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Gangland Drive-By

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Tell them motherfuckers 'bout this here Dark Side!
Roll up on your planet, Death Star drive-by!
Emperor Palpatine, Star Wars Gangsta Rap II

A character is shot by somebody in a moving vehicle, usually either a car or a motorcycle with an armed pillion passenger. The stereotypical example takes place in a "street-level" crime drama and involves somebody firing an assault rifle or submachine gun out of a kerb-crawling car full of Gangbangers. It also shows up quite a bit in older gangster films, where it's probably carried out by The Mafia and/or bootleggers with tommy guns.

In fiction (and also unfortunately in real life, due to the challenges of firing a weapon out of a moving vehicle) this frequently involves Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy standards of accuracy, with innocent bystanders in grave danger of dying as well as or instead of the intended target. On the positive side for the perpetrator, it means that the killer can easily make a quick getaway.


This can result in a Multiple Gunshot Death in the case of messier examples.

A form of Hit-and-Run Tactics. See also Car Chase Shoot Out, Vehicular Assault and Horse Archer.


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    Comic Books 
  • Tintin:
    • Happens to Barnaby in the album The Secret of the Unicorn when he tried to betray the Bird brothers. He is shot down on Tintin's doorstep, the latter barely avoiding it.
    • It happens to Tintin himself in The Blue Lotus, but he was fortunately saved by a young man working for the Sons of the Dragon.
  • Button Man: Ugly John tries to kill Harry several times, at one point by driving up to him in a car and firing a machine gun at him in a city street.
  • This was how the character Sway in the X-Men mini series Deadly Genesis lost her parents when they were in the wrong place at the wrong time when it occurred (her powers kicked in which saved her life from the bullets).

    Comic Strips 
  • The Far Side: One strip shows one of the cartoon figures partially erased, with a woman nearby saying, "My God, it could have been any of us!" The caption reads, "Drive-by erasings".

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Falling Down: D-Fens gets into a scuffle with Hispanic gangsters when they try to rob him. They come back for revenge by performing a drive-by shooting on him. Unfortunately for them, they're such poor shots that they injure several other people but miss him completely before crashing the car.
  • Back to the Future Part II: In 1985-A, a truckload of gang members shoot up Strickland's house. Strickland responds with a shotgun.
    Strickland: Eat lead, SLACKERS!
  • Blood Brothers (2007): One scene had Fung, the main character and his girlfriend Lulu nearly getting riddled by bullets from a vehicle full of rival mobsters. Worse of all is that leading the shooting is none other than Hu, the former blood brother of Fung who had performed a Face–Heel Turn.
  • The Fast and the Furious (2001): Near the end, after the heist scene, the crew returns to Dominic's house but Tran and his cousin zip by on motorcycles, spraying bullets, and killing Jesse.
  • In Bridge of Spies, a gang drives by to shoot at the Donovan house for defending a Soviet spy.note 
  • October Sky: During a dispute between the mine and the miner's union, someone fires a shot at John while he's in the kitchen, followed by the sound of tires squealing as the shooter drives off.
  • Invoked for laughs by Deadpool in his 2016 movie when he farts on his blind roommate Al while saying "#DriveBy".
  • Analyze This: Surviving a drive-by (that kills his old friend) is what gives Paul Vitti the massive nervous breakdown that drives the main plot.
  • Boyz n the Hood features several, but the most famous is the one that claims the life of Ricky.
  • Tales from the Hood: Several hit and run shootings appear in a montage about gang violence when Crazy K is being Mind Raped.
  • Menace II Society: The main character is killed in a drive-by shooting at the end.
  • In Peppermint, Riley North's family is gunned down by thugs working for Diego Garcia, who ordered the hit targeting her husband to be public as an example of what happens when you try to cross him.
  • Thunderheart. Ray Levoi, the FBI-agent protagonist, is questioning a witness when men in vehicles shoot up her house. He pursues them only to find that they're not the radical American Indian group he's investigating, but vigilantes aiding the federal government.
  • In the Italian film Gomorrah, a haute couture tailor is secretly advising a Chinese garment factory that's competing with Camorra-controlled firms. He's smuggled to and from the factory in a car, but apparently this ruse is detected because it's ambushed in a drive-by motorcycle shooting.
  • Some of the deaths shown in the Death Montage that opens the 2008 Italian movie Il Divo, notably those of General Carlo Chiesa and his wife.
  • Scanners: As Cameron and a group of friendly 'Scanners' attempt to flee from Revok's hitmen in a van, they are attacked by another van filled with more gun-toting hitmen. The good guys' driver is killed in the process, causing them to crash into a record store.
  • In Friday, when Smokey fails to meet the deadline for his weed payment. His employer, Big Worm, sends some hit-men after Craig and him via a drive-by shooting. The two are barely able to avoid being shot.
  • At the end of On Her Majesty's Secret Service, James Bond's wife Tracy is murdered by Blofeld and his minion Fraulein Bunt in a drive-by shooting shortly after their wedding.
  • In Miss Meadows, it is eventually revealed that the source of Miss Meadows trauma was a wedding in which she was a flower girl where the entire bridal party, except her, was wiped out by a drive-by shooting, including her mother. Why they were targeted isn't revealed (assuming this wasn't accidental).
  • Brannigan. There's a hitman stalking John Wayne's title character. While he's staking out Brannigan's hotel he mistakes Brannigan's partner for him, and starts driving down the street with the barrel of his Broomhandle Mauser sticking out the window. Brannigan happens to see this from his hotel room, smashes the window and opens fire. The hitman switches his Mauser to full-auto and fires back while driving off. Cut to Brannigan getting a roasting from Da Chief of New Scotland Yard for turning the streets of London into a shooting gallery.
  • Year of the Gun (1991). Sharon Stone plays a journalist who, in her introductory scene, has been tipped off about a Red Brigade assassination involving two masked men on a motorcycle doing a drive-by shooting with an Uzi. At one stage they're firing at her as well as she takes pictures.

  • Blood Harvest, set in Prohibition-era Chicago, has a variation. A passing car rolls down a window and sprays machine gun fire through the windows of a restaurant where a gang boss is eating. Nobody is killed, but that's part of the plan: the idea is to lure the boss and his men out onto the street where a second car can get them more easily.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Star Trek: The Original Series: "A Piece of the Action" has the crew on a planet who based their society on 1920's gangsters, complete with period weapons and vehicles. Minutes after the Enterprise lads beam down, a drive-by takes place right in front of them.
  • One takes place in Engrenages, when a man is gunned down in front of Pierre's house by a motorcycle pillion passenger, because of Pierre's flirtation with being a gangster-servicing Amoral Attorney. This leads Pierre to a moral crisis.
  • In Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Sarah and a witness to suspicious events are fired on by a motorcycle pillion passenger with an assault rifle.
  • Happens to a priest in Lucifer who was involved in a murder/drug case. The shooter missed him however as he was was only trying to scare him, being the true drug dealer and a former protege of the priest.
  • Sons of Anarchy: Tig performs a drive-by shooting on Laroy (usually an ally of the Sons) in broad daylight while he's at a restaurant with his girlfriend because he—falsely—believed Laroy to be responsible for a previous hit on Clay. He misses Laroy and accidentally shoots the girlfriend instead, which both results in an immediate high-speed pursuit by an angry Laroy that Tig only survives with Jax's help, and later the girlfriend's father, a powerful drug kingpin, seeking revenge on both Tig and SAMCRO.
  • The Wire:
    • Subverted and subjected to a Take That! in the fifth season. During one attack on a rival gang, one member of the Stanfield gang convinces Snoop to do a drive by because of how cool it looked in Boyz n the Hood, (obviously not having learned the intended message) and they promptly miss all the targets. Snoop manages to kill only a single target because she gets out of the car, carefully aims, and shoots one member of the fleeing gang.
    • In season 3, a few members of Avon Barksdale's gang plot an ambush on a Stanfield corner involving a drive by, and to try to counter the loss of accuracy that is typical with drive bys, the guys in the car - Country, Bernard and Chipper - are only going to attack once Cutty and Slim Charles have struck the Stanfield gang and had them distracted. Gerard and Chipper, however, are far too eager for glory and decide to attack without waiting for the signal and to disregard all the tactics they had been told to use, including keeping their driver out of the line of fire. Unbeknownst to them, a lookout for the Stanfield gang spots them before they even try to pull it off, so the gang is armed and ready when their car goes by. The result is that Country and Chipper are killed, while Cutty, Slim Charles and Bernard barely make it out alive.
    • Both Snoop and Chris each manage to pull off one successfully in the third season. Snoop's involves riding by Poot's corner on a motorcycle, stopping there, and then opening fire on Poot with a handgun before riding off, only succeeding in killing Rico, the Barksdale soldier accompanying Poot. Chris's is an episode later, when, suspecting that a woman named Devonne has seduced Marlo as a trap, he notices a suspicious car at the meeting place. Chris has his driver pull up alongside the other vehicle, at which point Chris puts a shotgun shell through the window, wounding Avon and killing a henchman named Tater, before driving off.
  • In Kluen Cheewit, a motorcycle pair try an assassination attempt at a funeral.
  • Hitler: The Rise of Evil. The Purge montage includes a drive-by shooting of a man getting his milk delivery, by an SS officer using a Bergmann submachine gun.
  • In the Midnight Caller episode "Take Back the Streets," an anti-drug protestor is gunned down by drug dealers from a van.
  • Averted in Top Gear when our hosts try their Technical skills, e.g. shooting targets from the back of a moving pickup truck. They miss everything they aim at (and hit a few things they shouldn't).
  • Arrow. In "Muse of Fire", Oliver Queen's mother is hit by a stray bullet aimed at a mafia boss by female vigilante Huntress who is firing from a motorcycle at the time. Hoping to guide Huntress away from her murderous ways, Oliver tries to show her The Straight and Arrow Path but it backfires as this simply makes her a more efficient killer.
  • Used to great effect in The Mandalorian by IG-88 using a speeder bike. Unlike other examples the shooter in this case is an extremely efficient droid assassin who lands every single shot taken exactly where it is intended without harming a single bystander in the process.
  • Hale And Pace featured a sketch parodying Sesame Street, called Reality Street, where Norman counted off the number of friends they had as puppet characters showed up Their friends were less talking bird and friendly furry monster, and more junkie and bikie.
    Norman It's Drive-by Shooter! Now we have five friends!
    *Norman goes down with the sound of automatic fire*
    Gareth [grinning] -Four friends!


    Video Games 
  • One of the earliest examples of this found in video games is featured in Quarantine. The player can fire out the side windows of his hover-cab by using an Uzi to destroy vehicles and kill pedestrians on site; this is made available once you enter a Weapon King shop and have the money to buy it, which comes in the form of an upgrade of your cab's hood-mounted machine guns.
  • In the Grand Theft Auto games from Grand Theft Auto III on, the player can dispatch opponents by firing their gun from their car, and in San Andreas, CJ can recruit friendly gangsters to act as gunmen (who will haul themselves out of the car to grab on to the roof if they're on the wrong side). The lack of accuracy is replicated, as doing so requires holding a button to stick your gun out the window, then pressing the fire button, all while maintaining your speed and steering the car at the same time. While driving a motorcycle from Vice City on, you can fire the gun in front of you without holding an additional button, making for an easier experience.
  • Saints Row also features drive-by shooting mechanics that are even more robust than GTA's. It's not only easier to shoot while driving in most Saint's Row titles, you also have some missions and diversions where you end up riding shotgun for someone else and defend them from attackers on the streets and in cars. You can also summon Homies to accompany you while you're driving around, in which case they'll automatically shoot at any hostile enemies they see.
  • Eternal Champions features this as a stage fatality on the stage for Chicago Mobster Larcen Tyler. Surprisingly, it's actually one of the tamer fatalities the game has to offer.

    Western Animation 
  • South Park: When Jimmy and Timmy want to join the Crips, they accidentally cause the death of a group of Bloods when a tanker truck crashes into their building. The Bloods retaliate by performing a hit and run on Jimmy's house. The front porch and living room are sprayed with bullets, but no casualties as his parents had just gone out.
  • Family Guy: In "There's Something About Paulie", Peter tries to get mafia leader Big Fat Paulie to call off a hit on Lois, but as he does, he gets killed in a drive-by shooting that lasts for about 20 seconds.note 
    Peter: Aw, Geez!...Are you okay?

    Real Life 
  • Drug Queenpin Griselda Blanco preferred to have her enemies assassinated in drive-by shootings conducted with motorcycles. Blanco herself was killed in a drive-by...conducted from a motorcycle.
  • This tactic was quite common in Chicago during the "Bear Wars" of the 1920s. Among others, Ken Burns covered this in his documentary Prohibition, including images of a bullet-riddled taxicab.
  • Famously, both Tupac Shakur and The Notorious B.I.G., the biggest names (and rivals) in 1990s Gangsta Rap and leaders of its West Coast and East Coast camps (respectively), were killed in drive-by shootings. Tupac was killed in a drive-by in September 1996 on his way from a boxing match in Las Vegas. Biggie was killed in another drive-by just six months later while visiting Los Angeles in March 1997 on a promotional trip for his latest album. While nobody has conclusively proven who killed these great artists, their ties to actual street gangs have led some to finger those as the most likely culprits, or at least as the most likely triggermen.
  • In 2000, 50 Cent was infamously shot nine times via this tactic; fortunately, he survived and the shooting is what gave him is unique voice.
  • As mentioned in a fictional depiction in the Film section, Italian anti-terrorist and anti-Mafia carabinieri commander General Carlo Alberto Dalla Chiesa was murdered along with his wife and bodyguard in 1982, by gunmen on motorbikes who shot up their car.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Drive By Shooting


Motorbike drive by

An assassin in a motorbike shoots up a crooked lawyer and a rogue PI after leaving the Post Office.

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:

Main / GanglandDriveBy

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