Vincent: Oh man, I shot Marvin in the face.Guns are weapons. That's why there're various rules for safely handling them. When these rules are not followed, whether it be by experts or untrained John Q Public, there's a chance for a negligent discharge. That's when somebody gets shot. Sometimes in the face. Being named Marvin is rare, however. Either way, it's not funny the same way that Juggling Loaded Guns is, because somebody just got shot. We mean, it can still be funny (hilarious, even!) but on the other hand somebody did just get wounded or killed. This trope occurs when somebody didn't follow the Gun Safety requirements or simply has a shoddy weapon that goes off, hurting, killing, or destroying a lot of property, and the gunshot is not played for comedy. It gets better when the accidental shootings that result from this mishandling of weapons are plot points, as these kinds of accidents are precisely why the safety rules are in place. The precise rules on the safe operation of firearms vary from one organization to another, but the most common points can be read at our Useful Notes on Gun Safety page. This trope is named after Vincent's line in Pulp Fiction after he exhibits staggering incompetence with basic firearms safety, resulting in things getting worse for him and Jules, and much worse for Marvin. See the entry in the Film examples for details. This is frequently the result of some combination of Reckless Gun Usage, Artistic License – Gun Safety, and Reliably Unreliable Guns. Compare Juggling Loaded Guns for when somebody getting shot by accident is due to Rule of Funny. Make It Look Like an Accident is a common subversion, where it only seems accidental at first glance. When it may not have been accidental, it is Unfriendly Fire. When there is no effect, it is Friendly Fireproof. See also; Reality Ensues, which goes hand-and-hand with this trope as the realistic end result of gun safety failure.
Jules: Why the fuck'd you do that?!
Vincent: Well, I didn't mean to do it; it was an accident!
Jules: Why the fuck'd you do that?!
Vincent: Well, I didn't mean to do it; it was an accident!
open/close all folders
Anime & Manga
- Baccano!, when the celebratory gunshot the head of the Martillo family fires is immediately met with "Oh my God, somebody just killed Isaac!" from the floor above. Judging by a waitresses panicked reaction to finding people in that room, it was well-known among the staff that bullets occasionally come up through that floor. Thankfully, Isaac was actually fine.
- In the novel, they were actually seated at the wrong table because some of the Martillo's had moved the liquor barrels normally blocking those tables off during meetings to down stairs for the first party and forgot to inform Lia. Issac was also shot through one of his over-sized shoes and had been distracted looking up at some holes in the ceiling, rather than how it happened in the manga. (they were invited to the first party as compensation for the Martillo's screw-up).
- Princess Mononoke: After Ashitaka knocks out both Lady Eboshi and San, Kiyo grabs a gun and threatens Ashitaka to shoot him for "hurting" Lady Eboshi. When Ashitaka begins leaving with San, Kiyo nervously continues to aim at him, until one villager startles her, causing her to light up the fuse on the gun, thus unintentionally shooting him. But he still lives.
- In the second episode of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, Yoko gives Kamina a pistol. He's never held a gun before, so when the fight starts, he tries to use it as a hammer, and almost shoots his balls off.
- Toshio Utsumi of Cat's Eye is known in-universe for being a crack shot (better than the local gun nut, who is good enough to solve an hostage situation by making a Bullet Outline around the criminal's head and then threatening to shoot him in the head) in spite of not liking guns. Eventually it's explained that at the police academy he was the first of the class in gun training, but during one of the final lessons he started fooling around and shot himself in the leg.
- In Y: The Last Man, an untrained woman is holding a hostage at gunpoint, whom she kills by mistake when her finger slips.
- Transformers: More than Meets the Eye:
- In the beginning of issue 12, Swerve is seen with his face destroyed, and an eye hanging out, the issue eventually reveals that he mishandled an overly large experimental gun, and ended up shooting himself in the face.
- Before that, when an out-of-control Fortress Maximus took Whirl and Rung hostage, Swerve and Rewind were ordered to attempt to snipe him from outside the ship's hull. Due to how small both of them were, Swerve was forced to use Rewind as a step stool in order to see in the window. When he finally took the shot (after protesting that he was a poor shot), he missed the enormous Fortress Maximus entirely and instead shot the tiny Rung in the head, nearly killing him.
- Paper Girls: the four girls get their hands on a gun and promptly shoot one of their own by accident.
- Elevated to the level of Running Gag in Fallout: Equestria - Project Horizons. Each and every one of Blackjack's companions shoot her at one point or another. In some cases, it's a case of mistaken identity or genuine hostility. In others, it's an utter failure at Gun Safety. Talking with a tongue-triggered shotgun in your mouth is not a good idea.
- In chapter 35 of Mass Effect Human Revolution, a gangster tries to draw his un-safed gun, only to have it go off in his pants.
- Misunderstandings: Averted. Peter owns a gun, but since he is a competitive sharp shooter, he knows how to handle his gun safely.
- It is played dramatically straight later on when a Swift Wind, believing Peter was about to shoot Twilight when he was in fact trying to disarm his gun, tackles Peter, causing the gun to discharge. Swift Wind is critically wounded, and Peter is now fearful of what will happen now that he has injured a pony.
- Played for Laughs in the My Immortal parody Xtremly Scray: The Mary Sue Ebony Expy accidentally turns her wand into a gun and shoots Ginny "Pentagram Slipknot" Weasley.
- Harry Potter and the Nightmares of Futures Past: one of the enchanted objects Mr Weasley has in his office is a gun, which he thinks does not work, and shows it to Harry by putting it to his head and pulling the trigger. The only reason he is still alive is that he wasn't depressing the trigger safety in the middle of the Glock's trigger.
Films — Animated
- Subverted in Peter Pan: Captain Hook orders Smee to shoot Peter Pan but his constant flying about makes him a difficult target. With his eyes closed, Smee aims for Peter as he's flying in front of Hook and fires. He misses but for a moment, it appears that Hook has fallen to his death. He turns out to be fine.
Films — Live-Action
- Pulp Fiction. The Trope Namer. Vincent Vega, an "experienced hitman," is talking with Marvin, a guy he and Jules picked up in the aftermath of their hit on Brett near the beginning of the movie. Marvin is in the backseat of Jules's car. While speaking with Marvin, Vincent is not only casually waving his handgun in the air, not only resting his finger on the trigger, but lays his wrist on the back of the seat with the barrel pointed directly at Marvin's head.note So, when something happens (Vincent claims it was a bump, Jules claims the car "didn't hit no motherfuckin' bump"; it's also probable Vincent just twitched his finger), the gun goes off, the bullet hits Marvin in the face and not only blows his brains all over the rear window, but splatters gore all over the inside of the car, including on both Vincent and Jules. Thus it is demonstrated to everyone in the audience just why you should always watch where you're pointing your weapon and, perhaps more importantly, keep your finger away from the trigger unless you intend to shoot wherever the gun points (oh, and let us not forget that safety catch). While the shooting does become a major plot point, Vincent's initially only-mildly perturbed reaction to his mistake while Jules is practically screaming at him over it is one of the funniest moments of the movie, making the Trope Namer a less strict version of this trope. Note that to top it all off, even after shooting Marvin in the face Vincent STILL does not take his finger off the trigger.
"You just murdered a cheeseburger."
- This scene is parodied in the Italian movie Così E' La Vita. In a humorous subversion, the bullet only hits the takeout bag the "victim" was holding and what splatters all over the rear window is ketchup.
- In Abbott and Costello: Comin' Round the Mountain, Costello finds his grandfather's revolver and immediately starts pulling the trigger while aiming at the floor. Abbott takes it from Costello, but (still pointed at the floor) pulls the trigger himself several times, firing the one round loaded, unbeknownst to either. The result is more annoyance by Costello and their companion than anything else.
- Bad Eggs opens with two cops mistaking a Magistrate's corpse for a criminal and riddling it with bullets. Alan Brough's character later averts the trope when he saves the same cops' lives by holding the bad guys at gunpoint. "I'm warning you, I'm a very bad shot!"
- A lesson to Joe Chill from Batman Begins: if you're trying to rob someone at gunpoint and just want to get your hands on whatever it is you want from them (e.g. wallets and jewelry), never put your finger on the trigger. There's a good chance your gun will go off at the slightest movement. This does get played with during the same scene, as while a solid case can be made that Chill shot Martha intentionally, it's just as safe a bet he wouldn't have had to shoot her, period, in the first place had his trigger finger not twitched and caused the gun to go off once already, as Thomas was calmly handing over what he'd demanded.
- Be Cool: Dabu exhibits a terrifyingly poor grasp of basic gun safety throughout the movie. He always keeps his finger on the trigger, resulting in accidental discharge on more than one occasion. One of those times, it ends up being fatal for a Russian mob lackey. Dabu is at least somewhat self-aware, lampshading his poor gun handling by telling his boss that if he doesn't want this sort of thing to happen, he shouldn't give Dabu a gun in the first place.
- Big Jake: when Michael's fancy new semi-automatic pistol goes off accidentally, causing everybody to quickly dive for cover. Unfortunately, Big Jake doesn't realize that the gun's magazine holds eight shots, not the standard six, so he leaves cover rather prematurely.
- The Boondock Saints, after deciding to help the McManus brothers, Rocco slams his fists on the table to make his point, but his weapon, a Reliably Unreliable Beretta 92F that the brothers gave him, is lying on said table with the barrel pointed straight at his girlfriend's cat. Needless to say, the gun goes off, and you can pretty much guess what happened to the kitty. It was mostly shocking until Rocco's dumb-assed question: "Is it dead?!" Then it became hilarious.
- Subverted in Bottle Rocket. During the factory heist towards the end, Bob shoots randomly and Apple Jack hits the ground. Dignan yells at Bob, but it turns out Apple Jack is actually having a heart attack.
- Commando. After Arnold Schwarzenegger gets locked up in a police van, Rae Dawn Chong tries to free him with a quad-barrelled missile launcher. Unfortunately, she points the wrong end at the target and blows up the shops behind her. Given that the launcher, the M-202 "Flash", fires rockets tipped with a compound similar to white phosphorus (and would have incinerated the van), someone was getting screwed no matter where it was pointing.
- In The Da Vinci Code, Silas is running from the police and shoots someone who approaches without thinking to check who it is. He non-fatally wounds his superior, Bishop Aringarosa, and the distraction gets Silas killed since the police are able to corner him.
- 8 Mile. Eminem's friend shoots himself (in a very sensitive part) in the act of putting a gun in his waistband — with surprisingly little reaction.
- Happens in Elysium when the black underground operative in panic blindly opens fire at the approaching security droids despite Max and others being in the firing line, and ends up fatally shooting Carlyle.
- In Fierce Creatures, Vince is waving a gun around while he is trying to decide whether he should shoot his father or kill himself. Once he is disarmed, Bugsy picks up the gun, and as he is fiddling with the safety, he accidentally discharges it. The bullet hits Rod straight in the center of the forehead, killing him instantly.
- Four Lions: Omar tries to take out a spy plane with a missile launcher in the same way, accidentally destroying the terrorist headquarters directly behind him and killing Osama bin Laden.
- In Get Over It Kelly begins waving a crossbow in front of Berke, believing it to be a prop. It goes off and he gets shot in the arm.
- In George of the Jungle, the porters accidently toss Lyle an actual gun instead of his gun-shaped lighter. The trope is averted as Lyle is distracted by hearing Ursula before he can light a cigar with the "lighter," but it's then played straight as he ends up shooting George in the face while trying to scare him off with the "fake gun."
- In The Grapes of Wrath, a crooked recruiter calls in a deputy to silence a protester. When the man runs the deputy fires, hitting a woman in the heart.
- Harlem Nights, Quick is being pursued by a group of gangsters following his car. He suddenly hits the brakes, causing their car to hit his. The two guys in the backseat lurch forwards, and their tommy guns both go off, inadvertently killing the front-seat passenger.
- In In Time, Will and Sylvia have stopped a car, but the driver doesn't want to get out. Sylvia is just randomly pointing her gun at him, but it accidentally goes off. The driver is scared as shit, and proceeds to quickly get out.
- In Iron Man the Ten Rings terrorists waffle between proper trigger discipline while lounging around their base to rather stark disregard for gun safety during their video transmission of their demands.
- In Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Harry accidentally kills a mook on his first shot while playing Russian Roulette because he thought there could only be a 6% chance the bullet could be in the chamber.
- In the climax of La Haine, one of the Corrupt Cops from earlier in the film harasses Vinz by waving a gun around in his face, which accidentally goes off and kills him, resulting in his Black Best Friend Hubert coming over with Vinz's gun. Cue Mexican Standoff between Hubert and the Cop.
- The League of Gentlemen's Apocalypse, Geoff Tipps accidentally kills Mark Gatiss this way.
- An outlaw in The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean manages to shoot himself in the groin during a gunfight.
- In Lisa The Foxfairy, the police officer rushing to save Lisa's life (who locked herself in to commit suicide) shoots off the lock on her apartment door with his pistol, but keeps the pistol in his hand and his finger on the trigger while he runs towards her room. That was a bad idea, because he trips, the gun discharges into the ceiling, he falls, the gun fires again hitting him in the left hand, while the chandelier hit by the first bullet falls on his head.
- In Little Laura And Big John, Big John's gang are celebrating a successful robbery in their getaway car, and somebody accidentally shoots Big John in the eye.
- In the Stanley Kubrick adaptation of Lolita, Charlotte Haze shows Humbert her late husband's revolver, saying that it's not loaded. Humbert comments, "That's what they all say: I didn't know it was loaded." A short time later he has a close look at the gun and finds that it is loaded. He then reloads the weapon while contemplating using this trope to kill Charlotte and Make It Look Like an Accident.
- In Lone Star State of Mind, the incredibly Too Dumb to Live character Junior begs the others to loan him a gun. They refuse, of course. At the end, as soon as he gets a gun, he accidentally shoots Earl in the back, then himself in the nuts.
- Master and Commander: "I just shot Maturin in the guts." You would think that the Captain of the Marines would know better. And he was shooting at an albatross. He should make himself familiar with Nautical Folklore, that good man.
- Dramatic example in Oblivion (2013) . During the fight between Jack-49 and Jack-52, they are struggling for a gun. The gun goes off, hitting Julia on the stomach. This prompts Jack to knock out his opponent which is understandably shocked to have shot the woman he's seen in his dreams and steal his ship to get to the Tower and retrieve medical equipment to save her.
- Out of Sight, Jack is at the top of a staircase being held at gunpoint by one of the bad guys, who begins to approach him, still ready to shoot — only to trip on the stairs and shoot himself in the head. Ouch.
- Planet Terror (half of the Grindhouse double-feature), in which Dr. Dakota Block gives a gun to her child, when she leaves him alone in a car. He accidentally shoots himself within a few seconds of her leaving the car. And right after she warned him to be careful, no less.
- The Proposition, one of the policemen accidentally shoots his toes off.
- In Salvation Boulevard, Pastor Dan Day is trying to make a point about the need for religion to enforce morality by stating the argument that, without religion, people would just kill without abandon. To illustrate the point, he picks an antique gun up off of Professor Blaylock's coffee table and waves it around. It goes off when pointed at the professor.
- Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 after witnessing Ricky kill a few people a police officer confronts him to arrest him while casually twirling his gun, Ricky punches him causing him to shoot himself in the face.
- In Snatch., a dog jumps up on Avi and grabs the diamond out of his hand, then runs out of the room. Avi responds by firing his gun wildly, trying to hit the dog without being mindful of what (or who) is in the line of fire. One of the shots hits and kills Bullet-Tooth Tony by mistake.
- The plot of Spy kicks off when a James Bond-like spy (played by Jude Law) accidentally shoots the only person the CIA is aware of who knows the location of a rogue nuke. He's holding the guy at gunpoint (with his finger on the trigger, naturally) and is in the middle of telling the guy to talk when he sneezes from all the pollen in the room. The gun goes off, resulting in a Pretty Little Headshot.
- In Stargate, Jack O'Neil(l)'s son accidentally shot and killed himself with Jack's service weapon prior to the film. Jack is nearly Driven to Suicide at first, then goes on the mission through the stargate with the expectation of not coming back. This is given a few Call Backs in Stargate SG-1, including in the pilot when Jack remarks that even though he isn't suicidal anymore, he'll never forgive himself.
- Starship Troopers, the film frequently and constantly fails gun safety. During the long-shot of the "Live Fire" exercise, you can see that the range has no walls to the sides and other trainees are doing their thing right next to it. The recruits take the course in teams, with the next sent directly behind the previous! Then, the characters must face off against targets that shoot lasers at their training vests, which give the victim an electric shock. This causes one soldier to clamp down on the trigger and fire wildly in all directions, killing another. Rico is blamed for taking the recruit's helmet off, when the whole scene was a disaster waiting to happen. This was definitely intentional on the part of the director, who was satirizing military culture.
- Another scene, in a recruitment film, some soldiers were showing children how to shoot an assault rifle. The children start fighting over the weapon. The soldiers then give out the bullets.
- All of the hand grenades are shown to be primed with a single, large, prominent red button on the top, which causes the spoon to fly off when pressed. Although the I Just Shot Marvin In The Face or Pineapple Surprise doesn't actually occur in the film, it's simply miraculous that it doesn't. Strangely enough, it is later shown that someone rips the spoon off with her teeth, which seems to have no impact on the function of the grenade whatsoever as it still requires the button to be pushed.
- In the Star Wars Prequel Trilogy, certain battle droids end up accidentally shooting their companions in a comedic fashion.
- Stone Cold (1991). Lance Henriksen is playing the Big Bad, outlaw biker leader Chains Cooper.
Chains: You know, it's moments like these I remember the last thing my father told me... "Careful son, that gun's loaded!"
- At the end of Strangers on a Train, the cops chasing the clearly unarmed Guy through a carnival break every police firearm procedure there is by firing at him as he runs through a crowd of children. One of the shots hits and apparently kills an innocent bystander, who happened to be operating a merry-go-round, causing it to careen out of control.
- In the prologue of Sucker Punch, Babydoll tried to threaten her abusive stepfather with a gun, but missed and killed her sister.
- In ¡Three Amigos!, Ned, Lucky, and Dusty have to summon the invisible swordsman who would guide them to El Guapo's hideout. To summon them, they recite a chant and each shoot their gun straight up into the air after chanting. After Lucky and Ned do their parts of the chant and shoot straight up, Dusty does his chant, but shoots towards the side, accidentally shooting the invisible swordsman.
Lucky: Oh, great. You killed the invisible swordsman!
Dusty: How was I supposed to know where he was?
Lucky: You were supposed to fire up. We both fired up! (sighs) It's like living with a 6-year old...
- Tremors is a notable aversion to this trope: Burt Gummer in particular demonstrates an instinctive understanding of basic gun safety when, after he hands someone an unloaded revolver to stop his panicking long enough to get him to run, the kid hands him back the gun, loudly complaining about it being empty, and Burt immediately pops the cylinder to confirm. This is exactly what you should do whenever you receive or pick up a firearm, even when (as in the film) it was absolutely impossible for any bullets to find their way into the gun.
- Earl shows the same care in the first sequel. Burt picks up a rifle to give to Earl, checking that it's unloaded before handing it to him. Earl immediately does the exact same thing.
- In Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil, one of the college kids ends up wildly aiming a gun at Tucker & Dale, when Dale provides the ill-timed advice of needing to turn the safety off. He ends up struggling with the gun, and ends up blowing his own head off.
- A Very Long Engagement: One of the soldiers accidentally shoots himself in the hand whilst trying to club a rat with the butt of his automatic... and gets sentenced to death for self-mutilation.
- Wild at Heart Bobby Peru is escaping after a robbery, trips and falls, and blows his own head off with a shotgun.
- In World War Z the lead character gives a gun to the scientist he's escorting (sole hope for the human race no less), who presumably has no familiarity with guns, gives him a quick brief on the gun and then they get attacked by zombies. Predictably the scientist panics, tries to run, slips, and unceremoniously manages to shoot himself in the head.
- House of Leaves: Holloway accidentally shoots and kills his friends thinking them to be the monster he believes to lurk in the house, and thus is Driven to Suicide.
- The Plague Dogs, wherein Snitter encounters one of the men from the hunting party alone who, upon seeing his bandaged head, feels sorry for the little dog and can't shoot him. He calls to Snitter, intending to Pet the Dog. Snitter, overjoyed, rushes over and jumps up on the guy only for his toe to catch on the trigger of the man's rifle which was aimed upwards, at its owner's face, accidentally blowing off the man's head.
- Schroedingers Ball begins with the main character having just shot himself in the face, fatally, while cleaning his grandmother's gun. However, he's hardly an expert. In fact, the book goes so far to as to point out his inexperience in handing firearms in the "Dramatis Personae" section at the very beginning.
- Used in Carter Dixon's Sir Henry Merrivale Locked Room Mystery The Ten Teacups, in which the victim is wrongly assumed to have been shot at close range because he had a powder burn from when the killer "accidentally" shot him with a blank cartridge the previous day.
- Vorkosigan Saga:
- In Memory, Miles demonstrates why uncontrolled seizure disorders and charged plasma rifles do not go well together by accidentally kneecapping the hostage he was attempting to rescue.
- During a fake general fleet inspection in The Warrior's Apprentice, he makes a deliberate demonstration on gun safety by asking a mercenary whether his guns are stored charged or uncharged, then firing the "uncharged" weapon right past the man's ear.
- Also in The Warrior's Apprentice, Miles blames the death of his bodyguard Bothari on this, to protect the real killer, the mother of Bothari's daughter. The deception can be achieved without technically lying, because the victim was cleaning weapons at the time.
- In Wrath of a Demon King, a novel of The Riftwar Cycle, the Knight-Martial of Krondor is killed by one of his own men when he mishandles a loaded crossbow.
- Specifically averted in Starship Troopers as opposed to the film of the (blurb on the back cover of the) book. The incident that causes Rico to be is flogged is that he fails to take adequate precautions with a simulated nuke during a training exercise (he flips the visor of his own helmet up to check visually on the dummy nuke's positioning). Only direct testimony from his drill sergeant that he may be salvageable prevents him from being dismissed from the service.
- This causes everything to start falling apart in Things Fall Apart. During a gun salute at funeral, Okonkwo's ancient and shoddy gun explodes and hits a young man in the heart. Though it was an accident, the laws of the Igbo stated that it had to be punished and Okonkwo and his family is temporarily exiled.
- The Warhammer 40,000: Space Wolf novel Ragnar's Claw has one of Ragnar's fellow Space Marine initiates literally blow his own head off after being less-than-careful while cleaning his bolt pistol. Another one blew himself up with his own grenade.
- In The Nagasaki Vector, the pilot of a Time Machine that accidentally traveled sideways into an alternate history is a trained and experienced pistoleer, and the proud owner of a rare match-grade handgun. That said, when he hands it to another character to show it off, he is berated for failing to clear it properly and for having his finger on the trigger. It turns out that the agency he works for uses brainwashing to make their agents partake in very reckless behavior when at risk of revealing their secrets.
- Kurt Vonnegut's novel Deadeye Dick is about a man who, as a boy, fired a rifle in the air and accidentally killed a pregnant woman in her home on the other side of town.
- Swallowing Stones by Joyce McDonald is a young adult novel about a teenager who fires a gun in the air and accidentally kills a man a mile away.
- The Last Ditch: "Jinxie" Penlan uses the butt of her lasrifle to unjam another weapon, in the assumption that the safety is on. It wasn't. But being "Jinxie", the lasbolt takes out one of the attacking orks (who then crashes his flyer into a crowd of his buddies).
- In one Miss Marple story, Sir Henry Clitheroe recalls a case when he had to investigate a man shooting another man with an ancient pistol that had been hanging on the wall. Sir Henry brought to justice the person who had loaded the gun and controlled the conversation, calling the shooter "entirely innocent", although it seems likely he was at least done for reckless misadventure.
- In the Drenai saga, this is how Waylander eventually gets killed — with his own crossbow, no less.
- In the Stones of Power series, Jon Shannow's silent raid on a Hellborn camp suddenly goes awfully noisy when one of his allies (who, to be fair, had never handled a gun before) tries to cock a stolen pistol while simultaneously squeezing the trigger.
- Inspector Rex: In the episode "Snapshot", a young boy interested in becoming a photographer comes with his girlfriend to a damaged building. The case is that they bring a pistol to the scene, which they wrongly believe to be unusable. When the young boy is indicating her how to shoot, he accidentally shoots a tramp. The tramp was a former boxer who wasted his money and the pistol was from a criminal band. The girl's father turns out to be a member of that criminal band.
- Rumpole of the Bailey: In the episode "Rumpole and the Sporting Life", a defendant claims that she killed her husband by accident when she tripped while holding a shotgun. The episode even includes a nursery rhyme that promotes proper gun-handling. It turns out that he was already dead, and she knew it; she thought her lover had killed him, but in fact the lover was far away in London. The actual culprit was their neighbour, who accidentally killed the victim when a shot intended for a pigeon went astray.
- Star Trek: Voyager has an odd ship-to-ship version of this trope in Message In A Bottle when the EMH Mark 2 fires off a torpedo without locking a target, which hits a Federation ship. They shot U.S.S. Marvin in the face. He was trying to launch torpedoes, but at the Romulan ship instead.
EMH Mark 1: You hit the wrong ship!
EMH Mark 2: It wasn't my fault!
EMH Mark 1: Well then whose fault was it, the torpedo's? You're supposed to tell it what to do!
- In the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Rules of Engagement", Worf is engaged in battle with a Klingon bird-of-prey that keeps firing and then cloaking to reposition itself. He fires where he expects the bird-of-prey to reemerge but instead hits a Klingon passenger transport that decloaks instead, which Sisko describes as a failure to properly ID his target before firing. Subverted: The transport was actually empty and the Klingons were deliberately trying to get Worf to hit it so they could frame him for war crimes. Left unexplained is how the Klingons expected people to believe both a civilian ship being equipped with a cloaking device and that its hypothetical crew was stupid enough to be within an astronomical unit of the battle in the first place.
- Also in Deep Space 9, in "The Magnificent Ferengi", Gaila accidentally kills Keevan, the titular band's Vorta hostage, whilst trying to shoot his partner Quark after learning that Quark had been planning to cheat him out of an equal share of the reward promised.
- My Name Is Earl: Chubby has a squirt gun full of vodka he uses to top off patrons drinks at his strip club, and an identical looking real gun. He didn't learn from his mistake when he shot a drink with the wrong gun on screen. You can all guess how he died off screen.
- In "Mr. Monk on Wheels," after fighting to grab Sarah Longson's pistol, Natalie turns around, said pistol in hand. She tells Monk, who had already been shot in the leg earlier in the episode and is trying climb down some stairs to assist Natalie, that she was okay... and accidentally shoots Monk in his uninjured leg. Somewhat justified, as depending on your interpretation, either Natalie has not taken any basic firearms training, or, as it was mentioned in the episode "Mr. Monk and the Three Julies", she just hasn't actually fired a gun in at least ten years.
- In "Mr. Monk and the Panic Room," a man is found shot dead in his panic room. Also in the panic room is the man's pet monkey, Darwin, with a pistol in its hand. Captain Stottlemeyer is dubious that the monkey could even use a gun, let alone shoot his owner four times, so he tries an experiment — he asks Randy for an unloaded gun, who hands him a pistol that he claims to have unloaded, and Stottlemeyer gives it to the monkey. Neither Disher nor Stottlemeyer verified that the gun was unloaded. Stottlemeyer then tries to agitate the monkey enough so that it fires the gun, while Randy, Monk, and Sharona leave the two in an interrogation room. Only after the fact does Randy realizes that he accidentally gave Stottlemeyer a loaded gun, and try to warn him, but Darwin then fires the gun and shatters the one-way mirror. Stottlemeyer then declares the case closed.
- CSI has several examples.
- In one case Nick Stokes investigates how a woman got shot with no evidence of a shooter anywhere near. The answer is that there was an idiot who had a gun and made a shooting range in his backyard, which is in the suburbs and within city limits, a big-time city ordinance no-no. A stray bullet went into the air and struck the woman on the decline. When they arrest him, he protests it was an accident and Stokes contemptuously responds, "Well, that's why it's illegal to shoot guns within city limits, genius!"
- In another episode, a hunter fails to follow one of the most important rules of shooting things — always positively identify your target. So, when a drunken guy stumbles out of a Furry convention wearing a raccoon suit and wanders out into the desert, the hunter takes him down, thinking the victim was a coyote. The episode is vague on whether or not he'll get prosecuted for it, although it leans towards "no" since it was pretty dark at the time.
- Averted in the episode "Better Off Dead", when Greg is sharply scolded by Bobby Dawson, the lab's ballistic expert, for failing to properly clear a gun gathered in evidence. There was a bullet left in the chamber because Greg had mistakenly assumed that all the guns recovered from a broken gunshop counter were unloaded, as required by law. Both Greg and Sara look obviously rattled at this clear breach of gun handling protocol, and no-one in the lab relaxes until Bobby Dawson verifies for himself that the gun is, in fact, now properly unloaded.
- Yet another example when a suspect in the murder of an FBI agent accidentally shoots himself in the head in the middle of a crowded arena while trying to show everyone that the gun he had taken from Brass wasn't even loaded. He thought it wasn't loaded because the FBI agent he had killed was really just a crazy guy pretending to be an agent running around with an empty gun, plus he was delirious and on a drip at the time for 'ripping an entire necrotic bicep out of his arm'.
- And in yet another example and possibly the most extreme example of this Trope in the series, the CSI Las Vegas Team investigates the case of a young man who was shot fatally with one bullet in a shed that was riddled with hundreds of bullets, thinking at first that it must have been some weird gangland hit. Turns out, it was the inevitable result of a bunch of idiot teenagers playing games with a loaded, automatic MAC-10 by having someone standing on a second story balcony spin the gun down on a rope and the others would try to dodge the shots.
- A robber managed to kill a man with a blank round when he put the gun to the victim's head and pulled the trigger. The blast propelled a button on the victim's hat into his brain.
- CSI: NY:
- A man accidentally killed another with a blank round. According to the evidence, the suspect fired the gun at point-blank range (singeing the victim's clothes) and it was the discharge, despite the lack of a projectile, that tore a hole in the other man's torso.
- Also from the NY team, Jo Danville's would-be killer indirectly invokes this during "Means to an End" after he removes the magazine from her gun. She points out people ALWAYS forget about that one round still in the chamber right before she shoots him.
- The characters routinely break all of the basic rules constantly, yet no one gets accidentally shot — except for Kaylee during the pilot, when she startles Dobson. Of course, that wasn't an accident except insofar as he didn't intend to shoot Kaylee specifically. It was a failure to positively ID the target before he fired — he shot with intent to kill, he just wasn't aware what or who he was shooting until he'd pulled the trigger.
- The only other accidental shooting is in "Safe" when Book gets caught in a crossfire between Serenity's crew, the guys they're selling the cattle to, and the lawmen coming to arrest them. Again, this is only an accident in the sense that they didn't mean to shoot Book specifically.
- Similarly, season 6 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer has Warren try to kill Buffy with a gun. After shooting her, he starts waving his gun around carelessly and accidentally shoots Tara, who was standing near a window on the second floor. Buffy doesn't die, but Tara is not so lucky, and Warren is even more unlucky when Willow, her girlfriend, catches up to him.
- In The 100, season 3 episode 7, almost the exact same scene plays out, with Lexa being shot accidentally by her advisor Titus as she walked through a door. He'd hoped to kill Clarke instead.
- Teen Wolf: Stiles fiddles with Allison's crossbow and narrowly averts shooting Scott's thanks to his Super Reflexes as a werewolf.
- The District: One of the side plots in one episode has a woman getting shot with no one nearby. Turns out some punk got a hold of a WW2 gun and test-fired it by shooting down the apparently-empty street.
- Knowing Me, Knowing You with Alan Partridge: Alan Partridge once accidentally shot an obnoxious food critic in the heart with an antique dueling pistol on live television. It is this (coupled with his later punching of a BBC programming executive in the face with a partridge) that ended his TV career.
- In Cheers, a jealous man comes into the bar threatening Sam with a revolver. After the man is talked out of the shooting and the gun is taken from him, Sam puts it in his back pocket for storage. Afterward, he goes to sit down, and shoots himself in the butt. None of the regulars had given any hints of having any firearms training.
- The Wire:
Det Norris: So these idiots are shooting forties two blocks down, and now this Carcetti fuck gets to be mayor? What a town.
- Any time Roland Pryzbylewski has a gun in his hand, Badness Ensues. He first shows up as a transfer from another unit after he shot up his OWN squad car, and in the same episode proceeds to shoot a hole in the office wall. He later manages to pistol whip a 14-year old boy, permanently blinding him in one eye, and then three seasons later, he shoots and kills an undercover cop, causing him to quit the police force and become a teacher.
- Season 2 Episode 9 "Stray Rounds" is named after this trope, as a turf dispute between Bodie's crew and another crew turns into a shootout that results in exactly one casualty, a nine-year old boy in his bedroom up the block.
- This trope becomes a major plot point in Season 4. Kima is assigned to a murder of a State's witness in an alley. There's quite a bit of backroom scheming because it's a mayoral election year, so she under pressure from one side to solve the case quickly and from the other to bury it. It turns out, a pair of drunken knuckleheads two blocks away were shooting at beer bottles and hit the guy by accident.
- In season three, Omar's boyfriend Dante inadvertantly shoots crewmate Tosha in the head while fleeing for cover during a raid, because he was shooting blindly without making sure he knew where he was aiming.
- Band of Brothers, episode "The Breaking Point". After hunting for a Luger as a souvenir, Cpl. Donald Hoobler finally finds one - only to accidentally fatally shoot himself in the leg with it. This is Truth in Television as the real Hoobler suffered the same fate, though it was apparently a Belgian pistol in .32 ACP.
- The Luger does have a notoriously tricky safety, at least according to the book.
- Oz. One of the inmates was sent to prison after brandishing a gun at school which went off, killing a girl on the floor above.
- In Star Trek: The Original Series, two involving Time Travel and the not-gun-shaped Type 1 Phaser, which looks an awful lot like a cigarette lighter. In "The City on the Edge of Forever", a 1930s bum gets hold of one and vaporizes himself while playing with it. In "Tomorrow Is Yesterday", Kirk is captured by Air Police in 1969, and cringes (with priceless facial expressions) as they fiddle with his weapon, toss it around, and several times almost press the trigger, conflicted between justifiable fear and the need to not let them know who he is or what they have.
- Chuck has an inept criminal take the Buy More hostage, and at one point he confronts Casey and Sarah. Chuck manages to talk him down and convince him to put the safety of the gun back on, which the criminal admits he doesn't know how to do (never mind that the gun is a revolver). Chuck and the criminal then both start messing around with the gun trying to turn the safety on, and accidentally shoot Casey in the foot. Turns into Fridge Brilliance when the criminal turns out to actually be a Fulcrum agent, and probably shot Casey deliberately. In the third season episode "Chuck vs. the American Hero", Chuck demonstrates the problem with his relying on the Intersect's gun-handling subroutine: said subroutine was designed for users who, unlike Chuck, are already familiar enough with gun safety to avoid pointing their gun at people they're not currently killing.
- Touched by an Angel has someone breaking just about all the rules — carelessly waving a loaded WW2-era pistol around, pointing it straight at a friend, and then removing the magazine without clearing the chamber. After all that, how unlucky is it for said gun to get knocked off a desk, unintentionally fire, and shoot someone right in the heart?
- Law & Order: Special Victims Unit has Olivia telling a story about a fellow cop with asthma staying up for two days straight on a stakeout. After the stakeout ended, he went home and crashed. Later, he woke up because of an asthma attack, reached for his gun instead of his inhaler while half-asleep, and killed himself. Aside from apparently having a gun-shaped inhaler, it seems that the cop forgot to unload his gun when he came home.
- In the episode "Penetration" FBI Agent Dana Lewis is holding her rapist at gun point, with Benson and Stabler close behind her. Deciding to scare him, she shoots at a pipe behind him...and the bullet ricochets off and hits Stabler in the shoulder. It isn't a serious injury, but it does serve to act as a wake up call at what bad gun safety she was displaying; and she later admits that she acted terribly and takes full responsibility. That being said, Stabler being injured whenever she's around is something of a Running Gag so his reaction is mostly one of resigned irritation, and it manages to be rather funny.
- A Very Special Episode of Beverly Hills 90210 (the original one) uses this to kill off Scott Scanlon (played by Douglas Emerson), one of the regulars in the first season of the series, in front of David Silver (Bryan Austin Green's character).
- Tales from the Crypt episode "Judy, You're Not Yourself Today". A husband points his rifle at a random solicitor, and pulls the trigger while pointing it at his wife to prove to his wife the gun was unloaded. In the end he ends up trying to physically subdue his wife's body snatcher (a old witch traded bodies with her) while holding the gun, and ends up shooting his wife.
- 1000 Ways to Die, there are two guys who have been friends since they were in elementary. They do everything together and are generally chummy towards each other, and even decide to live together as roommates in college. Unfortunately, in adulthood one of the two friends gained an addiction to cigarettes and constantly bothers the other for money so he can buy more, or if he has some spares to share them with him. Becoming tired of having to supply cigarettes for his friend, the annoyed friend loads some cigarettes into his muzzle-loader, aims them directly into his roommate's face, and says, "Hey buddy want some cigarettes?" Who, being drunk at the time, didn't seem afraid of having a shotgun pointed at him and nods his head in approval at the idea of cigarettes. The cigarettes fly out of the firearm at supersonic speed and penetrate the guy's skull. He simply wanted to hurt his friend, he didn't think cigarettes would penetrate flesh like bullets do. This just goes to show you that you never point a gun at something or someone you are not intending to kill or destroy, and that anything flying out of that said gun is going to be potentially lethal.
- For the record, the MythBusters tested this one and found that cigarette butts, when smoked and fired point blank, will penetrate to the heart. At 7 feet they simply cause inconsequential flesh wounds.
- Another episode featured a magician attempting a bullet-catching trick; when tapping the barrel of the gun with his wand, part of the wand's tip fell off and into the barrel, which was then propelled by the blank cartridge with lethal force through a major artery in his neck.
- Narrowly subverted in the Stargate Atlantis episode "Common Ground", when during their escape Todd is at one point toying with his loaded gun while having it pointed right at the back of Sheppard's head.
- Out-of-story, one of the reasons SG-1 switched their standard-issue weapon from the MP5 to the P90 was due to a scene which called for multiple people firing their weapons while standing side-by-side, which would have ejected hot brass into various faces during filming. Since the P90 ejects its cases downwards, it avoided that problem entirely.
- Highway To Heaven episode "The Torch" includes a group of Neo Nazis. Among them is Rolf (played by Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Zach on Saved by the Bell). While handling an Uzi in the Neo Nazi lair, Rolf fires the weapon, hitting his father and another Neo Nazi, killing his father.
- MacGyver: In a flashback during the "Blood Brothers" episode, MacGyver accidentally shoots and kills his childhood friend Jesse.
- Body of Proof: The killer in one episode accidentally shoots and kills his own daughter. He confronted both his daughter and her fiance in order to intimidate the man into leaving her alone. When the daughter attempts to reach for the gun, it goes off.
- Family Matters: Discussed when Carl is working as a security guard on the set of some TV show, when the main actor (playing a cop) scratches his head with his (prop) gun. This makes Carl laugh and explain that no cop in their right mind would do that because the gun might go off.
- Played with on How I Met Your Mother when Robin takes Marshall to the shooting range. She inadvertently points her gun at him while telling him not to tell her boyfriend (a pacifist) about her being a gun nut. While she seems nonchalant, the look on Marshall's face shows how terrified he is.
- Engrenages: Forms the basis for an entire plot point in the third season, where during a visit to a drug dealer with an informant, Gilou, when faced with trouble, takes out his gun and fires it up at the ceiling. It hits someone. In the crotch.
- Modern Family: Mitchell is pointing a skeet-shooting rifle at everyone in sight within seconds of getting it in his hands, and they all freak out, with his father advising him to try another activity.
- Community: In the Bad End of "Remedial Chaos Theory", Annie drops her purse, causing the pistol inside it to go off and shoot Pierce in the leg, resulting in a series of Disaster Dominoes that end in the apartment on fire. Pierce dies, the guilt drives Annie insane, Jeff loses an arm, Troy loses his voicebox, Shirley turns to drinking, and Britta dyes a streak of her hair blue.
- The Big Bang Theory: Leonard shoots himself in the foot when he takes Penny out to the gun range for a date and she kisses him while he has a gun in his hand.
- An episode of Quincy that deconstructs Artistic License – Gun Safety ends with a Gory Discretion Shot when a five-year-old shoots his sister, thinking that the revolver his father just got back from the police is a "space gun". His dad may as well be the poster boy for Failing Gun Safety Forever: he left said pistol fully loaded on the floor of his closet.
- One guest on an episode of the National Geographic Channel show Doomsday Preppers accidentally blew off a part of his own thumb. He later claimed that it was due to a gun malfunction that happened when he put his thumb in front of the barrel. A malfunction, sure.
- On Mad Men Ken Cosgrove is shot in the face while hunting with some Chevrolet executives. While he probably should not have been standing where he was, the executive was target-focused on a bird and did not pay attention to where he was aiming his gun. Fortunately it was only bird shot and Ken survived with some cosmetic damage to the left side of his face. However, to add insult to injury the executives failed to appreciate the seriousness of the situation and decided to stop for lunch on the way to the hospital. Poor Ken already suffered through a broken foot due to a car accident caused by the same bunch of reckless executives and decides not to Tempt Fate and resigns from the Chevrolet account.
- Invoked in the Blue Bloods episode "This Way Out" when some gangbangers trick a mentally retarded kid from their housing project into pointing a loaded gun at the mayor and pulling the trigger. They told him it was a toy, but toys don't leave the mayor a paraplegic.
- Played with in an episode of The Office (US). Dwight becomes acting manager and brings a gun to work. When it goes off, the bullet goes straight into the carpet but Andy's eardrums burst and he's taken to the emergency room.
- The plot of the Doctor Who story "Planet of Fire" revolves around the Master having been shrunk to a few inches tall and trying to find a way to return to normal size. Although he's too embarrassed to explain what happened in detail, it's strongly implied that he accidentally shot himself with his Tissue Compression Eliminator (a usually-lethal Shrink Ray).
- Earlier, in "Frontier in Space", the Master accidentally shoots the Doctor thanks to an unfortunate Ogron stampede, and looks rather shocked about it.
- Orphan Black: The inexperienced gun-user Donnie accidentally shoots Dr. Leekie in the head when he bangs his car steering wheel for emphasis with the hand he's holding a pistol in.
- In one episode of The Closer, a guy at a gas station fires a warning shot to scare off a couple of gang bangers trying to steal his car, and ends up killing an innocent teenager a couple of blocks over. Since the kid died during the commission of a crime, the gang bangers take the fall for it and the guy who shot him gets off scot free, but he is appropriately horrified when he finds out that he actually killed someone.
- New Tricks: One of the 'murders' in "The Rock" turns out to have been have accident caused by a boy stealing a gun from his father and using it to play soldier.
- The IT Crowd: In an episode of the British comedy series, Reynolm Industries president Douglas finds his grandfather's service revolver, left by his late father, in his work desk drawer. He points it at his mouth and pulls the trigger to see if it's loaded and finds it isn't. He later loads it and accidentally shoots himself in the leg while at work and goes through an important business meeting while pretending nothing's wrong before fainting due to blood loss.
- Sanford and Son: When Fred is in St. Louis, Grady chases off some of Lemont's friends with a rifle. When Lemont talks to him about it the next day, Grady says he didn't load it and holds up a cartridge, then starts pointing it at the ceiling and says "you sure can scare people with an empty rifle", pulling the trigger in the process and shooting the ceiling, which startles Grady enough to let go of the rifle and flail his arms around.
- On Grimm three teenage boys were drinking and smoking pot when one of them started showing off his father's heirloom katana. This is dangerous already given their inebriated state but then one of the other boys decides to show off his late father's police revolver. The gun was apparently stored loaded and when the third boy grabs it, it discharges and the first boy is fatally shot in the stomach.
- Inspector George Gently: In "Son of a Gun", the commissionaire at the bank grabs the dropped Sten gun and opens fire at the getaway car, emptying the gun on full auto. Gently blows his top at him, pointing out that there was a phone box, a bus stop and a pub in the direction he was firing, and has him charged with illegally discharging a firearm in a public place. It is later discovered that one of his shots had fatally wounded the getaway driver.
- Murder, She Wrote: In "Night Fears", the murder happens when an ex-cop fires at a mugging in progress. The bullet passes through the mugger and kills the victim. The ex-cop then tries to cover it up by staging an Orgy of Evidence.
- An atypical example in The Good Wife. The bailiff in a courtroom where Will Gardner is defending a murder suspect inadvertently leaves his sidearm holster unstrapped. Will's client has a nervous breakdown, grabs the gun out of the holster, and opens fire, shooting the witness (who is suspected of being the real murderer) dead, winging D.A. Finn Polmar in the arm, and mortally wounding Will when he tries to get the gun away from his client.
- "I Hung My Head" by Sting (later covered by Johnny Cash) features a young man pointing a rifle at someone to practice aiming. It doesn't end well.
- "I Didn't Know The Gun Was Loaded" by The Andrews Sisters is about a woman with a chronic habit of shooting people and using the titular excuse when she gets in trouble for it - and she gets away with it multiple times!
- The music video for "Eighteen and Life" by Skid Row features an example of this.
- Frank Gallop's The Ballad of Irving has the eponymous character meeting his end this way.
Well, finally Irving got three slugs in the bellyIt was right outside the Frontier DeliHe was sitting there twirling his gun around
- Peanuts: Charlie Brown accidentally shoots Shermey while showing off his new toy pistol. Subverted in that Charlie Brown actually yells "BANG!"
- In one Tumbleweeds strip, Limpid Lizard shows up at the Medicine Man's teepee with an arrow in his gut, explaining "I wuz kleenin' m' bow an' it went off."
- In one strip of The Far Side, cavemen were sitting around cleaning their clubs when one made the mistake of looking straight at his.◊
- Firearms in Pathfinder Roleplaying Game misfire on a Critical Failure, causing the gun to break. Any character foolish enough to fire a broken gun risks having the expensive firearm blow up in their face, potentially killing themselves and anyone nearby in the blast. The misfire rate also increases by more than five times if loaded by a nonproficient wielder. Overall, gun safety in Pathfinder is serious business and functions as the primary means to deter non-specialists from using guns in a swords and sorcery world.
- Warhammer 40,000:
- Any weapon with the "Gets Hot!" special rule, which basically means that the weapon has a chance of critically overheating and injuring (or killing) the wielder. Plasma weapons are the most notorious offenders.
- Space Hulk, along with early versions of 40K, also featured assault cannons that would, very rarely, explode and kill their wielder from overuse.
- Der Freischütz, and the rock opera version The Black Rider (which was written by Robert Wilson, Tom Waits, and William S. Burroughs), combine this trope with literal Diabolus ex Machina, and the heroine gets shot on her wedding day. In Weber's version, the bullet gets deflected by the consecrated roses in her bridal wreath, though, and she's okay.
- Assassins: Sarah Jane Moore is written to be played with no regard for the proper operation or storage of her .38 revolver. She accidentally discharges it no less than five times during the course of the show, once while it's still in her hand bag, narrowly missing Squeaky Fromme, once into the air when she's supposed to be clicking the hammer of an unloaded weapon in "The Gun Song", once when startled with her finger prematurely on the trigger, damaging Charles Guiteau's hearing in the process, and twice during two separate scene change blackouts, with the lights coming up on her scene the second time to reveal she's just accidentally shot her own dog.
Sarah Jane: Shit, I shot it!
- La Forza Del Destino: In Act 1 of Giuseppe Verdi's opera, Don Alvaro is eloping with Leonora. Her father, the Marquis of Calatrava, interrupts the lovers in mid-elope and threatens the young man with a sword. Don Alvaro decides not to resist, and throws away his pistol... which goes off and kills the Marquis, who dies cursing them. Oops.
- Eternal Darkness somewhat invokes this trope during Maxamillion's chapter. If his Sanity Meter is very low he may do something unwise with his flintlock pistols, such as holding one under his arm while loading the other. The results are misfires leading to several gory death scenes. (Though, as normal for that game, all is not really as it seems.)
- Hitman: Blood Money features this as an assassination method. One of the hits takes place in an opera house with a target being the lead actor. During rehearsals, the actor is "executed" with a prop pistol — 47 can either replace it with a real one, take the place of the executioner actor, or shoot the target at the same time the actor fires the prop. In a bit of black comedy, the play will continue for a little while before anyone realizes that the actor has ''really'' been shot.
- Bonus points here as closed-in environment of an opera house would be too dangerous for the prop gun's blanks in the first place.
- And double bonus points for being darkly ironic — the scene being rehearsed is the final act of Tosca, which has Mario Cavaradossi gunned down by a firing squad who was issued guns with live ammunition instead of the blank firing ones that Scarpia promised Tosca in his namesake ultimatum.
- Fallout 2 features a cruel variant — one of the ways to assassinate Orville Wright is to give one of his kids a loaded gun and tell them, "Why don't you wave this in your daddy's face and pull the trigger?". On a less darkly-humorous and more frustrating note, your companions are less than sure about concepts such as friendly fire. Many a player still has nightmares that start with the sight of your super mutant companion switching to his Minigun... Myron is particularly bad in this regard: his appallingly poor combat skills mean that he's honestly more likely to shoot you or another party member than whatever enemy he's aiming at should you actually allow him to carry a gun.
- Empire: Total War features the use of a Gentlemen agent which can steal technology or duel other gentlemen of rival factions. If ordered to duel another gentlemen a cinematic scene plays which shows many different outcomes. One of these outcomes has the two duelists march a few paces turn but not fire. Hilariously, one of them looks down the barrel of the gun then the gun promptly discharges in his face. He loses the duel by the way.
- Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas: one of the radio segments, Jack Howitzer threatens to kill host Billy Dexter unless he touches Jack's genitals (It Makes Sense in Context... sorta) and then says he was just fooling around and that his gun was unloaded, only for it to go off and kill Dexter.
- This also happens in Mafia II, when Joe is in the bar and Vito has to come pick him up. The bartender goes to lock up the bar and Joe's gun hits the table, discharging and killing the bartender, getting a "What. The. FUCK." moment from Vito.
- In a flashback of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, a young Miles Edgeworth ends up throwing a loaded gun to break up a fight between his father and a bailiff, making him think he'd accidentally shot his father and killed him. He did shoot someone, just not his father.
- Played for laughs when LEGO Star Wars spoofs the scene in A New Hope where Obi-Wan gives Luke his father's lightsaber. You know how in the movie, the blade comes within a couple of feet of skewering Obi-Wan? In the game, Obi-Wan dives out of the way and Luke beheads C-3PO. Well, it's just LEGO, of course.
- In one cutscene of Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack In Time, Nefarious is rehearsing a play (with his character holding a gun) with a minion when Lawrence comes in with a status report. After the report, Lawrence suggests Nefarious turn the gun's safety on "...So as not to kill any more troops." Nefarious snarls, "It's not even loaded, you moron! Look!" One pull of the trigger later Nefarious has to call in another minion to replace the one that died.
- In The Oregon Trail II, you can accidentally shoot yourself while hunting.
- When VATS targeting an enemy in Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas, it is not uncommon to accidentally inflict a Sneak Attack Critical Hit on a companion or other NPC, possibly killing them or turning them hostile. Even when attacking normally this can happen too, as your companions' attempts to avoid shooting you in the back often lead them to plant themselves right in your line of fire. The companions in New Vegas will even tell you to watch where you're pointing that thing if you aim down the barrel at them.
- In the Star Wars version of Battle Chess, C-3PO does this to Boba Fett if the Rebel Knight captures the Imperial Bishop. Threepio grabs Fett's gun, lectures him on how dangerous these weapons are, and throws it to the ground - the gun goes off, blasting Fett through the chest. Played for Laughs, as all of Threepio's capture animations are.
- An incident like this happens in the Backstory of Resident Evil: Revelations 2. Barry Burton didn't properly unload one of his guns which was then found by his daughters Moira and Polly. Moira accidentally shot Polly (non-fatally) and the incident is the reason why the two have a massive rift just before the game starts as well as Moira's Doesn't Like Guns attitude. Considering who was involved in the incident you have to wonder what was going through his mind.
- Can happen just about any time the left mouse button fires a gun on a PC game; having a narrow keyboard and mouse tray frequently leads to accidental clicks when the LMB is smacked against the edge of the keyboard. In-game, this can have interesting effects, including this trope, especially if the player walks around with their firearm drawn.
- Touchpads on laptops can also cause this. Depending on the pad, tapping the pad can be interpreted by the computer as pressing LMB. Players with large hands or small laptops (or both) can wind up shooting plenty of people by complete accident.
- Episode 2 of Life Is Strange has Chloe and Max shooting a gun at bottles in a junkyard. After two bottles Chloe starts going for crazy trick shots off metal objects, and will hit herself with a ricochet if you tell her to shoot a car's bumper. Thankfully, rewind is there to save the day.
- Girlchan in Paradise!!: "It's out of bullets, anyway!" "Then that means I can do this!" (BANG)
- An infrequent hazard in Red vs. Blue since the Blue Team (particularly Church) regularly uses the sniper rifle's scope to watch even their own soldiers. The weapon is fired on friendlies on at least two occasions:
- After Church takes over Sarge to free Tex, he leads her outside into the open. Caboose, thinking that taking out Tex's captor will earn him brownie points with Church, shoots Sarge in the head (he gets better later on) and receives Church's anger when Church is forced out of Sarge.
- Later on, Tucker, having finally gotten the sniper rifle, has trouble working the scope while he's using it to watch Tex. In the process of using it to scope out her butt, he accidentally pulls the trigger and shoots her in the ass. Compared to other shootings in the series, this turns out to be superficial especially since it turns out Tex is an AI controlling a robot body.
- Avoided in How Pulp Fiction Should Have Ended when Vincent and Jules are killed by the man who failed to shoot them in the original movie. Marvin's response?
"Woo! I'm alive! Haha! Marvin lives! Yeah!"
- Dr. Havoc's Diary: This show is practically married to gun humor.
- Dr. Havoc accidentally injures himself with von Duct's trick gun (and, eventually, with the pen gun in his shirt pocket) in Episode 2.
- Episode 2 has an army soldier pick up and examine a lamp... which is in fact a gun. Guess what happens next.
- Ally kills someone (and injures Brock) this way in Episode 5.
- A Minion shoots themself this way in Episode 14. By chewing on a gun.
- Tales OF Zenith: 5, the manager of the homeless shelter disarms a woman who pulled a rifle, and sets it on the counter, noting that she should have known better, the Remington 20 has a well-known habit of accidental discharge. At this point it goes off, shooting the front-desk clerk in the gut. One of the inmates yells out, "You just shot Marvin in the face!" 5 breaks the fourth wall by pointing out that they're not parodying Pulp Fiction in this cartoon in the strip, and besides, he shot him in the stomach.
- Homestuck: Babies should not be allowed to dual-wield flintlock pistols.
- We later find out Jade would have shot herself in the face if not for Bec teleporting the bullets away.
- Irregular Webcomic!: Alternate version of Han shooting Greedo.
- Schlock Mercenary: Thankfully averted in this one.
Elf: Will someone raise the house lights so San Asimov's finest can see what they're using for a backstop?
- Achewood: "PS I got shot by Ray again"
- Problem Sleuth: While holding a gun, Problem Sleuth gets distracted by a business card and shoots through his door and kills an unfortunate bystander.
- The Dreadful: Combined with Improbable Aiming Skills when some idiot literally juggles his guns while talking down to Kit. She even warns him it's a bad idea, but then he pushes one of her berserk buttons, and she shoots the hammer of his revolver while it's in midair, causing it to fire through his head.
- Parodied by a guest comic in Turn Signals on a Land Raider. One of the Space Marine, is trying to get ccobwebs off his hand after apparently being up on a shelf for too long, so he tries shooting it off with his bolt pistol and accidentally blasts his sergeant. (He's probably fine; worse has happened to the protagonists and, being figures in a miniatures game, they walked it off.)
- The Onion: In this article, an 8-year-old boy who accidentally shoots himself in the thigh wins praise from Strawman Politicals for having exercised his constitutional rights.
- CollegeHumor: In "Very-Mary Kate:Gun," Mary-Kate Olsen does this after holding her bodyguard at gun point. She drops the gun and kills her cat Comet.
- Survival of the Fittest: Due to the amount of firearms in the game, this happens fairly often. One example was in v3, where Braunca Braunstein accidentally shoots herself in the face while looking at her gun and pointing the barrel at herself. Carol Burke of version 4 also does something similar to this, as she accidentally shoots Rizzo Vitoria in the leg with a shotgun, leaving Reiko Ishida to Mercy Kill him.
- Gaia Online's 2010 Christmas event revolves around preventing Santa from making Too Dumb to Live type decisions regarding basic safety. One of the scenarios revolves around this, where he is shown with a gun, looking into the barrel to clean it. The player has to remove the bullets from the gun, give Santa proper gloves (instead of the oven mitts he had before), make him read a book on gun safety, and give him a proper tool to clean it with.
- Skippy's List has examples:
6. Not allowed to play “Pulp Fiction” with a suction-cup dart pistol and any officer.
- Loads of examples available at The Darwin Award, ranging from the blatantly-idiotic (trying to bash in your girlfriend's car windshield with the butt of a loaded shotgun) to the downright bizarre (a napping shepherd shot by his own sheep, which stepped on the rifle he'd left loaded and tilted toward himself).
- Happened in the first Heist episode of Let's Play Grand Theft Auto V. After their robbery attempt goes belly up, Jack accidentally gets out of his vehicle and gets caught in the crossfire of Michael's escape. When Geoff wants to know what the hell's going on, Michael pussy foots around the entire thing with Ray giving him hell for it.
- Gargoyles. Elisa is at one point seriously injured when Broadway accidentally shoots her while playing with her gun. Broadway is a 1,000-year-old gargoyle who had never handled a gun before, but Elisa, a NYPD detective, falls under this trope by leaving her sidearm, holster and gun belt unattended in another room from where she was (she admits later that she should have known better). Notably, she's much more careful for the rest of the series.
- This event is a major part of both characters' development — after this incident, Broadway is a gun-phobic who destroys any gun he comes across on the nightly patrols (this does necessitate dragging them from the startled fingers of an assortment of startled criminals), and Elisa is always careful to lock up her gun, and presumably unload it when not on duty. Elisa spent the next few episodes on crutches while she was recovering from the gunshot, where most shows would have had her back to normal by the next episode. It really hammered home how incredibly dangerous guns can be.
- Beavis and Butt-Head, episode "At the Movies". After the boys cause some destruction in the theater's parking lot, a police officer comes to arrest them. His gun gets caught in the holster, and while pulling it out he accidentally shoots himself in the foot, blowing off all his toes on that foot.
- King of the Hill:
- "How to Fire a Rifle Without Really Trying": Bobby's NRA safety instructor explains that he used to run right out onto the rifle range whenever he hit the target, resulting in the loss of his thumb and eye. Later, when the instructor witnesses Bobby's innate shooting skill, he again runs out onto the range in excitement, holding the targets Bobby shot up for all the other men on the range to see. It's likely he became an instructor due to being a walking example of what not to do on a range/a demonstration of what can happen
- "Soldier of Misfortune": Dale, who by all rights should know better being the president of the local gun club, accidentally discharges his weapon. Should being the keyword. There's the small problem that Dale is a crazy idiot. Rather than be expelled from the club, he becomes a laughing stock and loses a snap-election for president.
Mad Dog: Well well. An accidental discharge. Or was there a South American dictator hiding the cash register?
- Duckman implies that this is how the titular character's father died at his son's hands:
Duckman: Did I ever tell you my dad's last words to me?
Cornfed Pig: Mmhmm. 'Careful son, I don't think the safety's on.'
Duckman: BEFORE THAT!
- In one Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog episode, Sonic is made the sheriff of a cowboy town. While trying some sharpshooting, he proves to be an incredibly poor shot, causing all sorts of comic (But non-fatal) destruction with his bad aim. He couldn't even shoot the broad side of a barn at point-blank range. Coincidentally, the Sonic Sez segment was all about gun safety, and how under no circumstances should you fool around with a real gun, even if you think it's unloaded.
- In Men in Black episode "The Neuralyzer Syndrome", a variation happens when Jay accidentally neuralyzes Kay, leaving him with his teenage memories.
- The Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids episode "The Gunslinger" had Shawn try to impress Albert and the gang with his parents' gun. But it accidentally discharges in his hand—and Shawn's lucky to not get killed from it.
- In The Mysterious Cities of Gold, Tao shows Esteban and Zia the things that he stole from Mendoza while he was sleeping, a flintlock is among them. Once Esteban sees it he shows the appropriate amount of wariness, and tells Tao to put it down because it's loaded. Tao says: "Loaded? What does that mean?"; on cue, he accidentally fires it.
- In Static Shock, a boy brings a gun to school and threatens his bully with it. The bully's friends tackle him, but the gun goes off and hits Richie in the leg.
- In South Park, Kenny has died this way at least a few times.
- Porky's Duck Hunt: Porky, while modelling his hunting gear for his dog, accidentally drops his shotgun on the floor, causing it to fire into the ceiling. There is then a knock at the door and Porky is punched in the face by his upstairs neighbour, who walks, revealing a hole in his pants. When Porky comes home after the hunt, he throws his shotgun on the floor, causing it to fire again. The upstairs neighbour knocks at the door again and punches Porky in the face again, then walks away with a second hole in his pants.
- Futurama: The headless clone of Agnew is killed in the episode "T: The Terrestrial" as a result of being accidentally shot with a disintegrating laser gun by Jrrr, who is Lrrr's son during one of Lrrr's invasions on Earth, which Lrrr forces his son to participate in. Even though this was clearly an accident, Richard Nixon's Head clamps an embargo on Omicron Persei 8 as a result but it is very poorly enforced as a result of it being led by Zapp Brannigan.
- This video. Ironically enough, it was during a gun safety presentation, and came right after he claimed to be the "only one in the room professional enough" to handle that gun, while he clearly had his finger on the trigger of a gun that does not have a manual safety. It wasn't a fatal accident, however; the man only shot himself in the foot. It's also commonly believed that this was a stunt and it had been a blank cartridge.
- Shockingly found in the US Marine Corps despite thorough training on weapons handling. The highly discouraged "Trust" game that some Marines started playing in Iraq involves pointing a weapon at the head of a fellow Marine and asking "Do you trust me?" One Marine was sadly killed by this reckless behavior that goes against their training. The guy that killed him got eight years.
- A similar event occurred when two Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan were playing quick draw with loaded sidearms. One ended up dead and the other got convicted on manslaughter charges.
- Incidents of this nature have figured in at least one Darwin Award.
- Happens often in Libya, as former rebels coming home with their guns aren't careful enough. The random, full-auto firing in the air of cities doesn't help: Hospitals have hundreds of patients because of celebratory gunfire. What goes up must come down, after all.
- Actor Jon-Erik Hexum killed himself by demonstrating a gun filled with blanks by shooting himself in the head, unaware that at such close range, a blank round is just as deadly as a real bullet - if you put the barrel directly against your head, you create a tight enough seal the the force of the hot gas is enough to break off a piece of your skull, and that then acts as a projectile. Especially at the temple, as that is the weakest part of the skull and has a major artery right underneath it.
- According to Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith in their 2011 biography Van Gogh: The Life, Vincent van Gogh's gunshot death was likely not a suicide as generally accepted, but an accidental homicide by two teenaged acquaintances of Van Gogh who had a malfunctioning gun. Due to his status as a Death Seeker, due to his mental illness, he didn't rat out the boys and even welcomed his death.
- Brandon Lee, son of Bruce Lee, died during the filming of The Crow because a fake cartridge came apart in a revolver and was not found before loading in blanks. What happened was that cartridges with bullets were needed for a closeup. Instead of using dummy rounds, the powder was emptied from live rounds and the bullets (or bullet jackets) replaced. Someone then pulled the trigger on one of these semi-live rounds, resulting in a small detonation from the primer pushing the bullet just enough to lodge in the barrel (this is also known as a squib load). Later, blanks were loaded into the same gun without anyone noticing something was in the barrel. The blank cartridge combined with the stuck bullet to create a lethal projectile.
- Lawyer (and former Congressman) Clement Vallandigham was preparing to defend a client accused of murder by arguing that the deceased had, in fact, accidentally shot himself with his own gun. While conferring with the rest of the defense team, he demonstrated his theory by reenacting the actions of the deceased... with a gun he thought was unloaded. The reenactment was more realistic than intended; Vallandigham fatally shot himself. The client was acquitted.
- Video taken during a wedding celebration in Chechnya. Drunken guest brings an automatic pistol, fools with it to show that it is not dangerous, and another guest ends up taking a bullet to the head. See it here.
- One of the Horrible Histories books tells the story of a Home Guard soldier in World War II who was cleaning his rifle at the dinner table and forgot that there was a round in the chamber. He accidentally pulled the trigger, shot his wife, and killed her.
- His Excellency Don Felipe, the 13-year-old (at the time) grandson of King Juan Carlos I of Spain and fifth in line to the Spanish throne, accidentally shot himself in the foot in April 2012, to the amusement of the Spanish and world press.
- Juan Carlos himself was infamously involved in the accidental death of his younger brother Alfonso while in exile as a young prince in Estoril, Portugal, in 1956. While details are sketchy even to this day the official version states that the young Juan Carlos was cleaning a revolver in presence of his younger brother when a shot happened, hitting the 14-year-old Infante in the forehead and killing him within a few minutes.
- Former US VP Dick Cheney's infamous hunting accident where he shot attorney Harry Whittington in the face. Though this wasn't entirely Cheney's fault, by the by, because Whittington wasn't supposed to be standing in Cheney's line of fire in the first place. Whittington survived the shooting.
- The notorious incident where famous Hungarian singer Jimmy Zámbó accidentally shot himself in the head while drunk and fooling around with his gun during a New Year's celebration. He even removed the magazine to show it was safe - forgetting that it was a semi-automatic pistol and already had a bullet chambered.
- A widespread (and quite amusing) urban legend says he was trying to kill the neighbor's rooster due to its crowing being annoying, explaining how the bullet got into the chamber in the first place.
- Plaxico Burress, then a wide receiver with the New York Giants, accidentally shot himself in the leg while showing a gun he did not have a permit to carry to a teammate at a New York City nightclub. He then put the gun into the waistband of the sweatpants he had on, and when he tried to grab the gun, he pulled the trigger. The incident earned him a short prison sentence and a lot of embarrassment, given that part of his job involves manual deftness.
- Terry Kath, the original guitarist for the band Chicago, shot himself fatally in front of friends and family when a gun he was playing around with went off in his head right after he said "Don't worry, guys, it isn't even loaded. See?"
- William S. Burroughs, American novelist, played the "William Tell" game while drinking at a party in Mexico in 1951. He missed the glass on his wife's head, but didn't miss her forehead.
- One of the only-moderately-insane JFK assassination theories claims that Oswald missed Kennedy, but one of the President's own bodyguards accidentally discharged his weapon from the car behind the convertible when its driver, startled by the rifle shots, braked too suddenly. Any subsequent cover-up efforts were to conceal this fatal incompetence, rather than an intentional plot against Kennedy's life.
- A similar example applies to Huey Long: One theory of his assassination is that his guards, in shooting the assassin dozens of times hit him with one shot. According to the theory, some of Long's last words indicated that he was going to cover for his guards by blaming the alleged shooter.
- Paul Rieckoff, a former National Guardsman who served in the Iraq War, recounts in his memoir Chasing Ghosts how an Iraqi man who worked on the base was struck in the torso on his way to work by a stray bullet from celebratory gunfire. Fortunately, the man lived.
- Differences in training and doctrine, combined with old-fashioned Interservice Rivalry, can be cause for quite a bit of mutual annoyance whenever US Army and US Air Force personnel are deployed together while carrying handguns. Army personnel are trained to holster their sidearm with the safety on, while the Air Force trains their personnel to holster the weapon with the safety off. Cue many nosey soldiers annoying the Air Force personnel by constantly pointing out that their weapon happens to be holstered in exactly the way they are required and trained to holster it.
- A tragic example, in which an 8-year-old boy was killed by the recoil of a Mini-Uzi at a gun-show. The boy was firing the weapon but his arm was too weak to hold the gun steady, the recoil from the first bullet bent the kid's arms all the way back with the muzzle pointing in his face. Even worse, a worker at the show testified that he'd warned the father twice to pick a less powerful weapon. The organizer of the show was acquitted a few days later.
- And in a similarly tragic incident in Arizona in 2014, a 9-year-old girl shot the shooting-range instructor in the head after the recoil from the Uzi proved too powerful for her to control.
- Along with a bit of Hoist by His Own Petard, gun activist Jamie Gilt was shot in the back by her four year old son.
- Marshal André Masséna had managed to avoid major injuries for most of his career. Then he lost an eye in 1808 when Napoleon accidentally shot him during a hunt - and blamed it on another Marshal, Louis-Alexandre Berthier.
- A few stories are floating around the Internet about dogs who inadvertently shoot their owners.
- Elvis Presley was an avid gun collector, and almost always had a gun on his person. According to a story told in "Elvis: What Happened?", one of his "Memphis Mafia" members, Sonny West, taught him to always keep the first chamber of his guns empty. This led to an aversion of this trope, as he pulled a gun on someone who barged in on him in the bathroom, and would have blown his head off had the first chamber not been empty.
- A horrifying case from 2016: William "Clayton" Brumby took three of his children to a shooting range in Sarasota, Florida. As he was firing, a shell casing bounced off a wall and into his shirt. He instinctively tried to remove it with his dominant hand, and didn't drop the gun first. Apparently in the process he pointed the weapon behind him and fired a round into his teenage son Stephen's jugular. The boy, of course, bled out and died.