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Blast Out

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All a powder keg needs is a single spark...

"Oh, well — Plan B. Let's just kill each other."
Castor Troy, Face/Off

Someone has just pulled a trigger in an unstable, high-tension situation where Everyone Is Armed. Everyone freaks out and draws their guns and starts blasting at each other, often wildly and at very close range. For this trope to work right, the outcome has to be truly up for grabs. If someone in a Mexican Standoff starts shooting, this is the expected result.

One possible result of the Powder Keg Crowd. If this happens at the finale of the story, often results in a Bolivian Army Ending.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Played for Laughs in Black Lagoon: when Jane comes to Eda's church seeking sanctuary, she is being chased by a group of gangsters. One gangster fires a warning shot that damages a church door and breaks a shot glass Revy is drinking from. Sadly for the gangsters, both women have literal Hair-Trigger Tempers and start unloading on the gangsters. They are soon joined by Rico, a priest-in-training with a heavy machine gun; and Yolanda, Eda's mother superior who comes packing a gold-plated Desert Eagle with HE rounds.note 
  • In one episode of Project A-Ko, the entire clientele of the alien warship-turned-restaurant turns out to be agents from different special intelligence agencies. This naturally results in a massive free-for-all brawl and shootout.
  • The grande finale of Ranma ˝ has Soun Tendo attempting to force Ranma Saotome and Akane Tendo to be married at last, having stolen a cure for Ranma's Gender Bender curse that was sent to the dojo as a reward for Ranma's attempts to save Jusenkyo and intending to blackmail Ranma and possibly Akane into going along with the wedding. Ranma promptly tries and steal the cask of Nanniichuan back, his other fiancees show up and start slinging explosives around to prevent the wedding, and his father, Ryoga and Mousse all show up to try and take the Nanniichuan for themselves. How does it end? The reception (both the party and the hall) has been blown to hell and back, and Happosai's drunk the Nanniichuan water. Nobody gets married, cured, or makes any serious attempt towards sorting out the Love Dodecahedron.

    Comic Books 
  • In the Batman storyline "War Games", Stephanie Brown organises a meeting of Gotham's gang bosses in an attempt to unite them under "Matches" Malone. When Matches does not show — being that Matches is an alias of Bruce Wayne, a fact Stephanie is at this point does not know — the meeting grows increasingly tense. Then one of the bosses reaches into his jacket for his cigar case in a room full of nervous gang bosses and their trigger happy bodyguards. A firefight quickly erupts, starting the gang war the plot revolves around.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Basic, two Army prisoners are held after their squad is apparently wiped out, along with their prestigious and famously cruel commander. Each tries to spin the story to their own individual advantage, which results in us seeing multiple different versions of a blast out.
  • Battle Royale has this as one of the most memorable scenes in the film: A group of about 10 schoolgirls are sitting around a table, in a refuge from the senseless slaughter around them. Then someone gets poisoned. Someone else gets paranoid, picks up a gun, and starts shooting. Everyone else follows suit. Survivors: 0. Time elapsed from happy to everyone being dead: 2 minutes, 17 seconds.
  • In The Brass Teapot Arnie and his wife, and the two Hasidic brothers pull guns on each other over possession of the titular Teapot near the movie’s climax. It’s not long before one of them shoots and they all kill each other.
  • Done on an organisation-wide basis in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Steve Rogers broadcasts that S.H.I.E.L.D. has been infiltrated by HYDRA, causing the loyalists and the infiltrators to point guns at each other, including Agent 13 and Brock Rumlow. Brock drops his pistol in apparent surrender, then uses a knife to slash 13's gun-arm. Everyone then starts shooting at each other.
  • In the film version of Children of Men, the battle between the military and the rebels is cut short when the hero comes through, holding the first baby in nearly two decades, as everyone looks on in awe, not wanting to harm it and quite possibly starting to cool down in general. Not long after he's cleared the battlefield, though, someone fires their gun and the whole thing starts again. Then the carpet bombing starts, more or less rendering the exercise moot anyway.
  • In Circus, the Mexican Standoff in the Greasy Spoon looks like it is going to be resolved amicably, with everyone starting to lower their weapons, when an employee works through the back door at the wrong moment. One of Bruno's hired guns starts shooting, and a firefight erupts. At least, according to Julius's version of events.
  • The climax of City on Fire, a 1987 Hong Kong film that influenced Reservoir Dogs.
  • Deadtime Stories: In "Goldi Lox and the Three Baers", the local police are one side of the house, and the state police are on the other: both forces with guns drawn. One cop sneezes and both sides start shooting.
  • At the start of Den of Thieves, Merriman and his crew are holding the armoured car guards at gunpoint while they hijack the armoured car. Things are going according to plan till one of the guards goes for his gun (or possibly just drops his coffee). Bosco shoots, a firefight kicks off that leaves one robber, most of the guards and several cops dead, and several others injured.
  • The movie Desperado, where the main character gets into a Blast Out with an entire bar full of Mexican gangsters and somehow manages to survive. We never even see how he manages to survive a shoot-out with an entire casa full of goons!
  • The Til Schweiger movie Eisbär (Ice Bear) from 1998 has many references to Pulp Fiction, but it ends in a Mexican stand-off (only with Europeans). It culminates in a very impressively staged Blast Out.
  • The end of the Will Smith movie Enemy of the State, in which Will Smith hides under a table during a Mexican Stand Off. It devolves into a Blast Out between the Mafia and the evil government agents, and nearly everybody dies.
  • Parodied in Facepunch, a fictional movie in the film adaptation of New Moon. The only audio we hear consists of a standoff quickly falling apart. LET'S DO THIS!
  • Most of the running time of Ben Wheatley's Free Fire is taken up by an apocalyptic twelve-way blast-out, with bloodied characters stumbling from one piece of cover to the next, making and breaking alliances at breakneck speed.
  • The Grand Duel: The Saxons agree to meet Clayton at the cattle pens. At the confrontation, when Clayton approaches, David says that the three must draw first to overcome Clayton's faster and expert gunplay. Vermeer, from a distance, shoots off Clayton's hat so that he draws first. It works and Clayton reacts by killing the three men and only getting a small wound.
  • At the end of Hooded Angels, there is a showdown between the surviving Angels and Wes and his posse in silver Creek, with the two groups standing on opposite sides of the town square with their hands hovering over their guns. While it doubtful the standoff could have been resolved peacefully given Hannah's determination not to be taken alive, the opportunity never arises, as Psycho Party Member Ellie chooses to lob dynamite between the groups. People dive for cover and as April does so, her hand instinctively closes on her pistol butt and pulls it clear of the holster. Billy sees the gun come out and shoots her, and the firefight is on.
  • The Immortals: During the huge Mexican Standoff in the nightclub kitchen, everything hits the fan when an Innocent Bystander drops some plates. Most of the good guys somehow make it out alive (if wounded), even though everyone involved in the shootout were standing only a few feet away from each other.
  • Infamous (2020): The Mexican Standoff in the bank ends when Kyle takes his eyes off Arielle for a second to glance at dean, and Arielle pulls the gun she has tucked down the back of her short shorts. She plugs Kyle between the eyes and everyone else fires. When the shooting stops, Arielle is the only one still standing.
  • Inglourious Basterds:
    Lt. Archie Hicox: It would appear there's only one thing left for you to do.
    Maj. Dieter Hellstrom: And what would that be?
    Hicox: Stiglitz?
    Sgt. Hugo Stiglitz: Say Auf wiedersehen to your Nazi balls!
  • In Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels, the gangs of Rory Breaker and Dog stumble upon each other with guns drawn, both expecting to find someone else. They start shooting anyway.
  • In Peter Jackson's adaptation of The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Saruman's forces reach Helm's Deep and there is a tense moment while the Uruk-hai pound their spears on the ground in unison. and the defenders of Rohan prepare to loose their arrows. Suddenly, one of the archers, an old man, loses his grip on his bowstring and lands an arrow in an Uruk-hai neck. After a moment of stunned silence, the battle begins, though contrary to this trope's usual context, there's no way in hell that legion of Uruk-hai would have allowed a peaceful solution.
  • In Mohawk, an uneasy standoff between the American soldiers and the Mohawk erupts into a combat when one of the American soldiers fires his musket.
  • In The Mountie, Sergeant Grayling's attempt to shut down an illegal dog fighting ring quickly turns it a shootout that he barely survives.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, Jack pulls the trigger during a Mexican Standoff, but it turns out the powder in all their guns is wet, so none of them go off.
  • The ending of Reservoir Dogs. Mr Orange, Mr White, Nice Guy Eddie and Joe Cabot are pointing guns and yelling at each other and then it's over very quickly.
  • Double subverted in Saving Private Ryan, during one scene an American soldier accidentally knocks down a wall by leaning on a log, only to reveal a squad of Germans on the other side, both the Americans and Germans scream and point weapons at each other, and right when the viewer thinks both sides will start firing...another American squad of soldiers, who are off screen, open fire and kill the Germans.
  • Given Six Reasons Why opens with a four-way Mexican Standoff, and most of the film is dedicated to explaining How We Got Here, there was really one way it could end...
  • The Tall Blond Man with One Black Shoe: Francois' pal Maurice, a practical joker, hands out a couple of exploding cigars — one of which, late in the picture, goes off in an ashtray during a tense Mexican Standoff between four men, all of whom promptly shoot each other.
  • The movie Tombstone portrays the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral as a tense standoff before a sly wink from Doc Holiday to Billy Clanton turns it into a full blown Blast Out.
  • Tombstone Rashomon: Something turns the confrontation between the Earps and the Cowboys from standoff to bloody gunfight in the blink of an eye. However, in keeping with the "Rashomon"-Style narrative, who and what triggers the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral varies in every retelling.
  • True Romance a bloody shootout occurs between The Mafia, the LAPD and two Hired Guns and the protagonists, all in the same room.
  • The ending of The Wild Bunch. A literal Mexican Stand Off between The Bunch and The Mexican Army ends with everybody (women, children, livestock, etc.) getting killed in a hail of bullets, complete with a heavy machine gun blazing.
  • Wind River: The situation between the deputies and the security guards at the drill site is extremely tense, and one Mexican Standoff has already been talked down. Then someone thinks he can get the drop on Jane by firing when she is not expecting it. A massive firefight ensues, with Jane ironically being of the few survivors.

  • In Caliban's War, Prax, who is searching for his kidnapped daughter, is in the middle of a tense standoff that looks like it might actually end peacefully — he then tries performing a dramatic gun cock because that's what heroes in action films always do — and inadvertently turns the Mexican Standoff into a Blast Out.
  • The Executioner. Mack Bolan sets this up on several occasions, making one Mafia faction suspicious of another faction, and when they meet to hash things out (with their weapons and mooks, of course) he'll open fire with a sniper rifle to make it look like they've been Lured into a Trap by the other side.
  • David Weber's Hell's Gate series includes this. Two populations have been exploring the multiverse for decades without encountering anyone, so neither side is prepared when they both enter the same universe at the same time. Two scouts meet in the forest, we see the situation from both their perspectives - they're justifiably tense - and then the story cuts away so not even the reader knows what happens. Both end up dead, and a series of mistakes, bad decisions, and lack of communication sends things From Bad to Worse.

    Live-Action TV 
  • On The 100, the peace talks between the 100 and the Grounders were tense to begin with, but when Jasper (who'd been hiding in the nearby woods with a gun) spots a Grounder hiding in the nearby woods with a bow and arrow, he opens fire, and everything goes right straight to hell.
  • Breaking Bad: "To'hajiilee" ends with a shoot-out between a group of Neo-Nazis and Hank with Gomez. When the next episode begins, Gomez is dead and Hank is wounded.
  • Invoked in an episode of Burn Notice, when the Villain of the Week is tricked by Michael and his friends into thinking that one of his henchmen is a traitor. This later results in a Mexican Standoff/argument between the villain, the "traitor", and some Mook who has no idea what the hell is going on. Sam, who is outside posing as a corrupt cop (long story), then fires his gun into the ground and then we hear a few off-screen shots, the villain begging for his life, and then one final shot. Michael even lampshades this when he says that arguments with guns drawn are not a good idea since everyone is tense and anything could set it off.
  • CSI: "Better Off Dead" opens with a furious firefight in a gun store that results in multiple fatalities. Flashbacks later show that is was triggered by a Blast Out, and the man responsible walked away without a scratch despite standing at the centre of the hail of bullets.
  • Double subverted on Justified when US Marshal Raylan Givens is in a tense standoff with two armed criminals. Raylan is able to calm them down and convince them that surrender is their best option. However, both thugs then realize that only one of the will be able to get a immunity in exchange for testify against their bosses. They start arguing and then turn their guns on each other. Before Raylan can talk them down again, they open fire and kill each other.
    • The show consistently subverts this trope when smart characters like Raylan, Boyd or Limehouse are involved. They will avoid a blast out by talking the opposition down or even suggesting a mutually beneficial deal. When a Detroit mobster called Picker is introduced in season 4, he is established as the Only Sane Man among Nicky Augustino's crew when he walks away from a Mexican Standoff with Raylan and Constable Bob for the simple reason that there was nothing to be gained from shooting it out.

  • Possible Older Than Print ur-example: The Battle of Camlann in Arthurian Legend is said to have begun when, at a tense parley, a soldier drew his sword to kill a snake.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Necromunda has a gameplay mechanic for the 'Shoot Out' scenario sees each player make a Nerve check for their gangnote  or a Cool check for each fighternote  each turn. To represent the building tension, these tests are cumulative and once the result reaches a specific value someone snaps and goes for their gun, causing all hell to break loose.

    Video Games 
  • Ghost Recon Wildlands has these situations with Santa Blanca sicarios and Unidad soldiers as the participants. These two groups are nominally enemies but usually leave each other alone unless Unidad spots Santa Blanca openly using violence. Sometimes squads of both can be seen together in tense conversation, and all it takes to trigger a bloodbath is a single untraceable shot by the player. Unidad usually comes out on top thanks to their superior armor and weapons, but the one or two wounded soldiers left standing pose much less of an obstacle than two dozen trained killers with itchy trigger fingers.
  • This happens during "The Wrap-Up" in Grand Theft Auto V- an utterly insane Mexican Standoff, consisting of multiple government factions, a Private Military Contractor and a couple of criminals has an FIB agent with an itchy-trigger finger shoot another FIB agent in the leg; that agent then shoots another in the head and things go to hell.
  • One Mexican Standoff between four Mah Jhong players in Killer7 winds up with all four men pulling the triggers simultaneously and all dying at once.
  • Deliberately invoked by Gene (aka Viper) in Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops. Using his More than Mind Control, he plants feelings of paranoia amongst a large platoon of defectors, creating a Powder Keg Crowd, until inevitably one pulls the trigger on their rifle, causing the entire group to start gunning each other down to a man. Only Big Boss and Johnathan were unaffected.
  • An early level of Perfect Dark Zero has the player coming up on a room full of enemies, split between the henchmen of a local crime boss and dataDyne's personal army. They're all very twitchy and constantly bickering between each other, however, so it doesn't take much - just shoot one without letting the rest see you, for instance - to set them against each other.
  • How John Marston meets his end in Red Dead Redemption.
    • This trope determines who has the starting advantage during some of the multiplayer game types while the players who were killed during it have to wait until they respawn.
  • In one Allied mission in Silent Storm, your team arrives to investigate a group of Allied soldiers suspected of being Nazi spies. However, they all think you are the spies. Everyone is cramped in a small room with guns loaded (and submachineguns are deadly at close range). This is a turn-based game, though, and you get the first turn. Otherwise, the game may have been over then.
  • Season 2, Episode 4 of The Walking Dead ends with either Clementine or Kenny shooting Rebecca, who had began to turn into a walker, which triggers the group of Russian survivors to start blasting away with assault rifles. Cue Smash to Black.

    Web Original 
  • One of the best examples of this in Survival of the Fittest is the Mexican Standoff between David Jackson, Jacob Starr, and Peri Barclay. To cut a long story short, Jacob snaps and starts shooting and a large fight ensues. Remarkably, very few people were injured.

    Western Animation 
  • Parodied in the Huck Finn episode of The Simpsons, a saloon undergoes a blast out when everyone pulls derringers out from a variety of hiding places, including from within the barrel of a larger gun, and starts firng wildly... and they are revealed to be unable to even damage glass. "These derringers sure are weak, Tom." "Powerful weak." One bounces off someone's eyeball, not even causing them to blink.

    Real Life 
  • The Battle of Lexington, where the question of "who fired the first shot" is a historical mystery. Whoever did fire the first shot, the "Shot Heard 'Round the World", it marked the beginning of what would become the American Revolutionary War.
  • The cruiser night action in Ironbottom Sound off Guadalcanal on November 13th, 1942 (which happened to be a Friday), one of two naval engagements just two days apart that are sometimes lumped together as the "Naval Battle of Guadalcanal" (though there were at least a half-dozen of those; the island was hotly contested). A force of American cruisers and destroyers met a force of Japanese cruisers and destroyers led by two battlecruisers. The Japanese outgunned the Americans, but the Americans had radar, though the advantage wasn't exploited because the American commander didn't trust the technology. The two fleets were less than 3,000 yards apart when a Japanese destroyer shone a searchlight on the light cruiser USS Atlanta. The cruiser's captain ordered his own lights to counterilluminate the contact, but a gunnery officer with better common sense replied,note  "Fuck that! Open fire!" Atlanta tore the destroyer apart in seconds, and both fleets opened up at rapidly-decreasing range. Both sides' battle lines broke down, multiple ships came within feet of colliding, and almost every ship on both sides suffered hits from friendly fire. Within minutes, Ironbottom Sound became a maelstrom of twisted steel, burning oil, and dying men. By morning, the only ships of either fleet left in the sound were either dead in the water or on the bottom, with the rest having retreated in disarray. By the numbers, the Japanese technically won, having sunken or rendered combat-ineffective all but two of the Americans' ships, but strategically it came out as a draw. While Japan likely would have encountered little more resistance had they pressed their advantage and moved to bombard Guadalcanal, they were disoriented and had expended much of their ammo in the battle; using the rest of it to bombard Henderson Field would disable American air cover and clear the way for Japanese troop transports, but it would leave them and the transports vulnerable to American naval aircraft. Compounding this was that the ship carrying the Japanese naval commander had been heavily damaged,note  with much of the command staff dead, the commander himself wounded and badly concussed when the ship's bridge was shot up by an American destroyer,note  and the radio barely operational, meaning there was almost no way to coordinate for an attack or even know how many ships he had available in the first place.