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Counting Bullets

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"I know what you're thinking. "Did he fire six shots or only five?" Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement I kind of lost track myself. But being as this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world, and would blow your head clean off, you've got to ask yourself one question: "Do I feel lucky?" Well, do ya, punk?"
"Dirty Harry" Callahan

The sign of The Gunslinger or Action Hero who's really been through more battles than anyone else, or how an exceptionally smart or otherwise gifted character takes advantage in combat: in a fight, they can count the number of bullets fired by themselves and their opponents, keep track of it all, and use this to their advantage. With proper military experience, they might even be able to identify guns by the sound they make to know what weapon their adversary is using, so they know exactly when they run out.

This trope is more likely to occur with revolvers, which usually have six-round cylinders, but some models have five, seven or eight, and a few experimental ones from the end of the 19th century had as many as twenty. Do note this isn't recommended in Real Life; counting bullets in battle is hard, and magazine sizes for models vary wildly. You better be sure you've guessed the correct model of the gun, and even then some guns allow you to chamber a bullet, meaning the gunman will have an additional round, not forgetting the fact they might just switch to a different gun or quickly swap magazines. Not to mention the possibility that if you're facing multiple opponents, they could be using different kinds of guns with different magazine sizes, and good luck keeping track of which bang came from which gun. So if you're in a middle of a fire-fight, and can only focus on how many bullets you've fired, that is recommended. note 

A subtrope of Awesomeness by Analysis. Use of this trope will lead up to It Works Better with Bullets, Dramatic Ammo Depletion, and One Bullet Left. Compare against Bottomless Magazines where guns carry as many bullets as the plot demands.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Cat Planet Cuties, Tomboy Gun-Maniac Manami is able to beat a highly-experienced mercenary and assassin in a mock battle thanks to a stroke of luck, and this trope. She notices Aoi dropping her spare magazine when she stumbles over a suddenly-appearing wild animal, and - having counted every shot from her (fully-automatic) assault-rifle up to that point, knows that she's completely out of bullets...
  • Ryo Saeba from City Hunter does it regularly, at least with his own gun, counting both the bullets in his gun and those he has in his pocket. He also spoofed the famous Dirty Harry scene, making an in-universe Shout-Out after firing five bullets... With a five-shooter. The enemy, who had seen the movies and said he still had one bullet, fully expected Ryo to reload and shoot him for giving the wrong answer.
  • Jujutsu Kaisen: Exploited by Mai. She fights using a revolver, knowing that her opponents will count her shots. Her cursed technique, Construction, allows her to create an extra bullet out of energy and catch her opponent off-guard. Doesn't work against her sister Maki, who simply catches the extra bullet after counting the first six.
  • Happens in the Saipan Arc of Kyō Kara Ore Wa!!, when Mitsuhashi counts the bullets fired by Jun's revolver to intimidate them. When he fires the sixth, Mitsuhashi and Itou jump him... Only for Jun to whip out a semiautomatic.
  • In Maiden Rose, Klaus manages to call Berkut's bluff because he knows he's used all his bullets. Unfortunately for Klaus, Berkut has a second gun.
  • Trigun. Vash the Stampede can do this to know when his opponents are out of bullets. The ability is showcased in his introduction: after using a convenient metal sign to shield himself from a group of machine gun-toting mercenaries, he deliberately sneaks up on the one guy who still has ammo left.

    Comic Books 
  • In Guarding the Globe, Best Tiger is introduced cornered by gangsters and assassins. Their leader counted every shot Best Tiger fired in the fight, until his last remaining round was chambered. Best Tiger, being the world's greatest marksman blindfolded, simply uses that one bullet to incapacitate about 15 bad guys.
  • Dove II (Dawn Granger) from Hawk and Dove could do this as part of her enhanced awareness powers.
  • Lucky Luke, despite shooting faster than his own shadow, sometimes wins without firing a single shot of his own. Twice he's tricked opponents into using all of their bullets by showing off.
    Hired killer: And now I'll perforate you!
    Lucky Luke: No, your gun is empty. It isn't a seven-shooter.
    • And then subverted in the gunfight at the end of the album Phil Defer, where both the hired killer and the witnessing villagers think Lucky Luke used his last bullet, but it turns out he actually is carrying a specially-built seven-shooter!

  • Azumanga Royale: Chiyo's issued weapon is a six-shooter, so she carefully counts each shot. Only to learn the hard way it was only loaded with four.
  • The protagonist of With This Ring deliberately makes a gun with eight bullets in the magazine. He successfully fakes out Klarion the Witch Boy by pretending to have run out of ammunition after six shots, then firing the last two when Klarion drops his guard.

    Films — Animated 
  • Played with in Batman: Assault on Arkham where Deadshot faces down an armed Joker with the calm reassurance that his gun is out of bullets. He boasts "I'll count to three, you'll pull the trigger, and then I'll punch you in the face!" Turns out it was a complete bluff but it confused Joker long enough to look down the barrel of the gun to check giving Deadshot a chance at his mentioned punch to the face.
  • In Batman vs. Two-Face, Two-Face blasts away for quite a while with two pistols, but finally does run out of ammo, prompting Batman to make reference to this trope.
  • How to Train Your Dragon: It's indicated that some dragons have a shot limit, and can only expel so many breath attacks at a time before recovering. As part of their strategy against the Green Death, Hiccup tells Ruffnut and Tuffnut, "Find out if it has a shot limit! Make him mad!"

    Films — Live Action 
  • The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Brother. During his pursuit of Sigerson Holmes, Professor Moriarty fires his gun multiple times. When he finally confronts Sigerson:
    Sigerson: A Webley's #2, I think, carries only six cartridges.
    Moriarty: [Points the gun at him and pulls the trigger] Click!
    Sigerson: Yes, that's right, six.
  • Subverted in one of the endings in Clue - Wadsworth and Miss Scarlet get into an argument over how many bullets have been fired, with Wadsworth insisting that all six shots from the revolver have been fired while Scarlet is equally sure that there is one bullet left. During the course of arguing Scarlet becomes distracted and Wadsworth is able to overpower her. Afterward Wadsworth tries to prove that he was right by aiming the gun at the ceiling and pulling the trigger... and it turns out there was one shot left.
  • Played with in The Dark Knight. The Joker and a henchman are wondering if a banker wielding a shotgun was out. Joker nods yes, and the henchman jumps up. The banker wasn't out... until he shot the henchman, at which point the Joker comes out and shoots him.
    Henchman: Where did you learn to count?!!
  • In Das Boot, the character Pilgrim uses a blackboard to count the number of depth charges dropped by the Allied destroyer. The last number we see is 23.
  • The first battle of Deadpool.
    • The titular Merc with a Mouth has to count his own rounds, because he forgot to bring his ammo bag with him, forcing him to fight with only the single magazine in each pistol. And in a bit of Medium Awareness, the spent casings have the number of each bullet on the bottom. He ends up having to pull out a One-Hit Polykill on the last three opponents when he's down to one bullet... except the bullet doesn't have enough power to kill the last one after passing through the first two, forcing him to break out his swords.
      "I only have twelve bullets, so you're gonna have to share!"
    • During the fight he even playfully chides one would-be-attacker for attempting to fire his gun after using all his ammo.
      "Someone's not counting..."
  • In The Deer Hunter, two American POWs are forced to play Russian Roulette against each other. One demands to make it more exciting by putting three bullets in the revolver. The first prisoner clicks on an empty chamber, the second 'crazy' prisoner also clicks on empty- and knowing he has three shots in four chambers, proceeds to blast his captors and escape.
  • Dirty Harry series:
  • Django Unchained has this exchange after the hero shoots down a few mooks and Stephen, the Boomerang Bigot house-slave comes out of hiding to confront him:
    Stephen: I count six shots, nigger.
    Django: I count two guns, nigger. (pulls out a second gun)
  • A variation in Dredd. The ammunition selection for a Lawgiver pistol is voice-activated, so Dredd's opponent can hear when he's out of ammunition.
    Dredd: Rapid fire! [EMPTY] incendiary! [EMPTY] Armor-piercing! [EMPTY] High-Ex! (last round loads—Dredd fires and blows up Lex's partner)
    Lex: Motherfucker!
    Lex: Yeah, I'd be breaking a sweat...if you hadn't just run out of bullets!
  • In Ghost Town (1988), the undead Outlaw leader Devlin takes Langley's modern Super Redhawk revolver off him. During their final showdown, Devlin is firing Langley's own gun at him and Langley is crouched behind cover. Langley counts the shots and then stands up after Devlin fires his fifth. Devlin fires again, only to have the hammer fall on an empty chamber. Langley tells Devlin "You just made your first mistake in 100 years": Devlin not having realised that, with the larger bullets, the Super Redhawk only has a five chamber cylinder, not six.
  • The Grand Duel: When Vermeer confronts Clayton in the saloon at Gila Bend, he levels his revolver at the ex-sheriff. Clayton is completely unconcerned, and tells Vermeer he would be a lot more worried if Vermeer hadn't just fired all six shots at the Bounty Hunters getting into the saloon. Vermeer does a quick mental count, realises Clayton is right, and starts reloading his gun.
  • Green Room: The shotgun has three shells left. Amber loudly counts them after each shot and repeats them to make sure Pat knows when the last of the attackers will run dry.
    Amber: Zero.
  • Done in an understated manner in He Was a Quiet Man where Maconel notes that he fired six shots. He doesn't remember, until the end of the film, that he only loaded five bullets.
  • Played with in The Hidan Of Maukbeiangjow (yes, it's a real movie), where a character waits until another has shot off six shots from their revolver before coming out from cover to attack the person with the gun. As it turns out, it's a nine shot revolver, and he gets killed.
  • Played with in Hollywood Homicide. A convict being escorted through the police station parking lot overpowers his escort, steals his department-issued Beretta 92FS pistol, and begins firing wildly (all while handcuffed). Detectives Gavilan and Calden take cover behind a car while trying to count the number of shots fired. Eventually Calden jumps out from behind cover and tackles the shooter. Gavilan scolds him for bum-rushing a shooter with a loaded weapon;
    Calden: What do you mean? It's a standard-issue Beretta, 15 shots, I counted!
    Gavilan: *ejects round from the Beretta's chamber* And one in the spout!
  • In Hot Spur, two of O'Hare's men get in a shootout with Carlo outside the shack. Carlo fires a sixshooter and one of the counts his shots, announcing "He's empty!" after six shots. The two charge him, not realizing that Carlo had cached weapons all over his camp. The first one over the rise wears both barrels of a shotgun in the face.
  • James Bond
    • Dr. No. Professor Dent sneaks into Bond's room and shoots the figure in the bed. Bond reveals himself and they talk for a while. Then Dent attempts to shoot Bond;
    Bond: That's a Smith & Wesson, and you've had your six. [Shoots Dent] note 
  • Played With in Last Action Hero: Nobody does this in the Jack Slater films because Bottomless Magazines is in full effect. In the real world, however, the movie characters have to deal with the possibility of running out of bullets. In a turnaround, the villain Benedict exploits this, and pretends to lose count and hit an empty chamber... and when Jack taunts him about making the "movie mistake" of not counting his bullets, Benedict reveals that he intentionally left one of the chambers empty and since Jack has come out from behind cover, he's now a sitting duck for Benedict, who promptly shoots Jack.
  • Law Abiding Citizen. A criminal gets a mysterious phone call that the police are about to bust him, grabs a revolver and runs out onto the roof, emptying it at the police cars pulling up on the street. As he's escaping across the rooftops, the mysterious voice on the phone tells him to wipe the gun for prints and toss it.
    Criminal: No, no way!
    Voice: You fired six times, genius. You bring any ammunition? Lose it.
  • The River Wild: Towards the end, Gail points Wade's gun at him, threatening to shoot. When she fires up in the air and the gun clicks, he says "That's funny, I thought there was one left too". Turns out there WAS one bullet left, just in the wrong chamber. This is quickly rectified.
  • Invoked in The Sadist. Ed asks Charlie about the people he’s killed, trying to see how many shots he has left in his gun as part of a possible escape plan. He’s foiled when Charlie catches on and shows he has spare magazines.
  • Shoot 'Em Up
    • The Big Bad is torturing the lead female by shooting bullets from a Desert Eagle to heat up the barrel when the hero enters. The Big Bad has a brief standoff with the hero when the hero notes that the Big Bad fired all his bullets already, leading to this exchange. This scene is an artifact from an earlier version of the script—Smith calls it a six shooter, but the Desert Eagle has a seven bullet magazine. In the original script, the villain was using a .44 Magnum revolver, in reference to Dirty Harry.
    • And to show the villain is just as awesome...
      Smith: That's a six shooter. I just counted six shots. You've blown your load.
      Hertz: Ahh, what about you? Your 9mm is empty too. Yeah, you fired eight on the rooftop, one in the men's room, and your second magazine was expended at the playground!
  • The plot of Stray Dog involves the hunt for a pistol stolen from a detective and then used for several crimes. The detective keeps a running tab of how many bullets are left each time it's used, and this becomes a plot point when he finally catches up with the thief.
  • Burt, the resident Gun Nut, does this in Tremors 3: Back to Perfection helpfully pointing out when the other characters are running empty;
    *Jodi and Jack draw their guns upon hearing another Assblaster incoming*
    Burt: Forget it! You're both empty!
    Jack: What!?
    Jodi: Already!?
    Burt (to Jack): You fired ten, she fired four.
  • Played with in the 1979 film The Villain. Handsome Stranger (Arnold Schwarzenegger) has "seven-shot six shooters". It turns out to be a plot point, as his opponent counts shots... and comes up short.
    Handsome Stranger: This is a seven-shot six-shooter, and I had it especially made.
    Charming Jones: Why?
    Handsome Stranger: Why?
    Charming Jones: Yeah...
    Handsome Stranger: I dunno. Nobody ever asked me that before.

  • The first of the Dirty Harry novels "Duel for Cannons", has Callahan up against a hitman who also uses a .44 Magnum. This time the scene in the first film is reversed with Harry being the one not sure if six rounds have been fired. When the hitman is holding him at gunpoint, Callahan kneels down to see if he can see light through the barrel when the killer does a Dramatic Gun Cock...then smiles. The killer panics, thinking that he's run out of bullets too, but Callahan was just bluffing. It's a great scene until you realise that a revolver doesn't eject its cartridges, so the barrel would have been blocked anyway.
  • An Encyclopedia Brown story has the titular boy on vacation in Texas, listening to a story about a 19th century sheriff being hanged because the bank president figured out he'd lied about killing a gang of bandits. Encyclopedia echoes the banker by realizing the sheriff would've had to fire seven bullets from a six-gun for that story to be true.
  • In one of Sue Grafton's Kinsey Millhone books, I Is for Innocent, Kinsey and her adversary have a exchange of words about the number of bullets they each have fired and how many rounds their guns hold.
  • Done a few times by Sam Vimes in Men at Arms. The "gonne" might be a type of weapon he's never seen before, but he realises the set of six pipes he found on the roof tells him how many projectiles it can fire before needing reloaded.
  • British spy Quiller does this in a couple of novels. In The Tango Briefing as he's being fired at by a sniper, and the climax of Quiller's Run when the Big Bad is emptying her revolver into his bulletproof vest. She finally points the revolver at Quiller's head after only firing five rounds, but fortunately she had the hammer down on an empty chamber for safety reasons and has used all her rounds after all.
  • Rhythm of War has a variant. In his first battle against the teleporting Fused Lezian, Kaladin works out that Lezian can't carry anything with him and can only hold enough Voidlight inside him for four teleports (plus a little extra for healing). As a result he will typically stash some extra spheres charged with Voidlight nearby and use his fourth jump to retreat and renew it. From that point on, Kaladin is always counting which jump Lezian is on in their fights in order to know when he'll need to retreat (or risk being stuck without his powers if he doesn't).

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.: Brisco tests a Young Gun's skills by having him shoot some bottles, with the Brisco tossing the last one in the air for him to shoot. After that Brisco tests his Quick Draw skill, shooting the Young Gun's gunbelt off before he can draw. The Young Gun says that Brisco is lucky he was able to pull that off or else he'd be dead by now (because the YG would've shot him); Brisco counters no, he had already shot his six.
  • And Then There Were None (2015): At the end, the last survivor is hanging from a rope when the killer (who had faked his own death earlier on to be Beneath Suspicion) reveals himself. She tries to convince him to rescue her because there are no more bullets for him to make his planned suicide appear as a murder, spoiling his plan to create an unsolvable mystery. He plays along for a bit before pulling out the chair from under her and pointing out that she forgot the one bullet that was earlier "used" on him.
  • Arrow. In "Betrayal", Vanch knows the Hood carries 24 arrows and flechettes on his person, so he sends 25 henchmen to guard his house, leaving the Hood defenseless by the time he reaches Vanch. Unfortunately Vanch had kidnapped Laurel to draw the Hood out, so the Hood brings her father Detective Quentin Lance as backup.
  • This is done in the Adam West Batman (1966) where he counts bullets from a machine gun.
    • And again in the episode "It's the Way You Play the Game". Shame and his accomplices fire off their revolvers at Batman and Robin.
      Batman: Let's see, nine guns with six shots each, how many shots is that?
      Robin: Fifty four.
      Batman: I counted fifty three. [Bang!] They're out of bullets!
  • The Blue Bloods episode "Ties That Bind" has Danny get pinned down behind his SUV. He starts counting the remaining mook's shots aloud, then pops out and tells him to drop it. The mook's gun clicks on an empty chamber, he throws it aside and goes for a backup piece, and Danny puts two in his chest.
    Danny: Learn how to count.
  • In Bones, there was a very minor subplot about Brennan buying her own gun because Booth wouldn't issue her one for field work, with jokes made about it being too big for her. The first time she has to use it, she realizes the gun was actually too big and Booth is forced to switch guns with her. The killer of the week points out how bad a choice it is for a gun fight and ridicules Booth when he's down to one bullet. Booth uses that last bullet to kill him.
  • Parodied in the second live Bottom theatre show, Eddie has a revolver that he'd used in the previous scene. He paraphrases Dirty Harry, to which the parrot replies "Six!"
    Eddie: That's right!
    Eddie shoots the parrot five times
  • In Community Evil Troy does this, badly.
    Evil Troy: I'm counting bullets. And one of us is out.
    Troy: Is it you?
    Evil Troy: ...yes.
    Troy: Why would you tell me that?
    Evil Troy: To sound intimidating.
  • Doctor Who: "Rosa" has a variant: The Doctor deduces that the antagonist's temporal displacement weapon is nearly out of charge based on the setting and the number of times he's fired it. Since she's taken the spare battery, she knows he won't be firing it again.
  • There was a fun scene with this trope in Due South in which four police officers (Fraser, Kowalski, Thatcher and Welsh) are involved in a firefight with a suspect (Maigot).
    Maigot: You don't think I'll shoot?
    Fraser: Oh, I think you'll shoot, but I think you'll discover you've spent all your ammunition.
    Welsh: It's a standard, nine rounds.
    Kowalski: I counted eight rounds.
    Thatcher: I heard seven.
    Welsh: It was six.
    Thatcher: Seven.
    Kowalski: Eight.
    Thatcher: Seven.
    Kowalski: Eight.
    (brief dialogue between Fraser and Maigot concludes with...)
    Maigot: Are you sure it's empty?
    Fraser: Are you sure it's not?
    (Maigot fires, but he's out of ammo)
  • Endeavour: In "Coda", Morse tells a gangster who is holding Joan hostage that he has been counting the shots and that he has emptied his revolver. This causes the gangster to move his gun from Joan to Morse. As he is doing so, Inspector Thursday shoots him. Morse was bluffing. There was still one live round in the gun. He just wanted to get the gun moved away from Joan.
  • In Get Smart, Max miscounts the enemy's bullets. Fortunately, his resulting confidence leads only to the enemy's death.
  • In Leverage during the 4th season finale, Nate is being chased by the episode's mark, who's been firing a pistol at Nate as he runs. Eventually Nate stops running and we get the following exchange:
    Nate: You know, Victor, the thing about you is, you know, you get so angry that you forget about the little details.
    Dubenich: No, I'm good. (pulls trigger on empty gun)
    Nate: Like counting bullets. Hard to do that when you're so angry. This one here — (pulls gun from his pants pocket) my father's gun — this has five bullets. (points it at Dubenich) I'm quite certain of it.
  • In The Librarians, Flynn Carson's introductory scene is during a standoff between a couple of terrorists with a nuclear bomb and Counter-Terrorist agent Eve Baird. When one of the terrorists gets the jump on her, Flynn spouts that he heard the gunfire.
    Flynn: An AK-47 has a thirty-round magazine plus one in the chamber. I heard him fire 31 shots. I did not hear him reload.
    • What makes this example especially impressive is that Flynn made an accurate count of bullets while he was disarming an ancient Death Trap and simultaneously advising Baird on how to disarm said nuclear bomb.
  • In That Mitchell and Webb Look a set of sketches where Gilbert and Sullivan write musical versions of modern movies has No-Nonsense Harry singing about this with a blunderbuss.note 
    No-Nonsense Harry: The question you are asking yourself. Is how many times have I discharged my blunderbuss?
    Chorus: How many times has he discharged his blunderbuss?
    No-Nonsense Harry: In all the excitement, I quite forgot myself. Exactly how fortunate are you feeling?
  • During the climax of the Starsky & Hutch episode "Death in a Different Place," Starsky yells at a man who is threatening to shoot a bystander, "No way! That's six!" After the man has surrendered, Hutch asks "Six?" To his horror, Starsky shrugs and replies, "Five, six."
  • Voyagers!, "Bully and Billy": Bogg lures Billy the Kid into firing the remaining bullets at him. He counts six and then comes out to confront Billy, hoping he counted correctly. He did.

  • Bleak Expectations: The Dirty Harry quote is spoofed when Aunt Lilly has Mr. Benevolent at gunpoint... only her gun, being a flintlock pistol, only has one shot, so she asks him if he recalls whether she fired one shot or none at all. He tells her he feels incredibly lucky, she pulls the trigger... and since the gunpowder's wet, nothing happens.
    Lilly: You lucky bugger.

    Video Games 
  • When Bro Force added a pastiche of Harry Callahan from Dirty Harry, as a Mythology Gag he has to reload after every six shots, even though every other character gets infinite shots in their regular weapon. As a result, players have to do this when playing as Harry, or they risk firing an empty gun at a horde of mooks. (Fortunately Harry reloads very quickly and has infinite reloads.)
  • Fallout: New Vegas has a sidequest about a merc that offers newcomers his services as a bodyguard inside of New Vegas. If you accept, his route promptly leads you into an ambush that ends with a Curbstomp Battle in the merc's favor. Once the shooting stops, and if the Player Character has sufficiently high Perception, they can point out to the merc that he "killed" more attackers than he fired bullets (One-Hit Polykill isn't really a thing in this game). Turns out the whole thing is a scam, the attackers are very much alive and on the merc's payroll.
  • In Jurassic Park: Trespasser, the Player Character counts her shots aloud as part of the game's Diegetic Interface.
  • Killer7 plays with this trope with an example that counts the empty chambers rather than the bullets during Garcian's game of Russian Roulette with Benjamin Keane. After five rounds, it seems like the sixth chamber will inevitably contain the bullet. But then Garcian puts the gun to his head, pulls the trigger, and it clicks, because the kind of gun they were using actually held seven bullets.
  • The Dirty Harry line is spoofed by Blasto, the fictional Hanar Spectre in Mass Effect 2
    This one has forgotten whether its heat sink is over capacity. It wonders whether the criminal scum considers itself fortunate?
  • In Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater there's an encounter between Snake and Ocelot shortly after Ocelot has switched from using an automatic that holds eight shots to a six shot revolver. Since Ocelot hasn't acclimated himself to having fewer shots, he doesn't realize that he's out of bullets. Snake nonchalantly stands out in the open and dares Ocelot to shoot him, and Ocelot is caught completely by surprise when he pulls the trigger and gets nothing but a click.
  • Solid Snake does this to Revolver Ocelot as well in Metal Gear Solid. You can see Ocelot's bullet gauge during the fight (He's the only enemy in the game to have such a thing) and the best time to attack is when he's reloading.
  • A useful thing for the player to do in Receiver. Since there's no HUD, the only way to know how many bullets you have left without ejecting the magazine/opening the cylinder is to keep track in your head. Or wait for the slide to lock back/the revolver to stop firing.
  • This trope is actually part of Resident Evil's gameplay from the first game to Code: Veronica. If you empty your magazine and try to shoot, your character will stop and take a few seconds to reload a fresh magazine, which is a very bad thing because these seconds can be the difference between life and death during a battle with bioweapons. However, the pause menu freezes time, so if you pause the game, combine your bullets with your gun and unpause the game, you will effectively reload your gun instantly. Skilled players are therefore expected to count the shots in their magazine during a battle and manually reload when their magazine is close to empty.
  • Splinter Cell: Blacklist sees franchise protagonist Sam Fisher get held hostage. Teammate Brigs blasts a hole through a wall, takes out a group of armed guards while the game's Big Bad grabs Sam as a human shield and attempts to shoot Brigs. After enough shots Briggs tells him the make of the gun, the number of bullets it can hold, and that he only has one left and to "make it count". So the villain points the gun at Sam's head saying it's more than enough.
  • Tales from the Borderlands: During the massive gunfight on the Hyperion Station, the Badass Accountant (Definitely a Virgin) realizes that Reese is vulnerable because of this. "He's out of bullets! I've been counting." Indeed, Reese ran out of ammo a moment earlier and realized he was out of reloads. The really impressive part, though, is that they both realized this at the same time despite the whole thing being a completely imaginary gunfight using finger guns and everybody making the sound effects with their mouths.

    Web Animation 
  • During their DEATH BATTLE!, RoboCop does this for the Terminator's shotgun, allowing him to lure the latter close to place a grenade. A more plausible example due to RoboCop's built-in calculating capabilities.
  • How It Should Have Ended: Deadpool: When Deadpool counts every shot, a dying enemy asks why he bothers counting when he could just pick up one of the many gun dropped by the enemies. Deadpool claims it makes him look like "One bad mother..." then gets hit by Captain America's shield, who punches out the enemies and scolds Deadpool for bad language.
  • In Lackadaisy, Marigold Gang's Consummate Professional Mordecai verbally whispers a count of the latter three shots of Lackadaisy's Reluctant Warrior Freckle's six-round pocket-pistol, (implying a mental count beforehand) and waits for the sound of Freckle dry firing before grazing him with a ricochet while their having a shootout in a maze of steel beams at a Construction Zone. He very well could've killed him if not for Freckle's cousin Rocky's timely rescue via Construction Vehicle Rampage.
  • RWBY: In the Watts vs. Ironwood fight in volume 7, Watts counts each bullet he fires out loud. When the two come face to face and Watts has his gun to Ironwood's head, Ironwood points out that Watts isn't the only one who can count, revealing that he knows the gun to his head is a bluff: Watts is out of bullets. Unfortunately for Ironwood, Watts was hoping Ironwood would do exactly that. Watts being out of bullets causes him to lower his guard, allowing Watts to gain the upper hand.

    Web Original 
  • This strip of Chain Saw Suit has Two Cops quoting Dirty Harry before being covered in oil.
  • The Evil Overlord List addresses this in item 120 from Cellblock A:
    120: Since nothing is more irritating than a hero defeating you with basic math skills, all of my personal weapons will be modified to fire one more shot than the standard issue.
  • Quest Den: In Tobak Quest, both Coil and the enemy Ace Pilot are counting not bullets per se, but seconds of machinegun fire. Especially Coil, who needs to know when he must start pretending to have run dry so the enemy doesn't realize he's swapped in a fresh magazine earlier.
  • Things Mr. Welch Is No Longer Allowed to Do in an RPG:
    1528: I can't ask the bad guy if I fired 40,000 rounds or just 39,999.
  • This xkcd strip is a parody of the monologue from Magnum Force. "Six. Definitely six."
  • Subverted in the Oxventure Deadlands campaign. Luke's character, Delacy, attempts to track the bad guy's ammo expenditure in "Dead Man's Worth" and concludes he only has one bullet left, but because Delacy, while a deadly shot, is also young and very inexperienced, his assumptions underpinning that count are bad and he forgets how many shots are in a revolver in the process. Andy, the Marshal, cracks up as soon as he realises Luke has only counted to five.
    Luke: Shot the gun out her hand. Shot her in the chest. Shot her again. Shot Nate. He's only got one bullet left.
    Jane: ...You don't think he reloaded since this morning?

    Western Animation 
  • In one episode of American Dad!, Steve, his friends and his Principal take cover from a volley of bullets. Steve's friend Barry, who was featured in the episode as a Rain Man analogue, counts all of them, determining every gun used to do so. He informs the principal that all 86 possible shots were fired, when in fact only 85 were, so that the principal could get shot in the shoulder and the boys could enact revenge on him.
  • Archer has a talent for accurately counting the number of rounds fired during a firefight. Frequently lampshaded for laughs by the rest of the cast.
    Archer: Holy shit, maybe I am autistic.
    • As of season five Archer has outright stated he has this ability, uses it at all times and is surprised to find out no one else is counting shots when the (very frequent) gunfights ensue. He even goes as far as to to apologise (a rare move for Archer) when someone tricks the gang with an empty gun that had previously been fired in his earshot.
    • Subverted in the season 8 finale, when another character correctly pulls this on Archer while being held at gunpoint. So Archer simply reloads.
  • On DuckTales (1987) Fenton is annoying Scrooge. The world's richest duck has a blunderbuss mounted above the fireplace, which he pulls down to fire at Fenton. Fenton proceeds to count the shot that is fired (465, in case you're wondering). This amazes Scrooge.
  • The Dirty Harry example is spoofed on Robot Chicken, wherein the crook decides to call the bluff and whacks Harry with the butt of his shotgun and then drives off (and into) Harry. After celebrating his run of good luck, he steps into an elevator and realizes he has a leprechaun stuck on the sole of his shoe. The instant he wipes it off the elevator door opens and Harry shoots the guy.
  • Brock Samson from The Venture Brothers:
    Brock: "What about you, guy with a bead on me that needs to reload?"
    Mook: click "Damn, how did you...?"
    Brock: "I learned to count when I was three."

    Real Life 
  • Generally subverted in real life. Not only is it very unlikely that you'd know the exact make of the gun you're facing (and how much ammo it holds, not to mention how whether or not it's fully loaded at the start of a fight and how many reloads your opponent brought with him), but it's also considered a very bad idea to shoot a gun until it's empty while in the middle of a firefight. Professional soldiers will reload pretty much every chance they get (while pocketing any unused rounds for later) and seeing someone run out of ammo is usually a sign that they're poorly trained or that something has gone very wrong.
  • Whilst not exactly counting bullets, there is a widely-repeated story that German soldiers listened out for the distinctive "PING!" sound from American M1 Garand rifles during close quarter combat. The ping comes from the empty clip popping out of the top of the gun along with the last cartridge case, giving a clear indicator that the infantryman holding it needs to reload. Reportedly savvy soldiers would keep empty clips to throw to the ground: hearing the "PING!" would fool German soldiers into leaping out thinking their opponent was empty. An article on the story here notes that, when surveyed, more than twice as many soldiers considered the ping a valuable signal to reload rather than a signal to the enemy, and that - given the typical level of noise on the battlefield - the odds that an enemy could hear the ping, identify the soldier with an empty weapon, and attack them in less time than it took the soldier to reloadnote  were vanishingly small... but that many soldiers still expressed worries about the noise.
  • A lot of magazines for firearms are designed to help you know roughly how many rounds are left so you don't have to do this. Some, like the Smith and Wesson Bodyguard has a numbered hole for every round so just glancing at the side of the magazine lets you know exactly how many rounds you have left, while others like the FNX-45 have a hole for 5, 10, and 14 rounds: if there's a round in the 10 hole you have at least 10 but less than 14. The idea is you can quickly eject the mag, check, and pop it back in, an act that takes about 2 seconds. The Steyr AUG takes this even further by having transparent magazines, allowing the shooter to check their ammo count without removing the magazine.
    • Windowed magazines are not unique to the Steyr AUG; Magpul makes them for AR-15/M4/M16 and AR-10 pattern rifles.


I Only Have 12 Bullets

Let's count em' down!

How well does it match the trope?

5 (34 votes)

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Main / CountingBullets

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