Taking the Bullet

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A form of Heroic Sacrifice where, when a villain fires a weapon at someone and another character leaps into the path of the bullet, receiving the injury instead.

Time will often slow to a crawl, and the shielded one will often shout a Big No. The leaper will then have a scene where they weeping-ly tell the character how important they are before losing consciousness, while cradled in the arms of the survivor. Sometimes they get better, sometimes not, but it's close, either way. Usually results in tears and/or an angry How Dare You Die on Me! moment, especially if the person they took the bullet for loved them in any way. A More Hero Than Thou dispute may result, even though it's obviously too late.

This may be a minor character protecting a major one, or sometimes a villain will do this following a Heel Face Turn, in which case they're probably not going to pull through.

This turns into a Diving Save if the rescuer pushes the victim out of the way without being hit by the shot. Can be done with any other projectiles: a common gag is to do it with something utterly harmless, and really ham up the shot.

For some reason, the Big Bad rarely succeeds at any attempt to empty the next bullet into his original intended target. Nor will the diver not get there in time to stop the bullet, or the bullet continue through the diver to the original target. Considering how much could theoretically go wrong with this trope, it's almost surprising how (relatively) rarely it gets played with.

The United States Secret Service (which protects the president) calls this, "catching the bullet", although it is rarely actually performed. In real life, technique is obviously different, as bullets are far too fast to react to. Instead, the human shield will stand in front of the defended individual (hopefully) prior to the shot being fired. For instance, when Kennedy was shot, the agent with Johnson threw him to the floor of the car and then threw himself on top of him until they reached a secure location.

If this trope is executed poorly, usually because there were more intelligent alternatives to Taking the Bullet, it can come off as a Stupid Sacrifice.

Compare Jumping on a Grenade, Load-Bearing Hero. Human Shield and Bulletproof Human Shield are the unwilling versions that often happens in hostage situations. Misguided Missile is when you do this with air-to-air weaponry.

In Real Life, this is another term for Taking the Heat. Try not to confuse the tropes, though.

As a Death Trope, Spoilers ahead may be unmarked. Beware.

Examples of Taking the Bullet include:

Anime and Manga

  • Semi-minor character Brad does this for Vash in episode 21 of Trigun.
  • In the episode 72 from UFO Robo Grendizer (one of the Mazinger Z sequels), during an aerial duel between Grendizer and another Starship, Rubina flies her own ship between Grendizer and an energy beam to save Duke. She dies shortly after. Her Heroic Sacrifice is done more tragic because Duke had accused her from betraying him shortly before. The whole episode was a Tear Jerker.
  • Hellsing: At his first meeting with Integra, Alucard protects her from a gunshot with his own hand. Of course, for him it's not that big a deal.
  • Naruto
    • Iruka has a Taking the Shuriken moment in the first episode when he jumps in front of Naruto to save him from Mizuki's giant shuriken. This was mirrored later in series when Mizuki throws a giant shuriken at Iruka and Naruto protects him the same way.
    • In Shippuuden, Chouza Akimichi is nearly killed after taking a hit from Pain to protect Chouji. He later turned out to have survived. Which was proceeded by one of Pain bodies taking the Raikiri for the other. And Kakashi's sacrifice with the whole using his Kamui to save Chouji straight afterwards, and dyiing from the efforts himself.
    • Chouza does it again against zombie Asuma, jumping in front of a giant burning ash cloud and getting badly burned.
    • And then there's poor little Haku...
    • Sasuke jumps in front of Haku's attack to protect Naruto in one memorable scene. Cue Sasuke's claims of "My body moved on its own" and Naruto's Unstoppable Rage.
    • Sakura lets herself be impaled to protect Chiyo.
    • Suigetsu takes a giant ass chakra blast from a transformed Killer Bee to protect his team. Naturally, this only renders him unconscious, since Suigetsu was a lake at the time.
  • Scar from Fullmetal Alchemist does this in the 2003 anime version. When military troops notice Lust and open fire on her, Scar instinctively leaps in front of her and takes the hits, despite knowing fully well that Lust wouldn't have died. She gently reprimands him for this afterward.

Lust: You fool. You know it takes more than bullets to stop me.
Scar: It wasn't for you. This damn body has a will of its own.

  • Wolfs Rain has a particularly cruel twist on this trope: Toboe sees Quent and Darcia pulling guns on each other and leaps between them in an attempt to take the bullet for Quent—but ends up taking Quent's bullet instead. Especially ironic since Quent has previously tried to shoot Toboe on several occasions. The irony is compounded because the shock of having shot the wolf who tried to save him causes him to drop his guard and get shot anyway. The only small consolation is that the wolf and wolf-hunter share a brief moment of reconciliation before they die.
  • Gundam
  • Katokk does this for Garrod in Gundam X.
  • Judeau in Berserk protects his female commander Casca from a demon set on killing and eating them. Taking multiple blows followed two spikes through the chest for her before managing killing it with the the last throwing knife he had. The wounds are fatal and he dies soon after.
  • Code Geass
    • In the first episode, C.C. takes a headshot meant for Lelouch. She gets better.
    • Happened in R2 too, where Kaname Ohgi takes several kunais to the chest in an attempt to save his ex-girlfriend Villetta from Sayoko's attack.
    • Suzaku arguably tries to invoke this trope in Turn 18 by firing his Hadron Cannon at Zero while telling Kallen to move out of the way, apparently having hoped that she'd take the shot for him and be knocked out of the fight. Boy is he surprised when she blocks it and isn't even scratched.
    • A random soldier did this to save Cornelia from Todou during the Black Rebellion.
  • Dragonball Z:
    • Piccolo's switch from villain to Anti-Hero happens when he takes a lethal blast for his pupil Gohan. The scene gets lampooned in Dragonball Z Abridged.

Piccolo: Wait a second... why don't I just grab him? I could probably still do that now actually! Yeah, that's it! I'll grab him and throw him out of the waAAAAAAAGH!

    • He also does this for Goku in the Frieza saga, taking a Death Beam from him; he survives, but he comes close to dying.
    • In the Cell saga after Vegeta has been knocked unconscious trying to avenge Trunks, Cell is about to shoot him with a huge Kamehameha. Gohan pushes him out of the way and takes the hit; he survives, but it costs him the use of one of his arms.
  • One Piece
    • Luffy does this at least once (although he's immune to the bullets due to his Gum-Gum Fruit powers).
    • Later exploited by Wapol's Quirky Miniboss Squad member Chess, who shoots three arrows (very large ones at that) at a group of innocent bystanders, causing Dalton to hurl himself into their path. It works, but, like every other non-flashback character, he gets better later.
    • Done quite cruelly with Portgas D. Ace, who has a Taking the Magma-Coated Fist moment to protect Luffy from Akainu. It works, but, unlike the above example... he does not get better.
    • Happened also with Queen Otohime, who jumps to save a Tenryuubito at the Fishmen Arc.
  • Mahou Sensei Negima
    • Setsuna does this for Konoka during the Class Trip. Odd in that she managed to do this atop a 30-something story castle when she was on the ground seconds earlier. Maybe justified by her later Wing Pull. Or, considering that she had, earlier in that storyline, demonstrated the ability to jump over buildings in a single bound, it's not that weird.
    • Later in the same arc Negi tried to do this for one of his students. She swatted him aside upon spotting the danger and took the incoming stone spear through the midsection rather messily, but that merely irritated Evangeline... as the attacker promptly regretted.
    • Also, near the very beginning of the manga, in a game of dodgeball Asuna catches a ball aimed (with enough force to hurt) at Negi, and he does the same for a fallen Asuna later.
    • Next Arc Nodoka gets to do this for Negi with a bullet that sends the person hit forward in time by 3 hours. However before Chamo reminds Negi and Yue of this, they do the standard grief sequence.
    • In later chapters, Aisha, Mama (the bear woman), Tosaka, and Emily all do this; Taking the Bullet for Nodoka, Natsumi, Ako, and Yue, respectively. Although it turns out that all of them would actually have been just fine if they hadn't done it. Well, it's the thought that counts.
  • Mai-Otome
    • Erstin does this when a bottle of acid gets dropped on Arika, and gets away with just a burn on her leg.
    • And then does it later, throwing her slave in the way to save Arika from Nina's attack. This time, she doesn't fare as well.
  • In the last episode of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, Lord Genome takes the bullet for the heroes' mecha. By bullet, I mean a Big Bang powered beam, and by taking it, I mean hurling himself to it, transforming said beam into a freaking galaxy-sized drill, with his head on the tip!
  • In Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS, Nanoha does this to protect the helicopter carrying Shamal, Vice, and Vivio from a massive beam. Of course, since Nanoha's Exceed Mode is a lot tougher than a helicopter, she survives, much to the shock of the Cold Sniper that fired the shot.
  • In Noir, Kirika takes a bullet meant for Mireille during the final confrontation with Altena. In a Crowning Moment of Awesome, she gets back up, tells Altena that she's rejecting her destiny as Noir, and charges her, hurling them both into the nearby lava pit. Though she doesn't much want to, Kirika survives, thanks to Mireille's last-second intervention.
  • Sailor Moon:
    • Tuxedo Mask does this for Sailor Moon at least once in each season, and it usually results in his death/capture, eliciting from Sailor Moon a Big No. Also, in the Marine Cathedral episode, Neptune sees Eudial threatening Uranus with a gun and proceeds to run towards them while being shot from all directions and ultimately takes the shot intended for Uranus, who goes on to kill herself anyway. Also, Neptune was captured previously in the same episode by taking a hit from a stone that would have hit Uranus otherwise.
      • DiC apparently disapproves of this trope, as they recut the first season example (where he gets between Sailor Moon and Zoisite's ice crystal) to look as though Tuxedo Mask was the intended target all along; though it's possible that they only did this for established heroes, since they don't edit out Prince Diamond doing the exact same thing as mentioned below.
    • In the R movie, Usagi saves Chibiusa from a plant this way, and Tuxedo Mask does the same thing when Fiore tries to stab Sailor Moon.
      • Similarly, in the series Neo Queen Serenity does this to protect Chibi-Usa during the Black Moon invasion. She's severely injured and thus must be frozen into crystal; Chibi-Usa goes to the past to seek Sailor Moon's help and the Silver Crystal unaware that she is Usagi's Kid From the Future.
    • All four inner scouts die in this way in the last season when they take a hit from Galaxia in order to protect Sailor Moon, Chibi Chibi and the Starlights.
    • Prince Diamond does this for Sailor Moon when Wiseman fires an attack at her.
  • In Haruhi Suzumiya, Yuki Nagato takes an awful lot of flying metal spears in order to shield Kyon in her fight against Asakura. She doesn't seem to mind, though.
  • Saint Seiya
    • Pegasus Seiya will do this for Saori every chance he gets. Most notable of all: stopping Aiolia's special technique with his hands when Saori actually demands for Aiolia to gang up on her so she can block his attack and gain his favor; taking Poseidon's Trident to the chest for her (he waved it off by claiming it was the will of the Sagittarius Cloth he was wearing, but no one was fooled); and then taking Hades' Sword in the heart. It didn't kill him, but it destroyed his Cosmo and left him as little more than a vegetable for more than a while.
    • Sometimes, Seiya's best friend and partner Dragon Shiryu will do this for his friends, but he has the advantage of wielding the Dragon Shield (said to be one of the strongest shields ever) on his forearm, making it a much more reasonable act.
  • In Blue Seed, Momiji receives her mitama when she attempts to shield Kusanagi from Orochi's attack, complete with a Big No and stuff.
  • Detective Conan
    • During the first Osaka mini-arc Conan takes a knife to the gut for Ran when a lunatic with a knife attacks them. He gets better because the blade hit a metal amulet he was wearing, thus he got just a bruise on his chest. Though this was actually a double Taking The Bullet. Heiji lent Conan that amulet because he had a nightmare where they both died, and the amulet is a good luck charm that seems to work. So the knife bounces off the amulet and Conan is relatively unharmed, but while confronting the real murderer Heiji is shot.
    • Just before the Desperate Revival arc, while the Shounen Tantei are trapped in a cave by a group of murderous bankrobbers, Conan takes a bullet for Genta and nearly bleeds to death.
    • In the 13th movie, Inspector Megure took a knife wound on the belly from a charging woman who then realized her mistake. Good thing Megure is overweight.
    • And in the series/manga, Megure took a metal pipe to the head to protect Sonoko from a Serial Killer targetting girls who wore special footwear, since one of them accidentally ran his son over. Her's so Made of Iron that he doesn't get knocked out (though to be fair, he was wearing his Nice Hat), and even manages to deal a "The Reason You Suck" Speech to the killer.
    • In the fourth movie, the reason for Ran's Laser-Guided Amnesia is that her mind was temporarily broken when Sato took at least four shots for her to save her from the movie's Big Bad. They both get better: Sato survived, and when Ran saw the killer threaten Conan similarly, Ran got her memories back and kicked his ass.
  • Bleach
    • Grimmjow, during a fight with Ichigo, fires five darts which can knock down buildings at Orihime, which Ichigo has to block with his body. Counts as an Invoked Trope, as Grimmjow did it specifically because he knew how Ichigo would react and was trying to get him to stop holding back.
    • In a straighter example, Byakuya does this for Rukia when Gin tries to kill her with his shikai.
    • In the manga, Ginjo does this for Ichigo. A somewhat unusual example, as taking the stab reverted Ginjo's memories back. In the following chapter, Ginjo stabs Ichigo himself.
    • Riruka took a slash from Tsukishima to protect Ichigo (and Rukia, whose body she was inhabiting). She's later healed by Orihime.
  • Soul Eater
    • Crona ends up taking the bullet for Maka during a battle with Medusa.
    • Later on, Asura uses this trope to his benefit during a battle with Shinigami-sama and intentionally aims for bystanders during the fight to make his opponent take the bullet.
    • Earlier than both those examples, and not technically a bullet, but Soul puts himself between Maka and Ragnarok after Maka can't bring herself to use him to defend against the sword (Ragnarok at the time being the vastly superior Weapon).
    • Fridge Logic in the Shinigami example, because while the bystanders—and Asura appears to be aiming specifically for Kid—obviously would be harmed by the Kishin's attack, what Asura does doesn't look much different from his other attacks which Shinigami avoided or blocked with Spirit. And yet on that occasion he threw himself into the path of the "bullet", also placing his Weapon out of the way of a direct hit.
  • Gungrave: In his mortal life Brandon Heat takes a bullet for Big Daddy. Later, being resurrected as Grave, the deadman he is doing that couple of times for Mika.
  • Matsuka for Keith in Toward the Terra.
  • In Requiem for the Phantom, Zwei's assassination run on Scythe Master ends in failure when Ein takes a bullet for Scythe, who responds by shooting a despondent Zwei in the back and leaving him for dead.
  • Uesugi Kenshin of Sengoku Basara goes one step further and takes three bullets in order to save his Ninja love interest. And she's meant to the bodyguard!
  • Rurouni Kenshin
    • Tomoe steps in to try and wrestle the knife out of an enemy's hands, but thanks to Kenshin being blinded earlier in the fight he can't see her and accidentally kills them both.
    • It happens once more in the end of the Shishio battle where Yumi steps in front of Shishio to shield him from Kenshin's attack only for Shishio to stab Kenshin through her, resulting in her death.
    • Also happens again at the end of the fight with Enishi, where Kaoru tries to take a bullet for Kenshin, but is stopped by Enishi himself, who delivers a blow to the person firing, knocking the gun out of his hands.
    • Aoshi Shinomori took a bullet for one of his followers in the Anime. (In the manga it was already aimed at him) Aoshi's followers later took several bullets to save Aoshi and allow Kenshin to defeat the shooter.
  • In Godchild Riff takes bullets (and other things that would have the same effect) for Cain quite frequently (well to a point where antagonists are annoyed he keeps getting in the way)
  • In Mamotte Lollipop Zero gets in the way of an attack meant for Nina
  • Digimon Adventure
    • Myotismon aims his deadly Grisly Wing attack at Kari and Gatomon, but Wizardmon gets in the way, and is killed instead.
    • Wizardmon's act is actually a strange example of the this trope. There's a bit of Fridge Logic here when you think that there's no possible way Wizardmon could have gotten there fast enough to be standing square in front of them, as he was blasted several meters away, severely beaten and exhausted, moments ago. Fridge Brilliance if you think this is simply the result of another strange power he has. (Super speed or teleportation; the sheer number of powers he has compared to other Digimon could stretch the imagination to imply he had either.)
    • This happens a few more times in Adventure first when Chuumon takes a dagger from Piedmon who was going to kill Mimi and when SabreLeomon takes a hit from MetalEtemon meant for Mimi and Joe. As a bit of a partial subversion, he manages to kill MetalEtemon before expiring.
    • Another example is when DemiDevimon fires a toxic dart at Sora and Biyomon takes it for her. In this case, Biyomon is actually not in danger of directly dying from the attack, as it's only fatal to humans and makes Digimon extremely sick. Still, she did save Sora's life in the process and probably didn't care rather it'd kill her or not.
    • Barring a certain resemblance to Wizardmon, Baalmon does this in Digimon Xros Wars.
  • Harukanaru Toki no Naka de
    • In Harukanaru Toki no Naka de 2 - Shiroki Ryuu no Miko OAV, Yoritada shields Karin from a flying sword—although because of the way he does this, he only gets a non-fatal arm injury. Nevertheless, still dramatic.
    • In the Hachiyou Shou TV series, Yorihisa protects Tenma from a sword-wielding mook this way, mirroring an incident from his past where his brother Sanehisa did the same to him. Unlike Sanehisa, Yorihisa survives, although the wound makes the subsequent battle significantly more difficult (at least until they get a power-up).
    • Harukanaru Toki no Naka de 3 - Owarinaki Unmei has Masaomi taking an arrow for Nozomi; at first, it looks like he might have simply pushed her away without getting shot, but no...
  • Sure, in Freezing, none of the readers liked Smug Snake Atia Simmons for being such an unlikable bitch, but you gotta feel something for her when her battle partner sacrificed himself for her. Cue Berserker Tears and Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh
    • Kisara does this for Priest Seto.
    • Much earlier, When Mai is trapped and about to be attacked Yami Marik's Winged Dragon of Ra, Joey jumps in tries to free her from the chains. Marik then decides to attack them both. Just when the attack is about to connect, Yugi jumps in front of them in time and takes the brunt of the attack. He's temporarily knocked unconscious.
    • In Yu-Gi-Oh! GX, one of Asuka/Alexis's signature cards is the Trap Card Doble Passe, an anime-only card (at the time) that is activated when her monster is attacked, protecting the monster by letting the attack hit her. In return for that, the monster is then able to make a direct attack against the opponent. Asuka used this Trap frequently, and in the Series Finale it was a symbolic card that she used to escape the World of Darkness.
      • In the manga version, both Judai and Misawa saw this card as a symbol of Asuka's dedication as a duelist.
    • In Yu-Gi-Oh! Zexal, after Yuma and Astral used their Zexal II form to defeat Number 96 to prevent the three worlds from being destroyed, Number 96 decides to try to take control of Astral. As Number 96 charges at them as a spear-shaped bolt of energy, Astral quickly undoes Zexal so that Yuma wouldn't get hit by the attack too.
  • Takashiro of Uragiri wa Boku no Namae wo Shitteiru does this in episode 13, taking some ice spears that Reiga had thrown at Yuki.
  • Almost happens twice in Eyeshield 21 when a psycho's about to start attacking everyone in the stands. Mamori steps forward to shield Suzuna—shortly followed by Hiruma stepping up to shield Mamori. Luckily the situation is soon defused.
  • Gunslinger Girl
    • Angelica dies in hospital after taking a carbomb blast for Marco.
    • Triela does the literal version for Roberta during vol 7 of the manga. Later she takes a smoke grenade to the head while shielding fellow cyborg Beatrice. She survives both, as does Roberta (though still wounded), Beatrice however..
  • In Darker than Black, Hei takes bullets (he's armored) to shield a girl he assumed to be the assassins' target. It sort of backfired. Later the girl jumped before him, intercepting a Tele Frag power aimed to tear his heart out. Another time he knocked prone his partner and covered her with himself from falling rubble. Which, yes, looked not like what it was.
  • The Lupin III special Memories of the Flame Tokyo Crisis plays it straight in Maria's flashbacks. Zenigata also does this later on to protect her, but instead of killing him, the bullet only injured his leg.
  • In the manga version of Tokyo Mew Mew, immediately before the final battle with Deep Blue, Pie and Tart aim a powerful attack at Ichigo—all four other girls jump in the way and take the huge bullet themselves. Mint actually manages a laugh about how "we're all thinking the same thing," and they send Ichigo ahead while they stay and fight.
  • Rosario + Vampire
    • Though literal bullets are rarely used, Tsukune is very notable for his habit of throwing himself in front of attacks to protect his friends. He is (or was) technically the weakest among them, leading to his Emergency Transformation.
    • Ginei did this once as well... damn near killed him.
  • Jyu Oh Sei
    • Yuuki does this for Chen.
    • And Tiz takes a bullet for Zagi of all people, and dies, resulting in Face Death with Dignity for him, as he also ends up dying with her in his arms.
  • Fairy Tail
    • Laxus shoots a lightning bolt at Levi that probably would have killed her had Gajeel not jumped in front of her to take it. He does something similar at the end of the final battle to stop Laxus from finishing Natsu off; he turns his arm into iron and uses himself as a lightning rod.
    • Simon takes a bullet for Natsu and Erza. About fifty chapters later Gerard, who shot the first "bullet" takes a bullet for Natsu as well.
  • In Vampire Game, Hume takes a sword for Illsaide.
  • In Durarara!!, volume 9 reveals that Izaya didn't stab Shinra like a lot of people think he did. Shinra took a knife wound for him when a student named Nakura demanded that Izaya give his money back in a bet he lost. Naturally, this incident seems to start something inside of Izaya as he declares that Nakura will suffer for hurting Shinra. Many years later, it comes off as Izaya stalking Nakura and then declaring to him at the end of volume 9 that he framed him for two major incidents that had been going on in that volume and that those people will hunt him down.
  • Pokemon
    • Ash Ketchum actually does this at the end of the first Pokemon film as an attempt to end Mew and Mewtwo's battle.
    • In a Johto episode, Claire used her own body to shield a baby Dratini from a stray Thunderbolt. This brave act inspired the Dratini to evolve into a Dragonair.
  • Played straight with Ginga Densetsu Weed when Jerome manages to alert the other dogs of the humans shooting at them. Poor Jerome literally takes a bullet for the pack. Heroic dog, indeed
  • Played for Laughs in an episode of Inu Yasha. Soten, the younger sister of the two Thunder Brothers defeated by Inu-Yasha earlier, sends her dragon minion to incapacitate Kagome and Inu-Yasha using Kagome's arrows. When Inu-Yasha jumps in front of Kagome in order to save her, it's revealed the arrows don't even harm anyone.
  • In Legend of Galactic Heroes, Paul von Oberstein jumps in front of Reinhard when an assassin fires a bazooka at the latter. Fortunately, Reinhard's best friend Kircheis manages to deflect the blow aside. In the very end of the series Oberstein in some way does it again, misguiding the Earth Cult terrorists to attack his office instead of the Kaiser's bedroom.
  • In Tiger and Bunny, Kotetsu takes a superheated crossbow bolt to the chest for Barnaby. Seeing the lengths the other hero is willing to go in order to protect him, Barnaby begins to drop the Jerkass act and let himself trust Kotetsu.

Comic Books

  • Superman has done this a few times, but being Immune to Bullets, it's not quite as dramatic.
  • Booster Gold does this for Blue Beetle (Ted), "Nooooo" and all. The bullet passes though his goggles harmlessly but they let you think that he's dead for a second.
  • In an Establishing Character Moment early in the Batgirl book, Cassandra Cain takes several rounds while reaching a gun-wielding thug rather than dodge and endanger... another of the gang she and Batman are facing. Thus taking Thou Shalt Not Kill to a new level.
  • In the Elf Quest series Kings of the Broken Wheel, Cutter takes two arrows meant for the High One Timmain. He survives, but not without difficulty.
  • The first Crimson Dynamo, Anton Vanko, does an inverted version of this for Tony Stark after defecting from Russia and working for/becoming friends with him. Vanko deliberately fired an unstable, experimental laser pistol at the second (and evil) Crimson Dynamo in order to kill him before Dynamo could kill Iron Man, even knowing that doing so would probably mean his own death as well. It does.
  • Has happened at least twice in the comic book version of W.I.T.C.H.. During the fifth saga, Cedric gets in the way of a beam which would've killed Orube, and in the seventh saga Liam is killed by a sword that the White Queen threw at Mariko.
  • In the Chick Tracts "Murph," Murph's partner, Officer Donovan does this for him, since he believes he, being an "unsaved" Catholic, isn't ready to die. Interestingly enough, Donovan gets off with flesh wounds while Murph is mortally wounded.
  • In Birds of Prey a young teleporter calling herself Batgirl (complete with homemade Batgirl outfit) teleported herself in front of a bullet meant for Huntress. Fortunately her teleportation came with a Healing Factor and she teleported herself to Barbara in time to save herself.
  • Iron Man: Tony Stark does this far too often for good sense during battles, especially for Captain America. Granted, his protective armor does give him some logical basis for this, but he still frequently winds up badly injured.
  • In Ultimate Spider-Man, we have the eponymous Spidey doing this to save Captain America from a sniper's bullet. He dies, yes, but not before going out in a blaze of glory by fending off the Sinister Six.
  • In Sonic the Hedgehog, a heart-broken Mina Mongoose throws herself between Princess Sally and Sonic (who had just reconciled and admitted their feelings) and a bullet from Nack the Weasel. The comic makes it seems she died, but then she's seen in a hospital room recovering.

Fan Works


  • Something of a reversal in the 1986 Transformers: The Movie: Optimus Prime has bested Megatron, and is about to finish him off with his gun. Megatron begs for mercy to buy time to try and get a nearby gun. Just as Optimus Prime is about to finally blast Megatron, Hot Rod jumps in the way to stop Megatron getting to it. Megatron simply overpowers Hot Rod, gets the gun, and mortally wounds Optimus Prime.
  • King Harold on Shrek 2 jumps in front of Shrek when the Fairy Godmother shoots her wand at the ogre. The spell bounces off his armor and hits her, turning her into a mass of bubbles. Rather than killing Harold, the spell just turns him back into a frog, which is what he really was to begin with.
  • 9
    • 1 pushes 9 out of the way of the soul-sucking ray... thing that the Fabrication machine unleashes.
    • And earlier, 2 does the exact same thing, pushing 9 down as the Fabrication machine initially powers up.
  • In the Hungarian animated film Vuk, or The Little Fox as it's known in the U.S., Vic or Vuk's uncle Karack sees a hunter from the distance pointing a gun at Vuk and his mate Foxy he dives in front of the bullet taking the hit for them.
  • In Kung Fu Panda 2, Shen fires his cannon at Po, only to have Tigress push him out of the way and take the blast herself. She survives, but is badly wounded.
  • The Incredibles has Mirage trying to pull this on Syndrome when Mr. Incredible, consumed with grief with the possible death of his entire family, and enraged at Syndrome shooting down their plane, lunges at him while confined to energy wires. Syndrome repays her by daring Mr. Incredible to kill her when he claims that he could crush her like a toothpick.
  • At the end of The Iron Giant, the title alien robot's original programming as a killing machine is restored, and he goes apeshit on the US military. The paranoid government official who calls in the troops grabs the general's radio and orders the nearby submarine to launch a nuke at the giant, not realizing that the giant is right in front of him. Realizing what the nuke is going to do, the giant flies off and intercepts the nuke on its way down. Slightly different in that the nuke was meant for him but was going to destroy the entire town.
  • The first Ice Age movie has Diego taking the blow for Manny during the battle with Soto after his Heel Face Turn.
  • Somewhat inverted on Final Fantasy VII: Last Order, a 30-minute animated special that tells the story of Zack and Cloud's escape and how Sephiroth went bezerk on Cloud's hometown. The special is "half canon" since many things in it are changed from the original game (since it's the Turks' point of view and not the main characters'). At the end of the special Zach and Cloud are lying at the back of a pickup truck and Zack asks the driver how far is it to Midgar, the Planet's de facto capital city, then does not finish his sentence as he spots a sniper (who wanted to shoot him instead of capturing him or waiting for further orders), then orders Cloud to run. The screen goes black and we hear a shot, implying he took the bullet.
  • This was later cleared up on Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children Complete, an extended version of the original Advent Children movie, when Zach peeks through the truck (not asking the driver) and the bullet misses him, eventually leading into Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII and the original game's ending in which he is shot by 3 regular soldiers.
  • Air Force One
    • When a MiG fires a missile at the title aeroplane, one of the escorting F-15 pilots flies his aircraft directly in the way, destroying it and dying while saving everybody on board the 747. In a subversion, shrapnel from the destroyed jet tears up the tail of Air Force One, making it unable to continue flying. Although this is still less damage than the missile itself would have caused.
    • A more traditional example happens earlier, when a cowardly official gets his heroic redemption.
  • Sue Storm in Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer.
  • Parodied in City Slickers II: The Legend of Curly's Gold when Jon Lovitz' character takes a bullet for Billy Crystal's character, shares some tearful last words with his brother, and black out... then immediately revives upon discovering the bullet was a blank.
  • Subverted in an intense scene of The Caveman's Valentine when Romulus tries to do this for his daughter. He throws himself on top of her as a badguy starts shooting. She then continues firing at the bad guy while pinned under her hysterically yelling father. Romulus, seconds later: "Are you shot? Am I? We're alright? We're not shot? You're alive? I'm alive? How can that be?"
  • Though it never happens, in Dave, Ving Rhames' job is essentially to take a bullet for Kevin Kline. He later admitted he'd do it for Dave as well.
  • Inverted in Supertweak, where a Secret Service agent jumps in front of the President. The shooter just waits for him to hit the ground, and then takes the shot.
  • Clint Eastwood's Secret Service agent from In the Line of Fire, at the last possible second, figures out who the assassin is, and jumps in time to take a bullet which was aimed at the President.
  • Agent Sam Simms (Sinbad) jumps in time to take a bullet for the President's son in First Kid.
  • In the third Spider-Man film, Harry takes a hurled metal spike aimed at Peter.
  • Kate takes a dodgeball strike for Peter in the final match in Dodgeball a True Underdog Story. Complete with slow-motion dive and long, drawn-out "nooooo".
  • In The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc a French knight takes an arrow for Joan of Arc.
  • Occurs near the end of the Fatal Fury motion picture. The newly resurrected god of war immediately launches a blast of fire at the nearest person, which happened to be Mai... until Andy leaped in front of her... until Laocorn leaped in front of him, screaming his sister's name. Powerful... but marred by the vaguely irritating fact that Sulia had already died to redeem him.
  • In the Oscar scene of The Bodyguard Kevin Costner's character does this for Whitney Houston's character.
  • Hot Fuzz, Danny takes a blunderbuss shot to the chest to protect Nicholas. He gets better.
  • Played straight... no, inverted... no, subverted in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. Gay Perry takes a bullet for Harry, allowing him to save the day and the girl! But then, the girl notices a bullet hole in his jacket. Turns out that the bullet went straight through Perry and still hit Harry. But not to worry! The bullet hit a paperback book in his pocket! Aaaaand went straight through. Harry sticks his finger through the hole in the book, wiggles it, pokes at the hole in his chest, then faints.
  • In Turner and Hooch, the title dog saves the hero by Taking the Bullet, with obvious consequences.
  • In the third X-Men movie, Mystique throws herself in front of a dart containing the mutant "cure" that's fired at her lover Magneto. Despite this selfless act, Magneto abandons her because the dart has turned Mystique into an ordinary human.
  • Murder at 1600 has this happen at the end of the film, with a disgraced Secret Service agent protecting the President from his National Security Advisor. It was a weird movie.
  • In a manner of speaking, this is how Randy Quaid saves the Earth in Independence Day. By flying his plane into the "barrel" of a Death Ray and causing it backfire into the ship.
  • In Crash, the locksmith's little girl jumps in front of him to protect her father from a gunman with her invisible "invincible cloak." In reality, the gun had been loaded with blanks, unbeknownst to the shooter, and the little girl lives, convinced that she really saved her daddy's life.
  • In The Golden Child, Action Girl and Love Interest Kee Nang takes a crossbow bolt for The Chosen One, Chandler Jarrell. Fortunately, she's Only Mostly Dead, giving Jarrell an additional incentive to rescue the Golden Child.
  • Buckaroo Banzai. Rawhide interposes his body to take the poisonous mini-starfish a Red Lectroid spat at Buckaroo. He ends up dying as a result.
  • Batman: The Movie (1966). Batman and Robin are trapped on a buoy with a torpedo coming toward them and there's an explosion. Later:

Robin: Gosh, Batman, the nobility of the almost-human porpoise.
Batman: True, Robin. It was noble of that animal to hurl himself into the path of that final torpedo. He gave his life for ours.

  • In Stargate, Daniel Jackson takes a staff blast meant for Colonel O'Neil, and dies.
  • Jim Gordon in The Dark Knight pushes the mayor out of the line of fire when the imposter honor guard turn their weapons on him, and is shot in the back. He gets better.
  • Archie Moses (Adam Sandler) takes a bullet for Jack Carter (Damon Wayans) in Bulletproof. He gets better.
  • One of the Haters in the Christian movie Revelation from the Apocalypse film series sacrifices himself to block a bullet Willy Spino fires at his half-sister Helen Hannah after he receives the Mark of the Beast and ditches the wheelchair. Her protector, though, gets better.
  • Subverted in The Scorpion King. Cassandra, upon prophesizing the future, realizes that the Scorpion King is most likely to die at the hand of one of Mammon's archers, and that it is about to pass, attempts to take the arrow for the Scorpion King, but instead, he ends up getting her out of harms way, thus getting himself hit anyways. Luckily, he's just that tough and survives.
  • In Young Sherlock Holmes, the villain shoots at Sherlock, but his love interest Elizabeth takes the bullet, and her death ends up being a Freudian Excuse for Sherlock's famed status as a bachelor.


  • In the first Xanth novel, A Spell for Chameleon, Bink's to-that-point unknown talent was revealed when an increasingly implausible string of obstacles kept intercepting Trent's transformation spells. Turns out Bink can't be hurt by magic means. Which simply caused the ever-pragmatic Trent to draw his completely un-magical sword and try to run Bink through. Leading to a second bullet catch, as Chameleon (changed into a deer by Trent's spell) took the blade instead.
  • Subverted for the premise of David Allan Greer's short-lived sitcom, D.A.G.: Greer's Secret Service agent dove to take a bullet aimed at the President, but dove the wrong way, leading everyone to assume he was diving out of the way and to his demotion to the First Lady's security detail.
  • Discworld
    • In the novel Making Money, Moist von Lipwig saves Lord Vetinari from public embarrassment by taking a Pie in the Face for him.
    • Done with a crossbow bolt in Feet of Clay, and several times with actual gun-fired bullets in Men at Arms as well. Detritus proudly says that there's five shots in his breastplate but not his backplate because his body got in the way. He oozed quite a bit though. Carrot takes a shot in the shoulder for the Patrician. Angua takes four shots to her body for Carrot and Vimes.
  • A minor tech-priest in one of the Ciaphas Cain stories does this to protect Ciaphas from a Necron shot. Unfortunately, given the power of Necron weapons, he is instantly torn apart and vaporized, but he manages to save Cain, even if Cain loses a couple fingers from the sheer proximity of the horrible weapon fire.
  • Rockjaw Grang in the Redwall novel The Long Patrol, right before his You Shall Not Pass moment. Also, Veil took a spear to protect his adoptive mother. It's unclear if this was a Heel Face Turn or not, because even as he's dying he bitches her out and won't accept comfort, and she decides that everyone who said he was bad to the bone during his life was right.
  • Happens in the third Artemis Fowl book, The Eternity Code.
  • Inverted in Airman, by Eoin Colfer; Victor performs a dramatic leap in front of a bullet to save King Nicholas, but, because he's just that bit too old, the bullet hits the webbing between his outstretched fingers and hits its intended target anyway. And then Victor gets shot, too.
  • In the Honor Harrington novels, taking a shot for someone would probably be a bad idea given the speed and force an average pulser dart moves at—you'd both just die. The beloved head of Grayson's church does take an old-style slug for Honor, which causes the assassin sent to kill her to break down.
  • In I, Jedi, Mara Jade and Corran Horn spend some time honing their Jedi laser-deflection skills on several remotes. If a remote's laser hits flesh, it really stings, but there's no permanent damage. At one point while the two are engaging in Casual Danger Dialog Mara is almost shot in the face, but Corran intercepts with his hand. Amused, Mara says she owes him one. She delivers in a Big Damn Heroes moment.
  • In the Warhammer 40,000 novel Grey Knights, one of Ligeia's death cultists takes a plasma blast for the Big Bad.
  • In The Silmarillion: the elf lady Aredhel takes a javelin thrown by her husband and meant for their son. It's only a flesh wound, so she asks to the king her brother that her husband be spared...and then she dies in the night, because the weapon was poisoned.
  • In Les Misérables, Eponine takes a bullet for her unrequited crush Marius. Ironic, because she deliberately led him to the barricades so that he would be killed and wouldn't be with his love Cosette.
  • The Action Heros Handbook has a chapter on how to properly take a bullet (so you can survive with minimal injuries to yourself).
  • In Tigana, Dianora combines this trope with Human Shield by jumping in front of a crossbow bolt.... but yanking a guy she doesn't like along with her. He winds up taking the shot in the shoulder.
  • In the climatic battle at the end of the first Safehold book Off Armageddon Reef, a midshipman tries to Take The Crossbow Bolt for his king. King Haarahld instead grabs the midshipman to Take The Bullet for him instead. The king dies from bloodloss soon after, though his Heroic Sacrifice makes him a martyr and hero to his people.
  • In Robert Anton Wilson's Illuminatus series novel, The Widow's Son, the elderly schemer Pietro Maldonado intervenes in a duel where his nephew Sigismundo, a hothead who knows nothing about guns, has trapped himself in a duel with the best pistol-shooter in all of Napoli. Pietro, in his intervention, surprises the protaganists and takes the bullet meant for his nephew. Who, on his very first go with a firearm, has Beginner's Luck in that he shoots the best gun in town full in the groin.
  • In Warrior Cats, throughout the book SkyClan's Destiny, Stick believes that a cat named Harley "stole" his daughter when she really does love him. In the ending Stick is about to kill Harley when his daughter Red leaps in front of him and dies because of it.
  • Prince Almorante in Chronicles of Magravandias dies taking a sword for his enemy Valraven. People who hated him only minutes before were moved to tears by his sacrifice.
  • Subverted in the beginning of H. Beam Piper's Space Viking: Lucas Trask saw madman Andray Dunnan aiming a sub-machine gun. Lucas pushed his bride Elaine to the ground, intending to cover her with his own body and Take the Bullet. But he'd misjudged the angle Dunnan fired at ... and he thrust Elaine right into the first shots, which killed her.

Live-Action TV

  • In the Firefly episode "Jaynestown", a character in the town of Canton takes a shotgun blast meant for Jayne, whom the town has idolized as their hero. In a twist, Jayne tells him it was a stupid thing to do, and fully means it. It's interesting that Jayne is so clearly troubled by this, given that he's been shown to be an amoral son of a bitch in previous and subsequent episodes. His distress is evidently because the man died for someone like him.
  • Spaced: Mike takes a paintball pellet for Tim, complete with side dive and long "Noooooo". The parody also includes the fact that Mike was a good twenty feet away and loudly announced his presence, making it seem like the shooter was willing to patiently wait while Mike ran in the way of the shot. And Mike starts coughing up paint. (Because he'd been eating paintballs.)
  • The paintball version (including a parody of the Pietà Plagiarism scene) also occurs during an MI 5 training exercise in the spy comedy The Piglet Files.
  • Heroes
    • DL takes a bullet for Niki. Sort of.
    • Claire does this in the episode "Trust and Blood" when she shields Matt and Daphne from Danko's goons after Daphne is shot. Of course, Claire can regenerate.
  • Happens In Star Trek: Deep Space Nine in the episode "The Siege".
  • In Star Trek: The Original Series episode "The Apple", Spock pushes Kirk out of the way of some lethally poisonous thorns and takes them in the chest in his stead.
  • Doctor Who
    • The episode "The Doctor's Daughter" has an example of this in Jenny, who jumps in front of a bullet for the Doctor.
    • Dalek-Human Sec does the same thing, except it's a Dalek laser instead of a bullet. Seems the Doctor forgot about it in the series finale Journey's End, when the Doctor has flashbacks of all the people who gave their lives for him in the past.
    • And AGAIN in Eleven's first series where Rory takes the bullet for the Doctor, and expires. He is also immediately deleted from history having had the misfortune to die near a timey-wimey crack of doom. Fortunately, he got better several episodes later, albeit in a very complicated manner.
  • Handled realistically in the last episode of NCIS Season 2. Kate dives in front of Gibbs, but it's not done in slow-mo, and she yells "Shooter!", not "Nooooo!" She is hit in the chest but is unhurt because she's wearing a vest. She stands up, the team congratulates her and then she gets promptly sniped in the head by Ari, the main recurring bad guy for that Season.
  • Babylon 5
    • "Into the Fire", season 4 episode 6: Happens with two coalition ships (one Drazi, IIRC, and the other a full-on Minbari cruiser) taking missiles meant for the White Star (well, really meant for Sheridan, Delenn, and Lorien; not that a missile would do much to Lorien). This immediately after the Vorlons and Shadows bragged about how the other races would fall in line. Oops.
    • Delenn twice surrendered her life to fate to protect Sheridan. Once by asking a Vorlon inquisitor to kill her instead and again walking into a thrown knife.
    • Make that three times—when he temporarily returns to his proper time frame after becoming Unstuck in Time, she gives him her time stabiliser, becoming lost in his place.
  • Near the end of the Bones Season 3, Booth steps in front of a bullet meant for Brennan. We get the tearful pleading to hang on and not leave, but it's worth noting that first, Brennan grabs Booth's gun and shoots the attacker dead, in the throat.
  • In The Invisible Man, the protagonist's brother pushes him out of the way of a gunman (they're running side by side at the time) and takes a full spray of machine gun bullets in the chest. Obviously, he doesn't make it.
  • In an episode of Monk, Harold takes a bullet for Dr. Kroger. Slightly subverted in that Harold decides to gloat to Monk about his action by telling him to "beat that", causing distress to Monk.
  • Played with in Friends, when Joey appears to try to do this for Ross when the boys mistake the sound of a car backfiring for a gunshot. Turns out he was actually trying to save his sandwich, which was right next to Ross.
  • Alia, the "Evil Leaper" of Quantum Leap completes her redemption by throwing Sam to the ground before the also-Leaped Zoey can shoot him. She Leaps just as the shotgun blast hits her. It's never explicitly stated that she survives, but most fans assume so.
  • Oz. Kareem Said's life is saved when one of his Muslim followers throws himself in front of a knife wielded by a member of the Aryan Brotherhood. Ironically that same inmate had joined the Muslims to kill Said, but ended up converting to Islam for real. Likewise Augustus Hill takes a blade meant for surrogate father Burr Redding. These acts cause both characters to suffer a Heroic BSOD.
  • The X-Files, "Monday". The girlfriend of a bank robber saves Mulder's life this way. Her death breaks the Groundhog Day Loop in which they are all trapped.
  • Ace Lightning. Lady Illusion takes the bullet for Ace. Interetsing in that she actually knocked him out and morphed into him prior to the battle.
  • CSI New York
    • Stella's mentor and father figure shields her with his body from a gunfight between his brother and Mac. He's fatally shot, while Stella's uninjured.
    • Also done when the characters are all in a bar that's shot up. Danny was sitting nearest the window, but the other main contributing factor to his being shot in the back was that he threw himself over his wife, Lindsay, to protect her from the flying bullets.
  • Not as serious as an actual bullet, but the scene itself was very traumatic for Seira in the Japanese drama Shokojo Sera. After losing heart and begging down on her knees in front of the Alpha Bitch, Maria decides it would be funny if they started throwing tomatoes at the despairing Seira. She then bullies the rest of the class to do so, including Seira's close friend Masami. When Masami reluctantly was about to do it, Kaito the servant boy runs in and shields Seira, getting hit instead.
  • The A-Team: Howlin' Mad Murdock jumps in front of a mook trying to shoot Hannibal in Season 2's "Curtain Call".
  • Smallville: Clark Kent, whenever he isn't catching the bullet, instead takes it in the chest or back.
  • The Vampire Diaries: Damon takes the bullet for Elena in 02x03. Of course, he's a vampire and has a Healing Factor.
  • Omen of Dark Oracle, a reformed villain, jumped in front of a magical blast that was aimed at Cally in the Grand Finale, getting himself erased from existence for his trouble.
  • In the Korean Drama The City Hunter, Kim Na Na makes a Diving Save to protect Yoon Sung, ending up with the bullet in her shoulder.
  • In one episode of Misfits, future Simon jumped down in front of Alisha to save her from being shot by a crazy dude as in his timeline she died.
  • In the Series 5 finale of Law and Order UK, "Deal", DS Matt Devlin takes several bullets for friend/colleague Alesha and Kaden (the young man he was about to escort into Witness Protection.) He doesn't execute the purest form of the trope; instead, he pushes both them down/out of the way first, resulting in no time to duck himself. We are told in the beginning of the next episode that he took two bullets directly to the chest, dying of his wounds off-screen.
  • In the Sanctuary episode "Hero II: Broken Arrow", Walter makes the whole diving save to protect Kate (and the living superhero suit she's wearing) from an energy bolt coming from an Ultraviolet Gun.
  • In an episode of Sliders that first shows that Anyone Can Die in this series, the following season's Big Bad extracts a chemical he needs to survive from Professor Arturo's neck, rendering him half-conscious. He then plans to shoot Quinn, Arturo's brilliant student, only for Arturo to step in front of him. As this Earth is about to be destroyed by pulsars, they end up having to leave Arturo's body behind to be incinerated with everything else. Interestingly, they never encounter any other double of Arturo, presumably because John Rhys Davies left the show for good.
  • An episode of Legend of the Seeker: Panis Rahl does it to save Zedd from a thrown Dacra. He's the previous Lord of D'Hara, who has learned the error of his ways. Also, he killed Zedd's father, after the latter plotted to have his infant son Darken killed.
  • In the pilot episode of Earth: Final Conflict, the wealthy enterpreneur Jonathan Doors jumps in front of a sniper's bullet meant for the Taelon ambassador Da'an. He's pronounced dead at the scene, and the shooter escapes. Halfway through the episode, the season's protagonist William Boone discovers that Doors faked his own death in order to lead La Résistance against the Taelons. The shooter and the doctor who confirmed his death are working for him. Later on, we find out that the Taelons are, in fact, Energy Beings and can't be harmed with bullets.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer. In the Alternate Reality Episode "The Wish" Angel throws himself in the path of Vampire!Xander as he's about to stab Buffy with a crossbow bolt. As Wishverse!Buffy is a cold-blooded killer without loved ones of any kind she just walks through Angel's dust to stake Xander without even changing expression.
  • In the 3rd season episode of Glee, "Michael", Blaine shoves his boyfriend, Kurt, out of the way of a slushy being thrown by his Smug Snake Stalker with a Crush to keep him from being humiliated. (Little did he know he was also saving him from taking rock salt to the eye).
  • During the climax of one episode of Person of Interest, Detective Fusco dives in front of a bullet to save the life of the POI of the Week. But the Heroic Sacrifice part is subverted: the bullet hits him in the rear, and he's basically fine (gets taken to the ER by the paramedics). As they roll him into the ambulance, he says he can already hear the guys back at the station laughing at him for getting shot in the ass.


I would die for you — would you die with me?
No, you can't deny!
Would you catch the bullet that was meant for me?
Blaze across the sky!!

  • The whole point of the song by The Rasmus called "Shot". Sample lyrics:

I'll take the shot for you
I'll be the shield for you
Needless to say
I'll stand in your way
I'll take the shot for you
I'll give my life for you"

  • The song "San Francisco Fan", performed by Cab Calloway among other singers, is about a female performer who takes 'a dozen slugs' for her no-good gambling boyfriend after he's caught cheating at a game and someone tries to shoot him for it.

Once they caught him cheatin'
And he knew that he was beaten
When a miner aimed a pistol at his head.
Fanny when she seen him
Ran and jumped right in between 'em
And she stopped a dozen slugs of poison lead.

But still I'd leap in front of a flying bullet for you

  • The Bruno Mars song "Grenade" references this trope in every chorus

I'd catch a grenade for ya
Throw my hand on a blade for ya
I'd jump in front of a train for ya
You know I'd do anything for ya
I would go through all this pain
Take a bullet straight through my brain
Yes, I would die for you, baby
But you won't do the same

  • The tragic conclusion of the David Geddes song "Run, Joey, Run" has Julie taking a bullet from her enraged father meant for her boyfriend Joey.

Music Videos

  • In the official video clip for Madonna's "Give Me All Your Luvin'", three of the quarterbacks throw themselves before the fire of a Tommy gun to save the singer.

Tabletop Games

  • Call of Cthulhu (tabletop game) supplement "The Asylum and Other Tales", adventure "The Mauritania". A Russian count has six bodyguards who all have Block (a special skill appearing only in this product). It allows them to hurl their body in between an attacker and the person they're protecting to absorb the attack.
  • In Hero Clix, this is the Titans' "team" ability. A Titan character can take damage meant for another one of their True Companions onto themselves.
  • Dungeons & Dragons contains the "Shield Other" spell, which shunts most of the damage the target takes onto the caster.
  • There is also the "look out sir!" rule in Warhammer Fantasy Battle Fantasy Battles where a rank and file unit will do exactly this for a leader who is in the same formation.
  • Warhammer 40,000
    • The Imperial Guard has the "look out-- ARGH!" rule to protect some of their COs.
    • Then you've got the Ogryn bodyguard Nork Deddog. Nork can take the bullet plus goes into a mad rage trying to protect his commander if Nork dies in close combat. The codex actually has IN HIS RULES "desperately attempts to 'smash dem wot is tyrin ta 'urt da kernul'... slumps to the floor asking his officer 'did we win?' before passing out form his wounds."
    • In Dark Heresy, the Crusader class can shield an Inquisitor from any attack if they are within range.
    • Tau shield drones are programmed to get in the way of incoming fire to protect their user. They have Deflector Shields. Sometimes they don't effectively deflect the shot, but hey, a destroyed drone is better than a dead Tau.
  • In Magna Veritas, Jean-Luc, Archangel of Protectors, grants his servants the power "ultimate sacrifice", allowing them to magically redirect any harm from a single target to themselves, with some damage reduction at high levels.
  • In the Dungeons & Dragons 3.5E supplement Drow of the Underdark, the illustration for the feat "Constant Guardian" shows a drow male taking a crossbow bolt for a female. The feat doesn't actually consist of this, though it is a prerequisite for a feat that does. (Which probably means the illustration's caption is wrong.)


  • In The Complete History of America (abridged), Uncle Sam fires a bullet at Spade, and Flush takes it. The bullet is an oversized prop on a stick—the same one used in the Lincoln assassination, in fact.
  • In The Golden Apple, when Circe hands the apple out to Ulysses, he turns to make his back an easy target for Paris's knife. Seeing this, Achilles calls out to Ulysses and intercepts the blow for him, dying in his place.


Video Games

  • If you've played an Escort Mission, chances are you've tried this at least once.
  • In Kingdom Hearts II, a boulder is hurled towards King Mickey and Goofy pushes him out of the way, taking the full force of the giant rock. Feeling sad and full of angry vengeance, Sora, Donald, and the King run forward, battling through hordes of Heartless only to find that Goofy was only knocked out the whole time.
  • World of Warcraft
    • Warriors can learn an ability called Intervene which allows them to take a shot or melee attack for a party member, thereby preventing the Squishy Wizard or even squishier Priest from being... well, squished.
    • There's also a warrior protection talent Vigilence which allows the warrior to transfer threat generated by another character to his/herself and redirect the path of attacks from the enemy.
    • Paladins also have an ability named Hand of Sacrifice, which will redirect 30% of incoming damage from the target to the paladin, up to 100% of the paladin's hitpoints. Like Superman above, they have the ability to become (briefly) invulnerable...
    • In the end of the Gilneas storyline, Liam Greymane is killed by Sylvanas Windrunner when he takes a poisoned arrow intended for his father, king Genn Greymane.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog
    • Sonic is quite adept at these in all continuities, having taken the bullet for Shahra the Genie in Sonic and the Secret Rings and Cream and Chris in Sonic X.
    • Speaking of Shahra, she pays Sonic back for the deed when Erazor offers up Sonic's life in sacrifice to gain the power to control the World Rings. Rather than slicing the hedgehog in half, Erazor lands the blade in Shahra's back.
    • Maria did this for Shadow. Shadow was traumatized, although not as much as his creator and Maria's (and Eggman's) grandfather, Professor Gerald, who in a fit of nihilism altered Shadow's memories and a few other things so that Shadow would destroy the world. Ironically, Gerald had earlier set up a Xanatos Gambit to allow Shadow to defend the world.
    • In Sonic Colors, Tails pushes Sonic out the way of Eggman's mind control beam.
  • The World Ends With You
    • Beat attempts what may be the stupidest examples of this trope ever when he tries doing this, instead of a more appropriate Diving Save, to save Rhyme from being hit by a car.
    • He also does it again later for Neku. A mind-controlled Shiki is attacking the pair; Beat sees no choice but to take her out. Neku turns to face him as he angrily says they'll do no such thing. He gets attacked by Shiki from behind for his trouble. Beat is quick to take the hit for him.
  • Super Smash Bros. Brawl
    • Ness and Lucas are being attacked by Wario. Wario fires his trophy gun at Ness a few times, and Ness dodges all the shots easily. An irritated Wario then changes his target to Lucas. Lucas, being the cowardly little brat he is, doesn't even try to dodge, so Ness pushes Lucas out of the way, complete with slow motion camera panning, and is turned into a trophy in the process. It should be noted that in this world, being turned into a trophy is like death.
    • And Donkey Kong for Diddy Kong (in their case, Donkey Kong actually had to punch Diddy Kong out of the way).
  • Bloodline Champions used to have this effect for the Guardian's Thrust ability when hitting an ally with it—part of the damage the ally would take while the effect lasted would be done to the Guardian, the amount of damage the Guardian taking from that effect also being reduced. Also was an example of Synchronization.
  • Near the end of Fable 2, Your dog does this when the Big Bad captures and tries to kill you. The Big Bad then subverts things by shooting you anyway.
  • At the very end of StarCraft II, protagonist Jim Raynor does this for his Tragic Monster Love Interest Sarah Kerrigan in one of the rare examples of Taking the Bullet where the one doing the shielding is not physically harmed. (In this case, grace of Raynor's Power Armor not being useless.)
  • Completing the romance sidequest with Anera in Shadowlords requires taking a death effect attack for her. Though the Power of Love keeps you alive at 1 hp instead of killing you.
  • Final Fantasy
    • The series often gives Paladins and Knights the ability "Cover," which, when active, will make the character automatically receive any physical attack aimed at a weakened teammate. Especially if said attack would have killed the target. Even if the attack will kill the Paladin/Knight.
    • Those classes also typically have the "Counter Attack" ability, which lets them retaliate for free whenever they're hit. This, combined with Cover, makes these characters into excellent meat shields, taking the pressure off your weaker party members while also dealing extra damage.
    • In Final Fantasy IX, Zidane has the Protect Girls ability, which, as the name implies, is a variant of Cover that only protects female characters.
  • Tidus takes one of The Emperor's Flare attacks for Yuna in Dissidia 012: Duodecim, despite him being on Chaos' side and not holding any memories of being with her on her pilgrimage in their original game. This prompts Jecht to transfer his own energy to Tidus in order to save his life, allowing the Emperor to abduct Jecht and use him in the following cycle.
  • Fire Emblem
    • Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn has two examples. First, Jarod's friend jumps in the way of the Black Knight's sword, prompting Micaiah to tell the Black Knight to let Jarod escape and bury his friend]]. Later, if this is not your first play-through, Micaiah has the option of jumping in front of the knife meant for King Pelleas—a rare case of Taking the Bullet for someone who actually wants the bullet.
    • There is also the skill Guard, which allows a character to protect a character that they have a support with if they are next to them, though it doesn't always work.
  • Near the end of King's Quest V Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder, Cedric accidentally takes a magical bullet for Graham (at least in the PC CD-ROM adaptation; all other versions had him being accidentally Taken for Granite). And in King's Quest VII the Princeless Bride, the Troll King takes magical lightning for Rosella.
  • Persona
    • In Persona 4 party members with high-enough Social Link rankings will do this for you. This comes to play in the True Ending's boss, where each party member knocks you out of the way to take Izanami's lethal attacks in your place.
    • The same mechanic appears in Persona 3 Portable, which is based off Persona 4's combat system.
    • In the original Persona 3, Shinjiro takes a bullet meant for Ken, and later, Junpei takes a bullet for Chidori. Shinjiro dies; Junpei survives when Chidori sacrifices herself to heal him.
  • Disgaea
  • In Eternal Daughter, Hume dies doing this to save his half-sister, Mia.
  • Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War has Captain Bartlett draw a missile away from Nagase.
  • In Tales of the Abyss, Tear does this while jumping in front the petrified Luke and gets slashed in the arm instead.
  • In Phantasy Star IV: The End of the Milennium, Alys does this for Chaz, taking the hit from Zio's Dark Wave and leading to what may be one of the saddest video game deaths of all.
  • In the final chapter of Super Paper Mario, Nastasia takes an attack meant for Count Bleck. She gets better.
  • In True Crime: Streets of LA, Rafferty took the bullet for Nick when Rocky was about shoot him cuffed to the chair.
  • Just before the final battle of Batman: Arkham Asylum Batman takes a dart full of Titan meant for Commissioner Gordon.
  • Baldur's Gate
    • If you romance Jaheira in Baldur's Gate 2, a band of thugs will hold her hostage and demand your valuables during your travels. You have the option of offering to take her place as a hostage. If you do, the bandits shoot you instead and boy does this piss off Jaheira. After your party demolishes the bandits (they aren't that tough) Jaheira will be absolutely furious with you for risking your life for her this way.
    • If your character is equipped with the Shield of Arrow Reflection, the shot will instead bounce back at the bandit, inflicting major damage on him. Jaheira still throws a fit.
  • In the Flash game Immor Tall you spend the entire game doing this as an alien trying to protect the family it befriended during a war. As you shield them from machine guns, tanks, and bombers, your movements become slower and slower, until you finally succumb to your wounds and die.
  • Helen's mother in Dead or Alive does this to save her daughter. Dead or Alive 2 has her pushing Helena out of the way while 4 has her run in front. Dimensions uses both.
  • Metal Gear Solid
    • In Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, Naked Snake ends up pulling this in order to save Tatyana from Ocelot's bullet. It also had him knocking into Ocelot as well, causing his aim to awry, and resulted in Big Boss getting a muzzle flash burn on his right eye.
    • In Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops, Jonathan ends up rushing to Big Boss, warning him of an attack from one of the paranoid soldiers (Gene had earlier driven his own men into a mass panic about being executed by an inside man by Gene for "betraying" him using his voice.), and ended up taking a bullet in the head and the chest for Big Boss. This action was more than enough to have Big Boss screaming in anguish.
  • Super Robot Wars
    • Defensive support in the Super Robot Wars series. Russel Bergman from the Original Generation games has this as his specialty.
    • In Super Robot Wars Gaiden, this happened to Ricardo in an attempt to save Tytti from imminent death from her arch-nemesis. As a result, she became Allergic to Love.
  • The patient of a Medic in Team Fortress 2 is expected to do this: that way, the Medic stays alive, hopefully continues to heal the patient if they live, and gains uber-charge, which builds faster on injured team-mates. This is especially seen on Arena "sudden death" matches, where Medics are necessary to keep the team alive.
  • In Mother 3 Flint winds up taking two extremely powerful psionic attacks for his son Lucas.
  • Skillshots in League of Legends can be intercepted by another body, so this is an option, although one you only want to use if you're more expendable and you're sure your target wasn't going to dodge it anyway. Catelyn's sniper shot can also be blocked like this.
  • Actually forced on the player by the Mastermind archetype in City of Heroes -- if the character was close enough to his minions, he automatically took some of the damage they suffered in their place.

Visual Novels

Web Animation

  • Subverted in the Space Tree episode "Kill or Kick": When Space Tree hears that Ghost Spider's plan went off without a hatch, Space Tree executes his plan. With a gun. The Commander leaps in front of Ghost Spider, slow motion, "NOOOO!" and all, but the gun hasn't even fired. Turns out Space Tree's plan was just to kick Ghost Spider.
  • During the final Dragon Shrine showdown of Bunnykill 4, Snowball, after defending an unconscious Ruby from a storm of giant shurikens hurled by Flint, gets his sword knocked out of his hands when Flint hurls a powered-up shuriken at him. Ruby wakes up as Flint hurls his final shuriken at him (complete with the requisite slow-mo), and sacrifices herself to save his life by taking the shuriken in the back. Snowball proceeds to go into "White Avenger" mode and proceeds to kick seven shades of hell out of Flint.

Web Comics

DuPree: ...um, what are you doing?
Anders: If you shoot, I may be able to protect the book by stopping the bullet with my heart!
Gilgamesh: See? I told you they were with the Library!

  • Subverted in Girly: Officer Getskilled leaps in front of a bullet for Policeguy and Hipbone, but another character gets in front of him. The character is not only immortal but imperviable, and spirits Getskilled away to the immortal realm as a reward for his courage.
  • In Gunnerkrigg Court, Ysengrin forms his arm into a giant blade and attempts to skewer Antimony. Renard leaps between Annie and the blade. This isn't entirely necessary, as Mr. Donlan's magic shield would have saved Annie either way (in fact, the shield ends up protecting Reynardine), but Annie certainly appreciated Rey's intent.
  • In Homestuck, Dream Jade does this for John. Only no, it's not a bullet, it's a meteor.
  • Replace the word "bullet" with "boulder", and this strip of The Order of the Stick definitely qualifies.
  • In Problem Sleuth, Ace Dick's Auto-Parry consists of "taking the hit directly in the guts". He Auto-Parries a bullet to save Sonhearst.

"It is incredibly painful!"

Web Original

  • Survival of the Fittest
    • Subverted in v1 with baseball players Michael Suarez and Scott Jameson. Barry Coleson High's baseball team was so close to each other that they were almost like brothers to each other, so when the two finally meet up and start to talk, Mike pushes Scott out of the way when he hears someone behind him, taking the bullets that would've killed Scott and being paralyzed by them (though he says "Scotty, look out!" not, "No!"). The subversion comes when Scott doesn't run like Mike tells him to, transfixed due to fear, and gets fatally shot anyway.
    • Played more straightly in v4, when Jonathan Jarocki shoots at Charlene Norris. Alex Campbell does indeed jump in front of her, getting a bullet to the shoulder. Charlene, however, was injured, but not as bad as Alex.
  • In the final battle of There Will Be Brawl, the End of Days (a Game and Watch octopus) starts spearing everyone in sight. Fox pushes Marth out of the way of one tentacle, getting himself speared in the process. Made all the more significant because until that final battle, they were on opposite sides of the law.
  • Subverted in the final chapter of Sailor Nothing, as Aki is merely wounded, not killed, in the process. It's also toyed with in that two people dive for the same bullet, the second pushing the first out of the way in addition to the original target.
  • In Interviewing Leather, when Todd Chapman is exploring the scenes of Dynamo Girl's heroics, he mentions seeing the city councilman she caught a bullet for.

Western Animation

  • The Simpsons
    • Apu takes a bullet for James Woods, only to find it bounced off another bullet.
    • Another episode had Homer attend bodyguard training, where he was tested for this. Attendants were marked on the effort put into their "Noooo!" among other things.
    • And yet another episode had elderly Springfieldian Cornelius Chapman taking "a bullet for Huey Long" in his past: the assassin opens up on Huey Long, who takes a few hits before Cornelius leaps by (with the obligatory "Nooooo!"), taking exactly one bullet and then landing.
    • Also parodied in an episode where Ned Flanders is going to baptize Bart and Lisa, only to have Homer leap in the way of the water at the last second, complete with slow-motion dive and Big No.

Bart: Homer, you took a baptism for me. How do you feel?
Homer: Oh, Bartholomew, I feel like Saint Augustine of Hippo after his conversion by Ambrose of Milan.
Flanders: (astonished) Homer, what did you just say?

  • Futurama
    • In a subverted example, Fry saves Leela by taking a giant space wasp sting meant for her. Fry ends up dying from this, and Leela starts to have hallucinations of him telling her to wake up. Ultimately it is revealed that the space wasp's stinger pierced right through Fry and nicked Leela, thus injecting its venom into her instead of him. She's been in a coma ever since, and the hallucinations were the real, healed up, Fry. He's been at her bedside trying to wake her up. Quite touching, really.
    • In "Lrrreconcilable Ndndifferences", Fry leaps in front of Leela and takes it when she was about to be shot by a vaporizer. Subverted when everyone realizes it was actually a teleporter. Though at the time Fry was unaware of this.
  • In the final battle against Azula from Avatar: The Last Airbender, Zuko takes a full-on lightning blast (complete with a Big No in Slow Mo) meant for Katara. He had been taught to redirect lightning, however, which meant that he was just badly injured instead of killed outright, since he couldn't fully redirect it in the middle of a Diving Save.
  • Humorously played with in an episode of Family Guy where Peter tells the family one of his relatives took a bullet for someone (a president if I remember). Cut to a scene where the intended target is being shot by a rapidly firing gun several times. Suddenly a Peter look-a-like relative jumps in between the gunner and target, takes exactly one bullet complete with bullet time slow motion and a big no and drops to the floor as the scene resumes normal speed and the target is shot several more times.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants. An interesting inversion of this was played when SpongeBob leapt in front of Patrick just as a speeding car was about to spatter mud all over him, protecting the ultra rare and super valuable Mermaid Man trading card he was holding in his hand.
  • Code Lyoko
    • In season 1, it is frequent for the Lyoko Warriors to be taking a laser beam to protect Aelita—especially Odd, since he was unable to block them. Quite justified, since a devirtualization isn't fatal for them, while it would be for Aelita (and even if it weren't, only she can deactivate XANA's current scheme, often with mere seconds to spare). Much less prevalent starting season 2, since XANA wants Aelita alive at this point.
    • In season 3, it is Aelita's turn at taking the laser beam to save the Lyoko Core.
  • In Winx Club's second season, Riven almost dies when he takes a blast from the Brainwashed and Crazy Bloom to save an already injured Musa. When Sky talks Bloom out of it, she uses her powers to heal him.
  • In Justice League Superman takes a ball that apparently annihilated matter for his friends. Luckily for him, it turned out to only be a time travel portal.
  • Transformers Animated
    • Bumblebee takes a blast of Meltdown's acid (which melts through basically anything ever, including Cybertronians) for Bulkhead. Fortunately, the Autobots have Sari's key to repair him.
    • He did it in the three-episode pilot too, shielding most of the human supporting cast from Starscream.
  • Rock and Rule has Zip do this as a Mook Face Turn when the demon tries hurling a blast of... um, something at the heroes.
  • An episode of Care Bears has this. Wish Bear saved the distressed kid of the week by taking a blast from one of Professor Coldheart's inventions for him. It didn't kill her, just turn her grey and apathetic. Cue the Swiss Army Tears.
  • Leonidas Van Rook does this to save Drew Saturday in The Secret Saturdays.
  • King of the Hill
    • Parodied when Peggy starts throwing tomatoes at King Phillip at the Renaissance fair one of his men dives in front of him and takes a few hits.
    • In another episode ("Dog Dale Afternoon"), after Hank successfully escorted Dale out of the college watch tower in which the police mistaken him for a sniper when he was actually exterminating bugs, a vigilant sniper locked in at Dale and Hank jumped in taking the bullet for him. Good thing Hank was wearing a bulletproof vest.
  • Done in the Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers episode "One Million Emotions". An alien artifact that is charitably described as "the emotional electric chair" essentially subjects anyone who touches it to Mind Rape as the stored emotions within blast into that person's mind and drive them insane. The object goes flying straight at Niko, causing Shane to leap in front of her and intercept it. He takes the full brunt of the emotional blast, but manages to retain his sanity because his altered genetics offered some protection. Fanon speculates that it changed him more than he admits.
  • The Ruby-Spears Mega Man cartoon sees Proto Man invoking this trope. Mega Man keeps dodging Proto Man's shots, so Proto Man takes aim at the Lincoln Memorial instead. It works.
  • In The Boondocks, Uncle Ruckus did for the mall Santa when Riley shoots multiple BB rounds.
  • In American Dad episode "Stannie Get Your Gun", Stan (paralyzed by a gun accident) took the bullet for Hayley when a fired gun mascot aimed a sniper at her upon singing an anti-gun song. The bullet helped cured his paralysis when it dislodged first bullet that hit him before.
  • Though not exactly lethal, in Total Drama Island, Cody leaps in front of a dodgeball (in slow-mo) for Gwen. Sierra later does the same thing for him two seasons later, except with a meatball.
  • In a flashback for an episode of Duckman back when Cornfed and Duckman first met, Cornfed takes many hits from a criminals gun, he survives.
  • Played for Laughs in The Penguins of Madagascar, with Skipper blocking an angry pigeon's droppings for the park commissioner.
  • Parodied in the Codename: Kids Next Door episode "Operation: T.O.M.M.Y.", where Numbuh Two make a slow-motion dive to save his little brother Tommy from a snot bullet.
  • In Ben 10: Ultimate Alien, squire Winston takes a lethal energy blast for Sir George.

Real Life

  • Alexis Goggins was a Real Life seven-year-old who took six bullets for her own mother. She also managed to survive.
  • Dr. Liviu Librescu, Romanian-born Holocaust survivor, scientist and academic professor. During the Virginia Tech massacre, Librescu personally kept the door shut to prevent gunman Seung-hui Cho from entering the classroom while his students escaped out the windows. He was shot through the door five times before finally succumbing to a shot to the head. Of course, he had a history, since surviving the Holocaust takes a Determinator in itself...
  • The attempt on Ronald Reagan's life by John Hinckley Jr. may have succeeded had it not been for the actions of Secret Service agent Timothy J. McCarthy, who leapt in front of Reagan, receiving a wound in his abdomen. He survived.
    • It should be noted that all Secret Service agents assigned to the president are trained to do this. Not necessarily the "leaping in front of the bullet", though: they are trained to shield the President with their bodies -or their body armour in practice, as many rifle rounds will go straight through unprotected flesh without stopping- but jumping in front of the gun is usually a dramatic device. In addition, agents are also trained to draw their weapon and fire back, even when wounded or dying. Also, contrary to popular belief, this is not actually in their job description, as much as Hollywood seems to show otherwise.
  • All personnel recruited as agents in various police/military-based VIP protection units (with some exceptions like the Secret Service) are trained to do this if the worse should come to the worst when the VIP is in danger. Hence the nickname "Bulletcatchers".
  • A somewhat extreme example is Alexander Matrosov, a Red Army soldier during World War Two. During an assault on a village, the Soviets were held off by a German MG 42 (which is the fastest firing single barreled machine gun in history) firing from a pill-box. Matrosov threw himself in front of the massive amount of dakka, blocking the fire and allowing his unit to advance. He was posthumously awarded Hero of the Soviet Union.
  • During the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan, Soviet aerial convoys were protected from Stinger-wielding Mujahideen fighters by Mi-24 Hind helicopter gunships. The pilots were instructed to use their helicopters to physically block the missiles should they get too close to the planes, earning them the nickname "Mandatory Matrosovs".
  • After the July 20 Plot to kill Hitler failed, the plot's conspirators were arrested and placed in front of a firing squad. When Claus von Stauffenberg (one of the plot's ringleaders) was about to be shot, his adjutant, Werner von Haeften in a crowning moment of awesome defiantly placed himself in front of von Stauffenberg, taking the bullets intended for von Stauffenberg.