Instant Death Bullet

    Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

    In fiction, almost all gunshot wounds fall into one of two categories: instantly fatal, or merely inconvenient. This is the former.

    In real life, being fatally shot almost always leaves the victim the option of 1–2 minutes of essentially normal activity before they finally fall unconscious. In fact, it is not uncommon for the victim to fail to realize they have been shot. Police trainers report that many officers are hurt or killed when their target fails to instantly fall down when shot, "like they do on television," but instead retaliates. (Heck, this is one of the underlying reasons behind the "stopping power" debate in firearms/ballistics circles.)

    In fiction, of course, one to two minutes of fairly normal activity followed by death is almost never an outcome of being shot. Consider the Showdown At High Noon, or any other pistol duel; screen renderings of these "quick draw" gun battles would be rendered relatively silly if a common outcome was that one combatant was fatally shot, and then took careful aim and fired back, fatally wounding the opponent. There's a reason there were never many experienced gunfighters. The Instant Death Bullet makes for a better story, though.

    This trope is largely responsible for the tendency for mooks to come from the Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy. After all, if any bullets that hit the hero are going to instantly kill or incapacitate him, then the story must ensure that the bullets don't hit him.

    Examples of Instant Death Bullet include:

    It's probably easier to list exceptions than examples:

    Anime and Manga

    • Played straight in the manga of Ginga Densetsu Weed when the humans start exterminating the dogs of Futago Pass: most of the canines fall to a single bullet. And then it proceeds to make an absolute U-turn an averts it to ridiculous extends when Weed ends up as the receiving end of literally dozens of bullets. Not only does he get better through some veterinary treatment, he goes the chapters preceding said treatment as if nothing had happened. Keep in mind, this is a months old puppy we are talking about here.
    • Averted in Death Note, specifically in the last scene: Light gets shot in the wrist and starts yelling at Matsuda. He then proceeds to try to write down Near's name with his own blood...and gets shot multiple times until he falls to the ground. He then, in the anime, gets up and runs away while everyone is distracted, holding his wounds, only to finally be killed from having his own name written in Ryuk's Death Note. In the manga, he is too weak to stand, and Ryuk writes his name in the Death Note because he is bored watching Light bleed to death.
    • Darker than Black: November 11 goes back down the elevator and wanders a very good distance down the street before finally collapsing from his many bullet wounds.
    • Pretty much completely averted in Code Geass. Anyone who did die instantly of a gunshot wound was either shot in the head/neck or riddled with lots of (sometimes high-caliber) bullets (and even that didn't stop one person from coming back the very next episode). While Shirley and Euphemia each died from a single bullet to the chest, their deaths were slow and presumably agonizing.
      • The closest the show ever gets to the Instant Death Bullet is C.C. shooting Mao, but this can be handwaved by the fact that it was a point-blank shot (pressed against the victim's flesh, even) to the neck.
    • Averted in the church shootout in episode 5 of Cowboy Bebop Spike gets stabbed in the shoulder, shot in the chest, and thrown out of a stained glass window, while Vicious gets shot in the shoulder, but both ultimately survive but require a long time to recover.
    • In the Wolf's Rain OVA, the wolf Toboe manages to keep fighting for several minutes after being shot in the chest. He even bites Darcia in the arm and then spends a few moments hanging vertically by his jaws, which would be really funny if it weren't for the fact that the poor bastard's dying.
    • Averted in the Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex episode "Vanished Medication," when Togusa is shot. Though badly injured enough that he ultimately requires a stay in an intensive care unit, he still manages to return fire, killing two of his assailants, then leap from a window and make his way to the street before passing out.
      • In one rather narmy episode, Togusa is charged with excessive use of violence because he shot a man into both arms and legs. Because he was a partial cyborg, even that didn't stop him from getting up again and murdering his ex girlfriend.
    • In all editions of Battle Royale, Shogo takes at least one gunshot wound towards the end that only kills him a few hours later. The manga has numerous other aversions of this trope, at the very least the famous Made of Plasticine artwork ensures that people only die from wounds that would actually kill them in real life.
    • Averted in End of Evangelion: when Misato is shot by the military, she still manages to limp away, give Shinji an encouraging pep talk complete with a two-minute passionate Last Kiss, then stuff him into an elevator before collapsing.
      • Played pretty straight with Ritsuko's death, who dies about half a second after Gendo shoots her.
    • Averted in Monster, repeatedly. After Grimmer gets shot in the shoulder, he manages to take out four men with his bare hands before ultimately bleeding to death.
      • Tenma is also advised to always pull the trigger twice, as it grants a much higher chances of making the target incapable of firing back.
        • In fact, the aversion of this trope is arguably the main impetus for most of the story's events; Johan, the titular monster, takes a bullet to the head, though the shot was not aimed well enough (his little sister was shooting) that he was able to survive long enough to receive life-saving medical treatment.
    • Used in Black Lagoon a number of times, but this trope is playfully Lampshaded when Revy meets some kids playing with toy guns. Their deaths, like most kids'-game deaths, were drawn-out and ridiculous. Revy demonstrates the proper way of dying from a bullet. The kids point out how uncool it looks.
    • In the Full Metal Panic! novels, Sousuke Sagara manages to retain the strength to get up from his blood puddle, hide, and return fire to his distracted enemy, staggering across the room and interrogating the man before he dies and Sousuke passes out. Pretty good for someone whose innards have been partly blown away courtesy of a rifle round to the stomach.
    • In Dragon Ball - not exactly bullets, but the same idea applies - Goku, Vegeta and Trunks all manage to take an energy blast through the chest. Between the three, they cover the whole range of lethality.
    • Averted in Akumetsu, where the titular character states that .22 slugs aren't good at doing a lot of damage. Indeed, despite several bodyguards' successful shots to various parts of his body, he powers through to kill one of his targets.
    • Averted in Trigun. After being shot with a machine gun cross, Wolfwood manages to warn Vash of the challenges he still has to face, make his way to a church, fall on his knees and utter a confession/FinalSpeech...that eventually degenerates into a desperate plea for more time.
    • Noir expresses this trope with a vengeance.
    • Averted in Princess Mononoke. Ashitaka gets shot through the lower left torso with bullet roughly the size of half a fist while carrying the titular princess on his shoulder. However, he only survives due to being possessed by a demon. But he still collapses after just a few minutes from leaving a wide trail of blood behind him.
    • Averted in Higurashi no Naku Koro ni, when Takano shoots Keiichi with her pistol in the chest. Keiichi falls over and manages to live long enough for him to convince his friends to run away, as well as say something in death no one hears. Mion possibly had this happen, but her death scene was off-screen, so no knowledge is given on this. The rest are either shot in the head or not shot at all.
    • Any Gundam series tends to do this pretty well at some point.
    • Played straight and averted at different times in Katanagatari. When Maniwa Oshidori is shot, she dies almost immediately. Averted when Togame is shot, as the killer purposefully missed her vitals and she is alive for almost fifteen minutes, having enough time for a Final Speech.

    Comic Books

    • While Preacher (Comic Book) usually uses this straight, there are at least two subversions. In the first, a hulking cannibal takes a head shot, continues advancing and takes a second before dying. In the second, Herr Starr gets his head blown open. He has time to glance up and utter a final "shit" before expiring.
      • Ha ! I see your Herr Starr and raise it an Adephi : the one whose unfortunate mission was to wake up the Saint of Killers. The fact that said Saint blows half of his head off with semi-magical one-shot-one-kill pistols doesn't interfere with his coherent speaking, and he only dies after more than three panels' worth of dialogue. Granted, he was an angelic Mook, not a human one, but still, utterly ridiculous in that regard.
      • Justified Trope in any case involving the Saint of Killers. His guns are forged from the sword of the former Angel of Death. This makes any wound he deals with them, even harmless ones, lethal even to immortals. Cassidy, being already dead, is exempt.
      • Garth Ennis admitted later that he'd hadn't fully fleshed out the Saint of Killer's backstory at the beginning of the series, and in retrospect Cassidy's survival was a mistake. After all, if the guns can kill the Devil and GOD himself...
      • And, of course, the 'battle' between Herr Starr and Delilah...
    • Subverted in both the comic and film version of V for Vendetta, in that the title character is able to walk a considerable distance from the place he is shot before collapsing. The film could be accused of going overboard in the other direction, though, as he also manages to kill a half dozen soldiers and their leader after being hit with not one but several clips worth of bullets. Partially justified by having been the subject of lab experiments and armor, apparently from a medieval suit, but most of the justification was Rule of Cool. It also helped that the soldiers were all aiming for his center of mass (i.e. his chest), which was where he was wearing that big honking metal plate, so he didn't actually suffer very many gunshot wounds at all. It was still enough that he bled to death, though.

    V: "There is nothing in this cloak but an idea. Ideas are bulletproof."

      • From the movie:

    V: "Beneath this mask there is more than flesh. Beneath this mask there is an idea, Mr. Creedy, and ideas are bulletproof."

    • Subverted in the finale of The Punisher MAX story arc, "Up is Down and Black is White". When the Punisher finally captures Nicky Cavella he explains, in great detail, how shooting someone low in the stomach will cause them to die a slow painful death. Guess what happens next...
    • In Sin City, not only is it pretty common for people to survive multiple gunshot wounds, many of them are capable of continuing to fight afterwards. The oly instant death shots seem to be headshots which are often (but not always) kills people pretty quickly.


    • Averted in Three Amigos so that El Guapo can execute a 'good trick' before dying.
    • In The Manhattan Project, a sniper claims he can do this to a guy prepared to turn the key on a homemade nuke. He never gets the chance to demonstrate.
    • Averted in the beginning of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom: it takes several seconds for the victim to realize what happened. Even more so in the Last Crusade, where Indy's dad is shot in the stomach and Indy has more or less 20 minutes to fool around solving the grail puzzles to rescue him.
      • Oddly enough, the trope is very prominent at other moments. Perhaps the most famous of these is Indy's confrontation with the scary 7-foot swordsman. That guy falls over dead fast enough for Indy to run right by him. Since the guy didn't even try to dodge, though, it's possible that Indy just shot him in the head. Fatal hit or no, getting shot in the head is going to drop you like you've been kicked by a mule.
        • A direct shot to the heart could also drop blood pressure rapidly enough to cause near-instantaneous unconsciousness, followed by extremely quick death.
        • As shown, however, the sequence is one of the few instances in film history of an object lesson in Keith's First Law (named for gunwriter and Idaho "cowpuncher" Elmer Keith {1899-1984}); Never bring a knife to a gunfight. (Keith's Second Law, by the way, is Never bring a pistol to a rifle fight.)
    • Averted in Urban Legends: Final Cut, where two characters get shot in the chest(-ish area) and still manage to stumble around for a bit.
    • Averted (surprisingly) in The Rundown. Christopher Walken as Hatcher goes for his gun...and gets shot by an angry villager. He stands there looking surprised and pained, then tries again...and gets shot again. He finally gives up and says, "Mr. Beck, I think I'll take Option B." He then proceeds to slowly walk out of town—only to have an Oh Crap moment a short time later as he realizes the wounds are fatal and slumps to the ground. (Note that earlier, several henchmen fall victim to the Instant Death Bullet.)
    • Another aversion in Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2; Ricky gets shot by a cop several times at the end. Just knocked back and stunned a bit he quickly tries attacking again, only to be knocked through a glass door by a few more shots and a shotgun (thanks to mad science he gets better for the sequel).
    • In the Film Noir classic Double Indemnity, the narrator gets shot prior to the movie's start, and retells everything before dying. In other words, he slowly bleeds to death for the whole movie, not kicking it until the end. The movie's what? An hour? Ninety minutes? That's some perseverance!
    • Averted once in Once Upon a Time in the West (albeit having been played straight many, many times), when Cheyenne is shot off-screen late in the film, acts perfectly normal throughout the climax, and in the second-to-last scene, falls off his horse and dies. (This scene was cut from the original American release, leaving the impression that he'd never been shot at all.)
      • Also kind of averted in the beginning, in which one of the gunmen shot by the Harmonica man manages to squeeze off one last shot before dying.
    • Averted in DARRYL, a Disney live-action movie about a robot who looks like a boy. A man driving a car is shot in the stomach, but manages to get the car and the boy to safety before succumbing to his wounds.
    • More of an Instant Death Knife in Pay It Forward. The main character gets stabbed at the end of the story. Once. With a knife that was at most two inches long. The wound was on his left side near the bottom of his rib cage. Cue Slow Motion Fall and then cut to the ER doc telling the family he's dead. He definitely wasn't stabbed in the heart. He didn't have time to bleed to death, so how did he die?
      • Blame it on the Rule of Drama; Mimi Leder had to wring more tears out of the audience somehow.
        • Even more unforgivable in that you can rapidly kill a person with a two-inch knife... if you jab it into his neck (severing one of the large blood vessels in the neck would produce near-instant blood pressure drop in the brain and unconsciousness), or at the base of his skull (you get spiked in the medulla oblongata, you just lost your entire autonomic nervous system, so no breathing). So they could have written the scene and had it work just by having him be stabbed in a different place. But apparently, a basic anatomy textbook was too expensive a purchase for the production crew.
    • Averted in Dead Man. This is, in fact, the core of the film's plot: Johnny Depp's character is shot early on and spends the rest of the movie dying.
    • In The Godfather Part III, Mary Corleone (infamously "played" by Sofia Coppola) is shot through the stomach and doesn't realize it. When she does, she just drops on her knees, says "Dad?" in a perfectly normal way, then dies.
    • Averted in The World Is Not Enough. Renard spends the entirety of the film with a bullet lodged in his brain that is slowly killing him. But the Big Bad dies immediately when shot.
    • Averted in agonizing detail in the film Taxi Driver.
    • Aversion: The (usually hammy) film The Quick and the Dead has a (surprisingly) poignant slow and agonizing death, with (the often cardboard) Leonardo DiCaprio giving a (surprisingly) emotional performance as a gunfighter who knows (parenthetical aside) he's only got seconds to live.
    • Used not once, but thrice as a plot device in Full Metal Jacket in the sniper scene: one Marine gets shot clean through the torso and is seen in shock and agonizing for some time ("I can hang ! I can hang !"), and another is repeatedly shot to prove to the rest of his squad he's still alive and draw them into the firing line. Finally, after the sniper is finally found and ripped apart by close range burst fire, she still isn't quite dead and requires a mercy killing.
    • Averted to the point of being a Tear Jerker scene in Pat Garret and Billy the Kid.
    • Unforgiven averts the HELL out of this trope in a disturbing scene where a victim of a fatal gunshot wound dies slowly while his partner cries out in desperate rage at the protagonists. The protagonists are forced to awkwardly wait around to make sure the kid dies.
    • The film Saving Private Ryan is full of graphic examples of how slow and painful death by gunshot can be. Sgt. Horvath is shot multiple times in the legs and body, but still manages to lug around a bazooka and limp to cover before he does in fact expire. Capt. Miller also hangs on for a few minutes after being mortally wounded by a rifle bullet to the dead center of his torso. Caparzo slowly bleeds to death after being hit by a sniper, as does Wade after he's raked by machine gun fire. Jackson is the only one who dies quickly, because his sniper's perch is blown up by a tank. The D-Day scene at the beginning of the film is full of American soldiers slowly bleeding to death, screaming and clawing at their wounds. The full, uncut version has a soldier crying for his mother and clutching his intestines that are falling to the sand, and even a soldier losing an arm to a mortar shell and, clearly in state of utter shock, picks it up with his good arm and wanders aimlessly through the battlefield. During the climactic final battle, a soldier manages to survive being hit by a 20mm cannon round, and can do nothing but howl in pain until his position is overrun and he's essentially mercy-killed by a second shot from a rifle.
    • Averted in Witness. When John Book (Harrison Ford) is shot during a firefight, he does not realize until the fight ends and he is able to hear the sound of his dripping blood. He is able to remain active for what must be several hours before passing out from blood loss. Later on, when Danny Glover's character is shot at point blank range in the chest with a shotgun, he appears to take several moments to die.
    • Justified Trope in the movie Collateral as Vincent, the hitman, shoots people using a real life technique called the Mozambique Drill. This involves first a double tap, which is two successive shots to the center of mass to immobilize the target (one alone won't do it), allowing him the opportunity to put a third bullet in the brain without fear of dodging or retaliation. With his years of training, he can pull the whole thing off in a fraction of a second.
      • Also averted by Vincent himself. He has a hit on Annie, and he chases her and Max onto a train at five in the morning. After the resulting shootout in the dark, he starts to reload, only to notice the bullet-hole in his chest. He sits down, briefly talks to Max, then dies.
    • Most of Reservoir Dogs is spent watching Mr. Orange slowly bleed to death from a gunshot wound to the gut. He's finally finished off by Mr. White after he confesses that he's a cop, and that after Mr. White took a bullet in a Mexican Standoff. Mr. Blonde, Joe and Nice Guy Eddie play it straight.. Earlier, Mr. Brown manages to drive the crew away from the scene while being fatally headshot.
    • Averted in The Brothers Bloom. At the end, after Stephen gets shot in the run down theater, he manages to get up and convincingly trick Bloom into thinking that it was all a big con and that he was just fine. He even pulls off the 'Greatest card trick in the world'. After Bloom leaves, Stephen (in obvious pain) has just enough strength to pull a chair onto the stage and sit down in it before passing on.
    • The movie Waking Life had a scene of a guy being fatally shot and still managing to pick up a gun and shoot his attacker before he died. It was in a dream sequence, but still.
    • One memorable subversion of this trope is in Blood Diamond, when after Vandy and Archer rescue Vandy's son and recover the titular rock, they are confronted by Archer's employer, Coetzee, an Colonel in the South African military, who is only interested in the rock. In the ensuing firefight, Archer fells the Colonel and his men with headshots, and suffers a fatal wound in his armpit. But he takes it like a trouper, escorting Vandy and his son to the drop point so they can rendezvous with their helicopter out of there, and hopefully tell the world about blood diamonds. In a Crowning Moment of Awesome, he covers them with a sniper rifle, and finally dies at peace, staring at the beautiful plains of his homeland, and blowing advancing mercenaries' heads off with a high powered sniper rifle.
    • Averted in The Da Vinci Code, of all places, in which Sauniere is shot in the stomach and survives long enough to set up an elaborate string of clues meant to bring Robert Langdon and Sophie Neveau together so they can find the secret he gave his life to protect.
    • Averted in The Running Man novel. Just about every character Richards sees die does so very painfully and not at all quickly, though this often gives them a few last moments to do something important. Such as Richards himself slamming a jumbo jet into the Games HQ after being gutshot, while his intestines hang out. And grinning. And giving Killian the finger. As the jet tears right into his office.
    • Both used and averted in the film of Angels & Demons, where some of The Dragon's victims die instantly, but at least two others take another shot to die.
    • Heavily averted in the Hornblower: Retribution movie. Archie is shot in the chest, manages to keep on fighting and doesn't really seem totally aware that he's been shot until Hornblower asks if that's his blood. He lives long enough to take sole blame for their captain's demise, saving Horatio's life in the process, then dies from his wounds before he could be hanged for mutiny.
      • Also averted in Hornblower: The Even Chance. Two "Quick Draw" pistol duels are fought, both times both men are able to fire their shot. In the last duel, Simpson fires prematurely, wounding but not killing Hornblower, who's allowed to return fire at Simpson, but chooses to spare him.
        • Then played straight, when spared, Simpson attempts to kill Hornblower with a dagger, but is then dropped with a single Musket shot from Captain Pellew.
    • Also averted in Childs Play when Charles Lee Ray is shot in the leg and then the chest, yet still manages to both yell at the cop that shot him and stumble around long enough to find the Good Guy doll and perform his ritual.
    • Averted in Regarding Henry, in which the titular character, finding himself face-to-face with a convenience store robber, is shot (with a small-caliber pistol) in the chest and remains standing, more confused than alarmed. He is then shot in the forehead, but remains standing for a few seconds before collapsing.
    • Averted in Tears of the Sun as one fatally wounded soldier is able to run and fight for some time before he and his comrades realize. Another sequence has a soldier taking a sniper bullet through the shoulder and falling down. After a few tense seconds, it's revealed that he dropped down to avoid getting hit by another bullet (he was in tall grass), and after getting patched up, he picks up his gun and continues fighting. He still dies, but takes a few more bullets to do so. In fact of the soldiers who do die, most are shot several times before doing so. The other may have only been hit once, in the stomach, but it took awhile for him to die. Most of the survivors have been shot as well.
    • Done realistically/averted in the final battle Of Rambo 4. In which rambo uses a 50-calibre machine gun to blow people apart
    • The Lord of the Rings series
      • Legolas drops most minions instantly with a single arrow each, possibly justified by a talent for headshots. Boromir however, in his Crowning Moment of Awesome, takes three BIG arrows to the chest and manages to keep struggling after the first two. The third fells him for good, but he still lives long enough to see his nemesis defeated and pay honor to his king before expiring.
      • Return of the King: an Orc uses a short bow to hit a Gondor sentry (wearing plate mail) in the chest. The sentry dies instantly.
      • The Two Towers, this is averted when Legolas attempts to shoot down an orc on a suicidal run to destroy a vital wall in Helm's Deep. It takes several arrows and the orc still keeps coming.
    • Double Subverted by The Sixth Sense, as the ending reveals: it wasn't a flesh wound after all, and the main character had bled to death in his own house.
    • Averted in The Evil That Men Do. The hitman played by Charles Bronson hurls a knife into his target's throat. He pulls it out and staggers across the room after Bronson, backing him into the toilet before passing out from blood loss.
    • Children of Men: Both used and averted; quite a lot of people get shot and fall over dead in the course of the film, but in the building near the end, Theo is shot and carries on, just about managing to get Kee to the boat. The audience would be forgiven for not noticing his injury until he reveals it. There's also a very nasty aversion towards the beginning. Julianne Moore's character gets shot in the throat during a car chase, and we get to spend the next minute watching her die.
    • Avatar uses instant death bullets, arrows, missiles, fangs, clubs, grenades, flamethrowers, and just about any other imaginable way to kill someone—for mooks, anyway. Named characters tend to hang on at least long enough for a final speech.
    • Pineapple Express: Parodied and averted. Red gets shot repeatedly, in two separate encounters, and still manages to (sort of) function normally. Matheson gets shot in the chest, temporarily stunning him, but he later joins the fight outside the drug factory. Also a humorous subversion in Red's case. The first time he's shot, he actually appears to die... Only to wake back up seemingly fine. They shoot him again, and he appears to die again. It's only later in the movie that it's revealed he was still alive.
    • Brutally averted in The Baader Meinhof Complex (or Der Baader Meinhof Komplex, depending). A young conservative shoots Rudi Dutschke three times at close range for his communist ideals. The first shot hits Rudi in the temple, knocking him against a wall. He gets up, and is shot a second time, now in the chest. After he falls down, the gunman tries to shoot him in the head, but hits him in the cheek. After the gunman runs away, Rudi spits up blood and then lurches unsteadily down the street muttering nonsensical phrases until he collapses.
    • Almost parodied in The Dark Knight Saga in which several people are insta-killed by bullets in the opening sequence alone.
    • Christopher Lee, who worked in the Special Operations Executive (read: Spy!) during World War II, once demonstrated to a film crew what his experience of seeing someone shot was - Essentially, he ran, stopped, looked down at the wound, looked up with great surprise, and crumpled to the ground. Apparently, this was incredibly funny. Coming from a man who claims to have a distinct knowledge of the sound a man makes when he's stabbed, we can assume it's also accurate
    • Averted in Fargo, where Showalter (the "kinda funny-lookin'" guy) shoots Wade Gustafson, who is subsequently able to return fire. As both men are still alive, Showalter fires at Gustafson repeatedly, thus ensuring his death.
    • Though a knife instead of a bullet, averted in Angel of Death, where the protagonist is still able to function after being stabbed through the skull. Partially justified in that said protagonist is played by indestructible Kiwi stuntwoman Zoe Bell.
    • Averted in Star Wars, as you would not expect. When Jedi are being killed during Order 66, the Clones keep on shooting even after the Jedi are dead and they often keep on moving after the first shot hits them. Aayla Secura's death is the most clear about this. Stormtroopers, battle droids, and other Mooks die in one hit though.
    • Legends of the Fall,wherein a guy is riddled with dozens of bullets from a German machinegun. Brad Pitt (the guys brother) then shoots the gunners a few times with a pistol, killing them both instantly before rushing to his brother, who's still alive.
    • Averted in Training Day; when Roger (the Scott Glenn character) gets hit in the chest and abdomen with a shotgun blast, he nonetheless hangs on for a minute before dying.
      • Also when Alonzo gets shot many times by the Russians, he manages to stagger out of his car before they finish him off.
    • Seemingly played straight when The private eye shoots Marty. in Blood Simple but later shown to be a rather horrific aversion when He regains consciousness just in time to be buried alive
    • The Departed: Played shockingly straight, several times in a very short amount of time.
    • The Boondock Saints - almost everyone Connor and Murphy shoot dies immediately.
    • Averted in The Assassination of Jesse James By the Coward Robert Ford. After Bob shoots Wood Hite in the head, he is alive for a brief period afterwards, long enough for some friends to comfort him as he dies.
    • Averted to an almost ludicrous extent at the famous climax of Scarface where Tony Montana is shot God knows how many times, but remains standing and defiant until eventually shot from behind at point-blank range.
    • Averted in Purple Rain when The Kid's father attempts suicide by shooting himself behind his left ear with a (probably small caliber) revolver. Police and paramedics are on the scene and a small crowd has gathered outside, indicating that several minutes must have elapsed since the gunshot. The camera then pans onto the character lying on the floor, head bandaged by paramedics, convulsing and gasping with his eyes half open. He survives.
    • Used abruptly in the movie Boys Don't Cry when Candace (Lecy Goranson from Roseanne) is shot, going down like a sack of potatoes.
    • Averted in Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol. Jane (Paula Patton) is wounded in the abdomen during a gunfight (though it's not clear if she got hit by a bullet or shrapnel,) and is able to provide cover for Benji (Simon Pegg) for the rest of the scene. She's shown to be fully recovered at the end of the movie.
    • Averted in The American when Jack (George Clooney) does not realize he was wounded in the abdomen by the sniper he had just killed until he has already driven quite a ways away. He manages to keep driving to the spot where his girlfriend is waiting for him before he collapses over the steering wheel, presumably dead.
    • In Serenity, Mal shoots a man taken by the Reavers. In this case it's a good thing that the bullet killed him instantly, because he wouldn't want to be alive for what the Reavers would have done to him.


    • Of Mice and Men: This is an important point in the finale, when Curley in revenge for Lenny's accidental killing of his wife, plans to shoot Lenny in the stomach, so that he would die slowly and painfully. To prevent this, George shoots Lenny in the back of the head, which was instantly fatal.
    • The final book of the Dark Tower series by Stephen King averts this when Eddie gets shot in the head. After being shot, the person lingers for several hours before dying.
    • Heirs of Ash: Averted; Seren is shot in the leg with a crossbow while fleeing the bad guy's airship, and keeps on running. Erania notices this later and comments that "most men faint the first time they're shot".
    • The Unknown Soldier: Averted in Väinö Linna's WWII novel. The only characters who die instantly are hit either in the head or with much more than a single bullet. Characters carry dying comrades on stretchers and chat with/swear at them; scenes are set inside an under-equipped hospital tent, including a chaplain trying to comfort hysterical men who are morphined up to their gills; one battle scene devotes a paragraph to the ways people react to being mortally wounded. Someone occasionally gets a Final Speech, but those are incoherent and usually fit on one line. The effect is extremely jarring for those who are more familiar with the "Boom, you're dead" school of video gaming - in the absence of the original, look for other gritty anti-war novels about the World Wars.
      • A particularly grim example is the death of borderline sociopath Lehto. He gets hit by a machine gun at short range while scouting ahead, but drops behind cover half-paralysed and dying. He then spends some time shouting at the gun crew to aim lower or to throw a grenade, but they can't understand him. In the end he succeeds in grabbing his own rifle and shoots himself.
    • In J.K. Parker's novel The Proof House, Bardas, the Anti-Hero protagonist, lectures his men on the sword fighting equivalent of the Instant Death Bullet fallacy. He is very careful to promote attacks that cause shock, pain and disable an opponent over lethal injuries that leave them standing for critical minutes. For example, in a sword fight a puncturing a lung is a death sentence for your opponent, but does not stop them fighting back and possibly killing you before they go down.
    • In Tom Clancy's book Executive Orders, a Secret Service agent is defending the President's daughter against a kidnap attempt. He is hit several times by opposing gunfire, but still manages to take down three or four attackers before dying.
    • Vitally averted in Frederick Forsyth's The Afghan, where Mike Martin takes a bullet and "began to die", but still manages to blow up the terrorist freighter. In fact, the way Forsyth phrases it suggests a subtle Take That at this trope's prevalence. To wit:

    The killer screamed and fired. The charging man took the bullet in the chest and began to die. But beyond pain and shock there is always willpower, just enough for another second of life.

    • Averted in Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six. Terrorists take children hostage at an amusement park, and one of them shoots a little girl dying of cancer to show they're serious, thus crossing the Moral Event Horizon. He even justifies himself by saying the kid didn't have much time anyway. The sniper assigned to take him out intentionally misses the head and shoots him right in the liver with a 700 Magnum, assuring that he will die slowly and painfully. Justified later when one PIRA operative is shot and killed instantly. Given that he was shot in the head by a .50 MacMillan (which was used to utterly destroy a truck engine moments before) it was more akin to Your Head Asplode.
    • Seen in the Robotech novels by Jack McKinney; Roy Fokker meets his tragic end after having his cockpit riddled with bullets from Zentradi aircraft. Granted, he's taken to the medical ward once he lands, but he decides not to stick around for further tests, and goes to see Claudia instead. He ends up bleeding to death on her couch, just as she's finishing her pineapple salad.
    • In the non-fiction book Gommorah about the Camorra clan wars the journalist author comes across the aftermath of a shooting where a woman was shot in the face as she opened the door. A child talks to him in great detail on why being shot in the face is better than being shot in the chest, as it takes longer to die and is vastly more painful.
    • The Gun Seller: Averted—the protagonist of Hugh Laurie's novel gets shot while tackling a man and at first thinks that someone shot the person he is tackling.
    • Justified in Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. Captain Nemo's crew use crazy Steampunk guns that fire pellets containing supercapacitors that discharge on contact, instantly electrocuting the target.
    • Averted in the Dale Brown book Warrior Class, where Fursenko survives a bullet in the lung to be retrieved by the Turkish and give vital information for taking down the Big Bad.
    • Averted in S.E. Hinton's novel Tex, in which the title character is shot, but the circumstances have left him in such a state of shock, anguish and adrenaline that he doesn't actually realize it until the following chapter.
    • Averted in the beginning of The Da Vinci Code when the curator of the museum was shot in the stomach and had enough time to think up some neatly confusing clues to leave for his granddaughter, (but not enough time to go to the phone and call someone..)
    • Shadows of the Empire averts this, albeit with blaster bolts instead of bullets. When Luke Skywalker is in a room full of Bothan spies working on Death Star data and some bounty hunters come in, one of the Bothans is shot but stays alive and conscious. All of the other Bothans grab the data and run, but Luke, idiot Luke, refuses to leave him - and the Bothan dies just before the bounty hunters capture Luke.
    • The Dresden Files: In Changes Harry is shot in the heart and is still alive for a few seconds after falling into freezing water. It was previously mentioned that this was a good way to kill a wizard since they wouldn't have time to use a death curse. In this case he had time to use a death curse but didn't care enough to and didn't have a target in mind.
      • Plus the fact that Harry orchestrated this himself.

    Live Action TV

    • Averted in The West Wing: it's about six or seven minutes before Bartlet realizes he's been shot. Similarly, when Josh is shot in the same episode, he apparently has enough time to drag himself from the fence—where he was in the final sequence of the previous episode—to the wall where he is later found, still conscious (albeit in shock). All this is despite the wound being almost lethal.
    • In The Sarah Connor Chronicles Derek dies instantly. Of course, he did a get a bullet in the brain.
    • Burn Notice
      • Michael shoots his would-be assassin in the torso, and the man manages to flee out of Michael's apartment and into an alley before bleeding to death.
      • In the Season One finale, Mike shoots the Villain of the Week in the gut-with his own gun-and then tells him how long he probably has to live. If they're regular bullets, he might have a chance. If they're hollow points..."I wouldn't make any plans." For personal protection hollow points are the norm so thats probably what he was carrying.
      • In the season two finale, this trope is in full force. Fiona shoots Carla in the guts with a rifle and she immediately drops to the ground. It is a .300 caliber rifle, which hits with a lot of force.[1]
      • In another season finale, Michael shoots Strickler in the chest. He drops instantly. Of course, he was shot multiple times in quick succession. Same with Paul Anderson and a Spetsnaz operative.
    • Firefly
      • The pilot of plays with this, when Kaylee gets shot in the stomach by Dobson but is saved by Simon. Also, it turns out that when Mal puts a bullet into Dobson's head at the end of the episode, it just costs him an eye, pisses him off, and gets him in a vengeful mood, which Mal and company find out about in the Firefly comic story "Those Left Behind," where he turns out to be the mastermind of a plot intended to get River back into the hands of the Hands of Blue. Mal makes sure to put several more into Dobson's head when he finally takes him down.
      • "Out of Gas", wherein a gutshot Mal goes for a good while after taking the wound, before blood loss causes him to pass out. Used to demonstrate that something as piddly as getting shot is not gonna stop Mal.
    • Averted several times on Lost
      • Libby, takes a whole episode to die after being shot at the end of the previous episode. It's also played straight quite often, too.
      • Right after the initial crash, the marshal is slowly dying. Sawyer intends to put him out of his misery with a gunshot, but shoots him in the chest, missing the heart. And it was the last bullet, so as the marshal is dying even more miserably, Jack must find another way to finish him off.
    • Battlestar Galactica
      • Averted in "The Farm." The Caprica Resistance is fired on unexpectedly, and everyone scatters. Starbuck starts to flee too, until she looks down and realizes that she's belly-shot. Of course, it's not like they were going to have her fall down dead, either.
      • In "Sacrifice", Lee gets shot in the torso and manages to lay there almost dying for a good while while being rescued - during the process of which Billy gets shot, and even though he lasts a lot shorter than Lee, he still lingers for a while, too.
    • Averted in Third Watch. Sully and Davis are caught in the crossfire between two rival gangs at a restaurant. It's only after the shooting stops that Davis realizes that he's been shot.
    • CSI: NY: Averted when a boy is shot by a stray bullet and expires sometime later after bicycling away from the scene. Played straight as this is treated as a rare and unusual event.
    • Max And Paddys Road To Nowhere: Almost displayed, but soon subverted. Paddy is seemingly shot in the back by a mentally deranged friend of Max's, tumbling out of frame. However it is later shown that the gunshot was not fatal as he manages to sneak up and knock the assailant out with a traffic cone. It is later revealed he was shot right in the right buttock... Although this brings up whether being shot in such a place would really leave him able to walk around, never mind heave a traffic cone with enough force to knock someone out.
    • Averted in Torchwood, where Toshiko has a few minutes of functional activity before dying.
    • Doctor Who
      • Averted in the 1996 television movie, where the seventh Doctor is shot multiple times and faints - it's implied that he would have survived being shot and healed without regenerating if it hadn't been for Grace Holloway's attempts to treat what she thought was an irregular heartbeat - really his two hearts
      • Played straight in Eleventh Doctor episode "The Pandorica Opens"; after being shot by Rory, Amy spends a couple of seconds gasping for breath before dramatically falling backwards, dead. However, the following episode, "The Big Bang", reveals she is Only Mostly Dead and she is restored to life by the Pandorica.
    • Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Tara gets shot by Warren, and dies within seconds. She barely got "Your shirt" out before she kicked the bucket.
      • Ironically, despite the other multiple vast implausibilities that scene contained the most realistic thing in it is how short a time it took Tara to die -- the impact site and exit wound strongly suggested that the bullet went directly through either her heart or her aorta, either one of which would produce unconsciousness in seconds and death not long after that.
    • Happens often in 24, but one significant aversion was done during one of Kimberly's subplots in Season 2. She is stuck in the house with the man who has been trying to kill her all day, she calls her dad for help and uses one of his guns to shoot him. To her horror, her dad tells her to shoot the guy again to make sure he dies.
    • Lampshaded in Babylon 5 (though they're talking about a poison, which the seller promised was "almost instantaneous".)

    Londo: "Almost? How long is almost? Long enough for him to stagger back into the court room and shout 'Londo killed me!'?... or maybe just long enough to say Londo killed...urgh!"

    • Deadwood: Thoroughly averted—several characters have been shot and lived to tell the tale; folks with knives have killed a more people.
    • Flash Forward: Played straight and averted. Mooks tend to die immediately, whereas D. Gibbons lived long enough to get out some important last words. When Janis was shot, instead of collapsing immediately, she aimed and shot at the man who had just shot her. (He dies immediately, she survives.)
    • Averted in Roswell, when in the final episode of Season One, Kyle is shot by mistake on his chest. Several minutes pass before his dad finds him, and then a few more for Max to take the decision to heal him.
    • The shapeshifters in Fringe die instantly when shot in the middle of the forehead, but shooting them anywhere else has no effect.
    • Chuck zig-zags this one. Faceless mooks tend to suffer from this trope, however major characters more often than not have a few brief moments before they die:
      • Bryce Larkin is struck during a shootout while attempting to use a mook as a Bulletproof Human Shield. It's not until Chuck finds him that it's revealed that one of the rounds seen striking the body hit Bryce and not the mook.
      • Chuck's father is shot and has just enough time to remind Chuck of how special he is before dying.
      • A villainous example, Shaw is shot twice by Chuck when he attempts to kill Sarah. He still has a few seconds to try pulling Sarah off the bridge he is on before finally falling himself. He lives.
      • Quinn manages a few seconds of surprise when he is shot by Sarah in the series finale before he dies.
    • On Farscape's first season, Gillina is fatally shot, but manages to hang on long enough to be brought up to Moya, where she dies.
      • In the Peacekeeper Wars miniseries, Ahkna is fatally shot by Aeryn, and has long enough to be told off by Aeryn before collapsing. In the same scene, D'Argo is fatally wounded as well, but lasts long enough to cover their retreat.

    Tabletop Games

    • Averted in GURPS under most circumstances. Only hits to vital organs or the brain are liable to kill someone instantly unless they're extremely fragile for some reason.
    • Though Dungeons & Dragons does not have guns, it does avert this trope. In 3rd edition, a character at 0 HP is not dead, just unconscious. You have to get to -10 HP to die (although it is possible, especially at low level, for a critical hit with an arrow to take a character from full HP all the way down to -10). In 4th, he must roll less than 10 on a 20-sided die three times (one roll each turn that he's still dying), although death from sheer damage can occur at -50% maximum hit points.
    • Similarly, in Shadowrun players are given points of overflow damage in between unconsciousness and death, but literal instant death is impossible at least through third edition: while a sufficiently skilled marksman can cause a Deadly wound (unconscious and bleeding out) with any arbitrarily weak weapon, not even a nuke can kill a character outright. Particularly careful players can invoke the "Dead Man's Trigger" rule, expending luck (in the form of Edge or Karma Pool dice, depending on version) to pull off one last action before succumbing to their wounds.
      • A long time ago, someone worked out the game rules behind an unskilled shooter killing themselves with a pistol shot to the head in Shadowrun (second edition at the time). In real life, the idea behind this is usually to do it with one round, but in the game this turned out to require in the order of fifteen to twenty rounds, which with most of the game's pistols would necessitate reloading in the middle of a suicide attempt … and this was just to get to or beyond Deadly wound level, not to go far enough to die just yet.
    • In Cyberpunk 2020 RPG there are several levels of being 'dead'. Character whose wounds exceeded 'critical' level starts getting wounds every round until stabilized. When entering each subsequent 'dead' wound level he must make endurance roll. Success means he has still some time before bleeding out, failure means death due to system shock.
      • At less than Critical damage levels, any damage also forces a save; failure causes the character to go into shock and stop being able to take actions.
    • Deadlands: An "average" shot from a typical pistol to the torso of an average person will do a non-lethal amount of damage (though a good roll could still kill the target outright or cause it to bleed to death). However, this mythical average target will be temporarily stunned about half the time, and will be knocked unconscious from shock about a quarter of the time, give or take. All in all, a fair assessment of handgun lethality in the Western setting. (Once Mad Science or other advanced tech gets involved, all bets are off.)
    • Feng Shui for the most part averts this trope—named characters seldom die from one bullet unless the character A) is very lucky on the attack roll (we're talking multiple sixes on the positive die here) and/or B) was skilled enough to take the character by surprise in a sniper scenario. Mooks, on the other hand, do not get the protections that named characters do, and will get put down by anything that scores an Outcome of 5 or more.

    Video Games

    • Red Dead Redemption: Averted. John is shot multiple times in the chest by Army riflemen and, while collapsing to his knees, keeps on living for about a minute, unable to do anything but wheeze painfully before finally dying.
      • In actual gameplay, it flip-flops back and forth- sometimes a single shot may be all that's needed to kill an enemy, and sometimes not.
    • In Marathon, one or sometimes two shots will kill a human.
    • In Relic Entertainment's Company of Heroes real-time strategy game, many casualties lie writhing on the ground for some time before expiring. If a medical building is nearby then medics can retrieve the dying soldiers, quickly returning them to the battle.
    • Averted in Grand Theft Auto IV. While enemies will generally drop when their health is depleted, after a short time they may begin to writhe and moan (call for help in the case of police), and sometimes will get to their feet and limp away. And the player can shoot them then, too. To death.
    • Averted in Call of Juarez. Near the end, Reverend Ray is shot by Juarez. Other playable character, Billy Candle, beats the hell out of the villain. Seconds later, Juarez manages to get up and make an attempt at backstabbing Billy, while the latter hugs his girl, Molly. Then it turns out Ray wasn't killed with the shot and manages (via the player) to shoot Juarez before the fatal stab. Then he dies and manages to rest in peace.
    • Averted realistically (not dropping you to the floor so a friend can "revive" you like other games) in the game S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Characters shot take direct damage, and can start bleeding and losing health slowly. A character can get hit, start bleeding, and still kill their opponent. The character requires bandages to heal, meaning you can get shot once by a pistol, have 2% damage taken, kill the enemy but die up to 5 minutes later from a slow bleed because you didn't have any bandages left, can't get back to a base, and none of your frantic corpse looting managed to find any either. NPCs do not heal at all, meaning if you gutshot someone and run away, they will go down later and even then often still be alive and in agony.
    • Averted in Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney, in which Romein Letouse manages to live a while after being shot with a high caliber pistol, and manages to give some information to Apollo and write something on the floor with his blood. Often times a carefully-reasoned argument as to why a piece of incriminating evidence at a murder scene had to have been forged relies on the presumption that the victim was killed instantly, only for the prosecutor to reveal that the victim's death wasn't quite as instantaneous as assumed.
    • Everyone who dies of a bullet wound in Ghost Trick goes out this way, sometimes multiple times. Of course, it makes sense from a gameplay perspective, as Sissel's ability to go back in time to four minutes before a person's death would be sort of useless if they died after lingering for an hour in a hospital.
    • Call of Duty series
      • Call Of Duty averted when the Last Stand/Second Chance perk is equipped. Mortally wounded players can stay alive for about thirty seconds, lying on the floor and wielding a pistol, though the next hit will kill them. Adhered to though in that some attacks do ignore this perk. Modern Warfare 2 combines a similar feature with regenerating health. Playing Hardcore multiplayer makes every bullet a potential Instant Death Bullet.
      • Call Of Duty 2: AI enemies will sit up on their shoulder and fire their pistol at you and your allies before dying. This behavior continues into later games. They are also seen crawling and writhing until someone shoots them again and they drop.
      • Call Of Duty 4. The Big Bad, Zakhaev, survives a BFG .50 BMG round. Played straight at the end of "Game Over" however when you can take down the Big Bad and one to two henchmen with pistol shots. In fact, shooting them in the legs seems to be the only way to take more than one bullet.
        • Zakhaev was hit in the arm and spends the rest of his life as Lefty the One-Armed Wonder, so, he didn't exactly shrug it off.
      • Modern Warfare 2. Averted and possibly played straight in "Loose Ends". Roach is wounded by a mortar near the end of the level, and is then shot in the stomach by Shepherd. Roach goes down, but is still conscious, and then Shepherd shoots Ghost in the chest/neck area. Because of his balaclava and sunglasses, it's not really apparent if he's limp but aware like Roach, unconscious from shock, or just outright dead.
      • Modern Warfare 3: Averted by Yuri and Harkov, who both survive being shot by Makarov. Harkov immediately gets shot again, though, and in the last level Yuri goes down after being shot about four times.
    • Averted very thoroughly in Hitman: Contracts—largely because it's the point of the whole game: Agent 47 gets shot in the stomach by a target that was expecting him, stumbles back to his apartment, and spends the rest of the game hallucinating past adventures until a surgeon shows up to help.
      • Averted with the sequel, Blood Money: when enemies suffer a pistol shot to the torso, they react with pain, but generally keep shooting or running. However, a second or third direct hit will result in the enemy clutching their stomach and keeling over in convulsions. And sometimes, in isolated circumstances, the newspaper report that follows every mission will mention that one or two of your victims survived a supposedly fatal injury, and is in intensive care, likely to die.
      • The newspaper statistic regarding hospitalized victims seems to just be based on anyone that was injured at all, even by say, a single bullet to the foot. Maybe still an aversion in the sense that, even though they were still on their feet after being shot, the newspaper acknowledges that they certainly would have died later (after 47 has left the area) without medical attention.
    • Averted in F.E.A.R. and Project Origin, where the Replica troops and Armacham soldiers typically take multiple gunshots to bring down. They can usually withstand a half-dozen bullets before they finally go down, particularly with the submachine guns. Naturally, however, getting hit with a shotgun blast full-on in the chest at close range will drop them very quickly, usually dismembering them or blowing them in half in the process.
    • Averted in Far Cry 2 with just about every enemy. It's not unlikely, quite common, in fact, for an enemy downed with a shot to the torso or limbs to fall to the ground, moaning and writhing, and sometimes get back up and attempt to escape while clutching at their wound before expiring, or even take a knee and fire back with their pistol.
    • In Gears of War if one of your squadmates takes too many hits they collapse and linger for a while before dying, and you must revive them in time or the mission is failed. Also applies to locust baddies (sometimes) and in multiplayer... unless they get turned into bloody chunks first.
    • Army of Two: Averted in a sense. A mortally wounded character can heal if they are dragged to cover by their partner.
    • Liberal Crime Squad: Horribly averted in this Freeware RPG: mortally wounded characters stay in the party, dying slowly in agony and decreasingly coherent terror.
    • In In Famous, if a civilian is shot by a criminal they drop instantly. Cole takes a while to die, though since he's the only case of this it might just be a result of his powers. Averted when Cole shoots civilians: unless it's a head or chest (read: heart) shot, they'll fall instantly, but writhe on the ground. Cole can then heal them, or, if he's a Complete Monster, absorb their energy to replenish his battery cores. Which kills them.
    • Averted in the games EarthBound and Mother 3, characters don't fall down from lethal damage immediately. It takes time for their health to tick down to zero, meaning that it is possible to save a lethally-wounded character by healing them or winning the encounter before their health hits zero. To make it match the trope even further, a few of the enemies do in fact use guns.
      • Played straight in the original Mother.
    • Metal Gear:
      • While most standard guards drop dead instantly after taking a few hits, none of the bosses die immediately after being fataly hit. In one case the sub boss even took a single fatal hit, but stays conscious for about 5 more minutes.
      • Almost played straight with Vamp in who immediately falls down when he's hit by in single bullet right between the eyes. However being Vamp, he simply regenerates the injury like any other and gets back up in just a minute.
      • Played completely straight with Olga who gets executed by Solidus with a single bullet to the forehead for trying to buy a few more seconds for a miracle to happen that saves Raiden. It worked.
    • Persona 3
      • Averted when Shinjiro Aragaki, despite being shot twice, not only remains conscious for at least a minute after being shot but is able to stand up and take a few steps before finally dying. What's more, he got shot twice by a Smith and Wesson Model 500, pretty much the definition of a Real Life Hand Cannon.
      • Played straighter with Stupei Iori, who goes down almost immediately to one shot and would have been dead within seconds without supernatural healing that Results in the death of the healer
    • Averted in Assassin's Creed, after you finished going to town on a guard or civilian with either your long sword or short blade, the poor bugger will convulse on the ground moaning and pleading for help. You can even choose to use your hidden blade after that to silence them for good. Played straight when you use your hidden blade or throwing knives though, and also played straight with the gun and the crossbow in the later games. Played straight with Combo Kills and especially Counter Kills.
    • Uncharted 2: Among Thieves: Averted and played straight in one mission. Jeff, Elena's cameraman, has been shot in the stomach, and Nate decides to carry him to safety despite Chloe's protests. He survives until the end of the mission, at which point Lazarevic shoots him in the head, finishing him off.
    • In GoldenEye for the N64, a multiplayer mode called "Licence to Kill" made any hit with any weapon instantly fatal, from slappers to standing just barely in range of an explosion. Also, the infamous Golden Gun always scored One-Hit kills, as did the unlockable Gold PP7. Regular play for Goldeneye could end with a gut-shot enemy miserably crawling along the floor, taking way too long to die.
    • In the early Rainbow Six games, any hit can be instant death for you or an enemy.
    • Exaggerated in Umineko no Naku Koro ni EP6 where Shannon and Kanon have a duel using duel pistols with one magical bullet which is to kill instantly the opponent regardless of where the bullet hits (as long as it does hit).
    • A Fully charged shot from a sniper rifle in Team Fortress 2 against any class with less health than a Demoman or a Soldier dies instantly, headshot or not.
    • Partially averted in Mafia: The player can tell when an enemy is out of health by them dropping their weapons and giving a particularly lengthy cry of agony before collapsing. Occasionally, some of the enemies will not stop moving completely, but crawl around helplessly for a little while before laying down for good. If the player so wishes, a couple of shots can speed this up.
    • Averted in Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors in the "Safe" ending Snake takes 6 revolver bullets from Ace and its still capable of holding him down to the point they both die...INSIDE A FUCKING INCINERATOR
    • Averted in 7.62 High Calibre. It's actually incredibly common to have enemies drop and fall unconscious before bleeding out and sometimes just KOing and stabilizing. Unfortunately you can't actually do anything with KOed enemies except killing them (for allies it allows them to fight again another day), even when there are plenty of objectives that could reasonably be solved by basic interrogation.


    Web Original

    • Averted in Survival of the Fittest; short of a shot straight through the head or heart, even a fatally wounded character isn't going to instantly drop dead like someone turned an off switch. However, sometimes it goes too far. One particularly notable subversion was Seth Mattlock's Big Damn Heroes moment in v2. Seth shot his opponent in the back twice with his Walther P38, but they were able to turn around and shoot back at him, only being killed when Bryan Calvert kicks him off the roof and through a skylight. Seth himself is hit in the ribs and lungs, and instead of instantly being killed lies on the ground bleeding out, unable to breathe and in incredible agony until Bryan finishes him off at his request.

    Western Animation

    • Averted for laughs in the South Park episode "Night of the Living Homeless", when South Park's Homeless Expert tries to commit suicide. After shooting himself in the head (specifically the cheek), he remains alive and is in incredible pain. He tries to shoot himself several more times before he finally dies.

    Real Life

    • Averted, thank God, for actress Laura Elena Harring. When she was twelve, she was shot in the head, and survived, because the bullet missed her brain by a hairsbreadth.
    • Averted in the case of US House of Representatives member Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot in the head and has subsequently recovered enough neural activity to be able to cast a vote.
    • Averted and played straight with Donnie Moore. On 18 July 1989, Moore, the former California Angels' closer, was out of baseball for almost a year. In a heated domestic dispute, Moore shoots his wife in the abdomen, chest and neck. His wife survives, while Donnie turned the gun to himself. He proceeds to shoot himself in the head, instantly killing himself. To make things worse, this was in front of his three children.
    1. Her bodyguard was checking on her after the shot. Granted, Management didn't exactly bring medics and they surely weren't going to call an ambulance so she'd be dead either way, but it seems she wasn't necessarily dead right away.