point the latter aims a gun at the former. Rhys can then roll out of the way in a Quick Time Event, but since he's on a small platform right in front of his enemy, August immediately notes how all he has to do is slightly alter his aiming before he has a clear shot.
  • TimeShift: Soldiers do this a lot, even with an explosive bolt stuck in them.
  • In the TimeSplitters series (in particular TimeSplitters 2), computer controlled characters sometimes do this (they can't even fire, so the reason is anyone's guess). There is no way whatsoever for human players to do this though.
  • In Titan Souls, this is one of the few actions the player character can take.
  • The Tomb Raider games frequently feature this, along with plenty of She-Fu. Rolling into an enemy does knock him down, though. The Roll move in the original Tomb Raider ends with Lara facing the opposite way, making it a quick way to change direction in combat.
  • In Too Human, you are COMPLETELY invulnerable during the roll, including windup and winddown, making for a fairly long period of safety. Thus, it's not only quite useful despite making you unable to attack for the duration, you don't even have to worry about what DIRECTION you're rolling in.
  • The Skaarj in Unreal have this as a dodge move. It actually helps. Although this is mostly because they automatically dodge-roll every time you fire a rocket at them.
  • Warden: Melody of the Undergrowth: Tavian can perform a rolling move that allows him to dodge attacks.
  • Warframe has your frames able to perform a fast forward roll. Not only does it make you move faster, it also has a damage-reducing property to it (best seen with certain damage over time effects). The Mirage frame in particular has a somewhat quicker roll, and recent updates have introduced a mod that grants invulnerability on a roll, albeit with a cooldown. Due in part to the Le Parkour system in-play, rolling into a slide and then bullet-jumping is a popular way to quickly get from Point A to Point B.
  • World of Warcraft:
    • The expansion "Mists of Pandaria" adds the Monk as a playable class. One maneuver a Monk can perform is a forward roll. This somersault miraculously propels the Monk 20 yards forward at a pace far faster than the Monk's normal running speed. This can also be done underwater, propelling you exactly the same distance. With a glyph, you can even do it while you're dead!
    • More fitting in the sense of "Unnecessary" is the male nightelf randomly doing a somersault in his jump animation.
  • Castlevania: Circle of the Moon has a roll that takes place whenever Nathan misses a Tackle, but the roll itself is more useless than the Tackle itself because it can't destroy certain projectiles nor damage enemies.

    Web Animation 
  • My Little Pony: Equestria Girls:
  • Red vs. Blue has these once they start using motion capture and animation. Mostly it's there for legitimate reasons, like the Freelancers dodging explosions or gunshots, but sometimes it's egregious. Notably, done very reasonably by Washington to get to a heavy weapon lying on the ground, because the Pyromaniac's fire was in the way.
  • RWBY runs unashamedly on the Rule of Cool, and thus flips, twists, and spins are the default for most fights even when there are much better ways to dodge or strike. Unnecessary combat rolls are just par for the course.


    Web Original 
  • One story had a highly-trained, government-sponsored superhero enter the lobby of a hostile-held building by cartwheeling through the door. She then walks across the lobby and executes a "tactical manoeuvre" by jumping, skipping, rolling, jumping again, then hiding behind a pillar. It becomes impossible to take the story seriously from that point on, especially since said lobby was completely empty. Did she know the lobby was empty? Was the point of the manoeuvre that no-one watching could take it seriously?

    Web Videos 

    Western Animation 
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, an overly paranoid Sokka leaps over the heads of the rest of the Gaang as they're walking, slams into the ground, does a combat roll, and sits up, when the gang first enters Fire Nation lands/enemy territory.
  • Parodied in The Boondocks when Ed Wuncler the III, after a vicious attack on a bookstore, uses an Unnecessary Combat Roll as he leaves while yelling, "KIIYAAA BITCH!"
  • Done by Adam West in Family Guy (the episode where Peter establishes the country of Petoria) so he can get to his desk.
  • Kim Possible: Any attempt by Ron Stoppable to do one of these usually results in loss of pants, or at least some kind of painful fall. Unsurprisingly, Teen Cheerleader Kim Possible can do these and include doing the splits for a finish.
  • King of the Hill: Dale performs a completely unnecessary roll, coupled with his trademark "Shi-shi-shaw" while using a nail gun to build a house in "The Father, The Son And J.C.".
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • In "Lesson Zero", Rainbow Dash kicks open the door to the library and does a combat roll up to where Celestia and Twilight were talking.
    • There's also Twilight's gratuitous use of combat rolls in "It's About Time" to stay out of sight of the guards, while Pinkie Pie and Spike just walk normally. It turns out the guards are aware of them the entire time but ignore them since Twilight and her friends are always welcome in the palace, which makes the rolls even more unnecessary.
  • Done by Zak Saturday in the first episode of The Secret Saturdays; entering a room after the combat had finished. Forgivable because he is 11.
  • When Chief Wiggum of The Simpsons wanted to look cooler while making arrests, he did an Unnecessary Combat Roll... off a roof. He also does one when he thinks his house is being burgled... and does his back in.
  • Star Trek: The Animated Series: As the website The Agony Booth put it when discussing Star Trek, "Even when animated, James T. Kirk never misses the opportunity to do a head roll."
  • Attempted once by Finn in Storm Hawks, which led him to faceplant into a rock wall.
  • King Fredrick pulls one off in Tangled: The Series "In Like Flynn" when he and Eugene are infiltrating the kingdom of Equis, making Eugene roll his eyes.
  • In Transformers: Animated, Sentinel Prime did this, as one more sign of just how much of a walking ego he is.
  • The Venture Brothers: 21 becomes Two-Ton 21 and invades the Venture compound to kidnap the eponymous twins. Bonus points for doing it when there's no enemy in sight and no need for stealth.

    Real Life 
  • For the sports version: Gymnast Simone Biles does an unnecessary aerial cartwheel when throwing the first pitch at a Houston Astros game. Justified in that she's a world champion gymnast, and MLB first pitches are allowed to be a bit flashy.
  • Back in the early days of baseball, around 1885 or so, St. Louis third baseman Arlie Latham pulled this maneuver, avoiding a tag by Chicago first baseman Cap Anson, leaping over Anson (who had the ball in his hand and who had the basepath blocked off) and running successfully to first base.
  • The Cartwheeling spider is named after a variation of this move, which it uses to escape if it feels provoked.
  • In a 2010 MMA match between Ken Shamrock and Johnathan Ivey, Ivey tried to kick Shamrock, missed, and went into two consecutive rolls to get away as Shamrock just looked on in confusion.
  • The so called "dive roll" seen in many an action film is actually based on real life martial arts techniques. Known as "falling techniques", the idea is to both reduce/prevent injury and to get back to your feet as fast as possible. The key idea here is that it is a recovery technique, and should only be used when you've been given an impromptu flying lesson.


The Rowdyruff Boys

Blossom yells "Acrobattack!" before doing the attack with her sisters.

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