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Harpoon Gun

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"Thar she blows! Harpoon your enemy, and then attract other OD at it with a pool of OverCharge!"
— Weapon tutorial for the Captain Ahab, Sunset Overdrive

Sometimes, a bow and a quiver of arrows aren't big enough to finish the job; you'll need spear-sized arrows, or a more high-tech looking weapon. Thankfully, there's the Harpoon Gun for that. This is a realistic weapon for many underwater fight scenes, and may also show up elsewhere, often as a bit of an improvisation; killing an opponent with a big, barbed projectile can look either badass or horrific (or both), according to how it's presented. Harpoons can also fit the style for a heavily nautically-themed character.

In reality, hand-held harpoon guns used by divers generally use elastic cords to propel harpoons over fairly short distances to spear fish, a bit like an underwater crossbow. However, some firearms designed for underwater use are basically miniature harpoon guns, throwing slim darts — normal guns simply won't work for anything further than point-blank range underwater, if at all (not that darts carrying much further, but they can be optimised for the job). Whaling ships, on the other hand, may mount big harpoon guns — basically low-power cannons firing big barbed spears. Some harpoons have cables attached so that the user can reel in anything the barbed harpoon latches onto, thus functioning like a Grappling-Hook Pistol.

See Javelin Thrower for out of water equivalent.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Attack on Titan contains multibarreled versions intended to capture the Female Titan.
  • In the Black Lagoon arc involving the neo-Nazis, Dutch gives Revy an underwater rifle, which amounts to a harpoon gun capable of full-auto.
  • Duval from One Piece is armed with an harpoon gun befitting his large size, which can shoot multiple harpoons in a row. And just to be sure, these harpoons are imbued in a deadly scorpion venom, guarantee to kill a normal person in less than three minutes.

    Comic Books 
  • Aquaman foe Black Manta sometimes uses a wrist-mounted harpoon gun. The harpoons are sometimes electrified too.
    • The Fisherman is also known to use harpoon guns as part of his arsenal.
  • In The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Captain Nemo has both a typical (but quite oversized) harpoon gun and a model of his own design that is more akin to a gatling gun. Designing weapons is a bit of a hobby for him.
  • We Kill Monsters: Jake comes up with the idea to build a giant harpoon gun mounted on his and Andrew's truck to shoot at the giant insect monster.

    Fan Works 
  • The Flight of the Alicorn: Zips' spear-thrower, a device of his own invention, combined with his uncanny aim allows him to snipe targets from a considerable distance. This is all the more impressive because the spear-thrower is fired from his mouth, since zebras and ponies lack hands or fingers.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Alien had one of these used in the ending climax to eject the eponymous creature out of an escape ship.
  • In Blood Machines, when the A.I. uprising happens, energy guns are for people. Spaceship to spaceship combat in the movie involved cannons firing enormous harpoons with massive chains to reel in targets or just yank enough bits out to crash the opponent.
  • The old spy flick The Brain Stealers has a mini-harpoon fired from a pistol, which is used to assassinate Dr. Li's butler during the kidnapping.
  • The scientists in Creature from the Black Lagoon bring at least two harpoon guns (probably for catching mundane fish specimens) on their expedition into an uncharted region of the Amazon. They're not terribly effective against the Creature.
  • The Dead Pool: A deck harpoon gun is shown being fired for a horror movie. This is a Chekhov's Gun for when Dirty Harry (presumably because his .44 Magnum is no longer the most powerful handgun in the world) dismounts it in the finale as a BFG against the killer (who gets Pinned to the Wall as an aftermath).
  • The final face-off in The Delinquent where John confronts the main villain in the latter's penthouse has the villain pulling out a harpoon gun (the variety with a long metal wire attached to the harpoon) and shooting John in the guts. But John is Made of Iron, and promptly pulls a Mutual Kill by strangling the villain with the wire before succumbing.
  • In the climatic battle of The Equalizer 2, the first mook killed by Robert McCall is shot through the cheek with a harpoon gun he finds in the evacuated seaside town they are in.
  • The final fight of Face/Off involves Sean Archer using a harpoon gun to skewer Castor Troy into a wall.
  • In Friday the 13th Part III, Jason uses harpoon gun to kill Vera, specifically shooting her in the eye. In the next film he uses a harpoon gun to kill one of the men — by stabbing him into the groin and finishing it by pulling the trigger. In Part VIII, Jason uses one to kill a teenager on the boat — but since he doesn't have the coordination to pull back the bungees, the unlucky schlub gets stabbed with the whole harpoon gun.
  • The killer in Happy Hell Night gets harpooned when he is stalking the protagonists in the attic.
  • Harpoon: As suggested by the film's name, one factors into the plot. People keep calling it a "harpoon," but get corrected that it's actually a "spear gun."
  • Frequently used as weapons in Into the Blue.
  • James Bond:
    • The climactic battle in Thunderball is fought by at least fifty men armed with harpoon guns. The earlier use of a harpoon gun by Bond on a mook led to the great line "I think he got the point." And the main villain is killed by a harpoon shot In the Back by his girlfriend.
    • Bond uses one to kill a mook out of revenge for the death of a helpful American colleague in Licence to Kill.
      Bond: Compliments of Sharkey!
    • Bond also carries one for fishing in Jamaica in No Time to Die. In an unused take, he readies himself to use it when sneaking back into his home after sensing there's an intruder in it. In the actual film, he uses a gun instead.
  • Jeepers Creepers 2: Jack Sr hunts the Creeper using a homemade harpoon gun.
  • Killers on Wheels, being set in a beachside chalet where the protagonists valiantly defend themselves from a group of hooligans, had a harpoon gun being featured in a few scenes. Notably, one of the main characters uses it to threaten a punk who's attempting to rape his fiancée, and later on the protagonist uses it to skewer a punk from point-blank range.
  • In Killer Party, the fat Bee-Boy is murdered by having a spear gun fired up his ass. (And, no, they are nowhere near the ocean at the time.)
  • In the opening action scene of Lara Croft: Tomb Raider – The Cradle of Life, Lara is attacked by rival tomb raiders in a sunken Greek temple. The raiders are armed with harpoon guns, while she fights back with a Heckler & Koch P11, a pistol designed to fire underwater.
  • Mad Max. In the later movies, compressed air-fired harpoons are a favorite vehicle-mounted weapon in a Scavenger World where there's a chronic shortage of ammunition. It can be just as dangerous for the vehicle firing the harpoon however—they can get snagged and flip over, especially if hooked onto a larger vehicle.
  • Mad Max: Fury Road
    • A harpoon fired from the Gigahorse pins the steering wheel on the War Rig and traps Max's hand until the line is cut with bolt cutters. He loses the steering wheel in the process though so has to steer using a wrench clamped to the steering column.
    • In the final chase scene, harpoons are fired into the rear of the War Rig by pursuing vehicles, who then drop plows into the sand to slow the War Rig down. Max has to climb out onto the rig with bolt cutters to cut the lines.
  • Mars Needs Women: For some reason the Martians are armed with harpoon guns instead of ray guns. Perhaps they came with the recycled wetsuits they're using as Space Clothes?
  • The Mermaid have Ruolan's mercenaries using harpoon launchers to massacre the surviving members of the mermaid community. Ruolan herself tries to kill Shan, the titular mermaid, only for her ex-partner, Liu, stepping into the harpoon's way after his Heel Realization.
  • From an obscure Norwegian action film, Orions Belte, the film's protagonist took down an enemy helicopter using a harpoon launcher by aiming for the tail.
  • Porno Holocaust ends with the mutant being anticlimactically killed by a shot to the chest with a spear gun.
  • In Prey (2022), one of the Predator's weapons is a launcher with laser-guided spears. Naru eventually kills the Predator by taking advantage of the tracking system to make the alien take a misfired spear to the head.
  • An unintentional improvised version happens in The Scavengers. One of the Confederate bushwhackers is reloading his single shot rifle as Polie is charging down on him. Panicking, he lifts his rifle and fires without removing the ramrod. The ramrod fires like a spear and impales Polie through the stomach.
  • In Silver Streak, Gene Wilder's character finds a harpoon gun in the title train's cargo car and shoots a thug with it in a Traintop Battle before getting knocked off the train himself by a signal light.
  • Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home: At the end of the movie, some whalers shoot a Harpoon Gun at the rescued whales. Their expression is priceless when it bounces off a cloaked Bird-of-Prey, which then proceeds to decloak.
  • Swamp Shark: Tommy convinces the Gator Shed staff to let him come along on their hunt for the shark by pulling out a harpoon gun and using it to shoot a tree a great distance away.

  • Discworld book The Fifth Elephant features a small concealable weapon consisting of a tube, a spring and a crossbow bolt, which seems to be a sort of miniature harpoon gun.
  • Divers in The Memory of Sky is (temporarily) killed after an explosive-tipped harpoon is fired into its gut from an airship's corona-killing harpoon cannon
  • Rick Brant: Rick, Scotty, and a trio of villainous divers shoot at each other with spear guns in The Wailing Octopus.
  • A Series of Unfortunate Events involves a harpoon gun in the twelfth book, even lampshading its status as a Chekhov's Gun. Dewey Denouement is accidentally killed with it. Esme also whips one out in the seventh book, failing to pop the balloons of Hector's flying house but succeeding at destroying Duncan and Isadora's notebooks full of secrets. It's also a major point of suspense in the final book as to when the last spear will be fired, and it finally does, mortally wounding Count Olaf.

    Live-Action TV 
  • IN SPACE! in the Farscape episode "Green Eyed Monster"—it involves the protagonists being swallowed whole by a Space Whale so naturally there are harpoons as well, which they fire into the creature's ribs to anchor the spaceship in place so they don't end up in its stomach.
  • In an episode of Gilligan's Island, it's revealed that a man the passengers of the Minnow all had reason to hate was killed with one of these just before the boat left on its "three-hour tour." In the end, we learn that the man was killed by accident, and not murdered.
  • Used by Delano's mooks in the season 3 premiere of Hawaii Five-0.
  • Used several times by Mike Nelson in Sea Hunt, and in the similar shows The Aquanauts and Malibu Run.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Unsurprisingly, 7th Sea has harpoons, harpoons guns, grappling pistols, and a Swordsman school or two based around using them.
  • BattleTech has harpoon-tipped rounds as a special ammunition type for Short Range Missiles. They're completely useless on armored targets but in the RPG can be used to bring down large alien animals without causing massive devastation to the bodies, so they're used for sport hunting dinosaur-analog creatures or for industrialized whaling operations.
  • Games Workshop games:
    • Dark Heresy has the Impaler-an unreliable weapon constructed of scrap metal and used by hive gangers too poor to afford even a blackpowder weapon. Being little more than a rough metal tube and salvaged springs, these unwieldy weapons are nonetheless effective; launching meter-long spikes of sharpened metal at sufficient velocities to puncture carapace armor and pin bodies to plasteel walls.
    • Gorkamorka has two types of harpoon gun that can be mounted on vehicles, the rapid fire spear gun (consisting of racks of steam powered tubes stuffed with spears) and the powerful but short ranged harpoon gun. These weapons are cheaper and easier to maintain than more complex weapons and are therefore popular with inexperienced and down on their luck mobs.
    • Necromunda:
  • The early whaler's harpoon gun (cannon actually) described in GURPS: High-Tech comes with two caplocks and a brass cover for them due to it being used on ships where the spray was likely to prevent the simple caplock mechanism from working.

  • BIONICLE: Vezok's Water Harpoon and Hahli Inika's Laser Harpoon
  • G.I. Joe: diver characters such as Seal typically had a speargun as their main weapon.

    Video Games 
  • Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura: The insanely powerful, armor class-ignoring Blade Launcher.
  • BioShock 2: The Spear Gun, with uses normal spears, rocket spears, and trap spears.
  • One of the strongest crossbows in Bravium is called "Harpoon Gun" and is a massive crossbow shooting huge harpoons which can possibly stun enemies or even stab through many of them at once.
  • Captain Commando have the Dual Bosses, Shtrom and Druk, who attacks you with harpoon launchers capable of firing dozens and dozens of bolts at a time. Luckily their harpoons can be deflected.
  • In Cold Fear, you can find early on a custom harpoon gun given to you by a survivor: the harpoon includes a tank containing a special gas that attracts Exocell-infected towards them and keep them there for a while. It's very useful to get them off you if you're overwhelmed, to lure out invisible specimens or even to draw them towards an hazard to deal with them. Unfortunately, it doesn't work on Crawlers (who just ignore the gas) and Brutes (who go berserk and smash the harpoon).
  • Commandos: Behind Enemy Lines and Beyond the Call of Duty gives one to the Marine. It silently kills enemies at very short range. He can use it as well in Commandos 2. The weapon can only be selected underwater but once it has been used underwater, the Marine can fire it on land using the Ctrl key.
  • Crackdown had one as DLC. You could stick thugs to walls to use as stepping stones, or stick them to cars for an achievement.
  • The Deathslinger in Dead by Daylight has a self-made gun called the Redeemer, which impales its victim with a spear with a chain attached to reel them in toward him.
  • Dead Island: Riptide has one early on.
  • In Dead Rising 2, if you have a leaf blower and a spear then you can craft a nice spear launcher to puncture zombies and bosses with.
  • Dead Space 2: The Javelin Gun, and its secondary fire electrocutes whatever was punctured by the javelin.
  • Both Death in the Water games are set entirely underwater, and all your enemies are hostile marine life ranging from sharks to sea snakes and moray eels. Your default weapon is your trusty harpoon launcher, though later you can obtain an underwater shotgun and a harpoon minigun.
  • The Needlegun in the first Devil May Cry fires harpoons up to bursts of six. Entering the underwater sections with it causes an Unexpected Gameplay Change to a First-Person Shooter since it's the only weapon you could use there. Unlike the other firearms, it can't be equipped in the non-underwater areas.
  • In Evolve, the trapper character Griffin carries one of these that can link the monster to himself with an energy cable, allowing him to stop it in its tracks or restrict its movement until it breaks the cable. Maggie uses harpoon traps, a combination of his harpoon gun and land mines that can snare the monster from multiple angles at once.
  • In Fallout 4's Far Harbor DLC, the Harpoon Gun is a ship-mounted harpoon gun that has been modified to be able to be carried by human hands. It can be modified to fire barbed harpoons to apply bleeding effect or fire an entire Flechette Storm of harpoons.
  • Used in God of War III in a puzzle.
  • When equipped with the Diving Suit in The Goonies II, Mikey automatically equips a harpoon gun at the same time, letting him combat the sharks, jellyfish, and other critters under the water.
  • One of the aquatic weapons in Guild Wars 2 is the harpoon gun, utilized differently by the four professions that can wield it.
  • In Half-Life 2, picking up a harpoon with the gravity gun automatically orients it in a "impale whatever I launch this at" position, making it into a makeshift harpoon gun (rather than the usual "large heavy objects" or sawblade gun).
    • The harpoons seem to be surprisingly glitchy (it can kill friendly NPCs, for instance). See this forum thread (go to "Appendix 1") for details.
  • One of many weapons that can be added to levels in Happy Wheels. Often you will have to dodge a barrage of them.
  • Your main weapon in the NES Jaws game.
  • Mass Effect 3 has the Harpoon Rifle Kishock, a multiplayer-only (though it can be added to single-player by buying a DLC) sniper rifle which fire harpoon. It's incredibly powerful and transform the Cerberus Guardians into pushovers.
  • The Helsing of Metro 2033 and Metro: Last Light is called a pneumatic crossbow, but in function it's more like one of these. It loads arrows in a pepperbox-like arrangement and uses pressurized air to launch highly lethal metal bolts. They are mostly silent and powerful enough to be a One-Hit Kill on human enemies, and have recoverable, reusable ammo. Its main downside is cost, with arrows being expensive to purchase or lose.
  • Minecraft Dungeons: One of the first things you'll likely notice when playing through the Hidden Depths DLC missions is that any arrows fired from your ranged weapon don't travel very far. The circumvent this, the DLC introduces the Harpoon Crossbow and Harpoon Quiver, which do not get slowed when fired in those missions, but the latter increases your ranged weapon's damage and allows your shots to penetrate multiple enemies.
  • Mutants Of The Deep, a 2021 retraux game, have you playing as either a diver or a mermaid who spends most of the game fending off underwater enemies with a harpoon gun with unlimited (albeit weak) harpoons.
  • The old arcade title Pang, aka Bros Buster Bros, aka Pomping World, and its sequels features characters popping giant balloons with harpoon guns.
  • Bubble Man from Rockman No Constancy uses a Harpoon Arm Cannon.
  • Shinsekai: Into the Depths has the Aquanaut carry a rapid-fire spear gun as his first weapon and it remains his most useful as weapons like the mine layer and electric line are largely situational weapons that lack the raw firepower of the spear gun.
  • Gill Grunt from Skylanders uses a big one, and once upgraded, he can load up to shoot an anchor from it.
  • Used by Dimitri Lousteau in his underwater levels in Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves.
  • Your first ship in Skies of Arcadia has one. Mind you, it's a ship-sized centerline-mounted harpoon cannon capable of impaling a battleship.
  • Solatorobo: The Fishing Minigame involves firing a Mini-Mecha-mounted harpoon at a giant lobster-like Flying Seafood Special, who use derelict battleships as shells.
  • One of the weapons available for purchase in Sunset Overdrive is the Captain Ahab, a harpoon gun that not only embeds an enemy into the nearest wall but also leaves a puddle of OverCharge at the impact site to distract any nearby OD away from the player.
  • ThunderJaws have you infiltrating the villainess' Underwater Base, where you're granted a harpoon launcher as your default weapon (fitting the game's aquatic setting). You even continue using the same harpoon launcher even as your battles took off to dry land.
  • TimeSplitters Future Perfect has a harpoon gun with retrievable ammo.
  • A few of the early Tomb Raider games have this as one of the many weapons you can get. Naturally, this was the only weapon you could use while swimming in the water, but it was as weak as the default pistols.
  • Total Chaos: A harpoon gun can be picked up as a weapon as early as Chapter 3. Its shots are very powerful and silenced, and the ammunition can be reused as long as the harpoons fired have landed in a place you are able to reach. The downside to the harpoon gun is that, not only does it weigh a ton, but each harpoon it uses takes up their own space in your inventory and weighs as much as a single pickaxe.
  • In Transarctica, you can get a unique harpoon car for your Cool Train. Without it, you're in trouble against a Stockness Monster at a north-western lake.
  • Treasure Planet: Battle at Procyon has a Harpoon Gun as a light weapon, it enables the player to grapple enemy ships, which can be used for manipulating the movement of hostile ships and is a prerequisite to boarding. Grappling hooks can even tear ships apart if two ships grapple one and move in the opposite direction.
  • Valheim: The Harpoon (no gun) allows you to drag a creature toward yourself at a steep cost in stamina. Its main use is to drag serpents ashore to fight them (otherwise the items they drop sink) or drag enemies into pits for easier disposal, but in multiplayer it's mostly used to launch other players over vast distances by exploiting the physics engine.
  • Warframe:
    • The Grineer Harpak assault rifle fires fairly compact harpoons in a three-shot burst, with a Secondary Fire that launches a tethered harpoon that violently yanks back whatever it hits. The infested Paracyst 'rifle' is functionally identical.
    • The Plains of Eidolon update introduced actual fishing spears, which are spears that are mechanically designed to fire with the force of a firearm to spear fish without killing them. It's even possible to get critical hits and boost them with Volt's passive. The Fortuna update continued the trend with EMP-producing fishing spears to catch servofish without damaging them.
  • More than one quest in World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King involves shooting down proto-drakes with a harpoon gun. Most notable is the boss Skadi the Ruthless, who has to be shot down before your party can properly fight him on the ground.
  • Harpoon Guns are one of your starting weapons in X-COM: Terror from the Deep. They quickly become obsolete.
  • One mid-game mission of XIII provides a fairly realistic harpoon gun with short range due to its massive projectile drop. It's the only weapon that can be used underwater, it's a One-Hit Kill against the frogmen you encounter near the very end of the mission, and it's completely useless against enemies on land.

    Web Animation 
  • DSBT InsaniT: Lisa and Cody use them in the game they play in 'VRcade'.

    Web Comics 
  • In Homestuck, Jade Harley owns one of these and uses it as a Grappling-Hook Pistol. Additionally, Eridan Ampora (and later Liv Tyler) wields a legendary harpoon gun called Ahab's Crosshairs, which fires lightning.
  • In Waterworks, Surge's harpoon has this functionality. CC uses this as a grappling hook to help her navigate the goo-flooded basement.

    Western Animation 
  • In Action League NOW!, team member Stinky Diver would often wield a harpoon gun; half the time, whatever problem the Action League was facing that week would be solved by Stinky simply harpooning it.
  • In T.U.F.F. Puppy in the episode "Mission: Really Big Mission" D.O.O.M. uses harpoon guns against Dudley and Kitty.


Video Example(s):


Attaching the Barrels

Quint sets up a harpoon gun attached with a rope so the barrels will track the shark

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Example of:

Main / HarpoonGun

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