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- Rurouni Kenshin uses this trope during the Kyoto arc, when Kenshin tries to rescue a baby named Iori from Chou, the Sword Hunter. Chou kidnapped the baby for forcing his parent to tell him the location of the last sword ever made by the legendary sword-smith Shakku Arai, Iori's grandfather. Kenshin manages to pull a fight even though his reversed-bladed sword is broken, but Chou eventually disarms him. When everything seems lost, Iori's father appears and gives Kenshin Shakku Arai's last sword. However, Kenshin hesitates, since using a normal sword means that he will almost certainly kill Chou, which would break his oath of never killing a man ever again. Only when Chou threatens to kill Iori on the spot, Kenshin snaps out of it and defeats Chou with a single blow. Then everyone realizes that this sword was also reverse-bladed, so Chou naturally has survived.
- Trigun: Vash uses guns all the time. However, as a master of Improbable Aiming Skills, he uses them solely for trick shots, and when in serious trouble, will at most shoot a person somewhere where they'll heal. He doesn't believe in a situation where you can't save everyone. However, at one point, he is given a true no-win scenario, where the villain sets up a situation that will result in the death of his friends, unless the villain is killed (he has... issues). After much hesitation, Vash kills him. He doesn't take it well. Bear in mind that this was merely The Dragon he killed, and getting himself shot was the whole point.
- Oddly enough Vash was almost willing to kill someone much earlier in the series for killing a few dozen people. But that side of him was pretty much never seen again after. In all fairness though, Vash was very angry and people have been know to do crazy things when royally pissed off. With the above situation it was orchestrated so that vash had to be fully aware of his decision to kill after weighing his options. Ligato wanted Vash to willingly and without duress decide to take a life.
- Miria in Claymore breaks her one rule of never killing fellow Claymores during her battle against Hysteria the Elegant, as that was the only way to end the fight before a recently Awakened Cassandra killed all her allies.
- Monster: One of the major theme of the manga is the mental and physical tribulation of Dr. Tenma as he's forced to pick up a gun to hunt and kill a monster he unknowingly saved. This trope already has a bleak atmosphere hanging around it, but it's pushed to the realm of Deconstruction in his case. In the end, he didn't kill anyone. Not even The Dragon of said monster he thought he killed. Not the monster himself, the final confrontation with whom put the life of a child at stake.
- Fullmetal Alchemist: In his battle with Wrath near the end of the series, Scar breaks his code as an Ishvalan and uses Alchemy to reconstruct matter, thus regaining the upper hand. Up until that point, he only used his abilities to destroy things and so remained technically within the bounds of his code against it.
- In Zatch Bell! The heroes are fighting Zeon's co-dragons in an attempt to stop Faudo, a giant demon who towers over small mountain ranges. Things are not going well they are getting defeated one by one when Umagon desperately starts raising the heat in the area with his flame spells. The villains are confused at first, since there isn't enough heat to burn the Demon's book, which would take him out of the fight, then we get the truth: Umagon isn't trying to burn the demon's book, he is trying to boil the demon's human partner alive.
- Nanashi in Sword of the Stranger has his sword bound with a rope, and he has vowed not to draw it. You know where this is going - as he draws his sword at the climax, shit gets real.
- The Big O: Roger Smith is modeled quite a bit after Batman, right down to his own aversion to using firearms. But when Angel tosses him one while the two of them are cornered by bad guys, he concedes the situation and uses it...but only to hit a steam pipe and create a cover for them to escape. Roger explains that, even in such a situation, he refuses to shoot people. "It's all part of being a gentleman."
- The Trope Namer: Batman breaking out a gun as his "once in a lifetime exception" to try and kill Darkseid during Final Crisis. There are numerous counter-examples (his 1939-1940 version (now out of continuity) used a gun occasionally, and there are isolated stories here and there where he uses one as a threat or a tool — for example, to disable the bone-guns of a Super Soldier in the Infection two-parter), but as far as the spirit of the trope goes, Final Crisis is the only current in-continuity example of Batman using a gun with intent to harm/kill and going through with it, and even the current page image from Batman: Year 2 had him not pull the trigger in the end thanks to circumstances outside of his control.
Batman: A gun and a bullet, Darkseid. It was your idea.
- Dick Grayson broke his no-killing rule after he believed The Joker had murdered Tim Drake.
- Two-Face had a villainous one a long time ago, choosing to ignore his coin (which he uses to make difficult decisions as a way of bowing to the inherent arbitrariness of the universe) to spare Batman's life.
- An aversion in the final issue of Richard Dragon's series. He's sworn off killing, and SPECIFICALLY sworn off using the deadly Leopard Blow, but resolves to kill one final time (specifically, to kill his love interest/arch enemy Lady Shiva) to save the life of a young boy. During the climactic battle with Shiva, he has her set up for the blow, and attempts to deliver it, but is tackled away by her ninjas and killed shortly thereafter. It is worth mentioning that large parts of this series have been booted from canon.
- Rom Spaceknight usually follows Thou Shalt Not Kill, but made an exception for Hybrid when he realized his Neutralizer couldn't banish a human-Wraith hybrid to Limbo and that Hybrid was too evil and dangerous to be allowed to live.
- In Starman, Jack Knight kills exactly twice: the first was Kyle, the son of the Mist, while the second was Medphyll, a Green Lantern-turned-traitor. Both weighed heavily on his mind, especially the first one, and he eventually meets him in the afterlife and makes peace with him thanks to his brother David. The second was eventually revealed to have survived due to his alien physiology.
- Adrian Veidt/Ozymandias in Watchmen spent his crimefighting career as a friendly, idealistic and well-liked superhero who refused to kill and cooperated with the authorities. Then he became convinced that only he could save the world, and embarked on a horrific campaign that culminated in the mass murder of three million New Yorkers.
- In Wizards, Actual Pacifist wizard Avatar confronts his evil brother Blackwolf, and rather than engage him in a Wizard Duel, simply pulls out a gun and shoots him dead.
- In The Rundown, the Rock's character refuses to pick up a gun the entire movie, maintaining that "bad things happen" when he does. When he gets into a tight spot in the end, he does end up using guns — and it's awesome.
- In Unforgiven, William Munny avoids drinking because his wife "cured" him of such vices before she died. When Little Bill kills Ned, Munny finishes the Kid's bottle of whiskey and goes on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
- The Dark Knight Saga:
- In The Dark Knight, The Joker tells Batman that "tonight [he's] going to break [his] one rule". Batman's reply is "I'm considering it." He doesn't. Then, at the end, Batman tackles Harvey Dent, who falls off a ledge and dies. Depending on your interpretation, The Joker was either completely wrong (if it was an accident) or just one day off (if it wasn't), or Batman simply miscalculated the strength that was sufficient to subdue Dent in the heat of the moment (again, if it was an accident).
- During the final confrontation in The Dark Knight Rises, Batman seems completely willing to kill Bane, and isn't simply considering it, as he repeats his opponent's earlier threat to make him suffer a horrible death in a ironic way. Bane himself prefers hand-to-hand neck-snaps over gun executions, but after being beaten to an inch of his life and planning on dying either way, uses a gun to make sure Batman STAYS dead. And ironically, is shot in the face by Catwoman riding the batcycle. Finally, Batman himself personally shoots TWO PEOPLE with explosive rounds, but by then he's only got minutes to prevent an atomic bomb from killing twelve million people.
- The series itself inverts this in his character backstory. His first method of dealing with injustice in this series was going to be to shoot his parents' murderer, Joe Chill (fortunately for Bruce, the mob got to Chill first). It's his shame over this incident in reflection that causes him to adopt his normal rule about not using them.
- In The Omega Man it is actually one of the villains who suddenly picks up a gun he has secretly been carrying in order to use it against the protagonist. This is despite being a member of a cult of mutated technophobes who refuses to use complex devises on ideological grounds and who wants both technology and the protagonist destroyed.
- In Star Wars, Obi-Wan Kenobi hates using blasters, finding them uncivilized and crude. But in Revenge of the Sith, when it's the only weapon available, he grabs one to kill General Grievous. Afterward, he throws it away and remarks "so uncivilized.", as a humorous Call Forward to A New Hope.
- Played for Laughs in Spaceballs: Lone Starr hands Vespa a laser gun, and tells her to hold off the Mooks pursuing them. Vespa refuses, exclaiming that she hates guns. However, after one of the mooks gives her a Close-Call Haircut, she gets so mad, she promptly shoots all of them down.
- Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice:
- Batman has a nightmare where he's a Rebel Leader leading a resistance against Superman, who has taken over the world. When his group is ambushed and his comrades are getting slaughtered, he gets desperate enough to pick up several fallen mooks' guns and use them with lethal intent.
- When Anatoli Knyazev threatens to kill Martha Kent with a flamethrower, Batman grabs a mook's gun and shoots his fuel tank, blowing him up.
- Mina Davis from Hungover and Handcuffed and Asshole Yakuza Boyfriend doesn't kill, but she makes an exception for Serial Killer Jack Darwin after he tortures her—and several other girls—with a cheese grater.
- In The Dresden Files, Harry has been offered incredible power, often at terrible prices, throughout the series. He's always refused, though at the same time has always been tempted by that power. Offers range from the addictive draw of pure Black Magic, the eternal knowledge and power of a Fallen Angel, the possible godlike power of the Darkhallow, and the standing offer by Mab, Queen of the Winter Court, to become her Knight. Harry steadfastly resists all of these offers, as he knows that succumbing to these temptations will destroy him as a person. Then the bad guys kidnap his daughter, and Harry accepts Mab's offer to become her Knight.
- Earlier on, he threatens to pull everything listed above to his advantage if Mavra the Black Court Vampiress ever does harm to his friends again (especially Murphy). The threat is so effective that Mavra hasn't been seen or heard from since.
- In many Discworld novels, Sam Vimes thinks about how he's afraid of what he might become if he started acting outside the law, and hopes he never finds something awful enough to make him cross the line. In Snuff, he finally finds it.
- Happens in Agatha Christie's Curtain: Although Hercule Poirot "does not approve of murder," the fact that Stephen Norton can never be tried or connected to the murders that he gets away with puts the lives of the entire UK in danger, leaving it hanging in the balance while Poirot is dying of a heart condition; and he is pushed to the absolute limit so much that he has no other option but to shoot Norton dead in order to stop anymore crimes from happening. He could not say whether it was right to kill, but he is sure that it's for the benefit of everyone.
- Harry Potter:
- In Order of the Phoenix, Harry uses the Cruciatus Curse, one of the three Unforgivable Curses, on Bellatrix Lestrange after she kills Sirius. This turns out to be a subversion; the Cruciatus Curse runs on The Power of Hate, and the righteous fury Harry was feeling at the time just doesn't cut it. All it does is knock Bellatrix down for a second.
- Comes up again in Deathly Hallows: Harry uses the same curse on a Carrow after they disrespected Professor McGonagall. This time it works properly.
- Robots and Empire has a villainous example. Spacers are extremely averse to violence, and Mandamus' entire plan is supposed to be non-violent. However, in order to ensure his plan is carried out the way he wants, Amadiro buys a blaster and threatens to kill Mandamus if he doesn't set the dials as ordered.
- White Collar's Neal snaps in this manner in the second season episode Point Blank, when he has a chance to encounter and kill the man who he believes killed Kate. All of his friends are so worried about him being in this state that when Mozzie finds out he's got a gun, he immediately calls Peter, an FBI agent, which is his equivalent of this trope.
- Person of Interest
Finch: When the time comes for me to pick up a firearm, all will truly be lost.
- When Carter's son is kidnapped, the very anti-gun/anti-weapon Finch is so desperate to help save him that he picks up a gun and asks Reese to teach him how to use it, though he's quite realistic on what sort of assistance he'd be able to give even with a gun. Reese, however, refuses to teach Finch and instead suggests that Finch perform the very valuable assistance of being ready with the get-away car.
- In Season 4, after Shaw is believed to have died Reese actually does attempt to train Finch. In this case, Finch refuses.
- The title character of Chuck hates firearms, preferring tranquilizer guns. The only time he uses one is when his girlfriend and partner Sarah is being threatened.
- John Drake in Danger Man rarely uses a gun, to the point where when he does it's actually a shock. In the entire run of the series, Drake shoots only one person (not counting a later episode with gunplay that ends up being All Just a Dream).
- The main character in The Prisoner never uses a gun, until the events of the final episode push him too far. (Some believe the character is the aforementioned John Drake.)
- In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "The Most Toys", Data witnesses Fajo murder one of his employees with a weapon that was banned because of the slow, excruciating manner in which it kills. Her death is so brutal, in fact, that it even Fajo is clearly disturbed by it—so much so that he throws the weapon aside in disgust. Data, an android whose actions are strictly governed by ethics software, picks up the disruptor, aims it at Fajo... And then Chief O'Brien beams Data back aboard the Enterprise. In the end, it's left ambiguous as to whether Data pulled the trigger or not: we're told that the weapon was discharged during transport, and Data suggests that "something happened during transport." Was the discharge because the weapon was so rare and the transporter wasn't used to beaming it properly, or did Data fire and try to cover it with a Metaphorically True excuse?
- In Doctor Who the Doctor is a Technical Pacifist that has replaced someone's gun with a banana on at least one occasion. Even if he does resort to using weapons in dire situations, he'll try to avoid a gun and go for something explosives-related. This is especially prominent in the new series, for where 'never carries a weapon' went from a small exchange between the Fourth Doctor (who actually Does Like Guns, but doesn't carry one unless he knows he's going to need one) and Leela to a key part of the Doctor's characterization:
- In "The End of Time" he pointedly refuses Wilf's old war pistol to use against the Master... but the moment he hears that the Time Lords are about to return, he grabs it with zero hesitation. And subverted, oddly enough, with the Doctor's most violent and least hopeful incarnation, the War Doctor, who picks up a gun only to use it to write "No More" during the Fall of Arcadia.
- The reason for using this only in extremes is unintentionally revealed in "The Seeds of Doom". Yes, it's tons of fun watching the Doctor punch people in the groin, but yes, the bad guys are just humans or a recycled Axon suit spraypainted green, meaning the fact that the Doctor spends the entire story breaking necks, shooting guns and mixing Molotov cocktails comes across as rather unnecessary and out-of-character.
- The first time the Doctor uses a gun, according to a list on the subject in DWM is in "Day of the Daleks", where he disintegrates an Ogron. The first time he holds a gun is in "The Gunfighters", where he observes "People keep handing me guns. I do wish they wouldn't."
- Celebrated in this video The Doctor Is Gonna Bust Everything In Yo Ass, showing there were in fact quite a few examples in the Classic series!
- In the Series 9 finale "Hell Bent", the Twelfth Doctor has been Driven to Madness by a combination of torture and his anguish over the recent death of his beloved companion Clara Oswald, and thus becomes The Unfettered to bring her back from the dead despite the risk he knows this poses to the entire universe; indeed he has called others out for similar acts no matter how sympathetic their motivations are. This is best exemplified by his choice to literally grab a gun and shoot the Time Lord General, his friend, in order to escape capture. While it's important to note that he makes sure the General can regenerate when he does this, the Doctor is not doing any of this in the service of a greater good, but merely to soothe his own anguish; he is violating his vows to never be cruel or cowardly and to never affect the web of time so severely. In the episode's Framing Device, which takes place after he has repented and returned to his best self, it is pointed out how out of character the act of shooting the General is.
- Sam and Dean of Supernatural reach this threshold in the Season 2 finale. Earlier, they refuse to kill humans and are horrified when demonically possessed humans die while being exorcised. After, Sam comes Back from the Dead to empty a magazine into his helpless human killer, and Dean kills the Yellow-Eyed Demon along with its host. The change in attitude sticks for the rest of the series as they find that It Gets Easier — except when Rule of Drama says otherwise.
- Subverted in the season 2 finale of Daredevil. Matt is staunch believer of Thou Shalt Not Kill, but after Nobu kills Elektra, Daredevil throws him off the roof supposedly to his death. Nobu survives the fall, but Stick chops his head off shortly afterwards.
- In Warhammer 40,000, this happened to one of the Primarchs in the game's backstory. Roboute Guilliman of the Ultramarines spent considerable effort devising the best tactics and strategies to use in a given situation, which he distributed in his Codex Astartes. This meant that when the Horus Heresy erupted and he found himself fighting the traitorous Alpha Legion, Alpharius knew precisely what Guilliman would do, which combined with the renegade Primarch's mastery of irregular warfare meant that the Ultramarines were outmaneuvered at every turn. Guilliman was only able to defeat Alpharius by abandoning his own rules of operation to make a risky, unsupported assault on the Alpha Legion command center and killing the other Primarch in personal combat. However, the Ultramarines doubt the veracity of the records detailing this event, and the Inquisitor who produced them is suspected of being an Alpha Legion infiltrator, so it's possible the whole story is nothing but propaganda.
- Faith from Mirror's Edge applies to this based on her personal politics and ignoring player cruelty potential; considering her mother was shot for protesting, her sister is a cop and the player is generously awarded for not so much as shooting anyone, you know Faith is pissed when she's pointing a gun at an officer (though she seems to have remarkably few qualms about punting said cops off the roofs of buildings).
- Played with in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, as the in-universe explanation for why Snake never used CQC before (added to the series in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, a prequel, so presumably Snake knew it since before the original Metal Gear) is because of Big Boss' betrayal of FOXHOUND. He uses it now because Big Boss' Cold War-era exploits were declassified after the Big Shell incident, meaning most soldiers on the battlefields of 4 know CQC, and Snake's first response to someone using it on him is to respond in kind. While Liquid, Ocelot, Gray Fox and Solidus might have known it, they all either had their own highly effective fighting styles, or were just never in a situation where they would use it.
- Done subtly in Revengeance. Raiden says multiple times that he fights for justice, and he sees his sword as a tool to protect people weaker than himself. However, over the course of the game, he slowly starts going back on this, being forced to nearly kill a kid and unleash his psychotic Jack the Ripper persona to defeat his enemies. This comes to a head in the final battle where he has to use Sam's sword against Armstrong, proclaiming "This isn't MY sword!" and going to town on his opponent. Armstrong seems proud of him, using his dying words to congratulate him for shedding his ideals and being willing to kill. This rocks Raiden to his core as he realises everything he's had to give up to win. After all is said and done, it's clear in end that he's starting to feel Not So Different from his foes.
- Played brilliantly straight in Devil May Cry 3. Dante and Vergil are the twin sons of the Legendary Dark Knight Sparda. Dante chose to fight the demons while Vergil joined them. Dante uses his twin pistols, Ebony and Ivory, and his large sword, Rebellion; Vergil believes guns are dishonorable, choosing to use only his katana, Yamato. However, when push comes to shove, Vergil ends up taking one of Dante's guns and the pair shoot Arkham simultaneously, finishing him off.
- In Batman: Vengeance, Batman is forced to use Mr. Freeze's cryo-gun after defeating the madman, whose helmet had started to show cracks. After encasing Freeze in a block of ice, the Dark Knight rather irritably throws the gun to one side.
- Batman: Arkham City doesn't have the Dark Knight use a gun, but he does resort to lethal force against two separate opponents. Fully justified in both cases; the first is Solomon Grundy, who cannot be stopped by anything less, and the other is Clayface, who is effectively immune to all of Batman's conventional tactics.
- Xenogears: For the first half of the game, Citan only fights with his bare hands. During the escape from Solaris, he pulls out a sword. He says that he had sworn to himself he'd never use it again, but with the state of the world being what it is, he can't afford to be self-righteous and try to keep his "innocence."
- South Park: The Stick of Truth has your character, the New Kid (or Douchebag) trained in mystical magical arts (or rather, magical farts) by several different teachers. All of them close their lessons by warning Douchebag to never, ever, fart on a man's balls. However, when Princess Kenny betrays your side and ingests the Nazi Zombie serum, then withstands all of your allies' most powerful attacks in the final battle, Cartman says that their one hope is for Douchebag to break the "Gentleman's Oath", and fart on your enemy's balls. Doing so is the only way to defeat this foe.
- Bob and George: This trope becomes a major plot point. George, at the very end, finally uses his arm cannon on Bob. He was shooting to kill, but the cannon didn't fire. It's revealed that the entire comic was meant to bring George to the point where he was willing to use deadly force to stop an enemy—even if said enemy was his own brother.
- Spinnerette: At the very end of Issue 18, the titular protagonist, Heather - normally a naive, unambiguously heroic goofball - coldly and unhesitatingly uses a thermite charge to immolate the series' most recent Big Bad, after he spends basically the entire issue beating Heather's girlfriend Marilyn to within an inch of her life. It's the first time any of the heroes, let alone Spinnerette, outright kills an antagonist.
- Parodied in this Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal. It turns out that Batman simply didn't know what guns are. When introduced to them by Mary Marvel, he's overjoyed by their efficiency and immediately shots Joker dead.
- In the Web Serial Novel Worm, the main character breaks her code against killing when she uses a gun to execute Diabolical Mastermind Coil, reasoning that though he was temporarily outmaneuvered, his resources and powers meant that no prison would be able to hold him even if they could get the heroes to charge him.
- Afterworld. The main character, inspired by a vagrant with an interest in nonviolent problem solving (negotiation, scavenging, running), chooses to discard his gun in a hostile post-apocalypse so that he's more charismatic and trustworthy to the people that he meets on the way. However, the west side of the united states develops a high-strung police state, forcing him to grab a gun and start shooting, albeit sparingly and tactically.
- Batman Beyond is kicked off when an aged, ailing Batman suffers a heart attack at the worst possible moment — right in the middle of a crime bust — and is forced to grab a gun to defend himself. This Moment of Weakness convinces him that it's time to hang up the cowl, setting the stage for Terry to take it up years later.
- Justice League Unlimited
- Batman: The Brave and the Bold plays with this in the Grand Finale. Bat-Mite, trying to get the show cancelled, alters the show dramatically with many jump the shark mainstays, while Ambush Bug tries desperately to prove to a disbelieving Batman that it's not right for him to have a wife, a sickeningly cute daughter, and obvious toy tie-in gear. He finally gets Batman's attention when Bat-Mite makes him use guns, which Bug points out is completely Out of Character for Batman, and this makes the turning point of the episode where Batman starts fighting back as well.
- Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox starts out perfectly normal, with the members of the Justice League sticking to their classic principles. The next day, Barry Allen (the Flash) wakes up at his CSI desk in a scene where no one around him has ever heard of the Flash and his mother is alive. His first superhero encounter is with a version of Batman who dual wields guns and acts uncharacteristically brutal, cementing the setting as that of an Alternate Timeline. Though in this case, it's actually Thomas Wayne as Batman, since in this timeline only Bruce Wayne was killed on that fateful night. Other members of the Justice League behave uncharacteristically as well, but this is one of many examples of how Batman's aversion to guns is typically used first in the DC universe to establish an Alternate Timeline or Parallel Universe.
- In the Adventure Time episode "Simon & Marcy" a young Marceline makes Simon promise to stop using the crown that gives him ice powers but makes him more deformed and insane the longer he wears it. He tries his best to keep his promise, but when they find themselves in a dead end ambushed by mutants, he's forced to use it again to protect her. Simon never returns to his old self.
- In an early episode of Futurama, Hermes Conrad was revealed to be a former limbo champion who vowed to never limbo again after a young fan broke his back trying to emulate him. He is forced to use his limbo skills to get under a lowering door to save everyone else later in the episode. His vow seemed to be permanently disregarded after that.