Shoot the Television

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"Aww, this show ain't no good..."

"So I bought a .44 magnum, it was solid steel cast,
And in the blessed name of Elvis, well, I just let it blast,
'Til my TV lay in pieces there at my feet,
And they busted me for disturbing the almighty peace."
Bruce Springsteen, "57 Channels (And Nothin' On)"

When a character is finished watching TV and has a Hair-Trigger Temper, is an Eccentric Millionaire who replaces electronic devices like normal people replace rolls of toilet paper, or just can't get the remote control working, he'll whip out a gun and shoot the television set (or otherwise destroy it).

In the event that a news item or message on television is the cause of the sudden anger or frustration that makes someone do this, the trope may be a slight variant on Shoot the Messenger. Other times, it may just be a sign that someone is so wealthy that they can afford to live in a way that involves wasting expensive home appliances in this manner.

In Video Games, television screens and monitors occasionally appear as an interactive, breakable object which the player character can destroy, especially when a villain character appears on these to taunt the player.

The Trope Codifier is Elvis Presley, who was known for doing this at least once, possibly many times. Several stories and explanations of Elvis doing this exist, some, perhaps, less true than others. He's rumored to have kept a basement full of spare TV's so he would always have a fresh set handy after destroying another one. One television set shot by Elvis is on public display at Graceland.

Compare Agitated Item Stomping, Ring... Ring... CRUNCH, Appliance Defenestration, and Cutting the Electronic Leash. Sometimes coincides with Computer Equals Monitor or Screens Are Cameras, in the event that the destroyed TV screen is part of a larger system. Not to be confused with Smash TV.

Examples

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    Comic Books 
  • In Gorsky and Butch, a politician appears on a TV screen in a pub. Someone calls for it to be turned off, causing one of the patrons to throw a shoe at the TV, smashing the screen.
  • The Powerpuff Girls story "Drama-O-Rama" (issue #48, DC run) has Sedusa throwing a boot at her TV and shattering the screen after she sees the girls' latest heroics.
  • In one Spider-Man story, the mercenary Boomerang gets angry when he sees a talk show where Peter is promoting his book, Webs, and throws a boomerang at the set. (Then, Reality Ensues as his current employer tells him it's coming out of his salary.)

    Fan Fiction 
  • In Marks of Time, chapter 10 has a funny moment when the elves discover a television. Meredith finds the remote and presses the power button. The screen makes "frightening images and painfully loud sounds", then Gilorn shoots an arrow at the TV, destroying it.
  • In Bart Simpson Attorney At Law, Jeremy throws a champagne bottle at the TV when his blackmailing scheme falls apart.

    Films — Animated 
  • In WALL•E, while in an elevator, EVE shoots a screen after it shows the "Caution: Rogue Robots" image.
  • In Beavis And Butthead Do America, Beavis asks Muddy Grimes if they can watch TV in his hotel room before flying to Vegas to "do" his wife. Muddy promptly shoots out the hotel TV to show that this is not an option.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Lois Einhorn from Ace Ventura: Pet Detective reveals herself as Ray Finkle when commentary during the Super Bowl halftime show on the "Kick Heard Round The World" that ruined Finkle's career pushes her over the edge:
    Lois Einhorn: THE LACES WERE IN! THEY WERE IN! [shoots the screen]
  • In Tim Burton's Batman movie, The Joker does this twice. The first is when he takes a boxing glove gun to the TV for mention of Batman in connection to an assassination that Joker pulled off on one of Grissom's underbosses, demanding to know, "What kind of a world we live in where a man dressed up as a bat gets all of my press?!" The second time, Joker shoots the television screen with a real gun after learning on the news that his poisoning scheme involving beauty products has been foiled by the Batman.
  • In the original Critters movie, interstellar bounty hunter Ug fires his weapon at a TV set in a bowling alley, which causes a ruckus with several of the town locals.
  • In the movie Control 2004, Lee Ray Oliver is a sociopathic criminal in a medical experiment; after he fails in a rigged video game test, he flies into a rage and destroys the TV.
  • In the movie Dropout Father, Dick Van Dyke's character shoots the TV with a hunting rifle.
  • In the David Carradine B-Movie Future Force, John Tucker shoots a TV set in a strip club, which angers the owner; John hands him a wad of cash to defuse the situation.
  • In Men with Brooms, Gordon, feeling very frustrated, asks a bartender what he owes him for his drink. Then he asks him the same question of the beer mug and the television, before placing the money on the bar and chucking his mug into the TV set.
  • In The Muppets, Tex Richman finishes a round of fencing and then sees on the news that the Muppets are raising the money to buy their theater back. He throws his fencing blade at the TV in response.
  • In Police Academy 3: Back in Training, Tackleberry is calling Lights Out for the recruits when the TV calls out, "You're dead meat, copper!" Tackleberry, being a Gun Nut, responds to the fictional defiance in this manner.
  • Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2. Towards the end, Ricky sees a Christmas parade on the tv and subsequently puts an axe through it.
  • In Speed 2: Cruise Control, Alex shoots at some large screens displaying the villain John Geiger.
  • In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990), Shredder is introduced watching a wall of TV screens. When April appears on the news and indicates that she knows too much about the Foot Clan, Shredder throws a knife at her face on the TV screen.
  • What! No Beer? (1933): A bootlegger, disgusted that referendums to repeal Prohibition are winning landslide victories, shoots the radio in the middle of reporting election returns.
  • In Young Doctors in Love during the Christmas party Dr. Prang, the hospital owner, shoots a TV showing financial news. This foreshadows his bankruptcy and how he would react to it.
  • In the film Traxx, a shootout between the title character and some bad guys is halted by a television news report on recent studies finding that "most overly aggressive, sociopathic males have tiny, little wazoos." The bad guys respond to this by shooting out the TV screen before returning to the fight with the hero.
  • Heathers: J.D. shoots the television set in his living room when he and Veronica are "celebrating" the fake suicides they orchestrated. This is the moment when Veronica realizes that J.D. is simply Ax-Crazy and rejects him.
  • Good Burger Kurt (antagonist) angrily kicks in the TV when he sees Dexter and Ed (protagonists) getting positive publicity on the news for the Good Burger restaurant.
  • The Drake shoots his television in Hobo with a Shotgun after the local news praises the titular hobo.
  • In The Horror Show (aka House III) police detective Lucas McCarthy, played by Lance Henriksen, is tormented by visions of dead mass murderer Max Jenke (Brion James) while he and his family are watching a stand-up comedian on TV. The visions drive Henricksen's character to take out his police issued handgun and shoot the TV set, to the shock and dismay of the rest of his family.
  • In Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, Otis kicks the TV in a rage when he can't get it to work.
  • And Starring Pancho Villa As Himself. Villa is shown a newsreel of President Diaz giving a Balcony Speech, promising the crowd he'll destroy Villa, who draws his pistol and puts a bullet through the screen, right over Diaz's head.

    Literature 
  • Dave Barry:
  • In Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, it's mentioned that Dudley did this when his favorite program was canceled. Of course, Uncle Vernon bought him another one, and the old one was left in Dudley's second room.
  • Done with a flamethrower towards the end of Fahrenheit 451.
  • An interesting case in a short story (involving time travel, but I can't recall the title): the characters are in a Flying Car when a Tarbleck, which takes Charm Person Up to Eleven, comes on the screen and orders them to stop. They try to wreck the screen, but unfortunately get the order anyway. Fortunately, they both try to carry out the order, crashing the car and disabling the screen.
  • In Bruce Coville's novel Jennifer Murdley's Toad, Jennifer Murdley was a very unattractive-looking girl. One day when she was six she was watching television and saw a commercial for a Barbie doll. Knowing she would never be as pretty as the doll, she started to cry. When her father saw her crying and realized why, he got so enraged at TV that he smashed it.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The 1979 made-for-television biopic about Elvis Presley titled The King, starring Kurt Russell as Elvis, at one point depicts Elvis shooting his TV after catching a news report which claims he isn't as popular as he once was.
  • In Johnny Bago, Elvis Lives in a trailer park in the spot next to Johnny's; when Johnny goes over to complain about the noise from the TV, Elvis shoots it. Johnny decides not to say anything about the barking dog.
  • Sammy Jaye did it in a sketch on Good News World. After installing a digital TV and discovering the programs are just as crap as regular television, he shoots the set (in a callback to an earlier joke about Elvis) to demonstrate the only power the average viewer has over television.
  • Dragnet did one. The guy got angry at the people who lived at the roominghouse with him because they never watched the shows he wanted (they only had one TV). He shot the TV and then killed the manager before getting shot by someone else in self defense, running up to his loft room, and dying.
  • In one episode of Babylon 5, Garibaldi has been bugged all day by an old station artificial intelligence. Eventually, his annoyance leads him to shoot out the speaker of the transport tube he's in, just to get some relief from that damn voice.
  • On the M*A*S*H spin-off AfterMASH episode "All About Christmas Eve", Father Mulcahy gets a TV so that the long-term patients at the Missouri Veteran's Hospital can have it for Christmas and beyond. However, the airing of a soap opera with a story about a cheating wife infuriates a vet who fears that his wife is running around on him, and he summarily shoots the TV. Some vets are still staring through the hole in the set when all is done.
  • In The Twilight Zone (1959) episode "Execution," Joe Caswell, an outlaw transported from 1880 to 1960, does this to a television set, not out of anger, but because he believes the man on the screen is about to shoot him.
  • In the Season 4 finale of Bates Motel, Norman Bates, enraged at his ex-stepfather, takes his flat screen TV outside and smashes it.
  • On Dexter, Debra attempts to throw the remote through Quinn's plasma screen, but he stops her.
  • In one episode of The Office (US), Jan throws a trophy into Michael's TV during a fight.

    Music 
  • Bruce Springsteen's song "57 Channels (And Nothin' On)" is about a man who, after his investments in television, cable, satellite dishes, and home entertainment fail to bring him happiness, takes out his frustration by shooting the television set. The lyrics reference Elvis in this regard. (This visual is also present in the song's Music Video.)
  • John Denver's "Blow Up Your TV (Spanish Pipe Dream)" recommends something like this as part of adopting a back-to-the-land lifestyle.
  • In Pink Floyd's The Wall, Pink smashes his hotel room TV (with a guitar, in The Movie) at the beginning of "Another Brick in the Wall Part 3".
  • In Queensr˙che's song "The Mission," on the album Operation Mindcrime, Nikki is watching television, where a televangelist says, while Nikki loads a gun, "I'm asking for hands to be uplifted for just a moment. God the Holy Ghost is calling out to embrace you. I want you to reach deep into your hearts and your pocketbooks and take his hand." Nikki says "Bless me father for I have sinned" and shoots the tv.
  • Referenced in Mitch Benn's "Everybody's Elvis" with the lines "Ain't no channel surfin'/Just shoot your TV dead".

    Newspaper Comics 
  • There was a Bloom County strip which featured a man shooting his TV.
    "Vanna White! Got her in mid-spin!"
  • One strip of Calvin and Hobbes has Calvin's dad, after having his attempt to take a picture of their vacation rebuffed, muttering how the next time he sees a Kodak commercial he'll put an ax through the TV.
  • One Pearls Before Swine strip has Dilbert creator Scott Adams shoot his TV set while dressed like Elvis.

    Video Games 
  • The level "Charlie Don't Surf" in the first installment of the Modern Warfare franchise has an achievement called "Your Show Sucks" for shooting or otherwise destroying all the televisions showing Al-Asad's speech.
  • In Batman: Arkham Asylum and Arkham City, Batman can throw batarangs at most TV monitors which the games' villains appear on, cracking the screens.
  • There are a couple of times in Max Payne when muzak or something else annoying is playing through a speaker. If you shoot out the speaker, Max will reply, "Thank you."
  • Jim Raynor does this in the opening cutscenes of StarCraft II, when Emperor Mengsk refers to him as "a clear and present threat" to the Dominion during a news conference interview. He later gets a note from the owner billing him for the damages, and at the Hyperion cantina, the TV has a note on it that says, "Do not shoot screen!"
  • Late in Portal 2, the player can use the portal gun and the in-game momentum mechanics to hurl objects (or oneself) at monitors on which Wheatley appears. Other times, you find a handy turret and set it down to happily shoot away at the screens. Destroying them all earns the player an achievement/trophy.
  • In Final Fantasy VII, an NPC in Sector 7 mentions that Barret did this using his gun-arm with an outdoor television monitor when President Shinra came on making an announcement. This did not win him any fans, since the only other functional television in the area is in AVALANCHE headquarters.
  • In the "Dexter Industries" mission in Hitman: Absolution, part of the 'Sore Losers' level challenge demands the player destroy a video game console two guards are enjoying by shooting (or otherwise breaking) the television screen.
  • In the final stage of Revolution X, the player is confronted by a wall of monitors on which Head Mistress Helga taunts you. The player must destroy all of them before facing her directly.
  • In 'Double Dragon Neon'', one of Skullmageddon's major grievances toward the Lee brothers by the end of is making him so angry that he destroyed his own TV .
  • The arcade game The Outfoxies featured all your opponents on TV screens. As each one is offed, your character would mark them off in different ways depending on who you played. Eve does this exact trope by shooting the TVs with her gun. Bernard White comes close when he punches them with his steel right hand.

    Western Animation 
  • Batman: The Animated Series:
    • In "Joker's Wild", the Joker's reaction to Cameron Kaiser building a casino in his likeness is the fly into rage and throw a flowerpot at the television.
    • Mr. Freeze shot a TV with his Freeze Ray when he became unable to stomach Ferris Boyle's smugness at the Humanitarian of the Year awards.
    • In "Joker's Millions" has the Joker shooting the Video Will in which his benefactor reveals most of the money is fake.
    • In "Judgement Day", the series' final regular episode, Two-Face shoots out a bar-room TV when he hears via a press conference that he is a dangerous new vigilante's next target. The bartender almost calls him out on it, but has second thoughts about it and lets him go.
  • The Garfield and Friends episode "Renewed Terror" has Jon watching The Buddy Bears on TV, when the magazine subscription guy he's been trying to avoid all day interrupts the show, saying the price of the magazine Jon signed up for (to try to get rid of the guy) has been lowered to 40 cents an issue. Jon is so terrified he throws his shoe at the TV, effectively breaking it.
  • The Simpsons:
    • One episode sees Bart and Lisa write a script for an "Itchy & Scratchy" cartoon that ends with Scratchy's head (now just a skull) going through a ceiling and into Elvis Presley's television set. Elvis promptly produces a revolver and shoots Scratchy's skull through the TV.
    • The trope is inverted in the episode "The Cartridge Family", where Homer uses the new revolver he bought to turn the TV on. Hilariously, the image that comes on the screen when it does turn on is of a cowboy, having been shot, falling off a roof.
    • In "Homer's Barbershop Quartet", Chief Wiggum, after he had been kicked out of The Be Sharps, becomes so upset while watching Johnny Carson that he begins wildly shooting the TV in a fit of rage. It then becomes apparent that Wiggum had accidentally left the remote control in his gun holster and got that and his gun confused for the other. He then changes over to The Tonight Show, to find Joan Rivers mocking him. He then wings the remote at the TV.
    • In "Steel this Episode", Homer gets into movie piracy business until FBI commandos catch him and shoot up Homer's laptop while arresting him.
  • Futurama:
    • Lrr does this with a disintegration ray when the season finale of "Single Female Lawyer" is knocked off the air as the result of someone (Fry) at the broadcast station spilling soda on a console.
    • In "The Late Phillip J. Fry", Leela was this when she sees a newscast about an explosion at a party she thought Fry went to rather than meet her for their date.
    • In "Common Cold Warrior", Professor Fansworth does this when his rival Wernstrom said that there was no cure for the cold epidemic around town and the town had to be destroyed.
  • In the DuckTales episode "Time Is Money, Part 3", Scrooge McDuck's rival Glomgold watches a news report on how a diamond mine has been ruled as Scrooge's property. Angry, Glomgold asks Bouncer Beagle for something to throw. He gets a vase and chucks it at the screen causing the newscaster to duck.
  • Valerie of Danny Phantom shoots her television with an ecto-gun during a news report on her "Arch-Enemy's" growing popularity.
    Mr. Grey: Valerie, was that the ectogun?!
    Valerie: No!
  • In one episode of SWAT Kats, after Feral blames the titular duo for letting a criminal escape, Chance angrily throws a can of milk at the television.
    Jake: Ah, great. Morbulus is gone. So's our TV.
  • It was a Running Gag in Inhumanoids for one of the members of the heroic Earth Corps, Auger, to throw his shoe at the TV showing irritating newscast.
  • In the first Family Guy Christmas Episode, a flashback shows FCC agents shooting up Peter's VCR when he recorded a football game without the written consent of both ABC and the NFL (He only got ABC's permission).
  • In the Slappy Squirrel short Slappy Goes Walnuts, Slappy throws her remote at the TV when one of her old cartoons cuts to a commercial before she could finish her catchphrase.
    Skippy: What happened to your TV set?
    Slappy: It's having a bad day.
  • Justice League: Angered by "Glorious" Gordon Godfrey's comments about her outfit ("I've seen showgirls with more modesty"), Wonder Woman smashes the TV with her fist.

    Real Life 


Alternative Title(s): Shoot The TV

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/ShootTheTelevision