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Gunpoint Banter

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This is what happens when two characters have their guns aimed at one another, ready to shoot, but decide to have a conversation instead. This discussion is usually plot-related and will often reveal some troubling details or revelations that the protagonist and/or audience were unaware of. Occasionally, more than two characters will be involved, in which case it is almost guaranteed that the scene will be full of important exposition.

Oddly enough, it is not common for either character to actually end up shooting the other.

While potentially dramatic and good for narrative purposes, this trope can still come across as annoying, especially if the two (or more) characters involved each has very good reasons to shoot one another and have demonstrated that they have no qualms about killing. The only reason that nobody shoots is simply to move the plot forward without a bloodshed event.

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Note that, like Mexican Standoff, this trope does not have to occur with guns; bows, wands, and other such weapons may be used in their place, so long as all of the characters involved possess them and have them pointed at someone.

Subtrope of Mexican Standoff. See also: Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?, Kill Him Already!, Talking Is a Free Action and You Wouldn't Shoot Me.

Compare You Fight Like a Cow, which is Swordpoint Banter; naturally, this allows the characters to punctuate their figurative parries and ripostes with literal ones.


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Examples

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    Anime and Manga 
  • Canaan: Multiple engagements with Canaan and Alphard involve plenty of conversation and exposition, always with guns at each others heads.
  • At the end of Code Geass first season, Suzaku corners Zero and they end up having a Mexican Standoff on an island. Suzaku reveals Zero's identity and they have this sort of discussion before trying to shoot. Somewhat justified in that Lelouch has planted a bomb that will explode if he is shot.
  • A-drei and L-elf in episode 7 of Valvrave the Liberator (which, incidentally, is by the same writer as Geass). They talk about L-elf's supposed betrayal. It's dramatic enough, but when Haruto joins in after he's been shot up to the point that anyone else would be dead, it's practically Verdi territory.

    Comic Books 

    Film 
  • Justified Trope in Assassins (1995) because the two hitmen are pointing guns at each other from either side of the bulletproof divider in a taxi cab. That doesn't stop the younger assassin from taking a shot anyway, just in case the Lexan glass isn't as tough as advertised.
  • In D.E.B.S. (2004), agent Amy Bradshaw and supervillainess Lucy Diamond end up in a face-to-face Mexican Standoff. Amy tries to talk Lucy into surrendering, and they start discussing Lucy's love life, how Amy is writing a paper on Lucy's crime career and so on.
  • Exploited in the climax of Devil in a Blue Dress. Albright calls out to Easy, and when he sticks up his head to answer Albright nearly blows it off.
  • Justified Trope in Dredd. The two combatants are behind cover and maneuvering for a shot at each other, while a third gunman who isn't talking is working his way around Dredd's flank while his partner is holding Dredd's attention.
  • This trope occurs in many John Woo movies, given how he popularized the two-man Mexican Standoff.
The Killer is probably the best example, and notable in that the two characters involved (Chow Yun-Fat and Danny Lee) are not mortal enemies and have more in common with each other than meets the eye.
  • The Matrix:
    • In the finale of the first film, the reason for it is that they both were shooting at each other and ran out of bullets.
      Smith: "You're empty."
      Neo: "So are you."
    • There's also Trinity talking her way out of the Mexican Standoff with the Merovingian in Matrix Revolutions.
  • This happens twice in the movie Paycheck. The first time, the villain doesn't shoot because he'd rather leave the protagonist to get run over by a train (doesn't work). The second time, the villain doesn't shoot because he knows that neither of them could possibly die at that moment (he'd seen into the future) so he and the protagonist drop their guns and have a fist-fight instead.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End had a whole lot of characters having a heated discussion at gunpoint. It did end with them trying to shoot each other — but nobody died, because they all had wet gunpowder.
    • Notable in that it was also played for laughs in-universe. Everybody involved ended up laughing at the situation, putting the weapons down for a moment... and then going right back to being serious again, guns ready.
  • Justified in The Professionals. Dolworth and Raza exchange words while both are behind cover and can't see each other. Dolworth is also trying to delay Raza, while Raza is trying to distract Dolworth while Raza's soldiers work their way close enough to shoot him.
  • This occurs in the movie Shoot 'em Up. However, given that the movie is aware of itself almost to the point of being a parody of action movies, the trope fits in surprisingly well.
  • In The Siege the climactic standoff between the FBI and General Devereaux borders on breaking out into a gunfight, but Devereaux declines to order his troops to fire and instead talks with Agent Hub, realizing the Xanatos Gambit by Agent Hub he was trapped in.

    Literature 
  • This occurs, with wands, at the end of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows between Harry and Lord Voldemort. It makes appearances all throughout the series, in fact.
  • Nineteen Minutes: Peter has an exchange with Matt and Josie while he points a gun Matt and Josie points one at him.
  • Paraiso Street: Wendell and Eisley get into this during their Mexican Standoff, during which he offers to end the stalemate by taking her to dinner. Eisley admits to herself that in other circumstances, she might have taken him up on the offer. His clear respect for her here also foreshadows his Thanatos Gambit of sending her all the information on the Cartel’s dealings via recorded message.
  • In the prologue of Red Seas Under Red Skies, Locke and Jean face off against two mooks with crossbows who try to convince them that they're at a disadvantage. When they eventually resort to taunting that Locke's arm will get tired first, Locke retorts that he'll rest his crossbow bolt against the mook's nose. Then Jean breaks the Mexican Standoff by turning on Locke, without giving the signal that means he's bluffing. We find out six hundred pages later that Locke just missed the signal.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Angel: In "Lineage", Wesley is exchanging a mutual "The Reason You Suck" Speech with his father at gunpoint, causing the latter to comment sarcastically, "Of course, we're in Los Angeles. We have to talk about our feelings."
  • Occurs in Community episode Modern Warfare between Jeff and Britta during the Mexican Standoff in the men's room. Lampshaded, the rest of the group gets annoyed at them.
  • Magnum, P.I. had a couple like this. In one Luther Gillis is pointing a gun at a guy who is pointing a gun at Luther Gillis and Magnum is pointing a gun at him. Then Magnum said something along the lines of, "Here's how it works: he shoots him, you shoot Luther and then I shoot you. So I get two for the price of one, which right now doesn't sound like a bad bargain."
  • In the Spaced episode "Battles" Tim and Duane are having a close-range paintball standoff when Duane's phone rings. They also seem to be having a "who can talk lower" contest.
    Tim: Aren't you going to answer that?
    Duane: I have an answering service.
    Tim: Guess you have an answer for everything.
    Duane: I can't believe you just said that.
  • Captain Jack and Captain John in Torchwood, at the end of the Kiss Kiss Bar Brawl scene. It's a fun conversation and they end up having a drink together.
  • In The Wire, Brother Mouzone and Omar have a very genial standoff - each complimenting the other on their choice of weapon and Nerves of Steel.
  • Occurs in The X-Files at one point between Scully and Skinner.

    Music 

    Video Games 
  • Gunpoint gets one moment (just one; it's an Artifact Title) in, at the final stage when you point your gun at the de facto final boss. It's very uneventful, though; he insults your hat and surrenders shortly afterwards if you've killed anybody up to that point. If you haven't killed anyone, he shoots you.
  • In Mass Effect 3, Shepard and Kaiden/Ashley (depending on who you saved on Virmire) have this as Shepard tries to get them to stand down to get to Udina who initiated a Cerberus coup. If you can't convince them, however, you or your teammate shoots them.
  • Max Payne and Mona Sax ending up bantering at gunpoint the first time they meet in the titular game, though Mona is holding the gun on Max so that Max won't shoot her immediately, since he just finished killing about 5 or 6 dozen drugged up mobsters. When it becomes clear they're both working on the same side (or at least after the same scumbag), the guns disappear, and they decide to get a drink together. Despite Max saying that he's "easy, as long as you don't try to slip [him] a mickey", Mona does exactly that, since his rampage could end up killing her sister by accident. They gunpoint banter one more time at the end of the game, but Mona explicitly points out that she's not going to shoot him, defusing the situation immediately.
  • Metal Gear Solid: "You haven't even taken the safety off, rookie."
    • Later in the game are a few one-sided versions, often with Snake holding his SOCOM trained on the boss while he monologues.
  • Resident Evil:
    • Leon Kennedy and Ada Wong regularly hold conversations and even flirt while pointing weapons at each other. What makes it plausible is that it's very clear that neither has any intention of killing the other, but they're usually both too wary to actually put the guns away if the other is armed.
    • Resident Evil 5: On the other hand, Wesker has absolutely no practical excuse for passing up an impossible-to-miss headshot against Chris, while he has his gun leveled right between his eyes but holds off on shooting to continue his Motive Rant.
    • Resident Evil 6: After getting into a brief fight, Chris and Leon end up having a chat over what to do with Ada (actually Carla Radames) with their guns pointed at each other. Chris clearly wants her dead, while Leon very clearly does not.
  • In Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory, Fisher and Douglas Shetland have an unskippable conversation with their guns at each other. (You do actually kill him).
  • In The Walking Dead: Season One, Lee and Danny end up in a standoff against Jolene, a recluse in the woods. They have a conversation about food while all three have their weapons drawn, though this is a rare case where someone ends up dead. Jolene will always die, either because Lee shoots her, or Danny shoots her before she can reveal to Lee that the Johnsons are cannibals.

    Webcomics 
  • Happened in Exploitation Now between Jordan and Jones when the latter is attempting to assassinate her.
  • A Running Gag in Sluggy Freelance involves this between Riff and 4U!Rammer...except that the former is using a finger gun, while the latter is actually armed.

    Western Animation 
  • Parodied by way of deconstruction in American Dad!. Stan and Francine get into a Mexican Standoff, and Stan talks about how every time they do this, Francine's arms get tired far sooner than his, and he just has to keep talking until she lowers the gun — by which point Francine's arms are visibly shaking from fatigue and she begins to drop it.
    Stan: Come on Francine, not this old routine; You pull a gun, I pretend I'm gonna do what you want, then I pull out my gun, we do our little John Woo stand-off inevitably your arm gets tired, you drop your gun and we have nobody-got-shot sex.
  • Done in a Family Guy Cutaway Gag, when Brian and his roommate hear the O.J. verdict, have opposite reactions and pull guns on each other.
    Brian: Maybe we should get new roommates.
    Roommate: Yeah, maybe we should.

    Real Life 
  • The Strategic Arms Limitation Talks between the United States and the Soviet Union. "You know, we really only need enough nuclear weapons to totally obliterate each other once."
  • Advised against by self-defense instructor Massad Ayoob, who says that talking slows down your reaction time if you have to shoot. Not to mention that everything you say (or rather, everything witnesses heard, or misheard, you say) will be brought up in court.

 
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Video Example(s):

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Chris and Leon's Standoff

Chris, Leon, and their allies get into a standoff where the two argue over their losses up to this point and exchange information over the bioterror attacks. A flash grenade ends the standoff before the men can reach an agreement.

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