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Family-Friendly Firearms

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"With ABC deleting dynamite gags from cartoons, do you find that your children are using explosives less frequently?"
Mark LoPresti

In an example of the nerfing of violence, almost all firearms in animated cartoons made since the late 1970s or early 1980s, if they appear at all, will be radically different from real guns, either in form or in function. Energy weapons are a popular choice.

Sometimes it gets explained (e.g. the villains in the show are Immune to Bullets, so the heroes have to use something else) but usually it's not.

Several reasons for this have been theorized:

  • Changes in American gun culture, akin to those that made things like smoking and drinking alcohol an increasingly rare phenomenon in American media.note 
  • Imitability. Shooting someone with a bullet is an imitable act which might result in negative publicity, but a kid can't find his Dad's laser rifle and zapfry his buddy. Yet.
  • Higher leeway on how much damage it deals and how it is portrayed. It is easy to accept an action hero getting blasted away by an Energy Weapon and then jumping back to his feet, but if he got shot with a bullet, then we'd have to deal with the fact that he has a physical object lodged in his chest — or if the bullet were sufficiently powerful, that he has part of his chest lodged in a physical object behind him. Conversely, when heavy property damage is called for in a short amount of time, it's more believable to have someone blast through a brick wall with a single "laser beam" than with a single bullet.
  • The Distanced from Current Events trope. Usually when a real life tragedy involving people getting killed with guns happens, American media will often edit or redo anything in which gun violence is prevalent out of respect for the victims, sometimes by banning an episode that has gun violence and most times by editing it so the guns aren't realistic.

Note that this is usually limited to bullet-firing weapons. Larger, more destructive weapons like cannons and RPGs may still be seen in works using this trope, perhaps because they are less easy to obtain in real life. In these cases, it will have large guns fire actual bullets, but still no realistic small arms.

This trope manifests in several ways:

  • When characters who would be expected to own guns — such as policemen — don't have them, or don't use them in cases which they would be expected to do so.
  • When most or all of the guns in a particular universe are energy-based or use Abnormal Ammo, regardless of the owner or the universe's particular technological level.
  • When a firearm looks and acts like a real firearm, even in aspects which make sense for bullets but not for lasers, but whose ordnance still looks or sounds like lasers. Inversely, when guns that do fire bullets are stylized or drawn unrealistically.
  • When a work which previously featured realistic guns is altered to make them less realistic, or eliminates them altogether.

As you might assume, this trope is most common in Western Animation coming from the United States for the above-stated imitability, due to the much higher rate of gun ownership in America compared to most other countries making the risk of children actually having access to a real firearm much greater there. This philosophy has sometimes extended to cartoons from previous decades or those imported from other countries. In general, most production houses have (under pressure from various media watchdogs who believed cartoon violence stimulated real violence) eliminated or altered anything and everything that looked like a real gun from their cartoons. Similarly, networks have gone back and Bowdlerized classic cartoons to remove firing guns and, in some cases, casual use of explosives. The reasoning behind these sometimes bizarre substitutions seems to be the belief that if it doesn't look like a real weapon, the poor child's psyche won't be warped and he won't have the desire to use a real weapon on someone else.

This trope is a fairly cyclical one, with guns going from "acceptable" to "not acceptable" and back again in the span of a handful of years, and sometimes within the same show. Whether or not it appears also depends greatly on a particular show's creator and how willing he or she is to fight for realism. A handful of exceptions seem to exist; Elmer Fudd-style double barrel shotguns and Tommy Guns seem acceptable regardless of what stage in the cycle everything else is at. Also, cartoons set in The Wild West still use realistic looking guns because of it being a famous historical time period.

Note: if personal laser beam weaponry ever becomes a reality, these "family-friendly" firearms might not be so family-friendly anymore.note  If is any indication, however, laser weaponry already exists, and someone could get hurt or killed by such technology any day now.

Goes hand in hand with The Lethal Connotation of Guns and Others. For actual firearms being portrayed as family-friendly toys, see My Little Panzer. See also Abnormal Ammo, Trick Arrow, Inverse Law of Sharpness and Accuracy, Fantastic Firearms. Often given to a Badbutt. See also Frothy Mugs of Water when alcohol and other drugs receive similar treatment in works.


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    Asian Animation 
  • Near end of episode 8 of Chinese animated series Scatterbrain and Crosspatch (Chinese: 没头脑和不高兴) have police shoots at the arm of the mastermind of the scammer. No bullets were shown but laser sound were heard.
  • Guns were replaced with friendly ones in the official YouTube version of Pleasant Goatand Big Big Wolf episodes (episodes 341-380). But in episode 342, Weslie and others, dressed as robbers, are holding toy guns and point to Wolffy, and he said that they just want uses toy guns (actual guns in the original version) to scare him, and then they shoot no bullets but the gun sound is still heard...

    Anime & Manga 
  • 4Kids Entertainment's One Piece dub was notorious for this:
    • In the first few episodes, guns would occasionally be replaced with a sillier-looking equivalent. One scene where Helmeppo holds a flintlock pistol to Koby's head had the conventional weapon heavily edited into something that looks more like a hammerhead on a spring. (The weapon changed back to a gun in a long shot and a few other frames that 4Kids missed.) Simultaneously, other guns would be edited or recolored to look less realistic — Navy soldiers' rifles were changed to resemble super-soakers, for example — but would still explicitly shoot bullets.
    • In the Baratie arc, a gun that fired spikes from Don Kreig's shield was changed to shoot "poison suction cups". But when the spikes were flying through the air for a few frames they were unedited, and they still hit the ground with a metallic "clank".
    • In the flashback to Luffy and Shanks's origin stories, Shanks is held up point blank with a gun to his temple and he casually points out that the man holding the gun is in danger of a backblast if his skull causes the bullet to shrapnel, just to show how badass he is. In the 4kids version the man is holding a popgun, although Shanks's lines remain mostly unchanged. Shanks's man shoots the would-be shooter dead and they didn't bother changing his gun, but left in a comment that it was full of blanks and that the other man simply fainted.
    • Kaya threatens Kuro with something kind of resembling Usopp's slingshot. Which makes a rattling sound suspiciously similar to a gun when she trembles.
  • The dub of Digimon Tamers slightly modifies the names and sound effect of Gargomon's attacks (essentially done with a Gatling gun in the original).
    • Beelzemon, on the other hand, got to keep his realistic guns and CGI Matrix-esque bullets, though there were still laser sound effects.
    • The Japanese Self Defense Forces shown were carrying real guns (apparently the Howa 89). Again, only the firing sounds were changed. And the police officers also get to draw their weapons. In one occasion, the police officers had added dub lines to assure the viewer that the guns weren't actually loaded.
    • In Digimon Data Squad, RizeGreymon's bullet sounds were changed to laser sounds, even though he was still shooting from a gun. Oddly, the name of the attack was still "Trident Revolver".
    • Also in Digimon Data Squad, BomberNanimon, originally a giant bomb, attacked the amusement park. In the U.S., he was changed to Citramon, a giant orange, and a living homage to Don Pachi.
    • An interesting example: The Digimon Revolvermon is basically a giant revolver barrel and cylinder with limbs and a cowboy hat. While the English dub changed his name to Deputymon, his appearance and attacks were not altered at all (probably because, if they erased his gun, he would look more like a human than a Digimon). Digimon Fusion, however, recolors him in blue. It also recolors anything looking like a gun with lightning sparking around it in the English dub.
    • Puppetmon brandishes a real firearm throughout his main episode (wherein he kidnaps Takeru). It was digitally erased in the dub, with Puppetmon threatening T.K. with... nothing in particular (not that a Mega Digimon actually needs a gun to pose a threat to someone).
  • Just like with Digimon Fusion above, the Nick dub of LBX: Little Battlers eXperience also recolored all guns with lightening sparking all over them.
  • Doraemon had it's moments.
  • The broadcast version of the dub of Mobile Suit Gundam SEED actually has ballistic weapons visually edited to look like lasers. They missed a few shots. Click here to see examples. The editing got really inconsistent in the last two episodes, which were aired so late at night that Cartoon Network could get away with more than when the show was aired at 10 PM. And some of the "lasers" were ridiculous enough to undergo Memetic Mutation — search for "Disco Gun" for details.
    • This was edited much less in Canada (Gundam SEED aired at 9PM or later on Fridays) — mainly editing out the over-graphic deaths had by some "extras" (such as from the radiation weapons — swelling and popping), and toning down a bit of the (somewhat-infamous) Kira/Flay encounter.
      • One fan theory is that the gun edits were intentionally ludicrous: Bandai and CN both realized that the fans would see right through the edits, but it still had to be done, so they were made silly-looking to give viewers something to laugh at.
  • Not just the broadcast version, but the English Dub period (even on the DVD) replaced the firing sounds of the head vulcans of various Gundams in Mobile Fighter G Gundam to sound more like rapid-fire lasers. You wouldn't want kids shooting people around with their own head-mounted rotary guns.
  • Both the Yu-Gi-Oh! card game and TV show have monsters that wield or resemble guns edited into lasers... in America!. The most notable example of this is the monster called "Barrel Dragon", which could be described as resembling several guns welded together in Japan, while in the international version the artwork was heavily overhauled to change the guns into bright blue laser cannons. An exception is the "Ancient Gear Soldier" in Yu-Gi-Oh! GX, which uses a submachine gun-arm - it can be argued this was just because editing it would have looked ridiculous, though a case could also be made for the Clock Punk aesthetic making it look unrealistic enough to get a pass (though that didn't stop the card's international artwork from getting Tron Lines on the gun just to be sure).
    • Several guns are left intact however, but are slightly redesigned to look less like real guns. One particular trap card features an old fashioned flintlock, in the Japanese version, that was covered in gold ornaments for the international release.
    • There's also the henchmen who had their guns removed and were considered threatening because they were pointing at someone. This was parodied several times in Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series, which was made with the edited footage, where the Mooks were clearly holding edited-out guns:
      Mook: Don't move a muscle or we'll shoot you with our invisible guns!
      Tristan: Bakura! Don't be a hero! They've got invisible guns!
      Mook: I told you we should've used the VISIBLE guns, but NOOOOooo, we had to use the INVISIBLE guns because they're magical and ooh and ahh...
      • The Abridged Series also subverts this joke when the main characters get trapped in a 4Kids base, and wall turrets extend out of a wall. Kaiba sarcastically comments about how 4Kids is going to use magic bullets that send them to The Shadow Realm, which Joey follows up with the suggestion of harmless rubber bullets. The turrets then proceed to fire real bullets.
      • Amusingly, this once led to Seto Kaiba jumping out a window over a cliff because two guys were pointing at him menacingly.
    • A later episode included a goon holding Grandpa at gunpoint. The editors had apparently learned their lesson from the above example: the Mooks just weren't intimidating armed with only their fingers. They hadn't learned it well enough, however, as they replaced this guy's gun with... a slingshot.
    • In the Japanese version of Yu-Gi-Oh 5Ds, some character wield realistic-looking guns, but to remain child friendly, these guns shoot "lazer beams" in one arc, and in another arc in the next season, six-shot revolver style guns shoot "Stun Cannons". To be fair, 5Ds does take place in the future, and in one scene the laser beam completely dismembered a man's arm.
  • A painful example of this trope can be found in the Edited for Syndication Toonami dub of Outlaw Star, in which guns were edited to become lasers, but almost every scene showing Gene buying bullets stayed in the show - the only ones to get cut, of course, were the ones involving the really plot-relevant bullets (because the episode in question would have been cut down to half its length to comply with Standards & Practices guidelines, so they elected to skip it entirely).
  • Zatch Bell! (a.k.a. Gash Bell) has bizarrely inconsistent censorship. In several episodes, automatic rifles are edited to fire lasers and feature large metal bulbs along the barrels. In others (namely, the episode "Danny Boy"), guns are not censored at all, even when they are fired at — and hit — Danny. However, in the very next episode, a pistol is edited to look like it's made of Green Rocks and fire glowing green bullets (clearly shown as such in Bullet Time) with laser sound effects, even though those particular bullets were blocked by a magical shield without hitting anyone. The only discernible reason for the inconsistency is that the latter gun was aimed at a girl.
  • Sgt. Frog's weapon nut Giroro is especially noticeable in that his low-ordinance weapons (e.g., his trademark barrelless handgun) don't actually seem to use bullets, despite being treated as if they do. Perhaps justified since they're not from Earth.
  • In the anime version of Reborn! (2004), Reborn's gun is colored green and is actually a shape-shifted form of his pet lizard, and the special bullets it fires transform into energy before they can hit and power-up Tsuna (with the bleeding from the shots removed too). Similarly, Lambo's grenades are colored purple. Oddly enough, the other guns in the series remain untouched. This however was probably done in order to give the show a standard transformation sequence and the Lambo thing because it's funnier that way.
    • Also, instead of shooting himself with his Ten-Year Bazooka, Lambo now leaps inside of it. Kind of odd...
  • An interesting reversal: in the English dub of the Dirty Pair OAVs (the 10-episode ones) the lasers have had their sounds changed to sound like guns (specifically Kei's blaster has a sound reminiscent of a Desert Eagle). This was due to there not being a Music and Effects track to dub over, so a completely new one had to be made. They still fire laser blasts, however.
  • In MegaMan NT Warrior (2002), they have laser guns, and the originally-sharp laser swords were blurred from the original... sometimes. Somewhat justified, as all combat takes place on the Internet with AI.
    • The names of some battlechips, the universe's weaponry, were also altered or changed entirely if they had specific words in them. Notable changes include Sword to Cyber Sword, Mini Bombs to Mini Boomer, Shotgun to Blaster and Cannon to Mega Blaster. Strangely enough, the upgraded versions of the Cannon weapon, Hi-Cannon and Mega Cannon, retained their original names.
  • Several cuts were made in the English dub of Sonic X. For instance, several military troopers holding Sonic and his friends at gunpoint shot real bullets in the Japanese original, but were changed to lasers in the dub, while the weapons themselves still looked explicitly like real firearms. Particularly unfortunate is that some of the scenes which were censored were directly based on the games, such as the policemen shooting Chaos (ineffectively) and Maria being shot by a soldier. And even more unfortunate is that they were inconsistent - Gerald is still executed in the dub, and you still hear the gunshot... but not the command to shoot.
  • In Transformers: Armada, Demolishor's missiles were frequently shown to stay in place but fire missile-shaped lasers. Of course, it does provide an explanation for the usual "we can see he's only got four, so how come he's been blasting away all day and never runs out?" problem that some Transformers have. Most weapons fire appears to be lasers, but Cyclonus has more than once told an enemy to "eat lead".
  • Dragon Ball Z Kai:
  • Fairy Tail:
    • One goon of the Naked Mummy Dark Guild is seen using a shotgun loaded with magic bullets. In the anime, it was changed to a more toy-looking rifle.
    • Wally Buchanan also uses an actual rifle in the manga, but the anime trades it for an arm-mounted Polygon Rifle which he conjures up with his Polygon Magic.
  • In Pokémon: The Series, Officer Jennys DO have guns, and they aren't even censored most of the time. But they'd just rather have fire-spewing attack dogs tackle the bad guys, which is obviously much safer. Even when a "wild" Jenny appears with only a talking bird as a Pokémon, she uses...well, bowling balls. The bad guys prefer to make their Pokémon do the fighting as well, though that's a lot cheaper and easier than using a gun.The one episode that had a character with a gun (and was rather trigger-happy) got banned almost worldwide. However, giant mecha and battleships firing a barrage of missiles are apparently just fine, though most Team Rocket robots fire nets, energy beams or glue, which makes sense considering that their intents are more focused on larceny rather than straight-up harming or killing Pokémon. The few weapons they couldn't avoid were referred to as blaster balls and ice bazookas. This focus towards non-lethality on Team Rocket's part is also likely why the Jennys never draw their guns on them, especially since most of the time said non-lethal weapons are more dangerous towards Team Rocket themselves than their intended targets.
  • Cat Planet Cuties both averts and plays it straight. While a lot of real guns are used, the vast majority of time the main good guys use catian weapons, which have both melee and ranged forms that are specifically designed to not harm organic matter. In both cases, getting hit with catian weapon simply causes clothing to disappear, or can apparently vaporize a tank without harming the men driving them. Lots of Fanservice abound when the female characters get hit with it.
  • In episode 60 (54 in the DiC dubbed version) of Sailor Moon R, Chibi-Usa points a gun at Usagi's forehead, demanding she tell her where the Silver Crystal is. It was later revealed that it just a toy gun. This was cut out in the dubbed version.
  • Double subverted in Nichijou: Misato is a Tsundere of the highest order, who doesn't just punch people when she's embarrassed. She shoots them with several weapons (This is Played for Laughs, of course). Her arsenal is fairly realistically rendered, and actually does quite some damage, as her weapons are able to destroy the scenery around her. However, it still comes off as this trope, as the characters she does shoot are Made of Iron, to the point that they only end up with smoke emitting from their bodies, and occasionally slight bleeding.
  • Averted in the 1989 series Amada Anime Series: Super Mario Bros, where Super Mario's Momotarō has Mario being given a gun by his grandfather. It's the only time Mario has been depicted with a realistic gun in official media. Since then, Nintendo has put restrictions that ban Mario from using realistic firearms.

    Comic Books 
  • When Gladstone Publishing reprinted various Uncle Scrooge stories that had first been published in Europe, they had to redraw some scenes involving firearms, leading to scenes of Uncle Scrooge apparently being threatened by having a finger waved under his beak.
  • While not a direct use of this trope, it is subverted in one story of The Punisher 2099. The Punisher runs across a female copycat vigilante of him, who prefers to kill crooks using painful methods and weapons. The Punisher looks down on her for this, saying that he prefers clean kills and doesn't take pleasure in killing. She sneers at him because he uses lasers. According to her, lasers burn into flesh and boil the blood. The wound always go septic and the nerves rarely regrow. They may look nice in the "Holo-dramas", but they're just as nasty as what she uses.
  • Averted all over the place in Paperinik New Adventures: the main enemies and the hero uses laser (justified, since their technology is way more advanced), but the normal humans all use guns with regular bullets. And use them a lot. Did we mention the protagonist is Donald Duck?
    • This is typical of Italian Disney stories (one of the reasons it's the Darker and Edgier division of Disney), in which characters casually wields and use realistic firearms, especially in those produced in the Sixties and Seventies (where Scrooge would wield a double-barreled sawed-off shotgun, cops would shoot at criminals with .38 Special and .357 Magnum revolvers, and Donald Duck has been shown owning a Colt M1911 and a double-barreled shotgun, the latter of which was used to magnificent effect to defeat a whole army). Since then, the presence of guns has diminished (usually being Scrooge wielding a blunderbuss or using carronades in place of World War II residuates), but you can still find plenty of them in the 'classic' Paperinik stories (in fact that's where Donald's Colt comes from), the Double Duck saga (that shares most of the staff with Paperinik New Adventures), Mickey Mouse Mystery Magazine (yes, Mickey Mouse), and W.I.T.C.H. (at least those times police officers are involved).
  • This trope was initially absent absent in Italian comics. The closest thing to the trope being played straight is Scrooge McDuck switching from shotguns and WWII artillery to blunderbusses and carronades — and still having to deal with the Beagle Boys sometimes having actual revolvers. It's been played straight 2019, as Disney's tighter rules about what can or cannot be shown in comics banned any instance of guns pointed towards someone's face. As a result, a lot of stories with guns badly edited out were released up until halfway through 2020.

    Comic Strips 
  • Dilbert: According to Scott Adams in his book Stick to Drawing Comics, Monkey Brain!, he drew a comic that had Dogbert get a job as a police negotiator, and showed a police officer shooting a suspect that was coming out to surrender. Since the police officer was shown firing a gun, this comic got nixed by the editors. Scott Adams changed the panel to just having the "Bang" sound effect, but this didn't get past the editors either. Finally, Scott Adams said "Screw it" and turned the gun into a donut... that fires bullets. This one was accepted.

    Films — Animation 
  • In All Dogs Go to Heaven, Carface use a tommy gun... that fires red lasers. Dialogue refers to it as "a Flash Gordon thermo-atomic Ray Gun". How they got advanced laser weaponry in 1939 is never explained. Oddly enough, they leave in the part where they violently gun down Charlie in front of the apple cart (they miss the Soul Jar watch, so Charlie is unharmed).
  • An American Tail: Fievel Goes West is a mixed example. While there are some revolvers, those only get aimed at inanimate objects or aimed so badly they don't come close to hitting anyone. When the cats (and one dog) have their shoot-out, it's with slingshots that use bullet and ricochet sound effects.
  • The Disney Animated Canon both uses and averts this trope. Played straight in Saludos Amigos, The Three Caballeros (Panchito's gun), Pocahontas (plenty of people get shot, but there's no carnage in sight) and Frozen (even though the movie is set in the Industrial Era, the bad guys still use crossbows and swords when advanced firearms are already developed in that time), but averted painfully in Tarzan, Atlantis: The Lost Empire, Treasure Planet and Home on the Range. And the number of Disney movies in which non-advanced weaponry (swords, arrows, etc.) are used is huge — to quite the effect. Disney averts this trope in its films far more than it plays it straight. Guns appear in a really mind-blowing number of their animated films, even in settings where it would have made perfect sense not to have them, such as Beauty and the Beast and The Nightmare Before Christmas.
  • While the The LEGO Movie had all gunlike weapons firing red lasers, The LEGO Batman Movie had the guns firing what looked like bullets. However, to balance it out any character firing a gun in the film said "pew, pew, pew" while shooting.
  • In Doug's 1st Movie, Mr. Bluff has hired the police, who are armed with high powered assault rifles, and orders them to shoot the monster once it's released from the giant valentine box; at the last minute the kids switch the monster with Roger's robot, but when the police fire upon it, they inexplicably fire lasers.
  • Done with extremely toyish-looking laser guns in the In-Universe Superman cartoon in Superman vs. the Elite as part of its Stylistic Suck.
  • In Jonny Quest vs. the Cyber Insects, all the guns in the film are lasers. Oddly, though, the ones Race Bannon uses appear to be modeled on a Colt M1911 and a Steyr AUG.
  • Up: WW1-era fighter planes whose guns seem to otherwise act like normal weapons shoot darts. The in-world logic is that the planes were designed for a Non-Lethal K.O. of Kevin, given that we see them earlier in the traps. Interestingly, in the climax they go to the detail of showing the copper shell ejecting and damage to the house from Muntz's rifle.
  • Wreck-It Ralph
    • Played with. Calhoun and her men are initially equipped with what appear to be plasma-based collapsible rifles. If one looks very closely (and slows down the footage) in the scene where they're shooting at Felix when he first enters Hero's Duty, though, spent casings can be seen falling out of the rifles as they're fired, although they still appear to be shooting lasers/plasma. Calhoun herself, however, also keeps a sidearm that's clearly using ballistics. She even checks the magazine before game jumping to Sugar Rush. This probably got a pass because the first time she fired it was for intimidation and the second time, the targets were Immune to Bullets anyway.
    • Averted with the taser that gets used on Ralph. That definitely hurt.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The 1980 film adaptation of Brave New World introduces an Ultrasonic micro-bomb pop-popper, which has the same appearance of the other rod-shaped containers in the survival bag he's bringing along. It's non-lethal and causes temporary paralysis. It was attempted to be used on the two savages, but he hits Linda who falls down a cliff (and the body wasn't found, because she was recovered by the reservation).
  • In the Star Wars spin-off film Ewoks: The Battle for Endor, the Ewoks fight goblinlike creatures that live in a Dark Ages castle, get dinosaur-looking aliens to pull their wooden wagons that use log-ends as wheels, and fight with laser pistols — despite the fact that the technical manuals clearly state that projectile weapons still are used in the Star Wars galaxy.
  • The 20th Anniversary Edition of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (in)famously replaced guns held by police with walkie-talkies. In Australia, so much was "altered" in the 20th Anniversary Edition that the studio was legally required to resubmit it for classification — where it was given a harsher rating of PG from its original G, due to "supernatural themes". If they had simply released it without any changes, it would have retained its original G rating from 1982. So… yeah. This was parodied mercilessly in the South Park episode "Free Hat", where all of Steven Spielberg's thugs carry walkie-talkies in such a manner that suggests they were "originally" carrying guns. They cock their walkie-talkies to threaten the boys ("Hold it! Don't make me use this walkie-talkie!"), and Spielberg himself at one point steals one and threatens to "shoot". The same episode has an edited version of Saving Private Ryan, featuring US soldiers being graphically killed by machine guns, while returning fire with walkie-talkies.
  • G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra kinda uses it: while the Joes employ live ammo (including a Gatling glove for Powered Armor), the Cobras instead use Concussion Rifles that fire potent beams. Then again, much is made of the fact that M.A.R.S. has been developing exotic weaponry, and the concussion rounds are extremely effective in certain situations; a near-hit will still cause a large enough impact to disable or wound an ordinary soldier.
  • Clockstoppers has guns that fire liquid nitrogen paintballs instead of bullets, pulling targets out of hypertime instead of killing or wounding them.
  • Bugsy Malone: The "splurge-guns" and the pies.
  • Captain America: The First Avenger has the HYDRA soldiers using energy rifles powered by the Cosmic Cube. The allied soldiers do still use real guns, though for obvious reasons they are less than effective.... At the beginning, the Hydra forces use a mix (most likely they simply have not been able to make enough of the energy rifles at the time) and it is justified since it is shown while a bullet can kill a soldier, the energy weapons will VAPORIZE any person it hits.

  • The Random House novelizations of X-Men comics have an... odd view of what is or isn't to be censored. In one story, what was a bullet from a normal gun is changed to an "energy ray" from a futuristic blaster... but an alternate-future Wolverine's zapping by a Sentinel in "Days of Future Past" was described as follows:
    But even as Wolverine sped toward his target, the Sentinel reacted — a split second faster. From his robot hand came a huge beam of blinding, deadly electricity. It zapped Wolverine in midair, and shredded the skin off his body.
    The most fearless X-Man let out a horrendous, bloodcurdling scream and then he fell to the ground. The blast destroyed him and left behind only a smoking adamantium skeleton.
    Wolverine was dead.
  • Invoked and lampshaded in Divergent. When war breaks out, the Amity sector is not given real guns, but stun guns that can just take people down.
  • Zigzagged by the Worlds of Power novelization of Bionic Commando. Guns are clearly mentioned repeatedly in the book, but the one on the cover (a copy of the game's box art) has been edited out. The hero, Jack Markson (this was before they established him as Nathan "Rad" Spencer) is shown using martial arts, bionic arm gadgets, and 'stun darts' against his human enemies, but the book has no problem with Jack gunning down robotic enemies with real bullets. At the same time, he very clearly blows up some of the story's main villains with a rocket launcher and attempting to incinerate one with a heat ray.
  • A particularly unusual use of this trope occurred in, of all things, a pro-second-amendment children's book called Paws Off My Cannon. The book attempts to present a pro-gun-ownership message, but uses "coconut cannons" as a stand-in for guns.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Power Rangers almost always edits its Super Sentai footage to turn bullets (and during the later Disney era, missiles) into lasers.
    • Power Rangers S.P.D.:
      • In a particularly egregious example, such an edit was made in a Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger scene with the Omega Ranger catching a hail of bullets fired at him by the bad guy with his bare, supersonic-powered hand; a physical impossibility in its unedited form, it's rendered even more ridiculous afterwards when he catches laser pellets.
      • Also, the red Dekaranger's personal weapon was a pair of magnum pistols, rewritten in SPD to fire laser beams. Many fans, in defiance of the Rule of Cool, insist that bullets "look cooler" than lasers, prompting suspicions that Power Rangers fans have never actually seen bullets. In their defense, the CGI-enhanced bullets in Dekaranger did look pretty cool. But not like real bullets.
      • The SPD Megazord stayed unedited for a while, but eventually we lost the shots where it was seen ejecting shell casings from its gun. The Blue Ranger's Zord eventually got lasers painted over its gunfire too.
    • The edits aren't always limited to firearms. In Ninpuu Sentai Hurricaneger, the Wind Rangers had shuriken launchers built into their wrist-mounted morphers. Power Rangers Ninja Storm gave them the laser edit and turned them into "ninja beams".
    • The Disney era got progressively crazier about it until all weapons were getting the laser edit. In the Nick era, so far guns become red lasers and everything else gets left alone.
    • The trope isn't always in play. Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue had a Megazord that had a giant gun that fired bullets (supersized bullets), and Power Rangers Time Force had Mooks that used "advanced machine guns" that fired bullets... which were useless against the Rangers anyway. Power Rangers in Space also had giant bullets from mecha, as did SPD once or twice... apparently, the 'less imitable' factor makes bullets from Humongous Mecha more acceptable than bullets from humans (or basically human-shaped People in Rubber Suits). Notably there is also a Lightspeed Rescue episode where a criminal takes over a bus with a real gun. This got the episode banned in the UK.
    • Even Power Rangers RPM does this, in spite being Darker and Edgier. At least if Venjix started with a computer virus, some of the laser beams make sense.
    • Episode 3 of Power Rangers Samurai has the monster shoot a gun with no hole in the gun barrel. There are a few, blink and you'll miss them, times when you can see there was a few bumps on the gun that were around the hole in the original Samurai Sentai Shinkenger episode.
    • Averted in Power Rangers Super Megaforce, which uses Gokaiger footage. As of episode two, no edits to all the lead that gets slung around in Gokai.
    • Power Rangers Dino Charge is based on a series that slings every bit as much lead as Gokai and Deka did. While a lot of bullet scenes were not laser-ified, there were a lot of extended gunfire sequences that were made noticeably shorter for PR, and you can bet any original footage had full-on Ranger-colorcoded phaser-beams.
  • Probably the funniest example of this is the Power Rangers US-made clone/rip-off Tattooed Teenage Alien Fighters from Beverly Hills where all the protagonists sport melee weapons (e.g. sword, ax) but have to fight the monster by firing lasers from their melee weapons.
  • Kamen Rider Decade features a very minor version. In the original Kamen Rider Agito G3-X's weapons fired bullets and rockets. In the Agito Alternate Universe visited in Decade the G3's Gatling gun shoots red laser beams. Very slightly justified as well since it is an, well, alternate universe equivalent and thus not the original armor.
  • Super Sentai is odd about its use of this. Of course, we're dealing with magical/futuristic tech, and so lasers aren't as wildly out of place as in most series that use this trope. Anyway, sometimes the same weapons will shoot beams one day and bullets the next. Sometimes beams will go Matrixy and you'll see a bullet inside. Sometimes things that really, really shouldn't shoot bullets will (ancient technology, swords, claws, etc.) Sometimes the weapon will have beamless muzzle flashes and then we see the target dodge beams, or the weapon will fire beams but there will be nothing but Bullet Sparks when the target is shown. One time, Doggie Kruger deflects a flurry of red beams fired at him by the villain of the week, and then points down; we see he's gotten the bullets that have not looked or sounded like them for the whole two-parter to land in the shape of an X. And at one point (the Dekaranger version and SPD version are exactly the same), we get a "tink!" and Bullet Sparks off of a Monster of the Week's new armor. He turns to see Blue pointing at him with his weapon - which he fires again, only this time it's a blue beam.
    • Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger did finally largely pull an Author's Saving Throw on this. One murderer used a realistic revolver, which was specifically cited as "using old-fashioned bullets"; by implication, all the futuristic weapons use some sort of "charged up" Abnormal Ammo. It's still unclear whether they can shoot a "pure" beam, though.
    • Even the Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger Deka tribute episode gets in on the action. You know you're back in the world of Dekaranger when the same weapon can't decide what sort of ammo it'll be shooting from one shot to the next. (Elsewhere in Gokai, no such thing happens; the Gokaigers' usual pistols are always bullets except when the keys are inserted for a Final Wave.)
  • Kamen Rider Dragon Knight has the bullets from Torque's usual gun changed to lasers (green, the color of his suit), but his finisher (which has More Dakka, Beam Spam, and a Macross Missile Massacre at once! There Is No Kill Like Overkill, after all) remains the same as it was in Kamen Rider Ryuki.
  • Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future use laser guns, as do their primary enemies the Dread Troopers and Bio-Dreads. Several characters also use regular firearms, though they don't do a thing against Bio-Dreads.
  • A tv comedy pilot "Inside O.U.T." (a parody of Mission: Impossible), made after the infamous year 1968, made a point to show the good guys' guns shot non-lethal tranquilizer bullets.
  • El Chapulín Colorado has the "Chipote Chillón", a very innocent hammer made out of rubber.
  • The Tribe: The Technos have wristbands that stun people (there is a kill setting, but still no physical damage). Previously there were explosives, Danni's crossbow, and a lot of people fighting with sticks... but no guns.
  • Averted on VR Troopers on one occasion. Usually the guns we'd see would be this trope, but one bot called Gunslinger used a very realistic gun. This was handled by making him into a cowboy from The Wild West that talked like Clint Eastwood.
  • Often seen in the Ultra Series, as the anti-monster teams frequently use ray guns and fighter jets with laser weaponry to battle the Monsters of the Week. However, unlike normal weapons, they are more effective against kaiju and actually somewhat capable of hurting them (to the kaiju it's like being stung by a bee, but certainly better than not noticing the attack at all).
  • On Bibleman, most of the bad guys use laser guns while Bibleman is armed with an off-brand lightsaber and Bible quotes. However, his still wasn't enough for some parents, who wanted The Moral Substitute to superheroes, but complained that even this cartoonish and unrealistic violence was too much.
  • One episode of Victorious showed an action movie being filmed. One scene in the movie had an assassin trying to shoot the protagonist. However, instead of using a sniper rifle, the assassin uses a crossbow.
  • RoboCop: The Series sees Murphy retains his Auto-9, but uses it to resort to blasting weapons out of the villains' hands and has additional non-lethal weapons.
  • Wishbone: Downplayed in one of the Sherlock Holmes episodes (the one with the Baskervilles), in that Watson draws his revolver out of his jacket pocket at Holmes' instruction, but it's a gray area whether we actually see him firing it: the next shot in an extremely foggy one, to the point where we can't see actors or anyone on-screen, but we do hear gunshots and see the small spurts of flame you might expect from a revolver fired at night. Next shot, we can see the actors again, and Holmes is asking Watson if he's hurt.

  • The Wheatus single Teenage Dirtbag was mutilated like this for radio airplay. The line "Her boyfriend's a dick, he brings a gun to school was seriously censored to Her boyfriend's a [strange scratchy noise], he brings [even stranger scratching noise obscuring words]'' .
  • The music video to Naughty By Nature's Hip Hop Hooray has several men pull up in a car and point guns at another group. The guns turn out to all be water guns.
  • Despite the video for the Beastie Boys's "Sabotage" parodying the hell out of 70s movies, the police have no guns, just empty holsters. Given this is the same song with an f-bomb in the first thirty seconds, this presumably came from a combination of ease-of-filming (as the video is set outside) and Rule of Funny.
  • Similar is the video for Judas Priest's "Breaking the Law", where the band stick up bank tellers by threateningly pointing guitars at them.


    Puppet Shows 
  • When the Gerry Anderson series Stingray was turned into a movie by mashing a few episodes together, the scenes where the various craft fired torpedoes at each other were changed so that laser beams were fired instead.
  • Same creator, same principle, different series: when some episodes of Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons were mashed together to create a movie, the missiles fired by the Mysteron saucers were turned into lasers, and shoddy-looking ones at that. It is possible that this was simply an attempt to make them more alien, but either way it failed at whatever it was trying to do.
  • The Mr. Potato Head Show: The show lampshades and dances around the fact that you can't have real guns on a kid's show. For example, in a western episode, sherrif!Mr. Potato Head and outlaw!Johnny have some closeups of them that size them up head-to-toe, and you can tell that their holsters are empty. And yet, when Mr. Potato Head is showing this western episode to the TV bosses, seconds after these size-up camera shots, you can hear gunshots as part of the climactic shootout while seeing the bosses' reactions of horror as they tell him he can't have guns on the show.

  • In general, this is why most toy guns sold to kids are painted in bright colors and look like sci-fi laser weapons. Realistic-looking toy guns can, and often have, been easily mistaken for the real thing, which has led to cases of police officers shooting little kids as well as criminals using toy guns to stage real robberies. There do exist Airsoft weapons that are explicitly modeled after real guns, but these are marketed to adult collectors and typically come with restrictions on their purchase and use.
  • LEGO have typically had a "no present-day weapons" rule (this is usually understood to mean "20th century or later) — so it's okay for Minifig swords and laser guns, but not realistic guns. However, as seen below, this is not as strict as it once was.
    • This is why even BIONICLE, easily the most violent Lego franchise ever, is restricted to energy weapons and Abnormal Ammo. BIONICLE went so far as to use the words Murder and Thieves for one of their lines, and made it very clear that Anyone Can Die in their post-Inika Story arcs (whereas in all other stories the characters would get comically blown to pieces, but survive nonetheless since they can just rebuild themselves). The closest they've ever gotten to a projectile weapon was the Cordak Missile Launchers, which functioned like a Gatling gun (but it only held 6 ammo rounds, possibly because they were explosive in-story) and even then it was far too comically short to be taken seriously.
    • The "present day" rule actually isn't as strict as it used to be — at first no form of realistic gunpowder weapon were allowed at all, even obviously obsolete ones. This was eventually relaxed in the 1990s for the Pirate theme (which contained 18th-century-style muskets) and the Western theme (which had pistols and rifles). Since then a number of other themes, including LEGO Adventurers, Indiana Jones, Batman and Wonder Woman (2017), have included guns (albeit stylized ones). Nowadays it's more like "no realistic non-stylized modern weapons", not "no modern weapons period."
    • The Lego Adaptation Games play with this: There's an unlockable code that replaces all lasers and pistols with coffee mugs. The pistols, however, still fire lasers (or, in one case, a "bang!" flag).
    • This is the main gripe of the Technic fans, as these older consumers know full well that Lego has the ability to create realistic, working tanks and military aircraft and that they would be awesome. But because of the "no realistic modern weapons" rule that's unlikely. The only exceptions—indeed, the only realistic military vehicle models LEGO has ever produced— were a series of collector's models featuring a Sopwith Camel and a Fokker Triplane, two World War I fighter planes released in 2002.
    • It is probably for this reason that the Lego Star Wars line is considered to be their best selling line, as they can make movie-accurate guns and war machines without violating their rule. In particular the old technic lines and the larger hobbysets are much well received by the older demographic, who long for realistic tanks, but get close enough with a movie-accurate scale X-wing Fighter or Imperial Walker.
    • One way the company is able to get around this limitation, however, is to release models that look like military vehicles but simply aren't labeled as such. For example, this set is clearly meant to be a Lockheed F-35 Lightning II strike fighter, but since it's labeled simply as a "Blue Power Jet" instead, it technically doesn't violate the company's nonviolence policy.
  • Transformers: G1 Megatron's original altmode was a realistic Walther P-38, though roughly 2/3 actual size. Subsequent releases in America had the toy partially or completely recolored with neon parts to look more like a futuristic laser (though some countries with more restrictive gun laws were not subject to this change). Future incarnations of Megatron had a combat vehicle or spaceship altmode instead, though this could be due to the main villain become an immobile object to be held by The Starscream, of all bots, was less than awesome.
    • Some states actually allow gun toys that look like real guns so long as they have the orange cap. However, Hasbro isn't going to make versions for each state and then deal with what happens when someone takes one with them on vacation, etc.
    • Averted by Masterpiece Megatron, which again became a realistic Walther P-38, but this time about half again actual size so the resulting robot mode would be on scale with Masterpiece Convoy / 20th Anniversary Optimus Prime. However, it was a Japanese-exclusive release, and thus subject to different laws.
    • Legends Class (smallest size class for non-mini-cons. Car characters are about Hot Wheels size.) G1 Megs is even getting an orange cap. Apparently we're worried about squirrel cops shooting squirrel kids, because that's the scale we're dealing in. Perhaps they're deathly afraid of Legends Megatron being mistaken for a Kolibri pistol.
  • Playmobil sets include firearms when appropriate (or not, as the case may be) — there used to be a Police seaplane set that included not only sidearms for the police officers, but a sniper rifle too.
  • The doll for Yukon Cornelius from Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer had his pistol removed even though he never actually used it in the movie itself.
  • NERF dart blasters are sold at retail in bright colors with bright orange or vermillion muzzles. The Vortex disc blasters have dramatically oblong barrels and a fantastic raygun motif. Amongst the color combinations Nerf uses are bright yellow with gray highlights (Classic N-Strike), Rich Blue with white and gray stripes (N-Strike Elite, the colours are inverted to white with blue stripes for Elite XD), Green or White with grey detailing and bright vermillion triggers/muzzles (Vortex), white and gray with purple and pink detailing and floral/wing patterns (Rebelle), bright red with white stripes (Elite N-Strike MEGA).

    Video Games 
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • The franchise has this - when it feels like it. Games like Sonic Heroes will have enemies fight you with bright orange laser guns, whereas Shadow the Hedgehog has you and many of your enemies using regular old bullet-firing murder-devices.
    • Forgotten character Fang the Sniper/Nack the Weasel was originally meant to have a revolver for a weapon, as seen in early screenshots of Sonic Triple Trouble. For his playable appearance in Sonic the Fighters, he was given a cork-shooting popgun.
    • On the whole, though, many of the games have realistic firearms instead of using lasers, even though it would completely make sense (for example, many of Eggman's robots have been equipped with machineguns).
    • Sonic Forces returns to this trope when the heroic Resistance are mainly armed with laser-shooting Wispon weaponry that just so happens to never hit anything on-screen. Amusingly, not only does the Avatar not actually get to use this weapon and instead have a much more strange arsenal of weapons, but Eggman's robots also fire energy shots that make stock bullet ping sounds when they hit objects.
  • Donkey Kong 64 loves this trope. Each Kong gets their own unique firearm that all use Abnormal Ammo. Donkey Kong's gun fires coconuts, Diddy's pistols fire peanuts, Tiny's crossbow fires feathers, Lanky spits grapes out of a straw, and Chunky's bazooka fires pineapples. After the final boss fight, Funky Kong finishes off King K. Rool with a bazooka that fires a boot directly at his head. Interestingly, in the beta of Donkey Kong 64, Diddy has realistic pistols in place of his peanut popguns. Chances are they were just there as a placeholder until they came up with a cartoony weapon that was better suited to the colorful Donkey Kong Country universe, but they might have also been changed to keep an E rating.
  • Crash Bandicoot's Fruit Bazooka.
  • Ratchet & Clank's weaponry is generally done in a retro sci-fi style to make the series more kid-friendly. Then of course, there's all the Denser and Wackier weapons like the Morph-o-ray, Groovitron and Mr Zurkon.
  • Super Smash Bros.: In interviews about Super Smash Bros. Brawl, it was specifically said that Solid Snake could not use guns... but his rocket launcher, mortar, grenades, and land mines are all good.note  This may have also been for gameplay reasons though, since a projectile that moves almost instantly (like Sheik's needles) that you could fire almost constantly would be really cheap (also, explosions are more fun, more hilarious and much harder to imitate). The titular protagonist of Bayonetta, showing up as a DLC character Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U, gets to keep her firearms, but they're unrealistic and a pretty big part of her style. The Duck Hunt fighter can summon characters from Wild Gunman, but the Wild Gunman characters and their weapons are flat 2D NES sprites thus look even less realistic than Bayonetta's weapons. King K. Rool has a flintlock blunderbuss, but it fires a comically large and slow moving cannon ball (and somehow acts a vacuum). Joker somewhat averts this. In lore, the gun itself is only an airsoft gun made real by the Metaverse, but Super Smash Bros. Ultimate never acknowledges this, and the gun looks and acts realistically, with bullet casings exiting the gun. His special that uses it is just called "Gun." Since the Gun is Joker's neutral B, Kirby also can copy the gun, blasting foes while saying, "Bang! Bang! Bang!"
  • Command & Conquer: Tiberium Wars:
    • Within the novel, the regular infantry of Nod (the bad guys) are armed with Energy Weapons. While Nod do have lasers within the game, they're limited to special forces, while the regular mooks get conventional weapons. The trope is almost invoked by one soldier wondering "Where the hell'd they get-" after seeing the lasers. The change isn't because of censorship, but as a result of a continuity error.
    • In the expansion to Tiberium Wars, the Black Hand subfaction can upgrade their basic mooks to use lasers. That said, they are Elite Mooks, since the Black Hand has been referenced across the series as Nod's elite.
  • Inverted (sort of) in Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan. At first the cops use real guns to fight rampaging robots which don't do anything. Then they figure out their weakness and attack with water guns instead, which are very effective.
  • Kingdom Hearts is rather inconstant with this.
    • Clayton’s old fashioned gun goes down untouched in Kingdom Hearts, but in Kingdom Hearts II the pirates’ muskets were edited to look like crossbows (but still sound like muskets and have muzzle flashes), while the various flintlock pistols are untouched. Odder still, Xigbar's Special Attack in which he merges his two “arrowguns”, which look nothing like real guns, to create a sniper rifle, which is altered to... well, the same guns not merging.
    • There is a part in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl when Will puts a gun to his head and threatens to kill himself if his friends are not released. In western versions of Kingdom Hearts II, he leaps to the edge of the ship, just like the movie, and threatens his own life...while pointing the gun at the ground. You probably don't want to encourage children to point guns at their own heads, but at the same time it was a bit jarring to anyone familiar with the movie.
    • Oddly enough, 358/2 Days is the only game where Xigbar is shown merging his arrowguns into a sniper rifle, perhaps because it’s easier to edit a cinematic attack than an in game one.
    • The HD rerelease of Kingdom Hearts II and Birth By Sleep allowed Xibgar/Braig to use his sniper rifle, but kept the odd editing of the Pirates's world.
  • Nintendo's Famicom Light Gun originally featured a realistic revolver design in Japan. When it was converted into the NES Zapper overseas, it was given a "futuristic" redesign to comply with U.S. safety standards. Later versions of the Zapper even changed the color of the gun's coating from its original gray to orange due to revised standards. This also applies to all light gun peripherals that had been exported from Japan to the overseas market. Light guns such as Sega's Virtua Gun (renamed the Stunner overseas) and Namco's GunCon were originally sold in realistic-looking black coating in Japan but were repainted orange for the overseas market to distinguish them from real guns. These alterations were not enough in the opinions of several members of the Senate. During the Senate Hearings that would ultimately lead to the creation of the ESRB, Senator Joe Liberman tried to make a point about how violent video games affect children by pointing a bright blue light gun around during the hearing.
  • Commander Keen: A justified case. Keen uses rayguns in the first three episodes, the Invasion of the Vorticons trilogy (and the opening story of Keen Dreams); he then switches to a Neural Stunner for the rest of his adventures. This was due to how all the Vorticons Keen slaughtered were mind-controlled instead of evil and Keen didn't want to risk ending up responsible for the annihilation of an alien race again. Also, stunned enemies with stars circling their heads are more amusing to look at in a game that pioneered DOS as a gaming platform.
  • The early Wolfenstein 3-D clone Nitemare 3D put you in a then-modern-day haunted house setting, but started you off with an advanced plasma gun and later upgrades you to a magic wand. Interestingly, this was more for gameplay purposes than an attempt at censorship, since one of your other options even later on was a more conventional revolver, and each weapon had its own uses - the plasma gun and magic wand were primarily hindered by very slow-moving shots, versus the revolver hitting its target instantly, but the revolver's ammo was more limited than that for the other two. They were all also better or worse against certain targets - magic blasts that made short work of magical creatures were shrugged off by robots, who went down more easily against the plasma gun, which fell short against undead creatures that would be better fought with the revolver's silver bullets. Super 3D Noah's Ark was a Wolfenstein Clone that played this completely straight. The game turned the violent Nazi killing action into a non-violent Christian game by transforming the player into Noah, all the Nazis into goats, and all the weapons into slingshots to fire food at the goats.
  • Chex Quest: The opening movie makes it clear that conventional weapons can pass right through the slime-based phlegmoids, so the protagonist must use "zorching" weapons to return enemies back to their home dimension. The opening cinematic specifies that the zorchers have been specifically modified to work this way, but their original use, and why they've been left all over Bazoik for the player to collect, is left unclear (fanon, at least, is that they were mining tools).
  • Night Trap. "Weird Eddie", one of the Martin's neighbors, invented a laser gun in order to combat them and the augers. Interestingly, the SCAT team has real guns. (Though no one is shown being shot on-screen.)
  • In the book version of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and its film adaptation, Harry kills the basilisk by stabbing it through the roof of its mouth with the Sword of Gryffindor. In the video game, however, the sword is not a melee weapon at all and instead fires magic lasers from its tip. How much it is this trope and how much it was to make an interesting boss battle is up to debate.
  • Kid Icarus: Uprising plays with this, with the staves resembling sniper rifles and the Flintlock Staff being a real gun with nothing done to hide it. They also have swords that shoot normal bullets because the weapon is "Old Fashioned."
  • In Pirate101 the guns are sparkthowers. Rather than shooting bullets they shoot balls of magic electricity that stun opponents into submission. They range from flintlock pistols to a long rifle that functions as a primitive sniper rifle to the one that is a cannon that can shoot a ball of electricity with enough force to knock back the target.
  • Splatoon:
    • The games more or less play like a multiplayer deathmatch shooter game, but you use colorful ink instead of bullets. Shooting opponents simply sends them back to spawn, and in the main multiplayer mode Turf War, shooting up opponents isn't really the main goal anyway — it's to cover the arena with as much of your team's color of ink as possible.
    • Splatoon 2: The single player trailer featured the player character using what looked like an FN P90 as their main weapon. Of course, the final version of the weapon was heavily modified to look more toylike, in line with the other weapons in the game.
  • Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle: The firearms wielded by Mario and the gang, and their Rabbid counterparts, are all colorful and toy-like, and they fire energy blasts or beams instead of ammo. The devs said in interviews that they were particularly mindful of it as a prerequisite to even pitching the concept to Nintendo.
  • Zigzagged in Subnautica: it's implied that normal weapons do exist, and the player can even outfit certain submersibles with torpedoes, but the player cannot replicate these "real" weapons, due to restrictions placed on all replicators after the massacre on Obraxis Prime. Instead, the player relies on the Propulsion & Repulsion Cannonsnote  and Stasis Rifle.note  Zigzagged again in that, whilst these were initially used to avert Video Game Cruelty Potential, later updates rendered them into more effective Improvised Weapons by adding the ability to inflict "crash damage" with the Cannons; this may have been done over fan backlash at how defenseless they were against the teeming hostile alien creatures in the earliest versions of the game.
  • Bonanza Bros.: Mobo and Robo's signature weapons are handguns that don't kill anyone, but can effectively knock any targets they hit out-cold for a little while.
  • Spyro the Dragon: The original games avert this, with multiple enemies in each games having guns, ranging from Flintlock weapons to modern machine guns. The Spyro Reignited Trilogy changed many of the guns into non-bullet projectiles like slingshots or goo weapons, while grenades become Explosive Barrels and Cartoon Bombs. However, the Flintlock weapons and some revolvers still clearly fire bullets.
  • In Kirby and the Forgotten Land, thse newly-introduced Ranger ability features Kirby firing star projectiles from his blunderbuss gun, with its Space Ranger updated instead using a futuristic plasma gun.
  • In Let's Go Island, the trope is inverted: The Japanese version of the game replaces the players' guns with super-soakers, while in the US and European versions of the game, they wield proper rifles.

    Web Animation 
  • Homestar Runner: "Cheat Commandos", a direct parody of G.I. Joe, uses conventional guns that make conventional gunfire sounds but fire laser blasts. The enemy faction is actually named Blue Laser. Subverted in the Thanksgiving episode, where Gunhaver actually has a realistic gun.
  • Bonus Stage:
    • Referenced in an episode: Phil is able to tell that Joel has been possessed when he holds up a bank with a gun in his left had because Joel is right-handed. Unfortunately, Matt Wilson accidentally drew the gun in Joel's right hand, so when he corrected it, the gun became a stupid-looking, brightly colored gun.
    • Also, in the episode where Joel censors the show "to fit the burgeoning five-to-seven-year-old market", the word "gun" is overdubbed with "blaster" (although it's still clearly a real gun).
  • In "Saturday Morning Watchmen" the criminal's gun fires lasers at Nite Owl.


    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero, is probably the first example that comes to mind when thinking of this trope. While there initially existed assorted evidence that the guns weren't meant to be perceived as lasers—more-or-less realistic sound effects, boxes labelled “ammo” with visible bullets—the show eventually came to acknowledge the lasers for what they were, including details such as power settings and whatnot. This effect actually made the Joes' laser-specialist characters, Flash and Sci-Fi, utterly useless in the cartoon. That said, the lasers don't even seem to be that particularly effective, since in the incredibly rare occasion someone gets hit, they tend to get back up fairly quickly.
    • The same trope was used almost exactly the same way in future cartoon incarnations, such as G.I. Joe Extreme, the CGI movies and G.I. Joe: Sigma 6.
    • G.I. Joe: Renegades continues the tradition, but makes it clear the lasers are something new and exotic by M.A.R.S. Industries, and that they have just recently begun to replace bullet-based guns. One episode even features Flint remarking on the difference, warning his men to "Watch the recoil! These are plasma-pulse rifles, not your daddy's M16's!" Flashbacks to the Joes' early days feature them carrying regular guns, but this is an exception, as nobody else actually appears to own a firearm: when Zartan and his gang threaten a small town in his intro issue, nobody, not even the town's sheriff, appears to consider using firearms, instead resorting to improvised weaponry when the Joes train the citizens to defend themselves.
  • While guns weren't all that prominent in Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog, when they did show up, they would inevitably be lasers—even in episodes involving time travel or references to the wild west. The only realistic firearms in the show appeared in a particular after-show Sonic Says segment, which warns about the dangers of real guns.
  • In Theodore Tugboat, the recurring character Nautilus is the only Navy ship in the show who is specifically identified as such (he's based on a St. Laurent-class destroyer escort). However, he doesn't have any visible gun turrets, presumably due to this trope.
  • The short-lived Mighty Orbots had an extreme example of this. In a cartoon about a futuristic Combining Mecha team battling giant monsters and alien mad scientists led by an evil energy computer, ABC's Standards and Practices dictated that none of the weapons could bear any resemblance to gun-shaped objects. The end result? Battles waged with giant wedges and cones of light flashed from arms, legs, eyes, and whatever else was convenient. Writer Buzz Dixon noted that the show appeared more futuristic as a result.
  • Zig-zagged in Gargoyles: while the first few episodes portrayed "particle beam" weapons as being accessible only to the very rich (such as millionaire David Xanatos), everybody else carried and used real guns. However, in the episode "Deadly Force", mob boss Tony Dracon steals a shipment of these and sells several of them on the street. Thus, the writers establish that there are energy weapons available for criminals to use if they know where to look. In the end, who used what depended on which group one belonged to: members of the NYPD (including co-star Elisa Maza) would uniformly use real guns; high-end baddies such as Xanatos, Demona, and Thailog heavily favored lasers; and anyone else would use whatever the not-always-consistent animation felt like displaying.
  • In DC Animated Universe cartoons:
    • Batman: The Animated Series downplays this trope by using Tommy Guns (their "gangster film" flair likely got them past the censors). Laser guns or other "exotic" weaponry are only used occasionally and typically with an In-Universe justification of it being a character's gimmick, such as Mr. Freeze's freeze ray or Maxie Zeus's thunderbolt rod.
    • Superman: The Animated Series and Batman Beyond both took a zig-zagged approach. Energy weapons were rarer, more expensive, and generally more threatening than ordinary guns, more so in the former than the future-set latter. Both shows suffered from inconsistencies, though; sometimes sound effects did not match the visual (both ways, not always biased towards beam weapons), sometimes the same weapon design would be recycled as both beam- and bullet-firing between episodes, and sometimes the exact same weapon, carried by the same character, would do both over the course of an episode.
    • Justice League, like other typical DC cartoons, had both lasers and real guns being used. "Savage Time", a time-travel episode set in World War II, had lots of guns and bombs going off, and a lot of soldiers are killed (though conveniently obscured or off-screen, without any blood of course).
    • Although Static Shock mostly plays this trope straight, exceptions were occasionally made for particularly serious episodes. Such as the pilot (where Virgil is almost goaded into joining a gang, even being given a handgun that he immediately throws away), an episode dealing with school violence (a bullied kid threatens his tormentors with a stolen pistol, accidentally shooting his friend Richie in the leg), and another one dealing with his mother's death (who was shot and killed while doing emergency services during a violent riot).
    • Justified at great length in The Zeta Project. Two things: one, bullets strong enough to damage the protagonist Zeta (a robot) will probably destroy him, and the antagonists (a team of federal agents) have orders to capture him alive and intact, as he's a very expensive piece of equipment. Two - and Agent Bennett goes off at great length on Agent West for this - real bullets will ricochet off of Zeta because his body is built specifically to deflect bullets, and therefore endangers innocent bystanders. Bennett, despite being a jerkass most of the time, enforces the no bullet-firing guns rule based on this. The only time anyone uses a real gun is when Agent Lee goes up against a ruthless mercenary who had tried to kill her earlier. The rest of the time, they used energy-based weapons. Zeta adheres to Thou Shalt Not Kill so strictly that he refuses to even carry any lethal weapons.
  • Justified in Men in Black: The Series. Just like in the movie, The Men in Black possess a futuristic arsenal of alien weaponry in order to fight alien criminals, who may be armed the same way; including various laser guns, a Freeze Ray, etc.
  • Downplayed in Jackie Chan Adventures. A few realistic-looking firearms can be seen sometimes, but these guns are rarely ever used, and obviously nobody gets hurt from them. Not that it matters, as most combat in the show involved the use of martial arts and magical weapons anyways.
  • Played very straight (if also played for laughs) in one episode of Courage the Cowardly Dog ("Farmer Hunter, Farmer Hunted"), where Courage accompanies Eustace on a hunting trip. Eustace is armed with a laser rifle and unsuccessfully tries to shoot at deer — one of whom also turns out to have his own laser rifle for self-defense from hunters.
  • At first, it was surprisingly averted (but later zig-zagged and played straight) in Regular Show. Police and criminals could be seen using real guns that fire real bullets. In fact two episodes involved shootouts, with criminals (robotic ones, admittedly) getting injured and killed by the police. But later episodes played this straight — i.e. "Guy's Night 2", where the FBI agents pursuing Thomas use laser weaponry, both in the form of small arms and helicopter turrets. However, given the Fantasy Kitchen Sink nature of the series, the lasers hardly seem out of place. That said, there's enough scenes featuring realistic firearms that a Youtube compilation of every frame of animation with a gun visible (helpfully titled "Regular Show but it's just guns") is almost seven minutes long.
    • In adition to that, many of the guns used on the show were drawn to resemble real-life guns, such as Glocks and AK47s.
  • Everything shoots "lasers" in X-Men: The Animated Series. Machine guns shoot lasers. Tanks shoot big red beams that somehow arc and hit the ground like heavy artillery. Also typical for this trope, the series had the anti-mutant supremacist group stockpile what were clearly regular munitions, despite constantly using laser weapons onscreen. Even sewer-dwelling edge-people have lasers! The animated version of the battle between Storm and Callisto for leadership of the Morlocks was fought with what looked like double-bladed lightsabers (in the original comic book, it was a knife fight). The one arguable exception in the season 5 episode "Old Soldiers", in which more realistic sounds are heard when a few rounds are let loose.
  • Spider-Man: The Animated Series (known for its particularly heavy censorship and restrictions) also excessively used laser weaponry. Many realistic guns were not allowed, and no firearms could shoot bullets, so instead they fired lasers complemented by "futuristic" sound effects. This often led to preposterous scenes in which ordinary policemen wielded bizarre, futuristic pistols, and the mere appearances of realistic-looking guns (as seen in "Tombstone" and "Day of the Chameleon") were pointed out as major exceptions. The most preposterous example has to be "Secrets of the Six" where, during a WWII flashback, Captain America leads a crackdown on the Red Skull's Nazi infiltrators, which, upon being discovered, promptly pull out their standard issue 1943 model laser guns to shoot those pesky heroes.
  • If projectile-based weaponry existed in the present-day X-Men: Evolution, it was never used. Policemen would never draw their weapons. The army would either use non-lethal ordnance such as taser or tear gas, or escalate to laser rifles. Even civilians created their own improvised lasers when the need arose: in one episode, high-school graduate Duncan Matthews uses what is described as modified mining tools during his short lived anti-mutant terror campaign. One clear exception, mercifully, occurs during the World War II flashback sequence in "Project Rebirth".
  • The Spectacular Spider-Man has cops and common criminals use guns which are meant to be realistic ones, but which are made to sound more like lasers. While a particular subset of DVDs was meant to make them sound like real guns (among other general changes, including additional footage, and the editing of the individual episodes of an arc into a pseudo-movie), only the first story arc got this treatment before the line was discontinued. Villains higher on the tech scale, incidentally, would occasionally use what were unambiguously meant to be lasers, or some other form of Abnormal Ammo.
  • Special beams aside, Kim Possible would often have the police, secret agents, and other authorities be completely unarmed. The base defenders at Area 51 have rifles (M14s and M16s), in one episode, but they never fire; their appearance might well be an oversight. There may have been guns when Mr. Barkin had a flashback to his days in the Vietnam War, too. On the opposite side, the Grand Finale had a quick shot of tanks firing lasers at giant alien tripods.
  • An episode of the Attack of the Killer Tomatoes! cartoon, "Invasion of the Tomato Snatchers", Professor Gangreen did a bit of Lampshade Hanging, where at one point he complained, "If this were prime-time, I could use real bullets!"
    • In the episode "The Tomato from the Black Lagoon", Zoltan and the Gang of Five were piloting warplanes and attacking Chad, F.T., and Tara with live ammo. Chad tells Tara that kids should not use guns, have to use their fingers instead!
    • In another episode, "Streets of Ketchup", after Chad and Tara gets assaulted by tomatoes, Chad reaches into a shrub, and whips out a pair of guns. The Censor Lady raises a fuss, but Chad tells her that they are water guns, loaded with salt water. However, the water sprayed onto her reveals a well-delivered Take That!:
      Tara: A tomato!
      Chad: Nah, a prune... now we're gonna hear from the Prune Board!
  • Unlike its predecessor, The Batman played this trope straight. While it's unclear what kind of ammunition the weapons used by the GCPD and other criminals used—the more-graphic movie and the series proper are somewhat inconsistent in this regard—the guns themselves were very sci-fi looking, in a way that made them look quite out of place in a world that tried to remain somewhat realistic. Averted in The Batman vs. Dracula, though - at one point, Batman is pursued by a SWAT team whose guns are quite clearly firing bullets, even though they look rather sci-fi-ish.
  • Teen Titans (2003) plays this trope straight, although the fact that the world established in the series appears to be different from our own in several key ways means their use is not as jarring as some other cases.
  • Lampshaded in the first Droopy and Dripple segment of Tom & Jerry Kids where McWolf throws bullets at Droopy and Dripple.
    McWolf: I know it's stupid, but they wouldn't give me a gun for this cartoon.
    • Ironically there were guns in some of the cartoons but they all fall under this trope.
  • Godzilla: The Series, is actually an interesting example of lasers being acquired during the series. In early episodes, real guns (including M16s) are used. During the "Monster Wars" story arc, the invading aliens end up leaving some of their Energy Weapons on Earth when they retreat. Soon after that, lasers show up as military weapons, in all likelihood reverse-engineered from the alien ones—unfortunately, they prove to be as effective as the projectile weaponry.
  • Everyone in the various Ben 10 series uses lasers. While it make sense for characters who are connected to the numerous alien races that are a series mainstay, the fact that regular people—such as the security detail assigned to protect a to-be-released videogame—also use them without explanation can be rather off-putting, if you care about stuff like that.
  • While the trope was initially in full effect (with some exceptions, such as a scene involving a wild west shoot-out) in the early episodes of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003), more realistic-looking guns started appearing as the series went on. The second season featured stylized guns which shot ambiguous-looking ammo which appeared to be designed for maximum plausible deniability, which evolved into more realistic automatic weaponry in the third season. It wasn't until the fourth season that handguns began appearing. While laser weapons did appear throughout the series (and far more frequently than "real" firearms), the producers attempted to justify them by showing that they were only accessible to the particularly well-funded; however, once an alien invasion left a large amount of advanced ordnance lying around, a black market was created, and street gangs began using them as well.
  • The original Ninja Turtles cartoon, on the other hand, went in the opposite direction. While initial seasons featured characters using what where meant to be “real” firearms (although the animation, as was typical for the show, was rather inconsistent in this regard, showing what looked like lasers at the same time lines like “eat hot lead” and “the bullets aren't stopping them!” were being said) by its final season you'd have security guards using some very sci-fi-looking lasers. (Presumably, this was a side effect of switching from syndication to CBS, who'd presumably have tighter standards regarding such items.)
  • While early episodes of Transformers: Generation 1 featured humans using normal guns, the fact that the writers take steps to justify the existence of energy weapons (via the use of a short montage where Chip and leading industrialists are shown "developing weapons for humanity to combat the Decepticon threat" or some such line), which then completely replace conventional weaponry, suggest that this trope may have been an issue.
  • Transformers: Prime seems to zigzag with this trope at times. On one hand, Agent Fowler's helicopter is armed with what looks like a pretty accurately-modeled M230 Chaingun, and when he fires it at Laserbeak in the third episode, it clearly makes gun-like sounds and even runs out of ammo. When it appeared again in episode 17, however, the same gun fired bullets with a laser sound effect. It's even weirder with MECH's various weapons; Silas' personal chopper clearly fires some kind of energized projectile, while his goons carry futuristic assault rifles that fire both laser-sounding bullets (which are animated like normal gunfire and make obvious ricochet noises against Breakdown and Bulkhead's armor) and blue, energy-like stun blasts from a secondary barrel. Meanwhile, ordinary US troops carry normal-looking M16s, but never fire them. In Nemesis Prime, we get some rather awkward scenes where said troops point their M16s at targets, but all actual gunfire comes from offscreen, and sounds like lasers; it's implied that they're firing their rifles at the eponymous MECH robot, but not once is anyone shone pulling the trigger of their weapon on-camera. The lack of projectile weapons is especially baffling given that the show has no problems with Transformers dismember each other with blade weapons.
  • Danny Phantom plays the trope straight. While the protagonists' weapons were designed to fight ghosts (who would naturally be immune to bullets) no other characters appear to carry firearms— although it is rare for most of the scenarios to make sense for firearms to be used. Most of Danny's battles are with ghosts, and take place in a highschool. The few humans he actually fight invariably use super science and plasma based weapons.
  • Exo Squad's inconsistent animation meant that EVERYTHING fired lasers, no matter what it looked like or what it fired a second ago. That grapefruit thing on the right arm of the Neosapian mook E-Frame (intended in the toys as a "ExoCrushing Mace Missile") was alternately a laser blaster, a missile, a club, or some kind of bomb depending on what the animators felt like doing. Scopes fired lasers, missile launchers fired lasers, odd pointy bits that don't really look anything like a weapon sometimes fired lasers. If it was on the arm of an E-Frame, it shot a laser at some point. However, closeup shots of weapons sometimes showed belts of linked ammunition and ejected bullet casings.
  • In The Adventures of Sam and Max: Freelance Police, the title characters never got to use their guns, but they did use all manner of explosives and blunt instruments, and the occasional flamethrower. Even so, the roach terrorist at the end of "Bad Day On The Moon" uses a realistically-drawn AK, although it's never fired.
  • Young Justice (2010) toys with this. Some villains are armed with lasers and otherworldly weaponry, but soldiers and thugs still carry standard firearms.
    • Played straight with Arsenal. In the comics, he has a pair of handguns and other realistic firearms, but in the show he simply uses a laser built into his bionic arm. Of course, chances are the censors wouldn't have reacted too kindly to a teenage superhero using realistic real world firearms to begin with.
      • Deathstroke carries a very real looking pistol, but never does more with it than intercept a thrown grenade, and dramatically cock it in another character's face before it was knocked from his hand.
  • Both played straight and averted in Wolverine and the X-Men (2009). Most instances of firearms tended to be cartoonish lasers, but realistic handguns were infrequently seen as well.
  • Odd example in Iron Man: Armored Adventures. Some episodes show what are clearly normal firearms (complete with bullets and discarded shell casings) but play cartoonish laser sounds when the guns actually fire.
  • The American Street Fighter animated series has an episode featuring a Chinese drug cartel using laser guns. Also in the "Final Fight" episode, Belger uses a wheelchair equipped with missiles and lasers instead of his bowgun.
    "You know I hate guns. Guns are for wimps!"
  • For some reason, the human Cowboy Cop reluctant ally of Mighty Ducks: The Animated Series also has a laser pistol. Then again, criminals in this series seem to be able to get their hands on rather exotic futuristic weapons, so we can probably say it's 20 Minutes into the Future.
  • This trope was completely averted by Rambo: The Force of Freedom a cartoon based off the Rambo movies. Still, no one living was ever hit by the bullets.
  • RoboCop: The Animated Series has villains using laser weapons instead of regular guns. May be justified by RoboCop being set 20 Minutes into the Future, but certainly unfaithful to the movies. Alpha Commando likewise sees the use of laser weapons in place of conventional firearms from the movies. Murphy himself in both versions uses a laser version of the Auto-9 and packing additional laser weapons in Alpha Commando.
  • In Zorro: Generation Z, the mayor's Mooks have weapons that look an awful lot like Star Trek: The Next Generation phasers, while Diego himself uses a weapon that is a combination laser, Laser Blade and laser whip. Some of the criminals have Laser Blades as well. Perhaps it was meant to be set 20 Minutes into the Future, but there's no other evidence of this.
  • The fantasy world of Perim in Chaotic featured this trope via Fantasy Gun Control: while the Tribes can churn out arsenal-fulls of flamethrowers, hand-held water cannons, and boom sticks powered-by the classical element air, gunpowder-based firearms appear to be completely alien to their world. Likewise, in the episode "Chaotic Crisis" featured a conflict between the creatures of Perim and real-world humans, who, instead of using the expected arsenal, instead used tanks with flamethrowers.
  • Not-quite-a-gun example: in the cartoons based on The Legend of Zelda (1989), Link couldn't kill the enemies by stabbing them with his sword like in the games. Instead, he had to defeat them by shooting them with the Sword Beams — which are also in the games, but are only available at full health and thus aren't used as much as regular stabbing. In one episode, Link foolishly trades his sword for a fancier one which, he discovers at a critical moment, does not shoot laser beams. It does not help that the sword snaps in half from one enemy attack. Also, Zelda's bow fires glowing beams instead of regular arrows.
  • The Powerpuff Girls (1998) featured real guns during the first two seasons, with cops, robbers, commandos, and even Miss Bellum wielding threatening, bullet-firing weapons with appropriate sound-effects. One episode even points out that the girls are bullet-proof, with Blossom wondering why criminals even try as bullets bounce off of her. This changes in the third season, in an episode which shows policemen fire fully-functional pistols and machineguns which are inexplicably colored fire-hydrant red, and eventually the trope is played straight, with a bank robber shooting at the girls with a laser pistol.
  • Parodied in South Park, where George Lucas and Steven Spielberg set out to release remakes of ET and the Indiana Jones movies where all the guns have been digitally replaced with walkie-talkies. This is later taken a step further lampshaded when the boys are being held captive by real soldiers, all armed with machine gun-sized walkie-talkies.
  • While Generator Rex generally had little problem with featuring conventional firearms, they are occasionally—and inexplicably—absent in episodes where their use would actually be effective against the threat of the week, making the show an example of the first listed version of the trope. The best example probably occurs in the second episode, which involves an outbreak of humanoid E.V.O.s who are individually rather weak; Providence is initially seen trying to contain the monsters using net guns and other non-lethal weaponry, and after this proves ineffective, White Knight gives the order to escalate, skipping automatic weaponry and heading straight into weapons of mass destruction.
  • While The Legend of Korra explicitly takes place in a fantasy setting where Elemental Powers are commonly used, the Equalists field a variety of Diesel Punk-ish weapons and vehicles which, at times, seem rather awkward due to their complete absence of any kind of projectile weaponry. The most shining example comes in the finale, whereupon we witness the introduction of WWI-esque biplanes; while they carry bombs and torpedoes, they conspicuously lack machine guns, and when it actually comes down to aerial combat between planes, we are treated to the bizarre sight of one of them launching bolas that wrap around and immobilise the opposing plane's propeller. Meanwhile, the friendly United Forces' battleships have what appear to be naval cannons, but are actually just tubes that amplify the power and range of Firebending attacks.
  • Due to the tragic shooting incident that took place at a screening of The Dark Knight Rises, the gun designs in Beware the Batman were changed to appear less realistic. Once the show actually premiered, though, it became obvious that the change was only cosmetic— the pistols look like futuristic blasters, but sound like normal guns and fire actual bullets. This is also shown with heavier weapons like Alfred's rifle that has the same look, but still acts like a real rifle.
  • Toyed around with in the Disney Afternoon fare. The rule of thumb is that villains and law enforcement are allowed to carry realistic guns and other weapons, while main characters are restricted to Abnormal Ammo and other defenses.:
    • Realistic guns appear in DuckTales (1987) (with also the occasional laser and other heavy fictionalized weapons); the Beagle Boys on occasion used handguns that fired normal bullets.
    • Realistic firearms also appear in Darkwing Duck, used by many criminal elements and law enforcement bodies. However Darkwing himself relies primarily on gadgets like his trademark gas gun and Abnormal Ammo on the Thunderquack. Laser weapons and other odd types also appear.
    • Primarily averted on TaleSpin. Realistic side and longarms (Colt .45-style pistols, Thompson Submachine Guns, etc) are used on the ground, Don Karnage's pirates and Cape Suzette fighter planes are armed with very realistic machine guns, and the cliff guns defending Cape Suzette from outside threats fire realistic anti aircraft artillery. And then you have the Thembrians flinging bathtubs at enemy aircraft (because they're too poor to afford bullets for the guns they do have...). The Sea Duck itself is an unarmed cargo plane, with Baloo relying on defensive maneuvers like the Wronski Feint and Aerial Canyon Chase against attackers.
    • Police officers and (human) criminals on Bonkers carried realistic firearms. Toon criminals tended more into the ridiculous, though.
    • Seeing as they're the size of, well, mice, weapons used by the Rescue Rangers were pretty universally of the Abnormal Ammo variety. Real guns do make an appearance, however, though given the scales involved generally functioned as artillery and thus were much less imitable in this context.
  • This trope was, ironically, averted by a bizarre case of Executive Meddling in the case of The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes. Originally, the episodes set in World War II were supposed to actually be the Marvel Universe conception of World War II, Nazis and all. Realistic firearms were also called for. However, according to original showrunner Christopher Yost, Disney's BSP unit made them a deal — they could either have Nazis in WWII, but they had to use lasers, or they could have realistic firearms but no Nazis. Hence Captain America, the Howling Commandos and Wolverine all shoot hot lead at HYDRA, who are apparently helping unseen, unmentioned Nazis conquer Europe.
  • This is mostly averted in Cyber Six. The Fixed Ideas use rocket launchers on the titular character frequently, and in the second episode they're seen digging through a stash of machine guns and heavy artillery they stole from the mafia. Detective Enrique uses an odd kind of Ray Gun when he's brainwashed into hunting Cyber Six, though it is actually faster, deadlier, and more capable of harming the titular Cyber than a bullet or rocket could ever hope to be.
  • The Pink Panther cartoon "Super Pink" features a scene were the Panther is shot in the face by a crook's gun, which results in the Panther getting temporary ash face. Some versions of "Super Pink" redrew the scene so the crook has a water pistol, and the Panther just winds up being soaked.
    • Any time the dog mafia used guns in the DePatie/Freleng Dogfather shorts, none are actually shown on screen; gun shots and smoke are seen, but we always cut to the dog who shot the offscreen gun tucking it back into his coat.
  • Parodied once in The Amazing World of Gumball with a criminal who tries to rob a convenience store with a spoon, freaking out several other characters as if it were an actual firearm. The cop who ends up arresting him just finds the whole thing hilarious though.
  • Most of the time, police in Invader Zim simply have no weapons at all, leading to a strange scene where Zim ran into a bank full of police officers and one can hear numerous Dramatic Gun Cocks with no visible source. They've also been shown using stranger things such as mustard bottles and a laser that looks like it's made of twisting pipes.
  • In a few of episodes of The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh characters used ice cream scoopers in place of guns.
  • Similarly, in The Garbage Pail Kids Show, the movie parody segments would have guns that shot pies.
  • Everybody has lasers in Phantom 2040, since it's the future. Surprisingly, in one episode a minor character dies on screen due to being shot by those lasers.
  • SWAT Kats: The Radical Squadron zigzags the trope: normal guns and rifles, as used by the Enforcers and assorted villains, are laser-based and generally look that way, though Commander Feral's handgun looks a little more realistic; some early episodes showed bullets being fired from guns, but with red streaks and laser noises. The SWAT Kats' arsenal, on the other hand, is intended to be as non-lethal as possible. Therefore, they tend to lean towards Abnormal Ammo — the varieties of missiles used in the TurboKat range from being able to deploy buzzsaws, to producing electrical or flame impacts. They rarely ever fired a standard missile- which was lampshaded when a standard was fired by a button marked "Plain Old Missile". In addition, they also had a cement gatling gun equipped; their ammo in their Glovatrixes and other vehicles tended to be scaled-down versions of their TurboKat armaments.
  • Very notably averted with C.O.P.S.: almost all characters carry and use realistic looking firearms that fire bullets and have gunfire sound effects, the one exception being Mace and his laser bazooka.
  • Zigzagged in Centurions: most characters used energy weapons or missiles, but some of the main characters' weapon loadouts included guns that consistently fired bullets.
  • Its justified in Wander over Yonder due to the futuristic and heavily Star Wars-inspired setting, but there are a couple instances where some alien citizens will have guns that look exactly like muskets or shotguns, but with a laser antenna sticking out of the barrel!
  • Guns are absent in We Bare Bears, though given the nature of the show, any sort of violence aside from comical slapstick is rare. Whenever police officers are seen, they're just about always unarmed. This was even lampshaded for a joke once; once when the titular Bears approached a cop for help with finding a thief, they demanded her to "use your gun", before noticing an empty waistband and asking "Where is your gun?".
  • In She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, The Horde uses laser batons similar to the ones from Andromeda, and they seem only to give a "knock you down" zap instead of actually killing people. They also morph into trench clubs. Tanks and gunboats use laser guns, not proper cannons. Given the Magitek in place elsewhere in Etheria as well as the Horde's generally advanced tech, it doesn't stick out much.
  • Samurai Jack is a notable aversion. The series takes place in a far future where aliens, flying cars, and robots are commonplace. However, most of Jack's enemies use guns that look and sound like they are firing bullets, with energy weapons being a rare sight. It's also one of the few cartoons of this era where a good character, the Scottsman, used a gun (specifically his Machine gun leg in nearly every one of his appearances.
    • The follow-up Season 4 even has Jack himself using firearms in some of the episodes.
  • Looney Tunes Cartoons have an interesting take on this trope. Guns are no longer shown, since according to Word of God they're no longer considered funny in modern society. However, other types of weapons such as dynamite and cannons are still fair game, presumably because they can still be though of as comical and politically correct.
  • Zigzagged in Miraculous Ladybug. In the Origins Episode, Officer Roger orders his men to shoot at Stoneheart, but the firearms themselves aren't seen and apparently shoot energy. In the Season 4 episode "Lies", he aims a realistic taser at the episode's titular villain instead of a pistol.
  • Wild West COW Boys Of Moo Mesa had "guns" that fired anything but bullets. Indeed, no two character's guns ever fired the same thing. Most notably, the protagonist's guns shot star-shaped sheriff badges, while other guns shot whips, etc. These "bullets" also never hit anyone — either the bullets were Blasting It Out of Their Hands or hit something else to knock the target out.
  • Not even Star Wars was immune to this trope; anytime the stormtroopers appeared in Droids, they wielded "blaster staffs" (later retconned into being force pikes) instead of the usual realistic guns. The good guys' weapons were similarly non-gun shaped; the one time someone did wield a gun, it was a "seed launcher", which shot seeds that grew into vines that could restrain someone. (Sister show Ewoks showed the stormtroopers as being armed with the same force pikes the one time they appeared.) Fortunately, subsequent animated entries in the franchise are allowed to use gun-shaped guns, thanks to relaxed standards and either being on cable networks or streaming services.

    Real Life 
  • Non-lethal weapons could be considered this, in the sense that they are designed with the intention of deterring escalation of violence (e.g. riots and personal self-defense) without killing. Though it should be noted that those in law enforcement prefer the term "less lethal" than "non-lethal" as they can be misused or, under certain circumstances, cause accidental casualties (e.g. Tasers in combination with water, certain amounts of pepper spray, or health complications with the target in either case).
  • The Pistol Emoji (🔫) is displayed as a realistic gun on some devices, but as a water or laser pistol on others. This blog post brings up potential issues this can cause, as a message about a water fight could be mistaken for a shooting.
  • Laser bullets (like in the page image) are a real experimental technology. Laser cartridges is the better term, but some experimental lasers use a burning cartridge filled with chemical reagents to form the light. Presumably this (and other energy weapons) would be a little less family friendly if they started reaching widespread use.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Where Did They Get Lasers, Family Friendly Firearm


Force Pikes

Can't have blasters that look like guns in a cartoon for kids!

How well does it match the trope?

5 (8 votes)

Example of:

Main / FamilyFriendlyFirearms

Media sources: