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Do Not Drop Your Weapon

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"I'll give you my gun when you pry it from my cold, dead hands."

Shoot half a magazine into someone's body and he shrugs it off as if nothing happened (maybe writhing in agony for a few seconds if you get lucky), keeping a firm grip on his gun. Shoot him one more time and he dies, signified by dropping his gun. Yet, this only happens when he dies, as if the gun were keeping him alive.

This is a common trope in video games with enemies that use weapons, especially in gun-based FPS games. Of course, it also applies to the player character, where this is almost always the case. This is generally an Acceptable Break From Reality (especially in the case of the player, where dropping your weapon could be very irritating), yet some games take it to a truly ludicrous degree: Enemies have a variety of long-winded pain animations that appear to be leading to death (even falling over), yet the true way to tell that they are really dead is when their weapon finally leaves their hands. This applies even if the enemy is rendered unconscious in anyway other than Non-Lethal K.O., they won't let go!

Some games do avert this by allowing you to disarm enemies (and even have it work both ways in rare cases), but it still remains ubiquitous enough to be a common trope; it's easier to list aversions.

See also: Magnet Hands


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    Action Games 
  • In Indiana Jones and the Emperor's Tomb, knocking an enemy down with punches or a powerful enough gunshot will knock their weapon out of their hands. They can also do the same to you, and you can even lose Indy's fedora. This means that the end every fight can potentially be a Moment of Awesome as you stand over the enemy's body and put your hat back on smoothly.

    Action Adventure 
  • Assassin's Creed II lets you disarm opponents in more than one way. An appropriately-timed counter while fighting empty-handed lets you steal the attacker's weapon (provided he's not too tough), while the special attack for the Two Handed Weapon superset is a smash attack that knocks the defender's weapon away. The latter can actually be done to the player, and yes, this WILL disarm you of whatever weapon you're carrying (though it isn't lost; you can simply pick it back up or, failing that, return to your home and get it out of the weapons room again).
  • Played straight and averted in Batman: Arkham Asylum. Most mooks you fight in combat will drop their weapons when they're knocked down, to be picked up by other enemies. Knife-bearing mooks don't, and in stealth sections, mooks will never drop their weapon. If a mook grabs a gun while you're in a fist fight, it is immensely satisfying to knock it out of his hands with an offhand Batarang.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • Averted in The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. Attacking an enemy enough can sometimes cause them to drop their weapons before death, after which they will scramble for a new one or simply resort to fisticuffs. You could also pick up their dropped weapon. Played straight with Phantom Ganon, however.
    • Much like in The Wind Waker, enemies in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild can drop their weapons without being killed, leading them to find a new one or throw rocks (or fellow monsters in the case of the Moblins). Link can also drop his weapons, if he gets hit by electric attacks. Played straight with the Lynels, who absolutely will not drop their weapons until they are killed.
  • In Mirror's Edge:
    • All the Disarm moves are also knockout moves, and there's no functional or obvious difference between a knockout and a kill. In fact, killing an opponent using a method other than a gun still counts towards the Pacifist Run achievement.
    • The Pacifist Run's achievement wording only says not to shoot them. Anything else is fair game.

    Fighting Games & Beat 'Em Ups 
  • Averted in the Super Smash Bros. series when it comes to items like beam swords and ray guns. If you hurt a player enough while they hold an item, they will drop it. But played straight for any character who fights with a signature weapon, such as Link, or anybody from Fire Emblem.
  • In an aversion, Vega from Street Fighter II loses his claw after 14 parries, forcing him to continue bare-fisted. Street Fighter Alpha 3 gave him the ability to fetch it back.
  • Mostly averted in the Yakuza games, but played straight as well. Most weapon-wielding enemies can be forced to drop their weapons when hit with certain attacks (such as throws), but a few will hold onto them no matter how hard you hit them. Applies to the protagonist as well, but in a more logical way—he'll drop large weapons like garbage cans and bicycles if he's hit hard enough while carrying them, but not small weapons like guns and knives.
  • Interestingly played with in the UFC games. Instead of a weapon though, whenever someone is defeated, they spit out their mouthpiece — even if the winning blow by all rights shouldn't have knocked it free.
  • Undercover Cops featured enemy grunts who wielded broken bottles, knives, short handled battle axes, torches, and baseball bats. Upon killing them, they do not drop their weapons.
  • In the original Double Dragon, the player can disarm and wield any enemy's weapon with the exception of the final boss Willy, who never drops his machine gun no matter what. The sequels would add more enemies with exclusive weapons such as stick-wielding fighters and shuriken-throwing ninjas.
  • Averted in the AlienVsPredator Arcade Game. Three of the four player characters are armed with a default weapon that they can lose at any moment. The one who can't drop their weapon has it as their arm!
    • Also averted with soldier mooks. If they bring a pulse rifle or a smartgun to the fight, you can knock it off their hands and then shoot them with their own gun. They will run and pick up said gun if you let them, though.
  • Completely averted in Zeno Clash; if you or an enemy has a weapon, taking a few well placed hits will knock it out of their (or your) hands and the enemy AI is effective enough to grab discarded weapons. Most of the combat's based around your bare hands anyway though.
  • Played straight and averted in the first Final Fight, depending on the enemy. Hollywoods and El Gados will drop their knives upon knockdown (and happily pull out another one when they get up), and Sodom will drop one of his two katanas at a time (or both of them after a full grab combo), to pick them up later. On the other hand, Edi E., Rolento and Belger never drop their weapons.

    First Person Shooters 
  • Used in the Battlefield series in various ways. Most commonly, weapons will disappear completely, replaced by a pack that corresponds to that player's chosen class. Battlefield 2142 waits a few seconds before dropping kits to prevent ragdolls from straying too far away, resulting in players that can't be revived. Items can't be mix-and-matched between kits.
  • BioShock and BioShock 2 subvert this; the weapons can fall out of sight when they die, but you can find ammo for that weapon on their bodies. Bioshock Infinite, attempted to avert this in its development, where a Dummied Out Vigor allowed the player to tear a weapon out of an enemy's hands, then kill him with it.
  • Call of Duty:
    • Held in the original game with an interesting addition: a helmet coming off also signified death.
    • Deliberately subverted in Call of Duty 2, where the same animations could occur despite the enemy not yet being completely dead. In the case of dropped weapons, the enemy in question will pull out a pistol for a last salvo, or crawl toward his fallen weapon.
    • Call of Duty 4 and World at War would have dying enemies pull a pistol or or ready a grenade. The latter is harder to tell since they will look dead until you hear a "tink" sound and the grenade indicator appears.
    • The multiplayer in every game since Call of Duty 4 has the "Last Stand" perk which would allow "killed" players to draw a pistol and fight until they are hit again or bleed out. Oddly enough, they don't drop their main gun when they enter Last Stand, only when they actually die. However, it only works if you're downed with regular shots to the body - knife hits, explosions of any kind, and getting hit in the head, with a close-range shotgun blast, by a direct-impact 40mm grenade or by an attack helicopter killstreak overrides going into Last Stand.
    • Modern Warfare 2 has the "Final Stand" deathstreak that allows you full access to your weapons, and should you survive long enough you get up with full health.
    • World at War and Black Ops have the Second Chance perk. It functions almost identically to Last Stand, except that allies can administer a shot of morphine and get you back on your feet, good as new. Ultimately played straight, as players drop whatever weapon they were using when they die, Second Chance or not. Where the light machine gun or SAM launcher they were holding a moment before pulling their pistol goes, however, is anyone's guess.
  • Crysis: Shooting a helmet causes it to pop off, and that is survivable unless really powerful weaponry was used, like a gauss rifle, which kills when it hits any part of a normal human. The victim still grips his weapon when unconscious, though, and needs to be killed to make him drop it.
    • Interestingly, the laser pointer found on the SMG and the flashlight attachment will shut off when the enemy carrying it dies.
  • The Dark Forces series has averted this since the introduction of the lightsaber and Force powers in Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II: one of the easiest Force tricks you can do is yanking your foes' weapons out of their hands with Force Pull. Some enemies, particularly fellow Force users, resist or block this and could even do the same to you with a strike.
    • Thrown lightsabers always return to the hand, but some bosses (for example, Kyle Katarn in the evil ending of Jedi Academy) deflect it in such a way that it doesn't, and you have to make an extra effort to call it back to you.
    • There were a handful of other circumstances under which foes would drop their weapons and rather sensibly just run away or surrender.
  • Fallout:
    • Averted in Fallout 3, where guns can be shot out of enemy hands either manually or by targeting them with VATS. The usual response is to whip out a sidearm and keep fighting; if they don't have one in their inventory, they'll generally instead try to run and pick their weapon back up. Targetting weapons, however, ruins their durability (because you're shooting the gun out of their hands).
      • Arm-crippling seems to be useless other than dropping their weapon for some seconds. It doesn't even affect their accuracy.
    • Averted and played straight in Fallout: New Vegas: depending on the physics involved when you kill an enemy, they may drop their weapon (particularly if Blown Across the Room), or they may still be clutching it when they die. The latter is pretty rare. However, though you can take advantage of the AI to make an enemy switch weapons, you can't make them drop them.
  • Averted in Far Cry 2, where enemies shot in the arm can drop their weapons, resulting in them pulling out a sidearm. Get them to drop that, and they run away.
  • GoldenEye (1997) and Project IGI take this a step further: You can kill enemies by shooting their guns!
  • Halo allows you to kill enemies by shooting their guns. The theater in Halo 3 even allows you to go back and pinpoint the exact frame a player dies with this method. That said, the Flood avert the "gun drop equals death" part. When you fall down and drop your gun after a shot to the head, you DIED, dammit!
  • In Medal of Honor: Allied Assault, it is possible to knock down an enemy and make them drop their rifle. They will go crawling after it, trying to get up.
  • Aversion: In Perfect Dark, it's possible, albeit tricky, to shoot guns out of guards' hands. There are also certain weapons that disarm people (such the melee secondary attack). In multiplayer (and rarely in single-player) games it is also possible to be disarmed yourself.
    • On the other hand, in multiplayer mode, it is not possible to shoot someone's gun out of their hand without a disarming weapon. Although they do not take damage, shooting another character's gun will cause them to be knocked backwards as if you'd hit them.
  • Red Dead Redemption features shooting guns out of enemies' hands, a staple of good guys in the more G-rated Western films and TV series. It's a good way to win pistol duels and is required for certain in-game marksmanship achievements, but normal enemies so disarmed will often quickly retrieve the weapon or continue fighting with another gun. Handgun-wielding foes who lose their gat may even produce a rifle from their Hyperspace Arsenal after running scared for a short time.
  • Averted in the multiplayer First-Person Shooter Red Orchestra, where guns can be shot out of your hand. This naturally leads to a frantic search for your weapon in the open.
    • Annoyingly, dropping a weapon (regardless of whether you were forced to or not) would also drop all your ammo for that weapon - meaning you not only have to find a gun, you have to fumble around for individual clips and magazines. This does make certain deaths comical as some players tend to horde ammo of all kind and it all explodes from his pockets when he is killed.
  • In Soldier of Fortune 1 and 2, enemies could be disarmed by Blasting It Out of Their Hands. In the first game, this effectively neutralized them as a threat, since they'd immediately cower and beg for mercy. In the second game, they're smart enough to whip out their sidearm if they have one, or run around looking for another weapon if they don't.
  • In extremely rare cases, human enemies in S.T.A.L.K.E.R., engaged in very close combat may hit the player in the face with the stock of their own rifles, disarming the player. Some mods turn this ability by default for every NPC, so that any human engaged in CQC will do the logical thing and disarm the player (and sometimes pick up the fallen gun themselves before the player can get it back). Critically injured NPC enemies and allies will often drop their equipped weapon as they lay on the ground moaning, and if given a medkit will pull out a sidearm upon standing back up, although they'll pick up a long-arm if there's one laying on the ground.
  • Enemies hit by thrown weapons in Superhot will twitch and let go of their weapon at the same time, sending it flying through the air. Which means a perfectly viable course of action when confronted with an enemy and an empty magazine is to throw your gun at them, snatch their gun from the air, and shoot them with it (and, thanks to the game's Bullet Time mechanics, easier than it sounds).
  • Basically the entire point of SWAT 4 is getting your enemies to avert this without putting them in the morgue, although it's played mostly straight as suspects will only drop their guns if they're dead, incapacitated, or surrendering. The idea is to intimidate them into surrendering.
  • In Team Fortress 2, one of the biggest incentives to kill an enemy can be for their weapon, which can be picked up and equipped if the class you're playing as can use said weapon.
    • The Spy's alternate cloak watch, the Dead Ringer, clones your current weapon as a drop to help the illusion of death. It functions like a normal dropped weapon all the way to copying your clip and reserve ammo, unlike the fake ammo box.
    • The Heston quote is further parodied by the Soldier's response to opening a rare loot item in Mann Versus Machine mode:
      "You can have this when you pry it from my cold, dead hands. And even then, good luck! Because I will have glued it to my cold, dead hands."
  • Wonderfully averted in TimeShift: Shooting an enemy in the arm will usually make him drop his weapon. Hilariously averted when you freeze time, steal a weapon right out of an enemy soldier's hands and then shoot his allies with it before normal time resumes.
  • In TimeSplitters, the enemies everywhere flop wildly when they get hit. Seeing as they take multiple clips before they die on the harder levels, this soon becomes very annoying, as they practically dance across levels. True death only follows when their weapon shoots out of the hands onto the ground 10 feet in front of them.
  • It's possible to punch or kick weapons out of player's hands in the Half-Life mod, The Specialists. It's also then possible to grab the weapon as it's flying through the air and shoot the original owner with it. However, it's not possible to shoot weapons out of player's hands.

    Hack and Slashers 
  • In Dark Messiah, often the easiest way to tell if an enemy is dead is to check if he is still holding his weapon, since all regular enemies drop their weapon when they die, and only when they die. Enemies often fall down and stop moving when they are near to death, looking very much like dead, but are actually alive and able to rise and attack the player again. Therefore it would be dangerous for the player to turn back on them. Usually in this kind of situation the only way to make sure the enemy is really dead is to keep attacking the recumbent foe until you see him let go of his weapon. Though subverted in that by spending experience points in melée combat one can disarm an oppenent under certain circumstances at which point the enemy will attempt to recover the weapon as soon as possible or attack you unarmed. Also, archers will switch to their sword if you trap them in a corner and get too close for comfort, dropping the bow on the ground.

  • Deadly Rooms of Death both inverts and exaggerates this. Beethro will only put his sword away when the story calls for it, or if he steps on a disarm token or a patch of oremites. Otherwise he will hold it in front of him no matter how inconvinient it makes things.

  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • Oblivion averts this. You can disarm enemies, and your opponents can disarm you, too. And averted a second time in that dead enemies may keep a firm grip on their weapon even after being killed. Skeletons can even be blasted apart and their severed hand will still be tightly gripping their weapon. (You can still take it from them by looting their corpse, however.)
    • Skyrim:
      • Averted. The Disarm perk in the Block skill tree allows you to bash weapons out of an enemy's hands. The "Disarm" Dragon Shout does the same thing — which is bad news for you when you face higher-level Draugr that can use that Shout. After being killed, enemies usually lose their grip on their weapons. You can still loot the corpses to get the weapons, but you can also just pick up the weapon itself.
      • Less logical is that an enemy will drop his or her weapon even if you killed them before they could draw it, like when killing them from stealth. It's as if the magnet holding their bow/greatsword/warhammer to their back died with them.
  • Averted in Gothic - simply knocking out an NPC is enough to make him drop his wielded weapon. Unfortunately, this also applies to you. Savvy players will quickly sheathe their swords just as they're about to be knocked out, as NPCs will pick up and keep any weapon that falls from your hands, but won't bother going through your inventory for it; and will already have stashed their gold somewhere else, as guards won't pick up gold from the floor, but will eagerly pick your pockets for it when you're down.
  • Normally played straight in the Mass Effect games, but, in Mass Effect 3, it's possible to shoot a Phantom's sword out of her hands, rendering her much less of a threat (the game even recommends you do this in one of the loading screen blurbs). However, because of Phantoms' ridiculous acrobatic abilities, this is so difficult and way more trouble than it's worth that it's just easier to kill them the normal way.
  • Be afraid of ratling fencers and duelists in Ancient Domains of Mystery, since they can disarm you, flinging your weapon to an adjacent square (possibly their square). This can be helpful as a means of getting rid of a cursed weapon.
  • The Disarmed debuff in Tales of Maj'Eyal plays this trope straight, as your weapon stays in its slot and the PC doesn't drop it. The danger of this debuff is that it disallows use of weapon-related talents, effectively eliminating any melee offense. It works both ways - the PC can disarm monsters as well.
  • Averted in Deus Ex. Most Non-Player Characters has separate hit-points for individual body parts. If the hit-points for their Arms is depleted, they will drop their weapon and run. Oddly as an inversion to this trope, they don't drop their weapon if they die otherwise. Weapons can still be looted from their corpses however. But not if they are blown to bits, as that will make their weapon unobtainable.
  • Averted in earlier Fallout titles, though weapons were only dropped after a Critical Failure, which is quite rare without the Jinxed trait, which causes a 50/50 chance that there will be critical failures for everyone including you. While having 10 Luck makes Jinxed effect everyone else the Pariah Dog drops your Luck down to 1 (giving another reason why people hate the mutt).
  • OMORI: At the end of the Final Boss fight, whoever loses the Battle in the Center of the Mind drops their weapon (Sunny's violin and Omori's knife, respectively) right before fading away in the other's arms.

    Run And Gun 
  • In most Sega gun games in which your opponents are armed, any shot that hits will kill, but you get bonus points (and sometimes powerups) for disarming "skill shots." This becomes very important in Rambo, where trick shots power up your Rage Meter.

    Side-Scrolling Shooters 
  • Halo Zero also does this, due to the limitations.

    Simulation Games 
  • Dwarf Fortress let both your dwarfs and enemy goblins become disarmed due to injury. It's also possible for a weapon to get stuck inside a target's body, or taken away via wrestling. However, in Adventure Mode, NPCs do not drop their weapon when they fall unconscious, only when their ability to grasp specifically has been impaired, because they won't pick up any item and thus would become permanently disarmed.

    Stealth Based Games 

    Survival Horror 

    Third Person Shooters 
  • Averted in Gun, which actually gave you bonus points for disarming your enemies (as well as counting as a kill). However, this can be tricky unless one uses the game's Bullet Time power.
  • In the default Max Payne, the enemies only drop their guns when they die. However, some mods, e.g. the Kung Fu Mod, would make them drop them when their health drops below certain threshold, presumably as if their hands were too weak to hold them. However, they then usually go on to attack Max on close-range... with spinning and flying kicks, no less, which makes you wonder where did THAT strength come from.
  • Averted in Oni where not only can you use a disarm move to take someone's gun, but throwing or knocking your opponent down in melee will also cause any equipped weapon to be dropped.
  • Enforced in Spec Ops: The Line and mentioned in a loading screen tip: "A dying enemy won't drop his weapon until he's dead."
  • Hitman: Blood Money adds hand to hand moves to 47's repertoire. 47 can take a guard's weapon with a chance of it discharging accidentally.

    Turn-Based Strategy 
  • In Fire Emblem, certain enemies will drop their weapons (or other cool prizes) when defeated. However, in Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance and Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn, if the object is not equipped, you can have a thief walk up to the enemy unit and use the "Steal" option.
  • Averted in Jagged Alliance 2, where all sorts of things could cause a character to drop his weapon, particularly the use of stun grenades and other explosives. This includes both friends and foes. However, to keep the player from getting too many powerful weapons in the early stages of the game, some enemy weapons disappear completely once the enemy carrying them dies, for no other reason. This leads some players to try and "steal" weapons from enemies before killing them, which verges on suicidal unless you're really really good at it.
    • The reasoning behind this is shown in the 1.13 fan-patch, which allows you to force enemies to drop their weapons: after clearing a heavily defended sector at the beginning of the game, you will find yourself flooded with new weapons, only a couple of which you might even want.
  • The XCOM games play it mostly straight. Enemies only drop their inventories when dead or unconscious. That is, unless you exploit a minor bug in the first game or they are caused to panic (psi attacks, killing their own men, and killing them can do this).
    • Played completely straight in XCOM: Enemy Unknown. Units no longer have the option to throw away their weapon, but a dead soldier or alien will drop their weapon. The invaders have set their weapons to self-destruct, to prevent an easy reverse-engineering process.

    Wide Open Sandboxes 
  • Averted in Cortex Command, where disarming is so ridiculously easy that sometimes even the recoil of your weapon can disarm you. And weapons aren't indestructible either. Dying by stepping too hard on a live but otherwise safe grenade sucks.
  • Averted in Grand Theft Auto IV, in which NPCs drop their weapons under a variety of circumstances besides dying. In melee combat you can steal a knife right out of your opponent's hands if you dodge at the right moment, while you can knock a gun out of out of their hand with a whack from the baseball bat. You can also shoot a person's weapon out of their hand, in which case they'll retrieve a backup (if they have one) or otherwise resort to fisticuffs.

     Non-Video Game Examples 
  • Berserk - Guts almost never drops the Dragonslayer, no matter how hard he gets hit, how far he falls or how much he bleeds. Post-Eclipse, he does have a literal Magnet Hand, but that just raises further questions....
  • Tower of God - Hatz claims to have never dropped his sword, that he held it ever since it was a little boy. The moment he does let go of his sword is to use his hand to pin down an extremely strong enemy in an attempted Heroic Sacrifice.
  • Gintoki Sakata from Gintama.
  • In Tokyo Ghoul :Re, while putting his squad through Training from Hell, Sasaki hammers into their heads to never drop their weapon in a fight. Since an unarmed Investigator is essentially helpless against a Ghoul, this is sound advice.
  • This is an issue in many Machinima, depending on what video game they're based off of.
    • Red vs. Blue exploited a glitch in the original Halo that displayed soldiers' helmets facing forward when aiming a pistol at the ground, allowing characters to converse fairly normally, but it was only after the late Monty Oum joined the production team as an animator that characters were able to empty their hands. It also Lampshaded this trope, as seen on the quote page.
  • Modern tactical slings for assault rifles are as close as the real world comes to this trope. The slings prevent the weapon from going anywhere except across the front of the user's chest at a low ready. This makes disarming the shooter and taking their weapon without actively neutralizing them practically impossible. Likewise, if the user is thrown off their feet, critically injured, or even loses an arm, their weapon is still attached to them ready to be moved into a firing position. Similar devices for pistols exist, but they only ensure the pistol is attached by a short, retractable line and can be readily retrieved if dropped.