Nothing Up My Sleeve
"I didn't think you was stupid, Mister Vimes. [...] I know a clever copper like you'd think I'd got two knives."A character will have a weapon hidden in his sleeve. Occasionally extracted by a device attached to his arm that will eject the weapon into his hand when the situation calls for it - this can overlap with Blade Below the Shoulder. Typically it's a knife, throwing star or a Little Useless Gun, though there are other options. This is especially likely if they have long enough sleeves. Westerns, such as Louis L'Amour novels, use the gun version occasionally. Often called a "palm gun", a "sneak gun", a "gambler's gun", "gambler's draw", etc. This type of weapon was common among Mississippi riverboat gamblers. Derringers were the favourite as you really can hide one up your sleeve. Western or Film Noir Femme Fatales are often armed with this type of gun as well instead of a Chastity Dagger. Sometimes the sleeve is a good way to access Hammerspace. If you find yourself wondering how the object being removed could possibly fit inside a sleeve, you know Hammerspace is involved. A knife in the boot is another variant. Anyone paranoid enough to have this many spare weapons is almost certain to have another one under their pillow and yet another by the bathtub. The title is a common line for a Stage Magician, as a way to assure the audience that he has no hidden devices that would help him perform the trick. Don't expect characters hiding a weapon to say this line unless Hammer Space really is involved. Not to be confused with Raymanian Limbs, although the two could potentially be used simultaneously in order to create more space. Subtrope of Hidden Weapons. Compare Combat Haircomb.
"Yeah, right," said Vimes. [...]
"Mister Vimes? [...] I got three knives, Mister Vimes," said Carcer, bringing his arm up.
"Yeah, right," said Vimes. [...]
"Mister Vimes? [...] I got three knives, Mister Vimes," said Carcer, bringing his arm up.
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Anime and Manga
- In Trigun, Meryl had dozens of single-shot derringers hidden on the inside of her coat. Ditto for Millie's stun gun.
- Yomiko Readman from Read or Die keeps pieces of paper up her sleeves.
- It's not so much that she has paper up her sleeves, her sleeves are paper.
- Not guns, but on Yu-Gi-Oh!, Bandit Keith has a remote armature up his sleeve to feed him cards. Earlier appearances just had him pull the cards out from his wristbands.
- Fabiola Iglesias ('mini killer-maid') from Black Lagoon has two guns (MAG-7) hidden in her sleeves and EX 41 grenade launcher on her back.
- In the first episode of Gunsmith Cats, Rally had a derringer up her sleeve, which she gives away in a disarming sequence.
- Shizune of Naruto has several spring-loaded needle launchers that she uses by pulling back a cord and letting go of. She has particular long sleeves to help hide them. After the timeskip, Naruto hides a kunai attached to a cord in his sleeve. Naruto first used the sleeve-roped-kunai in the first movie The Snow Country.
- In Bleach, a picture drawn by Kubo Tite shows Nanao drawing her as-of-yet-unseen-in-the-manga sword from her sleeve. Word of God is that this is what she was reaching for when Yamamoto knocked her out in the Soul Society arc.
- Mousse from Ranma ½. His whole gimmick is that he has tons of melee and ranged weapons that are never visible until he uses them. Not only does he have a virtually unlimited number of these, but the sheer variety of them can only be attributed to it being a martial arts comedy series. In his debut arc, among more traditional weapons he uses claws hidden in his shoes, a hook and wire concealed in his hair, and a training potty from his sleeves that he slams into his opponent's head before they can see what it is.
- Not to mention a duck laying explosive eggs. Foreshadowing, anyone?
- Tooya from Ayashi no Ceres has a dagger embedded in his arm, which he can summon and use as he pleases. He says it never leaves him. He had acquired it because he was the human form of Ceres' mana, so it might have disappeared forever when he gave the mana to Aya.
- Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt: In If the Angels Wore Swimsuits, Scanty and Kneesocks both reveal their Time for Plan B weapon; their Monster of the Week Sealed Army in a Can equivalent of Instant A.I., Just Add Water.
- Ja'far has arrow-like blades connected to retractable ropes that wrap around his arms.
- The cyborg assassin Macaroni from Trouble Chocolate can retract his hands into his sleeves, and then extract either a Gatling gun or Wolverine Claws.
- In the final showdown of Sin City's A Dame To Kill For, Dwight unloads on Manute, Ava's bodyguard, with a snub revolver hidden up his sleeve. He hits with all six rounds, but Manute is still standing. Shoulda aimed for the head, buddy.
- A derringer up the sleeve is the typical armament of Professional Gamblers in Lucky Luke. In The Stagecoach, Scat Thumbs passes his off to Luke in a move that saves the day.
- Kingdom Hearts 3: Final Stand: In chapter 18, Kairi is revealed to keep a hidden knife up her sleeve in the event that her hands should be bound.
Films — Animated
- Lord Shen in Kung Fu Panda 2 keeps a multitude of blades hidden in his sleeves, all shaped like his feathers to boot.
Films — Live-Action
- During the killing spree that marks the climax of Taxi Driver, Travis Bickle uses a small-caliber pistol hidden up his sleeve, which is drawn using a special rig that he made himself. He empties the weapon into the face of one of the men he kills.
- Victor Rosta, the Big Bad of the Arnold Schwarzenegger film Red Heat, uses a derringer hidden in his sleeve, also shot into his hand via a special rig.
- John Preston from Equilibrium is the master of this trope—not only does he sneak a pair of fully-automatic pistols through a polygraph test this way, but he keeps a pair of reloading devices in his sleeves and the ammo to feed them.
- In the Reverend's action moment in the film Hot Fuzz. He says to the protagonist "Oh, fuck off, grasshopper!" and shoots him with a pair of derringers he had up his sleeves.
- Darth Sidious in Star Wars: Episode III had his lightsaber hidden in his sleeve (that, or he used the Force to pull the lightsaber to him).
- That guy in Alien: Resurrection had a pair of these strapped to his arms. Which made it difficult for him to drop his weapons when told. In the original script, he tosses the empty guns aside and ejects a second pair during his blaze of glory.
- The Mariachi from Desperado used dual Ruger KP90s that he drew from his sleeves. He uses this twice, once during the Tarasco Bar shootout, and the other during the final showdown with Bucho.
- Weird because the KP90 is a pretty big handgun. Looking closely, you can see that the prop guns that pop out needed to have their grips cut down in order to fit in Banderas' sleeves.◊
- The Blue Raja of Mystery Men does this with silverware.
- In a variant in Tango & Cash, Cash had a gun concealed in his boot that let him fire when he put his feet up on a table.
- Undercover Brother. During his final fight with the title character, Mr. Feather extended a wicked looking clawed blade from each sleeve.
- In the first Underworld film, the werewolf Lucian has a retractable, mechanical blade concealed up his sleeve, used several times during the movie.
- In Last Action Hero Benedict has a knife up his sleeve and he loves - ahem! - whipping it out.
- Commodus of Gladiator pulls a knife from the armor around his elbow in the final duel.
- The protagonist of Kill Bill keeps a straight razor in her boot.
- The Return Of The King. In a deleted scene, Wormtongue kills Saruman with a knife hidden up his sleeve. The knife has a curved blade to fit against the curve of the forearm for better concealment, as weapons weren't supposed to be carried in King Théoden's hall.
- Inglourious Basterds. An OSS glove pistol is used to kill one of Hitler's guards.
- The Soldier (1982). The Renegade Russian has a sawn-off shotgun up his sleeve with a wire attached to the trigger, so it fires when he raises his hands in surrender when confronted by a police officer.
- In The Adventures of Ford Fairlane, Andrew Dice Clay keeps a nickeled S&W Model 38 up his sleeve in a spring-loaded gamblers' rig. Naturally it never works right 'til that one time...
- In the Guy Ritchie version of Sherlock Holmes, Professor Moriarty has a small gun up his sleeve, that flips up and out with a certain arm movement. Also a few minutes before Irene Adler had used a club that dropped out of her sleeve to knock out a mugger.
- In Maverick, one card player was caught cheating with cards attached to a sleeve device. Later, just after the titular character won the poker championship, Angel, who wouldn't admit defeat, thrusts his gun out of his sleeve, although Marshal Cooper was first to draw.
- In Smokin' Aces, torture-expert and Psycho for Hire Pasquale Acosta (Nestor Carbonell) utilizes a long stiletto hidden in his sleeve that is activated with a special device.
- In the film version of Wild Wild West Artemus Gordon, having a penchant for overtly complicated gadgets, starts out having an otherwise perfectly ordinary notebook and pen spring-loaded in his sleeves. This becomes a Chekhov's Gun after Jimmy West points out he could put a pistol there.
- In The Dark Knight, the Joker is an outright Knife Nut. He conceals a blade in at least one shoe, and when he's arrested and searched, the cops find "Nothing in his pockets but knives and lint." Earlier on, when he visits the mobsters and they try to attack him, he reveals the inside of his coat is lined with grenades that he's rigged to detonate all at once if need be.
- In the scene where a police officer is organizing the Joker's confiscated knives on a table, he stops for a considerable amount of time, unable to decide where to place the potato peeler(!). Even better, if you look closely at the table in that scene, you'll realize that one of said "Knives" is a pizza cutter.
- Batman also had a weapon on his sleeves. The armor spikes look decorative, but could launch off and embed into enemies.
- The Sheriff of Fractured Jaw (1958). The title character, a Gadgeteer Genius from a family of gunsmiths, has a derringer on a contraption up his sleeve.
- The Assignment (1997). Donald Sutherland plays CIA agent Jack Shaw, who plans to kill Carlos the Jackal during a hostage exchange at Vienna airport, using the mechanical-derringer device trick. But as Shaw reaches out his hand to Carlos, a diplomat shouts, "Don't do that!" Carlos instinctively yanks up his submachine gun, so Shaw doesn't dare move. After Carlos leaves, the diplomat, unaware of Shaw's intentions, cautions him against "appearing in a newspaper photo shaking that man's hand".
- Mara Jade in the Star Wars novels. One of her signature weapons is a tiny blaster pistol hidden in her sleeve.
- Inigo Skimmer from The Fifth Elephant; among his hidden arsenal is a dagger shaped to fit the shape of the edge of his hand (so he can remove people's heads with nothing more than a karate chop) which emerges from his sleeve when he shrugs his shoulders in a certain way. Vimes first realises that the clerk is more than he seems because he feels the
palm daggerarmor under his sleeve when he grabs his arm.
- Double Subverted in Night Watch; Vimes knows Carcer always has a backup knife, and relieves him of it. But-
- In the Discworld universe,the 'nothing up my sleeves' gesture is the traditional sign that the following spell will be performed the old fashioned way, with magic. It has also been likened to something less...friendly.
- Raistlin from Dragon Lance kept a dagger up his sleeve.
- Mages are allowed to carry a single non-steel knife on them, and usually conceal them up sleeves of their own.
- Any protagonist in The Wheel of Time series not wielding a sword or magic can be expected to have knives stashed around their body and the ability to produce them at will. The most notable of those, Mat Cauthon, is stated to have 11 daggers stashed about his person, and in one particular fight goes through at least 6 of them. There is always at least one knife in each sleeve, no exceptions.
- A conversation in Jhereg implies this is standard in Dragaera.
- In the Andrew Vachss Burke book Dead and Gone, Burke produces a length of chain from up one sleeve when dealing with some punks.
- Burke does this with rebar in Terminal.
- In the first novel Cobra, he has a zip-gun in a cloth tube up his sleeve, sealed with Velcro. When the villain slaps him back into a chair, the weapon pops into his hand naturally. Fortunately Burke never has to use it, as the gun would blow his fingers off as well as anyone standing in front of it.
- In The Stand, Dayna has a knife holder she wears on her arm (covered by long sleeves), hoping she can gain access to Flagg. Problem is that when she does get within reach of him, he has somehow managed to swap her knife for a banana.
- In Harry Harrison's Deathworld Trilogy every Pyrran, including little children, wears a gun on the forearm, with powered, automatic extension for instant fire. They never take them off. Ever.
- In the Honor Harrington novel Field of Dishonor Andrew LaFollet kept a small pulser up his left sleeve. Later in the series, Honer has one herself. It's also inside her arm. Her finger serves as the barrel; when she fires it, the pulser darts blow the tip off.
- Repairman Jack used a small sleeve mounted backup pistol in one of short stories. He later expressed it being one of the best investment ever made.
- Morwen the witch in the Enchanted Forest Chronicles has her sleeves actually enchanted to function as a Bag of Holding. Being a pragmatic witch rather than the wicked variety, she keeps in them such things as specimen jars, emergency broomstick-enchanting balm, and a collapsible lantern, rather than anything nasty. No word on if she has a rabbit up there either.
- Blitzfreeze by Sven Hassel. The protagonists don't give a Mercy Kill to a wounded Russian female soldier because she could have a pistol on a Bowden cable up her arm. Bend over to wipe the blood from her lips and give her a slug of vodka, and she could lift her arm and nail you through the kisser with a 6.5.
- The protagonist of the spy thriller Running Blind by Desmond Bagley has a sgian-dubh he keeps in his sock (where else would you keep a sgian-dubh?) that saves his life in the opening scene. His KGB opponent is annoyed when he's searched and the mook misses it. "I am Surrounded by Idiots. Stewartson, pull up your trouser leg and show him your little knife."
- The Saint keeps Anna here.
Live Action TV
- Ezra from The Magnificent Seven had one of these.
- Jim West in The Wild Wild West often had a Derringer up his sleeve, which he sometimes used as a Grappling-Hook Pistol.
- Angel used to keep stakes in his sleeves on Angel. Wesley gets a collapsible sword that comes out of his sleeves during his darker period in Season 4 (this is parodied during the episode where they all revert to a teenage state of mind), but he pulls a grappling hook out of there at the end of the season. The device is not seen again until his Hope Spot in the final episode.
- The potential problems of this were lampshaded in an episode where the cast lost their memories and Wesley started accidentally activating all sorts of weapons that came flying out of his sleeves.
- In the pilot two-parter Buffy slips a stake up the sleeve of her leather jacket, but takes off the jacket before her fight anyway.
- The Stargate SG-1 episode "The Devil You Know" has returning Big Bad Apophis kill two Jaffa guards with a blade that appears out of his sleeve, although it stays fixed on his wrist rather than falling into his hand.
- In a much later episode, RepliCarter kills Lord Yu with a blade that comes out of her ... okay, hand, technically.
- In Justified Quarles has a spring loaded sleeve gun mechanism strapped to his arm. He likes to tell people that he is unarmed and to demonstrate this by raising his hands up as he approaches them. As his left arm reaches face level, he activates the mechanism which propels a small gun into his hand. He then shoots his victim in the forehead from close range.
- The 2nd Edition Dungeons & Dragons Complete Fighter's Handbook offered three solutions ranging from the simple leather thong that untied with the right arm motion to a more complex mechanical rig which shot the weapon out with more alacrity to a pair of magical rings to allow the same trick.
- Anonym, a sinister nun from the fighting game Akatsuki Blitzkampf, fights with revolvers that fall from her sleeves in her opening animation.
- Hsien Ko from Darkstalkers, asides from having giant claw gauntlets, can produce from her billowing sleeves bombs, knives, weights, flails, statues...
- Governor Tekagi from Freelancer kills Ozu with a blade hidden on his sleeve.
- From Guilty Gear, we have Baiken, who uses a whole assortment of gizmos hidden in her sleeve along with her katana.
- Justified in that there's no arm in the sleeve, leaving more room for concealed weapons.
- Billy Lee Black of Xenogears He hides a long arm up each of his sleeves of his habit (and keeps a shotgun under it, too).
- In Star Wars: Republic Commando, the Commandos have knuckle plate vibro-blades as a melee weapon.
- The signature weapon of the protagonists of the Assassin's Creed series is the Hidden Blade, an extendable knife used to silently kill enemies. Later games have protagonists wield two of them to kill two enemies next to each other as well as various upgrades to it such as adding the ability to fire projectiles.
- Nash in Suikoden III has what's apparently a spring-loaded a knife-launcher in his sleeve. Despite being established as a master swordsmen in his Gaiden Game, he never uses his swords in this one.
- Similar to Hsien Ko, Xiao Lon has an assortment of bladed weapons inside her oversized sleeves and she doesn't need them as her sleeves themselves can hurt.
- In Angels 2200, Captain Kurosawa, while being confronted by Toat, hides a pistol in her sleeve. Toat later takes command of the bridge at gunpoint at a crucial point in the last battle of the first part, but after Loser's death distracts her for a moment, Kurosawa manages to shoot the gun out of her hand and send her to the brig.
- Bat Lash had a small gun hidden up his sleeve in Justice League Unlimited that came into play after his cheating at poker was revealed.
- On at least one occasion in The Batman Joker had empty hands, but big baggy straitjacket sleeves covering his hands. Arms up, sleeves flap down, and presto! He has razor-sharp playing cards in his hands!
- The Joker has a tendency to do this, in fact- he keeps a knife up his sleeve (with hidden ejecting mechanism) in The Killing Joke.
- He also hides a stiletto during his confrontation with Batman in Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker. He even uses the threat of one to feint, making Batman think it's in his right sleeve when it's really in his left.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender:
- Mai, who uses both throwing knives and stiletto-launchers hidden under her sleeves.
- The Dai Li also hid weapons in their sleeves, including what seemed to be stone handcuffs on long chains.
- In Sequel Series The Legend of Korra, villainess Ming-Hua—who is missing both arms and uses waterbending to form versatile prostheses—wears a long coat with oversized sleeves when posing as a bounty hunter.
- An episode of Superfriends did a variation on this with their version of Mr. Mxyzptlk: One of the heroes asks, rhetorically "I wonder what Mxyzptlk has up his sleeve this time.." Cut to Mxyzptlk, who is eavesdropping: "What do I have up my sleeve?" Pushes the sleeve back, leaving his glove floating unsupported in midair. "Why, nothing of course!" Cue Evil Laugh.
- In an episode of The Simpsons, a saloon produces derringers, some from their sleeves, and proceed to blast each other. No one is injured because the tiny derringers are weak. Powerful weak!
- Employed by Donald Duck to summon flutes in The Band Concert and hats in Modern Inventions.
- Truth in Television: the tradition of shaking hands came about as a way for people to check if the other person had a dagger in their sleeve. Which is why in older settings you see two characters grabbing each others' forearms.
- The sleeve gun, an experimental one shot weapon, was developed during WW II to be fired from the arm. It made a brief appearance in Inglourious Basterds.
- Exploited once at a UN meeting, where North Korean kept AK-47 assault rifles hidden under their jackets. Instead of confronting them, the Americans took delight in jacking up the room's heat to equatorial levels just so that they could see their adversaries, unwilling to expose their weapons, squirm and sweat in their heavy clothes.