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Darkened Building Shootout

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"I trust you can shoot in the dark."
Harold Finch, Person of Interest, ".exe"

The Denouement of any number of made-for-TV thrillers in the 80s. The hero pursues the villain through a darkened building. They both have guns. They shoot at each other. The guns flash brightly in the dark. The shots echo and ricochet. Finally the hero has One Bullet Left. The villain has moved round behind him in the dark. He is about to shoot. The hero turns and fires his last bullet. The villain is shot squarely in the chest. He flies back (for extra points he falls a huge distance over a balcony or into a stairwell). The villain lands, dead, on his back, eyes open and staring. Focus on face. Cut to hero returning to the sunlit world outside. Final Aesop if any, roll credits.

This type of climax also showed up in quite a few otherwise light-hearted films during the decade. Compare Abandoned Warehouse. May involve Muzzle Flashlight. In Video Games, tends to overlap with Blackout Basement.



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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Cowboy Bebop, there's one in a Creepy Cathedral in the fifth episode, "Ballad of Fallen Angels", and one in an Abandoned Warehouse in "Sympathy for the Devil".
  • The manga version of Chrono Crusade has a shootout in a darkened warehouse that's similar to this, although it has two variations—first, it's the heroes that get chased into the building by the villains, not the other way around. Second, Rosette realizes that their enemies are using the darkness as a psychological attack, and shoots at a spilled puddle of some flammable liquid, causing the building to set on fire. This gives them more light at the climax of the fight, but also increases the danger and splits the group up into pairs. (Also, it takes place in the middle of the series, not the end.)
  • Used in an episode of Noir, where the girls find themselves the targets. But Kirika gives them an advantage by putting popcorn on the floor. She's so uncannily good that she can tell from the sound of it being broken where the Mooks are and shoot them accurately.

    Comic Book 
  • The hero of the Sin City story Hell And Back gets involved in a shootout that spans two buildings. In one dark building is a sniper with a night-vision scope. In the pitch-black apartment across the alley, is our protagonist Wallace, who has no night-vision and only goes off the glint of the sniper's rifle to tell where his foe is hiding. The gunfight ends in a Scope Snipe.


  • In one scene of The Batman (2022), the title character brawls his way through a hall full of Mooks, lit only by gunfire from the rifles that they fire at him, and of the bullet sparks as they harmlessly bounce off of the armor of his Batsuit.
  • Used in Kick-Ass when Big Daddy is being held in a warehouse and his daughter Hit-Girl goes in to rescue him wearing night-vision goggles, but is too late to save him.
  • See No Evil, Hear No Evil: A shootout in dark building — with a twist: one of the protagonists is blind. And so is the Big Bad.
  • In Blade Runner: Deckard's final showdown with Batty occurs in a dark, dank, building (actually the famous Bradbury Building in Los Angeles).
  • The Bodyguard From Beijing had its climax in a Big Fancy House where the titular bodyguard takes on legions of assassins while the lights are out. The bodyguard manage to take out several opponents by throwing torchlights towards where he hear the assassins approaching, and gunning them down quick-draw style, and when seeing the silhouette of several baddies near a television, flicks on the TV using a remote and firing away at the revealed assassins.
  • Used in On Deadly Ground; the oil rig fits once Forrest Taft cuts its power. The methods of killing turn quite creative there...
  • Die Hard had this as the main conflict. Between the levels still under construction and the power cut...
  • The Terminator ends with one in a Smoke and Fire Factory.
  • Stargate, the movie, inside the temple & pyramid.
  • The French Connection.
  • Quantum of Solace (the 2008 James Bond film) had a couple of these.
  • The Fritz Lang movie Ministry of Fear (1944) has a climactic shootout with Nazi spies on a stairwell lit only by their muzzle flashes. The scene where Carla shoots Willi is another example — Willi slams a door shut, followed by Carla pulling the trigger inside a darkened room, with light shining through the sudden hole in the door. Willi is dead on the other side.
  • The Hong Kong film She Shoots Straight contains a scene where mobsters and the police are having a shootout in a darkened nightclub. Unfortunately for the police, being Genre Savvy, the mobsters comes prepared with Night-Vision Goggles.
  • Happens at the climax of The Silence of the Lambs, when Buffalo Bill kills the lights in his basement. He is following Clarice using night-vision goggles, and it is seen from his point of view when she suddenly turns around and shoots him and the screen goes white. (In the book the same thing happens, but narrated more from Clarice's perspective.) It's worth noting that Clarice fires not because of a sixth sense or intuition, but because Bill cocks his revolver and she fires six times at the noise, two or three of which hit him. (In the novel, Clarice’s backstory includes the fact that her father, a glorified night watchman, is killed when he works the action on his pump shotgun, giving away his presence to an armed burglar. Symbolically, she’s avenging dear, old dad.)
  • The final shootout in L.A. Confidential takes place in an unlit cabin.
  • The JCVD movie Double Impact has an interesting subversion - there's a darkened room fight, hand to hand, in the single most interesting and memorable scene in the movie.
  • The Recruit.
  • Shoot 'em Up. A villain tries to kill Mr Smith in a public toilet. A bullet knocks out the light, and for a brief time the scene is only lit by the muzzle flashes of his Hand Cannon. Then another bullet punches a large hole in the door, throwing a beam of light on the hot air dryer which is then used by Smith to turn the tables (by scorching the villain's hand during their Gun Struggle) then heating up Smith's own gun (which he accidentally dropped in the toilet) so it can fire again.
  • During one major shootout in Alone in the Dark (2005) the lights go out, death metal strikes up, and the viewer is treated to a seizure-inducing muzzle flash light show while the protagonists mow down Mooks.
  • The final shootout in The Accountant.
  • A non-shooting version occurs in Ghost in the Shell (2017) when Kuze fights and subdues Major with the scene lit only by the sparks from his shock prod.
  • Both downplayed and exaggerated in Don't Breathe when the Blind Man corners Rocky and Alex in his basement. Downplayed because only the Blind Man has a gun. Exaggerated because the Blind Man turns off the power to the entire basement, leaving Rocky and Alex blundering in pitch darkness that doesn't mean a thing to him. Several times, he attempts to shoot them based on their voices.
  • Gemini Man. Junior sets up a grenade tripwire Booby Trap in an underground ossuary, then rips out the light switch box after putting on Night-Vision Goggles. Henry in turn avoids the trap and blinds him with a road flare, then wrests the gun off him and turns on the attached flashlight. A short time later they have a hand-to-hand combat scene lit only by these two light sources.

  • Lampshaded in Artemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident, where LEP officers are drilled never to enter an unsecured building in a firefight without backup. Never. So guess what Holly proceeds to do when she's chasing down a smuggler. In her defense, it worked.
  • In Therin Knite's Echoes series, the deserted Club Valkyrie shootout in Echoes (the first book). Dynara manages to land a shot on an assassin in the shadows of a pitch black dance floor from fifty feet away.
  • The Fraternity Of The Stone by David Morrell has the protagonist being trained in a dark room exercise—the lesson is to not blunder around looking for the enemy, but remain perfectly still and wait for him to make a noise. Unfortunately later in the novel he's lured into a dark room by someone who had the exact same training that he did. So who moves first?
  • The climactic fight in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix starts out in the darkened Department of Mysteries with the Death Eaters and the D.A. firing spells off at each other.
  • In the climax to Mercenary's Star - a BattleTech Expanded Universe novel - the protagonist steals a Humongous Mecha with a blown-out canopy and engages the Kurita occupational forces in an abandoned storage warehouse. Without the canopy's protective polarization filter, he must alternate his eyes when firing the mech's blinding Lightning Guns.

    Live Action TV 
  • All climactic shootings in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine that were actually held on the space station. Good thing phasers put out light...
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer. In "Touched" Faith and the Potentials get into hand-to-hand combat with the Bringers in a dark room, the action lit solely by the torches the good guys are carrying.
  • Forever Knight. Given that Nick Knight is a Vampire Detective, he has the advantage of being able to see in the dark for this trope. However it becomes a plot-point when Nick is shot while searching a dark parade float warehouse, and no-one got a look at the shooter, leaving them free to strike again.
  • A variation involving pitch-black jungles in The Pacific. Parts I, II and IV all involve frantic shootouts at night, (the Battles of the Tenaru, Henderson Field, and New Gloucester, respectively) where it's so dark that often the only available light are the muzzle flashes of the Marines' rifles and machine guns, or the occasional flash of lightning. This was actually a point of criticism about the series, but very much Truth in Television.
  • The Mandalorian. The episode "The Jedi" opens with Ahsoka fighting the Gas Mask Mooks of the Big Bad in a forest at night, with much of the action shown only by blaster fire and the light of Ahsoka's lightsabers.
  • Person of Interest. In the episode ".exe", Reese and Shaw are cornered by Samaritan agents. Finch says, "I hope you can shoot in the dark" and kills the lights. They can.
  • The Punisher (2017). In "The Dark Hearts of Men", Frank Castle storms Billy Russo's hideout only to find himself in a dark room where he's then disoriented by strobe lights, then ambushed and captured.
  • Sherlock. Although not involving gunshots, the hand-to-hand struggle between our heroes and the Golem in a darkened auditorium is portrayed the same way, with the flashes of light caused by a cinema projector turning on and off.

    Video Games 
  • Time Crisis features one of these halfway through the second stage.
  • Point Blank has one as a challenge - which proves quite challenging as you can only see when you fire (your targets are cardboard cutouts) and there are civilian targets too.
  • Modern Warfare has one when you and Captain Price storm a building after Gaz cuts the power - though you have an advantage: "These night-vision goggles make it too easy." You then go through a pitch black house with suppressed weapons - with your night vision you can see enemies fumbling through the dark or pointing guns at whatever noises they hear.
    • Unfortunately for you this gets inverted in the last room where someone has a flashlight taped to a shotgun - which overloads the goggles.
    • Modern Warfare 2 has a similar moment in the gulag level, where a number of enemy troops are moving down a corridor in the darkness. However, they also have night vision goggles....
    • Also, the entire level "Second Sun" is one of these.
      • Second Sun is Narm if you can't see what's going on in the dark. Better adjust your brightness settings up a little.
  • The third level of Syphon Filter 2 has one of these in a darkened highway tunnel.
  • Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater: The battle with The Fury starts out dark, but his flamethrower gradually lightens things up, making it harder to hide from him.
  • All three games and every expansion of First Encounter Assault Recon have these; about half the time, the things you're shooting at aren't human.
  • Both the beginning and end of Level 1-3 in Perfect Dark.
    • Also, there are other levels which involve the use of Night-Vision Goggles to see in dark caves or buildings. Finally, there is a cheat that turns every level into this trope by removing all the lighting and equipping night vision at the start.
  • Doom 3 is full of these, such as the level where you escort a scientist with a lantern through pitch-black corridors. Quake IV to a lesser extent.
    • Pretty much all of Doom.
  • Happens quite frequently in the Half-Life series.

    Web Animation 
  • The climax of the DEATH BATTLE! between Solid Snake and Sam Fisher features this after Snake shuts off all the lights in the building that they were fighting in. Neither one can kill the other with guns though, since both have tech that has night-vision. In the end, it comes down to a knife fight in the darkened building, with Snake walking away alive.

    Web Comics 

    Real Life 
  • Pat Garrett vs Billy the Kid. In reality, though, a shirtless and sleepy Billy headed to the door to see Grant's silhouette in the doorway. As the Kid asked "Who's there?" in Spanish, Garrett quickly shot him in the chest.