"When a pirate's marooned, he's a given a pistol with a single shot. One shot. Well, that won't do much good hunting or to be rescued. But after three weeks of a starving belly and thirst, that pistol will start to look real friendly. But Jack escaped the island, and he still has that single shot. Oh, he won't use it, though, save on one man: His mutinous first mate."You ever heard of having a bullet with your name on it? That's what this trope is about. Bob has just betrayed Alice and left her for dead, or maybe he's murdered Alice's whole family, or maybe Alice just really wants Bob to die, so much so that she'll throw in a bit of Poetic Justice and designate a special bullet to be used, just for Bob. This trope is about getting revenge, but it's not enough to simply get revenge. This is a special case. So special that not just any old bullet will do. No, the bullet Alice uses (or even the gun she uses) must be related to the reason Bob must die. Bonus points if the bullet has Bob's name inscribed on it. It's not uncommon for Alice to craft the bullet from special materials as well. Subtrope of It's Personal.
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- In the first issue of the Secret Six miniseries, Deadshot promises Lady Vic that he will save a bullet so that when he does shoot her "it will be like no time has passed at all." Four years later, in the penultimate arc of the ongoing series, Deadshot shoots Lady Vic despite running out of ammo earlier in the issue, indicating that he had been saving the bullet the whole time and didn't use it to save his own life.
Film — Live-Action
- Lethal Weapon: Riggs tells his new partner Murtaugh that he has a special bullet picked out in case he ever decides to kill himself (which he thinks about every day). At the end of the film, he gives Murtaugh the bullet as a symbol that he's come to terms with his inner demons and no longer suicidal. The bullet is stated to be a hollow-point, to minimise the odds of botching the job note .
- The Patriot: Benjamin Martin melts down some lead soldiers that belonged to his dead son Thomas in order to make bullets when he starts fighting against the British. The final one of these is dedicated to Colonel Tavington, the Evil Brit who murdered said son. It doesn't do the job.
- Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl: Jack Sparrow, left marooned with a pistol and single shot to be used for suicide, somehow escaped that island and saved the bullet for Barbossa, whom he didn't see again for over ten years. It ends up killing the desired target... though he gets better in a sequel, long story.
- In Run For The Sun a writer (Richard Widmark) keeps a rifle cartridge as a lucky piece. During WW II an enemy soldier had him at gunpoint but the gun misfired. He took out the soldier and kept the bullet because it "... had his name on it." He finds another use for it In a much copied scene he pushes the cartridge though a bullet hole in a door and then fires it by hitting the primer with a nail and a rock. It goes off and kills his enemy on the other side of the door.
- X-Men: First Class has Magneto killing Sebastian Shaw by telekinetically moving a Nazi coin through his head. The coin in this case was the first thing Shaw demanded that Magneto move with his powers when he was a young boy; because he couldn't, Shaw killed his mother.
- In The Anubis Gates, Jacky is out to avenge Dog-Face Joe's murder of Colin Lepovre by shooting Joe with the same gun that killed Colin.
- In The Hobbit, Bard hadn't been planning on avenging his people, but when the dragon re-awakes, he has his go-to weapon:
Bard: Arrow! Black arrow! I have saved you to the last. You have never failed me and always I have recovered you. I had you from my father and he from of old. If ever you came from the forges of the true king under the Mountain, go now and speed well!
- In Mysterious Island, the heroes are attacked by pirates, and Herbert is non-fatally shot. His companions remove the bullet and, when planning a counter-attack, promise to fire it back at the pirates.
- In the Septimus Heap series, there is a magical significance to a named bullet, and sooner or later it will always find its target. The catch, as one assassin finds out, is that this doesn't necessarily mean the target will be shot with it.
- The way the bullet is named is important too. If the bullet was named "I.P.", nothing stops it from killing Iona Potts (aka Alice Nettles) instead of the Infant Princess.
- On Life, Charlie is shot, and when he recovers he asks for the remains of the bullet taken out of him. He then melts it down and molds it into another bullet, and shoots the man who shot him.
- In Eugene O'Neill's play The Emperor Jones, the tyrant Brutus Jones flees into the forest but is convinced that he is Nigh Invulnerable and can only be killed by a special silver bullet that he possesses. He would rather kill himself with it than be captured, but La Résistance ultimately kills him — yes, with a silver bullet.
- A lesser example, bandits in Borderlands sometimes shout "I've bin saving one for ya!" in a firefight.
- In one of Fallen London's Exceptional Stories, the Severe Bluejacket has a bullet saved for his traitorous First Mate. But he's too busy being the Almost Dead Guy to use it anymore, so he sends you to deal with him, and gives you the bullet as a memento when you report back.
- The Fallout: New Vegas Gun Runner's Arsenal Add-on adds an achievement called 'Talk about owned', which requires you to kill Benny with Maria, the customized pistol he shoots you with at the beginning of the game. There's also a mod which gives you the opportunity to craft a bullet to use on him, created from the bullet dug from your own head.
- Half-Life 2: Episode One has an achievement named "One Free Bullet" where Gordon must fire only one bullet in the game, which occurs early on when he must shoot off a padlock to proceed.
- In Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, Ocelot keeps bullet to shoot Snake with, though if he gets the chance at the end of the game, he fires a blank.
- StarCraft II: Jim kept a single round in his revolver for Mengsk. Subverted, since when he really needs it he doesn't even hesitate in using it on Tychus.
- Thematically, it demonstrates that he has abandoned his pursuit of self-destructive revenge, since he uses the bullet to save Kerrigan.
- A North Korean soldier has saved a bullet which he failed to fire during The Korean War. Even in his old age, he's hoping he'll finally get to fire it at the Americans one day.