What if someone's pointing a gun at you at point blank and you're not Nigh Invulnerable or Immune to Bullets? Well, you can hope the gunshot won't kill you, the gun fails, or, if you're in a cartoon, stick your finger in the barrel.
What happens is that the shooter fires anyway (even though they shouldn't). The victim and his finger are uninjured, the gun explodes, and the shooter is injured and has an Ash Face. In Real Life, the victim may be alive, minus a hand, while leaving the shooter uninjured and the gun intact. A variation is using another object instead of a finger to do the same thing.
Subtrope of Television Is Trying to Kill Us and Guns Do Not Work That Way. Compare Bullet Catch and Banana in the Tailpipe. Barehanded Blade Block is the Sword Counterpart. Point That Somewhere Else works a lot better, and less riskier on your fingers.
- When the Fantastic Four first encounter Prince Namor, the Submariner is preparing an invasion of New York to combat "the human filth." At one point, some Atlantian soldiers are preparing a large gun for firing when Ben Grimm stuffs his whole arm down the barrel, causing the weapon to explode. Ben then brings four dazed and unconscious Atlantians to Reed's laboratory, saying, "Hey, Reed: I found ya four volunteers."
- Jerom does this multiple times in the Belgian comic Suske en Wiske. Being Made of Iron, he doesn't take any damage. Instead, the guns tend to explode in the bad guys' faces, giving them an Ash Face.
- In Robin Vol 1 Tim manages to cork the gun barrel of Dorrance's right hand man by throwing a screw into it from a couple of floors up which caused the gun to backfire somehow. He later went on to develop a fast expanding and drying epoxy to toss at guns which would cause them to backfire since it blocked and warped the barrel.
- In Lilo & Stitch, when Stitch steals Jumba's plasma pistol, Jumba jams a carrot in the barrel right as he fires. This causes the gun to go into an overload spiral, eventually exploding violently and leveling the house.
- Earlier, when Jumba and Pleakley first get the drop on Stitch before Lilo gets in the way, Pleakley sticks his finger in the barrel of the gun while Jumba reads up on his Earth history. Problem is, the barrel's about five times wider than Pleakley's finger, so it wouldn not have done much anyway.
- During the climax in The Rescuers, an owl stuffs a lit rocket down Medusa's shotgun, leaving her with Ash Face and tearing the gun to shreds.
- In X-Men Origins: Wolverine, in the past, Dukes does this with a tank cannon, causing the tank to explode from the inside. It's a good thing Duke is super tough.
- Subverted in Me, Myself & Irene. Charlie attempts to talk down the villain, putting his thumb over his gun. The villain just shoots off his thumb.
- In Support Your Local Sheriff, when Old Man Danby comes to get his son out of jail, he walks into the sheriff's office and points a gun in his face. The sheriff just looks up at him and casually sticks his finger in the gun.
- In Sin City, Miho, one of the most badass characters of the series, does not use her finger, but rather throws a metal shaft into the barrel of an attacker's gun while he was distracted. Needless to say, it did not go well for the attacker. When Jackie-Boy fires his automatic pistol, the slide slams off the frame and flies into his forehead, lodging into his brain and severely fucking him up, requiring Miho to finish him off by "making a Pez dispenser out of him."
- Ernest P. Worrell does this at the climax of Ernest Goes to Camp after the gunman fails to hit him three times.
- In Lethal Weapon 3, when Riggs takes away Roger's bottle because he's had too much to drink, Rog pulls a gun on him to make him give it back. Riggs just pokes his finger in the barrel.
Roger: Hey, take your finger out of that bottle and give me that gun back.
- In The Crow, the Revenant Zombie Eric plugs a gangster's gun barrel with his palm, which the gangster casually fires through. Cue the Oh, Crap! when the bullet hole instantly heals.
- A non-barrel version in Independence Day. One City Destroyer charged its main gun and Casse found his missiles malfunctioning. In a Heroic Sacrifice, he flew his plane right into the firing port, causing the energy blast to explode prematurely and sending the whole ship crashing down.
- A variation in the first Artemis Fowl book. Mulch is being attacked by a gang of goblins, and their ringleader summons a fireball and then inhales it up his nostrils, with the intention of breathing fire over Mulch. Mulch responds by jamming his thumbs up the goblin's nostrils; he gets his thumbs burned, but the goblin's innards take most of the damage.
- Done in one of the Callahan's Crosstime Saloon books, but in this case the character in question was Immune to Bullets.
- Al Giordino in Pacific Vortex does this in a desperate attempt to save Dirk Pitt. Reality Ensues.
- The Girl Hunters. Mike Hammer does a different version when he thinks The Mole might shoot him with a double-barrelled shotgun. He props the shotgun muzzle down on a soft clay surface, so a plug of clay jams in the barrels. The results are not pretty.
- Mythbusters tested this trope, and it's busted. The victim will lose his finger if not his hand, gun still works if not a bit damaged, and the shooter is always uninjured. They also made a parody of this trope: The Mythtoons, with Hunter Hyneman and Savage Squirrel.
- One episode of The Andy Griffith Show had Barney getting his finger stuck in his gun.
- Get Smart. After a female KAOS agent takes Max's gun, he responds with this trope. Incredulous, she pulls the trigger only to find Max's gun is actually a water pistol he took from a magician earlier.
- In Bugs Bunny's Birthday Ball, the barrels of Elmer Fudd's shotgun are plugged up with carrots.
- The Trope Codifier if not the Trope Maker are Looney Tunes cartoons, where this is such a standard tactic that it's not clear why anyone even bothers with guns. Most prominently used by Bugs Bunny on Elmer Fudd and Yosemite Sam when they're (literally) gunning for him, but there's Eleventy Zillion other examples.
- Seen in the Tom and Jerry short "Quiet, Please!". Jerry tires to wake up Spike by firing a shotgun, and Tom sticks his fingers down both barrels to stop it, leaving him with throbbing, swollen fingers.
- Olive Oyl tries to stop Bluto from shooting Popeye this way, but Bluto pushes her aside.
- Now for some Fridge Logic: there are several problems pulling it off, but fiction only deals with the victim being injured instead of the shooter. There's also:
- Getting your finger in the barrel. As fiction usually uses a shotgun with this trope, not a problem to stick your index finger. But any pistol or rifle is too small for the index, and maybe too small for all fingers.
- The shooter always lets it happen. He never resists it by moving the gun around or shooting before the finger's in the barrel.
- The shooter always fires anyway with the finger in the barrel. He never tries to dislodge the finger.
- The shooter is never military-trained. You will get a gun butt to your face if you try this trope against them.
- A scientific paper done a little over a century before indicates that this may have been more common in early firearms, where the barrels were often made from multiple strips of metal held together by a hoop, not unlike an actual barrel.
- Apparently, the real-life Gyrojet guns (a family of guns that fired tiny rockets) could actually be defeated this way, since unlike a normal firearm, it had almost no muzzle velocity.
- According to Jon Roberts (in his biography American Desperado), during a drug rip-off one of the people he was robbing stuck their finger in his gun and said, "Now what are you going to do?". Roberts responded by pulling the trigger with predictable results.
- The '60s hippies placed flowers in National Guard rifle barrels to prevent a discharge psychologically, not physically.