Follow TV Tropes


Finger in a Barrel
aka: Finger In The Barrel

Go To
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. Despite being made of the same flesh and bone as the head and torso, the parts normally aimed at, fingers will apparently still prove more durable than the treated metal of the barrel if you stick the former into the latter. Who knew?

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.



    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • 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. 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

    Film - Live Action 
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 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.
  • 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 recieving an Ash Face.
  • 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. The sheriff just looks up at him and casually sticks his finger in the gun.
  • 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.
  • 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. 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

    Live Action Television 
  • 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...


    Western Animation 
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

     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'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 possibly be defeated this way, since unlike a normal firearm, it had almost no 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.

Alternative Title(s): Finger In The Barrel


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: