"The second rule for surviving Zombieland: The Double Tap. In those moments when you're not sure if the undead are really dead-dead, don't get all stingy with your bullets..."
An amateur only shoots once. A professional
always shoots twice. A subtrope of Boom, Headshot
, this is the difference between a sniper and a more up close and personal silenced pistol assassin. Better safe than sorry, after all. The Double Tap seems like overkill
, but it's actually a heavy example of pragmatism
. People surviving a headshot are rare, but they happen,
and there's nothing like someone surviving a headshot to ruin your carefully laid plans. Similarly, there have been occasions where despite shots to the chest, people have continued to be coherent and capable of retaliation for some time there after. However, two to the head is much more likely to be certain. Some training methods insist on at least one shot to the torso and two to the head (still not overkill, really: even if you survived two shots to the head, a fatal shot to the heart means that you now have two
life-threatening injuries to recover from, and most people die from either one), but two to the head tend to be just as effective... Usually.
Contrast Once is Not Enough
. Compare and contrast Kick Them While They Are Down
, which is similar in confirming a kill but usually is seen as having more negative connotations.
Anime and Manga
- Batou double taps a surprised Special Forces fighter near the end of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex.
- In a stand alone episode in the middle, he quickdraws and neatly double taps three targets in a row before they can get a shot off.
- In Change 123, Fujiko was trained by her father to shoot every target twice; once in the head and once in the heart.
- Referenced by name and perforned by Gun nut Kohta Hirano in High School Of The Dead. He doesn't even wait for the first bullet to finish its faithful journey before firing the second.
- When Vanessa learns to shoot in Madlax, the eponymous heroine explains that double-tapping is more efficient than single shots.
- Specifically emphasized by Tenma's trainer in Monster.
- Zombieland has this as Rule #2 for surviving the Zombie Apocalypse. Despite the zombies in the movie being of the Technically Living variety, the characters frequently make sure to Remove The Head Or Destroy The Brain. This is seen performed with guns, giant mallets, and even a car at one point.
- Near the beginning of Beverly Hills Cop Mikey Tandino is executed by two shots in the back of the head. Axel Foley's captain notes that it was a professional hit.
- Seems to be favored by Keyser Soze in The Usual Suspects; although he doesn't make the connection as he says it, Kujan reveals that this is also how Edie Fineran was killed.
- The Godfather: When Michael goes to kill Solozzo and his bodyguard McCluskey at a meeting, Sonny instructs him "Two shots in the head apiece."
- There's a Hong Kong action movie named Double Tap, about a series of murders where the victim always had two bullet holes in the head, close enough to form an '8'.
- In The Boondock Saints, a Boston detective is able to distinguish the target of a hit from the assorted dead mooks because he was offed this way:
Duffy: He was the only one done right. Double tap, back of the head.
- Vincent from Collateral shoots the chest twice and the head once (the Mozambique Drill, mentioned below in the Real Life section).
- The robbers in Heat shoot their victims twice in the chest and then once in the head. Detective Vincent Hanna notes this as one of several things that marks them out as serious professionals.
- Morgan Freeman's character Charlie in Nurse Betty lives by this:
"Two in the head, you know they're dead."
- Pacific Rim: Taken to There Is No Kill Like Overkill levels. With a plasma cannon. Into the chest of a Kaiju. Justified because his failing to do so earlier cost him his brother Yancy.
Raleigh: Let's check for a pulse. [fires plasma cannon into its chest until most of the internal organs are ash] No pulse.
- Anti-Hero Danny Archer from Blood Diamond, who is former South African special forces turned mercenary, does this regularly. This is probably the most notable example.
- Pans Labyrinth: Whenever a battle is won, the winning side always takes the time to shoot the fallen enemies in the head, be they rebels or fascists. Vidal even has a moment where he points his gun at a soldier who's been shot in the trachea and he can only weakly bat away his gun, Vidal resets the position and it happens back and forth until he executes him.
- Murphy mentions (and does) this several times over the course of The Dresden Files.
- In the book 'Vengeance' (the basis for the film Munich), the author recounts his shooting lessons during Mossad training. The instructor told the class to always fire two shots at a time. "Always BANG BANG...Never just god-damned BANG!"
- John Kelly of Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan series uses this technique extensively in Without Remorse, largely because of his SOG/SEAL training, with his Colt .45. When he configures it as a .22 with a home-built suppressor, his especial reliance on the double-tap headshot is mentioned as particularly necessary given the .22's relative weakness—and as an indicator to the investigating policemen that they're dealing with an experienced professional. When he switches it over to .45 configuration, he changes to two in the chest, one in the head, a sign that he's discarding subtlety for the last push.
- In Artemis Fowl, Butler's preferred technique is two to the chest, three between the eyes.
- In Sergey Lukyanenko's Autumn Visits, one of the characters is a contract killer. When another character gets thrown from a roof to be Impaled with Extreme Prejudice, he follows up with a headshot, just to be sure. Especially, since the killed character is not entirely human.
- The Mozambique Drill (see Real Life) has also been used in Dexter.
- The Mozambique Drill is also excellently demonstrated by Jim Zubiena in the Miami Vice episode "Calderon's return."
- In The Wire, this tends to be the preferred method for the enforcers of the notorious Stansfield drug empire. Chris Partlow tends to execute with two shots to the head, and new soldiers are trained to either shoot for the head if they're at point blank range, or to disable by shooting under a potential Bullet Proof Vest and then finish with a head shot. That said, they're sometimes sloppy about actually following this.
- In d20 Modern, there is a feat called Double Tap, allowing you to deal one extra die of damage to your opponent, but giving you a -2 penalty to your attack roll. It requires two bullets to use.
- In Borderlands fourth DLC, the Claptrap Ninja Assassin does this to the arms merchant just before the final boss battle. Also, the Jacob's brand of weapons (which have the highest damage) uses the lack of this as their selling point; "If it took more than one shot, you weren't using a Jacobs".
- Mass Effect 1:
- If Wrex dies on Virmire, his killer ( either Shepard or Ashley) will shoot him three times when he's already on the ground. This is a pretty good practice with krogan enemies in regular gameplay, too.
- At the end, Shepard tells his / her companions to check if Saren is really, absolutely dead after he has already either shot himself in his last lucid moment or been impaled through the chest. One of them will give the body another shot to the head. But anyone being slightly Genre Savvy knows right away that if the developers added that scene, the body will get up again.
- In the opening level of Mass Effect 3, Liara suspends a few Cerberus troopers in the air with Singularity, shoots them, then puts a few more rounds in them when they're on the ground.
- The protagonist of Fallout: New Vegas gets doubletapped at the beginning of the game - and survives.
- Follows-Chalk shot a White Leg in the head twice after bludgeoning him with his club the first time you meet him. Apparently, Joshua Graham has trained the Dead Horses tribals to do this, as can be seen in the final battle.
- The Ghost People in the Dead Money DLC require this treatment, due to their unique ability to continuously come back to life unless they've lost a body part.
- In World at War and Black Ops zombie mode there is the Double Tap Root Beer item, which causes every pull of the trigger to fire two rounds, even when using pump action shotguns or bolt action rifles. While doubling your rate of fire sounds fun, scarcity of ammo can to push this into Awesome, but Impractical.
- ''2 changed it to Double Tap II Root Beer, which now doubles your bullet mid-flight.
- A Sniper with the "Croc-O-Style" item set in Team Fortress 2 will not be killed by headshots and thus will require a double-tap to kill.
- A Spy wielding the Ambassador can kill weaker classes in as few as 2 shots.
- Most weapons in general take at least two shots to kill any class at (standard) full health: point blank the Rocket Launcher, Scattergun, and the Grenade Launcher all do just under 125 damage (health of the Scout, Sniper, Engineer, and Spy) in one hit.
- In Spec Ops: The Line, one of your Finishing Moves is this.
- In Thwaite, a balloon or MIRV that has split into three pieces may require more than one missile to destroy. The reliable way to blow them up is to put one missile between two of them and another in front of the third.
- In Saints Row The Third, this is one of the Finishing Moves on Brutes - backhand the Giant Mook onto the ground, then shoot it in the head repeatedly until it explodes.
- Jonny Quest episode "A Small Matter of Pygmies". After downing a black leopard, Race Bannon shoots it again to make sure it's dead.
- There's the Mozambique Drill, which is a quick double tap to the chest followed by an aimed shot at the head, designed for close-range encounters.
- British Special forces are taught to double-tap the head, if possible in the "T" (a line from temple to temple, then down the nose), because body armour has become an awful lot easier to get hold of nowadays.
- Osama Bin Laden reportedly took one to the chest, one to the eye.
- Many firearms instructors now teach students to shoot until the threat is neutralized, regardless of how many rounds that is, so some people now shoot triple taps or just punch out five or six rounds rapidly per target.
- Standard police training in most American districts is that if you are in a situation where you're actually shooting at someone, you always pull the trigger twice. Sometimes cops will end up firing much more than that, if it's not clear that the suspect is dead (such as if he ends up falling against a wall or a vehicle), hence the meme of trigger-happy cops unloading dozens of rounds into some poor bad guy.
- A tactic used by American pilots in the Vietnam War was "ripple fire", lobbing off one missile followed by another at a target. This was due to the less than spectacular performance of most of the guided missiles of the time, in particular the notorious AIM-4 Falcon, which had a very small payload and a cryogenically-cooled seeker that would sometimes fail to seek at all. Even when it did, it had no proximity fuze - so the near-miss which for any other missile would produce a detonation and a possible kill was a waste.