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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 Dénouement of any number of made-for-TV thrillers in the 1980s. 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 
  • 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.
  • 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".
  • Used in an episode of Noir when 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 Books 
  • 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.

  • 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 flashlight show while the protagonists mow down Mooks.
  • 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 automatic weapons that they fire at him, and of the bullet sparks as they harmlessly bounce off of the armor of his Batsuit.
  • 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 has 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 hears 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.
  • Downplayed in Daredevil (2003). While attacking a Bad Guy Bar, Daredevil starts knocking out the lights one-by-one to give himself the advantage. From the audience point-of-view though we can see much of what is happening due to the remaining lights, fire, electric sparks, or Daredevil's POV showing his Super-Senses as a 3D radar-like image.
  • Die Hard has this as the main conflict. Between the levels still under construction and the power cut...
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • During the climactic battle of Kate, there's a shootout between two Yakuza factions in an office with the lights out, all the better to show off their green laser sights before and after everyone starts shooting.
  • 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.
  • The final shootout in L.A. Confidential takes place in an unlit cabin.
  • Ministry of Fear 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.
  • Used in On Deadly Ground; the oil rig fits once Forrest Taft cuts its power. The methods of killing turn quite creative there...
  • 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 that it can fire again.
  • In Under Siege, sort of; it's more a Darkened Ship Shootout, and it ends in a Knife Fight rather than a shootout.

  • Lampshaded in Artemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident when LEP officers are drilled never to enter an unsecured building in a firefight without backup. Never. Guess what Holly proceeds to do when she's chasing down a smuggler. In her defense, it works.
  • The deserted Club Valkyrie shootout in Echoes (2014). 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.
  • 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 in the film adaptation, it is seen from his point of view when she suddenly turns around and shoots him and the screen goes white. 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. (Clarice's backstory includes the fact that her father, a glorified night watchman, was killed when he worked the action on his pump shotgun, giving away his presence to an armed burglar. Symbolically, she's avenging dear old dad.)

    Live-Action TV 
  • 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 Potentials are carrying.
  • Daredevil (2015): Naturally the title character is fond of killing the lights to give himself an advantage with his Disability Superpower. One example that leads to this trope is when he rescues Claire Temple from The Mafiya in the episode "In the Blood".
  • 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 "3 AM", Frank Castle kills the lights and proceeds to massacre a mafia gang. After much confused shooting and shouting, we hear the panicked breathing of the sole survivor who makes his way to the circuit breaker to turn the lights back on. He's in the process of gaping at his dead colleagues when the Punisher appears next to him and shoots him with his own gun to make it look like a murder suicide.
    • 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.
  • All climactic shootings in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine that were actually held on the space station. Good thing phasers put out light...

    Video Games 
  • Doom³ is full of these, such as the level where you escort a scientist with a lantern through pitch-black corridors.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Modern Warfare:
    • Call of Duty 4: 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.
    • Call of Duty: 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....
  • Both the beginning and end of Level 1-3 in Perfect Dark. 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.
  • Point Blank (1994) 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.
  • The third level of Syphon Filter 2 has one of these in a darkened highway tunnel.

    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.


    Western Animation 
  • Arcane: In "The Monster You Created", Vi and Sevika fight while wearing Power Fists, and all the power being thrown around fuses out the lights, leaving the fight to be illuminated by the light of their Magitek.

    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.


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