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Batman Grabs a Gun

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One year and you end up giving into using a gun.

"Enough! If I must kill the guilty to save the innocent, then I will kill!"

So you've got a hero. He's a really good hero, and he has rules (heroes often do, after all). Let's say, hypothetically, that one of those rules is that he'll never use a gun. Maybe his parents were brutally murdered in front of him with one, spurring him into heroism in the first place. Whatever. The guy doesn't use guns.

Then something bad happens. The stakes go up. Maybe a villain bent on bringing about universal entropy arrives. The hero's pushed to his absolute limit. The world, even the universe, is hanging in the balance. There's only one way to put things right. The hero picks up the weapon...

Batman's got a gun.

His dog day's just begun.

This trope isn't just a hero doing something they wouldn't normally do. It's a hero doing something they're fundamentally against doing or have sworn that they would never do. If they've done it before (at least in that continuity), it isn't this trope. It's also not this trope if they almost break their rule but then don't; Batman and the Doctor particularly have a bad habit of almost breaking their rule, or breaking their rule in a hallucination/alternate timeline/dream sequence, or breaking it under some version of brainwashing or mind control… none of which is this trope. For it to truly count as Batman Grabs a Gun, it must be a moment where hero breaks their golden rule, on purpose, in the real world version of their continuity.


Happens most frequently to the Retired Badass, Knight in Shining Armor, or Invincible Hero, often during a What You Are in the Dark moment. Contrast the Frequently-Broken Unbreakable Vow. Can, and often does, overlap with Let's Get Dangerous!, Big Damn Heroes, O.O.C. Is Serious Business, and/or Despair Event Horizon. It's a kind of Godzilla Threshold. Pretty much always results in an Oh, Crap! moment for the villain. Can be a Moment of Awesome, but it will always be Played for Drama.

When adding examples, please be sure to mention for the sake of clarity what the rule is that's being broken. Also, please don't bother with examples of almost breaking their rule; characters who have a prominent rule tend to frequently be pushed/tempted/pressured to break it, but it's only this trope if and when they actually do. Otherwise, every fifth Joker story would count, as would about fifty Doctor Who episodes. This trope is about the first time the rule is broken (though of course with alternate continuities and such a character might have more than one "first" time breaking their vow), not subsequent breaks or near misses.


Named for Batman's use of a gun during Grant Morrison's Final Crisis.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Rurouni Kenshin: During the Kyoto arc, Kenshin tries to rescue a baby named Iori from Chou, the Sword Hunter. Chou kidnapped the baby for forcing his parent to tell him the location of the last sword ever made by the legendary sword-smith Shakku Arai, Iori's grandfather. Kenshin manages to pull a fight even though his reversed-bladed sword is broken, but Chou eventually disarms him. When everything seems lost, Iori's father appears and gives Kenshin Shakku Arai's last sword. However, Kenshin hesitates, since using a normal sword means that he will almost certainly kill Chou, which would break his oath of never killing a man ever again. Only when Chou threatens to kill Iori on the spot, Kenshin snaps out of it and defeats Chou with a single blow. Then everyone realizes that this sword was also reverse-bladed, so Chou naturally has survived.
    • Long before that, Kenshin was faced with a Sadistic Choice of breaking his vow in order to save the life of his love interest Kaoru. Luckily, Kaoru was able to Take a Third Option on her own.
  • Trigun:
    • Vash uses guns all the time. However, as a master of Improbable Aiming Skills, he uses them solely for trick shots, and when in serious trouble, will at most shoot a person somewhere where they'll heal. He doesn't believe in a situation where you can't save everyone. However, at one point, he is given a true no-win scenario, where the villain sets up a situation that will result in the death of his friends, unless the villain is killed (he has... issues). After much hesitation, Vash kills him. He doesn't take it well. Bear in mind that this was merely The Dragon he killed, and getting himself shot was the whole point.
    • Oddly enough, Vash was almost willing to kill someone much earlier in the series for killing a few dozen people. But that side of him was pretty much never seen again after. In all fairness though, Vash was very angry and people have been know to do crazy things when royally pissed off. The situation in the previous point was orchestrated so that Vash had to be fully aware of his decision to kill after weighing his options. Legato wanted Vash to willingly and without duress decide to take a life.
  • Monster: One of the major theme of the manga is the mental and physical tribulation of Dr. Tenma as he's forced to pick up a gun to hunt and kill a monster he unknowingly saved. This trope already has a bleak atmosphere hanging around it, but it's pushed to the realm of Deconstruction in his case. In the end, he didn't kill anyone. Not even The Dragon of said monster he thought he killed. Not the monster himself, the final confrontation with whom put the life of a child at stake.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist: In his battle with Wrath near the end of the series, Scar breaks his code as an Ishvalan and uses Alchemy to reconstruct matter, thus regaining the upper hand. Up until that point, he only used his abilities to destroy things and so remained technically within the bounds of his code against it.
  • In Zatch Bell! The heroes are fighting Zeon's co-dragons in an attempt to stop Faudo, a giant demon who towers over small mountain ranges. Things are not going well they are getting defeated one by one when Umagon desperately starts raising the heat in the area with his flame spells. The villains are confused at first, since there isn't enough heat to burn the Demon's book, which would take him out of the fight, then we get the truth: Umagon isn't trying to burn the demon's book, he is trying to boil the demon's human partner alive.
  • Nanashi in Sword of the Stranger has his sword bound with a rope, and he has vowed not to draw it. You know where this is going - as he draws his sword at the climax, shit gets real.
  • The Big O: Roger Smith is modeled quite a bit after Batman, right down to his own aversion to using firearms. But when Angel tosses him one while the two of them are cornered by bad guys, he concedes the situation and uses it... but only to hit a steam pipe and create a cover for them to escape. Roger explains that, even in such a situation, he refuses to shoot people. "It's all part of being a gentleman."
  • Now and Then, Here and There: Throughout the journey in a post-apocalyptic hellscape, Shu refuses to use Bushido as an offensive weapon, but that leads to many traumatic outcomes. The stick he uses seems to reflect this, as it refuses to break no matter how many times it's used to defend. By the end, he's dead set on saving Lala Ru and saving his friends even though his actions will doom the world, and starts using his stick as a weapon. It slowly cracks and breaks at the exact moment Shu defenestrates Hamdo (which indirectly kills him later). Ironically, this ends up bringing about the exact opposite of what Shu thought the consequences were, as Lala Ru is inspired by Shu's willingness to sacrifice his humanity for the sake of other humans, and consequently sacrifices herself to end the world draught, preserving the doomed world long enough for humanity to make something of it. Yeah, it's a bleak World Half Full.
  • While it's never been an explicit rule, JoJo's Bizarre Adventure's Josuke is the only Jojo who doesn't use lethal force on his opponents (it doesn't help that his Stand can restore objects and people to a prior state with its punches, effectively healing what he hits.) Only two times in the series has he had his opponent completely at his mercy so he can deliver the final No-Holds-Barred Beatdown, while being well and truly enraged enough that his restoration powers start to break down. Technically he doesn't kill either of his victims, but after he's done with them they probably wish he had.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V: Noboru Gongenzaka is a Steadfast Duelist, meaning he swears to never use Action Cards in a duel. In episode 120, in a duel where losing means being trapped in a card, he resorts to using one to save his friend Yuya Sakaki from being defeated by Battle Beast.
  • Kaifuku Jutsushi no Yarinaoshi has the main character Keyaru, who has a very firm stand on never harming an "innocent," which means anyone who hasn't wronged him or his, especially non-combatants who can't defend themselves. In fact, this internal vow is so strong, he won't attack people who abused, drugged, raped, and tortured him, even though he went back in time a little over four years and knows that's what they're like and are likely to do it again if he gives them the chance, so he gives them the chance to prove him wrong, that they've somehow changed when he winds up in front of them, and when they start abusing him, then he retaliates. In volume 5 though, he runs into Iblis, the previous timeline's demon king, and she asks him for aid against her rival, and they arrive at her home village after a difficult trial to find that the current demon king annihilated the entire village, including helpless children, with his Elite Mooks, and plans on doing that to many, many other tribes that don't agree with his tyranny, while he himself is hiding away in his castle, in a city full of innocents, with his army right smack in the middle of them, and there's no way Keyaru can deal with it, except to use a Person of Mass Destruction to wipe out the whole city. Well, demon king, you showed the world that genocide's a valid war tactic, no complaints, right?

    Comic Books 
  • The Trope Namer: Batman breaking out a gun as his "once in a lifetime exception" to try and kill Darkseid during Final Crisis. There are numerous counter-examples (his 1939-1940 version (now out of continuity) used a gun occasionally, and there are isolated stories here and there where he uses one as a threat or a tool — for example, to disable the bone-guns of a Super Soldier in the Infection two-parter). But as far as the spirit of the trope goes, Final Crisis is the only in-continuity example of Batman using a gun with intent to kill and going through with it. Even the current page image from Batman: Year Two had him not pull the trigger in the end thanks to circumstances outside of his control. According to the writer of that story, it also wasn't actually about practicality; Batman was attempting to defeat the embodiment of evil — one who was dying and trying to take the Multiverse with him. Batman believed the only way to do so was to use what he considered the embodiment of evil, turning it back on itself to destroy it.
    Batman: A gun and a bullet, Darkseid. It was your idea. note 
    • Longtime Batman writer Chuck Dixon has admitted to writing one particular storyline on Detective Comics (#708-710) as an experiment in seeing whether he could make Batman use a gun and still keep it in character. Though, this one's kind of a cheat, since Batman uses the gun to non-lethally disarm a sniper hundreds of feet away.
    • In Infinite Crisis, he does almost break his rule, grabbing a gun and putting it directly to the head of Alex Luthor. In the original story, this was after believing that Dick Grayson, the original Robin, had died due to Luthor's plot, and the sound effect used in the scene makes it appear that he pulled the trigger, only for the gun to be empty. However, the trade added a scene of Dick being confirmed to be alive and removed the sound effect, seriously weakening the moment. Significantly, it was not some high tech gun, but rather a standard pistol. Alex is disarmed, down and laying helplessly at Batman's feet, and Batman puts the gun right to his forehead, showing not only was he almost willing to kill over the situation, but in his despair was about to execute an unarmed man in cold blood. He is, however, stopped by Wonder Woman throwing down and shattering her sword, helping him get a hold of himself. As Alex had at this point shattered reality itself, caused the deaths of numerous heroes including longtime friends and allies, and generally had caused devastation not seen since the Anti-Monitor himself, it still makes sense for Batman's utter despair at the situation to finally make him almost cross the line.
    • The Batman Who Laughs leaps across the Moral Event Horizon in his origin story by mowing down the entire Bat Family with dual wielded machine guns.
      • Taken Up to Eleven with the Grim Knight in The Batman Who Laughs's titular miniseries, who is a gun-toting version of Batman from the Dark Multiverse. He is described by The Batman Who Laughs as the deadliest man alive and the result of Bruce Wayne killing Joe Chill with his own gun, and he weaponized everything in his Gotham, from the water supply to the traffic lights. According to Laughs, even his bullets fire bullets.

  • Nightwing: Dick Grayson broke his no-killing rule after he believed The Joker had murdered Tim Drake.
  • Two-Face had a villainous one a long time ago, choosing to ignore his coin (which he uses to make difficult decisions as a way of bowing to the inherent arbitrariness of the universe) to spare Batman's life.
  • Superman has one of the strictest Thou Shalt Not Kill rules in the DCU, but even he finds himself forced to execute Kryptonians of a "pocket universe" after they have killed almost everybody in their universe. Nothing else will work and there's no way to contain the villains in question, but even so, the experience eventually leads to a nervous breakdown on his part.
    • Likewise, Doomsday is one of the few villains that Superman will not hesitate to use lethal force against, because he knows from experience that it's basically the only way to stop him.
  • Supergirl usually follows the Thou Shalt Not Kill rule, but she threw it out of the window when she fought the Anti-Monitor, a being who had destroyed an infinite number of universes, was going to gobble up the last ones and was about to kill her cousin. As she put it, she'd always considered life the greatest of all gifts, and he was a blasphemy of life, so she fully intended to kill him.
  • An aversion in the final issue of Richard Dragon's post-crisis series. He's sworn off killing, and SPECIFICALLY sworn off using the deadly Leopard Blow, but resolves to kill one final time (specifically, to kill his love interest/arch enemy Lady Shiva) to save the life of a young boy. During the climactic battle with Shiva, he has her set up for the blow, and attempts to deliver it, but is tackled away by her ninjas and killed shortly thereafter. It is worth mentioning that large parts of this series have been booted from canon.
  • Rom Spaceknight usually follows Thou Shalt Not Kill, but made an exception for Hybrid when he realized his Neutralizer couldn't banish a human-Wraith hybrid to Limbo and that Hybrid was too evil and dangerous to be allowed to live.
  • In Starman, Jack Knight kills exactly twice: the first was Kyle, the son of the Mist, while the second was Medphyll, a Green Lantern-turned-traitor. Both weighed heavily on his mind, especially the first one, and he eventually meets him in the afterlife and makes peace with him thanks to his brother David. The second was eventually revealed to have survived due to his alien physiology.
  • Adrian Veidt/Ozymandias in Watchmen spent his crime fighting career as a friendly, idealistic and well-liked superhero who refused to kill and cooperated with the authorities. Then he became convinced that only he could save the world, and embarked on a horrific campaign that culminated in the mass murder of three million New Yorkers.
  • A short-play version in Saga: Marko is introduced as a former soldier turned total pacifist who has chained his sword to prevent himself from drawing it. By the end of the third issue he's desperate enough to draw anyway to cut down an enemy squad threatening his family. He recommits to pacifism immediately afterward and sacrifices his blade.
  • Judge Dredd comics flirt with this a bit. In the early comics, Dredd does nothing but kill. It isn’t until a fair number of issues in that he is seen actually sentencing anybody, because prior to that he just happened to kill all of them in shootouts. When Dredd was marshal of Luna One it was revealed that Luna One and Mega City One do not practice the death sentence. This institutional refrain from killing depends on who’s writing, with the two movies subverting it hard. In the Karl Urban Version Dredd hands out almost nothing but death sentences. In the Stallone version he is called before the Chief Justice to justify his use of so many death sentences.

  • In the RWBY fic Resurgence, it's revealed that Ren swore off the use of his Semblance, Nightshade, after he accidentally killed his entire family with it. In chapter 100, he decides to use it again to defeat Mercury, determined to defeat him by any means necessary.
  • In Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Supergirl crossover The Vampire of Steel Supergirl kills an Eldritch Abomination and gives the Scooby Gang a piece of Kryptonite and other weapons to destroy Zol-Am, a Kryptonian vampire. They had no means to depower him and she wouldn't risk sending him back to the Phantom Zone, so she conceded, albeit reluctantly, that he mustn't be allowed to live.
  • In Nukume Dori, Lady Sumeragi is so outraged with the Sakurazukamori kidnapping Subaru that she declares that once he's found, the Sumeragi will break their own rule and kill him.
  • In Suite Pretty Cure Variations, Cure Melody refuses to resort to Terry Tsurugi's anti-heroic tactics... until Mephisto tries to kill Siren for betraying him.
  • In Hellsister Trilogy, Supergirl is forced to break her "Thou Shalt Not Kill" rule twice: first to save the universe from Mordru, who was about to merge with the ultimate source of black magic; and shortly after to save billions from lives -including her own- from Satan Girl. Her evil duplicate was trying to kill her once again, wanted to wipe out whole planets after being done with her, and couldn't be talked down, locked up or stopped. It was a matter of kill or be killed.
  • re:Bound (RWBY): After Crescent Rose is destroyed, Ruby is forced to recreate Ember Cecila so she isn't weaponless while she mourns and comes up with a new weapon.

    Film — Animated 
  • In Batman: Bad Blood, Batman gets brainwashed by the bad guys and is equipped with a gun, which doesn't count as Batman is not in his right mind. What does count is that after he's been snapped out of it, he fires the gun to destroy Talia's sword right before she would have stabbed Nightwing in the back.
  • The Batman vs. Dracula: Due to how powerful and dangerous Dracula is, Batman fully intends to kill him to end his reign of terror because, given how their first fight went, it's clear he has no other choice.
  • Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox starts out perfectly normal, with the members of the Justice League sticking to their classic principles. The next day, Barry Allen (the Flash) wakes up at his CSI desk in a scene where no one around him has ever heard of the Flash and his mother is alive. His first superhero encounter is with a version of Batman who dual wields guns and acts uncharacteristically brutal, cementing the setting as that of an Alternate Timeline. Though in this case, it's actually Thomas Wayne as Batman, since in this timeline only Bruce Wayne was killed on that fateful night. Other members of the Justice League behave uncharacteristically as well, but this is one of many examples of how Batman's aversion to guns is typically used first in the DC universe to establish an Alternate Timeline or Parallel Universe.
  • In Wizards, Actual Pacifist wizard Avatar confronts his evil brother Blackwolf, and rather than engage him in a Wizard Duel, simply pulls out a gun and shoots him dead.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Revenge of the Sith: Obi-Wan, hanging from a ledge, is forced to grab a fallen blaster to kill General Grievous. He contemptuously tosses the weapon away afterward, muttering "So uncivilized..."
  • The Dark Knight Trilogy:
    • In The Dark Knight, The Joker tells Batman that "tonight [he's] going to break [his] one rule". Batman's reply is "I'm considering it." He doesn't. Then, at the end, Batman tackles Harvey Dent, who falls off a ledge and dies. Depending on your interpretation, The Joker was either completely wrong (if it was an accident) or just one day off (if it wasn't), or Batman simply miscalculated the strength that was sufficient to subdue Dent in the heat of the moment (again, if it was an accident). Batman was also suffering from a gunshot wound at the time, which could have hampered his ability to tackle Dent safely. Most likely, the death was an accident, as Batman probably wasn't even thinking about Dent at all when he tackled him, but about Gordon's son and ensuring that he doesn't get shot.
    • During the final confrontation in The Dark Knight Rises, Batman seems completely willing to kill Bane, and isn't simply considering it, as he repeats his opponent's earlier threat to make him suffer a horrible death in a ironic way. Bane himself prefers hand-to-hand neck-snaps over gun executions, but after being beaten to an inch of his life and planning on dying either way, uses a gun to make sure Batman STAYS dead. And ironically, is shot in the face by Catwoman riding the batcycle. Finally, Batman himself personally shoots TWO PEOPLE with explosive rounds, but by then he's only got minutes to prevent an atomic bomb from killing twelve million people.
    • The series itself inverts this in his character backstory. His first method of dealing with injustice in this series was going to be to shoot his parents' murderer, Joe Chill (fortunately for Bruce, the mob got to Chill first). It's his shame over this incident in reflection that causes him to adopt his normal rule about not using them.
  • Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice: A shade of this is present in the "Knightmare", Batman's dream of an apocalyptic future where Superman took over the Earth. He uses guns in the setting to kill Superman's human soldiers, whether as he doesn't in the real present, but it's not as far a moral departure for the character as usual as this Batman explicitly kills his enemies, including with guns (such as using his vehicle-mounted machine guns to blast through a car and using an enemies M60 to shoot a flame thrower mook in the gas tank).
  • In Okja, Jay is a decidedly gentle person who cares for all living creatures and avoids causing them harm; he is even careful to respect Silver's decisions by not saying he should break his fast but by expressing personal concern for his well-being. So it's particularly shocking when he beats the crap out of K.
  • In The Omega Man it is actually one of the villains who suddenly picks up a gun he has secretly been carrying in order to use it against the protagonist. This is despite being a member of a cult of mutated technophobes who refuses to use complex devises on ideological grounds and who wants both technology and the protagonist destroyed.
  • In The Rundown, the Rock's character refuses to pick up a gun the entire movie, maintaining that "bad things happen" when he does. When he gets into a tight spot in the end, he does end up using guns.
  • Played for Laughs in Spaceballs: Lone Starr hands Vespa a laser gun, and tells her to hold off the Mooks pursuing them. Vespa refuses, exclaiming that she hates guns. However, after one of the mooks gives her a Close-Call Haircut, she gets so mad, she promptly shoots all of them down.
  • In Unforgiven, William Munny avoids drinking because his wife "cured" him of such vices before she died. When Little Bill kills Ned, Munny finishes the Kid's bottle of whiskey and goes on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
  • While Charles Xavier usually demands a no-kill rule, in X-Men: Apocalypse, Apocalypse is a confirmed threat to the X-Men and billions of other lives, so Xavier orders Jean Grey to kill him with the Phoenix Force.
  • In Star Trek Into Darkness, Spock Prime has made a vow not to tell his younger self anything about the future, so as to not interfere with his destiny. He makes one exception, however, when Spock asks him about Khan Noonien Singh, a threat so dire that Spock Prime doesn't want him to have to face it unprepared.
  • In Spider-Man: Homecoming, Peter's shocked that his Spider-suit has a built-in "insta-kill" mode and refuses to use it against Toomes's thugs. In Avengers: Endgame, Peter is swarmed by Thanos's forces and the lives of everyone in the entire universe is on the line. It's only then that Peter decides it's time to activate the suit's insta-kill mode to help stop Thanos.
  • In X-Men: First Class, Magneto's dislike of guns is established after the death of his mother by Shaw's hand in his backstory as well as Charles being paralyzed in the final battle. In Dark Phoenix, Magneto uses a wave of guns in the final battle as a last-ditch effort to stop Vuk and her followers. It doesn't work, but it still buys enough time for Jean to pull a Heroic Sacrifice as Phoenix.

  • In The Cloak Society, this is part of the backstory: about a decade ago, Cloak used a new weapon to take outnote  nine members of the Rangers of Justice. Then, Lone Star showed up. As Shade puts it, they overestimated how strong his "no kill" rule was, and Cloak was reduced to only four battle-capable adults. Lone Star is apparently still pretty upset about this, though he threatens to do it again during the climax.
  • Happens in Agatha Christie's Curtain: Although Hercule Poirot "does not approve of murder", the fact that Stephen Norton can never be tried or connected to the murders that he gets away with puts the lives of the entire UK in danger, leaving it hanging in the balance while Poirot is dying of a heart condition; and he is pushed to the absolute limit so much that he has no other option but to shoot Norton dead in order to stop any more crimes from happening. He could not say whether it was right to kill, but he is sure that it's for the benefit of everyone.
  • In many Discworld novels, Sam Vimes thinks about how he's afraid of what he might become if he started acting outside the law, and hopes he never finds something awful enough to make him cross the line. In Snuff, he finally finds it.
  • Doctor Who Expanded Universe: The Past Doctor Adventures novel Imperial Moon sees the Fifth Doctor — the most pacifist Doctor of them all — faced with a threat so great that he and his companions Turlough and Kamelion travel to an alien base specifically to retrieve advanced weaponry to stop the current threat, rather than the Doctor's usual approach to simply contain their enemy.
  • The Dresden Files:
    • At the end of Dead Beat, Harry threatens to pull everything listed below to his advantage if Mavra the Black Court Vampire ever does harm to his friends again (especially Murphy). The threat is so effective that Mavra hasn't been seen or heard from since.
    • Changes: Harry has been offered incredible power, often at terrible prices, throughout the series. He's always refused, though at the same time has always been tempted by that power. Offers range from the addictive draw of pure Black Magic, the eternal knowledge and power of a Fallen Angel, the possible godlike power of the Darkhallow, and the standing offer by Mab, Queen of the Winter Court, to become her Knight. Harry steadfastly resists all of these offers, as he knows that succumbing to these temptations will destroy him as a person. Then the bad guys kidnap his daughter, and Harry accepts Mab's offer to become her Knight.
  • Mina Davis from Hungover and Handcuffed and Asshole Yakuza Boyfriend doesn't kill, but she makes an exception for Jack Darwin after he tortures her — and several other girls — with a cheese grater.
  • Robots and Empire has a villainous example. Spacers are extremely averse to violence, and Mandamus' entire plan is supposed to be non-violent. However, in order to ensure his plan is carried out the way he wants, Amadiro buys a blaster and threatens to kill Mandamus if he doesn't set the dials as ordered.
  • In Worm, the main character breaks her code against killing when she uses a gun to execute Diabolical Mastermind Coil, reasoning that though he was temporarily outmaneuvered, his resources and powers meant that no prison would be able to hold him even if they could get the heroes to charge him.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The title character of Chuck hates firearms, preferring tranquilizer guns. The only time he uses one is when his girlfriend and partner Sarah is being threatened.
  • John Drake in Danger Man rarely uses a gun, to the point where when he does it's actually a shock. In the entire run of the series, Drake shoots only one person (not counting a later episode with gunplay that ends up being All Just a Dream).
  • Subverted in the season 2 finale of Daredevil (2015). Matt is a staunch believer of Thou Shalt Not Kill, but after Nobu kills Elektra, Matt throws him off the roof supposedly to his death. Nobu survives the fall, but Stick chops his head off shortly afterwards.
    • This scene is an obvious callback to the scene in the first season where a desperate and injured Matt seemingly kills Nobu, only for him to be revealed to be (kind of) immortal (so Matt didn't really break his no-kill rule). Basically, the series subverts this trope twice, both times with the same characters, but then the second time also subverts the plot twist that was used to subvert this trope the first time.
  • Doctor Who: The Doctor is a Technical Pacifist who has covertly replaced someone's gun with a banana on at least two occasions. Even if he does resort to using weapons in dire situations, he'll try to avoid a gun and go for something explosives-related. This is especially prominent in the new series, for where "never carries a weapon" went from a small exchange between the Fourth Doctor (who actually Does Like Guns, but doesn't carry one unless he knows he's going to need one) and Leela to a key part of the Doctor's characterization:
    • The first time the Doctor uses a gun, according to a list on the subject in DWM, is in "Day of the Daleks", where he disintegrates an Ogron. The first time he holds a gun is in "The Gunfighters", where he observes "People keep handing me guns. I do wish they wouldn't."note 
    • The reason for using this only in extremes is unintentionally revealed in "The Seeds of Doom". Yes, it's tons of fun watching the Doctor punch people in the groin, but yes, the bad guys are just humans or a recycled Axon suit spraypainted green, meaning the fact that the Doctor spends the entire story breaking necks, shooting guns and mixing Molotov cocktails comes across as rather unnecessary and out-of-character.
    • "Dalek": First off, when the Doctor realizes what kind of alien Henry van Statten has locked up in his bunker, he almost immediately goes straight to trying to electrocute it to death. Second, after the Dalek gets loose and starts rampaging through the bunker, the Doctor literally grabs a gun from a stash of uncatalogued weapons in Adam's lab. The Doctor doesn't actually use the gun, because Rose talks him down because the Dalek is changing due to exposure to her DNA. The Dalek eventually blows itself up rather than live that way.
    • "Bad Wolf": When the Doctor, Jack and Lynda head for the Gamestation's control room, the Doctor, in a very bad mood because Rose has apparently been killed, brandishes a BFG Jack jury-rigged. When one of the technicians, frightened, throws up his hands and begs him not to shoot...
      Davitch: Don't shoot!
      The Doctor: Oh, don't be so thick. Like I was ever gonna shoot! [tosses Davitch the gun]
    • "The Doctor's Daughter": The Doctor is so infuriated when General Cobb shoots his Opposite-Sex Clone/"daughter" Jenny that he grabs the man's gun and holds it to his head. He manages to restrain himself from actually shooting the man, though.
    • "The End of Time": The Doctor pointedly refuses Wilf's old war pistol to use against the Master... but the moment he hears that the Time Lords are about to return, he grabs it with zero hesitation.
    • "The Time of Angels"/"Flesh and Stone": In the mid-story cliffhanger, the Doctor uses a pistol in order to shoot out a gravity globe to escape a horde of Weeping Angels bearing down on him and his allies from all directions.
    • "A Town Called Mercy": When the Doctor finds out what Kahler-Jex has done and Kahler-Jex then tries to defend his actions (and the situation reminds him a little too much of his own with the Time War) the Doctor gets so angry he drags him out of town for the Gunslinger to kill him and when Jex tries to get back in to safety he pulls a revolver on him.
    • "The Day of the Doctor": Subverted, oddly enough, with the Doctor's most violent and least hopeful incarnation, the War Doctor, who picks up a gun only to use it to write "No More" during the Fall of Arcadia. Though this might be less an unwillingness to shoot enemies, and more that for the War Doctor, guns are too limiting- in the same episode, the Time War has gotten so bad that The Doctor Grabs A Genocidal Doomsday Device.
    • "Hell Bent": The Twelfth Doctor has been Driven to Madness by a combination of torture and his anguish over the recent death of his beloved companion Clara Oswald, and thus becomes The Unfettered to bring her back from the dead despite the risk he knows this poses to the entire universe; indeed he has called others out for similar acts no matter how sympathetic their motivations are. This is best exemplified by his choice to literally grab a gun and shoot the Time Lord General, his friend, in order to escape capture. While it's important to note that he makes sure the General can regenerate when he does this, the Doctor is not doing any of this in the service of a greater good, but merely to soothe his own anguish; he is violating his vows to never be cruel or cowardly and to never affect the web of time so severely. In the episode's Framing Device, which takes place after he has repented and returned to his best self, it is pointed out how out of character the act of shooting the General is.
    • "Fugitive of the Judoon": After she is revealed as an unknown incarnation of the Doctor, Ruth Clayton has no problem brandishing a laser rifle at Gat or the Judoon, nor tricking Gat into disintegrating herself with the recalibrated weapon. When the Doctor challenges her over this, however, Ruth whispers that it's a bluff.
  • Kung Fu: Kwai Chang Caine refused to use guns or ride horses, saying he did not want to offend or hurt the horse. In the final episode, "Full Circle", Caine has reunited with his brother Danny, but they have a lot of bounty hunters on their tail and Danny's son Zeke has been kidnapped. Even in this desperate situation, Caine refuses a gun Danny offers him, but he very reluctantly accepts a horse in order to keep up with Danny's own horse as they dodge the bounty hunters and move to rescue Zeke. Caine tells the horse, "Forgive me."
  • Eliot Spencer of Leverage makes it clear from the very first episode that he Does Not Like Guns, and any time he gets his hands on one over the course of the series it's only to eject the bullets and throw it away. When he actually takes up a pair of handguns and begins shooting mooks during "The Big Bang Job", after scrupulously avoiding using guns or killing anyone for most of three seasons, you understand just how serious the situation is.
  • Person of Interest
    • When Carter's son is kidnapped, the very anti-gun/anti-weapon Finch is so desperate to help save him that he picks up a gun and asks Reese to teach him how to use it, though he's quite realistic on what sort of assistance he'd be able to give even with a gun. Reese, however, refuses to teach Finch and instead suggests that Finch perform the very valuable assistance of being ready with the get-away car.
    • In Season 4, after Shaw is believed to have died Reese actually does attempt to train Finch. In this case, Finch refuses.
      Finch: When the time comes for me to pick up a firearm, all will truly be lost.
    • In the series finale, he's seen with a gun again.
  • The main character in The Prisoner (1967) never uses a gun, until the events of the final episode push him too far. (Some believe the character is the aforementioned John Drake.)
  • In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "The Most Toys", Data witnesses Fajo murder one of his employees with a weapon that was banned because of the slow, excruciating manner in which it kills. Her death is so brutal, in fact, that it even Fajo is clearly disturbed by it—so much so that he throws the weapon aside in disgust. Data, an android whose actions are strictly governed by ethics software, picks up the disruptor, aims it at Fajo, demanding that he surrender himself to the proper authorities. Fajo, however, responds to this threat with a mocking sneer as he believes that Data is incapable of shooting him and instead threatens to kill more of his employees if Data doesn't obey him. Data then takes a moment to consider his options and then appears to be about to fire when he gets beamed back aboard the Enterprise. In the end, it's left ambiguous as to whether Data pulled the trigger or not.
  • On Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Odo does not use phasers. In "Heart of Stone," when he picks one up and aims it at the Female Changeling, you know he's pissed.
  • Sam and Dean of Supernatural reach this threshold in the Season 2 finale. Earlier, they refuse to kill humans and are horrified when demonically possessed humans die while being exorcised. After, Sam comes Back from the Dead to empty a magazine into his helpless human killer, and Dean kills the Yellow-Eyed Demon along with its host. The change in attitude sticks for the rest of the series as they find that It Gets Easier — except when Rule of Drama says otherwise.
    • Arguably justifiable in most cases; since the show confirms that demons use their hosts and keep their bodies working regardless of the level of damage sustained, in most cases the Winchesters can conclude that any human possessed by a demon has already been through too much damage to survive an exorcism, focusing on exorcising only those hosts they can be sure won't just die off once the demon's gone.
  • White Collar's Neal snaps in this manner in the second season episode "Point Blank", when he has a chance to encounter and kill the man who he believes killed Kate. All of his friends are so worried about him being in this state that when Mozzie finds out he's got a gun, he immediately calls Peter, an FBI agent, which is his equivalent of this trope.


    Tabletop Games 
  • In Warhammer 40,000, this happened to one of the Primarchs in the game's backstory. Roboute Guilliman of the Ultramarines spent considerable effort devising the best tactics and strategies to use in a given situation, which he distributed in his Codex Astartes. This meant that when the Horus Heresy erupted and he found himself fighting the traitorous Alpha Legion, Alpharius knew precisely what Guilliman would do, which combined with the renegade Primarch's mastery of irregular warfare meant that the Ultramarines were outmaneuvered at every turn. Guilliman was only able to defeat Alpharius by abandoning his own rules of operation to make a risky, unsupported assault on the Alpha Legion command center and killing the other Primarch in personal combat. However, the Ultramarines doubt the veracity of the records detailing this event, and the Inquisitor who produced them is suspected of being an Alpha Legion infiltrator, so it's possible the whole story is nothing but propaganda.
  • BattleTech: After the devastation of the First and Second Succession Wars, the Inner Sphere resurrected an iron-clad rule: no nukes used within 70,000 km of a planet's atmosphere note . This rule held through the roughly 200 years of the Third Succession War, as well as the Fourth Succession War and the Clan Invasion, but then the Jihad happened. Once the Word of Blake started lobbing nukes with abandon, everyone else became Batman and began nuking the Word of Blake till they glowed. Repeatedly.

    Video Games 
  • Meta-Example: Any player might be attempting a Pacifist Run, but if there's a guard patrol that is too savvy to stealth, a Boss Battle too professional to take out non-lethally, the player might snap and start killing to save themselves the trouble of repeatedly failing followed by giving up.
  • Faith from Mirror's Edge applies to this based on her personal politics and ignoring player cruelty potential; considering her mother was shot for protesting, her sister is a cop and the player is generously awarded for not so much as shooting anyone, you know Faith is pissed when she's pointing a gun at an officer (though she seems to have remarkably few qualms about punting said cops off the roofs of buildings).
  • Played with in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, as the in-universe explanation for why Snake never used CQC before (added to the series in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, a prequel, so presumably Snake knew it since before the original Metal Gear) is because of Big Boss' betrayal of FOXHOUND. He uses it now because Big Boss' Cold War-era exploits were declassified after the Big Shell incident, meaning most soldiers on the battlefields of 4 know CQC, and Snake's first response to someone using it on him is to respond in kind. While Liquid, Ocelot, Gray Fox and Solidus might have known it, they all either had their own highly effective fighting styles, or were just never in a situation where they would use it.
    • Done subtly in Revengeance. Raiden says multiple times that he fights for justice, and he sees his sword as a tool to protect people weaker than himself. However, over the course of the game, he slowly starts going back on this, being forced to nearly kill a kid and unleash his psychotic Jack the Ripper persona to defeat his enemies. This comes to a head in the final battle where he has to use Sam's sword against Armstrong, proclaiming "This isn't MY sword!" and going to town on his opponent. Armstrong seems proud of him, using his dying words to congratulate him for shedding his ideals and being willing to kill. This rocks Raiden to his core as he realises everything he's had to give up to win. After all is said and done, it's clear in the end that he's starting to feel Not So Different from his foes.
  • Played brilliantly straight in Devil May Cry 3. Dante and Vergil are the twin sons of the Legendary Dark Knight Sparda. Dante chose to fight the demons while Vergil joined them. Dante uses his twin pistols, Ebony and Ivory, and his large sword, Rebellion; Vergil believes guns are dishonorable, choosing to use only his katana, Yamato. However, when push comes to shove, Vergil ends up taking one of Dante's guns and the pair shoot Arkham simultaneously, finishing him off.
  • Batman
    • In Batman: Vengeance, Batman is forced to use Mr. Freeze's cryo-gun after defeating the madman, whose helmet had started to show cracks. After encasing Freeze in a block of ice, the Dark Knight rather irritably throws the gun to one side.
    • Batman: Arkham Series:
      • While he doesn't use a gun in Arkham City, Batman does resort to lethal force against two bosses, and in both cases, it's perfectly justified. The first is Solomon Grundy, who can't be stopped by anything less, and has Resurrective Immortality that Batman knew beforehand, so it's not like Batman would have killed him permanently. The second is Clayface, who is immune to all of Batman's conventional tactics.
      • In the Season of Infamy DLC of Arkham Knight, the player has the option to destroy Ra's al Ghul's life support, allowing him to finally die for good. Batman's long-time ally Alfred Pennyworth even attempts to offer the view that it wouldn't actually be murder, as Ra's has been alive for centuries and has already 'died' before, but ultimately acknowledges that it is Batman's decision what he should do at this point.
  • Xenogears: For the first half of the game, Citan only fights with his bare hands. During the escape from Solaris, he pulls out a sword. He says that he had sworn to himself he'd never use it again, but with the state of the world being what it is, he can't afford to be self-righteous and try to keep his "innocence."
  • South Park: The Stick of Truth has your character, the New Kid (or Douchebag) trained in mystical magical arts (or rather, magical farts) by several different teachers. All of them close their lessons by warning Douchebag to never, ever, fart on a man's balls. However, when Princess Kenny betrays your side and ingests the Nazi Zombie serum, then withstands all of your allies' most powerful attacks in the final battle, Cartman says that their one hope is for Douchebag to break the "Gentleman's Oath", and fart on your enemy's balls. Doing so is the only way to defeat this foe.
  • Metroid Fusion reveals one in the backstory: when the Chozo discovered the X on SR388, they were so horrified by them that, despite their normal respect for all life and accompanying Alien Non-Interference Clause, they engineered the Metroids to exterminate them.
  • Injustice: Gods Among Us: The game's story involves an alternate universe where the Justice League, led by Superman, have gone into Knight Templar territory. The trigger was Metropolis being nuked by the Joker, with Lois Lane being among the victims. She was also pregnant with Superman's child at the time. This act led to Superman killing the Joker, setting him on the path to becoming a Fallen Hero. Deliberately invoked by the Joker in-universe: After years of tormenting Batman, Joker realised that Batman would never break, so he decided to see what would happen if a hero less acquainted with him and his methods had one bad day. Unfortunately for the Joker, it worked a little too well.
  • In PAYDAY 2, Task-force Commissioner Solomon Garrett is normally a dedicated by-the-books person, who won't kill unless absolutely necessary, which is seen when he expresses dismay towards the ZEAL team barging into DC on short notice, and is further reinforced when the game added Z-Snipers. He stays away from any morally gray choices (the Red Shirt nature of just about every single enemy in the game notwithstanding.) When the mysterious syndicate known as the Kataru makes itself known to him, he teams up with them, knowing full well that they wouldn't be treating the recently captured Bain humanely while he's their hostage. Garrett also arrested The Elephant after obtaining a warrant using evidence that he knew was forged by them, under the guise of knocking out one of Crime.Net's biggest assets.
    • Literally the case if you break stealth and he spots you in the Breakin' Feds heist.
  • Can be invoked by the player with the Doctor (or any custom class with the Pacifist trait) in Streets of Rogue. Normally they can't use any weapons other than a tranquilizer gun or taser (not even a water gun), but by spending a few hundred dollars to remove the trait at an augmentation booth they suddenly find the will to take up machineguns and rocket launchers against their enemies. Appropriate as well, since given how limited money can be and how much experience completing the Big Quest is worth (which specifically forbids lethal solutions to problems) you can safely assume that a player has been pushed to their limits and doesn't see any other option if they resort to this.
  • Outside of animals, undead and Chaos Beasts, Garrett from Thief tries to avoid killing whenever possible as a mark of professionalism (even if it's only strictly enforced on the higher difficulty levels.) The Big Bad of each game, however, tends to be such a drastic threat to both the city and Garrett himself that he's forced to waive his Thou Shalt Not Kill policy and take them down, albiet indirectly (he is a thief after all, not a fighter or assassin.)

    Visual Novels 
  • Though Grisaia no Meikyuu established that Yuuji hates guns and get sick if he tries to kill, the final piece of the trilogy Grisaia no Rakuen has him infiltrate a floating fortress and break a guard's neck barehanded. If he's to have any chance of success, he can't hold back.

  • Bob and George: This trope becomes a major plot point. George, at the very end, finally uses his arm cannon on Bob. He was shooting to kill, but the cannon didn't fire. It's revealed that the entire comic was meant to bring George to the point where he was willing to use deadly force to stop an enemy—even if said enemy was his own brother.
  • Parodied in this Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal. It turns out that Batman simply didn't know what guns are. When introduced to them by Mary Marvel, he's overjoyed by their efficiency and immediately shots Joker dead.
  • Spinnerette: At the very end of Issue 18, the titular protagonist, Heather - normally a naïve, unambiguously heroic goofball - coldly and unhesitatingly uses a thermite charge to immolate the series' most recent Big Bad, after he spends basically the entire issue beating Heather's girlfriend Marilyn to within an inch of her life. It's the first time any of the heroes, let alone Spinnerette, outright kills an antagonist.

    Web Original 
  • Afterworld. The main character, inspired by a vagrant with an interest in nonviolent problem solving (negotiation, scavenging, running), chooses to discard his gun in a hostile post-apocalypse so that he's more charismatic and trustworthy to the people that he meets on the way. However, the west side of the united states develops a high-strung police state, forcing him to grab a gun and start shooting, albeit sparingly and tactically.
  • Parodied in this CollegeHumor video where Batman does use guns but thinks everyone he kills is just sleeping.

    Western Animation 
  • In the Adventure Time episode "Simon & Marcy" a young Marceline makes Simon promise to stop using the crown that gives him ice powers but makes him more deformed and insane the longer he wears it. He tries his best to keep his promise, but when they find themselves in a dead end ambushed by mutants, he's forced to use it again to protect her. Simon never returns to his old self.
  • Batman Beyond is kicked off when an aged, ailing Batman suffers a heart attack at the worst possible moment — right in the middle of a crime bust — and is forced to grab a gun to defend himself. This Moment of Weakness convinces him that it's time to hang up the cowl, setting the stage for Terry to take it up years later.
  • Batman: The Brave and the Bold plays with this in the Grand Finale. Bat-Mite, trying to get the show cancelled, alters the show dramatically with many jump the shark mainstays, while Ambush Bug tries desperately to prove to a disbelieving Batman that it's not right for him to have a wife, a sickeningly cute daughter, and obvious toy tie-in gear. He finally gets Batman's attention when Bat-Mite makes him use guns, which Bug points out is completely Out of Character for Batman, and this marks the turning point of the episode where Batman starts fighting back as well.
  • In an early episode of Futurama, Hermes Conrad was revealed to be a former limbo champion who vowed to never limbo again after a young fan broke his back trying to emulate him. He is forced to use his limbo skills to get under a lowering door to save everyone else later in the episode. His vow seemed to be permanently disregarded after that.
  • Justice League
    • "The Savage Time" has an Alternate History version of Batman grab a gun from a fellow resistance fighter. Of course, his parents weren't killed by a lone gunman right in front of him, but killed by Vandal Savage's soldiers storming Wayne Manor.
    • "A Better World" features an Alternate Universe wherein the League jumps into full-on Knight Templar mode to protect the peace, started off by Superman being convinced that leaving Lex Luthor alive is too dangerous and abandoning his Thou Shalt Not Kill rule.
    • Dead Reckoning has Deadman briefly possess Batman in order to pick up a gun and shoot a villain. Batman is shaken and Superman and Wonder Woman totally shun Deadman afterward.
    • While not a gun, "Epilogue" has Batman volunteer to kill Ace, a Reality Warper whose powers were on the verge of wiping out everything for miles. She reveals, courtesy of a quick mind-reading, that he never intended to do so, and instead just talk to her.
  • Steven Universe:
    • Steven's mother Rose Quartz is an All-Loving Hero with a Thou Shalt Not Kill philosophy who specifically had her Cool Sword crafted such that it was physically incapable of shattering an enemy's Gem, only their physical body (while Gems have Resurrective Immortality, if their Gem itself is destroyed, they're dead for real). She was this to the point that she refused Bismuth's Breaking Point weapon, which was designed for exactly that. However we learn in the Season 3 finale that she ultimately had to shatter Pink Diamond, one of the four Diamonds that rule over the Gem's empire. According to Garnet, Rose had to do this, as Pink Diamond owned and ruled the Earth during its time as a Gem colony and destroying her was the only way to save the planet. Rose decidedly didn't want to do this. Season 5 sheds more light on this incident; specifically, that it’s a complete lie. Rose didn’t kill Pink Diamond, she was Pink Diamond. With Pearl’s help she faked her death using shapeshifting and created the identity of Rose Quartz out of a mistaken belief that this would get the other Diamonds to leave Earth alone.
    • Garnet takes fusion very seriously and sees it as a symbol of love, harmony and cooperation, something that Steven agrees with. However, there were times where both have been pushed far enough (in "Cry for Help" and "Beach City Drift" respectively) that they've forced a partner to fuse with them as a means to an end.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): The Doctor Grabs A Gun


The Doctor shoots the lights

The Doctor asks a soldier for his gun, and after making a speech that you should never put him in a trap, turns the lights out with the pistol.

How well does it match the trope?

4.2 (5 votes)

Example of:

Main / BatmanGrabsAGun

Media sources:

Main / BatmanGrabsAGun