In works of fiction, guns behave in strange ways. Often, and especially in gritty action films and old-timey westerns, guns seem to fire not bullets but ''death itself''. {{Mook}}s, RedShirts, {{hero}}es, and {{Big Bad}}s alike can die instantly from a single bullet fired in their general direction, and the kill may even be [[BloodlessCarnage bereft of blood]]. In some works, this is employed slightly more realistically with [[BoomHeadshot bloody headshots]], but are just as instantly deadly as their weakly aimed counterparts.

In some works, this end is saved for mooks and actual villains, while a hero gets the benefit of a long, painful [[DeathIsDramatic Dramatic Death]] complete with tears and sad music. Don't be surprised, though, if an instant death bullet finds its way to the hero's skull in the end [[ShootTheShaggyDog just for shock value]].

This trope is largely responsible for the tendency of mooks and red shirts to come from the ImperialStormtrooperMarksmanshipAcademy. If the hero or villain were killed or critically wounded early on in the story, it would have a drastic effect on the story's outcome. Additionally, heroes and villains alike may just be wearing PlotArmor to avoid being shot at only until their part in the story is completed.

It is often employed to avoid MoodWhiplash. It becomes harder to root for a hero if we see a recently shot mook crying and moaning and begging for a doctor while the hero ignores his or her pleas in favor of a wisecrack as the mook bleeds out. An example this can be found in one of the early episodes of ''WesternAnimation/{{AEONFLUX}}'' when the narrative switches from the heroine to focus on a nameless female mook Flux shoots. Instead of dying instantly, we see her suffering terribly until she finally expires, which turns Flux into a villain, not a hero. To avoid this effect, unless there is a story-related reason for doing so (or the person being shot is a major character, whether a big bad or a hero), it's generally considered more expeditious to have the person instantly die.

Contrast OnlyAFleshWound and AlmostLethalWeapons where instead of instant death, gunshot wounds are merely inconvenient. There is also RasputinianDeath and MadeOfIron. Often goes hand-in-hand with BloodlessCarnage. See ArbitraryGunPower for actual implications of being shot.

Not to be confused with ShotToTheHeart.

'''This is a DeathTrope. Unhidden spoilers ahead.'''


[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* ''Manga/BlackLagoon'': Used a number of times usually with {{Mook}}s. This trope is playfully {{lampshaded}} when Revy meets some kids playing with toy guns. Their deaths, like most kids'-game deaths, were drawn-out and [[{{Narm}} ridiculous]]. Revy demonstrates the proper way of dying from a bullet. The kids point out how uncool it looks.
* Unusual for the show, it happens in ''Anime/CodeGeass'' when C.C. shoots and kills Mao with barely even a sound effect.
* ''Anime/EndOfEvangelion'': Ritsuko meets her end this way. She dies half a second after being shot.
* ''Manga/GingaDensetsuWeed'' in the manga version when the humans start exterminating the dogs of Futago Pass: most of the canines fall to a single bullet.
* ''LightNovel/{{Katanagatari}}'': When [[HighlyVisibleNinja Maniwa Oshidori]] is shot, she dies almost immediately.
* ''Anime/{{Noir}}'' expresses this trope with a vengeance. Most episodes features several cold blooded instant deaths, often at the hands of the ProfessionalKiller heroines.
* ''Manga/{{Trigun}}'': When Vash Is forced to kill Legato. He takes one shot to the head and falls over.
* Averted in ''LightNovel/SwordArtOnline'': When Sinon grabbed a gun from a robber, it took three point-blank shots before he finally died. Each of those shots was implied to be individually lethal, but it does take at least a couple of minutes to bleed out from a gunshot. In the game ''Gun Gale Online'' it works this way sometimes, but [[CriticalExistenceFailure that's another trope]].

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* While ''{{Preacher}}'' usually uses this straight, especially with the Saint of Killers, whose guns are forged from the sword of the former Angel of Death and can kill the Devil and ''God himself'', there are at least two subversions. In the first, a hulking cannibal takes a head shot, continues advancing and takes a second before dying. In the second, Herr Starr gets his head blown open. He has time to glance up and utter a final "shit" before expiring.

* ''WebVideo/DiamondsCut'': Pretty much the way every gun works in this ''Film/JamesBond'' fan film. A notable exception being the double-crossing informant, who was wounded in the leg by Bond before finally getting shot to death.
* In ''Fanfic/RevengeRoad'' [[KimagureOrangeRoad Hikaru]] shoots Madoka in the head, killing her instantly. She believes that Madoka has to die for stealing Kyosuke from her, but since she was her friend for so long, she deserves a degree of mercy, which she does not show to Kyosuke when torturing him to death with knives.

* ''[[Film/BackToTheFuture Back to the Future: Part III]]'': Subverted when Marty and Doc both assumed that Doc will be shot on Monday, because that's when he dies. Turns out he got shot on ''Saturday'' in the original timeline, and didn't succumb to his wound for another two days.
* ''BloodDiamond'': Happens in copious amounts. [[ When Danny Archer pretends to be a prisoner]] to trick some guards, he shoots both in quick succession and they drop down immediately. Later, when covering Vandy and his son's escape, Archer again kills several approaching mooks with a sniper rifle, to the same effect. But there are three exceptions: Colonel Coetzee, Kapanay, and Danny.
* ''BloodSimple'': Seemingly played straight when the private eye shoots Marty, but is ultimately subverted when he regains consciousness just in time to be buried alive.
* ''TheBoondockSaints'' - almost everyone Connor and Murphy shoot dies immediately.
* ''[[BoysDontCry Boys Don't Cry]]'': When Candace (Lecy Goranson from Roseanne) is shot, she ends up going down like a sack of potatoes.
* ''{{Collateral}}'': Subverted in [[ one scene]] where Vincent is [[MuggingTheMonster menaced]] by two thugs with his briefcase. He uses a double tap with point shooting to drop the first guy [[note]] Point shooting is a type of reflex based shooting training in which aiming is done reflexively with the shooters position relative to their target in close range.[[/note]], then he performs the full Mozambique Drill[[note]]A shooting technique that fires two shots to the chest in quick succession just like a double tap followed up with a aimed head shot. Used to ensure the target is taken down.[[/note]] on the second. The one shot in the chest is still twitching as Vincent retrieves his briefcase before casually firing the finishing shot into his head.
* ''Film/TheDarkKnight''In the opening sequence several robbers are insta-killed by bullets.
* ''Film/DeadMan'': Thel is shot in the chest by Charlie and she immediately falls over dead without any final death throes.
* ''TheDeparted'': Played straight; even main and other important characters aren't safe from this end.
* ''Film/TheGodfather Part III'': Mary Corleone is shot through the stomach and doesn't realize it. When she does, she just drops on her knees, says "Dad?" in a perfectly normal way, then dies.
* Used for comic effect in ''Film/RaidersOfTheLostArk''. When confronted by a swordsman all clad in black, instead of being intimidated by his fancy swordplay Indy just rolls his eyes and shoots him dead. Never bring a sword to a gun fight.
* ''LegendsOfTheFall'': Although a guy is riddled with dozens of bullets from a German machinegun, Brad Pitt (the guy's brother) then shoots the ''gunners'' a few times with a pistol, killing them both instantly before rushing to his brother, who's still alive.
* Plays a major part throughout ''Film/OnceUponATimeInTheWest''. The slaughter of the [=McBain=] family plays out as this, as does the shootout at the railroad in the opening scene.
* ''Film/PineappleExpress'': A humorous subversion in Red's case. The first time he's shot, he actually appears to die... Only to wake back up seemingly fine. They shoot him ''again'', and he appears to die again. It's only later in the movie that it's revealed he was still alive.
* ''Film/ReservoirDogs'': Mr. White, Joe and Nice Guy Eddie play it straight after their MexicanStandoff takes a turn for the worse.
** Mr. Orange agonizingly averts it, as he spends most of the movie lying in a huge pool of his own blood, white as a sheet, from a shot to the gut.
* The original ''Franchise/RoboCop'' series {{avert|ed}}s this at nearly every turn. Murphy, in his initial death, takes ''dozens'' of bullets from Boddicker's gang before the [[BoomHeadshot headshot]] that kills him. Dick Jones takes more than a dozen bullets at the end of [[Film/RoboCop1987 the first film]], and it's ''[[DestinationDefenestration the fall through the window]]'' that kills him.
* ''Film/TheRundown'': [[DwayneJohnson The Rock]], as a Mr. Beck, takes down several henchmen this way using dual shotguns just before the place blows up in the ending shootout.
* In ''Film/{{Serenity}}'', Mal [[MercyKill shoots a man]] taken by the Reavers, killing him instantly.
* ''Film/TearsOfTheSun'' Subverted in a sequence where a soldier takes a sniper bullet through the shoulder and falls down. After a few tense seconds, it's revealed that he ''dropped'' down to avoid getting hit by another bullet.
* Pretty much the norm throughout the JamesBond film series. To avoid MoodWhiplash, virtually no mook or villain actually suffers after being shot, usually simply dying immediately
** ''Film/TheWorldIsNotEnough'': While mooks and bystanders die this way as a matter of course in the movie, a notable instance is when Bond shoots the alternate BigBad Elektra in the face. She simply falls back onto a bed, dead.
** Every single person shot by ''Film/TheManWithTheGoldenGun'' dies immediately. This is made more notable by the fact that Scaramanga's gun uses custom made bullets of an absurdly low caliber (4.2mm), making them ''less'' likely to kill anyone they hit than bullets fired from a normal gun... unless the man firing it is a spectacularly skilled marksman, which it is established that Scaramanga is. There are places on the human body other than the head where a bullet will indeed kill instantly, and presumably Scaramanga would know of them.
** Inverted, big-time, with [[spoiler: M's death]] in ''Film/{{Skyfall}}''. That said, however, the character was not shot by the hero. And in fact [[spoiler:M's death takes place immediately after the film's big bad falls victim to the knife-throwing equivalent of this trope.]]
* ''Film/{{Witness}}'': When [=McFee=] is shot at point blank range in the chest with a shotgun, he appears to take only moments to die.
* ''Film/XMenFirstClass'':Magneto's mother is shot dead with a handgun right in front of him to try and force the young Magneto to manifest draw on his mutant powers.
* ''Film/{{Taken}}'' features three kinds of shots: [[ImperialStormtrooperMarksmanshipAcademy bad guys miss]], Bryan shoots a few people [[OnlyAFleshWound in the shoulder]] for interrogation purposes, and anyone Bryan wants dead dies instantly.

* ''Literature/OfMiceAndMen'': This is an important point in the finale, when Curley in revenge for Lenny's accidental killing of his wife, plans to shoot him in the stomach, so that he would die slowly and painfully. To prevent this, George shoots him in the back of the head, which was instantly fatal.
* ''Literature/TwentyThousandLeaguesUnderTheSea''. Justified in that Captain Nemo's crew use crazy SteamPunk guns that fire pellets containing supercapacitors that discharge on contact, instantly electrocuting the target.
* Horribly averted in Creator/GeorgeOrwell's short story ''Shooting an Elephant'', where he finds to his horror that he cannot get the elephant to drop dead, but only cause it more pain.
* ''Literature/DeathToTheFrench'': Usually seen when Dodd uses his Baker rifle on the enemy characters.
* How Thomas kills Newt in ''[[Literature/TheMazeRunner The Maze Runner Trilogy]]''.

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* ''BattlestarGalacticaReimagined'' goes back and forth on this. Tarn takes a while to bleed to death after being shot multiple times, but later in the same story arc, Crashdown dies immediately after being shot once. Boomer shoots herself through the cheek and lives, but later is shot in the chest and only has time to say her last words before she dies. Dee and several one-shot characters die instantly from gunshot wounds. Meanwhile, Bill Adama gets shot twice in the chest and survives, although he spends several episodes unconscious and receiving emergency medical care. Anders gets shot in the head and lives, but the brain damage eventually leaves him in a vegetative state.
* ''Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer''. Tara gets shot by Warren, and dies within seconds. She barely got "Your shirt" out before she kicked the bucket. Justified in that judging from the location of the exit wound Tara took that round through the aorta, which is one of the few places where being hit ''will'' kill you before you can hit the ground. In fact, living long enough to finish saying two words puts her survival time as above average.
** And in this case, this is '''extremely''' plot relevant: had she lived longer, Willow probably could save her.
* The shapeshifters in ''Series/{{Fringe}}'' die instantly when shot in the middle of the forehead, but [[ImmuneToBullets shooting them anywhere else has no effect.]]
* [[InvokedTrope Invoked]] in ''Series/GimmeABreak'', when Carl shot and killed a perp. He is extremely depressed about this, and when his youngest daughter acts like he was a hero for doing it, he explodes angrily at her that it was ''not'' like the movies. The perp died slowly and in pain, calling out for his mother.
* ''{{Series/Highlander}}'' in 'The Darkness'. Tessa pretty much dies instantly after Rozca shoots her. Richie, too, though he doesn't stay dead.
* ''Series/{{Hornblower}}'', "The Even Chance": After Jack Simpson is spared by Horatio in their duel, he tries to kill Hornblower with a dagger, but is then dropped with a single Musket shot from Captain Pellew.
* In ''Series/{{Lost}}'', Kate's ChildhoodFriend Tom dies instantly during a ChaseScene from a bullet fired by a police officer, shown in a flashback in season 1.
** Similarly, earlier in the series, Ethan dies inmediately when Charlie shoots him. Of course, he did shoot him like six times, so he may not count...
* ''Max And Paddys Road To Nowhere'': Almost displayed, but soon subverted. Paddy is seemingly shot in the back by a mentally deranged friend of Max's, tumbling out of frame. However it is later shown that the gunshot was not fatal as he manages to sneak up and knock the assailant out with a traffic cone. It is later revealed he was shot right in the right buttock... Although this brings up whether [[OnlyAFleshWound being shot in such a place would really leave him able to walk around, never mind heave a traffic cone with enough force to knock someone out]].
* In ''Series/TheSarahConnorChronicles'' Derek dies instantly. Of course, he did a get a bullet in the brain.
* Jeremy from ''Series/TheVampireDiaries'' is accidentally shot by Liz Forbes in the season 2 finale and dies on the spot ([[OurWitchesAreDifferent Bonnie]] is able to bring him BackFromTheDead by the end of the episode, though).
* Series/GetSmart: Notably, this only happens to the KAOS agents. If a CONTROL agent is shot, they tend to say so.

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* A gun in [[TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons Advanced Dungeons and Dragons]] could, in theory, deal endless damage. Much less can kill most [=NPCs=] and [=PCs=] alike, instantly.[[note]] If a ten was rolled on a ten-sided die, the die was rerolled until anything besides a ten was rolled, and the sum of all the dice was added together. In theory, a single bullet could deal a thousand damage - at odds of a googol to one against. [[/note]]
* Can happen in ''{{GURPS}}''. Hits to vital organs or the brain are liable to kill someone instantly. Even a gunshot not aimed at vitals can kill instantly if it does enough damage.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* ''VideoGame/CompanyOfHeroes'': Snipers can sometimes kill infantry dead in a single shot.
* ''VideoGame/GhostTrick'': Everyone who dies of a bullet wound goes out this way, sometimes [[DeathIsCheap multiple times]]. Of course, [[AcceptableBreakFromReality it makes sense from a gameplay perspective]], as Sissel's ability to go back in time to four minutes before a person's death would be sort of useless if they died after lingering for an hour in a hospital.
* In ''[[VideoGame/GoldenEye1997 GoldenEye]]'' for the N64, a multiplayer mode called "Film/LicenceToKill" made any hit with any weapon instantly fatal, from [[FingerPokeOfDoom slappers]] to [[MadeOfExplodium standing just barely in range of an explosion]]. Also, the infamous [[Film/TheManWithTheGoldenGun Golden Gun]] always scored One-Hit kills, as did the [[InfinityPlusOneSword unlockable]] [[GameBreaker Gold PP7]]. Regular play for Goldeneye could end with a gut-shot enemy miserably crawling along the floor, taking way too long to die.
* ''VideoGame/PerfectDark'' has the golden DY-357 LX magnum.
* ''{{VideoGame/Persona 3}}'' Subverted with Junpei Iori, who goes down almost immediately to one shot and would have been dead within seconds without supernatural healing that Results in the death of the healer.
* In the early ''VideoGame/RainbowSix'' games, any hit can be instant death for you or an enemy.
* Videogame/RedDeadRedemption: Enemies sometimes die from a single shot depending on weapon and where they are shot. More powerful weapons against some of the weaker enemies frequently one shot the target. Shotguns and rifles also have a tendency to one shot at least weaker enemies. Headshots of course are usually fatal for the {{Mook}}s
* ''VideoGame/{{STALKER}}'': Characters shot take direct damage, and can start bleeding and losing health slowly. A character can get hit, start bleeding, and still kill their opponent. The character requires bandages to heal, meaning you can get shot once by a pistol, have 2% damage taken, kill the enemy but die up to 5 minutes later from a slow bleed because you didn't have any bandages left, can't get back to a base, and none of your frantic corpse looting managed to find any either. {{NPC}}s do not heal at all, meaning if you gutshot someone and run away, they will go down later and even then often still be alive and in agony. Despite this it is still possible to achieve an InstantDeathBullet kill with shotgun slugs or sniper rifle shots against certain enemies. Headshots also have a high chance of dropping your target in one shot
* A fully charged shot from a sniper rifle in ''VideoGame/TeamFortress2'' against any class with less health than a Demoman or a Soldier kills them instantly, headshot or not.
* ''VisualNovel/UminekoNoNakuKoroNi'': In [=EP6=] where Shannon and Kanon have a duel using duel pistols with one magical bullet each, which will kill instantly the opponent regardless of where the bullet hits (as long as it does hit).
* HigurashiNoNakuKoroNi:
** In the Anime Shion and Satoko both take bullets directly to the head at point-blank range.
** In the Manga everyone dies directly after being shot and unlike the Anime, everything is ''onscreen''!
* The Welrod gun in the ''[[MedalOfHonor Medal Of Honor : Rising Sun]]'' multiplayer is an instakill weapon.
* ''Franchise/AceAttorney'' has several cases where a victim is killed instantaneously from a shot, case 2:2 and 4:2 specifically. Although these lean towards the more justified examples, seeing as how in both instances, the shot was to the head. And in one of these instances, the victim had been stabbed prior to the shot, making his instantaneous death seem more realistic.
* A few scripted sequences in ''VideoGame/MaxPayne 3'' boost the damage dealt by Max so that one shot kills any enemy, regardless of where the bullet hits. This also happens in Last Man Standing, so that the player that take down the enemy that killed them faster. Conversely, some enemies, such as the snipers in Chapter 3, can OneHitKill Max regardless of whether he has any painkillers on hand.
* Averted gruesomely in the new ''VideoGame/TombRaider2013''. Lara's first kill with a gun is during a struggle where she shoots her aggressor in the head at point-blank range (averting PrettyLittleHeadshots into the bargain) leaving him gurgling on the ground for almost half a minute before finally expiring. Lara is understandably freaked out about it.
* A lot of {{Light Gun Game}}s apply this to enemies; enemies will often die even if they're just shot in the hand or the foot, so the only reason to aim at the body or [[BoomHeadshot head]] is for extra points, if such bonuses exist. This is to keep the game [[RuleOfFun fun]] and at a reasonable difficulty. Generally, exceptions are {{Elite Mook}}s and bosses.
* At the end of the mission "Where Angels Fear to Tread" in ''VideoGame/{{Borderlands 2}}'', Handsome Jack kills Roland with a single shot to the back from a pistol.
* In AssassinsCreed titles that include them, firearms in general are typically fatal. There's some larger enemies that require multiple shots, but most Mooks will go down with just one. Muskets in particular are instantly fatal.
* In ''VideoGame/{{Wolf}}'', hunters flying in helicopters and planes ''always'' manage a OneHitKill. Hunters on the ground will get you in one or two. It's not stated whether this is due to a difference in rifle calibers or aiming skills (and, at least as far as the wolves are concerned, [[HumansAreCthulhu doesn't matter anyway]]).

* ''Homestuck'': Justified with Snowman, who's shot with a bullet specifically designed to kill beings like her instantly. That and when Snowman is fatally injured [[ItMakesSenseInContext the universe goes with her before she hits the floor]].
* ''[[{{Webcomic/Morphe}} morphE]]'' opens with 8 captives being forced into 1-on-1 battles to the death. When a pair are not producing the right results Amical executes them with a bullet each. They are dead before they hit the ground.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* ''WesternAnimation/SouthPark'' Throughout the series this can be seen usually played for laughs in a BlackComedy fashion. In the Episode featuring a Walmart a man shoots himself in the head killing himself instantly. In the Night of the Living Homeless episode one character is killed with a shotgun blast to the head and a few others are killed by single shots in a burned out town the boys visited.
** Also averted in Night of the Living Homeless. With the homeless people closing in on him, the scientist decides to kill himself by putting a bullet through his head. It takes four or five tries to finally get the job done, all PlayedForLaughs.[[/folder]]