Taking a human shield is a tactic used by people, generally criminals or soldiers, to guard themselves when threatened with the possibility of being shot. The person desiring a shield takes a hostage and restrains them around the neck to hold him or her close to their own body in order to serve as a shield. The effectiveness of the ploy, however, is dependent on the level of empathy or concern that the hostage taker's adversaries have for the hostage. For example, if a person takes an underling of a villain or rival hostage to use as a human shield, the villain may simply choose to shoot through his own man in order to eliminate the threat.
In some video games, it is possible for the player to take NPCs hostage as human shields. When employed, this tactic generally prevents the player character from moving at full speed. In some games, the human shield will also eventually be able to slip free or fight back if held for too long.