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Calling Shotgun

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Simmons: Shotgun!
Grif: [a split-second late] Shotgu— Fuck!

Simply put, a character sees a Cool Car that they know they will never get to drive and will do the next best thing: they call shotgun! (The front passenger seat, for those unfamiliar with the metaphor) Bonus points if they beat out another character by a fraction of a second.

Here be the official rules concerning the etiquette and conduct when calling shotgun.

The term "riding shotgun" comes from the days of stagecoaches in the Old West. A stagecoach had a crew of two. One drove while the other protected the cargo and passengers with a short shotgun called a coach gun. While the term was never actually used in the Old West, it was first popularized by the movie Stagecoach. When the transition from stagecoaches to automobiles was made has never been determined.

A typical way to play with this trope is to have the passenger actually carry a shotgun.


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    Comic Books 
  • From Birds of Prey:
    Lady Blackhawk: You drive. I call shotgun.
    Gypsy: But Shiva's already in that seat...
    Lady Blackhawk: No. I mean — I call shotgun.

    Fan Fiction 
  • In the fanfic Gunpowder and Lead, a character refers to the passenger-seat position in the urban tank used to batter down doors in a raid as "riding widowmaker", using the name for the specific Justice-Department issue shotgun in the setting.
  • Oversaturated World: From the eighth chapter of Crossworlds Guardian, Sailor Orbital!:
    "I call shotgun!" Raspberry Fluff shouted as she rushed forward—only to jerk to a sudden stop as Ditzy grabbed her collar. "Ow! Hey!"
    "As the leader, I need full and instant view of the situation we're going into in order to determine our course of action. Hence, I get shotgun."

    Film — Animated 

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Blades of Glory:
    Chazz: I permanently call shotgun.
    Jimmy: You do not get shotgun every time!
  • A repeated line in Dazed and Confused.
    Slater: Shotgun!
  • Hot Fuzz:
    Danny Butterman: [running to police car] I'll drive!
    Nicholas Angel: Shotgun!
  • Malibu's Most Wanted: After being kidnapped and shoved into the trunk of a car, B-Rad yells "Shotgun!"
  • Transformers (2007):
    Miles: Hey, I called shotgun! Bros before hoes, man!
  • Serenity: River Tam slips into the co-pilot's seat next to Captain Mal.
    Captain Mal: So, you gonna ride shotgun with me, help me fly?
    River Tam: That's the plan.
  • Undercover Brother: As the B.R.O.T.H.E.R.H.O.O.D. agents run to the hovercraft so they can escape The Man's island, Conspiracy Brother calls out "Shotgun!"
  • Mystery Men:
    Spleen: Shotgun!
    Blue Raja: Yes, well, I already called it, didn't I?
  • In the opening Chase Scene of Mad Max, MFP officers Roop and Charlie squabble Like an Old Married Couple over who's driving their Pursuit Special. First Charlie is driving with Roop in passenger seat armed with a double-barreled shotgun, but his attempt to shoot the Nightrider only causes them to crash. Once they get their vehicle started again Roop insists on taking the wheel, getting them into two more crashes that end with their Pursuit Special a write-off and Charlie permanently disabled.


    Live-Action TV 
  • Psych:
    • In the episode "Rob-a-Bye Baby":
      Gus: Blimp rides!
      Shawn: Shotgun.
      Gus: You can't call shotgun on a blimp!
      Shawn: You can call shotgun anywhere except a crowded movie theater.
    • It becomes somewhat of a Running Gag. In "Earth, Wind and... Wait for It", Shawn attempts to call shotgun on a fire station pole, and in "Truer Lies", Shawn again tries to call shotgun — this time on a hot air balloon. Both instances also follow up with Gus' "You can't call shotgun on X, Shawn."
  • In the Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles "Queen's Gambit":
    Sarah Connor: Field trip.
    John Connor: I call shotgun.
    Cameron Phillips: I call 9 mm.
  • In the Angel episode "The Cautionary Tale of Numero Cinco":
    Wesley Wyndam-Pryce: Yeah, remind me again how you ended up in the front seat.
    Spike: Called shotgun, mate.
    Wesley: Oh. I thought we were doing a weapons check.
  • That '70s Show episode "Nobody's Fault But Mine":
    Michael Kelso: Fine, Shotgun!
    Steven Hyde: There's only two of us, you moron!
  • In My Name Is Earl, Randy initiates his abortive romance with Catalina by calling "dibs".
  • Michael Scott does this in The Office (US), even though they're taking Dwight to the hospital and he really should be in the front. Michael then explains the sanctity of the rule of shotgun and how it can't be questioned.
  • Hank does it during a ridealong on Corner Gas, causing Karen, the actual policewoman, to ride in the back of the car. Later in the episode, Karen tries calling shotgun, but is told to grow up.
  • A variant from Friends. Joey and Chandler have traded apartments with Rachel and Monica, and they're moving in. While carrying something into their new place...
    Joey: I call Monica's room!
    Chandler: You can't just call Monica's room.
    Joey: Sure I can. Standard shotgun rules: I'm in sight of the room and I call it.
    Chandler: Damn!
  • How I Met Your Mother: Immediately after chastising Ted for buying a new car, Barney calls shotgun for all eternity, which he and Robin then argue about. It comes up again later when he (unsuccessfully) tries to enforce it and he and Robin get back into the argument.
  • Person of Interest: A Visual Pun in "God Mode". When our heroes break into a lockup to find a Ferrari, Shaw promptly hands her SPAS-12 shotgun to Reese.
    Reese: What's this for?
    Shaw: To help you feel less inadequate while I drive this thing.
  • Used several times for comedic effect in The Inbetweeners.
    • In the episode where Simon gets his car, the boys are going to Thorpe Park, and he picks up Will first. Will naturally sits on the front seat, and when they stop to pick up Jay, Simon and Will both get out of the car to greet him. When Will is about to get back to the front seat, Jay instantly calls shotgun. Will has not heard of shotgun before, and it is explained to him, after which Jay and Simon insis that he should sit at the backseat. Cue one of Will's usual "unwritten rule I have never about heard before or just don't like" rants.
    • In a later episode, Simon lets his own girlfriend sit in the backseat, in the uncomfortable space between Will and Jay, just because Neil called shotgun, and she does not manage to change his mind. While Simon is often the Only Sane Man, he certainly has a noticeable quirk in how he follows the shotgun rules like they are laws with capital punishment for breaking them.
  • Lost: Hurley finds an abandoned Dharma Initiative VW microbus and tries to restore it. Unable to get it running, he decides to run it down a hill, hoping that popping the clutch at the right time will jumpstart it. Sawyer and Jin both try to talk him out of an obvious suicide run — and then Charlie calls shotgun.
  • A variant on Intimate where it's about getting into the car at all: The guys spontaneously decide to take a vacation, but Max points out they are five and only he has a car, which is a four-seater. The others instantly start playing games to determine the loser: calling shotgun, touching the ground, and "the floor is lava". Leo is able to keep up with the first two games, but as he's the only one not directly standing next to a couch (and even Max steps on the chair behind him just to be safe faster than Leo can react), he loses out in the end.

  • A John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme sketch has a young boy calling "Shotgun!" while his sister is halfway through saying "Bagsy the front seat!" Dad reckons that the boy said it first, but when the girl appeals to Mum, she rules that theirs is not a "shotgun" household. The son appeals this decision, taking it to the Council of Grandparents, who have a split vote, so it eventually goes to the extended family in session.
  • In Cabin Pressure, Martin reckons that he doesn't need to call shotgun; he gets to sit in the front of Carolyn's car because he's the captain.
    Douglas: The captain sits at the front of the plane, because he's driving it. It doesn't mean he gets to sit in the front of any vehicle he happens to be in.

    Video Games 
  • Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal:
    Klunk: Shotgun!
    Qwark: Aargh!
    [various impact noises]
    Ratchet: Hey! Gah— what are you doing?
    Qwark: Move over, I'll drive!
    Ratchet: Uh, no thanks, I'd rather make it there in one piece.
    Qwark: Stand down, soldier, this is your captain speaking!
    Ratchet: Captain my
    [various cartoon impact noises, grunting throughout]
    Ratchet: Wait! No, don't sit on the flight stick!
    Qwark: Auuaaugh!
  • In Half-Life 2: Episode 2, Alyx Vance playfully calls "Shotgun!" before she and Gordon Freeman go riding in a dune buggy-like car. The chapter itself is even called "Riding shotgun".
  • Halo: Friendly human NPCs will often call out 'shotgun' while you or another character is driving a vehicle and the gunner position is already taken.
  • In one of the Hearthstone Mulligan shorts Uther and Gul'Dan get confused about the concept and spend so long trying to figure it out that Jaina ends up calling it instead.


    Web Videos 
  • In Dragon Ball Z Abridged, Android 16 climbs into the back of a van, closes the door, and then says "Shotgun." 17 replies "Not quite what that means, but you keep trying, man."
  • The Hire: A Visual Pun in "Beat the Devil". James Brown and Clive Owen must win a drag race with the Devil (played by Gary Oldman) who's seated next to Danny Trejo as his driver. Oldman starts the race by firing a shotgun out the sunroof of his Cool Car.
  • Red vs. Blue:
    • The characters, typically the Red Team, routinely call dibs and shotgun on any new vehicle. Generally it's Grif winning against Simmons, unless Simmons winning can be used as a punchline. For example:
      Simmons: Shotgun!
      Grif: Shotgun! Fuck!
      Donut: Shotgun's lap!
      Simmons: Fuck!
    • It's worth pointing out that the Reds generally have a system that works for them already in place for the Warthog/Puma/Chupathingy. Grif drives, Simmons takes the mounted turret gun, and Sarge rides shotgun (and he does, in fact, carry one). Then Sarge turns it into a codeword so Simmons and Grif can generally do something awesome with it. Of course, the Reds being who they are, it takes some work before they get it...
      Sarge: [after several unsuccessful attempts] Shotgun, damnit!
  • In one Thomas Sanders Vine, Thomas' friends complain when he calls shotgun, saying that he already had it on their earlier drive...only to turn around and learn that he actually found a shotgun.
    Thomas: And I want the front seat! [cocks gun]

    Western Animation 
  • Futurama: When the crew need to go inside Fry's body with a miniature Planet Express Ship, both Bender and Zoidberg yell out, "Shotgun!" Bender beats Zoidberg to it.
  • Mrs. Avery does this in The PJs... with an actual shotgun.
  • In an episode of Family Guy, Peter befriends Bill Clinton. When about to enter the former President's limo, Peter pauses momentarily to express his awe before calling shotgun.
  • In South Park, when Cartman and his friends are on a trip to Nebraska, he calls shotgun, but Kenny is already sitting on the front. He tells Kenny to get out multiple times but Kenny ignores hum... until Cartman throws a dollar and Kenny leaves.
  • In Ben 10: Alien Force, Manny calls out "Shotgun!" repeatedly, even though he's already in the front seat. He says it's just fun to yell it.
  • In the Batman: The Brave and the Bold episode "Menace of the Madniks!", when Batman, Booster Gold and Blue Beetle are taking the Bug to Hub City Penitentiary, Booster says "Road trip! I call shotgun!" Gilligan Cut to Bats and Beetle in the front seats, while Booster sits in the back, protesting "I totally called shotgun!"
  • In Phineas and Ferb: Mission Marvel, when the villains prepare to go to the Tri-State Area, M.O.D.O.K. eagerly calls shotgun, only for the Red Skull to yell at him that since he's a Cephalothorax, he won't fit in the seat.

  • Mitch Hedberg:
    • "Last time I called shotgun we had rented a limo, so I fucked up!"
    • His buddy Dwayne would call shotgun even if he and Mitch were being forced into a car at gunpoint. "I'd be riding in the backseat with the other kidnapper going: *shrug* 'He called it!'"


Video Example(s):


Red Team calls shotgun

Simmons successfully calls shotgun over Grif... and then Donut calls shotgun's lap.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / CallingShotgun

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