- The gunman topples over dead, having just been shot by a good guy we didn't realize was there. Bonus points if the gunman falling out of frame dramatically reveals the shooter behind him.
- The bad guy two feet to the left of the hero topples over dead, because the gunman was a good guy after all, or has just come to some kind of understanding with the hero and is now their ally. Or, of course, it was The Blofeld Ploy. Can be used as a subversion where the gunman just misses.
- No-one falls. It's quickly revealed that, with or without the shooter's knowledge, the gun was loaded with blanks.
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Anime & Manga
- Twice in Noir "Intoccabile Acte II". The first time a mook is firing into three small waterfalls where Kirika may be hiding; as he turns to face the third waterfall a shot rings out, which turns out to be Kirika firing first. And when the Intoccabile appears to have stabbed Mirielle, it turns out that Kirika has shot her blade in half.
- Code Geass:
- The first season finale ends on this trope and, infuriatingly, doesn't show the answer until the second episode of R2. Both Lelouch and Suzaku fired near-misses, at which point Suzaku charged in and knocked the gun out of Lelouch's hand, ending the standoff.
- Done again at the tail end of R2, wherein Diethard aims a gun at Lelouch, a shot is fired, and then Diethard falls over, having been shot in the shoulder by the now-Geassed Schneizel.
- In the penultimate episode, when Johan cannot sufficiently motivate Dr. Tenma to shoot him and finish what he started (and therefore manage to achieve the perfect suicide while proving Tenma's worldview that "all lives are equal" to be wrong), he points a gun at Wim Knaup, a boy that had followed Tenma to the grounds of the confrontation. Tenma, driven to extreme desperation, prepares to go through with the act to save Wim's life, and soon after, a gunshot rings out and Johan collapses with another bloody exit wound in his head. The audience is initially led to believe that Tenma pulled the trigger by the reactions of Nina, Rudi Gillen and Tenma himself, but it turns out that it was Wim's drunk father, who happened upon the scene and saw "the devil" threatening his child.
- Another example occurs in the episode preceding that one, where Roberto seemingly has Inspector Lunge at his mercy after shooting him in the shoulder, and prepares to deliver the coup de grâce. A gunshot is heard as the footage cuts to the outside of the hotel they are in ... only for it to later be revealed that Lunge had a second concealed pistol that he used to shoot Roberto, who is now lying on the bed momentarily stunned.
- In the finale of Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny, ZAFT Chairman Gilbert Durandal is confronted by not one but two gunmen, Kira Yamato and his former lover Talia Gladys. A shot rings out, and it turns out neither of them shot him. His killer is Rey Za Burrel, a clone who he'd been a father figure to. Everybody betrayed Gilbert, but due to the way the series was handled, it usually comes with little or no explanation.
- A version of this is done with a sword in Kyo Kara Maoh!. During the period when Conrad is pretending to be a traitor, Yuri is captured, tied up, and presented to Conrad to kill. Conrad takes the sword, walks up to Yuri, and then there's a swish as the sword is swung... only to show that Yuri's bindings have been slashed through and Conrad is taking down the guards around them.
- A rather complicated one at the end of the second episode of Darker Than Black, combined with subversions of Diving Save and Taking the Bullet. Jean points a gun at Chiaki, and Hei jumps in front of her as we hear a gunshot; however, she was the one who shot him, as she was actually a Doll implanted with the original's personality and Jean had just wiped it. Subverted in that, unfortunately for the bad guys who then proceed to empty a good five shots into his back while he's lying on the ground apparently incapacitated, Hei's Badass Longcoat is bulletproof no matter who's shooting at him.
- In Angel Cop, Angel's first act on camera is to save Raiden in a Bait-and-Switch Gunshot scene.
- Done in Gosick during one of the Queen Berry episodes.
- This happens, but is subverted, twice in Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex.
- In Jungle Cruise, Batou is set on capturing a war-turned murderous psychopath named Marco Amoretti who still thinks that he's fighting his own personal war. Marco has committed murders around the city that cuts too Close to Home to Batou, and he knows it's up to him to finally end it all. Batou chases after him, eventually cornering him up against a wall with his pistol aimed at Marco's head. Marco finds pleasure in the situation. He excitedly begs Batou to shoot him, put a bullet in his brain and end it all. Batou is seething with rage at this point, more than willing to give in to his plea. Togusa rounds the corner and shouts out for him to stop just in time to hear gunfire. We see Marco's body spasm and contort against the wall as Batou empties his gun. Marco is then surprised but at the same time disappointed that he's still alive. Batou emptied his gun into the wall on either side of his head, and finally arrests him.
- An homage to Taxi Driver, Night Cruise in the 2nd season focuses on a war veteran turned refugee named Gino, who found a way to cope with his PTSD by imagining scenarios in his head where he suddenly becomes the hero by killing his scumbag boss, saving the life of a hooker, and at one point dreaming of a Heroic Sacrifice just to have the hooker fall for him. Section 9 was monitoring him to tell whether he'd actually carry out these dreams or not. In the real world though, he buys the services of a prostitute, only to find that he doesn't have enough money for very much more than having her undress. When he tries to bargain with her, she calmly calls for her boss to deal with the situation. The pimp drags him out into the back alley and points a gun at his head in one hand while holding all of Gino's cash in the other. Gino begs him not to shoot or take all his money. Gino winces as he hears the pimp yell "BANG!" before putting his gun away, tossing Gino his clothes, and leaving him in the trash where he lay.
- Brilliantly done in episode 61 of Legend of Galactic Heroes, where Yang thought he was dead for sure when the Alliance soldier ordered to execute him pointed his gun at him and a shot was fired. Turns out that the shot was fired by Frederica Greenhill, who managed to rescue Yang in the nick of time.
- Sword Art Online Season II episode 9 ends with a Smash to Black and a gunshot. Episode 10 reveals what happened.
- Underplayed at the end of Patlabor 2: Shinobu confronts the Big Bad with a shotgun. She points it at him and does a Dramatic Gun Cock, but then just fires a flare shell in the air to signal the others.
- Played with in Jo Jos Bizarre Adventure Phantom Blood. As Dio approaches after revealing his vampirism, Jonathan is urged to shoot him, but can't bring himself to pull the trigger. A gunshot goes off, and it's revealed Speedwagon was the one to fire on Dio, with Jonathan beside him, still shaking.
- In Ultimate X-Men #12, right after Nightcrawler saves Colonel Wraith, the mutant-hating head of Weapon X, from an exploding helicopter, Wraith pulls out a gun to shoot him. The next panel shows a gun being fired, and in the next three, it becomes clear that Wraith was gunned down by Nick Fury, who had apparently been standing off camera with hundreds of SHIELD agents.
- At the climax of the X-Men story God Loves, Man Kills, the Reverend Stryker is pointing a gun at Kitty Pryde. There's a BLAM, then we see that a cop shot Stryker, because as long as the reverend was only talking (as far as the police knew), he was protected by the laws on freedom of speech and they couldn't do anything to him, but the moment he tried to shoot an unarmed teenage girl he became a criminal that had to be stopped.
- Bystander: That cop — shot the reverend!Other Cop: Yup. Who was trying to shoot an unarmed little girl. If that's the word o' God, it's sure changed some since Sunday school.
- In Joker, a cop points a gun at an out-of-ammo Joker, we see a BLAM and The Joker's shocked reaction, then Joker looks down and we see the corpse of the cop, now with a big hole in his head courtesy of Jonny Frost, who'd come up behind Joker just in time.
- Inverted in Gotham Central, when Joker escapes custody and steals a handgun in Central precinct, he corners Stacy and prepares to shoot her, saying "Kiss kiss" followed by the Bang Bang sound effect... Of Captain Sawyer shooting him.
- Speaking of which, there's also the Joker's "Bang!" Flag Gun which at first plays this trope straight by (seemingly) being a prop, then subverts this trope by actually being a lethal spear gun, with the flag acting as the spear.
- A rare reversal of the Hero's and Villain's roles occurs in The Walking Dead. Rick is about to finish off Negan, delivers his Pre-Mortem One-Liner, and there's a full 2-page spread of the "Blam!" The next page reveals that Rick's gun has been Blasted Out Of His Hand.
- Button Man: After Harry blackmails Senator Jacklin, his former handler Cora offers to run away with Harry after she already tried to have him killed. When he tells her to go to hell, she prepares to shoot him, but the Senator shoots her first to protect his own interests.
- Black Moon Chronicles: When Lord Parsifal and his Knights of Justice visit the impregnable castle Altenberg to persuade the Knights of Light to rid themselves of their corrupt leadership, the commander in charge of the castle orders his soldiers to kill Parsifal with crossbow bolts despite the high priest having granted Parsifal safe passage. His soldiers fire on their commander instead.
Films — Animation
- A variation occurs in Disney's Tarzan. Tarzan has an uncanny ability to imitate any sound he hears. He uses it to fake out Clayton by not actually shooting him, but instead making the sound of a gunshot.
- In Open Season: As Boog furiously attacks Elliot for inadvertently ruining his show, Shaw aims his rifle at them, not caring that there's a panicking crowd between him and his targets. Sheriff Gordy shoves Shaw's rifle away just as a loud gunshot is heard and Boog falls to the ground... but it's then revealed that Ranger Beth shot Boog with a tranquilizer (and then fires about six more darts into Elliot's butt). Shaw makes a hasty retreat before Gordy can arrest him for attempting to fire his gun into a crowd.
Gordy: Shaw, you're under arrest. (Shaw's gone) SHAW?! (sighs)
Films — Live-Action
- Variation in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life, where the shooter is the heroine herself; we just didn't realize she was holding a gun.
- In Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indy gets cornered in Marion's bar by a Nepalese thug, and a gunshot is heard. Indy jumps and grabs for his stomach, only to find no bullet. The thug slowly lowers his gun, some blood trickles from his mouth, and he falls to reveal Marion behind him with a smoking gun.
- Happens three times in the Brazilian movie Lisbela e o Prisioneiro (Lisbela and the Prisoner). Actually, it happened only once, but they flashed back to it twice. Frederico was about to kill the title prisoner, a gunshot was heard, and the Frederico died. Then, there is a flashback, in which it appears Lisbela was the one who fired the shot. Later, it is revealed Lisbela's gun was empty, and the one who shot Frederico was actually his wife.
- Done to the letter in The Thirteenth Floor. The good girl is running away from her mad husband from the future (don't ask), and finds herself in a wide open space with nowhere to go. Said husband lifts his gun and she closes her eyes, ready for the worst. The camera stays on her, there is a bang and she shudders - but a second later she opens her eyes, and we see the husband has been shot by another good guy instead.
- Pirates of the Caribbean:
- Happens during the climax of Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.
- And again near the beginning of Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, a british soldier corners Jack after he escapes custody, only to be shot dead by Jack's father.
- Done in The Lookout when Lewis (who is blind) is being held at gunpoint by Bone; the gunshot is Chris killing Bone, and Lewis wonders out loud if he's dead.
- A Type B example in Undercover Brother. The villainness White She Devil is pointing a gun at the two heroes, with one of her thugs standing on each side of them. WSD fires two shots - and the thugs fall dead. It turns out she fell in love with Undercover Brother while seducing him to her side.
- In Force 10 from Navarone, Maritza Petrovich and her Nazi minions are guarding the two heroes. The heroes try to attack them and Maritza fires her submachine gun - killing the two guards. She explains that she's a plant in the Nazi organization.
- Babylon A.D. has a particularly effective one. Vin Diesel's character is hit by fighter drones while escorting Aurora and Sister Rebecca across the Bering Strait. His 'friend' Finn decides to take Aurora for himself, believing she's a priceless viral weapon. When Sister Rebecca objects he says matter-of-factly: "You, I don't need." A shot then rings out...and Finn falls dead, revealing the Not Quite Dead Vin Diesel holding a pistol. The scene works because Rebecca is not a main character, and thus more likely to get shot — she does in fact get killed later on.
- Shows up in The Mummy Returns. Granted, no savvy viewer should fall for that one, since not only is the false shooter a random mook aiming for a major character, but he's also going for a point-blank shot through the chest(which tends to make its victim do something a bit less subtle than look shocked). Also, trailers show that main character would participate in the big battle which hadn't happened yet.
- Ronin plays the "thought he was dead" variation with Jean Reno's character rescuing Robert de Niro's.
- Race for the Yankee Zephyr (1981). A mook is trying to shoot the protagonists from a helicopter with what appears to be a rifle. Finally a shot rings out, and we see a protagonist snared by one of the deer-catching nets used in the opening of the movie.
- In 16 Blocks, whether the gunshot is false or real is the key difference between the two endings.
- Escape to Athena (1979). After La Résistance seize the submarine refueling depot, a machine gun is seen swivelling menacingly towards the heroes, but when it fires it kills a German guard on the roof who was about to shoot David Niven, as one of the good guys has already taken over the bunker.
- In Batman Returns, the Penguin uses his "dazzler" umbrella while talking to Max Schreck, which is supposed to divert the victim's attention to the umbrella so the Penguin can catch him off-guard and use the second function, which is a rifle. For a second, Max thinks he's been shot, but the Penguin calls him a "big baby", having only used blanks. ("You think I'd go through all this trouble tonight just to kill ya?" he scoffs.)
- James Bond
- Thunderball. As Largo is about to shoot Bond, Domino shoots him from behind with a Harpoon Gun.
- And in For Your Eyes Only, Bond is being chased by mooks when he's suddenly confronted by a veiled figure pointing a crossbow...who shoots the mook running up behind him. She removes the veil to reveal herself as the female protagonist.
- And in Spectre. As Bond Girl Lucia Sciarra arrives home from her husband's funeral and walks out to the courtyard, two assassins loom behind and take aim. We hear two muffled gunshots. . .and as their bodies fall to the ground and the focus clears, we see that Bond has killed them both.
- My Fellow Americans, a film about two ex-presidents Kramer and Douglas trying to clear their names of a kickback taken by the incumbent, comes to a climax after the two make it to the White House and are racing to a press conference to expose the scandal. An evil NSA agent by the name of Colonel Tanner pulls his car onto the White House lawn, cutting the two off, all while screaming orders to shoot the presidents at two Secret Service snipers on the roof, claiming they are imposters. He raises his gun after the snipers hesitate. A shot rings out. Cue Disturbed Doves. Tanner falls dead by one of the snipers, who reveals he knew they were the real presidents, as he had met them while dressed as Dorothy Gale during a gay pride parade. He had given them a bracelet which was sticking out of Kramer's pocket.
- Judge Dredd: When a Capture Team member is about to shoot Dredd, Judge Fargo shoots the CT member from behind. Later at the end, when Dr. Hayden was going to kill Dredd, Judge Hershey shoots her from behind.
- Under Siege: As Doumer (Colm Meaney) is about to shoot Chief Ryback (Steven Seagal), several shots ring out and Doumer falls to the deck dead. Behind him is standing Jordan Tate (Erika Eleniak), Ryback's Love Interest, with a gun in her hands. She has Taken A Level In Badass just in time to save him.
- Happens in Taken 2 after a rooftop chase scene.
- The film adaptaion of the Alex Rider book Stormbreaker, Operation Stormbreaker, added a final scene where Alex is hanging on a electrical cable over the edge of a skyscraper, with his friend Sabina also hanging on to his legs. Sayle is on the roof above with his gun trained on him about to shoot when suddenly Yassen appears hanging from a helicopter upside down using a harness. Seemingly lining himself up with Alex (much in the same why that he when murdering Alex's uncle) he pulls out two pistols, and the scene cuts to the shocked onlookers down below as two shots ring out making it seem like he killed Alex. Cut to Alex, alive and bewildered about what happened then to Sabina in the same state before we see Sayle's body fall fall over the side of the building.
- The Killing Room (2009): Several volunteers are locked in a room for a psychological experiment, only to be killed off one-by-one, with the implication being that only one man (if any) will be allowed to survive. In the end it's down to two people, one of whom seems more likely to survive. The other has a gun with one bullet, so he decides to kill himself in a Heroic Sacrifice. As he quickly shoves the gun in his mouth there's a gunshot, and bloodsplatter, then several other gunshots — the researchers have burst into the room and shot his companion, as the test is meant to recruit people capable of sacrificing themselves in Suicide Attacks.
- The supposed execution of two captives in Unknown (2006). The protagonist is alone with them and points a gun at their heads, ready to pull the tricker. The scene cuts away to one of the kidnappers in the car as he hears two gunshots. Later it turns out, the protagonist tricked the baddies and both captives are still alive, ready to kick asses.
- In Mirage (1965), during a Russian Roulette scene, as we expect the henchman to pull the trigger on the hero for the third time, we hear a shot and see the baddie collapse. Then the camera shows the Love Interest as she holds the smoking gun.
- In Layer Cake, when the sniper aims at a person who appears to be the target, a shot is fired and we see a Gory Discretion Shot of blood splattered on some leafs. We assume the target was hit, but the next camera shot reveals that it was Mr Lucky who got hit by another sniper.
- Total Recall (1990): Cohaagen has Quaid at gunpoint in the underground mine and is about to shoot him. Shots are fired and Cohaagen is shot...by Melina, Quaid's Action Girl companion.
- After the Sunset: As local gangster Moret holds the hero Max and his girlfriend Lola hostage, there's a struggle, a gunshot, Max's body jerks. . .and as Moret falls to the floor, we see that the fatal shot came from either FBI agent Stan or local Fair Cop Sophie.
- In Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Jessica Rabbit points a gun at Eddie Valiant. Until this point in the film, it's been unclear where her loyalties lie. As Eddie turns to face her, seemly resigned to his fate, the shadow of a menacing figure looms behind him. Jessica promptly proves she's one of the good guys by screaming, "Behind you!" and firing a shot at his would-be killer.
- Wild Geese II. Scott Glenn's character is walking through the forest with The Chick while a man with a scoped rifle takes aim...and shoots a boar. This Cat Scare gives a plot excuse for the subsequent Coitus Ensues moment.
- Captain America: The First Avenger: We see Captain America through a telescopic sight, then the sight moves to a HYDRA soldier who's about to shoot him, who's then shot by the sniper, revealed to be Bucky Barnes.
- Night of the Comet. Reg and Sam are tied up back-to-back, with Willy playing "Scary Noises" (the sounds of the revolver's hammer clicking on empty chambers) while the rest of the stockboys enjoy the game. With one bullet left in the gun, Willy points it at Reg's forehead....and multiple shots ring out, taking out Willy and the gang of stockboys. Reg and Sam have been rescued by the scientists from the desert think-tank.
- I Shot Jesse James: During one of their nighttime prospecting jobs, Soapy and Bob sit around a campfire to eat their meal. Suddenly, Bob pulls his gun on Soapy and stares intensely before firing at him. Turns out he was actually shooting a mountain lion that had appeared right behind Soapy.
- In The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, this ends up being the twist in the movie. Ransom is being shot at by the titular Liberty Valance out in the street. Ransom has his gun out at the time and appears to have fired when Liberty Valance is shot and drops dead. Ransom is hailed as a hero, but in reality, Tom, who was nearby, was the one who pulled the shot. He goes to his grave only telling Ransom the truth about what had happened that day, and when Ransom later tells that to a reporter years later, they decide not to reveal it.
- In Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier, as Davy gains the upper hand in a fistfight against Bigfoot Mason, a member of Bigfoot's gang aims his rifle at him while his back is turned. A gunshot is heard, but it then turns out that Charlie Two-Shirts shot Davy's would-be assassin with his own rifle.
- In Asimov's Foundation series, one of the prequels shows Hari Seldon getting a blaster aimed at him. He is surprised to hear the sound, since if you get vaporized by a blaster you never get a chance to hear it. Turned out the one aiming at him was thrown clear when the real villain (not the aimer but the man controlling him) was blasted instead, by a third party.
- In William King's Warhammer 40,000 novel Space Wolf, the Chaos Space Marine is facing Ragnor, who can not move under a spell. He hears a shot. Then he realizes he wasn't hit, and that Strybjorn must have regained consciousness and shot the Chaos Space Marine.
- In Graham McNeill's Ultramarines novel Dead Sky Black Sun, when Uriel and Pasanius are facing the Iron Warriors and Uriel goes down, he hears shots and wonders why he is not dead. Then he realizes that the Unfleshed have reached them.
- Played with in the Thursday Next books, where Thursday uses a literal plot device, labelled "A shot rang out", to this effect.
- In Ben Counter's Warhammer 40,000 Horus Heresy novel Galaxy in Flames, Tarvitz is flying a Thunderbird, trying to get word to the Astartes that they have been betrayed, pleading with his friend Garro to believe him, when his pursuers have in him range and open fire. He waits for his death, and then Garro hails him, saying his pursuers are dead and asking him to tell him that it was true.
- Non-firearm example: The last chapter of Darkly Dreaming Dexter ends with the line "And the knife came down". The epilogue takes place at a funeral. At first it's made to seem as if Dexter's sister Deb was the victim, but in fact it's revealed to be Detective LaGuerta.
- Done with a crossbow in Small Gods to Dervi Ichlos. (It isn't a spoiler because his name isn't revealed until after he dies anyway.)
- Star Wars Legends:
- In Book 3 of the Han Solo Trilogy (Rebel Dawn), Han and Bria were held at gunpoint by Teroenza, who's been waiting for this moment for a while. A gunshot is heard, and at first Han thinks Bria has been shot, only for Boba Fett to reveal himself, having shot Teroenza for a bounty he took on earlier in the book. Played With for a second here, as Han and the reader likely expect that Fett will simply take Bria and Han away as well, But Fett simply explains that they are fortunate that he doesn't mix business and pleasure.
- In one instance in Rogue Squadron, Corran Horn has taken a blaster shot to the gut, and is now on the wrong end of an Imperial commando's gun. A shot rings out and he flinches, then goes, "Wait, dead people don't flinch." Cue Wedge and half the base's staff as The Cavalry.
- In Skeleton Key, the third Alex Rider novel, the climax has the Big Bad General Alexei Sarov standing over Alex with a gun. He has him dead to rights, and the chapter simply concludes with Sarov saying "Good-bye, Alex", and the narration reading "He raised the gun and fired a single shot." In the next chapter, we learn that Sarov actually committed suicide. That single shot was fired straight into his own heart.
- The first book, Stormbreaker, also does this. Herod Sayle has Alex cornered on the roof and has him at gunpoint, and the narration says "There were two explosive cracks." But it's Sayle who falls over dead, shot by Yassen.
- We get another instance of this in the seventh book, Snakehead. Anan Sukit has a gun pointed at Alex, trying to escape a fighting ring on a boat, and three shots are fired. Sukit drops his gun into the water, then falls over, three bullets in his back courtesy of Ben Daniels (aka Fox from Stormbreaker).
- Finally, the last book, Scorpia Rising, features this trope in its climax, after Alex and Julius (the Dr. Grief clone from Point Blanc given surgery to look exactly like Alex) have engaged in a chase-slash-gunfight through the streets of Cairo. After confronting an injured Julius (hit by a taxi), Alex goes to walk away, but notices Julius scrambling for his gun. The chapter ends on these two lines:
Julius fired a single shot.
But Alex fired first.
- In Tricky Business, Manny Arquero, having correctly guessed that Tark was just about to double-cross him, gets the drop on him and is just about to squeeze the trigger on his AK-47, but he doesn't get it off (as the narration immediately reveals) since the first bullet in the shootout is fired right into his back by Bobby Kemp wearing a Conrad Conch costume (whose identity is not immediately revealed).
- Bassam Baradj in Win, Lose or Die is dealt with this way. He aims his gun at James Bond, but the following gunshot doesn't come from him, but from a fellow agent of Bond's.
- Joe Pickett: Happens in Below Zero. A wounded April is lying next to a wrecked car when the trio of hitman brothers who are chasing Robert show up. When she says she doesn't know where Robert has gone, one of the three lifts his gun and aims it at her. She shuts her eyes and hears a gunshot. When she realises she is not dead, she opens her eyes in time to see the hitman fall over with a hole in his head, having been shot by Nate who has just arrived.
- Bored of the Rings does this without firearms, when Karsh is about to subject Moxie and Pepsi to a little Cold-Blooded Torture:
"Ho ho!" chortled the narc as he stood over Moxie like some housewife sizing up a kielbasa. He raised the flaming iron and Moxie screeched at the sound of a blow. But when he opened his eyes again, his torturer was still standing above him, looking oddly different in expression. It was then that the boggie noticed that his head was missing. The body collapsed like a punctured whoopee cushion, and over it, triumphant, was the leering figure of Goulash.
- Done IN SPACE! in Starworld, by Harry Harrison. After an apparent Hope Spot where the Earth fleet has been decisively defeated, the rebels are shocked to find several battleships waiting in Earth's orbit, and their admiral reveals they've been Lured into a Trap. As there's No Kill Like Overkill, missiles are also launched from Earth to help finish off the rebel fleet... only for them to strike the battleships.
- Then there's arguably the climatic moment in Mocking Jay when Katniss shoots Coin instead of Snow.
- Subverted, inverted and then averted in a sketch of a 1970s German slapstick comedy show. There, a thief threatens a passerby, claiming that he trains a gun at him in his trenchcoat pocket. The passerby, however, sneers that he knows that it's only his index finger. Suddenly then, a shot rips out of it, killing the passerby instantly. The thief, however, quite shocked himself, quickly pulls his hand out of the pocket (he had indeed mimed a gun the whole time) and blows madly at his churned, smoking index finger.
- Done repeatedly to death, flipped over and done again every two hours in 24. Usually with Jack Bauer doing the shooting.
- In the Syfy miniseries Alice, Walrus has just shot Carpenter and is about to shoot Alice. Several shots go off, Alice gasps, and the camera pans to show Hatter has moved from hiding to pop up behind Alice and kill Walrus.
- Arrow: Played for Laughs. After Felicity has an arrow shot into her tablet, she throws it like a frisbee at a League assassin behind her, hits him in the neck and knocks him over, choking. She grins... and then sees Malcolm's arrow sticking out of his back.
Felicity: Oh. That makes more sense.
- In the Title Sequence of The Avengers, Emma Peel aims a revolver at Steed, then shoots the cork off his champagne bottle.
- Babylon 5 had one of these when Garibaldi was taken as a hostage by a group of rogue telepaths. The gunshot was heard in a Flash Forward, but the rest of the scene took half a season to set up.
- Done for suspense in The Blacklist during the first Anslo Garrick episode. Right after killing Luli Zheng, the titular Hero Killer holds Dembe, Red's bodyguard and close friend' to gunpoint, demanding the code to open the secure room Red is locked inside of so he can enact his vengeance. Assistant Director Cooper refuses to comply, and the episode fades to black, [[spoiler: with the sound of a gunshot. In Anslo Garrick: Conclusion, we briefly rewatch these events, before hearing the shot, learning it was actually Aram shooting one of Garrick's men, who was holding Liz. Dembe is not shot, as Anslo Garrick runs off to investigate.
- In the finale of Cape Town, two of Robin van Rees' bodyguards shrug as they hear a gunshot from inside the house, thinking their boss killed Joubert. It turns out that van Rees became the final victim of the Mauser Killer, revealed to be Joubert's therapist Hanna Fortier.
- Castle: Castle and Beckett are facing each other pointing guns. After a few seconds, two shots are heard, and both of the murderers sneaking up behind both of them fall over backwards. Castle reaches down and feels his lower body for a Crowning Moment of Funny. Naturally, this is the first you see of the two sneaking up. The shot of them aiming at each other was used at the beginning of the episode, and featured a How We Got Here that encompasses the summer break (as it was the third season premiere).
- In Chuck, the villain has a gun to Sarah's head, Chuck and Shaw are stunned, the gunman starts to move away, we hear a shot and Sarah drops to the floor. Casey muses that he's one of the five in the world that can make a shot from such a distance. Four now, since the rifle was set up for the gunman.
- The end of one Covert Affairs episode, after Annie has been chased around Argentina by the local authorities, the cops catch up to her right as her CIA extraction team arrives, point a gun right at her, make it look like things are about to get way more complicated... then shoot the assassin on the ground that she'd just knocked out, and tell her to just leave already.
- In Cimarron Strip, Marshal Crown is cornered at gunpoint by the wanted criminal Ace Coffin. All of a sudden, Coffin is shot from behind by Screamer.
- Criminal Minds has one of these for the final scence of the season four finale. And subverted, no one shot the Reaper, he just shot the wall behind Hotch in a (failed) attempt to scare him.
- Used in an episode of Diagnosis: Murder, when a woman who thinks she has psychic powers has a vision of Mark being abducted by the murderer at gunpoint, followed by a vision of a revolver being fired, leading to her believing that Mark is in danger. The scene then switches to the studio where the abduction was taking place, revealing that Mark's son Steve interrupted the abduction, fired the gun and injured the murderer.
- Doctor Who:
- On General Hospital, after a local mob boss's thugs took revenge on the Spencer family by shooting up their home, Luke roamed through the house looking for the final intruder. Thanks to him constantly calling out to wife Laura, warning her to stay put, the bad guy was honing in on the sound of his voice. There's the sound of the gunshot, Luke's body jerks. . .and after the commercial break it is revealed that Laura had grabbed a gun of her own, snuck up behind the guy, and blown him away.
- Subverted in "Kanalua", during the third season of the Hawaii Five-0 reimagining. McGarrett and Danny have their guns drawn on the wounded survivor of the robbery at the beginning of the episode, who's got a hostage at gunpoint. All of a sudden, he falls to the ground, not from a gunshot anywhere but because he had chosen that moment to die from his earlier wound. The subversion is lampshaded throughout that and the next scene, when Danny refuses to believe that McGarrett didn't actually do something, or even that he just knew the Mook would choose that exact moment to succumb.
- Done in a scene with Sylar and Mohinder. Mohinder has bound Sylar and is giving him a drug through an IV that will make him unable to use his powers. After using Sylar for testing and such, Mohinder finally pulls out a gun and aims it at Sylar's head. He pulls the trigger and Sylar's head snaps back. But wait, the camera turns around to show the bullet floating in mid air before dropping to the ground. Turns out Sylar was able to stop the IV drip so that his powers were in his control again.
- Another moment which fits the spirit of the trope, if not the letter, happens when Sylar's mother tries to kill him with a pair of scissors; they struggle, too closely to tell clearly what's going on, then there is a sound effect, Sylar looks horrified, and they stumble apart to reveal said scissors sticking out of Mommy's chest.
- In an early episode of Post Apocalyptic series Jericho during a showdown with escaped convicts.
- In the season 2 finale of Justified, Doyle Bennet, the dirty sheriff stands over Raylan, who has already been shot and knocked off his feet in the preceeding gunplay. Doyle points a gun and says "This bullets been on its way for 20 years" and we hear a crack of gunfire and see Raylan jerk, but the camera quickly pans back to Doyle to reveal the gunshot hole in his forehead. He's been taken out by Raylan's fellow US Marshal sniper, Tim, who neither the audience nor Raylan knew was hiding in the hills.
- In the episode "The Variable," Daniel has a gun on Richard and is counting down to firing, "3..2.." when we hear a shot. Daniel has been shot by Ellie.
- In the following episode, when Sayid shoots the Hostile who was about to shoot Kate.
- And in "What Kate Does", Aldo almost shoots Jin, but Claire gets him instead.
- The Cliffhanger to the first part of the Murdoch Mysteries two-parter "A Stroll on the Wild Side" is Anna being chased down by a Black Hand hitman, and the screen goes to black as we hear a gunshot. The following week's resolution, of course, is that Murdoch shot the hitman.
- My Own Worst Enemy: Henry has just given information about Janus to a man he thinks is from the FBI. The man pulls a gun and is about to shoot Henry when he topples over dead, shot by Henry's therapist.
- In the NCIS episode "Judgement Day Part 2", Gibbs is finally meeting the mastermind of the plot that killed Jenny Shepherd. They're alone, no one knows where he went, she has a gun on him and is about to pull the trigger, we see a closeup of Gibbs' face and hear a shot, he flinches—and she keels over dead, shot from behind by Mike Franks.
- NCIS: New Orleans: At the climax of "Means to an End", Pride arrives just as his daughter is about to be shot. He wraps himself around her in a desperate attempt to protect her. There is then a close-up of an automatic being fired. The shot then pulls back to reveal that the automatic is in the hands of Percy, who had been knocked unconscious earlier. She has recovered and entered just in time to shoot the would-be killer.
- This can, in fact, be done without a gun (given the right circumstances and some creative camera work), as proved in this scene from Nip/Tuck. (Very spoilery for the end of S2.)
- Another excellent variation is the climax of the "Living in Harmony" episode of The Prisoner. The Sheriff (our hero, Patrick McGoohan) and the Kid (the villain, Alexis Kanner) are having a quickdraw gunfight. There's a lightning draw, the sound of just a single shot, and we see the Kid nonchalantly spin his revolver on his finger and holster it. Then drop to his knees and keel over, dead. Bonus points because they allegedly filmed the quickdraw for real (with blanks, obviously), and there really was just the one gunshot sound - because, it transpired when they developed the film and watched it back, McGoohan beat Kanner to the draw by just two frames.
- The Red Dwarf episode "Back to Reality" has this: A fascist policeman aims his gun at an escaping girl whose only crime was stealing an apple. We see a close-up of the fascist head's as gunshots ring out. The fascist then collapses, with Jake Bullet/Kryten revealed to have been right behind him, a smoking gun in his hand.
- Spartacus: Blood and Sand has a non-firearm example at the climax. When Crixus is trying to persuade Doctore to join in the rebellion, Doctore suddenly throws his sword towards Crixus... and kills a Roman soldier who was about to strike Crixus from behind.
- Variant in the Torchwood episode "Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang" - Ianto has his gun trained on an alien holding a hostage. The alien says the team's useless without Jack, Ianto is an office boy in over his head, and he won't have the guts to shoot. Then a shot rings out and the alien collapses. Ianto stares at his gun in surprise, but behind him, Jack has just fired. "Hi, kids. Miss me?"
- UFO episode "ESP". John Croxley lures Ed Straker and Alec Freeman to the ruins of his house with the intent of killing them. While he's pointing a gun at them two shots ring out - and Croxley crumples to the ground, dead. Paul Foster appears behind Croxley holding a gun. He heard Croxley threatening Straker and Freeman and shot him to save their lives.
- White Collar: Neal is cornered by Adler, a shot rings out, and Adler drops as Peter shoots him from behind.
- Happens at the end of the third episode of Wild Boys. Butler raises his gun to shoot the hostages, a shot rings out, and Butler topples forward, shot by Jack who has escaped and returned to the bank in the nick of time.
- Done in The X-Files when Agent Mulder is caught by terrorists after infiltrating a cell. He's taken out in the woods to be executed by two terrorists and is shocked when one of them shoots the other instead of him. Turns out the shooter was a government operative who had infiltrated the cell as well and, although in deep, couldn't shoot Mulder because they were on the same side.
- In The Flash Season 1 finale, a gunshot rings out just as the Reverse-Flash is about to kill Barry making it appear someone shot him in the back. It was actually Eddie committing Heroic Suicide... which has the same effect anyway.
- Amazing Race Canada had a variation during a detour requiring teams to compete in trap shooting (use a shotgun to hit clay targets launched in the air). The final two teams are racing to compete the challenge so they can avoid elimination. They are both shown needing one more successful hit and the footage alternates between the two shooters getting ready. The camera than cuts away, we hear a shot and the sound of a target breaking and the show goes to commercial before we get to see which team hit the target and completed the challenge first.
- This trope was a staple of classic radio dramas like The Shadow, whose audio-only format made it especially easy to pull off convincingly. Even after the "thump" of a fallen body, you didn't know who'd been shot until the survivor(s) actually spoke aloud.
- Happens all the time in team first person shooters like Team Fortress 2 or Overwatch when you find yourself staring down the barrel of an opposing player's gun just to see them get head shot by one of your allies before you can react.
- In the original Ninja Gaiden and it's sequel on the NES, at the end of the first level, Ryu would invariably meet with a character holding a gun. In the first game, he gets shot (though it later turns out to be a tranquilizer bullet). In the second game, however, the shot strikes the monstrous boss he just defeated moments before, who was attempting a deadly final attack on the ninja's back.
- Metal Gear:
- A variation (involving a blank) is one of the possible outcomes of the duel near the end of Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater.
- In Metal Gear Solid 4 Mantis demonstrates her People Puppets power by forcing Meryl to put a gun to her head. The camera pans away, and you hear a gunshot. Then the camera change to reveal that Johnny just arrived and shot Mantis to save Meryl.
- Though not a gunshot, a similar event happens in Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn. Zelgius, the general for the antagonistic army, disobeys the corrupt senate, and is later sentenced to a public execution. The executioner lifts up his sword, the screen goes black and the generic sound for taking damage is heard.... then the screen lights up again and the executioner falls over from an arrow shot by an ally of the hero.
- In the ending of Dead Connection, the protagonists are held at gunpoint by the Mafia boss. A gunshot rings out, before the screen changes to reveal that he was shot dead, by a woman whose fiancee had been killed earlier in the game.
- Played with in MadWorld. Noa orders several mooks to shoot down Jack, who just won the Varrigan City DeathWatch. While blood appears on Jack's forehead, it's not his but rather Noa's—he was shot from behind by Leo. However, Leo turns out to be not quite the good guy he claimed to be.
- In Final Fantasy VII, the party is imprisoned due to their connection to Barret after a man with a gun on his arm (actually Dyne) slaughters a bunch of people. When the party confronts Barret, he tells them to leave, aims his gun, fires... and hits a spy who followed them in.
- Sazh in Final Fantasy XIII is so devastated when he finds out Vanille caused his son Daj to become a l'Cie and, by extension, a chrystal that he puts a gun to his head. The screen goes black, a gunshot is heard and in the next scene he's transported off in what looks like a futuristic glass coffin. It's later revealed he couldn't do it, fired into a wall and then got knocked unconcious in a fight.
- In Max Payne 2, Max interposes himself between Mona and Winterson, both of whom are about to attempt to kill the other. A gun goes off, and for a moment it's unclear who fired their gun at whom - only to reveal that Max has shot Winterson to protect Mona.
- In The World Ends with You, a flashback shows Joshua seemingly shooting and killing Neku. A later version of the same flashback reveals that Joshua actually shot, but did not kill, Minamimoto, who was standing behind Neku, and who then apparently shot and killed Neku. At the end of the game, though, the same flashback is shown...but this time, it's revealed that Minamimoto actually shot back at Joshua, who simply time-stopped the bullets. Minamimoto then fled, and Joshua shot and killed Neku for real.
- During [PROTOTYPE 2], James Heller arrives at the Blackwatch facility where Rook is holding his daughter Maya, and even taunted him about it in a public broadcast. When Heller arrives, Rook pulls a gun, then shoots his two lackeys and tells him to get his daughter and "get the hell out of [his] city", his likely justification being that James is so indestructible that holding him on the island is more dangerous than giving him what he wants so he just goes away.
- In Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception this happens to Drake in a flashback when he was a teen. One of Katherine's men is a about to shoot him (He even asks him to close his eyes and tell him it'll all be over which he does) but then Sully shoots him and saves Drake's life.
- In Starcraft II Heart Of The Swarm, when Kerrigan break Raynor out of his prison, he was furious that Kerrigan was infested again (in which she did it by her own volition). She prompted Please Kill Me If It Satisfies You by pointing his revolver on her head, in which Raynor fire the gun but only fired at the wall. He misfired as he knew that she is important in a prophecy to prevent The End of the World as We Know It.
- Used in This short Cyanide & Happiness flash toon.
- The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob!—Jerry shoots at Molly and her clone, the implication being that one (probably the clone) will die. Instead, he was aiming at a different target (the hitting of which creates a completely different large problem).
- Used in Irregular Webcomic!, with a Nazi firing squad. It's a slight variation, since the shot heard was a warning shot by a rescuer
- Happens in Schlock Mercenary, with a slightly different form of type A. We hear the bang and see a hole in the good guy's forehead. THEN we see the bad guy fall over and find out: "It's not a bullet hole. It's the, umm... muzzle."
- A variation during the "Mount of Mages" arc in Casey and Andy. The Big Bad of the arc attempts to stab Queen Jenna, and the day's strip ends with the "shink!" of a presumed stabbing. The next update shows that Grand Vizier Milligawain has come in from offscreen to stab said Big Bad in the back before he can land the fatal blow.
- Happens in Hero In Training when Alpha is about to shoot Gareth. We see a hand firing a gun... And then Alpha falls over dead. Turns out Omega was dead serious about not killing unarmed innocents.
- Batman: The Animated Series: 'Sid the Squid' in "The Man Who Killed Batman", is held at gunpoint by Rupert Thorne, who refuses to believe that anyone could kill Batman and escape the Joker out of dumb luck and thinks Sid is trying to depose him. A shot rings out... and turns out to be Thorne's goons in the next room trying (and failing) to stop Batman from barging in.
- Family Guy:
- Occurs in the episode And Then There Were Fewer when Diane Simmons, the murder of James Woods and several others, is about to shoot Lois at the edge of a cliff. A gunshot is heard, but instead Diane was shot by Stewie from a distance.
- Also used in the episode "Lois Kills Stewie." Stewie has Lois pushed to the floor and is about to shoot her with a shotgun. We see Lois flinch, but then we find out that Stewie had been shot from behind by Peter instead.
- In episode "It Takes a Village Idiot, and I Married One", Peter brings Jim Varney back as a zombie and then realises he meant to bring back John Belushi, so he takes him out into the yard to shoot him. We hear a gunshot and then Peter runs back into the kitchen saying Jim Varney somehow got the gun off him.
- King of the Hill, "To Kill a Ladybird" Ladybird may be rabid. Bobby raises his gun and Hank tells Bobby not to shoot Ladybird. Bobby fires and it looks like he missed Ladybird. He tells his dad that he didn't miss, and it turns out that he shot the raccoon which was sneaking up behind Hank.
- Star Wars Rebels: In "Legacy of Mandalore", Sabine has just defeated Gar Saxon and refused to kill him. She's walking away, and we see Saxon draw his blaster. We see Sabine walking, we hear a shot, we cut back to Saxon, then we cut back to Sabine as she turns, and we see Saxon has been shot in the chest. We then see that Sabine's mother Ursa was the shooter, having seen Saxon drawing his blaster.
- Happens in more than one Tom and Jerry short — with an appropriately theatrical "death" before the "victim" realizes the truth!
- In the South Park episode "The List" Bebe pulls out a gun and Wendy tackles her trying to get it away from her, after a while the gun goes off and it appears one of them was hit, it turns out the bullet didn't hit either of them, the stray bullet then travels to Kenny's house and kills him.