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Shotguns Are Just Better
Sol: What's that?
Vincent: Haha! This, is a shotgun, Sol!
Sol: It's a fucking anti-aircraft gun, Vincent!
Snatch

In First Person Shooters, no matter how many super-powerful weapons the player has at their disposal, many will always tend to use their shotgun.

There are several different reasons for this, though not all of them are always the case:
  • The shotgun is Boring, but Practical and/or Simple Yet Awesome — it kills enemies quickly without the hassle of avoiding splash damage from rockets or other weapons, and depending on the game it can send enemies flying or just liquify them outright.
  • Everything better is Too Awesome to Use — shotgun ammo is nigh ubiquitous since it's usually one of the first weapons found in the game, and everything afterwards tends to be reserved for bosses. Furthermore, unlike automatic weapons, ammo lasts a lot longer in a gunfight, so burning through your entire supply happens a lot less often.
  • The shotgun is just plain better than everything else — at close range, it can indeed be the best weapon in the game, and in games without Bottomless Magazines it tends to have a decent magazine size as well.
  • In fiction, the shotgun is also a very handy weapon for anyone who makes a living hunting monsters due to the smoothbore design of many shotguns allowing for the use of a wide variety of exotic loads that other guns would need very extensive (and expensive) gunsmithing work to be able to fire, or that would be rather ineffective with regular guns (such as Silver Bullets).
  • There is nothing like the sound of a pump-action shotgun being cocked for letting the other guy know that you mean business, which is why many cops and crooks alike like to use them.

However, perhaps the simplest explanation of this trope is that shotguns are just badass, especially when shortened.

Real Life shotguns, despite having a short effective range (which may not be so short, and comparable to that of a rifle if a modern slug is fired), can be tremendously destructive if loaded with large buckshot, and modern slugs developed for hunting large and dangerous game are even worse and also can be fired accurately almost to 100 yards.

Maybe you prefer revolvers or katanas? Or perhaps you would rather try a heavy machine gun, such as a gatling? Or as long as it fires lead, you're happy?

How much of a Short Range Shotgun it is may affect the gun's usefulness, however. See also One Handed Shotgun Pump. Calling Shotgun does not necessarily mean the person actually has a shotgun.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Comics 

  • Two-Face, in the 1980s Batman comics, often carried a double-barreled shotgun as his weapon of choice. These days, he's more likely to favor twin Colt 45s.

    Film 

    Live Action Television 

  • Sam and Dean in Supernatural often uses shotguns loaded with rock salt to fight ghosts.

    Tabletop Games 

  • In third edition Shadowrun shotguns have high power and are exceeded in base damage only by assault cannons and the best sniper rifles. A burst from an automatic shotgun is one of the few attacks that can kill with even a minimal hit.
  • In d20Modern (a modern day setting RPG using Dungeons & Dragons' d20 ruleset) the shotgun is one of the kings of the core rulebook weapon list. The main appeal isn't just the firepower but also the fact that, as a hunting weapon, shotguns only require a common civilian (+1) license to obtain and ammo can be obtained at sporting good stores rather than having to find a dedicated gun shop. Depending on what splatbooks are at hand a shotgun can also blast off doors with heavy slug rounds or even fire a single-shot flamethrower cartridge.
    • Many players feel the shotgun forms a third of the 'sacred spread' a trio of weapons considered the ideal Crazy-Prepared kit for going into a gunfight. The shotgun forms the close range, the Baretta is the backup, and the hunting rifle with a scope attached is a street-legal poor-man's sniper rife.
  • In Call of Cthulhu shotguns are one of the most powerful and easily accessible guns on the entire planet. The most practical model listed in the core rule book, the 12 gauge Bellini, has a 7 shot capacity, fires twice per round, and does 4D6/2D6/1D6 (10/20/50 yards). That's a potential of 24 damage, minimal of 4, at point blank range (it's surprisingly rare to fight a battle beyond 20 yards). To put this into perspective; Most games will have three to eight players, each potentially equipped with a boom stick of their own plus side arms and other weapons, concentrating long range fire power into melee monsters with health barely able to sustain a single two-person shotgun volley. Incredibly massive shoggoth? More like incredibly massive Chunky Salsa!
    • In case you were wondering about the math behind this: 4D6 amounts to a minimum of 4 and maximum of 24 damage per shot with 2 shots per turn of combat. 2 x 24 = 48 per player. Assuming all dice rolls go perfectly, 8 players firing simultaneously looks like (2 x 48) 8 = 768 points of damage. The worst possible roll would look like (2 x 4) 8 = 64 points of damage. Assuming average rolls (3.5, the average between the average rolls of 3 and 4), that's 448 points of damage per turn of combat!
  • BattleTech and its spinoff MechWarrior games have the LBX series of autocannons. The tabletop version is a straight upgrade in terms of stats—it is lighter, has longer range, produces less heat, and can fire both standard autocannon shells as well as cluster rounds that have accuracy bonuses (ideal for shooting down aircraft or dealing Critical Hits to the interior of a 'Mech). The video game versions are lighter than their standard peers, and depending on the game are either straight upgrades (3 and its Expansion Pack) or a Humongous Mecha Short Range Shotgun can reliably knocks down enemy 'Mechs and leaves them defenseless (the 4 trilogy onwards). The Annihilator capitalizes on this with four LB-10X ACs and four Medium Pulse Lasers to back it up.
  • Subverted by the Heavy Gear video game adaptations. The fragmentation cannon is rather obviously a shotgun in function and appearance, but it is easily one of the worst ranged weapons available in either video game bearing the Heavy Gear name. Its flaws include slow fire rate, low ammo capacity, short range, and pitiful damage. Most embarrassingly, it is outright surpassed in each of the aformentioned traits by the basic light autocannon given to new players.
  • In GURPS shotguns have a lot of ammunition choices making them a viable, but not quite ideal, for pretty much any job. Shot-shells make them the most accurate close range weapon while, AP slugs can go through through armored walls, explosive shells can put a grenade through a window, they can even take tiny anti-tank rounds.

    Video Games 

  • The New Conglomerate in PlanetSide takes this approach to everything. Triple barreled shotgun! Arm mounted shotguns! Humongous Mecha shotguns! Shotgun pistol!
    • They continue the tradition in the sequel, including shotgun canons mounted on fighter aircraft, as well as Guns Akimbo Power Armor arm mounted full auto shotguns, used to carve through entire rooms' worth of enemies at a time.
    • Also from the sequel, pump action shotguns available to the three factions. Powerful enough to kill enemies in one shot from close up, accurate enough and with enough shells/(cells) in the magazine to be useful at medium range. Load it with slugs, put on a good scope, and you have a perfectly functional ghetto sniper rifle.
  • Marathon's insane short-barreled, double-barreled, dual-wieldable shotguns are more accurate than the player's assault rifle, and do almost as much damage as the anti-material missile launcher. If fired continuously, they make the player functionally invincible by virtue of them one being reloaded while the other shoots. And then there's That One Level where the player fights a Zerg Rush but gets infinite shotgun ammo...
  • Borderlands merges this interestingly with the Revolvers Are Just Better trope with the Masher pistols (they shoot shotgun shells!), some of the most dangerous revolvers in the game.
    • Borderlands also has shotguns that can hold 12+ shells at once and tend to be pretty powerful. Especially when said shotgun shoots rockets. Or has an accuracy and crit boost specifically designed to avert the short range part.
  • The sequel ups the ante as only two of five possible barrels common shotguns can get (Hyperion and Tediore) will be single-shot. The others have two (Jakobs), three (Bandit), or even four barrels (Torgue). In fact, it is relatively easy to find an acid-shooting triple barreled shotgun that gets more accurate the more you shoot it, on top of that any elemental shotgun receives NO damage penalty for have an element.
    • The rocket shotgun (the one that shoots a single rocket) made a return in the UVHM 2 DLC (the rest of the barrels shoot at least a few pellets), and can even triple it's output per shot with the "Casual" prefix.
    • There' also E-tech shotguns, which use weird alien technology to turn bullets into "stuff which ain't bullets." In this case, E-tech shotguns turn shotgun shells into enormous blobs of arcing elemental goo that do tremendous damage on impact and splash to hit nearby foes as well. An E-Tech variant of a Torgue shotgun also shoots swords. Swords that explode, into other, smaller swords. Which also explode.
      • The Torgue E-Tech shotgun SWORDSPLOSION!!! gets better as the causal variant. It fires 3 swords, each exploding into 3 more swords. Which explode.
    • The Hyperion Pearlescent shotgun the Butcher is a shoutout to it's incarnation from the first Borderlands, and mixes a shotgun with a machine gun, plus randomly refilling your clip, and that's saying nothing about the manufacturer's Legendary and Seraph tier shotguns. Oh baby...
  • Shotguns are taken up a notch in Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel! with the introduction of the Cryo (or Ice) element, meaning it becomes relatively easy to find a supercooled ice-throwing triple-barreled shotgun that will freeze the unlucky S.O.B on the receiving end solid.
  • DOOM
    • The first game has a simple shotgun as the second weapon you'll get. It does a good amount of damage, especially at short range, and the ammo is extremely plentiful, making it perhaps the most frequently used weapon in the game.
    • DOOM 2 adds the super shotgun, which does nearly triple damage for the cost of two shells per shot. It's easily the most used weapon in the game, with plentiful ammunition and huge damage at point-blank. Discounting the BFG, it's only rivaled for single-shot damage by the Rocket Launcher, which is not useful at close range.
    • DOOM 3 however, nerfs the shotgun, giving it an extremely wide spread over an unrealistically short distance, meaning it's effective at close range and less useful over longer distances. However, because most engagements in the game are at close rangenote , it still gets a lot of use. The Resurection of Evil Super Shotgun is this played straight, however; it hits hard enough to one-headshot-kill a Revenant, and is more accurate than the pump-action one to boot.
  • All of the Quake games. The first two have both shotgun and super shotgun like Doom (the first game even has the regular shotgun as your starting weapon). The double-barreled version is actually quite powerful, although only at close ranges.
  • The SPAS-12 in the Half-Life series counts. Its power is overall on par with the .357 Magnum, but with much more plentiful ammunition. Even the automatic weapons in the series struggle to keep up, due to mediocre accuracy and damage-per-shot of the SMGs and the scarcity of assault rifle ammo. In Half-Life 2 it competes with the Gravity Gun, but unlike the Gravity Gun, it isn't dependent on whatever barrels and crates are strewn around the battlefield. Finally, it has a Secondary Fire where it shoots two shells at once (even though the SPAS-12 only has one barrel.).
  • The M90 shotgun from the first game of the Halo saga is highly infamous among fans for being freakishly overpowered: it could hold up to 72 shells (12 in the internal magazine, 60 in reserve) and had a scary (and yet rather realistic when compared to other games) medium range accuracy. It could even be used to successfully take on light ground vehicles, and when paired with the long-range capabilities of the M6D pistol, turned the wielder into an almost unstoppable force. Justified in that the shotgun is an 8-gauge Magnum, which is freakishly powerful by early-21st-century shotgun standards.note 
    • Halo 4 shows that the Forerunners thought Shotguns Are Just Better too, with the Z-180 Close-Combat Rifle, or Scattershot. And, being a dedicated anti-Flood weapon, when it kills someone the shot makes their body dissolve/disintegrate into red-orange particles.
  • In Painkiller, the shotgun is one of, if not the, go-to weapons throughout the game along with the Painkiller melee weapon. With reasonable spread, good fire rate, good damage, plentiful ammo, and a Secondary Fire that freezes enemies in place (after which a single pellet will shatter them), it's no wonder why the shotgun is Daniel's favorite weapon during the cutscenes.
  • Team Fortress 2 zig-zags it, with the shotgun being a secondary weapon for the Pyro, Soldier and Heavy. It has good range with reasonable spread, but only decent damage and sharp damage falloff, and is best used in conjunction with your primary weapon. The Engineer uses it as his primary weapon, where it is best used to support his Sentry Gun turret. Then the trope turns right around with the Scout's primary weapons, the Scatter Gun, the Force-a-Nature, and the Soda Popper, which are all exceptionally powerful (at point blank, at leastnote ).
    • Though many a player has fallen to a sentryless Engineer's shotgun, mistaking him for an easy target. Likewise, they're not out of the woods yet if a soldier vented all his rockets at them and didn't quite finish the job.
    • With the release of the Engineer update, the Engineer has acquired the Frontier Justice, a high-tech shotgun that holds "Revenge Crits": when his sentry gun is destroyed, the Engineer gains a number of guaranteed critical hits equal to double his sentry's kill count. With 18 damage per crit pellet, the FJ can deal 180 per shot, assuming all pellets hit. Even scarier, crits have no damage falloff due to distance, meaning the shot pattern is the only factor for damage dealt. The three shell magazine makes it less than useful without them however, so it only qualifies for this trope because of its extremely high guaranteed burst damage (exceeded only by various kinds of headshots).
    • The Engineer received the Widowmaker from the Manno-Technology update, a shotgun that uses metal instead of shotgun shells and regenerates the damage you do as metal. It is also a nice shoutout to the TX Widowmaker of Deus Ex:Human Revolution fame
    • And like the Half-Life 2 example above, it's easy to mod the shotguns so that they can either shoot specific patterns, or shoot a virtual wall of pellets that lags the server with every shot.
  • This was definitely the case in the original Team Fortress Classic, and its remake, Fortress Forever. The pump action Super Shotgun had good range, decent ammo capacity, high damage, and plentiful ammunition. It made an excellent sidearm for the Soldier, and an equally excellent primary weapon for the Engineer, Spy, and Medic. The Heavy got less use out of it, since he already came equipped with a Bottomless Magazines minigun that was also a shotgun.
    • The humble 'normal' shotgun was also quite useful. While its damage was pitiful compared to the Super Shotgun, it still had good capacity, a semi-automatic firing rate (the pump animation is basically for show), and near perfect accuracy, making it ideal for long range shooting and harassment, where the medium range Super Shotgun would be ineffective.
  • In the Darkest of Days weapons trailer, while the others talk about the weapons and where it's from (with funny footnotes), what do they say about the shotgun? "It's a Shotgun!"
  • Gears of War has a shotgun that some have likened to Halo's pistol, so naturally it falls victim to this trope. When it was nerfed in the second game, the fan outcry was enormous.
  • The shotguns in Left 4 Dead are generally the most useful weapons in the series, boasting reasonable range, heavy firepower and a reasonable fire rate. In the first game, the most common Complacent Gaming Syndrome was to get the Tier 2 Auto Shotgun and forget about everything else. Though they were nerfed somewhat in the sequel, they're still extremely solid choices when used in conjunction with automatic, longer-ranged weaponsnote .
  • The shotgun is one of the Resident Evil series' iconic weapons, as the ammo is generally prevalent, the pellets spread to hit several enemies at once, and they pack a hell of a punch, so that anything the first shot doesn't kill outright is going to be at least knocked clear on its ass. In most of the games, there comes a point after which the shotgun becomes your primary weapon.
    • In Resident Evil, the turn-over point was about a third of the way through the game, if you were lucky. Pistol ammo was sparse, and zombies took in the upwards of seven shots to put down. Contrast with the shotgun, which could down up to a pack of five zombies with two to three shells.
    • In Resident Evil 2, the turn-over point was about halfway through Leon's scenario. The pistol was a little more powerful now, and ammo was almost disgustingly common due to the game taking place in an urban areanote . The shotgun was just as powerful as the one in the first game, and could be upgraded to be even stronger to boot.
    • In Resident Evil 3: Nemesis, the turn-over point was practically the instant you first found a shotgun due to the game's use of gunpowder mixing and the reloading tool. If you didn't pay attention to the mixing manual the game gives you at the start, however, the turn-over point is about the same as Resident Evil 2.
    • In Resident Evil 4, you find a standard pump-action shotgun, which you can upgrade its fire power, reload speed, and capacity. Later on, you can purchase the Riot gun, a slightly more powerful shotgun with higher capacity, and then the Striker, which uses a drum round and when fully upgraded can hold up to 100 shells.
    • The Hydra in Resident Evil 5 deserves special mention as a sawed off, three-barreled shotgun that Chris holds in one hand. It has weaker individual shots and a wider spread compared to a fully upgraded Benelli M3, but this is more than compensated for by its very fast firing speed.
  • In close-range combat in The Conduit, the shotgun is either a one-hit kill or part of a two-hit combo (shotgun + melee).
  • In Fallout 3, a world with energy weapons, Dakkatastic machine guns, personal rocket launchers, etc., the Combat Shotgun will quickly dispose of any enemy at short range, even heavily armored troops or big bad beasties like Deathclaws.
    • Due to the critical damage calculation, shotgun-type weapons are very much this trope. With stealth attack and a unique shotgun, one can kill the non-respawning boss-type Super Mutant Behemoth with a Sneak Attack Critical hit to the head in one shot. Granted, it's hard to pull off, but very much possible.
      • This is likely a bug; basically, when a pellet in the shot scores a critical hit, it applies the full crit damage value of the weapon, instead of dividing it by the number of pellets. So essentially, when you get a sneak attack crit, you are getting crit bonus multiplied by how many pellets hit.
    • And let's not get to the fact that aside from shotguns, you can also have laser shotguns, laser shot pistols, and spreading .44 Magnums. Much asskicking will ensue.
    • A similar thing happens in the first two games as well. Shotgun shells are readily available and the Combat Shotgun (or maybe the Pancor Jackhammer) remains a very viable alternative in the endgame.
    • This is also because Fallout 3 scaled the health and damage resistance of enemies to your level. Fallout: New Vegas avoids this by 1) removing the scaling and making levels actually mean something and 2) making semi-auto shotguns really, really rare.
      • And in New Vegas though since there are large variety of shotguns, and making them behave rather realistically (rather than the Short Range Shotgun they usually are). With proper perks and crafted ammo, the humble Hunting Shotgun easily drop human enemies in 1-2 shots at medium range and with slug shells lets you down deathclaws. For the Riot Shotgun, it is very rare and expensive because it is nearly a gamebreaker (think of the Fallout 3 Combat Shotgun, with vastly superior range, more damage, and shoots almost as fast as you can click).
      • The Lever-Action Shotgun of New Vegas is lever-action, meaning it is affected by the damage-boosting Cowboy perk as well as all shotgun perks, making Cowboy a very popular perk to take just for this weapon alone.
      • The Holorifle in Dead Money, despite its name, is actually more like a laser shotgun. It has to be pumped after each shot, but it packs a real punch with additional damage over time. It also has a longer range than most video game shotguns.
      • Its relatively high spread, long time between shots, small magazine and slow projectile make it a poor weapon at long range, though, so you'll probably still use it as a Short Range Shotgun.
  • Totally averted in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, which takes Short Range Shotgun to its logical limits.
    • Except for the Alien reference in Crew Expendable:
      • Gaz: (pulling out a shotgun) "I like to keep this for close encounters."
    • Also somewhat played straight as the AA-12, being the only AUTOMATIC shotgun in the whole game, is practically guaranteed to render everything within its effective (read: pitiful) range dead.
    • Played straight in MW2, albeit due to a bug: The Ranger (a sawed-off double-barreled shotgun) could be dual-wielded and with certain perks firing both of them at the same time killed nearly everyone on your screen.
    • The Model 1887 in MW2 was infamous for being a huge Game Breaker when used with Akimbo, due to the fact that it had the longest range of all shotguns. Later patches nerfed it.
  • Double Subverted in The Godfather: The Game. At first, the shotgun, while powerful and averting Short Range Shotgun, has an awful ammo count of 2 per magazine and 12 in reserve and does not reload or fire fast. This makes the Magnum, with its comparable power but superior ammo load of 6-36 and speed, preferable. The same goes at the second level, where the shotgun has 2-24 compared to 6-60 of the Magnum. At the third level, though, the shotgun's ammo load rises drastically to 10-100, compared to the Magnum's 8-80, as well as gaining a considerable fire-rate boost. Furthermore, the level three shotgun has an automatic action, compared to the semi-automatic level three Magnum. As a result, the shotgun does become Better after all. The sequel nerfed it by severely cutting its ammo capacity, though, giving the crown back to the Magnum once again.
  • Perfect Dark had a shotgun, but it had a few built-in flaws: One, the gun isn't actually significantly more powerful than the other weapons that can be obtained in the three levels in which it is present; Two, it takes Short Range Shotgun to a new extreme (you have to essentially run right into the face of enemies to kill them); And three, the reload time is atrocious, and that is exacerbated if you use its secondary mode, which causes the gun to fire twice. It can be deadly in multiplayer, but otherwise it's not very useful.
  • In S.T.A.L.K.E.R. the shotgun is the second weapon the player gets. It is quite useful against anything that doesn't shoot back (that is, a major part of the enemies) because of its good damage, and useful against armed enemies when the fight is in close quarters (that also happens a lot). And there is no shortage of ammo, since the shotgun is ammo-efficient. The shotgun gets a lot of use due to the game's Inventory Management Puzzle not allowing the player to carry a gun for every occasion, and shotgun being useful in most of them.
    • That's not the full story though. The starting shotgun (and the hunting "rifle", which is basically a long-barrel shotgun), can be very useful in the early game. One of the best weapons in the starting areas of Clear Sky expansion is a hunting rifle converted to using dart slugs, and has been accuracy modded. It's basically a cheap sniper rifle that can take down the unarmored bandits in one headshot from long range. However, once you move into the middle areas of the game, armored enemies make all but the better automatic shotguns useless, and even those generally take a backseat to the various assault rifles.
    • The double-barrel you get available early on in the original STALKER is decent enough, but once you come across the second shotgun type in the game and pair it with an assault rifle, you're equipped for virtually any situation the game can throw at you. The Chaser 13 is lightweight, and when loaded with slug or dart ammo is absolutely merciless at close to medium range. Load it with buck and you're set for the many mutants you'll be encountering.
    • Shotguns became buffed in Call of Pripyat, where by upgrades from the respective map's mechanic, they can easily kill all but the toughest mutants in the game. One shotgun, for example, looks like a street sweeper weapon and when upgraded to full auto, becomes an Infinity–1 Sword when used properly. It can even be obtained from the bandit leader in the second map, if you choose the violent option with him.
  • The shotgun is one of your main weapons through Max Payne. It packs a wallop up close and can kill many of the bad guys you fight early on with one hit (though you'll need a headshot on the higher levels, making it a mainstay for close-up combat until you get your hands on the Commando in the second act. Unfortunately, the shotgun begins to lose its effectiveness in the third act, which has you fighting heavily armed mercenaries with body armor (which shotguns are notoriously ineffective against). But near the end of the game, you pick up the extremely deadly Jackhammer, a fully-automatic shotgun that will rip through anyone foolish enough to be in your way, especially in Bullet Time.
  • The Men In Black game lets you start off with any of the shiny, cool weapons from the film, but the shotgun that you can find and use (only) in the first mission is, hands down, the best weapon in the game.
  • Killing Floor. While there are plenty of other good weapons, shotgun can kill several Specimens with one shot due to high damage per pellet, freakishly exacerbated by Support Specialists, whose buckshot can go straight through several targets. Then there's the double-barreled Hunting Shotgun that inexplicably shoots out more pellets if the player fires both barrels at once (the reload time was murder, though), again with increased damage and overpenetration in the hands of Support, largely considered to be the first Game Breaker before a patch enabled enemies to attack on the run. There's also the M1014 and the drum-fed AA-12. Finally is the Trench Gun loaded with incendiary rounds. On the whole, a good day for shotgun fans.
  • Alien Trilogy: The Shotgun quickly becomes the player's best friend early game, being much better than the starting handgun, and while it's severely outclassed late game by the Pulse Rifle and the Smart Gun, ammo for it is much more common than for the other two weapons, making the Shotgun a reasonable weapon to use in casual moments, in order to conserve ammo of your better weapons for tight situations.
  • Two of the four playable bounty hunters in Sunset Riders, Cormano and Bob, use shotguns. Since all normal enemies are One Hit Point Wonders, the wide shots they do make those characters significantly more useful than the sixgun-toting Billy and Steve (until boss encounters, where their individual bullets do more damage).
  • BioShock
    • In BioShock, the shotgun has special ammunition that allows the player to shoot sprays of bullets that either explode after hitting their target, or electrifies them, stunning them and making them easy targets for emptying the entire magazine into them. It does wonders to finish of the mini bosses, the Big Daddies. The only thing keeping you from coasting through the entire game on it is the shotgun's relatively low ammunition reserve pool.
    • BioShock Infinite gives us two: The China Broom and the Vox Heater. The latter offers a bigger boom but is hampered by its single-shot capability (which can be increased up to 3 with specific gear), while the former packs a slightly-less massive punch but has a 4-round magazine that can potentially be increased to 7 with the right gear, making it far more useful overall. So long as you have a decent backup weapon to handle ranged enemies, the China Broom is a fine companion from the time you first get it at Battleship Bay all the way to the final battle.
  • In Mass Effect 1, every character can use shotguns, although only Ashley, Wrex, and Tali have training in them (the others miss at point-blank range). In Mass Effect 2, however, only Tali, Jacob, Jack, and Grunt can use shotguns at all. In both games, the Soldier and Vanguard classes are the only ones with built-in shotgun training, although both games allow you to choose shotgun training as a bonus skill (through an achievement in the first game and part of the plot in the second). The third game further restricts them to Tali and James Vega.
    • Special mention must be made of the M-300 Claymore, one of the Infinity Plus One Guns that Soldier or Vanguard Shepard can pick up halfway through the second game (and that Grunt can use with an upgrade). It's an insanely high-powered shotgun designed for use by Krogan, and it's by far the best short-range weapon in the game.
    • And the Geth Plasma Shotgun, part of the Firepower Pack DLC, which has a longer range than the other shotguns and whose shots can be charged up For Massive Damage.
    • With the Smart Choke upgrade in Mass Effect 3, every shotgun becomes a solid mid-ranged weapon.
      • 3 also adds, among others, the Graal Spike Thrower (a Krogan weapon designed to kill Thresher Maws) and the Disciple (an extremely pretty Asari shotgun designed for longer-ranged engagements than normal shotguns).
    • The N7 Crusader (present in the Deluxe version of the game or multiplayer Commendation Packs) is different from every other shotgun in that it fires a single slug with perfect accuracy, making it tantamount to a powerful, semi-auto sniper rifle. It may lack a zoom and be pretty heavy but can be used at any range, and its perfect accuracy frees up a mod slot for extra punch.
    • The reason why many players favour Shotgun Infiltrators in the multiplayer, being capable of cloaking so they can flank enemies, allowing them to open fire at point blank range. Combined with the damage from stealth bonus, most enemies get blown away in one hit.
    • The Krogan are nearly always seen wielding shotguns. It's commonly theorised by the fans that this is because they have problems seeing long-distance, since their wide-set eyes would preclude binocular vision. Understandable since they evolved as prey on the Death World of Tuchanka.
  • Deus Ex has two versions, the sawn-off and Assault Shotgun. Both can fire either standard buckshot, which rains hell on organic targets, and sabot rounds, which are armour-piercing. The former is slightly more powerful, but extremely slow and has little ammo. The latter trades a small amount of power for being essentially a buckshot machine gun, being heavily based on the game's assault rifle (they have the same 2x2 allocation in the inventory screen, and a generally similar look and feel). Both are worth having, though the latter more-so by the end of the game. Adding on the laser sight somehow makes it 100% accurate; wherever the dot is, the pellets will hit, even if it is across the map.
    • Deus Ex: Human Revolution has two shotguns: a regular one and a double-barrel one exclusive to the DLC. Neither is very good later in the game however, as they're not very good against armored opponents, which is most of what you face later on, and unlike the first Deus Ex each gun only has one ammo type.
  • In Rainbow Six Vegas 2, where they made a "shotgun firing buckshot, for example, ha[ve] significantly more penetration in RSV2 than it should", because "people associate shotguns with powerful, close-range weapons".
  • In First Encounter Assault Recon, the shotgun is one of the most potent weapons in the game, capable of downing nearly any enemy in one shot at close range and doing good damage against mechanical/heavy armor enemies at short-to medium range as well. In addition, its range is fairly long and it is highly accurate (two or three shots should drop nearly any enemy at medium range), ammo is very plentiful, and for added bonus, the shotgun will typically decapitate, bisect, or simply blow opponents into a cloud of bloody vapor. This makes it one of the mainstay weapons in the game.
    • In the sequel, there are actually two shotguns. The first is your pedestrian pump action shotgun fed from a tubular magazine. The second is introduced later on and is semiautomatic and fed by detachable magazines. It has fantastic advantages in rate of fire, magazine size, and reloads. However, it is less damaging and shorter ranged than the pump shotgun, and its ammunition is initially much less common. However, seeing as FEAR 2 has a habit of making some weapons become increasingly scarce as you progress through the game before making them disappear entirely, you'll be forced to use it anyway. It's still damn good, but just not as good.
  • In Will Rock, the Shotgun is the first serious weapon to be found, excellent range, good damage and many shots. With some good luck, you could complete the game using nothing but the Shotgun and, sometimes, the explosive weaponry. Also, it's one of the few weapons that works underwater.
  • The underslung shotgun attachment in Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory is a one-hit-kill up to a decent range. However, more to the point in a Stealth-Based Game, it made a noise like a tactical nuke going off.
  • In Duke Nukem Forever, the shotgun is basically the most useful weapon in the game.
    • It also remained quite useful for long stretches in Duke Nukem 3D, thanks to its surprisingly-realistic shot spread offering it a lot of punch at longer distances than most game shotguns offer.
  • Unreal II: Has a heavy shotgun with incendiary fire, good for giant spiders.
    • Almost every other Unreal game has a particularly mean variant in the Flak Cannon. The primary firing mode shoots a shotgun-like spread of superheated shrapnel, which is insanely powerful at closer ranges. Just be mindful of the fact that the shrapnel will bounce off nearby walls. For added fun, the secondary fire lobs a grenade that throws shrapnel in all directions — in the original Unreal, a direct hit with this will kill nearly anything in the game instantly.
  • In the Bionic Commando reboot from 2009, the Hiker shotgun is one of the first special weapons available, an anti-armor shotgun that ends up being predominantly used on squishy human opponents. The range is fairly decent and given the fact that it fires eight armor-penetrating slugs followed by a high explosive round in each shell, it's quite effective on human enemies. It does have the usual Short Range Shotgun problems, but this is due to its wide spread, which is actually helpful. Swinging at high speed makes it a bit tough to aim accurately at times, but the Hiker simplifies matters somewhat. It was also highly popular in the multiplayer mode for the same reasons noted above.
  • There are two different shotguns in Alan Wake, a double-barreled one and a pump-action one. Both are better than Alan's handgun, a revolver, but not quite as good as the hunting rifle. Interestingly, they both have their strengths and weaknesses: the double-barreled shotgun can only hold two rounds but can fire them off in quicker succession and reload faster than the pump-action, while the pump-action has a longer time period in between each shot but holds eight shells.
  • In The Breach, the Spread upgrade turns your machine gun into a fully automatic shotgun. Completely averts the short-range part, it fires three machine gun rounds in a 90 degree angle (one down the middle, one up, one down), which continue until they hit a wall, the edge of the screen, or a monster. Due to the RPG Elements, it gets more damage and more ROF with each level up.
  • The shotgun in Worms has two shots where almost every other weapon has just one. This means you can shoot, move, and shoot again. It deals 25 damage per shot, which means two hits can deal as much as a bazooka hit. Additionally, Short Range Shotgun is utterly averted; you can snipe someone from across the map with one. Add the fact that in the standard settings you have an infinite number of uses and you get one of the cornerstones of the Worms arsenal.
  • Red Dead Redemption offers 4 shotguns for the gun-toting cowboys. The Double-barrel and sawed-off shotguns are nearly identical, trading range for power, and are great for a quick double burst of buckshot. The pump-action shotgun holds 6 rounds and has the best range of the 4, as well as great power. The semi-auto shotgun holds 1 less shell, but is semi-automatic, allowing you to throw a rapid 5-shot burst of pellets at anything coming your way. From cowboys to grizzly bears, anything coming at you will be stopped once you empty a semi-auto shotgun towards it.
    • The zombie-themed expansion of the game zig-zags this trope. While buckshot is preferred at close to medium range for popping the heads of the undead, an odd auto-targeting mechanism will sometimes shaft you. When manually aiming from afar, with the dot-crosshair aimed at a zed's head, sometimes a shot will center all pellets into its chest for no explicable reason, perhaps, at best, only knocking it over, but otherwise keeping it alive.
  • Peacekeepers in Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 are the Allies' basic infantry unit and are equipped with shotguns. They are the most expensive of the three sides' basic infantry units but can kill regular enemy infantry in two shots.
  • Star Wars: Republic Commando: The Trandoshan "shotgun" (actually a charged particle weapon) has an 8 shot ammo tube, a pretty fast rate of fire, and kills most enemies encountered with one mid-ranged shot. Ammo is plentiful since almost all Trandoshans carry it. However, it's near-useless against big droids and anything mechanical.
    • It's actually more useful against the player than against the enemies, since it's an anti-shield weapon, and enemies don't have Deflector Shields... or rather, this would be the case if you weren't a One-Man Army... times four.
  • Syndicate (2012) has two shotguns. The first, the CQC-11, has a buckshot primary fire and a Secondary Fire that uses explosive shells instead. This secondary fire is always available in single player but has to be unlocked in co-op. The second is the Mjolnir HOG, which is an automatic shotgun only available in co-op.
  • Bill Savage uses a variety of shotguns as his Weapon of Choice (though, he is not above a pistol or assault rifle). In fact, in his first story, he takes out an armoured vehicle with only a simple doubled barreled shotgun.
  • In Risk Of Rain The Commando's "Full Metal Jacket" ability deals heavy damage to all enemies in front of you as well as causing severe knockback.
    • The Enforcer's riot shotgun has kind of a crappy range, but every single thing inside it is hit. We remind you that shotguns aren't known for their penetration unless you're using slugs, or a seriously big shotgun.
  • A notable example is in the Nazi Zombies map, Mob of the Dead, where one of the weapons is a Civil War era blunderbuss-gatling gun hybrid, aptly named, the Blundergat. It's is one of the most powerful weapons in the box, and of course, it's a wonder weapon. The only problem, it was a single shot weapon. Said shotgun can be upgraded to fire acid shells instead. It is as awesome as you read it.
  • While the basic SG-A1 Conformer shotgun in Crusader games has low fire rate (and you have to reload it manually with the fire button), the automatic AC-88 Reaper is even more devastating than a rocket launcher or energy weapons (and allows you to loot bodies, too).
  • In Ratchet & Clank, like most of the manic weapons in the series, shotguns are just one of the most useful tools. Though it can be somewhat subverted as if you buy them late into the game at LV 1, they are ineffective. But, they kick ass because:
    • They usually gain a additional bonus to their widespread damage, such as electricity or freezing, to stop enemies in their tracks and deall more damage with less risk. Notable examples include:
    • Shock blaster, and Defragmenter from UYA/SM, which uses electricity.
    • Cryoshot, Shard Reaper, Shard Gun all use cryogenics, and are probably one of the best shotguns in the series.
    • And to top it off, the Constructo Shotgun allows for different customisation, such as a ranged shot, type of barrels and also, causing the enemy to spasm like retards, or rain detonator bombs down.
  • The Sawed-Off Shotgun from Metal Gear Solid 3 was a borderline Game Breaker. A single shot could send multiple Mooks flying. Even The Boss was not immune. Indeed, a viable tactic is to go barehanded against her, wait for her to CQC you, counter it, whip out the shotgun and blast her with it.
  • In Call of Juarez Gunslinger, there are double barreled shotguns of the long and sawed off variety. The former is introduced (literally—it gets its own comic-book style cutscene boasting about its stats and everything) in the second story level as "Deputy Bob Ollinger's Mean-Ass Shotgun." The latter can be dual-wielded if you unlock the required skill. These weapons are, as might be expected, absurdly effective in close combat. In fact, Deputy Bob's Mean-Ass Shotgun is declared to be "loud as thunder" and "can cut a man clean in half," which isn't too far off the mark at point-blank range.
    • With the right perks the shotguns become the deadliest weapons in the whole game, capable of firing non-stop in Concentration Mode, auto-locking onto perfect one hit kill headshots, combined with the Concentration Double Combo * and x6 Combo Concentration refiller * you can effectively twitch the stick in the direction of your next enemy, lock onto their head, pull the trigger for an instant kill, refilling your Concentration every three kills, rinse and repeat until your shotgun ammo reserves are empty.
  • Subverted in Vietcong, gameplay-wise. They are powerful (even more so in short range), but their low rate of fire, not to mention slow reloading speed can be problematic at times.
  • The Assassin's Creed series grants a shotgun-esque blunderbuss to the protagonist of Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag's DLC: Freedom Cry. Though it only carries a single shot per reload, and can spare some lives after a certain range, quite a few men will be slain with a single blast if they get within its cone of death.
  • Inverted in Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura. Shotguns may be cheap, light and compact, but they are still some of the worst firearms in the game, with terrible range, poor damage, next to no armour penetration, and slow firing rates. Do note that in this game, guns may not be entirely worthless, but they are generally considered to be underpowered.
  • A shotgun is the one of the best weapons available in Spelunky. The downside being that every shopkeeper in the game comes equipped with one they keep on a hair-trigger.
  • Shotgun upgrade in Metal Slug series has an extremely close range, but its radius is rather wide because of its bomb-like effect upon firing. Anything within range of a shotgun attack is easily blown away because of the bullets' explosive impact.
  • In the online flash game Madness: Project Nexus, based on the Madness Combat series of animations, shotguns are Simple Yet Awesome and one of the best weapons in game (the other being the assault rifles and some submachine guns). They seem to be Boring, but Practical at first, like the assault rifles-plentiful, good rate of fire and common, with the exception of having a slightly smaller magazine capacity-until you discover that they can make heads explode. They also have a fast reload time, and you can sail through whole levels with one, as long as you pick up another shotgun when you run out of ammo. They are also very useful in Episode 1.5, capable to defeating the Abominations and Sleepwalkers with ease. The most practical model is actually the most plentiful one: the magazine-fed Norinco 97k. It's got a faster reload time than the SPAS-12, easier to control than the USAS-12, is the cheapest of the bunch and the fact that it's a Sawed-Off Shotgun makes it easy to handle in CQB, which is surprisingly good as you'll be fighting in close-quarters for most, if not all the time. Even better, Short Range Shotgun is averted, so they can still inflict decent damage at medium range and even long range!
  • Star Wars: Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast has the Golan Arms FC-1 Flechette Weapon which is essentially the Star Wars equivalent of a double-barreled shotgun and it uses power cells. Its primary mode consists of multiple metal shards in a spread fired from the weapon and its secondary mode launches what appear to be explosive grenades to deal massive damage to an opponent, effectively doubling as a grenade launcher. The weapon isn't encountered until midway into the game and by then, you already have your lightsaber which you can use against most opponents and can deflect projectiles from almost any weapon (only the Disruptor Rifle and the Merr-Sonn missile launcher are the weapons that you cannot deflect their shots from).

    Web Original 

  • These show up so often in horror films its a running gag for Phelous to use a clip from Resident Evil declaring "I got a shotgun!". In the Linkara's Previously On segment for Secret Defenders 10 he turns around holding one dramatically and was probably about to say it. He is interupted by Linkara, who says he can't go through with the sequence due to this episode being too important due to the integration of Gunslinger Theme. Also that Phelous was the only one he could afford.

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 

  • The Franchi SPAS-12 is pretty much the Trope Codifier for this trope.
  • The Winchester 1897 trench gun fits this trope to a T. In WWI, it was used to devastating effect by American soldiers to clear out trenches, particularly because of its ability to "slamfire," meaning the soldier holds the trigger down and simply pumps the handle, causing the shotgun to fire with each pump. German troops learned to fear the sight and sound of a charging American soldier armed with a trench gun, and the German government actually issued a formal protest against America, demanding they discontinue use of the weapon because of the ghastly wounds and physiological trauma it created.


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