|Quotes • Headscratchers • Playing With • Useful Notes • Analysis • Image Links • Haiku • Laconic|
"Look, we got four or five of the main characters on this ship. I think we'll be fine."—Peter Griffin, Family Guy, "Something, Something, Something Dark Side"
A thousand may fall at your side,but it will not come near you.
ten thousand at your right hand,
The main reason the Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy is still in business (along with a handful of other tropes). Just by being the main character, the laws of the world seem to bend around the character in a more than figurative way. For some reason (and not even an explicit ability), just being the main character or on his team protects you from death, serious wounds, and generally any sort of harm until dramatically appropriate. Even psychological damage can be beaten by Plot Armor. Unless you're explicitly marked for death, or Tempting Fate.
The real reason, of course, is that the movie/book/game/etc. would be awfully short if the main character died the first time they should. But it can get somewhat unreal at times.
This trope is sometimes referred to as "Script Immunity" or a "Character Shield."
Note that this is specifically about cases where it's suggested (by way of Informed Ability, generally) that something should happen that would be very bad for the hero - but it tends to fall short as soon as he gets involved, for no given reason besides luck.
Novice viewers will often confuse plot armor with more justified survival explanations. If Superman survives a bullet to the eye, that's just him using his powers. Superman is Nigh Invulnerable. If Indiana Jones does, that's plot armor. (Bonus points if he isn't even blinded.)
Sub Tropes of this include:
- Contractual Boss Immunity (the same thing but for major villains) and Joker Immunity (for a particularly series-defining recurring villain)
- Lowered Monster Difficulty (where the villain's Plot Armor degrades over time, and/or the hero(es)'(s) becomes more prominent against them)
- Made of Iron (when enemy attacks are effective, but not quite as much as you'd expect) , but not quite Nigh Invulnerable. Made of Iron counts as a subtrope of Plot Armor, while Slap-On-The-Wrist Nuke doesn't.
- Story-Driven Invulnerability (when a video game boss can only be killed when the story allows it)
Compare Contractual Immortality (where the characters seem to die, but it's known that the actors haven't left the show) and Rule of Empathy (which may give Plot Armor to non-protagonist characters, even villains, provided they are sympathetic).
For examples where important characters are just magnitudes stronger than the poor slobs who can't take even one hit, see Almost-Lethal Weapons.
Anime and Manga Edit
- Near the beginning of Ginga Densetsu Weed, the protagonist gets shot. A lot (there were at least 34 bullets in him, according to a later scene). Not only is he back on his feet after a few days, but he is also showing absolutely no signs of being shot over thirty freaking times afterwards. Did I already mention that the protagonist in question is a months old puppy?
- Angel Beats: In episode two Otonashi seems to manage to avoid every trap despite being completely new. Ironically, this is probably the one series where Plot Armor is unnecessary. Because death is very, very cheap.
- Bleach is notorious for its characters averting death on a regular basis, to the point where the series is now frequently described with the phrase "Nobody dies in Bleach"...
- Until the Vandenreich came into play and oneshotted 1st Lieutenant Sasakibe.
- Played for Laughs in Bobobobo Bobobo to ridiculous extremes.
- Every Gundam series uses it to some extent due to the general During the War/War Is Hell setting, with extremely few main characters ending up as causalities of plot-irrelevant battles regardless of their tactical situation. Some shows completely spare the main cast while others put the lesser heroes through the ringer (and typically only in the last few episodes, at that). Many a Flame War has been started by someone declaring that one of the series uses Plot Armor beyond Willing Suspension of Disbelief, while either ignoring or forgetting that the show they're currently championing does as well. (Translation: Use the Rule of Cautious Editing Judgment and do NOT post specific examples such as Gundam Seed here.)
- Gauron of Full Metal Panic. This guy just will not die. Of course, every time he gets defeated, nobody bothers to look for a body, so that might be the problem.
- Officially Subverted Trope in Full Metal Panic! The Second Raid/The End of Day by Day. Sousuke finds Gauron in dire straits, laying in a hospital bed, hooked up to numerous IV tubes and shit, and covered in the wounds from his previous battles with Sousuke. Gauron begins talking to Sousuke and, after revealing what he wanted to do with Sousuke, as well as saying that he killed Kaname and saw her broken body covered in blood (which was a lie), Sousuke pulled out his pistol and fired six shells directly into Gauron's body at a near-point-blank range.
- No one dies in Fairy Tail. Jellal gets hit by the biggest and baddest spell in the setting and survives without a scratch (this would've been a spoiler, but it's too obvious considering that this page is about plot armor), all four of the main characters go through at least one near-death experience per arc and survive, and even Lisana who dies before the story starts, ends up in Edolas rather than Heaven. And again at the end of the Tenrou Island arc, all of us thought the main characters died after getting blasted by Acnologia's attack. Seven years later, and we find out Mavis Vermillion, the first guild master of Fairy Tail, converted them into magic. We're more happy about this than annoyed, however.
- Monkey D. Luffy of One Piece sports a rather blatant form of Plot Armor, to the point where it may very well be a plot point. The same goes for the rest of the Straw Hat Crew, especially Zoro. Granted that he had immense strength and durability but sometimes it's kind of unbelievable.
- Luffy's is actually acknowledged in-universe. When Basil Hawkins is trying to predict a situation in which Luffy would surely die, every prediction left him with a chance of survival.
- In Yu Yu Hakusho Team Toguro effortlessly kill their opponents in the semi-finals of the Dark Tournament. Although Hiei evaded Bui's axe, this could be the reason why the same attacks aren't used on the others.
- Lampshaded in Medaka Box; The reason the Big Bad won't start her plans yet is because Medaka is the main character, and thus guaranteed to defeat her if she is challenged. At which point she recruits Medaka's childhood friend Zenkichi to do it for her, and grants him an ability of his own choosing called "Devil Style" which essentially nullifies Medaka's Plot Armor by targeting and erasing any chance of a coincidence that would normally save a main character in any situation
- In Naruto, Sasuke has an annoying tendency to get into fights that are beyond his ability to win, only to suddenly demonstrate a new power that had never been seen or even hinted at before, or for another villain to bail him out at the last second.
- In the latest arc of the manga, over forty thousand members of the Shinobi Alliance have died, which is half their total forces. Only about three of them had names, and even those were mostly introduced just to be killed off. Given just how many characters there are, it's a bit hard to swallow that half the army could have been killed off and none of the major characters were among the casualties.
- This trope is deconstructed in Code Geass with Suzaku, who wants to die on the battlefield but doesn't, in part because Lelouch has geassed him to "LIVE", and played too straight with Oghi and Villetta.
- Conan Edokawa from Case Closed takes more and more bullets in the recent movies, but always survives. This has to do with him being in the movies based on the TV show. Any non movie-exclusive characters can't die anyway because that would damage the main story.
Comic Books Edit
- During the Decimation event, Plot Armor thoroughly protects the most currently marketable mutant characters from a horrid catastrophe that has depowered and/or caused the deaths of over 10 million others and reduced the population to approximately 198.
- Squirrel Girl, from the Marvel Universe, has beaten every archvillain she has faced, including Doctor Doom, Mandarin, Modok, and Thanos. This is impressive considering her superpower is the ability to communicate with squirrels.
- Imagine if her superpower was to communicate with ferrets. She could conquer the world!
- DC Comics hero The Question had legendary plot armor during the Dennis O'Neil run. In one fight a mook has a gun to the back of Question's head and pulls the trigger. When nothing happens, the mook looks at the gun quizzically and simply says "Misfire?" before Question pummels him.
- The Question once DID get shot in the head and dumped in the river. The bullet went around the skull, as it was a weak gun. As for the rest, he was rescued by Lady Shiva, who knows all about healing (and killing).
- G.I. Joe comics. Scarlett survives a shot to the brainpan in the same manner as The Question. Later, she's stabbed straight through the chest... by Snake-Eyes. No, really. Snake-Eyes, being a ninja, knew the least-worst spot to stab her, as part of a scheme, but still...
- Max Allan Collins, who took over Dick Tracy after Chester Gould's retirement, once observed the importance of the Anyone Can Die principle in maintaining credible suspense. Most notably, Junior Tracy's wife was murdered during Collins's tenure as writer. However, he conceded that Tracy himself would never die (though he frequently got badly injured), because he is the main character.
- More or less the only reason why anyone survived World War Hulk.
Fan Fiction Edit
- In the Mass Effect fanfic The Council Era, when he is in conflict with the Villain Protagonist's son, the Chaotic Evil Takavor Derishama throws his spear and it directly impales him. When he throws the spear at the Villain Protagonist, it goes too far upward, just cutting off one of those muscle-horn things that salarians have.
- Uninvited Guests: Used, lampshaded, and weaponized by Aizen.
- DC Nation usually requires a player wanting to kill a character to go through an application process of the mods and muns of the characters teammates. The exception is when a mun leaves the game and the character cannot be adopted out for one reason or another.
- In Naruto Veangance Revelaitons, it isn't surprising that Creator's Pet Ronan can survive otherwise fatal situations, even getting raised from the dead three times. What is surprising is that Edfred, an Ensemble Darkhorse the author hates, survives getting beaten up by Ronan, and Ronan once decides not to fight him so as not to humiliate him.
- Lelouch in Soul Chess has an excuse, but apart from that, Word of God states that even Ichigo and his friends will lose theirs after graduation. Some of the other characters from Bleach have lost theirs already. Like Head Captain Yamamoto.
- John Rambo, of the Rambo series, is noted for escaping hails of gunfire relatively unscathed. This is occasionally lampshaded by various parodies.
- Star Wars: As noted above, the cause of the Stormtroopers' lack of ability to shoot. Obi-Wan goes as far as to call them "precise" in the movie, and we see them blast their way through the Tantive IV... And then we witness them miss so many easy shots, it's pathetic. But every one of those shots was at someone with plot relevance.
- Lampshaded in the first book of the extended universe New Jedi Order series. Han refers to a "bubble" which surrounded the main characters which is destroyed by the death of Chewie. The books then go on to use this trope's inverse quite liberally.
- In the official Star Wars role playing campaign, Living Force, for a few years all player characters had Plot Armor as judges were instructed to "worry, but not kill" any character that didn't do something obviously suicidal.
- This is practically a game mechanic in the Star Wars Customizable Card Game, where important characters other than mystics and potential Jedi are "force-attuned," with an inherent weapon defense of 3 (as opposed to 1 or 2 for secondary characters and Mooks). Also, many characters are partially or totally "immune to attrition," a mechanic designed to simulate random battle deaths.
- The novel Death Star attempted to handwave some of the Imperial Marksmanship chaos seen in the movies, apart from the canon reasons. Imperial enemies were chafing under restrictive command. One stormtrooper commander was actually Force sensitive and was growing morals.
- In the Scary Movie sequels - by means of an odd twist in plot armors - Brenda dies in SM3, her corpse even explodes into pieces. But she reappears in SM4. Lead Character Cindy, who remembers her friend dying one movie ago, even says to Brenda "I thought you were dead!" To which Brenda replies "I thought you were dead!" One look of confusion later and they decide to drop it.
- This is nothing new to the Scary Movie franchise. In the first movie Brenda is stabbed to death in a theater for being rude and Cindy is run down by a car at the very end. In the second movie, Brenda says that she only had a "near death experience", and it turns out Cindy is alive because she was never officially declared dead.
- The series that first inspired Scary Movie, Scream, has blatant examples of this with the three protagonists (Sydney, Dewey and Gale), who are always slashed by the antagonists, and even finish the movies in a hospital, but never die.
- A similar example to the The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy example below exists in the film Big Fish: the father claims to have been shown his own death by a witch, and that it made him fearless, because he knew nothing but that could kill him. Of course, that was 90% lies.
- Lampshaded in The Movie of George of the Jungle, the narrator mentions during a recap that "George was really shot but can't die because, let's face it, he's the hero."
- G.I. Joe: The Movie. In the original script, good-guy Duke is hit with a snake-spear from Serpentor and dies. However, after Transformers: The Movie traumatized kids with the death of Optimus Prime, Executive Meddling saddled the Joe movie with a hasty edit. Duke's injury merely resulted in a coma, and a voice-over near the end of the movie announced Duke's recovery.
- Lampshaded in the title song of Road To Morocco:
For any villains we may meet, we haven't any fears;
Paramount will protect us, 'cause we're signed for five more years.
- Every James Bond movie ever made. James is never killed, and rarely seriously hurt, no matter how many bullets fly and explosions go boom, or how many times the villains capture him and have him helpless.
- In Peter Jackson's King Kong, there is a scene with Jack Driscoll and a few crew members running in between a pack of Brontosauruses legs down a narrow path while also avoiding being eaten by velociraptors in full charge. Jack is not only fine, but jump-kicks one of the velociraptors in the face, all while still running UNDER the Brontosauruses.
- Der Clown Payday: One of the heroes, wearing a police-grade body armor, holds a Mook in front of him as another Mook shoots him. The Mook in front of him is pierced by more than a dozen high-velocity rounds shot from a machine gun in full auto mode while the hero doesn't even have his shirt damaged.
- This trope is played completely straight and completely serious ,as it is literally the superpower of Eli in The Book of Eli, due to him being protected by God Himself. And while it may sound silly, it really, really works
- Played straight in Pirates of the Caribbean, especially the second film, wherein the main characters' ship is attacked by the Kraken, who kills most of the crew except for every single main character who board the lifeboats except for Jack Sparrow, who is left at the ship and then killed by the Kraken as it sinks the boat. He comes Back From the Dead, though.). Even the guy with the talking parrot survived.
- In Last of the Mohicans, Alice, Cora, and Major Duncan are the only survivors of two giant massacres.
- The eponymous Mystery Team has tremendous luck for the fact that they're inexperienced detectives.
- One of the many letdowns of the Twilight books is Meyer's continuous promises of danger to characters followed by little to no follow through.In the first book, Laurent refuses to fight against James even though it would be an eight to two fight. Which basically means James must be the badass of badasses. Actually Jasper and Emmett take him out alone. And easily. Book Four is the biggest Plot Armor moment when a brutal battle between the Volturi and the Cullen/Cullen allies that has been worked up for ages devolves into a friendly talk and a okay, let's go home situation. The Twilight characters are supposed to be in real you-could-really-die situations but somehow everyone leaves everything unscathed every single time. (With the exception of Jacob breaking some bones that heal in a day or two.)
- Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time series has the three main male characters as ta'veren, or "tied to the pattern". Essentially this serves as a catch-all for all the weird stuff that happens to them, very much including their in-universe plot armor. Of course, it also tends to attract nasty stuff that makes it necessary...
- Not just attracts weird stuff to 'them.' It also attracts weird stuff to 'other' people as well. The effect could blanket an entire city.
- This is made literal in the Xanth novels. In the very first Xanth novel, Bink's magic talent is essentially plot armor, as he cannot be harmed by magic. Unlike many examples, the book is kept interesting because it is a great deal of the point of the plot, and it is not known that this is his talent until quite late in the book, when he exploits it. In the second book, he is specifically chosen for the task of finding the source of magic due to his immunity to harm from it. Despite this, his talent is somewhat picky about what is defined by "harm", and he is still worried that he could be killed by mundane means, as well as by the source of all magic itself, a nearly omnipotent demon. In the end, however, it is implied that his talent is in fact so powerful that even the demon could not overcome it, and that all his seeming misfortune was what saved him in the end.
- Which is kinda weird considering that the demon is the source of his immunity to magic in the first place.
- Okra Ogress tries to put Jenny Elf into a life threatening incident, but can't do it simply because Jenny is a major character. Ironically, the reason Okra was trying to get Jenny killed was so that she could get the major character status for herself.
- The later novels in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series feature some heavily Lampshaded Plot Armor: Arthur Dent knows he can't die until he visits Stavromula Beta. (Arthur learns this from meeting somebody who wants to kill him because of a long list of things Arthur did, including something that happened there. When he discovers that Arthur hasn't even heard of Stavromula Beta yet, he realises that this means Arthur can't be killed yet without causing a serious time paradox -- but he's so angry he tries to kill Arthur anyway.) This leads to a shocking twist at the end of Mostly Harmless, when Arthur unwittingly fulfills the conditions of the accidental prophecy, and is swiftly Killed Off for Real. Probably.
- To much collective dismay, Authors are not granted the benefits of Plot Armor, and Author Existence Failure has caused a serious disruption in the successful use of Plot Armor.
- While A Song of Ice and Fire is known for being an Anyone Can Die series, it's not too difficult to see the plot armor on most of the POV characters, who often scrape through numerous deadly situations. Of the fourteen main POV characters, only one is dead by the fourth book.
- Tyrion Lannister survives many battles, an assassination attempt, and an execution sentence.
- Arya Stark racks up a virtually countless number of daring escapes unscathed.
- Bran Stark survives several murder attempts.
- Catelyn Stark doesn't let death get in the way of remaining in the series.
- Brienne of Tarth faces death several times, but somehow always survives at the end.
- The Warhammer 40000 Gaunt's Ghosts books were like this at first with all the main characters, but the central characters have been steadily moving away from Plot Armour. Particularly notable was when they killed a Chaos Baneblade in Honour Guard while only losing two or three troopers and one tank.
- Since the death of Bragg in book 5 and Corbec in book 7, it's been pretty clear that Anyone Can Die. Indeed, less than 10 characters named in the first book remain alive at the end of the twelfth, with another looking likely to go before the end of number 13. Poor, poor Doc Dorden.
- Seen all the time in Discworld novels. Savvy characters sometimes just outright give up/run away because they recognize the plot armor the other guys have.
- In the X Wing Series Wedge Antilles, the Mauve Shirt in the movies who became an Ascended Extra, once has a down moment when he thinks about all the friends and companions he's flown with who are now dead, and he imagines them coming between him and what killed them, then wonders when it'll be his turn. He's survived time and again without so much as the excuse of being Force Sensitive - maybe he was Born Lucky, but at a high cost.
He'd beaten the odds for so many years, years in which literally hundreds of pilots he'd known had died in battle around him, as though they were living shields for his X-Wing. Someday his luck would run out and the deadly statistics would catch up to him.
- Wedge can actually be considered a nice deconstruction, of a character granted Plot Armor but who considers it more of a curse than a blessing, for the above mentioned reasons.
- Lampshaded in The Stormlight Archive, where Kaladin's fellow bridgemen notice that arrows have this ever-so-convenient tendency to miss him just barely in situations where they really, really ought not to. The fact that he's unconsciously Surgebinding might have something to do with it.. Somewhat deconstructed in that Kaladin ends up getting depressed about how he keeps surviving situations where others got killed, and thinks he might be literally cursed for a while.
- As the Redwall series went on, the mortality rate went from "Anyone Can Die" to "Only vermin are in danger". Perhaps the nadir: One named, nonvillainous character died in Pearls of Lutra, and she had only had five nonsinging lines beforehand.
- By Word of God, only one character truly has this in the Honor Harrington series: MacGuiness, Honor's valet, because Weber's wife likes him. In practice, Honor herself ended up with some, though, as she was supposed to be killed off at the end of At All Costs, only for fan outcry (and a change in the series' timeline) to save her.
Live Action TV Edit
- The true reason Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel never stay dead.
- A particularly blatant example is Spike's special resilience to the sunlight. No-name vampires are seen immediately disintegrating the moment they're pushed into the sunlight, but when Buffy takes off the Gem of Amarra from Spike's finger during their fight in the broad daylight and he remains without protection, he has just enough time to run into the shadow. Other times he can walk during daylight if he just wears a rug over his head (or in season 9 comics, a hat).
- The reason the Sliders never happened to slide right into sulfuric acid.
- They did once wind up on a world that was completely engulfed in fire - but they were conveniently only stuck there for 10 seconds.
- One slide had them facing down some whacked-out tsunami coming to turn California into very tiny dirt clumps. Fortunately it was a short trip.
- While their plot armor managed to save them from several of the most horrible scenarios, it had no qualms with leaving them at the status quo as well . . . in one episode, they slid into a world in which everyone - including them - had become filthy stinking rich. Naturally, they could only stay for a few minutes and didn't have time to capitalize on their newfound wealth.
- Why none of the Bones fans were really fooled when at the start of the really tragic season three finale, Booth was "dead." Pur-lease, a show fueled by UST killing off one of the UST-ees?
- In the first season of Lost, Arzt tells the rest of the Losties that the centuries-old dynamite they've found is very fragile when holding a stick... which then explodes in his hand. But then rest of the Losties (Jack, Kate, Hurley) carry the dynamite without ever exploding, even though they do, in fact, run with it. Happens again in the sixth season, where Ilana, in the middle of a rant, roughly drops a bag of said dynamite. She dies rather anti-climatically.
- Also, in the last season, Lapidus survives an exploding submarine, which is absolutely necessary for the plot because he's the only pilot. Parodied in "How Lost should have ended".
- This trope is actually Justified Trope in-story as the island itself protecting them. Characters can only die when the island is done with them. Applies even more so to the main cast, who are candidates to replace Jacob and have literal plot armor. Jack even figures this out and exploits it. He actually lights a stick of dynamite and lets the fuse run out. Nothing happens.
- In all the Star Trek series, the weekly evil alien menaces have killed dozens of redshirts but only two major characters. And one of them kind of came back, albeit with a new body and personality. During space battles the ships that house major characters also have character shields, with many other ships being destroyed instead.
- All four main characters in Supernatural, but especially Bobby. The general rule is that Bobby is invincible, Sam, Dean and Castiel can die fairly frequently but will always be resurrected, and nobody else makes it through more than a season or two at most. Both Castiel and Bobby die in season 7, with an entire episode dedicated to the latter. Although of course, a return through resurrection or haunting hasn't been ruled out.
- Doctor Who is notable for its extensive use of Plot Armor throughout its long run. It is also, oddly enough, notable for the occasional loss of plot armor for the Doctor when he actually does fail to get out of a situation "alive." (Of course, it returns soon enough for his Bizarre Alien Biology to kick in)
- As with many a series that involves some sort of time travel, one of the problems is that a character will develop Plot Armor if they meet someone who has met them before, but in the time travelers' timeline they haven't met yet. Much as with the The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy example above, it's difficult to actually feel that the hero's life is in danger if they've yet to meet someone or go somewhere or do something that we already know is supposed to happen. Until that event happens, the character is protected. The Doctor has been in this situation ever since the episode "Silence in the Library", if not several times before that.
- Gwen on Torchwood is another prime example. Despite the show touting an Anyone Can Die world, circumstances always seem to ensure Gwen's survival, even in highly implausible situations. This is mostly necessary to preserve her pairing with Jack as the lead characters on the show, since Jack is explicitly immortal and can thus be expected to survive pretty much anything that gets thrown at him. Being a mere mortal, Gwen instead survives by writer fiat. In one particularly notable instance of Bond Villain Stupidity, a group of government assassins sent to kill the Torchwood team is delayed in tracking down Gwen because they never bothered to research her home address!
- In Castle, at the end of the first half of a two-parter season finale, Kate Beckett's apartment exploded just as she stepped out of her shower. We all knew her Plot Armor would protect her, but we still had to wait a week to find out how. Turns out she survived by hiding in the bathtub.
- They tried to avert the trope by playing that episode's guest star as a potential Suspiciously Similar Substitute (lines including "She's like the federal you!"). It was less than completely convincing, but a valiant effort.
- In Stargate SG-1 episodes "Camelot/Flesh and Blood", an Ori fleet destroys a combined force of more than 10 allied ships, and miraculously the main characters (divided among three of them, the fourth floating unprotected from debris and only kilometers away in space as it all occurs) all manage to survive due to various circumstances. Par for the course for this series, it's the Russian ship which goes down.
- Lampshaded in Rome: Titus Pullo and Lucius Vorenus return to Caesar's camp and reveal that they encountered a fugitive Pompey on their way and let him go. Caesar furiously berates them and threatens to have them crucified, but then without an explanation dismisses them without punishment. Mark Antony, confused by this, asks why he let them go when by all accounts they should have been punished severely and made an example of. Caesar replies: "Any other man, certainly. But those two, they found my stolen standard, now they survive a wreck that drowned an army, and find Pompey Magnus on a beach. They have powerful gods on their side (the writers perhaps?), and I will not kill any man with friends of that sort."
- Merlin in Merlin. Not only has he managed to survive various attempts on his life, living as a magical person in an anti-magic kingdom, his lemming-like tendancy to jump in front of Arthur and bartering his own life but most recently surviving something that was said to kill all other people that it touched, he was even getting better from it. Arthur counts as well, but a large amount of that is Merlin shielding him (and in turn being shielded by his Plot Armor).
- Merlin also managed to go a whole day with a serious sword wound that, to this troper's best guess, slashed his chest and sliced his stomach while running away from the enemy and having to deal with Arthur's overattentive paniked mothering. Then he survived a giant rockfall avalanche. Then Morgana healed him and possessed him, making him hellbent on murdering Arthur. Yet somehow, most likely due to Arthur's plot armor, all of Merlin's fairly well-thought out attempts on his life flunk for the silliest reasons.
- This applies to just about any TV detective, including Columbo, who often made himself very vulnerable to getting killed by the murderers he was investigating. Sometimes he even manipulated them into trying to kill him so that he could get the evidence he needed of their previous murder--needless to say, they never succeeded. Not least of all when he tricked a murderer into trying to cut his head off with a guillotine.
- In The Bible, Jesus Christ lampshades this on two occasions:
- John 10:18 He basically tells the Pharisees that he isn't going to die unless He decides to do so.
- In Mark 4:35-41 and Luke 8:22-25 we see Jesus calming the sea and questioning faith of his disciples. Why? His death for the sins of his "sheep" didn't take place yet. They couldn't die with Jesus on board!
Tabletop Games Edit
- The first edition of Dungeons and Dragons described Hit Points as a combination of toughness, luck and other factors.
- This is still true as of the game's fourth edition, which also (a) gives starting characters (though, to be fair, standard monsters as well) rather more hit points than ever before and (b) introduces the concept of 'minions' -- adversaries that specifically exist to be taken out by the first hit to be scored against them and thus explicitly lack any plot armor whatsoever.
- A great many games have points you can spend on various things including not taking damage. Plot Points in Serenity, Chips in Deadlands etc. etc. The World of Darkness games generally don't have this but in Kindred of the East Dhampyr actually do have Plot Armor in the form of Passive Joss, which is a form of involuntary luck that sometimes stops them being hit by throwing freak events in the way.
- The Games Workshop Lord of the Rings game gave major characters something like "Fate points" -- allowing them to shrug off wounds just because they're major characters. The number of fate points a character gets is determined by how good their final fate in the films and books is -- for instance, Aragorn, Sam, Gandalf the White etc. have high fate point counts, whereas Boromir, Denethor, Grima Wormtongue etc have low counts.
- In GURPS there's an option to play a "cinematic campaign", which basically allows the DM to run the show based on Rule of Cool. Characters start out with twice the normal point allowance (and they're considerably more badass than ordinary people to begin with), they get special bonuses in combat, and they can save an unspent character point or two to shake off a bad injury as "just a flesh wound."
- Shadowrun has a "karma pool" for each character. You can "burn" one or more dice to give yourself a bonus to some challenging roll at a moment of dire need. The karma is gone once used, but survive long enough and you'll get more.
- Shadowrun also has a related rule called Dead Man's Trigger. The character will still die, but by using up their entire Karma pool, they can enact one last action before expiring. This can result in the last hero standing shooting the Big Bad dead just before succumbing to all the wounds taken during the final climactic battle, making it literal plot armor... it protects the plot, even if it doesn't manage to protect the character.
- Invulnerable saves in Warhammer 40000 and Ward saves in Warhammer are usually justified as superior agility, magical wards, or force fields, but for some people they are explained as luck or fate.
- The newer d20 Star Wars RPG has "Force points" which can be spent on temporary bonuses.
- The older Revised Edition d20 Star Wars RPG had vitality points to represent hits as tiring near-misses, and critical hits could very well kill you since they bypassed them.
- Eclipse Phase has "Moxie," which can be used to "flip" a roll - since all rolls in Eclipse Phase are done on percent die (d100) flipping a roll can turn a 91 (a very bad failure, usually) into an 19 (a nearly guaranteed success). Criticals (11, 22, etc.) are notable for not being flippable - a Critical Failure (99) is irredeemable.
- Hong Kong Action Theatre bases its difficulties to hit characters directly on their importance to the plot of the "movie." Player characters are assumed to be of major importance, and are generally much tougher and more skilled than minor importance Mooks, who go down like tenpins when faced with the former and often need a natural 20 to even hit them at all. The top tier of importance is Extreme which is mainly reserved for the Big Bad. Major and Extreme importance characters can make Toughness rolls to resist getting One Hit Killed if their opponent scores a natural 20, dodge grenade explosions that would kill lesser characters, and even survive getting blown up provided that they can take the damage.
- Similar to (and preceding) Fourth Edition D&D, Mutants and Masterminds has a "minion" rule that designates certain enemies as lacking plot armor - one good hit floors them. The "default to nonlethal" rule also acts as a form of plot armor; however, on the same page is the rules for lethal damage, for when the gloves come off.
- West End Games' old Star Wars RPG had this trope codified in the rules. No matter what else happened, you would rarely die. They called it "Script Immunity" and a number of people still identify this trope by that name.
- Heavy Gear uses a system that rates NPCs by chess pieces, to help GMs to maintain the continuity of the overall fiction. Pawns are considered nameless extras, who are completely expendable, while the fates of Kings, Queens and Rooks are important figures, who are intrinsic to historical events. This is completely optional, as many players prefer to play the game in their own way.
- Destiny acts this way in Bionicle. It is impossible for any character to die unless they have completed their destiny, unless their destiny actually involves dying. Although, many characters appear to retain this immunity even after completing their destiny by virtue of being very popular with the fans...
Video Games Edit
- Reimu Hakurei of Touhou Project is this. She is the Barrier Maiden and Gensokyo would just vanish if she dies. This is why more powerful beings such as Yukari, Yuuka, Suika, Remilia etc just comply to the spellcard rule to not accidently take her out.
- In Free Space and Freespace 2, mission designers have this tool at their disposal. Ships can be set to not take damage past a certain point, which is usually set to a number that isn't suspicious at first glance.
- In Metal Gear Solid, Liquid Snake also had ridiculous plot armor. Despite being an apparently non super powered human, he walks away from multiple explosions, crashes, and falls until the ending.
- Also, in Metal Gear Solid 2 Sons of Liberty, Metal Gear Ray was originally designed specifically as a counter to the now widely proliferated Metal Gear Rex. However, in part 4 Solid Snake manages to hold his own against the prototype Ray in the reactivated husk of the destroyed Rex (left to rust for a decade).
- Ocelot refrained from using Ray's trump card, a water cannon that can slice up tanks, for reasons unknown. He probably could have taken down Rex in seconds if he had used it.
- Also, in Metal Gear Solid 2 Sons of Liberty, Metal Gear Ray was originally designed specifically as a counter to the now widely proliferated Metal Gear Rex. However, in part 4 Solid Snake manages to hold his own against the prototype Ray in the reactivated husk of the destroyed Rex (left to rust for a decade).
- Subverted in Call of Duty 4. During one of your missions as Jackson, your chopper is downed by a nuclear shockwave, and you wake up soon after in the wreckage. Instead of the expected harrowing escape through the wasteland, you end up only being able to stagger around in Ground Zero for a minute before dying.
- As well, when finally facing the game's Big Bad, at least half, if not all, of the game's main characters are shot to death.
- And of the five playable characters in Modern Warfare 2, three die (Sat1 is only in the game for about ten seconds before his death), one is gravely wounded, and the other will probably have massive PTSD from watching Washington D.C. almost burn to the ground.
- Played straight with Makarov. You can empty an entire belt of light machinegun bullets into his face and he'll shrug it off, come back at you, and shoot you dead (even though walls).
- In Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge , the game starts with Guybrush talking to Elaine whilst hanging over a pit. The game is him recounting his latest adventure, and at one point you can actually kill Guybrush- only for Elaine to point out that Guybrush can't have died because he's there talking to her now.
- The Elder Scrolls IV Oblivion, perhaps to avoid completely breaking quests as one could do in its predecessor Morrowind, had certain characters marked Essential - they cannot die, only fall unconscious, after which they would get up like nothing ever happened. However, this can still end up Unwinnable if they're trapped somewhere where they continuously take damage, like a lava pit.
- Fallout 3 handles critical-NPC death in the same way (usually) as Oblivion does. Children, though not (usually) plot-important NPCs, cannot be harmed at all, though they, let alone all adults near them, will notice if you attack them and will, if armed, respond in kind.
- As for Morrowind, plot-critical NPCs were capable of dying just as everyone else was, and since the game had no "dynamic targeting reticule" that turned into a crown whenever it was pointing to someone particularly important, the player had to make sure he or she understood who was important. Hopefully no one came across a character he or she was not meant to at the time, before knowing if or why this character was important.
- However, if a character important to the main plot was killed, the game was decent enough to inform you that the "thread of prophecy has been severed" and suggest that you might want to re-load.
- Grand Theft Auto IV: If a plot-critical NPC is "killed" during gameplay, outside of Plotline Death, they will later come Back From the Dead and call you to pick them up from the hospital.
- Warcraft III hero units took less damage from most forms of attack. Even though they could be slain non-plot, they could be revived at special Altars. Certain characters had "Divine" armor that reduced all non-Chaos attacks to one point of damage.
- In Wing Commander and Wing Commander II (and associated add-ons), the home bases for the character are able to take damage far exceeding the defensive stats in the manual. In the WC2 add-ons, the Bonnie Heather is pretty much unkillable by anything. Attempting to destroy it using the "Finger of God" option in Debug Mode crashes the game.
- Prince of Persia: Sands of Time lampshades this with the Prince telling the story of his adventures. When you die in-game, he comments that it didn't happen that way and that he should start again. Though how you relate a story to someone and mistakenly add a bit in where you died is beyond me.
- It's pretty much a given in the Time Crisis series that Wild Dog will be in every game, even if he suffers grave wounds every time.
- Lampshaded by Balthier, the self-proclaimed "Leading Man" in Final Fantasy XII. While performing a heroic sacrifice during the game's climax, he assures his companion Fran that the main character "never dies". She seems to doubt his Plot Armor however, as she admits that he's "more of a supporting role". He lives!.
- Heavy Rain: Ethan can get into a car accident, cut up his body crawling through broken glass, electrocute himself, cut off his own finger, get shot at with a shotgun at point-blank range (it clips him, though) and fall off a building in that order, and he still can't die until the endgame. Shelby can get beat down, get shot in the shoulder, get beat down again, get beat down once more, nearly drown in his car and get shot at by Mooks in that order, and he still can't die until the endgame. Justified in Shelby's case, as he's the main villain.
- In an example of literal Plot Armor, Perfect Dark tends to give the Big Bads unbreakable energy shields during in-game missions. They generally run off before you can try to shoot them down anyway, leaving you with several armed Mooks, but chasing them down and pumping them full of lead proves they're invincible until their respective death cutscenes. This doesn't apply to your allies, of course.
- In the endgame of Mass Effect 2, where all characters have the chance to be Killed Off for Real, Miranda Lawson can survive situations that would kill other characters for half of the mission or so. Afterwards, she can die like anyone else.
- Final Fantasy IX has particularly bad examples of this where the main characters lie prostate at the feet of the villains only to not be killed. And this happens no less than three times.
- At least one of these is justified. Especially at the end of Disk I, because the person looking at the party is none other than the Smug Snake Kuja.
- Baten Kaitos makes this a part of the plot. A character who bonds with a Guardian Spirit (read:player) is said to be granted incredible strength.
- Squad 7 in Valkyria Chronicles. For the most part it's unobtrusive, since it's a war game and it's entirely possible to lose during the individual stages, but it's impossible to lose any of your lieutenants permanently (without getting a Game Over, anyway). There's also the fact that Selvaria, upon being captured, requests that Squad 7 be let go to escort her men away from the battle field before she flash-fries the rest of the army in her Suicide Attack. Squad 7 is the only reason she was captured in the first place and represents the only serious threat to the Empire; if she didn't have to let them walk because of the plot, the Empire would've won.
Web Comics Edit
- In Bob and George the characters frequently note they won't die because they are title characters or otherwise plot important. This sometimes takes the form of literal Plot Armor, as in the plastic-wrap force-field the title characters were given by their mother.
- They both lose their plastic-wrap force-field, but still retain their plot armor. At one point when Bob is presumed killed, the title and banner of the webcomic changed to simply being 'George,' until it was revealed he actually survived.
- In Eight Bit Theater, Black Mage asks if Sarda is Made from Plotanium.
- Schlock Mercenary has plot armour in a kind of roundabout way, only a handful of characters are ever permanently killed, most just end up with their heads temporarily in jars (Tagon is killed in one story arc, but then Kevyn warps back from the future and changes history so that he doesn't, oh, and Petey suicides earlier in the piece, but he appears later having backed himself up into a mini-tank).
- Lampshaded (as is everything else) by Darths and Droids in this strip.
- An honourable mention should go to ensign Red Shirt (yes, that's his name) from Legostar Galactica, who has some kind of Plot-anti-armor. Laser beams will curve around other crewmembers just to hit him, whether the enemy was actually aiming in his general direction or not. Although the medic always manages to fix him up afterwards, so perhaps he has some sort of straight Plot Armor, just not a very nice one.
- In Misfile, Ash can talk to one of his/her friends about his/her bent gender anywhere, and no one else will notice.
- Order of the Stick lampshades this in the last panel of this strip. Miko is shown to hold her own against the Order with Durkon doing nothing, and is very strongly implied to only have this ability in bad weather, which acts against V's magic and Haley's shooting. But in the linked strip, she beats and captures the entire Order between panels, not even merely routing them.
- Lampshaded when two injured redshirts announce that they have names and are instantly cured. One also reveals her last name, the other says he is saving his "for an emergency."
- Shelley Winters of Scary Go Round is indestructible. She survives several catastrophes that should have killed her, and even a few that did, but she came Back From the Dead. It's even discussed in the comic. In fact, not even the end of Scary Go Round (with her leaving town) can stop her, as she still appears around her author's website.
- Homestuck gets hit with this pretty hard; while the series doesn't shy away from the main characters dying, there's usually a loophole to get them out of it. Dream selves, time hopping doubles, and alternate timeline duplicates are all fair game though. In fact this is so prevalent that when Bro and Davesprite were Killed Off for Real, the predominant fan reaction was Like You Would Really Do It. Turns out only one was actually killed.
- Andrew Hussie is also prone to giving characters temporary plot armor by way of the series's weird time mechanics and flash-forwards.
- The Plot Armor seems to be failing, at least for some of the more minor main characters and Vriska who have been apparently completely Killed Off for Real. Some of the fans still think that they'll somehow be revived, though.
- Ascending to the God Tiers gives characters near-impenetrable in-story Plot Armor. They can only be killed in a manner that is either heroic or just, preventing meaningless deaths.
- The Cyantian Chronicles is a collection of comic series , the first one "Campus Safari" taking place ten years after the current series, "Darius". Any characters that appear in "Safari" (i.e. Syrys, Darius, Sheanna, Ravon, Cilke, Chatin, Silver, Tira, Darrik, Rama and a significant number of others) are certain to survive at least until the latest chronological strips, but it looks like you shouldn't get too attached to anyone else.
Western Animation Edit
- In Futurama, Fry's death has been subverted kind of often. In one of the first episodes it was implied that he was mere days from death.
Bender: "Ooh! Dibs on his CD player!"
- Every one of the several times Fry has "died," or done something that was supposed to result in his death, it turned out he either wasn't really dead, it didn't happen, etc. Though, he did die just like nearly everyone else as part of the premise of the "Rebirth" episode.
- The DCAU wasn't immune to this as well, with various criminals clearly having an easy target at Batman or another hero. Of course, they always miss their target. The rare example being Darkseid, who was able to casually vaporize a fairly important character with disregard. People didn't even realize he was actually dead until the funeral scene kicked in.
- Of course, Darkseid does have 'chase you down' death-beam eyeballs.
- Of course, in any Family-Friendly Firearms show, the effectiveness of Energy Weapons is inversely proportional to the importance/MadeOfIron-ness of the character struck. Bonus points if near misses cause scenery to explode massively.
- Bugs Bunny, blessed by Karmic Protection has plot mecha-armor with a humor power-up. He could beat Sauron from The Lord of the Rings. Of course, he'd end up in a wedding dress and marrying Aragorn.
- grudge-match.com once had a match between the two reality-benders, Bugs and Neo. Bugs won.
- Lampshaded in Spawn, where Twitch takes a bullet to the brainpan and the only result is (relatively realistically-portrayed) Easy Amnesia, baffling the doctors and Police Chief Banks, who shot him in the first place.
- In The Venture Bros, Monarch Henchmen 21 and 24 are perfectly aware of their unlikely Plot Armour, to where they spend an entire mission pointing out to a Red Shirt how he will die while the two of them live on. Their boss realizes this, too: "They've got that rare combination of expendable and indestructible that makes them the perfect henchmen."
- The final episode of Season 3 may prove the danger in bragging about Plot Armor.
- 1986's Transformers: The Movie was notable for the large number of characters who abruptly lost their plot armor. Characters whose toys were no longer on the shelves were suddenly demoted to Red Shirt status, and went from having Nigh Invulnerability to being gunned down by the villains' suddenly accurate weaponry.
- Roger the Alien Among Us from American Dad is practically made of plot armor. Although he may take an occasional beating, death can't touch him. Not only does he always survive certain doom, he's almost always saved by the most amazing and unlikely of circumstances, usually at the last possible second. His own people tried to rid themselves of him by deliberately crashing his space ship into the desert outside Roswell, New Mexico but no dice.
- Stan also undergoes all sorts of horrific injuries and scenarios, including, on separate occasions, being paralysed by gun shot (and rehabilitated by another), having his retinas detashed, undergoing numerous bloody beatdowns, losing his legs to a polar bear attack and briefly being pronounced dead on at least two occasions. Regardless of this however, he always recovers and reverts to the Status Quo by the end of each episode.
- In The Dreamstone, Zordrak is implied to have killed his Slave Mooks the Urpneys in hundreds for the slightest failure. However Urpgor, Sgt Blob and his cadets not only are Made of Iron and constantly survived near certain fatal scenarios and injuries but were never properly desposed of by Zordrak despite their constant bumbling (though at least one episode justifies this, with Zordrak having decided killing mooks on a whim isn't very productive).
- Real Life examples will tend to be due to the Anthropic Principle - if they hadn't survived, they wouldn't have made history. Of course, this logic can be used to Hand Wave most of the above fictional examples as well - if they hadn't survived, there wouldn't have been a story.
- It's almost creepy the way the military career of George Washington seems to follow this trope. To wit, during his service in The Seven Years War (more commonly known Stateside as the French and Indian Wars), Washington had several horses shot out from under him, his uniform was damaged by musket balls at the limits of their range that failed to pierce his skin and he participated in some of the most disastrous routs the Colonial forces would suffer during the conflict and lived to tell the tale, all without ever taking a single bullet wound. This wouldn't be so strange, if not for the fact that Washington, by most accounts, was not especially competent in his early career, in fact he was even directly responsible for some of said routs (though largely due to his superiors piling responsibilities on him that were far beyond his level of experience). It is almost as if history itself knew it could not afford to lose him for the massive role he would soon play in it.
- In a darker vein, Adolf Hitler was so lucky that he managed to shrug off a puzzling 42 attempts on his life over the course of his career. These included such ass pulls as him cutting a speech uncharacteristically short when unknowingly facing a time bomb, having a would be assassin interrupted when his bomb only had 50% of the planned explosives, and explosives simply refusing to go off in the guy's vicinity.
- Most of these actually did result in deaths - the deaths of his impersonators.
- In particular, Operation Valkyrie would almost certainly have resulted in Hitler's death had von Stauffenberg's briefcase not been moved to the other side of the table leg from Hitler.
- Mitsuo Fuchida, the Japanese pilot who led the attack on Pearl Harbor, is another incredible example. After the raid, he found his plane had received 20 anti-aircraft holes and the control wire was hanging by a thread. In a later mission, his plane crashed in the jungle over Borneo and he and his copilot wandered for three days without food before finding help. At the Battle of Midway, Fuchida was hospitalized with appendicitis on the carrier Akagi, but left the infirmary against orders to see his pilots off. In the battle all the men in the infirmary were killed. Near the end of the war he planned two suicide attacks against the Americans and the Russians, both of which were called off at the last second. He was stationed in Hiroshima on August 5, 1945, but left for a conference in Tokyo - Hiroshima was obliterated by the atomic bomb the next day. The day after he returned to Hiroshima to investigate the blast, and almost all of his team either died or got sick from radiation poisoning, except for Fuchida who suffered no ill effects.
- After the war he became a devout Christian and evangelist, so his explaination for his incredible fortune was simple: he believed God was watching over him the whole time.
- Fidel Castro has apparently has been the target of 638 assassination attempts. And he's dying of old age.
- While he has certainly had attempts made against his life, the high number mentioned above comes from an Unreliable Narrator, namely Castro himself.
- You. There's a long line of ancestors leading to you being alive and for every time period there are practically millions of ways to die from. Still, all your ancestors survived (at least until passing on their genes). There's even a lot of things being able to kill you today and still you're able to read this entry. Lucky You!
- Actually, I'm about to die right n