An emergency tool used to signal rescuers to your location, the Flare Gun is a must should you get lost or in need of assistance. Otherwise, it can be used to signal something else. In fiction, the Flare Gun also serves as a weapon, though probably Awesome, but Impractical against anything but enemies explicitly weak to light or fire, as it can be very inaccurate. For some reason, they tend to be treated like single-handed Grenade Launchers in many works. It should be noted that real-life flares don't fly fast enough to enter the human body, if you got shot with one, you would mostly get hurt by the impact as the flare bounced off. If this is provided as an FPS weapon, it may be a Puppet Gun used to call down artillery or airstrikes.
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Anime and Manga
- Attack on Titan: an important part of the Trost counteroffensive plan, Brzenska fires colored flares to let command know if they succeeded in having Titan!Eren seal off the wall or not. Also comes up later on in Erwin's travel formation: soldiers that encounter Titans fire flares and everyone that sees the flare subsequently fires, creating a chain reaction that lets everyone know where they are. This acts like a crude "radar" system that lets Erwin maneuver the formation around clusters of Titans and minimize casualties. One soldier uses it offensively on the Female Titan to draw her attention as his allies attack it.
- The Flare Gun is actually one of the better weapons in Last Night on Earth, especially since you can pick it up from the discard pile at the Airplane Hangar.
- In the first Gargoyles series, Hudson shot Demona with a flare gun while she was making her escape. Amusingly enough, he credits From Russia with Love for the inspiration to do that. Seems he's a Sean Connery fan.
- In one issue of The Batman Adventures, a kid who thinks that Batman is looking for a new sidekick fires a flare gun to signal him in the middle of a city street. The flare hits a sign, which falls down, nearly hitting someone. The would-be Robin is promptly arrested for reckless endangerment.
- The Fantastic Four regularly use flare guns to inform each other of their position and to call them for help.
- During the fight against the dirt bikers in Mad Max: Fury Road, Furiosa shoots a biker in the face with one, causing him to lose his balance and fall under the wheels of the rig. (The flare gun in question is a variant that bursts into brightly coloured powder designed to be visible in bright daylight.)
- James Bond
- Viggo Mortenson's character in The Road uses a flare gun on people he thinks are following him with malicious intent.
- In Tobruk, the British Colonel uses a flare gun to clear out a pillbox.
- In The Breakfast Club, Brian is in detention because he brought a gun to school to kill himself with since he got an "F" on an assignment, but it was a flare gun that goes off in his locker, thus getting him caught and sent to detention. Cue laughter from the rest of the kids.
- Judge Dredd. The Lawgiver pistol could fire flare rounds. At the end of the movie, after Rico's pistol runs out of lethal rounds, Dredd uses it to fire off a flare to distract Rico.
- At the end of the execrable Joe Don Baker movie Final Justice, the police escort finally stops being a Neutral Female and uses one to dispatch The Mole.
- In Tremors, a flare gun is one of the many weapons used by Burt and Heather Gummer on the Graboid that smashes into their underground "rec room."
- The Cat from Outer Space has some minor troublemaker attempt to shoot down a helicopter with a flare gun.
- The Guns of Navarone: while Andrea is sniping at the German soldiers on the mountain, a German officer uses one to mark his position and direct his troops' fire.
- Atlantis: The Lost Empire: a Chekhov's Gun. Helga fires a flaregun to illuminate the dormant volcano the expedition landed in, revealing the plug blocking their way to the surface, and later on uses it to blow up Rourke's escape balloon after he throws her out of it, a Last Breath Bullet as well.
- Used in a Chase Scene in Striking Distance to blow up the local Serial Killer's car.
- The protagonists of Congo use them to stop heat-seeking missiles hitting their plane.
- Arnold Schwarzenegger'a character in Raw Deal fakes his death by opening the valves on a refinery storage tank, then firing a flare gun into the spilt fuel. He then rides a motorcycle Out of the Inferno.
- A hysterical female victim in Jaws 2 tries to shoot the shark with a flare gun, accidentally blowing herself up as well due to the spilled petrol from a can whose cap had come off.
- Used to drive off the Spinosaurus the final time they bump into it in Jurassic Park III. The Spinosaurus had ruptured the fuel tank when it attacked their boat, so the flare gun set it on fire, at which point it retreated in pain.
- Charlie is carrying one on him when he arrives near the end of Seven Psychopaths. The guy who shoots him is pissed to realize he didn't bring a real gun (he was hoping for a Hollywood-style shootout ending to all of this), but then he catches onto its real use: it's to call Charlie's goons in should things go wrong. He promptly fires it off and gets the ending he wanted.
- Pacific Rim. After two Jaegers are destroyed and a third immobilised, the two surviving pilots climb out onto its hull and take potshots at the kaiju's eyes with flare guns because it's the only weapon they've got left. The creature has six eyes though, and getting hit in one only pisses it off. Luckily another Jaeger arrives in time to kill the kaiju and save their lives.
- Memphis Belle: Bombers carrying wounded airmen launch flares as they approach their airfield, to alert emergency response personnel. Early in the film a disheartening number of the bombers are launching flares due to heavy casualties on a recent raid.
- Harbinger Down: The Russian chick shoots a Zombie Infectee, who goes up like a torch (maybe she soaked him in petrol first; it's not clear, but he was certainly freaking out). She then lampshades the Kill It with Fire trope.
- In the 1989 thriller Dead Calm the psycho is finally killed by being shot in the mouth with a hand-launched flare, avoiding the penetration issue.
- One figures into the defeating the rampaging dragon clone in Dragon Fighter. The hero sets the beast on fire by shooting it with a flare gun, which gives enough heat to provide a target for his allies' heat-seeking missiles.
- In Six Days Seven Nights, while stranded on an island, Robin tries to signal a plane with a flare gun, but trips and blows up a tree instead. Quinn berates her for wasting their only flare and points out the plane is a commercial airliner. There was no way the pilots could have seen the flare, and even if they did, there was no way such a huge plane would land on such a small island.
- In Let Him Have It, a schoolteacher asks his entire class to hand in their guns. One student places a Webley flare pistol on the teacher's desk. The teacher identifies it as a "Wolseley" and comments he hadn't seen one in quite some time.
- In the Matt Helm novel The Intriguers, one character uses a flare gun as an improvised weapon to incapacitate the Big Bad. Afterward, Matt uses it to signal for help.
- A variation: in The Fifth Elephant, Sam Vimes used a modified Clacks flare (no gun involved) as a weapon against a werewolf. Said werewolf's over-confidence and instincts made him catch the flare rocket in his mouth, which promptly exploded and killed him. Later the story was greatly exaggerated, leaving the flare out, and making Vimes Shrouded In Mythss: the man who killed a werewolf barehanded.
- Flare Guns were routinely carried in the Biggles books set in WW1 and were occasionally used as a makeshift weapon to set enemy planes on fire.
- One of these causes the death of Fredrich Müller in All Quiet on the Western Front. He was described as being "quite conscious and in terrible pain," after he was hit, allowing him time to say goodbye to his friend and pass his boots along to Paul.
- Anna Kelso uses one against assassin Yelena Federova in Deus Ex: Icarus Effect.
- The Harry Potter "red sparks" spell (called Periculum in the films) functions as a magical version.
- Carver uses one (actually two due to him being prepared for the poor accuracy of the flare gun) to kill Trench in The Accident Man.
- Presumed Dead by Rick Kennett. After being stranded on an alien world, Cy De Gerch has to resort to one after she uses up the power in her laser pistol, then discovers that one of the Starfish Aliens humanity is fighting is stranded on the planet with her. Reality Ensues as the weapon is of limited use except for distracting or inflicting minor injuries on the alien during their battles. However in the final battle, the flare bounces off the alien's skin and rolls beneath it, where it detonates just Cy De Gerch is about to be smothered to death by the alien.
Live Action TV
- Desmond shoots Mikhail with one on Lost.
- On Wings, after the gang crash lands in the water on the way to Boston for Helen's Big Break as a professional cellist, when the cello bobs up from underwater, Helen uses the flare gun's one charge to shoot and sink her cello.
- Hawaii Five-O episode "Death's Name Is SAM": A terrorist group tries to use a heat-seeking missile to shoot down a jetliner. McGarret has police officers fire off flares at the landing field to distract the missile and save the jet.
- Jack Bauer once shot a guy with a flare gun.
- iCarly has Spencer fire a flare gun at a door and Lewbert fire two flare guns at the ceiling when he saw his ex for no apparent reason
- iStart A Fan War had a character catch a flare that had been shot at him but didn't go off, only for it to explode in his hands.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer. In "The Initiative" Xander gives Buffy a flare pistol to signal for help if she needs it when she goes to fight Spike. It turns out to be just what she needs when a team of Initiative soldiers attack Willow in a dorm corridor; Buffy fires the flare, overloading their night vision goggles.
- On an episode of Night Court, Dan had to remove someone's appendix due to his incompetence with a flare gun. (Loooooong story there.)
- Supernatural: after his Molotov Cocktail shatters when hunting a wendigo that can only be killed by fire, Dean is happy to find a couple of flare pistols in a backpack which he puts to good effect.
- JAG: In the episode "Full Engagement", Harm and Mac crash land his Boeing-Stearman biplane in the woods and fall afoul of a group of poachers who have recently shot and killed a park ranger. The heroes end up shooting one of the poachers with a flare gun (at very close range) because they don't have any real weapons on them.
- In The Sweeney episode "Hard Men" a Glasgow gangster punishes another gangster who tried to kidnap his daughter by shooting him in the back with a flare gun; he goes up in flames, screaming, and burns to death.
- The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries: The 3rd season episode Dangerous Waters not only has Frank Hardy firing a flare gun to signal the rescue boat to come in, but also fires it directly at the mooks to drive them off.
- NCIS episode "Being Bad" had a cornered suspect kill himself with a flare gun; as noted, it didn't penetrate his skull but killed him via the impact off his head. Seen-it-all coroner Ducky said a flare gun suicide was a first, even for him.
- Deep Purple's famous song "Smoke on the Water":
But some stupid with a flare gunBurned the place to the ground.
- The Shadowrun supplement Street Samurai Catalog had the Micro Flare, a penlight sized flare gun that could be used as a weapon.
- Dark Conspiracy supplement Darktek. The flare gun can fire signal and illumination flares and in an emergency can be used as a weapon doing burn damage.
- Dead Reign has these, though they aren't really intended to be used as a weapon. About their only combat-related advantage is their ability to set zombies on fire.
- The Nerf MEGA Bigshock is an up-scaled Jolt which fires Mega Darts, which whistles in a high velocity, point it to the sky and fire it when you want to call for a help.
- In Manhunt 2, the Flare Gun is a Hand Cannon with One-Hit Kill ammunition, it can only be looted from Michael Grant and there's no ammo supply for it.
- Inverted in Bloodborne, the Silencing Blank is a flare gun which drives away co-operators or returning to your own world if you're in the other's world, rather than calling someone in.
- Urban Dead: Humans can obtain flare guns from certain locations. They do 15 points of damage, but have very low accuracy. As in real life, players can use flare guns to signal their location to humans and zombies alike.
- Team Fortress 2: One of the unlockable weapons the Pyro can get. While hard to aim and easy to dodge, flares will do a small amount of damage to a target and set him on fire, causing afterburn damage (the afterburn adds up to twice the flare's impact damage). The bonus comes if you hit an already-burning opponent with a flare, which causes a Critical Hit for triple damage; being hit by two flares in a row is a guaranteed kill against 4 of the 9 classes. Needless to say, being killed by failing to dodge a flare at long range while on fire can be quite embarrassing...
- A later unlock is the Detonator: a modified flare gun whose flares cause a small explosion as Secondary Fire (or a smaller one when it hits an object) in exchange for increased self-damage (making its already rather pathetic Rocket Jump outside the beta even less useful) and only getting a mini-crit on burning enemies instead of full one.
- The Pyromania update introduces the Scorch Shot, a flare gun that, while weaker than the normal flare gun, gets a significant amount of knockback added which increases the farther away the target is and does splash damage.
- This is one of the available weapons in SMOD, an add-on mod to Half-Life 2.
- In the basic game, Civil Protection officers will use flare guns when they spot Gordon to call in reinforcements. In the beta, the player was meant to get their hands on one (which would light people on fire, naturally), but it was cut before release. In Episode 1, though, one of the many objects the Gravity Gun can turn into Improvised Weapons are standard road flares.
- A flare gun can be used as an item (and an ability) in Warcraft III, but it only reveals terrain and invisible units from anywhere on the map.
- One of the WWII-era weapons in TimeSplitters: Future Perfect. It appears in story mode when Cortez uses it to shoot a guard (and accidentally give a signal to start a bombardment of the island he needs to be on). Like most other examples, it's not very accurate but sets enemies on fire.
- Blood has a flare gun for the standard FPS pistol slot, though more powerful than the standard with the ability to set most minor enemies on fire with one shot, compared to several bullets from other shooters. Very useful in the sequel where some minions teleport when they take damage. With a flare gun the burning flare teleports with them.
- Alan Wake has a flare gun as an available weapon for fighting your light-hating enemies. It's the most powerful weapon in the game, easily capable of instantly destroying most weaker enemies and producing light for a few seconds afterwards to drive away any surviving enemies. Naturally, you don't find a lot of ammo for them, but they're very handy for emergencies.
- The Flare Gun is also the only way to defeat the final boss. (so you get infinite ammo for it).
- In the ruins of La-Mulana, the Flare Gun is one of the weapons available, which fires a projectile straight upwards. It usually becomes useful for solving puzzles by killing monsters in tricky places, or as another source of ammunition, but is probably not Lemeza's preferred weapon.
- Fire Emblem: the Torch staff, usable by only staff wielders, illuminates squares in Fog of War.
- Advance Wars: Days of Ruin: the Flare unit has the unique ability to fire Flares which illuminate squares in Fog of War.
- In Kingdom of Loathing, there is a combat item called the Flare Gun. When used it "Calls down an 'Arrr Strike'", and a pirate ship fires a cannonball at your enemy. To get the best reward in the Mysterious Island War quest, you need to use it in "The Last Stand" adventure.
- The Ship: Murder Party: a Source engine game that features passengers on a cruise ship trying to sneakily off their targets without getting killed themselves, has flare guns as a potential projectile weapon, typically found in glass cases or life vest boxes on the exterior of the ship. As there's no reloading in the game, it only holds one shot and you have to carry multiple guns for multiple shots, but it's very powerful with a one-hit kill (unless, of course, the enemy jumps in a pool).
- Dino Crisis 2 briefly features one as a Puppet Gun of sorts. Dylan and Regina take turns using it in a dino-infested base to signal to one another where they should direct fire from heavy artillery cannons dotted around the area.
- Far Cry
- Far Cry 2 has a flare gun as a pistol-slot item. It can torch an enemy to death with one flare (if you hit), but it's real use is as a very large supplement to your Molotov Cocktail supplies for starting brushfires. NPCs under attack will also fire them into the air on occasion to try (and fail) to summon reinforcements.
- It also makes an appearance in Far Cry 3, now slightly less useful for starting bonfires but capable of torching a heavy or a flamer in one hit - extremely useful early on. It also can take out a vehicle in one hit.
- The Flare Gun is the starting weapon of the Salesman class in Survival Crisis Z, and can be obtained by everyone else relatively early on. It's a one hit kill on basic zombies, but it's inaccurate and has a very short range.
- Bulletstorm: The Screamer's special rounds are flares. They set people on fire and send them flying with a direct hit.
- Fallout: New Vegas has a new DLC, Lonesome Road, which introduces a flare gun. It isn't all that powerful, but it is quite useful in spooking the various monsters listed as 'abominations' in the game.
- Borderlands has an Eridian weapon literally called The Flaregun - it fires slow, low-arcing projectiles that almost always set enemies on fire. While not a literal flare gun, it behaves exactly like one.
- Borderlands 2 also has a weapon that functions in a near-identical way: Flynt's Tinderbox. It further acts like the Video Game interpretation of a flare gun by dealing very little impact damage, but near-always setting targets on fire for massive Incendiary damage. It also produces a distinctive 'whump' sound when fired.
- PlanetSide 2 has several flavors of flareguns available as event weapons which are only sold on New Year's Day and the 4th of July. They do pathetic amounts of damage, travel slowly and have huge amounts of projectile drop as a result, and can only fire one bullet before needing to reload. Their chief use is to spam fireworks. A reskinned flaregun called the "Deep Freeze" available on Christmas, functions pretty much identically except for firing a snowball instead of fireworks.
- Late in Until Dawn Emily can find a flare gun with one flare in the ranger fire tower. The player is given the option of giving it to Matt. If the player made a completely innocuous decision earlier in the game, he'll waste it by firing it right there, despite having radioed the forest rangers from the tower and being informed the storm has grounded their rescue chopper until dawn. If the player chooses to attempt to save Emily when the tower collapses (she survives regardless of your choice here), Matt will be attacked by a wendigo and need the flare for defense.
- Flare guns are equippable items in Rebuild 3. They give a large bonus to Leadership and a small bonus to Defense.
- Overwatch: Mc Cree's Lifeguard skin has his revolver in the appearance of a flare gun, although it still functions like his normal revolver.
- Survival of the Fittest's Maria Graham gets a flare gun as an assigned weapon. Later, she shoots somebody with it, and while it ends up bouncing off his chest, it ricochets into the girl next to him and gets caught in her shirt, burning a hole right through victim before igniting and vaporizing her torso, and then burning down everything in a 20 yard radius. Flare guns are dangerous.
- Jeff in Bite Me kills the zombified Marcy by blowing her head off with a flare gun. Unfortunately, he only bought one round.
- Jonny Quest episode "The Sea Haunt": Dr. Quest and Race Bannon use Very pistols against the title monster. The writer apparently thought that because they were "pistols" they could fire multiple times without reloading like a revolver: they're actually single shot.
- In an episode of The Simpsons Homer, Bart, Ned Flanders and his sons get lost at sea when a Boy Scout trip goes wrong. They see a plane fly by and Flanders produces a flare gun, which Homer snatches and fires...and shoots down the plane by accident. D'oh!
- Worse, he rationalized it by saying that once people figure out the pilot is gone, they'll send another plane to save him and them. Just as he says this, another plane flies under the falling pilot and catches him mid-flight, leaving Homer and the others. D'oh!
- Flares are commonly used as Improvised Weapons by ship crews when they are attacked by pirates.
- A Danish cargo ship used a flare to to set an enemy pirate boat on fire]].
- Though, accuracy goes out the window, as when firing a flare gun it is advised to close your eyes and look away, as looking directly at a lit flare is akin to staring directly at the sun.
- Something rarely addressed in fiction is the fact that some modern distress flares are actually a kind of highly specialised 12-gauge shotgun shell. Substitute the flare with ordinary buckshot (shotshells won't fit) and you have a very short Sawed-Off Shotgun, and they're legally classified as firearms in many jurisdictions.
- Albeit one with no real barrel to speak of, and a chamber made of plastic, making it a (nearly) literal example of a Glass Cannon. Military surplus flare guns are usually made of steel and robust enough to handle live ammunition (with a rifled adapter to fit it into the bore); separately, neither is a firearm but together, they become a handgun and — in the US — fall under all applicable federal, state and municipal firearm laws. It's still a single-shot pistol with no ejector, so usability is mostly for plinking and wilderness survival. Adapters for conventional 12 gauge flares are also available. note
- Many military grenade launchers similarly can also fire flares designed for those weapons. There are flare guns designed to resemble these grenade launchers, including under-barrel attached ones, for those who need their flare guns to be just a bit more Tacti-cool.
- As 12 gauge flares are shorter than 2 3/4" shells, they will function in a real shotgun, though it must be rated for steel shot (industry standard for the past two decades) and have a fixed Cylinder Bore, otherwise the choke can trap the flare and burn through the barrel. Even Improved Cylinder can potentially cause a flare to hang up.
- Know the classic Deep Purple song "Smoke on the Water?" 'Course you do, but you might not know it's based on a real incident where some idiot with a flare gun did, in fact, burn the venue Deep Purple was performing in to the ground.
- Many Anti-Air missiles are heat-seekers, as most aircraft keep themselves aloft with high-powered engines which produce a great deal of heat (even helicopters are typically powered by a jet turbine). A common countermeasure used by military aircraft is the Flare Dispenser, which is basically a multi-barreled flare gun which allows the aircraft to fire one or multiple flares to try and draw off the incoming missile while they escape. Effectiveness varies.
- In brief, flare guns are not toys. Don't play with flare guns, kids.