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Backwards-Firing Gun
Putting a whole new spin on the Scope Snipe.

This is a comedy weapon trope (although there are dramatic examples) featuring a gun designed or modified to fire backwards, tricking the person who uses it into shooting themselves. A common version seen in cartoons is to bend the barrel back into a "U" shape. Note that this trope may still come into play even if the person who might fire the gun would have to be really stupid not to notice the modification.

These guns tend to show up in cartoons and spy genre pastiches.

Despite the trope title, other projectile weapons, such as a crossbow or hwacha Hwacha!!!, may be examples of this trope.

Compare Had the Silly Thing in Reverse.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

     Anime and Manga  

     Comic Books  

  • A Franco-Belgian comic book involving a zombie problem features semi-automatic pistols tricked out to fire their sliding barrel backwards, killing the user.
  • Spy vs. Spy: As seen in the page image, this occurs in one strip drawn for a series of paperbacks.
  • An issue of the Impulse comic book guest-starring The Riddler featured said Crown Prince of Conundrums with a revolver rigged to shoot backward.
  • Used seriously in one Torpedo story, where the killer commissions a special one-shot gun for this purpose, replacing a cop's gun with it.
  • In the Stanley and His Monster mini-series, Ambrose Bierce gives Stanley a backwards-firing water pistol that squirts him in the face. (A bit more serious than it sounds — Bierce is trying to figure out who in the house might be a demon in disguise, and so the gun shoots holy water —, but since Stanley's just a kid he's okay if wet. The actual demoness who shows up a bit later to fetch the same demon Bierce is after back into Hell and ends up getting her own hands on the pistol and pulling the trigger is somewhat less amused.)

     Film  

  • Happens with a wrongly assembled cannon in Buster Keaton's The Playhouse.
  • In the 1966 film The Silencers (part of the Matt Helm series starring Dean Martin, a parody of the spy genre), a guard got hold of one of these guns, not knowing it was a trick gun, and pointed it at a woman - as she stoically awaited her fate (she didn't know what it was either). The guard pulled the trigger, shot himself, looked kind of puzzled, and shot himself again.
  • In Casino Royale (1967), George Raft, who was best known for playing gangsters, is shot with such a gun.
  • In Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever the big bad tricks a lackey into killing himself by giving him a backwards firing pistol. More of a loyalty test with a built in punishment, since he was told to shoot himself with it.
  • In the 1989 Tamil film Apoorva Sagodharargal, the dwarf Appu tricks Sathyamoorthy into killing himself with a circus hand gun that shoots backwards.
  • One of these shows up in The American when George Cloony's character intentionally designs one for an assassin. Why would he do this? Simple: He figured out that the assassin would use the gun to kill him.
  • An alternate ending for Die Hard with a Vengeance has John McClane threatening Simon Gruber with a Chinese rocket launcher with the sights removed, allowing Gruber to point the rocket whichever way he liked. Gruber ultimately points the rocket launcher the wrong way.
  • Law Abiding Citizen. A criminal is about to execute a policeman whose gun he stole, only for the 'cop' to reveal he's actually the man whose family he murdered ten years ago. Pulling the trigger releases needles in the grip injecting the criminal with a paralysing neurotoxin, so he can be tortured to death at leisure.
  • One of the victims on Mind Hunters is killed by sabotaging his gun this way after he spends the entire movie complaining that he doesn't want to part with his gun.

     Literature  

  • The Lovejoy novel The Judas Pair featured a pair of duelling pistols designed to fire backwards. The owner would challenge someone to a duel and let them fire first. His opponent would end up shooting himself in the face. This story was also made into an episode of the Lovejoy TV series.
  • The Clue book "Midnight Phone Calls" has a chapter titled "The Guest Who Couldn't Shoot Straight". While hunting an escaped rhinoceros, the six guests are armed with revolvers, two that only shoot to the left, two that only shoot to the right, and two that work normally. At the end, one of the first four revolvers is pointed directly at the rhino, but apparently hits one of the other guests instead. (As usual, it turns out the "victim" isn't really dead.)
  • In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Ron's wand is damaged and becomes prone to firing spells through the wrong end, the one pointing towards the spellcaster... which is good news when Professor Lockhart steals it and tries to use it to erase Ron's and Harry's memories...

     Live Action TV  

  • In "The Girl Who Was Death", a zany spy-spoof episode of The Prisoner (original), Number 6 modifies some rifles so they'll fire backwards before some guards arrive and attempt to shoot him with them. He also modifies German "potato-masher" grenades so the charges are in the handles instead of the heads.
  • In an episode of The Wild Wild West, Miguelito Loveless hands James West such a pistol, but he sees through the ruse.
    • Said gun pulls a Chekhov at the end of the episode, when Loveless pulls a gun on a hostage, only for West to remind him that there were two identical-looking guns in the bag, only one of which shot forwards.
  • Happened in a skit of The Benny Hill Show that spoofed The A-Team.
  • The Man from U.N.C.L.E. had in one episode a pistol which fired backwards AND forwards, so that the assassin would take out her target and at the same time inadvertently silence herself for good.
  • In a season 3 episode of the Canadian series The Listener, this turns out to be the payoff for the villain's Evil Plan to wreak revenge on the guy who molested his daughter — he set up a scenario where he knew the guy would get the gun from him, but the gun was rigged to shoot the chamber backwards right into his head. This also allows him to rationalize the guy's death with his personal vow against killing others; technically he didn't pull the trigger.
  • Happens to Kenny in My Name Is Earl, only with mace, while trying to spray Earl with it. Earl helps take the sting out of his eyes afterwards.
    Earl: When you steal a lot of purses, you learn a thing or two about mace.
  • Doctor Who: In "The Time of the Doctor", the Doctor convinces the wooden Cyberman that he has converted its weapon into one of these. When the Cyberman reverses his gun, it winds up shooting itself in the chest.
  • Star Trek: Voyager. In "Worst Case Scenario" Seska has programmed the holodeck to become a Deadly Game involving the Voyager crew; when Holodeck-Janeway fires her compression phaser rifle at Seska, it disintegrates Janeway. Later Seska forces Tuvok to Put Down Your Gun and Step Away, but the same thing happens to her as Tuvok sabotaged his rifle before handing it over.

     Newspaper Comics  

  • FoxTrot did this with a squirt gun in one strip.
  • Urbanus: In "De dochter van Urbanus", there are three of them.

     Radio  

  • In the BBC radio drama Batman: The Lazarus Syndrome, Ra's al Ghul accidentally shoots himself when he grabs a gun from Batman's trophy room, not realising that it is a booby-trapped weapon rigged to fire backwards.

     Tabletop Games  

  • Grimtooth's Traps Too contains a reverse-firing "Double Crossbow" as a loot trap.

     Video Games  

  • Cobra Triangle: One of the two forms of the top of the Fire power-up chain fires one bullet from the fore, one from the aft, and one each starboard and port.
  • One of the Tales of Monkey Island chapters has Guybrush insert a glass tube in the shape of the letter 'U' into an antagonist's gun, causing it to fire backwards.
  • The site Epic Mafia, centered around an online version of the parlor game Mafia, has the Fabricator role. While Village-aligned roles such as the Gunsmith, Blacksmith, and Santa can secretly give others gifts every night, this Evil Counterpart can create fake versions of items. This includes a fake gun which backfires and kills the user.

     Web Original  

  • In one episode of Bastard Operator from Hell, we find out that the cattle prods have two settings. "Stir Fry" operates normally, while "Stun" causes the high voltage to fry the person brandishing the device. This is then used by the Bastard when he suggests the Boss use the cattle prod to stun the PFY.

     Western Animation  

  • Occurs in numerous Looney Tunes shorts.
    • Apparently you can make any gun fire backwards if you stick your finger in the barrel. (As the MythBusters proved, this doesn't work in real life.)
    • In one notable example, Bugs Bunny causes Wile E Coyote to shoot himself, several times, simply by moving the sight to the other end, or removing it completely so he can't tell which end is which.
    • And in "Hillbilly Hare" he does it by turning the barrel of a long rifle round after the trigger has been pulled.
    • A Farscape episode in which Crichton imagines himself in a Looney Tunes cartoon has him pulling this trick by sliding the sight forwards on D'Argo's shotgun. An angry D'Argo swops the barrel round, only to shoot himself a second time. Exactly like Wile E Coyote above.
  • Dennis and Gnasher: In "Yard Sale", Walter picks up Dennis's squirt gun and attempts to shoot Dennis with it, only for it to spray him in the face as Dennis says it backfires. He then turns the gun around and attempts to shoot Dennis again, only to soaked again as the water comes out the barrel and Dennis adds "Sometimes".
  • Used in the Futurama episode "Assie Come Home" when making a delivery Leela has Bender bend the barrels of all the guns leading to all the gang members killing themselves.

     Real Life  

  • A poorly-made, incorrectly assembled or worn-out firearm or excessively powerful cartridge loads can cause the bolt, part of the breech or—in the case of semi-automatic pistols—the slide to be blown back into the user's face. The Reliably Unreliable Guns page has a couple of examples.
    • The most notable version is probably the Ross Rifle, a Canadian-designed and built substitute for the excellent Lee-Enfield during World War I. While a fine design, just as powerful and slightly more accurate, it could be disassembled and then reassembled with the bolt head turned in the wrong direction, chambering and firing a round without the bolt securely locked to the receiver, resulting in possible Eye Scream.
    • The US Navy SEALs are among the only members of the US military to use a 9mm pistol that isn't the Beretta 92, partly because of a defect that caused the same sort of issue as the Ross rifle above - a specific part was giving out five times earlier than it should have, causing the slide to fly off and hit the SEAL firing it in the face while training. As the quote went, "you ain't a SEAL until you've eaten Italian steel".
  • In WW1 there were attempts made to mount large caliber cannons onto the flimsy biplanes of the day to shoot down zeppelins, and one method used to mitigate the substantial recoil was to simply weld a second cannon facing backwards to the back of the forward firing cannon, and firing both guns at the same time, the rear one loaded with chain or other such material to cancel out the recoil of the forward firing gun.
  • Water guns have been made so that there's a rotating exit on the top allowing guns to squirt in any direction and forward at the same time.
  • There is a possibly photoshopped image of a backwards revolver circling the Internet.
  • Backwards-firing Combat Cutlery. "It is difficult to imagine a social gathering where it is appropriate to shoot off your own elbows."


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