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Bullet Sparks
In the world of fiction, when bullets hit a surface, they ricochet with sparks. When such bullets hit a container of anything remotely like gasoline, this has predictable results.

In real life, bullets almost never spark, for various reasons. This is a Trope Examined by the Mythbusters. Detailed here. Compare with Sword Sparks.

When adding examples, please only post subversions, when it's done realistically or when it's exaggerated.

Exceptions

Anime and Manga
  • The movie version of Ghost in the Shell was very good about this. The animators said in the Making Of featurette that they experimented with shooting different substances to get reactions. This shows in the scene where a long line of bullets are shot into a concrete wall, making no sparks at all - but huge spider-web pits.
    • Better yet, it showed a stream of bullets chewing through a pillar of reinforced concrete, generating only a shower of debris - until they started hitting the metallic rods in the core of the pillar, producing a shower of sparks in one of the few situations where it's actually somewhat realistic.

Film
  • Hong Kong movie The Bodyguard From Beijing goes to extremes with this: in the final shootout, bullets make sparks when they hit...a sofa.
  • The Last of the Mohicans averts this: the few times that bullets are actually shown hitting something (usually a stone cliff face) the only indication of it is a puff of dust and rock debris. Perhaps sparks wouldn't have felt 18th century-ish?
  • The fanfilm Grayson has this with the Joker shooting a sub-machine gun at Robin holding a thick metal plate to deflect the bullets. The effect was achieved by setting off firecrackers attached to the plate.
  • The Jean-Claude Van Damme film Hard Target featured bullets that sparked... when hitting trees.
  • The famous Government Lobby shootout from The Matrix, is a Shout-Out to both Ghost in the Shell (see above) and John Woo movies that feature scenery getting ripped apart by gunfire.
  • During the jail break in the opening of The Goonies, Francis Fratelli dumps gasoline in a ring around the local jail. When the cops attempt to pursue, Francis shoots the gasoline to create a big ring of flame to cover the escape.

Film - Animated

Live-Action TV
  • The Mythbusters tested this myth and proved that it wouldn't work, though they did manage to replicate the visual effect by firing paintballs filled with fireworks.
  • When R. Lee Ermey fired two BMG rounds at a steel plate they produced sparks when viewed in slow motion, although not at regular speed.
  • The shooting-gas-tanks-make-them-explode extension is verbally deconstructed by Michael Westen's voice-over in an episode of Burn Notice.
    Michael: Unless the car is on fire you'll just spill a few of bucks worth of gas. An explosion requires something extra, like a few bags of acetone peroxide taped to the gas tank.
  • Machine-gunning Jaffa in Stargate SG-1 tends to make their armor spark rather spectacularly. Granted, we have no idea what metals the armor is made of, so it might be justified.
  • Mission: Impossible: Copious bullet sparks are kicked during the Railing Kill in The Teaser of "The pawn". Judging from the position of the sparks, it looks like none of the bullets could actually have hit the victim.

Video Games
  • Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 uses this as part of a game mechanic - weapons equipped with the "FMJ" attachment, which allows them to penetrate thicker surfaces, make obvious spark-showers when shot at walls and whatnot as a visual indication that they have the attachment.
  • Shooting a wall in Resident Evil: Revelations will always result in sparks.
  • Machineguns and low caliber autocannons in MechWarrior Living Legends only spark when hitting certain metallic surfaces, mostly just on the armor of mechs, tanks, and aerospace fighters. Shooting them on other surfaces results in material-unique effects, such as small spurts of dust when shooting concrete on an aircraft runway.
  • Happens in Team Fortress 2, when you shoot a metal surface. The same thing happens when you use melee weapons. However, for some reason hitting a wall with a melee weapon will cause sparks and leave a bullet hole - said melee weapons can include baseball bats, whisky bottles, or even boxing gloves.

Real Life
  • This can happen with magnesium and depleted uranium ammunition. Commonly used in "spotting rifles" attached to recoilless rifles—once you see sparks on the target, you fire the main weapon. This is because magnesium and uranium burn very easily, so the bullet material's sparking on its own.
    • There are visible sparks upon impact in this real life video, taken at night. The shooters likely used surplus ammo that had a steel core. Steel on steel would generate a spark.
  • Apparently, a baseball can do this, of all things.


Bullets Do Not Work That WayBullet IndexCartridges In Flight
Build Like an EgyptianSpectacleBurn Baby Burn
Bottomless MagazinesGuns DO Not Work That WayBullets Do Not Work That Way
Bullets Do Not Work That WayGuns and Gunplay TropesHit Scan
Bullet CatchJustForFun/Tropes Examined by the Myth BustersBullethole Door
Briffits and SqueansRule of PerceptionCalling Your Attacks

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