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A mysterious character, sometimes a temporary ally or enemy, sneaks behind the protagonist. We see as they lift a knife, take careful aim at the hero, and STAB.
Only to see it wasn't the hero they struck, but a scorpion or snake poised to strike, or even an actual enemy. Either way, rather than killing the hero, the stranger has just saved their life. Sometimes, the target isn't even a threat, but is used to gain trust, the message being "If I Wanted You Dead..., you would be by now".
Note that they aren't necessarily being sneaky about it--just less than straightforward. A hero cringing in fear or trying to reason with their ally happens just as often. Equally doable with a gun, or by throwing a knife which barely misses.
If misunderstood, it becomes a usual - if not outright mandatory - set-up for the Hero with Bad Publicity.
This trope has been used so often, however, that it is something of a cliche - particularly cringe-worthy when the scorpions appear for no apparent reason other than to get stabbed.
- In Fullmetal Alchemist, Marta--one of the chimera allied with Greed--does this to a snake that was threatening Edward. It's also a touching Call Back to Ed and Al's month stranded on an uninhabited island: on the last day, Ed makes the last notch in the tree by throwing his knife through a snake.
- Subverted in Cowboy Bebop, where Vicious does this to Gren (with a literal scorpion, and a big old bowie knife) during the war on Titan to gain his trust, only to frame him for Vicious' spy activities.
- In the second episode of Claymore, Claire throws her BFS at a lizard behind Raki — barely missing him in the process — when he admits to being hungry. Dinner!
- In an early episode of Gundam Wing before the pilots become allies, Heero points his BFG at Duo's Gundam during a battle. Duo assumes that the other pilot has turned on him and they get into a Humongous Mecha Mexican Standoff...only for Heero to blast the enemy machine that was sneaking up on Duo before flying off.
- Done in JoJo's Bizarre Adventure with Hol Horse and Boingo, the latter of which has a comic book that predicts the future. It foresees Hol Horse kicking a woman, something he denies doing, even though it claims he will be rewarded with a great deal of treasure. Turns out said woman had a scorpion on her back, and Hol Horse did it immediately upon realizing what would happen otherwise.
- In Transformers Super God Masterforce, Mr. Ricky shoots a scorpion that was about to sting Minerva. Naturally, Shuta immediately jumps to the conclusion that he's a Decepticon.
- In Detective Conan, Ai and Tsuburaya are scared away from a crime scene by a gunshot, but Conan eventually deduces that the man who shot at them did it to keep them from being mauled by a pissed off (literal) Mama Bear..
- A variation in Love Hina when Keitaro and Naru are stranded on Pararakelse, when the mood seems to finally be getting romantic...Squish. Naru's gratefulness at being saved from the scorpion doesn't last long, though.
- Revy and Dutch from Black Lagoon manage to pull this one each other simultaneously when Dutch is chewing her out for acting unprofessionally and they're ideally pointing their guns at each other when more Neo-Nazis try to sneak up on them. Both mention they thought the other was really going to shot him/her, though Dutch said he was joking.
- In one episode of The Anime of the Game adaptation of Valkyria Chronicles, Isara looks likes she's going to shoot Alicia. Instead, she shoots through a window and takes out an Imperial soldier on the other side.
- In Fairy Tail, after Mest is revealed to be the final member of Grimoire Heart's 7 Kin, he teleports next to Wendy, grabs her, and then pulls her out of the way of an attack form the real 7th Kin. It turns out he was a spy, but for the mage council.
- In Fushigi Yuugi, after Miaka runs away from Tamahome out of shame by the pretense that she had been raped by Nakago, Amiboshi shows up, raises his dagger, and aims at Miaka.... or rather the huge ass polecat that was behind her.
- At one point in Samurai Seven, the heroes are hiding out in the Guardians' underground city, and attempting to treat a gravely wounded Katsushiro. The Guardians are creepy-looking Gas Mask Mooks and one of them has been observing the group and crawls up to the ceiling and fires a dart into Katsushiro. It turns out the dart was some kind of advanced medicine which saves Katsushiro and reveals the Guardians are along the lines of Misunderstood Loner with a Heart of Gold — creepy looking but benevolent.
- A more humorous take occurs in the Dragon Ball Z episode "Celebrations with Majin Buu." After one of the robbers at the store gets scared of Majin Buu (as he, while acting as a street fighter/con artist, ended up making the mistake of accepting a challenge from Buu and got knocked into a wall by Buu earlier) and shoots Buu with predictable results, Buu ejects the bullet from him and then flicks it back while yelling "You dropped this!", with it just whizzing inches from his face and hitting a picture frame right behind him as the robber looks on stunned.
- A slightly more straight example occurred in the climax of Bio-Broly. After the titular antagonist, a mutated clone of the then-deceased Legendary Super Saiyan, who had merged with the culture fluid and was left massive, emerges from the ocean and then promptly ends up solidified by the contact with the sea water, Krillin expresses some shock and confusion at what happened, while Goten and Trunks suddenly start preparing their attacks right behind Krillin. Krillin makes evasive maneuvers at the last second before their attacks hit their intended target, Bio-Broly's solidified remains itself, causing it to break apart.
- In the anime, Commander Red throws a knife, seemingly at Colonel Silver when ordering for him to find the Dragon Balls even if it costs him his life, but it's then revealed he actually threw it at a statue standing inches behind him. Even more impressive when it's revealed that he was aiming with what was apparently his blinded eye.
- The second Corinthian pulls this on Matthew - whom he had previously sworn to kill - in The Sandman. Dream later tells Matthew that the Corinthian had genuinely intended to kill him, but Dream had exerted his influence to alter the event and save Matthew's life.
- Similar to the Claymore reference above, an issue of Marvel Comics' Conan had an ally pull his dagger when Conan revealed he was carrying the MacGuffin. Cocking his arm back, he announced that he was doing something he should've long since. Conan started to warn him off, and then the blade flew past him to impale a fat lizard. The look on the Cimmerian's face as the other fellow held up the meat for their dinner was priceless.
- Here, a Decepticon is given a gun by an Autobot while the latter tries to switch off a Transformer zombie signal. After it's off, the Decepticon shoots - a zombie that evidently didn't need the signal and had gotten really close to the Autobot
- Subverted in an early X Wing Series comic. Two New Republic pilots holed up in a cave have been found rather suddenly by a New Republic agent, who holds a blaster on them as they work through suspicions. A pilot tells the agent that there's a predator creeping up behind her; she asks if he really thinks she'll fall for that. The pilot tells his friend to reach for his gun, so one of the two has a chance to wing it, if the agent doesn't fry them. The next page has the agent firing behind herself without looking, hitting the predator. "I believe you," she says.
- During the Club of Heroes reunion that turned sour with the murder of host John Mayhew, el Gaucho literally stabbed the robot scorpion creeping up on the Musketeer, recognizing it not only as deadly, but as the calling card of his enemy Scorpiana.
- Subverted in the Sin City story, "A Dame to Kill For," where Ava appears to have Dwight McCarthy at point blank range and instead aims upward and shoots Manute in the face. She then claims mind control so as to regain his already once-misplaced trust. It doesn't work, as evidenced by the last page where Ava has a bullet through her head.
- In one Tintin adventure (Secret of the Unicorn), Captain Haddock (who by now was well-established as a friend of Tintin) charges with a whiskey bottle raised. Tintin assumes that the captain is coming for him, possibly drunk or crazy, until the bottle flies and hits a thug about to shoot Tintin.
- Happens (almost literally) in The Legend of Red Wolf by Enrique Villagrin. Jessica Hartmann and her maid are having sex by the swimming pool when Red Wolf creeps up on them. Instead of attacking them, however, he crushes a scorpion that was about to sting them.
- A Cowboy Bebop fic pairing Vicious with Gren recreated the scene from canon. When a fan MSTed the fic, her crew had a field day making fun of this trope.
- Lampshaded in the German police-spoof Der Wixxer. The protagonist was trapped in a bathtub and was attempted to kill á la Saw. He manages to defeat the trap, upon which a suspect (whom the building belongs) enters the room, sternly glancing at the protagonist, approaches him slowly and ominously, pulls up his sleeves, complete with a Now-I'm-Going-To-Finish-You-Off - expression. Then, totally out of the blue, he quips, "Jesus Christ, what's going on here?!" and helps him out of the tub.
- Trope Namer is Predator. Dillon has been annoying the rest of the team for the entire mission so far, including demonstrating dangerous incompetence. In a lull in the jungle action, Mac gestures to him to come close and turn around. Dillon does, and Mac's combat knife takes careful aim at the base of Dillon's neck. There's a stab. Dillon jumps and sticks his pistol in Mac's face-and Mac displays the scorpion he had just picked off Dillon's back, now impaled on the knife.
- In Resident Evil, the Red Queen offers to provide a code to let the party escape a lab they're trapped in if they kill Rain Ocampo, who's infected with the T-virus. Rain kneels down and orders the others to accept the deal and kill her by cutting her head off with a fire axe. As she and the Red Queen shout for Alice to do so, Alice raises the axe high in the air and... hits the television monitor the Red Queen is shouting through, cutting her off, and refuses to kill Rain.
- Used in Resident Evil Apocalypse, where a STARS sniper is shooting zombies from his rooftop position. L.J. comes into his view who unawarely attempts to open a deserted car, while the sniper takes aim at his head and fires...to hit another zombie directly behind L.J.
- In The Spy Who Loved Me, Anya pulls a gun on James Bond, only to shoot the top off a champagne bottle.
- Melina's introduction in For Your Eyes Only - She's hunting the men chasing Bond, with a crossbow.
- In Braveheart, the Irishman is portrayed as a belligerent (and crazy) person in his first scene. In the very next scene, he charges towards the unsuspecting William Wallace... only to throw his sword at The Mole instead.
Stephen: I didn't like him anyway. He wasn't right in the head.
- Romancing the Stone
- Meg Ryan does this during an argument with Lou Diamond Philips in Courage Under Fire. Tragically, he believed that she was shooting at him, and he shoots her in the stomach.
- The Sting, when a man steps around the corner into an alley and fires a silenced gun, apparently at Hooker. He kills Loretta, the waitress from the diner, then reveals that she's actually the assassin Loretta 'Salino, who's been assigned the hit on Hooker and was about to kill him.
- Murtagh does it in Eragon.
- Titan A.E.:
Cale: You're never gonna have a better shot, Korso.
- Hot Shots Part Deux. But with a screwdriver and squeaky bed. Yeah...
- Her Alibi. Tom Selleck, smitten with a murder suspect, crafts an alibi for her and lets her stay at his secluded home. Cue her tossing a huge Bowie knife at him... to pin the enormous beetle climbing the wall behind him. She does this again at the end of the movie.
- Holes: Stanley (Caveman) is returning to his sleeping quarters after a late night of digging early on in his stay at Camp Greenlake. He turns to find Mr. Sir pointing his revolver seemingly at him, and thinks it's all over when Mr. Sir fires. Mr. Sir was not aiming at him, however, but at the deadly and extremely poisonous yellow spotted lizard that had snuck up behind him. Earlier in the movie and in the book, Mr. Sir says, when Stanley is seen eyeing his revolver nervously, "This is for yellow spotting lizards. Don't worry; I wouldn't waste a bullet on you."
- Who Framed Roger Rabbit?:
Jessica Rabbit: (Aims a gun at Eddie Valiant) Valiant.
- In The Karate Kid II, Mr. Miyagi and Daniel stumble upon Miyagi's rival, Sato, trapped and helpless under a storm-felled wooden beam. Daniel looks on in horror as Miyagi raises his hand to strike (with Sato cursing him for a coward the whole time) only to have Miyagi strike the beam, splitting it and allowing them to pull Sato free.
- In Legend, Lily is apparently about to kill the unicorn with its mate's horn. Instead she uses the horn to strike at and break the chain holding the unicorn, freeing it. Likewise, at the last moment Jack (Lily's lover), who had been trying to decide whether to shoot her with an arrow to prevent her, instead decides to shoot the evil being Darkness.
- Done in a hilarious verbal version in Hot Fuzz, when Sgt. Angel first arrives at his hotel in Sandford:
Joyce Cooper: I trust you had a pleasant trip. Fascist!
- Like almost every bit of dialogue in that movie, it comes back again with them genuinely shouting those insults at each other during the climactic gun fight.
- Done early on in Godzilla vs. Space Godzilla. The victim, in this case, is a poisonous spider. In a twist on the usual formula, the stabber grabs the stabbee from behind and stabs the spider off his neck, drawing blood from him as well.
- Paradise Road has a scene in which a Japanese prison guards dramatically holds up a sword as though about to decapitate Cate Blanchett's character after subjecting her to a day and night of torture, but brings the sword down and slices off a lock of hair instead.
- In Deryni Rising Morgan kills a Stenrect crawler that was inches from Kelson's hand. A lady-in-waiting sees him draw and use his sword, but not the creature; she screams, guards come, and Morgan's reputation is invoked.
- In the Warhammer 40000: Gaunt's Ghosts novel Sabbat Martyr, Milo raises his lasgun and appears to fire at Saint Sabbat. It turns out that he hits a Chaos trooper who had survived the Saint's attack on a Baneblade.
- Earlier, in Ghostmaker, Rawne (who despises Gaunt and wants him dead) sneaks up on Gaunt while he's sleeping, holds his knife to Gaunt's throat, and quickly brings it up — so he could throw it into the eye of an Ork that was sneaking up on them. Slightly subverted in that Rawne would have killed Gaunt, but the Commissar apparently having nightmares of Tanith burning convinced him to stay his hand.
- In Erak's Ransom, Will saves a child from a poisonous snake in this way.
- Lord Hong...kinda. At one point a servant brings him bad news while he's forging a sword. He orders the guy to stand up straight and open his eyes wide, as if he's about to Shoot the Messenger. Turns out he was using the guy's eyes as a mirror to target the assassin sneaking up on him ('him' being Lord Hong).
- Rennie does this to Wick in The Crush. "Move and you're a dead man." Of course he does move, prompting Rennie to shoot the bobcat about to pounce on Wick from behind.
- In a rare double-sided version, the climax of Fool Moon had Harry and Karrin Murphy have been at odds for the majority of the book because Harry kept finding himself suspiciously linked to a series of attacks around the city. Later, they find themselves hunted by two of the three kinds of Werewolf, and they run into each other, only for Harry to see the more dangerous of the two sorts of werewolf coming up behind Murphy. When he prepares to attack it, she raises a gun and begs him to get down. He doesn't, thinking he'll go out in a blaze of misunderstood glory. When he wakes up after the event, thinking he's dying of a gunshot wound, she tells him that she shot at one of the other werewolves that was behind him and he was only hit on the head, and promptly mocks him for being such a melodramatic idiot.
- In a Sarah Dessen novel Just Listen, Annabel gets into a car with Owen, who has a reputation for anger management issues. He takes out a hammer and she starts imagining headlines of her murder when he carefully buckles her in--the passenger seat's seat belt is broken.
- Happens in A Song of Ice and Fire, almost literally. Daenerys is given a box from a stranger. She opens it, when an old man hits her hands with a staff, knocking the box out of them. It turns out that the box contained a manticore, a highly venomous, (possibly) scorpion-like creature.
- In the pilot for Firefly, Jayne has been offered a lot of money to betray Mal. We see him knocking out a sniper, taking careful aim at Mal... and shooting someone who had a gun trained on the captain.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Despite the fact that she is working with the Mayor at the time (and accompanying him at that particular moment), Faith throws a knife in Wesley's direction...which kills a rabbit-sized spider that was near his head.
- Also done by the Master as a threat to a lesser vampire. He makes a swift motion that could've easily left a nasty mark, and then says "bug".
- Lost. Michael approaches handcuffed Jin with an ax. He looks angry. He's going to kill him! Nope. He's going to chop the cuffs open.
- In a later episode, Ana-Lucia approaches tied-up Sayid with a knife. She's going to kill him! Nope. She's going to cut his ropes and free him.
- Doctor Who. The cliffhanger for episode 3 of Trial of a Timelord involves Merdeen seemingly firing his crossbow at the Doctor. However, the reprise in episode 4, reveals he was actually aiming at the traitor Grell, lurking behind the Doctor and Peri.
- "The End of Time" probably counts. The Doctor seems to be forced into shooting either Rassilon or the Master in order to save the universe. Finally he seems to settle on the Master, and aims the gun at him... then says "Get out of the way", and shoots the machine behind him instead. A minute later, the Master does the exact same thing, telling the Doctor to get out of the way so he can attack Rassilon himself.
- The older Amy's introduction in "The Girl Who Waited" involves stabbing a Handbot over Rory's shoulder.
- Kate Lockley pulls a really violent version of this on Angel, stabbing both him and his vampire spawn with a (very long) wooden stake. The other vampire dusts, but Kate reveals that she deliberately avoided Angel's heart.
- Seriously, almost every time anyone does anything in Harpers Island it seems to be following this trope. That's what you get when you have 22 characters and every single one of them is a murder suspect.
- Castle has a double Stab The Scorpion. Beckett and Castle are facing each other, both apparently pointing guns at the other. They fire simultaneously, and both hit a bad guy that was sneaking up to take the other unawares.
- For impact, the setup to this — them aiming weapons at each other — was the episode's Cold Open, and it was followed by an entire episode of Castle showing up in suspicious circumstances near a bunch of murders that seemed to have been perpetrated by him. They weren't, of course.
- A variation occurs in the NCIS episode On Fire. After discovering their main suspect Xavier Zolotov was murdered in the bath when trying to stop Eleanor Bishop from killing him, prior to her arrival, Palmer mentions he is certain of who the killer was after discovering a strand of blonde hair in the bathtub while seemingly looking at Eleanor, only for him to walk past her and head straight to a picture of Xavier's girlfriend, which was immediately behind her, and state she was the likely suspect.
- In Ninja Gaiden II (the NES game), the first time we meet Robert, he pulls a gun on the hero Ryu and fires. But his target isn't Ryu, but the nasty demonic creature that was sneaking up behind the ninja. (This is in contrast to the first NES game, where the first time Ryu meets Irene, she pulls a gun on him and shoots him...with a tranquilizer.)
- Something like this occurs in Baten Kaitos. After a boss battle, the characters start talking about the possibility that there might be a spy for The Empire among them who is leaking their locations to the villains and allowing them to steal the Plot Coupons. Lyude declares that there is a spy, and turns his gun on the party, leading you to believe for a moment that he's the traitor (which would make sense, since he did work for The Empire before he joined you). But it turns out that he's specifically pointing it at Savyna, accusing her. (It turns out he's wrong though.)
- Something similar happens in Metroid: Other M. Right before Samus's infamous PTSD scene, Samus is in a darkened room, and then sees Anthony Higgs pointing his plasma rifle at her. She then accuses him of being the Deleter who was killing off 07 Platoon and trying to kill her, but then Anthony yells at her to get out of the way, revealing that he was not even attempting to aim at her, and that the true target he was aiming for was right behind her: Ridley, or rather, his clone.
- In Prince of Persia: Warrior Within, the Prince evades an axe thrown at him by a strange creature. Later it is revealed that the creature is the Prince from the future, who threw the axe at an enemy sneaking up behind the Prince.
- Also done by Farah in The Two Thrones.
- The World Ends With You: Neku recovers a missing piece of his memory and thinks that Joshua ran up to him and shot him, but he later recovers more showing that Joshua was aiming at Minamimoto who had a gun and was standing behind Neku. Only much later does Neku discover that actually, Minamimoto was aiming at Joshua but failed and fled, and then Joshua finally shot Neku.
- Mass Effect 2, the first time we see Legion, it's aiming at Shepard with a sniper rifle. The second time we see Legion, it's shifted its aim to take out some Husks who have crept up on him/her.
- The opening cutscene of Devil May Cry 2 has Dante take aim at Lucia with a pistol... then shoot a harpy that was attempting to attack her from behind.
- Dante and Lady also do this to each other in 3 right before going Back-to-Back Badasses.
- Amaterasu in Okami snarls, growls, leaps up and catches Mr. Orange by the head — and uses him to fend off three imps who were about to attack him.
- Something akin to this trope occurs in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain during the Birthday cutscene if you managed to get Quiet to bond with you significantly: Venom Snake goes to a secluded area to smoke his birthday cigar, only to be shot at via a high-powered rifle and forced to take cover. He then points his gun at Quiet, assuming she was trying to kill him. However, he then notices that she wasn't even aiming at him: She was just giving a makeshift birthday salutation with her sniper rifle on the cigar box behind him, with the bullet holes spelling out "HBD" (meaning, "Happy Birth Day"), and his reaction indicates he was telling her "Good one!" before she takes her leave.
- Metal Gear Solid 2 invokes this trope, as the player character, Raiden, has to fire a Nikita Missile to disable the electric floor outside President Johnson's holding area. When the missile pops out of the ventilation shaft, it shows Johnson, obviously thinking the missile was aiming at him, breaking a run while expressing surprise before bracing for being hit, only for it to move inches past him and hit the generator right behind him. Humorously, when the Colonel is briefing Raiden on how to use the Nikita Missile, it briefly shows a clip of Johnson's reaction to the missile before said event occurs.
- Super Smash Bros. Brawl has something like this occur during The Subspace Emissary. After Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong retrieve their Banana Horde, Bowser emerges and they are about to fight. Donkey Kong is charging up his Giant Punch attack, and suddenly hits Diddy with the attack, launching him into the air. In this case, he wasn't really trying to harm Diddy. Quite the opposite, he was trying to save Diddy from Bowser's BFG, sacrificing himself in the process.
- Smoke of Bunny Kill 3 does this with Snowball, killing a bunny mook that was sneaking up behind him, before the two join forces.
- Palpatine engages in this in It's Hard to Be a Stormtrooper. When Vader attempts to explain to Palpatine that they're working as fast as they can, Palpatine says this will act as motivation to have them work faster while charging his force lightning, with a Stormtrooper's worry implying that he was going to kill a random stormtrooper to set an example. However, in a surprising Pet the Dog moment, Palpatine instead aims the Force Lightning at a container that had just been brought off the ship, revealing Lego Death Star sets.
- In Sluggy Freelance, during the Dangerous Days arc, an unusually dark and vengeful Torg walks up to Riff and wordlessly levels a shotgun at him. Then he actually does shoot Riff, but immediately apologizes and says he was aiming for the bad guy behind him. It turns out Riff was wearing a bulletproof vest.
- In The Order of the Stick, Therkla seems to be threatening Elan. Turns out she was actually preparing to attack Qarr instead.
- Happens in Buck Godot: Zap Gun for Hire, after Al manages to knock out the assassin that was send to seduce and trick him into selling his bar wakes up again in the middle of a big fight, gun aimed at Al. She angrily states no-one ever managed to knock her out. Because she never let anyone get close! She then shoots an enemy behind Al.
- Scott's Penguin in Ctrl Alt Del
- In General Protection Fault, this is inverted when Fooker and Maddie are on a mission against Dr. Nefarious; a scuba diver comes up behind them, but then gets shot by a woman. Fooker later reveals that he knew that the woman was one of Dr. Nefarious' men because the diver belonged to a friendly intelligence agency.
- In Trinton Chronicles, Aurora performs this act in the first scene of her meeting Sara. While in the ice maze Sara is walking by herself after leaving another group of people in a huff. She runs into Aurora, who promptly throws a knife at Sara's head. The knife misses by a few centimeters and it turns out Aurora saved her from some Big Creepy-Crawlies that had been poised for an attack on her.
- In the cult classic series Swat Kats, this is the scene that introduces Lt. Felina Feral, one of the show's supporting characters, in the second season premiere "Mutation City". As she is rescuing Deputy Mayor Callie Briggs, Felina points a laser at the Deputy Mayor - and shoots a man-eating plant that was about to eat Callie.
- In Disney's Tarzan, the title character is presented with one in regards to bullish rhinos that have forcefully moved into the apes' territory after being driven out of their homes by human civilization. After learning that he purchased large amounts of dynamite to resolve the rhino issue, Jane and the others rush stop Tarzan from doing the deed, which turns out to be blowing up a new section of river. Aware that he could've killed them all if he wanted to, the rhinos accept their new home.
- In Batman Beyond, an aged Bruce Wayne is about to be attacked by a random criminal when a dog jumps towards Wayne...and attacks the criminal instead. Bruce adopts the dog, and names him Ace. Because when a dog is badass enough to save BATMAN you know he's awesome. A Crowning Moment of Awesome to him, for sure.
- In Ben 10 Alien Force, Ben and a Highbreed get stuck on an alien planet together and have to team up to survive. When camping out, Ben wakes up suddenly to see the Highbreed shooting at...the creature right behind him.
- In Codename: Kids Next Door, Numbah 1 teams up with an adult named Moosk to hunt evil, snakelike ties, and when it looks like Moosk is about to betray Numbah 1 and shoot him, he actually shoots a tie behind him.
- The Secret of NIMH sees Mrs Brisby, a frightened mouse, entering a Great Owl's den. At the mercy of her natural predator, she is then additionally stalked by a Giant Spider...before the Great Owl appears and crushes the spider. Partially subverted in that even after crushing the spider the Owl Be Damned is still terrifying.
- Archer has Conway Stern use and subvert this trope within two minutes.
- Done in an episode of Mighty Max. When the main heroes are gathering a team of heroes, one of them is an old man with a bow. When Max tries to doubt his skills, the guy aims the bow at his direction...
- In the second season opening for The Superhero Squad Show, Hulk and Thor look like they're about to beat the crap out of each other. The camera backs away just as the two heroes attack... the previously-offscreen villains they were actually getting ready to duke it out with.
- On the American Dad episode "Camp Refoogie," Steve is sent to Africa and is currently moping by the river. He suddenly sees a random girl running at him with a weapon--then just past him into the river to kill the giant snake rising up behind him, which she drags home for her family's dinner. (She winds up being his Love Interest for the episode, by the way.)
- Jonny Quest episode "A Small Matter of Pygmies". A man under a basket approaches Hadji (who's tied to a stake) and pulls out a knife. Hadji squirms to try to escape, and the man cuts the rope tying Hadji to the stake. He was the pygmy the protagonists had earlier saved from being sacrificed.
- In an episode of King of the Hill, everyone fears that Bobby's "pet" raccoon has given Ladybird rabies, which causes friction between Hank and Bobby when each of them is concerned for their own pet's well-being more than the other. At the end of the episode, Ladybird shows up and Bobby is prepared to shoot her if she is rabid in order to protect his father. As she leaps at Hank, Bobby fires; initially it looks like he missed, but he reveals that he shot the raccoon, which was sneaking up on Hank. (For the curious, it turned out not to be rabid.)
- In Scooby Doo on Zombie Island, Beau is suspected by Velma to be somehow involved in the onset of the zombies. At one point, Beau lifts up a large rock and appears ready to chuck it at her, but he instead throws it further out to show Velma that she was about to walk into quicksand. Velma's suspicions are somewhat mitigated.
- In the Justice League Unlimited episode "Ancient History" Shadow Thief binds Green Lantern, Hawkman, and Hawkgirl so they can see a flashback of the past romance between Chay-Ara Hol and Bashari, an ancestor of John Stewart. In order to prevent history from repeating itself and to reclaim Shayera, Shadow Thief gives Carter his mace to Murder the Hypotenuse. Hawkman raises the weapon over Green Lantern - and frees him.
- Superman saves Vandal Savage from a monster this way in Hereafter.