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In video games, particularly in driving games, it doesn't matter how fast you crash into a wall or an obstacle; as long as the vehicle doesn't explode, the driver not only survives, but is completely uninjured. It's even stranger that the vehicles in video games don't seem to have airbags or, if they do, they just don't activate. This, in most cases, is one of the Acceptable Breaks From Reality.

It comes in two types:

  1. Crash-proof: Where vehicle collision does nothing to the driver, as long as the vehicle remains intact.
  2. Attack-proof: Where the vehicle absorbs all damage done by weapons, environmental hazards and so on, and no damage is done to the driver as long as it remains intact.

Conversely, some video games have the player and vehicle share the same health bar, so the vehicle will be fine until the player is out of health (at which point it usually blows up). Whereas in most racing games, the player effectively is the car, with no separate character to get hurt. Some older games didn't even draw the now-standard dummy in the driver's seat, for performance reasons.

It arrived with the very first racing games, making it Older Than the NES.

Examples of In Vehicle Invulnerability include:

  • Justified in any Formula One game. In Real Life F1, it's probably difficult to seriously injure yourself if you were trying on most modern circuits.
    • As demonstrated by Richard Hammond in Top Gear, though, it's insanely easy to injure yourself due to exhaustion and the incredible G-forces generated by acceleration, turning, and braking.
  • Need for Speed
  • Gran Turismo
  • Carmageddon
  • Pole Position
  • Big Rigs Over the Road Racing has a different example. Although there's nothing to collide with the player's vehicle, the driver is still perfectly fine when a car is spinning around backward several times the speed of light.
  • Rigs of Rods takes this to the extreme, a hatchback can be flattened by a tractor, crash headlong into a wall, or be dropped from a crane and the driver can still get out without harm, even if the cab were the driver sits is decimated
  • In Saints Row 2, the best way to fight a gang with assault rifles is by acquiring a tough SUV, upgrading its armor and driving it into the gang hideout and shooting your guns out of the window. The enemies will take an eternity to whittle down your vehicle and only shoot you through the open window by accident (when they aim for the car and miss). This is why outdoors missions have many more enemies than indoors ones, but there is nothing to prevent you from using your car for indoors missions as well, provided it is small enough to fit through the door.
    • There exists a mod for the game that among other things has a new car garage on the top floor of the city's tallest skyscraper, at a height where even a helicopter struggles. You can take the elevator on foot, summon a car up there, but the only way out with your car is through the window. Assuming your car is properly armored, it will have only cosmetic damage and you will have nothing.
  • Gran Trak 10 is one of the oldest examples in here, dating back into 1974.
  • Night Driver, released in 1976, brought that kind of invulnerability into first-person perspective.
  • Grand Theft Auto in its earlier incarnations, unless you were on a motorcycle. In Grand Theft Auto IV, this gets averted with cars as well; you can get thrown from the car if you crash hard enough, and enemies can shoot you through the windows.
    • This, however, justifies the full health Cheat Code also completely repairing any vehicles you are driving.
    • If you delay driving away for a second or two after entering a car, Nico does an in-car animation of putting on a seatbelt. If you let him do this, he won't be thrown from the vehicle in a crash; if you take off too fast, he skips this part, and he's free to ragdoll over the hood in a head-on. Likewise, if you delay after mounting a bike, he'll pull a helmet from Hammerspace, which lessens the damage taken when he's thrown from a bike.
  • Likewise, cars in Just Cause 2 seem to be made of Swiss cheese for all the protection it does you (read, almost none). That is, until you get to an APC-grade vehicles. Then again, why bother driving a vehicle when your primary means of getaway involves infinitely respawning parachutes and a grappling hook?
  • Flat Out tries to be an aversion, although it's more to see your driver fly like a rag doll.
  • Red Faction: Guerrilla. Even if you are one shot away from death, the moment you get into a vehicle, it takes all the damage which comes your way. Don't be inside a vehicle that is taken to zero hit points, though: it will explode and hurt or kill you.
  • Dick Tracy on the NES is an unusual example: if bullets or other cars touch Tracy's car while he's inside, he takes damage. When he's out of the car, it still intercepts bullets but neither it nor Tracy suffers lasting damage. Essentially the car is an extension of Tracy's body when he's inside of it.
  • The same applies to the Halo series, although the second game onwards lets people clearly damage and outright destroy vehicles. However, vehicles NEVER explode and become unusable unless the occupants die first.
  • Justified in Mass Effect where your vehicle is an IFV which is effortlessly capable of surviving everything from 400 foot drops off mountains to orbital re-entry and is equipped with Inertial Dampening to soften the blow for the passengers.
  • Most, but not all vehicles in World of Warcraft make anyone riding in them invulnerable, although they still take damage from debuffs active on them while they entered. This is particularly odd with the Demolisher, as both the driver and his two passengers are completely exposed (and the passengers can even use their normal attacks and spells). The few vehicles that avert this trope are not used in PvP and monsters will generally only attack the vehicle, which does the damage.
    • Mounts, on the other hand, offer no protection whatsoever. Even though they will shriek in pain when attacked, they have no health by themselves and all damage goes to the rider. Some classes are even more vulnerable while mounted, for various reasons. Druids can't make advantage of the armor boni most of their forms grant, and some protective hunter and warlock talents are only in effect with their pet active, which disappears when they mount (and returns when they dismount). A few mounts initially were effectively vehicles, offering some of these benefits, but had rather low health and some drawbacks of their own.
  • Almost all RTS games follow this rule, for both vehicle crews and units in a transport. Company of Heroes is a semi-exception, as the various crew members are treated like vehicle subsystems, and if they die the vehicle ability they were responsible for stops working.
    • The early Command and Conquer games, when an infantry who piloted the vehicle would come out when the vehicle is destroyed, although if there was an overkill, the pilot would also die.
  • In Battlefield series, this holds true if your model is not visible from the outside, as with tanks or ships. However, if your character can be seen, either through the hatch on a tank or in an exposed driving position, you are vulnerable to being headshot by snipers (or anyone else, if they get close enough). Helicopter pilots in Battlefield 2 are immune to ordinary small arms, thanks to their armored canopies, but the unlockable .50 anti-materiel sniper rifle can punch right through.
  • In the Mercenaries games, you take no damage while in a vehicle, so if you're badly wounded it's usually a good idea to hop into the nearest car and let it soak damage while your character slowly heals. Of course, when the car hits about 20% health, it catches fire and starts "bleeding" health until it blows up when it hits 0%, so don't sit in there too long...
  • Averted in The Getaway. It's entirely possible to be shot and killed from inside the car, though collisions don't seem to do the player character any harm unless it catches fire.
  • Fully averted in Driver 3 (Driv3r, according to the official title). Crashing into things damages you. It's entirely possible to kill yourself by crashing into a wall. Or, if you've been shot a couple of times before getting into the car, just by backing into another car trying to get out of a parking space.
  • Averted in the Operation Flashpoint series, in which occupants of vehicles are vulnerable to damage from collisions, bullets and explosions alike. This leads to events such occupants of vehicles such as military trucks being shot through the canvas, tanks being disabled after one hit because the shell penetrated and killed the crew, and even helicopter pilots being shot through the windshield of their aircraft.
  • In Blaster Master, not only is Jason invulnerable inside Sophia, it even refills his health completely.
  • Dubloon. Not only your crew is invulnerable while inside the ship, the ship itself is invulnerable as well, until the ship-to-ship boss battle comes.
  • Xpand Rally - a Polish racing game from the folks that would later bring you Call of Juarez - averts this to the point that even features locational damage on a pilot.
  • The first Mafia averted this as well, coming complete with collisions damaging anybody inside the vehicle. Played kinda straight with Mafia II though.
  • Averting this trope paves the way to defeat the final boss of both the NES Bionic Commando and Rearmed.
  • Averted HARD in recent combat flight sims such as Il-2 Sturmovik, where pilots can and will be wounded if not outright killed, and an ace's kill count will most likely have a significant portion of that consist of pilot kills. In WWI-era sims like Red Baron 3D and Rise of Flight, the typical advice is to "aim for meat or metal"-the pilot and engine, respectively, as hits in other areas would likely just punch through cloth and do relatively little damage.
  • Steel Battalion will not have the pilot injured from concussion no matter how many times the VT gets shaken, slammed, and/or knocked down. However, pilots can still die in their VTs if they asphyxiate from keeping them shut down too long. Yes, like all other pilot deaths such as not ejecting when your VT is about to explode or flood, this counts as a Final Death.
  • Some The Legend of Zelda games have this when Link is on his horse, Epona. So Yeah.
  • Flash game Road of the Dead is a bit confusing about this. The player takes no damage from collisions until the car explodes. However, the car takes no damage from bullets... while the player does.
  • Averted in Steve Jackson Games' Car Wars, in which the driver (and passengers, if any) are treated as one of several items which may take weapon damage if a shot gets through the car's armor.
  • While the player character and named crew members cannot be hurt outside of cutscenes, Red Shirt crew in Infinite Space can die by the hundreds when their ship is shot up. And, somehow, you're able to hire hundreds more at any starport. On the other hand, they may just be incapacitated and treated in the sick bay since your fleet recovers crew as it flies.
  • Speaking of crew and spaceships, in Star Control, the health for ships and landers IS its crew count, and you can move crew between the ships in your fleet as needed. Note that the captain is always the final hit point keeping the ship from Critical Existence Failure, though the only plot-relevant captain is the Player Character in the flagship.
  • Played straight, sort of, in the table-top Warhammer 40K game where a unit inside a transport vehicle cannot be directly damaged in any way before the vehicle is destroyed.
  • Played straight in All Points Bulletin. The only exception happens when you lean out to fire as a passenger - then, you're fair game. Especially to Firendly Fire from other passengers.
  • Track Mania Nations is a bad, bad offender. This is the game where cars can go Mach 5, crash into the pavement, remain airborne for half a minute after the crash, land on four wheels, and move on as if nothing has happened.
  • The Twisted Metal series. Mr. Grimm even manages to lose an arm when he's damaged on his motorcycle but still goes on. Then again, he is undead.