Shooting Superman

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

Prince of Space: "Enough of this! When will you ever learn? Your guns won't work on me!"
Phantom of Krankor: "Shoot him!"


Their shields are impervious to bombs and bullets, and the human defense strategy is apparently to ignore this and keep shooting until the aliens fall down out of pity.


While some believe that a villain who doesn't realize he can simply shoot the hero is stupid, the even stupider type is the one who does try it on a certain type of hero.

The tendency for Mooks, the military, and other assorted gunmen to repeatedly attack a monster, alien, or Superhero with weapons that they themselves should know won't work from either personal experience or at least from watching the news. What's worse, they'll simply stand in place and try the same thing over and over again as the hero or other threat to their safety advances slowly towards them, never trying something else or turning tail to run until the last possible second.

One often has to wonder how much money repeat offenders of this Trope waste on ammunition. Sometimes it's explained as desperation, but most times, they really should know better and just accept the fact that their foe is (sigh) Immune to Bullets. It makes a touch more sense with characters who have protective devices like Wonder Woman's bracelets or Captain America's shield. At least with those characters, the Mooks can realistically think they have a chance at hurting them if only they could get that lucky shot, which never happens.

Named for the countless times crooks and other low-level threats have attempted to stop Superman by shooting him with regular guns. Often they'll even throw their empty gun at him once they've emptied the magazine, to no effect. (Though old live-action Superman shows would sometimes have him duck or otherwise dodge the thrown prop guns) Particularly dense examples will then pull out another gun and try again, or pick up a chair and smash him over the head with it... And then do it AGAIN and again until Supes has had his fun and proceeds to twist them up like a pretzel.

Somewhat justified in circumstances where the monster of the week just has lots of hitpoints, and in real life it would also be unlikely for the world's collective military to take one swipe and announce: "Oh! He's obviously Immune to Bullets! How could we been have so Genre Blind?"

Check out "Real Life" below for some examples where shooting Superman is still the best option.

Compare Five Rounds Rapid, Never Bring a Knife to A Fist Fight, Suicidal Overconfidence.

Examples of Shooting Superman include:

Anime and Manga

  • Both an example and a subversion, in Akira when regular people, such as Yamagata attempt to shoot Tetsuo, he either deflects the shot, or reverses its direction. However, because of Kaneda's connection to Tetsuo, when Kaneda shoots him the bullet isn't deflected, with Tetsuo's reaction to being shot in the first volume implying that he HAD meant to deflect the shot and failed.
  • Early in Neon Genesis Evangelion, it's established that all conventional weapons are useless against the angels and even the "Non-nuclear" N2 mines may or may not slow one down, depending on the episode and angel. Yet the military insists shooting at them anyway, presumably to distract them.
    • Some lines from Rebuild of Evangelion suggest that the military stubbornly insists on having their shot at killing an Angel to feel satisfied. Ritsuko quips that the only thing they're doing is wasting money. There are, however, some occasions where NERV fires huge amounts of ordinance at an Angel to distract it or slow it down while they get the Evas ready.
  • The mooks of Elfen Lied do this a lot. Mind you, part of this could be because their superiors might not have fully informed them about the massive Psychic Powers of the diclonius.
    • Also, since they have to deflect every individual bullet, it's theoretically possible for one to get through.
  • This happens during Dragonball Z's Buu Saga. Fat Buu has pretty much trashed the world at this point, laughing off whole armies like they were cheap toys and wrecking cities at will. So naturally, when Mr. Satan (with the help of a stray puppy) manage to talk him down and get him on the verge of a full Heel Face Turn... two mooks with sniper rifles decide to be An Hero and snipe the creature that laughed off tank fire on national TV. it didn't end well.
    • It's pretty much a Running Gag to have Earth's military assemble against the latest Big Bad with a hail of firepower, only to be wiped out in return. Nappa (though only in the anime), Androids 17 and 18, Cell, Buu... even back in Dragon Ball with King Piccolo.
    • His children too, when Launch attempts to save Yamcha from Tambourine she shoots him with a machine gun, the bullets just bounce off him.
    • Very first episodes/chapter of Dragon Ball, Bulma panicked and shot a 12 year old Goku. Right in the head. Goku hopped up and said that hurt, and all he had was a small bump on his forehead. From the very first chapter, we have the establishment of Goku's bulletproofness.
    • And in Dragonball Super. we have this bunch of idiots who try to rob the adult Goku, and keep firing even after he knocks one out by catching the bullet and flicking it at him. Goku can't help but tell them to "stop goofing off and find a real job" before realizing he's not one to talk.
  • Lampshaded in one episode of Tokko. When a handful of Muggle rookie cops are being dispatched to a phantom attack site, one of them points out that bullets don't work against the monsters. Da Chief angrily snaps back "I STILL WANT YOU TO SHOOT AT THEM!"
  • In Mobile Suit Gundam, after the titular Humongous Mecha cripples his own mech, Admiral Dozel climbs out of the cockpit & begins shooting at it with a rifle. This is more a final symbolic act of defiance, though.
    • More along the lines of the trope: Gundam 0080 demonstrates that even a single Mook piloted by a rookie can do significant damage to a Gundam if they use strategy and tactics. However, more often than not the enemy will just fire blindly and get trashed, with the Gundam receiving only light damage at worst.
  • In A Certain Magical Index, Accelerator's past, in which everyone tried to kill him and merely ended up using him as a practice target. It didn't work in the past, why would work in the present?
  • Alucard of Hellsing, pretty much all the time. Even enemies who know he's an immortal vampire still try. Though they may imagine they have a chance of slowing him down, it's likely that all the drama surrounding his regeneration is purely for his amusement.

"You'll need more than guns to stop me!"

  • One Piece - Considering he has a three hundred million beli bounty, you'd think people would know better than to try shooting at Luffy. It's not like he hides the fact that he's made of rubber, either. Bullets that hit him tend to bounce right back at the same speed they hit him at while he just ignores them. It's particularly bad during Enies Lobby when literally thousands of marines are trying to shoot him and he doesn't even seem to notice. Maybe they're aiming for his oddly indestructible hat to go for emotional damage?
It gets even worse in the Marineford Arc. After Luffy freed Ace, the Marines proceed to shoot Luffy and Ace. Keep in mind that Ace can turn into intangible fire, so while bullets just bounce off Luffy, they simply pass through Ace.
  • Death Note: In the manga and movie, the SPK/task force members think Ryuk is writing their names, and try to stop him.
  • Heroman - In true comic book fashion, this is how it turns out when the police and the army shoot the Skrugg, and also when the Skrugg shoot Heroman.
  • Ichiban Ushiro no Dai Maou: Ganging up on the guy destined to become the Demon King—bringer of death and destruction, eater of babies, and ravisher of women—with pipes and other assorted items is one thing. He's not a demon king yet, and he might be all show. However, when said guy shrugs off a heavy blow to the back, mocks your efforts, and proceeds to turn your friends' feet into bloody pretzels with the power of his mind, charging in with a metal chain and cheap magical barrage probably isn't going to help you much either.
  • Averted, subverted, or maybe just zig-zagged in Princess Mononoke. Ashitaka uses his demon-enhanced reflexes to knock arrows fired at him out of the air while riding a swimming elk. One mook tells the others not to waste their arrows, and they stop firing. An odd example as this would seem to be a defense that should be penetrable; after all, he only has to miss deflecting one arrow.
  • Played with in Yu-Gi-Oh!. Occasionally the bad guy will have an unassailable combo put together, but that won't stop the hero from sending in an attack, summoning a monster, or triggering whatever effect the opponent wants to activate. Most intelligent duelists are too smart to fall for the same trick twice. But a truly skilled duelist will fall into the trap on purpose, only to break down the strategy at some fundamental oversight.
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, when a scientist fires multiple rounds at what he was just told was an army of immortal beings.
    • Played for Laughs in another story, where a group of train robbers keeps encountering Al one-by-one and deciding that firing their machineguns at the big suit of armor is a good idea, DESPITE Al attempting to warn them. As it wears on, Anime!Al just keeps trying, while Manga!Al is a little more snarky (in the sense of "It worked out so well for your three friends...").
  • In the Pokémon anime every single one of Team Rocket's traps to capture Pikachu has been proofed against Pikachu's electric attacks. Despite this Pikachu only ever uses electric attacks when first captured just to confirm that, yes, Team Rocket's newest trap is immune. Only when the traps are intended to capture something other than Pikachu are electric attacks effective against them.

Comic Books

  • Superman is of course the Trope Namer, and it's been happening since his very first adventure.
  • Superman Expy Hyperion also catches his fair share of this. One notable example, complete with lampshading, is from Squadron Supreme: New World Order.

Hyperion: (eyerolling as bullets bounce off his chest) Had enough yet?
Nighthawk: (arriving on-scene) Cease firing.
Resistance Fighter: But sir! This is-
Nighthawk: -a foolish waste of valuable ammunition. Now do as you're instructed.

  • Subversion: In "Night Olympics, part one", a Green Arrow comic by Alan Moore, two criminals give themselves up to Black Canary rather than fight her because they're so terrified of being beaten up by a female superhero. "We surrender, Wonder Woman!" She's a bit perturbed, but goes along with it.
  • An interesting use of the trope in issue 1 of the second World's Finest miniseries. During The DCU's "Year One", twin mooks break into tech companies in Gotham and Metropolis and are stopped by the local hero. They both fire a gun repeatedly, to no effect. The Metropolis mook assumes Superman is wearing a Bulletproof Vest, while his Gotham counterpart is so spooked by Batman's "Creature of the Night" image that this doesn't occur to him.
  • In a decades-old issue of The Phantom comic book series a villainess laughs off the titular hero's reputation of being eternal. There's some kidnapping, romantic tension, reducing plans to ruins and holding the hero helpless at gunpoint. The usual, but the Phantom just stands there arms crossed and doesn't even flinch as he's shot. The woman commits suicide rather than face a genuine immortal. As it happens, the Phantom is the latest in a line of Badass normals with no superpowers whatsoever. He slinks away badly wounded, thanking his lucky stars that he was Badass enough to keep stoic.
  • Incredible Hulk - The Hulk's adversary General Thaddeus "Thunderbolt" Ross considers this standard operating procedure. Every time he finds Dr. Banner, he orders his battalion to open fire on his raging indestructible foe, conveniently forgetting the previous hundred or so times where this only served to piss him off. He recently made a grand return in "World War Hulk" and proceeded to... shoot the Hulk. It didn't really work, even with adamantium bullets.
    • They do however badly wound him, too bad the Hulk has a healing factor so powerful it puts Wolverine's to shame, Depending on the Writer.
    • To be fair, they could have defeated him because he was mind-attacked by Doctor Strange at the same time. But he had allies.
  • From the Batman storyline Death in the Family. Batman, angry that Superman won't tell him what he knows about The Joker (who had just murdered Jason Todd), punches Superman in the face. The dialogue that follows is surprisingly funny, given the otherwise dark storyline.

Superman: Are you all right?
Batman, holding his hand in pain: Think I broke a couple of knuckles...
Superman: No, but they're badly bruised. You're lucky I rolled with that punch. You could have crippled yourself.

  • There is a similar scene at the end of the Emperor Joker arc. After The Joker tricks Mr. Mxyzptlk into giving him reality warping abilities, he uses said abilities to continually kill and resurrect Batman, driving him utterly insane. After Superman makes a deal with Mxyzptlk after defeating The Joker, he takes Bruce's memories of the events. After Batman finds out and is furious at Clark for essentially robbing him of what makes him effective (psychosis, essentially), this exchange occurs, with Batman standing on the wing of his Batplane.

Superman: You can hit me if you want. I'll even make sure you don't break your hand
Batman: (glares at him) Pow.
The Batplane fires four to five large missiles at Supes

    • Also in that arc, there's a part where the Joker is torturing both Superman and Batman by having the former relive the latter's backstory while the latter watches. At the scene where Bruce Wayne's parents get shot, the mooks actually shoot Superman, but the bullets ricochet and kill the parents.
  • DC subverts this trope with the alien Daxamites, who have all powers of Superman but with a weakness to lead poisoning instead of Kryptonite. This means that shooting them is actually more effective than with a normal human.
  • In one scene in Rising Stars, Pyre (who has power similar to the Human Torch) is getting shot at, which, of course, doesn't affect him. He says the following: "Y'know, I remember watching the old Superman TV series with George Reeves, and the bad guys would always shoot at Superman, when he showed up. I used to ask myself, why? They know it's not going to hurt him, at most, it'll piss him off, so why shoot at him? You know what it comes down to? The bad guys are always stupid. Dirt-stick-stone stupid." Unfortunately, right after that a device is used on him that defuses his powers, and he's shot to death.
  • Lampshaded in Love and Capes #10 when Abby gains temporary superpowers and her fiancee Crusader (a Superman Expy) is schooling her in superheroing:

Abby: So, after they run out of bullets, why do they throw the empty guns?
Crusader: I've been trying to figure that out for years.

  • During one Justice League of America arc, a General Ripper goes insane and orders a squad to kill the JLA. They comply, but after several minutes of watching bullets bounce off Superman's chest, they stop. One soldier explains why he won't follow the order: "I can't shoot #&*$ing Superman! What do you want me to do next, shove Mother Teresa in a gas chamber?"
    • Didn't help that the JLA also had a (bulletproof) angel on their side at the time.
    • Subverted a few issues later, when several supervillains stage a prison break. Even though they are pretty successful (some stop rioting out of fear of Batman), they all stop immediately after Superman arrives. They just give up and go back to their cells. Even the guy who stole Green Lantern's ring just walks up and gives it back (although he'd been instructed to do so, as the ring had already been sabotaged).
  • Ironically, one of Superman's recurring enemies, Bloodsport, knocks Superman around by shooting him with weapons powerful enough to stun, and in some cases even hurt, him. This is justified; Bloodsport has a literal Hyperspace Arsenal that can give him any firearm he can imagine.
    • He's also one of the very few foes of Superman that actually thought to use Kryptonite ammunition.
  • Luke Cage, Hero for Hire - Marvel super hero Luke Cage has super strength and unbreakable skin. Whenever someone tries to shoot or stab him, he'll just stand there and say "unbreakable skin." (Note, in the 70s, when Cage was a Blaxploitation parody, he'd say "Unbreakable skin fool/turkey." And in the Max line, he says "Unbreakable skin motherfucker."
    • A running gag is that people, mostly Spider Man, will say that he needs unbreakable pants.
    • The Fantastic Four could easily make some for him, but don't. Yet another reason that, well, you know...
    • In an issue of Daredevil, someone tries to stab Luke Cage. Since the knife stops at his skin but the guy keeps stabbing, his hand slides down the knife and gets cut open.
    • And Silver Sable once defeated him by knocking him down and clapping a pistol to his eye, betting that his eyeball wasn't as bulletproof as the rest of him.
  • Subverted by Deadshot, who points out to a bulletproof Mook that bulletproof doesn't mean invulnerable. Deadshot (who's an expert marksman) aims for the guy's eyes, mouth and balls.
    • He also once fought a group of guys in Powered Armor, noting that all armor has seams. This was in a Suicide Squad excursion; his teammates Killer Frost and Firebug take out some of them by combining their efforts because the suits are resistant to extreme heat or cold, but not both at once.
  • Supergirl - One comic had the situation plays out as normal, right until the mook throws the gun at her—the gun hits Supergirl in the head, and she collapses. Then, when she gets back up in the next panel:

"Just kidding!"

  • Some comics of Superman have him using his super speed to catch all the bullets being shot at him, not because they'd hurt him, but because he doesn't want them to bounce off and hurt bystanders.
    • There is one Hulk story where a policeman shoots at him - Banner is in control of Hulk at the time and he hasn't done anything, but the policeman panicked - and Hulk disarms him and berates him because bullets bounce off him and there are lots of people around - the ricochets can easily kill them. Besides, if he has been his old self, bullets would have done nothing, as noted above.
  • Kid Twist from Joss Whedon's run on Runaways killed two of the Street Arabs thanks to his Improbable Aiming Skills—his bullets never miss their target even if they have to change direction in midair. He thinks this is the most awesome power in the world, until he encounters another Arab, George "Deadman" Pelham. George, being a zombie, isn't affected by the bullets Kid Twist futilely fires at him. Then he bites into Kid Twist's skull to avenge the Arabs Twist killed.

George: I'm partial to brains myself. But you just emptied your gun into a dead man so I doubt this'll be much of a meal.

  • Played with in the Don Rosa story The Vigilante of Pizen Bluff, wherein the Daltons (not them, the historical ones!) try to shoot a charging Scrooge McDuck. Although it should be impossible for them to miss Scrooge (he is directly in front of them, and coming closer), this has absolutely no effect on him. Sure, young Scrooge is Badass, but that he even seems to be immune to bullets, comes as quite a surprise. The explanation: The Daltons where using pistols from Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show, which were only filled with blanks.
  • Atomic Robo is a famous robot Action Scientist who is immune to small arms fire. That doesn't stop people from trying to shoot him.

Robo: Oh, come on. What did you think that would accomplish? I fell out of the sky!.

  • In instance after Marvel's "Civil War" crossover has a pissed off Thor pick a fight with Iron Man over Iron Man cloning him. Iron Man opens up by shooting at Thor with his repulsar rays and uni-beam, which Thor shrugs off like they weren't even there. Iron Man then decides to try fighting the Thor hand-to-hand even though his armor's weapons failed to scratch him. It goes as well as you would expect.
    • In Stark's defense, he was wearing armor designed to take on The Hulk in full "HULK SMASH" mode. If Thor hadn't been in possession of the Odinpower at the time (making him a God among Gods), it might have worked.

Fan Works

  • Alex "Terawatt" Mack is the target several times in The Secret Return of Alex Mack. It's seen especially in the Congo op, where the warlord and his soldiers persist in emptying their guns at Terawatt even though it's obvious that nothing is hitting or harming her. Ends with the warlord trying futilely to hit her with his now-empty submachine gun. Then it's taken Up to Eleven in Terawatt's final confrontation with Danielle Atron.
  • Hilariously parodied in this piece of fanart, where the unseen crooks clearly do know that Power Girl is bulletproof. (Warning: NSFW!)


  • In Superman Returns, a criminal turns a freaking Gatling gun (and not just the usual 7.62mm minigun - this was a full-on 20mm M61!) on Superman (though, to be fair, he was aiming at some police officers. Superman got in the way). Even after he's emptied an entire belt of high-powered ammunition into the guy's chest without so much as scuffing the insignia, he still thinks it's a bright idea to move on to a regular pistol and try to shoot for Superman's eyes. We're then treated to a Bullet Time effect of the bullet actually bouncing off Superman's eyeball. Golly. Superman takes a moment to flash a sardonic, "how dumb can you get?" smile at the thug just before giving him great quantities of what-for. Offscreen, however.
    • J. Michael Straczynski also did this exact routine years earlier in Supreme Power, Marvel's Alternate Company Equivalent to DC's Justice League thrown way over onto the cynical side of the sliding scale. There, a general in the middle of talks with the Superman equivalent (Hyperion) who was refusing to be the military's living weapon anymore got frustrated and threatened that humanity could still hurt him. In response, Hyperion took a gun the general had on him, and shot himself in the eye. After an awkward moment when the bullet bounced back, Hyperion continued the conversation, noting he didn't take the threat very seriously.
    • The Superman Returns example makes some sense: Presumably, the bad guy thought that it was possible that Superman had a weak spot that maybe his invulnerability didn't cover. The eye would probably be it (it works on dragons--usually). When it didn't work, we can presume the crook gave up pretty quickly.
  • The platoon protecting the president in Superman II does this with the Krypton Criminals. They empty their clips into General Zod and company, and when the bullets all bounce off harmlessly, they reload and shoot at the three Kryptonians some more.
  • Generally speaking, there is no point in shooting at RoboCop with anything less than anti-tank weaponry. Of course this makes Robocop's eventual fall all the more shocking.
  • Godzilla faces the standard doomed assault by the Japanese military almost every time he appears (as an antagonist, at least), even though by the time of the sequels, they've had many opportunities to see just how utterly useless that is. Add to this the tendency in Kaiju films for the army's unloading of ordinance into the monster to do as much collateral damage as the monster itself (or more, in American films like 1999's Godzilla, King Kong, and Cloverfield.) The most shooting the monster ever seems to do is make it angry, except in Godzilla 2000, a set of MLRS fired at Godzilla do appear to actually hurt him, but he just heals from the injuries right afterwords.
    • In Godzilla 1985, somebody has the brilliant idea of dropping a nuclear bomb on him. Think about that for a minute.
      • Particularly glaring example is when the army tries fighting King Ghidorah and Gigan in Godzillavs Gigan. They could never stop on monster, and here they go trying to stop two.
  • Hancock subverts this; Hancock himself is invulnerable to nearly any kind of weapons, even casually deflecting a missile fired at him, but as the movie progresses, he gets steadily weaker and more vulnerable to gunfire by being in proximity to his past wife, Mary.
    • But it also makes use of it in an early scene, where Hancock breaks into the back of some fleeing convicts' SUV. Despite the fact that they recognize him right away and had about 30 seconds of reaction time to think, eventually they still unload several clips of ammo into him, causing no damage to anything but his sunglasses and his bottle of whiskey, which just so happened to be his Berserk Button.
    • Additionally, the subversion example only becomes a subversion at the last moment. It begins as one of the most heinous examples of this trope played straight, when three of Hancock's enemies form a master plan to break out of prison... and shoot Hancock. Most of the other examples on this page can at least be Handwaved away as acts of panic, but these guys actually planned it in advance. They had no way of knowing what his weakness was, nor to they ever find out; they just got lucky by arriving precisely as it weakened him.
  • Iron Man - This routine runs throughout Tony Stark's escape from his captors: the guys shoot at his colossal suit of armor with rifles, to no effect, when one guy gets the brilliant idea to fire a pistol at him while he has his hand stuck in a wall. Cue the round deflecting and killing him [1] Then, outside the complex, another group of guys try doing the exact same thing, even when they're standing next to stockpiles of rocket launchers and explosives. One of them finally has the presence of mind to load a .50 Browning fixed machine gun, and even the luck to disable the actuator on his right leg. He still ends up dead from flamethrower and multiple explosions. You can at least understand the guy who shot Tony in the head line of thinking. He was going for a hopeful weakspot.
  • Somewhat averted in The Dark Knight Saga as criminals learn Batman's weaknesses and spread the word. His vulnerability to attack dogs is common knowledge by the beginning of The Dark Knight and is exploited several times.
    • And yet they continue to shoot his car.
      • That one is probably more a case of "They weren't aiming for the right spot!", like the Superman Returns example above. After all, nailing a tire seems like a sure way to hobble a car, doesn't it?
  • In a non-superhero example, it's a Friday the 13 th tradition for Jason Voorhees, in the event his intended victims actually see him approach, to stand perfectly still as they shoot, strike, and/or throw things at him. If they put up a really feisty show of it, he might even tilt his head a bit, as if to confirm they're all done, before he strides forward, unaffected.
    • While not as implacable as Jason, the same still goes for Michael Myers of Halloween fame. This trope gets referenced in the commentary of Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers - in a scene where a cop clumsily shoots at Michael, one of the commentators mentions that, as a lifelong resident of Haddonfield, the guy should have realized shooting Michael just pisses him off.
      • Although from the very first movie, shooting Myers does work, as he does get knocked back by bullets.
  • The Curse of Frankenstein concludes with Baron Frankenstein fighting the monster, shooting it with pistol to no effect. He then throws the pistol at the monster. Again, no effect. Thankfully he throws a lantern next time and that seems to work.
  • V for Vendetta - Sort of justified. At the finale Creedy's men and eventually Creedy himself shoot at V only to find that he was wearing a metal plate the whole time. However, in a subversion, it was still enough to critically wound him and he dies shortly afterwards.
  • Rick O'Connell and various other characters in The Mummy waste many bullets shooting at Imhotep until they are informed by the local Mr. Exposition that the title mummy is, in fact, Immune to Bullets.
  • Big Trouble in Little China

Jack Burton: "Well, it was worth a shot."

  • Played straight in The Terminator films. Small arms guns like pistols, shotguns and machineguns, at best, only stun the Terminator and knock it off balance. The only way to defeat them is with the use of explosives and the enviroment:
    • The first film used pipe bombs and then an industrial crusher to defeat the machine
    • The second made use of a grenade launcher and a vat of molten metal.
    • The third film used a hydrogen power cell to create a mini nuclear explosion.
    • The fourth decapitates the robot with a crowbar.
  • The end sequence of A Fistful of Dollars plays with this. Ramon shoots The Man With No Name (there known as "Joe") in the heart with his rifle. Each time he gets back up to incredulous looks. Once Ramon's ammo is spent, Joe pulls back his poncho to reveal the boiler plate he's been wearing all along before taking out the mooks and challenging Ramon to a one on one duel. Interestingly, only one other character in The Dollars Trilogy manages to score a hit on The Man With No Name and he was intentionally almost missing from behind as part of a Batman Gambit.
  • Played with in Megamind. After discovering Metro Man is still alive after Megamind supposedly killed him, Roxanne is furious he deserted the people of Metro City and begins throwing furniture at him. Nothing happens except the furniture getting smashed, naturally.
  • Magneto/Erik in X-Men: First Class isn't bulletproof but he can deflect any metal projectile he knows about. In the end Moira, who should have known better, shoots at him to distract him from accomplishing his goal. Unfortunately, when Erik deflects it, the bullet hits Charles instead and cripples him.
    • The plan was quite sound. Magneto has to know he's being shot at to deflect the bullets, and she came out of nowhere. It's just that Moira's first bullet bounced off his helmet, alerting him to the second, third, etc bullets. If the intention was distracting him from guiding the missiles and shells, then it worked perfectly, saving the lives of every human in the fleet. And in any event, Magneto isn't perfect; anyone can screw up even a simple task if forced to perform it often enough, especially under stressful circumstances. Think of it like jump-roping; easy enough to repeat dozens or hundreds of times in quick succession, but even experienced jumpers still catch the rope with their feet once in a while.
  • Played infuriatingly straight in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. The military scientists who made Wolverine immune to bullets decide to stop him by sending an assassin, armed with bullets, to kill the man who is immune to bullets. What makes this doubley rage-inducing is the fact that as they are watching their stupid plan fail, they comment on the fact that the assassin never stood a chance because he wasn't using the special adamantium bullets they had right there next to them!!!
    • More pointedly still is the description of Wolverine as "unstoppable" while they are coming up with this (deeply, deeply flawed) plan to stop him. Apparently nobody working for Weapon X understands irony.
  • Done really oddly in Syngenor. Some Mooks stand and shoot at the Super Soldier monsters that are supposed to be Immune to Bullets, only to find that... bullets work on them. But then they get killed anyway because they keep standing still so that the surviving monsters are able to lumber up to them and attack at close range.


  • R.A. Salvatore's Dark Elf series doesn't feature any one whose skin would not be scratched by bullets (or, in this case, arrows); however, usually near the beginning of the story, some Mook comes at him and gets schooled. Out of pity, Drizzt might not even kill him. In Sea of Swords, for example, using just his scimitars, he twists the sword out of his opponent's hands, and then, still using just his scimitars, juggles it, before offering it back hilt first with some encouragement.
  • In Witches Abroad, Granny Weatherwax seems to consider her sister to be doing this as soon as she tries a magical attack a second time on Baron Saturday, who was unaffected by the first.
  • Nicodemus from The Dresden Files is Nigh Invulnerable. We find this out when someone empties her entire clip of bullets into him, reloads, and does it again, while he just stands there, sighs, and rolls his eyes. On the other hand, sufficient dakka proves to be capable of ripping him apart badly enough that he needs a minute to regenerate.
  • In Lilith's Brood, the Oankali have a Healing Factor that renders them Nigh Invulnerable. This does not stop certain humans from trying to shoot them. Repeatedly.
  • In John Ringo's "Space Bubbles" seiries, the good guys do this a lot. After the first Dreen war, the found that small caliber weapons were enifective against the larger Dreen. So when they go exploring space, what do they bring? Small caliber gatling guns, capable of shooting a whole lot of bullets that do nothing in a short period of time. While on this first mission, they encounter aliens with shells that only Bergs .50 cal can penetrate. Later, they go off on a mission again, still wielding the same underpowered guns.

Live Action TV

  • As mentioned in the Trope description, this initially came from the old live-action Superman movie serials and the George Reeves TV series. Superman would confront a crook, the crook would shoot at Superman, who stood there with his fists on his hips while the bullets bounced off his invulnerable skin. Then the crook would throw the now-empty gun at Superman, who would duck or dodge it. Of course, the real reason for this was that the "ricochet" effects were drawn onto the celluloid film stock after the fact, and the actors playing Superman had to duck so as not to get cracked in the head with a prop gun. Still, it does look quite silly...
    • Other movies and TV shows that want to bounce a weapon off someone will cast a fake prop in soft foam rubber and then dub in the weighty thump of something like that hitting a person (to avoid the Styrofoam Rocks effect). A cut scene from Creepshow had Leslie Nielsen throw his gun at the waterlogged walking corpses of his victims after bullets failed to work
    • In one episode of Lois and Clark, a scientist shoots a clone of Superman twice at point blank range, however, this clone is undergoing severe Clone Degeneration, and is losing his powers, including invulnerability. The bullets don't cause any permanant damage, but he definitely feels them.
    • Parodied in The Protector, an original web film featuring a Captain Ersatz of Superman who, having grown old and weak, watches a 50's TV adaption of one of his adventures. In one sequence, a thug, after emptying his rounds proceeds to throw his gun at the TV version of the title hero, who ducks. The actual character watching the episode then smirks:

The Protector: Now why would I do that? If I'm bullet-proof then there's no reason for me to duck if he throws a gun at my head. Sometimes Hollywood doesn't make any sense.

    • Could be justified by Kryptonians having the same basic injury-avoidance reflexes as humans do, which would have protected them from harm on their native planet where they weren't invulnerable. Such instinctive reflexes would still exist in Superman, and make him duck when an object is thrown at him, even if intellectually he knows he won't be harmed. Bullets move fast enough that he can't dodge them without invoking Super Speed—an ability standard Kryptonian reflexes wouldn't allow for—so those he can ignore without instinctively ducking aside.
  • In the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode Prince of Space, the villainous aliens constantly attack the titular hero with their laser weapons, despite his constant insistence (and demonstrations) that these weapons cannot harm him.

Crow: Don't you get it? Your weapons! Don't! Work!
Servo: Have I mentioned that?

    • Only in the American dub. The original Prince dodges and hides from the weapons, but he's not immune to them. The problem was getting a bead on him.
  • Surprisingly subverted in the series finale of the Salkind's Superboy program. In the final episode, Superboy catches some crooks in the process of robbing a bank and they wisely put their guns down, something for which he compliments them. Ironically, his heat vision (as well as all his other powers) was going haywire that day and had to flare up just then, frying the surrendering crooks.
  • Appropriately enough, lampshaded in Lois and Clark. When a secret agent pulls a gun on Superman, he just smiles sympathetically and says, "Let me guess, you're new in town."
  • The final season of The X-Files has a heroic version: Doggett always tries to shoot the completely invulnerable Super Soldiers no matter how many times it doesn't work. Eventually one of them calls him on it. Doggett, being the skeptic, presumably does not believe in the Super Soldiers or their invulnerability. He probably assumes that, despite being an FBI agent who is probably a pretty good shot, he's just been missing them all this time.
  • All over the place in The Sarah Connor Chronicles. In spite of the dozens of times it has been shown that nothing short of armor-piercing ammunition, high explosives or Cameron will even damage an enemy Terminator, let alone disable it, the main characters insist on plugging the latest implacable killing machine with as many bullets as they can before thinking "Oh shit, this might be a bad idea", then running. In fairness, the trope is most common when they are caught unawares and have been shown as highly effective Terminator terminators when they have had time to plan.
    • And there are other possible justifications . . . while small caliber fire often has little effect, it's been shown that shotguns and rifles can slow a Terminator down. Only for a split second, sure, but when you're fighting a Terminator you need all the split seconds you can get. Also, if they manage to get away but the Terminator is still standing, there's a good chance the cyborg will hole up and wait until it can get its shot-up disguise back up to snuff before trying another attack, buying even more precious time.
      • And then there's the fact that by the time the end of the film approaches, the T1000 is flickering. Some damage has been done; it's just that what's required is ever so much more than the Connors or the T800 can muster up, at least in terms of kinetic weapons.
    • Shooting the Terminator worked on one occassion. It was admitedly a carefully executed ambush and they had to unload a lot of ordenance (and sent their own, tame Terminator in to take the final kill shot, just in case).
  • In the Season 6 season premier of Lost, Bram and his team shoot at The-Man-in-Black-who-is-Masquerading-as-John-Locke, who then reveals himself to be the smoke monster, killing Bram and his team. While it is unknown if they actually knew what they were dealing with at the time, it's pretty obvious that the writers set up to prove exactly this point - that the Smoke Monster is invulnerable to bullets. Bram even picks up the bullet from the floor during a lull in the battle. This trope is even averted later in the premire when Ben and The-Man-in-Black-who-is-Masquerading-as-John-Locke-and-also-happens-to-be-the-smoke-monster come out and as everyone raises their weapons Richard yells "Don't shoot him!".
    • Aaaand Kate shoots at him two separate times in the final episode of the series. The second time works out better, though.
  • While more technology than invulnerability, when going up against one of the Goa'uld in Stargate SG-1, the team unloads rounds of gun fire towards him, only to be deflected by the shield. Jack O'Neill then throws a blade (not the gun he was just firing, that would have probably fallen far short), which penetrates the shield.
    • This is explained in show- certain kinds of personal shield can be penetrated by slow-moving objects. Useless shooting seems to be SGC standard procedure for dealing with both Kull warriors and human-form Replicators, both of whom are completely immune to bullets. It's possible that the bullet-shooters are trying to act as distractions for whoever has the gun that will actually kill the enemy, though.
    • There is a straighter example in the episode where Teal'c is trapped in the virtual reality of the chair. The setting is an invasion by a Kull Warrior of Anubis. The military personell keeps firing on it with ordinary weaponry (instead of doing something smart like evacuating or trapping the Kull Warrior in a corridor), completely ignoring the fact that the Kull Warrior can only killed by a special weapon. This includes O'Neill himself.
  • Doctor Who - No matter what century it is, and no matter how many times The Doctor tells them not to, people always unload clip after clip at Daleks, Cybermen, Sontarans, etc. when will they learn that Five Rounds Rapid doesn't work? Heck, the one time conventional weapons did work it got a Lampshade Hanging. On one occasion, the Brigadier commented, "Just once I would like to encounter an alien menace that wasn't immune to bullets."
This is subverted somewhat in the new series... there's an episode where armor successfully shoots down a spaceship hovering over London, and another where the U.N.I.T. forces make a good showing against Sontarans.
    • A soldier also kills a cyberman in season two using a rocket. But are these subversions of the trope? No one had any reason to expect the spaceship, the Sontarans, or the cyberman to be immune to the weapons variously employed against them.
    • In the novelization, of Remembrance of the Daleks (Seventh Doctor), but not the TV episode, recoilless rifles and shoulder-mounted rocket launchers are shown to be effective. While this subverts the trope, making the Daleks no longer invulnerable, the humans are still grossly overmatched. At least Gp Capt. Gilmour takes heed from his first experience and brings in some heavy weapons (and yet he is the Brigadier's immediate PREDECESSOR.
    • Also, in the revived series 1st season, the episode "Dalek"'s eponymous character has a forcefield that melts the bullets before they hit. The Doctor tells them to concentrate their fire on the eyepiece, but the Dalek kills everyone before they can break through. In "The Parting of the Ways", the bullets DO eventually get through, but the other Daleks massacre the rest of the resistance before they can inflict more damage. In the 4th series episode "The Stolen Earth", the Daleks don't have the forcefields anymore, but their armour is too strong for modern earth weaponry ("The Parting of the Ways" took place in the year 200100, where guns use bullets with Bastic Heads). Peculiarly, no one thinks to aim for the eyepiece.
      • There's a lampshaded aversion in the episode "Planet of the Dead". Giant flying stingray things that turn planets to sand have just arrived through a portal to Earth, and U.N.I.T. open fire. Amazingly, the aliens actually start dying. The U.N.I.T. commander says something along the lines of: "I can't believe it - guns that work!"
  • Occasionally trotted out in Smallville, particularly in "Exile," where Clark (infected with red kryptonite) robs a bank. When the cops get there, Clark pretends to go for a gun, and they shoot him. A lot. He just stands there for a while before getting bored and using heat vision to blow up a cop car.
    • Subverted in "Extinction." Clark hears someone shooting at him and turns to catch the bullet. He's visibly shocked when the kryptonite round goes through his hand and into his shoulder.
      • Justified a lot in Smallville, as a lot of criminals shoot at Clark, not knowing he's invunrable. Also, in season one this trope would be played with, as Clark was only just developing his invunrability, so he would be a suprised as the villains when Shooting Superman didn't work. For example, in "Pilot" he is suprised (and a bit scared) when he survives being hit by Lex's car, and in the episode "Hug" a Brainwashed and Crazy Lex tries to kill Clark with an automatic rifle, and both Clark and his parents are shocked to learn he can survive automatic weapon fire.
  • Often played straight in the Wonder Woman TV series, thus giving Wonder Woman a chance to do her "bullets and bracelets" stunt. Hilariously subverted in the pilot, however, where Red Buttons plays a shady showbiz promoter working for the Nazis. Wonder Woman tracks down the Nazi agents, most of whom have yet to encounter her. Understandably, they therefore open fire at the strange chick in the bathing suit, with predictable results. Buttons' character, however, previously saw Wonder Woman deflect an entire magazine from a fully automatic machine gun. He does unload his revolver at Wonder Woman, but doesn't even bother aiming, with an expression on his face that clearly shows he's just shooting for appearance's sake.

New Media


Rorschach: You don't die, do you?
Deadpool': Nope.

Rorschach then continues to shoot Deadpool throughout the series. However, he never really seems to expect it to have an affect (though once he caused impact by shooting Deadpool's guitar...). He usually just does it to shut Deadpool up.

Tabletop Games

  • Justified in Dungeons & Dragons - and many other role-playing-games - in which literally any attack will hurt literally anyone as long as the attacker rolls a 20 on a 20-sided die (or a similarly rare optimal roll in games that use different dice for resolution). If you're using D&D rules, if 10 thugs empty out revolvers at Superman, on average three of those shots will actually hurt him! Depending on how the used flavour resolves the "successful" hit, however.
    • AD&D 2 rules listed as one of events calling for a Morale check (to see whether they run or try again) when NPC or monsters find themselves "Fighting a creature they cannot harm due to magical protections". There are also adjustments, such as penalty for the side who didn't manage to take down any of the foes yet. And for casualties.
    • Going by D&D rules, Superman would likely have a huge Damage Reduction (which a natural 20 does not nullify), rendering them just as ineffective as before.
    • Also, some more amorphous entities, like golems or the undead, are immune to critical hits. Since crits are supposed to represent getting a lucky hit through your target's defenses or directly in a weak spot, this obviously wouldn't apply to a Determinator that doesn't stop short of Critical Existence Failure.
  • Appears with varying amounts in Warhammer Fantasy Battle and Warhammer 40,000. In the current edition of the later, if a unit's toughness stat is four points higher than the strength of an attack thrown at it, the attack can't hurt it. In the former, any unit can be harmed by an attack if it rolls a six. Interestingly, the current editions actually favor a big group of Mooks attacking a single powerful unit, since not do their mass of attacks and numbers mean they can beat it a battle of titration, but they get automatic bonuses to their combat resolution meaning they can win without inflicting any harm on target.
  • Mutants and Masterminds encourages a GM to still have bad guys attack a player character with something said PC is immune to now and then. This is for the dual purpose of the trope being a staple in the genre the system attempts to imitate, and to avoid making immunity useless (what point is there buying immunity to bullets if it just means everybody stops using bullet based weapons).
    • The game also has an 'Impervious' extra you can pay to add to your Toughness, that prevents attacks below a certain threshold from even rolling an attempt to penetrate your damage. It's intended for exactly the purpose of this trope; to allow a powerful super to just remain completely oblivious to damage from less powerful sources.
  • Aberrant has the aptly-named "Puny Human" rule, which prevents attacks less than half as large as the damage soak they're going up against from even rolling the one statistical 'ping die' that exists in the White Wolf game engine to allow any attack to have a theoretical chance, however small, of doing at least scratch damage. Against a powerful enough nova in Aberrant, you're not even doing that. And unlike the M&M example above this is not an extra you have to pay character points for but a default setting rule for all superhumans.

Video Games

  • Cops in the Katamari Damacy games will shoot at your mountain-sized katamari to no effect.
  • In In Famous, once you get Polarity Wall no bullet will ever hit you in that direction. Heck if you upgrade it getting shot gives you health.
  • In Sonic Adventure, the police attempts to shoot Chaos. Yeah, like shooting a humanoid blob of water would work. In their defense, they had never seen Chaos before and really had no clue he was made out of water and they quickly figure out that it's not going to work and back off, with the rather Narmful delivery of the line: "Oh no, our weapons are useless! Retreat! All personnel, fall back!" They then try to save face by moon-walking away. It sort of works.
  • This trope angers the Genre Savvy HK-47 from Knights of the Old Republic. When asked how he would kill a Jedi, the start of his response is as follows.

"Weapon selection is critical. If I see one more idiot attacking a Jedi with a blaster pistol, I'll kill them myself!"

    • Atton's response to the Exile's question about how he killed Jedi was an aversion; the trick is using things like poisons, not coming face-to-face with the Jedi, and, above all, no blasters.
  • Prototype - As Alex Mercer succinctly puts it: "Nothing can protect you from me! Not men! Not weapons! Not armor!" When Alex Mercer shows up, shooting is pretty much your only recourse. Running won't work either, nor will surrender. All tanks do is irritate him by knocking him over, he'll just hijack your helicopter—unless, of course, he decides to smash your tank in one blow and throw it at the chopper—and bullets might as well be Nerf darts. Hell, the guy survives a nuke to the face.
    • Also with the shield, you can just watch as their bullet ricochet and kill themselves.
    • Though the bullets can and do hurt Alex, quite a lot if you actually try to superman through them by standing in one place, but it's nothing Alex's healing factor or other way of regaining health can't fix.
    • Might as well be played completely straight. Unless you're surrounded be about 30 guys, bullets do no noticeable damage to your health.
    • And then, in Prototype 2, this gets extended even further. Heller can acquire a passive power that works like Alex's shield, so anyone trying to shoot him with small arms will get killed by ricochets with no effort on his part. Heller then gets a shield that's improved over Alex's - it not only covers him completely, but it'll reflect tank rounds and rockets as well.
  • Also, any videogame that allows God Mode will effectively leave your enemies laying round after round of blanks into you, as they're not programmed to recognize invincibility. It's also quite amusing to notice how many rounds they go through, as the majority of enemies also aren't programmed to run out of ammo.
  • Averted in World of Warcraft where enemies will not attack an invincible player if there are other players to attack.
  • Averted in Warcraft III, where invincible units can't be attacked at all. Similarly, it's impossible to directly target magic-immune units with spells.
  • Also averted in the Super Smash Bros. series of games. Grabbing a star makes you immune to damage, knock-back, and hitstun, and all the CPU players will avoid you to the best of their ability rather than waste their time attacking. Some human players, however, have a hard time figuring that out.
  • The DCAU-based game Superman: Shadow of Apokalips had an Egregious example that, oddly enough, did not involve Superman. When Metallo comes gunning for Lex Luthor, Luthor's big plan is to have his bodyguard Mercy shoot Metallo with a machine gun. This isn't meant to distract Metallo so that Luthor can escape or anything like that, Luthor genuinely seemed to think this would work and had an Oh Crap reaction when it didn't. What makes this worse is that in this continuity, Luthor was the one responsible for turning Metallo into a cyborg, would know exactly how tough he is, and has access to energy weapons powerful enough to hurt him. But no, just have Mercy use a machine gun.
  • In too many action games to list, the player will be driving a tank while enemies stand in the open and uselessly fire their pistols into the armor until the player gets around to blowing them up.
    • Which can be a subversion, as most games register that pistol hit and take the damage off your health, however little damage that might be. Meaning that while one mook with a pistol is highly ineffective, they can eventually kill you, which only makes this situation all the more humiliating. Mercenaries, however, knows that light arms do nothing to tanks, and as such plays this situation true to the trope. Until they bring out heavier weapons.
  • Team Fortress 2 - Ubercharges are indestructible. You will accomplish absolutely nothing by blazing away with that pussy shotgun while that glowing blue Russian force of minigun-wielding death incarnate shoots you to bits with his much, much more effective minigun. Doesn't stop people from trying, though, God bless 'em. The only reasons to shoot at someone under the effects of a charge are to try and slow them down with knockback, or try to distract them while your Medics and Engineers run for it.
    • Explosive weapons with knockback, though—like a demoman's mines—can toss invulnerable players around and force them to waste time; if you manage to separate the medic from their target like this, their invulnerability ends.
    • Some maps have bottomless pits. Using knockback and the Pyro's airblast to knock enemies off a cliff and to their deaths is a perfectly valid and rather effective tactic, regardless of invincibility.
  • In the Generation 1 Pokémon games, this could be the case. Because of the programming, trainers would always use attacks super effective against your Pokemon's type...even if your Pokemon's other type was immune, and even if the "attack" isn't actually an attack, such as using Amnesia relentlessly against Fighting Pokemon. As such, one could sweep through the entire Celadon Gym with a Level 5 Bulbasaur because every trainer, seeing that he is Grass type, would use Poisonpowder every turn, despite the fact that his Poison half makes him immune to the attack.
  • In various Fire Emblem games, the AI enemies will always attack one of your characters should someone be within range, regardless of their own accuracy against said character or whether or not they can inflict any damage at all. This can easily be played around with, allowing you to place a unit with insanely high defense in the way and allowing the enemy to repeatedly attack you, while you counterattack and your weaker characters are safely too far away/blocked off.
  • The old Steel Panthers turn based strategy game managed to play it straight and subvert it. Playing as the Germans, the first KV-1 tanks you face are immune to pretty much every gun in your arsenal. However the game has a morale rule that works on being shot at; not hurt. One tactic, therefore, is to surround the Soviet behemoths with Panzer I tanks and pepper them with (totally ineffective) machine gun fire until the crew panic.



"Bullets are supposed to be faster than you and you know that!"

  • Parodied in Housepets with the in-comic comic, Spot (Superdog). "And now we will shoot him with our not special guns and kill him with regular bullets!"
  • The Non-Adventures of Wonderella: This seems to happen to Wonderella frequently:
    • Lampshaded in this page:

Man, I been there. Once a week I get some genius who keeps shooting at me even after my "YOUR BULLETS ARE USELESS" speech. Gotta wonder what the schools are teaching these days.


A dozen bullets didn't do the job - let's try awkwardly tossing an empty gun. See how that works for you.


Web Original

  • In Fine Structure, the appropriately named "Fight Scene" chapter has Flying Brick Arika take on a squad of Flying Brick Super Soldiers and endure all manor of hurt at the command of their leader. After she survives a cruise missile, she hovers over him and he empties his clip at the hero in what is explicitly a mere show of defiance.
  • In the Global Guardians PBEM Universe, this happened to The Shield all the time. The Shield's one schtick is being completely and totally invulnerable, so naturally mooks would empty clip after clip into him to no effect. Occasionally this would escalate and they'd use grenades, miniguns, and rocket launchers on him to equally no effect. Once, one villain even dropped him to Earth from orbit. To no effect. You'd think that sooner or later word would get around...
  • Part of Lancer's backstory in the Whateley Universe. Lancer is a PK superboy type, who grew up as an Army brat. When a troop of soldiers thought he was a supervillain holding his family hostage, they tried to kill him with everything up to a couple shots from an Abrams M-1 tank. You'd think you wouldn't try to shoot a guy who could shrug off a tank round.

Western Animation

  • Parodied in Robot Chicken. Red Skull is firing a machine gun at Captain America, who is clearly bored as he simply lets the shots bounce off his shield...unfortunately, all the richocheting bullets are hitting civilians.
  • This happens rather frequently throughout the DCAU, as the different shows feature many heroes that are immune to one attack or another, including the eponymous Superman:
    • Superman: The Animated Series:
      • Towards the beginning S:TAS, when people are still getting used to what Superman can do, he stops a museum heist in A Little Piece of Home. When he appears, the thieves start throwing spears at him, grabbing them off the displays and hurling with all their might. The thieves do manage to escape the museum, since Kryptonite made its first appearance and conveniently knocked Superman out, but the hand-thrown weapons worked about as well as you would expect.
      • In Superman's Pal (Which the producers have stated to be one of their least favorite episodes, despite praising the voice-acting of the cast) a thug who was attacking Jimmy Olsen actually attacks Superman with a baton. Supes simply snatches it off him saying "You're kidding, right?" before flinging it into orbit.
      • In the next episode, A Fish Story, Superman is drawn by the sound of gunfire to two of Lex Luthor's mooks who are trying to kill Lois Lane (Are any of you surprised by that?). They promptly turn their guns on Superman and start pulling the trigger. He waits for a few seconds as they waste their ammo, then reaches forward and crushes their guns, explaining that "That's enough."
      • In the episode My Girl, one of Lex Luthor's lackeys is selling a bunch of futuristic guns that can make anything explode to a couple of crooks when Superman suddenly shows up. The crooks shoot Superman...and nothing happens. After Supes incapacitates the crooks, the lackey points the gun at him only for the latter to say "I should warn you: it's been done." The lackey then spots a train in the distance heading towards a bridge and shoots said bridge forcing Superman to save the train while he gets away.
      • There's one hilarious instance where a mook is threatening Superman with a gun that can kill him - instead of pulling the trigger, the mook gloats about how he can kill Superman with the futuristic raygun. Cue Super Speed. What an Idiot!.
      • This trope wasn't limited to Superman himself in this series, in "The Way of All Flesh", we have the police shooting at Metallo, after he had walked in front of train and stopped with his hands without getting so much as a scratch on him. Superman himself, desperate enough to try anything due Metallo's kryptonite power source, resorts to something along these lines by ramming Metallo with a car, which does at least push him off the highway bridge they were fighting on, though it doesn't hurt him.
    • Justice League Unlimited:
      • In Hawk and Dove, a thug empties his gun at Wonder Woman, who contemptuously deflects all the rounds. When he runs out of bullets he prepares to throw the gun at her and earns a contemptuous, "Yeah, like that's gonna work."
      • Supergirl is at one point threatened by a man with a single-shot kryptonite gun which probably would have killed her. Green Arrow intervenes by standing between them, leaving his only option to waste the shot on an ordinary human while leaving a pissed off Supergirl unharmed. Later on, Galatea confronts the man and casually disarms him before he even has a chance to fire.
      • In Ultimatum, an unstable metahuman with hydrokinetic abilities tries to kill Aquaman after he harms his sister; however, his method is to try to drown him with a jet of water. Granted the blast was powerful enough to punch a huge hole in the wall behind him, but Aquaman stands unaffected: "King of the Seas, remember?" The meta refuses to relent and tries a few swings; gets kinda sad after that.
      • Another Wonder Woman example: In The Once and Future Thing, Part I, Green Lantern, Batman and Wonder Woman are transported back in time to The Wild West, whereupon they are immediately ambushed by local bandits. Since they obviously refuse to part with their valuables, a couple of bandits with period revolvers shoot at Wonder Woman. She simply smirks as she bats the shots aside effortlessly, commenting, "Those are the biggest, slowest bullets I've ever seen."
      • In To Another Shore Agent Faraday casually warns Wonder Woman that if she threatens the US Vice President a second time, he's under orders to shoot her down, and mimes doing so, she just raises her arm and points to her bracelets. He wisely leaves it at that.
      • Played straight in Question Authority, where a bunch of security guards shoot Superman with automatic weapons to no effect. In a half-subversion, Superman does not let them just run out of bullets, but immediately uses his heat-vision to melt their guns, since he does not want Huntress to be hit by a ricochet. The guards immediately pull out tazers and batons and dogpile Superman, but that does not work either. A few minutes later people seem to finally catch on: When Superman has finally found where The Question is being tortured, the technician pulls out a pistol to point at the bulletproof hero, who by this point is pretty fed up with the entire situation. "Don't be stupid. Drop it." He does.
      • At the climax of the multi-season Cadmus Arc of JLU, several clones of Wind Dragon (an Expy of the Superfriends character Samurai, a wind-powered super hero) try to blast Red Tornado (a robot who, you guessed it, creates tornadoes) with gusts of winds. Red Tornado overpowers all three mooks at once in a contest of brute wind-strength and literally blows them off their feet. He didn't even have to make an effort.
      • With all of that to the contrary, there's one instance where this actually worked—concentrated fire brought down Solomon Grundy in "The Terror Beyond". Presumably, the only reason we don't see that more often is that when the cops actually beat the supervillain, the superheroes never get involved (and in this case, Aquaman was forced to save Grundy in order to make use of his unique nature.)
      • Similarly in Static Shock, the Joker attempts to kill Batman with an "electrical buzzer." Unfortunately for him, he took Static's hand, who absorbs it and sends it back to Joker ten fold.
  • In the 2007 Superman animated film Doomsday, this is actually lampshaded when a group of soldiers are about to attack Superman's clone.

Soldier 1: This is crazy! We can't kill Superman!
Soldier 2: You're right. We can't kill Superman.

  • In the 1941 Fleischer Superman cartoon Billion Dollar Limited. train-hijackers start out by shooting Superman. Fair enough, naturally it doesn't work. Then they start tossing tear-gas grenades at him. Since Supes hadn't yet gained Super Breath or the like in his power set, they work surprisingly well. THEN they go back to shooting at him again. Sigh.
  • In the 60's Spider-Man cartoon, Doctor Octopus throws Spider-Man out of a window and promptly declares him dead, before Spider-Man immediately returns through the same window.
  • It's become something of a Running Gag in Transformers Animated that Bumblebee will always try to use his stingers (weapons that shoot beams of electricity) on Decepticons even though they never do anything (until he fought Swindle which was in the 24th episode).
    • There's also the time Sari tried to take on the Constructicons with a hockey stick.
    • This is slightly subverted in the Animated game for the DS. If you shoot an enemy with your stingers for a little while they eventually do die.
    • In the third season premiere, it was revealed that the weapons have two settings, that Higher ranking Autobot personnel could change. Ratchet was able put his stingers in full power (Military Setting). Of course, why Ratchet waited THIS long to do this is a mystery.
      • Knowing Bumblebee, would YOU give him weapons powerful enough to bring down buildings if you could avoid it?
      • Bumblebee's Stingers then become the only weapon of the entire autobot team to actually scratch Omega Supreme.
      • Also, it was highly illegal. "Battle-grade stingers are only allowed on combat bots!" "What're ya gonna do, arrest me?" Ratchet only did it because they'd reached the Godzilla Threshold.
  • Happens in every episode of the spoof series Batfink, giving the chance for the titular superhero to use his Catch Phrase: "Your bullets cannot harm me! My wings are like a shield of steel!"
  • Parodied in an episode of South Park where Butters, as Professor Chaos, is fighting Mysterion on a construction platform. One of the officers says he has a clean shot of Professor Chaos, but the captain stops him saying, "You think your bullets can hurt him?" In reality, "Professor Chaos" is just a nine-year-old boy in a costume; the fact that people suddenly thought he had taken a level in badass was meant to be a joke.
  • The Simpsons - In a Simpsons Halloween episode; Bart and Lisa get superpowers and have to fight 'The Collector' (I.E Comic Book Guy). He shoots Bart (with a laser!) who manages to dodge every shot. In a subversion though, when he throws the gun, it hits Bart and knocks him out.
  • Happens in the Powerpuff Girls's episode Stuck Up, Up and Away when the girls arrive to stop a bank robbery. Naturally the robbers open fire on them to no effect.
  • In a Whole-Episode Flashback of Defenders of the Earth, one of the past Phantoms teamed with a woman he didn't fully trust, so he replaced the bullets in her guns with blanks. When they're in a plane and she eventually does turn on him, she's so horrified by how ineffectual the weapon is, seemingly confirming the whole "Ghost Who Walks" myth, that she jumps to her death.
  • In an episode of Batman the Brave And The Bold, two crooks aim their guns at Batman... only to give up, being Genre Savvy enough to know that, no matter what they do, Batman will beat them up anyway. And if they can avoid getting beaten up, they will. Bat-Mite, however, has other plans for them.
  • Queen Veranke remarquably subverts this trope when attacking Nick Fury and Iron Man in The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes. After she took down the former with a big gun, Iron Man points out she will only hurt herself more than him if she shoots at him. She answers she knows... and then reveals she already had a virus uploaded inside his armor, thus incapaciting him without a shot.
  • In Ben 10, Ben becomes Genre Savvy of this trope in subsequent fights with Vilgax and mostly runs from him rather than fighting him head on since Vilgax is Nigh Invulnerable.

Real Life

  • Barring a lucky shot, massive animals such as rhinos, grizzlies, or walruses can easily soak up bullets from small-caliber weapons without stopping. Large crocodilians, which have bony armor plates under their skin, can be virtually unkillable with light ammunition; during WWII, Japanese infantry who'd retreated into the Pacific islands' marshes could be heard throughout the night, screaming and firing in vain at bellowing crocodiles. A small few made it back to dry land, for once content to surrender.
  • Pretty much all modern armoured vehicles are at the very least immune to attack from small arms. A few lighter vehicles are even capable of resisting mines and anti-tank rockets, though anything that isn't a tank is going to be taken apart by high velocity armour-piercing ammunition. In the case of main battle tanks, they're practically invulnerable to any anti-tank weapon that isn't current generation. The famed RPG-7 tends to have about the same effect on modern tanks as a pigeon, as proven in one case where a British Challenger 2 MBT took around seventy rockets and still managed to keep going. American M1 Abrams MBTs have been able to take multiple hits from their own gun in a number of friendly fire cases and are so difficult to destroy by their crews that it will often require the insides to be stuffed full of C4 to blow them apart. At least once, a crew had to abandon their tank and their fellow soldiers attempted to destroy it to prevent it from falling into enemy hands - an effort that proved to be entirely unsuccessful. Eventually, they gave up and the tank was later towed back to base to be restored to working condition.
  • Speaking of modern armour, there's also body armour too - there's this video showing a soldier in Iraq who gets sniped centre of mass, only to get up again. Cue freaked-out insurgents.
  • Selecting the proper caliber of gun is extremely important depending on the type of target. The lightest caliber bullets are only effective for target practice or small varmint such as rats. Some of the most tragic police shootouts (for example, the North Hollywood shootout of 1997) have occurred because law enforcement had underpowered weapons against criminals with body armor.
  1. in what is actually a physically-impossible ricochet, but it's funny, so let's roll with it. It could also be said that the bullet propelled a piece of rock, which still could be lethal.