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Gun Struggle

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Watch where you're pointing that thing!

"He had strength, and she had none
And yet we both reached for the gun..."
Billy Flynn, Chicago

A very simple dramatic scene which involves two characters and a gun. Each one reaches for it and grabs it. They grapple, vying for control, until BANG! A few seconds pass and one of the characters falls down dead.

Variations apply: sometimes the gunshot is a Bait-and-Switch Gunshot. Sometimes it comes from a third character watching the struggle. Sometimes it hits a bystander. Sometimes it hits a driver or pilot, if the fight is in a moving vehicle. Sometimes it's non-fatal, or doesn't hit anyone/thing at all. Sometimes it's not immediately obvious which of the two was shot. But a gun will always go off. Because that's dramatic.

There is also a variation of this used for melee weapons, usually a knife.

If one party is mortally wounded, this may result in The Dying Walk. Compare Forced Friendly Fire.



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    Anime & Manga 
  • This is what a murder suspect claims to have happened in Case Closed, but Two Mix accidentally overheard two gunshots (meaning that the murderer shot his victim, then put the gun into the victim's hand and fired again so that the victim would test positive for gun-shot residue).
  • Sinon's backstory in the third story arc of Sword Art Online is that she killed a bank robber after jumping him and struggling for his gun. When she was 11 years old. She's severely traumatized by the event.

    Comic Books 

    Comic Strips 
  • In Dick Tracy, Junior's first girlfriend Model is fatally shot when she attempts to wrestle the gun out the the hand of her criminal brother Larry who was planning to ambush Tracy.

    Fan Works 
  • Vow of Nudity: Fiora originally doesn't want to give Haara her silver knife while the pair are hiding behind a boulder from an approaching devil dog, so Haara wrestles it from her grasp.

    Films — Animated 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In the 1959 version of The Bat, one occurs between the Bat and Dr. Wells. Dr. Wells winds up dead.
  • When Tess confronts Ramona in her house in Big Driver, Ramona knocks the gun from her hand and the two of them wrestle for the gun on the floor.
  • Conquest of Space (1955). General Merritt suffers Space Madness and tries to sabotage the rocket and murder his own son (his Number One, Captain Barney Merrit) only to get killed while struggling over the pistol. The general's loyal sergeant witnessed the event and accuses Captain Merritt of murder, declaring he'll be court-martialed on his return, regardless of any feelings Merritt might have on accidentally killing his own father. Fortunately the sergeant changes his mind by the end of the movie.
  • This marks the point where things start to go bad in The Crazies (1973). The mayor of the town and his sheriff has arrived at the headquarters the military have set up, and start protesting their actions in rounding up all the townspeople. Colonel Peckham orders his men to go through the town confiscating all weapons — starting with the police who the Mayor orders to resist. There's a tense but silent struggle with each side trying to get the others' firearms, culminating in a gunshot which reveals that the town sheriff has been killed.
  • Cry Blood, Apache: When Pitcalin catches Billy and the Deacon spying on Jemme bathing in the river, Billy attempts to grab his rifle off him and the two of them struggle over it.
  • Cry of the Banshee: Finding her father about to shoot Roderick, Maureen grabs the gun and attempts to wrestle it out of his hands.
  • Deadtime Stories: Volume 1: In "Valley of the Shadow", Miguel points the shotgun at Angela and prepares to shoot her for getting them into this mess. Alan tackles him and wrests the gun away from him.
  • Die Hard, only they're fighting over the gun, and the issue is to see whose neck gets snapped when they roll down the stairs...
  • The Gold Rush has a variant where Big Jim and Black Larson struggle for a shotgun while Charlie tries to stay out of the conflict, but the gun is constantly pointed at him no matter where he goes.
  • Arthur and a dream Elite Mook get caught in one in Inception. In a rotating hallway. Followed by a hotel room.
  • Indiana Jones
    • An interesting variation occurs in Raiders of the Lost Ark, when Indy and the mook he's struggling with briefly co-operate to shoot another mook that Toht just ordered to "Shoot them both".
    • In Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Indy's father has a brief gun struggle with a Mook inside a tank. He defeats him by shooting ink at him with a pen. "The pen is mightier than the sword" indeed.
  • The Island (1980): When Justin refuses to shoot his father, Manuel yells that he'll do it and tries to grab the gun off Justin. In the ensuing struggle, Manuel gets shot through the middle of the forehead.
  • James Bond:
    • Goldeneye: The climatic close combat clash in the antenna cradle between Bond and the Big Bad had them struggling to get a hold of the one pistol between them to hold the other off.
    • Tomorrow Never Dies: Happens between Bond and mid-level villain Dr. Kaufman. Bond quickly gets control and points the gun at the villain's head, resulting in this exchange (the Dramatic Irony is that Kaufman had announced his intention to fake Bond's suicide by self-inflicted gunshot. By being shot with his own gun, Kaufman suffers Laser-Guided Karma).
    Dr. Kaufman: Wait! I'm just a professional doing a job.
    Bond: Me too. [shoots Kaufman]
    • Casino Royale: As Bond is too busy trying to suffocate Steven Obano with two hands, the latter attempts to retrieve his silenced gun. Vesper Lynd comes in and bashes Obano's hand on the floor till he looses his grip on the gun. A shot is then fired without hitting anyone and Bond kills Obano.
    • Skyfall: Happens between Bond and Patrice over Patrice's custom built sniper rifle.
    • Spectre: M confronts C at the new secret services building in the climax, and a struggle ensues for the control of M's gun. A shot is fired in the glass ceiling, and falling shards cause C to lose balance and fall to death from the floor.
  • This trope occurs in Juice between Raheem and Bishop after robbing Quiles' liquor store.
  • The Monster Maker ends with Dr. Markoff and the now hideously disfigured Lawrence wrestling for possession of Markoff's. The scene then cuts to outside the room, where Bob, Patricia and Maxine hear a shot. It is Markoff who dies.
  • TV movies, The Perfect Tennant as well as the The Perfect Wife, has this near the end.
  • The killer in The Prowler dies after he struggles for his sawed-off shotgun with the Final Girl, and she manages pull the trigger, blowing his head to bits.
  • In the 1951 remake of The Racket, the villain kills a policeman after a gun struggle, leaving some ambiguity as to whether he meant to fire the shot. In the 1927 original, he just pulls his gun and shoots the cop In the Back. Note the difference between pre- and -post Production Code standards.
  • In Ready or Not (2019), Grace and Charity wrestle for control of charity's revolver after Charity shoots Daniel. Grace ends up with control of the gun and tries to shoot Charity, only to suffer Dramatic Ammo Depletion—all of the bullets having being fired during the struggle—so she settles for bashing the other woman in the face with the butt.
  • In RoboCop (1987), after Lewis gets gunned down by Clarence Boddicker, she begins crawling towards his dropped .50 caliber rifle. In the meantime, Clarence tries to pull an I Surrender, Suckers gambit on Robocop, but Robo is tired of playing games at this point. When Clarence's last teammate crushes Robocop under tonnage of scrap metal, he and Clarence celebrate: just before Lewis blows up the other guy with the rifle.
  • Stag: When Stoker finds Kelly's body, he panics and starts shooting; wounding a couple of the guests. Taylor and Pete tackle him and attempt to wrest the gun off him. In the struggle, Stoker is shot and killed.
  • In The Terminator Kyle Reese does this to a pursuing cop in the early in the movie after stealing a homeless guy's pants.
  • Terminator 2: Judgment Day
    • Just as the T-800 finishes reloading his sawn-off double barrel shotgun the T-1000 jumps up and grabs it and they struggle slamming each other into walls in the process.
    • After the T-800 gets his ass handed to him by the T-1000, he tries to crawl away and reach for a grenade launcher that's fallen below. The T-1000 uses the time to line up a perfect strike, severing the T-800's power. But not for long...
  • Timbuktu: Kidane rather unwisely takes a gun with him when he goes to confront Amadou the fisherman about killing Kidane's cow. They brawl, they thrash around in the riverbank, the gun goes off, and Amadou winds up dead.
  • At the climax of Urban Legends: Final Cut, the Final Girl, her boyfriend, a friendly cop, and the Ax-Crazy bad guy are all vying for the gun, which happens to have been mixed in with a boxful of prop guns and nobody knows which is the real one.
  • In Written on the Wind, Kyle holds his best friend Mitch at gunpoint when he suspects him of sleeping with his wife Lucy. When he tries to shoot Mitch, Kyle's sister Marylee tries to stop him, and there's a brief struggle. The gun goes off, killing Kyle.
  • Better Luck Tomorrow: When the gang double-crosses Steve just before the robbery, there's a struggle for a gun and it goes off. The usual outcome of this is subverted- no one was injured by the shot, but Ben comes in and attacks Steve with a baseball bat, ending the standoff.
  • Assault on a Queen: Eric pulls a gun on Mark when he orders Tony to torpedo the cutter. Rosa jumps Eric and knocks his gun arm aside which allows Mark to tackle him. Eric and Mark struggle over the gun, which results in Tony getting shot.
  • Starkweather: Charlie holds a shotgun on a mechanic and forces him to fix the jammed emergency brake on the car he is trying to steal. When Charlie is distracted by a passing police car, the mechanic grabs the gun and starts trying to wrench it out of Charlie's hands. He eventually succeeds and Charlie is forced to flee.
  • Asylum: In "The Weird Tailor", Smith attempts to take the suit off Bruno at gunpoint. Bruno throws the package at him and attempts to wrestle the gun off him, which ends with Smith being shot.
  • In .45, Big Al comes home and finds Reilly comforting Kat and pulls a gun. Reilly and Big Al fight over the gun which eventually goes off and wounds Kat.
  • Stiletto ends with Raina leaving both Virgil and Beck lying wounded on the floor with a gun in-between them. Both of them look at the gun, and then each other, and then both dive for the gun. The screen goes black and there is a moment's silence, followed by a single gunshot.
  • The Big Night: After confronting Judge, George decides he cannot shoot him because Judge believes his own story. As George drops the gun and turns to leave, Judge grabs it and turns it on him. The two struggle and the gun goes off, wounding Judge.

  • In one Judge Dee story, the judge is told a man dead of a knife wound was accidentally stabbed during a knife struggle. He turns to his right-hand man, a very experienced fighter, who admits that it certainly is plausible, though not enough to instantly clear the other person.
  • The Other Side of Silence: How Bernie's bridge partner Antimo was killed, as it turns out. Julia Rose, part of the bridge foursome, was having an affair with Antimo and he broke it off. She pulled a gun to kill herself, Antimo tried to take it from her, and he was shot. Bernie believes her and helps to cover it up.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Blake's 7. In "Countdown", Blake discovers he is Alone with the Psycho which leads to them stuggling over a firearm. Meanwhile Vila is racing to warn Blake, hears a gunshot and sees the villain walk out of the room... only to collapse at Vila's feet.
  • Smallville:
    • "Hidden": Chloe gets tied up by the bad guy who she used to count as a friend, freed herself and struggled for his gun; a shot is fired and we see their shocked expressions for several moments before it is revealed the bad guy is shot (it is not immediately assumed because the bad guy did manage to shoot Clark and almost killed him, not to mention Chloe has the highest death/severe injury count in the whole show).
    • In "Hypnotic", Simone mind controls Clark into attacking Lex, Chloe subdues Clark with green kryptonite and Lex points a gun at Simone, but she instead controls Lex to shoot Chloe. They struggle for a few seconds before the gun is fired and instead killed Simone.
  • One of the infamous season finales of The O.C. had this happening to a breakup song by Imogen Heap.
    • Saturday Night Live and the internet promptly had a field day by parodying it with "Dear Sister", where everyone involved gets shot multiple times.
  • In the school shooting episode of Degrassi: The Next Generation, this happened between Rick and Sean.
  • This occurred in the three-way free-for-all fight between Conan O'Brien, Stephen Colbert, and Jon Stewart on Conan's show. An outtake shows that somehow, all three of them were accidentally shot as a result of the struggle... but Stephen recovers quickly enough to grab the gun for himself.
  • Happens at the climax of the second episode of Wild Boys.
  • Discussed in an episode of NCIS. After wrapping up a case involving this trope, Ziva comments on how after a Gun Struggle takes place, nobody ever admits to actually shooting the other person; the gun always somehow just "goes off" on its own.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series. In "The Naked Time", a Red Shirt has been infected by a disease that loosens his inhibitions, falls into depression and tries to stab himself with a kitchen knife. Sulu and Riley try to wrestle it off him, only he gets stabbed anyway and later dies on the operating table. More importantly the body contact means that Sulu and Riley have been infected, and they go on to infect others.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. In "The House of Quark" Quark is attacked in his bar by a drunken Klingon who accidentally gets stabbed with his own knife during the struggle. Quark talks himself up as having defeated him in battle in order to bring in more customers. Hilarity Ensues when the Klingon's relatives make Quark the leader of their house for political reasons.
  • In Riverdale "Shadow Of A Doubt" Archie tackles Reggie when Reggie tries to shoot Fangs and the two of them struggle to get control of Reggie's gun. While someone is shot it's implied it wasn't Reggie's gun that did the shooting, and confirmed in the next episode.
  • The 2010 Upstairs Downstairs revival has a variation in which a third character is shot, not the shooter.
  • Played for Laughs in M*A*S*H. Hawkeye breaks up an argument between a Turkish patient and his commanding officer, who is convinced the man shot himself in the foot in order to get taken off the front lines (surprisingly, the soldier didn't shoot himself, which is a switch from when it normally comes up). When the argument escalates, the officer pulls out his pistol and is preparing to shoot the patient then and there for cowardice. Hawkeye and Winchester hustle the officer out of the tent, we hear a struggle and a shot. After a tense pause, Hawkeye and Winchester carry the limping officer back into the tent, saying, "Now, see, that's what a self-inflicted gunshot wound looks like..."
  • Happens near the end of season 2 of Wayward Pines. Jason and his girlfriend Kerry are stressed out and suspicious of one another. Theo has convinced Kerry that Jason is going to leave her to die, while Jason has just discovered that Kerry is his mother (she was a Human Popsicle longer and wasn't aware that her baby was frozen as well under a different name). The suspicion rises, until Jason goes for his gun, only to find out that she had already taken it from his holster. After a brief struggle, there's a shot. After a flashback sequence, it's revealed that Kerry killed him.
  • In the 2001 mini-series adaptation of The Lost World, this is how the conflict with Obstructive Zealot Rev. Theo Kerr (Peter Falk) concludes. When Prof. Summerlee has had enough of him trying to stop their expedition, even at gunpoint, they end up struggling and a bullet mortally wounds the reverend.
  • Luke Cage (2016): This is how Misty Knight's corrupt partner Rafael Scarfe gets fatally shot. He has a remote meeting with Cottonmouth and tries to shake him down for money that he knows Cottonmouth doesn't have. Cottonmouth abruptly punches him in the face. Scarfe grabs his gun from the holster, and the two men struggle over the gun until it is dropped. Cottonmouth then throws Scarfe aside, picks up Scarfe's gun, and empties it in his direction, managing to hit him a few times in the chest.
  • Wonder Woman: In "The Last of the Two Dollar Bills", Wonder Woman has the Curb-Stomp Battle of fighting for a gun. A Nazi spy tries to shoot her with his gun while she tries to rip it out of his hand and bend the gun in half. She wins.
  • One happens during the season 1 finale of Manifest between Michaela's ex Jared and a potential Love Interest named Zeke just as Michaela walks in. The result isn't revealed until the season 2 opener: Michaela is the one who's been shot. Zeke runs away, while Jared (an NYPD detective) calls for an ambulance and for an APB on Zeke. It's touch-and-go, but Michaela makes it, although she makes it clear that she blames Jared for her being shot much more than Zeke.
  • Treadstone. John Bentley encounters another CIA agent who thinks he's turned traitor. They end up wrestling over a gun until the other agent gets shot, but not before he attaches a Tracking Device to Bentley's collar with his dying grasp.
  • Mirai Sentai Timeranger: One happens in the final episode between Ayase and Captain Ryuuya, when the latter fails to convince the former to give up. It mostly happens offscreen, as the shot is heard by the other Timerangers and when they reach the scene, Ryuuya ended up being fatally wounded in the struggle, dying shortly after.

  • In Stan Rogers' song Harris and the Mare, there's a bar fight, during which one man pulls a knife and rushes the singer. The aggressor - the one who pulled the knife - is killed in the struggle.
  • In the song Copacabana, Tony (Lola's love interest) starts a struggle with Rico when Rico starts going too far with Lola. Tony clearly loses this struggle ("There was blood and a single gunshot but just who shot who?") and Lola drops into a deep depression for the rest of her life (or at least 30 years).
  • Rob Cantor's "Shia LaBeouf" has a knife struggle. When Shia LaBeouf goes after you brandishing a knife, and you wrestle it from him before stabbing him in the kidney.

  • In the Star Wars Radio Drama adaptation of A New Hope, Leia struggles to get a blaster off of the Imperial Lord Tion. There's a zap, and Lord Tion is dead.
  • The Lux Radio Theatre adaptation of A Free Soul has Ace, Jan's husband, driven by jealousy to confront Jan's old boyfriend Dwight, who is trying to win Jan back. Dwight pulls a gun, there's a struggle, and Dwight is killed. This was a complete reversal of the movie's plot, in which Dwight kills Ace instead (and which doesn't include a Gun Struggle, as Dwight does it deliberately).

  • Chicago: The entire plot involves Roxie Hart and her Smug Snake lawyer Billy Flynn, as seen in the page quote, trying to convince the jury that Roxy's shooting of her lover Fred Casley was this rather then murder. There is even a brief scene where such a struggle is recreated in court.
  • City of Angels has the Film Noir in the show ending this way. Both parties are shot.

    Video Games 
  • In The Last of Us in the E3 trailer Joel surprises a pursuing hunter by jumping out from the open doorway, grabbing the shotgun, struggling with it, shoving it into him causing him to let go, and then finally hits him with the stock killing him. Unfortunately this function was not included in the final game.
  • In Haze with a well timed button press you can disarm a Mantel soldier and shoot him with his own weapon.
  • In The Walking Dead this happens when Danny St. John is about to shoot Lee Everett but he grabs the gun and they wrestle with it. He doesn't quite disarm him but stalls him long enough for Lilly to come out and attack him, trapping him in the bear trap.
  • In the original Mirror's Edge you can disarm soldiers when the weapon is highlighted in red and you press the right button.
  • In Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain Venom Snake can do this with CQC.
  • In Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception Drake can disarm opponents.
  • Call of Duty: Ghosts has you kill your first enemy in a brief struggle in which the two of you are spinning around in zero-gravity.
  • Tomb Raider (2013): The first time Lara kills a person is when she disarms and shoots a member of the Solarii.
  • Max Payne 2 has this pulled on the same guy twice in quick succession: The first attempt fails, but it distracts the gunman long enough for Max to successfully disarm him, only to be interrupted by the floor collapsing.
  • In Resident Evil 2, Ada Wong and Annette Birkin struggle for control over a gun after the latter confronts Ada in the Treatment Plant. This results in Annette falling over a railing into the treatment pool, and a rather sarcastic "Too Bad" from Ada.
  • Mercenaries 2: World In Flames has one tank-capture animation where the player character is about to drop a grenade into the tank's hatch but one of the crewmen pops out with a pistol. After a brief struggle, the player character will pull back, at which point the crewmen will try to shoot them with the grenade. The player character will then shoot the crewman, causing him to drop the grenade into the tank.
  • A subversion in the Legendary-difficulty extended ending to Halo: Combat Evolved. Johnson and an Elite are seen fighting over an assault rifle, until they notice the Pillar of Autumn beginning to self-destruct behind them. Knowing they're both about to die anyway, they give up the fight and embrace instead.


    Web Original 
  • Done in a Freddie Wong video "Whose gun is it anyway?" They simultaneously shoot each other.

    Western Animation 
  • In American Dad!, Steve's clone gets into a crawl situation with a cat that he tortured. The cat grabs the gun and shoots him.
  • Two gangster rappers in an episode of The Boondocks each manage to shoot themselves during one of these.
  • The South Park episode "The List" has one between Wendy and Bebe. The gun accidently goes off but neither is shot. The stray bullet hits Kenny while eating his dinner, killing him instantly.
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars: In "Cloak of Darkness", Commander Gree and the traitorous Senate Commando Captain Argyus end up fighting over a blaster. Gree wins, but then Nute Gunray knocks him out with another blaster from behind.

    Real Life 
  • An instructional video for the Modern Army Combatives program demonstrated one alternative for long guns... have the weapon pointed away from you, then punch the other struggler in the face.
  • Firearms retention training (for both hand guns and long guns) is to avert this... or at least the part about the gun going off and the trainee being the one to fall down dead.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Knife Struggle


Gun Struggle aftermath

A Gun Struggle ends with a shot going off. We see Clifford holding the gun and assume that it's Shane who got shot but after a Mortal Wound Reveal it turns out it was the other way around.

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

Main / BulletHolesAndRevelations

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