Danny: Have you ever fired your gun in the air and gone, "ARGHHH!"?
Nicholas: No, I have never fired my gun in the air and gone, "ARGHHH!"!The villains ride off into the distance after terrorizing the locals. As they do, they fire off their revolvers into the air. Can also happen as they approach. This activity is still around, except now the shooters use automatic rifles and stand still (or ride on the back of a Toyota Hilux). Real-life stock footage of Muslim extremists and South American/African revolutionaries, or generally happy people doing just this will often show up in news stories (for example after the capture of Saddam Hussein). It's sometimes referred to as "happy fire". An increasingly common gag is to have the character waste most or all of their ammo in a manic fit of in air firing. Remember: what goes up, must come down. Negating air pressure, a bullet fired straight up comes down at the exact same speed as it was when the bullet came out of the chamber. Thus far, few people have ever been shown being injured by a stray bullet from this display, which could impact the ground or injure/kill someone at about 200 MPH a fair distance away. (The MythBusters have investigated the inherent possibilities, though...) Shotguns are far safer in this regard and more tolerated by the authorities when fired in celebration by hunters, as the energy of birdshot pellets, which are very small and very low-mass, disperses quickly and beyond a few dozens of yards they are mostly harmless. As usual, The Other Wiki has more details than you could ever reasonably ask. Can overlap with Shouting Shooter. Compare Stab the Sky, A-Team Firing. Examples where the person doing the shooting is trying to accomplish something specific, like quell a Powder Keg Crowd or intimidate people, may fit better under Noisy Shut-Up.
— Hot Fuzz
open/close all folders
Anime and Manga
- In the Dragon Half anime, the cybernetically-enhanced Damaramu demonstrates his Chest Blaster and machine gun arm, with cutaways to a roast chicken and a flaming space shuttle falling out of the sky. He later "regrets" having "used up all the rounds showing off".
- Baccano!: "In celebration of your joining our ranks, I will fire the ceremonial pistola!"
- "WAHH! ISAAC IS DEAD!"
- To explain: ceremony of joining The Mafia is concluded with a shot into air, inside the building. Isaac and his girl were hiding in the roofspace, peeking through the oh-so-convenient round holes in the floor...
- Ghost In The Shell Standalone Complex. In a rare lack of professionalism, Batou fires his assault rifle into the air in frustration after the Laughing Man "steals his eyes" (hacks into Batou's brain causing TLM to apparently 'vanish' from sight).
- Kamille Bidan in Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam does this in the penultimate episode with the titular mech. Understandable, seeing how someone he cared about had just died.
- As the quote above would indicate, Hot Fuzz lampshades the use of this by a single character (as a reference to Point Break (1991)), then later in the film directly parodies it.
- Westerns in general. Banditos seem particularly fond of doing this.
- The Mexican had a bullet from one of these parties come down and kill someone, leaving the lead in a bit of a predicament.
- At the end of Jarhead, after not getting to use their guns once for the entire movie, every single character begins firing their weapons into the air when they hear that they are going back home.
- Happens in the 2008 Iron Man movie. The doctor that we get introduced to picks up an assault rifle and runs around shooting the ceiling (and not the baddies) with it.
- I guess he takes his "Do no harm" oath very seriously.
- A fun scene, from The Three Amigos!: the Amigos themselves are doing this, riding around the banditos and firing their (blank-loaded) revolvers in the air. The bad guys are amused, and fire one round. Straight into Steve Martin.
- And how not to fire in the air: later in the film, they are instructed to fire in the air once each to summon a spirit. Lucky Day and Ned Nederlander both fire into the air. Dusty Bottoms's shot is more horizontal. Straight into the Invisible Swordsman they were summoning.
- Also subverted in Big Trouble in Little China; right before the big battle scene, Jack fires into the air (or rather, into the ceiling), and is knocked out by falling debris.
- Zombieland. Tallahassee is so exuberant at finding a bag full of illicit automatic weapons (after his own lever-action has been stolen) he fires a Heckler & Koch MP7 in the air.
- The 1989 Batman had some of the Joker's goons firing into the air during a chase for no particular reason.
- A Turkish comedy film, Kahpe Bizans ("Perfidious Byzantine") lampshaded this. The film occurs around medieval times, before gunpowder weapons were common. So how do the Turkish tribesmen celebrate their victory at the end of the movie? By shooting flaming arrows in the air. Extra points for the bows making sounds of gunfire when they are used.
- Of course this trope is quite well known in Turkey, although its been much better in recent years thanks to intense campaigning.
- John McClane does this in Die Hard in order to get the civilians off the roof of the building.
- Unfortunately for him, the gung-ho FBI agents in a helicopter think he's firing at ''them'' and shoot back.
- Parodied in the Film adaption of Postal. A group of Taliban terrorists are getting pumped for their mission and start firing their AK-47s in the air... inside a van.
- Parodied in 21 Jump Street. During the big hotel shootout, while Jenko uses his gun competently, Schimdt fires into the air until his gun is empty. Schimdt excitedly asks how many bad guys he killed, and Jenko answers, "All your shots went into the ceiling!"
- Parodied and subverted in The Naked Gun 33⅓.
Rocco Dillon: Freeze, and nobody gets hurt! [a grip falls from the rafters into the orchestra] Well, from now on!
- Similarly parodied in Shanghai Noon when a sheriff fires into the air to stop a bar brawl. A large amount of plaster then lands on the head of the deputy standing next to him.
- In The Dark Knight Rises, when Gordon and his cops are being sent out onto the ice, and are walking slowly, one of the mercenaries fires his automatic into the air to make them move faster.
- In the shootout with Captain Jones's men, a couple of mercenaries are seen firing weapons into the air at the start.
- During the stock exchange robbery, the robbers fire their weapons at the trading screens when they enter. When Bane declares that they are leaving, one mercenary fires multiple bursts into the ceiling with his submachine gun while ordering the hostages to stand up.
- The film Valley Of The Wolves Iraq has a local wedding celebration which includes people firing their guns into the air wildly. Unfortunately, foreign military aircraft is flying over the area at the moment. The pilot mistakes this for anti-aircraft fire and responds accordingly. (See below in the Real Life section for inspiration for this scene.)
- When the Frog realizes the protagonists are onto him in Red 2, he pulls an Uzi out of his handbag and sprays bullets into the ceiling, causing the café to empty out and allowing him to slip away in the chaos.
- At the end of The Milagro Beanfield War, the celebrating farmers all fire their rifles in the air.
- In Idiocracy, the President, to get Congress's attention, lets loose with a machine gun into the ceiling of the House chamber.
- The Mexican bandits in the western comedy The Great Bank Robbery do this, constantly.
- Rambo does this occasionally, most notably in Rambo: First Blood Part II when he shoots up Murdock's computers at the end.
- Mad Max: Fury Road. Rictus Erectus fires his drum-fed RPD machine gun in the air in fury after one of the pregnant Wives is accidentally killed, despite living in a Scavenger World where bullets are a scarce resource.
- In Transformers: Age of Extinction, Hound the Autobot military truck fires off several rounds when Optimus rejoins the Autobots after some time missing in action. Later in the movie, he runs out of ammo. Probably should have restrained himself.
- At the start of Nevada Smith (1966), the title character is asked by three men for directions to his parents' farm. He tells them, then has an Oh, Crap! moment when they ride off hollering in joy and firing their pistols in the air. By the time he gets back, his parents have been murdered, setting him on his Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
- The main character of Kurt Vonnegut's novel Deadeye Dick commits an accidental manslaughter as a child by firing a gun in the air and killing someone miles away, scarring him for life and providing the novel its title.
- In Cryptonomicon, Company 2702 does this with a heavy machine gun to kill Italian troops that are pinned down, but outside of line of sight due to a slight hill. They even do the math to figure out what angle to aim it at, and how long they'll have to do it to saturate the target area with no fewer than one bullet per square foot.
- Averted in the After the End novel Deathlands: Pilgrimage to Hell by Jack Adrian. One character remembers half the town coming out to give a well-armed (and ill-fated) war party a good send-off, with the men "waving their pieces above their heads, itching to fire off a few shots to complete the celebration but not daring to because ammo was ammo then and you didn't waste a single round of it."
- Played for Drama in Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart, with fatal consequences. No, the bullet didn't hit anyone; the gun was poorly made or maintained, exploding when fired and launching shrapnel at an unfortunate bystander. This marks the peripeteia (reversal of fortune) for the hero Okonkwo, as he is sentenced to seven years' exile for manslaughter.
- In the Left Behind book Armageddon, during the Global Community army's assault on Jerusalem and Petra, Nicolae Carpathia orders a ceasefire surrender to the Jewish rebels in Jerusalem or else they will be destroyed. Buck Williams, Tsion Ben-Judah, and the Jewish rebels respond in this fashion to tell Carpathia what he can go do with his ultimatum.
Live Action TV
- CSI: In one a man killed a woman miles away while doing some target practice. When the man says that it was an accident, the CSI notes "Well, that's why it's illegal to shoot guns within city limits, Genius!" By the way, this was based on a real case in 1948.
- Parodied in Arrested Development, where every time someone fires into the air, it hits a person or animal.
- Hal and Otto do this in an episode of Malcolm in the Middle, and Otto manages to get hit in the rear as the bullets come back down.
- One old visual gag from the Chilean humor show Japening con Ja has a sniper practising his shots, accidentally shooting a plane down (the video is obviously taken from the news or a movie) and then having the police after him.
- A very early episode (#3, in fact) of Stargate SG-1 has SG-1 trade a handgun for Carter's freedom from a barbaric chieftain. He celebrates this wondrous new acquisition by repeatedly firing it into the air... While the team make a hasty exit before he gets his first lesson in magazine capacity. The Free Jaffa also do this on at least one occasion.
- Subverted on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Careful where you shoot, you might get flayed.
- People have actually managed to work out the angle at which that bullet was going, and have concluded that either the bullet teleported in order to fulfill Joss Whedon's "Kill someone off if the plot slows down" dictum, or Tara's chest spontaneously exploded.
- In the HBO mini-series Generation Kill, one episode has Iraqi civilians, rebels and/or military defectors firing AKs (actually Norinco Type-56s) into the air after the local Republican Guard pulls out of a nearby town. The observing Marine Force Recon members note to themselves and their higher ups that it is celebratory gunfire and not a sign of open hostility to the US Marines' presence.
- On Good News World, during one segment, it's said that "Happy rebels are celebrating freedom from years of random violence by firing millions of shots into the air! Beat And killing thousands, because gravity's a bastard.
- Lampshaded on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Lost World. A character tries this, and is ordered to stop wasting bullets. They're in a jungle, after all. They'll need all the bullets they can get.
- Parodied in The Colbert Report when Stephen celebrates Chicago lifting a 3 decade long ban on handguns by firing Sweetness into the air and having Jimmy drop the balloons... which were all popped by the bullets.
- Deconstructed in Reno 911!. The Iraqi police officers that the Reno Sheriff's Department is training have a habit of firing their guns in the air in celebration. The deputies respond to this by telling them to run since the lead's probably going to be coming back down soon.
- Lampshaded in the first episode of The Magnificent Seven, when a group of drunken cowboys form a lynch mob and are opposed by two of the series protagonists, who point out why this trope is a bad idea:
Chris: You shot a lot of holes in the clouds back there. Anybody stop to reload?
- In the Star Trek: The Next Generation pilot, Q puts Humanity on Trial, with humanity being represented by the Enterprise's command staff, in a recreation of a post-World War III "court of facts" where lawyers are banned and attempts to explain facts in a different light are severely punished. Guards are dosed-up on drugs and are armed with fistguns that they use to maintain order via this trope (while inside a courtroom).
- In Sherlock, this is his preferred method of calling the police.
- Horrible Histories: Wyatt Earp and Billy the Kid do this repeatedly in one of the Cliff Whiteley sketches. Cliff is not happy about the damage to his ceiling.
- Australian comedy show Fast Forward had a skit The Saddams Family, with Saddam Hussein's family firing their guns in the air instead of The Addams Family finger snaps.
- A segment in Mind Of Mencia where Mencia attempts to teach gang-bangers to shoot other gang-bangers ends in this, with all the gang-bangers killed by falling bullets and Mencia having ducked under a car, telling viewers that what goes up must come down.
- From the Israeli rock band HaBiluyim’s song When Napoleon Conquers Acre:
The town soldiers just want to declare the joy:
They only shoot in the air; if it hits, then they’re sorry.
- Referenced mockingly in "Adventure Today!" by The Aquabats!
Don't throw sparklers, or shoot guns in the air
'Cause you never know where it's coming down
- In one Beetle Bailey, Sarge fires into the air to get the company's attention, only to have a dead bird land on his head in the next frame.
Stand Up Comedy
- In one of George Carlin's old "fake news" bits: Police fired over the heads of protesters. None of the protesters were hurt, but they managed to kill four people living on the second floor.
- Orks in Warhammer 40,000 do this constantly. For many of them it's the only reason they even own a gun, since they prefer to close in with crude melee weapons.
- Happens during the level "The Coup" in Modern Warfare, where a platoon of Al-Asad's soldiers fire their guns into the air in celebration at the sight of the captured president Al-Fulani being brought to his execution.
- In Modern Warfare 3, during the mission "Back on the Grid", a group of militiamen douse a civilian in gasoline and set him ablaze (unless you stop them in time). One of them fires his gun into the air as the civilian is being dragged to his place of execution.
- Unhappy variant in Army Men: Sarge's War, with Sarge doing this Guns Akimbo with machine guns after realizing Everybody's Dead, Dave.
- Final Fantasy XIII: During their trip through Palumpolum, Snow and Hope happen upon a group of civilians lined up to be relocated (or Purged) by PSICOM, and the line happens to go through their current path, meaning that if they try to force their way through, the civilians will be put in the line of fire. In an initially uncharacteristic move, Snow grabs a machinegun and fires into the ceiling, shouting that he's a l'Cie and that he'll kill them all. This causes the civilians to back off and PSICOM to filter through the crowd to them. It's characteristic of him after all when you realize that if he tried to help them in typical fashion, their chances of being Purged would have skyrocketed. Try explaining that to the townsfolk they just saved. Or to Hope, for that matter.
- After the score tally at the end of each level in Total Carnage, the player cheers and fires his gun up into the air. In 2-player mode, the player with the higher score will be doing this while the other stands in the background frustrated.
- Lampshaded in Fallout 3, when you go to Galaxy News Radio and end up in a fight between the Lyon's Pride (an elite Brotherhood squad) and a bunch of supermutants. After the mutants are defeated, their latest recruit, Initiate Redding, celebrates the victory by shooting in the air. She is immediately told to stop wasting ammo and to not let her guard down. She is then immediately killed when the Behemoth shows up...
- Miss Fortune from League of Legends does this with her "Make It Rain" ability. As the name suggests, the bullets do come down, damaging and slowing any enemy they hit.
- Gangplank can do this as well. "Cannon Barrage", his ultimate, fires a flare up in the air to call down a rain of cannonballs on a specific area on the map. It used to be that he could also do this to buff nearby allied champions with "Raise Morale", but this ability was removed after his rework on July of 2015.
- One of the weaponskills of the Machinist job from Final Fantasy XIV is Lead Shot. When using it, the Player Character will fire straight up in the air, and the shot will somehow fall on the targeted enemy a second later to apply a Damage Over Time effect.
- The Machinist job quest chain also features Joye, a simple hyur girl that undergoes a hair and personality transformation whenever she has to use her gun. The transformation is preceded by a ton of cursing and shots in the air on her part.
- Southern good ol' boys celebrate a wedding by firing their six-shooters in the air in Hitman: Blood Money. This can be used to mask the sound of a gunshot 47 fires at his target.
- Every time the Golden Path win a skirmish in Far Cry 4 they spend a minute or so doing this while yelling revolutionary slogans. Since this causes the player to constantly hear the "near miss" sound effect it's mildly alarming to stand near such a display.
- The PlayStation version of Nectaris features this in the cutscenes that play whenever an infantry unit captures a factory.
- Parodied in The Simpsons, where recurrer Rich Texan (name and occupation) does this constantly. In at least one episode, he has been court-ordered to fire only blanks after one of his stray bullets hit a Texas ranger, and he comments that it just doesn't feel the same.
- In another episode, he claimed to have OCD, and that most of his mannerisms, including this trope, are how it manifests
- Referenced in another episode, where a soccer commentator asks the audience not to fire guns into the air should their team win, because "the bullets will come down... and kill my sister."
- Yet another episode had Homer trying to drum up business for Barney's Bowl-A-Rama by firing off a shotgun and shouting "BOWLING HERE!"
- Family Guy. New Texas native Brian fires his free gun into the air a lot, accidentally killing the Super Devil.
- Yosemite Sam would shoot up in the air, and every other which way, including down to the ground, which would lift him up with each shot.
- Futurama Bender does this in the episode "Where no Fan has Gone Before", where they are pitted in a fight to the death. While Fry and Leela come up with plans to create primitive weapons out of caterpillars and rocks, Bender claims "...And we can use this gun to shoot them!" before demonstrating the trope, and ironically using up all of the bullets that would have been very useful later on.
- Shawn Waits of Survival of the Fittest v3 does this in a currently ongoing thread, though in his case it was unintentional; the recoil of the sub-machine gun caused it to walk up until he was shooting in the air instead of at his opponent, and he was distracted by being shot through the cheek, missing every shot.
- In an unfortunate Real Life variation on this, an 8-year-old boy shot himself with a micro-uzi thanks to recoil.
- Angry Joe did this all throughout the second invasion of Molossia in Kickassia. Word of God says he did it in case Molossia had an air force.
- A traditional feature of Afghan wedding receptions, which led to several tragic misunderstandings soon after the Coalition's arrival.
- Celebrations in Baghdad after the Iraqi football team won the Asian Cup in 2007 involved a number of cases of deaths and injuries from stray bullets fired from celebratory gunshots fired into the air. Jon Stewart joked that "11 people died from raining bullets due to a parade/people shooting in the air after only 7 people were killed during the first parade/people shooting in the air celebrating Iraq winning the Asia Cup".
- As mentioned above, firing in the air to celebrate sports wins was a problem neighboring Turkey as well. Following the accidental death of a little girl who was watching football fans in the street from a balcony, there was a massive outcry against the practice and new laws were put in place to ban it. As a result, celebratory firing of guns is fairly rare in Turkey these days and mostly confined to rural parts.
- In Mexico, public-access news networks can be usually seen warning people not to fire their guns in the air on holidays, because several people have already been killed by the resulting rain of bullets.
- A criminal in Dallas was accidentally killed this way. He was trying to break in to someone's house... that person fired a warning shot diagonally upwards... the breaker-in was 6'5". Yeah.
- Then again, he probably shouldn't have been trying to break into somebody's house...
- A woman sitting in her trailer at the Texas Motor Speedway was hit in the arm by a .50 caliber bullet. It had been fired rather haphazardly by a hunter nearly a mile away.
- When Lebanon fell into a decade-long civil war in the 1980s, factions and gangs all over the city armed themselves with AK-47s. These were so common that firing them into the air became a standard feature of celebrations, parades, protests, etc. Per news accounts, casualties from bullets falling out of the sky appeared regularly in hospital emergency rooms.
- Anti-aircraft fire often qualifies for this trope, although of course they generally have some target in mind. For obvious reasons, most of what they fire misses...and what goes up, must come down! There have been several occasions when the air defense response caused more damage on the ground than the actual air attack, particularly when the gun crews thought that something was there and so shot at the clouds, but were in fact mistaken.note It's standard strategy to launch decoys to fool opponents into wasting ammo.
- Thankfully subverted with the advent of shell fuses developed in 1939. Unfortunately, AA machine-guns were still common.
- Not really subverted. Even if it exploded, the metal that makes up the shell doesn't disappear, now instead of a single shell falling, you have several pieces of very sharp shrapnel, some of it even boosted downwards by the explosion. Collecting shrapnel after raids off the streets in WWII Britain was a common childhood activity. Also fuses were never foolproof, especially the early ones, and unexploded shells falling back to earth, sometimes to explode on impact with the ground, were hardly unheard of.
- Not quite. While shrapnel can be very sharp, the wounding characteristics that make it dangerous is because it's usually traveling several thousand feet per second when it hits something. Shrapnel is also minuscule in size compared to the parent shell and thus suffers in inertial conservation (ballistic coefficients of most pieces of shrapnel are also poor, as well). Air/wind resistance further puts a halt on things and slows down the offending projectiles to regular terminal velocity speed relatively quickly (almost certainly before it hits the ground since they're likely firing at aircraft which are at altitude), and due to lack of significant weight or speed pose little danger to anyone beneath. Bad fuses and duds are certainly a reality, however, and could constitute an even greater danger going off on the ground in the very rare event that it happens. In general, however, fused AAA rounds are multitudes safer than just about any other weapon system to the point where the aircraft you just shot down poses a far greater safety risk to anyone on the ground more than errant shells or falling remains of rounds fired.
- Today, if there's ever anti-air defenses needed, it's usually a missile or shell that's designed to explode after reaching a certain height. Though dog fights with their 30mm cannons on the other hand...
- Thankfully subverted with the advent of shell fuses developed in 1939. Unfortunately, AA machine-guns were still common.
- While not strictly bullets, or a lot, there had been concerns about the early model Patriot anti-missile system shooting down enemy missiles over civilian towns and not properly destroying the warhead in the process, which consequently falls down in residential areas, leaving dangerous unexploded ordnance (if it just doesn't blow up on landfall, that is). The main reason for this is that those Patriot missile is foremost designed for anti-aircraft work, where a proximity fuse and a fragmenting warhead is just fine for bringing down aircraft, but in case of ballistic missiles simply punching some holes in its body (and causing it break up) often leaves the warhead to continue on. This sort of thing happened during the Gulf War, against al-Hussein missiles launched by Iraq against Israel.
- It also didn't exactly help that the Iraqi missiles were notoriously shoddily built—-some of the missiles launched at Israel fell apart while in flight. Sometimes a Patriot would hit the debris created by the missile's body instead of the warhead itself.
- You'd think some people might fire blanks... but believe it or not, blanks are pretty damn expensive; usually starting at about $1 a shot. Also, blank cartridges don't tend to cycle the action of automatic and semi-automatic firearms that well.
- Blanks are actually regarded as pyrotechnic devices—fireworks—in most jurisdictions, so they may well require different licensing than firearms.
- MythBusters showed that this happens as long as the rifle/pistol is not pointing perfectly straight up into the air - on the fluke chance that it is, the bullet will just drift. Of course, the ability of your average celebratory shooter managing this is not all that high. Warning: Science content! A bullet fired straight up, or very nearly so, will expend all of its momentum in gaining altitude, less a little bit lost to air resistance. It will then fall back down, its velocity limited by air resistance. A bullet fired at an angle, however, even a steep one, will still have a very high velocity when it comes back down.
- Darra Adam Khel. It's not celebratory, it's just product testing.
- According to Dave Barry Hits Below the Beltway, this is a traditional way to celebrate festive occasions in Miami:
On New Year's Eve, parts of Miami sound like a war zone, only louder. Unfortunately, the law of gravity—one of the few laws observed in Miami on New Year's Eve—causes many of the bullets to come back down, which is why police and firefighters do not venture into these areas until the rain of lead is over.
- Common in most other US cities too.
- In his book Lord of Misrule Christopher Lee mentions his squadron doing this to celebrate the surrender of the Germans in North Africa, including Spitfires firing their machine guns into the hills, while they were still on the ground.
- Real Life militaries sometimes train to use their machine guns this way. It's far more fun shooting that way, as well as quite effective for extending the weapon's range somewhat and partially negating whatever cover the enemy is behind, but the gunnery instructors get annoyed when you do it all the time.
- This used to be such a problem in Puerto Rico during New Year's Eve celebrations that a specific anti-shot ad campaign had to be put in place. Thankfully it succeeded.
- Averted with CIWS defense systems in Iraq - the automatic anti-mortar systems use self-destructing ammunition to reduce collateral damage.
- This was seen all over the place in the Libyan capital of Tripoli when the rebels took it over. It was eventually banned by the interim government because people kept dying from the falling bullets.
- A child was injured in Florida by 2013 celebratory gunfire.
- This is not uncommon in paintball. Obviously the risks aren't quite as severe, but you can still hit and injure people who theoretically are supposed to be in some safe zone.
- ERod of The Blockbuster Buster has been injured due to someone firing their gun in the air. He describes his experience here.