Created By: Treblain on May 1, 2011 Last Edited By: FossilsDaDaDa on May 30, 2012

Counting Bullets

A character keeps track of every bullet fired.

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The sign of The Gunslinger or Action Hero who's really been through more battles than anyone else, or how an exceptionally smart or otherwise gifted character takes advantage in combat: in a fight, they can count the number of bullets fired by themselves and their opponents, keep track of it all, and use this to their advantage. With proper military experience, they might even be able to identify guns by the sound they make to know what weapon their adversary is using, so they know exactly when they run out.

A subtrope of Awesomeness by Analysis. Use of this trope will lead up to It Works Better with Bullets and One Bullet Left.

  • Vash the Stampede can do this to know when his opponents are out of bullets.
  • This xkcd strip, which should probably be the trope page image.
  • In ''Metal Gear Solid 3 Snake dares Ocelot to shoot him, knowing that he's already used all six bullets, having switched from an eight-shot semiautomatic to a revolver.
  • Subversion in the Eragon series, where Roran keeps track of how many men he's killed.
Community Feedback Replies: 30
  • May 2, 2011
    Sigerson: A Webley's #2, I think, carries only six cartridges.
    Moriarty: [Points the gun at him and pulls the trigger] Click!
    Sigerson: Yes, that's right, six.
    Dent: [Picks up his gun and tries to shoot Bond] Click.
  • May 2, 2011
    In Asobi Ni Iku Yo, Tomboy Gun-Maniac Manami is able to beat a highly-experienced mercenary and assassin in a mock battle thanks to a stroke of luck, and this trope. She notices Aoi dropping her spare magazine when she stumbles over a suddenly-appearing wild animal, and - having counted every shot from her (fully-automatic) assault-rifle up to that point, knows that she's completely out of bullets...
  • May 2, 2011
    Lucky Luke, despite shooting faster than his own shadow, sometimes win without shooting him self. Twice he have tricked an opponent to use all their bullets by showing their skills.
    Hired killer: And now I perforate you!
    Lucky Luke: No, your shooter is empty, if isn't a seven-shooter.
    And then subverted in the gunfight at the end of the album Phil Defer, where both the titular hired killer and the wittnessing villagers think Lucky Luke have used his last bullet, but where it turns out, that he actually is caring a special build seven-shooter!
  • May 2, 2011
    re the XKCD panel: and of course the original quote from Dirty Harry:
    I know what you're thinking. "Did he fire six shots or only five?" Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement I kind of lost track myself. But being as this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world, and would blow your head clean off, you've got to ask yourself one question: "Do I feel lucky?" Well, do ya, punk?
  • May 3, 2011
    The Evil Overlord List addresses this in item 120 from Cellblock A:
    120. Since nothing is more irritating than a hero defeating you with basic math skills, all of my personal weapons will be modified to fire one more shot than the standard issue.
  • May 3, 2011
    It should be mentioned that this is specifically discouraged in Real Life self-defense. So I guess this is a subtrope of You Fail Gun Safety Forever or Hollywood Gun Safety or whatever that trope is called.

    Counting bullets is typically not useful because:
    • Most civilians/laypersons won't be able to identify the model of gun or the size of clip it uses (not even all revolvers are six-shots)
    • You never know if the gun had a bullet chambered or not (ie: a six-bullet clip pistol might be carrying seven total rounds)
    • You likely have no idea if the assailant has surreptitiously reloaded or if they have a spare weapon
    • In the heat of a firefight, your ability to count accurately under extreme stress shouldn't be made the lynchpin of your survival strategy.
  • May 3, 2011
    For a page image, may I suggest: [1]
  • May 3, 2011
    Last I heard, this site doesn't do motivators for page images.
  • May 3, 2011
    It should be mentioned that this is specifically discouraged in Real Life self-defense.

    You seem to be referring to counting the other person's bullets. Counting your own is a good idea.
  • May 4, 2011
    ^ Would counting one's own bullet's be an inversion of the trope? The only example I can think of is Dirty Harry (and references to it).
  • May 26, 2011
  • May 26, 2011
    Played with in the 1979 film The Villain. Handsome Stranger (Arnold Schwarzenegger) has "seven-shot six shooters". It turns out to be a plot point, as his opponent counts shots... and, of course, comes up short.
    Handsome Stranger: "This is a seven-shot six-shooter, and I had it especially made."
    Charming Jones: "Why?"
    Handsome Stranger: "Why?"
    Charming Jones: "Yeah..."
    Handsome Stranger: "I dunno. Nobody ever asked me that before."
  • May 26, 2011
    Granted it is unrealistic, but no more than most depictions of the Sherlock Scan. I vote good trope and ready to publish.
  • May 26, 2011
  • May 26, 2011
    Hey there was a fun scene with this trope in Due South in which four police officers (Fraser, Kowalski, Thatcher and Welsh) are involved in a firefight with a suspect.
    Maigot (the suspect): You don't think I'll shoot?
    Fraser: Oh, I think you'll shoot, but I think you'll discover you've spent all your ammunition.
    Welsh: It's a standard, nine rounds.
    Kowalski: I counted eight rounds.
    Thatcher: I heard seven.
    Welsh: It was six.
    Thatcher: Seven.
    Kowalski: Eight.
    Thatcher: Seven.
    Kowalski:' Eight.
    <brief dialogue between Fraser and Maigot concludes with...>
    Maigot: Are you sure it's empty?
    Fraser: Are you sure it's not?
    <Maigot fires, but he's out of ammo>

  • May 26, 2011
    ^^^Oh, I don't have a problem with how realistic it is, but it's still worth mentioning in the description why this practice is a bad idea in Real Life. Nobody teaching self-defense would ever instruct someone to do this.
  • May 26, 2011
    • In one episode of American Dad, Steve, his friends and his Principal take cover from a volley of bullets. Steve's friend Barry, who was featured in the episode as a Rain Man analogue, counts all of them, determining every gun used to do so. He informs the principal that all 86 possible shots were fired, when in fact only 85 were, so that the principal could get shot in the shoulder and the boys could enact revenge on him.
  • May 29, 2011
    In the movie Shoot Em Up, the Big Bad is torturing the lead female by shooting bullets from a six-chamber revolver to heat up the barrel when the hero enters. The Big Bad has a brief standoff with the hero when the hero notes that the Big Bad fired all his bullets already, leading to this exchange.
  • May 29, 2011
    Subverted in one of the endings in Clue - Wadsworth and Miss Scarlet get into an argument over how many bullets have been fired, and the latter is convinced into surrendering. Turns out there was one shot left.
  • May 30, 2011
    This is done in the Adam West Batman where he counts bullets from a machine gun.
  • May 30, 2011
    Uh, I'm not sure this counts, even though it certainly refers to counting bullets.

    Played For Laughs in an Episode of Aqua Teen Hunger Force. Some infinitely annoying cube-robots have been tormenting Carl with "challenges" all episode. He decides to have them play "count the bullets"- and takes out a machine gun and blasts them for about a minute. The robots are filled with holes, and despite their idiocy, count the exact number, of over a thousand.
  • September 15, 2011
    • Played with in The Hidan Of Maukbeiangjow (yes, it's a real movie), where a character waits until another has shot off six shots from their revolver before coming out from cover to attack the person with the gun. As it turns out, it's a nine shot revolver, and he gets killed.
  • September 16, 2011
    • he dirty harry line is spoofed by Blasto, the fictional Hanaar spectre in Mass Effect 2
    • one of the main cast in Exterminatus Now has a modified gun that fires an extra bullet. It has yet to become an actual plot point
  • September 16, 2011
    Index under Bullet Index.
  • September 16, 2011
    On Ducktales Fenton is annoying Scrooge. The world's richest duck has a blunderbuss mounted above the fireplace, which he pulls down to fire at Fenton. Fenton proceeds to count the shot that is fired (465, in case you're wondering). This amazes Scrooge.

  • September 16, 2011
    Happens in The Dark Knight. Sort of. One of the henchmen asks the joker if the banker was out. Joker says yes. the banker was not out
  • September 16, 2011
    You might want to point out that this is more likely to come up in relation to certain types of firearms (specifically revolvers, since automatics can have extended magazines).
  • May 29, 2012
    Live Action TV
    • Batman episode "It's the Way You Play the Game". Shame and his accomplices fire off their revolvers at Batman and Robin.
    Batman: Let's see, nine guns with six shots each, how many shots is that?
    Robin: Fifty four.
    Batman: I counted fifty three. [Bang!] They're out of bullets!

    Treblain/OP hasn't posted in this YKTTW since he originally created it more than a year ago, so it's Up For Grabs.
  • May 29, 2012
    The Adventures Of Brisco County Jr: Brisco tests a Young Gun's skills by having him shoot some bottles, with the Brisco tossing the last one in the air for him to shoot. After that Brisco tests his Quick Draw skill, shooting the Young Gun's gunbelt off before he can draw. The Young Gun says that Brisco is lucky he was able to pull that off or else he'd be dead by now (because the YG would've shot him); Brisco counters no, he had already shot his six.
  • May 30, 2012
    • Near the end of The Matrix, Neo and Agent Smith pull this off simultaneously. ("You're empty." "So are you.") Justified, if this trope needs justification, by the fact that both can see the Matrix in its true form.
    • Attempted by Wadsworth, and accomplished by Miss Scarelet, in one of the endings of Clue: "There's no more bullets left in that gun"... "There's one bullet left in this gun and guess who's gonna get it!"