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Firing in the Air a Lot
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 terrorising 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. 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 the pellets 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
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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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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 Call of Duty 4, 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.
- It actually isn't uncommon in Eastern Europe, Latin America, the Middle East and some parts of Asia for people to fire in the air as an act of celebration. On New Year's in America people do fire into the air to celebrate as well.
- 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 does this as well in two ways. One with the change "Raise Morale" no longer requiring the killing of a minion, and "Cannon Barrage" which he fires up into the air.... to call down a rain of cannonballs on a specific area on the map.
- It should be noted, however, that he shoots flares in this case- he uses the same pistol he uses for everything else regardless.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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".
- 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 man 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.
- 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.
- 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...
- 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.