A-Team Firing

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

"Well, that looked impressive..."

Norris Packard after dodging an enemy barrage by standing still, Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS Team

The ineffective deployment of More Dakka. Bullets fly left, right and center, but no one is getting hit. Their remarkable ability to expend enormous amounts of ammunition without managing to hit anyone (important) distinguishes them as honor graduates from the Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy.

Related to this is when the goodies deliberately miss their shots because they do not wish to kill anyone.

This trope is often Truth in Television, particularly after it was statistically analyzed in World War II. Officially this trope goes by the term spray and pray as any sustained automatic fire from a hand held weapon will require divine intervention to actually hit its target. The causes for this trope are rooted in physics because the recoil from each successive shot from an automatic weapon will force the weapon's muzzle to rise up until all of the rounds are passing harmlessly over the target.

Since soldiers stopped lining up and charging the enemy head on, it has become much harder to actually hit your opponent, even with well-aimed shots. Targets that move quickly and stay behind cover are naturally harder to hit, and when they are returning fire one's own ability to concentrate, aim and shoot will be seriously impacted. Today small arms tactics revolve around suppressive fire and maneuver, which use aimed shots to suppress, or pin down the enemy, to allow other elements to move in close for the kill. Back in the late 1950s, in Robert A. Heinlein's Starship Troopers he points out that military histories show that it takes several thousand rounds per person to kill an enemy soldier (in today's era of machine guns that shoot hundreds of rounds of suppressing fire, it takes at least 250,000 rounds to kill one militant in Iraq![2]), even under normal circumstances; in combat, accuracy with small arms goes way down. Way, way down. It should be noted that long before machineguns and semi-automatic rifles like the WWII M1 Garand were developed, artillery was the big killer on the battlefield and still is.

Perhaps this trope is employed as an alternative to the opposite extreme of Guns Are Worthless and Annoying Arrows. A writer trying to be realistic about how dangerous both arrows and bullets are in the right hands would have to make the people firing them unable to hit the broad side of a barn in order to draw fights out for dramatic effect.

The real reason, of course, was the fact The A-Team was nominally a kid's show in prime time, and killing was a network no-no. At the time, it was overlooked due to the Rule of Cool.

The opposite of Improbable Aiming Skills. See also Bloodless Carnage, which often motivates this trope. Compare Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy, when this trope only seems to apply to the bad guys and the heroes' returning fire is picking off one Stormtrooper per shot.

Examples of A-Team Firing include:

Anime and Manga

  • Trigun. Because the main character can dodge bullets and refuses to kill or seriously injure his enemies, 99% of the bullets fired in the series accomplish nothing besides property destruction. In fact, in the teaser to the first episode, a bunch of criminals unload countless rounds of ammunition into a restaurant. When they stop, the whole building's been demolished except for Vash, the stool he's sitting on, and the little bit of counter in front of him, which are all completely unharmed.
    • In the actual first episode, the reason that little slice of real estate is unharmed is because it was shielded by the tavern's very sturdy sign, which, when no longer propped up by the repeated impact of incoming bullets on one side, fell over. It wasn't so much that they all missed the target as that there was something bulletproof in the way.
  • Akane from Kämpfer fits this trope perfectly. Even with superpowers complete with Transformation Sequence, her expert gun handling hasn't served to hit a single target. To be fair, most of the missed bullets were dodged by her opponents at light speed.
  • Black Lagoon, on occasion, suffers from this trope. The best example is the gun battle between Revy and Killer Maid Roberta. Despite the fact that they fire countless rounds at each other without either taking cover (sometimes at near point-blank range), they only hit each other once, both times apparently only giving each other a minor wound. Of course, this was all necessary in order for them to have a fist fight. And to establish them as being roughly equal in skill; namely, that they're so good they can avoid just about everything the opponent throws at them.
    • Revy is apparently incorporeal. Machine gun fire directly at her seems to miss entirely!
      • Simple. The bullets are afraid to get even near her.
  • Neither the militant Library Task Force of Library War nor their pro-censorship nemesis, the Media Cleansing Committee, ever seem to hit anything despite their constant barrages of automatic weapons fire, making it one of the most peaceful (and legal!) civil wars ever depicted.
  • The first episode of Burst Angel sees two opponents firing away at each other at point blank range (like, four metres) like no tomorrow, without a single hit.
  • Xabungle, like many, "many" mecha shows, uses this to a certain extreme—but subverts it with its usual comedy. Despite virtually every face character facing a hail of human-scale bullets at some point or another, the number who are wounded from it (let alone killed) can be counted on one hand. It isn't from lack of trying—they're all "really" good at dodging on foot.
  • Zoids: Chaotic Century has this on-and-off, generally when the bad guys are shooting. This might make sense with some of the mercenaries and generic criminals seen earlier in the series, but it really doesn't make sense when there are a few zoids lined up to defend the Imperial palace and the waves of zoids sent by Prozen can't even destroy them, despite vastly outnumbering the few Mulgas, Gustav, Command Wolf, and Zaber Fang that are lined up holding them off.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS Team allows enemy Ace Pilot Norris Packard to hang a lampshade on this by providing the page quote when The Hero Shiro Amada fires every weapon he has simultaneously at him without managing to land a single hit.

Comic Books

  • Lampshaded in Detective Comics # 858, which features The Question as a second-feature after the main Batwoman storyline. In the last chapter of a five-part story involving The Question breaking up a kidnapping/prostitution/smuggling organization, she is fleeing the home of the ringleader while being shot at by numerous members of his villainous entourage, only to simply run straight past the entrance gate without even a token roll to evade the gunfire. When she has run out of sight, one of the shooters turns to the others and states that they "are the worst shots ever."
  • Played painfully straight in the "Two-Face: Year One" comic. A SWAT team is sent in to a room full of unsuspecting supervillains who are making phone calls on behalf of Harvey Dent's reelection campaign, with orders to kill everyone but Dent. In spite of the order, and the fact the illustration makes it look like they're spraying the room with bullets, the most damage that the team inflicts is shooting Scarecrow's horse and (non-fatally) wounding the Ventriloquist. Everyone else is brought in unharmed.
  • In The Walking Dead, this is Tyreese's biggest problem. Even given lessons on a makeshift firing range, he can't hit the broad side of a barn. Good thing he's capable with a hammer.
  • Doubly subverted in Largo Winch. When Penny reminds him that Largo ordered them to do the operation without killing, Simon tell that there is no need to worry, because he has terrible aiming skill. Then one mook is shot, and Simon explains that this prove how bad he is, because he aimed at the roof.
  • In The Dark Knight Returns, Batman tight-ropes over two buildings and two guys with automatics unload on him. He gets hit. A lot. Right in the three-inch-thick steel chest plate he wears under the bright yellow Bat-Symbol, apparently designed for this exact purpose.

Fan Works


  • Predator had the entire team opening up in full-automatic on their target. Only one shot actually hit the being. Kinda-sorta justified 'cause it's invisible and concealed in jungle.
    • Only one guy actually saw it, the rest came 15 seconds later and started randomly spraying everywhere, not knowing what they were shooting at, just that he was shooting at something.
  • In Tim Burton's Batman there is a rather campy scene where Batman goes into a dive in the Batplane and unleashes a hail of bullets at the Joker, who simply stands in the open, and completely misses. Otherwise, Burton's Batman has no problem killing.
  • Battle sequences in various incarnations of Star Wars are filled with rainbows of laser fire, but rarely do any non-clone/non-stormtrooper/droid characters get hit. This sometimes leads to particularly ridiculous moments where multiple Jedi characters casually converse with each other on ground zero.
    • Look at the Battle of Geonosis. In the mobs of the CIS and Republic armies you can see stuff being destroyed or soldiers getting killed. The Expanded Universe confirms that, yes, lots of Jedi also died in the battle.
  • The lousy action flick Deep Rising has the good guy miss every shot while trying to blast a villain with a machine gun—from about twenty feet away. His partner shows equally crappy marksmanship when he pops up behind her suddenly—from about ten feet away.
  • During the climax of Dumb and Dumber, one of the protagonists survives a shot to the chest and empties a pistol at the villain from a few feet away, prompting the quote: "Harry! You're alive!... And you're a terrible shot!" Justified, as Harry was at the time working for the FBI. They were only trying to arrest the villain, so might as well hire a complete idiot to do the job.
  • Parodied mercilessly in the film UHF in which Weird Al Yankovic as Rambo slowly stares down the man firing at him, slowly takes an arrow out of his quiver, slowly nocks it, and slowly raises his arm to shoot the arrow, only for the camera to switch to a wide cut so we can see the evil man who has been firing the Uzi non-stop for about 4 minutes now is standing three feet away.
    • Later on, an entire line of enemy soldiers fire upon Al, and he actually rolls his eyes before he turns around to take them all down with a single burst from his rifle.
  • During the takeover scene in Air Force One. The Chechen terrorists kill Marines and Secret Service agents without one of the terrorists being killed or, at least wounded, by governments agents, who are supposed to be the best-shots in the business.
    • Slightly justified however, as the terrorists are actually shot by the Secret Service agents at some points but they are wearing body armour that they took from the armoury, which was able to protect them from the pistols used by the Secret Service.
  • Justified in Tropic Thunder, where the protagonists, being actors in a movie, have all their guns loaded with blanks.
  • Also Justified in Die Hard 2, where the commando team is again firing blanks.
  • In Pulp Fiction, a random gunman takes the lead characters by surprise and unloads a large-caliber revolver at them, only for him to miss every shot and get gunned down after a Beat. Jules interprets this unlikely scenario as divine intervention, and decides to give up the life of a gangster and Walk the Earth.
    • Divine indeed. The two bullet holes over the shoulders is just coincidental. As for one bullet hole that suggest a shoulder hit and another that suggest a punctured lung, these can't be explained by science.
    • It doesn't help that if you look closely during earlier scenes, you can see the bullet holes are in the wall before the gunman starts shooting.
  • Used in the Der Clown movie Payday, but not played too straight: The German version of SWAT can fire their machine guns without hitting anyone. The unarmored villains can mow down most SWAT members in body armor with machine guns and shoot through steel ropes with pistols, but fail to hit the heroes unless by accidentally pulling the trigger. The heroes' firing is apparently so bad again, combined with their constant lack of dakka, that they have to resort on blowing up an entire aircraft to kill the baddies inside.
  • The gunfight in Support Your Local Sheriff demonstrated this trope.
  • While an aversion of this trope isn't usually notable, the fact that The A-Team film adaptation averted it is.
  • Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines: "Bullets fired: 999. Human casualties: 0."
    • Echoing a scene in Terminator 2, where John orders the Terminator to not kill anyone. Which leads to a scene where the Terminator fights off a small army of police with a Minigun, firing thousands of rounds and killing no one. The Terminator could have easily killed quite a few people, but he deliberately aimed to miss.
  • The Hallelujah Trail: Lampshaded by Col. Gearhart, after the Battle of Whiskey Hills, in which there were no fatalites, nor was anyone badly wounded:

Col. Gearhart: It's a miracle -- A miracle of the highest order that so many bullets could miss so many people in so small an area in such a short space of time.

  • In the Michael Douglas film Falling Down, gang members attempt to get revenge on Bud Foster during a drive by shooting, but end up killing everyone else on the block but him; before crashing into a telephone pole and dying themselves
  • In Godzilla (the American, CGI version), the military does this to the extent that they do more property damage to Manhattan than the monster does.
  • The 2007 Australian film Noise ends with a realistic shootout, and it shows a lot of in-accurate shooting under pressure.
  • The two Michael Mann films Public Enemies and Heat have action scenes where the characters use lots of suppressive fire and fire and movement.
  • Played with in X-Men: Days of Future Past: during Magneto's jailbreak, Quicksilver turns a realistic hail of bullets into a salvo of A-Team Firing by repositioning each shot individually to miss its target.


  • This trope is the reason for "Try Again" Bragg's nickname in Dan Abnett's Warhammer 40,000: Gaunt's Ghosts series. Fortunately, due to his sheer strength he is a heavy weapons trooper and usually tots a machine gun-equivalent with ammo to spare.
  • Stephen King's The Dark Tower: The Drawing of the Three takes a time-out to explain exactly why a mook misses with a fully automatic weapon, in realistic terms.
  • Played for Drama in the Dale Brown book Executive Intent. A Kill Sat is used to try and take out terrorists who have commandeered ballistic missiles, but misses and kills many civilians. Things get worse.
  • Seen in Malevil when the castle comes under siege. Discipline fails for both the defenders and the attackers. Malevil opens fire when the gates are breached but before the enemy enters the Death Course, the invaders go prone and open fire despite not seeing any of the defenders. Both sides waste precious ammunition firing at nothing before their commanders can get them back under control.
  • In the 1632 series, Noelle Murphy (later known as Noelle Stull) is a famously poor shot. Including missing an aimed shot at a stationary body from less than seven feet away.

Live Action TV

  • The A-Team made this famous, with heroes and villains both firing ridiculous amounts of bullets at the climax of almost every episode, to practically no effect.
    • They hit lots of glass windows, car tires, radiators, and other such things. They just never hit any people. (Cracked.com, the source of the page image, also speculated on "the hundreds of bystanders they likely gunned down with their hail of stray bullets.")
      • Guns don't kill people. People kill glass windows, car tires and radiators. And many a Memetic Mutation too.
      • At least one episode ("Say It With Bullets") saw the team set up an elaborate ruse by making their antagonist Col. Decker believe they were hiding in the guest house on an Army base; the team had rigged a stereo system to play, by remote control, a sound-effects record where one of the tracks was machine gun fire. When Decker is tipped and brings his convoy to the guest house to call the team out, Hannibal cues the stereo, making the soldiers think they are being fired upon ... and they return fire, heavily damaging the house. When nobody is found inside, Decker blows his stack, realizing that tens of thousands of rounds of ammunition had been wasted as part of a game played for Hannibal's amusement.
    • They were also pretty good at hitting those amazing exploding bushes which inevitably caused a jeep to flip over (without injuring the occupants, of course).
    • Subverted in the show itself, in that the times where characters did get shot on-screen, Face and Murdock in different episodes, though they got better, only a single bullet is fired each time.
    • To be fair, if they didn't want to shoot anyone (which would legally count as murder) while firing off thousands of rounds, they would have to be pretty good.
  • Doctor Who has some bad, bad examples of this trope. In "The Gunfighters," seasoned cowboys repeatedly miss some people walking down the middle of a road. In "The Caves of Androzani," the Doctor runs through a long mudfield with little cover except for a few hills, while about a gazillion rounds are fired at him by the pursuing gang of mercenaries, and still manages to escape relatively unscathed- so long as you ignore the terminal case of spetrox toxaemia.
  • Alias used it for the first season and a half—then Sydney started killing people. It's not that Sydney missed her shots, though; in general she used tranquilizers.
  • Any enemy on Andromeda. To be fair, in one episode, the crew of the Andromeda Ascendant were shown to be wearing "ECM Generators" that "play hell with smart bullets."
    • This is worst when automated defenses are used. These will track dodging enemies, but walking straight at them is perfectly safe. These are the main ship defense weapons used by the heroes, too.
      • It got hijacked and used against them so many times in the first season alone that one of the characters commented something along the lines of: "Automated ships defenses. What kind of a retarded engineer had that put in?" while taking cover from said automatic defense turrets.
  • Generally averted on Airwolf.
  • Ryutaros, who controls Kamen Rider Den-O's Gun Form, has a tendency to hold his gun sideways and dance while fighting. This causes a lot of property damage and very rarely hits the Monster of the Week it was supposed to.
    • However, Ryu never misses with his finisher, which is a single, carefully aimed shot.
  • Parodied in Police Squad!, one of which was where the lead and antagonist are missing shots while 1 foot apart before ducking behind cover. Repeated in The Naked Gun 2 1/2; same distance and same cover.
  • While being chased by the laser-zapping Monster of the Week on Red Dwarf, Lister laments "Why don't we ever meet anyone nice?" Cat asks "Why don't we ever meet anyone who can shoot straight?"
  • Usually averted in Stargate, where the Redshirt Army at the very least show a modicum of competence.
  • Threshold: The government agents just stun the bad aliens with electronic bullets.
  • Carlos Mencia once addressed the way gangstas stereotypically hold their guns (sideways, for no readily apparent reason). When taxed, one of them responded that he holds his gun like that when he shoots because it makes him look cool. He's astonished to find that the aiming guide on top of the gun lines up with his target when held the right way up. Then Mencia makes some remark about how only porn stars should look cool when they shoot.
  • Everyone on Chuck sucks with their guns. Many of the fights devolve into hand to hand combat, and any stand off is solved just by either side having an extra gun pointed at the rest.
  • The panicked wedding party in Harper's Island are all lousy shots. Once they work out they're being attacked, they break out the guns, hang onto them obsessively and all completely fail to hit the Big Bad, even from a few feet. Possibly justified in that they're tired, hungry, terrified civilians without any training and they don't have much dakka.

Tabletop Games

  • Warhammer 40,000: Orks + guns = hilarity. Orks in general tend to shoot more to hear the noise their guns going off than to actually kill anyone with them. The Rogue Trader RPG points out that all Ork weapons are actually smoothbore, as their genetically-engineered technical knowledge apparently doesn't include that whole "spin-stabilized ballistics" thing.
  • In War Machine, any Menoth unit with a ranged attack is guaranteed to have laughable accuracy. This is most notable in the case of the Zealots, whose whole strategy is throwing remarkably unstable explosives at ludicrously short range.
  • In D20 Modern, automatic weapons get the shaft. 2 feats are required in order to properly use an automatic weapon, one for proficiency with guns, the other to not suffer a penalty when firing full-auto. And even if you have those feats, you target a 10-by-10 area with a AC of 10, to make the opponents have to make a DC 15 reflex save (fixed, with no way to modify, at least to this troper's knowledge) to take no damage; you use 10-rounds to attempt to hit at most 4 halfling-sized enemies with 1 bullet each. A third feat is required for you to be able to burst-fire, which is actually not useless. Without that third feat, you can target a single target with auto-fire, but it is a senseless waste of ammo because only 1 round (of the 10 fired) can hit. Some guns even have a 3-round burst mode, but if you don't "know" how to burst-fire, then tough luck, you can't use that mode (you can, but much like auto-fire against a single opponent, it's a waste of ammo). To summarize: Without building your character to fully use automatic weapons, you will quickly get to the point to where you can't do anything but spray-and-pray with automatic fire.
  • In the second and third editions of Shadowrun (as well as the first edition if optional rules from a later expansion were used), the more bullets you fired, the less likely you were to hit with any of them. This was because the number of bullets fired was added to the target number for the attack, and only one roll was made to see if that attack as a whole hit. Thus, firing a single round might have a target number of 4, while firing a ten-round burst would increase that target number to 14 — and if you didn't beat that 14, all your ten rounds would miss. (The reason for firing more than one round was that the damage caused would increase per round, so if you did hit with a ten-round burst you pretty much guaranteed instant death with most weapons.

Video Games

  • In general, the Call of Duty-inspired trend of forcing the player to aim with ironsights for any semblance of accuracy leads to the effect that not aiming while firing somehow makes bullets veer off at sharp angles away from where the gun is actually aiming.
    • Call of Duty's success also ensures that all dumb-fire rocket-propelled grenades in games released since are incapable of hitting their target unless the shooter is close enough to kill himself with the explosion.
  • Momo in Breath of Fire III was the only character in the game who suffered from horrible accuracy rates. Incidentally, her weapon of choice was a bazooka.
  • Similarly to Momo, in the Super Famicom Tenchi Muyo! RPG, Mihoshi is the only character whose attacks can miss -- namely, her basic attack is a three-round burst from her gun. She even has an embarrassed reaction when it happens.
  • Ideally, this is what you want to make out of your opponents in Bullet Hell games.
  • Seen in the Battlefield series due to its use of realistic firearm accuracy. Automatic fire from a shoulder fired weapon will have little chance of hitting the target, doubly so if you are shooting on the run. Heavy support weapons are have even worse accuracy when fired from a standing position and will have problems hitting a target even at point blank range.
    • Results in numerous instances of soldiers circling around each other at arms length burning through their entire magazine without hitting a thing.
      • These are likely veterans of prior FPS games that emphasized movement over cover as effective defense. Network latency may also be to blame.
    • Shooting from a prone or crouched position increases accuracy, along with using controlled semi-automatic fire or short automatic bursts, just like in Real Life.
    • Taken to ridiculous, possibly parodying lengths in Battlefield Heroes; unless using the scope, the Commando's sniper rifle can actually hit things behind the gun's barrel.
  • This is how the dodge mechanics in City of Heroes work: Your characer doesn't so much actually dodge rather than the enemy completely failing to hit you. Taken to the extreme, it is perfectly possible to dodge a flamethrower in melee range, just because its user inexplicably aims it over your head!
  • In Dune 2, House Harkonen's ultimate palace weapon was a long range missile that could easily wipe out a decent chunk of a base. It was also so horrendously inaccurate that targeting dead center would, in all likelihood, hit an area that wasn't even on the screen (assuming you don't move the camera after firing). This is totally unacceptable considering it's a fucking missile, the kind of thing that is supposed to have computer guidance. You would think they have a pair of drunks in the control room trying to eyeball it. You had to either aim away from your target, or build more than one because the game didn't limit you, and Carpet Bomb the whole enemy town.
    • This actually works for you in the final level, where the enemy can (assuming you don't play Harkonen) have two such structures pitching missiles. If they were properly accurate, the mission would be unwinnable.
  • Played straight in Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core when Zack not only stands still when facing a hail of bullets but TALKS ON HIS FREAKING CELL PHONE!
    • The incident takes place during a virtual training mission, so one wonders if whether the event was merely overconfidence on Zack's part, or whether something was wrong with the simulated opponents' targeting algorithms—obviously no aimbots here! -- or whether it's an accurate reflection of the average Shinra trooper's marksmanship.
  • Play Empire: Total War for long enough and you'll be solidly convinced the Creative Assembly are fans of this trope.
    • Which is a fair criticism, since in real-life muskets were noted for their extraordinary accuracy....
      • Try using cannons. They're so horribly inaccurate their only use is to break down walls. In this era roughly 50% of casualties came from artillery, in the game you'll be lucky if a battery kills half the number of enemies as a single (much cheaper and faster) infantry unit.
  • A case of this afflicts Eliphas the Inheritor in Dawn of War: Dark Crusade at the end of the Chaos base assault (although this may be a result of the Warp portal). As his daemonic patron is telling him off, Eliphas flips out and begins firing his plasma pistol, apparently carefully aimed at a spot two feet to the daemon's left.
  • In a subversion, this makes certain enemies in Descent 2 harder than its predecessor. In Descent 1, all the enemies fire right at you, which means you can dodge their shots (which is difficult but still possible with homing missiles). In Descent 2, certain enemy robots simply spread a lot of bullets in your general direction, which means that even if you evade there's still something heading for you.
  • All bosses in the Touhou series, who are fond of firing more bullets than you can count, many of which are fired in the opposite direction to you; this isn't so much a terrible aim as to force you to dodge in certain areas, but they sure as hell will be causing a lot of collateral damage.
  • The Syphon Filter goons will never hit you, no matter how many shots they fire as long as the "Danger" meter doesn't get filled. Conversely, certain Elite Mooks will instantly spike the danger meter, especially on Hard difficulty.
  • In The Godfather game, your accuracy will go to hell quickly if you try to fire sustained bursts. This is probably the key reason why tommyguns are Awesome but Impractical in this game. It also reflects the intended usage of the gun types: the long arms are meant to be assault weapons for going centre-of-mass, as opposed to the handguns which are generally meant for staying behind cover and popping heads with.
  • This trope could easily be called X-COM Firing, given the terrible accuracy of rookies who go the route of Dakka. Fortunately, the aliens aren't much better hitting their targets.
  • Definitely seen in Team Fortress 2 when firing The Heavy's minigun at any target beyond short-medium range. You can kick out an absurd amount of ammo, and watch as maybe a tenth of them hit a target. Can be useful for suppressing a group if they scatter on taking damage, but don't expect to kill anything until you reach short range.
    • Unless you get crits, in which case everyone dies.
  • Most unit firing in Company of Heroes falls under this. Especially with tanks and vehicles firing on infantry - mostly for balance reasons. Of course, the moment you enable the Direct Control feature for most vehicles by using, say a mod... and are, for example, controlling a Wirbelwind Flakpanzer (four x 20mm) or an M3 Halftrack with the Maxson Mount upgrade (4 x 12.7mm, aka .50cal) then infantry will get PULVERIZED by your attacks.
    • The American and Wehrmacht Engineers epitomize this in the game - their chance of hitting enemies at long range is 0.1 with their submachine guns. Reasonable for long-range, right? Well, even if at kissing distance, their accuracy's best is 0.3. Moving multiplies their accuracy by 0.15. They are unable to hit anything while moving, no matter how close. Standing still only makes them lackluster.
      • Though after spending a few munitions, they can get their hands on a Flamethrower, and they become dangerous. They don't call it Pyro Spam for nothing.
      • Lampshaded by the Rangers upon receiving the Tommy Gun upgrade: "Spray and pray, the SMG way!" However, since accuracy is inversely proportional to distance, they give up some medium- and long-range firepower (which is what Riflemen are for) for being absolute infantry-shredding terrors at short range.
  • Played straight in Time Crisis and Crisis Zone with the standard enemies. In Time Crisis, they're all armed with handguns (a world-threatening terrorist organization that gives almost all of it's members handguns. Riiiiiiight) and will miss almost every single shot, very rarely firing one that hits the player and often landing them more than two feet away. Crisis Zone has an even worse problem in that they're armed with assault rifles, and yet fully-automatic fire at point blank range has a very low chance of hitting.
    • Averted with some enemies using machine guns in Time Crisis, as well as the shots that WILL hit the player in Crisis Zone. The Time Crisis games have machine gun-wielding enemies that will miss dozens of shots, but then hit perfectly with dozens more. The same is done in Crisis Zone when the enemies finally get their act together, going from several bursts going over your head to five rounds hitting perfectly in a row. Some boss enemies will never miss their bursts, requiring you to duck until they stop aiming at you.
    • In two-player installments, if only one player is playing, the unused player character will be shown attacking and hiding...yet every shot will miss.
  • Knights of the Old Republic uses a modified version of the d20 Star Wars rules, except when you fire a blaster your character will let off three bolts for every attack roll, which means that at best you will hit with one in three shots.
  • Full Spectrum Warrior uses the suppressive fire tactical variation, given its roots as a military simulation. The game often required you to order your soldiers (individually, or as an entire four-man squad) to lay down suppressive fire on any enemies in a given direction in order to advance; any enemies in that direction will be forced to remain behind cover and will not return fire while being suppressed. While suppressive fire might, on rare occasion, score a hit on an enemy, this was typically so your other soldiers could safely advance, flank, and shoot the enemy with a more precise volley without being shot at themselves. This was counter-balanced by the fact that suppressive fire burned your ammo quickly, and you could only resupply at specific points on the map.
    • In contrast, you can also order your soldiers (again, individuals or entire squads) to engage in much more accurate point fire, which would typically kill any enemy that isn't behind cover.
  • In Gods and Generals video game, the enemies miss at point-black range. Although this was rather accurate to real life.
  • In Air Rivals, most mook attacks that are based on guns/laser beams/rockets are unaimed, and in those cases, a simply strafing move will make them miss. It gets ridiculous in a case where the new nation defense systems (nation-aligned mooks that attack invaders only) from BCU are far worse than the old ones, simply because they use unaimed laser machine guns with a visible charging period instead of the quick, auto-aimed attack the old ones had.
  • In Assassin's Creed II, if you don't let the Hidden Gun finish aiming by letting the squares converge into one line (It Makes Sense in Context), it's more likely than not to miss, even at close range. Ezio seems to have gotten better by Brotherhood, though, where he integrates it into CQC without needing to stand around aiming.
  • Super Smash Brothers Brawl. The CPU players tend to do this when armed with the Cracker Launcher.
  • Intentionally invoked in Shadow the Hedgehog. The two fighting forces you find on each level will shoot at each other, but none of them will hit anything. Of course, the second they turn their guns on you...
  • The MG-42 gunners in Medal of Honor: Allied Assault fire aimlessly for several seconds before actually hitting you, at which point they kill you almost instantly. Averted with the other games.
  • In Soldier of Fortune II, automatic weapons are wildly inaccurate at long range in the player's hands, but not so for the mooks. Ditto for other ID Tech 3 engine games, such as Medal of Honor: Allied Assault.
  • In Sword of the Stars, kinetics are generally inaccurate compared to energy weapons even at close range. Targeting techs help somewhat.
  • In Metal Gear Solid 2, bullets fired at Fortune always miss.
  • The Assault Rifles in the Marathon and Halo series. In the former, it's handwaved as a "manufacturing defect" in the ammo.
  • In the Rainbow Six series, most of the player's submachine guns (other than the standard MP5) fire with the accuracy of a blind epileptic. Even the normally deadly-accurate tangos occasionally exhibit Stormtrooper marksmanship.
    • The Vegas series allows you and the enemy to blind-fire weapons from behind cover. While it has protection advantages compared to popping out of cover to aim, it is horrifically inaccurate - the only two reasons you really have for doing so are to either suppress enemies (best done with a light machine gun) or to try and get CQB points to unlock new weapons.

Web Animation

  • On a smaller scale, Church in Red vs. Blue. A man that can point his gun at a guard, empty a full magazine from less than a foot away, and still manage to completely miss.

Church: Uh, hey, can I get a little help, I'm... out of bullets.
[cue Wash staring at him for a moment, then dropping the guard with a single shot.]'


Web Comics

  • The Adventures of Dr. McNinja generally plays this straight for the main characters, but one episode features a subversion. A Batman parody called the Beeman leaps at a trio of bank robbers, who open fire with automatic weapons, killing him. The Alt Text for that comic reads "How many times have frustrated Batman writers typed this out, stared at it for hours, sighed, and then deleted the script?"

Web Original

  • In Suburban Knights people unload machine guns at each other for several seconds and fire guns at each other from pointblank range without ever hitting. Occasionally sparks indicate that bullets are bouncing off of the swords people are holding, but never hit an inch to the right or left.
  • Kickassia was slightly less extreme, in that at one point one person was hit.

Western Animation

  • The episode of Family Guy where Peter and friends dressed up as the A-Team lampshaded this, which then turned into something like a deconstruction. When Peter explained to some loggers what they would do to stop them from cutting down some trees, referring to actions from the show such as driving them off a road, causing the logger's vehicle to tumble over only for them to climb out dazed but unharmed, the main logger explained how a friend of his suffered debilitating injuries from a low-speed crash.
  • Several episodes of The Boondocks showcased this. It should be noted that at least one Spear Carrier level character has been shot in scenes that would otherwise be pure examples of the trope.
    • Example: Two pissed off Black guys take semiautomatic guns, point it at each other (one is directly against the cheek, the other directly up the nose) and fire for about three seconds, completely missing.
      • Even when they were looking away while firing in sheer terror, something should have connected, unless they jerked the guns totally out of the way. Of course, it was used to demonstrate the idiocy of pulling out a weapon over nothing, and then unfairness (or prudence?) when a pair of cops plug them despite their having made up.
    • Example two: Ed Wuncler and Gin Rummy with semi-automatic assault rifles versus three Middle Eastern store owners with handheld automatics. None of the gunmen are hit, Huey and Riley took cover and are apparently OK, and the one policeman? He got hit, but he was OK. In fact he managed to stand up and get shot again.
    • Another amusing example of this was the Gangstalicious episode, where Riley discovered his hero was not only not gangsta, but also gay. Gangstalicious' jilted ex-lover and his crew tried to execute a naked, tied-up 'Licious, only to empty their guns from six feet away and miss. The Latino banger in the group lamented, "Man... we suck."
      • In the same episode, Gangstalicious and his rival E-Dirt get into an argument in a club. They pull out their guns and... each of them proceeds to accidentally shoot himself.
  • The Diniverse version of Batman frequently swung down to kick automatic-weapon-toting enemies, inexplicably not being hit by the massive amounts of lead coming his way. Bullets coming his way seem to vanish into the aether milliseconds before they should rightfully swiss-cheese him.
    • The Adventures of Dr. McNinja referenced this directly, with more logical results.
    • Gotham Knight has some fun with this, where Bats tries to run straight at Deadshot while the latter is blazing away with a two-barreled automatic Arm Cannon... and connects. Cue Deadshot quipping about how this was the first time he had ever seen anyone try to dodge his bullets by running at them.
  • In Zixx, during the virtual reality/game sequences, the heroes will often be chased by Mooks ineffectively spraying laser fire at them. It tips over from Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy to outright A-Team Firing when the heroes are pinned down, with nowhere to turn and nothing to defend them, with enemy lasers still going in wild directions around their general vicinity, long enough for them to panic, work out a plan, and get out of there without being hit once.
  • Lampshaded in Stroker and Hoop where Hoop explains that he "always aims just slightly above the head" to avoid actually killing someone. This lampshade then leads to a Subversion where Hoop manages to actually kill someone despite aiming slightly above their heads.
    • Subverted in another episode where the only time Stroker and Hoop actually manage to shoot someone is when their guns discharge after being dropped.
    • They also shoot Hoop's girlfriend and David Copperfield.
  • This trope runs rampant in the animated G.I. Joe. The only exception is when shooting at a manned vehicle, wherein the people inside get to escape before the vehicle is destroyed... often making their escape before even coming under fire, let alone the vehicle actually taking any damage.
    • Homestar Runner parodied G.I. Joe in a commercial for the Cheat Commandos. The Commandos and their perpetual enemies, Blue Laser, are lined up only a few feet from each other and firing like crazy, but no gets hit.
    • Parodied in an episode of Twisted Toyfare Theatre when Spider-Man says "You'd actually hit something if you aimed lower", physically pushes Duke's gun down, resulting in a dead Cobra trooper and everyone staring in shock.
    • Also parodied in Robot Chicken series 4 where both Duke and Cobra Commander note that their respective "Walls of Honour" don't list a single name (aside from Junkyard the dog who died after eating too much chocolate)
  • In Kim Possible, neither Shego with her green plasma whatevers nor Duff Killigan and his exploding golf balls appear to do any damage at all ever, except to the background.
    • More because Kim Possible is a cheerleader-ninja with Badass Normal dodging skills. And because it's pretty hard to hit a target-like a person with a golf ball, even exploding ones.
  • Happens a lot in Tale Spin. Everyone uses real guns, and the Sky Pirates especially do a lot of filling planes with bullets, but miraculously no one ever gets shot, though there are a lot of dramatic near misses.
  • For all that they're programmed and trained war robots who've been through millennia of combat, the Transformers seem to have an awfully hard time hitting anything; particularly the Decepticons, especially considering that not only are they the military bots and should have the better hardware and accuracy, but also that their leader (Megatron) transformed into a gun himself.
    • Check out this fan video to see a glorious Lampshade Hanging on the use of the trope in Transformers. It uses nearly every single clip of Shockwave firing his laser at the Autobots.
    • In the latter half of the G1 two-parter "Dinobot Island", the Decepticons not only succeed in hitting the Autobots, but essentially pin them all to the ground with a sustained round of gunfire. Apparently they just had their guns set to "ticklefight"... at least, until the movie.
      • During the aforementioned movie, the Decepticons succeed in overrunning an Autobot ship filled with cast members from the previous series and are able to land dead-shot bulls-eyes on their opponents in what seems like mere seconds. Given that there are 20 years between the previous season of the cartoon and the movie, this would logically seem to suggest that after millions of years of war on their home planet.... it took landing on a foreign planet to learn how to aim.
    • This has been somewhat improved upon in recent years over the varying versions of the franchise, often through using robot parts for Getting Crap Past the Radar. Transformers Energon, though, had copious amounts of laser-dakka getting sprayed all over the place to no effect.
    • Subverted in Beast Wars: Rhinox was so obviously aiming high that even the other Maximals (who are at best very very guilty of this) could spot he was aiming high, whereupon the delicate application of dakka caused a significant chunk of cliff dropped on the Predacons' heads.
  • In Ed, Edd 'n' Eddy episode, Know it All Ed, the Eds has a standoff with the Kanker sisters with their “Canadian Squirt Guns”, which are really turkey basters filled with water. As the Eds firing their weapons at the Kanker sisters, they use all the ammo, but missed every shot, as the girls just stood there. They aimed their weapons at the Eds. Eddy points out they only got their feet, only to learn it was rubber cement, which the girls used on purpose.

Real Life

  • The (in)famous Hawthorne Inn Shootout, which occurred in the Chicago suburb of Cicero in 1926. Al Capone's greatest rival, Dion O'Banion, sent a motorcade full of gunmen to directly assault Capone's headquarters. In all, over 1,000 shots were fired but no mobsters died (in fact, the only casualty turned out to be an innocent bystander).
  • Pretty much embodies battlefield tactics from the 17th century to the mid 19th century. The average infantryman of the period had a gun that was troublesome and slow to reload, as well as literally being unable to hit the broad side of a barn at 200 yards. Most muskets were made with sights little more than a little bit of metal at the end of the barrel, the remainder without any at all. Instead of the popular "ready, aim, fire", "aim" was replaced by another word along the lines of "point your gun in a general direction" or omitted altogether. Rather than rely on any sort of individual marksmanship, massed fire was relied on to overcome these inherent disadvantages, and so a soldier was incessantly drilled and trained like an automaton to fire as fast as the man next to him.
    • Any attempt at accuracy was further bodged by the enormous amounts of smoke black gunpowder would produce. After more than a few volleys of men doing this, the battlefield was shrouded in gray-black smoke.
    • The number one source of causalities in the musket era was from artillery fire, especially when artillery were used as giant shotguns firing canister or grapeshot.
    • Trope was inverted during the American Civil War when the new rifles actually tended to hit what they were pointed at, with disastrous consequences. This was the result of infantry weaponry recently becoming more advanced and deadly, but the doctrine of their use was still based around that of massed volleys of musket fire.
      • To be fair, tactics changed with formations spreading out and happening at further ranges. Look at the positions of the Union and Confederate Armies in most battles after 1862 and you would be surprised to see just how far apart they became. The close in firing usually happened during assaults, which inflicted heavy casualties on the assaulters. The low rate of fire still meant that massed fire was the name of the game, but they began happening at greater and greater ranges.
  • This was actually an accepted strategy for naval gunnery for the half century from the first armored warships in the late 1850s until after the construction on of the Dreadnought in 1906. Simply put, despite improvements in guns and propellants that allowed warships to shoot farther than in the days of Wooden Ships and Iron Men, there was no way of guaranteeing that you could actually hit anything at ranges much beyond a mile or so. The initial solution was to fit large numbers of small but relatively quick-firing guns to supplement the handful of BFGs carried as the main armament, because the more shells were in the air, the more likely it was that some of them would hit the target.
  • Supposedly what separated First World soldiers from Third World enemies... although this has been unfortunately averted, and not simply by heavy volumes of fire that by chance happen to hit. (I'm not speaking of "Black Hawk Down" either.)
    • Untrained militia in Islamic countries use spray and pray techniques. A lot.
    • Third World fighters will also be stuck by the Boom Stick effect naturally assuming that the More Dakka will naturally kill anything without additional skilled input from the user.
    • As a product of studies conducted since WWII, which revealed either the "reluctance" or "lack of skill" plus "shooting-under-stress" factors cited above, modern training practices for professional militaries now train weapon-handling drills into soldiers' rote-memory as a matter of course... though even with knowledge of proper aiming techniques, marksmanship standards do tend to suffer in nominal peacetime, when bureaucracy and cost-cutting measures often mean troops aren't allowed enough live ammunition or range-time to establish/maintain proficiency.
    • Actually, that would largely be because most First World armies now emphasize fire and maneuver and copious use of suppression fire. The reason a large portion of gunfire doesn't impact into the namely is because it's not MEANT to impact into the enemy, but to force the enemy to duck and cover to allow somebody to go around and fire into them at close range.
  • This was the subject of a Ron White anecdote. He saw a shootout on CNN where a large amount of LAPD officers were firing on a man hiding behind his Suburban. After the shootout was over, the man still hadn't been shot. In fact, not even the Suburban got hit.
  • During The Troubles in Northern Ireland, military intelligence agents and plainclothes police got into a shootout due to mistaken identity. Over 100 rounds were fired, and no one was hit.
  • The NYPD is quite infamous for its poor overall marksmanship, hitting what they shoot at less than a third of the time, over all ranges. The closer the range, the more accurate they are, but even then accuracy is abysmal. Even compared to other police departments NYPD marksmanship is poor due to officers not being trained enough to keep their finger off the trigger when not firing. The bureaucrat solution to this problem was, rather than train officers, make their guns require a massive 12 pounds of force to fire (the average is 6.5).
    • Police forces in general tend to lag far behind military or militarized organizations in this: police are generally meant to do mundane things like direct traffic and ticket people that (usually) do not involve cordite exhibitions. Police firearm doctrine absolutely dictates firing at center-of-mass until the person is no longer a threat, with the understanding that this is often coincident with the person's death or mortal wounding. Their typical poor marksmanship has a lot to do with the different conditions on which they're using their firearms - soldiers typically have rifles and rarely have a conversation with a person who inexplicably pulls a gun and starts shooting - and the understanding that their marksmanship is poor and their best chance is to focus on volume of fire rather than well-aimed shots.
      • Accuracy in any firefight is abysmal. Also, they don't train with their firearms as much as a front line unit would, which can be reasonably expected to be practicing, either in a simulation (EST systems are good for this), or with live ammunition on a more regular basis. The police are still far more accurate than most perpetrators though.
    • Another factor is that most police officers use pistols which are not the most accurate weapons in the world, comparatively speaking. In addition, police officers tend to use ammo with poor penetration power (to prevent bullets from passing through a target and into something behind like civilians) and relatedly trained to be concerned with what's behind their intended target (to prevent missed shots from hitting something behind their target like civilians). And lastly, police officers are also trained to try and talk people down from dangerous situations first with gunplay as a last resort or defensive option (for themselves or others) - even SWAT teams will prefer to subdue rather than kill.
  • This is one of the modern military strategies—powerful machine guns, operating on a More Dakka concept, lay down enough suppressive fire to keep the enemy in hiding long enough for air support to show up.
    • Suppressive fire in general is expected to not hit whatever it's firing on—it's to force the enemy to not return fire, stop them from moving into the cone of fire's direction, or just plain scare them to keep their heads down. Suppressive fire is also generally utilized for the purpose of soldiers just getting closer and flanking the suppressed enemy so they can (very reliably at such ranges) shoot them.
  • There are three main reasons for poor accuracy in a high stress environment: First, the instinctive reluctance for most people to use lethal force. Second, The stress itself ensures that you aren't steady while firing. And finally, recoil alone kills accuracy. As a note, Heinlein's factors to thousands of rounds to kill a single man are from studies done during the Second World War.
    • The training methods used by First World military forces to train accuracy involves a number of factors to improve accuracy.
      • First, instead of standard targets (i.e. precision bullseyes), targets such as the US Armed Forces E-Type silhouette are used. This trains soldiers to fire at human shaped targets.
      • Second, rewards for good performance on the range (ranging from shinies to add to the uniform, to added pay (old method, still used for specialized marksmen such as snipers in some cases), to unofficial rewards such as a three or four day pass.
      • Third, training to react to fire: You get shot at, you return fire if you can see the enemy. (This training method alone raised the firing rates to 95% in Vietnam).
      • Fourth, training in "accurate" un-aimed fire, or SRM. This is basically snap the weapon up, double-tap, snap it down. Ranges vary from service to service, but are designed to build the habit of bringing the weapon up and already having it aimed more or less towards center mass, without the aiming part.
      • The final part is the stress-shoot. Using physical activity, and possibly other factors, such as explosive simulators (which can be loud for the Artillery sims), to force the heartrate up and shoot accuracy to hell. It is also timed, and you are graded on accuracy and speed.
  • In his book on the Congo rebellion, mercenary commander Mike Hoare defined "reconnaisance by fire" as "firing wildly at everything in sight to see what's not there"—however he does note one incident where failure to use this technique led to his men driving into an ambush.
  • The North Hollywood Shootout in 1997 was considered the greatest shootout in Californian history between the police and two bankrobbers, with hundreds of rounds shot during a 44 minutes period. Although about a dozen people were injured, NOBODY was killed (except the two robbers, one of them actually commiting suicide).
  1. They fire the whole bullet. That's 65% more bullet per bullet.
  2. It should be noted that a large portion of those bullets were used in target practice and otherwise outside of combat.