Dead Man's Trigger Finger
A character wildly fires a burst of ammunition immediately after being shot.
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(permanent link) added: 2013-05-12 21:02:24 sponsor: Bobchillingworth (last reply: 2013-05-18 10:30:32)

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If you are a fan of the action genre (particularly the Heroic Bloodshed subgenre), you’ve Seen It a Million Times. A character, typically a mook, is shot and reacts by firing their gun randomly as they fall. The afflicted individual is almost always lethally wounded and dead as soon as they hit the ground, and they are usually equipped with a one-handed automatic weapon to make their erratic death-spasm shooting more visually impressive. Redshirts killed this way are prone to accidentally offing any comrades standing too close and/or hitting nearby metallic surfaces for the sake of Bullet Sparks. Almost never does anyone manage to kill their attacker in this fashion; if they do, it’s also an inadvertent example of Taking You with Me.

Formerly exclusive to film and television due to technical limitations, certain videogames have included Dead Man’s Trigger Finger animations since the late 90’s. Now you too can enjoy forcing mooks to spray bullets indiscriminately as they’re killed!

Sister trope to Last Ditch Move and Last Breath Bullet, differing from both in that the Dead Man's Trigger Finger occurs whenever the weapon discharge is (at least mostly) involuntary and not deliberately aimed anywhere. Compare with visually impressive but functionally pointless action maneuvers such as the Unnecessary Combat Roll. Combines well with something like a Wilhelm Scream. Slow Motion is optional.

Examples

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[[folder: Comic Books]]
  • A Captain America / The Punisher teamup comic has Frank do this with a precise knife-throw into a guard with a machine gun, which takes out the other guards for them.
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[[folder:Film - Animated]] [[/folder]]

[[folder:Film - Live Action]]
  • During the bathroom fight in True Lies Harry shoots one of Aziz's mooks several times in the chest in the middle of wrestling with the other one for control of the gun. The shot mook spastically lets off a burst from his submachine gun that goes nowhere important.
  • Parodied in ¡Three Amigos!. When El Guapo's men desert him he calls out "Come back, you cowards! You traitors!" His second-in-command Jefe says "I'm still here, El Guapo!" and is shot off his horse. He ends up on his feet, fires one shot in the air, and falls on his face, dead.
  • A variant in Predator. The title creature blasts Dillon's arm off with its Shoulder Cannon. The arm falls to the ground, with the dead hand still pulling the trigger of the weapon it's holding and the gun still firing.
  • Dick Tracy. When Big Boy's minions try to break past the police cordon, Flattop comes out of his car shooting a tommy gun at the cops. He's riddled with bullets, and as he falls to the ground he continues to fire his weapon in the air.
  • Displayed by some of the dozens of random Triad mooks gunned down in John Woo’s spectacularly violent (and awesome) Hard Boiled, a classic of the Heroic Bloodshed subgenre.
  • An early source of conflict (and Dark Comedy) in Starship Troopers, after a recruit shot in the head during a ridiculously dangerous live-fire training exercise spastically fires a long burst from his assault rifle into a group of nearby New Meat, causing further casualties.
  • A rather horrifying example in All Quiet on the Western Front, where a solider wielding a flamethrower is hit and ignites a couple of his companions as he jerks and spins in a panic.
  • Some of the AK-wielding Russian soldiers killed during Bond and 006’s raid on the Soviet chemical weapons plant in GoldenEye’s pre-title credits action sequence.
  • Performed by one of the mafia goons Leslie Nielsen shoots in The Naked Gun 33⅓'s Untouchables parody opening scene.
  • A machine-gun toting American Marine in Invasion USA (1985), gunned down while stupidly standing still in the middle of the huge climactic battle and firing from the hip on full-auto.
  • During the gun battle at Candie's mansion in Django Unchained, Django pulls a One-Hit Polykill on two mooks, who reflexively then blast each other again for good measure.
  • Cash manages to clear a hallway full of mooks in Cyborg 2 by throwing a knife at one them, who then proceeds to mow down everyone behind him in his death throes.
  • Odd example where the shooting mook is dead to begin with: After a shootout in Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels, there's a face down dead guy holding a shotgun. When Rory turns him over, the dead guy's shotgun is pointed at him. Rory shoots the dead guy and is then promptly killed by the shotgun, due to the movement of the corpse.
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[[folder:Literature]]
  • In the Nick Carter story "Marked for Death", Nick shoots a gangster named Mike in the back, and initially thinks that he missed because Mike fires while spinning in place. But no, he was just reflexively pulling the trigger as Nick's shot turned him around, and Mike is already dead.
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[[folder:Video Games]]
  • In Quake II most of the enemy fire off a few shots after being "killed" and falling down, unless you manage to blow them to bits first. This was an intentional game mechanic and was mentioned in the game manual. May be the first example of the Dead Man’s Trigger Finger in videogame form.
  • Enemies may rarely do this in Perfect Dark, although it could be a bug due to their shooting animation not terminating properly as they die.
  • Can happen in both Max Payne 2 and Max Payne 3 to mooks wielding a single one-handed weapon, particularly if you shoot their legs out from under them just before they fire at you.
  • Occasionally occurs in Deus Ex: Human Revolution to enemies armed with the machine pistol or assault rifle.
  • Stormtroopers gunned or chopped down in Jedi Knight 2: Jedi Outcast sometimes shoot their blaster rifles into the air while spinning.
  • Happens in Halo. An enemy killed by shooting often fires a couple rounds into the floor before dying.
  • In Blood, cultists who burn to death fire off their tommyguns in a short burst while their burning flesh falls from their bones.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Real Life]]
  • A possibility in real life, if a person is shot while holding their finger on a trigger and jerks it back due to some combination of pain, surprise and/or instinct. Falls under the general umbrella term “accidental discharge”.
[[/folder]]


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