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Can't Count Bullets

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"9 shots: you're out."
Robocop, Death Battle

Our hero is being chased by the villain. Not just any villain, they've got a gun! And they're firing at the hero, more often than not with a shotgun. After some time of chasing, shooting, and loads of property damage, the villain corners them. There's nowhere left for the hero to run, and they cower in fear as the villain lines their sights with the hero's head, and pulls the trigger.


Nothing. Not even a misfire. The villain has run out of ammunition right before they can get the killing shot. This can represent the villain's recklessness, especially if they've been shooting wildly and destroying all sorts of items and scenery in their efforts to kill the hero. However, this is not a case of Reckless Gun Usage as that concerns people unfamiliar with firearms, while this is about characters that are. It goes without saying that this is a nice aversion of Bottomless Magazines. This isn't to be confused with Where's the Kaboom?, as that is for explosive devices, while this is specifically for guns.

It's not enough for a character to simply run out of ammunition at any point for it to count. They have to run out of ammunition when having said ammo would allow the villain to kill the hero with a well placed shot. This is why it's dramatic for them to run out of bullets at the one point they need them.

The inverse is Counting Bullets, where the hero counts how many shots the villain has fired and specifically analyzes the situation to their advantage. This is different from that trope in regards to the fact that in the heat of the moment, most characters can't be bothered to try to analyze such a hectic situation like that. Even then, if the villain isn't counting, and runs out at the last moment, it's an example of this trope, not Counting Bullets. Because the villain is not counting.

A variation of this is It Works Better with Bullets, where another character deliberately invokes this by removing the bullets from the gun beforehand, or takes another step to make the gun inoperable.


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    Films — Animation 
  • Ratatouille: When Remi and Emile are discovered by the old lady in the film's opening scene, she goes for the most extreme form of pest control available: a pump action shotgun. She shoots the rats several times but misses, and when Emile is helplessly dangling from the ceiling lamp, she gets a clear shot as he cowers. She pulls the trigger, and nothing happens. However, she remembers to reload.

    Fan Fiction 
  • Double-subverted in Azumanga Royale, where Chiyo did make a point of counting how many rounds she fired from her six-shooter. Too bad she didn't check how many it contained in the first place when it was issued to her...

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Deadpool: During a shootout on a highway, one of the bad guys starts shooting at Deadpool with their rifle after he peeks his head out from behind a car. He shoots at him all the way until he runs up to Deadpool afterwards and takes aim, only to discover that he emptied his clip on the car. Deadpool points out his stupidity and promptly shoots him in the head.
    Deadpool: Someone's not counting.
  • Jumanji: The ruthless hunter Van Pelt chases the protagonist out of their home after he is summoned from the game with a large lever action shotgun. After some chasing, and even attacking a police officer, Van Pelt lines up a good shot on the protagonist, but has already used his last shotgun blast.
  • Back to the Future: After one of the Lybian terrorists guns down Doc Brown, they try to shoot Marty next, only for their gun to not fire. It's not clear whether the gun jammed or it was out of ammo, or both.
  • Terminator 2: Judgment Day has a heroic example. Sarah Connor keeps blasting the T-1000 with a shotgun, pushing it towards the edge of a ledge above a pool of molten metal. However just as the T-1000 is about to fall off, Sarah runs out of ammo. The T-1000 heals up his wounds and starts taunting Sarah, before the T-800 arrives and blows it off the edge using a grenade launcher.
  • The famous "do you feel lucky?" scene from Dirty Harry has Callahan telling the punk in front of him that, at that moment, the main thought going through his head was "did he fire six shots or only five" from his .44 Magnum revolver, and sarcastically telling him that he'd lost track himself in all the excitement. He had, in fact, fired all six. At the end of the film, he repeats the speech to the Scorpio Killer, who isn't so lucky.

    Video Games 
  • Heavy Rain: During the fourth trial, the shark, Ethan Mars has to break into a man's home to kill him. Said man turns out to be an armed drug dealer. After he refuses to leave, the drug dealer punches him, pulls out a shotgun, and tries to kill Ethan with it. He chases him around the apartment destroying many of his own valuables, and corners him into a bedroom. He lines up the shot and pulls the trigger, but nothing happens.
  • In Life Is Strange's second episode, there's a scene where Chloe practises with a gun she stole from her step father in the junk yard. She hands the gun to Max to try, when Frank (a drug dealer who Chloe owes a lot of money to) shows up and begins threatening the girls with a knife, causing Max to point the gun at him (giving the player a choice of whether or not to shoot at him). If you decide to shoot, it will turn out that Chloe had already used up all the bullets (but the fact Max was willing to pull the trigger is enough to scare Frank off and impress Chloe).
  • In the trailer for The Last of Us Part II, the antagonist has a revolver & pulls it out when she has one of the protagonists cornered. She hears noises coming from the forest & fires a few shots. When the other protagonist tries to attack her, she fires again but misses as the first protagonist grabs her and pins her down. She tries to fire at the first protagonist, but the revolver is out of ammo.

    Web Animation 
  • In Death Battle: Robocop VS Terminator: Terminator starts firing at Robocop with a powerful shotgun repeatedly as he approaches. When he finally aims the killing shot at his head, he's out of shells. Robocop provides the page quote.