The habit of characters in action shows to simply throw away guns when they run out of ammunition during a gunfight. Even the poorest of combatants will dispose of a gun by dumping it as soon as it goes dry. The logic seems to be that it is more important to maintain a steady rate of fire than it is to conserve resources such as weapons.
Of course, it's also getting tossed away if it happens to jam, because in Hollywood there's no way to fix that.
When mooks face a Super Hero they often fire all available rounds at the superhero, look at their now-useless gun (Oh, if they had if only remembered reloads!), then throw the gun at the hero either in frustration, stupidity, or desperation, although this is much more likely to happen against an Immortal Assassin by a victim, and almost always perpetrated by someone wielding a small gun, since larger weapons are more often used to attempt melee combat (given the materials they're made of, most rifles and shotguns make for rather efficient bludgeons).
Hilariously, in live-action depictions the immune-to-bullets superhero may then quickly duck to avoid getting clocked by the empty pistol, implying that the gun itself is more harmful than the bullets it fires. And while this may be true if someone is a bad shot, but is capable throwing things, that would only raise further questions.
This trope is to be expected when the guns a character is using only have a single shot and/or take quite a long time to reload. In real life this trope is sometimes called the New York Reload, and was once a common tactic with policemen, who would carry two revolvers to compensate for the limited number of shots and slow reload of their main service weapon.
May overlap with Trench Coat Warfare for additional awesome.
See Shooting Superman.
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Meryl Strife from Trigun did this to an extreme, with dozens of one-shot derringer pistols lining her cloak, which she'd go through quite rapidly in a gunfight. On occasion, Wolfwood was also shown using a large supply of pistols, tossing each away when they ran out to grab a new one. Comically, after a barrage of derringer shots, Milly is seen picking up all of Meryl's discarded guns.
Barnett of Vandread does this to at least five different weapons of the course of an episode, since she does have to keep firing constantly, or risk being overrun. However, as the end of the episode she gets very cheesed off that she can't recover the weapons, since they're incredibly rare in this time period.
In the original Mobile Suit Gundam, Amuro had a tendency to toss away the beam rifle when it expended its ammo, but this is justified since it could only be recharged on the ship. In later series, smaller, magazine-style energy packs for the beam rifles are introduced allowing them to be reloaded on the fly & this trope becomes much less prevalent.
Mobile Suit Gundam 0080: War in the Pocket's Kämpfer carries two of each of its main weapons because they also can't be reloaded in the field. Wing Gundam, and Gundam Heavyarms in Gundam Wing both tend to drop their buster rifle/gattling gun respectively when they run dry on ammo. In this case it's explained though. Wing has no storage area for its rifle and uses the same hand for its beam sword so it needs to drop it whenever Heero wants to engage someone in melee combat. Likewise Trowa won't compensate the balance for Heavyarm's large gatling gun, so dropping it gives him a significant speed and handling boost. Zechs and Trieze also detach the Tallgeese's dober gun when they are dueling someone, despite it being arm mounted and thus not going to get in the way of wielding the saber, presumably so they aren't tempted to use a "dishonorable" weapon in their "honorable" duel.
Black Lagoon: In a gunfight on the Cool Boat Revy throws a gun at a mook when it run out of ammo. Eda lampshades this by asking if Revy is made of money. Both the mook and the gun probably end up in the ocean.
Golgo13 does this on occasion, mainly because if he gets rid of the gun he just used to kill somebody (In a way that the gun can't be found later), there's one less piece of evidence that can be used to prove he was the killer.
In Gotham Central, Detective Romy Chandler blames Batman for the death of her partner, Detective Nate Patton. When she and her new partner stumble upon Batman interrogating the Penguin, she draws her gun and fires. Batman survives, but he takes her gun and vanishes from the room. Reality Ensues as the fact that a police officer has lost her gun, after shooting Batman on top of everything, becomes a matter of great concern for her and the police department at large, especially when another detective slips and accidentally mentions the theft to their captain. Thankfully, before it can spin too far out of control Robin returns the gun, passing along the message that Chandler should not shoot Batman again.
Supergirl mocks someone who tries this on her by briefly collapsing to the floor as though the empty gun had knocked her out, after the contents of the gun had already been emptied at her without result.
MAD did a Peanuts parody of sorts telling about the Red Baron's encounters with Snoopy from the Baron's viewpoint. He came back from one flight grumbling that he'd emptied his plane's machineguns at "the Beagelhund" (yes, it's not correct German), then emptied his pistol, then threw the pistol. "He fetched it!"
Used a few times in The Matrix, since the dozens of guns abandoned were conjured up from computer code, and vanish without a trace when the programmed reality is "reformatted". Neo and Trinity plan on doing this during their raid, since they correctly figured there would be no time to reload.
The zombie horror/comedy Undead hangs a giant neon lampshade on this. The Bad Ass never reloads, instead whipping out a fresh pair of pistols after every barrage, to the point of ridiculousness. This goes unmentioned until he spends several minutes naked, finds new clothing in a thrift store, and at the first sight of zombies, whips two Desert Eagles out of Hammerspace, prompting another character to ask, "Where've you been keeping them, then?"
In The Boondock Saints, Il Duce challenges all three saints to a firefight while wearing a waistcoat with six handguns. Each time a pair of handguns runs out of ammo he just drops them and pulls out another pair. The cops investigating after the fact are Wrong Genre Savvy and reasonably assume that it had to be at least six guys with guns.
In the opening battle at Hamunaptra, O'Connell fires Guns Akimbo at a number of bad guys. He runs out of bullets...then drops the pistols, draws two more from their holsters, and keeps firing. The French service revolvers he was using were loaded via a gate at the back of the cylinder, like a Colt Single Action Army revolver, requiring much more time to reload than even modern revolvers.
Someone runs out of bullets shooting Imhotep and then throws their gun at Imhotep. Like that's any more likely to work than the actual bullets that didn't work?
Johnathan uses O'Connell's revolvers during the mummy fight and tosses the empty revolvers at them with no effect.
Justified in the final chase scene of The Last of the Mohicans (the 1992 film starring Daniel Day-Lewis) when Hawkeye fires, throws away and picks up rifles in succession, since these are single shot and take too long to reload. Further, it's enemy rifles he's using after they've killed their owners who failed to shoot back as he and Chingachgook hunt down the Big Bad.
Parodied in the 1985 comedy/adventure film adaptation of King Solomon's Mines. The female character throws a gun at the villain; he shouts: "Thank you!" and uses it to blast away at her.
Unforgiven: Clyde carries three guns because he only has one hand, which makes reloading impossible for him. "I just don't wanna get killed for lack of shootin' back." In the final shootout, William Munny throws his shotgun at Little Bill after it misfires with its second and final shot. When Bill instinctively tries to block it, doing so interferes with him drawing his pistol. By the time Bill recovers, Munny already has his pistol out and gets off a round at Little Bill.
Played straight, then lampshaded, then inverted in Grosse Pointe Blank - Martin Blank and rival hitman Grocer end up in a Mexican Standoff across a kitchen counter, only to find that they're both empty. They toss their guns away, and Grocer pulls out a fresh one while teasing Blank when it's apparent that he's all out - "So, what are you gonna do? You gonna THROW that gun at me? How 'bout this? How 'bout I sell you a piece for a hundred Gs?" Grocer tosses a loaded gun past Blank's cover and jumps out to shoot him only for Blank to smash his head with a nearby television and electrocute him.
John McClane did this several times in the first Die Hard movie.
Jason Bourne in The Bourne Series frequently breaks apart and discards weapons he's used, including the hunting shotgun in the first film and the handgun in the third film's Waterloo Station fight, presumably to prevent people using them against him and/or delay forensics by, what, a half-hour?
In Joss Whedon's original script for Alien: Resurrection, one of the smugglers was supposed to carry plastic guns that were made to be disposable. In his final Last Stand, he was supposed to eject a number of pistols from his sleeves and discard them as they ran out of ammo. None of this made it into the final film.
Tremors: when a giant man-eating Sand Worm breaks into the basement of the Crazy Survivalist and his wife, they seize one firearm after another from their Wall of Weapons and blast away at the creature, which is only a few feet away — sometimes reloading, but other times tossing the gun aside and grabbing a more powerful weapon. At all other times in the movie the two show proper weapons handling.
The Naked Gun goes even further than its TV predecessor, Police Squad!. When someone runs out of ammo during a shoot-out, they toss their empty handgun at the opponent. Police and baddies keep emptying their guns at the same time...
Defendor: The only time Defender carries a gun into a battle he ends up just throwing it and knocking someone senseless.
The title character in Big Jake does this at one point, but it is probably justified- out of ammo, he was aiming for his assailant, hoping to slow him down in a life-or-death situation and thereby buy himself enough time to finish the guy off. He would have been easily able to retrieve the gun, once the assailant had been dispatched.
In Wanted, Wesley does this, during his major assault on the bad guy headquarters. Why reload your gun when you can take the guns from your dead enemies?
Possibly parodied in the original The Blob, when a four-year-old boy "shoots" the Blob Monster repeatedly with a cap pistol and then throws the toy gun away. Presumably he'd seen this trope in action on Superman shorts and cowboy flicks...
Sgt. Horvath in Saving Private Ryan. He and a German soldier point their rifles at each other point blank, and both are empty. In a moment of Black Comedy they both drop their rifles and throw their helmets at each other, then start racing to unholster their pistols. Horvath wins... then gets shot by unseen assailants, then throws his gun at the guy he already killed.
An odd example occurs in Billy the Kid vs. Dracula. The vampire proves immune to bullets, walking forward slowly while the shots apparently pass through him. Billy then hurls his revolver into his face, promptly knocking the vampire on his ass.
Staff Sgt Nantz in Battle: Los Angeles runs out of ammunition for his automatic rifle while chasing retreating aliens and reflexively tosses it aside, draws his pistol and keeps on firing.
Averted in the opening Car Chase of The Transporter when a French policeman empties his revolver after the protagonist's rapidly-departing car. The cop is about to throw down his gun in frustration when he realises what he's doing...and throws down his cap instead. The trope is played straight in later scenes though.
Done justifiably by Buster Kilrain in Gettysburg. His wounded arm made it difficult for him to reload a rifle (And they were running out of bullets anyway), so he went up and down the line, grabbing rifles from the fallen, checking if they were loaded, and if they were, firing it before dropping the gun and looking for a new one.
In Wreck-It Ralph, Calhoun throws her guns at some approaching Cy-Bugs after she runs out of ammo.
In John Carpenter's The Thing while demolishing the vehicles and radio equipment, Blair uses a revolver to try and keep the other men from stopping him. After getting off a few rounds (none of which hit) he throws the gun at one of the men (and also misses). This is justified by the fact that he was under a lot of stress and not quite thinking straight.
The Dresden Files has Kincaid, who claims to be a perfectly normal hired mercenarynote he's actually— probably— half-demon; at least, he's written up that way in the RPG who's just very, very good at his job. In Death Masks, he produces a golf-bag full of double-barreled shotguns which he discards after firing one shell through each barrel, because said rounds are Dragon's Breath rounds, which fire a 20 foot plume of flame. He explains that this is hot enough to melt the barrel, so he can't shoot more than one through any given shotgun or else they'd explode. This is why those rounds aren't used very much in real life.
Averted in the Jerry Ahern novel The Takers when the protagonist (an action novelist and gunwriter) is told to throw down his guns, he quotes from a Western. "I won't throw down my weapons, I'll set them down."
Uther Doul in China Miéville's The Scar actually manages to use this effectively. He can throw an empty flintlock with enough force and accuracy to kill someone.
In Tim Powers' On Stranger Tides, Hurwood assists the pirate attack by firing one pistol after another, pulling the guns from bandoleers and dropping them after use. Justified because Hurwood has only one arm and would be slowed down immensely if he paused to re-holster each weapon.
Justified in The Godfather. Michael Corleone is given a untraceable, unfingerprintable revolver and is told to just drop it next to the dead bodies. The reasoning is that, if Michael is caught at the scene, the mafia will be able to "fix" any eyewitnesses so that Michael can say he was just at the scene. However, there's nothing they can do if the murder weapon is found in his pocket.
In The Shadow pulps, the Shadow is terrible about tossing away his automatics whenever they're empty. One reviewer speculated that the hundreds of empty handguns left by the vigilante might be the cause of New York's gun problem.
Live Action TV
Lampooned in an episode of Police Squad!, where both the cops and the villains throw their guns away after they run out of bullets in a shoot-out — and someone gets clonked on the head by a thrown gun, because both sides were only about six feet apart. In a different episode, once the gun-throwing starts, both sides suddenly have a large supply of empty firearms to keep tossing, which still make the *BANG!* sound effect when heaved.
Farscape. Crichton throws away his second pulse pistol after it too shortly runs out of oil (bullets) in the groups escape from the Peacekeepers on Arnessk.
While aboard a hijacked freighter crossing the Great Lakes Chicago cop Ray asks Mountie Benton to grab the gun of a knocked-out hijacker. Benton refuses because he isn't permitted to fire a gun in American waters, but Ray tells him "You don't have to use it, just carry it." Later, confronting another one of the hijackers, Benton disables him by throwing the same gun at his head. Ray responds, "You shoot a gun. Who in the hell throws a gun?"
Once they cross over into Canadian territorial waters, Ray tosses his gun to Fraser, who is a much better shot.
On The Bridge when a cop is assaulted and his gun taken, the protagonists pull out all the stops to find it since the cop would be in major trouble if the gun is used in a crime.
In the Firefly episode "War Stories", Zoe tells Wash "Six shots, then throw it away." as she hands him a pistol. Her husband is however inexperienced with firearms, so it would probably make more sense than teaching him to load in the short time they have.
In Married... with Children, Al makes fun of a Superman movie he is watching, calling the random mook an idiot when he throws his gun at Superman just after all of the bullets bounced off him.
Lampshaded in an episode of How I Met Your Mother, Robin goes to a shooting range to cool off after breaking up with Barney. She is shown violently shooting at her target and once out of bullets, she actually throws the gun.
Averted in The Walking Dead as guns and ammunition are both rare and invaluable in a Zombie Apocalypse scenario. However there have been a few exceptions where weapons have not been seen again due to unspecified reasons.
In the second episode of Garth Marenghis Darkplace, Animate Inanimate Objectsstart attacking everyone, and Sanchez pulls out his gun and shoots the floating objects down. Then his gun tries to wrench itself around to shoot him, so he throws it to the ground, stomps on it, pulls out a second pistol, and starts shooting the first gun with it. Then he throws the second gun at one of the floating objects, and it spins around in midflight to chase after him.
Played with on Sleepy Hollow. Abby gives Ichabod Crane one of her guns and after firing one shot he drops the gun. She pick the gun back up and angrily asks why he did something so stupid. Crane is from 1781 and no one has explained to him that modern firearms are capable of firing multiple shots without reloading. After firing what he thought was his only shot, he dropped the gun to look for something more substantial to use as a melee weapon.
In Modesty Blaise, Willie "couldn't hit Venice with a pistol" but still managed to take down a bad guy with one - by throwing it.
Primary fare for any Beat 'em Up game that has guns. Of course, when your lead pipe can run out of ammo, you can bet guns are especially disposable.
In Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag Edward Kenway does this with his pistols in the cinematic trailers. Justified by the type of pistol (single-shot muzzle-loaders), so it's easier to just toss them. It's impossible to actually do this in-game, however, since you can't discard any of your pistols.
Characters in Xenophobe can only carry one gun, so discarding your gun for a better one is important. Oddly though, you want to remember where your old gun was because guns have a tendency to explode when dropped and you might want to go back for your old one. In some versions you also get points for dropping your gun, which can lead to repeatedly dropping many guns until they explode!
In the Metal Slug series of games your character ditches special weapons when the clip empties, reverting to your starting pistol.
The few firearms available in the Dead Rising games are discarded when the fairly generous ammo runs out. Fortunately, you can fill your inventory with guns so the fun doesn't have to stop.
You can do this with the ray guns in the Super Smash Bros. games along with the Super Scope and any other item. You can't reload then, but if you hit your opponents with them, it does damage.
One cutscene in Mass Effect 1 has Saren tossing aside his assault rifle and approaching to attempt to strangle Shepard. Other than that one scene, though, nobody ever drops a gun in the entire saga. The inventory mechanics require you to have one of every type of gun you can use (in the second game) or one of every type (even if you can't use it, in the first game) equipped.
Mass Effect 3 makes heavy weapons into pickups placed on the map rather than something Shepard carries on his/her back as in Mass Effect 2. The heavy weapon replaces your equipped one until its ammo is expended, then Shepard drops it and goes back to the previous weapon.
The Area 51 FPS and The Darkness use this in one of the circumstances where it's actually a realistic response — when using Guns Akimbo. Reloading two weapons at once is clumsy at best and impossible at worst, so the empty weapon really is just dead weight (though the realism of guns akimbo in the first place is specious at best). Although, in The Darkness, Jackie keeps hold of one pair of pistols, the custom ones that were given to him at the start of the game as a birthday present. They're always the last pair of guns he pulls out, so he must hang on to them and reload them at some point.
In the Halo series, most Covenant energy weapons run from a power cell which Humanity does not know how to recharge or replace. This leads to swapping guns with your dead enemies as a necessity, even sifting through the bodies to find the best one. The collector's edition for Halo 2 reveals that the Covenant themselves don't know how to recharge the power cells in the field, either, and that they're actually trained to drop empty weapons and grab fresh ones from dead allies.
Marathon has the alien weapon, which is new to humanity. You can't even tell how much ammo you have, let alone reload.
Condemned takes it one notch further: it's an FPS that doesn't have a reload key. Once a gun is emptied, it is promptly and automatically discarded. Even though you may wind up with one gun with 4 bullets in it in your inventory and another one with 3 on the ground, there is no way to top the first off with the ammo from the second (especially weird considering you can take the magazine out to visually note how many more bullets are in it). That also goes for shotguns. Thus, the CSI protagonist mostly relies on braining people with 2x4s, rebars, and lead pipes. The sequel allows you to reload your current gun with the ammunition from the weapon on the ground and in safes.
Jurassic Park: Trespasser explains its non-reloadable as the heroine having a broken left arm. How she is able to fire an assault rifle on full auto one-handed, especially with any semblance of accuracy, is not.
In Mirror's Edge, using a gun is not really the best way to play. Runners, like the player character Faith, use their agility and acrobatics to fend off attack. When carrying a gun, Faith's agility is hampered, depending on the gun size and handedness. A pistol retains your use of both hands (to climb and vault) but mildly hampers your acceleration and jump. Anything larger than that, like a rifle, does kill your ability to jump and vault and wallrun, and your max running speed is completely nuked. An M249 machine gun is the worst - you're forced to walk and you jump like a Goomba, if at all.
Played straight and subverted in MDK 2 with Max the four armed dog throwing away most of this weapons once he runs out of ammo, luckily there is always a good supply of guns lying around. Subverted as Max has four weak guns with unlimited ammo which never leaves his hands, unless he dies.
Karen's higher level Flash Drives in Luminous Arc 2 consist in emptying a pistol, two uzis and a bazooka upon the target, discarding them once they click empty.
In Dead to Rights, protagonist Jack apparently dislikes reloading guns. He can max out his ammo by picking up more of the same gun, but instead of putting in a new clip, in true Hong Kong action style, he'll throw away his guns and pull out two new ones. If he's using a two-handed weapon like a shotgun or a submachine gun, he'll reload that, however. This is at least partially justified, however, as every enemy in the game will eventually shoot at him, and it's presumably easier for him to just throw away his gun and pick up another. Or violently disarm some guy and kill him with his own gun.
Nick Kang in True Crime: Streets of LA. can fire all Guns Akimbo, but throws them away at the drop of a hat; when entering a car, when entering a building, when attempting to holster. He always returns to his issue sidearms, which are also wielded akimbo, have unlimited ammo, and can get upgraded to deadly enough power to make the other guns superfluous.
The guns in BloodRayne just offer another variation for killing, and are discarded by Rayne as soon as they're empty, or when other guns are picked up.
Used and subverted in Die Hard Arcade. If one of the players runs out of ammo for a gun, they'll either reload it if they have another magazine, or throw it at the enemies if they don't. Oddly enough, players can carry only two pistols (no Guns Akimbo here, though - they'll just draw the second gun when the first gun runs out) and as many magazines as they can find. Not only that, if they die, a gun falls out of their body at the continue screen.
In Scribblenauts, any weapon you create will have 1 to 5 shots, after which Maxwell will throw them to the ground... where they then turn into a puff of smoke.
Alex Mercer from Prototype doesn't bother holding onto reloads for the guns he pilfers from the military, tossing the firearms away instead.
Bayonetta goes through a casket full of guns in a single cutscene. She sticks with the final pair of magical guns for the rest of the battle because she can use her magic to give them infinite ammo.
Modern Warfare has an example of this if you use cheats - when you're supposed to shoot Zakhaev at the very end, he will attempt to shoot back at you with his Desert Eagle. If you use god mode to survive his shots, after he fires seven times he'll drop the gun and pull out another one. Another seven shots from that, he drops it too, and then pulls out an M1911 with infinite ammo instead.
In the World War II-based games in the Call of Duty series, the player is often forced to drop whatever weapons he started levels with for German ones simply because, with rare exceptions, there's no way to replenish the ammo for the former without actively letting your allies die.
Sengoku Basara has Saika Magoichi, who wields pistols, magnums, shotguns, machineguns, and rocket launchers. After some of her moves, she throws some of the weapons away (dealing damage to enemies if they're close enough!) and pulls out fresh ones to use. Even in the post-victory cutscene, you can see tons of discarded guns lying around.
Zeno Clash: Weapons are quite situational, and often it's a viable tactic to throw whatever you're holding at your foes instead, staggering them briefly and dealing a small amount of damage.
Done in the 3D Grand Theft Auto games. As long as you have at least 1 bullet left, you keep the gun, but once you have no ammo you throw it away. This causes some annoyance if you want to buy more ammo, as you'll have to fork out for a new gun as well, though most of the time ammo is plentiful anyway.
Tediore guns in Borderlands 2 are an interesting case. These guns are "cheap, plastic pieces of crap" that are thrown away rather than reloaded (with a fresh version of the same gun digistructed into your hands afterwards, of course). You can also throw them at enemies when they aren't out of ammo (though not with a full magazine), in which case they'll explode on impact and deal damage depending on how much ammo is left in the magazine.
Throwing your gun always works in Hotline Miami. Thrown guns knock down any mooks hit by them, and can even continue their flight to knock over multiple enemies.
Jagged Alliance 2 averts this one in theory, as it's possible to have your characters try and clear the jam, but it's surprisingly difficult to do so and each failed attempt costs Action Points. In practice, you're usually better off switching to another weapon until the end of combat and patching it up afterwards. Reloading also takes more Action Points than just drawing your sidearm instead, but limited inventory space and the shortage of truly ambidextrous mercs make going the full Heroic Bloodshed route Awesome, but Impractical.
Just Cause 2 plays with this trope a bit in it's basic mechanics. When a gun runs out of ammo, if there is no other guns of the same type lying around, it is easier to pick up one of the other types of guns. Which drops your current gun. Similarly, there is NEVER ammo for any of the DLC special weapons, so once you are out of ammo, you either have to call in a weapon drop for it again, or toss it for something else in the area. The irony of tossing weapons comes in the form of the "mounted gun" which can be unmounted and carried around. It is "heavy" so you cannot run or jump while wielding it, but it has infinite ammo and can destroy everything you fire it at! The only reason not to have it all the time is that you can't bring it with you... so you might as well drop it when moving on.
Team Fortress 2 has a Throw Away Weak Turret Gun. The Combat Mini-Sentry is a Fun Size version of the standard Sentry Gun, albeit unable to be upgraded or repaired. It also costs more metal to reload an empty Mini-Sentry than to just destroy the extant gun and build a new one. Once heavily damaged or emptied of ammo, it is always better off destroyed or left as a decoy than tended to and reloaded, unlike the standard Sentry Gun. Seeing as how Sentries are effectively the primary weapon for The Engineer, this means that he is therefore constantly throwing down, then throwing away scores of small automated guns.
In Deus Ex there is a small disposable plasma gun called the PS 20. Intended as a stealth gun with its small profile, the size of the gun limits it to a single shot, and only one can be carried at a time.
Another which appears in The Adventures of Dr. McNinja. When the titular doctor confronts Franz Rayner, Rayner opens the battle by firing a full magazine at the Doc. When the Doc dodges all the bullets, he throws the gun— as a distraction, considering the next panel is the Doc getting punched in the face.
Hank in Madness Combat tends to go through guns and ammo at an amazing rate. This never holds him up too badly, though, since he resupplies himself from slain Mooks. For some reason, he prefers to take the least-sensible weapons available - given one dead mook with an axe and another with a never-fired AK-47, he'll take the axe.
Why does he not take the gun when given the choice between that and an axe? Because he's a Bad Ass, that's why.
In the Æon Flux short "Tide," a character tries to shoot Aeon, before realizing she has no bullets. In desperation, she throws the gun. It works. Peter Chung designed that bit to see an instance where it actually was effective.
Elisa in Gargoyles is lucky she's a detective who (as is often the case in the U.S.) is allowed to use her own personal firearm and not a standard issue one supplied by the department. Otherwise, she'd have to awkwardly explain the loss/destruction of at least three of them to angry superiors in the NYPD over the course of the show.
Parodied in The Simpsons in which Comic Book Guy (playing a villain named The Collector) tries to shoot Bart (Stretch Dude) numerous times with a phaser. Bart is easily able to avoid all shots with his elasticity, but is taken down in a second when Collector throws the phaser.
In an earlier episode, Chief Wiggum was mad at what he was hearing on the tv, and misses three shots at it to turn it off. His wife tells him to use the remote (in his gun holster), but the channel he turns it to is even more infuriating, and he throws the gun at the tv and actually succeeds in breaking it.
An episode of Justice League Unlimited had Wonder Woman deflecting bullets from a common mook with her bracelets. When he goes to throw the gun at her, even after seeing not a single shot hit, she sarcastically says to him, "Oh yeah...like that's gonna work."
In the subplot of one episode of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (2002), Queen Marlena is ambushed by snakemen. Due to the technical problems that make up the main plot of the episode, her gun doesn't fire. Instead, she throws it at them... and it knocks one of them down.
In Stripperella, after Pushy Galore expended all of her ammunition, she proceeded to throw all SIX of her pistols (she's a genetic physicist with six arms) at Stripperella at once to deter her, but to no avail.
The full-round reloading time in Hong Kong Action Theatre seems designed to encourage this among players, since many Hong Kong action characters will dump their guns once they're out of bullets and either draw or grab new ones to continue the gunfight or turn the situation into a kung fu battle.
Seriously averted in Warhammer 40,000. No Guardsman would ever throw away their weapon unless it was too damaged to be usable. This is because Guard regulations state that losing one's weapon is a crime, potentially (And usually) punishable by summary execution. As a result of this, Guardsmen tend to take their rifles everywhere.
Unintentionally justified in "Inquisitor" where a space marine can throw his gun further and for more damage than if he had fired it.
BattleTech has a few examples of this. For one, quite a few battle armor suit designs carry disposable missile launchers (one-shot models or with a small number of reloads) that are generally jettisoned after use to no longer slow down the trooper(s); indeed, normally jump-capable Inner Sphere battle armors equipped with those are generally prohibited from jumping until the missiles are expended or the launchers ditched. Optional rules expand this to disposable packs for other weapon types and also introduce explicitly handheld weapons for BattleMechs, which allow a 'Mech to carry weapons it normally doesn't have installed but also usually encumber it and block some to all of its 'standard' weapons fire; these can be dropped and picked up again as the occasion demands.
Improvised firearms in general, such as zip guns, paltiks and paliuntods. They are usually either too impractical to re-load or too dangerous to use after a certain number of rounds shot because of the wear of the barrel and chamber. Often they are used only as initial weapons in order to rob or loot decent firearms.
The FP-45 Liberator and the Deer Gun were one-shot pistols designed to be mass-produced and distributed to freedom fighters. The idea was that you'd shoot a soldier and take his weapon to continue the fight.
The legend of Blackbeard (Real name Edward Teach) going into battle with half a dozen loaded guns on his belt may well have been true - but hardly uncommon. In the days of single-shot muzzle loading ball and powder pistols, it was quite common for gunfighters to wear bandoliers of preloaded guns in order to fend off numerous foes in heated firefights. This was done in order to avoid the lethally time-consuming (and unreliable) procedure of reloading one's pistols in the heat of combat. Sometimes combatants would tie the guns to their belts so that they were not completely lost when dropped.
Some rocket launchers are designed to be discarded after a single use: Panzerfaust, LAW, AT-4, FGM-148 Javelin, Miniman, Apilas, 66, KeS 75, 68, and 88, FIM-92 Stinger, and so on and so forth.
The Walther P38/P1 used by the German army from 1939 to 2000 was so infamous for its inaccuracy that soldiers said that its firepower was "eight warning shots and one aimed throw."
Instructors sent to train the Afghan National Army have reported that even supposedly experienced men were all too prone to respond to a jammed weapon by throwing it away and looking for a replacement - and running away if one was not forthcoming.
Contrary to portrayals in movies such as Enemy at the Gates, the Soviets at the Battle of Stalingrad did not have weapon shortages. Quite the opposite, in fact: while weapons were plentiful, ammunition was scarce, sometimes a mere 5 rounds per soldier. Once this ammunition was expended, it was not uncommon for the rifle to be abandoned.
From the same war, this was what lead to the Sten submachine gun's existence and the reason that it used the same bullets and magazines as the opposing MP40 - in mid-1940, British forces in the European theater were forced to make a hasty retreat back to their home territory, and left a lot of guns behind. While replacing their domestically-made Lee-Enfields and Bren guns would be no problem, their SMG of choice had primarily been American-made .45 Thompsons, which would have been much harder to replace as America was gearing up for war themselves, and the only pistol-sized rounds manufactured in Britain before then were rimmed revolver cartridges that couldn't have been used in an automatic design at all. In comparison, 9x19mm ammo was abundant after forces in the African theater managed to capture several million rounds of it from surrendering Italian forces.
A slight variation of this in real life is called the "tactical transition", where a shooter allows their primary weapon (such as a carbine) drop while wearing a sling and immediately switches to their pistol. They are not discarding their primary weapon as it is still hanging from them by their sling. This is only really used when someone absolutely needs to keep shooting immediately (such as covering a buddy while he is in mid-reload.) Example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k9tAaTf7RM8&feature=related (first 10 seconds or so)
It's been reported that Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the older of the Boston Marathon bombers, threw his gun at the police after running out of ammunition.
The Scottish tactic known as Highland charge involved running at the enemy really fast, shooting muskets at 60 yards while on the run (mostly to create a smoke screen rather than hit anything) then drop the musket to switch to a Claymore.