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Taking The Bullet / Literature

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Taking the Bullet in literature.


  • In Deryni Checkmate, Duke Alaric Morgan is sailing to a meeting with the Hort of Orsal aboard his ship Rhafallia when the auxiliary helmsman, a partisan of rebel Warin de Grey, attacks him with a poisoned knife. A royal squire named Richard Fitzwilliam happens to turn at the right moment to see the helmsman leap at Morgan, and he throws himself between them while shouting a warning. Richard takes the dagger in his side, and he asks to be allowed to swear the oath of fealty so he can die as Morgan's liege man. Morgan grants his request, and Richard just manages to recite it before he dies. The assassin had taken poison himself before attacking, and he defiantly resists Morgan's questioning until he also dies. Morgan gives orders to have Richard's body buried with full honours at his capital Coroth, while the assassin's remains are dumped overboard.
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  • In The Last English King, a novel about 1066 and the Norman Conquest, Harold Godwinson's housecarl Walt puts out his arm to stop a sword slicing down at King Harold. The sword lops Walt's arm clean off and strikes Harold anyway. Walt later bitterly regrets not taking the sword strike with his whole body.
  • In the first Xanth novel, A Spell for Chameleon, Bink's to-that-point unknown talent was revealed when an increasingly implausible string of obstacles kept intercepting Trent's transformation spells. Turns out Bink can't be hurt by magic means. Which simply caused the ever-pragmatic Trent to draw his completely un-magical sword and try to run Bink through. Leading to a second bullet catch, as Chameleon (changed into a deer by Trent's spell) took the blade instead.
  • Subverted for the premise of David Allan Greer's short-lived sitcom, D.A.G.: Greer's Secret Service agent dove to take a bullet aimed at the President, but dove the wrong way, leading everyone to assume he was diving out of the way and to his demotion to the First Lady's security detail.
  • Discworld:
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    • In the novel Making Money, Moist von Lipwig saves Lord Vetinari from public embarrassment by taking a Pie in the Face for him.
    • Done with a crossbow bolt in Feet of Clay, and several times with actual gun-fired bullets in Men at Arms as well. Detritus proudly says that there's five shots in his breastplate but not his backplate because his body got in the way. He oozed quite a bit though. Carrot takes a shot in the shoulder for the Patrician. Angua takes four shots to her body for Carrot and Vimes.
  • Ciaphas Cain
    • A minor tech-priest does this to protect Ciaphas from a Necron shot. Unfortunately, given the power of Necron weapons, he is instantly torn apart and vaporized, but he manages to save Cain, even if Cain loses a couple fingers from the sheer proximity of the horrible weapon fire.
    • A villainous version in "Cain's Last Stand", where the defenders nearly managed to take out a Chaos battleship with an explosive-filled shuttle. Unfortunately, one of the escorts got in the way before it hit, destroying itself.
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  • Rockjaw Grang in the Redwall novel The Long Patrol, right before his You Shall Not Pass! moment. Also, Veil took a spear to protect his adoptive mother. It's unclear if this was a Heel–Face Turn or not, because even as he's dying he bitches her out and won't accept comfort, and she decides that everyone who said he was bad to the bone during his life was right.
  • In Artemis Fowl - The Eternity Code, just as Butler realizes he left Artemis unattended he rushes back and sees Artemis about to get shot, jumping in and taking the hit. Butler loses consciousness from blood loss, leaving Artemis to quickly contact Holly to save him, the healing managed to recover him but with some complications.
  • Inverted in Airman, by Eoin Colfer; Victor performs a dramatic leap in front of a bullet to save King Nicholas, but, because he's just that bit too old, the bullet hits the webbing between his outstretched fingers and hits its intended target anyway. And then Victor gets shot, too.
  • In the Honor Harrington novels, taking a shot for someone would probably be a bad idea given the speed and force an average pulser dart moves at — you'd both just die. The beloved head of Grayson's church does take an old-style slug for Honor, which causes the assassin sent to kill her to break down.
    • Even with an old-style slug, throwing himself in the path doesn't entirely stop the bullets. It just slows them down enough that Honor just ends up with bruised ribs instead of getting killed (her outer clothes are made of a lightly armored material to stop Nimitz from clawing through them).
  • In the Modesty Blaise novel The Night of Morningstar, Modesty takes a chance to destroy the radio transmitter vital to the villains' plans even though it means letting her guard down against the one mook she hasn't already knocked out. The mook tries to shoot her in the back. Ben Christie, who was sitting out the fight and ignored by everyone due to his injuries from an earlier conflict, throws himself between Modesty and the bullet.
  • Star Wars Legends:
    • In I, Jedi, Mara Jade and Corran Horn spend some time honing their Jedi laser-deflection skills on several remotes. If a remote's laser hits flesh, it really stings, but there's no permanent damage. At one point while the two are engaging in Casual Danger Dialog Mara is almost shot in the face, but Corran intercepts with his hand. Amused, Mara says she owes him one. She delivers in a Big Damn Heroes moment.
    • In Galaxy of Fear: Ghost of the Jedi, DV-9 takes a blaster bolt for Tash Arranda. He lives—er, "lives," being a droid—and just needs some new parts, later claiming that he will bear the scar forever. Even though as a droid he should be able to replace that battered outer shell.
    • In Razor's Edge, Captain Metara shoves Leia out of the way of the Space Pirate Viest's sonic pulse weapon, and is killed by it.
  • In the Warhammer 40,000 novel Grey Knights, one of Ligeia's death cultists takes a plasma blast for the Big Bad.
  • In The Silmarillion: the elf lady Aredhel takes a javelin thrown by her husband and meant for their son. It's only a flesh wound, so she asks of the king her brother that her husband be spared... and then she dies in the night, because the weapon was poisoned.
  • In Les Misérables, Eponine takes a bullet for her unrequited crush Marius. Ironic, because she deliberately led him to the barricades so that he would be killed and wouldn't be with his love Cosette.
  • The Action Hero's Handbook has a chapter on how to properly take a bullet (so you can survive with minimal injuries to yourself).
  • In Tigana, Dianora combines this trope with Human Shield by jumping in front of a crossbow bolt.... but yanking a guy she doesn't like along with her. He winds up taking the shot in the shoulder.
  • In the climatic battle at the end of the first Safehold book Off Armageddon Reef, a midshipman tries to Take The Crossbow Bolt for his king. King Haarahld instead grabs the midshipman to Take The Bullet for him instead. The king dies from bloodloss soon after, though his Heroic Sacrifice makes him a martyr and hero to his people.
  • In Robert Anton Wilson's Illuminatus! series novel, The Widow's Son, the elderly schemer Pietro Maldonado intervenes in a duel where his nephew Sigismundo, a hothead who knows nothing about guns, has trapped himself into a duel with the best pistol-shooter in all of Napoli. Pietro, in his intervention, surprises the protagonists and takes the bullet meant for his nephew. Who, on his very first go with a firearm, has Beginner's Luck in that he shoots the best gun in town full in the groin.
  • In Warrior Cats, throughout the book SkyClan's Destiny, Stick believes that a cat named Harley "stole" his daughter when she really does love him. In the ending Stick is about to kill Harley when his daughter Red leaps in front of him and dies because of it.
  • Prince Almorante in The Chronicles of Magravandias dies taking a sword for his enemy Valraven. People who hated him only minutes before were moved to tears by his sacrifice.
  • Halo:
    • In Halo: The Fall of Reach, the orbital shipyard Cradle pulls an epic one, maneuvering into position between the UNSC and Covenant fleets and using its massive bulk to absorb the Covenant fire.
    • In Halo: Ghosts of Onyx, Holly saves Kelly from two Hunters by jumping in the way of their fire, getting completely vaporized in the process.
  • In Malinda Lo's Adaptation. Amber takes a bullet for Reese. She gets better, thanks to her healing powers.
  • Happens twice in Song of the Lioness by Tamora Pierce. In the second book, Alanna takes an arrow for Prince Jon, but it only results in a painful arm wound. In the fourth, Liam Ironarm dies by taking several arrows for now-King Jon during the coronation coup.
  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: Fawkes (a phoenix) is able to swallow an Avada Kedavra curse, expire as a result, and then return to life.
  • In Blackout, Shaun does this to protect President Ryman from a dart loaded with live Kellis-Amberlee virus. He's the only one in the room at the time who knows he's immune to KA.
  • Young James Bond's life is saved in By Royal Command when the girl he loves pushes him aside when he is shot at. She is mortally wounded, and he accompanies her in her last moments.
  • In Last Sacrifice, Tasha Ozera fires bullets at Lissa. Both Rose and Dimitri throw themselves before her. Rose takes the bullet.
  • In the Doctor Who novel Engines of War, Cinder jumps in between a shot fired by Karlax and the Doctor. "You said I'd only get in the way."
  • In Pan Tadeusz, father Robak who is The Atoner, does it for a distant relative of the person he's atoning for murdering.
  • The Hunger Games: During the Quarter Quell, one of the morphlings is killed by an attack from a vicious monkey that was meant for Peeta.
  • In the Nightrunner novel Shadows Return, Alec takes the arrows meant for Seregil and dies. Fortunately, they were traveling with a magical creature that could bring the dead back to life at the time.
  • The Young Ancients: While lacking in actual bullets, Tor does often throw himself between others and various attacks. Justified, in that he is almost always wearing a personal forcefield of his own design and is much more likely to survive.
  • The Infected: By the same author as the above, has a number of bulletproof or armored characters doing this at various points. One standout is Marcia Turner, Quartz, sprinting at a rocket-propelled grenade, so none of her friends will be in the blast radius when it explodes.
  • In John French’s Thousand Sons trilogy, Sanakht took a psychic attack from a rival sorcerer on behalf of his master Ahriman at some point in the backstory. Sanakht survived, but the attack burnt out much of his psychic potential, and now he struggles to perform the most basic psychic feats like Telepathy, though he remains a deadly Master Swordsman.


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