MetroidPeter on Nov 13th 2017 at 8:27:00 AM
Last Edited By:
MetroidPeter on Jun 19th 2018 at 12:19:28 PM
Page Type: trope
A character (usually the hero) is being chased by an armed gunman (usually the villain). After some time of chasing, shooting, and loads of property damage, the gunman corners them. There's nowhere left for the character to run, and they cower in fear as the gunman lines their sights (possibly after reloading) with their target's head, and pulls the trigger.
Nothing. Not even a misfire. The shooter's gun runs out of ammunition right when they can get the killing shot.
This can represent the shooter's recklessness, especially if they've been shooting wildly & destroying all sorts of items & scenery in their efforts to kill the hero without paying any attention to the state of their firearm. However, this is not a case of Reckless Gun Usage as that concerns people unfamiliar with firearms, while this is about characters that are. This is a nice aversion of Bottomless Magazines. This isn't to be confused with Where's the Kaboom?, as that is for explosive devices, while this is specifically for guns.
It's not enough for a character's gun to run out at any point for it to count. The gun has to run out when it having ammo would allow the shooter to kill the target with a well placed shot. This is why it's dramatic for the gun to fail at the one point they need them most. It's very rare for the audience to know that the weapon has no ammo, but the characters don't, but it's not unheard of.
The inverse is Counting Bullets, where the hero counts how many shots the villain has fired and specifically analyzes the situation to their advantage. This is different from that trope in regards to the fact that in the heat of the moment, most characters can't be bothered to try to analyze such a hectic situation like that. Even then, if the villain isn't counting, and runs out at the last moment, it's an example of this trope, not Counting Bullets. Because the villain is not counting.
This is more often than not done with villains, but examples of this happening to heroes exist.
A variation of this is It Works Better with Bullets, where another character deliberately invokes this by removing the bullets from the gun beforehand, or takes another step to make the gun inoperable. A Subtrope of Reliably Unreliable Guns. See also Convenient Misfire.
- Ratatouille: When Remi and Emile are discovered by the old lady in the film's opening scene, she goes for the most extreme form of pest control available: a pump action shotgun. She shoots the rats several times but misses, and when Emile is helplessly dangling from the ceiling lamp, she gets a clear shot as he cowers. She pulls the trigger, and nothing happens. However, she remembers to reload.
- Deadpool: During a shootout on a highway, one of the bad guys starts shooting at Deadpool with their rifle after he peeks his head out from behind a car. He shoots at him all the way until he runs up to Deadpool afterwards and takes aim, only to discover that he emptied his clip on the car. Deadpool points out his stupidity and promptly shoots him in the head.
Deadpool: Someone's not counting.
- Jumanji: The ruthless hunter Van Pelt chases the protagonist out of their home after he is summoned from the game with a large lever action shotgun. After some chasing, and even attacking a police officer, Van Pelt lines up a good shot on the protagonist, but has already used his last shotgun blast.
- Back to the Future: After one of the Lybian terrorists guns down Doc Brown, they try to shoot Marty next, only for their gun to not fire. It's not clear whether the gun jammed or it was out of ammo, or both.
- Terminator 2: Judgment Day has a heroic example. Sarah Connor keeps blasting the T-1000 with a shotgun, pushing it towards the edge of a ledge above a pool of molten metal. However just as the T-1000 is about to fall off, Sarah runs out of ammo. The T-1000 heals up his wounds and starts taunting Sarah, before the T-800 arrives and blows it off the edge using a grenade launcher.
- Full Metal Jacket: In the climax at 'Nam, James "Joker" Davis searches for a Viet Cong sniper that killed several of his squad members. After some sneaking through a burning building, he finds the sniper, and points his rifle at their head. He realizes far too late that his gun is jammed when it clicks and alerts the sniper to his presence.
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets plays with this at the beginning of the climax with Ron's wand of all things. Professor Lockhart tries to use Ron's wand to wipe Ron & Harry's memories, completely unaware that the wand is damaged. It backfires, and wipes his memories instead. This is one of the few examples that involves Dramatic Irony.
- Heavy Rain: During the fourth trial, the shark, Ethan Mars has to break into a man's home to kill him. Said man turns out to be an armed drug dealer. After he refuses to leave, the drug dealer punches him, pulls out a shotgun, and tries to kill Ethan with it. He chases him around the apartment destroying many of his own valuables, and corners him into a bedroom. He lines up the shot and pulls the trigger, but nothing happens.
- In Life Is Strange's second episode, there's a scene where Chloe practises with a gun she stole from her step father in the junk yard. She hands the gun to Max to try, when Frank (a drug dealer who Chloe owes a lot of money to) shows up and begins threatening the girls with a knife, causing Max to point the gun at him (giving the player a choice of whether or not to shoot at him). If you decide to shoot, it will turn out that Chloe had already used up all the bullets (but the fact Max was willing to pull the trigger is enough to scare Frank off and impress Chloe).
- The Last of Us
- Exploited in the first game: While Joel or Ellie will start panicking if you run out of ammunition, it's possible to make other hunters try to come closer to you if they hear the clicking of an empty gun. Cue Ellie tossing a brick at them and giving you the opportunity to close in for a Finishing Move.
- In the trailer for The Last of Us Part II, the antagonist has a revolver & pulls it out when she has one of the protagonists cornered. She hears noises coming from the forest & fires a few shots. When the other protagonist tries to attack her, she fires again but misses as the first protagonist grabs her and pins her down. She tries to fire at the first protagonist, but the revolver is out of ammo.
- Due to the nature of the game, it's entirely possible to have this happen to YOU in Receiver. You don't have a magic link to your gun that tells you how much ammo you have in your magazine. If you don't keep track of your bullets, it's your fault if you cause a flying taser bot to close in on you by shooting it and your clip is suddenly empty. There's also the fact that you possibly didn't cock the hammer, or turned the safety off, or didn't check to see if there was even a round in the chamber at all.
- In Death Battle: Robocop VS Terminator: Terminator starts firing at Robocop with a powerful shotgun repeatedly as he approaches. When he finally aims the killing shot at his head, he's out of shells. Robocop provides the page quote.
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