Ever notice how in hostage situations, someone just has to jam the gun into the person's back for them to know you mean business? The victim can't see the weapon, so sometimes a resourceful, desperate, and usually good person takes advantage of that by using some random stick or anything that remotely resembles the shape of a barrel to hold someone at "gunpoint".
Sometimes the deception extends beyond the victim to the audience as well. Until The Reveal
It can work with knives too, but guns seem to be the preferred choice when an option. Sub-Trope
of Brandishment Bluff
Anime and Manga
- This happens in Tintin at least twice.
- Bandits did this with a permanent marker, a bank security guard and Bruce Willis.
- In Batman Begins, Batman used a stapler for the barrel and the clicking noise to simulate a gun cock.
- Parodied in Field of Dreams, with Ray trying to "kidnap" Terence Mann by faking a gun in his pocket. Terence responded with a crowbar.
- Done in Out of Sight, also with a highlighter or something.
- Referenced in Ratatouille: one version of what sous chef Horst did to end up in jail is that he "once robbed the second biggest bank in France using only a ball-point pen."
- Done in pant-wetting fashion in True Lies with a tube of lipstick under the chin.
- John Dillinger uses an improvised wooden prop gun to escape prison in Public Enemies. Truth in Television too.
- In the silent film The Kid Brother the good guy gets the drop on the bad guy by pretending that a piece of pipe is a rifle barrel.
- In The Chase, Charlie Sheen kidnaps Kristy Swanson with a Butterfinger bar.
- In Sunset, Earp bluffs a group of thugs into believing a mop handle is a shotgun.
- Done by Anathema Device in Good Omens to get into an American air base. Used with a bit of Exact Words, as she told the soldier to put down his gun or else she will regret what she'll have to do. Her internal monologue continues with, "Because if you don't put down the gun, you'll find out this is a stick and then I will regret having to be shot."
- A variant in the Dresden Files novel Small Favor, where Harry pretends to pull a gun on Kincaid in an argument by sticking his hand in his duster pocket and pretending to make a gun-like shape. Kincaid gives in after a second. Later, when helping a (slightly delirious) Harry into his house, Kincaid checks the pocket and finds it empty, mentioning that he'd had his suspicions.
- A French radio show had a baddie holding up twins using a real gun and a pipe, after pointing out he was ambidextrous.
- Parodied in "Buckaroo Bugs" and many other Looney Tunes cartoons.
- In Sarah's debut episode of lonelygirl15, "Crazy Emo Chick", she introduces herself to Daniel by putting lipstick to his back, announcing that it's a gun, and demanding that he puts his hands in the air, and that Bree and Jonas turn off the camera. It turns out she's just playing a practical joke.
- In Canada, any hint of a weapon in commission of a robbery makes it considered armed, even if it is just a finger in a pocket.