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Artistic License Gun Safety / Live-Action TV

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Artistic License – Gun Safety in live-action TV.

  • The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.: The show actually averts this, or at least shows the consequences of this trope with regards of Pistol-Whipping, in one episode where Brisco is tussling with a bad guy, and the Girl of the Week wants to help, grabs a nearby pistol by the barrel and is about to hit the bad guy before Brisco stops her. He beats up the bad guy himself, then demonstrates that fact that if the woman had struck someone with the butt of the loaded flintlock pistol, it would've gone off. Directly into her.
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  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: While Fitz is displaying the new guns he's created for the team, Ward and May are currently checking them over. Both Ward and May noticeably keep their fingers off the trigger while keeping Fitz out of the line of fire. At one point Fitz picks up a Shotgun variant. With the barrel pointed at May. May gives him a Death Glare, and Fitz hurriedly apologises and puts it down.
  • The Andy Griffith Show:
    • Andy always makes Barney unload his pistol and only allows him one bullet which he keeps in his pocket. He routinely defies Andy and ends up shooting the gun into the floor or ceiling. Why Andy even lets him have the gun is anyone's guess.
    • In one episode, Andy boldly faces down a criminal who has stolen Barney's gun and is threatening Opie and Aunt Bee with it. After disarming him he laughingly explains that Barney's gun doesn't have the one bullet in it, and to demonstrate he pulls the trigger—Bang! Turns out the gun was loaded after all, and Andy is badly shaken to realize how much danger everyone was actually in.
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  • Ash vs. Evil Dead has a notable scene where Kelly uses the barrel of a shotgun as a bong, filling it with smoke at the receiver end and putting the muzzle in her mouths. Pablo gives her a look that expresses how patently stupid this is. Justified as she's demonically possessed at this point, hoping to trick him into trying it so she can blast him.
  • A second season episode of The A-Team features a sequence where Hannibal Smith attempts to help defend a young woman and her son against a prison escapee invading their home. Hannibal's way of telling the woman to lock the front door of the house is to gesture with his loaded shotgun in an enclosed environment, pointing it directly at her. Both the character Hannibal Smith and the actor that played him, George Peppard, are veterans of the U.S. armed forces.
  • Band of Brothers:
    • Captain Sobel is asked to leave three "wounded men" on the ground after he gets his platoon "killed" in an exercise. Sobel nominates the men by pointing his service pistol at them, with his finger on the trigger. Presumably, he knew the gun was unloaded, or that the safety was on, but this still breaks one of the cardinal rules of gun safety — namely, a gun is always loaded, especially when it isn't. Given the amount of Shown Their Work in the series, and that the other (competent) soldiers in Easy Company follow proper gun safety (such as it was back then), this is likely intentional, to further demonstrate that Sobel is unfit for command. Sobel's lack of trigger discipline is rather endemic in that episode. Pretty much any time he's shown during field exercises, he has his .45 in his hand and his finger on the trigger — especially if he's just shouted, "Hi-ho, Silver!"
    • Later in the series, poor Hoobler, who accidentally shoots himself in the leg due to storing a Luger pistol in his pocket instead of a holster.
  • Blue Bloods:
    • An early episode has Frank use a "Fitz special". This is a snubnose revolver with the trigger guard partly cut away — a fairly popular (allegedly speed-enhancing) modification decades ago when all cops carried revolvers. There's nothing to stop fingers and other objects from touching the trigger, it's easy to impale your finger on the cut end of the guard, and the remnant of the guard could get bent so as to lock the trigger in place, making the gun useless when needed. NOT recommended, and surprising to see in the hands of an experienced shooter like Tom Selleck. In-universe, it's explained as sentimentalism: that gun was used by Henry's father, then passed to Henry, to then gave it to Frank, who likes carrying his dad's gun (despite Henry's advice that he really should use a Glock instead).
    • In "The Price of Justice", Jamie and Edie are on loan to the NYPD Movie and TV Unit, working security for a Rizzoli & Isles-esque cop show being filmed in New York. The show's police technical consultant, however, seems to be making mistakes by having the cops in the show do things that no real cop would do, such as having the leads draw their guns on a perp from the sides, in such a way that the leads have each other in their line of fire. Turns out the consultant is lying about his credentials, as his only law enforcement experience being as a mall security guard.
  • Bones
    • In one of the Valentine episodes, FBI agent Booth waves an unloaded machine gun at his partner. Yes, unloaded but this is still completely wrong. Bonus fun; this happens in the gun range.
    • The show sometimes averts this or at least shows the consequences of this trope. Another episode has Bones using a giant revolver that Booth notes is too big for her (she has very little experience with firearms), and uses it to shoot off a lock. The bullet bounces off and hits Booth in the leg.
    • And another episode averts it by showing that when Booth comes home after work, he first unloads his sidearm, then locks gun and magazine up in a safe.
    • In the pilot, Bones shoots a suspect into the leg with a gun to prevent him from burning the evidence. In a later episode, she keeps applying for a gun permit, only for Booth to consistently decline it for that particular incident.
  • A case of dangerous misinformation rather than implausible behavior — in Bron|Broen a gangster intimidates a victim by forcing him to play Russian Roulette with a revolver containing what turns out to be a blank cartridge. The cartridge goes off leaving the victim terrified but uninjured. In reality, firing a blank cartridge into the side of your head at point-blank range would cause horrific burns at the very least, and quite possibly a skull fracture.
  • Burn Notice:
    • Michael Westen once while undercover: when racking the pistol given him by the Villain of the Week, Ruthless Modern Pirate Gerard, he "inadvertently" points it at the Villain, who immediately notices and forcefully shoves the barrel away from his face. But in this case it's an Invoked Trope: Michael is in character and his current cover ID is a dweeby civilian who one would expect to be unfamiliar with firearms. ("Jackson" even says he Doesn't Like Guns).
    • Burn Notice isn't entirely devoid of straight examples, unfortunately. When Michael gives Fiona a Soviet-issue Makarov pistol for her birthday, she points it in his direction. As prior examples point out, never do this regardless of whether the gun is loaded or not.
    • In another example of this played blatantly straight, the end of the episode "The Hunter" has Sam and Fiona come to Michael's rescue once again. Sam begins doing a number of very dangerous things. He begins waving his sidearm around, uses it to point out things, point at people including Michael and has his finger in the trigger guard the whole while. It's especially egregious because Sam is supposed to be a Ex-Navy SEAL, who of all people should know better not to use a Glock like a laser pointer. Even worse, none of the other characters present note  point this out.
  • Castle is a repeat and egregious offender. For one of the best cops in the NYPD, Beckett's sure got a problem with letting suspects and other miscellaneous madmen take her gun. Considering that police training takes avoidance of this scenario to an extreme (at least in the United States), it's a glaring plot hole that a competent homicide detective would lose her gun once, let alone the half-dozen or more times as of Season 6.
  • A new security camera is installed at Corner Gas. While no-one is in the store, Davis goes up to it and pretends he's auditioning for a movie role as a gravelly-voiced action hero or antihero, beginning by saying that he's posing with his TASER instead of a real gun, for safety, but still mocks the concern of others. Such concerns are proven valid as he tases himself in the hand.
  • Speedle on CSI: Miami shows appalling gun safety because he doesn't clean his gun. Notably, he gets into trouble with Internal Affairs the first time his gun jammed when he got into a shoot-out, and he didn't learn his lesson. Had he not been killed the second time, he would've had his gun taken away.
  • Daredevil (2015):
    • In "Rabbit in a Snowstorm", we see Turk Barrett's status as a shady firearms dealer in the sense that he is shown unloading a crate of guns that have been transported magazines-in.
    • Karen Page kills James Wesley by taking advantage of him leaving his loaded gun unattended and within arm's reach of her.
    • In "Dogs to a Gunfight", it's implied Frank Castle's shot to Matt's mask at the end of the previous episode was, in fact, a warning shot, not intended to kill. This "warning" shot knocked Matt out for hours, left him with severe disorientation and temporary deafness in between bouts of Sensory Overload, with a long-delayed Deadly Nosebleed, this isn't even justified in-story since Matt's clearly dealing with a major concussion.
  • Dead Like Me: Roxxy, a new police officer and grim reaper, who pulls a gun in a crowded restaurant on her fellow grim reaper Mason. While she initially does so as a way to try to make Mason shut up, she holds it pointed straight at him. Now, grim reapers may be Immune to Bullets, but everyone else at the restaurant isn't, and apparently, no one really cares that an officer is pointing a loaded firearm at another client of the restaurant. She then shoots Mason in the leg, which is not only insanely irresponsible but only draws startled glances from the patrons. Roxxy's behavior is only excused by the Rule of Funny.
  • Doctor Who:
    • A character in "The Dalek Invasion of Earth" points a gun at his own head as he unloads a magazine.
    • "Human Nature": When the boys are doing machine gun practice, they're using a .303 Vickers machine gun, which had a range of 4,500 yards. An outdoor firing range should always have a slope of earth or sand behind the targets to stop dead all bullets fired down the range. Not only is there no such slope behind the boys' targets, but we can see they're firing down into a valley full of buildings, well within the 4.5km (2.8mi) range of the gun, jeopardizing the lives of the villagers!
    • "The Sontaran Stratagem"/"The Poison Sky": The Sontarans use a "cordolane signal" that is said to render ordinary firearms useless by causing the copper jackets of the bullets to expand so they can't leave the barrel. In reality, such a malfunction often causes the affected weapon to explode; the stuck bullet denies the gases from the ignited gunpowder any safe exit, so they exit unsafely instead by bursting the chamber or barrel. Fortunately for the UNIT soldiers, here it just results in the same click you'd get from a dry fire.
    • "The Doctor's Daughter" has the Doctor hurling a loaded pistol, apparently with the safety off, in the direction of a crowd of people. He was pretty ticked off, as his clone-daughter had just been shot with it, but even though the Doctor Doesn't Like Guns, you think he'd know that throwing a loaded pistol around isn't a great idea. Indeed, the earlier "Daleks in Manhattan" showed the Doctor taking issue with Tallulah casually tossing a (fake, but he didn't know that) gun around. He is seriously considering shooting the person he points it at though, and it's something of an internal struggle to point the gun away.
  • On an episode of ER a husband and wife pair of dealers come to the hospital from a gun show where he got shot in the leg. The wife shows off the merchandise and tries to sell guns in the reception area, letting people handle non-functional samples. Desk clerk Jerry picks up a grenade launcher and at one point, "playfully" points it directly at the other receptionist, who yelps and ducks away. The wife laughs and assures her that it's perfectly safe because it isn't loaded,thus seeming to play this trope straight . . . just as Jerry pulls the trigger and fires a grenade into the parking lot, where it blows up an ambulance, completely averting it. The very fact that the husband was shot at the gun show already demonstrates incredible carelessness on their parts, and there's considerable Fridge Horror that Jerry would have killed the other clerk and likely other people had he pulled the trigger earlier, and could have killed people had that ambulance been occupied. Always assume a gun is loaded, even if you yourself just unloaded it, and never, ever point a gun at someone unless you intend to use it.
  • Evil (2019): The young incel who Leland is grooming accidentally shot himself when he foolishly pointed a gun at his own head with his finger on the trigger. Leland rants at his stupidity on hearing this.
  • Falling Skies has people walking with rifles on their backs, safeties off. Sure, most of these people are civilian militia but there are certainly enough career military types and reservists around to catch this. Especially considering the alacrity with which professional NCOs and officers tend to react to offenders.
  • FBI: In episode "The Lives of Others", the agents are moving in to arrest a suspect, all with their guns drawn. Most of them have their weapons lowered, the suspect isn't an immediate threat, but Agent Chazal (who it should be noted is new to field work) points her weapon directly at him despite Maggie and OA being in her line of fire. Her more experienced partner notices and quickly points this out, so she corrects it.
  • Firefly: In "Objects in Space", River apparently finds a fully loaded gun with no safety lying on the floor of the cargo bay. There's a scene later where Mal and Jayne are arguing about this, the gun is Jayne's but he insists he doesn't leave his guns lying around. It's left ambiguous whether he was merely lying here to save face, or if River (perhaps subconsciously) broke into his quarters and stole it. Since most of the scene in question takes place from River's perspective it is unclear how accurate it is.
    • Jayne is a skilled marksman who loves guns and probably knows the safety rules. He is also dangerously reckless and eager to ignore rules. Several times he is seen waving rifles around carelessly or even scratching his head with the barrel of a pistol.
  • The Flash (2014)
    • One episode has Cisco put together a demonstration of the new ice-resistant police shields at the CCPD precinct. He gathers the detectives and the police officers and starts walking around with the barrel of a liquid nitrogen sprayer pointed to the side. When he reaches Captain Singh, the Captain pushes the barrel down in annoyance. Justified since Cisco has probably never held a gun in his life. The only question is why no other cop has yelled at him earlier about this blatant violation.
    • A later episode has a police officer showing off their new meta-riot gear. When he gets to the tear gas launcher, he actively loads it. This gives the animated manikin a loaded weapon, but given that he was in a crowded police precinct with civilians and cops who were all in civilian clothes, it was completely irresponsible for him to load the weapon on the first place.
  • During a town meeting in the first season of Fortitude, set in a remote Arctic community where all residents are legally required to carry rifles in public in case of polar bear attacks,note  one extra shoots himself in the foot when he gets agitated about something. It's taken rather lightly and lampshaded soon after when the police chief reminds everyone that they must keep their safeties on.
  • Get Smart: The Gun Phone is by its very design impossible to use properly. Two guesses where the earpiece is and one of them doesn't count.
    Agent Smart: 99, I'm gonna have to hang up now. I may have to fire my phone.
  • To get the police out of the vehicle carrying the arrested robbers so they can get Catherine released in "Aloha kekahi i kekahi", the fourth-season premiere of Hawaii Five-0, Steve fires into the air twice, something a Navy SEAL should surely know is dangerous and reckless regardless of the situation.
  • How I Met Your Mother: Robin is a gun enthusiast who routinely loses her guns, accidentally points a gun at another character while making vague threats, and apparently goes to the shooting range while blackout drunk (a good way to get banned for life at a real range). This is because it isn't how she actually acts; it's how an uber-liberal, previously established Unreliable Narrator (Ted) thinks she acts.
  • Lampshaded in the Intelligence episode "Being Human". Gabriel needs a gun to deal with an assassin, and his mother digs this enormous .45 revolver out of the top drawer of her dresser. Gabriel is horrified. (Falls here instead of Reckless Gun Usage because Mom was in the Army, albeit a combat nurse.)
    Gabriel: You keep this in your dresser? Loaded?
  • Played for comedy in It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia:
    • In "Gun Fever," the gang buys a pistol. One scene after another demonstrates a laundry list of unsafe behaviors. In one scene, Mac waves the gun around while walking down an apartment hallway, finger on the trigger. He then points it at Dennis and pretends to shoot him, then drops it on the floor and almost trips on it. In disgust, Dennis rips the gun out of Mac's hands while it's still pointed at him.
    • A Running Gag has Frank always carrying a snub-nose revolver, which he whips out at the slightest provocation and points at people, fully cocked and with his finger on the trigger. The gang occasionally yank it out of his hand.
  • JAG:
    • Harm fires a loaded MP-5 during a trial in "Heroes". The key piece of evidence in the case was a submachine gun that allegedly failed to fire due to a malfunction. Harm proceeded to pick up the gun, which had evidently never been unloaded and fired it into the ceiling. This did get him an epic ass-chewing, and the judge would continue to hold this against Harm for at least 7 more seasons.
    • In another episode, a Marine Captain is being held prisoner by a street gang. The kid left guarding him is given a revolver by the gang leader. The Marine laughs and says that the only thing that gun would do is blow someone's hand off because the barrel's plugged with dirt. When the kid looks, the Captain sarcastically snaps that looking down the barrel of a loaded gun is "real smart". By the end of the episode, another gangster picks up that same pistol and tries to shoot the Captain, quipping "Be all that you can be!" before the gun promptly backfires.
  • Law & Order was usually quite good about gun safety. One episode dealt with an autistic boy prone to self-injury. He was in the holding cell when he started hitting his head against the wall. Detective Logan quickly hands his revolver, butt first, to Detective Briscoe for safekeeping before opening the cell and restraining the boy. When the boy goes wild, Detective Briscoe puts his own gun on his desk, as does Detective Profaci. This was all incidental and in the background.
    • Sometimes gun safety went right out the window, usually when a detective had had a really, really bad day—e.g. Det. Logan's partner was murdered and Logan puts the suspect on his knees with a gun to the back of his head. A confession followed.
    • Actually became the central issue of a case at one point. A kid claimed he shot his friend by accident, because he was only familiar with single-action weapons and didn't think the gun could go off unless it was cocked. This becomes a lot less credible when detectives learn that he'd had a similar "accident" a few years earlier, right down to using the same excuse in his defense.
  • Law & Order: Special Victims Unit:
    • There's a scene where the detectives are involved in a stand-off with a woman who has a gun pointed at her abusive ex-boyfriend. As such, the cops have their guns drawn and trained towards the woman. Perfectly reasonable during a hostage situation... except for that fact that Det. Benson steps directly into Det. Stabler's line of fire and stays there throughout the entire ordeal, while Stabler doesn't bother to adjust his aim even though he can clearly see that Benson is in the way.
    • Another episode has an FBI agent who got raped joining in with the arrest of the perp and scaring him by shooting at the wall next to him. The bullet ricochets and (non-fatally) hits Det. Stabler. She does get in trouble for this (and for turning up to the arrest in the first place, since she'd been directly told not to come so she wouldn't be tempted to do something stupid,) and she fully accepts that she was completely in the wrong here.
    • The bad guys in "Intimidation Game" are gamers who go insane over a female game designer because her game is not a First-Person Shooter (and because she's a woman, of course). When they're finally cornered on a roof, one of them tries shooting at a detective, only for him to forget that guns kick and miss by a mile. The other one almost does shoot the detective, holding the gun with both hands (in fact, we are shown it from his point-of-view, which does make it look a bit like a shooter game).
  • Deliberately played for Values Dissonance in Mad Men. In the first season, Pete Campbell brings his new .22 rifle to the office, then jokingly points it at various people while pretending to shoot. Granted, the gun was brand new and had never been loaded, but there wasn't a safety rule he didn't violate. Apparently, gun safety hadn't been invented in 1960. It may be less Values Dissonance and more Pete being foolish and likely completely inexperienced with guns.
  • In The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Napoleon Solo (as played by Robert Vaughn) routinely waved his gun around casually with his finger on the trigger, pointed the barrel at friends and allies to gesture at them, and so forth. When "firing" the gun, Vaughn shook his wrist as if he were tossing the bullets in the general direction of the target. It was painfully obvious that he had no idea how to handle a firearm.
  • M*A*S*H: Major Frank Burns handles a pistol with his finger in the trigger well at all times and continuously points it at people. He also has minimal knowledge of the workings of the weapons he handles, not knowing whether the safety is on or off. Frank manages, over the course of 5 seasons, to shoot himself and BJ on screen, and apparently has enough other incidents that when a sniper takes a shot at Hawkeye and his date, Hawkeye initially assumes that Frank is just being careless with his target practice nearby. This is, of course, consistent with Frank's established characterization as arrogant, careless, and stupid.
  • Ensign Parker of Mchales Navy has one of the worst safety records in the history of the United States Military with regard to firearms. During the course of the series, he is repeatedly shown accidentally discharging his sidearm, machine guns, hand grenades, torpedoes, depth charges, and even aircraft bombs. Often because he is absentmindedly playing with the triggers of the weapons which are loaded with safeties off. Many times his accidents have nearly killed the crew or Captain Binghamton (not to mention his repeat friendly fire accidents in which he shot down American planes).
  • MythBusters Usually averted, but there are exceptions:
    • Many myths involve bad gun safety, though these tests are conducted in safe environments.
    • During one vignette, Tory shoves a .44 magnum down the back of his jeans while walking away from the camera. It's clear that the gun is unloaded and made safe, but it still runs contrary to the show's usual very strong gun safety message.
    • The MythBusters fired a cannonball that missed its target, deflected off of a safety berm, and flew into a residential neighborhood; causing no injuries, but inflicting quite a bit of property damage. Despite safety experts and sheriff's office personnel being on-scene for the test, everyone seems to have broken one of the cardinal rules of firearm safety: Always be aware of what is beyond your target.
  • On The Office (US) Dwight accidentally discharged a gun in the office. He is often portrayed as a Crazy-Prepared survivalist so he really should know basic gun safety. On the other hand, Dwight might simply think he knows gun safety rather than actually having training. Almost assuredly the latter. In an earlier episode, Dwight was keeping an eye on Michael by watching him through the scope on a rifle. Even worse, it's not until after he makes a brief comment to the camera crew about it that he remembers to put the safety on.
    Dwight: Don't worry, safety is... [checks; turns on safety] on.
  • An episode of Only Fools and Horses had Rodney's posh girlfriend take him clay pigeon shooting on her father's estate. On his first turn, Rodney stepped up to the shooting area then turned round to speak to the others, inadvertently pointing his shotgun at them. The others yelled at him to lower the barrel but because he was wearing ear protectors he couldn't hear them. Not until the girlfriend's father stepped forward and pushed the gun barrel down towards the ground did Rodney realise what he had done.
  • The Pacific:
    • Discussed in an episode. Gunny Haney rips a lieutenant a new one on the firing range when the officer handles his sidearm in an unsafe manner. Captain Haldane, who was standing next to the officer in question, flatly tells the lieutenant being screamed at that Haney's right.
    • Eugene Sledge, who wrote one of the books the series is based on, mentions two other episodes alongside this one. In one instance the Marine simply had the slug bounce off his helmet, but was teased mercilessly about it. In the other, one man accidentally killed his buddy when they were fooling around (the man pointed his M1 at himself and told his buddy to pull the trigger because it was unloaded), and it went horribly wrong. Even more stupid considering it was at the end of the Okinawa Campaign.
  • In Pawn Stars, quite a few of the customers have brought in a gun that turned out to be loaded (a couple of the muskets and at least once a Winchester), but averted for the Pawn guys, who always check to see if those guns are loaded before they start dealing. In the case of the Winchester, the "load" was an empty shell casing, but it illustrated that the owner didn't check and clear it. Also, later in that same episode Rick put the rifle down on its butt and looked down the barrel. Granted, he had cleared it himself moments earlier and he was very skittish about doing it, but he shouldn't have done that nonetheless. A few customers (including one with a paintball gun) do get asked to "point that thing somewhere else" when a gun is pointed at, or close to, someone.
  • Penn & Teller: Bullshit!: Averted in the episode on guns and gun control. When firing at a gun range, they are wearing ear protection. When not shooting their fingers are not on the trigger. This even extends to what is clearly a pink plastic prop gun. They don't even make note of it. This is a holdover from the "double bullet catch" finale of their stage show, in which they routinely go over the basics of gun safety and warn the audience to cover their ears before firing.
    • Averted again in the episode for video games, where they take a young gamer who plays shooters and have him shoot a gun to see if video games do make you violent. He goes to a qualified shooting range with a range master, who explains basic gun rules, checks the guns, and only lets him handle it under his careful supervision. The kid takes a few shots then hands the gun back.
  • Picket Fences: Zachary Brock, bitter about his brother's injury in a school shooting, calmly retrieves his father's gun from its supposed place of concealment, pantomimes firing it at his brother's attacker, and then just as calmly returns the weapon to its place. Zack's father is the town sheriff, yet his means of securing his weapon barely even slow his son down. Oh, and Zachary is about nine at the time.
  • Played for laughs in an episode of Police Squad! when the forensics people try to reproduce the crime scene where a double homicide took place so they can see if how they were able to reproduce it matched how the witness said it happened. They were using a gun loaded with real bullets, resulting in at least half a dozen casualties among the forensic techs.
  • The second season intro of Series/Psych shows Jules and Lassiter sweeping their guns in an arc around the room, and Jules is pointing hers at Lassiter's head.
  • Tragically deconstructed on an episode of Quincy, M.E.. The eponymous character spends the latter half of the episode trying to keep a confiscated revolver from reentering the hands of its rightful owner, who has two small children. As luck would have it, the owner proceeds to leave it lying, fully loaded, safety off (if it had one; revolvers typically don't), on his bedroom closet floor. His son finds it, thinks its a toy gun, and shoots his sister. Gory Discretion Shot to credits.
  • Real Humans: While searching for Mimi, Max comes upon a gun and carries it to Leo, asking "What should I do with this?" — pointing it straight at him. Subverted in that Leo knows exactly that Max is only doing that because that's the only way he's ever seen a gun carried, and has no intention of harming him; so he casually replies, "Put it here."
  • Sherlock:
    • In "A Scandal in Belgravia", Sherlock summons the police by stepping outside (in a populated area) and casually firing a couple of pistol rounds into the sky. As mentioned under Literature, Holmes is canonically not exactly fussy about firearm safety.
    • Two from "The Great Game":
      • At the beginning of the episode, Sherlock is so bored he's using a handgun to shoot holes into the wall to form a smiley face. This is incredibly reckless and dangerous because it would only take one resilient bullet to make it through that wall and hit someone on the other side — one of the reasons it's against the law to practice shooting in a residential area outside of a shooting range. John is suitably appalled. Not only that but in the commentary for this episode, Benedict Cumberbatch mentioned that he had managed to shoot a hole in the dressing gown that was his costume for that scene.
      • This is based on a remark by Watson in the story "The Musgrave Ritual" that Holmes once formed the initials VR (Victoria Regina) on his wall in this way.
      • During the poolside confrontation, Sherlock waves the gun around for emphasis, before SCRATCHING HIS HEAD WITH IT. Bear in mind the gun is loaded, no safety, and cocked, with his finger still on the trigger. Granted, he is having a bit of an emotional meltdown at the time, what with his only real friend at that time being wired with explosives and all.
  • In Silent Witness episode "In Plain Sight", Steve Monk a member of the Police Firearms division jokingly pulls a gun on a disliked woman from Internal Affairs as she's leaving only for a another armed officer to angrily bat his arm down, a stunt like that would normally lead to an officer being hauled before the IPCC (Independent Office for Police Conduct) as a minimum. This serves as an early warning that Steve is the killer.
  • Sons of Anarchy has former US Marshal Lee Toric gut-shooting a woman who tapped him on the shoulder while he's holding a gun. In spite of being a law officer and a former member of special forces, he's become an unhinged heroin addict.
  • Stargate SG-1:
    • Part of Colonel/General Jack O'Neill's backstory is that his son accidentally shot and killed himself with Jack's own gun, which he'd found unsecured.
    • Played for laughs in "Avalon" when Teal'c who, as a member of SG-1 for eight years really should know better, fires his P-90 at the wall of the room where he and Colonel Mitchell are trapped. Mitchell freaks out, exclaiming "Whoa! Bullets BOUNCE!"
    • And yet in "The Warrior", after O'Neill has Carter demonstrate the superiority of the PN-90 over the staff weapon, he is shown to be carelessly waving it around, at one point aiming it straight at Carter's head. If you watch carefully, you'll see Carter flinch at that (likely Amanda Tapping's involuntary reaction given that even blanks can seriously hurt at that range). Also, the demonstration involves Carter firing at a target with several Jaffa standing pretty close to it.
  • Star Trek:
    • As noted by, it took The Federation until the TNG movies to develop a phaser that has a trigger guard (i.e. the rifles introduced in Star Trek: First Contact). These are handheld weapons that have been seen to blow walls off of buildings and make humanoids disappear into thin air, and they're often built like remote controls with a large, totally exposed button to fire (and no sights). As the site says, one should pity the Federation soldier who tries to catch one.
    • A major example in the Star Trek: Enterprise episode "Sleeping Dogs". Reed decides to train Hoshi with the new phase pistols and has target practice held in the armory (where the ship's high-yield torpedoes are stored). At least on TNG, they had a separate practice range. At the end of the lesson, Hoshi points the phase pistol at Reed's chest while handing it back to him. To make it worse, Reed is a Military Brat; he should have plenty of experience in handling weapons and gun safety.
      • Possible low-key subversion; the scene opens with Reed loading a power cell into the phase pistol, which might potentially be a training cell that turns it into a glorified light pointer. Not that that excuses the careless pointing, but...
    • Mocked outright by SF Debris in his review of the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Empok Nor". An engineer is trying to salvage supplies and calmly asks the experienced Starfleet security officer if she wouldn't mind pointing her phaser rifle somewhere else. She smugly replies that the safety is on. Chuck proceeds to rip her stupidity a new one by pointing out her blatant violations of the second and third rules of gun safety. Never point a gun at anything you don't intend to destroy and never rely solely on the safety mechanism. Rules which are strictly followed by organizations such as the NRA and NSSF.
    • Star Trek: The Next Generation seems to have a rather cavalier attitude to Federation officers standing downrange of a phaser, particularly in situations where the phaser isn't strictly being used as a weapon:
      • The episode "The Mind's Eye" has Geordi and Data running tests - including firing tests - on a recovered phaser rifle. Not only does at least one of them stand downrange while running the tests, but the test target is placed such that the rifle is pointed directly at the Enterprise's warp core!
      • In "Lower Decks", Geordi and a junior officer create simulated battle damage on a shuttlecraft by shooting it with a phaser rifle. During this process, Geordi stands right next to the shuttle while the junior officer fires at it from some distance away...
    • The Star Trek franchise also has a special justified case for boarding parties being beamed into hostile situations: Standing on the transporter pad with weapons in the ready position. While this means materializing at their destination ready to open fire on any bad guys in their immediate vicinity (on TNG, they'd even make a point of beaming in a circular formation, with their backs to each other), it also means that the transporter chief usually ends up beaming them out at gunpoint. Star Trek: Discovery in particular manages to highlight this with a camera shot over Saru's shoulder, looking right up Captain Georgiou's gun barrel.
    • In the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Tomorrow Is Yesterday", Kirk is captured by 1960s military officers, who proceed to examine his phaser in detail. Justified to some extent since they don't know it's a weapon, but as Kirk points out, they're being very careless with a strange object they know nothing about.
  • Top Gear: the hosts travel to the North Pole, and Clarkson and May are given a shotgun in case they need to defend themselves from polar bears. At one point, though, James May earnestly looks down the barrel of the shotgun, and it is immediately taken away from him. In a Series 14 outtake, May defended himself, claiming it was the only way to see whether the barrel is unblocked, which is completely wrong. There is always a safe way to find out whether a barrel is blocked, like shining a light down the front and looking at the breech for the reflection of light or looking down from the breech itself.
  • Victorious: "Beck's Big Break" had Beck getting a small part in an action movie. One scene in the movie involves an assassin trying to shoot the main character with the crossbow. A loaded crossbow is used to film the scene. While the shot was meant to miss, this is still extremely risky. Sure enough, the actress is hit.
  • The Walking Dead:
    • It takes just a few minutes into the first episode for the show to make a spectacular error about guns. Early in the first episode, Rick tells his fellow sheriffs to make sure they have a round in the chamber of their pistols and to make sure they have the safety off. Neither the revolver Rick was carrying nor the Glock pistols held by the other deputies have manual safeties. Also, the deputies should have already had a round in the chamber of their handguns, as this is the standard way for police officers to carry their service weapons on duty.
    • In the first season, Rick and Shane confront Daryl, and in the process, Rick draws his pistol. Shane is standing exactly opposite of Daryl, so that if there was cause for Rick to fire, the bullet would go straight through the intended target's head and lobotomize Shane the hard way. Neither officer, who are supposed to be trained in Gun Safety, sees anything wrong with this (even worse, Shane was the firearms safety officer).
    • The second season premier's ending demonstrates why you check what's behind what you're shooting at, with a hunter's rifle round going through the deer they were targeting and hitting Carl.
    • Andrea seems to be the worst offender when it comes to gun safety. She goes off on Rick in a fit of rage and waves her gun in his face when they first meet, it takes her several episodes to figure out how to use the safety, and it only gets worse when she thinks she's able to be the lookout for the group. She fires her weapon at what she believes to be a walker it's actually an injured and delirious Daryl, even though she can't see through the scope clearly because the sun is blocking her view, she doesn't mount the gun on the railing of the RV for support, she shoots at the target knowing that gunfire attracts walkers, with three friendlies downrange who not only could have easily been hit, but are easily capable of taking care of one walker. She ends up grazing Daryl on the side of his head.
  • In Wallander's "One Step Behind", Wallander is extra successful at gun safety: when a suspect is holding a girl hostage at gunpoint, he threatens him with an empty gun. Admittedly, he was still recovering from shooting a dangerous suspect dead, and although his superior had made a point that he carries a gun around, she hadn't mentioned bullets. Too bad the girl held hostage was his own daughter.
  • The Wire:
    • During the famous Cluster F-Bomb investigation scene in "Old Cases", Jimmy McNulty tries to figure out the angle of a bullet entry and exit wound. So he takes out his loaded service weapon and points it at himself to simulate it. All perfectly in character.
    • Any time Roland Pryzbylewski handles a weapon. It establishes him as a colossal screw-up who is a liability to Cedric Daniels' detail. Within minutes of his first appearance, Prez has already fired a stray round into the wall of the office, because when trying to show off his light trigger pull to Carver, he takes the clip out of the gun but forgets to clear the round in the chamber. And then there's the fatal mistake that ends his police career when he accidentally kills a plainclothes cop.
    • Many Barksdale soldiers are shown behaving in this manner, showing their general level of incompetence. This is played superbly in the opening of "Stray Rounds". A street-corner shootout breaks out between Bodie's crew and a rival gang, with about five or so shooters on each side. Dozens of rounds are fired, none of them aimed carefully, almost all while on the run, and many are simply wild blind fire. It comes off as the precise opposite of the glamorous action gunfight. Both sides scatter as soon as sirens are heard, with the only casualties being a few car windows and a young boy in a nearby building.
  • The X-Files. Usually averted, but one episode shows Scully making a serious error: when unloading her pistol, she removes the magazine but neglects to rack the slide, leaving one round still in the chamber.


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