"Tell me, James, do you still sleep with a gun under your pillow?"Worried about hostile burglars or people after your life? Haven't got a skimpy nightdress? Try the Pillow Pistol! This handy accessory fits under your pillow, allowing you to be fully armed in the event of strange nocturnal noises. The pillow is also a handy silencer! Just be careful not to shoot yourself or your sleeping partner. Or anyone trying to wake you up. A variation of this is when you are actually holding the gun while sleeping, but it is not under your pillow. A melee weapon such as sword, dagger or hand axe will also do the trick. In real life this is very risky and has caused some fatal accidents. Don't Try This at Home, at least not without some kind of special mattress or pillow holster designed to prevent the gun from shifting and going off while you sleep. Even apart from that, somebody just waking up to investigate a disturbance is likely to have their senses and judgement dulled by grogginess, and might accidentally shoot a loved one by mistaking them for a home intruder. Compare Hidden Supplies, Can't Bathe Without a Weapon. Not to be confused with Victoria's Secret Compartment.
— Paris Carver, Tomorrow Never Dies
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Anime and Manga
- A particularly interesting example is in the manga version of Gunsmith Cats. Rally Vincent has been hospitalized and complains that the pillow isn't comfortable. Upon receiving a small pistol to hide under it, she sighs and falls asleep so deeply that Becky is able to pick her up by the scruff of her shirt and (attempt to) shake her down for gas money... but awakens instantly when she tries to take back the pistol (though again fails to get gas money). And sleeps right through her doodling on her face.
The sequence turns out to be a Chekhov's Gun; a would-be assassin has plenty of time to comment on the doodling as "weird makeup"... but Rally instantly Wakes Up Fighting when he tries to stick a bomb under her pillow. And succeeds in shooting the hammer off the assassin's gun. And finds the bomb and throws it out the window onto the assassin's getaway car... Apparently Rally only wakes up quickly when she perceives a threat. A friend demanding gas money is not a threat.
- Momochi Zabuza from Naruto had a kunai under his pillow.
- In the Black Butler manga Ciel has a pistol under his pillow. Once when Sebastian wakes him Ciel points the gun at him due to a nightmare he had just had. He lowers the gun when he realizes it's just Sebastian.
- A bit too big to fit under his pillow, but Guts from Berserk always sleeps with his sword.
- Variation: In the Appleseed anime, Deunan starts her first night in Olympus trying to sleep in a bed, but it's apparently been so long since she slept in one that she can't. She ends up curled up on the hardwood floor clutching her service pistol.
- Michael Tree, the heroine of the Ms. Tree comics, makes a habit of doing this. Given the number of times someone has broken into her bedroom in the middle of the night planning to kill her, it seems a sensible precaution.
- One Iznogoud story had the title Evil Vizier buy a set containing a pair of magic shoes, a gun that would make their wearer run in a straight line when fired and a "finish" flag that was the only thing that could stop the shoes. The night before the big day, Iznogoud slept with the gun under his pillow, and bound with a wrist strap. This doesn't stop a vengeful character from hiding the magic shoes within Iznogoud's baggy regular shoes.
- In the Mass Effect/FEAR crossover Harbinger, Commander Shepard's intense, growing paranoia (fostered by equal parts of living in a Cosmic Horror Story and a history of fighting out-of-control psychics) leads to him sleeping with a pistol under his pillow. Ashley notes that he uses the pistol because once she and Shepard started sharing a bunk, there wasn't enough room for the two of them and the shotgun.
- James Bond, and it was even used against him in Die Another Day.
- In Disney's Pinocchio, Gepetto, of all people, keeps a loaded flintlock pistol under his pillow.
- Towards the end of the movie Carlito's Way, crooked lawyer David Kleinfeld has been put in the hospital by a mob assault, and is sleeping with a revolver under his pillow. Carlito Brigante comments on the stupidity of this because, especially in the hospital bed, there's no way Kleinfeld will be able to reach it and aim in time when someone comes for him.
- Later on, Kleinfeld takes Carlito's advice about keeping the gun somewhere easier to get to and does manage to draw it in time, but Carlito unloaded it. Adios, Counselor.
- In the opening sequence of The Ipcress File, Harry Palmer takes a gun out from under his duvet.
- Lily Dillon (Anjelica Huston) in The Grifters.
- Happens by accident near the end of the book Wag the Dog is based on: two characters have sex after one gives the other a pistol as a present. They fall asleep with the pistol there, a bad guy breaks in and gets the last surprise of his life. The narrator comments that it was like a movie.
- In Harlem Nights, Dominique (Jasmine Guy) reaches for a pistol to use on a post-coital Quick (Eddie Murphy), only to find out Quick discovered the pistol before they'd had sex (while placing his own pistols under the pillows) and emptied it. He uses his own to kill her after she fails.
- El Mariachi from Desperado does this with one of the two Rugers that he always uses. As his buddy Buscemi tells him, "One day, you're gonna lay down too hard on that thing and blow your brains out."
- In the movie adaptation of Frederick Forsyth's The Fourth Protocol the KGB agent Petrofsky and the female Soviet weapons expert Vassilievna have just finished having sex. She rolls over in bed and sees the imprint of Petrofsky's latest orders on a notepad: KILL HER. Petrofsky promptly shoves a pillow against her chest and fires his Makarov pistol through it as an improvised silencer.
- In the documentary Bowling for Columbine, Moore interviews James Nichols, brother of the Oklahoma City Bombing accomplice Terry Nichols. James shows Moore the loaded gun he keeps under his pillow, and a subtitle then tells us that James has put the gun up to his head.
- In The Film of the Book Prince Caspian the queen has essentially a Pillow Crossbow.
- This trope is played with in one of the Tomb Raider movies. The male lead goes to put his gun under his pillow, apparently the bed was already taken by Lara as there was already a pair of pistols under the pillow.
- Midway through Miller's Crossing, a gang of mooks storms former-mook-turned-mob-boss Leo O'Bannion's house in the middle of the night as part of an attempted coup. The first two get taken out with one of these. For the others, he's got a Tommy gun in his wardrobe. And damn if he ain't still an artist when using it, too.
- Riggs in Lethal Weapon sleeps with his service pistol. At least, he would if he slept.
- Porter in Payback, while sleeping on his ex-wife's couch, wakes up and still has the gun in his hand.
- He also kills his old partner with it, using a pillow as a makeshift silencer.
- Not involving a pistol but worthy of noting here; Roger Moore's character in Shout at the Devil hides his cash bag under the pillow when he stays the night at a hotel room in Africa. The next day he discovers someone has cut a hole through the bed and removed it!
- Levi Kroll from the Alex Rider series deserves a special mention on this one:
"For over twenty years he had slept with a loaded nine millimeter FN-pistol under under his pillow. And then, one night, it has fired. [...] An eyepatch covered the empty eyehole where the left eye had been."
- The Little Drummer Girl (a John Le Carre novel) a Palestinian terrorist comments that it's quicker to have the weapon by the side of the bed.
- Ciaphas Cain, THE HERO OF THE IMPERIUM, practices this due to his extremely healthy sense of paranoia. he always keeps his laspistol and comm-bead underneath his pillow.
- Earl of Coris, spymaster of Corisande in Safehold series, sleeps with a dagger under his bed when in exile in Delferahk and it's implied that he did that for much longer time. Not that it helps him anyhow when Abrahim pays him a nighttime visit.
- James Bond
- In the opening chapter of the first Bond novel Casino Royale, Bond is described as keeping a Colt Police Positive revolver under his pillow. He sleeps with his hand underneath its butt, ready to draw and fire.
- Vivienne The Spy Who Loved Me finds this out about Bond when he has to get up from bed to finish off one of the two bad guys for good. Earlier in the novel, he had adviced her to do the same.
- Averted in the Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter series of books by Laurel K. Hamilton, where the titular heroine has a special holster attached to her headboard specifically for a Firestar 9mm. Apparently she has had problems in the past with zombies/werewolves/minions breaking and entering...
- In the Metal Gear Solid novelization, Snake has a gun close to his bed when he was forcibly dragged to the mission - and interlude at Master Miller's house reveals the latter has guns concealed in every room in his house.
- In Chronicles of a Death Foretold, it is mentioned that Santiago's father once kept a loaded gun in his pillow, until one day it blew a hole in the wall when the maid was changing the bed. He still has an unloaded gun in his pillow, though.
- In Terry Pratchett's Mort Princess Keli, expecting an assassin, slept with a knife under her pillow. Upon being woken in the night by a suspicious total lack of the noise of anyone moving around the room, she found that it had slipped behind the headboard.
- In Robert E. Howard's "Shadows In Zamboula"
Conan grunted and tossed his naked broadsword on the couch.
“Your bolts and bars are strong; but I always sleep with steel by my side.”
- In The Thrawn Trilogy, while worried about Noghri attempting to capture her, Leia keeps her lightsaber under her pillow as she sleeps. When some do come in the night for her, she throws the pillow first as a distraction.
- In I Am American And So Can You, Stephen Colbert recommends sleeping with a gun under the pillow and blasting away at anything that wakes you up. Footnotes and sidebars strongly discourage it.
- One of the Fu Manchu novels has a grizzled explorer preferring to keep his pistol hanging on a hook beside his head rather than under his pillow.
- Variant in 11/22/63: the protagonist conceals a pistol inside a pillow and uses it to the muffle the gunshot when he kills Frank Dunning for the second time.
Live Action TV
- Burt with his .50 Desert Eagle in Tremors: The Series, in the episode: "A Little Paranoia Among Friends."
- The Last Enemy
- Burn Notice: Michael and Fiona, after a bout of Destructo-Nookie, wake up to a knock on the door. They glance at each other, then simultaneously pull their guns out from under the pillows and look around for enemies.
- Sarah does this in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. She also keeps a shotgun behind the wallpaper, and lines the easy chair with Kevlar.
- Miss Parker from The Pretender
Miss Parker (discovering the firing pin on her gun has been removed, rendering it inoperable): I sleep with this gun under my pillow.Jared: And you drool out the left side of your mouth.
- Sledge Hammer!: Inspector Sledge Hammer doesn't keep Gun under his pillow. Gun has its own very fancy pillow beside Sledge's.
- NCIS: Kate tells Gibbs that she sleeps with one. His reaction: "Good girl!"
- So does Ziva. At least one man has nearly suffered fatal consequences from waking her up.
- Babylon 5's Security Chief Garibaldi pulls his PPG out from under his pillow in one episode when he's woken up by suspicious noises from his shower.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Harmony drives away fellow vampire and ex-boyfriend Spike with a stake she keeps in her bed. Spike reacts to it like you would to a loaded gun. "You kept that in our bed? Do you know how dangerous those things are?"
Masked Man: Looking for this? (ejects the magazine from Dean's .45, which he's holding in his other hand)
- "Dark Side of the Moon" opens with a masked man pointing a shotgun at a sleeping Dean. At least he appears to be asleep, casually changing position and slipping a hand beneath his pillow...
- The Equalizer. In "Splinters", McCall does some Trespassing to Talk.
McCall: I think you should know that the gun you keep under your pillow...(holds up revolver)...is elsewhere.
- The George Lopez Show: In one episode, Carmen wakes up Jason in the middle of the night, causing him to spring from the couch, brandishing a baseball bat, while shouting "I DIDN'T TOUCH YOUR DAUGHTER, MR. LOPEZ!".
- Earth 2150: The Moon Project describes that the Fang pilot needed to sleep with a pistol under his pillow, because he's unsure if he's going to get killed because of what he learned.
- Hilariously inverted in Team Fortress 2. In the supplemental comic Meet The Director we find out that the Heavy Weapons Guy sleeps with his favorite minigun in a bed next to his own.
Scout: That's your gun there.Heavy: Yes.Scout: In a tiny bed. Beside your bed.Heavy: Yes.Scout: That's pretty embarassin'.Heavy: Yes. I must buy Sascha better bed.
- In The Adventures of Dr. McNinja, the good doctor breaks into Mayor Chuck Goodrich's bedroom, thinking him to be elsewhere, only to be confronted by Chuck in bed, pointing a gun at him. A later flashback has another character breaking into Chuck's bedroom and Chuck vowing to buy a gun to go under his pillow if he survives the encounter.
- In Sinfest, Seymour has one.
- In this xkcd strip Richard Stallmann keeps a pair of katanas under his bed.
- It is standard procedure in the military (at least the British military) to sleep with your rifle in your sleeping bag when you are sleeping out, as per the principle you should always keep your weapon within arms reach. It should be noted however that the weapon is unloaded whilst you sleep (your magazines should also be within arms reach, allowing you to quickly load and make ready if need be).
- One home defense book recommended placing the gun between the mattress of the bed as it will move about less there. Under the pillow there's a risk of the gun shifting (as you move about during sleep) and falling to the floor. Or, you know, going off.
- There is a pillow holster designed to keep a sidearm from moving around while you sleep. http://www.chuckhawks.com/pillow_holster.htm
- There is the story of the Chinese Civil War general, who always sleeps with his prized handgun. Unfortunately, he ended up accidentally shooting himself in the head during a sickness-induced bout of delirium.
- There was a story in the news sometime about a German man who got shot because the gun kept under his pillow accidentally discharged.
- At least one Darwin Award winner managed to shoot himself with his Pillow Pistol when startled awake.
- One legend about Alexander the Great, meant to portray him as a Warrior Poet, says that he always slept with two things under his pillow: a knife, and a copy of The Iliad.
- Barbara Stager tried to invoke this trope when she murdered her husband Russ. However, several things tore her story apart: her husband, a member of the US Army Reserves, would have known better than to leave a gun with the safety off under his pillow; the trajectory of the bullet and the location of the spent shell casing made it clear the gun was fired from the opposite side of the bed; and Barbara herself was unable to recreate the scenario she described to the police.