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Bullet Dancing

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"Let's see you dance!"
Just about everyone who has used this trope, ever

A character with a gun fires quickly and repeatedly at the ground near another character's feet. The victim makes a series of awkward, near-reflexive jumps to save himself from being shot. Though his pride takes a sore beating, the victim's tender tootsies almost always survive unscathed.

Given the number of parodies and subversions listed below, this is obviously a Dead Horse Trope nowadays. Due to being a prominent trope in The Wild West, it most often involves revolvers, therefore they are often required to have Bottomless Magazines to shoot more than six times (Guns Akimbo can somewhat circumvent the problem but not for long, Throw-Away Guns is a rare occurence in such situation).

This should be obvious but Do Not Try This at Home. Pointing a deadly weapon, much less firing it, at someone should be reserved for life threatening situations. Firing a weapon should only be to eliminate a deadly threat in which case you should be aiming at centre mass. Deliberately firing near someone to scare them will get you into very serious legal trouble in most jurisdictions, not to mention you could hit and kill them accidentally, or someone behind them, and if the surface you are firing at is something like concrete the bullet could ricochet extremely unpredictably - you might even hit yourself.

Compare Death Trap Tango and Hurt Foot Hop. Not to be confused with ballet dancing or with belly dancing.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • During the Vampire Twins arc in Black Lagoon, the local triad leader Mr. Chang had to do some unusual poses to dodge the full-automatic barrage of little Gretel's Browning Automatic Rifle. She evens compliments on his "dancing".
  • At one point in Eyeshield 21 Hiruma does this to his teammates while they're doing footwork training. "Do the dance from hell!"
  • In JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Steel Ball Run, Disco's Chocolate Disco generates a grid in front of him, essentially trapping his opponents on a deadly dance floor where he forces them to do some Bullet Dancing.
  • Rare good guy doing this to bad guy example in Martian Successor Nadesico. The crew gets into a conflict with sinister Earth government officials. Izumi gets a kick out of doing this to The Men in Black.
  • In Moriarty the Patriot, Moran shoots at Dudley's feet in Dancers on the Bridge until Dudley finds himself over the edge of the bridge.
  • In a banned Pok√©mon: The Original Series episode, "The Legend of Dratini", Team Rocket is made to do this dance as they finish reciting their motto while the Safari Zone warden shoots at their feet. The warden in general was the reason the episode was banned.
  • The Monster of the Week does this to Sailor Moon and Sailor Chibi Moon in episode 145 of Super S, only with nuts instead of bullets.
  • In Soul Eater, BlackStar and Tsubaki end up doing this when the latter decides to confront a roomful of mobsters armed with tommy guns. Black Star and Soul do the same during their fight with Kid.

    Audio Plays 
  • Done in The Firesign Theater's skit "Temporarily Humboldt County", from the album Waiting for the Electician: someone fires a gun (presumably) at a native American Indian's feet.
    'Let's see the war dance, yeah *bang* dance dance'.

    Comic Books 
  • The Life And Times Of Scrooge Mcduck: Scrooge does this to Flintheart Glomgold in "The Terror of the Transvaal" after tarring and feathering him. He does actually only shoot twelve bullets from both revolvers before reloading.
  • A favorite pastime of most Lucky Luke villains. Even sometimes Lucky Luke himself, generally to return the favor to one of said villains. In album Le Pied-tendre, this is shown to be a common "welcome" for immigrants foreign to The Wild West. Defied when tried on the title "tenderfoot", who's a Quintessential British Gentleman and stays utterly unimpressed by the locals' attempt to intimidate him.
  • Wonder Woman:
    • Back in the Golden Age Wondy had a villain pull a version of this on her using swords; she had a bunch of henchwomen swing swords at Di's feet while Di "danced" on a table with her powers nullified with the promise of killing her once she couldn't avoid the blades anymore.
    • Wonder Woman (1942): In "The Master Plan of Paula Von Gunther" Diana forces the Warden to dance to avoid bullets from his own gun in order to make him lock her up.

    Comic Strips 
  • One The Far Side cartoon has two baddies suspect their target is making fun of them when he does a ballet jump while they shoot at him.

    Films — Animated 
  • Variation: In Batman: Assault on Arkham, Harley Quinn tries the shoot the Joker in his cell. When he points out that the cell, including the transparent front plate, is bulletproof, she sticks the gun into an air hole and fires a shot that ricochets around inside, forcing the Joker into silly-looking gyrations to avoid it.
  • The snake version occurs in Batman: Soul of the Dragon. In an Establishing Character Moment, Jeffrey Burr pays off a call girl, but as she leaves she finds herself locked in a chamber where Jeffrey order her to dance for him. She refuses, and then the cobras come out... Her 'dance' doesn't last very long.
  • In Rango, as Bad Bill and his gang enter the bar they start shooting the ceiling and the feet of a farmer who owes them money, making him move rapidly to avoid the bullets.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Back to the Future Part III, Mad Dog Tannen fires a gun at Marty's feet while ordering him to "dance". Spoofed as Marty turns it into a full-fledged moonwalk, jumping on a loose board to launch a spittoon on Tannen for a finale. As another nod to Michael Jackson, you can hear Marty singing the chorus of "Billie Jean" to himself as he moonwalks.
  • The conclusion of Spike Lee's film Bamboozled, where the gangsta rapper Mau-Maus force Manray to tapdance one last time before shooting him. Spike Lee uses footage from the scene in "Bugs Bunny Rides Again" to contrast with the tragedy of the scene.
  • Inverted in the 1987 comedy Blind Date. Bruce Willis' character gets hold of revolver and forces his date's psycho ex-boyfriend to dance at gunpoint. After commanding the guy to moonwalk, Bruce stares for a moment, screams "I HATE THAT SHIT!" and then starts shooting at his feet.
  • Marty Feldman imagines doing this to a rival during an Imagine Spot in Every Home Should Have One.
  • Subverted in the gangster flick Goodfellas. Tommy actually shoots the bartender, Spider in the foot as he's doing the Bullet Dance. Spider is naturally resentful and insults Tommy on a later occasion; so this time Tommy empties his gun into Spider, and action that shocks even his fellow Mafiosi.
  • Older Than Radio: It was even done in the first movie western, The Great Train Robbery (1903).
  • An alternate version can be seen in Hero (2002), when the Imperial archers attack a calligraphy school, unleashing wave after wave of arrows. Nameless and Flying Snow stand in front of the school, brushing aside as many arrows as they can with martial arts moves that closely resemble dancing.
  • In Inspector Gadget (1999), our favorite bumbling cyborg is face to face with his evil robotic double on the Roberto Clemente Bridge. When asked if he knows how to dance, Gadget mentions taking lessons not too long ago in what quickly becomes a Noodle Incident as Robo-Gadget fires at his feet.
  • Judas Kiss: While dealing with Dirty Cop Matty Grimes, Friedman fires his gun into the floor a fraction of an inch away from Grimes' foot; causing him to jump back and blurt out the answer Friedman wants.
  • During the finale of Little Shop of Horrors, Seymour grabs a revolver and tries to shoot Audrey II to little effect. Audrey snatches the gun from his hand, does some Gun Twirling then fires at Seymour's feet during the song "Mean Green Mother From Outer Space".
  • The Mask: After Dorian and his accomplices stop The Mask and Tina's dancing in Coco Bongo, one of the henchmen tries to shoot The Mask, but The Mask manages to avoid the bullets using his elastic body and shapeshifting ability, before he got "shot for real" (pretending).
  • Pale Rider: The corrupt marshalls led by Stockburn force one of the pan miners to do this, until he reaches for his own gun and they can 'legally' shoot him.
  • Platoon: Taylor does this to a one-legged Vietnamese villager.
  • Prairie Fever: Olivia does this to James and Earl to prevent them following the wagon after their ambush goes wrong at the trading post.
  • The Quick and the Dead: Herod briefly makes 'Ace' Hanlon do this before killing him, as a means of showing his contempt for the Miles Gloriosus.
  • When tormenting Hoop for attempting to abandon the group in The Revengers, Quiberon and Job make him dance by throwing knives at his feet.
  • Shanghai Noon: Marshal Van Cleef's deputies try to make Chon Wang do this before he whoops them.
  • This was already being parodied by 1917 and Wild and Woolly. The protagonist, a goofball New Yorker who likes to dress up in cowboy clothes and pretend he's in The Wild West, does this to his butler. Later when he goes to a perfectly modern 1917 Arizona town, the townsfolk make it over to look like The Wild West for his amusement. Bullet Dancing is one of the tropes they fake.
  • In Wrongfully Accused, when the police arrest and shoot the bad guys on the feet with a parody of Riverdance. The bad guys, in this case, are Irish terrorists, so it makes sense.

  • Wannabe hardcase Bill Wendee does this to the local schoolteacher in the short story "Bill Wendee Likes an Edge" in Sagebrush Sleuth by J.T. Edson.
  • A variation in Man Eaters of Zamboula. An Evil Sorcerer forces dancing girl Zabibi to dance between four cobras who keep lashing out at her.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In The Adventures of Superman episode "The Bully of Dry Gulch", the villain ends up hopping to avoid his former lackeys' (?) bullets.
  • The Aquabats! Super Show!: The robot gunslinger does this to MC Bat Commander in "Cowboy Android!".
  • A saber variant occurs in Batman (1966). Batgirl is singlehandedly fending off a fleet of Cossack henchmen. One of them stops the battle by throwing something in her path which causes her to slip. They truss her up and proceed to work their sabers on her, which she has to dance to avoid. Helpful in that Yvonne Craig was a trained dancer.
  • On Cleveland's Big Chuck and Lil' John Show a skit showed a cowboy at a saloon offering "Dance Lessons $20". He gives the beautiful saloon girl the money, but instead of dancing with her, a gunslinger comes out and everyone else starts clapping as they do the bullet dance.
  • The Carol Burnett Show: A sketch with John Byner has him as a gunslinger who enters a bar and takes over. It ends with him ordering everyone to dance as he fires around their feet. Lyle Waggoner is the bartender, Harvey Korman is one of the patrons, and the others are played by the Ernie Flatt Dancers. They all do a very well-choreographed number.
  • Doctor Who
    • In "Empress of Mars", one of the Victorian soldiers takes a shot at the Doctor's feet, causing him to jump back from Friday.
    • Inverted in "Spyfall" where one of the Doctor's companions is wearing spy shoes that fire lasers. When surrounded by hostile aliens he starts dancing, shooting laser beams in all directions.
  • Parodied on Australian Sketch Comedy program Double Take where a gunslinger makes an old prospector bullet dance, only for it to be revealed as an audition for So You Think You Can Dance.
  • A Fast Forward skit spoofing Kung Fu (1972) had cowboys doing this to Caine. His hat falls off and he's mistaken for Midnight Oil singer Peter Garrett thanks to his bald head — the cowboys flee before he starts singing as well as dancing.
  • Jonathan Creek: Mr Ipswich does this to the two burglars who break into his house at the end of "The Sinner and the Sandman"; pulling a pistol out of his stuffed rabbit. The burglars think it is a prop till he starts shooting at their feet.
  • An episode of Land of the Lost (1991) has one of the main characters doing this to the Sleestaks using a ray gun he found.
  • Maverick: In "Point Blank", Moose—a local bully and practical joker—plans to make Bret dance by shooting at his feet. Bret, not trusting the drunk Moose's aim, escapes by Flipping the Table and shooting the gun out of his hand.
  • Midsomer Murders: In "The Village That Rose From the Dead", a Crazy Jealous Guy does this to man who cuckolded him in preparation for shooting him for real.
  • Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries: In "Murder Under the Mistletoe", the killer does this to Phryne; shooting at her feet in order to make her dance in keeping with his Twelve Days of Christmas theme.
  • In the Roy Rogers episode of The Muppet Show, Statler gets Waldorf bullet dancing, and Waldorf starts doing ballet. When they try it the other way around, all that happens is Statler gets a bullet in his foot.
  • The Red Dwarf episode "Gunmen of the Apocalypse" has the leader of the gunmen get Kryten to dance this way.
  • Relic Hunter: Sydney does this to Reiner in "Diamond in the Rough". After Sydney gets Reiner's gun away from him, he grabs Nigel and holds him hostage. Sydney proceeds to empty the gun at Reiner's feet; forcing him to jump while delivering a lecture about why she Does Not Like Guns.
  • Tongue-in-cheek variation: In the second episode of the 2006 series of Robin Hood, Robin and his friends are robbed by bandits, then turn the tables; after tying the bandits up, Robin gets them dancing by shooting arrows at their feet.
  • On Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In, there was a sketch set in a typical Western bar. Goldie Hawn asked Alan Sues if he wanted to dance. When he said yes, she produced a gun and began doing this to him. For good measure, guest star Lorne Greene commented, "He's very light on his feet."
  • Saturday Night Live had a Wild West sketch with Danny Devito where he played a stereotypical bandit doing this trope to a character played by Jon Lovitz, until the bandit accidentally hits the guy's foot, and spends the rest of the sketch summoning all his charm to make up for it.
  • In an episode of The Slammer, the Governor does this to Gimbert after he has lost the Governor's showtime suit and the Governor has to host the Freedom Show dressed as a cowboy (It Makes Sense in Context).
  • Whiplash: In "Episode in Bathurst", outlaw Matt Denver attempts to to this Chris Cobb; who does not even flinch as the bullets impact by his feet. at the end of the episode, Cobb forces Denver to dance by cracking his whip at Denver's feet.
  • Xena: Warrior Princess: In "The Xena Scrolls", Dr Janice Covington (Gabrielle) does this to the bandit who attempts to steal Mel (Xena)'s briefcase. Using a tommy gun.

  • In one of Stan Rogers's songs, an Albertan rancher makes some cattle rustlers do the bullet dance. In this case, it's the hero doing it to the bad guys.
  • The narrator of "Charlie M" by Space is being forced to do this by the titular criminal.

  • In the Act One finale of Girl Crazy, when Danny tries to restrain Molly from running off to Mexico with a Romantic False Lead, she derides him as a dancing man and starts firing at his feet.

    Video Games 
  • ANNO: Mutationem: In the DLC, once Noni defeats the firmware AI, she continuously fires making it hop around until it explains what the mysterious console actually is.
  • Bomberman Generation: After Assault Bomber arrives to battle, he first intimidates Bomberman by firing his machine gun at the ground.
  • Referenced by the Flash Gitz of Dawn of War (the fastest-shooting ork unit), who have "Dance, 'umie! Dance!" as a quote. Of course, they're not shooting at their feet, but ork shooting being what it is, they might as well be.
  • Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening: Jester loves doing this as a parody, especially when he introduced himself. Dante shoots at Jester's feet when he's becoming annoying, then the clown breaks into the Charleston as he dodges the bullets. In his boss fights, Jester does this whenever you attempt to shoot him, though after a few shots, he's tired out and left wide open for some melee hits.
  • In Final Fantasy VII, Barret is on the receiving end of an accident example due to Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy firing.
  • Two Crazy Survivalists pull this on a North Korean soldier in Homefront.
  • Xigbar's ultimate attack in Kingdom Hearts II. He even calls out "Let's see you dance!" before unleashing it.
  • Red Dead Redemption 2:
    • If the player chooses to shoot one of the two kidnappers in lieu of beating them up at the campsite during the mission "Magicians for Sport", a cutscene will play of Arthur coming up to the remaining kidnapper with gun drawn, demanding to know where they took Trelawny, and when the terrified man has trouble finding his words, Arthur decides to help him find his tongue by shooting repeatedly at his feet.
    • Early in the epilogue, the leader of the Laramie Gang threatens Abe, one of the Pronghorn ranch hands, in this manner.
  • In Skies of Arcadia, Gilder references the trope when performing his "Gunslinger" S-Move, although since the enemies take (quite a bit of) damage from the attack they apparently don't dance very well.
    Gilder: C'mon... Dance for me.
  • In Spyro: Year of the Dragon, Agent 9 inflicts this on Moneybags with his laser gun after being freed by Spyro.
    Agent 9: Ooh, say, you ever see a bear dance? (cackles)
    Spyro: Uh... no.
    Agent 9: We-heh-heh-eeeeell, it's your lucky day! Check this out!
  • Parodied in Star Wars: Behind the Magic, which offers weapons demonstrations for, among other things, a blaster. The Stormtrooper used for the test subject starts dancing as is normally expected of the trope, and by the time the blaster has stopped firing, he's doing actual dance moves. He's finally shot in the chest when his routine ends.

    Web Animation 
  • Lampshaded in a sing-song voice and subsequently subverted in the "Spanish Class" episode of Stickman Exodus.

    Western Animation 
  • Adventures of the Gummi Bears: In "Friar Tum", a trio of trolls were doing this to an abbot; this show taking place in the medieval ages, so the gun was a walnut shooter.
  • Variation in an episode of Avatar: The Last Airbender, a man swings his dual dao swords at Uncle Iroh's feet, prompting him to dance and avoid the blades. Upon closer inspection you can see he just slashes in front of his feet, so it really wouldn't hurt him if he didn't move (but then he wouldn't get paid for dancing).
  • One Betty Boop cartoon has Betty held at gunpoint by a bunch of hillbillies who start shooting at her feet when she tells them that she is a dancer to get her to prove it. They are so impressed by her dancing that they join in and play music for her.
  • One of the most famous subversions was in the Bugs Bunny cartoon "Bugs Bunny Rides Again", where Yosemite Sam fires at Bugs' feet and orders him to "Dance!" — and Bugs breaks into a full-bore softshoe routine complete with straw hat and cane. Bugs then yells "Take it, Sam!" and the confused Sam does — straight into an open mine shaft.
  • In the Dilbert animated series Dogbert abuses his diplomatic immunity by commanding an Elbonian traffic cop to dance while firing at his feet. Dogbert then orders him to riverdance, whereupon the cop strips off his shirt and puts on a bandana he inexplicably had on his person.
  • The Ed, Edd n Eddy episode "Know It All Ed" is a Cowboy Episode where in place of guns, the kids use turkey basters (that the Eds sold as "Canadian Squirt Guns"). The Kankers shoot all their basters' contents at the Ed's feet while telling them to dance. Eddy is unimpressed that the Kankers "got their feet wet", until he finds out he's standing in rubber cement.
  • One episode of Family Guy features a Cutaway Gag with Stewie parodying Oliver Twist; after the typical "I want some more" request, he holds the cook at gunpoint (with a laser pistol, no less) and forces him to put on a dress before invoking this trope. It's as awesome as it sounds.
  • Parodied in Kim Possible, in the episode where Ron is obsessed with the boy band "Oh Boyz". He gets out of a cage and dodges heat seeking lasers by — you guessed it— dancing.
  • Sindbad, played by Bluto, does this to a captured Olive Oyl in Popeye the Sailor Meets Sindbad the Sailor using a peashooter.
  • Parodied on The Simpsons episode "Burns' Heir", in a flashback where Mr. Burns recalls performing this trick with a single shot pistol — firing, manually loading a bullet and powder into the muzzle, cocking the hammer, and firing again while the victim dances obligingly.
  • Space Ghost Coast to Coast: Space Ghost repeatedly blasts the floor near Zorak in "Pal Joey".
    Space Ghost: Dance, mantis! Dance for Michael's pleasure!
  • In an episode of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Mandalorian Death Watch combatants make a bunch of captured droids to dance the "cowboy dance".
  • Bruce Wayne in a rather embarrassing scene from his three-part DC Animated Universe teamup with Superman in the Superman: The Animated Series episode "World's Finest."

    Real Life 
  • Real Life Bad Man Clay Allison is alleged to have actually done this to someone; the story goes that the man later tracked him down and returned the favor. Allison was supposedly so impressed he didn't even hold a grudge, despite the fact that (unlike the other guy) Allison had a club foot.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Shotgun Dance



Dogbert shows off to Dilbert how he can abuse his power as a diplomat of Elbonia.

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

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