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Finger in a Barrel

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You wascally wabbit!

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. Apparently, fingers are completely bulletproof.

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. Another variation can occur in which the character does stick their finger in the barrel anyways, but the fingers come out painfully throbbing. Things are very different in Real Life.

Subtrope of Television Is Trying to Kill Us and Guns Do Not Work That Way. One of the Tropes Examined by the MythBusters (multiple times, as apparently viewers were really unsure if sticking your finger in a gun barrel was safe or not).

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.

Also see Reliably Unreliable Guns and Convenient Misfire when the gun fails without the finger.

Nothing to do with Finger Gun and Finger Firearms.

Obviously, in Real Life, a terrible idea. Trying this will almost always lead to the loss of a finger at the least, while the shooter and gun are unharmed.


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    Anime and Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • The Dandy: Desperate Dan has done this once or twice. Helps that he's the World's Strongest Man.
  • 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."
  • 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. In Robin (1993) he 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. This epoxy cost Johnny Warlock a hand since he refused to listen to the warning, or take note of the state of his gun, while trying to kill a woman he'd been torturing and Robin.
  • 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.

  • This happens on the cover of issue #102 of MAD, with an orangutan doing it to mascot Alfred E. Neuman.

    Film — Animated 
  • Lilo & Stitch,
    • 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't have done much anyway.
    • 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.
      Lilo: (getting carried by Pleakley) We're leaving Stitch?!
      Pleakley: Trust me, this is not going to end well.
  • The Rescuers: During the climax, an owl stuffs a lit rocket down Madame Medusa's shotgun, leaving her with Ash Face and tearing the gun to shreds.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • 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.
  • Ernest P. Worrell does this at the climax of Ernest Goes to Camp after the gunman fails to hit him three times.
  • In Gentlemen Explorers, Agent Rodriguez defeats the Count by jamming a rock down the barrel of his steam gun when he's not looking. The backfire somehow causes the forces of Heaven to be unleashed on him.
  • A non-barrel version in Independence Day. One City Destroyer charges its main gun and Casse finds his missiles malfunctioning. In a Heroic Sacrifice, he flies his plane right into the firing port, causing the energy blast to explode prematurely and sending the whole ship crashing down.
  • Ludo from Labyrinth blocks a goblin cannon as it's about to fire with one of his boulders.
  • 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.
  • 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 The Outlaws IS Coming!, Moe fills the barrel of Bat Masterson's shotgun cane with glue. When Bat pulls the trigger, it results in the barrel being bent outwards like a banana peel and him receiving an Ash Face.
  • In the Action Prologue of Major Grom: Plague Doctor, our hero is fighting a gang of robbers in the back of a stolen armoured car, and blocks a blast from a Sawn-Off Shotgun by pressing a gold bar against the muzzle. From the expression on Grom's face, he realises he was lucky not to lose his fingers pulling this stunt.
  • 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."
  • 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. McCullough just looks up at him and casually sticks his finger in the gun. Afterwards, when Danby protests that the gun could've gone off in his face, McCullough admits that it wouldn't have done his finger much good either.
  • In X-Men Origins: Wolverine, in the past, Dukes does this with a tank cannon and puts his entire hand in, causing the tank to explode from the inside. It's a good thing Dukes is super tough.
  • Watchmen: The opening credits have a scene where, as detailed under the Real Life folder, hippies put flowers in the gun barrels of soldiers to protest. As this takes place in an Alternate History, the soldiers promptly open fire.

  • 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.
  • In 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. He pulls something similar in the 1982 film adaptation of I, the Jury.
  • Al Giordino in Pacific Vortex does this in a desperate attempt to save Dirk Pitt. Surprisingly Realistic Outcome occurs.
  • The Tightrope Men by Desmond Bagley. The protagonist is threatening someone at gunpoint, only to have them reach out and shove their hand against the muzzle, knowing the trigger on that model of automatic pistol jams if the barrel is forced back.
  • Rogue Protocol. A woman is about to be shot by her own bodyguard when her Robot Buddy shoves the muzzle aside, losing a hand in the process which doesn't stop it from trying to wrest the gun away. The bodyguard is deploying an Arm Cannon to finish the job when Murderbot hacks into and shuts down the bodyguard's Powered Armor Just in Time.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Supergirl (2015). In "Stronger Together", Hilarity Ensues when Supergirl plugs a double-barrel shotgun's muzzle with the palm of her hand right as a thug fires it, sending him flying backwards as Newton's Third Law dictates all that kinetic energy has to go somewhere...


    Video Games 

    Western Animation 
  • Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog: After Master Kwai Chang Crane releases himself from the Crane Brain Drainer near the end of "Robo-Ninjas", Grounder fires a laser at him. Crane puts his right index finger in the barrel of Grounder's laser, resulting in the laser exploding.
    Crane: Now is time for the important question; will my finger explode, or will your laser? (Grounder's laser explodes.) Some questions have simple answers.
  • Batman: The Animated Series: During the climax of "I am the Night," the criminal Jazzman has made his way to Gordon's hospital room and is about to shoot the man when Batman throws a batarang that blocks the barrel of the gun just as it is fired, causing Jazzman to drop the weapon.
  • Variation in the Beast Wars episode "Code of Hero". During the sequence where Dinobot is taking out the Predacons one by one, he brings down Rampage, at least temporarily, by clogging up the largest barrel of his BFG with an entire body - Waspinator's, to be specific - just before the big crab-tank can fire it. It's probably only the third most painful thing to happen to Waspinator in the show. Later, in "Deep Metal," Depth Charge does something similar, using his tail as a projectile, clogging Rampage's missile barrel and causing the missile to explode, damaging Rampage.
  • Goes all the way up to "Humongous Mecha fist in a barrel" in the 'Double Time' episode of Big Guy and Rusty the Boy Robot. Big Guy and his Evil Twin ('Bad Guy' for short) go through an extended Combat Breakdown as the two spend several minutes beating each other to pieces. Bad Guy has Big Guy on the ropes, enjoying a spot of Evil Gloating about how he's going to destroy Big Guy with the enormous hidden Chest Blaster he's got, which he knows that Big Guy doesn't have (it fits in the space that is normally taken up by Lt. Hunter's cockpit in the real Big Guy). Hunter hot-wires his final remaining weapon, Big Guy's Rocket Punch, and lands a direct hit... in the barrel of Bad Guy's gun, causing it to discharge back into his chest. Bad Guy gets exactly one second to voice his annoyance at this turn of events before the cannon explodes and takes him with it.
    Evil Big Guy: Oh for the love of*KABOOM*
  • In the Droopy cartoon "Wags to Riches", Spike tries to shoot Droopy in the back of the head with a revolver, but when Droopy turns around just as he pulls the trigger, he panics and stuffs his finger in the barrel. When he pulls the finger out, the finger is blackened and slightly swollen. But as he examines the finger, it shoots him in the face.
  • Justice League. In Part One of "The Savage Time", Green Lantern hovers in front of a War Wheel's cannon to taunt the gunner into firing, while using his ring's power to block the muzzle.
  • 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.
  • Olive Oyl tries to stop Bluto from shooting Popeye this way, but Bluto pushes her aside.
  • One episode of The Simpsons has Homer putting a flower into several of the police's guns (see real Life for more why). One of them fires anyway, and gets a flower embedded into his head.
    • "The Falcon and the D'ohman" shows a former CIA black ops agent named Wayne. During a flashback to his extensive training, we see him up against a tank where he simply jams a clench fisted arm into the barrel which causes it to explode and Wayne simply blows the suet off his uninjured hand, all while not even flinching.
  • A variant in the opening credits sequence for Taz-Mania; During the line "Francis X. Bushlad is never uncouth", Francis walks up to Digeri Dingo and is about to shoot an arrow at him from his bow. Digeri sticks his finger on Francis' arrow, resulting in Francis being launched backwards when he fires his bow.
  • 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.
  • Wacky Races (1968): In "Real Gone Ape", Dick Dastardly finds King Klong, a giant ape, and hypnotizes him into stopping the Wacky Racers. When Klong captures Penelope, Sergeant Blast tries to shoot at him, but Klong sticks his finger in the barrel of the Army Surplus Special's cannon, resulting in the Sergeant being shot out of his turret.
  • Young Justice (2010). In "War", Arsenal fires a missile launcher at point-blank range at Mongol, who has the same Nigh-Invulnerability as Superman. Mongol simply covers the muzzle of the launcher with his hand, and doesn't even budge while the explosion sends Arsenal flying backwards.

    Real Life 
  • 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 gets 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 possibly be defeated this way, since unlike a normal firearm, it had a very low muzzle velocity. Note, however, that this idea requires the user of the pistol to be a complete idiot. It is also known that this stunt may cause the offending finger (and perhaps the entire hand) to be ripped off.
  • 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.
  • Thoroughly and dramatically debunked (not that it needed all that much debunking) by Matt Carriker, who tried to block pistol barrels by stuffing them with everything from concrete to iron rods to other, bigger bullets. He eventually managed to block a bullet by welding the barrel shut, but even then the gun didn't explode.
  • If someone presses something tightly enough against the barrel of a modern semi-auto pistol (such as the palm of their hand), this can potentially push the slide out of alignment and put the pistol out of battery, preventing it from firing (one of many reasons Short-Range Long-Range Weapon is a poor idea). This would not work on a revolver, shotgun, rifle, or older slide-less pistols such as the Luger or Mauser C96. As all the shooter has to do is pull the gun back a couple centimeters to clear the barrel so it realigns properly, this isn't terribly helpful as any sort of defensive technique without the defending person following up with some grappling moves.

Alternative Title(s): Finger In The Barrel